Archive for the 'Clothing' Category

Fried footwear

Either I inherited my mom’s less than optimal circulation or I developed that condition on my own, but in either case, during half of the year my hands and feet are often cold. In addition, various weathering investment to the contrary, our 104-year-old house with its 29 windows tends to be hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Furthermore, we’ve been running our furnace in the lower range of comfortable this fall, and all those facts combined have led to my choice to wear my wrist warmers when working at my desk.

I’m always looking to improve situations, and it occurred to me that those wrist warmers would be even more effective if I could get them  toasty warm – as in, fresh out of the dryer – right before I put them on. Hmmm. . . while I could heat them in the microwave, it’s down in the kitchen and our office is upstairs. It would be ideal to have a convenient way to periodically reheat them, but how could this be accomplished? We’d obviously need another, smaller microwave up in the office. Not an option.

But pondering this conundrum one day, I suddenly remembered that when we bought our camper, the previous owners had left in it a small microwave. Aha! (Note that I have always thought the idea of camping with a microwave is an oxymoron, but whatever.) We probably wouldn’t be using the camper again over the winter, so I had Andrew bring that little microwave up to the office, where it fits perfectly on the bottom level of our big bookshelf. Voila! Lusciously warm wrist warmers whenever I want them!

But some of us don’t leave well enough alone.

When I get into bed at this time of year, my feet are always cold, and so I will confess here in the presence of all my readers that I do, yea and verily, sleep wearing my favorite (although now beginning to fall apart) fleece-lined slippers. Yes, even with my bed heater on. And yes, I have tried socks, but they just aren’t comfortable for me. I am pragmatic; I do what works, and my slippers work. But wouldn’t it be absolutely delightful to WARM the slippers right before putting them on?!? I just had to give it a try.

For my wrist warmers, a minute and ten seconds is perfect, but the slippers are a bit more massive, so on my trial run one afternoon, I put them in (after carefully examining them and confirming that there’s no metal anywhere on them; we wouldn’t want to start a fire or anything) for a minute and a half, just enough time to run to the bathroom, which I did. And coming back into the office, I smelled something that indicated that Andrew was cooking something downstairs. . . What exactly was it?. . .  Maybe. . . popcorn? But, silly boy, he must’ve burnt it. Yes, he clearly did. Something was obviously burning. I was about to holler down to him some humorous comment about his cooking skills when I turned into the office doorway and saw – and smelled – smoke!

Smoke?!? How could this be? What on earth was on fire in the office? And then the light bulb in my brain came on. My slippers in the microwave! Oh, no! I opened up the micro and smoke poured out. The slippers were definitely toasty warm, but why the smoke? What was going on? The wrist warmers hadn’t gotten burned. What was up? Well, as I examined the slippers, the mystery was solved. No, they don’t have any metal, but each one does have one large, oblong wooden button on the side that hooks two elastic loops together to hold them on your feet, and – surprise, surprise – it seems that wood and microwaves don’t play well together.  = {  With wooden buttons tightly against the elastic loops, the buttons must have gotten so hot that they caught the loops on fire; hence the smoke. Those loops looked like charred string, and the wooden buttons that had been the color of an oak kitchen cabinet were black.

The slippers themselves are fine, although with no closures they do now tend to slide off my feet in the night. There is a residual burning smell each time I use the micro, but that is fading with time. My wrists are toasty and happy, and I – who do truly love to learn – have learned that, like metal, wood should never be placed in a microwave.

Moral of the story: when zapping slippers, proceed with caution, and do not leave microwave unattended.

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Sweet deception

Five years ago, I started losing weight, and I kept losing weight until about a year ago, at which time I had lost a total of 40 pounds.  My weight has stayed the same for the past year.

Three years ago, I bought some dress pants that fit at the time (size 24), but by a year ago, they were a size too big (I really needed a 22).  They’ve been too big for a year and I’ve worn them anyway, because although I have looked all over for replacements, I haven’t found any in a fabric I like that will actually fit my size and shape.  Until a few weeks ago, when I saw some at JustMySize.com that seemed to have potential.

