Friday, July 21, 2017

Gratitude Is Exhausting

I have no idea what I've been doing all week, aside from complaining about the heat. You should be grateful I spared you all that, actually. Or maybe not - this heat wave ain't over.

So I've spent the week being thankful for whoever invented air conditioning. You know, I've been hearing people say how they are starting gratitude journals - they write down one thing each day that they are grateful for. If I had done that this week, the journal would have read: Monday - AC; Tuesday - AC; Wednesday - AC; Thursday - OMG, AC; Friday - GOD BLESS THE AC.

You get the idea.

But I don't get how come people are saying this gratitude practice changes their lives. For some reason, I do this nonstop in my head anyway, ALL THE TIME, and it's not like I'm Mother Teresa or anything. I mean, I glance at a newspaper headline about Syria, and I'm all, "Thank goodness we don't live in a war-torn country." Or I take my daughter to the orthodontist and I think, "Thank goodness we have the money for this." Or I drive somewhere and I think, "Thank goodness, I wasn't maimed or killed on the road."

Which, really - is gratitude a positive or a negative? Mine is all, "Whew, this horrible thing didn't happen to me." Or, "Whew, we're not in the poorhouse with crooked teeth." So maybe I'm not doing gratitude right.

Now I'm confused, so let's change the subject. I currently have 7 people living under my roof (thank goodness I have all these kids), because Theo - now officially an Army veteran - returned from his jaunt across Europe this week. So I'm back to assigning laundry days and running the dishwasher twice a day and cooking a whole heck of a lot. (Thank goodness I can afford to feed them.) I cannot believe I spent years working like this, day in and day out. At least I'm not changing any diapers this time around.

In the middle of all that, I managed to get a new eyeglasses prescription and today I ordered new eyeglasses AND prescription sunglasses (thank goodness I don't have to stumble around half-blind). Oh, and I went to the dentist to get my crown installed (thank goodness I can afford dental work, but OMG it is so expensive).

See? It's constant. Tell me you do this, too. Anyone?

Band camp ended today, so there was the concert (thank goodness for earplugs - ha, ha, just kidding), with me sitting there panicking about what the heck we're going to do for the rest of the summer until we leave for the wilds of Acadia again (thank goodness we have a camping trailer even if packing for a camping vacation is going to kill us one of these years). Luckily, a friend invited me and Susie to her in-laws' beach house for a couple of days next week (thank goodness for friends with generous in-laws) to partake in some sand and salt water.

Larger on the inside?
This invite inspired me to order a Sportbrella from Amazon (OMG, thank goodness for Amazon, a thousand times over), because Larry won't be with us to wrestle our 20th-century beach umbrella into the sand deep enough to keep it from being blown away and killing an unsuspecting sunbather. My purchase arrived today and Susie set it up in the living room, for practice. Larry just sat there and shook his head.

"What?" I said. "Don't you like it?"


"That's really big," he said. "Will there be room on the beach?"

"We saw them all over the beach last summer! Don't you remember? We thought they were a great idea!"

Larry had no memory of this.

"Well, I think they look smaller outdoors," I said, in a pathetic bid for reassurance.

"Yeah, maybe," said Larry, but he still looked doubtful (thank goodness for husbands who humor their wives).




[Sun image: Clipartix]
[Sportbrella image: Amazon]


Friday, July 14, 2017

Come On Everybody, Do Your Exercise!

Isn't that post title nauseating? I hate it so much, I have to keep it. And now I have a Wonderama earworm.


Wonderama was the only thing for kids to watch on TV on Sundays when I was growing up. Until nighttime, anyway, when you got The Wonderful World of Disney. I tell my kids that, and they don't believe me, having grown up suckling on the teats of Netflix, as it were.

I'm not bitter, I just sound that way.

I've been trying to exercise, in spite of its being July, with it's sauna-like air quality and temps in the 90s. The humidity has been utterly ghastly (although, I guess I'm supposed to be saying the dew point has been too high, but WTH science - why do you have to make everything so HARD?), to the point where even my early morning walk with my neighbor has turned into the Bataan Death March - the slow version. But, despite all these obstacles, I'm still chugging along with my brief morning jog/walk, which hasn't been progressing as swimmingly as I planned.

I'm in training. Sort of.
I mean, way back in March, when I started staggering around the golf course path for a mile every morning, I thought, Yeah, I should be able to jog this whole thing by, oh, end of April.  And then, a couple of weeks in, I realized I was in worse shape than I thought and I was going to be away for 2 whole weeks in April; so I changed the goal to end of May. By the end of May, I told myself, I'd be able to jog for almost a mile without stopping to walk.

