Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Week Of The Long Scarves

My hands HURT
Hi! I spent the last 4 days or so frantically knitting crescent scarves* (bulky wool, thank goodness) for the Up North relatives, because I needed to mail them out by yesterday. This endeavor was complicated by the fact that I had to go out 4 nights in a row over this past weekend.

Apparently, I am very popular, but only on this one weekend a year.

Friday, there was the nursing home choir performance: I was in charge of refreshments, and a very spunky 93-year-old woman requisitioned 3 of my decorative fake poinsettias PLUS a very attractive new Christmas mug (MINE) that I had put the chocolates in (and tell me, is there any way to say no to a very spunky 93-year-old woman? No, there is not). The next night was our friends' annual honest-to-goodness-grownup cocktail party (remember? the one that Larry tried to sabotage for me 2 years ago?), definitely not a good venue to drag along a knitting project to; and the night after that, I attended another friend's ornament-exchange party,where I did manage to get a few rows done (yes, I AM a horrible guest - horrible and desperate).

I finished off my socializing spree on Monday with our neighborhood Bunko night, where I was too busy winning 30 dollars to have time to knit.  In short, I was hard pressed to finish what I had envisioned as being a bunch of easy gift projects.

All right, it would have helped if I had started the darn things earlier, I know.

Seasonal favorite
So now my lovely creations are winging (or rolling, I don't know which) their way north, nestled in a box with several containers of Moose Munch; and I can finally turn my attention to the folks who live here. The gift-giving here has gotten a little boring, however, what with all the kids getting older - we paid to help fix Anna's 13-year-old truck and Theo's 8-year-old car, so that pretty much takes care of the 2 oldest (or, as we affectionately refer to them, the prototypes).

As for the youngest 4, they're all becoming a tad too jaded to make this gift-giving thing much fun. Essentially, we're dubbing this the Christmas of the Gift Cards and leaving it at that.

Gift cards and Moose Munch, actually - can't skip that Moose Munch...

*Copper Boom Scarf, for those of you who need to know

Friday, December 16, 2016

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

David came home from college Tuesday evening, which meant that Wednesday we could go tree shopping. He's tall, you see, and completely capable of tying it onto the top of the van and of taking it off the van and into the house.

So we trooped off to Home Depot, where we tramped somewhat merrily through the not-at-all-snowy outside enclosure, searching for the perfect tree. I found one pretty fast. "Here it is, guys!" I said. "Let's go!"

Yeah, the bloom is off the rose with this activity. I just wanted to get the darn thing home and set up before I had to drive Brian to a math review session.

"Mommy," said Susie. "It's not big enough."

"They ALL look small outside," I told her. "Don't worry, it will look plenty big in our living room."

"Let's look at these," she suggested, motioning toward the 6-7 ft section. "These look better."

"No, no, those will be way too big - I know what I'm doing. Let's go!"

And back home we went, with our brand new tree. David brought it inside for us, and we all helped set it up in the stand. Then we stepped back to admire our work.

"It's too small," Susie said.

"That's just because the branches haven't spread out yet," I said, confidently. "Just give it a couple of hours - it will fill out that corner, like it always does."

[2 hours later]

Wishing you a skinny little Christmas...

David and I stood in the living room, staring at the tree. "Don't tell Susie, but that tree is too small," I said. Being a young man of few words, David just nodded and shrugged. I kept staring at the tree. "I don't get it - the more I look at it, the smaller it gets."

"It's a tree," offered David, sensibly.

Yeah, it's a tree, all right. But, honestly? It just doesn't fill the space right. It makes Christmas look as if it went on a diet. If the Grinch came along, he wouldn't even bother to steal this tree. He would just look at it and think, "My work here is done."

Worst of all? Susie knows she was right. And she'll never let me forget it.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Get Thee Behind Me, Pretzels

Tired of these
Hooray! Today was an eating day! I could finally ingest comestibles other than dry pretzels and flat soda! Although now I feel sort of queasy again, so I may have jumped the gun there.

Today was also notable in that I managed to doze off on an ultrasound table. Please tell me that happens all the time. In my defense, the technician did take a while to get the doctor to come in and tell me everything looked great.

No, actually, there was no excuse. I just stayed up too late last night buying things. Poor Larry -- he goes to sleep at a reasonable hour every single night, just so he can get up in the morning and go to work and make money so I can spend it online. He's definitely gotten the short end of the stick here.

