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  • Is it just my imagination, or do I spend an inordinate amount of time getting stuff fixed? Something is always broken, whether it’s a computer problem, a funny noise the car is making, a cracked sprinkler head, or an ice-maker that isn’t making ice. Even our security cameras decided to fog up for no known reason. Of course, I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the stuff I’m getting fixed wouldn’t have needed fixing in my youth because it didn’t yet exist (like computers). Or didn’t exist at my house (like ice-makers, sprinkler heads and security cameras). There was a lot to be said for the era of manual typewriters, hand-washed dishes, ice cube trays, and a climate where it actually rains.
  • I am lucky enough to have the legacy of parents who were truly kind people and never missed an opportunity to jump in where needed. So when Olof and I realized that a disabled friend with no local family desperately required assistance, we volunteered to help. And thus began the saga I call will Refrigerator Wars. It could easily be five columns but here’s the abridged version.
  • A few days ago I went to buy my Christmas tree and couldn’t help but reflect on the ghosts of Christmas trees past. My first husband always insisted we get a small live tree, which we would then plant in the yard in what he considered a charming post-Christmas tradition. Folks: Do NOT try this at home! Little did we realize how much those suckers would grow — one to 40 feet! By the time my husband and I divorced, 10 years (and Christmas trees) later, anyone driving by would think our place was a tree farm with a driveway. (I knew I should have had a Christmas tree removal reimbursement clause in the divorce decree!)
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  • ’Tis the season when Christmas and the eight-day Chanukah hoopla merge. Chanukah, which begins on Dec. 22 this year, used to be a minor celebration in the Jewish line-up of holidays. Thanks to Christmas-envy among Jewish children (and adults) who are awe-struck by the bedecked trees and sparkling neighborhoods lit-up like a fairytale wonderland, Chanukah has been elevated to the holiday A-list. As for the food part, we’re fortunate to partake in the delights of both traditions that can be enjoyed during a joint celebration.
  • On May 21, 2015 a La Jolla Light article queried why 87 percent of people who live within a mile of public transit still drive to work. The answer: They need to actually get to work. A letter to the editor in The San Diego Union-Tribune made a related inquiry: Do supporters of mass transit use it? The answer: We’re trying. My husband and I are two of the biggest supporters of public transit but have concluded that San Diego just isn’t set up for it to be a successful mode of daily transport, unless you have endless time on your hands and don’t have to get to work by a specific time. If you have kids or are elderly, it isn’t for you either.
  • Over the years, I’ve attended many holiday parties, and hosted even more. I’ve appreciated all festive offerings, and while I would never turn my nose up at a jar of caviar or good bottle of wine, the gifts I’ve enjoyed the most came from creative minds and loving hearts. A particularly memorable one was a forest green ceramic planter filled with fresh sprouting seasonal herbs, including rosemary, sage and thyme, potted in an edible soil of crumbled dark chocolate brownies. These whimsical treats can be tailor-made to accommodate the dietary restrictions of the host (low cholesterol, or gluten-, lactose-, tree nut-, or sugar-free), and preferences (mild, hot, smoky, crunchy, sweet, savory, or vegan). You will need some simple supplies like Mason jars, cruets, clear gift bags, decorative tins, ramekins, twine and labels. Now let’s get this craft party started!
  • Years ago, my aunt hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people. She prepared a turkey feast from scratch and it was delicious. The next day, 18 of us had a date with the toilet bowl and were queasy for days. The only two who weren’t impacted were the vegetarians. We were all stymied and started asking questions trying to deduce the source of our illness. Remember the board game “Clue”? Well, Mrs. Peacock poisoned Mr. Boddy with a contaminated turkey leg in the dining room. Turns out that Auntie left the unwrapped, partially frozen turkey on the counter to thaw overnight, so the vegetarians were unscathed by her “fowl” deed. Here are some cautions to help keep your dinner guests healthy, happy and free from harm.
  • One true upside to writing Let Inga Tell You for the last 10 years is the opportunity to learn from readers. We’ll get to my recent column about toilet paper in a moment, but first, I’d like to revisit my column from earlier in the year about my brand-new washing machine. It seems I am not the only person who is exasperated by the “smart” features installed in most new washers. “Balance” seems to be a particular problem across many brands (probably not all that surprising since one repair guy maintained they’re all made in the same factory in China).
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