As instructed, I carefully measured my pertinent body parts and ordered two pairs – one black and one navy – in the size thusly indicated (as expected, 22).  The pants arrived and they were too big, but I wasn’t sure how much too big.  I sent them back and re-ordered a black in size 20 and a navy in size 18.  These pants arrived and the black pair (20) was too big, but the navy pair (18) fit just right.  I sent back the black 20s and ordered a black 18, which should arrive in a week or so.

But here’s the deal.  I know good and well that I am absolutely not a size 18!!  A year ago, I was a 22 and I haven’t changed a bit, so I’m sure I’m still a 22, but the makers of pants have evidently decided that I would feel better about myself if I wore a size 18, so they have taken a fine pair of pants that used to be called a 22 and are now calling it an 18.

Well, they are right.  I do feel better, but I also know it’s all really an elaborate lie. It’s difficult for me to reconcile this.  In many areas of life I am working hard to understand, believe, speak, and act on only the TRUTH, so admitting the fact that I am pleased to wear a lie is somewhat disconcerting.  I call this “sweet deception,” and I think I shall dig out and enjoy a piece of taffy in honor of it.

Low shoulder warning

Being now officially five feet one and-a-half inches tall and weighing 59 pounds more than would be officially considered “ideal,” I face all kinds of inconsistencies.  Given my girth, my legs should obviously be long enough to enable me to play as a power forward in the WNBA.  My arms should also clearly reach to six inches below my knees.  These little inconsistencies mean that I frequently have to shorten pants (sometimes even those sized “petite”), that cuff-less sleeves are a decided no-no, and that buttons on cuffs always need to be moved.  At least my wrists are nice and thin!

I recently bought four lovely tank tops to layer under other shirts.  I ordered them online from Target, and let us not even go into what I really think about illegal immigrants who hack other people’s credit card information.  Anyway, they are very nice, attractive, comfortable tank tops.  The only problem with them is that they have revealed yet another bodily anomaly that must be addressed:  my shoulders are decidedly too low.  According to these four beauties, my shoulders really should be mounted directly adjacent to my ears.  However, with my disturbingly low shoulder situation, if worn unaltered, these tanks would clearly be entirely too. . . ummm. . . revealing.

I didn’t want to return them, ’cause I really like them, and besides, any replacements I ordered would have, at least,  the exact same problem.  And before my vast reading public overwhelms me with comments about camis with adjustable straps, YES, I have already tried those, and please just trust me when I say that they don’t work well on this bod, either.

So, today I have embarked on one of those things in life that I really dislike, but which at certain times simply must be done.  Yes, read it and weep; I am sewing by hand.  So far I have only stuck myself once, and it wasn’t bad enough to draw blood, so I still feel at least marginally successful.

These tops will always be under something else, which means the shoulders will be invisible, so I am taking the easy way out and just tucking them.  However, even though I didn’t have to actually cut any material, I still had to measure and pin eight shoulders, thread a needle eight times (this is more difficult to do than I remembered from my pre-trifocal days!), and then sew around the edges of eight little rectangles of fabric, all while helping Andrew work a series of nifty algebra problems.  Here’s a typical example.  “If Katie leaves her apartment at 6:45 PM to drive in a 12 mph headwind to the BHC at a rate of 45 mph for the first six miles and at 55 mph for the remainder of the distance, how many Latin nouns will Josiah have declined when she arrives?”

I have completed the alterations on one shirt, and I have three more to go, but I decided I deserved a blogging break.  I now discipline myself to return to the needle.

How not to sell me something

I went to Dress Barn, NOT to see Tim Hawkins, but to try to find some nice shirts or sweaters for cooler weather.  And dress pants.  I am always on an on-going search for dress pants because even though my body is somewhat smaller than it used to be, it still is not the shape that ready-made dress pants come in.

Anyway, I did find several good items, including a pair of dress pants(!!!), and when I went to pay for them, the following conversation ensued.

Dress Barn Lady:  OK. . . let’s see.  That will be $125.

Me:  OK.

Dress Barn Lady:  And will you be putting that on your Dress Barn charge account?

Me:  No.

Dress Barn Lady:  Do you have a Dress Barn charge account?

Me:  No.

Dress Barn Lady:  Would you like to open one today?  If you do, you’ll get 20% off your entire purchase today.

Me:  Ummm. . . no, thank you.

Dress Barn Lady:  If you open a Dress Barn charge account, not only will you get 20% off your entire purchase today, you’ll also be signed up for all kinds of discounts in the future.

