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‘Conference calls’ involve stress, meatloaf talk

I had at least four intense mini “conference calls” in the office Thursday.

And all of them involved the same person, the same subject.

It was me and Better Half and meatloaf.

Let me preface this column with a weary confession for anyone new to this space: I’m a bad mother and an even worse wife. I don’t really care if my family has a meal on the dinner table because of any effort on my part.

There — I said it. Again.

I figure hey, they don’t need me for that, to figure out a main dish, a potato side baked, mashed or boiled, a can of vegetables opened and heated.

We’re all adults here, completely capable of finding something to eat and putting our tummy growling and grumbling to an end all on our own. Independent intake missions successful.

But my faith-filled family refuses to stop believing in miracles and counts on me.

Now mind you, at work, my desk phone does not have caller ID. Anyone could be calling — someone with a legitimate question about a news item, people wondering if I’ve received their press releases or someone wondering if I need him to do anything before I get home.

“Yes,” I tell Better Half, asker of the million dollar question. “You can make dinner. Maybe try this meatloaf recipe I saw with only four ingredients — a pound of ground beef, a box of Stove Top stuffing, half a cup of ketchup and two eggs.”

“Ok,” he says, sounding impressed. “I’ll go get some hamburger.”

What a relief to have such a major stress factor of the day out of the way before 10 a.m., I’m thinking to myself when I hang up.

The phone rings again. It could be anyone, you know, maybe even the president … of a local club.

“Hello, this is Janice Kiaski, can I help you?” I answer.

“How long do you cook that?”

Legitimate question.

“Forty-five minutes, 350 degrees,” I fact check my notes.

Better Half hesitated. “That recipe’s not going to make very much.” Silence.

I told him that might be a good thing — not too much in the way of bad leftovers.

The day progresses a bit before the phone rings again and with it the possibility of anyone being on the other end of the line. Maybe a club vice president.

“Hello, this is Janice Kiaski, can I help you?” I answer.

“There’s a meatloaf recipe on the back of the Stove Top stuffing box,” Better Half begins, all businesslike, “but it calls for two pounds of ground beef, not one. And a cup of water.”

I am hamburger helpless among other things.

Sometimes simple is too simple, I guess, but I’m thinking the Nike slogan at this point. Just do it. Knock yourself out.

The good news is the main dish is finally a done deal.

The bad news? He’ll need my help with the mashed potatoes. Bring four cups of water to a boil. Stir in bag of instant spuds. Tricky stuff.

By the end of the meatloaf conference calls, a few co-workers were making food decisions of their own, capitalizing on Thursday being San Marco soup day at Naple’s.

Want us to order you some, they asked.

I regretfully declined.

I had to hurry home and heat up that can of vegetables.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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