Last I checked, it's July. I'm still stopping.

But, hey, I continue to get out there, looking pathetic, because persistence is everything (or so I've heard - so far, persistence just means looking like a fool - a fool who's about to have a heart attack, actually). I've revised my goal to Halloween, but have lately been considering just making it my next birthday.

That's right - when I turn 55, I MIGHT be able to jog a mile. Stay tuned - I know, it's riveting.

So! Larry must be thinking I am still not getting enough exercise, or why else would he have suggested we take a bike ride last Sunday? He had been driving (and getting lost) all day Saturday and maybe wanted to do something outdoorsy, I guess. Or else he's just trying to get his hands on my life insurance money. That could be it. Yeah, I think that's it.

There are too many people on the local bike trail in the morning, so we decided to do it late afternoon. And then we remembered Susie had to be driven somewhere at 5, so we made the totally not sensible decision to set out around 1:30 - you know, the hottest part of the day? I suggested we bike 5 or so miles to a local brewery, not feeling up to the 10-mile trek to the BBQ place we love (and that we've managed to bike to exactly ONCE). We dragged Susie along and, after way too much work, pulled up at the brewery.

Now, this place is right off the bike trail, always has tons of bikes parked by it, so you'd think it would be the perfect place for an air-conditioned stop for tired cyclists like ourselves. While Larry locked up our bikes and salivated at the thought of a fresh beer, I scouted it out. A maitre'd greeted me at the door.

Uh-oh.

I squinted up at him through the sweat that was dripping down from my helmet and said, "Uh, we were just looking for a place to eat."

I know, I'm smooth.

"Well, I'd be glad to seat you," he said, motioning to the graciously appointed tables behind him. "Or you could order drinks at the bar and bring them outside."

I glanced back outside, where a bunch of cyclists were standing around with their beers. No chairs. Hot sun. Glanced back inside. Fancy table settings. Expensive rustic decor. "Uh, could I see the menu?" I asked. He handed me one and I tried not to drip while I studied it.

No dollar signs. 

Have you noticed? The fancy places don't even print dollar signs on their menus, just the numbers. But Susie needed some affordable fries and a draft root beer, not expensive pomme frites. And we wanted a quick snack, not a long, drawn-out meal with table service that would require us to refinance the house.

Not beer, but still refreshing

I went back out to Larry and Susie and said, "It's fancy. I'm sweaty. We don't belong in there." With a regretful backward glance on Larry's part (he was really looking forward to that beer), we biked further (further) until we got to town; and then we walked another half mile looking for somewhere to sit.

We ended up at a Panera's, drinking frozen lemonades. Which is fine, if you weren't looking forward to a nice foamy beer, straight from the tap. Serves Larry right for making me bike in the first place, I'm thinking...








[Lemonade image: Panera Bread]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Vindication

There's been a long battle fought here, folks, the battle to bring Larry into the 21st century -- the struggle, as tech-savvy Brian puts it, to get him to trust the machine. We've made a bit of progress - he does have a smartphone, after all; but there are still some modern-day staples Larry simply refuses to get on board with.

So pretty! And fun!
For instance, on Father's Day, we bought a GoogleHome for him (oh, okay, it was for us), and he made us bring it back. "Why would you want a microphone in our home, listening to everything we say?" he demanded, exasperated at our naivete.

"But it's fun!" I said. "Look! You can talk to it!"

He shook his head in disgust. Obviously I was willing to sell my soul for a mere mess of pottage, or - in this case - the ability to say, "Hey, Google, play some Billy Joel" and have "Piano Man" come blasting out the living room speakers.

Similarly, Larry fought the good fight against that newfangled thing called GPS for a long time, instead printing out his trusty MapQuest maps like it was 1999. But he has gradually become accustomed to using Google Maps on his phone when he drives somewhere new; so last Saturday, when he had to drive Rachel and 3 other Civil Air Patrol cadets to their week-long Encampment in a rural part of our state, he threw caution to the winds and left with only his cellphone - no stacks of computer-printed routes or maps whatsoever. Oh, we were so proud of him!

You know what happened, right? Do I even need to tell you?

