The baby doesn’t need any bossiness

When our youngest daughter and her family moved into their new house, she told her older sister and myself that we weren’t to boss her around, try to tell her how to decorate, where to put the furniture or how to organize the kitchen.

Naturally, I was deeply wounded. Then I did what any mother would do. I hid the dozen paint chips I had selected from the hardware store deep in my purse. I demurely agreed that I would not try to boss her around, although I may have had my fingers crossed behind my back.

She said, “You both try to tell me what to do because I’m the baby in the family.”

To which we simultaneously responded, “But you are the baby!”

I assured her nobody was pushing her around because she was the youngest, then made the mistake of saying, “Sweetie, did you know vinegar in the wash cycle will get the mildew smell out of towels?”

I may also have said, “Honey, are you sure you don’t want a table protector cover of some sort on that nice new table?”

And, “I see the baby is fascinated with that electrical outlet. You have safety plugs, right?”

Followed by, “You want me to use some window cleaner on those patio doors?”

Her sister refused to give in to the demand to refrain from directing the big move-in. She believed that she was qualified to direct, noting she has moved seven times and knows a thing or two about expediting the process.

Confronted with the undeniable truth that her older sister did have considerable experience with moving, the younger sister weakened and said her older sister could offer one suggestion a week, which was tantamount to opening a dam and trusting the water to stay put.

Well, then we both started bossing with shouts of, “No, don’t put that piece on that wall! Put it over there on that wall!”

“You put the cereal where?”

“No, no, no, the cleaning supplies should be—”

“Did you really want the trash can where the baby could —where’s the broom?”

I suppose you can see why we were virtually banned from the house until she had unpacked everything on her own, although to this day neither of us can comprehend why our overbearing advice, opinions and directions were deemed unnecessary.

The funny thing is, even without either of us present, her kitchen is set up like our kitchens, which were set up like my mother’s kitchen. Kitchen organization, consciously or not, is often passed from one generation to the next.

All of which reminds me of a story about a young bride cutting off the end of the ham before she baked it in the oven. Her husband asked why she did that and she said, “Because that’s the way my mother always did it.”

One day the young bride asked her mother why she cut off the end of the ham before cooking it. Her mother said, “Because that was the only way it would fit in the pan.”


It’s all about DNA, Dishware Necessity Attitude

I just saw one of our wedding gifts sold as cheap yard décor. It wasn’t exactly mine, but it was identical to my silver-plated coffee service.

The husband and I spent the weekend in a small quaint town where old buildings, filled with restaurants, boutiques and gift shops, line the streets.

It is a restful place. A peaceful place. A place where a pleasant calm slowly takes you in—until you see the same silver-plated coffee service you have at home welded to  a silver tray, anchored to a metal rod, jammed in the ground and billed as a garden ornament.

“I can’t believe it!” I exclaim.

“I can’t either,” said the husband. “I didn’t know it was going to rain.”

The husband doesn’t have the same fire in him that I do about dishes. I come from a long line of women who appreciate fine dishware. We love pretty dishes and handing down pretty dishes to the next generation.

It’s in our DNA (Dishware Necessity Attitude).

Looking at the replica of my silver-plated coffee service now disgraced and masquerading as a garden ornament, I see that it needs polishing.

I could fix that relic by dashing back to the hotel and grabbing my cosmetic bag. Anybody who knows dishware knows you can use toothpaste to clean silver.

The husband suggests that if I start smearing toothpaste on someone’s “work of art,” it could upset the small artisan colony and I would be to blame.

I defer to his judgment, although reluctantly. And with thoughts of returning after dark with my whitening tartar-control toothpaste.

Seeing our wedding gifts as yard décor isn’t truly a surprise.

It’s been years since we’ve been invited to a wedding where the bride registered for fine dishware. Couples today register for huge popcorn tubs, board games and camping gear, but not fancy dishes.

I asked a recent bride-to-be if she and her fiancé had any interest in china. She said, “Yes, but we’d like to visit India first.”

Nobody cares about nice dishes because everyone is eating out. “Takeout” is now considered a primary food group.

I get it. Paper plates are often on my shopping list. They’re convenient and make for easy cleanup.

But still. Still.

There are times when a meal is not about saving time. There are times when a meal is about enjoying heirlooms, loveliness, candles with wax rolling down the sides and lingering over conversation and dessert.

I had three great aunts who lived nearly all their adult lives together. When we visited, they often used beautiful green crystal they had saved money for as young girls and purchased for their mother years ago. My mother routinely broke out in a sweat terrified my brother or I would bite a piece right out of an heirloom crystal goblet.

We never did and the aunts were right to risk using the “good dishes.”

Special things don’t belong shut in a drawer, sitting on a shelf or hidden in a closet. They are meant to be used and enjoyed – preferably in the house, not outside, stuck on a metal rod.

