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.


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


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?

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Food Would Be Nice

Larry and Rachel helped park cars at a July 4th Festival all day yesterday, so I used the quiet time around here to do some food shopping, clean out the fridge, cut up a watermelon. "I'll make more potato salad tomorrow," I told Brian. "Maybe some tuna, also. And we'll do a barbeque on Tuesday!" Oh, I was full of gustatory plans.

It all seems like a dream now, 24 hours later, all that food and talk of food. Because the fast-moving stomach bug that has been laying waste to families all over my state arrived here last night: first poor Rachel, who came home from 8 hours in 90-degree weather with a stomachache, one we attributed to dehydration, even though she kept insisting, "I drank! I drank the whole time!" She fell asleep curled up on a living room chair, after vomiting (and why do my kids all insist on a witness to their distress? Why did she have to yell "Mommy!" as she ran to the bathroom? Couldn't she have yelled "Daddy?"), with our words ringing in her ears, "Remember this next year! Stay hydrated!"

Because we're wonderful parents that way, wrongfully (as it turns out) blaming our children for their illnesses.

I fell sick later that night. I ended up on the couch, near Rachel, because it was cooler down there (yes, I DID turn on the AC that day) and spent a few sleepless hours wondering how to make up to her for our baseless accusations. I slept late, staggered out to knit with my friends (because no one can deny illness like I can) and then staggered back home and slept the rest of the afternoon away.

I thought longingly of this all day.
There's some really good watermelon in my fridge that I haven't been able to eat. I ate some crackers this evening, though, and half a banana - so don't tell me I don't know how to party on a holiday weekend.

And that's all, folks - I'm boring when I'm sick. Maybe you all could discuss the fun things you get to do this weekend, so I can enjoy them vicariously?

Or not - as you wish...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lazy Days of Summer - Plus Yarn

Not Susie
Band camp has started, so Susie trudges off each day with her saxophone to spend 4 hours learning the finer points of, well, whatever it is sax players do.

And, please, if there's anything cuter than a kid with a saxophone, I don't know what it is. Back in my day, no one I knew, except Clarence Clemons (and I didn't really know him, of course, I just knew OF him), played saxophone. Not kids, anyway...

Where the heck was I? Oh, so Susie heads out each morning for the band camp carpool and I spend the next 4 hours exercising plus getting all the cooking, housecleaning, laundry, and yard work done.

Ha, ha, ha. No, I don't do that. That's what I should be doing. And, to be fair, I did generate this pile of weeds today:

This took way more effort than it looks
But that was about it this morning.  I mean, I did get over 6000 steps, too, so you can check fitness off that to-do list. But I didn't bother with the cooking today (hey, I cooked yesterday - potato salad, tortellini salad, sesame noodles, and a weird cucumber salad thing, and yes, you should most definitely be impressed). Instead? I allowed myself to waste some time. The laundry went unfolded, I didn't clean the fridge (aside from sticking some frozen bags of compost out in the compost bin to thaw for tomorrow's pick up), I didn't worry about dinner.

Hey, Twitter wasn't going to read itself, you know.

This, my friends, feels like true luxury to me - after all these years of having to be uber-efficient in order to stave off utter havoc, things are not quite so urgent anymore. If something doesn't get done right away, it no longer precipitates a slide into chaos so great that we can't recover. It's taken Larry and I a few years to get used to this new state of affairs, but it is definitely growing on us. I mean, it's gotten to the point where we can't even figure out how we survived those 2 decades of having young kids in the house. Barfing young kids, to boot...

That said, I do have a knitting deadline this week. Our local yarn store gives prizes each quarter if you make something using yarn they sold you. So I'm hurrying to finish my current love, because apparently I respond only to rewards at this point. While I'm kitchenering my cowl, though, could someone please identify this lone flower I discovered in our yard while I was weeding?

I haven't even managed to kill it yet.

Petunia? Morning Glory? A confused dandelion?

[Clarence image: Wikipedia]

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fresh Air

Oh, my, what a beautiful day! After spending all of Friday and Saturday literally whining about the humidity (I swear, it was nauseating - I couldn't even get Susie out to the pool), Mother Nature has blessed us with a few days of quintessentially June weather - warm sun, cool air - that makes you glad to be alive.

