Friday, December 5, 2008

I Don't See The Logic

Okay, I'm back after being a terrible blogger and am now carving out some time for ME do be on the computer for more than five minutes. Actually, I have been on the computer, but I have a facebook page and that's the worst thing in the world for someone with a slight prelidiction to ADD type behavoir. There is no such thing a "I'm just going to check my Facebook page real quick." Uh-uh, doesn't happen. I kept doing that right before planning to check my email and an hour and a half later, I'm over-computered and still haven't checked my mail...sigh.

Anyway, I'm better now. Really. I got one of those notes in the mail the other day about my nine year old. This from the local county nursing service (I'm paraphrasing here a bit): Your son's eyesight was checked by us recently at his school, he's blind as a bat, you're a bad mommy and get thy son to the eye doctor immediately. Like I said, maybe a little paraphrasing but the essence is there. I asked Charlie when he'd had his eyes checked at school, it was about a week ago. I asked if he had his glasses on for the test, he didn't because they told him to take them off. Hmmmm, this after last year's nasty gram about his eyes to which my written response was to send a copy of his school picture (glasses on) and the eyewear in question circled in red Sharpie with arrows poiting to them. Maybe visuals weren't the way to go, this time we're going to go with an auditory response. I called the lovely nurse-type person who signed this year's nasty gram to discuss. She admitted to telling Charlie to take his glasses off before the eye test, prompting my question "When you see the child with a prosthetic leg, do you take it away from him and then give him a shove to test his balance?" She didn't think that was funny and told me so. I don't think taking a kid who has 80/20 vision in one eye and removing his glasses while asking him to read is very funny either and told her so. I decided for her that next year, when my son's name pops up on an eye check list, that she cross him off straight away and go on to the next child. Sheesh.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Way Back In The Stone Age

Another school break has been weathered, I'm convinced the schools do this to make parents appreciate them more. Don't get me wrong, I adore my offspring and I love them even more when we're not nose to nose for five days in a row. Granted, I did have to work during the break so it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. I've tried to remember what I used to do during school breaks that kept "I'm bored" out of my vocabulary. In this day and age of Playstations, internet and eight zillion cable channels, I can't imagine being bored for long but my children manage it quite nicely.
I can remember the thrill we got when our Atari game system was unpacked one Christmas, with a total of one game, Pong, in the box. We eventually acquired Tank, Missile Command, Space Invaders and the pinnacle of 1980s video gaming technology, Pac-Man. My sister Melissa stayed up all night once to see what happened when the score on Space Invaders went past 99,999 (it rolled back to zero, much to her dismay) and her right thumb has never been quite the same. Anyone old enough can remember the extremely basic (but way cool at the time) graphics and that marching sound the aliens made as the advanced upon the line at the bottom of the screen you were dispatched to defend. Missile Command was my game of choice as I felt it was good preparation for the eventual defense of the entire planet I knew would eventually fall to me, a twelve year old girl from Minnesota. Call me a purist, but I could never get behind Ms. Pac-Man and stayed true to my little yellow fella until the end. I look at the games my kids have now and can't imagine they'd ever be fascinated with stopping slow moving lines decending from the top of the screen using a little + to avert armageddon. My sons dislike games because of camera angles and unrealistic falls off buildings, camera angles...seriously? Try Pong sometime, kid.
Growing up with all girls in my house, we had the requisite Barbie dolls but none of us ever truly embraced the lifestyle of a real Barbie fanatic. We never had the dream house, unsmelly tennis shoes made an acceptable car and getting Barbie to smooch Ken without her head popping off as we tried to get the angles right was always a challenge. We never actually had a Ken doll, he was usurped by a Luke Skywalker doll (way cuter but still just as anatomically 'correct' as Ken). One of my cousins had all the accoutrements Barbie needed (being the only girl amidst four brothers, she earned them). She had that big head with the makeup and the rollers and stuff (until one of the boys decided what the giant Barbie head needed was permanent marker tattoos). The hair on those things was always an annoyance, it would become hopelessly tangled and knotted within about a week of purchase. Oh, and never ever ever ever try to use a curling iron on one of those things, it simply doesn't end well and smells awful.
I loved going over to my cousins' house, with four boys, they had loads of mysterious toys that we never had at our place. Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, those little green army guys were everywhere, Legos and GI Joe were ever present. And Sea Monkeys that you could order from the back of comic books, we never got them but I remember my cousins having them. The ad depicted the happy Sea Monkey family smiling from their sandcastle, the females with a little bow on top of their heads and the males looking manly (I seem to recall the Sea Monkey father smoking a pipe). What a disappointment when the freeze dried brine shimp arrived in the mail. Our first lesson in "read the fine print".
When we first got cable, it was quite a thing. MTV actually showed music videos and Nickelodeon was still something more than a tie in for the WalMart toy department. We got something like 30 channels and that was inconceivable! How are ever going to watch 30 channels? What could they possibly put on 30 channels? 30 channels? You're kidding, right? That's not even BASIC cable now. I think we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 channels and end up watching about 30 of them...hrmmm. 30, you say? I miss MTV as it was when it was first born. I LOVED music videos. Looking at them now on VH1's "classic" channel, I am amazed that any of us ever had crushes on Journey or Van Halen. Compared to the model gorgeous singers now, those guys were pretty darn ugly. How could Steve Perry compete with a Justin Timberlake? What could Eddie Van Halen have over Pete Wentz? At the time their pictures were in all our lockers and were scream and faint worthy. Videos were cool and fun and silly. Now they're four minute movies that have a big heavy message and a lot of symbolism. I'd love to see what some of these video directors would do with a song like "Jump". I saw the video for Journey's "Separate Ways" the other day...what a BAD, BAD video that was, even at the time.
Enough reminiscing, I'm bored....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oh, One Other Thing

I don't usually get too political here, but I did a bit of math today. For your consideration:

700 Billion dollars =

$66,363 for every household in the U.S.
$2338 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
$9333 for every K-12 student in the U.S.
$38,888 for every college student in the U.S.
$100,000 for every teacher in the U.S.
$63,636 for every uninsured child in the U.S.
$940,860 for every homeless person in the U.S.
$700,000 for every child in foster care in the U.S.
$187,667 for every family living below the poverty level in the U.S.
$28,000 for every living Veteran in the U.S.
$7,188,186 for every public school (K-12) in the U.S.

Holy crap, how's that for economic stimulus?

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

That's right folks! It almost here, it's just around the corner, it's looming ever closer so I hope you're ready! Christmas is coming!!! Woohoo. You read right, Christmas. I was in at the evil empire (You know which store I'm talking about...they've taken over the world) the other day and was completely dismayed to see Christmas items on display already. I'm not talking about a kit to mull your own home grown wine (what is mulling anyway?) after growing the grapes yourself, that would make sense as you'd need some time for that project. I'm talking about decor, clothing and the other accoutrements of the season. It's all readily accessible in the aisle behind the Halloween items. Of course, we all bought everything we'd need for Halloween in June, right? And we did our back to school shopping in March. Our Mother's day shopping was finished by New Year's and we all had Valentine's covered by September...sure we did. We're THAT organized.
What happened to the natural progression of the calendar year? Once upon a time, there was a rhythm, a pattern, a schedule even. We used to shop for school stuff in August, Halloween stuff in October and only the TRULY organized had their Christmas shopping done by the end of November (and none of us like those people anyway). Are we so busy that we have to start shopping for the holidays months in advance? Is this actually a plot by the evil empire to make us spend more money? I don't know about anyone else, but if I shop that far in advance, I tend to forget what I've bought and where the heck I hid it. THAT'S IT! I just figured out the plot...crafty, crafty retail industry. They convince us to buy so early, banking on us forgetting who we've bought for and where we've hidden the items so we are then sucked into doing our shopping twice. Oooooh, aren't they clever? Now that's I've figured it out, what do I do with this dangerous knowledge? How do I save the world before the minions of the evil empire come for me? I'll have to hide, change my name and appearance every few months so I can continue to spread the word.
We all know the holidays have become far too commmercial. I mean honestly, do you think Washington and Lincoln did all the things they did so car dealers could have a "President's Day Blowout" on all new and gently used vehicles? Are we to believe that St. Valentine REALLY wanted us to buy diamonds to commemorate his existence? And when did Memorial Day become the opportunity to get the best possible deal on a new RV? Kind of violates the spirit of THAT day, doesn't it?

I'm hiding in my room until the Easter items hit the shelves, sooooo...January is it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ms. Mean Mommy USA

There you have it, all the rest of you wanna be mean mommies, put away your evening gowns, talents and the like, the pageant is over and I win the crown and sash. You can sit over there in the corner and take notes from the official meanest mom. There is no first runner up and certainly no Miss Congeniality in this competition. I'm not entirely sure of the duration of my reign, could be decades, years, even simply weeks or mere days. I'll let you all know when the competition is open and you may have another shot at the title. Always be ready, never for a moment think you're not in contention for this coveted honor. Don't worry, you too can be a winner, there's always hope that one of your competitors will slip and make a fatal mistake. How, you ask, did she do it? I'll let you in on the secrets of my success: I don't care if my kids think of me as one of their friends. I use the word "No" with abandon. I don't consider it a successful day unless at least one of the kids are royally cheesed off at me a minimum of once during the course of the day. I have never felt the need to justify myself to my offspring. This, my dear friends, is how to take the title.

Andrew, the teenager (God help me) announced the other day (here's where YOU add the teenage outrage tone of voice) "I am now the ONLY person in my ENTIRE class without a cell phone, mom." He did not deem my response of "Good, then there will always be someone around that will let you use their phone to call me." as appropriate. This was followed by a rather spectacular eye roll and huffy exit from my presence. My point is this, he doesn't drive and doesn't have a job yet so I always know where he is because I've driven him there. I know his schedule and arrange my life to accomodate his busy social's like he has a personal assistant that he doesn't pay or throw cell phones at (because he doesn't have one...bonus for me!). I love it when my kids are huggy and kissy and tell me I'm awesome but I don't live and die by it. I have friends aplenty and as much as I love hanging out with the boys, they (thank goodness) do not constitute the entirety of my social interaction. They don't have to like me, they do have to listen to me, period.

