Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life SHOULD Be A Beach

I'm trying to adjust to school and fall and schedules - I really am. But then I threw the whole thing in the air by going to the shore for a weekend with 3 other knitters, one of whom married well, apparently, because her in-laws own a beach house that they share generously. So we did that and had a great weekend and now I am back at square one re that whole adjusting-to-fall thing.

When I got back home, I told Larry that we need a beach house. I suggested that he retire right away and we could sell our current abode and buy a house on Long Beach Island, and he mumbled something about money and kids and food and blah, blah, blah. Let me tell you, that man is NOT a visionary.

So now I am focusing on FINALLY getting 2 of our bathrooms redone (one of which hasn't been touched since 1969). That way, I am ready to sell this house once Larry sees the error of his ways.

Living within your means is vastly overrated.

My picture of hell
The problem with redoing bathrooms is that I have to set up appointments with contractors, which means I have to know when I will actually be home, which is really difficult since my entire job description at this point is driving my kids places. And then, once we do hire a contractor, I'm going to be forced to make decisions: what vanity, what toilet (although, really, I'm pretty well-versed on that subject), and what tile. People, this is really hard for me. I mean, I'm supposed to decide which tile I want to look at in my bathroom for the next 30 years (unless Larry comes to his senses), when I am already tired of the nail polish I picked out two weeks ago for my pedicure.

It's stressful. I know it is a first-world kind of stress, but still...this is why we haven't done any of this sort of thing yet, even though we have been living here almost 10 years. Get this: in a house with 3 1/2 baths, we are all taking turns in one shower in the morning, because the other 2 showers are out of commission. As you can imagine, this scenario does not always play out well. Actually, it NEVER plays out well.

You know, beach houses come with outdoor showers. And you don't even have to tile those.

[Postcard image: CardCow]
[Tile store image: All Things G&D]

Thursday, September 08, 2016


A new school year. Vacation re-entry syndrome. Fruit fly invasion. All good reasons for not having time to write lately. But really? I ran out of words. And believe me, you don't want to be around a writer when she runs out of words. She gets very cranky. Poor Larry.

So I am typing now and trusting some words will show up, for the sake of everyone around me.

Our Rachel (she of the stuffed toilets and decapitated stuffed animals) decided to attend a real high school this year, the kind with teachers and homework and lots of other kids. Let me tell you, 9 years of homeschooling was totally worth it, if only to generate the sort of enthusiasm Rachel displayed when getting on the bus that first day of ninth grade. Granted, she probably sounded a tad weird, but I'm sure she'll settle down soon enough and be as jaded as the rest of 'em.

That leaves just Susie and Brian (a high school junior) at home this year. As Brian's courses are all outsourced (Glory, hallelujah!), Susie and I have spent the last two days sitting around playing Dutch Blitz. I make her keep score, so it's educational.

It's homeschooling, people - we do what we want.

AND I had a job interview today for a senior companion service - their employees drive elderly people to doctor appointments, the grocery store, etc. Or else they visit the clients at home and help pay bills or organize closets or just keep them company. The upshot is, I am going to be paid real money to visit a senior citizen near me and play gin rummy with her a couple of times a week. I feel as though someone just gave me a present.

You know, I would have given anything to find a service like this for my dad during his last year. He was so lonely and bored. I still feel sad thinking about it.

Camping in Acadia? Oh, it was surpassingly excellent, mainly because we took only the 2 youngest children with us, both of whom actually wanted to go. This was the first time in years I didn't spend my "vacation" tiptoeing around a disgruntled teen emphatically not interested in family time.

I swear, I don't know what we've done wrong that our kids act this way.

None of this happened, so far as I know

So we left Brian at home (and really, he did have work to go to and a community college class starting while we were away), but only after alerting all the neighbors that NO ONE besides him should be seen entering or exiting our house. I even managed to restrain myself from texting Brian 100 times a day to make sure he was alive. The kid managed admirably (I mean, so far as we could tell). He even texted me a pic of the house on the day of our return with the caption "Still Standing."

