Friday, July 29, 2011


My husband doesn’t complain about much, but one thing that has frustrated him consistently in our 23 years of marriage is the fog on our glassware. His comments are cyclical; every few months, he’ll register a complaint, then follow it up a day or so later with a suggestion.

“What’s wrong with the dishwasher?” he’d grumble. “You’d think it’d do a better job of cleaning.”

And then, a few days later, in a more helpful tone: “We should get one of those little buckets that hangs from the rack or that gel you squirt in the rinse cycle. They’re supposed to make glasses sparkle.”

I hung the bucket and squirted the gel, but there’d be no change. Then, he’d suggest we buy a water softener and I’d nod my head. But the suggestion never made either of our to-do lists and was forgotten nearly as soon as it was voiced -- until the next time we set the table for guests and grimaced at the film.

So I’d hang another little bucket from the dishwasher’s rack and squirt more gel into the rinse receptacle. Finally, I admitted defeat and threw the worst-looking glasses away.

So I was a bit skeptical, last spring, when my sister-in-law showed off her spotless glasses and raved about Lemi Shine, The Hard Water Expert!™ 

“It’ll take two runs through the dishwasher,” she said. “But you’ll be amazed at how well it works.”  Then she sent a container home with me.

And it worked! My glassware is spotless. So clean, it squeaks. No fog. No film. The glasses even smell better.

Ken’s happy, but no more fog also means no more etched designs on our jelly-jar glasses.

“Look what happened to the Lion King glasses!” my youngest groaned. “My childhood is being washed away!”

The Lion King glasses are small Welch’s Grape Jelly jars, promos for the 1998 movie, Lion King 2.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a lunchtime staple at our house that year, and after we’d emptied the jar of its jelly, it became a daily fixture at the breakfast table, the perfect size for a preschooler’s serving of apple juice. Eventually, we finished three jars of grape jelly so each child had a glass, and then, just for fun, I added two more. When my preschoolers approached age 10 or 11, the glasses were not longer big enough to meet their morning juice needs, so Simba, Pumbaa and, Timon  were retired to the cupboard’s top shelf, retrieved only for a quick swallow of water to wash down a vitamin or dose of Tylenol.

Isn’t it funny what feelings a seemingly insignificant piece of tableware can conjure? I, too, moaned when I first saw the damage Lemi Shine had done to the glasses. I could have donated those glasses to the thrift store years ago, but I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to the childhood memories they held.

The first Lion King movie was released when our oldest was two; the second when our youngest was two. Both movies were “firsts” for our kids and hence, have long been dubbed favorites. And that stuffed animal phase many kids go through? We had Beanie Babies, and Ellen’s favorite was Simba, who she renamed “Roar.”  It accompanied her to bed, to the table, to the car, to the park -- for a long time.

A bit of me mourns when something like Lemi Shine takes something like Simba away from me before I’m ready. 

Of course, I’m happy my babies are growing up.  At 14, 17, and 19 years of age, they can cook a meal, manage their schedules, and sometimes, they even pick up after themselves. Yet, I relish those moments when a bit of their childhood peaks through.

When my college boy came home for Spring Break, the kids proclaimed it a Toy Story movie marathon and cheered Woody through encounters with Buzz Lightyear, toy collector Al McWiggin, and Sunnyside Daycare’s evil teddy bear, Lotso. During the Fourth of July weekend, the two oldest clicked back and forth between TV movie marathons of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Each of these blockbusters hit the market during our prime years of family movie nights, although this time, there was no room for wriggling or wrestling on the couch.

It wasn’t so much the remembering that made me smile but the sense of “familiar.” That bottom-of-your-heart warmth that bubbles up when you sit still long enough to look around and appreciate what you have. Reassurance that the foundation is firm, that life is good.

I know I shouldn’t need a specific piece of glassware or a movie marathon weekend to remind me of this clichĂ©, but like the jelly-jar glasses I moved to the top shelf, it’s pushed to the back. Out of the way and overlooked.

Ken appreciates our squeaky-clean glassware and we’re no longer embarrassed to set the table for company, but I’m glad I bought five jars of jelly back in 1998. The etchings on three of them are still intact. I just have to reach for them.

“And where the journey may lead you
Let this prayer be your guide
Though it may take you so far away
Always remember your pride”
       Lyrics from ShadowlandLion King