Friday, July 26, 2019

My Brain Is Fried, How's Yours?

Um, hi? Anyone still here?

Oh, what the heck, I can just talk to myself - no reason not to.

People, working with words 40 hours a week is exhausting. Oh, not steelworker or coal miner exhausting, but mentally - just wow. Each evening I'd think about sitting down and writing something here, and I just could not work up the energy. My brain, it is tapped out.

But, hey, new neural synapses are forming, I'm sure, so I guess neglecting my blog to stave off Alzheimers is a good trade, no?

Or maybe not. I love this place of mine on the Internet: not crowded, sort of cozy, and full of memories that I wouldn't have retained otherwise. I'm not ready to leave it just yet, even if my brain feels as though it is short-circuiting and giving off smoke by the end of the day.

Let's have some cookies while we catch up, shall we?
So, a quick sort of review here:

1. I've finally gotten to the place where I don't feel as though I have a gaping hole in my gum anymore. Yippee! It's more of a shallow depression now, which I can definitely live with.

2. I had a birthday! One a year, whether I need it or not, that's my motto. I turned 56, which is definitely the downhill side toward 60, but that makes no sense, because I'm not a day over, oh, I don't know...48? I'd feel younger, but I still have 3 teenagers. They make sure to keep reminding me what a dinosaur I am.

On the bright side, though, they'll fix anything I ask them to on the computer or on my phone, just so they don't have to watch me struggle to figure things out myself. I guess it hurts their little Gen X'er sensibilities to see me shaking my phone like an Etch-a-Sketch. Or smacking the printer to make it work.

Birthday Blueberry Buckle - when you're too old for candles

3. In the past month or so, I've had 3 (count them, 3!) flat tires. The second time, I was picking up Brian at the train station when I noticed my steering was wonky. It was 2 days before our beach trip, so I spent the whole way back to the house wrestling the steering wheel and wondering if I could get the car fixed before we headed off on vacation. Hmm, I thought, it must be the power steering, or maybe the steering column assembly...

I like how listening to Car Talk for 20 years makes me think I can diagnose cars.

So I finally got home and realized that it was just a flat tire, which was really good news after calculating a $600 car repair, right? But picture Larry, sitting at home happily ignorant of any car trouble, until his wife (that would be me) comes sailing into the house announcing gleefully, "I have another flat tire! Isn't that great?!"

Trust me, the look on his face was priceless.

4. We've had a big change in our family since last we talked. Those of you (any of you?) who remember that eventful day when we finally bought ourselves a working toaster may even feel a little wistful to learn that it has gone to that big appliance store in the sky. You see, lately, every time we toasted something, a smell of burning plastic would permeate the house, so we figured it was time to bid farewell to the gadget that won my children's hearts on that trip to Kohls, 10 seemingly short years ago.

Yeah, I cried a little, I'll admit it. And this time, shopping for a toaster was different, more mundane - I didn't have 4 kids, aged 12 and under, in the store with me, excitedly checking out all the bells and whistles on the toasters and essentially acting as though I were buying them a puppy. No, this time I merely looked up some models online and then went with Rachel to Best Buy, where she used my debit card and her employee discount to pick up a beautiful - but somehow less meaningful - toasting appliance.

New family member - cute, but no real relationship yet

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, is what I'm saying.


4. I'm exhausted. Words cannot express how tired I am of deciding where to put commas. Maybe I'll just ban commas from this blog. I'm the captain now.

5. There was a beach trip. We ate ice cream and pie and went to the beach every day and I didn't get into a car for an entire week. It was glorious. Except I took my computer and worked quite a bit while I was there, because I need to save up some leave for later this year. That part wasn't fun, but I made up for it by eating more pie.

Have I mentioned the pie?

Here, have a picture of a sunset over the bay - it's free:



Oh, and Susie and I found the mother lode of all the cutesy beach house signs! For the record, the house we stayed in this year instructed us to Find Joy in the Journey and to Bee Yourself. 



Apparently, every beach house is required to have at least 3 of these, at least in NJ, anyway. Maybe it's an idiosyncrasy of that particular state, like not being allowed to pump your own gas.

