Thursday, July 29, 2010

Laughing for Crying Out Loud

I went to an open mike comedy club last night. OMG! You talk about painful! (MEAN ALERT! I am going to be hateful and mean right now.)

I did not know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t this. We arrived a little late so maybe the “headliners” had already gone on. There were about eleven more people, and despite the emcee’s bubbling introductions that roused warm welcomes and cheers, these guys did not bring a lot of laughs with them.

It might have helped if there had been a few more people in the crowd. There were about 15 people there, and they had all been or were planning to be onstage. I only saw one guy with a girlfriend there – they left as soon as he bombed onstage.

Coming from me this might sound hypocritical. There have been many, many, MANY of these blogs that I didn’t think were very funny and I’m sure you wholeheartedly agree. However, it was late at night, I was tired, I had eaten a big pile of beans for dinner and my stomach was gurgling PLUS the air was hard to breathe and I had to get the heck out of here or suffocate, so I’ll admit I didn’t put a lot of thought into them.

Some of my blogs have made tears roll down my eyes (although that might have been the beans, too). I had tears last night, but they were not from laughing. It was a crying shame how bad most of those guys were.

You could tell they had the goods to be funny – nice voices or great smiles or a rapport with the audience. Their problems were similar to mine. They didn’t put enough time into preparing.

They came up to the stage carrying notebooks. Oh boy. It’s always nice to see a comic come up on stage and read jokes. After awhile I was hopeful that at least some of these pages contained something that could make me laugh, but alas, ‘twas not to be the case.

The notebooks, I think, were security blankets. The guys glanced at them, pondered, cocked their heads, cocked them to the other side, and then looked up at us like a deer in the headlights because maybe the lighting up there on stage made it so they couldn’t read what they’d written. Whatever the reason, there was nothing on those pages to help these guys in their struggle to be funny.

One guy got up there and said, “Well, I put my name on the list because I’ve never gotten up in front of a crowd and I wanted to see how it felt. Hmmm, feels pretty strange and pretty scary. Hmmm, I guess it would have been, uh, nice if I had prepared something…” He went on like this, rambling about how he should have prepared for five of the longest minutes in recorded history.

Then a guy got up and said, “I had sex last night with an 80 year old woman.” We groaned because he was about 18 and we all started picturing it in spite of ourselves. One poor guy in the audience Ralphed right there in his beer mug. The alleged comedian said, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” More groans. If groans had been laughs, his act would have made him a millionaire, especially when he started describing the sponge bath.

Once in their lives someone must have said to them, “You’re a funny guy.” Being funny at a party is not the same as performing comedy onstage, apparently. Funny stand-up guys actually write jokes and memorize them in a logical, funny order. They work at it, and this is where the difference comes in.

Another thing these guys did was say, “uh” every 4th word. “So I…uh….went down to the…uh….corner store and found….uh…..a magazine full of naked….uh….women who were….uh….naked and I….uh…. was….uh….thumbing through it when….uh…..”

The emcee couldn’t take it either. He got up after about 8 people and said, “You know, you see a lot of comics on TV. That’s where all comics want to end up, on TV, and one thing you might want to notice about these comics on TV is that they NEVER have a notebook when they go onstage. Just never see it. Just thought I’d mention that.”

So the very next comic brings his notebook up (he didn’t have enough notice), but the one after him came up empty handed. “Ooooo,” I thought, “maybe this guy is going to be good.” He gets up there and fumbles around with his “uh’s” and “everybody doing okay tonight?” Then he starts contorting his hand around, twisting it this way and that as if he’s trying to find a freckle just below his elbow. Finally he says, “Oh hell, I heard what you said about the notebook and so I wrote my set list on my arm but now I can’t read it.” That got one of the rare laughs of the evening.

Actually, that’s not true, There was an older woman who laughed at everything. You could tell she thought her mission was to help bolster these budding talents. I thought it was very sweet, and I laughed a few times too – but I laughed to keep from crying, as they say.

I have been to funny open mikes, but they should have “closed” this mike. Ha ha. I think anyone who could remember a few simple jokes would be a great hit at this place. For instance, this joke would have brought down the house: What do you call shoes that a frog wears? Open toad shoes. Or what do you call a cow that’s had its calf taken away? De-calf-inated. LOL – I could be a comedian! Maybe you’ll see me up there next week.

the South Bugged Me

I grew up in the south but I don’t miss it. Actually I miss some of the people – a lot – but I don’t miss the summers. Everybody talks about the heat and the humidity, but the bugs are what did me in.

I’ve been afraid of anything buzzing or crawling all my life. If a bee, just minding his own business, flew too close to me I took off screaming into the house.

The boys knew I hated bugs so they made a point of catching every one they could when I was around. They’d take a big, squirming beetle with all 6 or 20 legs swimming through the air and slowly come right at me. I’d run screaming with that little girl shriek that could break windows in the next block over, The boys would run right behind me with that beetle held out in front of them, clutched between their thumb and index finger like they were tweezers.

That’s how I got to be so fast. None of them could catch me, and just when they were too tired to run any further they’d fling that beetle through the air and I’d feel it bounce against my back. I screamed like the tall actor in the first Home Alone movie. If you’ve never seen that guy scream, you’ve missed out on one of the funniest moments in movie history.

The boys used to catch June bugs in December. Ha ha. These ha ha’s are my version of canned laughter like you hear on sitcoms. They caught them in June, and they were big, green flying beetles about the size of a 747. Somehow they managed to tie a string to the June bug’s back leg, then they’d let it go. It would fly off until it reached the end of the string, and then climb as high as they could and fly in a circle it would go around in a circle as the boy held onto the other end. They would fly in circles as long as anyone cared to keep holding them. I only ever saw this last part because the minute one of them said, “Let’s catch us a June bug,” I warped into the house and cowered behind the screen door.

I knew if my curiosity got the best of me, I’d be running a foot or two in front of a June bug that would end up down my shirt if I stumbled or fell. All I saw was the boys huddled around working with their hands, and then the bug and string flying in a circle.

In the absence of a real bug, boys would pretend to catch one and chase me with it. I could have called their bluff, but if I was wrong, and they had a real bug, I’d be at the mercy of a giant spider they’d fling at me.

It is amazing how boys can sense your every fear, but men can’t sense when you’re angry, irritated, exhausted, or disinterested. That’s why women had to invent headaches.

In the south they also have horseflies that would buzz your head like some miniature kamikaze pilot. They would bump you in the ear or back of the neck to see if you were a fast swatter. If you didn’t swat right away, they knew they could get in there, chomp down on you, and buzz off before you knew you were being attacked. They drew blood and their bites hurt like a son of a gun. Whenever one started dive-bombing my head, I’d grab a limb full of leaves or pine boughs and swish it all around my head. If it hit the big ole horsefly it was stop cold, but it was a deterrent. Sometimes when they came in really close I’d slap my own face with a scratchy pine bough and end up with scratches everywhere, but it was better than getting bit.

They have very, very tiny mosquitoes in East Tennessee with lethal venom. When the sneaky little mosquito got done with you, you had a giant red welt that itched like poison ivy times three.

No, I don’t miss the bugs down there. The boys, either.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Injustice of Ladies Golf

There is no justice in this world. I played in a golf tournament today. I realize that the word “tournament” makes me sound like a “real” golfer, but nothing could be further from the truth. Women like myself get together in what we call “9-hole groups” because we are either (a) too lazy to play all 18 holes or (b) too lousy to play all 18 holes. These women engage in “Hits and Giggles” because it’s supposed to be more fun than serious.

To make things interesting, we create little “tournaments” for ourselves. These are merely excuses to get a bunch of women together for socializing, eating, drinking, and raffling prizes. Yes, we do hit balls, but the nature of these tournaments is to get the competition over as quickly as possible so we can get to the lemon drops and buffet table. Thus we play “Scrambles,” which were invented by a male golfer to herd women through 9 holes expeditiously so that the real golfers (men) can have the course back.

The golf pros form groups in teams of four women of varying abilities (from bad golfer to really bad golfer). All four hit their balls, and the men fall to the ground clutching their privates (snicker). Then they hit their own golf balls. The ball that goes furthest without landing in the water is the one that all four women get to place their balls beside and hit from there. Everyone hits again, they walk to the best ball, put their balls down and so forth until they finally get the ball onto the green and into the cup. In this way a normal par 4 hole can be completed in a Scramble of 9-holers in about 15 shots. Ha Ha. Actually, some lucky teams manage to par a hole here and there, and they usually win the tournament. (Par 4 means that it should take a good golfer 4 shots to hole the ball, in case you live in the Arctic and don’t golf because you’d never find your ball.)

Today my team had two very bossy women who were driving me and the 4th team member nuts. The 4th team member, Pat, was 81 years old and wasn’t about to be bossed around by some 50 year old whipper snapper. Things got testy. “Who’s hitting this ball,” Pat said, “you or me?” It was a tense moment, but luckily Karen backed up and said, “Have at it,” and bloodshed was avoided.

Despite the barrage of advice (you can always tell an “amateur” golfer because they love to give advice to everyone even as their own balls ricochet off trees and hop from sand trap to sand trap. One of these days I’m going to bitch-slap one of them – I came this close to doing it this morning).

We managed to finish without snatching each other’s hair out and actually started having a good time once Pat and I stopped pouting. We joined all the other ladies in the dining room and anticipated the awards. They give prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams. We waited to see if our names were called but they weren’t. I wasn’t really expecting it, but our game didn’t totally suck and I thought we might come in third. It’s hard to tell when they figure in the handicaps how your score will stack up against the others.

Are you sick of golf? Just bear with me for a couple more minutes and I’ll wrap this puppy up.

After everyone got their prizes and the raffle prizes were awarded, I ended up with zip. I said to my teammates, “I used to win a raffle prize every single time but lately I haven’t won diddly.”

“What would you do with diddly if you won it?” Pat asked. She’s one sharp 81 year old woman.

“I bet we came in 4th,” I said, lacking a clever comeback. “Probably just one point off the money.”

“Let’s go see,” Karen said. “The board is over there.” I hadn’t noticed the board, which the golf pro had written all our scores on. Many of the women had already gotten up and left – anxious to get to their soaps. The four of us filed over to the board and looked for our score. “23.7” Karen said.

“What was the winning score?” I asked.

“23.9,” Wendy said.

