Category Archives: Housekeeping, my nemesis



By Vicki Hughes      Posted July 31, 2013

I recently spent my day off, culling the clutter and various flotsam and jetsam that was rendering John’s “office” un-useable. I’m not really sure why we call it an office, because it’s main purpose is to house his Bowflex, surfboard, inversion table and a giant dog bed. It does have a table that could serve as a desk, and the obligatory bills, invoices and random warranty paperwork to things we no longer own. So, sure, we’ll call it an office. Why not?

One reason I’m not especially good at this sort of thing is my tendency to become distracted and absorbed in the family artifacts I discover. I found, among other things: keys to cars we no longer own, Christmas cards bearing photographs of people I don’t recognize, (but clearly cannot throw away,) a grocery bag containing newspaper headlines from the day the Japanese surrendered at the end of WWII, saved by my great-grandfather (why I was entrusted with these, I have no idea) and a few pictures that took me back to the year John and I married and moved to Georgia.

He proposed to me in 1985, the night before we left on a Hawaiian vacation, two months after we began dating. You could call it a whirlwind romance, except we’d known each other for six years, him being my best friend’s older brother. Older, wilder brother. Older, wilder brother with fast cars and an Australian accent. What girl could resist, really?

Two months after the Vegas wedding, we loaded up his Chevy pickup, hauling a questionably road worthy travel trailer. The plan was for me to follow in my extremely adorable Pontiac Fiero. These vehicles contained all of our worldly possessions, which I can summarize here: A rocking chair, a ceiling fan, an extremely neurotic cat, a cornucopia of my Mom’s old pots, pans and dishes, forty-nine plastic trash bags filled with my clothes and shoes, and one bag of John’s clothes which entailed one or two pairs of underwear, several terry cloth polo shirts, which we must never speak of again, and his “cruel shoes.” Clearly, we were ready to storm the castle.

With his friends humming the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies, and two full tanks of gas, we set off. We had our AAA map with the route from Tehachapi, CA all the way to Peachtree City, GA clearly marked with a highlighter. We were Louis and Clark, going backwards, cluelessly, without cellphones. What could go wrong?

The full details of this trip are a story for another day, but here are the highlights: It took us four harrowing days, with stops in many fun and educational places including Albuquerque, where the only hotel room available had a waterbed set to 110 degrees, Oklahoma City, where I continually got myself lost, and the frighteningly narrow bridges of Mississippi, where I first laid eyes on kudzu, and immediately imagined it covering many corpses of people who “Ain’t from around here, are ya?” We had to disengage the air conditioning in the truck, to prevent it from overheating, which really does very little to keep the occupants from overheating.

Rural Mississippi in June also made us aware of the fact that it can rain so hard that you will begin to wonder if you have inadvertently driven into a lake. After helplessly following behind John over a bridge built for covered wagons, I could only say “ogod, ogod ogod,” as the trailer behind his truck did a herky-jerky fishtail, as a semi truck blew by us going about 110mph in the opposite direction. My mouth and eyes all formed perfect O‘s as our trailer came within a redneck’s whisker of flinging a cyclist who was out for a lovely bike ride, off of the Bridge of Doom.

At the next available roadside shoulder, the truck and trailer pulled over in a dramatic cloud of red dirt and gravel. Pre-cell phone, remember? I cautiously parked behind him, and waited for him to approach my car with a much needed cigarette, thinking it might be wise to allow a bit of the drama to fade before making conversation. After a minute or two, when he didn’t appear, I turned off my car, got out and approached the driver’s side of his truck. And he wasn’t in the truck. But he hadn’t gotten out of the truck. I blinked, and looked again, and there I saw him laying on the front seat of the truck with his eyes closed.

Leaning through the window, I put on my most encouraging, newlywed smile, and said, “Hey Babe. You okay? That was insane.”

With eyes calmly closed he replied, “I go no further.”

We then had a more lengthy discussion about the complications of setting up our new household on the roadside in Mississippi, the fact that this was no place to raise a family, how he was the best driver since Mario Andretti and for the love of Mike, is that a banjo I hear? After several shaky smokes, and the promise of air conditioning at our final destination, we continued.

