Tuesday, May 22, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Black cloud hangs over some days

It was decided.

Tuesday would be my day off.

It was my decision. After all, I am the only one here, which makes me the boss. I deserved one day to call my own, to do whatever I pleased, free of stress, worry, and rushing. Besides I am retired; surely that qualifies for some time out.

But as they say, the best laid plans of man (and woman, too)

Even as I write this diary entry, the load of white laundry is lingering in a deep pool of water in the washer in the basement. The shirts, slacks, and towels should be clean. In an effort to fix the washer, I have put them through the wash and rinse cycles three times but finally gave up: The spin cycle is just not going to kick in.

I suppose it's time for the olive green washer to act up. I bought it used about 18 years ago and never saw any reason to update.

You know how it goes. You sit down to relax over the morning coffee to read The Blade, and think, why not put in a load of wash? That doesn't take much time and it's no work at all. Wrong! I have been fooling with the washer off and on all day and I suppose tomorrow, with regained strength, I will have to wring out the clothes by hand and hang them on the line. That is, if it doesn't rain.

The day of relaxation did have its quiet moments. There was time to write letters and to watch the entire Price is Right show. Bob Barker's energy and enthusiasm are amazing and I like to see what he is wearing. It certainly always is several cuts above what the contestants wear on the show, including ball caps and bare bellies.

I also had time to write a few checks on my "day off," polish my nails, freshen up with the new birthday makeup, and try on fall clothes to see if they fit. They don't.

Then out of the blue I got the idea to bake cookies to send to a serviceman in the Middle East. There was exactly one cup of peanut butter in the jar, the amount called for in the recipe. The production was under way, and doing something good for someone on my day off was comforting. But I questioned baking cookies for 12 minutes at 375 degrees in my 30-year-old oven. Did I test one cookie at that time and temperature to find out? Did I test two or three? No, I baked 14 cookies.

Rather, I burned 14 cookies to a crisp. Forget that "waste not, want not" adage. Though I always request, but rarely get, burnt toast in restaurants, I could not eat the black bottom cookies; nor did I have the nerve to toss them to the birds and squirrels.

With the cookie project still in motion the oven temperature was reduced to 350 and the timer was set for 10 minutes. But I failed to criss-cross the cookies with a fork, which is standard procedure for peanut butter cookies. Oh, well, they are half-baked now. At the same time I remembered that mistake, while rechecking the recipe I noted the tablespoon of milk called for was omitted. To make up for it, I added a teaspoon of milk to what was left of the dough.

After so many blunders that were turning a day off into an off day, there were only one dozen cookies to wrap and send - not enough to fill the shipping carton. It was off to the store to buy magazines, candy, and gum to complete the box before taking it to the post office. Thank goodness, the cookies, good or bad, were on their way.

As I pulled away from the post office into a clear lane on the main street of town, a car turned toward me and was heading directly toward the driver's side. I slammed on the brakes with such force it threw Digby into the front seat and I was as limp as a dishrag.

That's really why I don't care if the washer doesn't spin dry, that 14 cookies burned, or if I ever again pretend to have a day off. We returned home safe and sound.

There's always more peanut butter.

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