CONSOLIDATION!

Here is an interesting thought to ponder on while moving forward in 2021: As we get older, leastways to my way of thinking, we should do our best to consolidate wherever we can. Think about it – some of us – when we retired or were down-sized – decided, “Hey, that isn’t such a bad idea.” Why don’t we downsize as well – who needs humongous living quarters? So, what did we do?  We downsized our living quarters as well.  We consolidate our space.

But why stop there, why not learn to consolidate on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. By now you are probably wondering how to consolidate? Especially now that we are now living in smaller quarters. What else could we do? Well, think about it for a moment.  Let’s start with breakfast and oh, before I go any further, here is the definition of the word consolidate:

Combine (a number of things) into a single more effective or coherent whole.

Let’s start with breakfast. Eating the same cereal day in and day out can get rather old and boring. So, on your next trip to the grocery store, buy three or four different cereals and then when you get home, find yourself a five-gallon plastic jug or can (remember when chips and/or pretzels came in large cans). Try to stay away from glass as we old geezers don’t want to strain anything especially at breakfast time, cause what I am about to suggest might be hard to handle when we first arise in the morning.  See where this is heading? Take the cereal – whether it is flakes, bran, squares, one with raisins, chocolate covered puffs, or whatever, and mix it all up in this five-gallon jug or can.

You could even, using your last name, call it something wild and crazy like: “Smith’s fortified, frosted, fruity, chocolate covered raisin bran flakes!” It will be a smorgasbord of cereals. I am suggesting that you name it because in some homes, I have seen such containers used for the pet’s food and well, we wouldn’t want to get them mixed up. More about that later. Doing this would consolidate numerous boxes that are cluttering up the pantry into one big jar or can. I would say box – but I’m not sure they make a box that big.

And you would not have to stop there. Think about it.  How many of you reading this article love pretzels? Now, how many of you have also tried Snyder’s flavored pretzels? For those of you unfamiliar with Snyders flavors, I am here to tell you that they come in: Honey Mustard & Onion, Hot Buffalo Wing, Cheddar Cheese, Jalapeno, Buttermilk Ranch, and Sweet Chili Garlic flavors. I can feel the flavors exploding in my mouth as I write the words. Using similar containers as described earlier (remember the big variety pop-corn containers) – toss a bag of each of these tasty pretzels into the jar or can and then gently shake it up to mix up the pretzels (nuggets are the best). I cannot imagine what such a concoction must taste like – but hey – anything to eliminate several partially eaten bags of pretzel nuggets taking up space in your pantry once they are opened.  

Here’s another thought but this might apply to a large family. And being retired, chances are there are just two of you in the house. But if you are like my wife and I – she likes some things that I don’t and vice versa. So, in order to please each of us – we tend to buy two types of ice cream and then if (when we could have company) you entertain often and need other flavors of ice cream in the house, we tend to buy one or two other flavors as well. Well, consolidation would work here too once the cartons become almost but not completely empty. What do you do? Seeing that each only has a spoonful or two of ice cream left in the container, combine/consolidate them into one bucket or tub. Only problem with this solution is that when looking into the tub, it may just look like someone wasn’t feeling good one night and well – let your imagination take it from here.

Oh, and guess what, you could do the same thing with the various half-empty containers of cookies that might be taking up too much space in your pantry. Combine them all into one big container. Now here comes the fun part – whenever anyone wants a cookie – you be the one to offer it to them but instead of letting them look into the container to pick and choose – hold the container high enough so that they have to stretch to put their hand into the container and thus will not be able to see what they are getting. Doing it this way would make getting a cookie seem like it is Halloween – every time they reach into the container for a cookie: “Trick or Treat!” Now this could present a problem though because every now and then someone must be the sentinel and responsible for rotating the stock. Otherwise, you are going to have a problem.  If the stock is not rotated, you will never really know if they are getting a cookie that was baked this year or one that may have been baked last year. I mean – let’s face it – Day Old is one thing but One Year Old – well that is quite another thing!

This combining of things can get a bit out of hand though if one is not careful. For instance, say you have several opened bags of various items/snacks such as Doritos, Buttermilk Ranch flavored chips, Salt and Vinegar flavored chips, Jalapeno flavored taco chips, etc., and noticing that there are not enough in the way of quantity to fill a big can, they all get consolidated into one bag. Now seeing that the Doritos bag has the least amount of snacks in it, you choose this bag as your bag to use for consolidation purposes. Chances are the next person to reach in for a Dorito may end up with a Jalapeno potato chip instead. Not good and if there are small children visiting and this happens to them, well, they might just become skeptics and will stop believing in everything. I mean reaching in a Doritos bag and coming out with a Jalapeno potato chip might just tend to mess with their little minds.

