What’s Finally In Your Fridge?

Open fridge

When last we left our husky hero, he was grazing his way through Kansas the basement storeroom. Now is time for him to finally reveal What Evil Lurks In The Heart Of AMANA. Boowahaha….hack, hack!? Stand back! I don’t want anyone crushed when I open this door.

Poor refrigerator, it seems to go in cycles, always busy, but there are days when you can open the door and get an echo. A week later, if I threw a cup of water at it, all but a few drops would splash back on the floor, it’s so jammed with leftovers put-asides. ‘Leftovers’ has a poor connotation; these are intentional, and good.

As downstairs, almost everything in the upstairs fridge comes in multiple versions. There are two 2-liter jugs of iced tea. The three of us drink more than one per day, so there’s always another one chilling. There’s my morning orange juice, but because the wife’s allergic, she has serially gone through cranberry juice, apple juice, the iced tea, and now is drinking mango juice.

Among the condiments we have regular ketchup and my Hot and Spicy ketchup, yellow mustard, and Dijon. (We can’t afford Grey Poupon.) There’s sweet relish, and dill, the wife’s mayonnaise and my Miracle Whip, white vinegar and malt, soya sauce and Tamari, which is spicy like soya, but with less caramel for lighter colored foods and less burning when cooked. .

The shelves are jammed with lemon juice, lime juice for Tex-Mex, coconut oil, Indian ghee, which is a clarified cooking butter, HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, hot chili-garlic sauce, Tabasco sauce and Chipotle Tabasco, sandwich spread, Sriracha, chili sauce, salad dressings, chopped garlic, shredded garlic and shredded ginger, maple syrup, stuffed olives, sliced pizza olives, and two different Diana sauces.

We stock store-bought sweet pickles and gherkins, and homemade dill pickles in snacking quarters, and slices for burgers and sandwiches. The wife likes artichoke hearts, the liquid from which she sometimes uses as a salad dressing, adding a dash of lemon juice and salt, and we keep both margarine and butter for cooking and spreading.

There’s 4 kinds of fruit in the fruit drawer, and 6 different vegetables in the vegetable drawer, including zucchini, which the wife fries with olive oil & garlic salt and tops with shredded cheese. Milk includes 3% homo, my chocolate milk, the wife’s non-dairy Coffee-Rich cooking substitute, and buttermilk to make pancakes and waffles. The son and I eat regular sour cream, while the wife uses the more expensive, lactose-free.

CHEESE! Oh Dear Lord, cheese! We always had cheese, but now that we’re getting older, the wife ensures that there’s lots of cheese to assist my chocolate milk to fight off osteoporosis.

Fasten your seat belt! – The son’s cheddar cheese-string sticks, the wife’s mozzarella sticks, Kraft Singles sandwich slices, Havarti slices, a bag of shredded TexMex, a bag of grated Parmesan for pasta and homemade Caesar dressing. In blocks, we have smoked Parmesan for special dishes, Emmenthaler, the son’s Gruyere, cheddar, the wife’s goat-milk Kashkaval, which she puts on the fried zucchini, Monterey Jack, occasionally mozzarella, which I take from the freezer, to thaw for lasagna, pizza or French onion soup, and Edam, for family-gathering hors d’oeuvres. Oh, and don’t forget the flavored cream cheese spread, the jar of Cheeze-Whiz, and the jar of salsa con queso, which I dollop on my nachos.

Behind the leftovers on the top shelf, hide two or three flavors of homemade jam – red currant from our own bush, strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry, or spiced peach. Tired of putting it on toast? Mix a little boiling water, and they make excellent pancake/waffle toppings. Up there are also horseradish, beet relish, which is 50/50 horseradish and grated, cooked beets, and goes great on ham, pickled ginger, and a soup can full of salvaged bacon fat that we use to fry French toast, or make a roux for gravy.

The son works midnights, and doesn’t take the evening meal with us. He eats at 4:00 AM. The wife and I prepare a recipe that was set up when we had two healthy teenagers. Now she and I take what we want, and fill a Ziploc container for the son. Sometimes he has two or three ahead in the fridge.

Tupperware

Occasionally we pack some up for the daughter, especially tomato-based dishes, because her son is allergic to them, for days when her mobility disability keeps her from cooking. Thank the heavens for microwaves. Tupperware was handy but expensive. Now Ziploc and Glad containers are here. If you melt one a bit, it’s quick and cheap to replace.

After we’ve supplied the son and daughter, anything left goes in smaller amounts for future lunches. No longer just sandwiches – unless you want one. We freeze fresh bread, and never put out more than half a loaf. That top shelf is crowded with little containers of chili, won-ton soup, curried chicken and hamburger stroganoff.