I’m looking at that and thinking, “Hmmm, now in golf the goal is to get the LOWEST score, and isn’t 23.7 lower than 23.9?” I went ahead and said this out loud.

“Yes, it is lower,” Karen said. “We should have been the winners!”

“Oh my gosh, how did they screw that up? We won and nobody even noticed?”

We called the two tournament planning ladies over and showed them the numbers. They both raised their hands to their mouths and said, “Oh my. There’s been a terrible mistake. What can we do?”

The answer to that was obvious. We split up right now and run out to the parking lot and snatch our winnings off of those other women. We throw pies in the face of the golf pro who made the mistake. And we sue the place for whatever an ambulance chaser can come up with like wrongful neglect of proper scoring in the face of insurmountable odds, mens rea and gluteus maximus ad infinitum.

This is what I was saying in my heart, but since golf is a genteel sport, we all said, “Oh it’s okay, we’re just happy we won, don’t think anything of it,” and other such BS that none of us meant. We came away empty handed without a shred of glory.

There is no justice in this world, or my luck is so bad that I can’t win even when I do win. Pitiful.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Salt in the Wound

I went with my daughter to see Salt. It’s a pretty good movie, full of suspense. When the movie was over my daughter says, “I think Angela Jolie is crazy.”

“Crazy?” I said.

“Yeah, crazy. She’s always playing these parts where she gets beat up and stuff.”

I got to thinking about it, and it’s true. She got whaled on in Salt, and in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and in those Tomb Raider movies. She’s like the women’s action hero. She’s TYPECAST.

Which I think is a shame because she’s a good actress as far as I can tell.

But you didn’t come here for my musings about Angelina Jolie. Or did you? Because I have other pressing things to talk about, i.e. why I went to the movie with my daughter in the first place. The reason is that we went to church yesterday morning, and she came out of the house wearing a tank top that I felt revealed way too much for a Catholic service. Lest you think it’s just me, every mother I know has this same feeling about their daughters – not that they need to dress more conservatively at church – they need to cover up more all the time.

Oh my gosh, I sound like such a MOTHER! I’m sure all the moms back in the day were beside themselves fretting about our mini skirts.

My daughter thought I was an idiot and freak for mentioning her tank top – AGAIN, which made me defensive and her mad. Being a teenager, her anger turns immediately into rage and then it’s just a tiny baby step to sobbing, breathless tears.

I had to walk a very fine line to keep her from reaching that point, which in turn made me angry that I couldn’t tell her flat out that I don’t want the old men at church lusting at her cleavage.

I couldn’t help myself and said it anyway, which then made her call me a pervert. It was not going well, and I shut up.

When we got to church, I noticed that every teenage girl in the place had on the same tank top and revealing the same amount of cleavage, and that my daughter would not have stood out in a lineup of American girls imitating Britney Spears. However, I couldn’t tell her this because we were reciting the Apostles Creed. Besides, she wasn’t speaking to me.

She continued not speaking to me for most of the day. I mentioned on the way home from church that I wanted to see Salt. She didn’t reply. In general, she will only consent to go ANYWHERE with me if she has absolutely no other prospects on the horizon, including getting beaten with a rubber hose, but it was the best way I could think to try and smooth things over. About 4:00 in the afternoon she came into my office and said, “Salt’s playing at 4:20.”

That’s how we made up, without any apologies, just going to see Angelina Jolie. So I have her to thank for bringing about reconciliation, which is ironic because the movie itself is about tearing things apart.

The movie’s set up for a sequel (that’s all I can say without ruining the whole twisted plot), so I hope I can hold my criticizing tongue until Salt II comes out. I wonder what it will be called. Salt and Pepper? When Salt Met Sugar? Ha ha.

DISCLAIMER: If my daughter finds this blog and realizes I’ve been telling the world about her life she will smack me up side of the head with a 2 by 4. So I officially deny that I wrote this blog or that any of this ever happened. It’s just fiction – like most of my stuff – a fiction of my imagination. Honest.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Have Become My Grandmother

I have become like my grandmother, and I hate it. We called her Gramps, and I liked just about everything about her except one thing, and that seems to be the one thing I imitate.

I could have imitated her cooking and my family would be pleased as punch. Instead I have imitated her most irritating habit. She could NOT go out a door and climb into a car in a single trip. Even if she’d been offered a million bucks to NOT go back in the house, she’d insist she had to get a grocery sack to put it in.

My grandfather, who we called Pops, and I would be in his ancient white Dodge Dart with the motor running, and he’d start grumbling, “damned old woman,” because she wasn’t getting out of the house quick enough to suit him. He could barely see because he’d gotten lye in his eyes making soap decades before, so we had to leave about 45 minutes before church started in order for him to drive 25 miles an hour and get us into town in time – on time being with about twenty minutes to spare.

My grandmother would come out the back door, step down the first step, turn around and lock the door, step down the second step, close the screen door and make sure it latched, step one foot on the sidewalk, hesitate, look perplexed, arch her eyebrows into a V, roll her eyes skyward slightly like she was pondering something. Then she turned around.

Right at this exact moment, every single Sunday, my grandfather would unleash a string of obscenities that would make any sailor proud. “That damned old woman,” and then start listing every flaw she had, “she comes out the damned door looking like an idiot and forgets her son of a bitching hat. Every damn time it’s the same old shit...”

Meantime she’s got the door unlocked and has disappeared inside. We wait a couple of minutes, me in the back seat snickering at his rage and that delightful cussing, thanking God for the wonderful entertainment He has given me on this fine Sunday morning. I was totally amused.

The car is still running, and my grandfather leans his whole body forward, elbows all the way up in the air, and LAYS on the horn with both hands as if he can get it to sound louder and more insistent by putting his whole body into it. Still no Gramps.

“DAMN HER!” he shouts. “DAMN HER TO HELL! As I’m typing this I am laughing so hard I can barely continue because I can see the empty doorway of that white house, hear the engine knocking, and see the back of my grandfather’s balding head with the wispy white comb-over, the air full from his rising blood pressure.

Finally Gramps appears in the doorway, opens the screen door, steps down on the first step, turns and locks the door, steps down on the second step, closes the screen door and latches it, steps down on the sidewalk, hesitates, looks pensive, tilts her eyes up and to the right, and my grandfather LAYS on the horn again. I have tears rolling down my eyes I’m laughing so hard in the back seat. My grandmother scowls at him and waves a dismissive hand toward the ground. He stops the horn and yells at the top of his lungs, even though the windows are rolled up, “Come on, old woman!”

She just looks at him, trying to remember whether she’s forgotten something. She takes a hesitant step forward, then another. Stops, looks worried. Turns around and heads back toward the steps. I lay down in the back seat with my knees in the air and hold my chest, rocking side to side from laughing.

My grandfather bangs the dashboard about six times with his fist as hard as he can. She goes back into the house and comes out a few minutes later with a dime-store see-through scarf thrown rakishly around her neck. Pops has not stopped cussing and ranting since she headed in.

Gramps walks toward the car with determination, head held high and shoulders back as if she is some dignitary with places to go and people to see. She opens the car door, hesitates, looks back toward the house. My grandfather yells, “Get in the car, damn you!” She waves her hand toward the ground again like she’s warding off some pesky child or swooshing at a fly, harrumphs, and climbs into the car.

“Let’s go then,” she says in the voice that says she’s disgusted but it’s beneath her, on Sunday morning, to say so.

I have laughed and snickered so hard in the back seat that I’m exhausted, and none of us talks on the way to church except for my grandmother mumbling under her breath, “I just don’t see why…what’s the big hurry…plenty of time…” She’s practically deaf so she thinks no one hears her.

We get to church twenty minutes early – just like clockwork. My grandfather sits in the car while Gramps and I sit through the long Latin service. I amuse myself by reliving the morning’s entertainment. When church is over, everyone is cordial as if there weren’t cussing and damning and yelling and horn-blowing going on just a little while earlier.

I have enjoyed some belly laughs writing this – my mascara is running. What I’ve described is the habit I have learned from my grandmother. I never climb in the car and leave – I always forget something. Sometimes I get out of the driveway, but I always go back, turn off the car, grab the keys, unlock the door, run through the house looking for whatever I forgot, and run back outside. The sad thing is that my kids are NOT amused waiting for me in the car. I wish Pops were here to entertain them.

Movie Madness

Yesterday we went to see the movie, Inception, which was really good. I talked my husband into going. He’s not a big fan of movies because they cost so much. “I’ll see it when it comes out of video.”

But I told him how good this movie was supposed to be and he consented to go. We got in the lobby and he wanted some popcorn. “Just get a small one,” I said.

“Why, it’s only a dollar more to get the medium.”

“Because the medium is huge, and I’ll eat the whole thing.”

“I’m starving,” he said. “I’ll eat most of it.”

I know this isn’t true because he only likes the top and middle layers that are that are dripping with that fake movie butter. He’s not going to eat any more than that, and then I know I’ll eat all the rest.

“Look, just get the small. It’s plenty of popcorn,” I whined, but he ordered a medium because it was a better deal.

“Lots of extra butter, too,’ he tells the clerk, “and a medium diet Coke.”

The concession stand girl gets a bag the size of a grocery sack and starts shoveling in popcorn. Five minutes later she’s got it about half full and she starts pumping the butter on it. Pump, pump, pump, pump…these dots stand for about 30 more pumps….pump. Then she starts shoveling in more popcorn. She’s staggering under the weight of the bag as she pumps more butter over the top.

She hoists the bag up onto the counter and starts filling a cup with about two gallons of diet Coke. She has to lift it with two hands.

“That’ll be $13.50,” she says.

My husband pays, complaining the whole time. “Seven bucks for a bag of popcorn.”

“You could have gotten the small bag,” I said.

“Yeah, and just saved a buck. It’s a better deal with this one.”

As we walked to the theater number 6 - on our right, I’m worried that the popcorn bag isn’t waterproof and a waterfall of butter is going to gush out the bottom.

We found decent seats and my husband starts in on the popcorn. I am not joking, he plunges his big old fist into the top and crams the greasy kernels in his mouth and dives in a second, third, fourth and fifth time. He’s after the butter, and he’s not going to share that popcorn until he gets the lion’s share of it. Then he hands me the bag.

I grab a mouthful and it’s as dry as the Mohave Desert. It doesn’t taste good but I keep eating because popcorn and potato chips are two things I can’t stop eating until the whole bag is gone.

