Friday, August 31, 2012

I Heart Modern Conveniences

Yes, I am now the proud owner of a working dryer.  But it was a tough road to get here, people; I won't lie to you about that.  A week of wandering around our neighborhood with wet baskets of laundry while my neighbors pretended not to be home (at least, that's what I assume); a canceled repair appointment yesterday, because the repairman was running late at his other jobs; and then, finally, this morning - 15 minutes late - he walked in my door (and into my heart).

Because I'm not just a one-serviceman type of gal, I guess...

Again, like last week, I sat upstairs listening to productive-sounding clangs and crashes.  This time, however, I spent the time plotting what to do should he tell me there was yet another part to be ordered.  I had just settled on the idea of holding the repairman hostage until it arrived, when he announced that he had indeed fixed the dryer.  He even invited me downstairs to check out how hot it was.

There's a joke there, but I'm not taking it.  I'm better than that.

It lives!
Excited, I ordered Rachel to move her wet clothes into the dryer, even as my rescuer was walking out the door.  And a good thing I did...

"Mommy! It's making a weird sound!"

"No, it's fine.  He just showed me that it works."

"No, it's weird!"

Darned if the kid wasn't right - the dryer was refusing to tumble.  Thoughts of a dryerless 3-day weekend reverberating through my panicked mind, I ran out to the parking lot, waving my arms at my former hero's departing car.  I have no dignity when it comes to laundry, apparently.  None.

Reader, that repairman is an honorable soul.  I know this, because he turned his car around and came back in the house. 

"Just a loose belt, ma'am," he reassured me, as I hovered nervously in the laundry room doorway, blocking any chance of egress on his part.  "Should be just fine now."

"Are you sure?" I asked, before I unlocked the front door to let him out.

"Yes, ma'am," he said, eyeing the exit a tad anxiously.  "Fixed her right up!"

And he had.  It works!  Don't you love happy endings?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nutrition Alert!

According to the Los Angeles Times, "The California maker of Red Vines issued a voluntary recall of its Black Licorice Twists this week after the state’s Department of Public Health warned of high levels of lead – more than double the amount deemed healthy for children."

WHO KNEW there was an amount of food-based lead actually "deemed healthy for children"?  I'll have to check my kids' gummy vitamins to make sure they are getting their RDA.

[Image credit: LA Times]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Unwonted Sentimentality

I swear, he looked JUST LIKE THIS.
You know how you turn around one day and realize that one of your little kids - no, not just one of your little kids, but the really cute smiley one who looked like a teddy bear when he was two, the one who sat on an armchair in the living room and looked at you nursing his new-ish baby sister and asked, "Mommy STILL holding baby?" in a wistful tone of voice...

That kid - that kid is 12.  Actually, he turned 12 over 4 months ago; but I just noticed.  Just noticed there will be no more little boy smiles coming from that direction, no more simple happiness emanating from his corner of the house.  Oh, he's a pleasant enough 12-year-old, Brian is; but he's growing up.  Changes are gonna happen.

And you would think I'd be used to this by now - this letting go of the little boy to welcome the young adult, right?  I mean, he's my 4th kid to reach this milestone, for heaven's sake.  But this one...this one is hitting me hard.  I love his smile.  I dread that the teen years might rob us of that.  I've seen enough teens (mine and those of my friends) not to have any illusions about what may lie ahead.

You know, up to now, all it took were hamburgers and legos to make Brian happy.  Also? Mayonnaise.  He could eat it with a spoon.  Life's been that simple.

NOW who's sounding wistful, eh?  Sheesh, I've got to shake this off.  Remember how, in the old cartoons, there was always a character running off the cliff and it just kept right on running, because he didn't know there was nothing whatsoever really holding him up?  He would never start falling until he looked down.

Well, parenting's like that.  Keep moving and - for heaven's sake - don't look down.

[Teddy bear image: CentralSquareFlorist]
[Wiley E Coyote image: The English Blog]

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dry Me A River

The repairman showed up bright and early on Thursday and spent a good 45 minutes making productive-sounding clanking and banging noises down in the utility room where my broken dryer resides.  Then I heard him coming up the stairs and saying, "Well, I'm done!"

