Tag Archives: Ice cream

It’s November?! No, No, No!

Image by 422737 from Pixabay.

I panicked when an entire summer passed, and I hadn’t fulfilled my dream of eating 100 sundaes at Ivanhoe’s, a local den of temptation. When I realized I hadn’t gotten up close and personal with every mosquito in Indiana. Just 97 percent of them.

But now, October is history?

A growing list of non-accomplishments assail me at 2 a.m. Having dreamed that Mr. Clean®, the Ty·D·Bol Man and my mother banished me to the Grungy Galaxy, I realize I haven’t completed even last spring’s gotta-do household list. I haven’t washed windows, whereas Mom never permitted one streak on hers. I haven’t eliminated chaos from closets or grime from the garage.

Nor have I winterized yard and garden. Hubby has mulched our leaves so far, but I haven’t shoveled compost, trimmed blackberry bushes or planted more daffodils. My bulbs and bushes still crave smelly fertilizers.

I’ve failed to keep my mums alive until Thanksgiving. Who designated them the official fall flower, anyway? Mums are scientifically timed to expire when they touch my porch, a ruse to force me to buy more.

We haven’t yet stored our lawn furniture, but rust and the distressed look are in. That works. My furniture is distressed because it belongs to me.

Image by pixel1 from Pixabay.

By now, greedy chocolate-peanut butter addicts have gobbled up 50-percent-off Reese’s pumpkins which, by divine right, should be all mine! Mine, I tell you!

Despite that sad situation, I haven’t accomplished the preholiday weight loss that I, in a fit of insanity induced by doctor’s scales, pledged months ago.

As if all that woulda-coulda-shoulda trauma isn’t sufficient, November 1 triggers nationwide panic.

In women, I mean. Men generally suffer panic attacks only if dinner’s late.

Image by 46173 from Pixabay.

I refer to pre-Christmas angst. Rumblings begin with family councils pondering who can celebrate when and where if Andy’s team doesn’t make finals, gas prices drop and nobody dies. Maybe our family can combine Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday.

In November, catalogs pile up in mailboxes. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Tacky Tuesday ads stuff email and ping like popcorn on computer screens.

Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay.

I begin the annual search for on-sale presents I bought in January 2023 and hid in safe places.

I won’t rediscover them until hiding sales gifts from January 2024 in safe places.

It’s November.

No, no, no amount of denial will change that.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How does November affect you?

Testing, Testing

Image by lecroitg from Pixabay.

Standardized tests and I have always crossed No. 2 pencils.

During the 1960s, we Hoosier children took Iowa tests, though Indiana teachers already gave too many. Iowans loved math (yuck). Nobody in the test readings solved exciting mysteries like Nancy Drew.

Little did I know the SAT lurked in my future. Today, SAT cheering sections rah-rah second graders. Preparation courses guarantee not only top scores for high schoolers, but complete acne cures.

Fifty years ago, I almost forgot about the SAT.

My OC boyfriend saved the day. “Got your test ticket?”

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

“Um, I think so.”

“SAT’s Saturday! If you don’t take it on time, college is out!”

I rolled my eyes. “Were you born in Iowa?”

“Des Moines.” He blinked. “Why?”

“Nothing.”

No wonder we didn’t last until prom.

I found the crumpled ticket under my bed and took it to the test center.

Nowadays, kids bring laptops, caterers and masseuses. I brought two No. 2 pencils. (Has anyone ever seen a No. 1 pencil?). Also, a headache from staying out late the night before.

Image by Manuel Sechi from Pixabay.
Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay.

Reams of story problems met my bleary eyes. Sue rode trains to Detroit at 65 miles an hour. Her friend Gertrude traveled at 50 mph. These tests never asked important questions: Why didn’t they go together? Why would anyone go to Detroit? This had to be about a guy. Sure, Sue had a great body and flat-chested Gertrude, like me, read Jane Austen. That didn’t mean Gertrude didn’t deserve Kevin, the California surfer visiting his Detroit grandma.

