Monthly Archives: May 2022

Hat Tricks, or All’s Well That Ends Well

“I’m organized. I just can’t find anything.” Saying on CJ Bella Co. Tea Towel

Spending a good part of last summer in Colorado with our six-year-old granddaughter reaped incredibly wonderful moments for my husband Larry and me. The first hugs after a year of seeing her only on Zoom because of the pandemic. Reading her books and playing Candy Land and War and Pete’s Birthday Party. Having her knock on the door of our rental at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning with a newspaper in her hand and her announcement, “I am here for breakfast.” Extending my stay so I was able to join my daughter Julie and son-in-law Sam in walking her to her first day of first grade. I made enough memories to almost sustain me until we can see her again.

What was not incredibly wonderful was keeping track of all the items our six-year-old dynamo left behind. Larry and I had rescued her baseball butterfly hat from the local recreational center’s lost and found. Julie found her lost raincoat at her Fun Club two weeks after my granddaughter had left it there. In the meantime, Julie had to buy another one in a larger size. It was a little big, but Summit County was getting above average rain in July, and there was no choice.

Both Julie and Sam dealt with the lost-and-found-problem quite calmly to a point. But when Julie realized that their daughter’s favorite hat was missing the day before they were to leave for their planned one-week rafting trip, well, Julie lost it—her cool that is!

The first we heard about the missing hat was on the Sunday morning before their trip.

“Come over for pancakes,” Julie’s text read. “And can you check your condo to see if you have the butterfly hat?” 

Yes, our granddaughter was wearing a hat on Friday. She had it in the car when we drove down to Main Street for some bubble tea at the Next Page Book Store. In the picture I had taken of her sitting on Zayde’s lap listening to a story in the town promenade, she was hatless. But I vaguely remember taking the floppy hat festooned with butterflies and dragon flies from her outstretched hand before she hung upside down from the ropes at the playground in Walter Byron Park. I thought I had stuffed it in my pocket and returned it safely when we drove her home.

But it wasn’t in their house. And it did not appear to be in our condo. Or in our car. Or at the condo’s pool area. When we arrived at their house that morning, Julie was flipping her oatmeal pancakes with obvious annoyance.

“I can’t believe that people don’t keep track of her things when they are responsible for watching her,” she said, digging her barbs into both her parents and poor Sam. “First one hat; then a raincoat, now another hat!.Doesn’t anyone ever check to see if she has left anything behind?”

Even though I was thinking, “Maybe the child needs to be responsible!” I kept my mouth closed. Besides, Julie’s guilt trip was working. After breakfast, I walked the two minutes back to our rental and did a second, more thorough search. I checked pockets and backpacks and drawers. I checked under the bed and under the couch and under the seats of our car. It was nowhere to be found. 

By the time I got back to their house, Julie and Sam were fully engaged in getting ready for their seven day trip. Having to limit myself to under fifty pounds of stuff for our nine weeks Out West, it actually looked easier than gathering everything they needed for camping and rafting. Larry and I entertained our granddaughter with books, puzzles, and games, trying to stay out of the way of the oars, coolers, rucksacks stuffed with clothing and towels, bottles of suntan lotion and bug spray, sleeping bags, a paddle board, and enough food and drink for a small army.

By the time we finished lunch, I needed a break and a possible chance at redemption. 

“I’m walking downtown to see if I can find the lost hat,” I said. “If that fails, I will see if I can find a replacement.”

I first checked the bookstore’s lost and found. Lots of sunglasses a set of keys, but no hat. I then walked through Walter Byron Park, Someone had hung up a slightly worn “Get high in Colorado” teeshirt on the park sign, but no hat. I then walked back to Main Street and began checking out the hat racks that were set up in front of many of the stores, another exercise in futility. Too big. Too small. Wrong print. Wrong color. I stuck on my mask and began checking out inside inventories. I finally saw a possibility. Right size. Pink (Her favorite color). No butterflies, but lots of bright flowers. I snapped a picture, texted it to Julie, and then followed it up with a phone call.

“The hat wasn’t in the bookstore or the park, so I decided to check the stores,” I said. “Look at the picture on your text. I think you will love it.”

“Mom,” Julie replied a few seconds later. “ The hat is adorable, but we are not missing the floppy dragonfly hat.We are missing the baseball butterfly cap!”

“She wasn’t wearing her baseball butterfly cap on Friday,” I said testily. “She was wearing her floppy butterfly hat.”

“That’s her dragonfly hat as it has dragonflies and butterflies,” Julie said. “We have that one!”Then she added sheepishly. “I guess you and Dad didn’t lose it after all.” Long pause. “Hey, at least you got your exercise in!”

She was right. By the time I got home, I had walked over three miles looking for a hat that we had never lost in the first place.

I also realized that we had seen a girl’s butterfly baseball cap the day before at the REI in the next town over. I called the outdoor retailer and asked the clerk to put it aside for my daughter. No longer feeling magnanimous or generous, I made no move to pick up either the hat or the cost. After realizing the Fun Club lost and found box was locked up because of a field trip, Julie drove over to Silverthorne and bought it herself.

The following Sunday night, Julie, Sam, and my granddaughter returned from their camping trip, First thing Monday morning, Mother and Daughter walked over to Fun Club, where the missing hat was waiting in the lost and found box. 

“This warrants a story, you realize,” I told her the next day while sitting at her kitchen table on my computer. Julie just shrugged. And I started typing away.

Thank goodness they are only First World problems!!

