Recipes · Uncategorized

Pursuit of the Perfect Taco Pizza

Early last week, Tarzan grilled some sirloin steaks.  A few days later, noticing the leftovers had not been eaten, I consumed the rest of it for lunch one day.  Apparently all day long that day, he had been dreaming of coming home to his leftover sirloin.  I really thought he had forgotten about it.  To make up for it, he wanted to go to Pantera’s Pizza, which is over an hour away (on a work night!) to try their taco pizza.

My husband is something of a taco pizza connoisseur.  He claims that Pizza Hut used to have the best taco pizza, but they discontinued it.  I think that must have been a long time ago.  Probably before I was born.

He doesn’t like Casey’s taco pizza.

There used to be a place a couple of towns over that had it, although he said it wasn’t as good as Pizza Hut, it was passable by his standards.

He had recently been perusing Pantera’s website (that iPhone’s good for something!) and saw that they had taco pizza and wanted to try it.

So, heavy with guilt from eating his sirloin, I had to give in (did I mention it was a work night?!).

He was sadly disappointed, as Pantera’s taco pizza did not meet up to his expectations.  The main thing they all do wrong, he says, is they fail to use refried beans.  Pantera’s version appeared to use some sort of thickened-up taco sauce in place of pizza sauce, which in Tarzan’s estimation, made the meat too greasy.

Last weekend, we took a boat ride.  We sputtered down the river to the next river town over, docked our boat (probably on someone’s private dock, but there wasn’t a NO TRESPASSING sign), and walked to a local pizzeria.  We were the only customers there, and Tarzan and the owner of the pizza parlor debated the makings of a great taco pizza.

They agreed to disagree.

At any rate, over the weekend I picked up the makings for a taco pizza from the grocery store, and we tried it last night.  My version was roughly based on this recipe.  The biggest thing I did different was instead of making two 12 inch prebaked pizza crusts like the recipe calls for, I used a refrigerated Pillsbury crust (13.8 oz, classic crust) and made one larger pizza, with the same amount of toppings (Tarzan doesn’t like his taco pizza with the tortilla chips on top, so I left that out).  The crust filled up essentially all of a large cookie sheet… I prepared the it as directed on the packaging of the pizza crust (including greasing the pan, and prebaking for 8 minutes on 400) and then, once the toppings were on it, baked it another 6 minutes at 350… because I thought that’s what the directions on the crust package said, but now that I’m looking at it, it actually said to keep it at 400.  So that might explain why the crust wasn’t as crispy as we would have liked it… something to note for next time.

Tarzan had two or three pieces, liked it okay – thought it would have been better if the crust was crispier.  Thinks next time we should make it with thin crust.

This made a LOT of food for two people, and it’s a heavy meal (you have to eat it with a knife and fork).  Tarzan won’t eat leftover pizza, so I had it for lunch and dinner today… and I think we still have 6 or 7 pieces left.  It was definitely worth making, and next time he has a hankering for taco pizza I think we’ll just make it at home.  He says he liked it just as much as he liked anything we’ve gotten in a restaurant recently.  So until Pizza Hut brings back taco pizza, I guess this is our game plan!

 

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Meet Charlie

This introduction is long overdue.  On April 2, Charlie the La-Chon, officially joined our family.

When I met him, it was like a scene out of a cartoon or a Disney movie or something.  Like when there’s a bunch of dogs in a pound, and People are coming, and one particular dog is showing off, so he gets picked?  That was Charlie.  Pick me!  Pick me!  Pick me!  He was practically pushing his litter mates out of his way to get to me and show off.  When I went to leave, he tried to climb in my purse.  He wouldn’t fit, so he started trying to pull things out of it to make room.  I was pretty smitten.  But he wasn’t old enough to go home yet and I didn’t know for sure what my work schedule was going to be, at this point I was just window-shopping. But I couldn’t stop thinking about him!  I knew he was “the one”.  I had already named him before I even knew for sure I was going to get him.