Me:  Well, we put all our purchases on our Visa card because it accrues frequent flyer miles and we use those to get our son home from college in Virginia.

Dress Barn Lady:  I understand, but if you open a Dress Barn charge account today, you’ll get 20% off your entire purchase today AND you’ll get all kinds of future discounts, and if you want, you can put today’s purchase on your Dress Barn charge account and then turn right around and use your Visa card to pay off the balance.  I can take care of all that right here.

Me (realizing the pot has suddenly gotten a LOT sweeter):  Well, OK.  That sounds like a deal.

So, I opened the Dress Barn charge account, and while I was giving her the info for that, I overheard another customer say, “. . . and I’ve got this coupon here.”  To which I said aloud without thinking, “Oh, darn.  I think I had one of those at home, too.  I should have thought to bring it.”  To which the Dress Barn Lady said, “. . . and your total now is $75, after your 20% discount and I gave you the coupon discount, as well.  My, this woman knew how to float my boat!

I floated out of there with great new clothes and enough discounts that I didn’t feel guilty.

A couple weeks later my pink (and very hard to read with silver lettering) Dress Barn charge card arrived in the mail, sporting a peel-off sticker that instructed me to call a toll-free number to activate my card before first use.  I called the number and a friendly young lady we’ll call Jasmine answered.

She asked me how my day was going and how the weather was treating me.  I actually hadn’t called in a quest for extended small talk; I just wanted to activate my Dress Barn charge card – even though it does have a 24.99% (!!!) annual percentage rate (APR) for purchases.  Good thing I’ll be paying it off with my trusty SouthWest airlines Visa card every time I make a purchase!

I told Jasmine I just wanted to activate my card and she pressed some magic button somewhere in the Dress Barn sky and told me my card was activated and she would now enroll me in Account Assurance.  Ummm. . . I didn’t think that was part of the deal, Jasmine!  But before I could formulate the words, “I don’t want to be enrolled in Account Assurance, she barreled on with something like this:

“Account Assurance will give you peace of mind that your account will be paid in full in the event of an unforeseen event, such as illness, injury, job loss, or death.  AND Account Assurance is available for a mere $1.99 per $100, and on any billing date in which your account balance is zero, there is absolutely no charge, so I’m enrolling you in Account Assurance. . .”

Because she finally took a breath, I quickly said, “No, Jasmine, I’m not interested in Account Assurance.”

To which she replied, “I totally understand, Mrs. Roberts. . . ”  And I hoped – against hope – that that would be the end of that, but no; she kept going.  (I figured she was going to give me another set of reasons why I would be a fool not to enroll in Account Assurance, so I sighed quietly and braced myself for the new onslaught.)

Jasmine:  “. . . but I want you to realize that Account Assurance will give you peace of mind that your account will be paid in full in the event of an unforeseen event, such as illness, injury, job loss, or death.  AND Account Assurance is available for a mere $1.99 per $100, and on any billing date in which your account balance is zero, there is absolutely no charge, so I’m enrolling you in Account Assurance. . .”

Me:  “NO!  You’ve told me the same information twice,” (which, although I didn’t say it to her, insults my intelligence and hence is NOT an effective way to sell me anything), “and I already told you I don’t want Account Assurance.  I only wanted to activate my Dress Barn credit card.”

Jasmine:  “Your card is activated, Mrs. Roberts, and thank you for calling Dress Barn card activation services.  Have a great day.”

Should I give her one point for persistence?  Or would that be a daisy dollar?

Walking, talking, and folding

About the only times I don’t walk in the morning are when we’re out of town, when I need to prepare breakfast for house guests, and when it’s raining heavily.

This morning, it was  raining heavily.  As in, I awoke to raging thunder and lightning and a steady downpour.  I watched the lightning flash through the bedroom.  I listened to the thunder boom-boom-BOOMing continuously.  I looked out the window and saw that it was much more than a drizzle, so I gave myself 20 extra minutes and then got up and showered without having walked.  The whole experience was quite odd and distasteful.

I do so cherish my morning walk!

I other news, I think I should get some kind of commendation for “Most Time Spent on the Phone for Non-Social Calls.”  It seems like I have dealt with an awful lot of things that need someone else’s attention this week.  Right now, I can’t even remember the order of all of them, but here are the high points.

