Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Scoop in the Poop

I waited for a nice, chilly day to take care of a job I've neglected for much too long: Scooping poop. For lots of reasons, I've let this job go for a number of months. With a German Shedder, poop piles up fast.

I've geared my mind to doing this for a number of weeks, but with holiday preparations, heavy rains, and unseasonably warm spells, the opportunity wasn't there. Well, okay, it was, but only thing worse than scooping months' worth of poop is scooping that poop on a warm and/or soggy day. Blech.

Yeah, I know. Too much information.

Today was the day. I grabbed the scooper and armed myself with a bunch of bags and started my trek around the lawn.

There's a reason why we call our dog Duh-chess or Knucklehead. For a German Shepherd, she's not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. Her biggest problem is her mouth. She's worse than a Beagle or even a billy goat. She'll eat anything, keeping her digestion in states of varying turmoil. She'll have days where she's listless and will eat very little, and we know it's because she's somehow managed to eat something inedible.

We do our best to keep this at bay by preventing access to the known hot spots like the cat food, the litter pan, and the kitchen trash, but she still finds her way into mysterious bouts of tummy trouble. Today, during my seemingly-endless round of scooping, I scooped a poop into which a pair of Barbie's pants were knotted. Come on, now. What could possibly be appetizing about Barbie's yellow capris with the pink triangles? (Thank God Precious Daughter didn't spot them!)

The dumb dog deserves to be sick!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!

I knew there was a reason on Christmas Eve morning for not getting our tails out the door before 9:30 as I wanted. I had quite a bit to do despite my best efforts to have everything done earlier so I could putter around at a relaxed pace to get ready for Christmas Day. Ah well.

Y'see, I shot my schedule in the foot, so to speak. The Oracle and I made the foolish promise to allow our kids to "camp out" in the living room the night before. This stemmed from an overnight "adventure" on which Mighty B. and The Oracle spent a "guys' night" at House Fairy's and DEB's. I'm not even sure why they did that, but Mighty B. has been wanting to do it again. Precious Daughter wanted to give it a try too.

Anyway, conversations on the subject evolved into "camping out" in the living room with their air mattresses, and they've been hounding me weekly to do it. A couple weeks ago, I relented, and promised them they could do it on their first night of Christmas break, selling the point with the fact that the Christmas tree would be up and could stay lit all night.

Sick and snotty as they are, they insisted upon keeping the arrangement, thereby thwarting my efforts to finish late-night last-minute tasks. They were up rustling around until after 11:00. Even more amazing is that Mighty B. was up bright and early at 7:00 as usual.

Precious Daughter had a slower start and so did I. We finished breakfast, I puttered around a bit, and around 10:00 I heard sirens. My first thought was that the layer of ice coating everything earlier that morning caused a nasty accident. Then Precious Daughter started shouting and scrambling into shoes. "Santa's coming!!!"

Oh, yes! How could I forget? Every year the local fire company assembles a large procession and escorts Santa and Mrs. Claus up and down the streets of their service area. Precious Daughter sensibly chose her winter boots and allowed me to get a coat on her back before scrambling outside. Mighty B., still in his pajamas, threw on sandals and ran outside without a coat, and I just about had a conniption. I had to chase him down to put the thing on. Thankfully, the early-morning ice had melted by then.

They waited eagerly at the end of the driveway as the sirens approached, Mighty B doing so with his knees jiggling back and forth, but he wouldn't hear of throwing on sweat pants. At last, they could see the flashing red lights and started jumping up and down. The first truck rounded the corner. The second was pulling Santa's sleigh, and he waved the kids forward to give them little gifts.

Santa turned the corner, and the rest of the "parade" followed, lights flashing and sirens blaring.

I'm glad I live in a fun neighborhood.

I know I've fallen behind on posting, but I hope to get more done in the next couple of days. Bear with me!

Monday, December 22, 2008

There's Nothing Meaner...

...than sick kids during holidays. How cruel is it that my five year old son is suffering a rotten, sinusy head cold a mere three days before Christmas? The poor kid has his nose running off his face. It's so bad that he's willingly blowing his nose, something we normally badger him to do when he starts snuffling. His breath his horrid.

I'm wondering whether he'll be able to handle his last half day of school before Christmas break or if I'll have to keep him at home. Selfish critter that I am, I am tempted to send him to school so I can handle a few last-minute tasks.

Even worse is that I can see Precious Daughter is right behind him. She's starting out with the same look in the eye that he had a few days ago, and her breath is bad enough to peel paint.

On the bright side, bedtime on the 24th might be pretty easy.

The Repairman is Here!!

My stove is being repaired as I write. I was worried sick over not having a stove for Christmas Eve dinner. Actually, I'm nearly ecstatic. So much so that I almost don't mind paying the $133.80 for parts and labor.


Friday, December 19, 2008

"We are the Shepherds..."

"...Who Watch the Sheep. Tonight a Holy Watch We Keep."

That was B's line today for the school Christmas play. He's the one in the blue robe with the white headpiece to our immediate left of the angel.
I arrived fifteen minutes before the scheduled start, and the place was packed, much more so than when Precious Daughter did her kindergarten performance two years ago. There are very few "good spots" in this room to view anything, and my location was downright lousy. I would have been better off standing on a chair in the back, and I wish I had.
I stood near-ish to the front, though, because it was important for Mighty B. to be able to spot me. If he couldn't find me, I suspect he wouldn't have focused on his line or his songs very well. It's silly, I know. Most of the time the kid doesn't give a rat's patootie about what his mother wants, especially when it concerns his behavior, but at least he wants me around for these little highlights.
What you don't see is my poor kid's discomfort in this costume. The blue robe, despite being a lightweight flannel (which is almost like Velcro in contact with other fabric), kept sliding off his shoulders. I admit that it didn't occur to me to pin it somehow, mainly because I've done this same basic thing before and it stayed in place without one. (Thank you, Mrs. M., for setting it right when it fell off completely.)
The headdress, for lack of better term, was annoying him too. It must have been tickling his eyelash or something.
Between the sheep occupying one hand, the crook filling the other, the misbehaving robe and his annoying headdress, the poor kid was one uncomfortable, distracted camper. He carefully put his crook down two or three times during the performance to try brushing the headpiece out of his face or hitch the blue robe back onto his shoulder. To his credit, he kept singing when he was supposed to sing and was silent when he should be silent. I am quite proud of him.
Mighty B being who he is, I made the shepherd's crook out of styrofoam. I was afraid of giving him sticks, canes, pool cues, or any other potential weaponry. I know my son. Before the thing was even finished, he lifted it up and pointed it at his sister like a rifle. (Don't know where he learned that; we have no guns around here and watch little television.)
Anyway, the kindergarten class did an excellent job with their lines and performances. I'd post more pictures, but I don't feel right doing that with other peoples' kids.
I go back this afternoon for Precious Daughter's class project: Gingerbread houses. (Well, technically, they're graham-cracker houses.) I'll post more later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Should've Called the House Fairy

My cooktop is less than a year and a half old. A month ago, one of the burners stopped functioning properly, working only in the extremes of barely tepid or arc welding. Anything under the "high" setting barely warms the burner. I figured I'd live without it "for now." I mean, I rarely have two large pots going at one time, so I thought I could adapt.

Last week, however, my other large-sized burner quit on me. I was boiling potatoes to mash, had the thing set on 7 (out of a possible 9), and it took a while but the water was juuuuust under a simmer. I moved it up half a notch and it quickly brought my potato water to a nice boil, then to violently boiling over. I reduced the heat, but it still kept the water at a high boil. I turned the burner off, and the blasted thing kept cycling anyway (didn't shut off). I had to throw the breaker to turn off the blinkin' stove.

I considered calling the House Fairy and decided against it. I remember the bee-yotch of a time they had installing the thing, and I thought that if a paid service guy ended up cracking my cooktop, it would be on them and not on us to buy a replacement. I saw nothing but a can of worms for the House Fairy, and sparing him the hassle seemed like the better option. He has enough going on with DEB these days.

I called an appliance repair service from the list recommended by the manufacturer. The service guy arrived today. He was finished in under fifteen minutes, and I still do not have a functioning stove.

He arrived, and I described the problem. After turning the misbehaving burners on and off quickly, he says my elements are functioning, so I need new switches for those two burners. Okay; fine.

He crawls beneath the stove and gets the model & serial numbers. Then he tells me they'll call when the parts come in. Oh, by the way, I need to have someone remove any sealant around the stove edges so he can lift it out because they don't do that. That'll be $70.49, ma'am.

Huhwhat? That's it? Am I going to be able to cook Christmas dinner?

To say that I'm seething is an understatement. First off, I said nothing different to this guy than I did when I placed the service call. While on the phone, I easily could have turned the burners off and on to test the elements, and I certainly could've crawled beneath the stove and obtained the model and serial numbers, sparing this guy a trip and saving myself the expense. Lastly, I could have had any sealant removed long before he came if anyone at the office had bothered mentioning it when I scheduled the appointment.

If I'm going to pay seventy bucks for someone to screw me, shouldn't he at least dim the lights first? YIKES!!!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Them Again!

As a freelance court reporter, you run all over God's little acre for depositions. Doctors' offices, attorneys' offices, places of business, wherever you're needed. Commuting is sometimes a bit of a pain, but the variety keeps things interesting. As time wears on, the docs' and attorneys' faces become familiar, and eventually you can semi-predict how a job is going to go just by the people present.

Over the past five or six weeks, I've had a flurry of activity from one firm in particular. Until today, not one deposition with this firm has gone off without a hitch. Out of six jobs scheduled, three cancelled me after I'd already driven into the city, committed to horrendous parking fees, and trudged to their office from the parking garage.

