What's Not to Laugh?

Almost everything about aging–except grave illness and death–can be funny as well as disturbing. I try to find the funny and help us all get through it!

Archive for the month “August, 2016”

Cake mix blues

I don’t bake anymore. My number one reason is that I don’t want the sweet stuff in the house because I’ll eat it all myself, or what’s left of it after guests leave.

It’s not that I was a great baker. I made good brownies from scratch, if only they wouldn’t fall apart while cutting them or stick to the pan. But they were tasty. I made cupcakes, bundt cakes, cookies. Evidently, I made a lot of box mix cakes. This is what my younger daughter remembers fondly.

She was visiting from across the country last week, and her one request was for a yellow box cake with canned chocolate frosting. “It’s my favorite,” she told me. I wanted to bring it up a notch, so I made a suggestion: “I used to make the pudding cakes (adding a box of instant pudding to the mix).” “No. Just a yellow cake mix and canned chocolate frosting,” she replied.

It was the least I could do for my loving daughter, whom I haven’t seen since she moved last fall. I hadn’t baked in years or used a mix to make any sweets, but, how hard can it be? It wasn’t hard at all, but it wasn’t one-two-three-bake either.

First (after buying the mix and frosting), I had to find my 13 X 9 metal pan. Do we still have one? If so, where did we last store it? It took looking through three logical cabinets and the drawer at the bottom of the stove before I found it up in a high cabinet that required a stepladder to reach…that is, without having a bunch of pans and glass dishes tumbling out on my head.

Next, I looked for the electric hand mixer and found it quickly. But where were the beaters that should be attached? Searching everywhere at least twice ended with finding them behind the pot lids, where they were all the while (probably laughing about my poor eyesight).

I got out all the ingredients and then set out to oil the pan. The bottle of oil was pretty full, and a bit (or a lot)of oil spilled into the pan. I had to mop it up with a large number of paper towels.

After that, things went well…until I haphazardly slammed the oven door closed and the cake developed a round depression in its middle. With some extra frosting loaded in that depressed middle, my box mix cake was ready for prime time. Daughter declared that it was perfect and tasted just as she remembered.

Both daughters welcome their childhood cake.

Both daughters welcome their childhood cake.

After everyone who wanted cake was served, what remained in the pan was handed back to me. It lasted less than 24 hours. Cake for breakfast anyone? This is why don’t bake anymore.


Short forms

I was reading a women’s magazine while sitting under the hair dryer waiting for my color to set. It may have been Women’s Health, but I’m not sure. I’m only sure that its demographic is women much, much younger than I am. (But are there any print magazines out there for us?)

In the ten minutes I took to read only one-third of the issue, I counted five weird shortened words. I’ve gotten used to “meds” for medicines and “scrips” for prescriptions, and I understand that it’s easier to say and write a word that has one syllable than one that has three. This is especially important when you’re trying to fit everything into a tweet.

But the more pages I turned in this magazine, the more short forms of words I saw that I’d never before encountered. In some cases, it took me a few seconds to figure out their meaning. Here are the ones I jotted down before I decided to give up and read something else:

Convo….conversation (The “o” at the end tripped me up here. Without context, I never would have figured it out.)

Rando….random (Really, is this any shorter? Would it be so much trouble to include the damn last letter?)

Sitch…situation (Don’t get me started on the “ch” here! Sure, they shortened the word from four syllables to one, but are we really saving ink here?)

Obvi…obvious (What? This is just silly.)

Vag….vagina (I’ve heard other short forms, or maybe more polite and printable forms, but this is a new one for me.)

Days later, I saw the front of a Target flyer and was drawn to this phrase in bold type: for your grill sesh. Yes, it was Target. Yes, it said “sesh,” which I assume was short (and not so sweet) for “session.”

I majored in English in college and spent 40 years editing and writing at work, so it’s no wonder I get annoyed by this desecration of the language. But I’m not an old fuddy-duddy either. At work, I evolved from technical writing and editing to creating marketing copy. The stricter grammar rules needed for a report to the Department of Energy, for example, softened when I started writing catalog and web copy. It was okay to start a sentence with “and” or “but” and pop in a few sentence fragments. For effect.

But I scratch my head over these short forms of everyday words, especially when they’re in print and an article is not restricted to 140 characters…including spaces. It looks like pure laziness, but I think the writers/editors are trying hard to sound hip. And, of course, attract young readership. Unlike our forgotten demographic who, presumably, doesn’t spend as much on the nail polish and mascara that their advertisers are selling.

Well, maybe I am an old fuddy-duddy after all.

Who moved my potty?


Something new to kvetch about

Penelope again, checking in. I haven’t had too much to whine about lately…although that never stops me. But recently, my humans did a switcheroo on me. They relocated my potty (known as the litter box to you).

Ever since I joined their household (July 2014), the litter box was in the first floor powder room. It’s an intimate, dark space, perfect for privacy while doing one’s business. The only drawback was that guests also used that space to do their business. But that wasn’t a concern of mine because the mere sight of a guest…or even the ding-dong of the doorbell…has me running into my favorite far-away spot.

I like my mom and dad, but I  refuse to mingle with anyone else. (It looks like I’m terrified of outsiders, but that’s not the case; I just choose not to associate with them.) I had been hoping that guests would decide to avoid sharing a potty room with a feline, even though I’m meticulous in my potty hygiene. (Okay, I’ll admit to getting a little aggressive and flailing around a bit of litter. Just a bit though.) But when everyone leaves and I feel confident that I’ll have privacy again, I enter the room and see the evidence: used paper towels in the wastebasket. Many people have used the room! The only good news? I didn’t see any of them. I was busy hiding…er, sheltering in place…in an upstairs bedroom.

Then, one day not too long ago, my mom called to me while holding my empty potty. “See, Penelope? Your litter box will now be here,” and she set it down next to the washing machine in a little alcove dedicated to laundry. She filled it with litter, relocated all the other equipment that goes with it, and said, “It’s ready now when you are.”


My new (cramped) potty space

Am I ready to change the habits I refined in the last two years? Am I ready to do my business with the sloshing and spinning of the washer and bumping and thumping of the dryer as sound effects?

Do I have a choice? Sure, many of my fellow felines have been known to relieve themselves anywhere and everywhere, but that’s not me. Besides, I depend on the kindness of these two people who feed me, talk to me, give me belly rubs, and most important of all, scoop my poop.

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