Why one person took the consolidation situation so seriously that their child reached into a box marked graham crackers, pulled it out of the box and quickly took a bite only to realize she had bit into a piece of RyKrisp – (Remember Ry-Krisp? RyKrisp is a brand of rye crisp bread.) It is hard to offer that little girl a graham cracker to this day.

One has to be careful with this concept especially if the plan is to consolidate medicines as well. Saving space by using only one bottle for various pills can cause serious problems. For instance, one of your relatives may ask for an aspirin and when providing them with a pill from the consolidation bottle, you really do not know if you are giving them something that will cure a headache ( baby aspirin), sweeten their breath ( a Tic Tac that looks like a pill), put them to sleep (melatonin), dry up their sinuses (Benadryl), make the person regular again (fiber), or make sure they don’t get pregnant (birth control pill).

So, if you are married to someone that may be trying to consolidate the contents of various containers into one container to save space, do take care. Now go and have your breakfast but before you do, you may want to check the dog’s food supply to make sure that bag is still full!

Until next time!

Anyone Hungry?

What can one say about the word “Sandwich”?

Club Sandwich

First thing I thought of was several sandwiches that I thoroughly enjoy. While three came immediately to mind I thought it best to do some research though into the word “Sandwich.” So before I show you some of my favorites, I feel it only right that a bit of information about the word sandwich is in order. According to Wikipedia:

The word sandwich that we use today was born in London during the very late hours one night in 1762 when an English nobleman, John Montagu (1718-1792), the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was too busy gambling to stop for a meal even though he was hungry. The legend goes that he ordered a waiter to bring him roast-beef between two slices of bread. The Earl was able to continue his gambling while eating his snack; and from that incident, we have inherited that quick-food product that we now know as the sandwich. He apparently had the meat put on slices of bread so he wouldn’t get his fingers greasy while he was playing cards. It’s strange that the name of this fiend should have gone down in history connected to such an innocent article of diet.

Having said that allow me to share with you the three favorite sandwiches I enjoy. Hailing from Reading, PA, we grew up on Italian sandwiches and the ones we liked best were those that came from a sandwich shop whose name only consisted of two letters but that is all I will say. Oh, as a matter of information – again according to Wikipedia:

The Italian sandwich, and a fact I did not know, is sometimes referred to as the Maine Italian sandwich. This is an American submarine sandwich in Italian-American cuisine and is prepared on a long bread roll (sometimes referred to as a hard or soft roll depending on your preference with meats, cheese and various vegetables. The ingredients serve to counterbalance one-another, creating an equilibrium of flavors and texture. Again according to the information I found on Wikipedia, the Italian sandwich was invented in Portland, Maine, in 1903 by Giovanni Amato, a baker. This particular sandwich is known by various names depending on what part of the country you are from. It is known as a submarine sandwich or a sub in Boston, Massachusetts, a spuckie in East Boston, and I have also heard the term “Grinder” used when describing the sandwich.  

The second sandwich we order when hungry for a sandwich is the Reuben sandwich. Again according to Wikipedia this is an American hot sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread.

The third most favorite of sandwiches that come to mind is a Monte Cristo which is a fried ham and cheese sandwich, a variation of the French croque-monsieur. Again according to Wikipedia, in the 1930s-1960s, American cookbooks had recipes for this sandwich, under such names as French Sandwich, Toasted Ham Sandwich, and French Toasted Cheese Sandwich. As another point of information, Emmental or Gruyere cheese is typically used. Oh, and one restaurant we frequented for this sandwich also made the sandwich between two slices of Raisin Bread. Delicious.

One sandwich I have never been able to understand though or eat is the Dagwood. Again according to Wikipedia, a Dagwood (sandwich) is a tall, multi-layered sandwich made with a variety of meats, cheeses, and condiments. It was named after Dagwood Bumstead, a central character in the comic strip Blondie (his wife), who is frequently illustrated making enormous sandwiches.

Well, there you have it, my contribution to my word of the day – sandwich.

If I made you hungry, now would be a good time to go make yourself a sandwich and enjoy.

Until next time!

Wake Up!

Must I wake up?

How many of you reading this post wake up to a loud ringing in your ears from the alarm clock setting on the nightstand next to your bed? Ever think about the possibility that there must be a better way to wake up to a new day?

Thinking along these lines, somewhere over the course of my lifetime, I have heard people say they are able to identify with others by the songs we hear in our heads. Interesting thought! Perhaps we could use this thought process when we first wake as well. What’s that?  You need an example. Okay, try this for size – I read somewhere that there was this one individual that looked forward to waking up to a song by Neil Sedaka. That song was “Breaking Up is Hard to Do!” Now before I get too far into this, cause I can hear the gears already working saying: “Who would want to wake up to such a song?” I merely said they enjoyed waking up to the song, I didn’t say they enjoyed the words of the song as they were written. In this instance, this person changed one word to suit his needs and that word was “Breaking”.  This individual replaced the word “Breaking” with the word ‘Waking’ and you have: “Waking Up Is Hard to Do!”

