Pressed for a good reason to iron

A friend’s 2-year-old granddaughter was staying with her when my friend got out her iron to do some ironing.

“What’s that?” the little girl asked.

“It’s an iron,” my friend said.

The little girl studied it and then she asked her grandma to put the iron away because it was “scary.”

Irons are scary. Every time I see an iron, I want to run in the opposite direction. Ironing is my least favorite task—it vies for last place at the domestic fun park along with dusting.

How many people iron anymore? Clearly my friend’s daughter doesn’t. I know one of our daughters irons because her ironing board is always up. Come to think of it, she may just use the ironing board to hold clothes that need to be folded.

Whenever I knew my mother was coming to visit, I’d let the ironing pile for, well, let’s just say a long time. I was shameless. She’d be having a cup of coffee at the kitchen table and say, “So, do you have any ironing that needs to be done?”

“Let me check,” I’d say. Then I’d open the door to the laundry and two full baskets of ironing would topple out. I’d feign surprise and then I’d have the ironing board set up with the iron ready to go in under 10 seconds. It was a good shtick and she knew it was a shtick, but she played along. I don’t think she liked to iron either; she just liked seeing a job completed.

I learned to iron from my three great aunts who always washed on Mondays and ironed on Tuesdays. They ironed in the basement where it was cool. They let me iron their fancy handkerchiefs with delicate flowers and pillowcases with crocheted trim.

My friend says she’s never ironed a pillowcase.

If that’s the case, I tell my friend, you’ve never felt luxury.

Most people take permanent press fabrics and wrinkle-free everything as reason to stash the iron at the back of a closet and leave it there.

It’s a temptation, but I still iron pillowcases on occasion. And I still press handkerchiefs, too. I grew up when a well-pressed handkerchief was something every well-groomed man carried in his back pocket. My daughters tell me men don’t carry handkerchiefs anymore. They need to watch some old Cary Grant movies. Who knows, they might even see Doris Day ironing.

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Speech police leave some speechless

I confess I was once part of the speech police. That’s right; I had a list of banned words I imposed on others. Of course, the others I imposed my list on were our own children, all of whom were in training to become civilized human beings.

Check and done.

How fascinating that the speech police have found such a warm welcome on the University of Michigan campus with their $16,000 Inclusive Language Campaign. Bright pink posters proclaim “Your Words Matter.” One wonders if budget cuts prevented happy face posters screaming “You’re Special!”

A university campus is not populated by small children, but by high school graduates and beyond, most of whom wish to be regarded as adults. Their days of being scolded for potty mouth are in the past. Or maybe not. Maybe the speech police receive a warm welcome because it’s like having your mom go to college with you. BFF, and all that, right?

What is beyond comprehension is that college students are willingly signing pledges not to speak certain words. I don’t disagree that the words are crass. What I disagree with is kowtowing to another human being dictating what you can and can’t say.

Have these students never heard a single World War II veteran say, “I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it”? Freedom of speech is one of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, something those pesky Founding Fathers thought would be a good idea. And now the University of Michigan is asking students to blow their noses on the First Amendment.

Equally interesting are the words that aren’t on the banned word list. The f-word (now adaptable to all eight parts of speech), the word for a female dog (dogs have feelings, too) and either part of Ho Hos, a snack cake by Hostess. Those words are hurtful, crude and everywhere on a college campus, but they’re acceptable because they’re standard fare in the entertainment culture. Hands off the money train.

The first bad-word dictionary was issued by my alma mater, the University of Missouri, in 1990. Mike Royko, legendary Chicago columnist, penned a defiant column directed at the speech police. Using as many words as he could from the list of banned words, he made it clear that he would not go quietly into the dark night.

Few have that courage today. We go along to get along. We succumb to fear and the pressure of groupthink. We surrender basic rights and freedoms and are proud of it. We worry about threats to our freedom from beyond while threats to freedom on our own soil slowly wrap their long fingers around our necks.

There’s a word for any campaign that asks you to yield freedom. It’s a word that starts with a “b” and has an “sh” in it.


Is that word allowed? Too bad. I just used it.

In event of weather, panic

Every time I hear an announcement about another snow event, my first thought is, “Do we need tickets?”

I inform the husband we are down for an event this week and his first question is whether we’ll have to pay for parking. The man loathes paying for parking. I assure him that if the event is as fantastic as they’re predicting, parking won’t be a problem because all the cars will be buried.

