Feb 172018
 

By PenCooper93 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

February 16, 2018 — I do stupid things.  I’ve contemplated the reasons and developed a list:

  1. Russians disguised as people from Ohio or West Virginia made me
  2. Senior Moment
  3. Hyperspeed Alien Abduction and Return
  4. Genetics
  5. Candy Crush Dependency

Several days ago I realized I needed new pillows.  I like my pillows arranged just so. When the pillows age and flatten out, my system is ruined.  Happens overnight, one night your pillows are fluffy, and eight hours later, utter devastation.

I shopped at Wally World for cough drops and red onions this week, and I thought, I’ll pop over to the Home Goods department and pull two pillows out of the first discount bin I find.  Did I give it any forethought or did I just randomly pull out the first two I saw? (See list above.)

An end cap, labeled “Made in rural China by four-year-olds who haven’t eaten in days” and featuring “Dust Mites and Bedbugs” drew me in.  I selected two, each $2.79.

I didn’t think another thing about it until my husband said before we went to bed, “You gonna lay your head on those things.  They look  disgusting and filthy.”

I consulted with our 82-year-old housekeeper Doreen who advises me like a California psychic. She suggested a “My Pillow.”  She bought one for her husband, and now he sleeps well.  Each pillow has a forty dollar price tag if you can find it on sale. That seemed a little above my current retiree pay grade (ah, for old days when I coveted the Westin Heavenly Bed and accompanying luscious bedding on business trips.)

I figured somewhere between “Not Fit for Homo Sapien Use” and “For the best nights sleep in the whole wide world, try My Pillow dot com” there would be something acceptable to this Purveyor of the Perfect Pillow System. (Sorry for the earworm from the “My Pillow” commercial.)

This ain’t your grandmother’s online shopping trip.  She didn’t have to deal with the Memory Foam Revolution.  We once bought memory foam mattress which came with two memory foam pillows.  For about three weeks, I had a severe asthma attack every night.  After multiple attacks, we figured it might be the memory foam.  By researching, I learned about “off-gassing” defined below by AmericaSleep.

WHAT CAUSES MEMORY FOAM SMELL?

Memory foam smell comes from a reaction called “off-gassing.” If you’ve ever smelled fresh paint, dry cleaning, or the inside of a new car, that’s off-gassing.

New foams and many other manufactured products experience off-gassing. It happens when “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) break down. As opposed to being stable, these “volatile” (or unstable) compounds break apart, most commonly forming gasses — hence the term off-gassing.

In mattresses, the most common place to find VOCs is in the foam and adhesives. They can include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), formaldehyde, benzene, methylene chloride, toluene, trichloroethane, naphthalene, perfluorocarbons.

We returned the mattress (100-night guarantee) and bought a  foam mattress that didn’t expel toxic fumes.  The vendors insisted we keep the pillows, which even the cats found off-putting.  A new pillow is catnip for a kitty, but not the feral possum smell of the memory foam.

Researching appropriate foam pillow options, I turned to one of the best finance magazines in the world, “Forbes.”  Why not “Good Housekeeping” or “Foam Pillow Monthly?”  (See list above.)  Read “Forbes'” take on the best pillows here.  Between interviews with Donald Trump and discussions about inflation, do editors sit ’round a long, mahogany conference table with their heads bowed on various pillows, sampling the latest wares?

Recommended as the number one pillow for most people by “Forbes” is the  Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow.

“supportive without being too firm or stiff, and testers appreciated that its moldability accommodated each sleeper’s specific contours. The Xtreme Comforts averaged the highest ratings among most of our testers, but it wasn’t everyone’s favorite. So while one of the competitors might be a better pick for you, we’re still confident that the Xtreme Comforts won’t steer you wrong.”

That sounds great, but $49 a pillow was out of this retirees’ annual pillow budget.  (Disclaimer to  friends with $10,000 electronic mattresses and two remotes, a vintage lamb’s wool duvet made by blind Argentinian nuns in the last century and five thousand dollar Icelandic eiderdown pillows: get over yourselves.)

I wonder if the “Forbes’ recommended pillow is pricey (by my low rent standards) because of the extra cost “shredding” the memory foam involves?

  • Who is doing the shredding?
  • Are their bureaucrats in the industry who regulate the conditions of shredding memory foam?
  • Why does memory foam need to be shredded?
  • And the most disturbing question to this asthmatic is when memory foam is shredded by professionals does it disperse more of the toxic garbage including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), formaldehyde, benzene, methylene chloride, toluene, trichloroethane, naphthalene, perfluorocarbons?

Disappointed, I compromised with a set of two Beckham Hotel Collection Gel Pillows, Dust Mite Resistant and Hypoallergenic. That name just implies romance, doesn’t it? The label said, “Made in Denmark by well-fed adults with national health insurance and liberal vacation days.”

Amazon Prime won’t deliver the pillows until Tuesday.  For now,  I’m stuck with Chinese Dust Mites, all flattened out.

 

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Feb 122018
 

This piece was published on the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Website on February 11, 2018 — The retired life is resplendent with richness and meaning. It does not, however, free one from the tasks of ordinary life. I often must rise from my red velour chaise lounge, set the peppermint bonbons and glass of sherry aside, and attend to the mundane duties of the household.

I am well trained for these responsibilities, having had an All Important Position for more than 30 years, and of course, the Most Important Job of a mother for 18 plus years.

The All Important Position required me to carry a tiny box, a box that sent me messages, much like Billy Mumy on “Twilight Zone.”  I was also expected to know things, and especially important that I answer questions from those who reported to me.

Did I turn in an expense report last July 3? Look it up on your computer.

I can’t, a bear ate my computer, and I must connect to the Mother Ship through your docking station. Now, what’s my password?  Call the help desk.