Anyway, I picked him up on April 2 and he’s been an excellent addition to our family.  I asked Tarzan a week or so ago if he was glad we got him, and he said, “Oooooh yes.  You’re a lot less crabby now!”

Ha!  I didn’t take offense.  I don’t think I realized how having a loving pet around impacts your stress levels.  And we’d had our Delilah since before we were married (we shared custody of her before we moved in together), so we had never really been without a pet.  I realize now that Delilah, in a way, made us a family.

Charlie is a bit more attached to me than Delilah was.  Delilah loved everyone, but she didn’t really love any one person more than anyone else. Delilah didn’t necessarily have to be in the same room with me at all times – sometimes she was, sometimes she wasn’t.  For example, because of the robe hook that I have over the door of my bathroom, the door doesn’t really close all the way (unless you really force it, which I never do).  Delilah wasn’t bothered if I went into the bathroom and closed the door.  Charlie, on the other hand, pushes his way in.  Delilah lived here almost ten years and never even tried.

Charlie will follow me around the house.  It’s particularly funny when I’m doing something that requires me to be in and out of several rooms in a short period of time, like folding and putting away laundry or something.  He wants to be wherever I am, but he also wants his toys with him.  He’s constantly carrying his toys into whatever room I’m in, settling down to play, then just about the time he gets situated I go into another room.  He’ll jump up, grab his toys, run after me.  Get settled into that room.  Then, when I move again, a few minutes later, he’ll kind of *sigh*… and draaaaag everything to the next room.  Settle in, and kind of give me a look like… “Don’t you ever sit still, woman?”

He’s a very good boy.  We love him.

 

 

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The Mineral Spirits Incident

This entry reminded me, in some ways, of my childhood.  In that, having brothers who were so much older than me, it was kind of like I was an only child.  She refers to her brothers as her “safety net”, which prompted this memory…

I had to be at least 10, because Brother #2 had already moved out of the house, married.  I know it was summer time, and considering I spent most of the summers before I turned 10 with my grandparents, I’m going to guess it was the summer I turned 11.

Anyway.  I get bronchitis nearly every year, and I think this may have been the first time I had it.  I had this horrible dry cough.  All I did was cough.  Cough medicine didn’t really help.  It had gone on for weeks.  It was admittedly annoying, especially to my father.

We had recently adopted a long hair cat, named Jodie.  Being a long hair cat, she occasionally had fur balls.  She slept with me at night, and my dad decided that maybe I had inhaled too much cat fur.  Essentially, he diagnosed me with fur balls.  (This is a 100% true story, I swear.)

So he looked on the package of the fur ball medicine to see what the main ingredient was.  The main ingredient of fur ball medicine is mineral oil.

We were home alone.  My mom was at work.  I don’t think this would have happened if she’d been home…

He took me to Wal-Mart and he bought mineral oil.

Now this part I don’t know how it really happened – I don’t know if he was saying “mineral oil” and I heard “mineral spirits”, or if, possibly he was saying “mineral spirits” when he meant “mineral oil”?  I’ve thought about this a lot, because I kinda doubt at that age I knew what mineral spirits was?  However it happened, in my mind, I got “mineral spirits” twisted up with “mineral oil”.  I do know, however, that I didn’t know what either of these things really was.

We got home, and he administered to me two tablespoons of mineral oil.  It was awful.  Like drinking baby oil.  In fact, I bet baby oil is made of mineral oil. It was really, really awful.

He made me drink two tablespoons of mineral oil, and then he went out to cut the grass.   The phone rang.  It was my brother.

“Dad made me drink mineral spirits!”  I told him.

“Dad did not make you drink mineral spirits.”

“Yes!  Yes he did!”

“Ginger.  Dad did not make you drink mineral spirits.”

“He did.  He said it would help my cough.”

“Ginger.  If Dad made you drink mineral spirits, you’d be dead.”

Even before he said that, I was pretty sure I was dying.  Now I knew I was dying!