But during those 2 days of punishing humidity, I still played my "let's see how long we can go without air conditioning" game. You see, our house has an east-west orientation (with no side windows, as it's a rowhouse); so, by judiciously opening and shutting windows on the correct side of the house at the correct points in the day, I can usually maintain an indoor temp that is lower than the temperature outdoors. This has become an obsession of mine: I spring out of bed to make sure the proper windows are open and cooling the house before the sun gets high; I text the kids to close the deck doors by 9:30, when the morning sun starts slanting in there; I hurry home around noon to make sure the kitchen and front door windows are shut before the afternoon onslaught of solar energy against the front of the house.

Low-tech climate control
In short, I'm nuts. But this tends to work well, so long as the humidity outside isn't too high.  Or so long as I'm not actually home, since I have a rule that we aren't turning on the AC for just one kid sitting home alone in a 5-bedroom house (hey, the basement stays cool, they can sit down there, okay?).

Larry, of course, is not on board with this game. So, even if it does start getting a little too warm in the house, I won't touch the AC if his arrival is imminent, just to mess with him. He'll walk in, look at the thermostat (which might be reading 83 degrees at that point), shake his head, and say, "Don't you think it's hot in here?"

"Oh, no," I'll say. "Look! The humidity level is only 52%!" (I love our new thermostat.)

Or, on days that truly are bad, "Nah, as long as you don't move around too much. I ordered pizza for supper."

And then he shakes his head again, flips on the AC, and goes upstairs to do a head count and make sure everyone is still alive.

But last Friday - well, none of this was going to work. By the time I was prepping dinner, the humidity was unbearable, even in the house. I was on the verge of turning on the AC (because, hey, I"m not a monster) when Rachel - who was already annoyed that I was making her help in the kitchen - said, "You have to turn on the air conditioning right now! It's hot in here!"

Now, we have long called this child The Empress for a reason. When she's annoyed/irritated (which, granted, is quite often, and gee, I wonder who she gets that from?), her tone of voice ranges from cutting to imperious. There is no, "Gosh, it's hot! Can we have some AC?" uttered in a cheerful tone emanating from her mouth. Not ever. No, her delivery can best be described as landed royalty talking to a common serf.

I don't respond well to this tone, even at the best of times. Not from a child. So I said, "Actually, I think it feels fine in here," and I went on with my work, immersed now in both unbearable humidity AND a veritable miasma of indignation emanating from my royal teen. I also texted Larry a warning: "It's HOT here. But I swear we will die before I touch that AC."

He worked late.

I was tempted to stay here.

There is a saying in Yiddish: "Cut off your nose to spite your face." And that is the thought that ran through my head for the next 2 hours, in my definitely too-hot house, as I repeatedly reminded my first-world offspring that people in Africa have it much worse than they do, household-temperature-wise. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to take Brian to his place of work (he usually walks), just so I could sit in the air-conditioned car. Susie came with us. I drove slowly. "You sure are stubborn," Brian commented, as he left the car for the climate-controlled paradise where he works.

You bet, honey. And I remained stubborn until 6:45, which is when a friend picked up both girls to take them to a movie night at someone's (presumably air-conditioned) house. I swear, they practically ran to her car. And they weren't out of the parking lot before I was slamming down windows and turning on the air myself.


And then I called Larry to let him know it was safe to come home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Let There Be Cake

My birthday started out on the perfect note: my fit friend came by in the morning to take a walk with me (because my FitBit takes no vacations, apparently) and handed me a gift. "Excuse the bag," she said. "I would have run late if I tried to find one that was appropriate for the occasion."

No wonder we get along...
I like my friends.

Larry and the kids gave me a new IPad, which I totally wasn't expecting, even though the one I inherited from my Dad (from 2012) takes forever to open up now, to the point where we had sort of given up on using it much. This one is also lighter and therefore easier on my wrists, but it still feels very extravagant. In fact, this particular purchase makes me wonder whether Larry has any household renovation plans up his sleeve.

Or maybe it was just to make up for the fact that Larry also gave me the As Seen On TV Veggetti.

