Thursday, May 31, 2018

Things Fall Apart

I spent my morning doing what Susie cheerfully calls "stupid adult stuff" at the computer: emails, learning how to use VoiceThread for an online accounting course I signed up for, trying to figure out Blackboard (for that same course), more emails, reading accounting textbook lingo and not understanding it, MORE emails. I finally pulled myself away from the computer (but not before having a spiritual crisis about what I want to do with my life and does it really include an accounting course?).

It was a stupid adult morning, is what I'm saying.

So! Susie and I decided to go to Target and look for a shrug for her to wear over her sleeveless dress at Brian's graduation ceremony tomorrow night. We headed happily out the door, got in the car, pulled out of the parking space, and realized we were sort of listing to the left.


I think we diagnosed it correctly

We'd been having trouble with that particular tire for a while, so I wasn't too surprised. "I'll let Daddy deal with it when he gets home," I told Susie, because I'm good at acting helpless like that. "Let's take Theo's car instead!"

Remember? Theo and Anna are both overseas right now. We've been stuck babysitting her pickup truck and his car since September. But, hey, now we could benefit from that!

So Susie and I trooped down to the road, where Theo's car was parked, and got in. I turned the key. Nothing happened. I mean, NOTHING. I tried again. Nada. I considered trying Anna's pickup, but I was feeling jinxed by this point and didn't want her truck to catch it.

I'm logical like that.

So we went back inside and I called Larry. Because, well, helpless. I left 4 voicemail messages and then gave up. Susie and I ended up sitting around (me knitting) and listening to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, because we couldn't think of anything else fun to do and we couldn't move anyway because we were weighted down by humidity.

That is too a thing.

What I really needed

Larry finally called back and told me to call AAA and the tow truck driver showed up and I tipped him way too much just to tow my car a mile away, but I don't even care because the air conditioning has finally kicked in and I feel as though I have a whole new lease on life.

But that accounting course might still have to go...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Challenge Accepted

Remember yesterday? You know, when I crowed about finally getting around to cleaning out the junk corner (okay, ONE of the junk corners) in my bedroom? Remember this picture?


I had to drive Rachel to Civil Air Patrol last night and Larry was asleep before I got home, so I went to bed in the dark. And this morning, when I woke up? This is what I found:

Those are NOT my boxes.

Yup. We've talked about spousal sabotage before, haven't we? This may be yet another example of that. Or it could just be one more instance of Larry's sorta cute cluelessness - that's a definite possibility.

But either way, he has thrown down the gauntlet, as it were. THAT CORNER WILL BE EMPTY. I mean, unless I stumble upon a very inexpensive spinning wheel, of course...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Out With The Not-So-Old

Hey, Together Rising has put together a focused plan to help 60 immigrant children separated from their parents RIGHT NOW. If you'd like to learn more and perhaps donate, please click here. I'm a big fan of Glennon's from way back, because instead of just wringing her hands over the suffering in the world today (like, um, moi), she actually manages to do something about it. And, what's more, she makes us believe that we can do something about it, too, in the bargain.

I mean, seriously, I can't imagine anything else I could spend $25 on today that would make me feel as good as I did when I clicked on that DONATE button. Not even the chicken at Nando's...

I also feel good because I managed to tackle the junk corner of my bedroom this morning. You know, the corner between the dresser and the wall where stuff gets piled and you pretend you don't see it and after a while, you really don't? THAT corner?

Okay, maybe it's just me then.

Anyway, I pulled out all the junk (picture frames, empty baskets, and a very not-used feather duster that decided to shed all over the floor) and dusted and donated some frames and piled the rest elsewhere to deal with later. But, hey, that corner is empty!

See? Nothing there! (Just, uh, ignore
that pile on the dresser...)

And then I decided to get rid of the radio on Larry's nightstand - the one that looked really modern when I bought it for him way back in, I don't know, 2011, maybe? Our one electronic possession at that point was my iPod touch and this radio had a charging dock, so we felt REALLY tech savvy owning that thing.

