Monday, February 24, 2014

31 missed calls

We have 3 separate phones for the single landline in our Berkeley home. The main phone is in the kitchen, but there are also phones in the office space in Barbara's room. and in my office. Few calls on this line are for me, as most friends know that I have a personal cell phone, which I carry around. Often, when Barbara is out, I can't reach the landline in time to answer it..That's why we pay a little extra for an answering service. We both make charitable contributions, but Barbara is ahead of me in giving to political causes. Many of the recipients of her bounty exchange names and phone numbers for what I call their "sucker lists". Most of those who solicit donations from Barbara don't leave messages: they hang up and make their "pitch" at a later time. The phone in my office shows the number of unanswered calls: currently, it shows 31.I have no idea how to erase this statistic--perhaps it deletes a missed call after a month. I admire the technology, but I dislike it. I can't see that the number of unanswered calls is of any relevance to us. Not only is the information unnecessary, but also there's an implication of negligence on our part. How could we be so lazy as not to answer these 31 calls--most of which were probably to ask Barbara for money?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Warming Oven

I consider this the best way of keeping hot food at least reasonably warm, before it is served. I don't think many homes have one, but when our kitchen was remodeled many years ago, I successfully held out for the installation of a warming oven. It is a capacious oven, set alongside the kitchen range, with a switch to adjust the level of heat desired. We use it almost every day. There is no warming oven at our second home in Colorado, so we use a different system there. Above the range are two racks, one on each side, with separate controls for heat and for light. It works pretty well, without the nuances possible with a warming oven. It certainly helps this stickler for warm food at breakfast time.

Monday, February 10, 2014


The same urge I have to "straighten out" people who (IMHO) have the facts wrong has a more benign manifestation in my love of "sorting".I really enjoyed my undergraduate years as a mail sorter during the Christmas season. I was assigned the "West Road", mail from the main Tunbridge Wells post office where we worked, destined for the western and south-western areas of England. There were two frames for the West Road, with "pigeonholes" (slots) for the principal cities and towns, and a slot for "other" destinations. I never needed a second sorter, and I also set up many slots for lesser known towns, lessening the work for the sorters who accompanied the mail on the trains for the west. My thorough and speedy work so impressed my full-time colleagues that on my last day I was presented with a touching handwritten document, signed by all of them, congratulating me for single-handedly covering the West Road. The good side of my enjoyment of sorting is that there are times when this can be helpful for others. The bad side is when I take the time to "straighten out" someone unnecessarily, often for a trivial reason. Fortunately, there is a harmless way of "feeding" my obsession. When I first work on my computer most mornings, and before I go to bed, I usually play a form of solitaire known as "Free Cell". This almost always comes out for me, and my actual success rate is about 98%. I perfectly well understand how I am wasting time, but if it reduces my "need" to correct everybody else's errors, it is well worth while. My other outlet is my monthly work as proof reader and copy editor for the parish magazine. I bask in the compliments that I receive for this work.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cold toast

One of my responsibilities as a husband is to consume what otherwise would be wasted leftovers. Recently, Barbara brought back some cold toast from a breakfast joint. On it I spread a little Marmite, and it soon went "down the hatch". This reminded me that many years ago, perhaps as early as 1957, I brought a "toast rack" from the UK. Toast and marmalade is a staple of British breakfasts, and it is normal for several pieces of cold toast to put in to a rack set on the table. With the third meal of the day in Britain, known as "tea", one may find warm toast, kept from getting cold by being placed in a cunning metal container, with a bowl of hot water placed under the plate of toast, with a cover placed on it. (This same container is sometimes used for another occasional feature of British "tea time".) There is a popular savory spread in the UK, called "Patun Peperiun" spread on warm toast, I prefer this to the alternative, toast and jam.