I munched my way through that bag until I struck popcorn oil – the second layer of butter. I tried to be nonchalant so I’d get to enjoy some of that delicious grease but my husband caught on quick. My slick fingers kept reflecting off the movie screen like they had a flashlight shining on them. He again snatched the bag away, gobbled up the butter, and then gave me the dry stuff back.

Just like I knew I would, I continued to eat that popcorn even when the button flew off my shorts and hit a bald man in the back of the head. Even when the zipper let its own self down. Even when the muscles in my arm were getting sore from the repetitions. I finally put the bag down, but only because I just couldn’t lift my arm again to grab another handful.

Of course I was thirsty after eating all that, so I drank practically all of the pop. Diet Coke makes me need to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW. The movie was so complex and captivating, though, that I didn’t want to get up. I sat in misery all the way through it, and when I got up I knocked people down and trampled them to get to the bathroom.

All in all, it was a great evening except for my discomfort. I highly recommend the movie, but do yourself a favor and get the small bag – or else make sure you wear reinforced shorts or bring a safety pin.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Too Big Chill

Instead of boo-hooing yesterday about my kids growing up, I should have been paying attention to the new refrigerator. I mentioned that it was a very tight fit, and I was very thankful that it fit into the built-in space we had. It was the only refrigerator with that capacity that would fit. I had measured the space front to back and knew I had about 32 inches of space, and this thing was 31.5 so it was perfect.

I loaded all my food in, and there was plenty – mostly jars. My husband thinks jars are like dollars – it’s better to have too many than too few. In the old refrigerator they were scattered on every shelf and all over the shelves in the doors. I decided to organize them and discovered that we have 10 different jars of jelly. Nobody even eats jelly in this house but me - about once a month. There were two jars of mint jelly, which he uses for lamb but has not made lamb in three years. There are six jars of horseradish! Eight jars of mustards. Three tubes of wasabi. I filled one door rack with nothing but salad dressings. It took me an eternity to get all that stuff into the new refrigerator because I wiped off all the sticky on the jars. It sure looked pretty in there when I got done.

Later, when I went to pull a frying pan out of the drawer that evening, I couldn’t open the drawer because it bumped into the new refrigerator. S-word! F-word even. So I pulled it out (the refer, not the drawer) and measured it. 31.5” – it should fit. I pushed it back in as far as I could and tried to open the drawer. It hit the refrigerator.

“Uh-oh,” I said. “The refrigerator doesn’t go in deep enough.” So my husband pulled it back out and we looked closely. Where the water line comes in, there is a 1” metal protector that added, duh, 1” to the depth. So it was actually 32.5” deep. I kindof wish someone would have pointed that out in all that stuff I read onlne when I was doing hours of research.

I called the appliance store and they will take the bohemith back if we pay a 15% re-stocking fee, which ends up being close to $300. I don’t blame them, but it’s a lot of money to pay.

So now we’ve decided we’d put the one we moved into the bonus room back into the kitchen and get a much cheaper one to put in the bonus room. This means going back to the store and shopping, having the appliance guys come and move the the refrigerators around, and me having to move the food all over again.

There is a very small silver lining in all this. When the appliance guys were here, I asked them if they’d move the two old ones out to the driveway because I’d never get my husband to do it. One of them said, “Oh, he’s that kind of guy, huh?” and I said, “Yeah, he’s pretty good with the remote control but he doesn’t want to do too much more than that while he’s home.”

“I do that,” the guy says. “I just tell my wife I don’t know how to do something and then she quits asking me.”

“Really?” I said, intrigued.

“Sure, or else I do it wrong and then she thinks I’ll just screw it up if she asks me to do it again.”

“I think that’s EXACTLY what my husband does!” I said. “I ask him to do something and he never manages to do it the way I want him to, even if I give great directions.”

“Yep, he’s doing that on purpose,” he said. “I do it all the time.”

“Do tell,” I said.

“Well, I better not say anything more, I’ve already given away a big guy secret.”

He clammed up after that. I started thinking about all the times my husband, and for that matter my kids, have whined that they didn’t know how to do something, or say, “But mom, you do it so much better,” and I quit asking them. The whole thing started becoming very clear to me. It would never occur to me to do something badly in order to get out of having to do it again. I would just complain the whole time I’m doing it and make everyone so miserable that they don’t dare ask me to do it again. This seems like the honest way to go about it.

From now on I’m going to be on the lookout. When somebody around here does a lousy job I’m gong to accept it rather than thinking I need to get in there and do it next time because I want it “done right.” It’s better to get a halfway job than none at all. That’s my new theory.

I hope I get the same delivery guys when they come to pick up the refrigerator and deliver the new one. If I get more insider tips on the conniving behavior of men, I’ll pass it along.

Sad Little Good Memories

Today we got a new refrigerator, which put me in a very sad mood. We have a refrigerator and separate freezer in the bonus room, and they are old energy hogs, so we decided to replace the two of them with the one that’s in our kitchen, and replace that one with a new one.

The delivery guys showed up. One looked like a 98-pound weakling. Almost like a little kid. I asked him, “Are you going to use a dolly to take the old one out to the bonus room?” and he said, “No, we’ll just pick it up and carry it.”

He looked like it would be a struggle for him to pick up a glass of iced tea. They were connected with a harness they put over their shoulders and passed it under the refrigerator. The best way I can describe it is like they were the ends of a big, fat, saggy tightrope, and the refrigerator was balanced on it between them. The lifted the thing right off the floor without even grunting and walked right out the door. Pretty fascinating!

Once I had moved all the food into the new refrigerator, I went out to the bonus room to transfer everything and tidy up. I don’t go out there much anymore. It’s my daughter’s lair. I swoop in with a vacuum on occasion, so I only look at the carpet. Today as I was rearranging the space, I started noticing things that I hadn’t “seen” in a long, long time.

I noticed my son’s snowboard and remembered how my son, daughter, and I used to go up to Skibowl on Fridays when they had cheap night skiing so we could learn to ski. My husband is a good skier, but I learned at the same time my kids did. My daughter was only five years old and had this neon pink one-piece ski suit. Both kids were fearless and zoomed down the hill with me trying to catch up between falls. They looked like cartoons of speeding streaks while I had skis and poles flying through the air. We would ski until 11:00 at night under sparkling stars, freezing on the slow lifts but having too much fun to go inside.

I saw the skateboard and remembered getting up at 4 am and going to the skate park with my son and six of his friends. That early, they had the whole place to themselves. My daughter and I would roam around the adjacent pastures with the dog and go get French toast sticks at Burger King for everyone. That was before I quit eating there because of their tacky commercials.

I saw my son’s lacrosse stick and remembered tossing that forty pound ball with him, worried that it would miss the tiny little net in my stick and knock me out cold.

I saw the boogie boards and remembered going camping at the beach and playing with the kids in the ice-cold Pacific ocean. We would go in an inch at a time and let that part of us get numb before going a little further. The legs weren’t so bad, but when the water got to my waistline it was SO cold on my back. I didn’t want to go any further so they’d splash me until I was wet enough I might as well dive under the waves.

I looked at my son’s drum set and guitar and remembered the garage band practices and how the walls in the house literally shook from the loud vibrations. I saw the wooden blocks that they used to build roadways and ramps. I noticed the two big bins of Legos and remembered the castles and spaceships they worked hours building, and stepping on those tiny pieces barefoot and silently cursing Legos everywhere.

I saw an old blanket and remembered how they’d gathered every blanket in the house and build elaborate multi-roomed forts, and how they’d make me crawl down on the floor and go inside.

Holy crap, it was a tidal wave of memories that knocked me down and left little streams of water rolling down my cheeks. Even as I’m typing this, another wave is washing over me.

What happened to those fun little people? They used to always be right by my side. We had new adventures every day – building obstacle courses, doing cartwheels in the back yard, playing hide and seek. They disappeared and left their memories to collect dust in the bonus room as thick as the dust under the old refrigerator.

If you are still with me through this soulful trip down memory lane, I can only say that this one little day of boo-hooing is a very small price to pay for years and years of great memories. My kids may not give me the time of day now, but not so long ago like little planets and I was the light of their lives. My life revolved around them as they revolved around me. Excuse me, it is midnight and I hear a car door slam. Let me DROP EVERYTHING and greet my baby girl who’s all grown up….sigh….

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Want Some Advice? Don't Take Mine

I just read a note on this blog from someone asking me for advice. I must say that even though I’m quite flattered, I never intended to come across as the type of person who has a handle on life. My life has been one rocky road full of trips and falls, skinned knees and black eyes, stubbed toes and swollen lips, rolling down hills and running into doors, metaphorically speaking. I have pretty much done what I felt like I needed to do one minute, and then spent the next year or two trying to undo it or get untangled from the aftershocks. I have rarely taken anyone’s advice unless it was something I was going to do in the first place.

The problem with trying to give advice is that most people won’t listen to it, even if they’ve sought it out, and if they listen they won’t follow it, and if they follow it, they only get a 50/50 chance that it was good advice to begin with. History is full of people who took the wrong advice. Just ask the Donner family.

When I was young I wouldn’t listen to anybody. I bull-headed my know-it-all way through every foolish decision imaginable, and it took me a couple of decades to realize that I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy if I would have just listened.

I see my kids doing the same thing. I say to them, “If you get your homework done now you won’t have to worry about it all weekend.” But they always say, “There’s plenty of time, I wanna hang out with my friends.” Then late Sunday night they’re melting down, stomping around saying how stupid the teacher was for giving so much homework.

I have a friend who is constantly complaining about her husband or kids. I see how she could fix it. “Why don’t you just….” I say to her, but she has NEVER ONCE followed any of my suggestions, although I liberally dole them out. So to have someone ask me what to do is pretty amazing.

Sometimes I’ve wanted to be an advice columnist, but I fear I lack tact.

Dear Suzanne: I found out my mother wants to have an affair with my boyfriend, and he’s okay with it, what should I do?

A: Get your white trash rear end off of that flea-bitten couch and walk right out the holey screen door of that rusty trailer and don’t look back at either one of them. Take the Twinkies and pork rinds with you.

Dear Suzanne: My neighbor’s dog barks all night long. Before I die from LOS (lack o’ sleep) what should I do?