And, to be fair (to me, that is), it isn't as if I were buying something extravagant. No, it was basic, unexciting items such as conditioner (there are 4 women currently living here, and we all have abundant amounts of thick, curly hair, which explains why the approximately 4 gallons of conditioner I bought 2 1/2 months ago is GONE), curl scrunch (see above re abundant amounts of thick, curly hair), rubber car mats for my 7-year-old car (because the carpet mats are hopelessly dirty and my job consists of driving senior citizens around and I don't want to gross them out), and - oh, yes - a coat for me that I will probably send back because it will make me feel like a chubby 4-year-old stuffed into a snowsuit. Because they all do.

Ooh la, la! It's French!
I think I need a cape. A nice, woolen cape that swirls and hides the fact that I no longer have a waist. Look how happy the lady in that picture looks. That could be moi. Although, come to think of it, I'm not sure how one manages to carry a purse, wearing that thing.

You know, fashion is really complicated.

[Pretzels image: Snyder's Online]
[Cape image: Sportsman's Guide]

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Not-So-Friendly Skies

Anna came home from her semester abroad on Friday. We were looking forward to seeing her and hearing all about her adventures (yes, we do know how to communicate via the Internet, but it is more fun to hear it in person), and see what fun presents she brought us.

Instead, she arrived home and slept for 6 straight hours. Seems that she spent the flight from Amman to Paris puking her guts out. She texted me from Paris, and I spent the rest of her trip praying that she had food poisoning and not some hitherto unknown-to-these-shores stomach virus, which would then rampage through our family and ripple outward, felling half the country.

Patient Zero* just doesn't look good on a resume, you know?

NOT a fun place to be sick

So yeah, she's home (and, no, I didn't hug her when she walked in the door, so sue me) and seems to have gradually recovered, but I woke up at 5:30 this morning with stabbing pains in my stomach and haven't been able to eat all day. So the Patient Zero scenario is still a possibility.

And I'll have you know that, despite my desperate condition, I persisted in cleaning the bathroom today. Scrubbed the tub and everything. Why? Because I'm a mom. I hope that in my next life (we DO get another one, right?), I remember to have a job that gives sick days.

Last I checked, Susie's lunch consisted solely of tater tots. I ordered pizza for dinner (Larry picked it up). I bitched at everyone to put their plates in the dishwasher. I napped. Anna drove Brian to work. We all managed. Still, I've lost valuable knitting time and the rest of the house is a mess.

Not the bathroom, though - the bathroom GLEAMS.

*Word to the wise - DO NOT Google images for "Patient Zero." I'm gonna have nightmares.

[Airplane image: Panda Clipart]

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Under Pressure

2-at-a-time - I am SO clever
It's Monday evening, and I am still trying to figure out where the heck the weekend went.

Today I drove. And drove. And drove again. Also? I almost finished the 2-at-a-time fingerless mitts I started while my friend drove us to see A Christmas Carol. Just the top ribbing and the thumbs to go...

Yesterday was the inaugural use of my InstantPot. People, when you rave about this thing cooking your frozen chicken breasts in 15 minutes, that is not exactly accurate. My pot took close to 10 minutes to get up to pressure, another 15 minutes to cook the chicken. What with shredding the chicken and putting it back in the pot on saute to let it cook a little more (because 15 minutes wasn't quite enough), that dinner took over 45 minutes.

Also? It just doesn't feel like cooking. It's weird. You can't smell what's going on.

Old Faithful
AND the InstantPot has what must be the worst instruction book ever. Tons of small print, no clear headings (seriously, does boldface cost more?), etc. I don't know, maybe I am just becoming dumber. I managed to burn (very slightly) my hand when I moved that steam release vent at the end. Maybe this dog is getting too old to learn new tricks.

The kids said the chicken tasted good, however. So I'll try the thing a few more times, see if it works for pot roast, maybe. I mean, it would be nice not to have my dinner plans torpedoed just because I forgot to defrost the roast the night before, to have it ready for the crockpot at 8 AM.

I like my crockpot, though. It's not scary. I value that in a kitchen appliance.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

God Bless Us, Everyone!

Look at this theater! So beautiful...
Yesterday, a friend and I took her 2 girls and Susie on a road trip - we went to see a free dress rehearsal of A Christmas Carol, performed by a professional theater company a couple of hours away. I wouldn't have even known about it if this blogger hadn't told me, for which favor I am forever indebted to her. The performance was magnificent, AND I got lots of knitting done, since my friend did the driving.

Also, did I mention FREE?

While it was great to break out of our routine, traveling meant that Wednesday was my 6th straight day of no cooking. Not wanting to break my streak, I neglected to cook today, also. I'm thinking that maybe I should stay in the kitchen all day tomorrow. There's a Costco roasted chicken waiting to be made into white bean/chicken chili, and a half bushel of apples that need to turn into applesauce. We're all out of granola, too.

Or I could just knit. I mean, it's not as if ChickFilA won't be open...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Appliances R Us

Hello! Meet the new member of my family:


Yes, I succumbed. Every single person on my Facebook feed has been raving about this stupid thing and posting about how it is on super sale right now. "Who knows?" I thought. "Maybe this is the thing that will rekindle my love of cooking. I'll buy it!"

Would you believe I haven't cooked since last Thursday morning, by the way?

Anyway, I'm out all day tomorrow; but the next day...well, the next day I'm bound and determined to learn how to use a pressure cooker and make a delicious meal in minutes.  Although, from what I can tell, this darn thing doesn't do the grocery shopping for me, and really, the hardest part of cooking a meal is making sure you have the right ingredients in the house at the right time.

My ice cube maker is doing fine, thanks for asking. Here, another picture:

See? MORE ice. And no weird sounds, either...

All these appliances doing my bidding - soon I won't have to do ANYTHING around here. Have I mentioned that my washer and dryer play a little song for me when they are done? It drives the kids crazy, but I sort of like it. Well, maybe that's because it drives the kids crazy, but still...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ice, Ice, Baby

Today the plumber arrived to hook up our ice machine. I sure hope my children regard machine-made ice as the perfect Christmas present, because that plumber visit cost me $210. That's pretty fancy frozen water, if you ask me.

Merry Christmas, kids!

In other news, um, well, nothing. I drove around all day today, ferrying children hither and yon. Did the NYTimes crossword puzzle. Went to a birthday dinner for a friend. Wasted time on Twitter

I'm thinking I really need a regular job. I mean, once I finish the Christmas knitting. That comes first.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Inadequate photo of scarf I'm knitting
Sunday! Already!

As you might recall, our new refrigerator (which I adore) periodically made a VERY LOUD buzzing sound. As this is not behavior that one expects from a brand-spankin'-new household appliance, I called Home Depot and asked for a different one. I was very proud of myself for speaking calmly and assertively and getting positive results. I'm a grown-up!

SO, on Friday, as if I had not already moved food around enough on Thanksgiving, I had to empty the fridge of ALL the leftovers and ALL the condiments and everything else, so that the delivery guys could take it away and give me my new one. This was not fun. Still, I didn't like the loud buzzing sound, so I persevered.

The guys arrived and hauled out my almost-new fridge and brought in the even newer one. "Just leave me the hose for the ice machine," I told the one in charge. "I still need to have the plumber come by and do something under the sink so we can hook it up."

"Oh, okay," he said. Then he pulled open the freezer and, reaching in toward the back, said, "Let me just make sure this button is turned off."

Turned. Off.

He pulled his head back out of the freezer to find me staring at him. "Did you just do something?" I asked, comprehension dawning.

"Yes," he said. "The button for the ice machine is back there. If it isn't hooked up, you have to turn it off."

I just looked at him.

"So, uh, the first delivery guys didn't do that?" he asked, comprehension dawning on him also.

"No," I said. "No, they didn't."

He looked at me and then shrugged. "Well, I'm not bringing that other one back in here. Let's just pretend we didn't figure that out."

Inadequate photo of cowl I'm knitting (llama's wool!)

So, yeah, no loud buzzing sound this time. None whatsoever. My only hope is that someone benefits from all this by picking up an almost-new fridge real cheap.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Stuffed. Also? Tired.

Silly me - just because I made the stuffing, cranberry bread, and cranberry sauce ahead of time, plus bought the pies, plus cleaned up the house (somewhat), I naively thought that today wouldn't be too difficult. But no, I got up at 8 this morning and didn't stop moving for, oh, 5 hours. The whole time I kept saying to Brian, "I don't care WHEN you are working next year, we are NEVER scheduling dinner for 1:30 AGAIN." I just couldn't adjust to having the holiday meal that early. 

What made it worse was that it was a beautiful day out - who the heck wants to be inside eating dinner when the sun is high and the temps are almost pleasant? I kept thinking I would get a chance to go on a walk while the turkey was cooking, but there WAS NO TIME. Mashing potatoes, more cleaning up, finding 14 decent cloth napkins from our raggedy table linen collection - it took forever.

Luckily, Susie helped with the decorating

And then afterwards, of course, there was clean up. The quote of the day came from Rachel, who -when we told her to wipe down the kitchen table and sweep - said, "I ALREADY emptied the dishwasher!" in her most irate tone of voice. She apparently hadn't noticed Larry and I working our butts off all day. 

I topped off my day by emptying the contents of my new refrigerator (and there was a LOT to empty, because leftovers) into a cooler, in order to be ready for the delivery of our new new refrigerator tomorrow morning. Because I hadn't already handled enough food today...

So, yeah, I'm pretty much done with this whole Thanksgiving thing. I still have to wait up until Brian finishes his shift, though. Larry dropped him off at Best Buy at 4:30, and there was already a line of people going around the building. What is up with these stores opening for Black Friday on a Thursday? Are days of the week not sacred anymore? I say, keep Friday for Fridays. It's my new slogan.

Anyway, if you want to see a singing turkey, go here. An essential Thanksgiving tradition, if you ask me...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve

It's almost midnight, so I could just go to bed, but that would be too sensible.

Naturally, with guests coming over tomorrow, and a big dinner to make (plus 2 dental appointments today), I decided to throw a flu shot in there for the fun of it. Here's hoping I don't feel under the weather tomorrow, because I don't even get to sleep in. You see, we had to schedule our dinner at the unaccustomed (for us) early hour of 1:30, because Brian is scheduled to work at 4:30 on Thanksgiving Day (THANKS A LOT, BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPERS).

Open on Thanksgiving Day? Seriously?

But the tables are extended, (most of) the food made/bought, guests invited. Our event has turned into a BYOPlate deal, since I couldn't find cute Thanksgiving paper plates at a reasonable deal, and we only own 11 dinner plates (half of them chipped because we like to break things, apparently). I think there are enough forks, though, so there's that.

I've fallen in love with this goofy turkey.
You know, Larry and I have been married for more than a quarter of a century. 25 YEARS. So I have no idea why we don't have enough dishes, etc., for a normal Thanksgiving dinner (with the 3 oldest kids absent, to boot). NO IDEA.

What I do know is that, when the last guest has gone and the last dish been washed, I am going to sit down and start a 3-day knitting marathon. No cleaning, no cooking, just me and my yarn and my needles, clicking away.

Christmas is coming, and THERE WILL BE GIFTS, and they shall be made of natural fibers. So sayeth the prophets, and so it shall be.

[Turkey image: Clipart Panda]

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cooking, Plumbing, Fashion - All Right Here

Oh, dear - outrage levels are running high. Look at the comment I received today on this very old post, from someone who apparently doesn't recognize pretty heavy-handed sarcasm. One would think we have enough to be outraged about RIGHT NOW not to have to go looking back at something I wrote in 2010. Or maybe we are all just permanently outraged about everything by this time. I blame the Internet.

How I decorate
I spent my evening cutting large baguettes into tiny cubes. That's what we do around here on Thanksgiving Eve Eve Eve. Or, hey, Thanksgiving Eve Cubed! Get it? Cubed! Oh, my gosh, I slay me.

Anyway, that particular task has to be done by Monday so the bread cubes have time to dry out enough to soak up all the other stuffing ingredients without getting soggy. So now they'll sit around in pans on my dining room table for 2 days, annoying the heck out of me. Thanksgiving prep is fun.

At least I don't have to make the pies - I can buy those from Harris Teeter. For that, I am thankful.

My toilet woke me up 4 times last night by half-flushing itself LOUDLY. We would call a plumber, but we don't want to spend money on a toilet that we are replacing in January when the entire bathroom gets remodeled. This is such a stupid problem, but it is driving me crazy. If I turn the toilet valve off at night, will that keep it from flushing? Anyone?

Today was noteworthy in that I finally managed to find winter coats for Susie and Brian. I still need one for Rachel, if I can ever find time to take her to the store. If everyone could just stop growing for a bit, my wallet would surely appreciate it. And if someone could make a coat that fits a round-ish middle-aged woman without making her look EVEN ROUNDER, I would be forever grateful. I swear, I try on all these coats and they all make me feel like a chubby 4-year-old stuffed into a snowsuit.

Yeah, I have issues - what of it?

Friday, November 18, 2016

In Which I Don't Even Mention The Election

Oh, uh, hi! Anyone still here?

Oh, who cares - I talk to myself all the time anyway.

There WILL be ice!
Remember this? The French door refrigerator with the pull-out bottom freezer that stole my heart almost 8 years ago? Well, I've been watching the prices ever since but not buying, since spending $1500 or more on an appliance sort of horrifies me. But the other night, on my toilet-seat buying errand at Home Depot, I noticed my inamorata, sitting there in the main aisle, with a big SALE sign on it. It had dropped to under $1000, and I knew - I KNEW - it was time. I mean, hadn't I been pining to consummate our love for almost a decade? Didn't I own an 11-year-old fridge with cracked vegetable drawers that was threatening to quit at any minute?

Yes, it was time to take the plunge. So really, my $5 toilet seat ended up costing me way more than that. I went home, ordered the fridge online, set up the delivery date, all without even asking Larry. Feeling magnanimous, I promised the children that they would no longer have to make artisan ice cubes - I would pay the money to have the ice machine hooked up. Oh, there was great rejoicing!

The fridge was delivered last week, and it has been all I have ever hoped or dreamed. The shining glass shelves, mostly at eye level; the myriad door compartments for all my condiments; the extra drawer at the bottom that I designated "Dairy Only" to keep my oldest safe when he visits - it is all like a dream come true.

We filled it up right quick.

Only...not. Turns out our new acquisition has a penchant for periodically making a REALLY LOUD buzzing sound that should most definitely not be emanating from a brand-new appliance. So I called Home Depot and demanded a new one and it's arriving on the 25th. And until then? My children are stuck making ice cubes the 20th-century way, because I'm not paying the plumber twice to hook up the ice machine.

Oy, how they suffer.

Monday, November 07, 2016


A really quick note to say THANK YOU to those of you who chipped in for our handyman's medical expenses. It was nice to know you appreciated reading the blog enough (or at least were concerned enough about Larry's next home improvement project) to help out a person you've never even met. And now he is probably sitting at home wondering who all those people are whose names are showing up on his GoFundMe page.

Also, Auntie Kate arrived and we've already been to 2 yarn stores and managed to inundate the living room with fiber and needles and all. Plus, she went canvassing with me for GOTV. So, yeah, busy.

My pretties...

Despite that, I was all set tonight to begin work on the Nurmilintu shawl I promised someone for Christmas. You see, the hold-up for the past 2 months was that I didn't have the right size needles. I remedied that problem today, by buying them at the same time as that lovely yarn pictured above. Finally! I thought. I am all set.

Only, the yarn gods have seen fit to laugh at my ambitions. I have spent all evening trying to find the skein of Painted Desert that was slated for this particular project. It's been kicking around for the last 2 months, in project bags and baskets and - at one point - on my nightstand; and every time I saw it, I thought, I have to get those needles. So now? Now that I am "all set"? It has completely disappeared.

Have you seen me?

Nice one, yarn gods. NICE.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Passing The Hat

This is an AFTER picture. I KNOW.
I almost posted last night, but I'm glad I didn't, because in retrospect I was borderline insane. Auntie Kate (she of crafting fame) is arriving Saturday, which means we had to excavate our guest room in the basement (where Anna had been staying all summer and where she left ALL HER STUFF because she is studying abroad this semester and could take only two suitcases with her). But first I had to GET TO the guest room, which meant Larry had to clear the hallway down there of all the stuff he pulled from the laundry room during the Great Foundation Leak of 2016.

That's right, he put it back into the now extremely disorganized laundry room (remember? the one I paid our handyman good money to organize for us?) so that I could deal with the rest of the basement.

Look, I never claimed that we were normal.

It's okay, right? Tell me it's okay.
Anyway, by yesterday evening, I was practically weeping. There was SO MUCH STUFF, plus Larry had never put the camping gear away in the guest room closet, back in August, so we had that to deal with also. Then there were the canoe paddles in the basement family room, along with 3 ironing boards, 2 older vacuums, a toy kitchen (our youngest is 11, for heaven's sake), and assorted flotsam and jetsam to deal with. You know, it's enough to make a gal pine for a 1-bedroom condo (with den - all that yarn has to go somewhere) to live in, all by herself.

But against all odds, we're ready for the visit now. I do seem to have developed a slight tic where I walk around muttering, "Too much crap, too much crap" over and over; but otherwise things are fine. FINE. The basement looks livable (well, what we call livable, anyway), we replaced the moldy toilet seat on our 45-year-old basement toilet (only $5! I should have done this years ago), and I even remembered to buy flowers for the guest room.

