Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Oscars. Also, Worms and Mushrooms

I'm still making myself run (most) mornings. Just a mile and, at best, my "run" is more of a stagger. So add to that the fact it rained this weekend and all the worms (I do mean ALL THE WORMS) came out on the sidewalks to avoid being drowned in their holes (or wherever they live - in the dirt, right?), and you'll understand why there was a bit (okay, A LOT) of weaving added to my stagger, as I attempted to avoid stepping on their gooey selves.

Not because I care about worms, I just find them disgusting, and YES I know they aerate the earth and compost things in their disgusting worm-y bodies. I DON'T CARE.

So my morning jog on Sunday looked more as though I were absolutely drunk and about to fall down. Hi, neighbors! No, really, I'm FINE.

You'll never look at mushrooms
the same way again
In other news, I'm on a mission this week to see as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible, because I have that Oscar party to go to again this year, and I'm downright competitive about it. I've already seen "Get Out" and "LadyBird" and "The Post," so tonight a friend and I took in "Phantom Thread." My official review is that Daniel Day-Lewis was marvelous and the movie was unbelievably weird. Also, I am determined to contribute a mushroom-themed dish to the party on Oscars night. Suggestions are welcome!

I'm hoping to see "Darkest Hour" and "The Shape of Water" sometime before Sunday. I am never, ever going to see "Three Billboards..." though, so don't suggest it.

No matter what, I'll be better prepared than I was way back in 2012, when I had seen only one of the movies and barely knew who any of the nominated actors were (I was coming off of, oh, 20 years of baby-raising and also being flat broke). Someone commented anonymously on that post, claiming she couldn't BELIEVE I was that ignorant and I must be kidding. But hey - she didn't recognize that the title of that particular post alluded to the 70s sitcom "All in the Family."

We all have our little fiefdoms of ignorance, I suppose...

Anyway, now that I can afford movie tickets and have some time I can call my own, I'm in it to win it. Also, I need you all to go see "Phantom Thread" so we can discuss its weirdness, okay? Thanks.

[Phantom Thread image: IMDB]

Monday, February 26, 2018

Ssshhhh - Be Quit!

We're on teens number 4 and 5 around here, and - quite frankly - it's killing me.  Oh, they behave okay and no one is rude much and I generally know where each one is at any particular point of the day or night. But the driving requirements are staggering. Between after school rehearsals and Civil Air Patrol activities for Rachel and Brian's numerous social engagements, I'm on the road enough to make a traveling salesman look like a homebody.

Question: Are traveling salesmen a thing anymore? I'm thinking I may have to update my cultural references here.

Latest food fad in our house
So Rachel had a birthday party to go to last Saturday night, and then Brian made plans to meet friends for the evening and Larry was volunteering to drive them both, both ways, which goes against everything I stand for parenting-wise.

I mean, over the past 15 years or so, I have developed carpooling into a fine art. You've got an activity? A co-op class? A field trip? I've got a carpool for that. My carpooling peeps are on speed dial on my phone, and as soon as I get the faintest whiff of any plans, I'm calling the relevant parties and figuring out the logistics.

Besides, I hate to drive. Especially at night.

So when Larry told me he was planning to drive 2 teens to two separate activities, 20 minutes apart, AND pick them both up later, I automatically swung into action. "Who else is going?" I demanded of a startled Brian. "Anyone we owe rides to? Anyone who lives out our way?"

DEFCON 1 people - that's where I was at.

But Brian was iffy on who was going when, the clock was ticking down (I came late to this discussion), and Larry was all, "I don't mind driving. Really, I don't."

Which, what is wrong with that guy, anyway? Doesn't he realize he has 6 MORE YEARS of this ahead of him? I'm betting he doesn't realize how old and tired he is going to feel a few years from now, being a mere 50 years old at this point and not a haggard almost-55-year-old like myself.

So, uncharacteristically, I decided to stand down on the carpooling issue. I sure as heck didn't want to be tooling around in the dark at 10 PM when I could be home in my jammies, playing card games with Susie. If Larry wants to make driving his hobby, well, who am I to stand in his way?

I fell asleep at 9:30, if you must know. And Susie decided to go to bed then, too, but not before she left a sign for the rest of the family, night owls all:

We're working on the spelling thing, people,
but as you know...homeschooled

Must have worked, because I heard nary a thing as they came in. But the inefficiency of not having carpooled? THAT'S still bothering me...

Friday, February 23, 2018


Larry and I actually managed to see a movie together Sunday. I know! It's almost as if we were mature adults with control over our own schedules, right? We saw The Post, a paean to old-fashioned newspaper reporting and publishing if I ever saw one. I swear, the lengthy close-ups of type-setting and printing presses bordered on journalism porn.

I loved it.

This is the current tableau on my dining room table.
I'm calling it "Christmas Meets Spring."

And then Monday was a day off, and darned if I have the faintest idea what I did that day. Ditto for Tuesday. But Wednesday, a friend and I decided we were still young and energetic enough to drive 3 hours with our girls to visit an historical site we'd been meaning to take them to for a year or so now. And then 3 hours back, because we decided it was a great idea for a day trip.

That's 6 hours of driving, people - I did the math. But hey, it's worth it to get the girls to learn about our nation's history, all while having fun, right?

Wait, I just asked Susie what she liked - was it seeing an actual cannonball embedded in the side of a house? The authentic archaeological diggings? The entertaining docents? She said, "The potato chips and the ice cream," so maybe it wasn't worth it, after all. I don't know. What I do know is that I'll have to file this experience under the I'm not as young as I used to be category. I've spent the last 2 days recuperating from what should have been a simple homeschooling field trip.

I mean, Larry and I are no slouches at this sort of thing - I can't even count the number of times we've been to historical reenactment villages and farms and ships and what not. Sturbridge Village, Williamsburg, Plimoth Plantation - you name it, we've done a day trip there. For years, no vacation was complete without driving to see people dressed in clothes from different time periods, operating colonial-era printing presses and spinning fiber. If we HAD ever gone to DisneyWorld, the kids probably would have been confused that Goofy wasn't showing them how to hammer out a horseshoe or that Minnie wasn't sitting at a loom, weaving tablecloths.

Normal vacation activity for our family, unfortunately

Yeah, we were that sort of homeschooling family. Yet the years apparently have taken a toll on me, which has me questioning my half-baked plan to drag at least a few of the kids to some national parks out west this summer. Do I have the stamina anymore? Can I manage the driving and the hiking and the visits to re-created gold-mining towns? Most importantly, will there be potato chips and ice cream?

All this remains to be seen. Odds are, none of it will happen, due to my not having made hotel reservations, oh, gazillion months ago. Who knew? And the girls have categorically refused to go camping this summer. Larry looked surprised at this news. "They don't want to?" he asked, with the same level of surprise one would display upon hearing that his children were not actually his own. "But it's so much fun!"

Which makes me think Larry has early-stage dementia, because he apparently doesn't remember back a mere 6 months ago when one teen (who shall go unnamed) did her very best to render our annual camping sojourn in Maine a living hell. Or he just likes to torture all of us - that's a possibility, too...

[Colonial dancers image: Old Sturbridge Village]

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Let it be known that, in over 26 years of parenting, I have never had the dubious pleasure of hosting a slumber party. Never.

Until tonight. Tonight Rachel has 4 friends over, and the whole experience is surreal. Who are these people? Why are they in my house? And why are they so loud?

Seriously, this house has been kids' friends central for about 2 decades, but no one has ever been this noisy. They'd go downstairs and play and half the time I didn't even know who was down there and who wasn't. But these teens tonight (including my Rachel)? Are being SO LOUD. Luckily, I can get 2 floors away from them to sleep, but still -- it's disturbing to have all this noise in my house at 11 PM.

In other words, I'm old.

Bright side - Rachel cheerfully cleaned her room and helped tidy the rest of the house in preparation for the party. That's one teen that works well with a little motivation. As for myself, I went above and beyond by purchasing ingredients for ice cream sundaes. I hope Rachel remembers today when it's time to put me in a nursing home.

2 cans of name-brand whipped cream, honey - TWO. I think that rates a private room.

I went with Brian to the Warby Parker at our mall yesterday, so he could get his glasses tightened. While we were there, he helped me pick out the frames for my next set of eyeglasses. That's actually his official job in our family - making sure we all sport stylish eyewear. It all started when Brian insisted on taking Larry there last year; helpful son that he is, he even texted me pictures of Larry in all the different frames he tried on.

Let's note Brian's extraordinarily high level of emotional intelligence here: he knew that a man can't be completely happy with his eyeglasses unless his wife is happy also. I mean, it's no surprise - Brian also understood the inappropriateness of buying one's spouse a bagel slicer for her birthday. My future daughter-in-law, whoever she may be, had better appreciate this guy.

My future eyeglasses

Anyway, things snowballed from there. Anna asked Brian to go with her when SHE picked out her glasses this past August. And Susie has already told him he's on call for when she gets her new prescription, which will have to be soon, since she's sort of bumping into walls around here.

The party is still going strong downstairs, but I have officially run out of steam. I'm going to shut myself in my room and pretend that our home has not been invaded by young folk of boundless energy and overactive vocal chords. I need some sleep, because Larry and I plan to be up bright and early to blast NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday from our kitchen radio, only one floor above our sleeping guests. Maybe we'll sit in the living room and talk loudly about boring adult topics, to boot. We may be old, people, but we've still got game.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Team Señor Rico

Larry's still away, which means all kid transportation has fallen in my lap. It's been a ridiculous amount of driving and logistics. So ridiculous that when Rachel said, "Oh, hey, there's this thing Sunday...", I shouted "NO! NO DRIVING!"and she pretty much backed out of the room.

At least I'm making sure the kids miss their father, right?

As for me, I'll admit I've been enjoying having the bedroom all to myself, since that means I can pile yarn and half-done knitting projects on the bed and leave them there until I'm good and ready to put them away. Also, my OWN bathroom - no feeling guilty about all the exfoliators and facial moisturizers and anti-wrinkle products scattered on the vanity every morning. And, no, I have no idea if the products I bought at Costco last week are actually working. I probably should have used them on only one side of my face, if I wanted to be scientific about it. Why didn't I think of that? I don't know. There goes my Nobel Prize for science, I guess.

Scrap-yarn blanket I've been working on -
blankets belong on beds anyway, right?

I managed to beat back whatever weird virus was threatening me last week (maybe I'm just allergic to driving? That's possible), so I've gotten back to my 1-mile slog/jog in the mornings. I take weekends off, because I have yoga, which is not at all the same thing but humor me, okay? Yesterday got so warm and nice out, however, that I texted a few neighbors to see if anyone wanted to go for a brisk walk with me. One finally said yes, so off we went. When I got back home, another neighbor texted and said, "Oh, hey, I can go now!" so I went for another walk. I mean, exercise, right? It's good for you.

So I got home from that second walk and had no sooner collapsed on the couch with my knitting (I mean, ENOUGH with the exercise already) when another neighbor knocked on the door and - you guessed it - invited me out for a walk. And I went, because she's younger than I am and I didn't want to seem wimpy.

My point here is, I think my neighbors are trying to kill me. Or else my new anti-aging creams are so effective, these people think I can handle all this aerobic activity. That's a possibility.

I have to go now. Today is my weekly Aldi's day, and if I haven't talked here yet about my love for Aldi's, well - I LOVE ALDI'S. Everything is SO CHEAP. I feel thrifty and virtuous every time I walk into that store. Also, I have a thing for these:

Only 88 CENTS EACH, people!

I buy an entire flat of them each week. And, yes, I KNOW I could make my own rice pudding even more cheaply (in fact an older woman in front of me on line in Aldi's gave me her recipe, because Aldi's customers are friendly that way); but first, it takes a long time, and second, it requires that I have all the right ingredients on hand, and third, it didn't taste the same. So I'll persist in my extravagant habit of buying these single-serve containers of creamy deliciousness, THANK YOU.

(I figured out how to type that "ñ" in the post title without even asking my teen for instructions - darn proud of myself I am.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Miracle Cream, Hypochondria, And A Dearth Of Kittens

In case you were wondering just what a midlife crisis looks like when it takes place in Costco, this would be it:

My goal is not to frighten people with my face. That is all.

Yeah, those items somehow found their way into my cart. Supposedly, the cream on the left takes only a week to start working; so I assume when Larry comes home from his 10-day business trip, he won't even recognize me.

Also, I managed to mail that book to Lisa G. the VERY NEXT DAY! This type of punctuality is unheard of in the history of this blog, so then I spent the next 5 days congratulating myself on my efficiency and didn't realize until, um, NOW that I've been neglecting you all.

So, hi! Currently I am telling myself that the obvious cold and/or flu symptoms I'm experiencing are nothing. NOTHING. Tomorrow I will wake up hale and hearty, as all I need are copious amounts of orange juice and a good night's sleep to beat this thing back.