I heard a deep sigh on the other end of the phone.  Like he was pretty sure he didn’t want to know the answer to the question he was about to ask, like he was pretty sure he could just hang up the phone and never think about it again, but in the off chance… 

“Why would Dad make you drink mineral spirits?”

“Because he thinks I have fur balls.”

I could almost hear his eyes roll through the phone.

“Why… would…  Dad… think… you have…  fur balls?”

“Because he says my cough sounds like Jodie’s cough when she has fur balls.  So he looked on the fur ball medicine and the main ingredient is mineral spirits!”

“Not mineral spirits, Ginger.  Mineral OIL.  Two different things.  You’ll be fine.”

I was not convinced.

“Mineral spirits is like alcohol.  It would have burned a hole in your throat.  You can’t drink mineral spirits.”

Then, I heard laughter through the phone, when he put it together and realized, yes, it was very likely that Dad did make me drink mineral oil, “He really made you drink mineral oil?  You won’t die, but I bet that was pretty nasty!”

That may be the closest he’s ever come to feeling sorry for me…

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How I Found Out I Might Actually Be a Robot

Today, I was an “extreme early riser”.

For the last several years, my work schedule/commute required me to get up before God.  This let me off the hook when it came to things like Morning Workouts or Morning Meditation.  I was already getting up at 4:30 a.m., no reasonable person would think I should get up earlier.

Now that I’ve settled into my new routine off working (sometimes) from home, it occurred to me that maybe I, too, could become a Morning Exerciser.

My Fitbit One died a few weeks ago.  I’m pretty sure I lost it at Wal-Mart, which coincidentally is where I think I lost my last Fitbit One.  I had a Fitbit Zip for a while, which, while cheaper, was a pain because you have to replace the battery every few weeks.  And I was always losing the little battery-removal tool, and I was worried about the ensuing domestic violence that might occur if I continued to have to seek Tarzan’s help getting the back off my Fitbit to replace the battery.  (Domestic violence on my part, just in case you somehow stumbled across this blog not knowing… well, not knowing… ME.)

(This is relevant, I’m getting to it.)

I decided I was tired of losing Fitbits at Wal-Mart, and did not need further temptation to abuse my husband, so I invested in a Fitbit Alta HR.

OMG.  I love it.  The feature that’s relevant to the story is its “silent alarm” feature.  You set an alarm and it buzzes on your wrist.  This is particularly handy if you are sleeping with someone who does not need to get up before God, and would really prefer that if you are going to set an alarm clock to go off that early in the morning (or late at night, whichever) that you please not hit snooze 12 times.  So anyway, with the silent alarm feature, it buzzes on your wrist, which does not wake whatever non-God fearing person you’re sleeping with… you can even snooze it, if, in your sleepy, God-fearing state, you can remember the magic combination of taps that will snooze it rather than turn it off…

For reasons I can’t explain (well I can, but it wouldn’t make sense, and face it… you don’t really care) I decided I needed to get up at 4 a.m. this morning.  And miracle upon miracles… I actually DID it.

Mostly the reason I actually did it was because I had a semi-important self-imposed deadline that required me to get up this early (I wanted to impress somebody, okay?)… I really did want to get up this early… and I tried to snooze my Fitbit, but I accidentally turned it off, and then I had to either get up or go back to sleep and sleep until Tarzan’s alarm went off.  So it was on purpose that I got up at 4 a.m., but also… a little bit of an accident.

As a result, I had my first official experience with “extreme early rising”.  Which I think is a thing.  A new fad or something.  I don’t know.  I think my nephew is reading a book.

I have to admit, I had a really productive day!  I completed the TPS report I needed to complete in time to impress the people on the west coast that needed impressing… I felt that I was working much more on-task and focused for a greater portion of the workday than usual.  I’m thinking, there may be something to this!

Then, it’s time to do my timesheet.  At the new job, you have to include comments on your time entries.  As in, you have to provide a summary of what you did with the time.