The only answers offered: a) x; b) y; c) x + y; and d) 2,578 1/2. Heartless!

The first analogy question appeared more promising: chocolate is to vanilla as brown is to: a) fudge; b) mint; c) white; and d) 2,578 1/2. I chose b. Nothing topped chocolate mint ice cream. Sundae fantasies drifted through my mind. …

Sometimes, my high school friends and I had better things to think about than SAT scores.
Image by Nikolay Georgiev from Pixabay.

Amazingly, colleges accepted my scores. But a scholarship? Doubtful.

During my era, students took the SAT only once. I could, however, take Achievement Tests. I retired at 9:00 p.m. the night before and brought five No. 2 pencils. I banished all thoughts of trains, Sue, Gertrude, boyfriends and ice cream.

My scores moved me up the scholarship ladder. Those standardized tests proved accurate, after all.

Maybe they were clapping for me in Iowa.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Were/are you good at taking tests?

Classic Post: Soda Fountain Magic

This post first appeared on June 20, 2018.

Entering Zaharako’s soda fountain as a preschooler, I knew magic was for real.

I spotted curlicue iron tables and chairs my size. Glass cases held hundreds of chocolates, hard candies and jelly beans. Had I reached Heaven early? The adult friend who brought me confirmed this with ice cream I didn’t have to share.

I pattered across the gleaming, black-and-white floor to the counter’s red stools. They spun round and round! My friend’s objection didn’t surprise me. Even if stools were designed to twirl, grown-ups said you shouldn’t.

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay.

A 1908 orchestrion — a self-playing pipe organ with drums, cymbals and triangles — fascinated me. Did jolly ghosts fill the high-ceilinged room with music?

Image by Michael Luenen from Pixabay.

Occasionally, Mama took us to Zaharako’s. How I longed for that pile of roasted cashews! But even a small packet cost too much.

My mother’s generation had frequented the place during their teens, so we cool adolescents of the 1960s avoided the fountain as if radioactive. Still, celebrating my first job, I treated my little sister at Zaharako’s.

I said grandly, “Order whatever you want.”

We ate huge sundaes. I played the orchestrion and bought cashews, toasty and delicious beyond belief.

Later, I chose fabulous Zaharako’s candies for my future in-laws’ Christmas gift.

Fast-forward several years to my mother’s visit. Adulting had drained away my coolness, so we visited Zaharako’s. The mirrors gleamed, but the near-empty soda fountain’s stained counter, dull woodwork and damaged tin-patterned ceiling didn’t brighten our day.

“Everyone came here after school. ‘Meet you at the Greek’s!’ we’d say.” Mom gazed at the broken orchestrion. “The fountain’s dated now. I guess I am, too.”

Decades later, I shared a similar feeling when I stopped for a treat, but Zaharako’s, a landmark since 1900, had closed. The orchestrion? Sold to a California collector.

Not long afterward, though, as I traveled past my childhood hometown, something sent me off the interstate.

Miracles do happen.

Inside Zaharako’s, red stools flanked gleaming counters, and mirrors glimmered amid rich woodwork. Pint-sized curlicue tables and chairs again held little diners. The original orchestrion played, grand as ever.

I sent yummy chocolates to my mother.

She couldn’t remember events of five minutes before, but she recalled Zaharako’s.

The soda fountain had worked sweet magic once again.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite soda fountain treat?

This Is MY Hometown?

If you still reside in your hometown, changes might raise your eyebrows and ire. Soon, though, surprises make themselves at home, part of everyday experience.

Hubby (top row center) and I (bottom row middle) were high school sweethearts.

Visiting a distant hometown, however, shifts one’s universe. A once-busy shopping center has been conquered by Bennie the Bomb Fireworks. Why did town fathers allow trees to grow so big? That implies we’ve added rings to our girth, too.

My husband and I grew up in the same city, but our parents — and we — moved decades ago.

Now, new roads have sprouted like kudzu vines.

We’re lost.

Though I can’t find our motel, I’ve located the street where I failed my driving test. I remind Hubby that I’ve never received a traffic ticket, whereas I can point to the stoplight he ran to earn one.