I had to install a light fixture above the sink with three hi-intensity halogen bulbs. The one in the fridge was always so obscured by all the food that you couldn’t see in. Thanx for reading our obesity diary. You must’ve wanted to; you showed up.   😆

***

On an unrelated note; I recently ran into a woman who’s even more of a Grammar Nazi than me. She warns her online friends that, if they send her a message like the last line above, but spelled ‘You must of wanted to’, she’ll unfriend them on Facebook.   😳

#489

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Under Pressure – Overtime

Recently, the son climbed out of the car and left his choice of radio station on.  When I climbed in, I left it playing.  Because of this, both of us heard David Wilcox’s, sexual innuendo, double-entendre song, Layin’ Pipe, with its line of, “Eight shifts a week is never enough.”

People like young, up-and-coming doctors and lawyers put in huge amounts of hours to guarantee future success, but often, hourly-paid workers will do the same, working two or three jobs, to get ahead.

One of my fellow auto-workers put in an 8 AM to 4 PM shift every Saturday at a cookie factory in the next city.  There was no problem when he was on day-shift, or afternoons, but, when our week ended after a midnight shift, Saturday at 7 AM, he had an hour, to drive 20 miles, and punch in by 8.

The son has a co-worker who works as a bus-boy/prep chef at a local family restaurant every Sat. & Sun.  On a straight midnight shift, he gets a few hours sleep, and works Saturday, from 2 till 10.  The plastics plant has offered a couple of Saturday midnight shifts recently, and he took them.  Leave the restaurant at 10 PM Saturday, drive across town and put in an 11 to 7, grab a few Sunday ZZZs, and back to the diner.

Fortunately, they were the weekends before, and after, Easter, giving him a week to recuperate.  The son worked both weekends also.  He had a four-day week with Easter Friday off, but followed by a six-day week.

My auto plant had a five-year stretch of prosperity, where there was overtime available every week and weekend.  As a union shop, the work went first to the person on the required job, and then by seniority.  A young man hot-forming vinyl sheets went through two packs of Hall’s Mentho-Lyptus cough candies per shift, to keep his mouth moist.

Someone suggested doing something on his day off, and he replied that he hadn’t had a day off work in 17 weeks, and many of them had been 12 hour days.  It was either the work stress, dextro-methorphan poisoning from all the Hall’s, or a combination of both, that lost him his job.  Not once, but twice, he phoned the plant manager’s house (who, of course, wasn’t home) and screamed at his wife and daughters and threatened them with violence and death.  I’m not sure if he demanded less overtime, or more.

The inspector/packer on my Jeep line was a little, Muslim, Turkish Cypriot.  As such, he had a great need for male children.  His wife first presented him with two daughters.  He bitched at her, but she was sufficiently Canadian to tell him that he only got back what he put in.

She finally gave him a son, but – Oh Horrors – the boy’s right ear was malformed, and he held it against her, loudly, constantly.  They had a nice little house, with a nice little mortgage.  She must have felt that, if he was going to either ignore her or belittle her, she wanted something that included room away from him.  Before long, they had a nice big house, with a nice big mortgage.

Soon, between abandoning her and paying down the mortgage, he was spending huge amounts of time at the plant.  One day, the supervisor distributed our pay checks and, without thinking, I asked, “Did you work any overtime last week?”  Then I slapped myself!  I worked the standard 40 hours.  He had a slow week at 80, 24 at time-and-a-half, and 16 at double-time pay, and yet, his check was exactly double mine.  All the premium pay had gone to the government as taxes.

He would work four hours over, each day – five 12-hour days by Friday – then come in on Saturday and Sunday as well.  If he wasn’t asked for overtime, he had a system.  Even if he worked till 11 PM Friday night, he was back at the plant by 6 AM Saturday morning, “Just to get something from his locker.”  He knew that, of a crew of 10 or 12, at least one would get drunk, or forget to set an alarm, and he would be invited to fill in.

He had another trick.  He would work the Saturday day-shift, come back at 11 PM and work the overnight midnight shift, get a bit of food and sleep, and return once again and work the Sunday afternoon shift, getting in three shifts over two days.

A few times, he managed to stretch one of the weekend shifts to 12 hours, giving him a total of 88 hours for the week.  Wilcox’s “eight shifts a week” is nothing; that’s eleven! At least once that I know of, he managed to get 12 hours on two of the weekend shifts, setting his record (and anybody else’s) at 92 hours.

He showed me a picture in his wallet once, of a handsome young man.  I thought it might be a younger brother or cousin.  It was just him, shortly before I met him, pinched, dried, wasted!  I own an 11-year-old car that I may not be able to afford to replace.  At 70, my mortgage isn’t paid off yet, but people still don’t believe I’m as old as I am.  I worked to live.  I didn’t live to work.