Andrew’s phone – the new card came but wouldn’t work.  Techno Mama had to figure out why not and what to do about it.  Turns out it wasn’t activated, so I talked with AT&T to deal with that.

The Internet – why is Al never around when it doesn’t work?  That’s kind of like the heat and air guy who will install your new unit but who won’t service it.  Our internet gave up the ghost, so I became intimately acquainted with ALL the arms and legs of the several flow charts that drive the logic of CenturyLink’s automated customer service system.  Now, I’m posting to my blog, so it works.

We opted to rent a trash can, and that was a relatively short and painless call.  Our new (to us) can is huge and a quite lovely shade of blue.

I called to scheduled the next phase of the work on Jessica’s bathroom ceiling.

I called to arrange to have Reno’s brakes serviced.  BTW, be it known that, in order for Llamas to repeatedly over a several-week time period deliver sub sandwiches “so fast you’ll freak,” they must both stop and start their vehicles very frequently and with great rapidity and intensity.  When utilizing a family car for this function, so doing will result in said family car’s brake light remaining continually in attention-getting red “on” condition, and greater than normal pressure on the brake pedal will be required to stop the vehicle.  The Pelican surmises that in the future, she should encourage any resident Llamas to either drive their own cars for freakingly fast sandwich deliveries, or – somewhat akin to a vacation rental agreement – pay a service deposit, to be refunded when no service is required.

I don’t really mind getting Reno’s brakes serviced.  I will be doing so one morning next week.  The only thing I really mind is that the time of this particular brake repair appointment coincides inconveniently with the effects of My Friend Bumetanide, and as best I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be a public restroom in that particular shop.  Given the appearance of some mechanics – although noting that we pay them to repair cars, not to look dashing – perhaps that is a good thing.

I seem to be in “get ‘er done” mode these days.  I like that mode.  Andrew flows well in that mode, too, so we are both getting things done that have needed to be done for a while.  He detailed the inside of the Durango today.  Don’t tell him that I hadn’t really noticed anything in the Durango that appeared to need any attention, but he, of his own volition, spent the better part of two hours thoroughly cleaning it, while sweating in the sun and listening to Andrew Peterson.  A mom surely can’t complain about that!

While Andrew cleaned the clean car, I tackled what I had assumed was going to be an impossible task – dealing with Jo’s clothes.

I have probably mentioned that Jo has a LOT of clothes.  And that he probably didn’t take very many of them with him.  Which means that the majority of them are still here. . . and NO ONE knows if they are clean or dirty.  I chose to assume that the dress pants and shirts hanging (un-ironed, by my choice) in his closet are clean.  Therefore, I left them all hanging there.  If and when he wants me to ship any of them to him, I will gladly do so, but since they would all get completely wrinkled in transit, I’m not about to iron them.  Llamas can do that for themselves.

As to the clothes on the bed, in the baskets, on the floor, and in other similar locations, I had Andrew load them up – it required three large baskets, and they were overflowing –  and haul them to the laundry room.  Yes, I did wash and dry them all over again.  Hey, judge not, that you be not judged!!!  What you do with YOUR Llama’s clothing of unknown cleanliness is YOUR business.  I had designs on these clothes and I did not want to mix and match clean with dirty when I stored them.

Of course, the washing and drying is no big deal; machines do that.  It’s the folding that can drive a person of normal intelligence to the edge of insanity.  I folded them all.  Not only did I fold them all, I folded them into neat piles, and then (again because of the designs I had) I stacked them all with their like members and labeled the stacks, using wordings like, “Jeans,” “Holey Jeans,” Colored Undershirts,” and the like.  My goal was to put back into his drawers only one week’s worth of summer clothes and one week’s worth of winter clothes AND to pack everything else away in such a manner that if he called, texted, chatted, or emailed me a request for some subset of his more than ample wardrobe, I could easily and with minimal stress put my hand on the desired article(s).

The entire dining room table – plus three dining room chairs – was covered with stacks of clothing approximately a foot deep.  Some of the stacks were taller.  I should have taken a picture of all those neatly labeled stacks!  Just for grins, I will share SOME of the quantities we’re talking.