A fourth job was a wild goose chase. I show up at the firm and they tell me the depo is at an office down the street. She gives me the address and suite number. I drag my stuff over there, go to the suite in question, and I'm greeted by a friendly attorney who knows nothing of what I'm talking about. Drat. My cell phone is dead and I can't call the firm to double check anything. Friendly Attorney suggests the doc's office down the hall as a possible location. Friendly is new to the building, and believes he now occupies the doc's former offices.

It's worth a try, but no dice. The doc's office is locked up tight. I trudge back to the firm to the receptionist who gave me the bad address. She calls the destination to confirm their address, and it's around the corner, thank goodness. Back down the elevator, past the bewildered security guard, and out the door I go to the new location, check in with the receptionist, and wait. Wait, wait, wait. Opposing counsel doesn't show and I'm canceled again.

I told my agency, when assigned another job with the firm this week, that if I'm cancelled one more time, don't send me there again. Between the gas and the parking, the base appearance fee is barely worth my while. I'd make better money sitting in my recliner and editing someone else's transcripts during the amount of time I wasted.

On my way, my agency calls and tells me the job's been moved a half hour later. Okay. At least it isn't cancelled. Still, I'm a smidge irked that I'm pretty much committed to my drive and I'll be paying for an extra half hour of parking.

I arrive nearly forty minutes early. The receptionist directs me to a chair, and I open my book and wait some more. The deponent arrives and waits in the same cluster of chairs with me. Mr. Attorney arrives five minutes before our scheduled start and takes the deponent back to talk about things before the deposition. Opposing counsel arrives. We wait. Eventually we're led to the conference room and I can set up.

Oh, look! The hiring attorney enters a bit after 3:00, and he's carrying a box from a reputable bakery in the city. It's nearly full with a scrumptious assortment of Italian cookies. He offers them around and places them in the middle of the table. I take the opportunity to remind all present to swallow their cookies before speaking, since I won't be able to understand anyone talking with his mouth full. Hiring attorney says, Oh, don't worry, I speak slowly (he thinks!).

I swear the witness, and hiring attorney begins reciting a bunch of stipulations for the record. Not even finished his third sentence, he reaches into the box and pulls out a cookie. Oh, no! It's not just a cookie, but a blinkin' biscotti!!

There is precious little on this earth that's a crunchier or noisier chew than biscotti except for maybe bagel chips or corn nuts.

We had lots of repeated testimony.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Bizarre

My kids had their Christmas Bazaar at school today. Armed with Ziploc baggies of dollar bills and quarters, the silly antlers V&R gave them at their party the other week, a list of people to shop for, and gigantic bags to hold their loot, they scooted onto the bus full of enthusiasm for the day ahead.

The younger grades, (Pre-K to 2) are assigned helpers from the older grades to move things along and to keep the kids on track. Next year, Precious Daughter gets to shop on her own. It will be interesting to see how she does.

They got off the bus this afternoon with their bags of goodies, with Mighty B practically tripping over his untied shoelaces in his rush to get across the street.

Precious Daugther successfully shopped for everyone on her list, showing me everything one by one and telling me who it was for. She also has the sense to keep my present a secret. For the most part, her gifts are "right on the money" for their recipients. She and her helper did a really good job.

Mighty B, on the other hand, hasn't grown an inch in this department since last year. His helper clearly had his hands full. Last year, I popped in during the bazaar to give B something I'd forgotten, and his twelve-year-old helper was already frustrated in his efforts to keep B on track.

This year was clearly no better. His bag is full of toys, with a few practical items here and there. When I ask who the gift is for, it changes every thirty seconds. The item he says he bought for Precious Daughter is now for Daddy. A few minutes later, it's for Uncle B. He also proudly displayed the thing he bought for me despite my efforts to explain why it's kept a secret until Christmas Day. Oh, wait! Now it's for Aunt V. Phew!

Clearly, they had a wonderful time today. My biggest battle now is to keep Mighty B out of the gift bag until Christmas. He is obsessed with its contents.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tagged Again

Coffee Bean tagged me for another meme. That's two of 'em two days in a row. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

This one also has an award attached, but once again I feel I'm ineligible because I don't like twisting others' arms to play. If you want to play, please do.


Seven Things:

Seven things I did before: (before what, I wonder?)
1. Worked at a cemetery.
2. EMT (very, very brief, had nothing to do with #1!)
3. Drank champagne.
4. Partied on New Years Eve.
5. Wore leather skirts with fishnet stockings.
6. Regularly used cosmetics.
7. Drove a Firebird w/T-tops (loved that car!!)

Seven things I do now:
1. Yell too much.
2. Self-employed SAHM
3. Wipe noses.
4. Spend too much time on the computer.
5. Have a Facebook account.
6. Procrastinate wherever possible.
7. Gestate.

Seven things I would like to do:
1. Be more self-disciplined and organized.
2. Be more patient.
3. Own a house on the beach or the river.
4. Ditch our mortgage.
5. Spoil my children (if it wouldn’t -- well -- spoil them.)
6. Maintain an earlier bedtime.
7. Be more adventurous with cooking (hard w/picky kids).

Seven things that attract me to my spouse/significant other (in no particular order):
1. He makes me laugh my butt off, and it's always when I need it most.
2. He’s honest and ethical, almost to a fault.
3. His eyes grabbed my attention when we first met.
4. He is brilliant.
5. He puts up with my forgetfulness.
6. He is an excellent daddy.
7. He gives fabulous hugs.

Seven favorite foods (gosh, only seven?):
1. Cheesesteaks with fried onions (maybe ‘shrooms) w/perfectly crispy fries.
2. Strawberries.
3. Fresh, ripe peaches.
4. The Oracle's chocolate chip cookies
5. My father-in-law’s French onion soup.
6. Waffles w/butter and syrup.
7. Pound Cake.

Seven things I say most often:
1. I'll ______ in just a minute.
2. Where's my purse?
3. I’m sorry, I forgot all about it. (What will I be like when I’m 80?)
4. Fa-la-la!!! (when we had to stop swearing around little children)
5. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you’re about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? (at every deposition.)
6. Can’t you two get along for five minutes!!??
7. I love you!

Seven people I am tagging:
Oh, see? There we go again. Why do I have to tag other people? I feel like a bully.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Tag, I'm it!"

Vee tagged me with a "This Blog Measures Up" award.

Say one nice thing about a man in your life.

Just one? Okay. I always appreciate The Oracle’s honesty. Even when part of me wishes he’d lie, I’m thankful he doesn’t.

List at least 6 ways that you measure (get it?) success in your life (or your blog).

1. Being available and useful when my friends or family need me.
2. Preparing a meal (other than spaghetti) that everyone enjoys and devours.
3. Getting my kids off to school with full bellies and without yelling (Getting homework done within an hour and without losing my mind means it’s an excellent school day from start to finish.)
4. Not having too deep a backlog of transcripts
5. A month with no finance charges/late fees
6. A shiny sink.

Assign this award to 6 other bloggers, and leave them a comment telling the blogger you've assigned them this award.

Awww, now I can’t do that. First of all, I barely know that many blogs; and second, I have this thing about chain mail. I get memes in my email all the time, and I never force anyone to respond. It just isn’t my way. (Hmmm... Does this mean I'm depriving someone of an award they might want? Thoughts?) I guess this means I forego the "certificate of authenticity" that comes with "measuring up." That's okay. It's a fun exercise.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cookies for Kids' Cancer

Please take a look at Toby's blog today, and consider supporting kids' cancer research by placing an order with www.cookiesforkidscancer.org.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One Word

Vee posted this on her blog. I have to admit I'm a bit of a sucker for these time-squandering questionnaires. Using this blog to answer them is a good way of not afflicting others with obligations to respond, but they can if the feel like it.

The idea with this one is that you use only one word to answer each question.

Where is your mobile phone? Pocket
Where is your significant other? Working
Your hair color? Graying :(
Your mother? Missed
Your father? Brilliant
Your favorite thing? Family
Your dream last night? Steno
Your dream goal? Debtless
The room you're in? Cluttered
Your hobby? Reading
Your fear? Death
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Officialship
Where were you last night? Chik-Fil-A
What you're not? Organized
One of your wish list items? Maid
Where you grew up? Here
The last thing you did? Snoozed
What are you wearing? Turtleneck
Your tv? Off
Your computer? Indispensable
Your mood? frustrated
Missing someone? Somewhat
Your car? Pacifica
Something you're not wearing? Shoes
Favorite shop? Toy
Your summer? chaotic
Love someone? Understatement!
Favorite color? None
When is the last time you laughed? Breakfast
When is the last time you cried? Unsure

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Costume (@&$%!!) and Another Sweets Day

Are you kidding me?

I should've seen it coming. Precious Daughter did the same thing in kindergarten, but I got off cheap that year when only "Sunday best" was required for her job as a narrator.

Mighty B. has to dress as a shepherd for this year's Grade-K Christmas pageant. Fortunately, shepherds are easy and I won't need the sewing machine at all.

On Friday, they're having "Sweets Day" as a fundraiser for Home & School. Yep, they did this last February, and some of you may remember my rant on the subject.

My kids have already placed their orders. She wants cookies, and he wants Rice Krispie treats. Well, at least the RK treats are easy to make. I am still tempted to dump the last of their Halloween candy into a bag and send it off to school with them, but I figure it will just come home in some other form.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Expressions of Gratitude

We've had one insane holiday weekend. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I am grateful, grateful to the depths of my soul, that I don't have to be anywhere except mass. In addition to logging almost 400 miles in driving to and fro, we stuffed/roasted a turkey, baked two casseroles, a cake, and three batches of cookies.

Many, many thanks to E, who hosted us for Thanksgiving dinner and let me bring along a stack of favorites to ease The Oracle's finicky pallette.

Many thanks to Hon and Pop who fed us a maaahvelous dinner on Friday night during our long-overdue visit. The kids hadn't seen them since summertime. The Oracle was going into meatball withdrawal.

