Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's Happening

No decision made on the stupid stove.  I talked to a repairman over the phone, so I know that it will cost me about $200-$400 to fix it.  Maybe it makes more sense to buy a cheap new one?  Or maybe buy a used one from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore?  All I can say is, cooking over an open fire is looking better and better to me.

Anna is staying with us for 2 weeks, as she is between leases.  I hope the poor girl can stand it - we've already made her watch 2 Dr. Who episodes with us.  Can you believe my Anna is 20?  You remember, she used to be the teen girl who inspired this post (among others).  Now she is a responsible young adult who works full time and lives on her own (with friends, of course).  And Theo is off being a soldier, living in his own place and driving his own car and doing grown-up things like contributing to his retirement account. It seems like just yesterday I was waxing maudlin over his departure for college. Where did all that time go?

I think we need a little of this right now:

Man, that song gets me every time.

I had a falling down with an open bag of jelly beans I found in the vitamin cabinet today.  No, I don't know WHY they were in the vitamin cabinet.  Maybe they're healthy after all?

I'd like to say that it has been raining cats and dogs around here for 2 days, but that doesn't even come close to describing the situation.  It's been raining tigers and wolves, maybe?  There is a LOT of water out there - our back patio is completely pooled over, and the mattress that Anna has parked against the guest bedroom wall in the basement (see above re between leases) may be all that stands between her and the encroaching waters tonight.

But, hey, at least we aren't visiting our friends in Pensacola...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Was it only three years ago that I penned (oh, okay, typed) this joyful screed? You know, my announcement of our new (well, new to us) electric range, one with 4 working burners and a double oven? The one we found on Craigslist, after many aborted trips to appliance stores?

It had such promise.
Well, like all my appliance infatuations, this one was doomed to failure.  What we have now is a range with exactly zero burners that produce a proper simmer and one burner that only works when it darn well feels like it; PLUS the bottom oven (the large one, the only one that will fit something higher than a pan of muffins or a lasagna, say) keeps turning itself off.  OFF.

It's always been a tad temperamental in this manner, and we became accustomed to listening for the double beep indicating that the oven thinks it's quitting time.  We even developed a protocol to deal with the problem - just wait 5 minutes and then turn it on again. Oh, it got a little dice-y on Thanksgiving, what with jumping up every 15 minutes or so to coax the oven to work just a little longer, but it still beat chopping our own wood to heat an old-fashioned cookstove, right?  And it definitely beat endangering my marriage by attempting to purchase a new range.

 But now? Now, it won't stay on at all.  Which means only one thing - Larry and I need to head to Best Buy.  Together. Pray for us.

And feel free to use the comments to recommend any stove you have actually been happy with...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Like A Big Brass Band

Today was Susie's 1st Communion. Today was ALSO Youth Fun Day at our credit union, complete with balloon animals, a bounce house, and - most important of all - the money vault, a cage-like blow-up contraption that has air blown into it which makes a bunch of fake money fly around. Each child gets a turn to grab at flying pieces of paper, and he/she wins whatever amount he/she is clutching in his/her greedy little hands at the end of 15 seconds.

Naturally, Susie was upset at the prospect of her 1st Communion taking away her chance in the money-grabbing contraption. So I agreed to take her to the credit union at 9 AM sharp, where she would be able to indulge in money-grabbing fun before having to head to church to receive an important sacrament. Because that's my job, teaching my kids priorities.

Come on, people - there was a MONEY VAULT.

So Susie "earned" 6 dollars in the money vault, and I entered all sorts of drawings for real cash prizes. AND there was free food and other giveaways. I call that a win-win, don't you?

Susie and I returned home with our swag in time for her to get dressed, and then our family headed to the church, where the boys and girls looked killer-cute in their blue blazers and white dresses. And all would have gone smoothly had our church possessed real wooden pews, instead of metal chairs.  As it was,  while the girls sat primly still, intent on keeping their veils and assorted other white hairpieces in place on their heads, those poor CCD teachers had their hands full, trying to silence the squirming mass of 7-year-old boys beating a random and noisy tattoo upon the chairs in front of them with their brass sleeve buttons.

You know, I bet they wouldn't have been so restless had they expended some of that energy in the money vault first.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Apropos Of Nothing

Romantic, right?
There's an Italian restaurant (bistro, really - we can only afford places where you order at the counter) that Larry and I like to frequent, dating fools that we are; the only problem is, one of the busboys (busman, really) always notices Larry's military-style haircut and comes over and thanks him for his service.

EVERY TIME, he does this.

I know he means well, but it gets old. Especially considering that, while we are glad to have served, our primary motivation for enlisting in the armed services was anything but altruistic. We needed jobs, people. It was that simple.

