Once again, my mother was right. We've seen all sorts of stories lately on how the food industry is moving to replace expiration dates on food with an easier and more relaxed system that includes the terms, "Use by," and "Best if used by." They point out that most expiration dates are entirely random and that, contrary to popular belief, that can of green beans will not magically turn to a pile of botulism-laced ash on an expiration date. While some of these foods might not taste as fresh and flavorful as they did when first packaged, they remain safe to eat.
They say doctors make the worst patients. Obviously, "they" have never met Pat Swift. So far, Dad's had a tough 2017. He fell on the ice, resulting in a brain bleed, a surgery, a shunt and plenty of rehab. His prognosis is excellent, with strong hopes that he can return completely to pre-fall condition. By the end of his stay in rehab, the physical therapists were wracking their brains to find something he couldn't do. Dad was so anxious to return home where he could read his paper in the sunroom and get out of bed without alarms sounding. He was highly motivated.
I am often impressed by how much my mother gets done in a day. She will report that she just baked four dozen buns, washed all the linen and made the beds for two inn guests, cleaned the bathrooms, got her hair done, made chicken and dumplings for the evening meal and still had time to sit down and watch "Wheel" with Dad. Part of her secret is a lumberjack-worthy work ethic and a natural efficiency. But I have another theory as to why my parents' generation seems to have more time than I do.
Brain bleed. It's such a scary term. When I heard my dad had fallen and was rushed to the emergency room for crushing headaches, that was alarming enough. But it was even worse to hear that the injury to his head had caused a bleed in his brain lining. He received minor surgery to alleviate the problem, and he is recovering nicely. But the calls about health issues, injuries and falls have become more frequent over the last couple of years.
Back in my days as a high school yearbook editor, I remember designing the page for the athletic awards. The one that always interested me was the "Hardest worker." This person wasn't the team's best player, or maybe even the team's 11th best player. He or she made up for that lack of natural talent through sheer will, grit and determination. This overachiever practiced that extra hour, never slacked while running laps and made it to every game — even if he sat on the bench. This is exactly how I view my newest home appliance, the Roomba.
In 2017, I will not make a resolution to lose weight or work out more or expunge Diet Coke from my diet. After years of resolutions gone sour, I have decided to take a new tack. I'm going to vow to do what smart people do. My friend — let's call him Jehoshaphat — had a mother who gave him arguably the best advice ever rendered by a parental figure. She told him that whenever he struggled to make a decision, he should ask himself what a smart person would do.
FARGO — I call it Cookiegate. For some reason, that seems like a way better name for my experiment than what I really want to call it: "The worst idea I ever had." Cookiegate was a recent, ill-fated attempt to make a little extra money for the holidays. My boyfriend had brought some of my Halloween sugar cookies to work — and his coworkers raved about them. A couple of them even said they would be interested in buying Christmas cookies from me.
After landing a new job, I remember proudly telling a close friend what they had offered as salary. I was delighted, as I had never made that much money in my life. "Are you going to counteroffer?" she asked. "I don't know," I said. "Do you think I should? Their offer seems so generous." "Never, never, never accept their first offer," she said. "Always counteroffer. This is the point where they're trying to court you, and you actually have leverage." I nodded agreeably and mumbled something about my intention to negotiate.
If there's one thing I've learned from my time on this Earth, it's this: It always seems like a good idea at the time. When I'm in the moment, everything seems like a good idea — as long as I don't have to do it right away. Clean out the garage next week? Absolutely! Show up for that mole check in a month? You bet! Plan coffee with that friend whose constant kvetching weighs my soul down with sadness, yet I feel like I should support her? Yes, please!
FARGO — Remember the calendar? It was a simple paper document, sometimes protected by a blue, faux leather cover. You used it to jot down dates for the Firemen's Ball, parent-teacher conferences and dental appointments.