Upon our arrival in the veritable civilization of Peachtree City, Georgia, we set about finding a place to rent. We chose a townhouse in Twiggs Corner. I should explain that “townhouse” was the technical real estate term for, “Front door at ground level, and then carry all your crap up a huge flight of stairs, where the rest of the apartment is.” We were so young, so in love, so naïve. So not prepared to meet the herd of Malathion-resistant roaches who were waiting in the empty unit next to ours to welcome us to the neighborhood. Roaches are very hospitable in the South. They kindly wait until you are unpacked to come a callin’.

John had a distinct advantage over me, in understanding the locals. His Australian upbringing had trained his ear for the twang-y, deep south dialect that left me straining forward with furrowed brows. He’d talk to a cluster of guys in overalls, and they’d carry on, and he’d smile and laugh and then say, “No shit!” I’d politely smile, and then wait till we got home to flip through my copy of “How to Speak Southern,” searching in vain for the term, “Dern de dern dern dern.”

I slowly began to keep a mental list of the vernacular, so I wasn’t always asking people what they were talking about. Buggies were grocery carts. Cranking the car was starting it. Cutting on the lights meant turning them on. I was catching on! Your Mama and them, was the sum total of everyone you were related to, and ‘midity was the air you could see, feel, breathe and wear as a protective coating. Fried was the state that all food must be converted to in order to make it edible, banana puddin’ was health food, water was the second main ingredient in sweet tea, and sweet tea was the reason God made water. For etiquette’s sake, lest you speak out of turn, liquor stores were the place where Baptists suffer from both blindness and amnesia. And my all time, favorite southern term ever was, “Get up out the floor,” which translates to, “Get your tiny, three year old ass up off that floor and act like you have some sense before I beat you!” I kept notes.


The Dark Side of Southern Life


By Vicki Hughes     Posted April 11, 2013

Living in the deep south, we are constantly enjoying a long list of perks, that people who visit from elsewhere are quick to notice. Fine weather, friendly people, food so good that it makes you want to slap someone, good manners, azaleas, and the inherent right to fry absolutely anything without anyone raising an eyebrow.

But there is a dark side.

Nobody discusses it when you first arrive, because frankly, it’s bad manners to make disagreeable conversation before the mint juleps kick in. However, I’ve been here long enough to be able to speak as a transplanted Southerner. I may not have an actual accent, but I do say y’all, and bless your heart, and I’m a regular at the Piggly Wiggly. In spite of my Southern California roots, the past twenty-five years of living in Dixie have qualified me to speak with some actual knowledge of the southern life.

Here is what they don’t tell you upon arrival through Customs: Roaches.

The south is a roach fest. For those of you in Southern California, this does not mean we have an assortment of great weed to choose from. That’s in Oregon. The south has actual cockroaches. Lawd have mercy! That word is so rude, it hurts my eyes to look at it.

A few nights ago I went to the bathroom to take out my contacts, and when I pulled open the drawer, I discovered a two and a half inch long roach, doing a Fandango with my toothbrush. I screeched, “John! Hurry! There’s a roach, and he’s giant, and he’s with my toothbrush!” Here is a fact of marriage that I will pass along to all you newbies. When you want your spouse to move quickly, with ninja skills, they will generally come at the pace of a sedated snail and make you want to punch kittens. Just know it’s going to happen, and you can cross it off your list of things that will surprise you.

He moseyed into the bathroom (I’m starting to believe that when he hears my bug-scream, he goes extra slow in hopes that it will scurry away before he arrives.) He grabbed like, three squares of toilet paper, and I was thinking, “This guy is not taking me seriously, he needs a HazMat suit and  a flamethrower, not three squares of Charmin.”

I commenced hopping on one foot, issuing orders like a Mob boss. “Kill it! Kill it! Dammit, man, what are you waiting for? KILL!!!!”