And… when I went to do my timesheet, I realized I had no idea what I did with the last 4 hours of the day.  And I had no idea why what I did with the first 4 hours of the day took FOUR hours.  And then I realized that actually, it was 2:30 p.m. and in reality I needed to account for TEN hours.

So as I’m pondering this, I remember that I wanted to log into a FTP site to start a large download, that I realized sometime during the day that I needed to do, but decided to do it at the end of the day, so I could just leave my laptop to the downloading and it would be ready in the morning.

It’s approximately 2:33 p.m. when I first start the process, by logging onto the FTP site.

I enter my email address and enter my password.  It takes me three times before I realize I’m entering the email address from my old job.

I enter the correct email address and enter my password.  That password is not correct.  I check, yes, it’s the password I’ve written down.  I try again, maybe it was just a type-o.  Nope, still no good.  I try another common version of my password, in case I wrote the password down wrong.  Now I’m locked out, too many failed log in attempts.  I must wait 15 minutes and try again.

It’s now 2:47 p.m.

I set a timer for 15 minutes (yes, I actually do this).  I go get a snack.  At 2:50 p.m., my Fitbit buzzes with a “reminder to move”, so I walk to the mailbox.  I get back inside, I read the mail.  Enter some stuff into Quicken.  The timer goes off.

I enter the correct email address and what I originally thought my password was.  It still doesn’t work.  I enter the correct email address and the same version of the password I tried earlier (I don’t know why, I might have typed it in wrong the earlier – you can’t see what the hell you’re typing)… That doesn’t work.  I enter the correct email address and the granddaddy of all passwords that I only use when no other password will work.  Now I’m locked out for another 15 minutes.

I click to RESET PASSWORD NOW.  It tells me I cannot reset my password now, I’ve had too many failed attempts.  I must wait 15 minutes.  I wonder, is that 15 minutes on top of the other 15 minutes?  I don’t know.

It’s now 2:58 p.m.  I set an alarm for 15 minutes.

I go get a snack.  I think of something to say I did all day today and I do my timesheet.  I play Words With Friends.  The alarm goes off.

I click to RESET PASSWORD NOW.  It sends me a link to my email.  I open my email, click the link.

I have to prove I’m not a robot.

It shows me a picture, subdivided in grids.  It tells me to click on all the grids containing street signs.

That sounds easy enough.

I click on grid containing a stop sign.  Oh look, the edges of the stop sign are outside that grid.  Do I click on the grid with the edges, too?  Yes, probably.  Click click click.  Got all the edges.

I wonder if you click on the post that the stop sign is on, too?  Why the hell not.  Click click.

I hit “submit”.

I have not convinced Them that I’m not a robot.

Another grid of pictures pops up.  Again, click on the pictures containing street signs.  It’s a picture of like a residential street.  There are signs that are literally street signs, they say the name of the streets.  I click on all the grids containing those signs, and the posts.  Then there’s a sign on one of the houses, proclaiming the house number.  Does the computer consider house numbers street signs?  I do not know.  I decide no.

I hit “submit”.

I have not convinced Them that I’m not a robot.

Another grids of pictures pops up.  More street signs.  I say to hell with street signs.  I click on the “Give me another test” button.

Now I get a bunch of separate pictures, with the instructions to click on all of the pictures containing cars.  Cars.  Ok, I can do this.

There are pictures of cars parked on the side of the road.  Click click.

There is a picture of a shiny new car in a dealer’s showroom.  Click.

There is a picture of a Hot Wheel…. Are you kidding me? 

There is a picture of what appears to be a child’s drawing of a house, with a car in the driveway.  I can’t even.

It is now 3:38 p.m.  I have spent nearly an hour and I haven’t even figured out how to log into the %$#@! FTP site.

And now I guess understand why it’s necessary to get up by 4:00 a.m. to be successful in life.

This is my testimonial.  Extreme early rising.  It might really be the answer!  And, also…

OMG! You guys…!  I MIGHT BE A ROBOT!

