The the other woman drives the husband batty

It’s been more than 10 years since the “other woman” came into our lives. She drives us both batty. Literally.

It’s not a love triangle; it is a triangle of animosity, tension and rancor. Her name is Jane. She’s the voice on our Waze navigation system.

We can’t live with her and we can’t live without her.

GPS Jane and my husband routinely get into it and then there I am, trapped in the middle, trying to negotiate peace. You can’t reason with either one of them.

My husband worked as a photojournalist nearly his entire career. Consequently, he knows every shortcut and side street in our city, state, three nearby metro areas and the four surrounding states.

He can cut two minutes off getting to a funeral home by taking side streets that run parallel to a main artery; three minutes if we cut through an industrial park. I remind him we are going to a funeral, not a fire.

It’s been years since we waited at a traffic light at a major intersection near our home. If the light ahead is red, we wheel into a Half Price Books parking lot, pass by Donatos, skirt McDonald’s and exit on a side street adjacent to our street.

We pull into our driveway and surprise – there is no press conference on the front step or NFL teams in the front yard ready for kickoff. But if there were, he’d be ready.

We don’t need GPS Jane in the car for local driving, but if we’re driving unfamiliar interstate with construction, I like Jane for backup.

Jane will give a directive my husband disagrees with, and he snaps, “Is she kidding?”

As if I can explain the process of live satellites and AI while we are navigating orange cones sandwiched between semis.

Secretly, I wish just once that GPS Jane would answer him herself: “No, I’m not kidding!”

I got to thinking it might be the woman’s voice he objects to, so I tested various voice options as the husband drove.

We auditioned Ben, Randy, Nathan and the Jonas Brothers. Nothing. We tried Shaquille O’Neal, 90s pop star, a UK Accent, an Aussie accent and Zombie.

Dog and Cat were the only possible maybes.

We returned to Jane. After all, she once led us out of the Smoky Mountains in thick fog with only three feet of visibility. We have history together, not to mention mileage.

We recently drove a couple hours south to a resort in a pastoral part of the state to celebrate a golden wedding anniversary with my husband’s sister, her husband and family.

GPS Jane led us on a narrow, hilly switchback under a dense canopy of trees with steep drop-offs for a long five miles. It would have been a desolate stretch were it not for five vultures in the middle of the road that had picked a dead fox clean down to the rib bones.

We headed home later that night and decided not to rely on GPS Jane. My navigator knew a state road would take a few minutes longer but get us back to the interstate. For my peace of mind, he even checked the Rand McNally Atlas we brought with us.

Jane was on mute the whole way home. It was nice to have the car to ourselves.

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No rhyme or reason to family poet-tree

It’s hard to be humble, but in fourth grade I was named “Class Poet.”

Once a week, students could read a poem they had written in front of the class. A lot of weeks—OK, almost every week—I was the only one reading a poem, which likely explains the “Class Poet” honor.

I have no idea why I thought I could write poetry, except that many in the older generation often recited interesting poems at length. “The Village Blacksmith,” and “The Road Not Taken,” come to mind.

I still remember one of my favorite poems I wrote, but only in part. It was about a trip to the zoo and ended like this: “There was a commotion in that cage like no other, because the cage contained my little brother.”

I doubt Robert Frost or Carl Sandburg ever felt threatened.

Funny how it is hard to forget what you memorized as a child (“I do not like them Sam-I-am, I do not like green eggs and ham”) but infinitely harder to memorize as an adult. If only I had been able to memorize all the social security numbers, policy member numbers, credit card numbers, family birthdays, anniversary dates, account logins and passwords I would need as an adult, back when I was a kid.

My guess is that most people over 35 remember their home phone number from childhood but haven’t memorized cell phone numbers of family and close friends because they’re all on speed dial.

Meanwhile, one of our grands is memorizing all the license plates in the family.

Another grand recently announced she is conducting a poetry competition open to family members and some friends.

How now, brown cow.

I thought most might pass on the invitation, but the contest host just sent out a terse email saying, “No more than three entries per person or your entry will be disqualified!”

Doesn’t that just get you in the pentameter?

In it to win it.

Of course, now everybody wants to know who is crowding the field with multiple entries in hopes of the big win. The one conducting the contest isn’t talking, which may be part of her ruse to heighten interest in the competition. There’s nothing like mystery and the threat of disqualification to crowd the field.

Rhyming verse, free verse and bad verse are shooting through cyber space.

I just received a copy of a 5-year-old’s entry, titled “Lunch.” It goes like this: “We had some root beer for lunch, We had a sandwich. Carrots are crunchy, Crunch, crunch, crunchity crunch.

Maybe she’ll place for alliteration.

I read another submission about flowers and another about a lost black sheep: “Where did you go? High in the mountains? Low in the snow?”

I won’t tell how it ends. Let’s just say it’s a cliff hanger.

I’m not entering a poem until I’ve memorized our son’s cell phone number.