Many thanks to my sister, V, and her husband R, who invited us to a lovely Christmas party this evening. The Oracle had to work and couldn't go, so I got to drive the kids up there on my own.

Thank you, God, that the traffic jam on the way to V&R's was civilized. Normally, we can cover the 80-mile trip in roughly one-and-a-half hours, but it took a smidge over three. The other drivers were surprisingly well behaved.

Thank you, Precious Daughter and Mighty B, for keeping the atmosphere inside the car a pleasant one despite being trapped in it for so long. They kept their good behavior working through V&R's party, too, despite the fact that they ate nothing besides a couple of cocktail weenies, two cookies each, and a stalk of celery.

Thank you, House Fairy, for detouring your route to Thanksgiving Dinner to check on my idiot German Shedder when I called you in a panic. I - horrors! - discarded my turkey carcass and failed to put the trash out of reach of the dippy dog and didn't discover my error until we were almost at E's. The House Fairy very graciously stopped by our house to check on Knucklehead and to put whatever was left out of her reach.

Thank you, Knucklehead, for starting in on nothing more than the stupid parchment paper. Why you bypassed the carcass for a piece of greasy parchment I'll never know, but I'm glad I didn't have to deal with the havoc those bones, skin, and meaty bits would have wrought on your digestive tract.

Thank you, Mom, for not coming back to haunt me when I discarded that turkey carcass. Mom never let it go to waste, using it to prepare gallons of turkey stock. I had this same ambition in mind, but I knew full well that the thing would have ended up shoved in a back corner of the fridge until it grew new legs and walked out on its own.

Thank you, Oracle, for not berating me as harshly as I deserved for neglecting to shut off the oven before departing for Hon & Pop's on Friday, and you can bet I'm thankful that it's an electric oven and that it didn't start a fire.

Thank you, Pearle Vision, for the 30% coupon we needed when Mighty B. unexpectedly destroyed The Oracle's glasses on Friday night. What should have been a $600 tab for new specs ran roughly $400.

Thank you, Oracle for driving home Friday night when I found your spare glasses conveniently stashed in the car's center console. I offered to drive, I know. You worked during the day and you had to work on Saturday as well, but I'm a chickenshit when it comes to driving the interstate around the stadium, and I also knew I'd face a harrowing drive to V&R's the next day.

Certainly not least, thank you to all of my friends who take the time to throw an email or a phone call my way despite the antisocial tendencies I've developed recently. I do love to hear from you, and I hope you don't lose patience with me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Notions of Sewing

I've gained quite an appreciation for all of your stitchery wizards out there. Except for a brief obsession with counted cross stitch during my tenure with 9-1-1, I'm pretty much clueless with the operations of needle and thread. I've often expressed a desire to learn how to sew. Other than Home Ec. classes in middle school (which I enjoyed), I haven't touched a sewing machine.

A couple years ago, The Oracle, sick of my overt hinting, purchased a rebuilt Singer for me for Christmas. (Rebuilt was my idea, since I didn't want to shuck out a billion dollars if it turned out that I was a sewing flop.)

My kids' Catholic school has this thing with costuming for the younger grades. Last Christmas, I was required to dress Precious Daughter as an angel for the Christmas pageant, since she wasn't one of the lucky ones who could borrow one of costumes the school had on hand from prior years. This year, for Halloween, I had to dress Precious Daughter as a saint, and she had to write a brief essay on her chosen saint's life.

For the angel and saint costumes, I pulled out the Singer and "winged" something together (no pun intended, but there nonetheless). The saint costume was a disaster, pinned together and stitched into compliance at the bus stop.

A week or so into November, after the Halloween stores were closed and long gone and too little time for eBay to rescue me, a letter comes home announcing that the second graders were to dress as either Pilgrims or Native Americans for the day before Thanksgiving. Ugh, not again!!!

Determined not to send my child to school wearing another half-assed creation, I mustered my courage and set off for the fabric store. I haven't looked at a sewing pattern since middle school, and had little clue as to what I was supposed to get. I muddled my way through the pattern books and quickly convinced Precious Daughter that she'd much rather be a Native American. The Pilgrim costume looked waaaay too complicated.

With the help of the fabric-store staff, I spent $37 on the pattern, fabric, and other essentials.

$37!!! Yikes!!! My do-it-yourself jobs cost less than half of that.

The one thing on my side is that I have a half-decent mechanical ability. My artistic side is virtually nonexistent, but I'm usually pretty good at following instructions and putting things together. It took me two days of staring at the pattern and the instructions to get a sense of what was expected. Monday night, with only two days to go, I took the plunge and started cutting. Once the kids were in bed, I fired up the sewing machine. After a few false starts, I worked until 2:00 a.m., sewing pieces together as far as I could go.

Part of my project involved this foreign stuff called "bias tape," which I'd never used before in my life. I vaguely remember seeing the stuff in my mother's sewing notions, but I had no idea what it was for, and the pattern instructions might as well have been in Greek. I had to return to the fabric store on Tuesday for a little guidance. It wasn't much, but they tried. I returned home an began my battle with bias tape.

I must ask. Why is that stuff so darned dense? I had to pin this stuff to armholes, and I couldn't drive the damned pins through the tape. I must've bent at least fifteen pins in my efforts to stick them through the fabric. My thumbs and forefingers ached from applying pressure to the pins, and I'm lucky that I didn't stab the hand holding the fabric. I would have jammed a pin clean through a finger with all the pressure I was applying.

Between the bias tape battle and all the seam pressing and the constant worry that I was botching this project beyond salvage, I was one pooped parent. Kids, the next time you grumble about wearing a home-made anything to anywhere, shut up and consider the work that went into putting it together.

Enough rambling. This is how it turned out. Not bad, huh?

That pink trim on the bolero and at the fringe was nothing short of difficult. First off, the entire edge of the bolero was covered with a strip of that hideous bias tape. Second, trying to sew a straight piece of trim on a curved item is really, really tricky. There were parts where it all crunched up despite my best efforts, and I blame the bunchiness in the bolero on that. Ah well.

In his second picture, Precious Daughter was sick of me and the camera. She'd just gotten off the school bus and I made her ditch her coat so I could photograph her. I know full well she won't put it on again, and I wanted a picture, dangit.

Mighty B. made his hat in school that day, and it cracks me up every time he puts it on. Those knobby things are two turkey drumsticks. Funny, eh?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


The party at E's was fantastic, with a nice mix of friends and a buttload of kids. Precious Daughter and Mighty B. had a wonderful time.

The Oracle was stuck working and missed all the fun.

I dragged my reluctant-to-leave children out the door, placating them with one of the radio stations playing 24/7 Christmas music during the ride home. They both crashed and burned into a sound sleep fifteen minutes before we pulled into the driveway.

As much as I love having my kids fall asleep after a long day of frenzied play, they're getting too big to haul from the car to their beds without disturbance. Leaving the engine running, I ran inside, turned down their beds, and went to fetch them in.

Precious Daughter awoke long enough to help me get her out of the car. She helped me lift her up (phew!) and I carried her inside, ditched her coat, jeans and sneakers and covered her up. She was out in seconds.

Mighty B. was total dead weight. He's a beefy kid, and I thought I was going to rupture something during the lift from the booster seat to my hip. I get him inside, and he barely opens his eyes while I get him out of his coat, shoes, and jeans. Zzzzzzzz.

I sort of have the house to myself. The Oracle won't be home for at least another forty minutes, so I park my butt in his recliner and boot up the laptop.

My arms are a little cold, but I think nothing of it until a big shiver runs up my arms. Hmmm... What's that thermostat set on?

I go check, and I see that my house is eight degrees lower than the 68 it should be. Why isn't the heat running? I feel the vents, and they're ice cold. I venture into the basement and check the breakers, and they're okay too. I take the cover off the heater and hit the red "reset" button on the oil burner. It fires right up, thank God.

The Oracle comes in and complains of the cold. I mentioned having to reset the burner, and it was then that I realized the heat had shut off and not come back on. Crap. I call the House Fairy and get a little advice and nothing works. I have to call service from the oil company, unless I want to spend my night punching the reset button to keep the heater turned on.

At 10:45 I call and leave a message with the answering service. The Oracle makes a pot of decaf and we both fall asleep on the couch waiting for the phone to ring.

At 1:30, the temp has dropped another three degrees and I wake up shivering. I go downstairs and punch the reset, wait for it to shut off and punch it two more times. I call service again, and it takes me several tries to get through, because something funky is happening with their telephones. She tells me she delivered my prior message, that she'll call again. I send The Oracle to bed, since there's no point in both of us waiting up, and I'm too aggravated to sleep after a three-hour nap on the sofa. I wrap myself up in a blanket and open my book and I wait.



At 3:30, nobody's called and nobody's going to. I tried calling the answering service again, but they're still suffering that same funky phone problem, and I'm done wasting my time. I make sure the kids are tucked in tight and I crawl into bed, waiting at least another half hour before sleep comes.

I called the service again in the morning, and now the woman tells me that she'd been trying to reach the on-call person "every fifteen minutes" since my last call. I don't really believe her, but I'm wondering why there's only one person to reach. Isn't there some sort of chain of command? Whatever.

At 8:10 a.m., our house is a balmy 50 degrees when the repairman calls and says he'll arrive at our house in forty minutes. We're dressed in layers of sweats and coats and huddled in the kitchen with our fifteen-year-old space heater. Yeah, I could have fired it up last night, but I don't trust the thing anywhere else with the dog hair, not to mention the added risk of two geriatric cats who are desperate for anything warmer than each other.

The guy shows up, and I was tempted to lay into his butt about not answering his page, but I thought his turn at "on call" probably started at 8:00 a.m., and he'll probably have a long list of chilled, grouchy customers. I offered coffee instead. He replaced some little brass part and was gone in fifteen minutes. The best part is that I didn't have to pay him a nickel; the oil company will just tack it onto my bill. (I don't have a service contract, but I guess I should reconsider that since the unit is 17 or 18 years old.)

