MJ’S Musing: Cat in the Car

I like to drive, but I also don’t mind being a passenger–if I can have a window seat. Being short, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in the middle of the back seat. As a cranky old lady, I now reserve the right to a window seat.

I love to observe. Sometimes I see the craziest things. Recently, my besties and I were on the interstate, heading home from a wonderfully productive long writing weekend, when I saw a car with California plates.  But that’s not what caught my eye. The cat did. She was sprawled on the dashboard of the car in all  her gray and white glory. She seemed to be basking in the sun. She was not a small cat. I was surprised the driver could see around kitty kitty.

As is the way on the interstate, we passed the car, the car passed us, and so it went for miles. Sometimes the cat was on the lap of the passenger, who was reclined all the way back in his seat. Other times, the cat was draped around the driver’s neck like a fur stole. A couple of times, the cat used the rear window ledge as her napping spot.

Of course the California Cat Car occupants and I smiled and waved to each other as we tootled down the highway.

What struck me was how comfortable the cat seemed in the car. A dog, yes. But I’ve never met a cat who took a car ride calmly. Maybe there is something to a laid-back California lifestyle.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping is one of my favorite Christmas movies. Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, and other recognizable faces star in this rom-com.

Many people do not consider this a Christmas movie. The controversy isn’t as well-known as the Die Hard debate, but it does exist.

“Just because it takes place  between Christmas and New Year doesn’t make it a Christmas movie,” I’ve heard. That would be correct.  It’s the plot that defines the genre, and this plot is fully-loaded.

Lucy, our heroine, is alone. She gets stuck working all the holidays because she has no family. Her stated goal is she wants to see the world, but her longing is for family.  She has a crush on a commuter she each day while she works in a toll booth. When she witnesses him being mugged on Christmas Day, her life changes. Through a series of funny misunderstandings, Lucy ends up enmeshed in the lives of the commuter’s family while he’s in a coma, and falls in love.

The ending is a Christmas miracle, because Lucy gets everything she wants.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-Ain’t She Sweet

Of all the Susan Elizabeth Phillips books I owe, Ain’t She Sweet is my least favorite. I don’t think the lack of Chicago Stars has anything to do with my feelings. My top three favorite SEP books are not in the Chicago Stars series (Kiss an Angel, First Lady, What I Did for Love). Granted, I’ve read the book only twice: once when I bought it and a second time when a friend said she enjoyed reading it.

When I lend my SEP library to co-workers, I do not say which ones are my favorites and which ones I don’t like.  Everyone’s taste is different. But every person to whom I’ve lent Ain’t She Sweet didn’t like it.

I think part of my issue is I didn’t laugh when I read it. Maybe small town high school angst bites too close to home.

This concludes my opinions of SEP novels. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Meals-Chili

If you are a chili aficionado, you’re going to hate this recipe.

If you are a person who thinks everything should be created from scratch, you’re going to hate this recipe.

If you’re a busy person who sometimes needs a quick and easy meal, this recipe might suit your needs.

I got the “original” of this recipe when I was the executive producer of a cooking/monster movie TV show. It came from a local new anchor, who is a legend in the city where I live. Being me (and having a husband who has definite likes and dislikes), I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit our tastes.

  • Brown 1 lb of ground meat (the original recipe called for ground turkey; we prefer ground beef). Drain.
  • Add 1 can of Bush’s Best Chili Magic
  • Add 1 can of diced tomatoes (the original recipe said stewed tomatoes, but we prefer diced. I used to buy ones with chilies in them, but they are no longer available, so I used store brand “chili style”.)
  • Season with garlic powder to taste.
  • Season with Tabasco sauce to taste. (For years, I used roasted garlic Tabasco, but that seems to have gone the way of diced tomatoes with chilies.)
  • Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with shredded cheese or sour cream.

That’s it. Enjoy!


MJ’s Musings: The Watkins Man

If you’ve ever seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you may recall the heroine’s father believed Windex cured everything.

My father believes in this:

Cold season meant Watkins salve was rubbed on our chests instead of the ubiquitous Vicks Vapo-Rub. When I was injured in a snow mobile accident, Dad had me massage my swollen knee with the salve. Mom smears it on her face when she has sinus headaches. Dad uses it to cure boils, erase zits, and heavens only knows what else. It is the family cure-all.

When I was a child, there was a “Watkins Man” who came around with a suitcase full of products (another favorite was horse liniment). In our small town, the Watkins Man was actually a family. The Schuyler family. I remember them well. There was old Mrs. Schuyler with her frizzy gray hair, Harry Schuyler–I never knew if he was a husband or son–with his round wire-framed eyeglasses (this was in the era of horn rimmed spectacles, so I was fascinated by his “old-fashioned” look) and Norma, Mrs. Schuyler’s adult daughter, who walked with a limp.  Once a year or so, the Schuylers would pay us a visit and Dad would restock his salve.

I don’t remember what happened to the Schuylers. We attended the same church, but weren’t “friendly” with them, not like either of the town barbers, the bank president, or the owners of the hardware store.  All I know is that my father hoarded his last tin of Watkins salve.  He didn’t know what to do. The Watkins Man no longer made house calls.

Years later, I was wandering around the state fair when I discovered someone selling Watkins products. I immediately purchase two tins of menthol camphor ointment: one for Dad and one for me. I still have mine, and I periodically use it for all sorts of things. I am my father’s daughter.

By the time Dad was scraping-the -tin-with-a-fingernail low again, the world of on-line shopping had come into being. He complained he was almost out of salve, so I hopped onto the Internet and my favorite on-line retailer. Lo and behold, there’s my Dad’s panacea. The tin has been updated to a more retro look, but the contents remain the same. And Dad is happy because he has his salve delivered right to his door, just like the old days.