Hey, it's not a bagel slicer

Granted, this item did happen to be on my Amazon list, but only because I thought I might pick it up as a fun thing for the girls to use in the kitchen some time. As we all know, however, Larry has never seen a goofy kitchen item that he doesn't think would make a great birthday gift for his wife. So I own this thing now and I guess I have no one to blame but myself.

I then made the questionable decision to go to the mall to search for my Holy Grail, aka shirts that fit. I confess, I started feeling a little agitated as I approached the tiny petites section in J.C. Penney to which we height-challenged women are confined. Considering that half the petites section was devoted to the fashion abominations that are Worthington and Alfred Dunner clothing, my selection was pretty limited. And taking into account that, due to an outsize bust and a generously sized post-menopausal belly, I am difficult to fit, my choices were even more constrained.

Meaning that, after half an hour of searching through the clothing racks for something decent to wear, I was simultaneously weepy and irritated. I'm not sure, but I think I was muttering things like, "Sure, I'll just go NAKED" and "F... you, Alfred Dunner and your elastic-waist pants" loudly enough for other shoppers to hear. I started imagining the next day's headlines: Midget Woman, Laughing Maniacally, Sets Store Ablaze.

So I left, before my birthday could be completely ruined. I headed over to Macy's which, if possible,had an even smaller selection of clothing for short, over-endowed gals like myself. But, miracle of miracles, I managed to find a few shirts that fit AND were reasonably priced. Purchases in hand, I put aside my thoughts of arson and headed home, where the girls had spent the afternoon working on my birthday cake.

I defy you to find a more beautiful cake. Because there is none. This is the king (queen?) of all birthday cakes. End of story.

But my family's obvious love and devotion (as evidenced by the cake pictured above and Larry's Vegetti purchase) were not enough to deter me from attending Knit Night on my birthday. There I was feted with Fritos and new stitch markers by a whole bunch of women who wanted to know if Larry had bought me another bagel slicer, and really, what more could any girl want?

It was a perfect birthday. I mean, except for that Alfred Dunner thing...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Birthday Prep

Tomorrow? I turn 54 (which someone pointed out to me is a deck of cards and 2 jokers, and I'm not really sure what that implies, but let's pretend it's somehow meaningful); so I've been busy (this being my birthday week) making sure that tomorrow is a day of unalloyed joy. And by unalloyed joy, I mean that maybe I will get to go to the mall by myself and try on shirts and maybe even find some that fit properly over my matronly bust and waistless middle.

I don't ask for much, people. I really don't.

Meanwhile, Larry can't seem to understand that when he orders gifts from Amazon, the email announcing the purchase AND the email announcing their shipment both go directly to me. So, for the record, it's looking as though he didn't learn much from the bagel slicer incident last year. It's sort of cute, actually, in a clueless sort of way.

You really have to read about the bagel slicer, if you haven't already. It's classic Larry.

So, yeah, busy - I cooked all morning today so I won't have to touch anything in the kitchen tomorrow. Tonight I will scrub the bathrooms, so I don't have to hate myself when I use them tomorrow. In fact, I've been so busy pretending I don't have to do any housework for my birthday, I forgot - until a few minutes ago - to check how my front hall closet was doing.

As you can see there to the right (or left, I can't tell), not too bad. Oh, yeah, there were 3 pairs of sandals thrown on the floor (because, again, those shoe holders are SO DIFFICULT to use); and the outdoor toys on the bottom are all askew. But it took me only 30 seconds to put everything to rights.

It absolutely kills me I didn't figure out this system until now. I mean, it seems pretty darn obvious in retrospect, doesn't it? Who knew that hanging shoe holders (which I had sitting up in my bedroom doing nothing since our bedroom closet remodel) and a bit of vigilance were all that was needed to make my front closet actually useful again?

My magnum opus, apparently

You know, 30 years ago, when I was a youthful 20-something with my entire life in front of me? I would have assumed that I would have something more meaningful to write about than closet maintenance by the time I turned 54. Come to think of it, 30 years ago,  I probably assumed I'd be almost dead by now. Oh, not because I planned a profligate life or anything; no, it was because I thought people in their mid-50s were incredibly old.