Our heater ran for over two hours trying to regain 18 degrees.

I'll be calling the oil company in the morning for a chat with the secretary I usually deal with. While I don't want anyone fired for not returning my calls last night, I don't think the guy, whoever it was, should benefit from receiving any pay for his after-hours time on call when he didn't answer his messages.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Runaway Paprika - The Last Straw

My friend is having a party tomorrow. After a little discussion, she and I decided that I'd bring along a few goodies including a cheese ball, cole slaw, and devilled eggs.

I dug out my sister's rather-awesome recipe, only to be reminded that it isn't really a recipe at all. It's more or less an ingredient list with proportions varying from "a little" to "a lot." Well, I'd done it once before, and I knew I had to just keep tasting it as I went along. No biggie.

As I get ready to cook the eggs, I'm suddenly second-guessing the cook time. Is it seven minutes? Is it ten? Ah, shoot.

I turn to our favorite "food bible," The New Best Recipe published by Cooks Illustrated. I spotted a method for hard-cooking eggs that I'd never seen before, and decided it would be worth a try. Everything else in that book has proven to be nothing short of excellent with results exactly as promised.

I set to work. Cover the eggs in 1 inch of water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. From there, the eggs are removed from the boiling water and submerged in an ice-water bath for at least five minutes to arrest cooking.

I follow the steps to the letter, remove the first egg, and start peeling. What a bitch!!!! The recipe promised a shell that would "spiral off" once I got through the membrane at the wide end of the egg. No way. I had the shell and the membrane all right, but that thing wasn't giving up for anything.

When I finally get the shells off, my eggs are nicked and battered. Several were total losses in my efforts to peel them, with only the yolk being salvageable. I still have a respectable amount to serve, so I slice it through the first egg and discover -- uh-oh -- the yolk is only 3/4 cooked. It's not wet in the middle or anything, but it's a little too marbly looking to my liking.

Are you kidding me? All that nitpicky work and my eggs aren't even thoroughly cooked. I have to start over.

On the second batch of eggs, I cook 'em the old-fashioned way, by boiling the heck out of them, and thanks to my Joy of Cooking I have a reliable cook time (7 minutes). I should've gone there first. I cool my eggs, they peel with ease, and I start working on the filling, blending and tasting, adding something, blending, and tasting. I've gone through half of the spoons in the drawer with all of my sampling, and the damned things are still as flat as hell. I add one last little bit of extra, and zoooommmm-pow!!!!! The danged things are on fire. What the heck happened here?

There is way too much devil in my devilled eggs. I'm not sure what to do now. I have no more eggs. I can't add more mayo because it will make the filling too squishy. I resign myself to my disaster, praying that my friend's guests like spicy eggs, and fetch the paprika to sprinkle on my eggs for a little color.

Where's the paprika? I remember taking it out of the cabinet, but my paprika is nowhere to be found. Nowhere. WTF?

I've searched everywhere. I know it's here someplace. I've checked in other cabinets, on the floor, the fridge, the trash can. Dagnabbit, I had the darned thing in my hand. Where'd it go?

When/if it turns up, I'll let you know.

---- Edited to add: The paprika turned up in the cabinet where the spices belong. Huh? I have no recollection of putting it there. I had just taken it out of there, and I hadn't used it yet.

Now, this may not seem all that unusual to you, but I am one of those horrible people who perpetually neglect to put things away. By all rights, that paprika should still be sitting by the stove or on the kitchen table two days later.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Because He Can

Mighty B has been in quite a mood this evening. He spent the last hour arguing with me out of sheer orneriness. Part fatigue, part misery (The Oracle is working tonight and he misses Daddy), I get the brunt of his emotions.

I had to go to the stupidmarket for dog food, and if it was something to annoy me, he did it, rattling glass jars on their shelves, playing with fruit displays, opening and smelling the contents of the pickle barrel by the deli, not staying with me until I forcibly grabbed his arm for good, and doing the old hang-and-drag to make me let go.

Fortunately for me, he's a tall-ish kid, which means I merely dragged his bejeaned knees up and down the aisles until I finished what I had to do.

We check out and return to the car. He climbs inside, and I close his door and walk around to the driver's door. Oh, looky-looky!! Mighty B has reopened his door and is giving me a defiant stare.

"Oh, it's that game?" I return to his door, throw the child lock on, and shut it gleefully. Mighty B. is vexed that he can't reopen it. "Serves you right."

After a heavy-handed threat, he finally buckles up for the ride home, and when we arrive, I open his door, release the child lock, and ask him to step out of the car. He refuses because he can.

"Okay, suit yourself, I'm going inside" and I do, but I send the Shedder outside with him to keep a watchful eye. He wanders in a few minutes later.

Precious Daughter gets in the shower, Mighty B. plays possum and I have to strip him down. He has finally resigned himself to his shower fate, and he's a good boy about it.

We ate an early dinner, so snacks are in order. I unwisely give them hot chocolate, cheated on the powder and camouflaged with milk.

MB - Mommy, I don't like the marshmallows.
Me - I can scoop them out.
PD - I'll eat them!
MB - No! (pause) Mommy, I'm not drinking it. The mug is too full.
Me - Suit yourself. It's there if you want it.
PD - I'll drink it!
MB - No! (pause) Mommy, can I have some crackers?
Me - How do you ask me?
MB - Pleeeeease?
PD - Can I please have some too? (it takes me a moment to recover from the shock of PD uttering the word, "please.")
Me - sure. I'll just put them here and you guys can help yourselves.
MB - I don't want to share!
Me - (groaning) Fine, B. Seven for you, seven for PD.
MB - But I wanted three!
Me - Eat what you want, B. She can finish what you don't, and I have more if you want them.

Not ten minutes later, the mugs are drained, the crackers are devoured, and our petty power struggle is forgotten.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Human Good Citizen

Take a look at this post on Stapling Jell-O.

There's nothing I can say to add to it. It's an excellent idea, don't you think?

E shared the link with me. She's becoming quite the blog surfer, huh?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Almost Over!!!

Time to get your vote on!

Everyone close to me knows I'm sick to death of election coverage. Sick of debates, sick of analyses ad nauesam, sick of the recorded automated phone calls and TV commercials. "I done had it."

Once the worst of the morning rush is through, I'll be wandering over to the polls to cast my vote. This is clearly one of the advantages to self employment. I don't have to stand in a crowd of a bazillion other people waiting to cast a vote before going to work at 9:00, and I won't be stuck in the after-work/after-dinner rush.

Yes, I care who wins, but I'm not getting political here. Even if it isn't my candidate, I hope the winner takes the election by a whopper of a margin so we don't spend the winter fuddling around with recounts and hanging chads. Please, God, no more of that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How Do They Stay in Business?

UPS = UnParallelled Stupidity

I hear my kid's bus rolling up the street and hurriedly go out to meet it. I open my storm door, step outside (descending one step) and roll my ankle on a lump beneath my doormat, nearly falling.

What the heck was that?

UPS, in their infinite wisdom, delivered a package and concealed it beneath my doormat. Hel-lo!! How am I supposed to see a package under the mat from inside the house? How f---ing stupid can someone be?

I'm just thankful that I'm the one that tripped and not some visiting neighbor or -- Heaven forbid -- a lawyer-turned-politician canvassing for last-minute votes.

I have no idea what's inside this box or whether I damaged anything with my descending size-eleven foot. Once I reach The Oracle, I'll check the contents. I don't want to open it without him in case it's something related to his work or volunteering.

Edited to add: I opened the box. It's a six-pound, unsolicited catalog. I nearl took a header for junk mail!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

How Timely!

Thank you, E!!!!

She sent me a very handy Blogger link which will immediately be placed in my Site Seeing list when I finish this post.

You've heard me whine and complain about the lack of non-China-manufactured toys (yeah, okay, I whine over just about everything else too). Take a look at this site!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Selective Hearing


What is it that makes my children repeatedly ignore me? Every day it's the same thing. Every day I nag and pester their tailfeathers out of bed, and the nagging begins. Nobody wants to get dressed, nobody wants to eat breakfast, nobody wants to be bothered with combing hair and brushing teeth. Nobody believes me that the bus is coming any minute and to get outside until the child appointed sentry duty that morning (stationed on the front porch) starts screaming "The bus is coming!" in disbelief.

When they get off the bus, nobody wants to change out of uniforms into playclothes.

I give Precious Daughter a half hour to forty-five mintues of downtime before the homework battle begins, and that battle is still being clawed out three-and-a-half hours later despite breaking for dinner, the better portion of which I spent asking Mighty B. to please not bang his sliverware against the dishes, to stop spinning his plate, and to use his fork to eat his mashed potatoes.

During the homework battles, Mighty B. has been told for the umpteenth time to not jump on Daddy's chair, to stop playing with the fan, and to leave his sister alone while she's whining and resisting her homework.

Finally, homework is done, and it's time for bathing. I ask, "Who will be first in the shower tonight?" Now they hear me loud and clear, and each is emphatically shouting the other's name repeatedly and claiming they went first the night before. Still, it's a battle to get anyone's butt moving in the general direction of the bathroom. After repeated requests for the now-naked kid to put his/her clothes in the hamper, I'm ready to start pulling my fingernails off with my teeth.

It's days like these that make me pray for bedtime, and that prayer makes me feel awful, like I'm wishing my children away from me.

The shower washes off the last of their resistance, and they're soapy-clean smelling and in PJs. If all that arguing didn't take us too far past bedtime, we'll read. When they're tucked in they're as sweet as sugar, and I wonder why they couldn't be so easygoing earlier.

