8

Is December Over Yet?

As we get older, the months are supposed to sneak past us so quickly that we don’t even see them going by. December didn’t get the memo. It’s not like I really accomplished anything; it just feels like it took forever not to.

December showed off some pretty quirky human behavior. And some amazing first-world stupidity.

I always do a lot of baking for the holidays. It takes about a week and I generally make the same things. Unfortunately my week was interrupted by cranberry bread for my husband to take to work, breakfast breads for my daughter’s fundraiser, and putting together a gingerbread reindeer and sleigh. (Not really difficult if you have four hands.) Luckily for my family I was still in my holiday daze when they remarked that I had not made fudge this year.

I went to an interfaith peace kick-off meeting on December 22. The timing was significant because it was the season of Christmas, Hanukah, and The Prophet’s birth. And because those of us who work in retail are in a perpetual haze. I hope the woman sitting next to me won’t be offended if we meet again and I have no clue who she is.

Someone left an empty tube of acrylic paint on a shelf at work. There was no mess, so it wasn’t vandalism. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just put the tube in your pocket than empty the contents into it?

Somebody took a small-sized safe. The empty ones we sell. If you can’t afford a safe, what are you going to put in it?

We had a new employee for a few weeks. She was hired as a stocker. After a couple of weeks she could stock five cases of toys in eight hours. (That’s approximately 30 toys.) Turns out that a large part of the problem was that she spent the night shopping – picking out items, looking them over, deciding what she really wanted, replacing what she didn’t, and paying for her purchases.

When the company had documented enough to fire her, she was highly offended. She called the store director to complain about unfair termination. Complain very loudly. He asked her if she was challenging the reports of shopping on company time and inability to perform the job. No, she agreed that it was true. It just wasn’t fair to fire her.

Last night four bored young men came into the store. I heard this tremendous “music” and went to investigate. They had turned on all the dancing Christmas bears and were taping them on a phone. I tried not to laugh when I asked them to please not do it again.

You may recall that my daughter B was invited to L.A. for a modeling/talent convention. They are leaving this coming Tuesday (1/4). Last Sunday (12/27), her agency wanted to see all of the clothes she was bringing to L.A. They told her that her dress for the award dinner was way too loose and needed to be tailored. She was lucky. A couple of the other people had to make major wardrobe adjustments. In a week.

This week the agency told B that she did need a portfolio after all of 6 to 8 pictures. She could get the perfect display album for just $45 from them. But they were out of stock. She bought an $18 presentation portfolio from Staples that displays the photos beautifully. Good thing since last night the agency said she needs 10 copies each of 3 other pictures.

B needed to purchase the pictures from Costco/CVS/Walgreen’s/Staples. It seemed simple enough. Download the picture file, enter the dimensions and quantity, and place the order. The pictures were professionally taken to be printed as 8×10. However to order them as 8×10 online she needed to crop them as if they were taken as 8.5×11. For one of them, she had to choose between taking off part of an arm or her head.

I thought I was going to be a huge favorite with the cats. I bought a water fountain and a huge fleece bed for them. They are finally getting over their fear of running water and using the fountain. The bed is used on rare occasion by one or the other of them. Next year it’s back to special food.

And now that December is finally going away –

Image result for new year 2016 animalsGoogle Images

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016!

0

The Return of Cat TV

Everyone has their own indicator for when spring starts.The first robin. The first golf game without a winter jacket. The lilacs blooming. For us it’s the start of Cat TV. Cat TV starts on the day that we can first open the windows and pull the screens down. It usually starts in the dining room (the window is easily accessible) and moves to the living room (table in front of the window). Both cats race to the first one open. When they’re both open, they choose whichever has the best picture. During the day it’s a toss-up, but at night the living room is definitely favorite since the lights attract bugs.