A: Get a tape recorder and go to the Humane Society and find you a German shepherd or Mastiff or Rottweiler – something with a mean, fierce bark. Record about 20 minutes of it, then call your neighbor every night around 3 am and play the tape. Be sure your name is blocked on caller ID. This works - trust me, I know. I now have a very quiet neighborhood.

Dear Suzanne: I’m a Mac but my boyfriend is a PC. Will this relationship work?

A: Hell no.

Dear Suzanne: I am a woman in my 80’s. My husband has started using Viagra and he sleeps on his back. Our bed becomes a tent, letting the cold night air in. What can I do?

A: Bless your heart. Before you catch pneumonia, go down to the fabric store and buy you some sticky-back Velcro to lash that one-eyed stake to his belly so you can get some sleep. A day or two of peeling off that Velcro should do the trick.

Well, you can see that I would not be much of an advice columnist. I lack the patience and the couth to be giving anyone direction in their lives. If you want to know how to screw up, though, I’ve got ample expertise in that area.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Relatively Clean - In Spite of My Family

Those of you who read my blog a few days ago about the carpet man are probably thinking, “That woman is a pig.” I’m not denying it, but clean IS relative. As the carpet man said, “Your house is immaculate compared to the one I did this morning.”

He described yellow stains all over the customer’s long white shag carpet, and the guy didn’t have any pets. “When I put the oxidizer on it, urine smell rose up like fog in a swamp. I know pet urine, and that wasn’t no pet urine.”

So I guess I can be proud that my house is not as disgusting as some guy’s who apparently thinks that he can pee anyplace that’s white.

My house, by contrast, is more neglected than dirty.

I like that word – neglected. It sounds like I’ll get around to doing something at some point in the future. A filthy house implies that the place has crusted up plates lying on the floor and Burger King wrappers scattered like confetti.

Speaking of Burger King, I hate those commercials. Have I blogged about that before? If so, it won’t hurt to touch on it again. If not, I’m WAY past due. That plastic headed King of Burgers is about the dumbest thing on the planet, and he’s got no personality whatsoever. He just appears in a bedroom or stands around waiting for someone to tip him over in a cow pasture, then rolls down the hill through cow pies wearing that stupid grin. I just don’t get those commercials. They had some other commercials before the King that I can’t remember, but they were insulting and/or tacky. I won’t patronize Burger King anymore because of them.

I bet whoever is doing their ads thinks they are luring in a new and improved population sector, but surely ads shouldn’t drive existing customers away. Shirley!

I worked for one day while I was in college at a Burger King. The floor behind the counter was SO greasy. I guess it was because of the “flame-broiled” burgers which must sizzled the grease up into the air and where it drifted until it landed on the tile floor. The tennis shoes I wore were those Keds with flat, slick soles. The first time I walked behind the counter I felt like I was on black ice. I had to keep gabbing the counters and other employees so I wouldn’t fall and break my coccyx. I slid my feet across the floor like I was on roller skates. Since they refused to give me hazardous pay, I was forced to abandon my service to the King so as not to risk my life for mere minimum wage, which was about 20 cents an hour back in the day.

I realize this has nothing to do with the tidiness of my house, but I could tie them together given enough time. Segue’s are my specialty! Oh, I know. That Burger King I worked at was actually a clean place. They mopped the floor several times a day, but due to a continual influx of customers, the burgers kept spewing grease on the freshly cleaned floor. A vicious cycle. It’s like that at my house. If no one ever came through the door, it would be spotless. Instead, I’m over my head in laundry because my daughter changes every couple of hours because she’s a TEENAGER. Nobody in this house can butter a piece of toast without getting crumbs everywhere. The dog rolls in fresh-mowed grass and comes in the house to shake, creating a green area rug that gets tracked through the house. My husband uses the dining room chairs as his coat closet. Friends drop brownie chunks on the floor and step on them, leaving little trails of squashed black doughy stuff everywhere they go.

Yes I have nagged, but no one listens and I don’t enforce with the consistency advised in those “natural consequences” books. The husband and dog ignore me flat out. My daughter will do whatever I ask per nag session, but later in the day she leaves her dirty dishes in the sink and I have to nag anew.

So my house is like Burger King. The continual flow of “customers” is what causes the “grease” that I have to “mop” all day and night. If I didn’t have that to do, I’d have time to keep up on the deep cleaning like clearing the cobwebs and getting a toothbrush into the cracks and hard-to-reach places I was so embarrassed about when the carpet man was there.

At least I don’t have that disgusting white carpet, but I wonder what he told the next customer after he left my house!

Put Your Money Where Your Paradise Is

I’m writing a short note now about loving where you are. Before you jump to conclusions that I’m going to throw out something in a big hurry just to fill in for those missed days and I’m not going to even try to be funny, let me put your mind at ease. You are absolutely correct. That is my intention.

However, I’ve been giving something some thought the last couple of days, and I’m going to unleash the torrent of my ideas, be they only about a paragraph long, because I feel they are profound.

But first excuse me while I go to the kitchen and get a heaping fistful of that chocolate cherry trail mix I wrote about in my last post. Boy was that stuff tasty.

Well drat the luck, as somebody amusing once said. It’s gone! I searched everywhere – in the cabinets, on the nightstand, in the bonus room, but that little treasure trove of trail mix has disappeared. Doggone it! Thank goodness I found a Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate bar the size of a greeting card that hit the spot. No, I didn’t eat it all, I left a couple of squares to the rightful owner so they’d know they hadn’t imagined putting it in the cupboard. After all, I’m a considerate person.

So we were visiting friends over in Central Oregon (my excuse for getting behind in my blogs) and the sun was shining the whole time and nary a cloud in the sky. It’s hard to complain about warm sunshine after living in Portland during this incredibly cool summer we’re having (to find out why – SHAMELESS PLUG – get the global warming book I mentioned in my previous blog).

One morning we came out of the bedroom to be greeted by blue, sunny skies through every window, and our host said, “Another day in paradise.”

Didn’t Jimmy Buffet sing a song about another day in paradise? Somebody did. Anyway, I got to thinking about it and I concluded **** PROFOUND SAYING ALERT***** that:

PARADISE IS WHERE THE HEART IS

This might sound a whole lot like another saying, “Home is where the heart is,” but that one isn’t centered and in all capital letters, which means it’s not nearly as good as the one I just coined. I wonder if I can copyright that and get royalties when the world starts using it? Because, you know, paradise is sometimes where the money is, too.

All things considered, I think I’ve done very well to coin this phrase and write an entire blog doing it. I have far exceeded my expectations. That should be enough for you, but I know you’re greedy for more, and since you’ve asked nicely and added “pretty please with a cherry on top,” I will elaborate.

Blue skies and sunshine might certainly be a formula for paradise, but I’ve had a taste of paradise when I’ve been on the side of a mountain in the freezing cold and hit a bump on my skies that should have sent me flailing end over end but miraculously recovered without falling and breaking a leg. It’s exhilarating. But how come skies and skies is spelled the same? Isn’t the world confusing enough?

I’ve also been in paradise when my teenage daughter asks me to go to a movie with her. OMG I will drop anything to spend time with either of my kids because they are scattered like my Uncle Vance’s ashes all over the trunk of my cousin Nancy’s car. That’s a funny story I’ll try to remember to tell one day. My kids rarely light in one place long enough except to say, “Mom, you already asked me what I’m doing today and I’ve already told you.” I’m not so sure I DID ask, and I certainly don’t remember what they said. They make stuff up to drive me crazy. Even so, I love when they’ll forsake their friends and hang out with me, even when I know it’s because none of their friends can do anything right that minute and also I’ll pay for their movie ticket. Still, it’s more of a paradise to hang out with them than being in the tropics sipping vodka and POG while swinging in a hammock on the beach. I think.

The point is that paradise is in our heads. If it weren’t, then everyone in warm places would be happy, and everyone else would be miserable. That may pan out in many cases, but not all. There are many, many cranky shop clerks in those little beach stores in Lahaina. In fact, there are few things crankier than a middle-aged Hawaiian woman in a t-shirt shop during the heat of the day in Maui. I’ve heard them mumble, “I got your paradise RIGHT HERE!” and though I’m not sure what that means, it didn’t sound happy.

So, gentle readers of my gentle humor, you probably don’t need to look any further than your own back yard for your little patch of paradise. And if you find it in the form of money, send me some!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Naturally Happy Day

First my apologies for missing a few days. I was out of town on vacation with no easy internet. I’m going to post a couple of blogs to help catch up. BTW for anyone who cares, this is my 265th blog, which means I only have 100 more blogs to meet my 365-blog goal. Yippee!!!!

Yesterday I had a naturally happy day. By natural I mean uncontrived - a day that was happy on its own merit and not one I have to cajole myself into believing it was happy.

I’ll give you an example. When it’s raining and cold and I’m freezing to my bones I can say, “At least I’m cozy inside and not out in a leaky tent with no bathroom.”

Or I can say, “I’ve got a sore tooth but I could be relatively tooth-less like my cousin in Tennessee who ate hard candy even as a baby.”

These things are designed to make me feel better by comparison. If I see myself in more pitiful circumstances, then I’ll feel better about my current plight and even silver-lining myself up a couple of notches on the happiness scale.

This method of happiness works, but every now and then things go so well I’m not forced to look at the miserable side of life to get pumped up, and yesterday was one of those.

First, I found a swimsuit that doesn’t make me look fatter than I am, and it was ON SALE! Next, I found a couple of tops that don’t make me look fatter than I am, and they were ON SALE too!

This in itself would have been enough to make for a pretty happy day, but I also went hiking in a wilderness area at the base of Three Finger Jack, a central Oregon mountain with jagged peaks that look more like a bunch of jagged peaks than three fingers. I’ve seen that mountain from every angle and still can’t find the fingers, but this did not make me unhappy because it was gorgeous up there, with snow-fed streams and wildflowers blooming in every direction. We hiked for four hours, which wore me out and therefore must have burned a lot of calories. Lucky for me because I had a bag of chocolate cherry trail mix that a genius invented. S/he stuck some peanuts in there to make it “official” but for the most part it was chocolate and more chocolate. Could a wilderness hike be any better?

Then I dozed all the way home while my husband drove which was great because I was unconscious as he passed extra-long RV’s on curves and risked our lives in other creative ways that usually give me a heart attack.

But the real happiness came when I got home and read my emails. Not only did I have several new site members (thanks and welcome!), but also the book I helped to write about global warming got an endorsement from James E. Hansen, the world’s foremost authority on global warming. HOW EXCITING!