My guess is their argumentative tanks are merely empty, because they're fully replenished by morning.

And, y'know, I'm not this horrid, militant mama. I don't jolt my kids out of bed with alarm clocks and shouts. I try to wake them gently, kissing their necks and talking softly and gently nudging them to wakefulness. It's when they blatantly resist getting out already that I start to hound them, usually by tickling them, turning on the light, or summoning the dog's wet nose.

I understand that they need a little freedom. I understand that Mighty B. has energy to burn and The Oracle's chair is bouncy. But, Lordy, why must I make the same request a dozen times, and why are they all shocked and sad when punished for not listening to me?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If Her Walls Could Talk

My friend, E, is moving out of her house to another not too far away. She's been packing furiously since the agreements of sale for their current and their new homes were signed a few short weeks ago. Everybody wanted to hurry up and settle, leaving E little time to do anything but stuff boxes.

How do you pack up, what, fourteen years of your life? They've been there at least that long, if not longer. It's not something I could do. The Oracle and I have lived here over sixteen years, and as much as our fifty-plus-year-old house misbehaves, I can't imagine ever packing up and leaving, and only partly because there's too much stuff to go through. My familiar, colored-on walls are comforting in their familiarity. I know where all of our floorboards creak, which pipes clatter in the basement, and the layout of our electrical breakers. I know which neighbor's dog is barking and whether that bark is nonsense or for cause.

I also generally don't like change. I'm happy to have found a spot in which to stay put. When The Oracle and I first married, he often talked of places he'd like to live (Maryland, California, Vermont), but inside I always stiffened at the thought. I suppose if circumstances were such that moving was the only option (work, for instance), I'd have to go. Part of me always felt a bit sad for kids whose families moved all the time. Never mind that they grew up experiencing this country from A to Z with crops of friends in all four corners. (Oh, no! Nnnn has to move! It seemed like a fate worse than death.)

Precious Daughter is much like me. She likes her house. It is her favorite place to be, and I suspect the only way she'd willingly move anywhere else (like her seven-year-old butt has a choice) is if the new place had a pool.

Anyway, back to E.

E and her husband, R, first lived in a mobile home park, working hard and saving their pennies to buy their dream home, which they discovered to be brand-new construction in a wide-open and growing area. I was so excited for them when they moved in, especially after they spent a number of weeks in limbo after settlement on the mobile home sale, first living with R's parents until they sold their home and retired to Florida. E & R and their overstressed cats (one cat or two, then? Maybe just one?) would have likely been homeless, but a friend let them live in their basement until settlement day.

Meia was R's adopted child, being E's kitty while she still lived with her parents. This was Meia's third move in something like a month and a half, and the poor old lady was probably ready to crack. Whether they had their second kitty at this time I don't recall.

My memory sucks, but I do remember a good portion of their move-in day. I was thrilled for them, and I was awestruck (and a little envious I admit) by the loveliness of their shiny-new home. They packed a number of their belongings in the voluminous spaces of our traitorous '76 Cadi The rest of their stuff, packed into in her mom's basement and garage, was hauled into her brother's large truck, I believe, and driven to their new digs.

I am probably the world's laziest person, but when it comes to moving other people's stuff, I'll happily work my butt off. Why is that? Is it because their stuff is more interesting, or is it the packratter's dream to take a clean, empty place and fill it up? Lord knows my house is nearly packed to the rafters, so much so that I can't move without stepping over or around things.

I know there were other helpers there, including E's mom and brother, their friends TK (those shorts!!) and EC. I think there were a few other faces that are now blurry. E's mom almost immediately made herself at home in the kitchen, keeping our bodies hydrated and our bellies full. I remember tacos, really yummy tacos.

Once they were settled, of course, the history of the house began.

Lightning struck, literally, not very long after they moved in, I think less than a year. E had the (good/mis-) fortune of being the first on scene, beating the local police chief by a couple minutes and the fire department by a few more. An experienced firefighter, she knew she had a little time to work, and she set to work trying to find her cats. When the police chief arrived, he wasn't going to let E go back in. When he saw her determination, he'd gone in with her just so she wouldn't be in there by herself. He was the one that found the other cat. He then gave her two minutes to go back in and grab her photographs.

The fire took out much of her attic and the ceilings of at least two bedrooms. I remember the heavy smoky smell and the water, so much water, still dribbling from the gaping hole in the ceiling onto either a piece of siding or metal baseboard positioned to track it out a broken window.

I remember them holing up in a motel and needing to forage K-Mart for toothbrushes and underwear and changes of clothes. I remember the notebook that was given to E with the order to write everything in it and to never be without it. That book never left E's side until they were able to move back in and beyond. It was her record of items damaged and lost and endless phone conversations with insurance companies, the municpality, and the restoration company. (E, did you save that, or was the memory too icky?)

Restoration took forever and ever and ev-er, the final big delay having something to do with finding the right-sized roof trusses. It took a lot longer to restore their trust in the house that sort of betrayed them.

In the years following, they filled their house with babies that walked on two legs and four. In fact, it was on her back patio where she entrusted me with holding her son, probably only a couple weeks old at most. Don't ask me how I avoided handling her first two except for a panicky three (eternal) minutes with Baby #1 where I was assigned the job of Do Not Let the Baby Roll Off the Changing Table while she ran upstairs, and a later episode with a 9-month-old #2 where I was tasked with keeping her entertained as E took Toddler #1 to the public restroom. Nervous breakdown, anyone?

At any rate, I successfully dodged handling her first two newborns for four years, and I probably would have dodged #3 too, but a practical need to learn loomed on the horizon. I'd never held an infant in my life and my first was due in less that three months. Tell me, what kind of trust does your friend possess to let a total baby illiterate fumble around with her newborn over a concrete patio?

My kids' favorite place was her dining room, which had been joyfully converted to an awesome playroom with different bold colors on each wall (ceiling fan blades to match), decals/posters from a teacher's supply store, and shelves and bins for all manner of toys (and that room was stuffed). When I brought my kids to E's, they beelined for that room and wouldn't venture out until they were dragged kicking and screaming (unless a birthday cake were at stake).

Really, there's so much ground to cover, and I could take all day.

When they put the house on the market, they turned that room back into a dining room, and I was sad to see it go, even though the finished product was gorgeous and looked like it belonged on a magazine cover.

Three kids, four dogs, three (four?) cats, and one guinea pig later, they're starting a new adventure in a new house. Is it hard to leave all of that time behind, or doesn't it matter much since the memory makers are going with you? I know the people are what make the home, and I've often told my kids that as long as they and their daddy are with me, I have everything I need.

I guess I just answered my own question.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How It's Been

Yes, I've been whining a lot lately, and I just can't help it. I even tried sparing you the agony of it all by calling my stepmother for a good old-fashioned b--chfest instead, and she's on her annual October getaway with her girlfriends. I could call her cell, but I don't want to taint what is usually an excellent week for her. She has her own stuff going on and this respite is much needed. My dad has no tolerance for complaining of any kind. I can't say I blame him, and I wish I were more like him in that regard. (and what I would give for a fraction of his discipline and self control!)

In short, and without too much venom:

Somehow -- and nobody is fessing up -- a glass of water (left where it shouldn't be) got dumped all over Precious Daughter's schoolbooks (the ones I painstakingly covered in Con-Tact), drenching their newsprint-type pages. If it weren't for the blinkin' adhesive-backed plastic, I probably could have put them in a very low oven to dry, but instead I had to let Mother Nature handle the job, and she did it poorly. The pages are all wavy and rippled. I might have to replace one of them. We'll see. If I'm feeling particularly patient (Ha!!), maybe I'll try a low iron to smooth that one out a bit.

Chessie, that wretched beast, peed in the laundry. We thought we'd found a solution to this, but I guess not. Fortunately, a hefty dose of Oxy-Clean and very hot water are quite effective at removing the odor if you get to it quickly, and hopefully dark items won't fade.

Precious Daughter missed two days of school with an unexplained fever, which briefly reappeared Saturday and today. Last night The Oracle discovered the cause, a bright red bulls-eye rash on her ribcage. Guess who's getting bloods drawn for a Lyme test tomorrow?

My children's socks are vanishing. Out of four tubs of laundry, I have maybe ten kids' socks. Out of those ten I can form only two pair, and naturally they're of the type (low-rise footie) that are not permitted with the school uniform. I have six odd white socks. What happened to their mates? What about all the similar pairs that came in the multi-pair package?

I got ambitious (rare for me) and made an old favorite simply described as "ring of coconut fudge cake." It's a chocolate bundt cake with a cream cheese, coconut, and chocolate chip filling and topped with a chocolate glaze. It's been at least ten years since I've made it, and it was always a favorite for The Oracle and me.

I joked with The Oracle tonight that I should rename it the Fart in Church cake, because it went over about that well with our kids. They won't eat it. Precious Daughter picks off the glaze and leaves the rest. Mighty B. eats the glaze and the cake but leaves the filling. I can accept a kid not liking that Mounds-y middle, but for our chocoholic Precious Daughter to not eat even the cake part stuns me. On the bright side, The Oracle an I pretty much have all that cake to ourselves.

On a better note, The Oracle's job is secure for the next few months. I can't get into the details of it here, but some of you know the details just from talking with me. In short, he and his peers have had to deal with a hefty amount of bureaucratic flip-flopping. Things have recently been placed in the hands of (we hope) a sensible authority, and now The Oracle can sleep for the next month or so without too much worry.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Strangeness on a Train

This is a long one. I have lots of complaining to do.

Today I was scheduled for a 10:00 a.m. deposition. This is a delicious time frame for me, because I can get my kids on the bus and get ready to leave without scurrying. My train isn't scheduled to depart until 9:12. I get to the station and the lot is full, so I park a block away and hike back to the station. (It’s a good thing I left early!)

I take the only empty seat left in the car, and I am a little dismayed to see that the window is all smeary-greasy from some sleepy person’s head resting against the window, so I don’t have a clear view of what’s outside without craning my neck forward. The smears are oddly distracting, too. I catch it with the corner of my vision and feel like I need to blink, like it’s something in my eye. Yeah, I’m strange.

We pull out, and the guy behind me starts nibbling on something really hard and crunchy, like bagel chips or those extra-hard beer pretzels. They’re hard enough that he either can’t bite them with his front teeth, or he’s too lazy to do so, choosing instead to cram the entire unit in his mouth. He can’t close his mouth around the food item to chew, and the cracking and crunching of the thing is amplified and projected across the car by his partly-open mouth. Greeeat. (I immediately think of V's post on the subject.)

It seems, too, that he’s got a helluva upper-respiratory infection going on, because, amid chomps of whatever’s in the crackly bag he's got, he’s horking back all manner of mucus. I can hear it rattling in his sinuses and down in his chest. I am wishing I could find a legitimate reason to share seats with someone else (instead of this one all to myself) before he coughs or sneezes and showers the back of my head with snot and chewed food.

The guy next to him starts snorking and rattling too. Niiiiice.

Then I notice all around me there are passengers sniffling and snuffling. The snuffling increases with each group of passengers boarding the train. I can fully understand why people don't carry handkerchiefs any more (oh, yeah, let's tote that grossness in my pocket all day), but nobody seems to bother with Kleenex either. Did I miss that FW: FW: FW: on the Kimberly-Clark boycott? Nobody in this car has a tissue!! I did see one or two ambitious twenty-somethings smearing their noses on their sleeves.

This ride is taking for-ev-er, and I can’t wait to get off the train.

Finally, we’re three stops away from my destination, and I finally get a neighbor in the seat next to me. I could just tell he was going to be my neighbor, too, not only because mine was the only three-seat bench with just one occupant, but also because he was sufficiently suspect-looking with his dark-colored clothing and sweatshirt hood pulled up over his head to just above his eyebrows. I drag my steno case closer to give him a little more leg room (he's got a bag too), jamming my ankles against the wall in the process. Ouch.

Guess what!!?? He’s phlegmy!! I am surrounded by a cacophony of congestion (a symphony of snot, perhaps?), and I’m starting to wonder how long it will be before I’m afflicted with it too. I want to draw my head under my jacket collar and hide from whatever evil bacteria is swirling about me.

The next stop is the college, and thankfully a horde of snifflers get off, taking their books and their boogers with them. The train is almost peaceful with the exception of my immediate neighbors.

We pull into a fairly major station stop, and more passengers detrain. The congested newcomer is sitting at the aisle and asks if this is my stop. I say no, my stop is next, thank you for asking. He sits there for several more seconds and gets off the train. Isn't that odd? Why ask me if I need to get by if you’re getting off the train anyway?

Whatever. My station is next, thank God. I’m a little itchy because I can see that my train is running three minutes late, and I like to arrive fifteen minutes before my scheduled time. I currently have sixteen minutes until my job is scheduled to start, which means I'll arrive ten minutes before start time. Tight, but respectable. I am fortunate that my destination is directly above my station stop, so all I need to do is get above ground, get into the building, and up an elevator. I couldn’t have a shorter walk unless the deposition were taking place in the station.

We start moving, but we stop in the darkness of the tunnel. Drat. This happens sometimes, and I was wishing it weren’t today. But since we’re a bit late, we have to wait for another train.

We move again, and we stop again. The conductor pops his head into the car and informs us that wiring problems on another line created a backlog of trains into the station, so we’re all racked and stacked and waiting our turn at the platform. There’s no cell signal in the tunnel, so I can’t even call anyone and tell them they’re not being “stood up.”

Nearly twenty minutes later, we finally get to the platform. I hustle aboveground and arrive at the office 5 minutes late. ($#&%!!) The secretary immediately leads me to an empty conference room where I begin scrambling to set up. I'm about one-third finished when the ordering attorney walks in. I humbly apologize for and explain my lateness.

He starts apologizing to me. Opposing counsel had a conflict, he said, and he won’t be needing my services after all.

Grrrrr!!!! Back to the train station I go… At least my return trip ran on time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Please, Somebody Gag Them (a rant)

I don't know what it is with these two. I'm sitting here working quietly, wearing my noise-cancelling headphones while making sure my transcript exactly matches the audio backup. The only reason the TV is on is for updates on the financial mess. When their voices pop up on the TV, it is worse than any irritating sound you can think of, like nails on a blackboard (Mommy, what's a blackboard?), a kid's first violin or clarinet lesson, or perhaps the sound of a cat puking.

The first one is Cathy Mitchell, the grandmotherly-looking lady selling those things that seem like a good idea at the time but wind up on your yard-sale table next spring.

The first time I became aware of her was when she sold some funky half-whisk/half tongs thingie to grab eggs out of boiling water or flip omelettes, and I thought back then that you had to be pretty inept if you couldn't lift a boiled egg out of the water with a slotted spoon. I agree that omelette flipping is tricky, but I don't need a special gadget to do it.

Later, I remember her selling some weird gem-studding gadgetry. I suppose I could find the name of it on Youtube or Wikipedia, but I don't want to.

Her current pitch, Pasta 'n More, is downright silly, opening with a flustered-looking lady hauling all of her pasta stuff at once to the counter -- crash! (Really, now, unless your kitchen is a block long, who does that?) and later burning her fingers to "test" the pasta. Any person with a modicum of intelligence knows how to get around a pasta test without second-degree burns. (By the way, has anyone noticed the person cutting the veggies actually stabs him/herself with that blue knife?)

So, okay, Cathy Mitchell's commercials irritate me more over what she's selling, not the personality herself, but her perky voice is forever associated with them and therefore disliked.

Can you guess who the other one is? Oxy-Clean, the Ground Auger, Orange-Glo, Kaboom!, and the Ding King. That guy. Billy Mays. His voice shoves itself into my consciousness even when I've got my computer audio cranked to top volume. Other than the Oxy-Clean, I won't buy anything he's selling out of sheer principle. As soon as I hear his voice on the TV I'm flipping somewhere -- anywhere! -- else. At night, when the TV is turned low, you can still hear Billy Mays in the back of the house when his commercials air.

What amazes me most is this guy has made a million-dollar living by screaming at people. It just isn't right.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bad Housekeeping Ideas

E's comment yesterday reminded me of a baaaad thing I did years ago.

Our 1950's house was blessed with an icky pink-and-black color scheme in the bathroom. When we first moved in, the walls were covered with pink-and-black flowered wallpaper, and the shower curtain (so thoughtfully left behind) was gray with pink cabbage roses and trimmed with little pink pom-poms along the edges, kind of like your friend's bedroom curtains back when you were eight or nine.

I've lived in this area all my life, and the house we have now is similar to the one in which I grew up. These two houses had one other thing in common: Bathroom mildew. For whatever reason, mildew always collected on the painted ceiling above the shower area. In my mother's house, this was a particularly ugly problem, because she got the notion, back in '63, to stipple the paint on the bathroom walls. I remember the points on that stippling actually being ouchy to my little-kid hands when they missed the light switch. I don't know how she did that.

Back to 1994. My bathroom had the same mildew problem, and The Oracle bought a gallon of Kilz to paint the bathroom and put an end to the mildew. It was my job to scrub off the old paint.

I've long since forgotten what product I bought for this task. I do remember putting it off until The Oracle became annoyed (once again) with my procrastinating. (Can you blame me, really?). In a huff, I grabbed the bottle off the shelf and made a rough solution of it in the bathroom sink. I donned my gloves and sunglasses (thank God!) and set to work.

Wow, what amazing results. That mold gave way easily under that cleaner. I barely had to scrub. Better still, there wasn't even a stain on the paint from where the mildew used to be.
I clear off all the mildew, and I wonder whether I'm supposed to rinse afterward since I diluted it at the start. I pick up the bottle to read the directions.

Uh-oh. I guess I'd better rinse thoroughly. In my haste, I didn't use the cleaner I bought for the job. Instead, I absently grabbed it's lookalike neighbor, the Drano. Yep, Drano. I cleaned my bathroom ceiling with Drano.

To this day, I don't recall what it was I'd planned to use, but its bottle was either a dark orange or it was also red like the Drano. It's a wonder I didn't create (or pass out from) any toxic fumes. I'm also thankful that the paint never peeled off.

And I'm very grateful that, thanks to Kilz, I've never had to scrub mildew off the ceiling for many years now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Draining Experience

Late Saturday afternoon, I was greeted with a clogged kitchen drain. The source of my misery is usually the garbage disposal, so I tried plunging the thing. This is no easy feat with a double sink, because you have to keep one drain plugged shut while plunging the other side.

The plunger didn't work. Out came the Drano.

I poured half a bottle down both drains and waited. It still didn't clear. I ran out and bought a second bottle and dumped a good portion of that down the drain as well. I got sidetracked and sleepy and woke up the next morning to a sink that was still full of slimy water.


Double Crap. The dishwasher is full of skanky water too.

Here's the part where The Oracle and I know next to nothing. I bought a snake years ago when our bathtub clogged, and I ended up calling the House Fairy. Our galvanized pipes are ancient and I was afraid of busting through the pipe instead of the clog, so I chickened, put the snake away, and called the House Fairy.

Well, pride got the better of me. I kept thinking that, dagnabbit, we're grownups and we should be able to handle this ourselves without calling The Oracle's dad to come bail us out. It also helps that the pipe draining from the kitchen is in much sturdier condition than the one under the tub.