The older I get, the harder it becomes to wake up and get this old body moving. Now, if I myself wanted to go back in time, I could wake to a song by K.C. & The Sunshine Boys entitled: “Shake, Shake, Shake”, Shake Your Booty.  But at my age I would replace the words “Shake, Shake, Shake” with: “Wake, Wake, Wake”, Wake your booty!” Although now that I think about it, this old booty doesn’t do much shaking early in the morning. Now, get that first cup of coffee in me and well I had best not go there as one never knows who may be reading this post.

Okay, now that I am up and out of bed, let’s get that first cup of coffee. I am not one to have a pot of coffee as soon as I wake, although I do look forward to and enjoy that first cup. While drinking that first cup of coffee, I also read the news, emails, and quite possibly Facebook. Oh, and I also sit there and write down a list of all the things (some for me and some “Honey-Dos”) I need to accomplish before the end of the day. Thinking back to a couple of years ago, the way I moved in the morning – some might have thought I run on Dunkin. But not so anymore. Besides, were I to down more than one cup of coffee while still trying to decide if I am awake enough to function properly, somewhere in the far recesses of my brain a little voice is saying: “You better not be asleep when all that fluid hits your bladder.”

I have decided though that what I need, in addition to that first cup of coffee, is a walk in the brisk morning air to rouse me to a full state of consciousness. Having recently moved to a new location with different surroundings, I have not quite got to that point (yet did so most days at our last home) and seeing the little pouch that is forming above my belt buckle, I had best make up my mind to become more conscious of my neighborhood by walking on a daily basis.

It used to be that my wife and I would line dance several times a week which is what has kept us in half-decent shape over the years (been line dancing since 2004/2005 – again more fodder for another article/post). But with the Pandemic and social distancing, we haven’t quite got up the nerve to mix and mingle yet. Besides we are still waiting to get our first of the two shots of vaccine. Perhaps after that (but with masks on and keeping a social distance of 6 feet) we may get back into line dancing (they do have lessons here at the new community where we live).

Once again, I digress. Back to the thought of needing to wake up so I can get on with my day. Yet another song ran through my head that I might enjoy waking up to and that would be – Waylon Jennings song: “On The Road Again!”  Why this song? Well, prior to the pandemic, we used to love to travel quite a bit. North to see family and cruises with other residents of the community within which we used to live. But, that too, as did our line dancing, went by the wayside due to the Pandemic.

Having said all that, let us step back a moment to the question of waking up and how we do it. Here’s a question to ponder over: Why, at our age, do we even need an alarm clock or “wake-up” call? It is not that we don’t go to bed at a reasonable hour. Well, some of us do. Myself, I have never understood how people can still be alert first thing in the morning when staying up to watch and listen to Johnny Carson or Jay Leno (oops, there is my age showing again) ……nowadays it would be Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and/or Seth Myers.

Fortunately, my biological clock is still set right although while we still tend to go to bed between 9 and 10 o’clock every night, somewhere deep inside me there seems to be a little gnome type individual flashing a lantern with the numbers 12:00, 12:00, 12:00 blinking continuously. To me that little guy is saying: “Why are you going to bed so early, it is not midnight yet. You could get by with just 6 hours of sleep a night.” But then again, Dolly, my wife, would probably make a statement confirming that I’m not a normal guy – I’m different and not set right. Hmmm, what does she mean?  Is she possibly referring to my state of consciousness or my state of mind? I am not even going to go there – which is a good thing – we haven’t been married 57 plus years by accident. Love you honey!

Who knows though, my problem could also be dietary. In view of all the advertisements about what to eat and what not to eat, fact is we all try to eat healthy so that we might live long and prosper……there goes that old mind of mine, wandering off in yet another dimension – see, I told you I wasn’t awake yet. Where were we…..oh, eating….maybe I just need to eat more foods that supply us with energy boosts.

When I was a teenager, eating healthy, meant a tomato and lettuce sandwich for lunch or a toasted cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. How much of a jolt can these two menu items give us?  Nowadays, healthy eating means adding Red Bull or other such energy boosting drinks to every meal. Bring on the dark chocolate!

Okay, I have rambled on enough and need to get back to the thought process I had when I started this article – identifying with songs we hear in our heads and what they do for us. Personally, as I am now another year older, I am the first to recognize that I don’t seem to need as much sleep anymore. With that thought in mind and wanting to wake up feeling refreshed, ready for the day, and my first cup of coffee, I have decided that my new wake up song that works for me is: Willie Nelson’s “I Woke Up Still Not Dead Again Today!”

Stay safe. Until next time!