Case in point: my parents' longtime neighbors (who were exactly 30 years older than myself) remodeled their kitchen when I was 24. I remember wondering at the time why the heck they were even bothering, since they obviously had one foot in the grave already.

They're both still enjoying that remodeled kitchen, of course. I always ask for a nice dish of crow whenever I visit.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Chew On This

I see all sorts of things advertised on my Facebook feed. In fact, that's how I usually find out that Larry is planning to buy something, because it sure as heck wasn't MY Google searches that prompted Facebook to show me ads for kayaks and all their many accoutrements. And, of course, I will take full responsibility for all the yarn ads that I see. But sometimes an ad shows up out of nowhere. Say, an ad for a product like this one.

You didn't click, did you? You never do. Fine, here's a picture:

You know, I have 4 grown or almost grown children, and nary a one has asked me, "Say, where did you put all my baby teeth, anyway?" In fact, Anna managed to swallow half of hers by mistake.

That's not just us, is it? I hope not.

Okay, I just realized there is also a space for the umbilical cord there. I don't even know what to say about that. I'm surprised there's no compartment for fingernail clippings, is all.

Seriously, people, don't buy this. Spend the $25 on some packages of diapers instead. And if your friends happen to think this is a great gift idea? Get new friends.

I was about to sign off here, but Rachel walked in and saw this picture and said, "I can show you something worse." And you know what? She did.

Mouth filled in with your kids' very own teeth!

I don't know how I missed this trend (apparently it is so last year), but I'm sure glad I did. Sweet dreams, kids! Don't let the tooth monster bite!

Sort of rocks that Addams Family vibe, doesn't it?

[Tooth monster image: BusinessInsider]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cool As A Cucumber

My beloved
Now, I know I've written about my refrigerator (many times) before, all about the mess and the strange things I find there and the over-proliferation of condiment containers. But,seriously, ever since November, when the French door fridge with the bottom freezer (that I have been lusting after for years) entered my life, I've been making a real effort to keep this appliance and the situation therein under control.

So, with my trusty compost bucket handy, I've (mostly) been managing to get rid of rotting produce and moldering leftovers weekly. I've also been waging a (mostly unsuccessful) battle to keep the fridge organized, so that food items don't get shoved to the back and wasted.

It's my life's work, people. Respect it.

What with all this dedication and effort, imagine my surprise this morning to find the item pictured below in my refrigerator, in the plastic bin reserved for salsa and mustard jars (yes, they do have their own section, shut up):

That is, to my professional eye, neither salsa nor mustard; it is, in fact, a cucumber with its end broken off yet lovingly preserved. Now, can you think of a reason for this? I mean, it's not as if someone had started to open a cucumber and then decided they didn't want it but couldn't fit the lid back on, right?

Actually, maybe that was it. I don't know. So I turned to the possible culprits, some of whom happened to be standing in the kitchen at the time. "WHAT IS THIS?" I said, waving the two parts of the cucumber in the air in a threatening manner.

"It's a cucumber," Rachel said. Gosh, I always knew she was the bright one.

"Why is it like this? Who would DO this?" Hey, I wasn't letting this go.

"Um," Larry spoke up from where he was sitting at the table. "That was me."

I stared at him, trying to figure out why a grown man would try to open a cucumber this way.

"It broke," he said.

"So, why didn't you peel it and eat it rather than letting it go bad?" I demanded, because I'm shrewish in the mornings, apparently.

Now, let's give Larry some credit here. He didn't bother to point out that I have probably let more food go bad than has anyone else in the entire history of the world. He didn't pull up all the pictures on this blog featuring spoiled produce. He didn't even walk over to the compost bin and point out the brown, slimy celery I dumped in there yesterday.

No, he just shrugged. "I DID look for tape," he offered. "But I couldn't find any."

Can't argue with that...

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Good Yarn

It's hard to find time to blog (says the gal who wasted a good 45 minutes on Facebook this morning), but I constantly have things running through my head to tell you. Plus pictures!