If you’re wondering what to wear to a snow event, skip the little black dress and go for insulated anything and layers.

Snow “events” sound pompous for occurrences that happen with droll predictability. Snow follows winter like ham and bean soup follow a bone-in ham. It’s not like you didn’t see it coming.

Now, a Beatle Reunion Tour would be an event. Snow? Not so much. We know it’s coming, just like it came last year and the year before that.

I miss the days when snow was simply snow, light flurries, a snowfall, a snowstorm or even a blizzard. Of course, that was before weather was repackaged as climate. Do we have to package, market, hype and ratchet up every single, solitary thing?

Yes we do. Which is why we also have rain events, previously known as rain, showers, drizzle, downpours or thunderstorms.

Soon, we will turn our attention to a spring event, which no doubt will be interspersed with ice events, wind events, dew events, fog events, humidity events and changing temperature events.

We’ve hit the panic button and hyped tornado weather, also known as potential tornadic activity, for so long that a lot of people no longer take the warnings seriously. A genuine tornado threat should have you thinking Kansas, Dorothy and Toto, and seeking shelter immediately.

Now stuck under the gray skies of winter, I wouldn’t mind hearing about a big sunshine event: “We’ll have a sunshine event launching Friday and lasting into early May. Main floor seating is full, but the upper balcony is still available.” (Sweeping hand gestures in the direction of a large yellow happy face and weather forecaster wearing formal evening dress in recognition of the event.)

There’s something of a pandering nature about turning routine weather changes into events. But it simply plays to our attention span. We’ve been conditioned for drama. Everything has to be bigger, better and more spectacular than the one before. We up the ante and continually crank the volume on the panic and frenzy.

Bombarded by the constant stream of hype and hysteria, the senses become muted to the quiet delight of the ordinary. “We’re having a pleasant weather event beginning Wednesday and stretching into Saturday.” Yawn. Click. Flip the channel. Surely there’s a weather event promising doom and disaster somewhere.

Now leading the Kale Rebellion

I have a rebellious streak. I admit it. Recently my rebellious streak has been focused on kale. I’m sick of hearing about kale. Kale soup, kale salad, kale smoothies, roasted kale, steamed kale.

Kale Jell-O. Kale Pop-Tarts. OK, there’s no kale Jell-O or Pop-Tarts, but there probably will be. Everywhere you look someone is touting kale.

Kale pushers, that’s what they are. They’ll be forming gangs before long, wearing leather jackets with Whole Foods’ insignia emblazoned on the back, wheeling about on bicycles, forcing kale on virtual strangers. Children even.

I have a friend who pushes kale chips. I played along for a while, but now I’m here to say that kale chips are revolting looking. Kale chips looks like deep sea creatures that washed ashore, lay on the beach under the sun for 30 years and then were run over by a conga line of ATVs. Nonetheless, my friend insisted they were wonderful and that I would love them. So I ate one. It was edible the same way paper is edible. You put enough olive oil and salt on anything and it will be edible. Even my shoes. Here, have a slice of shoe. You’ll like it. It may not be much to look at, but it’s good for you.

This is what parents do to kids every night at dinner. I’m not a kid anymore. If I don’t want to eat kale, I don’t have to eat kale.

Frankly, I find kale to be self-righteous. Kale is a vegetable with an attitude. Any vegetable that’s supposed to prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, pump you full of vitamins, whiten your teeth, firm your flabby arms and eliminate your double chin is bound to have a big ego hard to squeeze through the door.

Yet the entire country is wild about kale. Two days after the historic blizzard that fizzled, New Yorkers were all atwitter – literally. Seems the Big Apple ran out of kale. That’s right, people who went to health food stores prepped for what was being billed as an epic blizzard by stocking up on kale. It was kale-pocalypse. One New Yorker tweeted that he was praying for a UN drop of kale. He was joking—I think.

People promote kale like a religion. They believe in the right to life, liberty and the promotion of kale. I am loathe to say it, but a lot of people promoting kale as the ultimate health food don’t appear to be all that healthy themselves. I know it’s winter and the sun’s not out, but for heaven’s sake people, get some meat on those bones. I say this as someone who hails from a long line of carnivores. Yes, eat some meat. Have some corn, too. A few carbs won’t kill you. See? Kale lovers aren’t the only ones who can push food.

I’m not against all greens, just those that haven’t been seasoned with a little bacon grease.

Out of my face, kale. I don’t mind you being in my ‘fridge once in a while, but get out of my face.