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Why I’ve Never Been to Chicago

If you knew me really well, you might be surprised that I work in a profession that requires as much traveling as mine does.  When I was younger, I had a pretty marked aversion to travel.  I would sometimes decide I wanted to go somewhere (like to to Vermont for summer camp) but right before I was set to go, I’d back out.  (The Vermont camping story could be an entry all it’s own – even though I never actually went…)

My last two trips to Pittsburgh had layovers at the Chicago Midway International Airport on the return legs.  I’ve flown in and out of Midway many times, but, as I mentioned to the passenger next to me on my return flight Thursday night, I’ve never actually been to Chicago.  I almost did once, though…

When I was growing up, one summer my mom planned a girls’ trip for us.  I think it was the summer between fifth and sixth grades, but it might have been the summer between sixth and seventh.  She was going to take me to Chicago.

I did not have any particular desire to go to Chicago.  It sounded like a very Big Place.  Then I overheard her talking about talking to someone she knew who had been to Chicago, who was giving her advice on whether the hotel we had chosen was in a safe area, etc.  This put me on high alert.  I deduced that if we needed to be concerned about finding a “safe” place, then there must be a lot of “unsafe” places in Chicago.  At this point in my life, I had not yet been exposed to many situations where I was aware of needing to be aware of the safety of my surroundings.  Now, of course, as an adult, I get it.  But then – the very fact that we had to consider safety told me this was not a place I thought we needed to go.

So I objected.  I told my mother I didn’t want to go to Chicago.

She was disappointed.  She really wanted to go to Chicago.

Instead, we went to Iowa.  We visited an Amish colony.

I have a feeling on the thrill-a-meter scale of zero thrills to ten, a visit to an Amish colony in Iowa is about equal to a visit to Chicago.  *shrug*

And with that, here’s Waylon Jennings, singing about all the places he’s never been:

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The 5 Love Languages

I understand if you aren’t in the habit of taking relationship advice from a person who’s been married three times… maybe I’d be better at writing an entry about “what not to do”, but recent events reminded me of a pretty good book I read years ago.  I think it’s worth reading, and it did change the way I looked at my relationship.  The concept is that each of us expresses love primarily in one (or maybe two) ways:

  • Words Of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts Of Service
  • Physical Touch

And, if someone expresses love to you in a language that’s different than your primary love language, you might not recognize it for what it is.  You might go about feeling unwanted and unloved, when in fact, the other person has been trying to show you love all along.  Thus, it behooves you to learn your partner’s love language, both so you can recognize when they are expressing love to you, and so you can return the favor by expressing love in a way they will recognize.  (It would also behoove your partner to do the same, but hey, we all know that we can only control our own behaviors, right?)

My primary love language is quality time.  Secondary, probably receiving gifts (that’s become less and less important to me as I’ve gotten older, I suspect less so in time as I’ve gotten more and more self-sufficient – nowadays, if I want something, I buy it for myself!)

My husband’s is acts of service.  He expresses his love for me by fixing things, building things, and keeping the outside of our home nice.  I once asked him how he knows I love him, and he told me because I put his medicine out for him every week.

Lately, things have just been going on.  Nothing bad, but we haven’t been spending a lot of time together (remember, that’s my love language) and I’ve been feeling a little… well, neglected!  (He of course, doesn’t notice anything wrong, because that’s not his love language.)  I suggested to him over the weekend that we go for a bicycle ride.  He didn’t want to. I slunk away, feeling rejected.  Then I thought, well, he didn’t recognize my request as an attempt to reach out in love, because… it’s not his language.  So, later that afternoon, I suggested that he teach me how to cut grass.  (Yes, it’s true, I have somehow lived to be 40 years old and never learned how to use a riding lawn mower.)

He looked at me like I had two heads, but once he comprehended that he heard me right, he was right on it!  He had to hurry up and get the lawnmower going, before I changed my mind!  We spent about half an hour with him coaching me, and then he went back to the garage and worked on his current “project” (the one that’s taking all his time away from me) while I cut a big portion of our back and side yard (we have about 4-5 acres of grass total that he cuts, so it took a little bit of time).