Charlie, not the teenager (yet), thinks sheer volume and repetition is the path to getting what you want. After nine years, he hasn't figured out that I am immune to this method of torture. He starts with the straightforward "Can we get that?" Then he moves on to "You could get that for Christmas/My Birthday." He then works his way to "My friend (insert name here)'s mom got that for him yesterday/last week and she thinks it's really cool." Rounding out his arsenal with "It would be good for me to have that, I could learn things." Nice try kiddo, I'm still not buying the semi-automatic Nerf(tm) dart gun with Nerf(tm) night vision attachments and 100 rounds of Nerf(tm)y-good ammunition. And in answer to your next question, no you can't have a cookie, it's almost supper time. I do give him credit for the attempt to slip that last bit past me. I like the word 'no' I find plenty of uses for it, it's short and to the point and can never be mistaken for its distant cousin 'yes' or even the shirttail relative 'maybe'. Sesame Street even had a whole song about it called "The Word Is No", I still remember how it goes and I sing it around the house from time time to remind my kids that some things never go out of style. My children, no appreciation for the classics.

My beloved HATES it when the kids are mad, they know this and use it to their advantage when I'm not around. He finds it easier to give in and avoid the argument. I tell him he's missing out on the eye rolling, dramatic sighs and outrage that they've been practicing in their rooms. We need to give them a chance to put all that hard work to use, we're giving them an outlet for their secret thespian dream. How are they going to win an Oscar if they can't hone their skills early in life? The high drama of a courtroom scene can be drawn directly from the sense of outrage and injustice that sprung from within them when I refused to buy a cell phone. I'm giving them fodder for the bestselling book they'll write about their sad, desolate childhoods and Oprah will make them a book club pick. This is good for them.

And I get to wear the tiara.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

They're Winning

The attempted bee-mageddon did not have the desired effect. The expanding foam stuff did its job, but the bees seem comlpletely unfazed. I have seen for myself that the crack is entirely filled to the point of weird cloudlike formations of now hard-as-a-rock foam that squeezed its way out of the crack and is now a permanent addition to the outside decor of the house. The bees evidently had some sort of emergency exit/escape hatch in the original design of the nest. I know not where this hidden entrance is, but it exists. The bees are just as numerous as before and I believe we're going to need disguises if we plan to use the front door any time before winter. I suspect they have our pictures posted in the bee post office and are on the lookout for my beloved in particular. My local hardware store owner is completely out of both ideas and products as I am not alone in my ongoing battle, everyone I've mentioned my little bee problem to has had a horror story of their own. Sympathy is plentiful, solutions are not. One guy suggested we pour a can of Mountain Dew into an ice cream bucket, add dish soap to it and the bees will somehow end up trapped and dying in a sticky-sweet, lemon-scented bucket of death. I'm still not clear on HOW this is going to solve my problem, but the boys are keen to try it just for the potential gross out factor. I'm going to have to opt out of that particular science experiment until I'm truly desperate.
I wouldn't be so determined to rain death upon the colony but for the fact that more and more tiny invaders are making their way into the house. I'd be perfectly willing to leave them to their bee errands if I could use my front door without being bombarded. I've learned a bit about bees through this whole operation, they're not really very good at flying, kind of clumsy, actually. They have a tendency to fly straight until they crash into something bigger than them, bounce off, try and crash again, then eventually fly off, weaving a rather drunken looking path toward the next large object so they can start the whole process over again. This is my wily opponent? These are the creatures that have outwitted both my husband and myself? This is the species that can survive enough chemical intervention to fell a herd of wooly mammoth? Honestly!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mutants Among Us

I have been horribly neglectful over the summer but I did have a really good excuse. Moving is a royal pain in the butt although there is an upside, I mostly know where all my stuff is...kind of. We have unpacked most of the boxes, gotten rid of the majority of the crap and learned a little physics long after it would have helped my GPA...the space you have is the space you fill. This is the lesson in moving, if you only have a tiny bit of a house, you don't buy so much useless junk because you have nowhere to put it. On the flip side, when you have five bedrooms and a full basement, you ALWAYS have somewhere to put that latest piece of plastic whatsis. Never again!

As we're settling into our new digs, everyone is adjusting well, animals included. The cats LOOOOOOVE the carpeted stairs and think they've found the scratching post mothership. The ill fated schefflera tree has not fared as well, it seems to be a bit depressed and has managed to drop what few leaves were left on it in some sort of post move hissy fit. I'm liking just about everything about the new place save one...a nest of mutant bees that are living in a crack in the foundation underneath the front steps. Mutant? you say...yes indeedy. We have unloaded the full Raid (tm) arsenal upon their litle bee heads to no avail. We turned to our friendly neighborhood hardware store and purchased a large can of God knows what and unleashed it all at once into the crack, nothing. My husband brought home something unpronounceable from work (we works for an agricultural chemical'd think they'd know their stuff), sprayed the foundation and warned us all not to go outside or breathe near the windows for several hours, assuring us we'd die the same swift death the bees were suffering. Not so much. I have come to believe these are radioactive superbees that originated somewhere around area 51, I can hear them laughing at night. My beloved has now decided that he's going to wait until the bees are all in the nest when it's colder outside and seal the crack. Here's my worry, the mutant, radioactive, area 51 superbees are going to find another way out of the nest, perhaps using power tools and that new exit will be into the house itself, taking over the house, eating all my food and running up my cable bill after buying pay-per-view sports events. These are the things keeping me up at night.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not On Vacation

Back after a longer than planned interruption. I was faced with that most devestating organizational nightmares...moving. This process, while a pain in the sitting area, certainly forced my hand in getting every last item in the house organized. At least, it started out that way. If you've ever moved, you know the drill. When the decision is new and shiny, you carefully pack, pad and meticulously label every single box. As time goes on and the packing becomes more intense, your labeling skills begin to fade. You go from color-coded by room/use/owner with an accompanying chart to keep things straight to stuff of similar size or weight being stuck into boxes together and finally you end up with several boxes of "odds and ends". This only becomes truly alarming when you realize that the "odds and ends" boxes outnumber the carefully labelled boxes by about four to one. Once in your new home, one room becomes box central. Woe to the hapless occupant of that room. In our case, it was Charlie's soon to be bedroom. Poor kid slept among the haphazardly stacked rubble of the rest of the family's belongings until we could make some sense of the whole system. It took almost two weeks to get his room sorted and put together but during the process of clearing his room and making it liveable, a whole lot of random stuff ended up in my room. Now that the boys are squared away and happliy ensconced in their respective rooms, I face the dread task of doing the same in my room...the Zen bedroom seems further away than ever...BLEARGH.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Food And Explosives

Ahhh, Independence Day, that sacred celebration of our forefathers' struggle to escape tyranny, the solemn reflection of the formation of this great and noble country of ours, the remembrance of those that went before, securing the very freedoms we enjoy to this very day. Okay now, seriously, it's about the food, the beer and the expolsives, isn't it? For as long as I can remember, my parents have hosted one of the finest examples of Fourth of July-ness you could possibly imagine. Coolers filled with ice, packed with perfectly chilled, gently sweating cans of every imaginable beverage, two grills smoking and emitting the sensuous aroma of burgers, brats and hot dogs, punctucated by the occasional hiss as juice hits white hot coals. The tables laden with watermelon, chips and largely ignored veggies brought by that one remaining optomistic mother who belives her children and others will eat carrots when other alternatives like Doritos beckon from the other end of the table. Trays of cookies, brownies and that most perfect of party desserts, Rice Crispy treats call to everyone and even the most hardy of dieting, work outing, carb counting, organic-ista among the gathered crowd is hard pressed to resist. Not long ago, one of my mom's friends arrived to this gathering with a very large tray of the aforementioned rice and marshmallow confection, attempted to pass through the gauntlet of partygoers in the front yard, was immediately relieved of her burden of treatage that ultimately never even made it into the house. The tray of Rice Crispy treat was set upon like the last leg of mutton at the Renaissance Festival...growling and snarling, these generally civilized adults ripped and tore chunks of marshmallow-y wonderfulness, the weakest being cast aside like a Paris Hilton pet of the moment. The strongest emerged from the fray with treasure beyond imagination, still slightly warm, gooey hunks of ricey crispiness. Those too polite to elbow their way through uncles, grandparents and cousins were left with the stray single crispy sticking to the side of the tray...those treats never knew what hit them.
The star of the day is, naturally, the explosives provided by my father (he heads to Wisconson for his haul), my parents' friend Scott (a Wisconson-goer as well), yours truly (North Dakota, man, for the REALLY illegal in Minnesota stuff) and a small gaggle of people that show up late in the evening that no one knows. We believe they live a couple of blocks over from my parents house, but no one is entirely sure...they get their stuff in South Dakota, I really MUST go there one day. We start small, simple, harmless even, with the little snappers you throw at the ground, working our way slowly up the explosives food chain through the course of the day. An appetizer of snappers is intermixed with the occasional wailing screech and bang of a bottle rocket, my father is compelled to throw an alarming number of firecrackers down the storm sewer in a lifelong quest to pop the top off of said sewer (still unrealized, alas) but an incredibly satisfying echoing set of ka-BAMS blasting from somewhere unseen makes up for the lack of flying discs of iron. My son and nephews disappeared for a while, emerging from the backyard with a pop can and a couple of dozen empty sparklers boxes and smiles that made every mother begin to twitch. Our fears were not unfounded, the boys had scraped all of the sparkler stuff into the pop can, the hope being to sparkler to end all sparklers. It was not quite the result they achieved...upon ignition, the sparkler stuff burned with the intensity of a thousand suns, blinding anyone who looked directly upon this brilliance, after only a moment, it seemed, burning itself out and leaving nothing behind but a melted, smoking brightly glowing wreck of what was once a Coke can. Impressive, to say the least.
I must mention at this point, the fact that my parents live across the street from a college campus, one that has not proven to be the friendliest of neighbors. Their security guards HATE us, and for good reason, I admit. An Independence Day at my parents' house is never quite complete without repeated glowering visits from campus security followed at some point by a visit from the real cops who usually just confiscate whatever we've foolishly left in plain sight, telling us to knock it off and going on their merry way. On year, my then four-year-old nephew asked the cop if he was going to arrest his father. Before the cop could answer, Casey offered the cop ten dollars (which he didn't even have), good thing he was really really cute at four because no one went to jail that day.
We usually end the evening with fountains and rocketry of increasing size and dangerousness, the artillery shells and major explosives saved for the grandest of finales, everyone patiently waiting their turn to shoot of the best of what they've brought this year and the promise of next year, there will be even cooloer stuff on the shelves of Wisconson, South Dakota and North Dakota. What till you see what we got THIS year!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We Are Not Alone