He made a few toilet papery jabs that made everything in the drawer jump, and then the roach escaped through the back of the drawer. Thus began my dirty looks, stewing and decrees that it was time for The Enforcer. I told John that he needed to do what had to be done, while I went to shop for toothbrushes.

This is a man who knows how I feel about roaches. Back in the eighties, when we lived in Atlanta, I was eight months pregnant, lying in bed, semi-peacefully, when a gigantic roach fell out of the a/c vent over our bed and landed, splat on my bare thigh. What ensued is what I imagine would happen if a psychotic walrus got tangled in a clothes line hanging with sheets and blankets. John was launched off the bed in my heroic attempts to remove all the bedclothes in one fluid motion, like those guys who pull a tablecloth out from under a fully set table.

It ended up with a familiar scene. An escaped felon roach, with me highly pissed off, issuing death threats and extermination orders. We were so poor back then that we frequently had to make those awkward choices at the grocery store checkout: Beer or toilet paper? But that day, budgets were not even a consideration. I didn’t care if it meant PBJ’s for a month. I declared, “We are calling an actual Bug Man. Today. I don’t care what it costs, it’s not up for discussion. Make it happen.”

Therefore John took my toothbrush moment to heart, and he brought in The Enforcer. For you non-southerners, this is not a guy named Guido in a bad suit. It’s a fine white powder with boric acid which creates a barrier that most roaches won’t cross, except for those on suicide missions, but that’s a story for another day. After you live here a while, and you discover that the chemicals the Bug Man uses are the reason you never see the same Bug Man twice, so you have to make smarter choices.

My greatest concern with putting down the line of enforcement, so to speak, is that I realize that somewhere in my house, there will be a few roaches, already inside the perimeter, who are now trapped inside the line. I call them Desperados. They can’t crawl back to Hell, from whence they came, so they are forced to stay inside, with me, until they have the bad fortune to expose themselves.

This morning, just as I poured my coffee, I saw the skittering out of the corner of my eye. Once these foul creatures come in contact with The Enforcer, it begins to effect them. They lose speed, and they scurry along like they’re looking for their car keys that they dropped.

These slower roaches are a good thing, because it allows me to do my part, of keeping an eye on them, while I bellow for backup. “John! Giant roach! Hurry! Reba has him cornered.” Momma’s dog was nosing the little creep, while John did his bug killing, death march to my side. “Where is the little bastard?”

I pointed to the corner where the roach was being examined by the dog. John took the paper towel he was holding, and gingerly bent over to go for the kill. Except his back has been out for a week. I forgot that. It looked sort of like an early morning exercise show for guys in their fifties, working on their low lunges, awkwardly. We both heard, crunch, and in unison, we made our that’s-disgusting-face. I was relieved to know he’d ended that bug, when he pulled back his hand, and it hopped out, and made a run for cover. John made three valiant attempts, from his now sprawled out stance, all to no avail. It crawled behind the armoire, injured, but alive, and is probably blogging right now about it’s near death experience.

John looked up at me, with regret in his eyes. In our family, we have a hard and fast rule we have learned from watching way too many revenge themed movies. If you get the chance to pull the trigger, do it. Never let your injured enemy live.” I rolled my eyes. “Well, at least he’s injured. We did hear the crunch.” John said, “Yeah, but I’m not sure if that was him, or my back.”

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Emergency Espresso


By Vicki Hughes  Posted April 8, 2013

All last week I was forced to wake up early. Work has been crazy, and I’ve been there to open, which means getting up earlier than I am made for. Prior to ten a.m. I’m really not hearing what people say, I just nod my head a lot. I try to avoid serious responsibilities until my brain cells are truly awake.

My morning routine is very simple and predictable. Wake up, scowl, find my glasses, find my robe, go to the kitchen and pour a cup of Joe, then kick the dog out of my chair, where he has once again turned the little rosebud quilt into a dog nest, sit down, check Facebook, grab my journal, and write. I find that a few minutes on Facebook clears my cobwebby head just a little. Sleep has a way of undoing all of my cognitive skills.