He didn’t complain (much) about the results, he took pictures to prove it happened, I got some attention, and (I think) he felt loved.

What’s your love language?

 

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Why I Might Have to Become an Uber Driver

So I’m getting ready to travel to a new Big City for work, one where I’ve never been.  Everyone at the new job says they prefer Uber and Lyft rather than cabs, and it seems that management encourages that, because the cost is quite a bit less.  So I downloaded the apps.

Except, when I was setting up my Uber account on the app, I accidentally told it I want to “drive for Uber”, rather than that I wanted to be a passenger.

Now I’m getting about 5 emails and texts a day from Uber, wanting me to complete my registration to become a driver.  And telling me how excited they are that I’ve decided to become an Uber driver, and how much money I’m going to make and how this decision is going to Change My Life.  And testimonials about other Uber drivers and how wonderful their lives all are now that they’ve decided to take control of their futures and drive for Uber.

It’s all pretty convincing.

I’ve figured out how to stop the emails, but I’m still getting the texts.  I’m afraid the only way I can get it to stop, is just to sign up.  As my friend Jasmyne suggested, then, when my fares ask, I’ll have a funny story about How I Became an Uber Driver.  Maybe they’ll feel sorry for me, the way I was forced into the trade… and leave bigger tips.  I don’t know.

And then, after I make a million dollars, and my life has been changed, I can write a testimonial about how I became an Uber driver just so they’d stop sending me texts.

And I guess… this can be Plan B in case the new gig doesn’t work out.

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The Things I Do For Fun

As I say all the time, Tarzan doesn’t like my cooking.

Well, let me rephrase that.  I don’t think my cooking is the problem.  He doesn’t like what I cook.  As my friend Lynn would say… “same, same”.

Anyway, as far as meals go, my stand-by Make Tarzan Happy meal is spaghetti.  It’s also the best bet for the grandkids, although they are historically much (much much) less picky than Tarzan.

Spaghetti was also one of my favorite things my mom made when I was growing up.  I do not like anyone’s spaghetti but my mom’s, except my own (which is just like my mom’s.)

I remember being at a friend’s house for dinner once, and they were having spaghetti!  It looked just like the spaghetti I knew and loved, and I helped myself to a nice big plate!  I discovered too late that it was full of onions and green peppers!  And those chunks of red that looked like tomatoes?  Red peppers?!  And the sauce tasted… sweet?  What in the world?

That was when I first realized that different people make the same dish differently!  That wasn’t a concept I was familiar with at the time.

Anyway, I don’t do anything fancy with spaghetti.  Just a pound of hamburger meat, a jar of meat sauce from Aldi, and noodles… the thin ones.  Our grandkids’ mom says that she spends all day simmering her special spaghetti sauce… and she tries not to get her feelings hurt that her kids appear to prefer my version, made with noticeably less “love”.

The trick is getting the right noodle-to-sauce ratio!  I never get it right.  What I have to do is make way more noodles than I think, and then add the noodles slowly to the sauce until it looks right.  Then I use the remaining noodles for other things (for instance today I ate some cold noodles with my current favorite side dish, a broccoli and mushroom recipe I got from emeals).

So this evening I googled “noodles to pasta sauce ratio”, and according to most sources, the right combination is a pound of pasta to 24 ounces of sauce.

Well, not at the Dalton’s house, it isn’t!  That would be waaaaaay too many noodles.  This last batch I made I cooked about 10 1/2 ounces of noodles, but probably only used a little over half that.

Oh, and I love the pot-sized spaghetti noodles, when I can find them.  You have to really look for them in stores, I always tend to overlook them on the shelves, I guess because the box is a different size/shape than I’m expecting?

Some day, I’ll remember to weigh the uncooked noodles, make a note… then before I add the cooked noodles to the sauce, weigh them… then weigh the remaining unused cooked noodles, once I get the sauce-to-noodle ratio to my taste… and back into the calculation of how many ounces of uncooked noodles that would be.