Since becoming a parent, I have noticed a disturbing trend, mommy is never allowed to be alone. I don't know if this is a rule no one told me about while pregnant for the first time or if it's simply part of the evolutionary cycle of parenthood. The other day I decided I would sort through some of the boxes and baskets of stuff that are scattered about my bedroom. Things I have tucked away with the intention of making sense of them later. Later was Sunday. It was time and the various life forms that occupy my house were otherwise engaged, perfect! About fifteen minutes into the process, I was surrounded by the long neglected shoeboxes of pictures, ticket stubs and other assorted bits of minutae that gather in dark corners of your life, happily sorting and planning my attack. I was poised and ready for action when my beloved entered the room "just wondering where I was"...seriously? This is when I realized just how frequently I hear him or one of the boys ask "Where's mom?", when I'm simply out of their field of vision. I don't get it. I have never left the property without telling someone that I'm going somewhere, I've never skipped town and I'm always where I say I'm going to be when I say I'm going to be there. Why the concern? Maybe I'm TOO good about letting them know where I am and they become alarmed when they don't have some kind of printed itinerary for me. Maybe I need the occasional disappearance to keep them from feeling they need some kind of tracking device embedded on my person.
Within a half an hour, each member of the household, including the animals, had checked in on my whereabouts, impeding my progress and kind of killing my sorting mojo. I think it's time to look into an invisibility cloak. I did manage to get the stuff sorted, but with the assorted 'help' from all corners of the house, the whole process took a heck of a lot longer than it should have. It was kind of fun, sharing bits and pieces of my pre-parent life with the kids. I unearthed the front page of the newspapers when the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in '87 and '91, my senior yearbook made an appearance (and my teenager laughed heartily at the 1986 hair), a series of rollercoaster postcards my father had sent during his lengthy visit to Six Flags, commentary and rating of the featured coaster included and lots of other weird remnants of my past life. I think, for the first time, my kids really got it, mom had a whole lot of life before they made their way into the world. I think they were slightly shocked. Seeing pictures of both me and their father with our arms wrapped around people other than each other seemed particularly distressing to Charlie. He did NOT approve of a few shots of me and Jon (my first love) at a dance. Nothing truly shocking, but a few huggy/kissy pictures that seemed to annoy him. What a surprise, to find out that your parents didn't spring fully grown into being your parents and that we actually had identities that had nothing to do with you or each other. That's gonna be you someday, kid.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Macho Kitty

My female cat has develpoed an interesting habit, or perhaps I simply never noticed this until recently. She's fascinated by every random bug that makes its way into the house but is completely repulsed by them at the same time. She'll stalk them and pursue them all over the house but at the crucial moment of capture, she gags violently and runs away. I don't understand this at all, if the bugs gross you out so very much, ignore them and the other cat will happily eat them alive. But NOOOO, this is a constant process in the summertime, the chase, the stalking and eventual cornering, but as soon as she touches the bug, it's a giant gag and hasty retreat from the whole hunt. I have puzzled over this and am at a total loss to explain her uncontrollable reaction. I have seen similar behavior in my children. If you brother bugs you so much, IGNORE HIM. But again, NOOOOO, they have to stay within arm's reach of each other at all times, making various sound effect-y noises and generally pissing each other off. Simple suggestions like: don't both sit on the couch at the same time, don't try to watch TV at the same time, stop looking at each other and please stop breathing each other's air are met with withering looks and more than a bit of scorn. I am attempting to be reasonable here and they're acting like I'm an idiot.
I am taking a stand and staying the hell out of every relationship in the house except my individual relationships with each member of the household. How they relate to one another isn't my problem, is it? I'm not entirely sure how long I will last but I am more than willing to give up my striped shirt and whistle and simply be a spectator and not the referee around here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Coming Back To Bite Me

I KNEW it! I knew, deep in my heart, that this whole organization thing was going to be the end of me. Remember the mystery keys that I threw away knowing I'd never find the locks they opened? Found another one, we have a trunk upstairs that apparently holds the answers to all of life's mysteries. Answers that must be kept under lock and key...or would if I hadn't thrown the damn key away. Yup, it's locked but good. I honestly have only a vague idea what's inside the trunk, I know there are a few board games in there and a couple of baby blankets I was given when the boys were born. Other than that, the contents are a complete mystery to me and looks like the mystery will remain for a while longer.
Here we are, six months into this whole process and I find my work of previous months slowly coming undone. I realize my purse is gradually filling up again with the same kind of rubble that gave birth to this whole project. I pulled 15 receipts, two empty mint boxes, three dead lighters, a padlock and four crayons out of the depths while looking for a pen in there yesterday. How does this happen? I have come to believe that my purse has its own gravity field that only attracts and holds random items. A mini black hole or the Bermuda Triangle of the accessory universe. I did try to carry a small purse for a while, but I think I have some sort of bag lady gene in my DNA as I simply couldn't leave the house with so few items with me at all times. I CAN'T function with only my keys, wallet and a pen...I tried, really, I did. I have to be able to survive for at least three days on only the contents of my car and my purse, therefore I must keep the essentials squirreled away for emergencies. It's a sickness.
I am finding things are making their way back into the filing cabinet as well, this worries me as I have been trying to remain faithful to my little friend and shred all the unnecessary paperwork that finds its way into my house. Where does this stuff come from? How did it get here? How does it know where to hide? I'm going to have to get rid of that thing and get a tiny little two drawer cabinet to put an end to the paper fornication I suspect is happening when I'm not looking.
This month's projects are languishing a bit, I did get one of the kitchen cupboards cleared out, washed out and reloaded and the least useful cookbooks have been sent away. Unfortunately, that's about all the progress we've made thus far. My beloved has made some headway on the garage...April's project. But that was mostly because he simply couldn't park in his designated area and needed to clear some space. Whatever his motives, at least it got done...sort of.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What Ever Was I Thinking?

Okay, I have beena bit remiss lately. The weather is finally acting like spring and I have grabbed every possible opportunity to be outside, cheerfully neglecting my usual indoor pursuits. Perhaps is was this weather-induced giddiness that led me to agree to allow Charlie to invite friends for a sleepover for his birthday. Usually I restrict "sleepovers" to no more than two friends and the one child I gave birth to as participants. Something got a hold of me and I said yes to Charlie's argument for FOUR friends. There is a reason I do not have more than two children. I thought it was loud around here with Andrew blasting music from his room and Charlie...just being Charlie but I was sorely mistaken. The usual noise level around here is NOTHING compared to the decibel level produced by a gaggle of nine year olds rampaging through your house. Thank goodness Charlie has a nice weather birthday or this event never would have come to pass. The ability to send the group outside for long periods of time became crucial to survival. The cats spent the duration of the event in a heightened state of something I can't quite define. I think the tipping point for the orange cat was when the boys found all three of the laser pointers that had gone missing weeks ago and decided to try and entertain the cat with all three at once. I'll give the little orange guy credit, he gave keeping up with all of them the old college try before collapsing under a chair in the living room with nothing visible but his nose peeking out from underneath. I think he spent most of the rest of the weekend in that exact spot.

Once again I find myself in a new month with an unfinished task on the list, still from March for heaven's sake. The basement is simply destined not to be a shrine to my organizational skills, I have to get that one finished before it throws my whole year long plan out of whack. So June's projects will be simpler, in an effort to finally get March off the books. This month we will be tackling the entire kitchen, all cupboards, drawers, shelving and I am finally going to paint the room a color that is not eye-scorching icy blue. Not a warm room right now. I'm thinking red would be fun in a kitchen but am not sure if I'm that brave. The smaller, but still related, project is going to be a purge of recipes, cookbooks and the like. I'm not an avid cook, nor am I particularly skilled, but I have moments of greatness in the kitchen from time to time (I make great banana bread and an AWESOME cookie pizza). I think I had great dreams of culinary brilliance at some point early in my marriage and went into some sort of cookbook buying frenzy. I have a dozen or so of the damn things and I think I use two of them with any regularity, the rest just look impressive on the shelf. I think someone gave me "The Joy Of Cooking" as a gift and I've barely even opened it as I simply don't have that kind of time. If you never have, browse through that cookbook the next time you're at a bookstore. It's like a time capsule in a lot of ways, harkening back to a time before pre-made, individually frozen, ready to eat everything. This book really gets into the nuts and bolts of the whole process, from selecting, to matching foods with other foods, wines, etc and just about step-by-step butcher your own cow in five easy steps. Honestly, I simply don't have that level of skill or patience for that matter. I also have a recipe box that makes no sense at all. There are pages ripped from magazines (usually missing the crucial page the recipe is 'continued on page 172', thus rendering the first page completely useless. I have half scribbled recipes, hastily written down on napkins at a party between glasses of wine and later stuffed into a pocket and sent through the washer. I tried to neatly copy my favorites down in 3 X 5 index cards and file them perfectly in the box behind the handy category cards like my oldest sister but that process made my brain hurt.
So here we go, June is going to be kitchen month and the basement will be finished! Really...I mean it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pettiness Becomes Her

