Shiny Happy Oven; Forty-Three Weeks In

I know that it has been a crazy week but I have a very important update:

Let us all admire my gleaming, shiny oven!

Cleaning the oven led to one of those If You Give A Mouse A Cookie cleaning scenarios: I soaked the racks in the downstairs bathtub, which led to the scrubbing of said bathtub, which somehow led to the mopping of the downstairs tile, and then, since I had the mop and bucket out anyway, washing the floor of the back entry. Then, for no reason at all, I decided to move all the living room furniture to sweep under it, and, in conclusion, I am very happy my teaching schedule is picking up this week.

Every time I clean my oven I think, that wasn’t so bad, if I did it more often it would be so easy and then I make a resolution to clean it quarterly or at least every four months. Inevitably, years pass, and this same scenario repeats itself. I do have a self-clean function, but I do not use it. I used it once, naively, during the winter and I a) spent the entire time terrified that the oven would catch on fire and burn the house down, and b) the house smelled terrible for days. Never again! I vowed to use only elbow grease and some kind of crazy fume-free spray from that time forward.

Note: my mother-in-law got a new oven and it has a steam-clean function; the oven itself heats up to about 250 degrees with a pan of water inside, and it somehow cleans perfectly. I want that for my next oven, which, hopefully, is years away. My mom told me yesterday that the average age of appliances before they die is seven years, and we bought this oven in 2012, so hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself.

Another note about my mother-in-law: she still has the chest freezer from when she got married in 1962 AND IT STILL WORKS. I mean, it probably sucks up vast amounts of energy resources but IT STILL WORKS. I find that remarkable.

One more note about my mother-in-law: as all of us canners know, it is impossible to buy lids right now. They are…just not available. Who knows when they will be? The last time I saw my mother-in-law, who is an avid canner, she told me that she had recently learned that lids can be reused. As long as they are not damaged in any way, they will still seal. When I expressed extreme skepticism about this, she took me to her pantry and showed me rows of preserves and tomatoes, all with perfectly sealed lids. “Wow,” I said, “I’ve thrown out a lot of lids.” She looked at me and said “I’ve been canning for sixty years, imagine how much money I’ve spent on lids that I’ve thrown in the garbage.” We both silently stared at her jars, contemplating this.

After that visit, I made jam with old lids and voila:

Perfectly sealed! I admit I was a bit worried but I thought that a) jam is a pretty low-risk item, and if they didn’t seal I would just refrigerate them, and b) I like to live dangerously.

As my friend Tora (HI TORA) said back in April, if we can take away one positive from this pandemic, it’s that we are learning new things and saving money.

Part of my New Year’s Mindfulness Resolution is to shop more mindfully, something that absolutely went out the window in 2020 as we all lost our minds in the grocery stores. I think my husband will leave me and my mother will disown me if I attempt another one year shopping challenge but this year, I am going to really try to be mindful about my clothes. I mean, you guys. I have so many clothes. I really do. My closet is literally bursting, but particularly with yoga clothes, sweaters, and boots. Those three items are ALWAYS the items I am attracted to when shopping and I really (probably) (maybe) don’t need more. This year I am going to really try to be mindful when shopping and, when tempted, before hitting “purchase” (because who is actually shopping in person these days, or ever?) I am going to “shop my closet.”

This is not to say that I won’t buy new things, because let’s face it, we all need some source of joy. But maybe, just MAYBE, I don’t need another pair of knee-high black boots. Maybe.

On that note, I introduce…

Outfit of the Week

I will not bore you all with an Outfit of the DAY, who has time for that, but I am going to choose my favourite outfit each week. I love clothes, and I think it’s important – even in a pandemic – to find joy in getting dressed every day, even if that day only involves working on that 1000-piece puzzle my mom gave me for Christmas. That puzzle, incidentally, has taken over our lives. It is our new master. We sit down to look for Just One Piece and then, hours later, look up from The Puzzle, bleary-eyed and completely disoriented.

This is a Friday outfit; underneath that super-cozy sweater is a yoga tank and long-sleeved tee, as I teach on Fridays. Yoga leggings are so comfortable but not quite warm enough on their own for January, so I have also added legwarmers, like the 80s girl I am.

Barkley approves.

Pandemic Reading

Do you want to read about a 54 year old unemployed copy editor who goes to Cuba and instantly falls in love with a 31 year old Cuban woman? Do you want to read about a 54 year old man getting drunk on rum and having sex with his 20 something colleague in the ladies room at a bar? Do you want to hear this self-described unattractive man speak disparagingly about those women’s appearances, including the term “puppy fat” and details about moles and moustaches? Then this is the book for you. There was a small interesting twist but not much of one. I eye rolled through much of this book. Pass.

Oh, this was good! A complex and wonderful book about women and choices, consequences and fresh starts. A woman in Jaipur, who left an abusive marriage at 17, is enjoying a life of renown as a henna artist and herbal healer. Things get complicated when her husband shows up with a sister she didn’t know she had! Includes a few recipes, a history of the caste system, and even a glossary of terms. Highly recommend, unless you’re a person who doesn’t believe that women have autonomy over their own bodies and should have the ability to make choices for themselves.

My friend Julie (HI JULIE) told me about this book; it’s a really incredible book about finding meaning in life, written by a man who survived four different concentration camps and all manner of horrible tortures. Choosing our own response and attitude to the situation we find ourselves in is the last of the freedoms, it is something that can never be taken away. Amazing book.

I ran my library stack right down to zero because my husband has been urging me to read this book for quite some time. It is a very incredible story of survival, but I am not an adventure story type of person, so I cannot say I enjoyed it. The whole time I was reading it, my Mom Voice kept popping up in my head: What are you DOING? GET DOWN FROM THERE RIGHT NOW. Which is, of course, the point of the book.

The boys are back to in-class school this week; fingers crossed all goes well. Have a beautiful week, everyone! xo

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