His connectivity dropped out somewhere in the middle of farmland, in an area he was not familiar with. Luckily, one of the cadets had a different cellphone provider, so they got by on his GPS for a while. In fact, they were on a road Larry remembered from previous years and he was pretty confident where he was going, when the cadet said, "It wants us to turn right here."

That didn't sound right to Larry, but hey - trust the machine. So he turned from a paved highway onto a paved 2-lane road. Which became a not-so-paved 2-lane road, and then a dirt road, and then nothing. Nothing but a rutted track and some cornfields, one of which happened to have a huge Confederate flag draped across it.

This is usually the point in movies where you know things are not going to end well.



So Larry turned his car full of Yankees around and hightailed it back to the main road, where by luck and Apple Maps (which came to its senses) he finally made it to the Army base they were aiming for. And he came home swearing never to leave the house without his MapQuest printouts again.

It would be hard to overstate how smugly vindicated Larry is feeling right now. I think it rivals the purple paint episode of 8 years ago for smugness, actually. I mean, if he was right about the fallibility of GPS, WHAT ELSE must he be right about, his lone voice crying out in the wilderness of 21st-century technology? Or so he thinks.

Meaning, I'll NEVER get him to come around on that GoogleHome gadget now.






[GoogleHome image: PCWorld]
[Children of the Corn image: Random Enthusiasm]


Friday, July 07, 2017

It All Adds Up

I was just (belatedly) updating Susie's age in my profile over there in the sidebar, and I thought, "Hmmm, 12 - when I set up this blog, she was only 2." Employing my prodigious math skills, I realized that, hey, that means I've been jotting things down here for 10 solid years.

An entire decade.

Messy Knitter Syndrome (MKS)
It was 10 years ago that I was sitting in our basement (because at that point we still kept the computer down there so that it wouldn't take over our family life, and OMG isn't that quaint) and thought up the title of this blog. I was very proud of myself. Not being very familiar with blogs OR the Internet, I thought I was probably the ONLY ONE with such a clever blog name.

I still really like the name, actually. But I know there are better ones out there. And better writers. And people with way more interesting lives. But, hey, this is mine. Without really planning to, I've inadvertently catalogued our lives for the past 10 years, and maybe, at some point, my kids will find it fun to read back over all this. Because they sure as heck aren't going to be able to reminisce over the non-existent family photo albums. I lost my grip on those about, oh, hey, 10 years ago.

I guess that's not a coincidence, huh?

Flowers are still alive, thanks to the rain
But, you know, a photo album wouldn't let the kids know the details of Larry's frightening foray into the wizarding world, or how I was briefly famous among German au pairs, or that our broken dishwasher inspired an honest-to-God appliance poetry slam.

A photo album definitely wouldn't tell them how the purchase of a rolling cooler backfired on me, or how much fun it was to take David to his first "real" movie at the ripe old age of 14, or how their father and I HAVE experienced a few rare moments of perfect marital harmony.

What gets me is, I didn't think anything much was happening all those years. And, on the scale of world events, that was true. But in the microcosm of our daily lives, writing this blog helped me catch all those little moments that really do add up to this thing called a lifetime. And for that, I am grateful. Maybe my kids will be, too.

And they DO have all those refrigerator clean-out photos - there's that.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Fiber-Rich, Calorie-Poor

Today, I felt fine, just fine, unless I ate something. So I didn't eat. Instead, I went to Aldi's, my new love, because it sells perfectly decent mayonnaise for less than $2 a jar. Also? Watermelons for $3.50 each, and good Kaiser rolls for hamburgers at $1.50 for 8.

Yeah, I had a stomach virus but I went food shopping. They don't call me "Mom" for nothing, you know.

And then I headed to the yarn store, because there was a 25% off sale there. I managed to snatch up the last couple of skeins of Crazy yarn, which is my current fiber crush. Every skein is different! Trade 'em with your friends! After that, I went home and tried again to eat, but that still didn't work, so I just knit instead.

See? It's CRAZY (even without the camels)
Cowl I knit from other skeins of Crazy (sans dromedaries)

With blatant disregard for my inability to eat, Anna chose today to make key lime bars to die for.  I'm saving mine in the fridge, for if I ever feel better again. Lord help the kid that eats it by mistake, I'll say that right now.

Larry is planning to kayak tomorrow morning, while I make a vat of potato salad and prep the hamburgers and chicken, stomach virus or not. We haven't invited anyone over, so it's not as though this is a Typhoid Mary scenario or anything. And I figure that anyone who lives in this house is already doomed, right?







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