Without getting into all the gory details, the most interesting part was when I took the PVC piping apart beneath the sink. (PVC piping rocks! It's easy-peasy girly plumbing!!! Nothing at all like the time I got pissed off at our drippy bathroom sink and replaced the taps myself. What a pain in the butt.) Out poured what appeared to be almost pure Drano. Hmph. Where the heck was the clog? We took turns between snaking the drain and more drano and a futile trip to Home Depot to see I could find something a little more heavy-duty to clear the clog (impossible without spending over $200). By the time I returned from Home Depot, the Drano finally did the trick and the drain cleared. I happily reassembled the PVC, said a prayer, and emptied the sinks.

And my sink! Ooooh, my sink and garbage disposal are S-H-I-N-Y.

I had to cycle the diswasher at least a half dozen times to clear that out. The drano kept foaming out the bottom an I was worried that it ate through some vital gasket or something, but it's okay. It looks really nice inside, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trains in the Twilight Zone?

I had to work in the city today. I usually avoid driving in whenever possible because the prices for parking are horrendous. I am fortunate that I have three different rail routes within fifteen minutes of my house, so making the schedules work for me usually isn’t too difficult.

I work my job and return to the train station. The status board says my train will arrive on Track 2B at 12:27. It is running on time, so I go down to the platform and wait. Time starts ticking away, and they’re calling every train but mine. Dang. It must be late, although the board didn't say so earlier. I walk along the platform to the trackside status board, and my train is no longer listed. Where did it go? Did I miss my train? If it hadn't yet arrived, it would still be listed with a "late" status.

I’m getting nervous, thinking I drifted into the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits and somehow missed my train. Funny, I don't recall falling asleep on that bench...

This station happens to be where the conductors switch trains during their shifts, and there was a conductor sitting on the bench next to me.

“Excuse me, sir, are you working the (Route Number?)”

“No,” he says.

“This is where I’d board it; am I right?”

He responds with an odd, noncommittal body gesture.

I ask him if I missed it or why it wouldn’t be on the status board as running late, and he says he doesn’t know. I’m starting to get a pissy attitude, something that’s been a problem for me lately, so I thanked him and let the matter drop. I begin thinking to myself that maybe I’m being unfair, because if this guy isn’t working my train, how can I expect him to know the status of all the others? I thank him and move on, and I continue pacing nervously, wondering whether I should go back up to the concourse to check the status or stay put. They finally call my train several minutes later, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

My train pulls in, but it stops in 2A, not 2B, so I have to scurry down the platform to Section A before it leaves without me. I mean, it’s already five or more minutes late, so I figure it isn’t going to stick around very long.

I board my train and gratefully park my tail in a seat and wait for the train to depart. And I wait some more and a little more. Hmmm… Just when I think we’re going to be asked to detrain because of mechanical problems, we pull away.

The strangest part of this adventure? Guess which conductor is working this train?

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Fingertips are Numb

Tonight I it took almost three hours to cover 15 books, copybooks, and folders in clear Con-Tact paper.

The only thing that made the job semi-interesting was the appearance of Chessie. Normally she spends her time sleeping on the dresser in our bedroom or one of the kids' beds, but lately she's been venturing into the living room.

Tonight, each time I trimmed excess plastic from books' edges, she was right there watching the X-acto knife and swatting at the stringy trimmings. I'm glad she can still see. I often wonder about that.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Please skip my pointless little rant about Con-Tact paper and visit Toby Pannone's page. His mother hasn't updated us in a very long time, and I am very thankful that she posted last night.

"Back in My Day..."

(Feel free to imagine me forty years older uttering that phrase while only wearing my upper dentures.)

Back when I was in school, we were issued books that were -- horrors! -- used by other kids the year before. We took them home and were required to cover them with either wrapping paper, glossy covers bought at the school book store, or cut-up paper bags. In my house, the cut-up bags were the book cover of choice.

Precious Daughter doesn't get used books. Nope. She gets a rather large collection of paperback workbooks for all of her subjects. For Math, Reading, and Religion, she gets a main workbook paired with a thinner practice workbook. The main books are huge and heavy, and I'm quite glad they remain in her desk. For those subjects, the smaller practice books are the ones that regularly come home.

The kids are required to cover all of these books, their folders, and their copybooks (the kind with stitching holding the pages in) with clear Con-Tact paper.

If you've never used Con-Tact paper, you're lucky. On a normal, hard surface (like a shelf), the stuff is difficult enough. Yeah, you can "reposition" it if you're a little off, but measuring, cutting, and sticking it to a bunch of soft-cover books (without air bubbles!) is a royal pain in the patootie. By the time I cover five or six books, my hands ache.

These young whippersnappers don't appreciate how my generation worked to cut, fold, and fit those paper bags to our books. We couldn't see the fancy, colorful covers of our books through the paper bag; we had to write the book title on the front so we could tell which one it was!

For nearly two weeks now, I've been on the hunt for clear Con-Tact. I used the last bit from last year to cover the first six books she brought home. I probably have another fifteen to twenty items to cover. I've visited every likely store (and several unlikely out of sheer desperation) within, probably, fifteen miles of my house, including, but not limited to, two each of Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and at least four K-Mart stores. This doesn't count stores that I checked on a whim when the opportunity arose between jobs.

Nobody has this junk in stock. I can get white, "stainless steel," and assorted marbled patterns, but no clear. (On a side note, nearly every roll of white was ripped open and crimped at the edge by other parents searching for clear. Why those idiot people didn't read the label on the roll is beyond me. Who's going to buy a ripped-open roll?)

I ended up ordering it online last night, but it's going to take seven to ten days to arrive. Now that I've agreed to pay an online price plus shipping, how much do you want to bet that the local store shelves will be restocked this afternoon?

The crappy thing is that, once again, I had to send Precious Daughter to school with a note explaining why her books still aren't covered. I was so tempted to cover them in paper bags, but I was afraid she'd have a nervous breakdown. She was very upset this morning. I told her that if Mrs. Melman had a problem with it, ask her to speak with me.

My thinking is that if the school is so crazy about this stuff, they ought to supply it (what the heck, they include dozens of other things in the tuition) or at least make it available for us to purchase through them instead of chasing our tails across three counties to find it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Interesting Question

"Isn't Catholic School all about conforming? E"

I know she asked in jest, but E raises an interesting question. Looking from the outside in, I suspect that many people believe that or something similar about the Catholic school system.

My priorities for sending our kids there mainly surround giving our children an academic education as well as one in faith. I am certainly fortunate that I live within a decent school district, but I feel there needs to be more to an education than academics.

My first choice would be to homeschool like E does. I envy her ability to do that, but I know my limitations. I may be walking around with a 142 IQ, but brains alone are not enough to teach others. E is not only blessed with brains, she possesses the self-discipline and organizational skills required to successfully coordinate the education of her children.

If I homeschooled, my children would still be lingering in pre-K.

But, anyway, back to conforming. Yes, there's a nice bit of conforming when you're in a group that's all dressed alike and walking the halls in neat little lines, but there's still plenty of room for individuality with school activities. Long dead are the teachers and nuns who felt it necessary to beat your knuckles until you fit the mold.

So far, the "conforming" part of school works for Precious Daughter. She's a natural-born worrier, and she has a tendency to hide on the sidelines instead of jumping into the fun. The uniforms, visually speaking, give her the illusion of a more even playing field. Fitting in is very important to her, and I suspect we'll have problems later with her following the crowd's ill advice just to please them.

Mighty B. doesn't care about what others think. He charges on ahead with his own goals in mind, leaving those too slow to get out of the way bobbing helplessly in his wake. I wonder and often worry about how Mighty B. will handle the structure. I wonder if it's too restrictive for him and whether he'll find it necessary to rebel.

On Back-to-School Night, The Oracle finally met Precious Daughter's teacher. His "radar" didn't go off, which is a good thing. The Oracle, in my view, is an excellent judge of character. His first impressions have always been deadly accurate, even when I desperately hoped and prayed he was mistaken.

He said she looked a bit like a redheaded Larry "Bud" Melman. Oh, dear.

Instead of multicolored tennis balls, The Oracle presented Mrs. Melman with breast-cancer-awareness pink. Who could refuse tennis balls purchased to support breast cancer research? She graciously accepted them after briefly lamenting the fact that they weren't cut with an X to pop over the chair feet.

Precious Daughter still needs a yellow highlighter. Drat.

The Oracle forgot to check on the pencil sharpener.

Friday, September 5, 2008

School - Day Two

Yep. It's only the second day, and this second-grade teacher is getting on my nerves.

One thing I didn't mention yesterday was that Precious Daughter's list required "four pencils with erasers." I bought her mechanical pencils because she has this weird aversion to sharpening them. She doesn't like the idea of them getting short and being thrown away.

Yesterday she brought her mechanical pencils home because she wasn't permitted to have them even though she had them in first grade. In her next breath, she tells me that she'll have to sharpen her pencils at home, too, because the teacher doesn't have a sharpener. (We'll be investigating that on Tuesday night.)

The supplies list also included "1 highligher." I learned today that it has to be a yellow highlighter, that she isn't allowed to have pink. Nowhere on that stupid list did it specify color. On the teacher's individual page it does, but why would I look there if I don't know who her teacher is until the first day of school?

And to think I searched all over to find a single pink highligher, because I hated the idea of being forced to buy a pack of four different colors from the back-to-school aisle. I finally found the pink one in the bookstore/gift shop of a teaching hospital I visited for a deposition.

I'm getting really irked with this woman. At this point, The Oracle will be required to go to back-to-school night, because I'm going to be trapped beneath the rapidly-growing chip on my shoulder.

I suspect, too, that multicolored tennis balls will be returned for replacement. Dang, I don't want to conform.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Yep, It's Been a While

I'll post in a couple days, really. I've been sort-of basking in the beauty that is "back to school." My kids' school has staggered starting days, and things worked out in such a way that Mighty B. had school yesterday, but Precious Daughter was home.

Today is the opposite. Mighty B. is off.

As I led Precious Daughter to her line, I felt like I was leading her down the Green Mile. The poor kid stopped at the statue of the Blessed Mother, said a prayer, and started to cry. Ogre that I am, I had to tell her to get a hold of herself. I didn't want to start the day with a meltdown like last year. There is nothing that tears me apart more than a child crying not to leave his/her parents.

My kids' school has the lousiest first-day-back practice in the world, I swear. Once they hit second grade (this year for Precious Daughter), the kids don't know who their teacher is until they're in school on the first day. The entire grade files into the school as a group, and each teacher calls the roll for their class.

I don't understand the logic of this practice. My gut feeling is that there must be some highly-complained-about teachers in this school, and the administration feels that this surprise beginning will minimize the number of parental complaints about classroom assignment.

I have been feverishly praying all day that my daughter gets the teacher she's wishing for. I'll find out in another twenty minutes when she gets off the bus. My stomach is in knots, because this will dictate the tone of the entire school year.

She was intimidated by her teacher last year, and she spent a good portion of it worrying about doing things right and not getting "yelled at." Precious Daughter is already a worrier. It will be a miracle if she doesn't have ulcers by the time she's ten.

** ** ** ** UPDATE ** ** ** **

After a scary computer crash on the job, The Oracle pulled my ass out of the fire and managed to get me up and running. At least so far.

Wouldn't you know, Precious Daughter not only did not get the teacher she wished for, but the teacher considered (by the parking-lot-mommy grapevine) to be a troll. Why my kid? Why my good, smart kid? If the rumors are true (waiting for the 2nd grade back-to-school night to meet her), and my child is saddled with another difficult teacher, I am going to scream.

The good news is that Precious Daughter reported she liked her new teacher. In the next breath she told me she needs four tennis balls.

Tennis balls? What for?

This teacher wants to use them to cover the chair feet. She seems to not like the scraping and clattering of twenty-odd chairs being moved at the same time. WTF? Teach the kids how to properly slide a chair. It's a useful life skill. In fact, I distinctly recall the nuns teaching us how to silently raise and lower the kneelers in church. Why should I go out and buy tennis balls? Oh, and it's four tennis balls. Aren't they usually packed in threes?

The spiteful bitch in me wants to go to Petco and buy four doggie tennis balls in different colors: Purple, hot pink, dark green, and blue. She can look across the floor and have those four clashing colors taint her little sea of neon yellow-green.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Skinny Dipping

An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for several years. He had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he fixed it up nice picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some apple and peach trees.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't been there for a while, to look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his pond. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave!"

The old man frowned, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond naked." Holding up the bucket he said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."

Some old men can still think fast.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dreading Christmas

QVC, on the 25th of every month, afflicts us with their "Countdown to Christmas." Today's programming is all things Christmas, like decorations, toys, gifts, and entertaining. They've been doing this since June or July. I nearly break out in hives when I absently check QVC and I'm greeted with Christmas stuff while the cicadas are still singing outside. I will not look at QVC today.

It makes me angry when Christmas gets rammed down my throat so early in the year. What about Labor Day and Halloween? Election Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving? Things are supposed to happen in some sort of order, y'know? The hype is absolutely crazy, and starting it early means my nerves are thoroughly frazzled by early December. By the 20th I'll be burned out and hating the whole thing.

Every year, The Oracle gets a bit cheated on his November birthday because going to the mall after Halloween means the crews are setting up the holiday decorations, and I refuse to look at them or start thinking about Christmas until the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

While my children are small, I dread Christmas for another reason: Toy shopping.

I love buying things for my children. I love spoiling them rotten. The thing I do not enjoy is that I am just about forced to place their materialistic Christmas glee in the hands of a nation who has no regard for human rights or the materials they use in the production of millions of items they export around the world. Yep, I'm talking about China.

There's a new guy in my "site seeing" list (thanks to vee) who blogs as East Coast Squarehead. (Do pay him a visit; you won't be disappointed.) He touched on the subject this morning and fanned the flames of my holiday worries. His fourth paragraph perfectly expressed my feelings about China and how deeply I loathe sending any money there.

What do you do, though, when the thing, that thing that a kid wants more than anything else in the world, the thing that may just "make or break" Christmas, is only available through the likes of Mattel or Hasbro or Disney, places who contract China's sweatshop factories to produce their goods?

For eleven months of the year, it is so easy for me to say, "Sorry, kid, it's made in a country I do not want to support." Aaaah, but while my children's faith in Santa is only exceeded by their faith in God (a hard balance to maintain in December!), saying "no" is next to impossible.

Dagnabbit, it taints my joy in the season. It's hard to stick to my convictions and give them what they want. Which is more important? Is their temporary joy over a piece of flimsy (and possibly lead-tainted) plastic going to outweigh the importance of supporting countries (especially mine) who follow proper business and labor practices? You can't exactly tell a kid that Santa boycotted China's toys this year when the kid next door is nearly buried alive beneath them.

It's times like these where I wish I could hide the world from my kids, even though I know it would do them no favor.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Car Might Be Cursed

Late on Wednesday night, I fell asleep on the couch instead of dragging my sorry butt to the supermarket to buy the much-needed milk for breakfast and bread for The Oracle's lunch. I awoke around 1:00-ish.

Drat. The supermarket closed at midnight, which means I get to pay double for bread and milk at the convenience store.

Once I get my blood moving, I shuffle out to the Pacifica and get in. When I shut the door, I hear stuff pattering around in the back. Yikes! I look in the rearview and see nothing. I turn around and see black stuff all over the carpeting in the back. Whuzzat?

I walk around to the rear of the car, and I see that my rear windshield is shattered. It's mostly intact, but crackled to the four poles. F***. The pattering noise turned out to be the first pieces of glass popped out by the pressure of the closing car door.

I awaken The Oracle and learn that nothing unusual happened when he drove the car earlier in the evening. I call our local police department to file a report. The officer says it's most likely vandalism. We've lived here 16 years and the most heinous crimes visited upon us were soaped car windows on michief night our first year here, and the theft of nearly a dozen pumpkins when Precious Daughter was two. (And I was so angry over that I considered locking my doors on Halloween with nothing but a big note telling the kids to thank the pumpkin thieves for no candy.)

Well, anyway, I had to go for milk and bread, but I couldn't drive the Pacifica, and it was blocking in the Explorer. There I was, busting the glass out of the frame, sweeping my driveway in the dark, and jockeying cars around to go to the stupid store. When I got back, I taped plastic bags over the hole and crawled into bed at 3:00 a.m.

Much to my dismay, my deposition the following day ran for well over three hours, which I hadn't anticipated. I barely made it home in time to file the insurance claim, but they set me up with an early appointment this morning for their glass replacement service to come and replace my rear glass. That was very nice. I was driving my Pacifica by lunch time.

At least one good thing: Despite my belief to the contrary, my deductible was only $250.00. At least a year ago I distinctly remember a conversation with Nationwide on increasing that to $500 per vehicle to save a few bucks, but they never did it. (No wonder my premiums were so outrageous!) I didn't know about this when I was rear-ended in June because everything went directly through State Farm.

Oh. My point on the title? We've only had this car a few months, and I've already had two incidents requiring insurance claims. Well, it's technically three, but I haven't taken action on the dent I put in the bumper a couple weeks ago.

To quote SD's favorite I-Hop customer, "This is making me nervous."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Contagious Disease??

Just Me's note: The following arrived in my email inbox. My friend, E, has become the next in a long string of hapless victims to fall prey to blogging addiction. I should be sorry for passing this weird infection on to her. I am (a little bit) but misery loves company.

"It's All Your Fault!! :-)

"I was not into blogs at all. Didn't even know what they were to tell you the truth. Didn't understand the point. But you just couldn't leave me alone in my ignorance could you? Couldn't let me just go through my life unaware. First you sent me the link to something from Pioneer Woman a long time ago. I read it but didn't really get it (I'm slow sometimes you know). Then you told me something about Weiner's or something. I just blew it off. And of course you let me know about your blog somewhere along the line, got a kick out of the name, yummy!!!! But still I didn't go there often. Just didn't think of it.


"My beloved Rusty passed away and you sent me a link and said it wasn't much, but oh it was. I read that over and over. I kept going back (I still read it now and then) and it brought me comfort and put a smile on my face. And while that happened I kept reading your new postings and found I liked it. I got a quick chance to see how your doing when we couldn't seem to get in touch with each other. And it let me reminisce about earlier days.


"I took a quick look at "site seeing"...... Why oh why did you have to do that. Now every day, EVERY DAY I go to your blog to see if anything is new. Then I check out the weiners, the buzz, and now am totally obsessing over Pioneer Woman. I spent the entire day yesterday reading the entire "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" story. I don't need this right now. I need to focus. The school year is starting soon. My house is for sale, we have a showing tonight and I'm reading blog entries. How will I get any work done? How do these people get any work done? I have had to use extreme will power not to sign up for a blog name so I'm not anonymous anymore.

"And to top things off..... While perusing PW today (see I'm over the edge I used the abbreviation) I saw a recipe for Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Well as you may or may not know I LOVE mashed potatoes and garlic so I had to check it out. It's made with half and half (or heavy cream), cheese and butter.... OH MY GOD.... now what do I do. Last week my Dr. almost killed me because my cholesterol is so high and now this.

"At this rate I'm gonna need a 12 step program.

"Talk with you soon,"

Now, I'm going to do something that's unthinkably cruel and selfish. E has a bit of a knack for storytelling, and I know this because I get to hear her stories in person. Why don't you cheer me on as I shout, Hey E, maybe you should write a blog!!!!

Of course, if she started blogging, she'd be on the computer all the time and then I'd have even less time to see her and that would really suck. I'd much rather keep in touch in person than through a blog page.

But... It's a great way to share photos and stories with those far-away relatives, which is one reason why I started this thing in the first place.