Cat TV is undoubtedly a popular time for the cats. Unfortunately, it also coincides with the time of year when we notice that we can’t see through the windows from all the gunk that the storms brought all winter. At least for me, the problem with washing the windows is that once it gets hot, we close all the drapes against the sun. You may remember that we live in an old farmhouse with a boiler for heat. Apparently farmers in the 1920’s did not see a need for central air. Probably something to do with being out in the sun all day making anything feel cooler. Or possibly that AC hadn’t been invented or discovered or however it came to be.

OK, windows have fallen to the bottom of the list. If I want to see the weather, I’ll take a chair and sit outside. We have a lot of trees. The traffic isn’t too bad and goes by at 55 mph (or so). If I’m really motivated, I can sit in the backyard.

Of course, it’s a lot more pleasant to sit in the yard if the grass has been mowed. Our lawnmower broke toward the very end of mowing season last year. We’ve been meaning to get one for awhile, but you know that goes… It will be delivered today. I’m not good with mechanical things – do they come with a machete function? I really should have bought that alpaca. It is amazing how quickly grass will grow when it knows you have no defense.

The other day my husband jokingly suggested that we replace our grass with lemon basil. Apparently it only grows a few inches high, so it wouldn’t require cutting. We may have to try it. If the deer and the rabbits and the rest of the beasties like it, maybe they’ll get full before they make it to the shrubs in the front. Or maybe it would just be a first course for them.  We could try phlox. Every year I cut it back and every year it takes over the sidewalk by the time it’s warm enough to garden.

I remember a humorous story by a Soviet writer (I wish I could remember his name) about the electrification of the Soviet Union in the 1920’s (bet it didn’t include AC either). A government official was going around asking the peasants how much they enjoyed their new light. When he got to one house, he noticed that the light bulbs had been removed. He asked the woman about it. She told him that she didn’t realize how dirty her house was until she got the lights.

I am looking around the house and seeing about twenty things that could be done. And I continue to sit here and write this post. Why does housework have to be so boring and repetitive? That’s the real reason men resisted women moving into the workforce. They knew that some of that stuff would eventually become their responsibility. When my kids were younger, I’d read articles about how to make cleaning up more fun. I’m really glad I didn’t lie to them about that.

I have a pile of books that I want to read sitting on the table behind me. Actually it’s grown to two piles in the time I’ve been trying to get to them. I can hear some voices in the back row: “You need to make time for yourself.” That’s great, but if I make that much time for myself, the dust bunnies are going to find out, get organized, and take over the house.

Thinking about it, I also have magazines, crossword puzzles, and books in the living room. And the bedroom. It’s probably a good thing they don’t do periodic fire safety inspections on houses. It’s truly unfortunate that we don’t entertain much anymore – we always cleaned the house thoroughly before we let anyone in.

And don’t forget about the closets. I need to bring out my summer stuff. Actually it’s more about putting away the winter stuff. When you don’t have AC, it is really unpleasant to be rummaging through heavy knits to find the sundresses. To say nothing of the psychological damage thinking about winter in July could cause.

I really should do that thing about throwing away anything I haven’t worn in the past 12 months. Unfortunately due to wearing a uniform I don’t have to change after work in the winter, I really don’t have any idea what I would wear if I got another job. And if I can’t do the winter clothes, why bother with the summer clothes?

I’m sure there are other things to do, but thankfully, I can’t think of them right now. Guess I’ll go watch Cat TV and see if they come to me.

3

How Do You Vacuum a Cat?

I really hate what aging is doing to my body. Particularly my sinuses. Probably not the part you were expecting, but I don’t know you well enough to be any more intimate.

When I was in high school, my best friend had allergies. It seemed like she was miserable all the time. Mainly it was the usual suspects: ragweed, pollen, goldenrod. She was also allergic to dogs and cats. One of her concerns was that she really wanted an Old English Sheepdog, but she couldn’t breathe around them. I think the breathing finally won out. Just as well. I read that those dogs have to be brushed daily, preferably at least twice a day. If they’re talking about using a utensil, that’s as much as I brush mine.

I tried to be sympathetic, but it was useless. I had no idea what it was like to be that miserable just because the weather changed. So I did the typical teenage thing. I congratulated myself on not needing to carry what seemed like a whole box of tissues in my purse. And finding somewhere to dispose of them.

A few years after college, I got severe headaches, and the doctors couldn’t figure out why. If I were a doctor, I’d want to be a dermatologist – no emergencies and the problem is right there, sitting on the skin.

I finally went to an allergist. She did that obnoxious test were they turn your back into a chess board and use a tiny needle to inject certain allergens. Turns out there were no major problems, but I did react to some trees, grasses, mold – and cats.

That day, when I got home, my husband had a surprise for me. The cutest little (4 weeks old) kitten. She lived with us for twenty-two years with no problems. Hah! Shows what that test was worth.

As the years went by, I had more and more trouble breathing around mold. We have an old house and the basement has leaked around the foundation off and on. Seems to be some grumpy gremlin around the base of the house. At first, I only noticed the problem when I used the treadmill. Now I can feel it just going down there. Is that a great excuse for not using the treadmill or what?

Then it was cut grass. Then other things growing around me. I am still no where near my friend’s level of discomfort. Lucky for you – otherwise, you would have heard me whining about it a long time ago.

But it was still pretty obnoxious a couple of years ago when they started putting cut flowers in the cheese cooler before big flower holidays (Easter, Mother’s Day). When I opened the cooler this week and saw them (they had slunk in the night before), I groaned. Sure enough, my eyes watered and got swollen and my nose ran for hours. They’d been storing up their nasty little histamines all night to get me.

But the absolute worst happened a few weeks ago. I was wearing a fleece jacket and it was getting more and more uncomfortable to breathe. I looked down and it was covered with cat hair. That can’t be it – I’m not allergic to cats. I took off the jacket and could breathe again. Oh no, I thought, not the kitties.

It was shedding season. Kommando Kitty (who has adopted me as her main human) is a cross between a Siamese and something Siberian, I’m sure. She has medium short hair that molds against her body. And more of it than I have seen on any cat except my parents’ Norwegian Forest cat. She even has fur between her toes. And it’s really fine fur – sticks to everything.

I would brush her whenever we sat together. Did wonders for her coat; not so much for my sinuses. As you might imagine, I was distraught. It was the first time I had a problem around any animal and it was mine! She cuddles in my arms every night before she goes to the foot of the bed. She watches TV on my lap.

My family laughed at me because it was “my” cat who was giving me problems. The calico seemed to be hypo-allergenic. Until I brushed her and got the fur all over me.

All you cat people probably know that cats are at their friendliest during shedding season. The loose fur itches and they want to get rid of it, preferably all over you. You skirtch them and get handfuls of fur. You brush them and empty the brush multiple times before it comes back fur-free.

We had a cat that I would brush downstairs before going to bed. We’d go upstairs and when I scratched her back, I still got handfuls of fur. This would go on for days. Then magically stop. The biggest problem was the amount of fur in the trash. It looked like we were trying to grow a new cat.

I was still totally traumatized by my new affliction when I realized it had stopped. Kommando continues to rub her face against me, but my sinuses are clear. That’s weird – everyone knows that allergies to cats are caused by their dander, not the furs themselves.

But as you know, I’m a little unique. Apparently the allergy is not very severe. It only activates when I look like a yeti in cat fur. I’ll wait until fall to test my theory. The cats shed the summer fur in the fall to get in their winter furs, so it’s not as severe. If I’m OK between now and then but start to react, I’ll know I’m right.

If that’s the problem, I have a choice between shaving them and vacuuming them during shedding season. Obviously, cleaning my clothes after brushing is not an option. That is a lot of work. Bathing isn’t an option. I’d have to do it daily for two weeks. I need my blood.

Same issue with shaving. Both the cat and I would need a transfusion at the end. Me from her teeth and claws. Her from me trying to shave her. Besides, it took Kommando several months to grow back her fur after she was fixed. Guess it’s hard to get all those furs through the skin at the same time. She’d just get furry in time to get shaved again. And she’d look funny.

So vacuuming it is. It may be a little tricky. They both hate the vacuum cleaner. Maybe I can use the little ones they have  for computers. Probably not, I think those blow air not suck it in.

Hmmmm. Think I’ll stick with the theory that they just spent too much time in the basement with the mold this spring.

4

Next Year I’m Hibernating

I just got in from helping my husband and son push my car into the garage. At least the starter had the decency to die on the driveway. I wouldn’t have needed to help except our driveway is still icy, and the guys couldn’t get enough traction to get the car over the bump at the front of the garage.

(My husband would never have expected me to be much help before I started working as a stocker. Add to list of negatives from job: people expect you to use the muscles you have toned.)

The three of us were able to move the car, but not over the bump. I slipped on the ice and fell on my knees. We decided to try a running start. Ever tried to run on ice? It’s pretty humorous to watch; not so much to do.

I was ready to quit. Today was supposed to be the day that I recovered from a very physical week at work. (I’m going to try to get certified to drive the hi-lo so I don’t have to use a hand-jack to get the pallets off the truck. The ramp has a major bump. You may remember me talking about how uncoordinated I am; wish me – and the guy training me – luck.)

Unfortunately, my multi-talented husband, who is going to the work, has an aversion to working outside in the winter. Something about the possibility of the weatherman being right and needing to do it in either rainy or cold weather tomorrow. Those of you who live in the north know the next step:

Shovel! But we’re not talking about regular push the shovel into the snow, lift, and throw to the side. No – this mess has been accumulating for a couple of months. Our snow-blower broke. In the city, this would have required either an immediate repair or resorting to the shovel. However, our mail is delivered to a box on the road and there are no sidewalks. Since the only ones we might hurt is ourselves, the township doesn’t care.

And imagine how much motivation any of us had to go out and clear the driveway. It was dark all the time, cold, snowy, and windy. They cleared a path from the driveway to the house. (Nice three-car garage, not attached to the house. I like it like that. I have a certain paranoia that if it was attached, the critters that call it home might find their way into the house.)

The kids are agile enough to get to the front of the house where the bus picks them up. I’ve only gotten stuck a couple of times. And my husband has a four-wheel drive truck. So laziness ruled.

Much to our dismay today. The sad thing is that it has finally started to warm up. The ice is starting to melt, so there’s a layer of water and slush over it. The only thing that makes ice more slippery? Water on top of it.

We got out our earth-digging shovels, our regular shovel, and a pick-ax sort of thing. We chipped somewhere in the neighborhood of a yard back,  and more or less the width of the car. Depth ranged from slush to about three inches down.

Time to try again. I got the middle of the car since I figured the wheels were what needed moving and they are both stronger than me. And there was no ice anywhere near the middle.

Success!

While my husband opened the hood, I took the snow shovel to the end of the driveway. I figured I could break up a little slush and loose ice while I was down there picking up the mail. At least that was my intention.

About halfway down, I lost my footing on the wet ice. Fell flat on my back. Felt like a turtle staring at the sky – it was too slippery to get up. I felt ridiculous, but I had to call for help. Finally my son heard me and gave me a hand. I’d had enough – wet knees, wet bottom. It was time to go in.

I’d hit my head and my back. A couple of days ago, I aggravated my frostbite trying to get my car turned around in a snowbank. I figure that if winter last much longer, I’ll have an excuse to go to the South Pacific and recover.

4

Quit Teasing Me!

Our weather has been pretty lousy this winter (yeah, I know, it’s been a lot worse other places). Friday it was sunny and close to 50 degrees. Yesterday it was overcast and in the low 30s. The next couple of days it’s supposed to be sunny and in the 40’s. Then on Wednesday we expect accumulating snow.

As the days get longer, cats’ fur is supposed to shed and the cooler (?) summer fur grows in. We’ve had plenty of shedding, but the cats have replaced the old fur with electric blankets (ours) and heating pads (ours).

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning and not being able to move because one cat is on one side and the second cat is on the other side, pressed tightly to you for warmth. Generally speaking, you wake up because sleeping between two cats is so warm that you feel like you’re melting.

Regardless of snow and cats, you can always rely on retail to tell you when the warm weather is/was supposed to arrive. The first thing out was the Easter candy. It had to be expected since it had been sitting in the back room since the week after Christmas. Besides, holiday things always have to be out early enough for the customers to be tired of them by the time the holiday actually arrives.

Next were the grills. I know people who start to grill as soon as they can run outside to check the meat without getting frostbite (it’s a northern thing – like wearing shorts as soon as it gets above 40 degrees). So the grills weren’t too depressing.

Same with the golf supplies. I once knew a guy who bought orange golf balls so he could practice putting in the snow. I also know people in golfing leagues who schedule their first matches at the beginning of April. They generally end up rescheduling that match. Golfers must be the most optimistic (or stubborn) people around.

I started to get depressed when I saw the first army of garden gnomes. Generally speaking, they do not like the snow. Besides, I really dislike garden gnomes. I think they’re creepy looking. I will admit that they are an improvement over the previous fad. There were (too) many houses with wooden cutouts of fat women bending over so you could see their underwear. I never understood why those replaced the concrete animals and dress-up geese. I admit to a reflecting ball and several concrete animals (the best is a large bear).

My son asked me to buy him a shirt in early February. He wanted green, some type of forest green. It seems forest green is not a spring/summer color. Spring and summer are when forests are green. He also prefers soft cotton. Apparently soft cotton only comes in heavier weights. Much heavier weights. Like flannel. We certainly didn’t have anything like that left (no discount, rats). So I looked around. The only thing I could find was cream and green. Soft medium-weight cotton. Worked out OK. Shortly after that, the temperature went below zero. Guess I could have bought close-out flannel – of course, the green was gone.

Next thing out were the tiki torches and citronella candles to keep away the mosquitoes. By the way, I’m told that the hard winter means fewer mosquitoes. I’m not sure I believe that. The Upper Peninsula gets lots of snow and cold every year. Not only do they have huge mosquitoes, they also have biting black flies. I can see it now – everyone spends extra time outside this summer to make up for the winter but has to go in before dusk to avoid being eaten alive.

The worst for me was when they put out the seeds and small bags of potting soil (with starter pots, of course). There are several things they recommend you don’t plant in Michigan until after Memorial Day.  I used to spend hours in the late winter looking at seed and plant catalogs. We had a very nice garden when we lived in the city. I expected great things when I moved out here. I forgot that most of the cute animals that live around us are herbivores or vegetarians.

We knew to put up a fence. We didn’t know that deer jump fences. We knew that woodchucks and bunnies would burrow under. We didn’t know that woodchucks can climb small trees. Taller fences. Deeper posts. Finer wire. Increasingly innovative animals. Food motivates.

We were going to put in decorative trees. Apparently very tasty. Put a fence around the bottom. Deer eat the top. Tree grows big enough to defend itself. Deer rubs itself against the bark and destroys it. Put in bushes. Bunnies eat bark during tough winter. We have oaks and pine trees. And a lilac bush that is probably older than any of us.

The final straw came last week. They put out the kayaks (the life jackets had been out for several weeks). I do not know anyone who kayaks before the risk of hypothermia disappears. Unlike a boat, there’s a fair chance you will tip over a kayak. Particularly if you don’t know what you are doing. If you do know what you are doing, you should not be buying a kayak at a big-box store.

There is one thing still sitting in the back room. It’s a display of starter bushes (roses, etc.). The display says “Plant Now”. At the rate we’re going, they will probably be able to put then out with the back-to-school supplies.

0

Guess What I Learned!!

To celebrate the kids going back to school tomorrow (finally) and the truly lovely weather we’ve been having, I have put together a little quiz. You can see whether any of the mind-numbing number of facts “experts” have been giving out have been sticking. We will be using the honor system here, so I trust there will be no cheating. If somehow you are caught cheating, you will be shipped to the Arctic Circle and handcuffed to a polar bear.

1. Which of the following is not something painful that can happen to your body in cold weather? a. Chilblain; b. Creeping Crud; c. Deep Frostbite; d. Frostnip; e. Superficial Frostbite; f. Trench Foot

2. The following are the symptoms of what disease: sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches, congestion,cough? a. Bronchitis; b. Common Cold; c. Flu; d. Strep Throat; e. Whatever is currently going around that someone has given me; f. Whooping Cough

3. Which of the following is not true of the differences between a cold and the flu? a. Cold symptoms come on more quickly; b. Flu lasts longer than a cold; c. I get more sympathy when I tell someone I have the flu; d. There are many more things that cause a cold

4. Influenza A is the most common type of flu virus. What area has not been identified as a starting point for one of the viruses? a. Asia; b. China; c. The local high school where the kids share everything; d. Russia; e. Spain

5. What species are the only ones susceptible to Influenza B? a. Ferrets; b. Humans; c. People who steal the food and office supplies of sick coworkers; d. Pigs; e. Seals

6. Which of the following cities is not in the top ten in average annual snowfall in the U.S.? a. Amherst, NY; b. Clay, NY; c. Cocnino, AZ; d. Duluth, MN; e. Niagara Falls, NY

7. How many states have an average winter temperature of less than 20 degree fahrenheit? a. Three; b. Five; c. Seven; d. Nine; e. Who cares, I’m tired of slipping on the ice?

8. What sport will finally be ending its television season in February? a. College Football; b. Curling; c. Detroit Pistons basketball; d. Pro Football; e. Southern Hemisphere Beach Volleyball; f. You mean my significant other really hasn’t been watching reruns of the same games since November?

9. How many Olympic Sports require ice skates? a. Three; b. Five; c. Seven; d. Nine; e. You mean it’s already time for the Olympics again?

The answers are below.

1. b (a form of jungle rot); 2. c; 3. a (cold symptoms come on gradually); 4. b; 5. all but d; 6. d.(it’s #15); 7. c (Alaska, N. Dakota; Minnesota; Maine, Wisconsin, Vermont, S. Dakota); 8. d; 9. b (curling, figure skating, ice hockey, short-track speed skating, speed skating).

Scoring (Number Right):

8 – 9: Obviously you have spent too much time in front of the TV/Computer Screen. Go out and learn how to ski jump or snowboard.

4 – 7: You may be obsessed with winter germs/diseases. Go to the mall and practice the safe hygiene tips you have learned.

1 – 3: You may have spent time reading an actual book or interacting socially with other people. Go get your flu shot and start washing your hands more.

0: You have been asleep for the past two months. Return to your hibernation.

3

What Would Grandma Say?

[Welcome to my new look. I was getting a little tired of the old one. Besides, I couldn’t resist something called “Choco” – it sounds very close to my favorite food.]

My mom’s mother lived in a retirement community that had a potluck once a month for quite a while. While Grandma really enjoyed the potlucks, she had two complaints. The first was people who brought only enough of their dish for three or four people. On the one hand, she had a valid point; unless you rushed to the table, there were certain dishes you never had a opportunity to try. On the other hand, our family gatherings always had enough food to feed Oliver Twist’s orphanage.

The other complaint was that people brought store-bought food and said they made it. Grandma didn’t have a problem with someone picking up a frozen pie and heating it up or using a cake mix, but she did not consider that home-made. She said that it wasn’t home-made unless you made it from scratch. She baked until she was in her mid-eighties, so she was entitled to her opinion.

As often happens through the generations, my mother used many more convenience foods than her mother, and then the pendulum swung back with me. I am a cooking snob. You cannot tell me that taking frozen hash browns and melting cheese on them makes it a home-made dish. Similarly, cutting up cooking dough from a tube and heating it is not baking home-made cookies. Some of my attitude comes from Grandma, some comes from all the preservatives and additives in prepared foods, and some comes from the cost of ready-made dishes. My attitudes have changed over time; when we were first married, I was a much bigger fan of frozen stuff.

The holidays always highlight the various ways we can decrease our time in the kitchen. A woman caught me off-guard the other day. She asked me where she could find the Rice Krispie treats that were formed into a flat sheet and could be cut out into shapes. I love Rice Krispie treats. They’re so sweet, I can’t resist. I even like the pre-made ones you can take in your lunch.

But I could not imagine buying a sheet of it and using cookie cutters to make shapes. What do you do with the scraps between the shapes? They must be your reward for working so hard. How many sheets would you need to make enough cookies to put on a plate? Sometimes it hard to tell what shape a sugar cookie is (who designs some of those reindeer cutters?). I would imagine that a Rice Krispie star would look an awful lot like a Rice Krispie Christmas tree.

These questions must have even occurred to the Rice Krispie people; the product is no longer available. The woman truly looked crest-fallen. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that she could make her own treats in any thickness she liked and cut them out. I knew that she would tell me that mixing the cereal and the marshmallows together was too messy and too much work.

There are several Christmas displays right across the aisle from where I work. One of them has gingerbread house kits. I can appreciate the idea behind these. I tried to make one from scratch once and discovered that I am not coordinated enough to hold the sides together while they set. Or detail-oriented enough to get all the pieces the same size to actually fit together. I never would have been able to lure Hansel and Gretel. But it did taste good.

A year or two later, I was still fascinated by the idea so I bought a kit. Like most pre-made food, it was considered edible for six months after its holiday. I still had trouble getting it to stay together. Obviously, I am not the one who fixes things around the house. Finally, I got frustrated and walked away. I decided to eat one of the candy decorations. Apparently the emphasis should be on decoration. I almost broke a tooth. I tried the gingerbread; it tasted awful. Not only would I have trouble luring Hansel and Gretel, they probably would have poisoned themselves on the house. And who wants to eat poisoned children?

I noticed that one of this year’s models was larger than the previous ones. It appeared to have a yard as well as the house. It also came with LED lights so you could back-light your house. I was impressed. The company has accepted that the product is inedible and is now trying to sell it based on your being able to have the only gingerbread house in the neighborhood with Christmas lights. Looking into the future, I can see tiny inflatable snowmen and reindeer on the roof. Scout troops can start having competitions as a fund-raiser.

Another lady came up to me and said that she couldn’t find the gingerbread cookies in a tube. I helped her find them. She told me they were so good that she always stocked up at Christmas and stored them in her freezer. That way should could have them year-round. I refrained from telling her that hoarders like her were the reason other people had to do without gingerbread cookies at Christmas.

I think those cookie rolls used to only come in one size. (Even my mother drew the line at cookies in a plastic tube.) It seems like the diameter was somewhere in the 1″-1 1/2″ range. Now you can get that size, but there is also a tube that appears to be about twice that size. I wonder if tubed cookies work the same way as the ones I make. It doesn’t matter what size I make, people generally take two or three.

There are also lots of flavors: chocolate chip, sugar, gingerbread, peppermint, cut-outs in the middle of the round. I’m guessing some are more popular than others. The other morning I came in and was checking my aisle for miscellany left during the night. I found an open tube of cooking dough with a bite out of it. Apparently the person tried it and didn’t like it. I suppose there was no reason to steal it if they weren’t going to enjoy it.

It’s true that my stuff doesn’t look as symmetric as what comes out of a tube. But I can buy the ingredients any time of year. So I don’t have to fill my freezer with tubes of cookie dough that have the potential to fall out, breaking one of my toes.