Image by Helmut Jungclaus from Pixabay.

Hubby and I recall our accidents: mine, near the high school, watched by God and everybody; his, when a coal truck smacked his Opel two weeks before our wedding.

We cruise past former homes.

“They cut down my favorite tree!” I complain. Without my permission, yet.

“Our yard’s taken over by creepy little gnomes,” Hubby rants. “They’re by my room!”

Columbus North High School entrance, Columbus, Indiana.
Even the door was delicious.

We tour our old high school. Star Wars technology prevails, even in drinking fountains. The school now boasts a food court instead of a cafeteria. Too many choices! A few familiar areas comfort us. We recognize the classroom where we counted red-eyed and white-eyed fruit flies for our deep, dark genetics project. His locker’s still nearby — next to my ex-boyfriend’s. A nice reminder of how lucky Hubby is to have reversed the situation.

We visit the ice cream parlor where not only I, but my mother ate hot fudge sundaes after school. The store where Hubby rented prom and wedding tuxes. The restaurant where I, wearing the world’s ugliest uniform, served customers for a dollar an hour. The pre-McDonald’s fast-food restaurant where Hubby donned a folded paper hat and baggy uniform pants five inches too short.

Our 1975 wedding in East Columbus United Methodist Church.

We visit childhood churches that nurtured our faith in Christ. We reminisce about our wedding.

Finishing the tour, we agree: Our hometown is where we live now, not where we resided 50 years ago. However, this place continues to impact us. Nothing will change that.

Not even a gnome invasion.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you visited your hometown recently?

Old Friends

When Old Friends visit, we eat at Ivanhoe’s, a restaurant boasting 100 sundaes and shakes.

Still, I’m the star attraction, you understand.

I come to Ivanhoe’s early, where I hoard the last empty table and chairs like a miser. Seventy-three people lined up at the counter glare.

My mean face warns every Harley rider, professor, farmer, mommy, pastor and sixth-grader: Go ahead, make my day. Grab this table, and I’ll dance on it to the loudspeaker music.

You don’t want to see that.

Old Friends arrive! We hug, and they join the line. I remain at my post, teeth bared.

Finally seated, we catch up on marrying and burying news. The crowd’s noise makes it difficult to hear, but we fix that. We yell.  

Old Friend #1: Our 401k tanked.

Old Friend #2: (louder) My son’s driving an army tank, too.

O. F. #3 (louder) My last tank of gas cost a second mortgage.

O.F. (LOUD) Your septic tank overflowed?

The dining room clears. We don’t have to stand in line for dessert.

We study the menu as if it determines our eternal destiny and choose Moose Tracks, Mocha Almond Crumb, Fudge Mint, Butterscotch, Raspberry, and Boston Cream Pie Sundaes. Sacred silence prevails as we dig in.

Image by Rita E from Pixabay

Even after ice cream, we fit in the van — if we bunch like celery and don’t breathe. But Jaws of Life has to free us.

As we yak at my house, I remember when my husband and I sang at one Old Friend’s wedding. Another O.F. and I, having daughters of similar ages, braved training bras, driving lessons and wedding planning together. A third O.F. created an over-the-hill cake, complete with open grave, for my 40th birthday.

We prayed together throughout decades. About real estate, wars, car break-downs, pregnancies, weird relatives, the President, potty training, abortion, teen drivers and last, but not least, our husbands. No one could — or can — escape our prayers.

All too soon, they leave. But I’ll travel to one Old Friend’s feast in December, when she prepares homemade soups and breads with melt-in-your-mouth Christmas cookies of every size, shape and flavor.

I can’t wait to see Old Friends again.

They’re the star attraction, you understand.

Old Friends pose by Ivanhoe’s statue of Garfield, who likes ice cream, too!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What old friends are special to you?

Okay, So I Didn’t Lose the Weight

Image by Julita from Pixabay.

My summer dieting resolutions have proved as successful as last January’s, despite my good intentions.

