Category Archives: Mysteries

A New Year

January 1 is a big day around here, although not for the reasons you would think.  I am a calendar person – I love calendars.  Right now I have my daytimer calendar (which lives in my bedroom), a handmade 6 x 6 calendar (also in my bedroom), a Cobblestone Way calendar on the fridge, a Lighthouse for the Blind calendar in the breakfast room, a birthdays only calendar in my studio and the new addition, a Sandra Boynton calendar (also in my studio).   I do keep a few things on my phone’s calendar and when I was still working in my cubicle, I had a calendar there, not to mention my Outlook calendar on my computer. 

Most of these calendars are just for show.  Probably the most-used calendar is the birthdays only calendar in my studio.  It has one page per month with all the dates, but no weekly/day layout so it doesn’t have to get changed out every year.  I use it every month when I’m getting the birthday cards ready to go.  The Sandra Boynton calendar is just for fun – January 4 is listed as World Hypnotism Day. 

Not sure where along the line I got hooked on calendars; I suppose it’s been ramping up as the years go by.  I don’t think it makes me any more organized, just a personality quirk I guess. 

But it does make the first day of each month exciting because that’s when I change out the calendars.  And January 1 means not just moving to the next page but moving to a whole new calendar (except the birthday one, of course).  Tell me that this doesn’t make me a sad and pathetic being.

What have you got on YOUR calendar this month? 

The Yellow Box

Several years back, Teenager wanted to take a jewelry class at a local bead shop.  We took the class together and it was fun.  Part of the cost of the class included a couple of tools and, of course, we purchased some more items afterwards.  For a couple of years, I did the occasional bracelet or earrings; the craft didn’t catch on with Teenager.  I put the tools and assorted wires and beads into a yellow tool box and eventually drifted away from beading.

In May, I found a jewelry kit on sale online from a company I knew; since I was officially looking for ways to fill time during shelter-in-place, I purchased it.  Most of the items I needed were in the kit but I did need one of my tools to adjust the bracelet size.  The yellow tool box was not in the first place I looked.  Or the second.  Or the third.  I spent quite a bit of time over the course of a week, looking and re-looking in what seemed like natural spots and then the unnatural spots.  I’ve done a lot of tossing/donating the last couple of years but I was SURE I would remember if I had gotten rid of the toolbox.  And I couldn’t imagine that I would do that either.  Eventually I gave up, assuming I’d gotten rid of the box, and re-purchased the tool I needed.

Last week, I decided to do some organizing and cleaning in the attic; when I had brought the holiday decorations down, I had promised myself I would do this before the boxes when back up.  YA came up to help me and we ended up really clearing out some stuff and generating a large bag of trash.  At one point I was putting a plastic bin away and realized I didn’t know what was in it.  You know where this is going, right?  As we dug through the box, we found items from last year’s stocking gifts (which I had vaguely missed) and…. drum roll please… the yellow tool box!  Because it was inside the bin, when I had searched the attic in May, I hadn’t seen it.

I can envision how everything else in that plastic bin ended up there, based on my normal habits, but I have no clue how that yellow box ended up there.  Nothing in the box was irreplaceable but I’m happy to have found it, if only because it means I’m not crazy!

Anything you’re still looking for?  Do you have trouble finding things you’ve “put away for safe keeping”?

More Than I Bargained For

I have often been accused of “biting off more than I can chew”.   I have always liked a challenge.  I suppose the most memorable experience with this is getting  purebred Welsh Terriers,  who proved, despite their smaller size, to be far more dog than I had ever anticipated.

My latest experience with this occurred last week. I treated myself to a new Springerle rolling pin for Christmas.  That is a rolling pin with intricate carvings used to make Springerle or Speculaas cookies.  I had been eyeing one in the King Arthur Baking Company for several years. The pin arrived last week. It is much bigger than it looked in the catalogue,  and it weighs 5 lbs. It is the classic blunt instrument.  Husband says it should be in an Agatha Christie mystery.  You can get an idea of its size  in the header photo with the 12 inch ruler in comparison.   It has really lovely, deep, carvings.  It is too big to store in the drawer with the other rolling pins, so we keep it in the entryway closet wrapped in bubble wrap in its box so that the carvings don’t chip. I never imagined I would have a rolling pin that requires such special care.  I guess should have been prepared for this since it is called The Showstopper Springerle Pin. I sort of overlooked that hint.

When have you got more than you bargained for? When have you bitten off more than you could chew?

The Find

This past Saturday morning, right before Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Husband and I decided to do a Deep Clean on an alcove right off the kitchen. This corner houses a tall shelf unit full of large items like crock pots and cookbooks, and a small chest of drawers. I had accidentally shoved something behind the tall shelves, noticed when trying to retrieve it that it was pretty dusty back there, and realized that space hadn’t been deep cleaned since we moved in 4 ½ years ago (!).

Well, you know how this goes. In the process of clearing everything off, you find stuff you’d forgotten you had – which gets returned to its proper place or tossed. Stuff piles up in the rest of the house for a while, but you promise you’ll put everything back before day’s end, and you roll up your sleeves. And you swear you won’t let the cleaning lapse for this long again.

Then you move the furniture out so you can sweep and swipe and clean everything in sight, and vacuum out the cobwebs and dust fuzzies. As the small chest was being moved away from the wall, I heard a “thunk” as something dropped to the floor, and discovered… MY CAMERA, which has been A.W.O.L. for about a year. I don’t own a smart phone, and luckily I hadn’t bought a replacement. I am so happy to have it back!

So, for the first time since last December, I’m able to submit a blog post AND supply the photo.

What have you found that was lost?  