Got together with some girlfriends recently and realized that women, in a group, can be truly diabolical. The topics discussed ranged all over the board (and aren't those the best kind of discussions?) from the state of the world (pretty dismal), various assorted children (adored, but annoying from time to time), the ideal mate (we need some MAJOR advances in genetic engineering!) to things that make us completely insane (surprise, mostly male induced!).
Once the topic turned to our respective mates, both current and former, we revealed to each other some of the horrid things we've done in fits of pique. One of us carefully sewed the legs of her (now ex) huband's underwear closed after he'd ranted and gotten a bit nasty about never having any clean (please note, he was not disabled or physically unable to do a load of laundry). The topic never came up again. Another of us, in the midst of a nasty breakup, left a golf ball wedged out of sight in the toilet of her (ex) boyfriend's bathroom. He still doesn't speak to her. The most evil of us all was also married to the biggest weiner of them all in that when he decided to leave her for a newer model, called and told her to pack his things and to be very careful of his suits. She was EXCEPTIONALLY careful when she very delicately snipped seams crucial to holding the crotch area of all his pants together. This woman was skilled enough that no damage showed but the structural integrity of the garment was compromised and would actually take a little time to separate completely. That and the cat doody sewn into the lining of his beloved leather jacket got the message across pretty clearly. She reigns as queen of all. I've never gotten quite that evil, but I've had my moments. I've only had to get truly nasty once or twice and my beloved got the message pretty clearly. My sister claims (and this is so gross) that one can fart into a pillow, carefully pull it back into shape and when the intended target's head hits the pillow, a cloud of toxic, vile-smelling gas will encompass the head of your victim. I have never tested this theory and hope I never reach that point. We woman really can be just as evil as we accuse men of being, we're simply more subtle less likely to incur and collateral damage. This is another reason supporting my contention that women should be running the world. I don't think we'd carpet bomb an entire city to take out one guy, we'd simply track him down and systematically destroy his car, CD collection and ensure, through the female network, that he'd never get laid again. No civilians would be harmed in the process, no soldiers put unnecessairly at risk and nothing for our government to clean up.
We also discussed "The List", we all have one in one form or another. This is The List of people that we are allowed to have our way with, guilt and consequence free, if the opportunity presents itself. My beloved and I have decided that the allowable conditions are when a person on The List shows up at our door naked during a snowstorm. The only other condition is that The List cannot include friends or family members and the people on The List must be completely out of our normal type universe. He has never revealed the candidates on his List but mine includes Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters lead singer, musicians, sigh), Orlando Bloom (for obvious reasons), John Cusack (loved him since highschool) and Jon Stewart (smart and funny gets me every time). The List is fluid and changes constantly with people falling in and out of favor or moving up and down on the desirability scale.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Ahhhh spring, school lets out (WAY too early if you ask this mommy), baseball practice starts in earnest, the summer rec activites are laid out before us and the garden FINALLY gets a little love. Okay, maybe a little too much love. Actually, a LOT too much love from my eight year old. Charlie is definitely his father's son, nothing makes him as happy as digging in the dirt. In a loving attempt to help get the gardens ready for some planting, my junior horticulturist decided to get rid of 'some of those old weedy things' by going deep and digging them out completely. Those old weedy things were actually my perennials that we've spent a few years nurturing and worrying over and hoping someday they'd look like they're supposed to look. Well, maybe in a few more years then. Bless him for an earnest attempt and I will never let him know the extent of the unhelpfulness of his act. So, the May gardening goal just changed scope slightly but is still achievable before the end of the month. My secondary goal is well completed, although I must be completely honest and admit to a degree of cheating on the sock sorting. I actually just chucked the vast majority of the socks, fed some to the waiting sock gremlin and bought everyone in the house two new packs of socks. Is that so wrong? I'll have to get back to you on that one.
The leftover garage cleaning from April list is still not done, but I have decided to absolve myself of responsibility for anything outside of the immediate houseage. Justification? Yes indeedy and I am really rather comfortable with it.
In other news, my niece got married a couple of weeks ago and we traveled down for the big event. With the exception of a rather damp and chilly weather system, the wedding and ensuing party was great, right down to the bride showing off her prodigious juggling skills during the reception. Charlie, the host of the Upper Midwest Bathroom Tour, had a rave review for the portable johns provided for the event. I know what you're thinking, Charlie's lost his touch for giving a porta-potty a four star rating. I'm going to have to agree with his assesment. Not only were there electric lights, but a sink, mirror AND running water! He thought that was the darndest thing he'd seen in a long time and spent a fair amount of time in the aforementioned potty before coming to his four star rating.
Unfortunately, the weekend was not without one major casualty, the Zen fountain in my bedroom has burned out...the pump anyway. No, my house is NOT that dry and I'm beginning to suspect it never really was. It seems the CATS thought the fountain was provided for their personal water consumption and spent the weekend slurping gallons of water out of the damned thing. Guess what happens to your Zen fountain when the cats drink the water down past the level of the pump intake? Yup, you end up with a sad and nonfunctional pump. Grrr. Next time, I'm filling it with something like vinegar and see how the cats like drinking pickle water. Of course, I'm not entirely sure that a pickle-scented bedroom is really the atmosphere I was going for at the outset. Hrmm, I'm open to ideas on keeping the cats from repeating this tragedy once I replace the pump.

Going to give the June projects some thought this week. Six months in, I really thought I'd have gotten more done by this point. Maybe I need to get more ambitious...or not.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Not My Idea

Okay, we all have suspected for years that there are things out there designed and marketed exclusively for woman that no woman could POSSIBLY have come up with, simply because they're women. The latest item on the list is something quite disturbing in a certain feminine product that all us girls employ once a month. I don't know what brand you all use, but mine has ALWAYS served me well. Recently on a trip to the ladies, with the song "I Enjoy Being A Girl" running repeatedly through my head as it tends to at a certain time for me, I made to use one of these fine feminine products and imagine my surprise when I discovered a printed message inside. "Have A Happy Period"...swear to God. My mouth fell open, and had I NOT been cranky, bloated and all the rest, I think I would have laughed. I did not, all I could think was "Are you kidding me?!" No woman I have ever met or ever expect to meet would pass that particular sentiment on to another woman. We'd say something like "Don't kill anyone." "Would you like more chocolate/booze/cigarettes/ammunition?" or "I know, he's a complete jerk." Honestly, these are the only things we women want to hear when we're shedding parts of ourselves. Have a happy period, come on over here and I'll show you what to do with your perky little message.
Another in the disturbing trend, my little square pieces of girl-tranquilizer I employ once a month (read CHOCOLATE) has begun to enclose little life lessons inside the foil wrapper. "Follow Your Bliss"...this is my bliss, people, and I can't really chew and swallow myself. "Listen To Your Heart"...okay...nope, that was gas. "Hug Someone Today"...don't tell me what to do.

A few other things I suspect were designed exclusively for women but probably not BY women:

Push-up bras: because we ALL want our cleavage to interfere with swallowing.
Stiletto heels: because getting anywhere quickly is SUCH a bother.
Mini Skirts: we really never wanted to sit comfortably, or bend over...ever

This isn't just a feminist rant or a hormone induced rage, there are lots of things I doubt were designed or produced by people that will ever use their own products:

Cereal bags: as hard as we try, can you EVER get the damn thing open without a long tear down the side or causing a Rice Krispie shower to engulf you?

E-Z pour spouts: on rice boxes and instant mashed potatoes...they just cause everything to bottleneck on the box, requiring surgery with whatever knife is handy.

Tiny screws on battery compartments: does ANYONE own a screwdriver that small? The first time you use the tip of a knife or the metal file on a nail clipper, it's toast.

The latest Burger King ad campaign: a dude in a scary plastic mask standing next to your bed when you wake? Sign me up for THAT. Or two annoying punks in burger suits harassing hapless drive through order takers...I'm not sure which a dislike more.

CD Overwrap: how many times have you managed to crack or scratch the shiny new jewel case while wrestling with the strongest film of plastic known to man?

I think, before any new products goes to market, before any "new and improved" anything takes the place of the tried and true, the guy/gal that came up with the bright idea needs to spend about six months using their own idea. I bet we'd see a lot more real improvements and not just something so they can print in on the box.

Just a thought.

Have a happy...whatever.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Okay, May

Now that I've been home for more than a few days, it's time lay out my projects for May. Finishing the garage is going to have to hit the list, along with getting garden ready (because we might actually hit a couple of consecutive days above freezing and I'd like to be ready) and I believe a sock purge is due about now.

I'd really like to know what the heck happens to socks around here. I actually threw away every unmated, hole-ridden sock in the entire house a while back and bought everyone in the house two new packs of socks. Somehow, the reject socks not only made their way out of the trash and back into the various baskets, bags and drawers, but they have managed to reproduce. There was a commercial a few years ago with a woman confronting the sock gremlin (I think it was for a camera phone, actually) and she busted him in front of the dryer, giggling madly while stuffing one sock from each pair down his pants. We'll address the hidden message another time. But it only proved that I'm not the only one completely flummoxed by the behavior of the sockwear in my home.

In other news, I had been thinking it might be time for a long avoided trip to the doctor. I've been up three or four times a night making use of the facilities and the only other time that's been an issue is when I've been pregnant. I'll have a heck of a lot of explaining to do if that's the case as my beloved was "fixed" after the birth of our second son. My only other thought at the time was that maybe I had a UTI or overactive bladder syndrome (everything's a syndrome these days) and wasn't really looking forward to whatever the doctor would have to do to figure it out. I believe I have not only diagnosed my little issue but found the cure as well. Remember the lovely Zen-type fountain I was so thrilled about? Apparently, I am terribly susceptible to auditory input, even while sleeping. The sound of running water all night long has triggered the same response in this human as calling the dogs to go outside does to the canine population. Good to know, better be unplugging the fountain when it's time for bed. Now I need a remote or a clapper for the damn thing. I'm hoping now that the furnace (forced air) isn't running 24/7 means it will stop humidifying the upstairs and I won't need to add a gallon of water every other day. Sheesh!