The closet experiment hit a snag this morning. See that build-up of shoes on the floor there? Probably because it is SO HARD to place them in the conveniently hung SHOE HOLDERS that are in your face every time you open the closet doors. I mean, sheesh, am I expecting people to figure that out? I'm a monster, I am.

No matter, my new system is so good, all I had to do was pick up those shoes and slide them into their slots. I don't appreciate being everyone's maid; but for the sake of a closet that inspires joy, I'll do it. That, plus I dock allowances.

Hey, I'm not a saint, okay?

Yesterday my friends and I attended a fiber festival. "A what?" asked the neighbor I walk with each morning. I forget that, in most circles, "fiber festival" means nothing. "A fiber festival," I told her. "You know, there are sheep and alpacas and people who shear them, and people who spin the wool into yarn and sell it, and people who dye the yarn and sell it...oh, and there are celebrities! We met the Sweater Guy!"

"Is that what he's called?" she asked, trying to follow.

"Um, I think so. That's what we called him, anyway." But then I wasn't sure, myself; I mean, can there be only one Sweater Guy? So I went home and Googled "the sweater guy," and sure enough, I found him. The fiber world loves its monikers, apparently. I didn't even try explaining the Yarn Harlot to her.

Incipient shawl/scarf thingy
Anywhoo, I bought a few skeins of yarn there. I needed one skein to complement a color I already have for my planned The Girl From the Grocery Store shawl; and then there were a couple of skeins that were begging to be bought from an indy dyer who I bonded with and was giving a military discount.

These go together, in a weird sort of way...

Oh, and also a felted dryer ball, because I already had one, but it turns out that you really need more than one to make your clothes soft and fluffy. Supposedly you use them instead of dryer sheets? I don't use dryer sheets, though, so I'm not sure what I am to expect.

I explained all this to Larry and he was totally looking at me like, "Wow, they saw you coming, all right." I'll show him, once the children start exclaiming how soft their towels feel (I imagine like those kids in 70s Downy commercials, if I'm recalling correctly).

Isn't it pretty?

Either way, it was only $5. And the man just bought an entire kayak, so maybe he should just keep quiet about any of my fiber expenditures, amirite?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Drill, Baby, Drill

Quickly, before I head out to Knit Night...

I had my (newly expensive) dental appointment today. Apparently it is possible to get a cavity in the root of your tooth beneath a crown. Who knew? And when that happens, the dentist has to break the old (also expensive, but not as expensive as now) crown, fix the tooth, and then make you a brand spanking new crown.

Did I mention expensive? Oh, okay then.

Terrible (& gratuitous) pic of my current project
Only, it didn't happen. Oh, it started to happen. I spent an hour and a half in the dentist's office and received three (count them, THREE) different shots of Novocaine. I couldn't feel my tongue or my throat by the end of it.

I could, however, feel that darn drill. Yup. Seems I have an auxiliary nerve on that side of my mouth that is hard to hit with the Novocaine. In fact, we had the same problem 10 years ago when he was working in that spot. I should have reminded him, I guess.

So we're trying again in 3 weeks. I can only assume that poor guy is going to give me 16 shots of Novocaine as soon as I walk in there and I won't be able to feel my face for 2 days. But I don't care - I just want to get this over with. I HATE DENTAL WORK.

Okay, I feel better now that I've whined about it. Anyone want to share their nightmare dental stories?

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Bush League

5 days, people - my closet has maintained a pristine state for 5 DAYS. This may be an all-time record for us. As you can see in that picture to the left (or right, I mix them up, and no, I would never be able to learn to drive in Great Britain), a few more outdoor toys have sneaked in (some jumpropes, bottles of bubbles); but they are all being neatly contained by that rectangular doo-hickey thingamabob that I picked up in IKEA at some point.

I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now, I'll tell you that. Add to that the fact that I actually went out and weeded the front yard and pulled out the ground cover that was threatening to choke some bush Larry planted there, and I'm practically a candidate for the Housekeeper of the Year Award.

Does that exist? I wouldn't know.

Rescued shrubbery
Today I get to wait around for Larry's kayak to be delivered. People, that man has been pining for one of these things for years; and he just managed to sell the rarely used canoe that he bought, oh, 17 years ago, so I'm certainly not going to be standing in the way of his dreams. Considering that we don't have a garage, however, I am not quite sure where I will stick this thing until he gets back from his business trip.