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Cooking doldrums heating up

There’s something about the end of summer that makes me lose my will to cook. Not my will to eat, mind you, just my will to cook. There’s a big difference between the two. About 2,000 calories a day.

Maybe it was that 400th round of bruschetta with all those cherry tomatoes from the garden.

You’d think they’d be about done by now, but every time we step outside, they fire another barrage. Clearly, they’ve brought in reinforcements.

It’s hot outside, it’s hot inside; the last thing you want is to fire up the oven like a nuclear reactor. I used the crockpot the other day, but made it stay in the garage.

Throw something on the grill? The grill that gets white hot and radiates heat long after the sun has set? I’d sooner turn on the furnace and crank it to 80.

I keep pulling out cookbooks for inspiration, but it’s like reading a book on computer programming. The pages are turning and my eyes are moving, but my brain is on idle.

I lean on a three-step recovery program when I enter a cooking plateau.

Step one is “Rotation” where I move the food about to expire to the front of the ‘fridge hoping food-waste guilt will prompt us to eat odd combinations like wilting spinach, spongy red peppers, orange juice and sour cream.

Step two is “Chicken.” I cook one of those huge economy packs – the whole thing. We have plain chicken, quesadillas with chicken, chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, chicken marsala, chicken and veggie stir fry, chicken, chicken, chicken. Then, for some strange reason, we are tired of chicken.

You never see a pet turn away from something in a food dish they eat day after day after day. I wonder if they ever look at the food in their dish and think, “Ack! Chicken!”

Step three is “Get the Husband’s Wallet.” The grands often give us gift cards to restaurants. We put them in my husband’s wallet and forget about them. A year or two later we re-discover them and it’s like getting gift cards all over again.

We just checked his wallet and there are three gift cards – for Chick-fil-A.

I was with a group of women when someone asked a single gal if she cooked much. She laughed and said, “Yes! Two pieces of toast at a time—one with peanut butter and one plain.”

It’s that age old question: “Wattsfirdinner?” Doesn’t matter what season of life you are in; the question is always lingering in the air.

Kids ask what’s for lunch while they’re eating breakfast and what’s for dinner when they’re eating lunch.

It’s so bad here, my husband has quit asking. He astutely senses a culinary minefield.

Lamenting what to cook is a somewhat seasonal recurrence. It is a sign you are finished with one season and ready for the next.

Forget the cookbooks; I’m tracking forecasts on my weather app.

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Ageless Barbie never gets old

With the “Barbie” movie kicking up sparkle dust, I’d like to go on record thanking Barbie for my brief foray into sewing.

As a young girl, it was nearly impossible to get the designer clothes Mattel made over Barbie’s curves. She was oddly proportioned. Even as a child still learning to carry from the one’s to the ten’s column, I had enough inkling of geometry to know elevating that heavy topside onto stilettos could throw off Barbie’s center of gravity and propel her forward.

Nose-dive Barbie.

So, I sewed clothes for Barbie. I hand-stitched a wedding gown out of an old sheer white curtain. That thing with Ken had gone on long enough; it was time for them to tie the knot. My Barbie had a loose-fitting wardrobe.

Comfy Clothes Barbie.

I never had the Barbie Dream House; I made her a villa out of shoe boxes. I never had the Barbie convertible either; my Barbie and Ken walked everywhere.

Middle Class Barbie.

Eventually, my Barbie’s nose wore off, Ken’s hair began disappearing and, frankly, they were boring.

Mid-life Crisis Barbie.

Barbie, her boy toy and all their accessories, went to live in a musty basement closet where the shut off valve to the water was.

I moved on to board games like Life. With a few spins of a wheel, I could land a car, a husband and four kids, a top-level executive job and a ton of money. No tight-fitting clothes required. Now we were getting somewhere.

I never missed Barbie and I never wanted to be Barbie.  I was glad for comfortable clothes, that I lived in a real house, not a cardboard box, and that my family had a car. I was also glad there wasn’t some guy who never knew when to go home hanging around all the time.

If you will remember, Barbie was the one with endless career changes. Barbie has had 200 jobs, while Ken has had 40 including hamburger chef, surgeon, lifeguard, and 12 times hit the shelves with the job title “beach bum.” Ken’s fallback seemed to be chauffeuring Barbie and holding her purse. Could it be that Barbie held Ken back? Asking for a friend.

Our girls had Barbies, but we never bought a single one. They were birthday gifts from their little friends. I didn’t object to Barbie, although I did harbor a growing resentment over her ageless skin.

Plastic Surgery Barbie.

Our girls’ Barbies lived under their bed, which meant they never saw the light of day, which meant they didn’t look so hot in their swimsuits. Most of the time their Barbies were naked. The girls gave up on squeezing the dolls into their clothes.

Nudist Colony Barbie.

Reviews of the “Barbie” movie confirm that it is somewhat predictable: Ken needs enlightening. No doubt it is clever in spots and has witty lines, but it is an old song with a different verse.

Technically, Barbie could be 84 years old today.

Senior Barbie.

May Barbie soon find peace with herself, men, and the process of aging.

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