Okay then, the projects are set for the month and THIS month I'll get the whole system back in place and running a bit more to goal than the past couple of months. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Greetings From The Road

Yay! The Comfort Inn Duluth has offered us none of the weirdness we experienced the last trip into the wilds and they even have a computer for those of us suffering from internet addiction. It's now an official mental health issue...whoohoo! Now I can blame all the time I spend idly wandering around the information superhighway on something other than a desire to avoid housework. Do you suppose we can get workman's comp for this?

Anyway, this first day of May means that for two months in a row I have failed to meet my set goals for the month and I find myself more than a little displeased by this alarming turn of events. I could find lots of things to blame and perhaps I will, later. Hmmm...later. I think we've just hit upon the root of all evil right there. I haven't set my May projects yet and will have to give it some thought once I return from Duluth. A lovely city, by the way. I think perhaps a non-work trip with the boys this summer might be in order. Provided gas prices don't reach the same level as an ounce of gold.

I haven't seen much CNN this week and my news addiction has gone unfed since Monday but I did hear that our fearless leader was finally talking about the economy one day this week. About time, don't you think? I mean, just because he doesn't have to pay for anything...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Mean, Honestly!

Here we are in the waning days of APRIL and yet another blizzard type storm has buried northern Minnesota. We did have a day that was around 62 degrees a couple of weeks ago and I think that was our summer. It goes so fast, doesn't it?

My projects for the month have stalled, mainly due to weather and my going out of town twice in two weeks (leaving again today for Duluth!). Okay FINE, they've also stalled due to baseball on TV and straight up procrastination. Personally, I think perhaps the garage should not have been included in my plans as it's not really MY domain but my beloved's. I did get the top layer of crap out of the car, only to replace it with a new layer of discarded sweatshirts, water bottles and various bits and pieces of a life lived on wheels. We're going to have to roll over some of this month into May...sigh. I'm getting there, right? RIGHT?! I admit to allowing myself to become completely distracted by everything when I start to think about doing this particular project. I simply don't want to and really need to get my get up and go back. Bleargh.

In other news, my friend Terri is mourning a loss in her family. Mona the Mynah bird is no more. As predicted, the dogs got well and truly sick of being summoned to the back door by an unseen voice, their hopes of going outside dashed and getting whapped on the nose with a newspaper for peeing in the house. I firmly believe the dogs got together and made an elaborate plan, likely involving an ACME catalog, dynamite and a couple of anvils. Terri, her hubby and kids went to Grand Forks for the day and returned to a scene of disaster in the kitchen. The only remaining signs of avian life in the kitchen were an overturned cage, spilled bird food on the floor and a few scattered feathers littering the area. None of the dogs have stepped forward to admit their part in the bird's demise, but we all know they worked in collusion. Obviously, dogs have no real sense of humor about this sort of thing.

Off to Duluth for the week, here's hoping the Comfort Inn has none of the "amenities" the Bates Plaza Motel offered last week! As a precaution, I'll be looking carefully out window before opening my car door and stepping out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Bates Plaza Motel

Did some traveling for work this week and have once again realized there's no place like home (or at least a well maintained hotel). I spent the past five nights in what my co-workers and I dubbed "The Bates Plaza Motel". I'm sure, once upon a time, this was a lovely stopping point in northern Minnesota, but sadly, those days seem to have passed.
Night #1:
My first impression of the hotel was pulling into town at about 11 pm on a Wednesday night, checking and being directed to park in the lot at the back of the hotel. No problem. Shawn, my counterpart and the driver of the Focus, pulled into a likely looking spot and we prepared to see our home for the next five nights up close. I opened the door of the car and began to step out only to have my foot land on something significantly softer than parking lot. Indeed, my first step landed me on a dead pigeon that burst into a feathery blizzard upon contact with my favorite pair of Chucks (and the only pair of non work shoes I had with me). I'll admit it right now, I screamed like Jamie Lee Curtis and dove back into the car. After Shawn and I both recovered from about 10 minutes of gasp inducing laughter we found a new place to park and proceeded with our original mission.
I didn't have a roommate the first night and thank goodness because the ear splitting screech that emanated from the bathroom door hinges with even the slightest of movement would not have made me any friends as I ended up making use of the facilities several times that night (no more 24 oz cappucinos for me...not five anyway). I dutifully left a nice note for housekeeping asking for someone to take care of the screech in the morning before leaving for work.
Night #2:
My new roommate in tow, we returned after 14 harrowing hours opening a new restaurant in a town that was crying out for something new. We entered the room to find an equally nice note from housekeeping that THEY had left a note for the handyman about the bathroom door. The handyman's participation was noticeably absent as the door screeched louder than ever, perhaps knowing it was going to have to make the most of its ability to make noise while it could.
We spent some time downstairs with a few more of our counterparts and some of us headed outside for one last smoke, my roomie had already gone up to bed at this point when the fire alarms began to ring throughout the hotel. Interesting, we made the decision to stay outside and have another smoke while this turn of events was sorted by the frantic looking staff. At this point, a rather unsteady and disheveled looking guy came tearing out of the hotel and when asked if HE had pulled the alarm by one of our group, he responded vehemently and in language that's I'm not putting here. Okay then, that seems to be the end of it, alarms are off and the night manager's face has resumed its normal color. Time for bed. Well, not quite. I got as far as entering my room when the now familiar fire alarm began to ring again. My roommate, desperate for some sleep, asked if there was an actual fire to which I was able to say no to the first alarm and explain about the angry drunk that ran off into the night. Apparently, he came back...twice. After the alarms rang through the Bates Plaza Motel the third time in an hour, my roommate sat bolt upright in bed and announced "That's it, I'm in hell." Yep, and I'm your roommate. The angry drunk was eventually apprehended and stuffed into the back of a cop car, never to interrupt our attempts at sleep again.
Night #3:
We arrived back at the Bates after another record setting day, hopeful that things would be quieter that night than the first. They were, and darker too as my roomie's lamp not only burned out but then fell apart in her hand when she went to turn it on...okay. A phone call to the desk and one of the chefs from the restaurant downstairs appeared at our door, lightbulb in hand. By now, we had also discovered that the phantom handyman had not de-screeched our bathroom door, much to our dismay. Taking matters into my own hands, I asked the chef if he had any Pam type cooking spray in his kitchen and if I might borrow a few squirts. He appeared puzzled and apprehensive, but returned minutes later, Pam in hand. Screech solved, but a butter scented puddle on the bathroom floor...I'll leave housekeeping a note.
Night #4:
Passed without incident but for an angry drunk guy telling us not to look at him as we gathered outside for a smoke at one point...and another dead pigeon on the sidewalk in front of the building. Short life span for pigeons in that town...

Here's hoping the hotel next week isn't quite as deeply weird as the now legendary "Bates Plaza Motel."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oh Help

After my sunny (pun intended) prediction recently that spring was finally here, I find myself hoisted on my own petard and spent Thursday and Friday glowering at a fresh coating of snow. I know, I know, it melted before the end of the day yesterday and what am I complaining about but honestly, it just seemed a bit much. We're well past the first day of spring (and I firmly believe we need to reasses that whole March 21st thing) and Easter is a distant memory so the snow just seemed somehow cruel. And it put me back on the garage project as it was too dang cold out there to get anything accomplished. On the up side, the basement can be called finished (not "finished") but the project from the previous month can be checked off the list. Whew!

I told the grand garage plan to my friend Terri (the one with the bird, more on that later) and she's decided we need to have a garage sale in my garage. I'm planning to put her off as long as humanly possible as I loathe the idea of having a garage sale. It simply seems like an awful lot of time and effort for very little return unless you're selling either hard drugs or stolen merchandise out of your backyard. She's got lots of stuff and very little useable space, I have the space and not as much stuff...together we're a dream team. I know I will ultimately give myself over to the inevitable, but will fight it as long as I can.

My husband and youngest are as, if not more, ready for spring than I am. They started seeds a couple of weeks ago and we now have corn, carrots, peppers, dill and cucumbers growing in cups on the kitchen table. All was well until the cats decided this was a buffet set out just for them and have since been dining regularly on the tiny shoots peeking out of the potting soil. We've attempted to protect them with varying degrees of success and I'm currently plotting against the cats in a variety of ways.