But hey, back there, where I mentioned our handyman? Remember, he's the one who has been with Larry from the very beginning, framing and drywalling and installing baseboards and helping us choose paint colors and decide on kitchen cabinet hardware. I honestly believe this man, with his preternatural ability to moderate heated discussions about home decorating decisions, has saved my marriage. Not once, but several times.

Not only that, but he has given my kids a thorough grounding in the music from the 70's and 80's. Every morning he'd arrive at 8 AM and (first thing) plug in his heavy-duty contractor's radio and let those tunes blare. I have an 11-year-old who can walk into a store and immediately identify the Credence Clearwater Revival song that is playing on the Muzak. All thanks to him. Granted, she was singing the lyrics to "Jack and Diane" at the rather tender age of 8; but I convinced myself she didn't really know what she was saying.

He built this pantry for me.
My point is, this man has done a lot for us. Anywhere I look in my house, there is evidence of his skill and craftsmanship. And now, he's sick. Cancer. It looks as though he might be okay (he just had surgery and there were no surprises there), but medical bills are mounting up to numbers that are a little dizzying. Worse, he won't be able to work for the next 2 months. (And, yes, he had better stick to that timetable - Larry is planning to rip out the basement walls in January.)

So, for the first time in 9 years, I'm asking you to think about contributing a little money. Not to me, of course - but if I have ever made you laugh or if you look forward to reading this drivel of mine on a somewhat regular basis, please consider making a donation (however small - I think just the feeling of people rooting for him would be helpful) to his GoFundMe page.

What's it worth to you, knowing that my life is way more chaotic than yours? 5 bucks? 10, maybe? Whatever it is, send it his way, so that hopefully his convalescence can be a little less stressful. Let's face it - we need him in good shape for what Larry has planned for next year.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Visions Of Snickers Bars

Oooh, I want a pink one!
So I went to the doctor and told her I couldn't stop coughing and she checked that I was vaccinated for pertussis (I was!) and agreed that 3 weeks is too long to cough and also agreed that my lungs were clear, so could I have my medical degree now please? Thanks.

Anyway, she gave me antibiotics (because SOMETHING is going on in my windpipe and why the hell not?) and some prescription cough medicine in pill form, which seems to me shouldn't work because it's not a liquid and whaddya know, it didn't. I spent the last 48 hours or so telling myself the antibiotics were working, but I really don't think so. I mean, I'm still coughing and I still feel exhausted if I think about doing anything remotely strenuous (like cleaning the bathroom or cooking dinner, say).

Maybe it's just an allergy to housework?

We had an absolutely gorgeous, unseasonably warm fall weekend here, perfect for biking, which I got tired just thinking about, so no. Susie made me go to Michaels, though, and purchase some Halloween decorations (2 autumn leaf garlands and 2 scarecrows, all 70% off) to put in our front yard. She also helped me pot the bright yellow mums that have been sitting on our front porch for a while. So, thanks to my youngest, we are looking somewhat prepared for the High Holy Day of candy that is bearing down upon us all.

I was too cheap to buy the tie.
I totally punted on costumes this year: Susie wanted to be something from Harry Potter, so I bought her a Hogwarts robe from Amazon, and Rachel still hasn't managed to decide what to be, so I told her she's on her own. Rachel DID drag me to Party City last Thursday to look for some tutus, but those were for Spirit Week (whatever THAT is) at her high school.

Word to the wise: DO NOT go to Party City 4 days before Halloween. Madhouse doesn't begin to describe what was happening there. It was like Times Square on New Year's Eve, or Black Friday at the mall. I managed to fight my way through the crowds and snag an inexpensive witch hat for Susie (aka Hermione Granger), while Rachel shopped for green tutus and tried (unsuccessfully) to convince me she could wear hers with just a pair of bright blue stockings (no pants) to school the next day.

Dear Lord, do I have 3 1/2 more years of this? Boarding school (with conservative uniforms) is looking better and better. Maybe I'll just have her wear Susie's Hogwarts robe to school.

If all that wasn't enough, Larry and I spent the weekend looking at tile and bathroom vanities, plus I was forced to freeze my butt off at a high school football game on Friday night. The good news is, Larry and I are still married. The bad news is, I still hate football.

I'm exhausted typing all this. Good night, folks - happy candy hunting!

PS - Brian is doing fine, but I freak out every time I see the stitches behind his ear. "Did they take your whole ear OFF?" I asked him. "No," he said, "I think they just folded it forward." Gah.