San Diego - the man is in San Diego for a week. And he didn't have to sleep sitting up on a train and eat granola bars for 4 days to get there, either.

Gratuitous photo of our spirea bush
Gosh, I wish I had a career.

ANYWAY, I get to sign for the kayak delivery. I also get to sign for Theo's personal goods shipment on Friday, because HE's off in Dublin, climbing the Cliffs of Moher or something before he heads off to the rest of Europe. He's definitely earned this trip, after 4 years in the Army; but that doesn't make me any less jealous, I must say. But, really, I'm too old to be staying in hostels all over the continent - I learned that in Seattle.

No, I'll just have to wait until we strike it rich and Larry retires and we can pay for a river cruise or however else it is that well-off senior citizens tour Europe. I mean, if Larry isn't off kayaking in Costa Rica or some such place.

I don't know why I picked Costa Rica. I know nothing about it, actually. Do people like to kayak there?

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

I hosted Bunko in May, and we had a graduation party; but that was 3 weeks ago, which means that the decor theme in my house at this point can best be described as bygone festive.

Nice look, right? They're almost Pinterest-worthy, in a macabre sort of way. But we also had Brian's birthday party way back in April, before I left for the train trip with Susie. That means a couple of slow-to-deflate Mylar balloons have been bobbing around the house for almost 2 months now. I'll tell you, you don't know terror until you are going downstairs in the dark and meet one of these things floating quietly up the stairwell toward you.

And then there are the garlands Susie put up (also for Brian's birthday). They took so much work, we were loath to take them down; and then there WAS the graduation party, and 2 weeks later there was Susie's birthday. So we've been able to rationalize having crepe paper streamers dangling from our living room ceiling, in full view of the front entrance, for (again) almost 2 months. And guess what? My birthday is in 17 days, so I'm guessing these aren't coming down any time soon.

Susie worked hard on these

And, uh, yeah, that snowman is still there.

But, hey, my hall closet continues to look pretty good. The bag of plastic bags that sneaked in there has mysteriously disappeared - I don't remember removing it and I can't find it. Maybe Larry is messing with me. I wouldn't put it past him.

Speaking of Larry, I came back from yoga class to find he had laid out 2 (2!) birthday cards on the kitchen table, waiting for family members to sign them. One was for the kids' Uncle Fred and the other was for David. You have to understand, Larry and I have been TERRIBLE at sending timely birthday and other greeting cards for the past, oh, 26 years. I mean, it happens late or (most times) it just doesn't happen. It's a family trait on his side, so no one gets too mad at us, but still - we're not proud of it.

So when I came home on Saturday and found these cards ready to be signed over a WEEK EARLY, I was stunned. "Hey, Larry," I said, when I saw him later. "That's amazing -  we're sending birthday cards to people on time. That's really great!"

He just looked at me.

"What?" I said. "I mean it - I never would have done it myself!"

"I bought those last year," he said, "and I forgot to send them."

Like I've said before, we're a match made in heaven.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Science - Not Just For Professionals Anymore

Today I learned that it is indeed possible to put too much horseradish on a sandwich. Yes, even with a generous amount of mayonnaise mixed in, the heaping dollop of horseradish that I smeared on both slices of bread was enough to temporarily disable my tastebuds. On the bright side, however, my sinuses appear to have been permanently cleared.

Look, we can't ALL be busy discovering the cure for cancer. No, some of us must toil away in anonymity, devoting our lives to the pursuit of everyday household science, for the benefit of our fellow man. Today it may be about the sinus-clearing properties of horseradish; but in the past I have researched the multiplicatory effect of refrigerators upon condiments held therein (and invented the word "multiplicatory"), the inevitability of spousal miscommunication re paint colors, the lifespan of zucchini prior to self-liquidation, and many other fascinating scientific questions.

Dammit, I deserve a Nobel.

That clean floor makes me tear up, I love it so.
In other news, it has been over 48 hours and my hall closet is still tidy. True, there are 3 winter coats floating around my bedroom in search of a home, but that is irrelevant. I have met the coat closet on the field of battle and I have triumphed.

