I still can’t get the hang of Thursdays.

It all started when I came home from the pharmacy on Wednesday with all of Chuck’s refills but without the Claritin that helps him prevent migraines.

Thursday after school I went to Walgreen’s. I noticed several shelves full of Mucinex, our medication of choice when the flu-like viruses hit the O.K. Chorale. Yea, I thought, they have every variation imaginable. Chuck can pick out the best kind next time he’s here.

Unfortunately, there were as many or more Claritin variations, some of which required identification and promises of spinning straw into gold before actually buying the drug. I looked them all over, and I panicked. I grabbed the store brand in a small box (in case I bought the wrong dosage or type) and rushed away to check out and save my sanity.

My next stop was a local family restaurant to buy soup for supper. I pulled a quart out of the cooler, then thought, “I should get two.” But the cooler wouldn’t open again, so I gave in and checked out. Well, I waited to check out. There were three of us in line when someone finally came out to take our money. I used a gift card – used it up, in fact. I had to pull a few bucks in cash out of my wallet, too.

Soup in hand, I went out to the van and put on my gloves. Er, glove. One was missing. I dug around the minivan, looked outside under it, and hoped like crazy that I hadn’t left it at the drugstore. When I went back into the restaurant, there were two workers at the cash register. What? At least my glove was there – on the floor next to the counter.

As I left the parking lot, my hearing aid battery on the right went dead. Beep-beep-beep-beep! And of course, I can’t dig in my purse for a new battery and replace it. I drove home on one ear, so to speak.

All this – at least I did one thing right. I got a drugstore rewards card for our family. Now we can actually get the bargain prices posted on the shelves when I bring Chuck back to pick out his favorite Mucinex and Claritin.

The Year Without a Canning Season

It started with kitchen construction. It ended with a brain aneurysm treatment. It makes sense; I didn’t can very much last summer. I’m still a little bummed.

With a major kitchen remodel in progress, I got up by 7:00 every morning even after school let out in June. I moved both vehicles out of the driveway so the carpenters could pull in. Then I would start my coffee, watch the morning news, and all the rest. I didn’t make jams or jellies because I didn’t have a stove in June and July. One result: rhubarb takes up much too much space in the freezer this year. I must find a way to use it up. Maybe in May. But anyway, no stove? No canning in early summer.

Later on I went under – not under the knife, but under a catheter. Part I: cerebral angiogram to determine the size of the aneurysm. The nurse wore Crocs with the Swedish Chef on them. How awesome is that? But I digress.

You can guess what followed – an overnight in the hospital after a three hour surgery to line the aneurysm so it will not get bigger. I had this done on a Thursday, and then headed off to school meetings the following Monday. And yes, I was tired.

But back to canning. In between the two events, I managed to can a batch of sweet bread and butter pickles and a batch of kinda-meh dill pickles. I put up one batch of tomato sauce – only one batch, and it shows. We opened a jar of store-bought tomato sauce last night. I used commercially canned tomatoes last time I made chili. All the homemade ketchup, the last jar of enchilada sauce – it’s all gone.

I’m a little sad looking at all the empty spots on the shelves that usually overflow with the goodies from the garden and the farmers’ market. Next June, I’m going to start canning like crazy. Canning like crazy and loving it, too!

A New Year, and New Advice

Dear Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez; Hire a researcher. Consult this researcher before you make a public statement. No matter how sincere, if your announcement makes you seem uninformed, you will take unnecessary heat for it. -From one on your side, Daisy Democrat.

Dear Hillary; You remain my idol. Your interview with Christiane Amanpour once again reinforced your intelligence and grace. Those who follow may or may not recognize your contributions, but I know you blazed trails and opened doors for many. Thank you for your dedication to our country. -Democrat Daisy

Dear Green Bay Packers Administration (Mark Murphy et al); Please choose wisely. That’s all. –Another shareholder

Dear Pharmacy that Shall not be Named; You really turned around. The customer service and accuracy have come miles in a few years. Just in time for the higher-ups to sell you out to Kroger, too. Sigh. Thanks for the assistance, the flu shots, and the attention to details. –Always pursuing wellness, Daisy

Dear Governor-elect Evers; we’ve got your back. Do what you need to do. Sincerely, the state’s teachers.

Dear Dr. Footwork; Thanks for the help. And thanks for the laser treatment. And please keep on pushing the insurance companies to cover laser treatment, too. Sincerely, Hopalong Daisy.

Yes, My Friends, Santa Exists.

A favorite memory from teaching 6th grade – more than ten years later, I still remember this class and this day.