"That's great!" I said, running for the nearest basket of wet laundry.

"Oh, it's not fixed yet," he said.

I'm thinking that repairmen need to be trained in their bedside manner, as it were.  For example, don't use the word "DONE" unless it's "FIXED."  Is that asking too much?

Next time, I'm buying an OLD one of these.
Turns out we need a new igniter.  Because, after all, the dryer is 5 years old already (or, to be fair, it is 12 years old in appliance years, due to the volume of laundry in this house).  12 years? 

You know, at my father's house (where we stopped on our way home from our vacation), I did our leftover camping laundry in the washer/dryer he and my mom bought while I was in high school, over 30 years ago. 

Yup, that washer/dryer set has lasted more than  3 decades.  Which is WAY LONGER than 12 years.  Trust me - I did the math on this one.

So for appliance manufacturers everywhere, I have only one question:  


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Al Gore Was Right

Okay, so all week I have had the chorus of "Mad About You" stuck in my head for no reason whatsoever.  In a desperate attempt to recall the rest of the song, I searched for it today on YouTube.  Because, really, I have nothing better to do.

Belinda Carlisle?  Of The Go-Go's?  Wasn't she the wild girl of rock-and-roll back in the 80's?

So I watched the video.  I mean, it was either that or do some housework - what would you have chosen?  Here it is, from a live performance in 1988.  Just take a quick look.

Do you see what she is wearing

Long-sleeved jacket?  

Leggings down below her knees?  

Boobs tucked safely inside her shirt? 

I swear, most women go to the office nowadays wearing less than that.  Tell me, did we all used to walk around so well-covered?  Has modesty truly fallen by the wayside over the intervening 25 years?

Or maybe modesty isn't the issue here at all.  Maybe this is just another indicator of climate change.  Yeah, that's it, that's why she isn't prancing around up there half-naked - it was colder back then.

So next time you see some young chick walking down the street in what appears to be nothing but her underwear, don't get all judge-y, okay?  Blame global warming instead.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Line Dry? Moi?

Okay, I imposed on a neighbor and resolved the wet laundry crisis.  But, judging from the comments yesterday, a number of you still labor under the unfortunate delusion that I am a dead ringer for Ma Ingalls.  Hang up the wet clothes?  Really?  Do I sound that domestically inclined to any of you, ever?  And have you any idea of the quantity of laundry we are talking about here?  And where would I hang it?

I'm not cut out for this lifestyle, people.

I mean, I suppose - in theory -  I could have strung a clothesline across my living room...

(with thumbtacks, maybe? See? I don't even know HOW)

...but having that mess in my face all day would probably have robbed me of the will to live.  And hanging them in the basement, as one commenter suggested, would only have resulted in my finding those ubiquitous centipedes clinging to the damp clothing the next morning.

Next thing I know, you'll be telling me I can manage just fine without flush toilets.

Anyway, on the bright side, I remembered to renew our appliance protection plan when it expired last June.  So the dryer repairman is scheduled to show up on Thursday, and it shouldn't cost me any (more) money.  I hope.  Plus, the dryer is located in our mess of a utility room.  I can't wait to tell Larry he needs to neaten it up so that the repairman can do his thing.  Not exactly one of his favorite ways to unwind after work, I'm sure...

[Clothesline image: Old Picture of the Day]

Monday, August 20, 2012

Et Tu, Dryer?

I'm thinking it is SO WRONG that my dryer should stop working only 2 days after my return from our family camping trip.  SO WRONG.  Heaven forbid I enjoy the luxuries of civilization for more than 48 hours...

Betrayal - thy name is LG
So now I have 2 large wet loads of laundry that are going to stink by tomorrow, and more loads piled up waiting to be washed.  And, no, I can't hang them up to dry.  We live in the climatological equivalent of the Amazon around here - it's either raining or it's so humid (how humid is it?) you practically drown when you inhale.

And if I did manage to hang them up outside?  They would just get covered by bugs or fall in the dirt.  Or both. You know, if I wanted to play pioneer woman, I could have just gone on living in our pop-up camper in central New York.  At least we didn't have mosquitoes up there.

