June 1, 2023

odds & ends: OK, mostly odd

Published: This is not chronological, forgive me. Ed and I stayed in a hotel as we drove Uncle's car home. Monday morning, I checked my email and there was a message from a publisher called Free Spirit. They selected one of my chapters to publish in an upcoming book of compiled stories. The book's theme is 'competition.' My chapter is about when my brothers and I sold candy bars for a school fundraiser. 

The sale ordeal was frustrating, so imagine my delight that I'm scoring points with it some 41 years later. 

Say what?:  My mom decided to join Curly and I on our quick visit to Mini mid-April. Mom was very excited about my collage banner-creations and she wanted to tag along when I handed them out to Mini's friends. 

A week later, my sister, Marie, attended a few of Curly's b-ball games in Milwaukee. That was very nice of her, considering one practically needs to take out a second mortgage to afford the basketball entrance fees. I suggested we meet up outside of the games because who owns a money tree, but she insisted. 

Marie:  So, I'm going to Notre Dame next week to watch youngest daughter sing in her choir concert. I asked Mom to come with me, but she keeps saying she'll think about it. I got a room and planned to do some work during the day before the concert. I thought Mom could walk around campus while I'm working. I think she's gonna say no, because she was just at Notre Dame with you. ***Who talks like that? 

*Mom did NOT end up going to Notre Dame. 

Long time readers will recall that my two older sisters did lunches, shopping sprees, or weekend trips with Mom and excluded me over the years. Bottom line - Ann doesn't like spending time with me. The fam caters to what Ann wants because of her divorce. (whispered/hushed tones). Honestly that divorce was a nightmare and I'm not suggesting otherwise, but enabling Ann and her controlling behaviors by excluding me is not, in my opinion, the healthiest approach. 

Ann dislikes hanging with me, I think, because I say it like it is and because I like to tell a good story. When I used to spend more time with Ann (I don't do that very often anymore), she'd bat a hand at me MID-STORY, shaking her head:  OK ERNIE, THAT'S ENOUGH.

How can she be Irish? 

Fast-forward, Mom has Alzheimer's and I was pleasantly surprised that she agreed to go with Curly and I to visit Mini for a few hours. Exactly what am I supposed to feel here -  guilty? Was I expected to apologize? I never, ever would - but I felt like Marie saying this to me was off the rails. 

*I share this now, because my upcoming Texas adventure has a Marie component that is easier to appreciate with a little background. 

It's the little things - or in this case, the lid things:  I love Pyrex. I cook big batches of meals and then store leftovers in my glass Pyrex containers. I like Pyrex better than Tupperware, because I feel like Tupperware retains smells - and I already have 4 sons who retain plenty of smells. 

The lids to my wonderful Pyrex collection have not held up. Do my children use claws when claiming their leftovers? Perhaps. 

I finally realized I might be able to order replacements. Amazon sells small groups of lids that didn't align with the sizes I needed. Instead I ordered directly from the Pyrex website. I'm tickled with my refreshed lid collection.

Did I place my order and then 10  minutes later cancel said order when I realized that I had a few more lids that I needed to replace? Well, yes. Yes, I did. It was buy one get one (lowest value) half price, which was nice and shipping wasn't free - so I wanted to get it right the first time.

Is it just me? I sometimes feel like Amazon owns me. Don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate Amazon so much. I like to feel independent though. Like I can make my own decisions and I don't rely on a huge company for EVERYTHING. I'm no lemming, damn it. Buying without Amazon was freeing, even if the shipping wasn't. 

A rock by any other name:  Have I mentioned that Tank arrived home Sunday evening? It's great to have him home.

Monday morning, I got a text from Ed - in the wee hours while I was sleeping. He invited me to stick my head into the boys' room (Tank, Ed, and Reg) and take a whiff. He equated the smell to a horse's ass. Believe it or not, I took a pass. Ed feared that Tank hadn't showered before he went to bed. 