On that note, I know I mentioned my friend Terri's recent acquisition of a Mynah bird...that talks. She and her kids think this is wonderful, her husband and the dogs beg to differ. The bird not only talks, but actually mimics voices rather well and has both Terri and her daughter's voices down pat. This is leading to some confusion as the bird likes to call both husband and dogs from its home by the kitchen door. The poor dogs are becoming complete head cases and the bird repeatedly asks them if they want to go out. You know what happens in doggie brains the moment they hear the word "out"...a certain response (call it an urge) kicks in and their need becomes rather desperate. I'm sure the bird knows this and is enjoying torturing these hapless canines but I doubt the dogs are going to weather this well at all. Her husband, on the other hand. is trying hard to teach the bird to say Terri's name so she can have just as much fun as he's currently enjoying. Petty revenges are sweet, but must be used with care.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Man Cave

Okay, March ended with less than total success but I will prevail. I'm going to roll the tail end of the basement into April and call it good. I did manage to conquer my media woes despite the fact that Real Player decided to take a dump toward the end of the music project and reset all the clip info back to its natural form. Fine, I set my 14 year old music junkie of a son to the task of fixing it before I took a hammer to the computer. It really was in his best interests to take care of it for me.
The big project for April is going to be to tackle the garage, the smaller project (and keeping with the theme) will be to totally clean the cars both inside and out. I know what you're thinking, the cars? that's a cop out. Obviously, you've never seen the collection of out and out crap in my car. I think because we spend so much time driving from one activity to the next that the car has truly become an extension of the house. We have water bottles, books, games, CD players, pillows and blankets in there all the time to stave off dehydration, illiteracy, boredom, silence and prepared, right?
The garage is generally off limits to girls, I know and accept this 99.9% of the time, but this is my .1% that I'm allowed access and I'm going to seize the opportunity. Considering my beloved's tendency to save, store and collect unbelievable amounts of nothing, I felt it was time for drastic action. Factor in the fact that the amount of crap stacked in the only area of the garage that I actually use, the time has come for me to step Once the area between the spot I park and the exit of the man cave became almost completely impassable, the 'no girls allowed' rule is moot. I sense I am going to be greeted with a fair amount of resistance from my beloved and my youngest son, but I should be able to get my eldest on my side...or at least keep him neutral. The garage is definitely NOT my domain and I'm perfectly comfortable with that. We have the local "Garage-Mahal" as the previous owner of our house seemed to spend a whole lot of his time there (perhaps this is one of the reasons they're not married anymore). The garage has two rooms, one for parking the two cars and the usual garage-y stuff and the other is the Man Room (yes, the capitalization is deliberate), complete with its own furnace, microwave, mini fridge, chest freezer and yes, cable television. Completing the decor is our old living room set (sofa, loveseat and coffee table) and both of my beloved's stuffed deer heads. This was the compromise as HE wanted to hang them in the living room, right above the fireplace. I simply had to disagree that they were a solid decorating choice. Plus they creep me out and he strenuously objected to my idea of dressing them to reflect the current season (Santa Hats, leis and sunglasses, maybe an Uncle Sam hat for Independence Day), he said that would be disrespectful. More so than cutting off their heads, stuffing them with something foreign and sticking them up on the wall, you mean? My beloved and his pals use our garage every fall for processing their deer meat while drinking beer and watching football. I think it's great and encourage this male bonding thing going on out there, I do not wish to participate in any way, shape or form. They NEED to remember this. My eldest son is definitely my child as the whole dead bodies hanging in row is the garage squicks him out just as much as it does me. My youngest, however, thinks this is the greatest time of the year. A couple of years ago, Andrew was asked to bring something out to the slaughterhouse, entered the garage, took one look around and said "Well, that's just disturbing." and fled for the house, not to be seen by the garage crew for the remainder of the weekend. Charlie, on the other hand, put on his nasty, grubby old jacket, snapped on a pair of kitchen gloves and plunged right into the process, not to be seen inside the house for hours at a time. The boy has eaten some unspeakable things out there, most of which I can't and won't even begin to describe here.
The garage has become too comfortable a place to stick stuff we don't know what else to do with, so it's time for another purge and I refuse to make this one another covert op, no way man. There's enough stuff in there to merit the idea of that spring/summer event I have scrupulously avoided in the past...the garage sale. I'm going to have to really mull this one over as I hate the whole idea of garage sales. Not going to them, not other people having them, just doing one myself. Going to have to revisit the idea once I know what's in there.

I think we spent too much time together this weekend and as a result, I find myself considering a few survival tips for the males of our species. First and foremost is this: If you live with a woman, married to her or not, replacing the toilet paper roll is NOT OPTIONAL. Trust me boys, this will actually save your life one day. Boys don't need it everytime they use the facilities, GIRLS DO. And if we have to sit and drip dry, our minds begin to work overtime and we actually begin to formulate nebulous plans to kill you in your sleep, knowing that a jury of our true peers will consider your death completely justified. Women are extremely at subtle and unexpected form of revenge, boys and you'd do well to remember this the next time you use the last of the roll. We wait, plan and bide our time until YOU'VE forgotten the offense and just when you think you're safe is our moment to strike. All you have to do is change the roll, or at the VERY least, put one on the back of the john, on the counter, simply somewhere less than arm's reach from the stool. Feel free to conduct an experiment or two and establish what exactly constitutes "arm's length" and that knowledge is crucial, necessary to preserve both you and the greater good.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Madness

Here we're looking at the tail end of March and I have not achieved my major project goal for the month. Sigh. I have managed to weed through the books and the movies, but the music is a much larger project than I thought. There is also the possibility that I made it a bit bigger than it needed to be as I decided that all the tunes on the computer fell under the organizational umbrella. I took it upon myself to properly categorize the 7,000+ media files on my computer by their proper genre and make sure the songs all had complete information on year, artist and album. I think I may have bit off a touch more than I could chew on that one. I started out by classifying each song into a specific genre but abandoned that idea rather quickly and just decided to do it but artist. I'm still not done and doubt I ever will be as I keep adding songs on an almost daily basis. Damn you ITunes!

The basement has defeated me. I will admit it right here and now. But honestly, who sees the basement but those of us who live here? It's not THAT big of a thing, right? We did have a bit of a setback, call it a delay, the other day when we realized it was unseasonably warm in the basement. Charlie is the one who tracked the source when he leaned against the brick wall that forms the ash pit for the fireplace and announced it was hot. I'll admit to scoffing at him and thinking he was completely mental but upon checking it out for myself, had to apologize for doubting him. Hmmm, the ash pit is hot, we haven't had a fire for weeks, so what the heck is the deal? Trooping up to the living room and opening the fireplace doors, we discover, much to our dismay, an alarming amount of heat emanating from the fireplace without a flame in sight. Oh dear, might be time to call someone. Fortunately, I live in a town with a volunteer fire department and we know most of the guys quite well so getting someone over was really not a problem. It took him less than a minute to tell us what the problem was (a smoldering fire in the ash pit) and another twelve seconds to let us know there's really nothing to do but let it run its course and enjoy the temporarily lower heating costs. Several days later, we undertook the cleaning of the ash pit. Wow, now there's a project. First of all, I know the previous owners of our house never cleaned the damn thing out. How do I know this? you may ask. I know this because the water heater was installed directly in front of the tiny door that allows you to clean out the ash pit, rendering it un-openable...I think my assumption is a safe one here. So now we have to call both the gas company AND our friendly neighborhood plumbing contractor to move to water heater. Suddenly, this is no longer a free and simple undertaking. In case you're wondering, $250 to have this done. Yippiee. Check written and happy plumber gone, we turned our attention back to the original chore. Dan and Andrew (my older child) are elected to perform this particular task, mainly because I said so and Charlie would have WAAAY too much fun mucking about in a pile of ash. After about twenty minutes and three LARGE garbage bags filled with ash are removed, Dan declared the job not so bad and nearly done. The floor of the ash pit was bare and pretty well swept out, looking good! Then Dan tapped his tiny shovel against the side of the pit and the whole scenario changed. What we had accomplished in those twenty minutes was to carve out a hollow space at the base of a well compacted column of ash. When the base is hollow, the column shall not stand. I bet you can imagine what happened next. The taps of the shovel acted like a tiny earthquake that dislodged whatever remaining integrity the structure of ash had left and the ensuing WHOOSH of collapsing ash was our very own pyroclastic cloud erupting from the basement. The mad scramble for the stairs, both to escape and to get the basement door shut to protect to rest of the house was reminiscent of the stateroom scene from the Marx Brothers' "Night At The Opera". After the dust had (literally) settled, we made our way back into the pit to assess the situation. Oh my...this is a bit of a pickle. Several hours and about a dozen large garbage bags later, we cautiously called it a day. And we've decided that we will be clearing out the ash pit every spring, without fail. I mean it. I am now faced with a difficult decision, do I bag the basement and move on to the April project? Or do I rollover the basement and move April's project to another month? Hrrmmm, gonna have to get back to that one.

In other news, I have a friend who has recently acquired a Myna bird to complete her menagerie that already included three cats, two dogs, several other birds, a couple of horses and a llama (don't ask). At this point, there aren't any fish or reptiles involved, but I can feel it coming. She's thrilled about the bird but I don't think the rest of the critters feel quite the same way. For starters, I think they're a bit jealous (that new toy thing) and the fact that the bird has a rather extensive vocabulary is a little disconcerting for the non-verbal animals in the mix. She thinks it's hilarious that the bird has already learned the dogs' names and likes to call them to come from time to time. I doubt the dogs are as amused as she is about this new trick. I have decided that Terri needs help, and fast. I feel an animal intervention coming on, soon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Good Lord, I have barely a week left to call the month of March a success. I did tackle the movie collection over the weekend and have decided we have questionable, at best, taste around here. I'm more than a bit embarassed to admit to the amount of bullet porn we have in my house. I suppose it was inevitable, considering that one cat and I are the only creatures living in this house without a measurable level of testosterone in our blood. I mean really, did Bridget Jones' Diary really have a fighting chance against Live Free Or Die Hard? Bullet porn, for those of you without teenage sons making your movie choices, are those movies that heavily feature "snappy" one liners, lingering close ups of various bits of weaponry, lovingly recorded rapid gunshots and a couple of guys. Throw in explosions, helicopters or better yet, exploding helicopters and you won't hear intelligible conversation from the male population of your house for days at a time. Good wholesome entertainment, for sure.
I managed to purge the vast majority of the VHS tapes, keeping only those very few that I haven't been able to find of DVD yet...keep your eyes open for a copy of "Noises Off" for me! I unloaded a dozen or so old "Rugrats" tapes on a co-worker and the rest are going to the library if they'll take them. Yay for me!