Pre-dawn, Friday morning, I came out to get my coffee, and realized there wasn’t a leftover cup sitting there waiting to be zapped in the microwave, so I would be forced to make a new pot. As I reached for the coffee canister, it felt light. I shook it momentarily, and cautiously opened the lid. Peering in, I stood there staring at the half a teaspoon of coffee sprinkled in the bottom of the canister. And I just kept staring at it.

I thought, “This can’t be right. There should be stuff in here. The stuff I want. Where’s my stuff?!” Then I convinced myself to stop freaking out. I looked in the cabinet above the coffee maker, thinking, surely we have more in reserve. No time to panic.

There was no coffee in the cabinet. None. Nada. Someone had used the last of the coffee and said diddly squat about this very important fact. Suddenly I was rummaging through the cabinet like a black bear at a Yosemite picnic, lifting things quizzically, and tossing them aside, shaking jars and grunting in disapproval. I was in such a state, I briefly considered some Chai Tea. CHAI TEA in place of coffee!?

No. Just, no.

And then I saw it. Emergency espresso.

If it had been behind glass, I’d have happily taken a hammer to it, and dealt with the glass shards later. I have no recollection of where this can of espresso came from, but I was thankful just knowing that it was not decaf, and it was a fine dust of actual coffee beans that could serve as a suitable substitute. I briefly considered that it might render me incapable of closing my eyes again till June, but that’s okay. Beggars can’t be choosers. Long story short, I got my much needed caffeine. I’m not entirely sure if that actually was espresso, because it tasted sort of like it had been filtered through cardboard in the Soviet Union. You do what you have to do.

I’ve discovered a few substitutions over the years that are never a good idea.

Liquid dish soap for dishwasher detergent is a definite no-no. Sadly, one time doing this was not sufficient to prevent me from doing it again, many years later. We were probably out of coffee when it happened the second time. Learn from my mistakes, people. Unless you want to have a bubble rave in your kitchen, liquid dish soap should be kept far, far away from the dishwasher.

Because genetics is funny stuff, and mistakes may in fact be genetic, an eight year old Chelsey once tried using the aforementioned liquid dish soap to mop our kitchen floor. She’d seen one of those commercials where the lady squirts the Mop & Glo all over the floor, and creates a shiny sparkling kitchen floor. That’s the day she learned the difference between Dawn and Mop & Glo. We both learned how many hours it takes to get 3/4 of a cup of liquid dish soap off of linoleum, but we also learned how to convert your kitchen into a skating rink in under ninety seconds. I should post that tip on Pinterest.

Also, paper napkins should never be used in place of paper towels to pat dry chicken breasts. Ever. Unless you were planning to use napkin confetti to bread your chicken, in which case, don’t let me stop you. Carry on!

What substitutions have you discovered were just an all around bad idea?

© Vicki Hughes 2013



Toilet Paper Overwhelms Me


By Vicki Hughes      Posted March 19, 2013

I’m beginning to think that I should buy toilet paper in extreme bulk, someplace like Sam’s Club, where they only have five or six varieties. Anytime I have to pick up toilet paper, and have the bad luck to find myself in a grocery store, I immediately begin to lose all decision making skills. I become frantic trying to decide which criteria to use to make a wise choice.

Single roll? Double roll? Two-ply is not up for discussion. That one-ply fooled me once, but never again! Jumbo roll? Tyrannosaurus Rex roll? With aloe? Without? What is this, sushi? Brand name with cute bears, or generic store brand, that looks suspiciously identical? On sale? Buy three, get a free roll of paper towels? I just stand there, shifting my weight from foot to foot, like a kid trying to pick a cookie in a bakery.

And don’t even get me started on paper towels! I have a favorite.They’re nearly indestructible, and you could probably make clothes out of them. But they’re pricey, and the rolls are noticeably smaller than their miserly competition. I nearly always put them back and go cheap, only to regret it when my wimpy paper towels just smear stuff around the countertops.