So, whenever we go to this place, we sit at our table sharing our Italian house salad and our cheesy garlic bread while muttering, "There he is.  Don't make eye contact. Gah, he's coming over here. DON'T LOOK."

One evening last year, I was out walking; and I saw this same guy drive into my neighborhood and get out of his car and all I could think was "Oh, Lord, he's stalking us to thank us for our service."  Turns out, the poor guy was merely delivering a pizza to our next-door neighbors.  But I hid behind some bushes anyway, so he wouldn't discover where we live.

I just felt like sharing that.  You're welcome.

[Italian table image: ifoodtv]

Monday, April 21, 2014


So, I did this today:


I went through my plastics cabinet and matched up all the containers and lids, and these are the leftovers.  After I snapped this photo, I threw them out.  I think President Obama could get a budget deal through Congress and not feel as satisfied as I do, looking at this picture. Because now I have room in the plastics cabinet for the 3 stacking cooling racks I bought on a whim last December.  For the past 4 months, they've been wandering around the kitchen, looking for a home, and today? They found one.

I love happy endings.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sugar Improves With Age, Right?

Last night, once the girls were in bed, I pulled out the plastic Easter eggs I had thriftily saved from last year (a first!) so I could fill them with jelly beans and hide them around the living room.  Only, I couldn't find the jelly beans I bought earlier this month. One bag from CVS (oh, all right, there were 2 bags from CVS, but one sort of, uh, got empty) and another bag from Harris Teeter ( to replace the mysteriously empty CVS bag) - both gone missing, on Easter Eve.

Luckily (or not, depending on how you look at it), I found 2 old bags of jelly beans I had bought at a post-Easter sale last year, as insurance against a rainy day.  (What? You don't let your kids play "Easter Egg Hunt" when they are bored and you need a break?)  Feeling desperate, I ended up using the year-old candy, even though the insides of the bags were sorta glued together with decomposing sugar.


Anywhoo, the point I am trying to make here is that the lost holiday stuff ALWAYS shows up once I no longer need it. It's almost a family tradition, really. So tonight, as I was tidying up the kitchen (because, yes, sometimes I DO do a little housework around here), I found both new bags of jelly beans, each hiding in a different kitchen cabinet, and each totally useless until next spring. When I will use them to replace the 2015 jelly beans that go missing, I guess...

Like I said, I'm big on tradition.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Animal House

As mentioned here before, I am not a pet person. I certainly don't hate animals, but I don't feel any special connection with them, either. Over the years I have, of course, received periodic requests to lift the no-pets rule in this house, and the answer has always been NO.

NO PETS. No getting up in the middle of the night with a sick animal, no cleaning up dog vomit, no sky-high vet bills to make us cancel our summer vacation.  I read your blogs and Facebook, people - I see what you go through. And, yes, I do those sorts of things for my kids, no problem - but I just won't do it for a dog or a cat or a bunny. I don't have it in me.

This scares me
Which makes it all the more strange that I found myself in a vet's office today with a weepy Rachel and a sick rabbit, a creature that she had happily agreed to pet sit for while our neighbors were away.  Neighbors I was unable to reach by phone in order to ask what to do with a bunny who wasn't sitting up or eating. Neighbors who, I am afraid to say, now have a hefty vet bill that I ran up for them.

Who knew that sick rabbits needed X-rays? Not me. Not until today, at least...

So now that rabbit (who is looking much perkier after his price-y saline injections) is IN MY PET-FREE HOUSE, because we are supposed to keep a close eye on him. And he has medicines I have to give him twice a day. Twice! Which can be tricky when I can't even find his mouth.

You know, David had pneumonia when he was four years old, and he only needed one type of medicine. This rabbit has three bunny-sized prescriptions that I have to dole out. THREE.

I hope you weren't expecting this story to end with my experiencing some sort of animal-loving epiphany. Like I said, I don't have it in me. Plus, my eyes itch. And my den smells like a barn because of the big bag of hay we brought in with the rabbit. And I may be developing psychosomatic asthma.

But Rachel is happy. Which makes up for the overwhelming feelings of incompetence I am experiencing as I look at this bunny and exhort him to eat his hay and drink his water and STAY ALIVE, PLEASE, until his people come home.

Maybe I should send them a postcard saying, "Wish you were here"?

[Bunny image: Grit]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baby, You're As Cold As Ice

I know, I know, this recent cold snap has been disturbing for everyone, but don't worry - I've fixed it.  You see, an entire month ago our gas fireplaces both went out, simultaneously.  Larry and I, with our laser-sharp rocket scientist brains, determined that it was not just a cosmic coincidence and that we needed to call a repairman.  And even if we hadn't figured that out, well, our incompetence at lighting pilot lights would have made a repair call necessary, anyway, right?