Look, I'm angry.  I rage against my dryer-less fate.  Next will come the bargaining - dear Lord, break the stove, break the dishwasher, but give me back my clothes dryer.  Haven't I suffered enough?

What DO I do with 2 loads of wet laundry at 11:30 at night?  Anyone?

[Dryer image: ProductWiki]

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thoughts On Camping

Crocheting by the light of a campfire might not be a good idea.  Unless, that is, you don't mind that the top half of your handcrafted market bag will be inside out...


It might sound pretty to hear the rain drumming rhythmically on the roof of your tent trailer EVERY SINGLE NIGHT; but it sure does make for some muddy mornings.  In my opinion, drought conditions are underrated.


At some point during an 8-day family camping trip, you might get the urge to sit alone in the car and eat a vanilla sandwich cookie (or two).  Go with that feeling.  You've earned it.


Apparently, New York State does not have any insect population to speak of.  In 8 days of living in the great outdoors, I received one (count it, ONE) mosquito bite.  Meanwhile, back at home, I will be drained of blood by myriad biting insects merely by having the temerity to stand on my front stoop for 5 minutes. 

In other words, I'm moving.


Be still, my heart!

At Glimmerglass State Park campground (our second stop), there can be found the Holy Grail of camping.  That's right - CLEAN BATHROOMS.  I could have wept with joy.


You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl.  I'll have you know that I was NOT the only woman using a hair iron in the campground bathroom.


Want to feel like Rip Van Winkle? Or, say, George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life - that scene where he is running madly through Pottersville, searching desperately for the town he knows and loves?  Take your kids to visit your alma mater, a place you haven't seen in 25 years.  Everything will be weirdly familiar, yet completely different -- particularly that middle-aged self you are dragging up the steep hills on campus.

A quarter of a century is a long time, folks - a very long time...

 [Cookie image: The Mommy-Files]
[George Bailey: treehugger]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gone Campin' (Still)

Still gone camping.  Back soon.  Feel free to pray for me - there is only so much nature one woman can take.  Also, does it really need to rain EVERY night?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Scene: 2 nights pre-vacation, Larry accosts me, worry etched on his face.

Look, honey, we're planning a FAMILY trip.

Oh, really?  I guess that would explain why I'm packing for 7 people then.

I saw what you were Googling earlier.  Do you think that's fair to us?  What about me?  Our marriage?

I don't know what you are talking about!

Denial - that's a dangerous sign.  Look, right here in the search history...

Hardly a den of iniquity...
"Ithaca Yarn Stores"?

Yes!  Is that necessary?  I thought you had quit.


Yes, the sneaking around, the nights yarn-crawling, all that...

I'm NOT that bad.

Oh, yeah?  What about our vacation in Acadia?  What then?

Look, your sister Kate and I were just taking a walk.  We didn't know there was a local yarn shop right down the street.  Or that Bar Harbor had a nifty fabric store....

That's what I mean!  You're just enabling each other.

No!  We were on vacation!  We were just looking!

Every time she comes to stay here, it's a craft orgy, just admit it.  And in front of the kids!

[Hmmm, he has a point there...]

I don't think you should be spending our vacation searching for your next hit of yarn fumes, is all.  And what is this mess here?

I'm packing!

Packing?  You're surrounded by your entire yarn stash and about 30 different sets of needles and...and...what ARE these things, anyway?

Crochet hooks - and I NEED them!  What am I supposed to do while we are camping?  Stare into the woods?  Watch you burn dinner on the campstove?  For heaven's sake, Larry, there's only so much nature one city girl can take.

Larry walks away, shaking his head and mumbling something about Yarn-Anon.  Exeunt.

[Yarn store image: Knitting Etc.]

Monday, August 06, 2012

Crowd Control

After spending 2 hours on Tuesday waiting in line for Obama rally tickets, and then another 5 hours waiting in various lines at the actual rally on Thursday, I found myself on Sunday suffering from what could only have been some variant of queue-ing withdrawal.  I mean, here it was, another 95-degree day (and really, can someone up there just QUIT IT with this weather, already?) and I was lounging around in the comfort of my air-conditioned home.  It just didn't feel right.