When I do buy a roll of those 1000 thread count paper towels, I’m like a miser. I set them towards the back of the cabinet under the kitchen sink, hoping nobody but me can find them. Using them is almost a holy experience, they’re so absorbant, it’s like watching water turn into wine. A person really could spend a small fortune at the grocery store shopping just for paper and plastic products. Let’s see, I have trash bags, ziplocks, foil, and plastic wrap, and twenty-seven dollars later, I still don’t have eggs or coffee. What the hell?

John despises plastic wrap, regardless of the brand. He does not speak it’s language at all. Anytime he makes an attempt to use it, there will me the muttering of four letter words, guaranteed. I’ve tried, and failed, to demonstrate my fool-proof method for dispensing it. He’s not having any of it. When plastic wrap requires dispensing in our home, it will fall squarely on my shoulders. Since spider executions are his sworn duty, I will carry on with a smile, wrapping sandwiches and leftovers with a good attitude.

I read somewhere that one thing we can all be thankful for is that spiders can’t fly. If you have a hard time thinking of things to be thankful for, you could just start there! I’m sure there is a bug expert out there somewhere who can find us a flying spider, but I personally intend to remain ignorant of any facts proving it.

Ignorance of certain subjects is very important to my sanity and happiness, and one of my most valuable tips for staying positive! I also keep myself deliberately in the dark about dust mites, bedbugs, and the quickie-cleaning methods of hotel maids. Some things you are just better off not knowing. Anytime these subjects come up, some helpful soul usually tries to enlighten me. That’s when I stop them mid-sentence and say, “Oh, I don’t want to know,” which they usually interpret as, “Please, tell me more!” This is when I am forced to poke my fingers in my ears and begin humming God Bless America.

What do you enjoy knowing nothing about?

© Vicki Hughes 2013

How I Get So Much Done: Six Tips You Can Use This Week!


By Vicki Hughes Posted March 13, 2013

People sometimes wonder how I get it all done. I work a full time job, I cook (mostly) healthy dinners, I make sea glass jewelry, I adjust my undies, I walk by the bay and snap pictures, I administer several Facebook pages, and as you may have noticed, I blog.

The key to getting it all done is ignoring things. Some people might call it lazy, I call it priorities! Here are a few of the most obvious things I must ignore in order to get some stuff done.

Baseboards: That’s right. I can’t get bogged down dusting them or wiping them with a fuzzy yellow cloth.They got nailed to the wall in order to create a framework for my collection of dust bunnies and floating islands of doghair.The baseboards are on their own.

Keeping My E-mail In-Box Clear: Seriously? I have no idea who has time like this to spare. I’ve apparently done entirely too much online shopping, because I get a bazillion e-mails from places I can’t even remember shopping with. I see them in my In-box so much, they feel like long term relationships. Please don’t suggest that I unsubscribe. I HAVE! They just keep ‘em coming. If you want me to actually read an important email, your subject line better have FREE MARTINIS in it.

Washing My Car: We don’t have a garage, but what we do have, is a very busy oak tree over the driveway. I also work about two minutes from the house, and there are no car-washes in between. I can go a week on twenty dollars in gas! To say I don’t give my car a lot of my attention would be a fair statement. I should get a golf cart.

Putting Things Away: Attending to this activity would deprive me of much needed time to do all the many things I am accomplishing. I let things form into little piles that become communities of crap and then, when I get caught up (generally once per fiscal quarter,) I spend an afternoon rummaging through them, feeling nostalgic, “There you are! I’ve missed you!”

Cleaning The Refrigerator: In my case, this is a huge time saver. This is not even an issue anymore because my Momma has it covered since she moved in. She keeps the fridge totally organized and finds a way to keep all the very important things close at hand so I don’t cry: martini olives, canned whipped cream, string cheese. Before she moved in, our fridge was a Twilight Zone episode.

When Chelsey was fifteen, I was cooking mac and cheese from scratch. As teenagers do, she went to the fridge to scope out a snack. I heard her suck in her breath through her teeth. She was hunched over, peering into the deepest recesses of the bottom shelf. “Is that the cookie dough from sixth grade?” she asked, nostrils flared. I wasn’t sure if she was deeply disturbed or about to get a spoon.