Tank: (the next morning, when I asked about the smell) Oh, no -that's my luggage. I showered. My luggage smells really bad though. I need to do laundry. 

Later, he came downstairs looking confused. 

Tank:  Someone put this rock in my bag. No idea who.

Someone wrote ROCK OF CASHEL on it. Rock of Cashel is a castle, so it was clearly a joke. The next day, it dawned on me. It was Victor. 

Tank stayed with my friend's folks in Ireland before flying to Budapest. He left his big bag there, then he flew back to Ireland, stayed with Vic and wife, picked up his bag, and flew home. He'd shared that when he told Victor that he bought a piece of the Berlin Wall, he'd teased him about it. 

Victor: Ah, now. I would've sold you a piece of the Berlin Wall, sure. I could just go into the garden, just there - grab a rock and write Berlin Wall on it. Ya see?

Victor is hilarious. He's around 80 years old. When I told Tank it had to be Victor, he was like OF COURSE.

Did you know you can replace Pyrex lids? Strong feelings about Amazon? Have you bought a rock from a place, or something else that might not have been legit?


Bijoux said...

I do love Amazon because there are very few things you can’t find on it. It has saved me so much running around. I recently got a Corningware glass lid replacement to one my daughter accidentally broke. I agree that Tupperware retains odors (and stains).

Early congrats on the story!! That’s so cool! A few years ago, Middle Child had a story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. It was very exciting!

Pat Birnie said...

Congrats on your story being published!! So exciting.
I just found out that you can buy replacement lids for Pyrex on amazon. Good news as mine are starting to crack. I use amazon but feel a bit guilty at times after reading about how non-environmental they are and watching the movie showing how their employees are treated.

Colleen said...

Wow so much going on, as usual! Congrats on the story, your relationship with Marie seems hopeful? Get on board Ann. That rock story is so funny, my dad would totally do that to someone, he's 83 and from Ireland so ya know. Boys and their smells - I so agree and would have passed on the free whiff :)

mbmom11 said...

I love amazon- I call it "my friend Jeff". We can get so many things like home repair tools and autoparts from there efficiently. I live in a lower population area, so we don't have a variety of store options. I can mail gifts to friends and college kids with ease. And they make returns so easy. So Amazon owns me!

Anonymous said...

I think your sister's plan for your mom to wander around Notre Dame solo was nuts, so it's just as well that your mom said no. I cannot tell you how many early dementia stories I've read that have centered around the family realizing something was wrong when the person got lost driving home on familiar roads or couldn't find their own car in a parking lot. Your mom getting lost on a college campus or wandering into the surrounding town sounds like a nightmare.

I would bet a lot that coming with you for a trip lasting a few hours, one where she was most likely physically with you the whole time, was a completely better experience for her than Marie's plan. Especially if it wasn't an overnight trip, which it sounds like it wasn't.

Is Marie in denial about the diagnosis? Or not good at connecting dots?

Nicole said...

Congrats on your story! That's great news!
I did not know you can order lids for Pyrex! What doesn't amazon have, seriously!

Ernie said...

Bijoux - I can't remember what life was like before Amazon. I can't believe I waited this long to search for replacement lids. Duh. Congrats to your daughter - getting a story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul is huge.

Ernie said...

Pat - Thank you. I'm excited. Just when I start to feel hopeless - someone agrees to publish something and it gives me a little boost.

I have not seen the movie about how Amazon treats employees. That sounds interesting - but if it is anything like that book I read about Walmart's employees, it might be upsetting.

Ernie said...

Colleen - Thank you. It is a funny story now, but at the time it burned me up. A guy in my reading group admitted that he wanted to punch someone when he read it. Double standards were the code we lived by as kids.

My sisters remain committed to engaging with their nieces and nephews when they get the chance, which is nice. We've been to Milwaukee enough times when they were out of town or had other plans, so I could tell she wanted to get to one of Curly's games. Marie does continue to live as though she matters more to my folks and anything that doesn't align with that mindset throws her off her A game, which I find exhausting.