Although, wait - to the left of the shoe holders, in that picture there - what's that I spy? Is it...CAN IT interloper? Why, yes, there hangs a plastic bag, waiting to receive, dare I say it, MORE plastic bags. And believe me, I wasn't the one who put it there.

You know, if this isn't proof that Larry doesn't bother to read my blog, I don't know what is.

So, a poll here (even though, yes, it's the weekend and probably no one will even see this): Where do you folks store your extra plastic bags (and front hall closet would be the WRONG ANSWER), and how do you keep them from taking over the house?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Spring Cleaning

Is there a patron saint for lentils?
I've been busy, busy, busy - but with less driving, yay! Turns out (you see, I forgot, duh) I currently have a licensed driver with HIS OWN CAR living in my house. So the other night, when Rachel texted me to pick her up from school at 5, and Brian was finishing up work at 5:15 during a torrential rainstorm that prevented him from walking home, Theo went out and got everyone, while I stayed home and made dinner.

Folks, that made all the difference. I felt better than I have in months, being able to focus on things I need to do at home, rather than running in and out of the house ALL THE TIME. I made TWO dinners, as a matter of fact - Skillet Lasagna (which, years ago, one of the kids affectionately dubbed Kill It! Lasagna as he stabbed at it with his fork, and yes, the name has stuck) and the miraculous lentil soup, which everyone liked AGAIN and believe me, this rivals the miracle of Fatima, in my book.

Unfortunately, Theo is leaving for a European hiking/Eurail vacation on Saturday, which is just the height of selfishness, in my opinion. Kids these days...

Probably should take them out of those pots...
Susie and I picked up some flowers from Home Depot to adorn our front porch and back deck, so the neighbors don't complain about our trailer trash ways. I haven't exactly planted them yet, but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, you know.

And, hooray, my bug boyfriend is coming this afternoon! We've had ants crawling out of a crack in the threshold between the kitchen and the front hall for almost a week. I keep squirting Windex down there to try to drown them, because I can't find a trail of them outside heading into the house.

This isn't my first ant rodeo, as you can tell. I'm hoping the bug guy can also do something about the weird, teeny-tiny bugs that are crawling around on the window sills between the inside window and the screen. Of course, this means I have to clean the entire upstairs so my bug boyfriend can go into all the bedrooms and deal with the windows there, too.

I mean, I've heard of cleaning up for the maid, but for the pest exterminator? Crazy, but true.

In fact, I also had to clean out the front hall closet, as it is right near where the ants are entering and I'm sure he'll look in there, too. And, once I tackled that, I realized there was a reason (aside from general laziness, which had been my working hypothesis) that everyone has been leaving their shoes on the foyer carpet and throwing their jackets on the stair railing. You see, the closet was so full of junk, they all just gave up on using it.

And, granted, I was still using the closet-organization system I devised when the kids were little (OMG, 14 YEARS AGO), with 3 baskets on the bottom for them to throw their cute little shoes in. This doesn't work so well when they are all size 8 and up, apparently.

Won't look like this for long, I assure you...
It was time for a change, is what I'm saying.

So I got rid of the baskets (that we had since my babies were little, sob) and replaced them with 2 hanging shoe holders. I swept a mound of dirt out of the closet. I discarded approximately gazillion pairs of old flip flops and sneakers. (Okay, more like 7, but it felt like gazillion.) I pulled all the winter coats out and put them upstairs in their respective owners' rooms. I got rid of the ugly hangers. And, most important of all, I took out the HUGE amount of plastic bags I was saving in that closet for I-don't-know-what reason.

Now, I am a person who has been making a serious effort to cut down on our use of plastic bags. In fact, it infuriates me that they are the default go-to in our supermarkets. It drives me crazy that their use isn't taxed to pay for their recycling/disposal. I HATE PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS.

But it appears I am a major part of the problem. Here, people, is what was in my closet.

Also? These:

Perched unintentionally ironically atop my compost bin...

Also? A whole bunch more in my car, theoretically on their way to the plastic-bag recycling bin at our local Harris Teeter. That's A LOT of plastic bags, people. Apparently, I'm not quite as eco-friendly as I would like to think.

