Feeling Like an Idiot

I could write a blog entry every day with the above title, but today was special. It started with my being thrown out of my normal routine. Ordinarily, I get up, note the time, temperature, and my weight in my Day-Timer, and then record the events of the past day. After that I may turn the computer on for something quick, but normally I go downstairs and bring in the newspaper, unload the dishwasher if necessary (we run it only every other night), pour milk and juice for both of us, and then fix my breakfast, which, most days, is a toasted English muffin with peanut butter on one half and butter on the other, with orange juice, milk, and coffee. Some days I’ll have Eggo waffles (Nutri-Grain with blueberries) or crumpets, but most days it’s an English muffin.

Today was different. My husband had baked bread yesterday, and one thing I love for lunch is a pb&j sandwich when the bread is still good and fresh, but this seems excessive if I’ve already had peanut butter for breakfast. Coincidentally, my husband had inadvertently run out of oatmeal, so he said he guessed he would have to have Cream of Wheat. I said that if I joined him for that, then I could have the pb&j sandwich for lunch. So when I got up at 6:45, leaving him in bed, I knew I wouldn’t be having breakfast right away and so didn’t rush to get downstairs.

When I did go down, about 7:15, there was no paper. When I called Circulation, I got a recorded message saying all circuits were busy, so I guessed there must have been a major problem—a press breakdown, perhaps, or a delivery strike. Now, however, I was stuck with no paper and no prospect of breakfast anytime soon. I came upstairs and read email and newsgroups for a while, then went back down an hour or so later and found that the paper had come. By the time I had gotten it sorted out, the dishes put away, milk and juice poured, etc., it was about 8:45, so I decided I’d go ahead and start the Cream of Wheat and get my husband up when it was ready.

As it turned out, he came down just as I was starting it, and, in retrospect, I should have just let him make it, but instead I pressed on. The directions call for 2/3 cup of cereal for four servings (which was what I was making, since most cooked cereal makers give proportions for side servings rather than main dishes), and, not finding a 1/3-cup measure in the Cream of Wheat container, I went to the cupboard to get the one from my set of measuring cups. I still do not understand how I could possibly have fumbled this, but somehow I did. I filled this measure twice, putting the contents in the one-cup measure until the water boiled (since I’d forgotten to turn on the eye, that took a while, too—I really was discombobulated!). How did I not notice that the one-cup measure was not two-thirds full?

When the water boiled, I sprinkled the cereal over it and stirred it in, then turned down the heat. Knowing how quickly it can reach a boiling-over state even at low heat, I made little dashes from the stove to other parts of the kitchen—to get out the sugar bowl, to top it off with more sugar, to find the sugar spoon and butter knife, to get out the butter—returning to the stove after each dash. I was a little surprised that the cereal didn’t seem to be getting to the serious seething point. I turned up the heat.

After about ten minutes of this, I was wondering aloud whether it usually took this long. I looked again at the measuring cup to be sure I’d gotten the right one. It seemed small but clearly said “1/3 cup.” When I put the jar of Cream of Wheat away in the pantry, I’d found the measure that usually stays in the jar. My husband now got this out, saying, “I usually use this one.” I looked at it and mentally compared its size to the one I’d used. No way they were the same!

I showed my husband the one I’d used, pointing out the “1/3 cup” label. As I did so, the penny dropped. The measures are old and worn, to be sure, but as often as I use this measure for two tablespoons, you’d think I would have realized that it was actually 1/8 cup!

With rapid mental calculations, not even really bothering to convert the 1/4 cup I’d actually used to 3/12 and the needed 2/3 to 8/12, we decided that an additional half-cup (total of 9/12) would be close enough. Naturally the added half-cup immediately converted itself to large lumps that I was unable to stir out, so the Cream of Wheat was not exactly a success.

I could say I need new glasses (perhaps true), but it seems more likely I need a new brain. I can’t even claim that I was still half asleep, having been up for two hours already. So I guess I’m just an idiot.

Well, this has nothing to do with walking, but I did actually feel a little foolish when I went out walking, too, having decided to risk ridicule by wearing gloves. It was a reasonably pleasant day—mid-fifties with no wind and quite sunny—but no matter how warm the sun is, my hands seem to stay cold. It was bad enough that I kept seeing people in shorts (I was bundled up in sweats), but I just really felt like a dork in those gloves. Still, my hands stayed warm! In fact, by the last block or so I had warmed up so much that I felt compelled to take the gloves off, but I have to say that, even though I was psychologically uncomfortable the whole way, I was a lot more comfortable physically.

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