Ah, memories...

No longer modern

I don't think either of us has used the radio in 3 years. I don't know why - I mean, I always used to turn on NPR in the morning when I was getting dressed or making the bed or whatever. I guess now I just look at Twitter. That's sad.

And we definitely don't use the alarm (can't remember how and we have our phones for that now). The clock isn't useful, because Larry always has books piled in front of it. So, yeah, it's a useless relic at this point. While I was at it, I removed the handset for our cordless phones, because we don't use those anymore either.

You know, I'm trying to think of one single thing that became superannuated in my parents' house while I was growing up. ONE THING. And I can't. Yet here we have treasured purchases (I'm telling you, that cordless phone with 4 - count them, FOUR - handsets was a pretty spiffy item back in 2009) becoming obsolete in under 10 years. It makes my head spin, and my kids can't understand why.

Gen Z'ers - all of them. Oh, well.

I also ended up going through my yarn stash a bit (this is the problem with storing my yarn in my bedroom - I can't clean the bedroom without getting distracted). I bagged up odds and ends to give away to the thrift store, and set aside a few (more select) skeins to pass on to knitterly friends.

Thrift store

The elite collection

Which of course makes room for MORE YARN. But don't tell that to Larry. I believe he thinks I'm cutting back when I give yarn away, when really all I'm doing is preparing to freshen my stash with some new purchases. Larry's innocence is pretty charming, right? It belongs to a simpler time, when radios with iPod docks were exciting and having a landline phone that wasn't tethered to a cord was the height of modernity.

And now I'm off to do something else useful - cook dinner maybe, or perhaps just find out what smells so bad in my kitchen. Or maybe I've done enough useful things today: cleaned out some junk, talked to a friend, helped mothers find their maybe I'll just knit instead.

Gorgeous project bag made by a knitter friend,
because knitters are just so darn talented

Yup, I think I'll knit.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Teen Takeover

Okay, I'm about to tell you all about my week and Susie's birthday but first - I'm sitting here at the computer in my den and I keep smelling aftershave. No one in this house uses aftershave.

Do ghosts smell like Old Spice, by any chance? Or maybe I just have a very well-groomed intruder?

So! Susie - the baby of our family who was cute enough to lose her own arm in her dress when she was 2 - turned 13 on Friday. THIRTEEN. We feted her, as is our custom, with homemade cake (not volcano-shaped, though) and cheaply wrapped gifts. I proudly present to you the magnificent strawberry/whipped cream confection that our group effort produced:

Shout out to Rachel, who sliced those strawberries on the side paper thin.

It's a beauty, right? Here's a close-up of the top:

In case you haven't noticed, there are 2 circles of exactly 13 strawberry slices on top of that cake. Which might lead an astute reader to think, "Hmmm, is it possible that someone possessing an aerospace engineer's eye for detail was involved in this creation?" That astute reader would be correct! David flew home Wednesday night from the Texas desert, where he has been helping test rocket engines this semester, bearing gifts and his preternatural cake-decorating abilities.

It was a good weekend for this mom, is what I'm saying.

We did all the birthday things: the cake and the wrapped gifts, the Belgian waffle breakfast, plus Larry and I decided to break the bank, as it were, by taking everyone out to a real restaurant (meaning, NOT ChikFilA) to celebrate not only Susie's birthday but also Brian's imminent high school graduation and David's upcoming Big Birthday - 21.

Remember? The kid who was always trying to make things fly? He turns 21 in June and does that for real. People PAY him. Verklempt does not even begin to describe how I felt this weekend.

Where was I? Oh, yes - gifts:

Michaels has really pretty wrapping paper for only 2 bucks!

And the unwrapped version:

That IS another 5-lb bag of gummy bears. SHUT UP.

We also bought Susie a tenor ukulele last week (in case any of you were wondering at the fact that  our teenager wanted only candy and a tub of Polynesian sauce from ChikFilA for her birthday). So yes, we are now a 2-ukulele household. Not something I'd ever thought I'd write, but hey - I do try to roll with the times.

David gave her the Blue Origin merchandise. Apparently, they have a gift shop - who knew?

And, no, Susie isn't snippy with us yet. Oh, we know better than to let our guard down, but it WAS a relief to see she still recognized us as her parents when she woke up on Friday. 15-year-old Rachel obliges by more than making up for Susie's lack of attitude, though, so we're still well-grounded in  teen reality here, don't worry. She just hasn't passed the baton to Susie yet, is all.

Cynical? Moi? Nah, just beaten down. We're on teenagers numbers 5 and 6 here, with 3 still living in the house. 2 of them look at us every day with expressions of wonderment that people as old and stupid as ourselves can manage to function. I'm sure the youngest is not far behind.

We just want to survive, is all. Preferably with some modicum of self-esteem...

Monday, May 21, 2018

Baseboard Boogie

Well, here we are at 8:30 AM, rocking out to the wild strains of "Sweet Child of Mine," so that can only mean one thing, right? Yup, the handyman is here.

He's doing great, by the way, after his medical crisis of - wow - almost 2 years ago.

Over a year ago, he and Larry "finished" redoing the basement, including tearing out all the walls AND floors (because, as we all know by now, Larry never does anything halfway), insulating them (yes, the floors, too), putting up new walls, new trim, painting, installing a new floor, etc.

But of course you've never heard of a renovation project that is finished, right? There's always something left to do. In this case, it was the French doors leading outside to the patio. You see, because Larry insisted on putting 3 full inches of insulation in the walls, we wound up with doors that no longer fit. They couldn't even open properly, because - remember - Larry RAISED THE FLOOR. The handyman had to shave off a few inches from the bottom of one of the old ones so we wouldn't be trapped.

For the past year or so, we've had rags and old rugs stuffed all around the doors to keep out wind and critters, which was a lovely look, interior design-wise, but now - NOW - the new doors have been installed. And Andy came by this week to put in the final piece of flooring and the last baseboards on that wall.

An utterly riveting photo of the final baseboard

That man has installed every single baseboard in this house. Remember when I first went searching for the right ones, way back in 2012? I felt silly making a fuss back then; but, boy am I glad I picked out something I like, because now they're everywhere. I guess I didn't take Larry seriously when he threatened to tear out and insulate the entire house. I thought the den would be enough, maybe one more bedroom. I thought he'd get tired of the whole crazy project and stop. I was wrong.

They said it couldn't be done. I can  feel Larry thinking that, every time he sits down with his evening beer and gazes upon what he hath wrought. They said it couldn't be done.

How about some music to celebrate, huh?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Back To Nature

Today we talk about all my accomplishments in the plant world. Look, I went to Home Depot and bought this myself:

These look much more impressive in real life.

I figured we needed a little color on the deck to distract from the general white trash feel we have going on back there. It worked! No one's called the HOA on us yet. That's $15 well spent, I say.

And then Larry bought basil plants at the farmers' market and I planted them right away, rather than waiting 2 weeks, as is my wont:

Incipient pesto, that's what these are...

There are SIX MORE basil plants I planted (unshown). I know! It's as if I suddenly developed a green thumb and a deep and abiding love for the natural world, right? But no, I just can't afford to keep buying premade pesto at the supermarket, is all.

Ditto for cherry tomatoes...

I'm sort of proud of this one - it's grown a lot. I've got the magic touch, all right.

And look what I picked out at Trader Joe's the day before Mother's Day:

Happy Mother's Day TO ME

Larry was with me at the time, so the tulips count as a present. Also, he had picked up flowers elsewhere that morning but hidden them, so he gets extra points for keeping mum (MUM, GET IT?) and letting me purchase even more flowers.

Because I am now so in tune with nature, I managed last night to photograph an actual rainbow:

You can sort of see it. There, in the center? Look harder.

Later on there was a colossal lightning storm, but I didn't get any pictures. Mostly because I was too busy running for my car while fearing instant death by a bolt from above. But take my word for it, the pyrotechnics were impressive. And now it's been raining for...what?...3 or 4 days straight, with 2 more days to come, so everyone's making "build an ark" jokes, which I will studiously refrain from because IT'S NOT EVEN FUNNY ANYMORE, PEOPLE.

Yeah, a lot of rain. And tornadoes. And trees falling down. I don't know what happened to the lovely month of May, but I would like it back, please. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Interior Decorating, The Stupid Way

Well! I glanced at last Tuesday's post and boy, did I get a lot done that day. So now I'm mad at last week me for setting the Tuesday bar way too high. The heck with it. I'm gonna sit here and blog at you and not accomplish a darn thing.

First, I went to Target and discovered that that earring/shade pull trend - you know, the one I discovered at H&M - is a full-on epidemic at this point.

I urge you all to fight this. RESIST. Do not let curtain tie-backs hanging from your ears become the new normal.

Also, I was on a walk the other day and saw a turtle. So I snapped a photo, because - let's face it - that's not hard to do. I mean, it's not as though the creature is running out of the frame or anything. In fact, I bet they use turtles to practice on in Wildlife Photography 101.

I'm pretty sure there's a turtle in there. They don't shed their shells, do they?

Way easier to pose turtles than cheetahs, is what I'm saying...

Moving on...we had a couch in our basement family room. It was one of those huge leather (?) things that had a recliner at either end. We picked it up a number of years ago at a neighborhood yard sale to replace our broken-down sleeper sofa from IKEA (which was then picked up by ANOTHER family with a bunch of small kids). Our kids were thrilled by our new acquisition. "We have a REAL COUCH!" they told any neighbor who would listen.

You know, maybe it's no wonder people around here were always giving me their extra stuff.

Now, this couch was made for taller people than moi. I couldn't sit up on it properly, because what I guess is supposed to be the neck rest (for the non-altitudinally challenged among us) always pushed my head forward. This doesn't sound that bad, but believe me, it's incredibly uncomfortable. So I'd have to recline the seat. But then that made me fall asleep. I always felt like I was drowning in it.

I didn't like that couch, is what I'm saying.

But Larry liked it, because he is tall and he was happy to finally have a piece of furniture in the house that he could lean back on. So I suffered. The things we do for love, you know? Also, trying to find a new couch seemed too overwhelming. Harder than choosing a stove, even...

Anyway, then we did that whole basement remodel thing, after which even Larry agreed that the couch had to go. It was too big, and too dark a color, and just all wrong.

So we posted it for $100 bucks online. Didn't get so much as a nibble. FINE. We posted it for free and it still sat there for weeks. Let me note here that when we post an old, broken appliance, at least 5 people contact us within an HOUR, begging to pick it up. Apparently, there are too many couches in this world.

No one wanted this. Why? WHY?

But FINALLY, someone texted and offered to pick it up yesterday evening. "I'll be there between 6:30 and 7:00," he said. Oh, Larry was thrilled! He came home from work early, just to make sure he could get rid of that couch, which had become a sort of albatross around his neck, as it were.

At 6:15, our entire area was put under a rare tornado warning, with torrential rain pouring down on us and lightning flashing through the sky. For some reason the couch-getter decided not to risk his life just to pick up a free piece of furniture. "Tomorrow," he texted. "I'll come at 6:30 AM." Larry and the kids and I were forced to hunker down in the basement, watching the back yard flood under the downpour and looking at the couch that WILL NOT LEAVE, and I could feel Larry - who hates to give up on a plan - thinking, We could've done it, dammit...

So I'm glad the guy with the UHaul had some sense. And now the couch IS gone and we get to argue about a replacement, which discussion should go just as well as the one about the area rugs. You know, a full year ago? Do you see any rugs in that picture up there? No, you DO NOT.

Oh, well, I guess minimalist is a style. Just a hand-me-down chair from a friend and a TV and a couple of bicycles. We're good. Really.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

There's Always Room For Jell-O

Hi! Today was special, in that I actually got to stay home most of the day and get things done around here. I planted the three tomato plants that Larry bought at the Farmer's Market on Saturday (in containers on my deck, that's as close as I get to gardening), added compost to all the planters that are awaiting basil plants, and weeded the front yard because it is being taken over by these weird prickly plants that I can only assume come from Mars:

Anyone know what this thing is? 

And THEN I went inside and emptied 2 of my kitchen cabinets - you  know, the two I couldn't really use anymore because they were full, so everything else gets left on the counter beneath them. But that also happens to be the counter in front of the microwave, so we have to move all the overflow items whenever we want to use that particular appliance. In other words, ALL THE TIME.

So I dove in and found any number of things to get rid of, such as 2 containers of coconut oil, which is sort of weird they were in there, because I don't use coconut oil for anything. I organized the spices that were in there and refilled my spice jars and marveled at the fact that I have 2 boxes of tapioca pudding mix that I haven't gotten around to using.

I LOVE tapioca pudding.

This here won the prize for having the oldest expiration date:

I swear, we don't eat lime Jell-O here. I have no idea why it was in my cabinet. I have actually been trying to see if I can spot it in this picture from 2012, where I'm demonstrating my neighbors' predilection for giving me all their food when they move. The Jell-O might be hiding under that little spice box with the green lid, right there in the center, I'm thinking.

So anyway, I threw that out, too, even though I think it is debatable whether or not Jell-O can actually expire. And now I am the proud owner of kitchen cabinets that have some extra space in them, space where I can stow the flotsam and jetsam that appears on my counters with alarming regularity.

Also? I found a small bag of (unexpired) mini Oreos as I cleaned. So I'd call this day a win, all the way around.

Monday, May 07, 2018

No Veggies, No Yard Work

It was my Aldi's day, but I didn't get anything interesting to show you, not even my fave rice puddings. I also went to Costco, where you can buy a large 18" pizza for $10, because I believe in feeding my kids healthy like that.

Hey, there were veggies on it, you know.

Speaking of veggies, I am once again staring in confusion at the little "save it for the blog" notes I make for myself throughout the day. This morning, I scribbled "No veggies, no yard work." I remember feeling confident that I would know what I was talking about - later, when I would need it. AND thinking it was something funny.

Anyone want to take that and run with it? Because I have no idea what it means.

Gratuitous photo of cute doggie in a convertible. You're welcome.

In other news, Larry bought a new keyboard and mouse last night (with Brian's help, because we are now utterly dependent on that kid's tech advice) and I'm having trouble with it. I mean, I usually don't pay attention to my typing, but now I feel as if my fingers are falling into the spaces between the keys, which makes no sense, but there you are. Or there I am, anyway.

I sort of want one of those keyboards that look like an old manual typewriter, actually.

I went into Best Buy this morning during Brian's shift, so he could show me the other keyboards. I tried gazillion of them, and by the end I decided to just go back to my old one. I know! It was just overwhelming, and once I started paying attention to my typing, NOTHING felt right. I think Brian needs to sneak a new keyboard on my desk every night until we happen on the one I don't notice. If that makes any sense...

Gratuitous flower photo - it's azalea season here, in case you couldn't tell

So I'm still typing on this new thing because I don't know how to switch back to the old one and Brian is busy trying to finish up schoolwork for senior year and is probably just sick of me and my keyboard problems anyway. In fact, I suspect he's scratching tally marks on his bedroom wall, just counting the days until he can get away from us.

34, to be exact. He has 34 days. Then he gets to go on a free trip to Israel (courtesy of Birthright, given to those Hebrews among us) for 10 days, after which he'll stay and hang out over there with Anna and Theo for a while more. (Anna and Theo have been in Israel since September, teaching English to kids who speak Arabic. What with that and David's spring-semester internship in Texas, we are currently a far-flung family.)

Everyone gets back here some time in the summer, though, and chaos will reign. Chaos and potato salad, actually. Speaking of which, I made my first potato salad of the season just a few days ago, but I forgot to take a picture to share with you all.