Huge work hours, and dedication to a job or career can buy you lots of “stuff”, but it often doesn’t leave you enough time or energy to truly enjoy your stuff.  I tried to attain a middle ground with my employment, and still often shake my head at those who don’t leave time for life or family.

What Time Is It?

Savor made me think about another basic difference between people, last night, when she remarked about me responding to a comment in the middle of the night.  Diurnal vs. Nocturnal.  There are day people, and there are night people.  The two don’t normally hang out in the same groups, but sometimes a day person marries a night person….and then the fun begins.

My parents and my younger brother were all day people, impatiently tapping their fingers, waiting for the sun to rise.  My sister and I were both night people.  Our parents, especially Mom, just never seemed to get it.  My sister married young and had five kids.  They learned early in life to get themselves fed and off to school.

Her schedule was much like mine is now, go to bed about four AM, crawl back out around noon, to feed the kids lunch.  Their family moved into a house across the corner from ours.  Mom said it was not unusual to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and see lights still on.  She bitched at my sister one time, “You should be up early, doing laundry, or scrubbing floors.”  My sister replied, “What do you think I’m doing at three AM, without the kids in the way?”

My dad got me a summer job, two successive years, at the plant where he worked.  Lord knows how early he got up.  He’d haul my ass out of bed at five-thirty.  I’d dress and have tea with him.  I couldn’t face food that early.  We started work at seven AM, and had a half-hour commute, but left around six, “just in case.”

He sometimes praised the glories and benefits of rising early, almost like a religious experience.  One Friday evening, after the standard five-thirty rousting, I got together with a bunch of my friends.  We hit the bowling alley, then a restaurant, had a swim in the harbor, hiked a couple of miles upriver, built a campfire, cooked some canned food, wandered back into town, and one friend and I went down to the beach for another, early swim.  The sun was just coming up.

I thought I might get a bit of sleep on the beach.  I knew I’d be awakened when the tourist hordes descended, but, it wasn’t to be, so I headed home.  I decided to fry myself some bacon and eggs for a final snack.  As I was doing this, my Dad came out of the bedroom.  “See what I told you about getting up in time to watch the sun rise?”  “I just saw it from the other end.  It happens every day, no big deal.  I’m going to bed now.  I’ll skip lunch.  Wake me about two, and I’ll mow the lawn.”  He did, and I did, and sunrise was never mentioned again.

As I’ve worked, I’ve had to put in a variety of scheduled shifts.  The first four years at the metal fab. shop, I was supposed to work from eight-thirty to five, with an hour for lunch, but my department was undermanned.  I came in at seven, and found that I actually got as much accomplished in the first hour and a half, before the rest of the office arrived, as I did the rest of the day.

My next job, as a purchasing agent, I worked under the plant manager, rather than the office manager.  The rest of the office came in at eight-thirty.  This nasty old square-head demanded that I start at eight.  Having put in the four years starting at seven, it was no big deal.  Usually I was there ten to fifteen minutes before eight.  I came in one day at twenty to eight, and found him just fuming.  “Where the hell have you been?  I want to place a rush order with XYZ Co.!”  “I don’t start till eight.  I’m here early, and it wouldn’t matter if I was here at six, XYZ’s sales desk doesn’t open till nine.”  Facts and logic do not trump emotion.  Despite asking four times, I left after 18 months without even the three-month probationary raise he’d promised.

I worked two years straight nights in security.  I’ve worked from four to twelve, four to twelve-thirty, four till one, and, at three places, including my retirement job, from four to one-thirty.  Two of those were supposed to be four night weeks, but one of them regularly scheduled a Friday night four to nine shift, at regular pay, of course.

I put in almost twenty years at the auto plant, rotating through successive weeks of midnights, afternoons, and days.  I could work them all, but afternoons was my favorite.  It was being half asleep on my motorcycle, going in for a day shift, that caused me to misgauge pulling in behind a bus for a turn, dropped me on the street and broke my shoulder.  Workers used to bitch about having to change shifts every week.  I brought it up with the union president one day, and suggested that we rotate every two weeks.  He told me that they had tried it before I arrived, and it failed, dismally.  It’s hard enough to change after one week.  After two weeks, it becomes ingrained and it’s almost impossible.

My last two years before retirement, I worked the four to one-thirty shift.  With the occasional need to finish a specific task, there was a bit of overtime.  Regular pay, of course, but a night or maybe two, per week, of leaving around two AM.  By the time I got home, had something to eat and drink, and wound down, it was often four in the morning.  That’s the schedule I’ve stuck with.

I don’t watch much TV, and morning shows bore and distress me.  We schedule medical appointments for late morning or afternoons.  My son is almost finished five years of straight midnights.  He sleeps from ten till six.  Our schedule meshes with his fairly well, so I’m going to keep going to bed and getting up late until I have to go to a retirement home.  By then, I hope I don’t care.