Daylight saving time is more conducive to exercise, I said. I’d shed winter weight like a parka.

Summer gardens produce tons of fresh veggies. Fruit, a nutritious food that actually tastes good, abounds. Easier to eat skinny, right?

I implemented self-scare tactics: Beaches would sound a bloat-float warning upon my arrival.

Other aids would help my effort. Spending hours in endless construction zones would create a slow burn, turning calories to ashes.

Plus, the stars were in weight-loss alignment. Stars or satellites? Not sure. I’m not picky about astronomy.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

I did consume fresh veggies. Also, berries, cherries, peaches and watermelon. And, um, ice cream.

Come on, I live three blocks from Ivanhoe’s, a legendary drive-in touted by The Huffington Post as Indiana’s contribution to “The One Thing You Must Do in Every State.” True Hoosiers don’t live by broccoli alone.

Image by Loulou Nash from Pixabay.

To my credit, I exercised. Dragged along — er, encouraged — by Hubby, I hiked miles across rugged terrain. We paddled lakes, cycled bike paths and, despite bloat-float warnings, frequented beaches. We even swam in the water.

Given those “vacations,” would you choose half a bagel for breakfast?

Also, even the word “s’mores” forbids limiting me to one.

As for swimming — beach alarm aside — possessing a built-in inner tube isn’t a bad thing. When out-of-shape arms don’t keep one afloat, fat to the rescue!  Safety first, I always say.

Besides, the holidays are three months away. Cooler weather will encourage exercise. As temperatures fall, so will my ice cream intake. Really.

Also, plenty of road construction remains to burn off excess calories.

Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay.

Baggy sweaters will hide my summer-acquired inner tube, lessening motivation to diet. But fear not. I’ve created new scare tactics.

Shopping trips with dressing room mirrors always diminish my appetite.

Even better (worse?): the yearly checkup. I plan to share my innovative medical theory with my doctor. Doesn’t it make sense that we who carry more years should outweigh the young, who carry only a few? I’ll inform her the stars are in weight-loss alignment during autumn. She shouldn’t be picky about astronomy.

I’ll promise that now it’s fall, I’ll drop pounds like trees shed leaves.

Besides, there’s always January.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Is it harder to lose weight during hot or cold months?

Seized by Spring

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay.

Have spring longings germinated in you?

Delicate green tendrils, they remind us: “You’re still alive and kicking!”

One pops up, then another. Before we know it, we’re caught in their delightful grasp.

Perhaps for you, these comprise seed catalogs. Your spouse may hide them and block websites, but all in vain. You fill your basement/garage/bedroom with seedlings, hovering as if they bear your name. When you install old baby monitors, your spouse finally gives up.

Wayward gravel peppers our flower beds.

Spring has seized you. There is no cure.

Other victims are captured by home improvement. They not only remodel their houses, but also demolish walls in those of strangers.

Hubby’s big spring thing, however, is adding gravel to the driveway. When winds soften and buds swell, his wistful look sprouts. “Let’s call the gravel pit guy.”

“We have gravel,” I say. “Don’t you remember? During the last snowstorm, we shoveled it all into the flower beds.”

Image by Insa Osterhagen from Pixabay.

Others live for their lawns. Years ago, our neighbor, instead of renewing marriage vows, pledged eternal love to his John Deere riding mower.

Similar spring madness victimizes women with a compulsion to wash windows. If denied, they are found in alleys, foraging for empty Windex® bottles to sniff. If you are a lawn lover or Windex® sniffer, please come see us.

When spring debuts, I join Steve for exercise and sightseeing on our tandem bicycle.

Instead, my husband and I can’t wait to ride our bicycle built for two. Baseball gloves’ leathery smell sends fanatics, aged four through 84, to soggy backyards to play. Golf devotees, forbidden to swing clubs inside after window incidents, now drive with abandon matched only by platoons of skateboarding kids. College students dance amid showers of Frisbees while music thunders from open dorm windows.