Everyone's a comedian around here.

Anna (remember Anna? She of the lost-forever coat?) is studying abroad this semester in Amman, Jordan, in an intensive Arabic program. Apparently, she has graduated from her Getting A Clue curriculum  with honors, impossible as that seemed 7 short years ago. And Theo, our Army officer, is also in the Mideast for a year, as a member of Task Force Sinai. So tell me why, when I think of him, do I still picture him in his highchair, falling asleep face first in a bowl of spaghetti?

Really, feel free to start humming "Sunrise, Sunset" any time now. Lord knows that tune is stuck on constant replay in my head these days. Here, if you need a refresher:

I'm not crying. You're crying...

[Dutch Blitz image: Dutch Blitz]
[Risky Business image: Wikipedia]

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Joy To All

Gifford's ice cream in the evenings, too...
Having not learned our lesson from earlier this month, Larry and I are embarking on our main camping vacation of the summer, up to Acadia National Park in Maine. Considering that it has been over 90 degrees here forever and that weather.com tells me Bar Harbor has been topping out near 75 degrees every day, I'm willing to risk it. Besides, we are familiar with this campground, the one of the excellent bathrooms and the morning pastries.

Of course, I have no idea how we will manage to pack up the car and load the bicycles and all that, as the heat wave here shows no sign of letting up before we leave. I'm thinking it will be somewhat akin to a space walk, where Larry goes out there in a climate-controlled suit and tied to a rope, so we can pull him in should the 100-degree temperatures and overwhelming humidity render him disoriented and unable to function.

I went to Panda Express with Susie today (because she thinks it is the BEST PLACE EVER, and haven't I raised kids with refined tastes?) and my fortune cookie said Your sense of humor is a joy to all. I made sure to show that to Larry, because he doesn't appreciate me enough.

Apple cider vinegar and rotting grapes - yum!
I appreciate him, however. We had the fruit fly invasion to end all fruit fly invasions this past week. Despite Susie's diligent efforts with the fly swatter (we pay her a quarter per bug and she's earned upwards of 6 dollars so far) and our handy-dandy homemade fruit fly traps, we weren't making much headway until Larry nobly cleaned out one of our cabinets, wherein resided a bag of potatoes that were apparently spontaneously generating these little pests. This beat my approach, which would have involved a flamethrower or two.

And that's all, folks! Larry and I need to start arguing over what has to go in the camper this year.  I'm thinking rain ponchos might be a good idea, for starters...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Not Dead Yet

Well! Looks as though I took a vacation there, doesn't it? I didn't really, I just didn't feel like writing anything down. Which is scary, because once you take away this blog, I have nothing to do but look at the Facebook and wonder why my kids don't listen to me anymore.

I think I'll write a book: How NOT To Live a Fulfilling Life.

So, yeah, I found out over the past week that the company I had a contingent job offer from was not awarded the contract. So, no job for me. I'm still trying to figure out if another contractor that I applied to got it, but I am not too hopeful.

Another book: Life Decisions That Guarantee You Will Never Be Employed Again.

We did take a mini-vacation last week, to the beach. Or, more precisely, we got it into our heads that it would be FUN to hitch up the camper and take the youngest two to the seashore, staying at a local campground for 3 nights.

I don't even know where to begin detailing all the things wrong with this plan.

Last year we tried something similar, staying at the state park near the beach. That would have gone well, aside from camping next to a major highway and aside from Larry's having to pack up the entire camper in the dark the second night because I thought I was dying and preferred to experience my demise closer to home.

You may not want to know
So THIS year, we nixed the highway camping spot and decided to try a KOA. We've never done that before. But they always look like fun, and hey, for camping they are price-y, so the amenities must be pretty great there, right?

For starters, the mineral-rich water tasted terrible. Seriously. The girls tried it first and complained, so of course I told them to stop being fussy. Then I tried it and spit it back out. I couldn't even rinse my mouth with it when brushing my teeth. The smell was so strong that showers were a nauseating experience.