[Hogwarts robe image: Halloween Costumes]

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Doctor, Doctor

What's up with those 2 snakes, anyway?
OMG, posting 2 days in a row - something exciting must have happened, for sure!

Only, um, no. I just happen not to be coughing right now and thought I would sit down here and let you all know. My theory is that the coughing has lessened because I actually made a doctor's appointment for tomorrow morning, if only to get all my well-meaning friends and family to stop saying, "You really should see a doctor about that."

And, yes, that IS what I am going to tell the doctor tomorrow, when she asks, "Why are you here?"

This morning Brian had ear surgery, so apparently our theme here today is the medical arts. The only other surgery our kids have had (aside from wisdom tooth removal) is the adenoidectomy we foisted on Rachel when she was 7. You know all those books and pamphlets that give you instructions on how to prepare your young child for surgical procedures? Yeah, me neither. Essentially, the morning of the surgery, we told Rachel we were going to the doctor's and she hopped in the car. We are terrible parents.

So, anyway, our HMO website had a video Brian was supposed to watch, all about general anesthesia. "Do I have to?" he asked, and we said, "Well, no, we guess not." I mean, really now, it's not as if Brian had to practice for his part in this. He just had to lie down, right?

He came through the surgery with flying colors (whatever that means). I missed the fun part of seeing him being loopy post-op, because I wimped out and begged Larry to take him instead. Larry is a nice guy and a good father (despite not forcing Brian to watch the anesthesia video) and willingly complied.

Surgery is scary. Brian didn't mind it, though, because as he said, "I was asleep." Instead, I'm the one who sat home for 3 hours and pored over baby pictures and tried not to imagine horrible outcomes, because, hey, that's my job. But just think - if something had happened to Brian, WHO would have helped us figure out our phones? WHO would have operated the scanner? WHO would have explained how to find our photos?

No one, that's who. So, yeah, I was glad to see him again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Um, hi! I would have written sooner, but I have spent the better part of the last, oh, 10 days coughing uncontrollably. So much fun! And no, it's not bronchitis or pneumonia. It's just an irritating thing in my windpipe that is freaking out absolutely everyone around me.

Nothing that a lot of Halloween candy can't cure, I am sure...

Kidding about the candy cure - I used this, instead

It has also cut short my not-so-illustrious career as an elder companion - seems that no one wants to let you drive them to the doctor when you sound as though you have TB (I don't - we checked). Technically, I AM on the upswing here - I mean, the past few days, I have even been able to sleep through the night instead of sitting up drinking tea and coughing sporadically for hours on end.

So, yeah, there's hope.

In the meantime, Halloween has snuck up on me. In desperation, I ordered a Hogwarts robe from Amazon for Susie and told poor Rachel she's on her own. I bought the candy at Costco and have managed not to open it yet (although I did have an unfortunate falling down with a bag of candy pumpkins from Target a few days ago).

My precious...

Despite my apparently imminent demise, I managed to finish a lovely pair of fingerless mitts for my friend's birthday. I would show you a photo of them, but I forgot to take one. That's annoying, because my new phone would have snapped an awesome picture of my work. I have this new phone because Brian took charge around here and got Larry and I signed up on Project Fi (awesome deal, people!) and helped us pick out phones and then showed us how to use them. Because we are helpless like that.

Turns out I have a flashlight function on mine - who knew? Brian wants me to stop shouting "Lumos!" every time I use it, but I can't stop. I don't WANT to stop.

So, anyway, now I can actually add apps to my phone, because it has more than 8 GB of storage, and I can even download my email. And the girls don't play with it because I've coughed all over it.

Have I mentioned I'm coughing? Oh, okay then...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall Color (Virus Edition)

I don't often blog, but when I do, it's at 3 AM, apparently.

Susie and I went to Lake Placid last week, to visit a friend and her girls who have a place up there. Oh, how fun to go on a road trip with just one child! We were like Thelma and Louise, only without the shooting or the 7-11 robbery or the suicide. So, really, not at all, I guess. And that's a good thing, I'm thinking.

See? Gorgeous.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Lake Placid, which was experiencing peak color (the Adirondacks in NY, you know) and crisp fall air and everything was absolutely perfect for hiking and checking out the cute little town and oohing and aahing over the scenery. Naturally, we wouldn't want a vacation like that to be all unalloyed happiness and cheer, so I managed to come down with a vile head cold the same day we arrived. My hospitable friend spent over 48 hours watching me clutch a tissue box and complain about how my head felt. She also did an emergency run to RiteAid for Sudafed and Ricola.