What’s their number?  It’s 1-800-How-Many-Days-Until-I-Retire?

As a mother in the Most Important Job, I was expected to know things, and especially important that I answer questions from those who once resided in my uterus.

Where are my car keys? On the kitchen counter where you left them.

Where is my Scout sash?  In your closet on the hanger with your uniform.

What did I do with my Biology book? Did you look in your backpack?

These high-level skills now transfer to my Really Important Job as retiree wife, where I’m expected to know things and answer questions from my helpmate of 34 years.

Where are my car keys? On the kitchen counter where you left them.

Where is the can opener?  In the same drawer, it’s been in since we moved here in 1996.

What did I do with my work calendar? Did you look in your briefcase?

My skills, along with everything I learned in graduate school, have increased my value at home beyond answering questions since my retirement. Tonight, I’m descaling our pod coffeemaker.

In the olden days when our coffeemaker broke, we went to Wally World and bought another plastic Mr. Coffee for $20. Our first Mr. Coffee, a wedding present, lasted more than two decades.  The newer ones, not so much.  But for a year of great coffee, $20 is not excessive.

I had to get all fancy when the pod coffee makers came out. Now I’m in descaling hell.  I’m sorry no one was home to hear my obscene-laden cries when I read the instructions, which were glued to the bottle. When I pried them off, they stuck back to back on the Chinese instructions.  Thankfully, I still had the manual from the pod coffeemaker, so there you go.

How to descale a coffeemaker in 143 easy steps:

First, dump all the water out of the coffeemaker. No instructions on this.  I gingerly picked up the red monster, turned it upside down, and poured all the water in the sink.  I’m not sure if there’s a secret reservoir I’m missing.  I then poured in the descaling solution which is made of arsenic, old tires, Pepsi and dishwashing detergent.

The next step is completing two cleansing brews. Thankfully I was doing cleansing breaths while waiting for the cleansing brews. This took about 10 minutes and had it not been for my cleansing breaths, I might have been more irritated.

Instructions dictate the coffeemaker sits with the lethal slumgullion baking inside the reservoir for 30 minutes.

Great, I’ll soon be finished.

Not so fast. Because of the unknown contents of the toxic brew (possibly elephant sperm, pizza rolls, battery acid and dish detergent?), a dozen OR MORE cleansing brews are necessary.  Seriously, what the he** is in that stuff?  Do I really want to drink the coffee that comes out of it after all this?

I have four Wally Worlds within six miles of my house. I could have put on a bra, shoes and my parka, driven to Wally World and purchased a new coffeemaker and paid for it in the regular not the scanner line, gone to Zaxby’s Chicken for a three-piece chicken strip meal substituting cole slaw for French fries, eaten my dinner in the car, driven home, and made new coffee in the time it takes to descale this bad boy.

But I’m going to complete the housewifely job when the 30 minutes is up.  I may be up all night running cleansing brews. This is bad for me because tomorrow I will need considerable energy to rise from my chaise lounge, put aside the lemon drop martini and bruschetta, and head to the deck to clean the ca-ca off the top of the bird feeders.

— Amy McVay Abbott

A retired health care executive, Abbott is a Midwestern writer and author of four books. Her online home is http://amyabbottwrites.com.

 

To see the original posting click here.

 

Jan 212018
 

January 21, 2018 — The battle continues. Each side remains vigilant, fighting with weapons, creative and traditional. My objective in this daily skirmish is feeding the birds.

I lack proper tactics because I don’t fully understand the enemy. I am not sure of his motives or his strategy. He frequently changes his patterns of attack.  The birds are hungry.

I refer to “he,” but frankly there are dozens of chunky, otter-sized squirrels in my backyard. I put food out for them under the deck, where the furry beasts can find it, in theory, before they ravage the bird feeders.

We’ve had two feeders in this same place for years. The feeders are attached to a metal hook two-and-a-half feet over the deck. From the bottom of the feeders, it’s a good twelve feet to the ground.

When I retired in October, I replaced both of the feeders. The old feeders were, in a word, disgusting.  I failed to realize the seriousness of the situation and purchased frivolous, brightly colored feeders that were unlike the old ones. Rookie mistake.  Both feeders were knocked down overnight. One was broken to bits, chewed or torn up. Beyond repair. The second one, a long cylinder, was bloodied but not broken.  I hung it back up and tied it to the shepherd’s crook with a bread tie.

At the time, I suspected raccoons and felt confused because I didn’t know how a coon could balance enough on the two-inch deck rail to knock down the feeder. Was it something bigger? Did Sasquatch come out of the woods and merely reach his long, hairy arm up from the yard to get bits of sunflower seeds and grain?

After observing the frequent gymnastics of local members of the family Sciuridae, I knew it wasn’t Sasquatch or an adept rare Indiana bobcat, or even a sure-footed coon. It was Bullwinkle’s friend, Rocky.

I purchased a second feeder, like the cylindrical one that Rocky had been unable to knock down. Securing a bread wrapper around the top kept it in place. He still managed to jump on the feeders and eat the seeds and shake more on the ground.  I posted on Facebook for advice.   Several commenters suggested I leave things alone.  I had not considered this.

I decided to experiment and not fill the feeders every day.  I would not let them go empty, but I had observed that Mr. Squirrel likes a full feeder. Two days passed with half-full feeders. Rocky didn’t show up for those two days.

The feeders were empty this morning. I’m watching for the rapid rodent as I work. We’ll see what happens. Some kind folks suggested that squirrels and birds can live in harmony. I say, harumph but am willing to give it a try.

My desk sits in front of the window, so I don’t miss much at the feeders. This morning the neighborhood cat, a large tom with yellow and white fur, jumped on the deck and went to the feeder. All God’s children are hungry. I’m expecting a giraffe any day now.

 

 

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