I thought of your dad when I was writing this story. I imagine a man with a good Irish sense of humor would get a kick out of it. So funny.

Ernie said...

mbmom11 - I laughed at how you call Amazon your friend Jeff. I feel like Amazon owns me too. I can't remember what I did before free shipping. Sending gifts cannot be any easier. I was happy that the Pyrex site allowed me to order lids one at a time instead of in a group. I definitely needed a whole bunch - like 10 lids, but my needs were not aligning with what Amazon was offering.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - Well, Mom is doing very well. She still takes walks every day on her own. She also knows ND campus really well, but it is true that at some point that will not work for her, and we don't exactly know when that will be.

I think Mom likes to be home most of the time, so I suspect the short duration of our trip made it more agreeable to her.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Thank you. It's funny how the last few I had published were online journals and I felt like it was 'less' exciting because it wasn't in print. This time I feel like it is harder to share with people because it is in book form. ;)

Gigi said...

Congrats on the article/chapter!! That's great news.

I also love my Pyrex but it amazes me that those lids are so poorly made. I just replenished my lids from, you guessed it, Amazon. I ended up with one extra lid, but I figure it will be needed sooner or later.

Busy Bee Suz said...

PUBLISHED!! Woot Woot! Booh Yah! Congrats.
Now, please don't share with your parents/siblings because they will find some sort of fault with it.
Do I have permission to visit Marie and slap her silly? Please...

I love Pyrex glassware. Knock on wood, all my lids are in good shape, but I don't have teenagers! I use Amazon about 2x a month, and it's super convenient. Remember driving all over looking for various items? That doesn't happen as often now and I'm thankful.

Nicola said...

Amazing news on getting published! Well done! I enjoy your writing so much that it is a mystery to me why they don't accept your stuff more. Sadly we don't have amazon in South Africa yet. We can order from America but delivery costs, speed and customs fees defy the whole point of it. When I lived in England I loved amazon and how easy, cheap and quick it was to order from there or any website. We have two websites that are similar to amazon, although with far less variety and not super good prices. The real issue is that our postal system is in such shambles that EVERYTHING has to be couriered. This means delivery is seldom free (actually quite expensive) and only free if you have spent *a lot* of money.

We have loads of tupperware - some from my granny!- that has lasted incredibly well. We use it mostly for storing food or taking it somewhere, we don't heat in it. And haven't had any issues with smell retention or staining. If food is being eaten in the next day or two and will all be heated at once, we have some lidded glass bowls (of various sizes) that can go directly in the microwave.

Jenny in WV said...

I have to agree with your Mom on skipping the trip with Marie, I probably wouldn't want to tag along on a trip where I was told "I'm gonna do some work, but you can go for a walk". I think I'd opt to stay home.

I don't have any Pyrex with lids and only a small amount of Tupperware. Most of my storage containers are from dollar stores or Big Lots so I'm not too sad if one gets lost or damaged.

Loved the Rock of Cashel story, an unusual keepsake to remember the visit with Victor.

Congrats on getting published!

Bibliomama said...

Omg, Victor IS hilarious - I love that he did it and waited for it to be discovered.
I hate Amazon and yet I cannot break free of it. Bezos is evil and if I can get stuff anywhere other than Amazon, I will, but then there is stuff that I NEED and ONLY Amazon has it, and it practically arrives her five minutes after I place the order. I hate myself.

Kari said...

Congratulations on being published! I hope you'll share it here!

I love Pyrex storage as well, and yes, those lids are easily damaged. I didn't realize you could order replacements, so I'll look into it.

I can smell the luggage from here...

Ernie said...

Gigi - Thank you.

I think in the end I could've probably ordered from Amazon, because when I dug into that drawer and took note of just HOW many tops I needed, well - it was substantial. A few extras would've not been a bad thing. They really don't hold up well.