Hansen is a NASA scientist who has written a couple of books about global warming as well as teaching at Columbia University and being called to testify before Congress. He is no slouch. So having his endorsement is such a wonderful thing even though you have never heard of him.

You can see the endorsement on the website www.thebookfootprint.com and/or order the book on amazon.com (www.amazon.com/Footprint-Funny-Thing-Happened-Extinction/dp/0984509003/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279605711&sr=8-1

Riding on the high of all this, my daughter’s boyfriend had left the movie, “Big Fish” at our house and I watched it. What a delight! That Tim Burton is a very interesting director, and I was sucked into that movie like a lollipop into my toothless cousin’s mouth. By the time I went to bed I was bubbling. A wonderful day never hurt anyone.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Carpet Man Wore Me Out

Sorry I missed a day. I was exhausted! I had a carpet man come to clean my carpets and he wore me out.

First thing he said to me was, “I could also do your kitchen tile after I clean the carpet.” I looked down to see if the kitchen tile needed cleaning and - GASP – it was atrocious. “See the difference between the grout under your cabinet here and the rest of the floor?” he said.

See the difference? It was like black and white. Literally. Under the cabinet, where no one but the spiders go, the grout was a nice pale grey. Two inches out into the real world, it was a rusty black – the color of dirt ground into grease. All that fried food my husband loves was bad for our arteries, I knew that, but it’s even worse for grout.

I was embarrassed to crimson. “Well,” I stuttered, “I used to get down on my hands and knees with a toothbrush every year after we first moved in, but I’ve been busy the last decade,” I said in my pitiful, “I’m such a bad homemaker” voice.

“I can do this and the front hallway for $400,” he said.

“Or I could get down on my hands and knees and do it in three hours,” I said, shocked at the price.

“But isn’t your time worth something?” he asked.

“It’s worth about $133 an hour, apparently,” I said. “I think I’ll hold off on the kitchen floor until I win the lottery or have three extra hours, whichever comes first.”

We have the good fortune of living in a house surrounded by deciduous trees so it’s somewhat dark in the summer, even with all the windows. A dark house hides many horrors. He started going through the house turning on every single light. With all those bright lights the rug looked like someone had dropped dark grey stains everywhere. “Oh my,” I said. “My little dog throws up a lot and I didn’t realize they were staining the carpet with it so dark in here.”

“Yeah, all the Scotchgard has worn off so even if you clean everything up right away they’re probably going to leave a little discoloration. I can add Scotchgard for an extra $75.”

Finally he offered his hefty price. I was in no position to turn it down because I couldn’t imagine having to go through this humiliation with another carpet cleaning guy. “That’s way more than I’ve paid before,” I said, hoping to talk him down. He started ranting about all his magnificent equipment and how many horsepower his German-made vacuum cleaner had and the torque of his suction thingy and I finally held up my hand and said, “Oh. Okay, well that sounds great! Let’s get started.”

He moved a chair and it was FILTHY under there. Candy wrappers featuring the first Star War movie were cocooned in carpet lint. “Those darn kids,” I laughed, cursing them under my breath. I scurried in front of him to move other things before he could get there and find a feminine hygiene product or something.

While he was cleaning, I had nowhere to go but the kitchen. I started looking at the cabinets and couldn’t remember when the last time I’d really cleaned them. When I was a stay-home mom, I’d soap and rinse and dry and polish them while the kids were playing with Flubber or doing art projects at the kitchen table – hanging out but being productive. Since I’ve been working, I spend as little time in that kitchen as possible. My husband cooks, and he’s sloppy. At that very moment, the sun streaming through the skylights reflected off of long streaks of shiny stuff not visible any other time of the year except about a month during the summer when the sun is high overhead and finds a peek-hole through the tree branches. Would my humiliation never end? I got out the cleaning stuff and went to work on the cabinets. When I got to the microwave I noticed years of dust in the little space between it and the built-in cabinet. Continuing on, I found similar nooks and crannies harboring grease and grime that I’d never noticed before.

One thing led to another, and I was covered in suds and dirt and grime and that’s my excuse for missing a blog day. You are all invited to my house today because it is sparkling clean. This is only today, though, because that mess will be right back tomorrow, which is why I don’t fret about cleaning like I used to. The dirt will still be there tomorrow, whether I clean today or not. That’s my new philosophy, and it works for me, except when the carpet guy comes. Thank goodness I won’t have to go through that for another decade!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Woe Is Me

How did I get this far behind in my life? I’ll tell you how. Computers. They may speed everything up, but they sure slow everything down when they don’t cooperate. A program I have to use to get something done for a client keeps closing itself if I add data too fast. If I didn’t want to do it FAST, I’d do it by hand. I’m not going to mention the program because I bought a smidgen of stock in the company and I don’t want the price to go any lower because of my complaining, but I’m very VERY frustrated that I have to type slowly or risk losing everything. I Save about every 30 seconds to make sure that, when the program crashes, I don’t lose too much. Grrrr!

I love computers, and I love the internet. But I hate it when my computer won’t let me get on the internet because my router is throwing a hissy fit for no good reason. It decides out of the blue that my laptop (a PC) and my desktop (a Mac) shouldn’t speak to each other. They were cooperating and enjoying each other’s diversity a few minutes ago, but now they’re slamming the door in each other’s faces. In order to share files, I get out my trusty little Toshiba thumb drive, but it’s just not the same. It’s like sending carrier pigeons from one to the other.

I could go on and on if I could think of anything else computer-related to gripe about, but I’m too preoccupied with the lousy golf game I played today. I got invited to be in a tournament and I don’t play that great so I’ve been getting up at the crack of dawn and trying to practice so as not to embarrass myself.

Why don’t I JUST SAY NO to golf? I would have played just as well today if I’d taken a broom and tried to sweep the ball toward the green. On the fairway my ball would not go more than a few feet, but on the green I’d barely tap it and it would streak across the whole green, roll up over the little mound in the back and bounce into a sand trap. I had 8’s and 9’s and 10’s and even an 11 all over my scorecard.

This public humiliation went on for 18 holes, or nearly 5 hours. The course marshal kept asking us to hurry along, but you can’t go fast with scores like that. I lost enough balls to start a driving range.

The hardest part was trying to keep up a cheery front, because it just makes everyone else miserable when a golfer moans and whines about how bad they’re playing. Or they say something like, “I played a great game yesterday, I don’t know what’s wrong with me today.” Or, “I parred this hole last time I played.” Nobody gives a flying rip what you did every other time you played. It does not make your partner feel better to know you played your “A” game yesterday but brought your “B” game to the tournament.

My partner and I would have gotten the boobie prize if there had been one. She stunk as bad as I did, and she’s a much better golfer. My lousy shooting was rubbing off on her. I’m sorry to go on and on, but I just needed to mope a little.

If that wasn’t enough, I had to take my dog to the vet where I dropped a hundred bucks because she is itching so much she’s leaving tufts of hair all over the floor. It looks like we have black shag carpet. Turns out she’s got seasonal allergies, which meant I needed a bunch of special shampoos and a subscription to doggy Benadryl.

Remember me blogging about giving the dog butter a while back? She LOVES it, so someone is always giving her a little butter treat. The vet looked at her blood work and said, “Your dog’s cholesterol is elevated.” Nobody told me dogs get clogged arteries. Do they get strokes and heart attacks? Wonder how much that will cost.

I have other whining but this is one downer of a blog, and at the risk of running you all off with my tales of woe, I’m gonna stop now and see if I can get the internet to cooperate and allow me to post.

Then I’m going to drown my sorrows in a bag of Cheetos. That’s the company I should be investing in, especially if I get invited to golf anymore.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Heroics to Stop a Baby Crying

That inconsolable baby at church yesterday reminded me of the extremes I used to go to to quiet my colicky baby. But first notice that I used to and to right beside each other in the last sentence. Amazing, huh?

My son started crying at one month and didn’t stop until seven months. Maybe I should rephrase that. His default mode was crying, but I knew how to get him to stop.

If I stood up and did this little “mommy” step (instinctive to all mothers except that one in church yesterday), he’d stop crying. If, however, I sat down and continued the same exact motion with my upper body, he’d cry. How could he tell the difference? It was like a music box. Open the door, it started playing. Close the door, it quit. I would stand and gently bounce him until my legs ached, then I’d sit and he’d automatically commence crying like someone had flicked a switch. Stand up – stop. Sit down – cry.

I used to sit in the back seat with him while my husband drove us to wherever we were going. He DID NOT want to be in that car seat, but it was the law. Crying, when it’s inside a giant metal box such as an SUV, is irritation times two. It’s like having an amplifier – like someone recorded a baby having a screaming fit and cranked the volume all the way up to 32.

It was weird being chauffeured, but I made the best of it. I’d snap my fingers and say, “Drive on, James.” My husband’s name isn’t James, and he never thought it was funny. He’d give me dirty looks in the rear view mirror. When I wasn’t playing rich society lady, I’d attend to my duties as the keeper of the crying at bay. I would hold a Binkie in my son’s mouth – not by force or anything. He’d just “misplace” it every five seconds, which was reason enough to start squalling. I’d fish it out of the valley between him and the car seat and put it back in his mouth, which made him happy until he’d do whatever he did that caused it to fall out. If I simply held it in place – no pressure - I’d let my hand hover just off of the Binkie. It wouldn’t fall out and we’d have peace and quiet for a few minutes.

If we were going on a road trip, eventually he’d fall asleep in the car. Sometimes the baby would fall asleep, too. Ha Ha – a little joke to show how exhausted my husband and I were. When the crying stopped and that sweet peace descended on the vehicle, nobody moved. If we had to go to the bathroom, we held it. There was NO WAY we were going to cut the quiet short by stopping the car. If we were lucky, we’d get up to two hours without noise.

At home I had all kinds of tricks to temporarily have cryless interludes. One was to run water. I put the baby in the little baby carrier on the kitchen counter and turned on the tap water. He could be twisted and contorted in the awfulest misery – eyes squeezed shut, fists in tight balls, legs kicking – and when the water started, he’d stop cold. He’d get this look of calm wonderment, like “ooo, what IS that marvelous sound? I LOVE IT!” Meantime I’m freaking about the water running, but I figured it was a small price to pay. After about five minutes, the calm would disappear just as quick and the crying would start.

