Thursday, September 14, 2017

I Have A Great Idea

I am not crafty.  I do not quilt, paint, woodwork or any of that stuff. I know how to sew, I know how to crochet, but I don't do much of it on a regular basis.  That said, I am periodically struck by inspiration and leap in with both feet. These are some of those stories.

  Once upon a time, I went to a stamp party (if you've read previous posts, you know how I feel about those "parties") and spent practically a month's rent on stamp sets featuring teddy bears, ribbons, balloons and a load of other girly shit that is totally NOT my style but I was riding the euphoric wave that accompanies a fair amount of Moscato, snacks, chocolate and LOOK AT HOW CUTE THAT IS YOU'RE RIGHT I NEED IT! Okay, the classic Winnie The Pooh stamp set is still one of the cutest things I've ever owned, but once my babies became full on kids, my opportunities to use them faded fast. I was going to scrapbook my ass off, I was going to make my own greeting cards, invitations, calendars, I was going to be a stamping, fancy scissors wielding, ribbon tying, hot glue master GODDESS. Or my kids were going to discover sports and hunting and I was going to realize, once again, that I am not that kind of girl.  Not even a little. I'm not even sure what happened to all the stuff I acquired in my scrapbooking fantasy fueled frenzy.  I think they're still in a box somewhere but haven't seen the light of day in probably fifteen years.

I could have done this, I'm that organized, really.

From stamps, I moved on to crocheting.  This was actually a hobby that lasted for a good while but once you've made an afghan for pretty much everyone who has passed through your life since the fifth grade, your enthusiasm tends to fade. As does everyone else's once you've gone completely round the bend and started making holiday themed afghans and afghans for the dog.  My yarn stash reached a problematic level when my unsuspecting beloved opened the wrong closet door and unleashed a seemingly unending cascade of bundled yarn in every possible shade and thickness.  Once he was extracted from the softest, fuzziest avalanche in history, he sat me down for a rather stern discussion about what he called "a giant addiction" but really was maybe a tiny bout of overenthusiastic sale shopping, idea formulating, someday I'll make it, I love this color and will make a thing, did you see that one, I know the perfect....okay, FINE I NEED HELP.  The ensuing purge went down in the annals of our family history as "Yarnmageddon", a combination of returns, sales to friends and strangers and a copious amount of donating, we pared the stash down to a manageable level. (Note, the following is NOT my stash, but my God LOOK AT IT)

Sweet Martha, I just had a yarngasm.
After Yarnmageddon, things were quiet for a few years, at least as quiet as things get around here which really isn't all that quiet come to think on it, but you get the point.

Then I quit smoking.

When you quit smoking, you have to find things to do that aren't lighting a cigarette so a few things crossed my path in relatively quick succession:

 I made my own earrings for a while, some that I still wear to this day but the magic wore off before I could become truly dedicated to the lifestyle. I still have the beads and some wire, I make a pair from time to time but honestly, the bloom fell off that particular rose pretty quickly. My beloved and I do not share the same aesthetic, never more clearly displayed as when he asked when I became interested enough in fishing that I was making fishing lures for him.  And that's how that fight started.

Y'all are jealous now, right?
Woodburning appealed to me for a fair bit but as I'm not particularly artistic, there was a limit to what I could create.  A person only needs so many cute little signs and nameplates, after all.  I did sew, but really only ever mastered rod pocket curtains and hemming things so that got pretty dull after a while.  Decoupage, cross stitch, collages and mosaics all came and went until I realized that I was having way more fun cooking that anything else.  Better yet, my younger son liked to join me.  He's adventurous and has really good instincts when it comes to food.  Hitting on something like that was very satisfying and everyone in the house breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn't gone completely off the deep end again.  The stuff I'd buy to indulge THIS obsession weren't insane and actually served a purpose.  I've learned my lesson, I don't have drawers full of lovely, single use kitchen gadgets but I will admit to a weakness for cool serving pieces and storage items. I found an extra large metal Calumet baking powder can that holds all my long spoons and such that is AWESOME and the greatest deviled egg plate that looks like a painter's pallet but both of those are useful. Don't look at me like that, a deviled egg plate in the shape of a painter's pallet IS a necessary kitchen item.

These days I don't become obsessed with an all encompassing hobby so much as I am struck by inspiration.  I tend to formulate a plan, work it out in my head and then go for it.  My beloved has declared a moratorium on my drinking coffee and browsing Pinterest on Saturday mornings because that has come to mean we're at Lowe's by noon.  My family's reaction to "I have an idea." is "uh-oh" followed by a hasty exit from whatever room I'm in.  They love to bitch and moan but we're three for three so far this summer.