I glanced over my shoulder at her and said, “Maybe……”

Priorities, people! Do you want me to excavate the fridge or make you some Garlic Aioli bread?! I’m not a machine! I need to sleep sometime!

Getting all the laundry done: I know many of you dabble in this time saving practice. I am a complete seat-of-my-pants laundry person. I have no set day, and I can’t even fathom having underwear with the days of the week on them. If my underwear had captions stitched on them, they would say:

  • Too small
  • Elastic shot
  • Why did I buy these??
  • Oh, hell no!
  • Let’s hope I don’t have an accident
  • Scratchy
  • Sends the wrong message, I’m tired

Much like my earlier tip on ignoring fridge cleaning, the ignoring of laundry can yield some great historical artifacts.

When we moved to a new house in 1999, I found one of Chelsey’s baby socks at the bottom of my hamper. She was ten years old, and had size-eight Nike’s, crusted with mud, sitting on our front porch. Her baby sock days were behind us. I sat in my bedroom and got a little teary-eyed over that mildewed sock, a smelly little time capsule to remind me of her babyhood.

There! My secret is out. Now you have six, practical ways to carve out more time each week! If you really want to be productive…learn what to ignore. Who knows what you will get accomplished!

© Vicki Hughes 2013

Confessions of a Condiment Whore

This is just sad.

This is just sad.

By Vicki Hughes     Posted March 9, 2013

There’s nothing like packing up and moving your household to bring you face to face with your hoarding tendencies and housekeeping inadequacies. This past fall, in what I can only describe as The Bermuda Triangle of Bad Timing, I decided to move for the second time in two years, go on vacation, help our daughter move into the house we were vacating, and go out of state to get my mom to move her from Tennessee to Alabama, into the mother-in-law suite at our new house. It’s not stress that I like, it’s excessive stress.

All of this moving made me very aware of my foibles, quirks and assorted mental illnesses. I was faced with the damning reality that since 1986 I’d managed to transport a nearly empty tin of Safeway Allspice all over the United States, and not because I’m fond of kitchen antiques, but because I’m a Condiment Whore. In fact I’m a complete nutcase when it comes to spices, condiments, and anything pickled. I squirrel them away as if preparing for the coming Apocalypse of Seasonings.

This recent move once again confronted me with a can of hearts of palm that I can never seem to bring myself to add to a salad, “My God, what year did I buy that!?” I’m clearly incapable of throwing it away. Do you know what they want for hearts of palm? Using it is to risk ptomaine poisoning, but tossing it gives me the shivers. I have issues.

Our new house has a gorgeous stainless steel refrigerator, which is lovely to look at, but is significantly smaller than the typical requirements of a Condiment Whore. Would you like to guess from which side I inherited my food hoarding genes? Yes, from my mother…and we are now sharing a Barbie doll refrigerator. Yesterday we made the mistake of going grocery shopping together. We came out of the Piggly Wiggly as if we were each personally responsible for feeding the Pittsburg Steelers. What were we thinking? As we were loading things into the trunk I kept eyeballing her bags of groceries quietly thinking, “There better be room in that fridge for my Bud Light Chelada’s or her sour cream is getting the ax!”

A recently discovered challenge of having two women in the same house is that we both move things, but one of us moves the other’s stuff more. She KEEPS MOVING MY SHIT! I’ve nearly had a couple of breakdowns looking for, in no particular order: empty plastic shopping bags for dog poop duty, a wet Swiffer, maraschino cherries, horseradish, a plastic container for leftovers, tealights, and, God help me, my martini shaker.

After some very sweet quizzing on my part, I was taken to their maddeningly logical locations. Their new homes made perfect sense, but they were simply not where I saw them last. Coffee filters in the cabinet above the coffee maker? I thought they were fine sitting on the counter…Oh no. No, no, no. Logical.

Not only does she have a flair for putting things in logical order (spices, alphabetized “loosely” from left to right!) She is very neat. My husband and I are a bit neat-challenged. Or maybe I should say we have a higher threshold for the non-neat than she does. Either way, it’s a bit of an adjustment.