Hotel has unusual amenities

We stayed at the Mark Twain Hotel in San Francisco on our honeymoon. It was very romantic. The room had a lovely view of the night sky. Not because it had a skylight, but because there was a hole in the ceiling.

The first time we took the kids to the ocean, we stayed in a hotel with Paradise in its name. Paradise was a terrible misnomer. An enormous roach lumbered through the room, making its way to the sliding glass doors leading to the beach. The thing was so large it opened the sliding glass door all by itself.

I once surprised the husband with a short ski trip when we lived in the Pacific Northwest. I booked us a night in what was described as a “rustic cabin.” They weren’t kidding. It had no heat.

We’ve had more than a few surprises when it comes to lodging. The biggest surprise happened recently when some of the grands invited us for an overnight at their house.

They told us it would be like staying at a hotel. Knowing that they have a good roof and no household pests, we said yes.

Upon arrival we were given a key card made from construction paper to Room 208.

“Top of the stairs and to the left,” one of them said.

A hand-written sign taped to the banister said “HOTLE” and had an arrow pointing up.

We trudged up the stairs and opened the door to 208 with three kids stepping on our heels.

“Here’s a basket with stuff you might have forgotten.”

In it were two bottles of water, two toothbrushes, a tube of toothpaste and peanut M&Ms.

“I did forget my M&Ms,” I said.

They also pointed out that they had stashed a piece of candy under both of our pillows and said we could eat them now if we wanted.

The best part was a large handmade sign written in crayon. It read:

“Welcome to The Best hotle IN Town. Why?”

“Frindle Faces.”

“Free Food.”

They explained we could have free popcorn anytime we wanted it. It’s always good to know popcorn is available and that your family won’t charge you for it.

“Grate Hostptale.”

We weren’t sure if they thought we might need a great hospital or if they were offering great hospitality.

Those amenities would have been more than enough to rate a top-notch review, but they listed one more reason why it was the best “hotle” in town.

“Free wife.”

The husband saw it first and wanted to know where she was.

Funny guy. He can hardly manage the one he has now. Two wives would be the end of him.

The girls giggled and stammered and explained it was for the computer. Well, then he expressed surprise that he would be getting a free wife AND a computer!

He may have scared them completely out of the hotel business. If they ever host us again, the amenities will likely include nothing more than a tiny shampoo and tiny conditioner.

Getting a grip on axe throwing

I don’t pay much attention to trends because they tend to be like buses—there’s a new one every ten minutes. However, this one has not only snagged my attention but sent chills down my spine and triggered goose bumps on my arms.

Axe throwing.

That’s right, throwing an axe at a target has become a big thing. Don’t tell me you’re still doing yoga.

Axe throwing is so popular it’s gone global. No matter where you live, you can probably find axe throwing lessons near you or even join a competitive axe-throwing league.

When I first heard the next big thing was axe, I thought they meant Axe, the line of hair products, deodorant and fragrance popular with young men. Half of our son’s graduating class marched across the stage to receive high school diplomas enshrouded in a giant cloud of Axe.

That’s not the axe. This is the axe like frontiersmen used to fell trees. Those would be the ones who smelled like sweat, not aftershave. Only nobody is clearing land with axes. They’re throwing axes at targets. It’s like a supersized version of darts.

One man claims throwing an axe is very therapeutic and very calming. I’d like to know more about his day job.

Axe throwing is a three-step process. The first step is to grip the handle of the axe with two hands, raise it over your head and lower it behind your back. The first step would also be the last step for me. The weight of an axe overhead and behind my back would tip me backward. Even if I didn’t fall backward, or dislocate both shoulders, I couldn’t swing it overhead, let alone accurately hurl it at a target.

Maybe that’s why you do this with metal fencing on both sides of you. Plus, someone sizes you up to determine if you have the strength for axe throwing. That would be me getting the no-go.

Oh, and you’re also not to wear open-toed shoes.

Great. There’s the recurring nightmare I’ll have for the next two weeks.

You’re wondering how popular something like this could be, right?

Very popular. Axe-throwing businesses advise booking two months in advance.

I’ve been reading about this and keep thinking, who are these people? Do I know them? Am I related to them?

Turns out I am. A son-in-law did this in a corporate team-building exercise. He said it was fun. I’m keeping an eye on that one.

An axe-throwing venue near us is advertising a birthday special — book your group and the birthday boy or girl gets in free!

“Mom, Mom! Can I? Can I? Can I please have an axe-throwing birthday party?”

Mom faints.

I’d pay someone not to invite a loved one to an axe-throwing birthday party. I’m not antisocial. You can come to my house for cake when the axe-throwing birthday party is over, but we’ll cut the cake the traditional way – with a small dull knife that hasn’t been sharpened in years.