So much more to share, but I'm typed out...g'night, all!

Monday, June 10, 2019

I Heart Anesthesia

So, when last we talked, our deck was finally respectable-looking, Susie's birthday was duly celebrated, and my impacted wisdom tooth was hurting. Cliffhanger!

I went to the oral surgeon (whimper) that week and he said, "I can pull that out Thursday." I started to ask a bunch of questions and he said, "You'll be out. Totally out. Don't worry."

I like that guy.

But, me being me, I still started to panic when they put me in the chair on that Thursday morning and wrapped a blood pressure cuff on my arm and a thingamajig in my mouth to prop it open and the doctor stuck an IV tube thingy in my other arm - like, tears starting to roll down the sides of my face panicked. And I was thinking, Why isn't anyone trying to reassure me?

Because I was out cold the next second, that's why. Next thing I knew I was awake, with no tooth, and positively giddy with happiness that I had not needed to be conscious for ANY of that. And I am NEVER, EVER, EVER having any extensive dental work done while I am awake, ever again.

Of course, then I spent the next week absolutely convinced I was developing dry socket, and called the doctor's office twice, but they told me to wait until my one-week appointment, where the doctor told me everything was fine, and good-bye, no need to come in again.

BUT, I'm squeamish. And no one told me there would literally be a hole in my bottom gum for, well, going on 10 days now. (Yes, maybe I should have been able to figure that out, but I didn't, okay?) And I've spent the last 10 days feeling utterly grossed out and pretty much screaming inside at the thought of the HOLE IN MY GUM.

I don't deal well with medical things, is what I'm saying.

In other news, Susie was utterly inspired by our newly respectable-looking deck - so inspired, in fact, that she went out there and planted all the little tomato plants that I had bought at the Farmer's Market and then just dumped on top of the planters, because I had that tooth thing going on; and she planted one of the planters with parsley and cilantro and green onions, so now we have a cute little herb garden happening; and she planted the marigolds (that - like the tomato plants - had been abandoned by moi) in the boxes that hang on the deck railing.

She also made us go to Home Depot (me clutching the side of my newly operated-on mouth) for more window boxes for the front railings and for the flowers to plant in them. While we were there, Susie insisted on buying nice-looking tomato cages (to replace our old ones) and plant props (don't know what to call them), in bright colors, and I did as she wanted, because heck, she's in charge of all things gardening now, I guess.




Brian came home from school and saw our pretty blue tomato cages and said, "Oh, I see you got rid of the tetanus specials?" So, yeah, I guess it was time.

We also went strawberry picking, 5 days into my recovery, so even though I may be a hypochondriac, I am not of the languishing variety. I am a very active sufferer, thank you very much.

Thanks to my blog post from last year, I knew that we only needed one flat of strawberries to make 2 batches of jam (with berries left over). After exercising an enormous amount of restraint and not picking 2 flats worth, we came home, and I worked at my editing job for 3 hours, and then I made gazillion jars of jam, all while still doped up on massive amounts of ibuprofen, and do I have any pictures of that Herculean effort? No, I do not.

My only evidence that I went strawberry picking

But at least I didn't have an entire extra flat of strawberries to deal with. See, this is what blogs are good for, Larry.  You don't have to deal with a strung-out, weeping wife at 10 PM, crying over rapidly rotting fruit. At least, not more than once...








Monday, May 27, 2019

Time Keeps On Slippin'...

It's a long, holiday-less stretch between President's Day in February and Memorial Day at the end of May! And it seems even longer if you happen to be a person (meaning, uh, me) not used to working a paid job 40 hours a week. I sort of staggered into the homestretch, as it were, on Friday, thinking that maybe I'm not cut out for this sort of thing, after all. But then a friend who has always had a paid full-time job said everyone pretty much feels like that by Memorial Day, so maybe I'm not lazy, just normal.

Oh, these three days have been glorious! Busy, but glorious. Susie (she of the missing arm and the magnificent public tantrums) turned 14 on Saturday, which is nothing short of ridiculous. ABSURD.