The basement is proving a much bigger problem, mainly because I'm refusing to do any of it by myself. We tend, as a group, to allow ourselves to become completely distracted by the air hockey game and lose most of our cleaning mojo as a result. However, I have become quite a force to be reckoned with as far as the game goes. But I digress, we're not here to discuss my formidable bar game skills, we were talking about the basement. We have managed to weed through roughly 8,731 strings of mini Christmas lights and ended up with four that actually work. Thank goodness that they go one sale for about a buck right after the holidays. I'm not entirely sure why half the Halloween decorations ended up in one of the Christmas decor boxes, I'm CONVINCED that we did not leave our Halloween stuff up until sometime after Thanksgiving...that would be the sign of a true procrastinator, and that is not me. Stop giggling, I'm serious here. Remember the keys I threw away? Found out what #3 was meant to unlock, there's a mysterious storage cabinet in a far corner of that basement that none of us could even begin to remember what we put into it that made a lock necessary. Huge bummer. After several phone calls to Dan's buddies, we located a bolt cutter, wrestled the mangled lock out of it home and opened to cabinet. I admit to some rather breathless excitement as we opened the door to find...all the leftover paint from when we first bought the house. Do you know what happened to Latex paint after about seven years? The majority if it congeals into a dumpling-like mass at the bottom of the can while the rest of it clings, mosslike and stringy, to the rim of the can. Those colors that look so great on your walls look pretty unappetizing in this form. Again, I sorely regret my key-tossing into the trash. I know those other three are going to haunt me, I can feel them, reaching out to me from the landfill, following me and waiting, waiting so very patiently until each key's true purpose has been revealed and I have been punished. You'll see.
The basement is about halfway to the goal and we have one weekend left in this month, cross your fingers. All that's left for the other project is to weed through the CD collection and make sure the cases and the contents problem!

Something weird is going on in my bedroom, I think I need to buy new humidifiers next fall because I don't think they're keeping up very well. My Zen fountain (now that it's actually put together properly) runs beautifully and is as soothing as advertised, but it seems to be going through a lot more water than a recirculating fountain should. We have forced air heat in the house and the furnace runs quite a bit, so I'm guessing it's simply that dry in my house. I know it is, the boys love nothing more that getting off the couch or out of the recliner and carefully making their way around the room, touching nothing, until they can sneak up behind an unsuspecting member of the household and give them a good zap to the ear. Anyway, I have another reason to look forward to spring, I won't need to add water to the fountain as often as I do now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter?

Today is Easter Sunday, for those of raised in that tradition, the day of renewal, ressurection and lots and lots of sugar. I love that this one of the biggest days in those Christian faiths but is TOTALLY based on the pagan calendar. Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. If that ain't pagan, I don't know what is. But we're not going to talk about that now, are we? Traditionally, Easter has been that hallmark of the coming season of renewal, the tulips and crocus should be poking theit first tentative shoots out of the ground. Or, we can get slammed with another six inches of snow. Fine, be that way. I'll pull my parka over my soft, floaty pastel skirt and twinset. I'll forgo the peeptoe pumps for my boots, no Easter bonnets for us, we're still wearing the Floyd R. Turbo hats with the earflaps.
Several years ago, when my nephew was going to a rather steadfast Christain daycare (I think he was about four) and his sister was going to the Catholic school down the street, they both came home just before Easter with the spoils from their respective Easter celebrations. My niece happily showed her jellybeans, chocolate eggs and Peeps while my nephew revealed his treasures. He brought home a number of small plastic eggs and prepared to enjoy his own booty. One can imagine his confusion when his eggs revealed, not jellybeans and chocolate, but items such as a rock, a thorn, a nail, a bit of purple cloth and a penny wrapped in tinfoil. He looked dismayed, to say the very least. Casey had received a set of ressurection eggs as opposed to the expected trove of candy. Look them up and imagine being four and getting this lot. My family, being more than a bit sacreligious from time to time, spent the holiday quoting the scene from "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" when they all look into their bags and announce, "I got a candy bar!", "I got an apple!" and poor Charlie Brown, with his bedsheet full of badly placed eyeholes, announced, "I got a rock." Poor Casey, I think at seventeen, he's since recovered.

We have our own set of traditions, the newest of which involves a couple of dozen Peeps (you know, the bright yellow marshmallow chicks that no one really eats but have become an Easter fixture) and the microwave oven. We have established that two Peeps, nuked at the same time, will actually expand to roughly ten times their normal size and build up enough pressure to move a Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup. The cup is in place to prevent Peep shrapnel from plastering the inside of the microwave with yellow goo upon reaching maximum volume. Maybe a non-traditional commemoration of the holiday, but a whole lot of fun. We did the usual hiding of the eggs thing, plastic and filled with candy, not hard-boiled and dyed. We eschewed the hard boiled because no one in the house likes them and the fact that I fear salmonella. I know what you're thinking, none of us ever died from eating eggs that sat out overnight, but now that I'm an adult...gross. Add my psychopathic cats into the mix and I could easily see some kind of egg massacre going on while we slept. As it was, they seemed to have unearthed a few of the eggs overnight and played kitty hockey with them. The scattered remains of several mini Reeses and stray Hershey miniatures wrappers mixed in the cat yark this morning certainly told the tale. Both of them are currently in a post sugar crash coma on the back of the couch. I mean really, could you resist basking in the sun while on your comedown from a sugar high? By the way, never give a dog jellybeans...the endless chewing will drive you slowly insane, more effective than waterboarding as a form of torture, methinks. So we've adapted the Easter as a time of experimentation and non-traditional observations, I'm sure you all have your own holiday weirdness at your house.

Time to go out and shovel the driveway...happy Spring?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Does Media REALLY Matter?

The small March project should probably be reclassified as the "Holy crap where did all this stuff come from and why have I kept it all and how the heck am I supposed to make sense of all this" project. For starters, I have the five shelf bookcases, at least one in every room and every single one is at maximum capacity. Now this is really great, we are a devoted group of bibliophiles in my house, but honestly, things have gotten a bit out of hand. As much as I've loved "Goodnight Moon", "If I Ran The Circus" and the entire "If You Give A _____ A _____" series, it might be time to let go of them. You can NEVER just throw a book away, it seems fundamentally wrong somehow. I imagine a cadre of heavily armed librarians decending from zip lines, bursting through my windows and battering down the front door like some kind of literary SWAT team if I even think of tossing a book into the garbage, no matter what kind of shape it's in. Yes, this is the kind of thought that wakes me up at night. So, confronted with bookcases filled well beyond their natural capacity, what is a girl to do? Time for another of my now famous (infamous?) sorting undertakings. Again I am faced with a crucial decision, is this to be another stealth mission or do I involve the others? The last time I consulted with anyone other than the animals, it did not end well. However, your books become terribly important over time and I think a stealth mission would probably result in a peasant uprising around here. The benevolent dictator would fall.

With my post as president for life at stake, I have given each member of the household their own personal mission, guided but not dictated by yours truly. They each must reduce the contents of their own personal bookcase. They will be weeding out anything they no longer care to read or those that never piqued their interest. Obvious hand me down-able material will be utilized, everything else will be donated to either the library or the used bookstore. Thus avoiding an onslaught of disgruntled librarial professionals. This was an interesting afternoon, I got a real chance to see where my kids' interests have taken them and to see what has held onto them over the course of time. Andrew happily passed his "Goosebumps" books to his brother but held tight to "The Tale Of Desperaux" that he's had for at least four years. Charlie readily gave up the majority of his Dr. Seuss books but refused to part with "I Love You Forever". My beloved held onto every single "National Geographic" magazine we've ever gotten but dumped a couple of dozen Zane Grey's into the box. I think I was the worst offender today. I HATE getting rid of books, even if I haven't opened the pages for several years. There is a chance that someday I MIGHT want to read "The Flame And The Flower" again, you just never know. With the love and support of my family, their strength quietly filling me, I was able to sacrifice my extensive Kathleen E. Woodiwiss collection, some of the crappier Nora Roberts stuff and my second set of the John Jakes Kent family chronicles series (Charlie was scandalized the a book titled "The Bastard") among plenty of others. I also managed to get rid of a half dozen cookbooks that I've never made a single recipe from. I really need to stay out of the cookbook section when I'm hungry.

Step one is finished, the unruly books have been tamed and the used bookstore loves us. Next we tackle our movies...both VHS and DVD, this isn't going to be pretty, I can't feel it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Marching On

Okay, the break's over and I have GOT to recommit to "THE PROJECT". It's become an all caps thing, I have met with my first defeat of the process, I did not get the photos done last month. I got them kind of sorted into boxes, the boxes labeled, the neglected film developed and I bought a digital camera to avoid this happening again but that was it. However, I did get the clothing sorted, folded and a purge was done. At least all the clothes in the house currently fit the owner or are packed neatly away until Charlie grows. This month, I'm going to tackle the basement (my seasonal items are one big scrambled mess) and weeding through our movies, music and books. March has also traditionally been the month for community theater productions (gotta get on stage before the participating farmer types go into the field).

Community theater is such a funny world unto itself, anyone who has seen "Waiting For Guffman" (and if you haven't, I highly recommend) can relate. There are those involved who take the whole thing FAR too seriously, those who see it as a purely social occasion and the rest of us. We're going to do our darndest to put on a good show but we also have no delusions about our talent. We know that our singing sounds best at the highest possible volume and only after several shots of courage. We're aware that our acting skills are never going to pay the bills. We comprehend that the set only looks like what it's supposed to look like from a good distance away and then only when you tilt your head the right way while slightly closing your left eye. I do love the rehearsals, all cast members are never all there on any given night, so people are invariably darting from spot to spot and frequently having conversations with themselves. The director and assorted cast members' children are usually tapped to fill in, my kid knows almost everyone's lines by opening night.