The entire school was bouncing. I expected the building itself to go boing, boing, boing any time, with the amount of pre-holiday energy inside it. One of our specialists commented, “Ms. M. has the ‘too-cool-for-school’ class this year, and you have the energetic one.” She was right. My class, full of really nice kids from wonderful parents, has turned into the elementary equivalent of Animal Planet. Since tranquilizer darts are frowned upon in public schools (I’m KIDDING, I’m kidding!), I had to resort to creative drama to bring them to attention.
My class, as a whole, had been quiet exactly twice the previous day.
The questions of the day revolved around Christmas and Santa. All. Day. Long. “Is Santa real?” “How many reindeer does Santa have?” “Is Santa Claus real?” “How did all this Santa stuff start, anyway?” “Is Santa real?”
They were 6th graders, ages eleven and twelve. They were old enough to know the truth, but did they? I couldn’t take a chance on destroying someone’s innocence and having their parents hit the roof. So I gave them my stock answer: it depends on who you ask. Well, that didn’t last long.
During my graduate program, I took a class in storytelling from a professional storyteller. I relied on those skills to get the students’ attention. When they asked me how many reindeer there were, I stopped, put on my hmmm, there’s a story in here somewhere pose, and waited for quiet. Amazingly, quiet descended almost immediately.
“How many reindeer? Well, it depends on who you ask. If you ask Clement C. Moore, he’d have said Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen.” They were almost nodding along with me. Some were counting on their fingers. “Now of course you recall the most famous reindeer of all.”
Rudolph!” they chimed in.
“And Rudolph makes nine. But there’s a tenth reindeer, too. Do you know her name?”
One highly gifted child knew. “Olive!!!”
Yes, Olive the other reindeer… you know, the one who “…used to laugh and call him names.”
And that was just math class.
The “Is Santa real?” question wouldn’t die. They finally cornered me during Classroom Guidance on my “It depends on who you ask” with the statement “We’re asking you.
Thank goodness for the Internet.
I found a copy of Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, told them the story, and read them the editorial. For those few moments, they were spellbound.

That year my class left me exhausted and happy every single day. They wore me out with their energy, and they energized me with their enthusiasm. And every year around this time, I remember the way they listened and absorbed my answer to their question. Yes, young ones, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday with family and friends and your own generous spirit of Santa.

‘Tis the Wrapping Season

My Facebook post reads: 
“Just finished the annual task of cutting up old Christmas cards to become gift tags. For the record, I haven’t bought gift tags in at least 35 years. At least.”

I followed up with a few comments on the use – or not – of wrapping paper. I didn’t need to write a new post on the topic; a search for “wrapping” came up with several. Here is is, folks, a reprise of the No New Wrapping Paper philosophy.

It’s time to remind myself (as if I needed the reminder) of my personal rule: No New Wrapping Papers. I give in on ribbons, invisible tape, and a few other basics. But as for wrapping paper, I dig in my heels.

Wrapping paper is:

  • rarely recycled
  • even more rarely recyclable
  • not suitable for fireplaces
  • wasteful (as in it fills the garbage bin)
  • a waste of money

I am lenient on the  re-use of gift bags – key word, re-use. I stuff the aforementioned bags with reused and reusable tissue. Sometimes we even decorate a plain bag with small scraps of re-purposed wrapping paper.

Keep sending the old fashioned snail mail holiday cards! Besides enjoying them, we reuse many cards as gift tags. I cut circles out of cards to make decorative tops for canned goods (pickles and jams, especially).

My family still gives me a hard time when I carefully unwrap big packages in order to re-use portions of the paper. That doesn’t stop me from doing it.

I ran into a dilemma yesterday. What about buying wrapping paper at a thrift store? Well, that kind of purchase doesn’t waste as much money, and the purchase price often goes toward a good cause. However, gift wrap purchased elsewhere is still rarely recycled or recyclable, and still not suitable for fireplaces. It’ll still fill the garbage bin, too. I decided not to buy it.

Readers, can you help me expand on the environmentally sound wrapping wisdom? Comment if you can.

Once Upon a Coupon

One Saturday night, not long ago, Chuck and I pushed a cart around the grocery store and filled it with all the necessary foodstuffs on our list. At least once, we encountered a very focused shopper noting totals in a notebook and sorting through piles – I kid you not, piles – of coupons. 

She was a Real Live Super Extreme Couponer. In our store! In our city! Wow! Where were the cameras? 

When we were ready to check out, there was only one checkout lane open, and she was in it. More power to her for taking the time and making the effort to shop this way, but we did NOT want to be in line behind her. I looked toward the self checkout, looked at my cart’s contents, and said nope, not going the selfie way. Luckily for us, the store staff provided another checker. Phew! As we left the store, we could hear Ms. Super Extreme Coupons with her checkout still in progress. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. 

The next day, we took the minivan to Kwik Trip to fill out the tank, and grabbed a few coupons on the way out the door. Chuck dashed into the mini mart to get the free bananas, dozen of eggs at half price, and a dirt cheap cup of gourmet hot cocoa. The cashier rang up his purchases, scanned his coupons, and then swept his Rewards Card. With the rewards card discount, his total came to a negative number. They owed him money. And at that, the cash register froze. 

He tried to pull it up into the positive numbers by buying a tube of Chapstick. The Chapstick wouldn’t scan. The cashier tried entering the code number manually. No luck. So Chuck tried again; he grabbed a candy bar. This treat scanned successfully – sort of. The total went farther into the negative, and this time read Transaction Finalized. Amid much laughter from the other customers,  including one who had offered to help out when it appeared Chuck was short on cash, he headed quickly back to the van. 