Garbage

On a rant and rave this morning as I try to determine once again what to write about that hopefully will bring a smile to your face and perhaps even cause you to chuckle a bit out loud. That’s me – always looking for ways to take our minds off, are you ready for this – the “Garbage” that is happening in the world today. So with that, let’s take a look at – the world of garbage. Yes, I said garbage.

Garbage: As defined via Google – garbage can either be food waste or discarded or useless material. 

Some might say that anyone can make garbage, but I say: “Nay, not true!” We are not talking about the usual garbage one thinks about. Some might say that garbage can come from a microwave – you know – like our instant meals are made of. Garbage that is frozen in its own self-serve package that all we do is add water and pop it in the microwave for three minutes. Forget that it is in the microwave and only supposed to be in there for three minutes and seven minutes later it is – you guessed it – garbage.

I am talking about the type of garbage most American families are famous for. The type of garbage that takes at least a full week to qualify as garbage. Now, being a guy, I have my own definition of what garbage is. Our wives prepare food for us, serve us, we eat what it is we want until we are full and then assume that our wives take what some would call leftovers straight from the table (our plate) and dump it in the can, hence becoming garbage.

Not true – garbage if made right – takes seven days. Yup, you got that right – one full week. What follows is the life of several tablespoons of leftover broccoli and say a leftover piece of chicken the size of a playing card.

Day 1: Your wife – joyful that you left something on your plate – happily scrapes the broccoli and chicken from your plate into a smaller microwavable dish as she imagines herself melting some cheese over it for a mid-afternoon snack later in the week while you are out playing cards with your buddies. She may even remind everyone whenever asked about the container holding the broccoli and chicken: “Don’t touch this as I am saving it for later in the week when I make us some chicken soup even though she knows down deep in her heart that afternoon snack mentioned earlier is what she is truly thinking of.”

Day 2: Usually, so that they do not get forgotten, these leftovers are placed on a shelf close to the front of the refrigerator so that they can be seen immediately once the refrigerator door is opened which is several times a day. In many cases, inquiring minds tend to reach for these containers to take a peek inside to see what is there, only to be reminded by the wife who happens to be entering the kitchen every time the refrigerator door is opened: “Don’t touch that as I am saving that for chicken soup.”

Day 3: Typical of things that do not immediately stand out when the refrigerator is opened (like peanut butter and jelly), these leftovers slowly get moved to the back of the shelf thus taking up a less prominent space on the shelf. Being truthful though, these leftovers still get the occasional glance by the wife so as to remind herself that she was intending to make chicken soup – ‘hint-hint’ with them.

Day 4: Distressing as it might be day 4 becomes a turning point in the life of what is to become known as future garbage. It is on this fourth day that either on purpose or absent-mindedly this chicken and broccoli is shoved way to the back of the refrigerator on a shelf that also houses some sliced pineapple that is beginning to smell like fermented pineapple wine.

Day 5: Usually on this 5th day, inquisitive minds become enchanted with what is in this container in the back of the refrigerator as it apparently has not been opened lately and one wouldn’t want to miss out on something mainly because no one took a chance to see what it is. But having opened the container and getting a brief glimpse not to mention a whiff of the contents, it is decided that since the contents were recognizable (weren’t they the contents being saved for chicken soup?) the container should be closed and continue to take up residence in the rear of the refrigerator thus allowing the contents of the container to ripen at least another day.

Day 6:  Ah, Day 6, the day everyone is wondering at what stage the leftovers are at. Do we see signs of mold including the fuzzy green or white spots? There are times when the mold is actually growing on food but the roots can be hard to see. So, the question now becomes: Has our broccoli and chicken curdled to the stage where both items turn green, hard and grow fuzz?

Day 7: The crucial day has arrived when the wife removes the leftovers from the refrigerator, opens the lids to the containers, takes a quick peek inside and announces loud and clear: “The broccoli and chicken are officially dead. Let us have a moment of silence!”

By the way, just as an aside here, research would indicate that there is no other country that has such a ritual for preparing their garbage for burial the way we do. In addition to the daily events as mentioned above, the following actions will conclude the ritual.

Once Day 7 has arrived, we must take some newspaper, lay it out on the kitchen table, empty the contents of the dishes onto the newspaper, wrap it carefully and then place it in a brown paper bag (which is why some housewives save the take out bags from Burger King), then place the brown paper bag into a plastic bag (have to keep that smell contained), and then and only then does this garbage find its way to its final resting place, the trash can, before being picked up by the Trash people on whatever day of the week garbage is picked up.  

Comedian Henny Youngman had a different idea as to how we should dispose of our garbage years ago when he lamented:

“Gift wrap it and place it into an unlocked car.”

Having said that, aren’t you glad Christmas has come and gone? Who knows what surprise you may have been in for upon getting into your car which you may have accidentally left unlocked before retiring for the evening?

Hope this brought a smile to your face and quite possibly a chuckle or two.

Until next time!