Getting to know Julia

It’s a new day in the Kaprowy/Baker kitchen, thanks to a renovation that has gifted us with a shiny new range.

I use the word “range” as if I’m fully in possession of it, though of course I’m not. I actually only learned that it refers to an oven/stove combo in the nine months we awaited its arrival. It was, alas, the final piece in our renovation project and I’ve been kind of sparring with this beautiful beast, whose name is Julia, ever since.

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Nutty for nutcrackers

Isn’t it fun how, if you live in a small town, just about anything constitutes an “errand” when you’re in the city? Like, “going to the mall” is part of your errand list even though you are headed to fun Sephora to get some new foundation (and eyeshadow and festive nail polish). “Going to The Summit” means you are either shopping or eating and maybe stopping at Whole Foods, which, I’ll grant you, is errand-like, except of course you have to treat yourself to a cookie because the cookies are so good there and maybe you’ll have a slice of pizza there too because aren’t you allowed to eat when you’re so busy running errands?

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The Western Barbie wink

Debbie was the name of my Barbie growing up. I thought it the most gorgeous name in the world, unless I had just watched an episode of “The Love Boat,” in which case I invariably considered switching Debbie’s name to Vicki.

I’ve been thinking about Debbie this week as I prepare my Christmas list for my friends’ kids. Every year, I research the hottest toys. And every year, I miss the ones I had when I was a kid.

Debbie was a Western-style Barbie, which meant she came with a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a white satin outfit nearly buzzing with fringe. On her back, she had a button that, if pressed, made Debbie wink. And what accentuated her wink? Her violently blue eyeshadow, of course.

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I knew I had a problem last March when I was looking for something to watch on Netflix and settled into a movie with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 25 percent simply because it was about Christmas. Around June, I’d started to feel constantly fidgety, looking for a reason — any reason — to make shortbread. On Sept. 1, I hummed loudly when I turned the page on our Boston terrier calendar and hurried to T.J. Maxx to see whether they had any red and green decorations out yet.

So, that’s it. I’ve become a year-round Christmas person. I don’t know if the pandemic did it to me or what, but I basically only want it to be December all the time.

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Making the cut

After a month-long break, I’m back! For those of you who didn’t notice, I get it. For those of you who did (and missed me), I love you completely!

I’m happy to report that I did make the cut for The Ubergroup, the private online literature critique group for which I’ve been trying out. And it was intense. We had lengthy weekly homework assignments, we were assessed on the critiques we gave each other (there were seven of us in the trial group), and we were expected to participate heavily and poignantly in a discussion forum about everything from synopses to competitive titles to outlines.

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What a faker

Last week, I went back to school. Kind of.

I’ve been selected to be a part of a private fiction critique group on a trial basis, so for the next six weeks, I’ll be critiquing the work of six other members and hoping my critiques are useful enough to earn me a permanent invitation.

Bored already? Yeah, I get it. Don’t worry, I won’t be talking about critiquing fiction.

But I’ll tell ya, I had forgotten what it’s like to enter a new academic-style setting. And all of the feelings that go along with that.

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Mad as fire

Last week, I woke up bright and early and realized that I was furious. William was home on vacation. The day was sunny. The dogs were healthy. There were all the ingredients to make this a happy day.

Except I was pissed.

I went upstairs to work on some editing, which usually soothes me, but I just got madder. So I hopped on Facebook, scrolled a bit and then came upon a newspaper story about how the health department had recorded the deaths of four more Pulaski Countians due to Covid.

So I read the story. And then I made the big mistake of reading the comments.

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A look at Covid in Canada

The above photo, taken in Toronto’s Pearson airport, merits some explanation. When I crossed customs back into the U.S. on Aug. 10, 2021, I was one of two people doing so. When I arrived at the terminal, composed of 20 gates, I was one of about 25 people in the entire terminal. Pearson is Canada’s largest and biggest airport.)

A few minutes ago, in the wake of the mask mandate for schools, I had a friend text me about how the pandemic was being handled in Canada. I just returned from a trip home after a year and a half and, yes, it sure is a different place than when I left it. Because my friend was curious about what things are like, I thought you might be too, so I decided to share some of what I witnessed.

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Bouncing back

I’m sitting on an airplane right now and wondering if I’m too old to bounce. Does a person run out of time to get this excited? Does it become unseemly after a certain age? I’m honestly not sure, so, in a few minutes, I plan on bouncing. Because how could I not?

After 529 days of being away from my family, I am finally on my way to them. The border to Canada opened to Canadian citizens near the beginning of July. It opens to American citizens (double vaccinated only, please!) Aug. 9. So here I am, masked to the max, amongst a planeload of peeps who look a little nervous to be here.

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Everything is the kitchen sink

It took me about 18 hours of not having a kitchen sink before I found myself looking at a fork and wondering if it was too dirty to use again. I mean, I’d only eaten a fruit salad with it. Fruit was clean, right? Cleaner than, like, soap in a way?

A few hours later, I found myself staring at a water glass I’d used the day before. Water glass water is pretty germ free, yes?  Germ free enough to be able to hold out washing a water glass for, like, a week?

My answer to all of these questions ended up being a convenient yes. So I could get out of washing dishes.

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