“Don’t say a word! If the cops stop us, let me do the talking!” “What?!?” He laughed and laughed as we zoomed home and tucked the minivan in the garage. 

Chuck the Super Coupon Man. Go figure. I never would have guessed. 

In Which Daisy reveals she is Uncool

Yeah. As if I didn’t already know it, this text message exchange confirmed it. I am not one of the cool kids. 

Amigo: Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics, has died. 

La Petite: He was as legendary as his superheroes.

Me: Sad. I guess he wasn’t Superman.

La Petite: Mom, that’s DC Comics, silly. 

The Hillary Legacy

Hillary Clinton wasn’t on the ballot this election, but her influence was. Across the country, in large states and small, women followed. She wasn’t on the stage breaking a glass ceiling this time, but the cracks she’d already made allowed those who followed her to shatter what remained. 

Look at the firsts in Congress. The first Muslim women. The youngest woman. The first Native American women. First black woman from Massachusetts. First women from Iowa.

My excitement at these firsts is tempered more than a bit by the inner voice saying, Geez. What took so long? What took the voters of the United States so long to start electing a Congress that looks more like the electorate? 

Without dwelling too much on the past, let’s look toward the future. A future, I can hope, in which candidates for any office will be judged by their qualifications, their positions on major issues, their training and education, and not their gender, race, or any other artificially limiting category. 

And with every step we take to integrate our government, we’ll feel it. Hillary’s legacy. She won’t be on the ballot, but the challenges she faced and the trails she blazed will always be there, making the way for the women that follow.  

Election Eve, Sleep Elusive

I had a tough time sleeping last night. I kept flashing back to election night 2016. I remembered exactly where I was (in the back room at church while Amigo rehearsed with the barbershop chorus) and how I learned of results (on my laptop computer, hooked up to the church wifi), and how I kept thinking no, no, no, no, no. It wasn’t just that my idol, Hillary Clinton, had been defeated. More than that, it was the feeling that millions of Americans had been misled. Fooled. Taken advantage in the worst possible way. 

So I tossed and turned. I gave in and picked up the Kindle and read for a while. Chuck’s ThreadWords game was on level 9, so I didn’t bother playing. Of course, my mind wandered, and I couldn’t concentrate on the book. 

Flash back to election night 2008: I stayed up late watching the results, texting La Petite, who was working for her college newspaper. She had voted early – her first presidential election! – because she knew she’d be busy with her journalistic responsibilities. I was watching television news at home while she was watching in her newspaper office with her journalism student peers. Back and forth, getting more and more excited as he took state after state, we kept texting, texting, and tearing up at the thought that we were watching history. Even John McCain’s concession speech was moving. Classy, that Senator McCain. Very classy.

Fast forward to 2012. I was an even more active volunteer that year. I could walk into the local party office, walk past the life sized cardboard cutouts of Obama and Biden, and be greeted by name. I voted early that year. And then, November 1, just days before the election, I had a stroke. Gliding into the MRI machine, I kept thinking “Thank goodness I voted early.” Election night 2012 found me just like 2008, texting La Petite as I pondered stroke recovery. Chuck, typical television engineer, was out somewhere covering the results.

I slept better with 2008 and 2012 in mind – even with the stroke memories. 2016 was different, and I didn’t go back there. I went to sleep instead. 

And this morning, Election Day 2018, the Major Midterms, I lined up at the polls next to Lee Snodgrass, a candidate for state senate. Take that, Mr. President. The grass roots campaign machine is moving again. 

Oh, my goodness, I hope I’m right. 

November is for Holidays and Family

November. Thanksgiving happens in November, but there’s so much more, too. We’re hosting Thanksgiving with our new kitchen, so I might have to call on the Fairies to help, but first – well, we have a few more things to accomplish first. 

Amigo and his barbershop chorus have an important gig on Veteran’s Day. At 11:00 on the 11th day of the 11th month, he’ll be at the county courthouse with the rest of the chorus warming up to sing the National Anthem and more. Some years they sing God Bless America; sometimes they sing the Armed Forces medley. All years, we listen as all the churches surrounding the downtown area ring their bells at 11:00. It’s a powerful moment that tugs on my heartstrings every time. 

But first! Amigo and I will go to the Sweet Adelines’ Salute to Veterans on Saturday the 10th. The Sweet Adelines are the women in barbershop harmony. Last February, at their Sweetie Pie social, Amigo held the winning ticket for their Pie of the Month for a year. We’ll meet up with this month’s pie baker on Saturday, and she’ll deliver the pie for November. I anticipate a fresh homemade pie, a good concert, and an all-around pleasant afternoon.

To add to the busy schedule, Chuck will miss both concerts. He’ll be at a train club event. Ah, well, Amigo and I will save a little pie – if he’s lucky. 

Chuck is feeling lucky in one way. When he worked for the television station, he always, always had to help put the local holiday parade on the air the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. He’ll be working that night, but it’ll be a regular shift building fire trucks. Nothing to worry about here, folks, nothing to worry about. 

With all of that in mind, I think I’d better plan the menu and order the turkey. Organic and fresh, the best kind, from our local neighborhood meat market. Yum.