Dress socks – 3 pairs

White socks, ankle – 9 pairs

White socks, crew – 8 pairs

White socks, individual, ankle or crew, unmatchable to each other or to any other socks in the house – 17 (sizes variable)

AIM T-shirts, wearable – 9, in three different sizes

AIM T-shirts, holey – 2

Other T-shirts, wearable – 16

Other short-sleeved shirts, knit, casual – 2

Short-sleeved collared shirts – 3

Note that none of the above shirts are B-cazh and all of them are short-sleeved.  This comes to a total of 30 wearable short-sleeved shirts, none of which can be worn to class at college.  Maybe that’s why he didn’t take them. . .

Furthermore, note that before I unceremoniously dumped all the mismatched ones into our huge, lovely blue trash can, the young man was technically in possession of some 51 individual white socks, all of which he cannot – or at least ought not – wear to class.

I will spare our loyal readers the six pairs of jeans, six pairs of holey jeans, and three different sizes (!!!) of certain other essential items of apparel.  The whole thing was quite the logistical nightmare puzzle, but I did eventually start hauling a small subset of the loot back up to his drawers.  Imagine, then, my horror, when upon opening said drawers, they were found to be FULL OF CLEAN CLOTHES!

Pelicans are nothing if not determined, so I pressed on, hauling the dresser contents back down to the dining room, folding them, and, in the spirit of solving an algebraic equation, combining like terms.  Then, FINALLY, I was able to put MY idea of an appropriate amount of clothing NEATLY into the Llama’s stall and close the door behind me.

The rest of the bounty is now boxed and neatly filed in the playroom under “J” for “Josiah’s clothes.”  I feel successful.

Llama Laundry – maybe for the LAST time?

Andrew is cleaning Josiah’s room.  This has become a traditional event after Josiah leaves.  (You know, when kids are in college they leave an awful lot.  This is admittedly draining on the emotions of their mothers, but that would be a topic for a different post.)  Andrew likes to clean, and in the case of Josiah’s room, he appreciates the cash I pay him to do it.  I then bill Josiah, who appreciates being able to zip out of his room without having to worry about cleaning it (and without being nagged by his mother to clean it).  When all is said and done, everyone is happy.

The kicker is the clothing.  I am pretty sure Josiah owns enough clothes to outfit four software engineers for three weeks in any season.  He is also somewhat averse to folding said clothing.  This means that when a load of clean clothes comes out of the dryer, he piles them in a laundry basket and carries them back to his room.  He drops  the basket on the floor (we know because in the living room, we hear the thud and watch the ceiling light fixture tremble), right next to a variety of finer basketed or unbasketed dirty clothes (or are they clean clothes?) that may have built up on the floor since in recent days.  He does sling the clothes off the bed so he can sleep in it, although a couple days before he left this time, I found him in bed asleep, fully clothed.  Perhaps that was to make his morning more efficient?

When dressing, and he does dress, llamas being modest creatures, I suspect that Jo uses the olfactory test to determine clothing cleanliness, and what with things mixing together as they do, after a few days, there is really no accurate way to determine whether the clothes in a basket or on the floor are clean or dirty.  Therefore, periodically, they ALL get thrown back into the washer!

Today is one of those days.  Andrew just completed his very convincing miracle worker imitation, in a mere 90 minutes transforming the Llama’s stall from an incredibly messy mess to a pristine, sweet-smelling guest room.  I’m telling you, that boy can clean!

But now, since we can’t figure out the status of Jo’s heaps of clothes – and since I’m not about to shove my nose into any of them – I’m going to haul them all down, wash them all, dry them all, and fold or hang them all.  But once I get that done, I’m going to sort through them and place in his room ONE week’s worth of summer clothes and ONE week’s worth of winter clothes.  The rest will be stored in boxes up in the playroom.

The truth is that I secretly suspect that my oldest son never wears most of what he owns, and therefore will never miss it.  In fact, I could probably give most of it away and he’d never even notice.  (Oh, don’t worry, my dear furry mammal!  I know you’re reading this, and you can trust your Pelican not to get RID of any of it.  She’ll just ummm “reposition” a large percentage of it.)

My question to myself is, “WHY are we washing these items over and over and over?!?!?”  I am quite sure I am smarter than this, and beginning today, I’m going to act like it!