Lego rendering of Rivendell
So, instead, I agreed to take Brian to BrickFair, a Lego fan festival that is held once a year in our area.  People, this is a very big event.  VERY BIG.  I managed to park, and then -- with Brian and our neighbor's daughter in tow -- I headed for what looked like the end of the entrance line.  It stretched across the front of the large convention center and several small shops.  It turned a corner.  We walked for what felt like approximately 5 miles (remember - HOT SUN) and the line turned a second corner.  Looking ahead, we could see - far off in the distance - it turning a third corner.

That's right.  It would have been faster for us to head for the actual entrance and walk in the wrong direction to reach the end of the line.

Dog won 1st place for sculpture - these people are hard core lego-ists
We made it inside eventually, whereupon I staggered to an available table in the food court after giving the kids explicit instructions not to leave the building, even if a nice man came up and offered to give them free Legos if they would just come to his car to get them.  Because, really, all these 30-40 year-old men who are still very much into Legos?  Some of them creep me out.

I set up shop with my computer, surrounded by people eating overpriced pretzels and lousy pizza; but I couldn't get much work done, seeing as how the food court was right next to the Lego Bingo area.

No, I had never heard of Lego Bingo before either.  But now I can tell you, it does exist.  And it is LOUD.

So, instead of working, I went and mingled with the crowds.  Have I ever mentioned how I HATE crowds?  Yet here I was, for the second time in less than a week, engulfed in throngs of people, both times of my own volition.  I would like to say that it became somewhat of a religious experience, a road to Damascus moment in which I was suddenly overcome with a love for teeming humanity and a predilection for congregating amidst the multitudes.  I would like to say that, but I can't.  Because it didn't.

Too many people.  Way too many...

I still hate crowds.

[Rivendell: Cool and Collected]
[Dog: WJLA]
[Crowd: Washington Times]

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Secret Agent Man

It's taken me 2 full days to recover from my adventure at the Obama "grassroots event" on Thursday.  Having had no idea what to expect, I ended up dehydrated, exhausted, and generally useless all day Friday.  Herewith is my hard-won knowledge on how to survive a campaign rally:

1. Bring water.  Lots of water.  Enough to pour on your head repeatedly as you wait in the 95-degree heat for the shuttle bus that will take you to the rally location.

2. You know those 2 sets of crutches in your utility room, left over from various kid accidents?  Bring them along - they can dramatically shorten your wait time for the above-mentioned shuttle bus.  (No, I didn't - but I wish I had.)

3. Bring more water, enough to pour down your back repeatedly as you wait in the 95-degree heat for another hour in order to go through the security line.  Chat with fellow waitees and try not to think about how politics makes for strange bedfellows.  Very strange bedfellows...

4. While waiting, resist the urge to loudly espouse a political stance contrary to that held by all the other people in line.  This can be fun, but dangerous.

5. Once inside the rally area, grab a place by the railings that were set up to pen you in.  You can stand on them to get a better view (that is, whenever Miss Nazi Campaign Organizer isn't around to tell you to GET OFF THE RAILINGS).

Just add a pair of shades and a slightly disheveled look
6. While away the next hour and a half before the speaker arrives by checking out that Secret Service agent assigned to your sector. Make sure to marvel at how he is a dead ringer for Robert De Niro (the sexy, middle-aged version).

7. Argue with teen son over who exactly forgot the camera.  Don't admit you are extra pissed off because you want a picture of Raging Bull over there.

8. Have I mentioned how devastatingly sexy the Secret Service guy was?  Oh, yes, I guess I have.  Moving on, then...

9. While waiting another hour to get a ride back on the shuttle bus, try not to think about how much the babysitter is costing you.  After all, can you really put a price on free speech and participation in the political process?

10. 40 dollars, actually - and a lot of bottled water...

[Crutches image: bhulbhulaiyan]

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Who's The Boss?

Ooh, guess who acted all spontaneous and carefree and ditched her kids just to stand in line for 2 HOURS last night for some awesome free tickets?

 That would be me.  I might not have had the discipline to wait long enough to snag those Bruce Springsteen tickets I wanted back in 1984; but it seems that age possesses the persistence that youth, for all its spontaneity, might lack.  So take THAT, my 21-year-old self!

Although, given a choice, I might still have preferred tickets to Springsteen.

[Bruce image:]