The last few weeks have been consumed with what my friend Judy refers to First World Problems.

First World Problems, according to the Urban Dictionary, are “problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.” So I give my readers my permission to roll their eyes at my recent series of First World woes.

In all honesty, I actually brought some of this on myself. Tired of the original orangey-brown pseudo-oak cabinets in our kitchen, I convinced my husband Larry that refacing the cabinets in white would be worth the time and money. When the company’s time frame to do the work coincided with my planned trip to Colorado, Larry graciously turned down my suggestions to delay the work until I returned. He would handle the last couple of days of installation and most of the clean-up on his own.

The weekend before my departure, Larry and I emptied out the entire contents of our cabinets into our living/dining room. When I attempted to run one last load of dishes before we had to close up the kitchen for the next few days, the door on the machine fell down with a thud, almost taking out my knee. The door springs had unsprung.

My washing machine must have decided it would have sympathy pains. Less than an hour later, I attempted to run a load of laundry. In the middle of the cycle, the machine stopped, and all sorts of lights began flashing. A Google search informed us that it was either a lid latch ($) or motherboard ($$$) malfunction. We threw the soaked clothes into our fairly new dryer [the old one had died in November]. First thing Monday morning, as the crew descended on our kitchen to begin work, I made a phone call to an appliance repair company to repair the dishwasher door and washing machine latch. 

Unfortunately, the appliance people couldn’t help me with my crown on my back molar, that had fallen off that morning while I was flossing my teeth. And the dentist would have to wait, as I didn’t have time to get to his office before my trip. I stuck it back on and hoped for the best.

After driving me to the airport Wednesday, Larry returned to a torn-up kitchen sealed off in plastic and a house filled with the overwhelming smell of paint. Meanwhile, my attempt at self-dentistry only lasted until I bit into an ice cream cone I had grabbed at the airport while waiting for the shuttle to take me to my daughter’s house. An emergency trip to Ten Mile High Dentistry was for naught. After a valiant, 45-minute attempt to glue the sucker back on, the dentist gave up and recommended I think about pulling the remains of the tooth out when I returned home. 

Meanwhile, back in Florida, the appliance repairman was one for two: the dishwasher was an easy fix, but the washing machine’s motherboard was gone. Larry and I spent an hour on the phone choosing a new machine from a local hardware store’s website. While I was hiking with my family on a beautiful Saturday in the Rockies, Larry was waiting for the new machine to arrive. No worries. He had plenty to do in the meantime as the kitchen work was completed. Larry put most of the kitchenware back into the new cabinets, leaving the spice drawers and some other cabinets for me to organize to my liking. (Yes, I married a gem!) 

I returned Tuesday night, and by Wednesday afternoon, the kitchen was completely back in business—or maybe not. Our nine-year-old refrigerator was not only freezing the ice cream but also the eggs, milk, lettuce and grapes. We made another call to the appliance man, who said that repairs could run up to $500. Maybe we should consider just biting the bullet and getting a new one?Another run to the appliance store, another swish of the credit card, and we only had to live with frozen foods for six more days.

On Thursday day, I got a call saying the truck delivering our new side-by-side would be there in thirty minutes. This gave me just enough time to move the contents of the old refrigerator into laundry baskets and boxes commandeered for the project. When the deliverymen arrived, they pulled out their tape measures, stretched it across our front door, and shook their heads.“Sorry. Doesn’t look like your new frig will fit through the door.” Some quick problem-solving resulted in a “through-the-lanai-if-we-dislodge-the-screen-door” option. An hour later, the old frig was in the truck and the new one was sitting in the middle of a kitchen filled with warming and—worst yet—melting food. 

“The new hose for the ice maker doesn’t work. Wrong clamp.” Roy explained from the back of the machine. “I’ll attach the old one.”

“As long as it works, I’’m fine with that,” I said.

Ten minutes later, the refrigerator was ready for the final push into place.

“It’s too wide,” said Roy. “I can’t get it into the space.”

“Just remove the molding,” I suggested.

“We don’t do that,” Roy informed me

“You are not leaving here until that refrigerator installed,” I said between gritted-minus-one-uncapped-molar teeth. “If I have to, I will remove the damn molding!”

Roy shrugged and tried more push. Miraculously, it squeaked in with centimeters to spare.Whew! After two hours of work, these guys deserved a tip, which I gave willingly.

Now let me offer a tip. Before the appliance people leave you with your new refrigerator, check to see if the ice maker and water dispenser work. As I write this, I am still waiting for the callback from the store to arrange for someone to come back and properly attach the line.

The good news is that the last two weeks’ fails join the Mr. Coffee, microwave, Ninja blender, electric tea kettle, toaster oven, and aforementioned clothes dryer that had all died since last November. How many appliances are left to replace? (Am I invoking the evil eye?)

In the scheme of things, these are all First World Problems. I only need to hear about another friend’s illness or read the latest headlines or see another heart-wrenching picture from the Ukraine, to remind myself that our challenges, as Rick tells Ilsa in the last moments of Casablanca, “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” A wise woman once told me, “If it can be [legally] fixed with money, consider yourself lucky.” We are grateful that we only have had to deal for a short time with unwashed clothes, dangerous doors, and frozen eggs. 

Whoops! Gotta go! Larry asked me to help him put together the floor lamp we had to buy to replace the one that snapped in two while I was in Colorado……

Yes, it was worth the mess!

First published in (Capital Region, NY) The Jewish World (April 14-28 issue)