I HAVE to beat this thing, actually. Larry's away, which means I'm in charge of all teen transportation around here, so I can't afford to be sick right now. I'm hoping these are just psychosomatic symptoms engendered by my reading one too many articles about the 1918 flu pandemic and how awful it was.

OMG, click and look at that headline, will you? It's a hypochondriac's nightmare.

I started knitting a sweater last week - I've never knit one before, because I find the whole idea rather intimidating; but this was a new pattern that is supposed to be easy and I happened to have the right yarn on hand and suddenly there I was, knitting part of the back and then picking up stitches for the front like a boss. A BOSS, I tell you...

Trust me, it's an incipient sweater

So! I was showing off my progress to some knitting friends yesterday morning and one of them said, "That doesn't look right."

Now, understand, there wasn't even much to see - just 6 inches or so of the top front and top back.

"What?" I said, startled. "Where?"

"There," she said. "By the armhole - it should be straight."

"Oh, I followed those directions EXACTLY," I said proudly. "I KNOW it's right."

"It's not right," she said.

And, yeah, it wasn't. So I got to pull it out and start over. If my friend hadn't noticed my mistake, I would have merrily knitted that entire sweater with the neckline increases at the armholes. Thank goodness knitters adhere to the IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING school of thought.

I know, no one wants to hear about knitting. What I should do is, I should foster kittens. Another blogger is fostering CUTE WIDDLE KITTIES and all of us readers cannot get enough of her pictures featuring their adorable little ears and paws and tiny little noses. Half-done knitting projects just can't compete, that's for sure.

But yarn doesn't poop, so there's that.

Time for my next dose of orange juice. I'll talk at you tomorrow, unless of course I'm dead from flu by then. In my mind, that's always a possibility.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

We Have A Winner!

I'm supposed to be finishing up with the cooking of tonight's dinner (something different to do with carrots, anyone?), so that's why I'm talking at you instead.

I remembered this morning that I am holding a giveaway for the Yarn Harlot's book Knitting Rules. I had completely forgotten, so - again - it's a good thing I'm not a big-time blogger (do those exist anymore, even?) that people actually expect things from. Anywhoo, I dialed up the trusty old random number generator and it gave me a 3, which translated into Lisa G. in CT winning the book.

Lisa G. in CT, come on down! Or just email me (vogelkaren@gmail.com) to give me your address, okay?

Whew, that was exciting. What was also exciting is that I managed to finish binding off my January project at the stroke of midnight yesterday (okay, okay, at the stroke of 12:01, actually). I held it up in front of the mirror (my arms are too short to properly view it straight on) to appreciate it's beautiful colors and fun striping and realized I don't know if I like it

Draped attractively across my beloved Ektorp, because why not?
Unfortunately, my lousy photography skills don't let you see how
the flecks of color in the cream sections coordinate with the lovely green lines

I mean, the shawl is lovely and all (look at those cunning stripes that meet at one end but diverge at the other - swoon), but I don't know if it's my style. This may turn into another giveaway. Or a birthday present for an elderly friend I only see twice a year, so she doesn't feel obligated to wear it if she doesn't want to. I don't know. I do know that my negative reaction caused me to question my resolution this year to knit fancy things like other knitters do. Maybe I should just stick to socks and tube cowls. I'm a simple person, after all.

It's an existential crisis, y'all, triggered by 200 grams of fingering weight sock yarn. Who knew my psyche was so precariously balanced?

In other news (aside from the fact that those carrots are STILL NOT COOKED), a friend and I took our girls on a field trip yesterday to 2 museums, with a stop at Shake Shack in between. It was a productive day, is what I'm saying. This morning we went ice skating, and if there is anyone out there who still thinks homeschoolers sit home all day, chained to their workbooks, well...you're wrong, obviously. In fact, I can't even find the workbooks right now.

Probably under a pile of yarn someplace, I guess.

Okay, now I have 10 minutes to turn a pile of raw carrots into something my family wants to eat with pot roast and potatoes. I should have a cooking show - Deadline: Dinner or something like that. A bunch of underachieving housewives can compete to throw together a tasty side dish from whatever happens to be in the fridge. Bonus points if none of the children cry when presented with the results.

Hey, Cooking Channel? CALL ME.