Ernie said...

Suz - Thank you. I'm excited. I instantly announced to my people that I would not be sharing this with my family of origin. They definitely wouldn't like this chapter, because things happened here that were not nice, whereas the other time it was just a funny memory.

Yes, you may slap Marie around. I will supply a pile of wet noodles to slap her with. I sometimes want to ask - can you hear the words that come out of your mouth?

Ernie said...

NIcola - Thank you for the high praise of my writing. It really is tough to get things published. There is a ton of talent in the world.

The shipping costs combined with a lack of access to Amazon would make me lost my mmind. Good grief.

How great that you have Tupperware handed down from granny. I once paid less attention to what dishes I used in the microwave, but nowadays I only use glass to heat food up.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I have grown to incorporate a good deal of Gladware in my food storage supply because it if doesn't come back to me - then no big deal.

Mom has become more of a home body since her memory has begun to fade. She holds a special place in her heart for ND, but I don't think she likes to be away from home much. Freaky that this worked in my favor for once.

I love the rock in the luggage story. It makes me chuckle to think of Victor hiding the rock from his yard in Tank's luggage.

Thank you. I needed that bit of affirmation that writing isn't a total waste of time.

Ernie said...

Ali - It was a really good prank. I hear you on the Amazon thing. How do they get things to my house so quickly. Amazon has become a necessary part of life and I shudder to think of how I would get on without it, but it feels wrong to me because most things that are THAT big are not the greatest.

Ernie said...

Kari - Thank you. I'm not sure if I can post a link to the story here because I believe it is being published in book form. It's funny to me that initially getting published in an online place felt less 'real' and now getting published in something that isn't easy to share feels old school. ;)

Getting new lids to my Pyrex has felt like Christmas in May. Who knew?

I didn't mean to waft the luggage scent up to you in the northern 'burbs.

Ally Bean said...

While you're on the topic of Pyrex lids, I'd like to add that beyond not holding up ours get lost in the cabinets under the fancy shelves that roll out. The lids just glide off the shelf when we put them away, then hide under the shelf so that I think none are there. When you remodel your kitchen and get the cabinets with the snazzy shelves no on tells you about this. It's a first world problem, but it's still annoying af.

Beth Cotell said...

I have replaced my Pyrex lids before and it is such a great feeling! It's like getting a whole new set of Pyrex! Clearly, it's the little things in life that make me happy.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oh how exciting! Congrats on the publication!!!

Loved this sentence: "I like Pyrex better than Tupperware, because I feel like Tupperware retains smells - and I already have 4 sons who retain plenty of smells. "

Ernie said...

Ally - I store my Pyrex in a similar 'easy' access drawer. The lids falling under the drawer is a hassle. I do have long arms, but I never assume the lids have dropped under the drawer - so I search all thru the drawer first.

Ernie said...

Beth - I totally am on the same page - it may be a little thing, but I didn't know it was even possible and it has given my kitchen a refreshed feeling. Love it.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Thank you. I'm excited.

Can you tell that I have two boys who've returned home from college?

Amy said...

Amazon is definitely my go to. Actually, I was so disappointed to find I couldn't order the boutonniere and corsage for my son's prom. I actually have to go to a florist! Horrors.

I have hardly any tupperware these days. My kids make them disappear. For example, my older son brings his lunch in them to work. And somehow they never make it home...?! So now I order Chinese or some other takeout that comes in good containers when I need storage containers. It's a win-win - I don't have to cook dinner, and I get containers! I select the deli meat for sandwiches that comes in containers too.

Ernie said...

Amy - You ARE hooked on Amazon. I laughed at your hope to order prom flowers from Amazon.

The thing that baffles me is the disappearance of the lids. Where do they go? My kids don't take them to school for lunches, so what is happening to the lids . . . they must be in the house. Right? One of the tots I sit for brings her lunch in the former lunchmeat containers. Good plan.