Still, no matter how old she gets, she'll always be the baby of the family. Theo walked into the house on Saturday, saw the 2 (count them, TWO) bundt cakes on the counter, and said, "None of us ever got 2 cakes for our birthday!"

Ignore the gross pan underneath it. IGNORE IT, I say...
Yup. He's right. But the lemon bundt cake Susie made came out smaller than expected, and I had invited some neighbors over, so I made a chocolate bundt cake to go with it, along with a vat of potato salad. Theo played grillmaster and did the chicken and burgers, so that just left me with cutting up the watermelon and cleaning the ENTIRE HOUSE. Larry had the honor of cleaning up the back deck, which he transformed from its standard trailer trash vibe to an aura of suburban respectability in under 2 hours. I was impressed.

Naturally, Susie got some gifts:

No gummi bears this year....

And now, for Theo's edification, I'd like to point out that there is a downside to being the youngest child. You may indeed get two cakes, but you also get two (and only two) pictures of your birthday party. Yup, folks, those 2 images are all I have in my possession to document my baby turning 14. And I only realized that fact as I was looking for photos for this blog post. No pictures of her presents, no pictures of her pretty face, no pictures of the chocolate bundt cake or of all the guests that we had over that day. NOTHING.

So you'll have to take my word for it that the party was a success. And we still have food left over, which made the rest of the weekend feel particularly holiday-like. For me, anyway...

The neighbor we invited over is in the middle of moving house, so she held a pottery sale this weekend (she is an excellent potter). But first she let Susie pick out a mug, which is the loveliest thing ever, and I am coveting it:




And she gave me the most cunning little sugar bowl she made herself, because Larry (along with a few other neighbors) pretty much risked his life this weekend helping move the heaviest bookcase in the world from their house to the house of another neighbor who wanted it. Seriously, people, it took 4 guys to do it, and even then we weren't sure it wouldn't fall on one of them and kill him. Extreme neighborliness is a sport around here, I guess.


My photography skills do not do this justice
Larry and I pretty much spent Sunday napping, because apparently we can't handle excitement anymore. Also, the impacted wisdom tooth the dentist told me last January I had to do something about? It finally started acting up (seriously, smack in the middle of the party), so I was sort of doped up on painkillers Sunday. NOT FUN. Between naps, I did manage to go through two drawers of my knitting dresser and get rid of a bunch of stuff, inspired as I was by watching my neighbors try to pack up their home of 30 years.

Wait, did I say inspired? I meant, terrified. TERRIFIED that I was watching a picture of Larry and myself 10 years from now, when we'll be wading through mounds of yarn and knitting paraphernalia and emptying a closet full of camping equipment, with all 6 of our kids asking, "Why do you have all this stuff?"

Our neighbors look pretty tired and overwhelmed, is what I'm saying.

Today we were more energetic, with Larry going kayaking with Theo and me taking Rachel and Susie to the mall so Rachel could pick out eyeglass frames and look for shorts, which believe me are two very time-consuming endeavors. Time-consuming, as in I managed to get 2 miles worth of steps in the mall while the two of them tried on clothes at American Eagle. Rachel was ready to hit a few more stores, but unfortunately she's stuck with an older, doped-up mom with dental problems who just couldn't take anymore, so we went home.

And then I went knitting with my friends, because hey, it's my day off from work. My HOLIDAY day. Which means (and seriously, this just occurred to me) I was paid for all that - the mall, and the walking, and the knitting. Which is sort of cool, you know?

Now I just have to make it to July 4th.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Few More Things Before I Disappear Again

So a long time ago I imagined myself a gardener, which didn't work out so well. But I never totally gave up, settling for 6 or 7 planting containers on our back deck. Mostly, at this point, I buy a bunch of basil and tomato plants at the local farmers market, and I plop them into those pots on the deck and water them when I remember.

Easy, right?

Only, no. You'd THINK it was easy, but it turns out that even if the dirt is contained in a pot, you still have to weed it and dig through it and add compost and I don't know what all. In short, if it is 87 degrees and 1050% humidity, it's JUST AS MISERABLE to be planting things in a container garden on your deck as it would be in a regular garden.

Harder than it looks

Just thought I'd let you all know that before you run out to Home Depot and buy yourselves a bunch of pots and a few bags of dirt. You're welcome.

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While I was working at the yoga center this morning, Larry went outside and heroically dug up all the nettle plants that have mysteriously appeared in our front yard. He also attacked the remnants of the weird-smelling, variegated ivy that keeps showing up and trying to take over. Brian pulled up most of the ivy last week as a Mother's Day present, but every time we look outside, there's more.

Plants are scary.

All this to say, Larry and I seriously discussed getting rid of all the vegetation and just putting in a stone patio already. Please note, we live in a townhouse, with a townhouse-sized yard. We shouldn't be having a problem staying on top of yard maintenance, is what I'm saying. But the truth is, we CAN'T HANDLE the plants.

*****************

The CDC never showed up to deal with things, so today I cleaned out my fridge. It was pretty much as bad as you can imagine. No, worse, actually. Who knew tortillas could expire? And we just won't talk about the condiment situation, all right? Suffice it to say that ChikFilA polynesian sauce doesn't keep as well as you think it might.

I ended up with an empty shelf. This is a new experience for me.

WEIRD

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Lot Happens In A Month, You Know?

Hi! I'm still employed, which makes me a tad busier than I used to be, so when a friend of mine raved about how her Roomba does all the vacuuming for her, my ears perked up, as it were. I mean, short of a live-in housekeeper, that sounds like the next best thing, right? She sent me her model number, and hey, Rachel has an employee discount at Best Buy...

Have I even told you folks that Rachel (she of the decapitated-stuffed-animal obsession) works at our local Best Buy now? Being a very confident and take-charge sort of person, she does an excellent job there, if I do say so myself. Only, at least once a shift, a customer asks if she is Australian.

No, we don't know why.

Where was I? Oh, yes, Roomba. So I let Larry know that I want a Roomba, thinking he'd be on board with anything that would keep the house cleaner than I've been keeping it the last few months.

Because I have a job now. Have I mentioned that?

"Did you see the link I sent you?" I asked Larry, as we walked to a local pizza place that evening, because I don't cook anymore.

"What? No," he said.

"The Roomba! I sent you a link to one at Best Buy and..."

I saw him starting to shake his head.

"What's wrong with a Roomba?" I asked. "I mean, it's a little expensive, but..."

"It maps the whole house and sends data back to the company, " Larry said, with his technology-is-evil frown on his face.

Sigh. Considering Larry's reaction to his Father's Day gift two years ago, I'm thinking I'm not going to win this one.

************

In other news, I made the kids go with me and Larry on Mother's Day to see The Diary of Anne Frank performed by a local theater group. Because what better way to celebrate your mom than going to see a play where almost everyone ends up murdered by the Nazis?

We Jews know how to enjoy ourselves, is what I'm saying.

Before that, at the beginning of May, Larry and Susie and Brian and I went to Alabama for David's college graduation. That's right - the kid who spent his childhood building rocket ships out of empty oatmeal containers and flying kites he made out of fishing line and plastic grocery sacks is now an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist.

An employed rocket scientist, no less...

We left Rachel at a friend's house, because she couldn't afford to miss that much school, and then she came down with a really bad cold and missed school anyway. So, just for the record, she gets sick for all her brothers' graduations. And we were secretly relieved that this time around, she wasn't breathing her germs all over us in the car for 11 hours.

Stopped at Sonic, because we were in the South and that's how you do

Happily, we managed to stay in hotels the whole trip (no risking a camping fiasco again!) without a repeat of the incident from Theo's graduation in 2013, when Larry and I were woken out of a sound sleep at 2 AM by a knock on our motel door (which opened directly to the parking lot). Larry leapt up with alarm and peered through the peephole, only to see a very confused-looking Brian standing OUTSIDE.

Really, staying at a motel next to a busy highway is not the optimal time to discover that one of your kids walks in his sleep.

So, yeah, no sleepwalking, no kid with croup - it was almost the way a family trip is supposed to be. You know, fun? And not terrifying? I could get used to that.