I have discovered things I truly didn’t know. The unsightly must be camouflaged. Electrical cords are the crazy relative in a Victorian novel, discretely kept out of sight. Everyone knows you have them, but nobody must ever see them. The plastic trashbag that lines the pedal-operated trashcan? It should be neatly folded over, into the can, in a tiny little cuff that can only be seen with a very high powered microscope. It matters not that my husband and I create a very American amount of trash every 24 hours, and this cuff-folding ritual will become a part time job for someone. Not me! I truly do not give a rat’s ass if the trashcan liner is visible on a trashcan. I’m pretty sure everyone knows there’s a trashbag in there. Why are our trashbags in the Witness Protection Program?

I kidded her the other day, saying I think she’s part squirrel, and everything is a nut to be hidden to her. I had no idea that daily living could have so many rules. Holy shit. For instance, did you know that used coffee filters and their grounds are to be thrown away before you leave the house, rather than the next morning when you’re ready to make more coffee? Me neither. File that away, you’re going to need it later.

The cushions for patio chairs need to be brought in nightly to protect them from the dew. This relentless attention to cushion maintenance may sound a bit extreme, but it also explains why the cushions she bought in 1994, when our daughter was five years old, look like brand new. I’ve bought a new set every year. You could safely perform open heart surgery on my Mom’s patio chair cushions. After a full summer of use, mine usually look like the reject pile after a trailer park yardsale. Sadly, I’m comfortable with my sloppy cushion behavior. I also admit that it’s oddly comforting when our now twenty-three year old daughter is sitting there on those same pristine cushions, sipping a mimosa on a Sunday afternoon. Comforting, and a little weird, like time travel to the nineties.

Adapting.That’s what we’re all doing. We’re learning to adjust to having three grown adults living with four dogs, and how we will manage to love and respect each other in spite of all our individual persnikitiness.

She whispers to me out of the side of her mouth, “I don’t know if you want to say anything to John, but MOST people wear shirts when they cook.”

Um, no. Actually I don’t think I will say a word, since he’s cooking in his own house. But your revulsion is duly noted! Dear God. I’m just thankful that he’s wearing shorts! When you’ve been married nearly thirty years to an Australian/Californian/Redneck carpenter, you have to expect a few etiquette adjustments. What he lacks in proper attire, I promise he makes up for in amazing BBQ chicken. It’s probably the mixture of marinades and dripping sweat that makes it special.

My Mom always compliments me on how easy going I am. I’m now starting to wonder if easy going is code for “sketchy low standards,” but I’m okay with it. My Mom is amazing. She is beyond accommodating, she wants everyone to be happy all the time, she offers to help me, and keeps the wheels of progress turning, preventing our new household from spiraling off into complete chaos.

When the adjustment period is all said and done, I may have to teach her the art of the perfect dirty martini. I’m sure she could make James Bond shed tears over the perfection of her martinis if only someone showed her the ropes. Then, when she asked me, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” I could say, “Shake it, Sister!” That’s help I need.

I know she’s intrigued with the whole martini thing. About a week after she moved in, we were in the kitchen together, and I’d mixed my nightly adult beverage. I poured it with a flourish into a blue martini glass. The frosty chilled edges just said, “This is wonderfulness in a glass.”

She looked furtively at me and asked quietly, “Do you mind if I taste it?” I smiled my evil genius smile and said, “Why, no. Go right ahead, but prepare yourself. I like booze in my booze. It’s boozy.” She took a tiny squirrel-sip and then coughed like Doris Day in a Rock Hudson movie. That will teach her to mess with my gin. I may have her condiment hoarding genes, but I got my Daddy’s drinking genes. I do not require my alcohol to taste like iced tea, a peppermint patty or a Snicker’s Bar. I eat my food, and I drink my drinks. But I am not opposed to a tiny snack in my drink, I mean, olives are condiments, and that’s how I roll.

© Vicki Hughes 2013