Age doesn’t matter when spring’s call, potent as a tornado siren, issues from the nearest ice cream place or drive-in. Customers shiver through hot fudge sundaes and root beer floats. Or we fire up grills and torment neighborhoods with cravings for that first juicy burger.

Image by moerschy from Pixabay.

I drive with windows open wide, The Beach Boys harmonizing approval on the radio. Passing college dormitories, students’ Top 40 echo back. Zooming near wetlands, I hear hundreds of spring peepers spout crazy love songs.

Spring seizes us all. And we’re loving it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What tells you it’s really spring?

Trends: Losers and Winners

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
Image by Olya Lolé from Pixabay.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “trend” as “a general movement” or “a current style or preference.”

Sounds simple. Yet, anyone who’s studied human behavior for five minutes knows better.

Take, for example, the current fad of torn jeans, some composed of more air than cloth. Designer rip-offs boast price tags approaching a thousand dollars.

Others on my what-are-we-thinking list:

  • Bacon ice cream. Like pleasant people from different planets who should never marry, these two yummy foods should never share a carton.
Image by David Karich from Pixabay.
  • Cyclists wearing earbuds. Don’t these people want to live long enough to know how the song ends?
  • Man buns. Somebody, hide the bobby pins and hairspray. Please.
  • Sleep trackers. Rumpelstiltskin never wore a Fitbit, and he slept so well nobody could wake him for 20 years.
  • Shoes minus socks. During a Midwest winter? Though we could start a new, exciting trend of blue feet as chic accessories. …
  • Gambling TV ads. At least, the IRS is forthright about taking our money.
Image by Milesl from Pixabay.
  • Finally, antler chandeliers. Neither Bambi nor I like this trend. Especially when they cost up to $3,000.

By now, you assume this GOL (Grumpy Old Lady) disses current culture as a favorite hobby.

It’s fun. Below, however, I do list trends that hopefully will endure:

  • Mom jeans haven’t yet topped the torn-jeans fad. Still, I’ve informed my daughters their mother is a fashionista.
  • Excellence in women’s sports. No girls’ team was formed at my huge high school until I was a senior. Now, I watch young women compete with joy (and secret gladness I never worked that hard).
  • The coffee craze. May Mr. Coffee, Mr. Keurig and Mr. Starbucks continue forever.
  • Plentiful public restrooms. During shopping trips when my children were small, we raced madly to the library restroom, our only refuge. Thank God, some businesses got wise. Decades later, my races have resumed, and I can’t always make it to the library.
Image by Natalija Tschelej-Krebich from Pixabay.
  • A “my pleasure” response to a customer’s thank-you instead of “no problem.”
  • Delivery service and free shipping.
  • Church services streamed for those who can’t attend.
  • Tunic tops and ponchos. They cover a multitude of sins.
  • Excellent male fashion insight. Most men reject rompers as possible summer wear. Thanks, guys!

Now, don’t you feel better already?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What trends should go away? Which should stay?

Summer Questions

On sultry summer days, do you sit on the porch — more likely, bask in air-conditioning — and ponder profound issues?

Me, too.

Skeptics might claim we’re procrastinating. We don’t want to mow or weed the garden for the 500th time. Or battle Japanese beetles that may as well own deeds to our rose beds.

No, I truly look for answers to my questions, including:

  • Unlike highway medians, why can’t our yards and gardens be declared prairie preservation areas?
  • Why would anyone invent platform flip-flops? A friend asks this question daily, as falling off her fashionable footwear put her in a walking boot.
  • My question: why would anyone buy them?
  • When temperatures sizzle, are you tempted to splat and zoom on a Slip ’N Slide®? (Me, neither.)
  • Do others feel embarrassed — and relieved — that their campers include air conditioners?
  • Why do summer mornings smell better every year?
  • Why do beach lovers strip down to strings — some wore pandemic masks bigger than their bathing suits — yet other bathers don more clothing than in January?
  • Why would anybody believe romaine should be grilled?
  • What summer food sometimes outranks (gasp!) ice cream? Though a lifetime addict, I believe on the hottest days, a chilled watermelon slice tastes even better. Besides, I can spit seeds at my spouse.
  • Why does my three-year-old grandson’s face, smeared with blueberries, appear adorable when my own toddlers’ gooey, blue kisses sent me running for my life — and a washcloth?
  • Tarry blacktop conjures teeth-gritting images of road construction. Endless balky traffic. Detours to Timbuktu. But does its fragrance generate positive memories for anyone else? Sweaty bike rides on country roads to a mom-and-pop store to buy icy, 10-cent bottles of cream soda? Or yakety cycling with teen friends to a bookmobile?
  • People are named June and August, but who’s named July?
  • Why do some summer outdoor wedding guests look ready for a Hollywood photo shoot, whereas other perspiring attendees — not me, you understand — look like they spent the afternoon in a dunk tank?
  • Which is best: lightning bugs, glowworms, or fireflies?
  • Why does the ice maker malfunction only when temperatures rise above 90?
  • Ditto for air conditioners. And freezers.
  • Which songs are hummed most during summer: Beach Boys’ hits? The ’50s classic, “A Summer Place”? Or “Summer Nights” from the musical, Grease?
  • While riding in the back of a pickup at 65 mph doesn’t carry its former appeal, do we children of yesteryear miss those wild, warm, nighttime breezes, the lavish, starry show above?
  • Thankfully, we don’t miss out on summer evening scents. Don’t they smell better every year?

Especially when neighbors mow grass. And nurture beautiful flowers.

All while I ponder these profound questions of summer.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What weighty quandaries fill your mind during summer?

A Tempting Spring Walk; or Why Did I Move Near an Ice Cream Mecca?

My husband and I walk after supper for good reasons. First, burgeoning trees and flowers replenish the famine of beauty we suffered during the gloom of early spring. I love the scent of cut grass — if someone else mows.

Second, walks grow relationships, including Hubby’s and mine. Our eyes and fingers are not glued to screens. Instead, we grow attached to us.

Third, we also greet neighbors, people who eat, sleep, work, play and worship within a stone’s throw. Yet, we rarely see them during winter. God created spring to lure us from it’s-all-about-me caves.

If we must mention exercise (sigh), walking qualifies. I’d rather walk than jog, run or sumo wrestle.

We take walks for good reasons, you understand.

Not to buy ice cream.

Temptation lurks in every springlike Eden. In our town, no conniving snake persuades us to stray from the straight and narrow. Instead, a legendary drive-in presents a menu of 100 ice cream sundaes, including my nemesis, the Moose Tracks.

Its name, which evokes somewhat unpleasant images, should ruin appetites.

Not mine.

The sundae’s frozen yogurt initially hooked me. Yogurt is healthy, I rationalized. Surely, it sucks the calories and cholesterol from the accompanying chopped Reese’s Cups, warm spoonfuls of peanut butter and globs of hot fudge.

I have successfully battled such enticements elsewhere.

But this drive-in is located a few blocks from my house.

When Hubby suggests we walk north, not east, I breathe a sigh of relief. We head north to homes and parks graced with newly planted petunias and geraniums. North past the grade school, where homework escapees flip on monkey bars. Past baseball diamonds where miniature players sport mitts bigger than they. North away from the drive-in.

The sunset throws a feast of sherbet colors in the west … did I say “feast”? And “sherbet”?

At town’s edge, Hubby halts. “Where to now?”

He should know better than to ask. Because I always tell the truth. At least, part of it. “Let’s take Main Street. I’ll bet the flowers are gorgeous.”

A few blocks from our home, friendly Garfield and delicious ice cream always greet my grandkids at Ivanhoe’s.

They don’t disappoint. Fragrant honeysuckle intoxicates us. Fluffy peonies beckon, and brilliant blue, purple and yellow pansies pour from flowerpots. Somebody tilled his garden, a field of moist chocolate fudge … did I say “chocolate”? Whipped cream clouds swirl in the golden peanut-butter sky. …

We find ourselves at the drive-in.

Imagine that.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite ice cream treat — er, walk?