Larry pretended it was fine.

The extended family camping next to us were right out of a bad sitcom. The grandmother was a dead ringer for Carol Burnett, when she plays a family matriarch type hailing from rural America. Within 5 minutes of meeting me and the girls and introducing 2 of her granddaughters, she asked if my daughters had started their periods yet. I don't think Rachel and Susie will ever forgive me.

The weather couldn't make up its mind, but it did seem to have it in for us (and, yes, I do know that is not the KOA's fault).  It kept alternating between devastatingly humid and rainy. It got so humid, in fact, that we did something we've never done while camping before - we zipped up all the windows and turned on the air conditioner.  Seriously, it was either that or drive back home. Let ye who don't vacation in air-conditioned hotels and bungalows throw the first stone.

Our second day there, we left the beach just as thunder started. By the time we got back to the campsite, it was raining torrentially. Picture it - we're sitting in the van, water streaming down the windows, the camper 20 feet away a mere blur. And Larry says, "Okay, I think we can have the girls start loading the suitcases into the van." And I said, "No, we can't. Why don't we stay until tomorrow morning, as we planned?"

International symbol for ping pong, apparently
Have I mentioned that deep-woods-camping Larry really hated the campground? His way prevailed, so Susie and I splashed over to the activity room to play ping pong, leaving poor Rachel to help Larry pack up the van and camper in the torrential rain. After a mishap where Larry managed to drive the van over the large metal fire ring (helpful hint: DO NOT try this at home) and a tense interval when Larry discovered a problem with the trailer hitch and swore not-so-softly under his breath, we finally departed.

The rain stopped as we drove off.

[KOA sign image: KOA]
[Ping Pong symbol: Free vectors]

Friday, July 29, 2016

I Am NOT A Pet Person

Balloons AND a living wage? Deal me in!
You know, watching political conventions takes up a LOT of time. Throw in complaining about the humidity and my days are just about full lately. Oh, and I even cooked dinner last night. I know, Hillary Clinton probably wonders how I do it all.

Larry and I postponed our 3-day camping trip to the beach to next Sunday, because we figured sitting on the open sand in 100-degree weather this past week might not be a smart thing to do. Never mind living without air conditioning...so we've been hanging out here, chatting with my bug boyfriend about rats, visiting cat adoption places (because I am looking for an outdoor cat to scare vermin away), and doing other equally not-exciting things.

Dear Lord, I cannot believe I am cat shopping. You see, I noticed that Jennifer Jo has two cats that live outside only, and she convinced me that I don't need to be a cat lover to own a cat; so I am forging ahead with my feline-centric rodent-eradication plan. The kids are thrilled, even though I keep repeating, "This cat will NEVER be allowed in the house" over and over. AND OVER.

I swear, the smell of litter boxes makes me ill.

For now, however, it is time to get ready for our beach trip on Sunday. Meaning, I need to do the requisite 15 loads of laundry that always need to be done before any vacation and figure out how to keep 2 vegetarians and 2 carnivores fed for 3 days. I CANNOT WAIT to leave town and all my rodent problems behind me. I don't even enjoy walking around our neighborhood anymore - every time I see a squirrel (and we have a LOT of squirrels), I jump about 10 feet in the air.

No wonder the neighbors look at me funny.

In other news, David visits us next week (remember David, the child who abandoned us last August?) - we haven't seen him since Christmas, so yeah, none of my adult kids seem to have any trouble leaving home. I try not to take it personally.

And I hope I didn't just jinx myself with that statement.

Our xylophone collection
Rachel babysat two of the cutest little girls at our house this afternoon. Larry came home this evening to a den strewn with Duplos and Sarah Boynton board books and toy xylophones (yes, plural).

"Feeling musical today?" he asked me.

"Just nostalgic," I told him. I swear, I cannot believe my house was once filled with little people like the ones we watched today. Those days seemed to have lasted forever, yet now they feel as if they never happened. Weird.


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