That moment will just have to be lost to posterity, I'm afraid. But the potato salad was greeted with great rejoicing by Susie, who has a particular predilection for potato salad sandwiches. No, we don't understand the concept either. But who are we to argue? Remember, she's the grandchild.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Slam Dunk

I don't know where the days go anymore. I haven't been here since Wednesday? All I remember doing lately is messing with these things here:

Admit it - you wish you were me.

I have to place these in the drainpipes of about 50 houses, because our neighborhood is Mosquito Central in the summer months; these things, at least in theory, kill any larvae that have the temerity to hatch in those little pools of water that stay in the hosepipes extending from everyone's gutters. Once a month I get to do this, because our neighborhood split right down the middle on whether or not to pay someone to spray pesticides every 3 weeks to kill the mosquitoes and I swear, you haven't seen discord like that since the Civil War.

You know, everyone says they want to live in a close-knit community, but then reality sets in. Reality being other people, of course...

OMG, this is so boring. But then, so is my life right now, so at least I'm keeping things real, right? I do try to keep a list of interesting topics that pop into my head during the day; but when I go back and check my list (say, at a time such as this), I don't understand what the heck I wrote.

I'm sure this happened to Tolstoy a lot.

Oh, wait, there was Rachel's high school play and concession duty and the cast party last night and maybe that's why I'm so tired? I've also been knitting (WHAT A SURPRISE), but seeing as how all my projects are in various states of disrepair right now, I'm thinking I need a new hobby. You know, a hobby that isn't so disappointing all the time? I'm taking suggestions here.

Larry and I, despite being old and married and tired, actually managed to watch something TOGETHER on our TV this evening. It was that Netflix comedy special with John Mulaney, which started out mildly amusing and then became funny and then I literally fell off the couch trying not to choke on my own laughter. It had a sort of cumulative effect, is what I'm saying.

Watch it, okay? No, really, WATCH IT. And report back.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Look, We Tried

Take your kids camping, they said. Give them great family memories, they said.

I'll have you know that Susie and I were in Michael's the other day, browsing through the tchotchkes for sale, and she burst out laughing when she saw this:

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"That's RIDICULOUS!" she said, pointing at the front of the box.


"They're sitting around looking so HAPPY. We don't do that when WE'RE camping!"

Sigh. Out of the mouths of babes, people...out of the mouths of babes...

Tuesday, May 01, 2018


I bought baking soda at Aldi's yesterday. (OMG, am I mentioning Aldi's again? What has my life turned into?) The box was not - repeat, NOT - easy to open.

I won, but it was a struggle.

Which experience left me with "My heart bleeds for the Snicker Snack company" running through my head the rest of the day. Anyone else even know what I'm talking about here?

I didn't think so.

I also learned yesterday that the editing job I was hoping to get is not, after all this time, going to be mine. This information has precipitated a mid-life (well, slightly past mid-life, really, because there's no way I'm going to make it to 110 years old) crisis of tsunami proportions. Seriously, I realized I will probably never get a job in my field again. Maybe not any sort of a real job ever - real, as in I'd have an office to go to and colleagues and, uh, whatever else you get with a real job. Oh, yes, a paycheck! That would have been nice, too.

Right after I found this out, I had to take Rachel to ChikFilA to follow through on her own job application, but they told her that they only needed people who could work between the hours of 5 AM and 4 PM. While she stood there disappointed, I briefly thought, "I could do that! I like waffle fries!"

But I don't want to. Especially after hearing the shift supervisor call the woman cashier "Sweetie." We almost had an incident there, is what I'm saying...

So I've enrolled in a summer-semester accounting course at the local community college, thinking maybe some desperate CPA might at least hire me for the busy season of January through April. Who knows? At least it will feel as though I'm doing something. My brain can't live on Internet fodder alone, you know. I can almost feel it atrophying away as I scroll through Facebook and Twitter each evening. And morning. And, okay, mid-afternoon, too.

Yeah, I have an Internet problem here. I admit it. That's the first step, right?