He had this wind up swing someone gave me for a baby shower gift. I’d turn the crank several times - it sounded like rusty gears grinding against each other, then the swing would start. He’d go forward – click – and then back – click – and forward – click and back – click. It was like a giant windup grandfather clock. Whether it was the motion or the steady clicks, he’d soon be asleep. I’d put the swing in front of the bathroom with the door open and dash in there to take the fastest shower on earth. I’d dry off, wiggle into whatever fat clothes I had that were clean, and dash back, just in time for the swing to wind down. If I was lucky, I could wind it back up for another fifteen minute reprieve, but usually all the racket from winding woke him up and he didn’t like it, not one bit. Oh he’d cry!

Another thing I did was put him in his carrier and rest him on top of the dryer. That was good for loading the dishwasher and wiping down the kitchen counters – if I moved like a Tasmanian devil.

If we were out in public and I forgot his Binkie, I learned an emergency move from his pediatrician, Dr. Ferre. I’d put the tip of my little finger in his mouth and he’d latch onto it like an octopus. Really, I don’t know how something so small could Hooverize a fingertip like that. Sometimes I worried he’d suck a hickey on my finger.

I had all sorts of carry positions. His face facing forward was his favorite. Again let me use my verbal pointer to show you another cleverness on my part – face facing together plus the alliteration on the three F’s. What do you mean, big f-ing deal? If you’re going to be that way I’m going to stop right here and now. Don’t like that, huh? Well why don’t you CRY about it! Go ahead, see if I give YOU a pinkie to suck on. Suck on this. Yo momma!

Sorry, I’m getting a little hostile – probably because I’m remembering how TIRED I was from all that baby pacifying I used to do. My gosh I was always exhausted. If that baby fell asleep I’d curl up right next to him and try to make up for the ZZZZ’s I lost nursing him or walking him in the night so my husband could get some sleep. It’s making me feel cranky. I can’t even keep my eyes open. I was always in a daze in those days. Now I’m going to doze. More clever wordplay – oh, forget it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Crying Naked Babies in Church

Today we went to Mass and there were six babies that needed to be baptized. When it’s baptismal Sunday a lot more people show up (extended family of the babies) so the church was packed.

We’re used to a lot of crying on baptismal Sundays, mostly from parishioners because the service lasts a lot longer (ha ha), but this morning there was one very distraught 7 or 8 month-old baby with a high, raspy cry that had all the kids cupping their hands over their ears.

This baby would not stop crying. Most mothers would have the good sense to get up and take the child out of there, but for some reason his mother just kept trying frantically to make him stop by bouncing him harder or shifting him from one arm to another.

Any mother of a crier can tell you this will not work. A crier wants you to GET UP… NOW!!! A crier wants a boob, and if that’s not handy, a Binkie…and MAKE IT SNAPPY! A crier wants to be entertained – he wants to be facing forward so he can see the world and he wants you to spend every second telling him how exciting it is. “Ooo, ooo, see the pretty statue! Oooo, ooo, see the little girl in the pink dress, isn’t she pretty? Oooo, ooo, see the drool stain on mommy’s shirt? I wonder where that drool stain came from – did you make that drool stain? I think you did. Yes you did. I’m going to GET YOU. I’m going to tickle you right behind the knee for making that drool stain, yes I am,” and so on. These are the tools mothers of criers turn to when their babies are annoying the public. It may require 100% of your attention, but at least everybody won’t be staring at you and wondering why you are pinching that baby or why you aren’t rushing him to the emergency room.

The whole congregation was staring at this mother who (1) did not have a Binkie, (2) kept turning the child toward her even when it was twisting around to see something besides the same old one foot square of her shirt and face, and (3) was not whispering and distracting the child from his crying fit. I wanted to go knock the woman down and grab the baby and soothe him, but that seemed un-Christian.

Even the priest stopped talking and made a joke. He had just started his sermon and he must have realized no one was paying any attention to him even though he was practically shouting into the microphone trying to be heard. About two minutes into the sermon he tried to make a joke, “Well, I see somebody’s trying to tell me this sermon has gone on long enough.” We all laughed but the mom didn’t get the hint. Then he stopped again a couple of minutes later, and said, “I should have made this sermon short enough to post on Twitter.” Again we laughed, and the mom finally got up, which made the baby happy and the church got quiet enough that I noticed the ringing in my ears. It was worse than being at a rock concert between the bellowing baby and the shouting priest.

I knew the quiet was temporary. My son had colic, and I couldn’t stand the crying. I had about 20 tricks I used to make it stop. You give me a colicky baby right now and I can keep him quiet for two hours straight – without child abuse, mind you, although there were plenty of times I wanted to use duct tape.

Sure enough, the bellowing started up again, and didn’t stop when they called the parents up for the baptisms midway through the service. A video guy positioned his camera over to the side so that everyone in the packed church could see the babies on the big screen above the altar while they were getting dunked into the baptismal font.

Maybe it was thinking about these parents watching a video with non-stop screaming in the background, or maybe it was wondering how the new priest would perform, but for some reason I started thinking about these families gathering around the TV watching this years from now.

As I was musing on this, and thinking they’d surely turn the sound down, the first parents handed over their naked baby to the priest so he could lower the baby into the baptismal font that was waist high. I’ve never liked this naked baby thing, especially when they have those little swim diapers. A naked baby is just a loaded water pistol ready to be fired. Plus, they don’t baptize adults naked, so why do babies have to be naked? Why is it okay to show a baby’s privates in public but not an adult’s?

The cameraman zoomed in on the babies, and from his angle, the babies’ privates were at the forefront the picture, with their faces receding in the background. The angle may have caused some distortion, but every parent of a baby boy knows that for some reason their privates are way out of proportion to the child’s size. If the baby boy weighs 15 pounds, 10 of that is privates. From that angle they looked even bigger.

One baby was a spreader, and if I’d been a doctor I could have done a visual colonoscopy. Baby cheeks might be cute, but a gaping baby poo-poo on the big screen is another story.

Anyway, I’m thinking of the family all gathered around watching this video with the grandparents and little brothers and sisters and maybe even the girlfriend, who insists she wants to see what he looked like as a baby. Then he’s up there on a 60” HD 3D TV with those giant testicles filling the whole screen, and his girlfriend shouts out, “Oh my gosh, what happened to you? You were bigger as a baby than you are now!” Everyone will hear her because they’ve got the sound turned down due to the screamer. It will cause a scandal. Grampy and Grammy will know the teenagers are sleeping together, which could be all it takes to give one or both of them a stroke. The poor kid with the testicles as big as watermelons will be marred for life because he’ll forever have his girlfriend’s voice in his head reminding him what a shrimp he has become in the manhood department. It may be THE defining moment in his entire life. All because of some silly tradition at our church that says the babies need to be baptized in the buff.

Back to the story. After they were baptized, the babies were dressed in their cute little white baptismal gowns and were presented to the church, which takes a lot of praying and blessings and congregation welcoming. Through it all, the crier never let up. The dad tried to stop him, the mother tried, the Godparents tried, but handing him around did nothing. Finally his grandmother ran up on the altar and snatched the child from his mother. He shut up immediately. She gave him a hair barrett, which he immediately put in his mouth to gnaw on, and that was all the entertainment he needed. The grandmother never turned him loose, even when they all went back to the pew. After communion I noticed he’d fallen asleep in her arms.

Well, this story has taken up two blogs, but it needed to be told in the hopes that if you’re a mother of a screamer, take that child outside and stop tormenting us. Better still, learn the tricks of dealing with criers. And/or always keep a grandmother close by in case of emergency.

Oh, and do your child a favor – destroy those naked baby baptismal videos. Oooo, ooo, I just got a great idea. Hold on to them and use them to blackmail your child. I bet you could get him to clean his room, mow the grass, AND get all A’s if you threaten to show it to his girlfriend. Doggone it – why didn’t I think of that?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Day at the Driving Range

Today I went to the driving range to practice golf because a friend invited me to play in a tournament and I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of her friends. I practiced for an hour and a half today and observed a few interesting things.

One girl must have been dropped off by her parents for a lesson. As soon as the pro got done with her, she hit three or four balls that barely cleared the driving range mat and then sat down on a bench and started texting. I found it curious that someone at the driving range, after forking over $60+ for a private golf lesson, would spend her time holding a cell phone rather than a golf club. She sat on a bench for an hour without taking another swing, and then mosied away, walking like some zombie hypnotized by the object in her hand that she could not put down.

Speaking of cell phones, a golfer was sitting on a far away bench talking on his phone. I thought he was waiting for his golf partner to show up or something. All of a sudden he broke into a country music song. He wasn’t just singing to himself, he was belting out soulful lyrics like, “You left me all alone, now all I’ve got’s a cell phone” or some such.

For crying frigging out loud! Didn’t he know that a golf course is a place of quiet concentration. There are so many things that can go wrong with a golf swing, people try to focus completely and still hit balls all over creation. Having noise just makes a bad situation worse. That’s why announcers WHISPER during golf tournaments on TV.

This Kenny Chesney wannabe was belting his song out to a cell phone. He was holding a phone to his ear singing. None of us on the driving range said anything, but I was getting pretty irritated, and not just because my balls were going everywhere except where I aimed them. The guy’s voice was probably okay, but I dislike country music. But that didn’t annoy me as much as the idea that he was singing to a cell phone. Who was on the other end listening?

I am not exaggerating – it went on for over a half hour. I don’t know if he was singing the same song or what – it all sounds the same to me. As much as the noise was distracting me, I was more preoccupied thinking of WHO he was singing to. Someone who dumped him? But if she dumped him, she surely wouldn’t stay on the phone all that time listening to him wailing out his sorrows. Maybe he was really some country music star and had just written some songs for a new CD and was singing it over the cell phone so his record company could get the musicians lined up to make a new record. I mean, what on earth would possess an adult male to sit on a golf course bench and sing at the top of his lungs?

I am still befuddled, and I know it will cause me sleepless nights for many days to come.

But the oddest thing I saw today was the guy on the golf course riding one of those Seqway’s. It’s a one-person vehicle that seems to be built for people who prefer to keep their calories stored up in their guts rather than burning them off walking. This man on the golf course was standing on the unit, his belly hanging over the handle, rolling up to his golf ball while the other three guys he was playing with were walking. I found it ludicrous. There are golf carts for people who either can’t or don’t want to walk. If you can stand up, why not just take a cart? What a jerk.

I’m starting to sound like a curmudgeon who resents new-fangled gadgets that detract from the established way of doing things. I admit it’s true. I think idiots should leave their cell phones, Segways, and nasally country voices at home when they come to the golf course. Where is the decorum these days?

If God had wanted us to behave this way, he would have given us a Bluetooth for an ear and wheels instead of legs.

Here’s the lyric I’m going to sing next time these people start annoying me – sung in a whining voice like all country songs:

If you came here to play

Put your cell phone away

How can you sit there and sing?

When it’s messin’ with my swing?

If you’re lazy and must ride

Get the hell out of my sight

Chorus: If I have to plant my club in your head

Give you a lump that turns all red

To make you straighten up and act right

Then I can’t wait to start that fight.

America's Stupidest Video Stars

I’m watching America’s Funniest Videos while I’m writing this, so if it’s incoherent, it’s because I can’t keep from being distracted by the dumb stuff people do.

The guy I just watched crammed himself into one of those one-piece plastic cars for little kids. His arms were hanging out both sides and one of his legs was out a window and the other was out the windshield area. He started down the hill and hit a dip in the road which made him take a nosedive. The car rolled nose over end several times, and this guy just had to go with it because he was wedged in there so tight he couldn’t even be thrown from the vehicle.

You gotta wonder what goes through a grown man’s mind in this kind of situation. Here’s what I imagine:

“You kids today have so many cool toys. We never had stuff like this. We had tricycles or wagons but no little molded plastic cars. I’m going to go for a ride in this thing just to see how fun it would have been if I’d had one of these when I was a kid. Here, I’m going to just cram my 185 pounds into this toy made for a 40 pound toddler, then point it down a steep, bumpy hill and let ‘er rip. Yep, that’s what I’m going to do, because it’s going to be so much fun!”

There are also those young men who ride skateboards down stairs. I know in advance every single time what’s going to happen, but when it does I laugh anyway. The kid loses contact with the skateboard, it flips up, the kid’s legs flail open and he looks like he’s doing a jumping jack, then the skateboard lands end up, and the kid crashes down on top of it a split second later – with the skateboard pointing straight up at his crotch. The kid gets the equivalent of a karate chop between the legs, and he rolls over on the sidewalk holding his privates and moaning while everyone around him laughs.

There’s a lot of humor to be had at the expense of a man’s privates. There are so many videos of toddlers jumping off a couch directly onto a man’s most sensitive area. What I can’t understand is that all men KNOW this area is sensitive, and yet they put themselves in positions that are obviously going to end with them curling up in the fetal position and rolling from side to side with hands cupped over the injured area as if trying to protect himself. He should have done that in the first place. Tonight two toddlers were taking turns jumping off a couch onto their dad’s stomach. Wonder where this is going?

How is it that someone is always holding a video camera at the right time? I’ll tell you. Because the person holding the camera is the mom. She knows what’s going to happen, and rather than warn the dad of the pain he’s about to suffer, she’s thinking, “I know it’s just a matter of time. If I can hold this camera pointed at his privates, he’s going to be rolling on the floor any second now, and we might have a chance at $10,000.”

Tonight they also had bike riders going over jumps. Does any male in America ever make it over a homemade jump on a bike? I don’t think so. Either they break the ramp on the way up, or they get to the end of the ramp and nose dive, throwing the rider over the handlebars and smacking his face in the pavement. Or he makes it over the jump and crashes on the landing.

Notice I said “he,” because 99% of the time it’s men doing this stuff. One could jump to conclusions and think that men or just stupid, but on looking closer at the issue, you’ll see that men aren’t just stupid, they also appear to enjoy pain. Take, for instance, the guy who caught a crab and let it clamp its claw to his nipple. He started screaming in agony as the crab dangled from his second most sensitive body part, and when he tried to pull the crab off, it wouldn’t let go. He finally got it loose, and then DID IT AGAIN while one friend stood there bent over double laughing at the girl screaming like a girl, and another friend holding the video camera. I have a feeling that guys would do this stuff even if they weren’t trying to get on TV.

The women, on the other hand, are usually the victims of some practical joke, or are in the wrong place at the wrong time – like the obese woman who steps off the dock toward the boat, but doesn’t quite step far enough and belly flops into the water. Another walks into a room and gets terrified when a man wearing a gorilla mask pops out of a garbage can.

So when men aren’t busy torturing themselves, they torture the women. This all leads me to the conclusion that men being stupid and mean is what keeps America’s Funniest Videos on the air – and just about any time of day you’ll find it on one station or another. Thank goodness we Americans have bred so many idiots, because this show always makes me laugh out loud.

Men, keep up the good work.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sleepless Nights? Try Tater Tots and Beer

I went to the Willamette Writer’s meeting tonight after having dinner with four members of my writing group. We drank beer – a big mistake for me since it makes me very sleepy. I’ve been known to fall asleep and knock teeth out on the beer mug.

The presentation tonight was on writing mysteries. My group likes to sit in the front row, which meant that I was forced to keep my eyes open and not doze off. Unfortunately, I was not up to the challenge. I had also eaten a whole basket of tater tots, which are often used in primitive cultures as a sleep aid. Fight as I might, my eyes were shut tight.

That’s right. Luckily others around me were taking notes so they couldn’t see my head bobbing, but I know the speaker saw me. She was not blind, after all. The sad thing is that she was quite interesting. Her name was April Henry, in case you want to get her books.

I think I missed out on quite a bit, but here’s the part I heard. If you want to make sure readers will stay glued to your mystery plot, you need to apply a special contact cement to the cover (available at fine publishing houses everywhere). That way they CAN’T put the book down.

If you’re not able to do this for moral or ethical reasons, then you’d better write an interesting story, which is easier than you think. All you have to do is pick out one of your characters and make him your protagonist (the good guy), and then make everyone else act suspicious, and then have an antagonist (bad guy) or two. The bad guys have to do mean things to the good guy in order for the story to be interesting. And one mean thing is not nearly enough – they have to spatter the good guy with so many mean things it would be like getting shot with a shotgun and every little shot would be a bad thing, if you know what I mean.

The presentation was very well done and progressed nicely. In fact, it whizzed by but that could have been due to the tots. Forty-five minutes later, the speaker asked if anyone had questions. This is the part I hate. The auditorium was full, which meant there were quite a few people who needed to demonstrate their writing acumen by asking questions they probably already knew the answer to just to show off their writing jargon.

For example, one woman said, “In your genre, when do you decide who is going to be the antagonist? Is that during your opening scenes or do you wait until the dénouement?”

The WHAT? The speaker was pretty cool. She wasn’t about to be sucked into such foolishness. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

Unfortunately, this was exactly what the woman wanted to hear, because she elaborated in such contrived babble that I took another ten-minute snooze. When I woke up, she was still spewing jargon like a shaken up Coke.

“I don’t approach my writing that way,” said the speaker. “So I really don’t know how to answer your question. Anyone else have a question?”

I loved it! These long-winded misanthropes waste everyone’s time, and most speakers end up being too embarrassed or compassionate to cut them off. Although I’ll say one thing about them, their sophisticated mumbo jumbo is great background white noise for sleeping.

I have barely been able to keep my eyes open this whole evening. Tots and beer will do this to you, so the moral of this story is – shovel all the crap you can in front of your protagonist and sit back and take a nap while s/he figures out what to do about it. And if you want a best seller, be sure to weave tater tots into the plot. They could put the protagonist to sleep while the antagonist ties little knots in her hair. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Red, White, and Blues

We went to Waterfront Park this evening to see the band, Little Feat, at the Portland Blues Festival, which has been going on all this July 4th weekend. What fun! The people watching was awesome.

At the fresh Mexican stand were a pair of women with spiked black hair, tank dresses, and black boots. Not matching outfits, they just had the same Goth uniform. They were both dappled in bright tattoos – along their arms, on their shoulders and legs. They looked shocking, but colorful. I always wonder what’s in a person’s mind when they get a tattoo. “Hmmm, I could decorate myself by wearing rings and bracelets and scarves I can switch out every day, or I could let someone stick pins in me and have permanent dye injected beneath my skin that will go with me to the grave. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.”

There were plenty of time-warped hippies who continue to be locked in the 60’s. What’s interesting, though, is that there were no fat people in the 60’s. Really, if you watch the Woodstock documentaries or movies made during then, it is very rare to see anyone overweight. How they stayed skinny I don’t know because everyone back then was also smoking pot, and pot makes you hungry (as in the munchies), or so I’ve been told. I remember spending as much time as I could at all-you-can-eat buffets sloshing down hush puppies with cheap beer, and I was skinny as a rail.

The male hippies I saw today had the requisite stringy ponytails, but they also sported potbellies. The female hippies had hips that made circus tents out of their crinkly skirts. These women were dancing around with their long, grey-streaked hair forming frizzy waves down their peasant shirts. One thing is for certain – these are not the same clothes they wore back then. They’ve purchased them new and added a few sizes. My friend and I were mesmerized watching them. If they could have fast-forwarded from back then and seen that the only rd thing that changed about them over the decades was the addition of layers of additional sizes, I wonder if they would have thought, “Hmmm, when I grow up I want to look exactly like I do now except much larger and very old.”

I should be one to talk. I have eaten enough to stuff a horse in the last couple of days. I made brownies and sampled several to make sure they were good enough to share at the potluck, I scarfed down a magnificent bean dip and snarled at others who came close to it with a corn chip. And tonight my stomach is howling from having WAY too much hummus.

Some of the other sights we were treated to at the festival were young people wearing headbands with pink feathers sticking up. I saw one woman in short shorts, a tank top, and pink spike heels. She was walking along the sidewalk like her feet were killing her, and I know she had to be freezing because I had on long pants, a long sleeved shirt and a jacket. I wondered what her story was. Did she hope to attract some new beau in that garb? Did she have new shoes and couldn’t wait to wear them so decided to walk along the waterfront promenade and then was too cold to take the bone crushing things off to walk back to her car barefoot? Was she from Siberia and, compared to there, our 66 degrees with a cool breeze off the water seemed balmy to her?

We will never know, because even though I wanted to, I didn’t go up to her and say, “What the hell are you thinking?”