What cleaning or clearing project are you likely to accomplish during self-quarantine?

I Need Book Advice

My mom, Nonny, is really doing well with shelter-in-place.  She has always been superb at doing what the doctor recommends – always.  I think I’ve probably said here before that if the doctor told her to stand on her head every Tuesday and spit wooden nickels, you’d better have a bucket to collect those nickels every Tuesday. 

At 88 she is taking covid precautions very seriously.  She is staying in, staying away from neighbors, only going shopping when absolutely necessary and then she goes the extra mile (sprays the inside of her car, wipes all products off when she gets home, wears a mask, etc.)  She is not an online person, so she’s watching a lot of tv and doing a solitary walk every afternoon.  She’s mentioned a couple of times over the last couple of months that she is “out of books”.   Despite the fact that she introduced me to libraries as a child, she is not a library person.  Although I’ve suggested she find a close one, she is worried about hanging about in a library and bringing home potential contaminants.  Telling her that she can talk to a librarian about how they are handling covid to possibly reassure her hasn’t helped.

I thought I would get her some books, but I’m stymied about what to send.  I know that her favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark.  I know that she likes mysteries and thrillers but not things that are “too dark”.  Too much graphic violence and sex is right out as well. 

So if I go to the bookstore to pick up some titles for her, what should I get???

The New Toilet Paper?

Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bleach…. I was lucky enough to have these items already in the house when shelter-in-place hit and people started to hoard.  I was surprised by the flour/yeast panic and the run on King Arthur bread mixes, but again, I had enough on hand to get through.  I was also surprised to not find garlic in the stores for a couple of weeks; the produce guy at Cub was stumped.   Garlic salt isn’t the greatest substitute for fresh garlic, but we managed.

But pectic?  This one brought me up short.  I headed out early one morning and picked a big flat of raspberries and as is my custom, I stopped at Kowalski’s on the way home.  There on the shelf where the pectin usually lives was a big hole.  I asked an employee… they said that they haven’t been able to keep canning supplies and pectin in stock.  Same story for a few other places I quickly called.

Unfortunately you can’t just keep fresh raspberries sitting around forever, so I kept calling and did find pectin at my local hardware store, although it was a different brand than I usually use to cook my jam.  Since beggars can’t be choosers, I bought it and headed home. (The hardware store shelves in the canning section were basically bare; I actually got the last jar of pectin!)  After a long search on the internet, I finally found a comparable low-sugar recipe that I could use.  Presumably the jam will be fine when I thaw the first jar – you wouldn’t think you could mess up berries and sugar with a different kind of pectin, right?

Have you run out of anything lately?

The Great Pepper Mystery

Husband and I started six varieties of peppers from seed this year.  We started two sweet red peppers (Spanish Giants and Ajvarskis) and two hot chilis (Joe Parker, a New Mexico Hatch type red chili, and Chimayo, a smaller, hotter, New Mexico red Chili). We also started some Habaneros and Thai chilis for our son

We labeled them and were careful to not mix them up.  When we planted, I was certain that all the Joe Parkers were given to my secretary,  as we decided at the last minute we didn’t want them. The Thai chilis and one Habanero went to our son, and all the rest, (17 in total) went into our garden. Or so we thought. Imagine my surprise  when son sent photos of the alleged Habanero that looked long and slender like a Joe Parker. Two of what I thought were Chimayos also turned out to be Joe Parkers, and now we can’t tell the difference between the Spanish Giants and the Ajvarskis, as their tags got all mixed up when we planted. The header photo shows what I think are, from left to right a Spanish Giant, an Ajvarski, and  Chimayo. (The latter are quite easy to discern.)

Husband tried to do a taste test between two big peppers,  but they tasted similar. I decided the only way to solve this mystery is to not start any Joe Parkers next year. I should add that the peppers I gave my secretary were doing well until we had a wind storm and a big tree crashed on top of her garden.

What mystery, ancient or modern, would you like to solve?

Where in the World is VS?

VS and YA are out and about this week.  A few clues:

  • This county has the most small farms of any US county.
  • Fast food mega-chain Jack-in-the-Box was born here.
  • Theodor Geisel was one of the most prominent citizens here during his lifetime.
  • The largest comic-con in the world is held here.

Where are we?

The Underwear Tree

Guinevere and I have been expanded our walking routes, going a little farther and trying out new streets to walk down.  Last week we went down a street in Tangletown that we hadn’t tried before, heading down the hill toward the creek.  As we were walking I looked up and was startled to see a pair of women’s underwear hung on the tree close to the sidewalk.  On closer inspection, I discovered about ten different garments (all women’s undergarments) hanging from the tree.

As we continued on our way, I thought about tee-peeing, which was a popular prank when I was a kid.  I never took part in tee-peeing, but my house was the target of this prank once.  Nobody I knew ever fessed up, so I always wondered if it had been meant for Sam’s house; he was my next-door neighbor and a much more social kid than I was.  I wondered what kind of prank resulted in women’s underwear in a tree in a front yard.  Was this what kids do these days?  Where do they get the underwear?  Thrift shops?  Their mother’s dresser?  Or was it more nefarious – one spouse getting even with the other, hopefully not with a divorce looming on the horizon.

Then I was surprised yesterday to walk that route again and found the underwear still hanging in the tree.  At first I thought maybe the family was not at home the last few days, but there were golf clubs in a bag sitting on the front porch; surely no one would leave town with their clubs sitting out in the open.  The mystery deepened when I got home and mentioned it to YA.  She confirmed that the underwear has been in the tree for at least 3 weeks.  Now I’m really wondering what the story is.

What do you think?