Costuming a community theater production poses its own set of challenges. We try to stay away from period productions, mainly because finding hoop skirts, tall pre-French revolution powdered wigs and buckled shoes for men in this neck of the woods just isn't going to happen. We rely on our cast members' attics, basements, and parents' houses. The lovely lady in my town who has an impressive colection of vintage and castoff clothing in her basement and rents out items for just this type of thing is a Godsend. The local hospital is a good resource if we're doing a medical based production, everyone finds what they can. A couple of years ago, I ended up playing the heavily padded, ten gallon hat wearing, heavily mustachioed mayor of the small western town in which our production was set. This was last minute, as the guy who'd agreed to play the part kind of fell off the face of the earth with two weeks to go before showtime. EEEEeeeek! With a tiny budget and a limited amount of liquid latex, I decided to delay building my facial hair until the day of dress rehearsal. Having taken that day off work, I was happily in my jammies (pink satin with purple hearts all over them) in the bathroom with the lower half of my face covered with dark brown hair (having decided to add huge sideburns at the last second) and waiting for the liquid latex to set. This crucial, as the whole thing will molt alarmingly if you don't let it dry for at least ten minutes after sticking the hair onto the latex. This needs to be done on the face that's going to wear the finished products or else it just looks weird. Like a thirty something year old redheaded woman playing the Spanish male mayor of a town isn't stretching it just a bit. So there I stand, in my pink jammies, my then mid-back length, curly, curly, curly, RED hair all over the place with this weird mass of synthetic hair congealing on my face and the worst imaginable thing happened...the doorbell rang.
I know what you're thinking...don't answer it. The thought did frantically cross my mind as I headed to the front window to peek out through the curtains and saw the UPS guy standing there with a LARGE box that I knew I had to sign for. Oh dear. Taking a deep breath and summoning up every bit of calm I could muster, I opened the door to the UPS man. He was looking at his little handheld computer thing as the door opened and to his credit, did not fall off my front step as he looked up. He visibly flinched and look of rather pronounced alarm crossed his face as he quite cautiously asked "Are you Elizabeth?" "That's me!" I brightly replied and reached for the pen to sign my very girly, loopy signature. He stared for just a moment before asking "Are you sure?". He hesitated for a second, took in the whole effect once more (likely commiting it to memory either for retelling back at the office or in case he needed to make a statement to the police at some point) and watched apprehensively as I scribbled my name and took my box into the house. I noticed that his truck stayed parked outside my house for several minutes and I saw him lean forward to look at the front of the house several times while talking on his phone. Oddly, the next time I got a delivery from UPS, it was a different guy.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Road Trip

Took a little break from the projects, runny noses and life in general this week and took a mini road trip with my 14 year old son. He and I are music lovers, we're both HUGE Foo Fighters fans and we had the opportunity to see them in concert in Minneapolis this week. It's been a few years since I hit a big, loud, scream your head off rock concert; it's much like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it. I will admit right here and now that I have a major crush on Dave Grohl, there, I said it...someday he'll come knocking on my door and pledge his undying love for me, I know he will. It's okay, I'll wait.
This was my son's first BIG concert and he had a blast, even in the company of his mother. He has, however, decided that the next concert he goes to, he wants main floor general admission tickets. Seeing the body surfing and the people all squished up near the stage held enormous appeal to him. That's going to have to be a trip without me, though. I haven't been in a mosh-type pit since I started having babies. That's just bit too much sweaty up close and personal with strangers for this old broad. I do love watching the security guards at these events, they know they're really there to keep people off the stage and to catch (in their arms, I mean) the body surfers that end up getting dumped over the barricade. They were a good humored and patient bunch, sending the surfers off to the back of the general admission area, knowing that they'd see that same person again in about fifteen minutes, about as long as it seemed to take some of the more dedicated types to work their way back up to the front. I never did the body surf/stage diving thing, that takes more trust in total strangers than I'm able to muster, or ever was. It was nice to see that the crowd was a pretty even mix between the late teen and twentians and those of us with the stray gray hair and a wrinkle or two. I've got to say, I can't remember the last time I 'wooooooo'-ed that much in public. There's something about being in a crowd of people all singing the same song (and I'm not dissing the national anthem or anything, but it's really not the same) at the top of their lungs and not caring a bit who might overhear them. We drove 300 miles in horrible Minnesota winter weather and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
It's pretty rare these days that I get totally uninterrupted time with either of my kids, so the treat of the whole event was doubled for me. For the first time in a long time, it was just me and my son by ourselves for more than a trip to the store or a ride to an appointment. We got a chance to really catch up, to talk about things other than homework, practice schedules or jobs around the house. The usual "How was your day?" conversations are great, but we got to cover all kinds of stuff in the five hour ride and the same ride home. We didn't get into anything heavy, no birds and the bees talk or anything, but music, books, movies, politics and darn near anything else out there. It's nice to be able to talk about that kind of stuff with your kid, kind of gives you a different perspective. I know my kids consider thenselves liberals just like me, but his reasons and logic behind his opinions are coming from a very different place that rather fascinated me.
We're going to have to this again, really soon. Dave doesn't love me yet....but he will.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Clothes Part Deux

Okay, a little break and now back to the projects at hand. Time to turn my attention back to the clothing and the photos…sigh. Charlie’s room is done, onto Andrew’s, this is where it’s going to get a little tougher since he’s growing like a weed and is continually getting “good” clothes from his two older cousins. Andrew is also getting to the point where he definitely has his favorite items of clothing to wear and it’s becoming a bit of a bone of contention between the two of us. My position is that you put on clean clothes every single day. He maintains that if the clothes aren’t actively trying to crawl into the hamper on their own they’re not dirty and if the item still even slightly resembles it’s original shape and color, it’s still good. We really have got to find some middle ground on this one. Or I can just seize my opportunity while he’s at school, that’s the plan at this point.

That's not going to work, dammit. He's growing so fast that clothes I bought mere weeks ago don't fit anymore. I'm going to need his actual body here before I can legitimately throw a single item away or put them in storage...shoot! This project has suddenly taken an ugly turn, up until this point, I have been able to purge items with reckless abandon. I have been the only authority, my opinion of what's tossable has been the only that mattered, it seems that time has passed. A moment to mourn my organizational autonomy. Deep sigh and off to corral the resistant boy. He's going to LOVE this project as it's going to consume PS2 time and require effort on his part...and trying on every pair of pants currently stuffed in his dresser. Threats and bribery may be my only options here. What can I offer a fourteen year old boy in exchange for repeatedly dressing and undressing over the course of an afternoon? I'm thinking the "you'll have a clean room and organized dresser" reward probably isn't as appealing to him as it is to me. The "I'm not doing your laundry until this is done" threat really doesn't seem to strike the desired amount of terror into his teenaged heart as I had hoped. I believe he was mocking me when he fell to his knees, grabbed my ankles and cried "Please mom, anything but THAT!" And once upon a time I was THRILLED he was talking...but that was long, long ago.

I have discovered recently that many 'conversations' with my son don't seem to require any talking on my part. The Playstation and this very computer are in the same room, frequently he's on the PS2 while I'm here at my trusty keyboard, he keeps a running patter going while he refights WW2 and I don't think I'm actually supposed to respond. On the rare occasions he says something I think is directed at me and respond accordingly, I get a rather withering stare and a "I was talking to the guy on the game." Silly me, I thought it was just digitally created figures on a Tv screen, ain't technology grand?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Fruits of Labor

Now that I have paid the drug store the equivalent of the yearly operating budget of a small European country, I have retrieved all my film and am confronted with the photographic evidence of my organizational transgressions. Shame on me, I look through the envelopes at pictures of Christmas concerts, first steps and family gatherings long past and my resolve is stiffened, I will conquer my own chaos and perhaps branch out to assist others in their own personal journeys toward serenity. That could be the key to my first million! A home-based business, I come in and teach the lost and suffering souls how to achieve Nirvana by alphabetizing their CD collections and perfecting their household’s entire organizational structure. But back to me, it’s with more than a little dismay that I realize one of the envelopes of photos include a friend’s wedding and he and his delighted looking bride in the photographs have been divorced for a year and a half. I’m thinking I won’t be forwarding them the second set of prints I ordered. For now these pictures will join their neglected brethren in the teetering pile of shoeboxes currently living in the guest room. I promise, I’ll come back for you! I swear can hear them calling “Come back, Shane!” as I shut the door.

My dear friend Eden called from Miami today and announced that she saw on CNN this morning that we were eighty degrees below zero with the wind chill and that she’s roughly one hundred and sixty degrees warmer at her house and is going swimming in the back yard this afternoon. There’s really only one appropriate response to a statement like this: “Bite Me” and hang up the phone. She'll get hers, though...hurricane season isn't that far away.

My reward for sticking with this project for more than a few days arrived yesterday. The fountain for the Zen bedroom I've been bidding for on Ebay is here! It's currently filling our bedroom with the gentle murmur of water falling over rocks in a riverbed. It took some doing to get to this point as the phrase “some assembly required” came into play, and by “some” they actually meant “you might as well take a welding class, apprentice to a plumber and grow your own bamboo, it’ll be less time-consuming”, bastards. Both cats and the dog seem quite interested in the new addition to our room but they’ll leave it alone once the newness wears off, right?
Upon opening the box yesterday, I realized with a sinking heart that this was a project that would have to wait for the clear light of day before proceeding and there was no way I was getting it put together before bed last night. Looking at the list of tools needed to assemble this wonder of engineering, it called for a 6mm metric nut driver and a T9 bit Torx screwdriver. Of these, I understood the word “nut” and the word “screwdriver”, I was in over my head upon opening the box. Oh boy. The decision was made to tackle this one anew in the morning. There are certain benefits to living in a farming based area, those farm boys have tools the rest of the world couldn’t begin to imagine and hidden stores of ingenuity that can save your sanity in times like this. A couple of calls to Dan’s buddies and soon we had the resources needed to assemble the calm-inducing, inner-peace bringing bit of the Far East I found on Ebay. So the inner peace and Zen-like calm was hard won, Dan and I have decided that we can work on separate projects in the same room but never on the same project together…ever again. If he’d just do things the way I think they should be done, it would have been hunky-dory, but nooooooo, he has to be all instruction-reading, direction-following and I know he does it just to piss me off.