Yes, that’s the kind of thing I do.  For fun.

If you think you know the answer, if you think you know the right number of ounces of uncooked thin spaghetti noodles per 24 ounces of pasta sauce (plus a pound of hamburger meat, if that matters), go ahead and let me know.  But know, you’re ruining  ALL my fun.  😉

 

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My Secret Talent

Tomorrow I start my new job.  I spent the day traveling across the country, so I could be where I need to be first thing tomorrow morning.

I’ve had a few people comment that I don’t seem very excited.

It’s true, I’m not.  I’m not unexcited (that’s not a word, is it?).  I’m just kinda… well, okay, let’s see where this is going.

I suppose part of my apparent apathy can be explained by the fact that I pretty much know what to expect.  The work itself is not going to be all that much different.

Another big factor is the fact that I left a good job, where I was reasonably happy.  This is the first time I’ve made a job change when it wasn’t blatantly obvious that the change was going to be better for me.

I remember when I was preparing myself for my second interview at my last job.  Tarzan and I had not been married very long.  I commented to him that “I really want this job.”

He responded that he’d never heard me say that about a job before.

It’s true, I’ve changed jobs… kinda a lot?  In the four years we’d been together up until that time,  I’d changed jobs twice, which is a lot by most people’s standards, including my own.  I remember him being worried that I had changed jobs too often when I was interviewing for that job.  I wasn’t the least bit concerned.  I was certain I was doing the right thing that time.  And I was right.

This time just isn’t so cut and dry.  I know I’ll come out okay.  I expect it to be better than just “okay”.  I just gotta warm up to everything.

I’ve tried to figure out what my dream job would be.  In my wildest dreams (well, with the caveat that in my wildest dreams, my dream job is an actual job, and not something like “professional cookie dough taster”) maybe it would be cool to be a private investigator?  Catch cheating husbands (and wives) kind of stuff.  I can’t really come up with anything that’s feasible to switch to, not this late and life, and not while paying the mortgage.

But I do have a secret talent.  I really REALLY kick ass at crossword puzzles.

Well, you know.  The ones in the magazine racks at the checkout line.  The ones labeled “EZ”, “FUN” and “BIG PRINT”.  Not, like, The New York Times ones.

The lady next to me on my second flight had a book of EZ CROSSWORDS.  It was painful to me to see that she had incorrectly answered a clue in the upper right corner, and that had caused her to take a few other clues the wrong direction.  It was mucking up her whole puzzle.

Now, some people like help with crossword puzzles and some people do not.  (I learned this the hard way.) So, I thought I’d ease into it by asking innocently,  “Do you… have any particular method to working on crossword puzzles?”

“Oh, no, not really.  I just start out with the ones I know and kind of go from there.”

“Ah, I see.  I used to do a lot of crossword puzzles when I was a kid.”

“Really?”  this perked her interest, “I haven’t ever seen a child do a puzzle like this.  How wonderful!  I used to be a teacher!  How old were you when you starting doing them?”

I didn’t know.  All I know is I know all the answers in those EZ books.  I once took one to one of Tarzan’s family get togethers, and you would have thought I was doing parlor tricks… the Daltons were quite impressed.

I pointed to the offending answer in her puzzle, “I think that should be ALEE.”

She screwed her face up.  I don’t think she believed me, but she erased her wrong answer.  “How would you spell that?”

I told her.

“What’s that even mean?” she referred back to the clue:  toward shelter.

“It’s some nautical term,” I told her.

She finished that corner of the puzzle.  “Do you know this one?”

She pointed to the clue:  a man in a cast.

“I think it’s ACTOR.”

She slapped her forehead, “I was thinking like, a leg in a cast!”

I nodded, “It’s all in how you look at it.”

“You’re really smart!”

So.  I wonder how you get going in a career solving crossword puzzles?  Professionally.  Only the EZ ones.  The others are above my pay grade, I’m sure.