Thus brings to a close a very nice 3-day weekend spent doing things I very much enjoyed. Except for going to Sears and trying to find a refrigerator that will fit in the space we have for it. Our current refrigerator of 15 years was one of the biggest models available when we got it, but the new ones are even bigger, so I’m going to have to spend many hours researching to find one that will fit. Other than that, it was a great 4th of July, and makes me thankful to be an American because we get to celebrate July 4th. So thanks, founding fathers, for picking a good time of year to declare independence. We’re all proud of you.

Musings on Freedom

Happy 4th of July. I hope it is warm and sunny at your picnic because it is FREEZING here in Portland and no sun to be found anywhere. We are getting ready to go to a barbecue and I’m bundling up in socks and long underwear. Just kidding. The socks won’t fit in the shoes I’m wearing.

I should probably wax poetic about freedom, but what I really want to talk about is the new priest at our church – and the old woman’s handbag. Can I squeeze it all in? I’ll give it a try.

I’m thankful for our freedom here in America. Sometimes I wonder that we might have too much freedom, but that is so much better than having no freedom at all. For the most part, I am very thankful for our government, our highways and parks and schools and public buildings that our freedom (and taxes) allow us to enjoy.

Pressing on to our next stop, the new priest – I really like him. He’s from Washington DC, well-educated and well-spoken, and FUNNY. He told a story about a preacher who was teaching a group of pre-schoolers about the freedom they have as Christians. “Now I’ve told you all that you are free in Jesus. So everyone who is free, raise your hand.” All the kids raised their hands but one. He was grinning from ear to ear. “I just told you that everyone in this room has the freedom of Jesus, so everyone who is free, raise your hand.” Again the one did not raise his hand. The preacher went over and asked him, “Johnny, I just said everyone was in this room was free, so why aren’t you raising your hand?” The little boy grinned real big and said, “I used to be free until yesterday, and then I turned four.”

The congregation laughed at this and several other jokes and asides. I didn’t drift off to sleep even once. I think I’m going to like Father Charles very much.

On to our final stop, the old woman’s purse. During Mass, when we got up to go to communion, I went out into the aisle, received communion and went back into the pew at the other end. That’s when I saw my purse, which threw me completely off, since I then noticed that my purse was down at the other end of the pew where I left it. Whoa! I felt like I was in a parking lot and trying to get into a car but the door won’t open, and then noticing my actual car a row away.

These two purses are run-of-the-mill black and white department store purses – not Coach or Prada or even a knock-off. Mine was not very expensive, but it’s practical and goes with everything and I’ve been quite pleased with it. Until today. Once I saw that someone else had my exact purse, I wanted to see who it was. I settled myself on my knees in the pew and watched the people filing in.

Oh my gosh! This very elderly woman with curly white hair like all elderly women wear, and elastic waist pants, baggy button up shirt, old woman orthotic shoes, etc. – she was the one who had the same purse as me.

I don’t know about you, but when you buy from big department stores you’re going to run into someone wearing the same thing.

When it’s someone really sharp and they look great in it, I think, “Okay, I’ve got really good taste.” But when it’s someone my total opposite, then I think, “Oh my gosh, how could SHE and I pick the same thing? I have horrible taste!”

Now I’ve got to get rid of the purse. I’m not one to switch purses but carry the same one until it falls apart or I get really tired of it. Luckily I was getting tired of this one. If you think I’m being petty or high schoolish, that’s your prerogative.

After all, it is a free country.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Too Much Spice in My Life

I just went to put something away in the kitchen and noticed a whole mess of new spices on an already overcrowded shelf.

This would not worry a normal person, and it doesn’t worry me either, but it bugs the crap out of me on so many levels this blog would overflow with them like a stopped up toilet.

Don’t even say the words, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” because I will fly right out of your computer screen and choke you to within an inch of your life.

It is these mild irritations in life that roll up into a giant wad of aluminum foil that bowls people over the edge. Yes, if you recycle the foil all the time (metaphorically speaking), then it won’t build up and will remain a small, manageable…oh for criminy’s sake, wherever this is going I’ve lost interest in it.

What I’m trying to say is that when someone in your house, for instance your husband, buys excess stuff, you’ve got to wonder what the hell gives? There is already a full bottle of Cream of Tartar in the nicely alphabetized spice drawer. Who even uses it? I once had a jar of Cream of Tartar for over 20 years. It’s not in a lot of recipes, and when I needed it, the old stuff worked just fine – it was still as pearly white as the day I bought it. In fact, I only discarded it to make room for the new jar my husband bought, and NOW THERE’S ANOTHER ONE!

You can probably read my frustration in the ALL CAP words above. At this rate, my children’s will pass on the jars to their children and their children’s children.

You’re asking, “What’s her problem, so what if there’s an extra little jar of spice? What’s the big freaking deal?” I’m warning you, I am THIS CLOSE to reaching out and poking you in the eyes. It’s not just the one bottle. There are at least 15 duplicate spices in the cabinet, with fresh ones being added daily – and these in addition to the 50 that are in the spice drawer. That’s why I had to alphabetize them – there are so many I could never find the one I was looking for.

What are these extra back up jars – spice insurance? Did my husband see some kind of spice commercial like this - “Did you ever go into your kitchen and whip up a batch of cinnamon cookies only to find that you are (Insert Stabbing Sounds from the Psycho Movie) OUT OF CINNAMON? (Homely actress brings her hands to her face like she’s discovered a dead body). Then you need SPICE INSURANCE! We will send you every spice known to the free world – all for the low cost of $249. When you get ready to run out, just notify us in advance and we’ll replace your spice FREE OF CHARGE (Voluptuous actress holds package of arriving spice next to her overflowing cleavage). Don’t ever disappoint your loved ones again with a spiceless recipe (Sad children). Order SPICE INSURANCE today! (Happy family beaming at their spices with a tray of fresh cookies in the background that you can smell right through the TV).”

Ever wonder why I’m not making millions doing TV commercials? I’m a natural, aren’t I? I’d be happy to produce something for you if you’d send money in advance, along with a nice video camera.

Here’s the problem. My husband likes to cook, and he likes to grocery shop. He does not like to be bothered with looking in the spice drawer to see what’s already in there. It’s easier for him just to buy a new bottle. He doesn’t care that it will sit on the shelf for the next eight years unopened. I understand that.

What I don’t understand is that, even in the worst-case scenario, we live at the virtual apex of at least 6 grocery stores – two are within a half-mile of our house. There is one 24-hour Albertsons about a mile and a half away. Would we ever be in such a bind that, if we ran out of a spice, we’d need a replacement faster than the ten minutes it would take to get to the store and back? Is this justification for twenty extra containers of spices taking up space on prime real estate panty shelves?

If you say, “Yes,” even in a whisper, I will creep out of your computer late one night and pour cake batter in your favorite shoe. You’ll know it was me by the jar of Cream of Tartar I’ll leave as a calling card.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My Great Deal

Boy did I get a deal yesterday! I don’t go shopping much because it means getting almost naked in front of a mirror that you can see your front and back sides practically at the same time. I live in denial that age and chocolate have taken their toll on me. But department store mirrors tell it like it is, and it’s a wonder I’m not still wearing hip hugger bell bottoms and a top made of shoelaces and a bandana. What do you mean they don’t make bandanas that big??????

I couldn’t wear something like that around here because, in spite of having a couple of days reprieve from the wettest June in Oregon’s history, and that’s saying a lot since this is Oregon and we are known for the size of the slugs we cultivate around here because they thrive in the wetness of this state. Slugs are snails without shells. I know I’ve told you this before, but I have NEW SITE MEMBERS (welcome to all of you, btw), and THEY may live next to the Dead Sea which probably doesn’t provide the perfect climate for slugs. Which is, btw, our state bird, reptile, mammal, fish, and flower. Or they might as well be, because they are EVERYWHERE.

I’m getting very good at typing BIG WORDS without even using the shift lock key on my keyboard. It’s because I PRACTICE. A LOT.

But you probably didn’t come here to learn about slugs or my typing skills. You are dying to know about me standing semi-naked yesterday, and I don’t blame you. I would describe to you what I saw but I tried not to look. I made my fingers into one of those things like Spock does on Star Trek. He puts those two fingers together and the other two – you know the ones. The little finger and the ring finger are together, and then the other two are together. The thumb stays out of it. Then you try to open and close them. It’s not easy at first, but you get the hang of it quick and then you’re looking at your hands opening and closing and start thinking about eating lobster.

Anyway, I used Spock’s hand trick to hold in front of my eyes so I only saw the clothes. And I never looked in between outfits. Personally I like to keep a little mystery in my relationship with myself. It’s better to leave something to the imagination, and mine is working overtime trying to get Barbie to appear in place of that – that THING in the mirror.

But again, you didn’t come here to listen to one of the many tricks I use to make myself more lovable to me. You want to know about the great deal I got yesterday, so here it is.

Yesterday I got a great deal. I play golf in a 9-hole group and I am the official photographer for us ladies, which means they run when they see me coming because they are so sick of me taking their pictures constantly and putting them on the bulletin board. Truth be told, I Photoshop their wrinkles and warts and buggers away so they should be happy, but they’re not. Therefore I feel it is my duty as representative of the creative arts to try and not look like a ragamuffin. Especially yesterday when our group had invited ladies from several other groups. I did not want to be standing up at the luncheon with my tacky old clothes trying to make people who despise the very sight of me smile. I needed a new golf skirt.

I went to the shop nearest my house, and also the most expensive, and found a skirt for $84! If I knew how to make that $84 into capital letters I would. That’s a lot to pay for a skirt or anything else. I didn’t pay that much for my first VW back in the day. But it was so cute – the skirt! I wanted it so bad, but I hung it back on it’s hanger, tucked my tail, and got my white trash ass out of there before that skirt forced me to hand over my credit card. I found a not-nearly-as-cute-but-way-cheaper skirt at another store and snagged. I got many compliments on it, mainly because people were saving up since nothing else I have is compliment-worthy.

Someone mentioned a sale at a sample store with racks of golf clothes 50% off. Whoo-wee! It just happened to be on my way home. I rushed out of there and elbowed several elderly ladies out of my way on the sidewalk and found that same exact skirt for $13 (BIG CAPITAL LETTERS)!!!!! And it was the only one left, and it was MY SIZE!!!

I didn’t buy it, though. I already had that other new skirt. How many new things does a girl need?

HA – of course I bought it! That’s my great deal, and I hope you can sleep after reading how exciting it all was. I just hope it stops raining long enough that I can wear it.