You don't know what you've got til it's gone
So! All this occurred in the middle of Mulch Madness and the water heater breakdown and, let's face it, it was mid-March, so we felt no real urgency to fix the things.  I mean, it gets WARM around here in mid-March.  In the end, Larry said he would look for the repair guy's number but never did.

Our fireplaces remained cold and dead.

And it snowed.  A freak snowstorm in mid-March.  Who knew?  And we sat there and said to each other, "Gee, it sure would have been nice to have these fireplaces working," and Larry said, "I'll find the guy's number," and then he didn't, because now it was PAST mid-March and who the heck gets 2 snowstorms in late March, anyway?

WE did.  It snowed AGAIN.  And I said, "I sure would like that guy's number," and Larry said, "I'll look for it tonight," and he never did, but I didn't care much, because it was ALMOST APRIL, for heaven's sake, and there would be no more cold to suffer through until next fall.

Only, there WAS more cold, and after a while I got snippy and Larry found the damn number (and, yes, I know, we have a wonderful marriage, but hey, it works) and WE CALLED THE REPAIRMAN, who said he couldn't be there until the next week.  So we made an appointment for today and said to each other, "Like it matters now, how long he takes, it's WARM now."

And it rained ICE last night, after dropping 20 degrees in 3 hours, and there was a frost warning in effect and we huddled in our cold basement next to our non-working fireplace, watching TV while wrapped in wool blankets, and we said, "Gee, it sure would have been nice if we had fixed these things a month ago."

So, yeah, the unprecedented cold and all those spring snowstorms?  They were our fault.  We challenged the weather gods, and they called our bluff. I'm sorry.

30s in every Continental U.S. state this morning 
Really, REALLY sorry.

The end.

[Fireplace image:]
[Weather map image: Facebook/Weather Matrix]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cookie Master

You know what's a good day? When you finally remember to DO something about the mold growing on the ceiling above the tub, instead of just forgetting about it until the next time you take a shower. It wasn't hard, either - I just spritzed some Tilex mold and mildew remover on the spots, hit all the grout on the tub walls while I was at it, scrubbed the walls with a toothbrush ( not mine) for 12 minutes, rinsed it off, and then fetched David (tallest person present) to wipe down the ceiling. Easy!

So easy, in fact, that one just has to wonder why the heck it took me 4 months to get around to doing it...

Can't touch this...
Next up? Chocolate chip cookies - because it is raining and the temps have dropped 20 degrees since yesterday and SOMEONE has got to make things cozy around here.

Me - that's MY job. I am the official Maker of the Coziness, and if you think that that job title doesn't really rock a resume,'ve just got another think coming.

[Cookie image: CookIt!]

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Plague, Revisited

New illness rampaging through our household - some high fever/headache thing that has been going around. Ran out of kids ibuprofen, went to the store to get that and a few other items, and came home with (can you guess?) everything BUT the medicine we needed. Kept falling asleep at random points throughout the day, but managed (with the kids' help) to bake a birthday cake for Brian (14! Tomorrow!) and scrub my kitchen floor (out-of-town guests! Tomorrow!).  Not bad for a sick day, right?

Have to go cuddle Susie now, poor little sickie that she is...

Friday, April 04, 2014

Feeling Foolish

Okay, I am done sulking about April Fools Day. Until next year, that is...

On our plates for this weekend? One Civil Air Patrol convention, one Girl Scout "campout" at a museum, one First Communion "retreat" (all 3 hours of it), yoga class, and a 5K walk for MS (not so much for philanthropic reasons as for the purpose of keeping a friend company).  Also, I will be attempting to get back on my bicycle for a training ride. Yes, that's right - still flush with my success at surviving a 30-mile bike-a-thon last year, I let my fit friend convince me to sign up for a 58-mile ride this year.

This was a stupid thing to do. STUPID.

I have less than 2 months to get into shape for biking the sort of distance I haven't attempted in nearly 30 years. And I have to bike it on my old-lady bike, because I am still too scared to get on a regular one. This is where peer pressure gets you, people - up the proverbial creek without a proverbial paddle. Or whatever the bicycle equivalent of that would be...

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Prank Haters Anonymous

I would like to thank all the people who chose NOT to play a "joke" on someone this April Fools Day. The word joke is in quotes because I personally consider a joke to be something that makes the teller and the tellee both laugh, not something that makes the teller/doer laugh and makes the other person feel stupid or even cry.

Crying is not funny, people.

I know, I know, I am the lone voice crying in the wilderness here. Everyone LOVES this day, and I must have some deep-seated insecurities that make me despise being pranked. So be it. I just want to reassure my readers that this blog remains a prank-free zone, even on a misbegotten day such as today.

So, in the comments, tell us about an April Fools trick that you hated. Go ahead, it's safe here.