Uncategorized

Addicted To A Real Bad Thing

I need caffeine in the morning.  Yes, I know no one “needs” caffeine.  I know I *can* do without it.  But I don’t wanna.

Years ago, when I was about 50 pounds heavier, I would get up in the middle of the night, go to the refrigerator, and chug a cold can of Coca-Cola, and go right back to bed.  I suppose it wasn’t really the caffeine I was after, but rather the sugar.  I don’t know how many I would drink on an average day back then, but if I had to guess I think maybe 3-4.  Compared to some people’s soda addictions, I guess that wasn’t terrible.

Over the years, I’ve cut way back.  But I’ve never been able to completely kick the soda-in-the-morning habit.  When Rubies and I were setting up our roommate agreement, I’m pretty sure the first rule was:  Don’t drink the last cold Coke.  (Also, don’t let us run out of toilet paper.)

Sometime in 2014, I came across the Mountain Dew Kickstart line of soda.  I can’t remember what flavor anymore, but it was before they introduced my beloved Limeade. It may have been orange, but that seems wrong, because generally, I hate all things flavored orange (that’s another story, related to years of having to swallow many children’s aspirin on a daily basis most of my childhood).  Maybe it was fruit punch, but I’ve never been a huge fan of that either (I think they put orange flavoring in fruit punch… ick.)

I liked it, though, because it didn’t have the aftertaste I usually noticed in artificially sweetened beverages, and a 16-ounce can only had 80 calories.  I didn’t like it as much as Coke, but it worked in a pinch.  I would grab one now and then when I was at a gas station, but I wasn’t going out of my way to get them.

Then one morning, I noticed a new flavor!  Limeade.  Prior to this, I was neutral to Mountain Dew.  I liked it fine, I might have one if it was offered or if nothing else was available, but it certainly wasn’t my go-to.  But I thought I might like it better than whatever flavor I’d been drinking up to this point.

I was addicted within weeks.  And they were expensive!  And you couldn’t buy them by the carton, only individually – even at Wal-Mart!  They were kind of a pain in the ass to come by, actually.

Certain gas stations had them periodically for 99¢.  The cashiers at the local Moto-Mart began referring to me as “The Kickstart Lady”.  I would come in every weekend and buy up the following week’s supply, making sure I had one for at least every morning I’d be home.  I told myself that, if the time came that I couldn’t find them for 99¢, I wouldn’t buy them.

Early mornings, when I was heading to the airport at 4 a.m., I’d scrounge the bottom of my purse for enough change, hands shaking like a crack addict, almost shouting out in joy when I realized I had the $1.89 I’d need to finance my fix.  That’s more than the 99¢ budget I’d put myself on, but holy hell, it was 4 a.m.!  I’d already been up since 3 a.m.!  I deserved it!  And it was only 80 calories!

Earlier this year, I started noticing the Limeade flavor being harder and harder to come by.  If I found it, I would buy the store out, even if I had a full week’s stock in the fridge already.  Something was wrong, I could sense it!

I told Rubies I was having trouble finding it.

She seemed concerned.  Gently, she interposed, “I don’t know, Ginger.  Maybe this will be a good thing for you.”

For the last two weeks, I’ve been completely unable to find it.  I was at a U-Gas when the Pepsi delivery man was there, so I asked him, “Hey, what’s up with the Limeade Kickstart?”

“What’s that?  Limeade what?”

“The one in the green can.”

“Hmmm.  The only one we have in a green can is, like watermelon.”

“NO NO NO!  The one that’s flavored like Mountain Dew.  The one in the deep delicious-looking green can!”

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.  No, they replaced that with Mango-Lime.”

So, my spidey-senses were right…

And according to this, it was discontinued in the United States in March 2017.  Now, you can only get in Australia.

I thought about ordering it from Australia, surely there’s a way to do that.  But that would be ridiculous.

It WOULD be ridiculous, right?  I definitely shouldn’t do that.  Right?  Right?

With that, I will leave you with my favorite Dan Seals song, which happens to be about a different sort of addiction: