Vintage Season All

It’s always fun when you’re cleaning out your cabinet and you find spices that you bought early on in the Clinton administration.  Some serious wear and tear on this Season All, as evident in the pics.  I remember purchasing this specifically at the local Giant on the recommendation of ______________ (????? I forgot her name) who proclaimed at a Howard County Rec and parks work party in 1994ish that she likes to mix Season All into her burgers.  They were great burgers–I still remember that.  Zesty.

I don’t see anything here that might go bad–which is a terrifying fact.  Who knew you could eat with vintage spices?  You can.  Clearly McCormick makes their seasonings to last.  This little container has officially survived three moves, three cars, three decades.  Good luck charm?  I don’t dare give up on it now.





Frozen Juice Ring Things

I really have no idea why we bother buying nice cat toys.  The cats like them, sometimes, but often ignore them or play with them for a few days and then return to their favorites–cardboard boxes, shoe laces, milk ring things and juice ring things.  The juice ring things are especially prized possessions by one of our cats (see below).  When Olive sees the presence of a juice ring thing, she attacks it with a furious wrath–as if the juice ring thing insulted her mother.

I am happy to support Olive’s ring thing munching habit, in that the frozen juice ring things have insulted my mother.  Well, not directly, and not this particular ring thing, but they have implicitly insulted my mother by proxy of their annoying habit of ripping off in my hands while I attempt to remove the ring from the can of concentrate to squish the poo-like cylinder of sugar and juice into the pitcher (I remember a little throw-away one second detail from Blue Valentine, that depressing-but-good relationship film starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, where early on the film shows a blob of juice concentrate plop onto the bottom of the pitcher, as described–I liked the movie immediately).

What happens then is that I can’t open the container.  I pry at the metal part with my fingernails, but that doesn’t work.  The whole purpose of the plastic ring things is to forcibly separate the metal cap from the cardboard.  So when they break off in my hands ultimately I end up placing the concentrate can in the pitcher and stabbing at it with a knife in frustration like the starving kids from Lord of the Flies did to the poor pig in the jungle.

Eat those ring things, Olive, bite their heads right off!

Side note:  potentially there is a market for this.  Ditch the fancy-looking fake-mice/birds/insects and just resell the frozen juice ring things and milk ring things as cat toys.  Which they are.  Or just pull stuff out of the trash can like we do for free.



Water jug fail

We have high-powered computers that you can fit in your pocket, but water jugs that refrain from leaking when tipped on their side are, to my knowledge, non-existent.  I know this mostly from my extensive tennis battling.  If you fail to secure the water jug in such a way that it will not tip over, you will have water all over everything.  In a hurry I have made this mistake in the past and then when I arrive at the tennis court, guess what?  No water!  It’s all over the floor of my car.  The rubber ring and spout design seems practical, but only if the water jug is upright.  Also, if you don’t twist the top tight enough it will leak all over you when you lift the jug to your mouth to take a drink.  The Nalgene bottles and other options are great, but not large enough for serious hydration.  These cheap Coleman jugs are beyond sub-par.  We can do better, America!DSC09405.JPG

This Mug

Is there anything as familiar as a coffee mug?  Domestically speaking, my mugs are intimate everyday items–equivalent to my toothbrush, my bar of soap, my razor, my bathroom towel.  They are not items I am keen on sharing.  Side note:  I use the term “coffee mug” since, though this particular mug has held its fair share of tea, mostly I used it for coffee.  More to the point, I utilize the past tense here (“used”) because despite appearances this mug is on its last legs and is on the mug Disabled List.  We recently discovered a hairline crack on the exterior of the mug.  It is leaking.  So, short of some extensive Gorilla Glue wizardry this mug is headed to the mug afterword.

This is a shame.  It is a great mug–just the right size for my right hand.  My fingers easily slide into the handle and yet the mug is large enough to hold a quite sizable warm beverage.  Both categories are essential for a coffee mug to enter the regular rotation.  My secondary cups (note the change in terminology) are too small or the handles overly narrow, built for the fingers of children.  They are okay for a quick spot of reheated coffee or a morning shot of V8 or late-night milk, but they are otherwise useless to me.

I am feeling melancholy about this mug, which is exacerbated by its pattern of (to my eyes) snow and tree limbs.  Though we discovered the crack a few weeks ago I’m holding onto it for posterity, at least.  Or perhaps the mug will fix itself, somehow.  Or perhaps I will finally attempt to triage this mug back to working shape (I’m almost afraid to see if my epoxy operation actually works though–all bets are off with even the strongest glues when it comes to regular exposure to scalding liquids).

I’m nostalgic about the good times I had with this mug and even the not-so-good times.  I remember when I had tennis elbow and it was so painful I couldn’t lift this mug.  I remember the coffee grounds I had to spit out often.  I remember the delicious self-made poor man’s mochas I made inside this mug.  I’m only being half-facetious.

Yes, I am having mug separation anxiety.  A good coffee mug is like an extension of my hand and I certainly wouldn’t have an easy time parting with that.  There are reasons archaeologists discover pottery shards thousands of years later.  Pottery is part of who we are, what we consume, how we live.  Who wants to find themselves parted from the regular vessel that brings them necessary and life affirming morning nectar?   Styrofoam may never degrade, but does anyone feel wistful about their Starbucks takeout coffee receptacle?DSC09350.JPG

Penny Wrappers


Not many things in this world are free.  Penny wrappers are one of these things–at least where I live.  Go to the bank, ask if they have a few empty penny wrappers and receive said penny wrappers.  As a child I was entranced by the exoticism of the wheat penny.  My parents would give me five dollars to exchange for penny rolls so I could open them and treasure hunt.  Not much was better than helping my grandparents sort through coins from the laundromat–wheat pennies, but also the possibility of a silver dime or a quarter.  There is talk of eliminating the penny entirely, produced at a loss by the federal government.  Something would be gained, fiscally.  Something would be lost philosophically–the value of the humble one cent coin, so often found in parking lots, under seat cushions, on the sidewalk, at the gas pump.  I always stoop to pick them up, still–heads or tails, it makes no difference.  Free money is free money.




Art Book

DSC05276Art books are often under-appreciated among those who regularly attend museums and the various exhibits contained within them.  Why spend the money on an expensive art book when I can just see the exhibit?  First of all, I can relate to the frugality of that sentiment–this gorgeous Barnes Foundation art book, was, in fact, a generous gift (most of the nice things I own are) from my mother-in-law.  However, what is wonderful about art books has to do with time and options.  While exploring a museum, one is often rushed or bleary-eyed or overwhelmed or distracted by the throng of art lovers flitting in and out of ones line of sight.  Heads are in the way.  It’s an experience.  The thrill is sharing space with the beautiful painting, with the famous work.  Soaking it up, soaking it in.  Analysis.  One can, of course, see so much more detail in person.  One can see details in person that are impossible to see in reproduction.  Of course.  Of course.

However, the details don’t always stick in the long run, or to put it gently, a visual reminder helps.  One cannot coherently conjure every work of art one has seen at a moment’s notice, like so many JPEGs in a file folder.  Though art books often offer only a selection of the work in an exhibit or collection a sense of permanence is valuable.  Within the Barnes Foundation book one can stare at Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players for hours, if one would like to.  No rush.  No crowd.  No weary feet.  Only quiet contemplation.  Moreover, the analysis and information provided in most art books far exceeds what one might find readily in the exhibit proper.  Though certainly something is lost in reproduction, something is gained, also.  Art books are to art exhibits what compact disks/albums are to a live concert.  They can be relived.  They can even, dare I say, transcend the original experience.

On Lip Balm

My employer likes to offer little bags of swag to returning employees in August every year.  It’s like Christmas for people like me who revel in mundane freebies.  Last year was perhaps the best ever haul:  ear plugs, sticky notes, pens, note pads, a water bottle, and this little roll of lip balm, among others.  Nobody would actually utter the suspicion that the swag bags are meant simply to take the bite out of the bitter end to a long summer vacation, but most of us think it.  It’s okay.  It’s endearing.

Swag bags may be the reason why I enter tennis tournaments, also.  At the most swaggy tournaments entrants receive a little bag of goodies—and it’s a surprise.  What could be better than a bunch of junk?  I don’t need dinner or Gatorade.  Give me a free, functional pen and a sweat towel and I’m happy.

Hold it, hold it.  Let’s reflect for a moment on lip balm, why don’t we?  It’s ubiquitous—found at nearly every grocery checkout lane and 7-11, and yet when it’s cold and windy and your lips are chapped nothing seems more highly essential.  I’d pay $10 a stick in February.

Chapstick is one of those brands like Coke and Xerox and Kleenex that has wormed its way into the collective consumer unconsciousness and become synonymous with the product itself.  Apropos of nothing, this particular lip balm consists of 7.5% oxtinoxate, 6$ oxybenezane, 5% meraclimate and 5% octisalanate.  These are the so-called “active ingredients.”  The “inactive ingredients” include octyl palminate, petrolatum, beeswax, mineral oil, paraffin, ceresin, cetyl alcohol, lanolin, aloe barbadenis leaf extract flavor, proplyparaben, tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E) and titanium dioxide.  That’s a lot of active and inactive stuff involved in making a little stick of something helpful.

Aside from losing lip balm or inadvertently propelling them through the wash, I like to leave lip balm in the car.  This doesn’t end well for the lip balm.  Many a stick of oxtinoxate et al have met their doom, melting into a sticky mess in my car console or in the coin holder or in the little pocket on the door handle.  All that lip balm factory work for a waxy puddle.  Lip balm—useful product.  Even better—same function, heat-resistant. DSC05275