I blame Larry, of course - he had a cold right before we left home. I still found it within myself to pick up a few birthday presents in Lake Placid for his diabolical self (maple sugar fudge, huge lemon bar from Cake Placid, and UBU ale), but I won't say I didn't harbor a bit of resentment all weekend. We got home on his birthday, let him unwrap his presents, and then I went off to Bunko, because he and I were both still too sick to care about going out to dinner.

I did promise to give him my winnings, which unfortunately ended up equaling zero; but hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

So, anyway, I was feeling perfectly all right Wednesday and Thursday, and had even started entertaining thoughts about cleaning the house and cooking a meal or two for my neglected children; but now I seem to have come down with the same cold all over again. Have I mentioned how miserable I feel? How my head hurts and how the roof of my mouth is torn up from sucking on too many Ricola cough drops? Yes? Well, then, my work here is finished.

Time to try to sleep again, I guess...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hostage Situation

I'd like the non-haunted version, thanks
So, as already mentioned, Larry and I decided that we could try doing what normal people do when they need household renovations - that is, hire a professional. I know! It sounds so radical! But my neighbor recommended the guy who is currently redoing her kitchen, so he came by and measured our two decrepit bathrooms and talked about tile and vanities and lighting and such. By the time he left, I was feeling optimistic that FINALLY we would have all working bathrooms in our home - complete with toilets that don't mysteriously flush themselves in the middle of the night - AND that the work would be completed in a timely fashion.

Really, I should have known better, right?

We got the quote yesterday, and it was, well, quite a bit higher than I thought it would be. Larry, seeing the total, shook his head. "I can do the tear-out myself," he said. "No way I'm paying someone $1200 per bathroom to do that!"

"We could get our handyman to do the new drywall," I suggested. "And the painting. Look! They want $700 to paint that teeny-tiny room!"

"I can buy this tile for WAY cheaper than $2000," Larry said. "That's highway robbery. And I bet I can find someone to put it in."

What scares me, people, is that I found myself agreeing with him. Me! Encouraging Larry to take on yet another DIY project, this time involving major amounts of plumbing! What is happening here? 

Is it temporary insanity, brought on by the stress of sharing my one working shower with a husband, 2 hygiene-obsessed teens, and a tween? Perhaps it's a weird DIY variant of Stockholm syndrome, wherein a captive spouse empathizes with her husband's renovation plans, no matter how much havoc they wreak on her sense of well-being.

Or maybe it was the $2500 worth of sticker shock we just experienced at the orthodontist - that could definitely be a factor here, too, come to think of it...

[Toilet image: Clipartix]

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Online Shopping Run Amok

I'm not going to make excuses for not showing up here lately, because there are none. My muse, it just up and left. She didn't even say good-bye. Oh, well...

Larry keeps threatening to tear out the basement walls, but he doesn't because there is all this STUFF down there and I'm thinking he's not sure what to do with it. I went so far as to have someone in to give me a quote on redoing the 2 bathrooms we have to fix, but then I never heard back from him. I take that as a sign from above that the 5 of us should simply continue sharing the one shower here that actually works.

This weekend I went to yoga (twice), took Susie to a local fiber festival (meh), and managed a trip to the commissary to stock up on everything cheap. Except toilet paper, of course - I've got that covered.

The Holy Grail

You see, while I wasn't blogging in September, I was spending money online. In a desperate attempt to lessen the amount I spend monthly on the girls' favorite hair conditioner, I scoured the Internet, where I discovered Not only did it have lower prices, but it offered 15% off my first 3 orders and free shipping. All of which explains why we have, oh, 4 gallons of Garnier Sleek and Shine, 4 55-oz bottles of my favorite liquid soap, and (drum roll please) 82 rolls of Scott single-ply 1000-sheet toilet paper in our house right now.

I've got to hand it to Larry - he came home to 3 27-packs of toilet paper stacked in our bedroom and he never said anything. Not one word. 

The latest in master bedroom decor

This isn't a plug for, by the way - some of the prices are good, some aren't. But at least I get a month off from looking for sales on conditioner, right?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life SHOULD Be A Beach

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

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

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

Living within your means is vastly overrated.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 08, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

None of this happened, so far as I know

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

Everyone's a comedian around here.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Joy To All

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Not Dead Yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larry pretended it was fine.

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

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

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

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

The rain stopped as we drove off.

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