But, hey, there's that compost bin, right?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

THANKS, US Concordia!

Whelp, looks as though Larry and I no longer have to argue over those rugs! It turns out, according to the friendly ladies at my dental practice, that my dental insurance is now a piece of crap. The company left the Dental Health Alliance last year (unbeknownst to us), because it wanted to decide for itself what the allowable charges for standard dental procedures should be. And then pay 40% of THAT, instead of 40% of what they actually cost.

The upshot being, my new crown and filling will cost me over $1400 out of pocket . My insurance company? It's shelling out a whopping $380.  That's 27%, folks. I feel so ripped off. And stupid.

So, yeah, new rugs for the family room will have to wait.

But no matter, there's no room for rugs in the family room right now, anyway. Theo came home from the Army last Wednesday, with all his stuff. Anna (our newly minted college graduate) has been delivering her things here daily, as her lease is up tomorrow. Remember this picture?

It was beautiful while it lasted.
It doesn't look like that anymore. Not even close. There are bikes parked in front of the fireplace, boxes and rubbermaid containers EVERYWHERE, and we have to climb over things to get to the couch and TV. In other words, we seem to be back to normal down there.


In other news, it keeps raining here. Normally, I would mind; but every day it rains is one more day I don't have to humiliate myself by wearing a bathing suit in public. So I'm sort of at peace with the inordinate amount of precipitation we've been receiving, is what I'm saying. Silver lining and all that...

Tomorrow I can share pictures of the flowers Susie helped me pick out for the front porch and the back deck. I can tell you about Brian's exploding light fixture and Susie's abominable table manners. Not tonight, though, because I have to get to sleep. Tomorrow is a driving day. And we all know how much I LOVE driving.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Okay, something pretty momentous happened in The More, The Messier household yesterday evening. For the first time in over 2 decades, I cooked a lentil dish that received - I kid you not - rave reviews. EVERYONE ate it. And today, for lunch? Unbidden, they ate the leftovers.

In other news, hell has indeed frozen over.

So there you go - anything can happen. This opens up worlds of possibility, doesn't it? Maybe this means that I WILL someday find my waist again. Maybe my children WILL, at some point in their lives, learn to turn off lights and shut doors. Perhaps, even, SOME DAY, Larry and I will manage to agree on area rugs for the newly renovated (hardwood floors!) basement family room.

Actually, that last one? No. No, we will not. Folks, after 26 years of marriage - 26 years of raising children, living together, learning to agree to disagree - we may have finally met our Waterloo.

You see, we need one of the rugs for what we call the fireplace room, which will have some blonde-wood bookcases against the walls, a reading chair or two, the white-brick fireplace, and a large central area left open -- for children to sit and play games on, etc. Hence, the requirement for some comfortable floor covering.

See? NEEDS RUG. Preferably a colorful one...
Now, I have envisioned our walk-out basement family room(s) as an airy, modern-looking space, designed for both TV watching and play. Brian (who actually cares about such things) has even weighed in on the style couch we will eventually (when we win the lottery) buy: a light-colored one with clean lines, modular and up-to-date (as opposed to the dark brown reclining behemoth I dragged home from a neighborhood yard sale a few years ago). We picked a striking color for the walls, to make the white brick hearth pop.

I had a plan, people. And all it would need for completion was a modern, low-pile area rug, with contemporary/geometric design and some color. I spent several hours online, finally spotting a number of reasonably priced possibilities on Wanting to achieve consensus, I put several of them on my wish list so Larry could weigh in on the decision.


And this, friends, is where it all fell apart. When I showed Larry what the kids and I had put on the list, he looked -- in a word -- disgusted. It wasn't just a "Oh, how about a different shade of color?" look. Rather, it was a look that almost screamed, "Who are you and how did you get into my house with your perverse home decorating ideas?" Seriously, he couldn't have appeared more put off had I showed him carpets screenprinted with naked Playboy bunnies.

So, yeah, this problem isn't going to be solved any time soon, I'm thinking...but, hey, I guess there's always hope. After all, he DID eat that lentil soup.


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