Pretty Good Things

by Valerie Nusbaum

As I was trotting on my treadmill yesterday, I happened to glance out the window, and I had to laugh out loud. I saw Randy, wearing his big straw hat, go past. He was riding the lawnmower and heading down the front sidewalk. The next thing I knew, he turned the mower around and rode it up the street and back up our driveway, then around the sidewalk on the other side of our house. I had no idea what he was up to, but it brought back a memory from my childhood, and I really started laughing then.

I was about 10 years old and was at home, probably reading a book. Anyway, our next door neighbor, Mr. Runkles, was the first person in our neighborhood to own a riding lawnmower. We didn’t call them lawn tractors back then. We had push mowers and riding mowers. My dad was in our yard, probably push mowing the grass. Dad came to the door and yelled for us all to come outside. He was laughing really hard.

My mom, brother, and I all went out and looked in the direction Dad was pointing. Poor Mr. Runkles was riding his lawnmower around his yard and yelling. Apparently, he couldn’t get the mower to stop. Now, Mr. Runkles was an older gentleman and small in stature, but he had a set of lungs on him. We could hear him yelling and cursing for Emma to come and help him. Emma was Mrs. Runkles and nothing much bothered her, but this time she was distressed. The next thing we knew, Mr. Runkles took the mower through their carport and hit a stack of old newspapers. It looked like snow in there.

At that point, most of the neighbors had come out to see what all the commotion was about. My memory is foggy, but I think my dad and my Uncle Bill, who lived across the street from us, both went over to the Runkles house to see if they could help. They couldn’t get near the mower, though, and no amount of trying to tell Mr. Runkles to turn the key seemed to help. The poor soul rode that mower until it ran out of gas, and I don’t think he ever mowed his own lawn again.

I’m sorry for getting off-track but that story was on my mind and I thought I’d share it. What I really started out to do this month was talk about Martha Stewart. As you all know, I’ve been picking up Oprah’s slack for years after she quit her daily television show. Now I’m taking on some of Martha’s responsibilities. Martha is getting on in years, hanging out with Snoop Dogg, eating cannabis gummies, and drinking too many cocktails, so I’m not all that sure how good her ideas are. Randy and I saw her most recent HGTV show, and we both believe that she’s been keeping her gardener locked in her basement.

I feel it’s my sacred duty to share some of the things I’ve learned over my many years of trying to make things easier and faster, because I don’t enjoy housework and yard work all that much. Shoot, I’d much rather be drinking Martha-ritas, too. Read on.

Marinate your burgers first if you’re planning to grill them. This makes them juicy and delicious. I use a mix of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, and parsley. You can adjust this marinade to suit your particular tastes. All you need to do is mix it up and pour it over your ground meat (this works great for ground turkey, too, and gives it some actual flavor), and make your burgers. They can sit in the fridge for a few hours, too.

Folding a fitted sheet isn’t difficult, but it takes time and patience. I don’t do it the same way Martha does, but mine look nice and unwrinkled when I unfold them. Take your fitted sheet and turn it upside down on your bed. Fold in the edges and straighten the sheet, and start folding it in on itself until you get the size you want.

When you’re loading your dishwasher, separate your silverware before you wash it. That way it’s ready to go in your drawer in the appropriate slots when you unload.

If you need to clean your oven or grill racks, take them outdoors and use spray-on oven cleaner. Lay them on newspaper, spray them and let them sit in the sun, and then hose them off. Do touch-ups with a steel wool pad and hot soapy water, but most of the baked-on stuff comes off easily.

You have a garden and your tomatoes won’t ripen? Pick them and put them in brown paper lunch sacks. Seal up the bag and set it somewhere in your kitchen out of direct sunlight. Your tomato will be ripe in a few days.

Water your houseplants, change your sheets, take out the trash—make sure you do any regular, routine tasks on the same day of each week. That way you’ll always remember when it’s time to do those chores.

These are just a few helpful tips. I have hundreds more. I’m a wealth of useless information, and I’m willing to share it.

Incidentally, the reason Randy was taking our mower for a ride on our sidewalks is that he discovered it’s an easy way to blow the grass off the sidewalks without having to stand up and sweep.

It’s a pretty good thing.

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