Neatly Ironed Witnesses

These placemats. These. Placemats. Why do I still have them? They are old, and stained. They are not slick, shiny and wash-offable. I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve had them, but I know I bought them at Bi-Mart, for less than $2 each, before Cyann was born … and she’s going to be 14 tomorrow.

If you know me you know I am not a saver. I have little to no hoarding tendency. We have lived in this house over 20 years and I have several empty drawers, cupboards and shelves. I am the queen of discarding or donating. But I keep these placemats.

And you know what? They have to be ironed. WHAT?!? Back up!! Did you hear that?!? THEY HAVE TO BE IRONED. The corners curl up into a nasty mess after being washed, and I iron them. I worked in a professional environment and did not keep clothing that had to be ironed. I have an ironing board and iron only because I sew … and because I have these placemats.

They are for both casual, every day usage and formal events. Well, as close to formal as I get … if you come to my house for dinner one will be under your FiestaWare plate. Ignore the stains; if there is something crusty on it feel free to pick it off; admire the neatly pressed corners. You’re welcome.

Do I keep them because I remember Daynon and Cyann competing to get a placemat with the kitty cats? Daynon never really cared which placemat he had but Cyann loved the kitty cats so it became a sure-fire way to push her buttons. It worked every time.

These placemats saw one of the few times I lost my cool with a grandchild. Cyann, ever the fussy eater, was mucking around in her food. I was trying to get her to eat, knowing that either her Dad or Grandpa would soon lose their patience and punish her. Finally in exasperation I yelled “Eat!” And then, as the kids would describe it with eyes wide as saucers, “Grandma slapped the table!”

These placemats have seen Mike and I laugh until our sides hurt, cry until our hearts would break; fight like we were mortal enemies and make up like…ummm…well, ahem…let’s keep this G-rated.

I think I want new placemats. While out shopping I look. I note the design, I feel the fabric. I have even put some of them in my shopping cart. I just never make it to the check stand with them. There is always something that is just not quite right, so I put them back on the shelf. Eventually I will be forced to address this issue as I started out with 8 and now find I only have 6. I don’t know where the MIA placemats are. They must be like socks; tangible, physical items that just disappear, occasionally to return on moving day when you find them in a totally random location. My placemats are probably behind the refrigerator, in which case I will never see them again. I moved the fridge once, there is nothing but scary shit back there. Dust bunnies with teeth … hand to god …

All that being said, I’m right back to my original question. Why do I still have them? I don’t know, but I suspect because they are a constant. In a world rife with change, where tiny grandkids become awesome young **gulp** adults, where cancer and Alzheimers catch you off guard, they stay the same. They are a reminder of so many memories sitting around this table (with its big nail polish remover stain) that replaced the previous table (also with a big nail polish remover stain! What’s up with that?!? I hardly ever wear polish on my nails but have managed to damage not one, but two tables!!)

Our house is small and this table sits directly in front of the front door, smack dab in the middle of the living room and kitchen. I have a computer area and sewing/craft room but eventually all projects wind up out here. iPad, laptop or sewing machine sitting on top of a placemat.

Everything happens here, at this table, with these placemats as neatly ironed witnesses.

All in a day’s work.

Today’s project – hang a string of bells I brought home from my dad’s house. Don’t ask me why I brought them home as I have literally only asked for 3 items so far … and we’ve went through a lot of stuff … and there is nothing special about them except they sound calm and soothing.

I’m not going to go into detail about how I managed to hang them from the eave of our second story balcony, but let’s just say it involved a Swiffer duster wand; a rubber band to hold open the carabiner clip; a step stool and an already-in-place eye hook. (No, Ellen Weiler, there was no coffee can involved!) Needless to say I was successful in getting the string of bells hung but they were a little too heavy to catch the breeze and tinkle.

Think … think … think … It needs a wind catcher tail and some weight. Hmmmmm. Where do I go when I need to find something totally random and yet useful? Mike’s shop! That man has everything! Grab the keys and head to the front shop. I’m looking around and what to my wondering eyes should appear? A reflective strip! He won’t miss it, he has 3 more just like it! Now the idea is really starting to gel. I turn around and on a shelf I see fishing line. Perfect. Now, something to poke a hole in the reflective tape. A small screw driver, got it. I need something to hit the screwdriver with to make the hole. I’m standing in Mike’s shop. He probably has 15 hammers. But the first thing I see is a paint can opener and the handle will be just the blunt object I need. Hole poked. Done and Done.

That right there is what makes my husband CRAZY! He has caught me using his cat’s-paw to dig weeds, tin snips to cut barbed wire and an ice cream scoop to pound in a nail. He has NO imagination. I get my money’s worth out of anything I purchase, every item in my house must be a multi-tasker. Please do not rat me out to my husband. Let’s just keep the Swiffer duster and paint can opener details to ourselves, shall we? Good.

With great pride I tied my reflective tape/fishing line invention to the end of the string of bells and … … … nothing. It is too light and even though the wind catches it, it does not have enough weight to cause the bell rope to swing.

Think … think … think … what can I use to give the reflective tape a little bit of weight? Didn’t we have some left over sticky bumper things from some long ago project? I meant to throw those away, but I think they may still be hanging out in the junk drawer in the laundry room. Yes! I found them and they will be perfect, I just know it.

So, about an hour and a half later, after trying different fishing line lengths and weight placement combinations I have a wind catcher that has enough bulk to get my bells tinkling even in the slightest of breezes.

I know this is just a prototype. The backing on the reflective tape is not waterproof and the sticky backed bumper things are not going to stay in place if we get much wind. But for today I was successful and I can hear my bells tinkling as I type this. About 2 o’clock in the morning I will come up with the components necessary to have a lasting wind catcher and I’ll have to wait for another day when Mike isn’t around so I can create to my heart’s content.

Just call me Jeanneine MacGyver, Angus MacGyver’s illegitimate half-sister.


This is a test…this is only a test

This morning I decided to do a test of the Jeanneine Miller Temporary Retirement System and felt I should attempt something I have never tried before. So, yes people, I went to Winco. At 7am. On a Monday. I know, crazy, right?!?

I wasn’t going for the full effect so I didn’t wear my pajama pants and slippers, but here are some other things I didn’t do:

  • I didn’t wash and fix my hair first.
  • I didn’t put on makeup.
  • I wore my camping comfy jeans but DID NOT wear Spanx for tummy control.

I learned something that is going to be very helpful during my temporary retirement – I have some undies that are too big. Without Spanx to hold those puppies in place by the end of my shopping trip the waistband was situated uncomfortably under my butt cheeks. Finding myself alone in an aisle I looked around and was tempted to hike those suckers up…but I refrained. It’s the price I had to pay to ensure the lesson was learned. Unless push comes to shove I absolutely will not buy new underwear. So now I see my next test…JC Penney’s at 10am on a Thursday!

By the way, for sanity’s sake, this is the way a Winco parking lot should look before you venture in.


It was a calm, successful experience.

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