Our first project started with Charlie's and my shared love of cooking.  I have a decent kitchen but it lacks the counter space needed when two people are trying to cook everything from scratch and have two cutting boards going and such.  We were doing a lot of moving one another out of the way or one of us would end up doing our thing at the dining room table.  I found a long double dresser for $50 on the local sell/swap site and snapped it up.  Two weeks later, I was the proud owner/creator of a movable, five foot by two and a half foot long wood topped kitchen island with three shelves, a cabinet and four drawers.  Granted, it did take multiple trips to local hardware stores and an aborted attempt at using flood coat (side note: that stuff will freak you out when it's been spilled on the basement floor because it forever looks like a puddle of water), but three days of sanding it off and about ten coats of polyurethane later, the damn thing is GORGEOUS!

Still can't believe this worked.

A couple of weeks later, after I had killed off the herbs I was trying to grow in cute little pots on the kitchen windowsill, I had another idea.  I caught my beloved before he could flee the room and we headed to the building center once again. Ten feet of rain gutter, two end caps, a mess of drilled holes, four screws and a bracket later:

That's right, I have herbs.
Not long after the herb garden triumph, my beloved and I were sitting on the deck listening to the sprinkler running and he mentioned how soothing the sound of running water is and how we should dig a creek into the backyard.  This lead to a discussion about Koi ponds and how that was not going to happen because I'm not spending the winter with giant goldfish swimming in the bathtub.  However...
My beloved has come to recognize the signs, there's apparently a look in my eye that portends a trip to Lowe's.  He's learned resistance is futile and is just giving himself over to it at this point.  He is a wise man. A few hours later and we return home with the gathered supplies.  We're making a fountain for the deck.  Both my sons just shake their heads when I tell them my latest plan but they dive right in because they know their involvement is inevitable.  A large ceramic planter, a planter bowl, a plastic plant bucket, a medium sized pond pump and a T shaped nozzle and we're off to the races.  I came into this one so optimistically but it almost got the best of us.  Note for future fountain making: BUY A PLANTER WITHOUT DRAINAGE HOLES IN THE  BOTTOM.  Four dime sized holes became the bane of my existence for the next two weeks.  We tried that aerosol rubber stuff, other than making us high as a kite and creating a mess that had to be sandblasted off, it did nothing.  Next we tried spraying that crap onto some wine corks and stuffing them into the holes.  I'll give the corks and E for effort but ultimately they failed.  Next up were boat drain plugs but they didn't work with the bucket that was necessary to hold the pump in it with the inverted bowl on top.  Finally I ordered rubber laboratory stoppers online.  My hopes were high until we realized they were just a shade too big for to GODDAMN DRAINAGE HOLES.  Unwilling to admit defeat, my beloved dug out the Dremel tool I bought when I was going through a glass etching phase.  I have never seen him take a project quite so personally, but he was quite offended at the resistance we were encountering with the freaking holes.   Did you know that both the Dremel and the ceramic start to smoke after a while?  They do, a lot.  He did it, though.  The stoppers went into smooth as butter, followed by a copious amount of Gorilla Glue...they'll outlast us all, I'm fairly certain.  

Two days later, as we sat on the deck listening to the bubble and gurgle of our wonderful fountain, sipping wine and basking a bit.  My beloved sat down next to me on the loveseat, pulled me close and whispered in my ear "I've changed your Pinterest password, my dear."  Silly boy, he doesn't know about Instructables...

Sunday, September 3, 2017

My Happiest Place

Anyone who knows me, or who has spoken to me for more than five minutes in the past few weeks knows of my deep and abiding love for the Minnesota State Fair.  For ten days at the end of August until Labor day, the state of Minnesota gathers in Falcon Heights, just a shade outside of the neighborhood where I spent my formative years. Some of  my happiest and most vivid childhood memories revolve around the fair.

My father, his brother, and their father were fair fanatics.  I imagine the familial obsession went further back in the annals of our history as we are a St. Paul family from way back when.  My dad would go multiple times, always with the whole family, with just one or two of us and at least once on his own.  My mother came along when we were all little, but never had the passion for the fair that dad did. We had routines and rituals at the fair, some of which I follow to this day, it feels natural and comforting that some things truly never change.  Dad taught us early on that the only acceptable hot dog on a stick was from the yellow and brown Pronto Pup stand (the wiener dun in a bun) and no other would do, don't even think it. To this day, the first thing we eat at the fair is an official Pronto Pup, it does not matter what time we arrive, that is first.
That's the ticket!

I don't know what magic is imbued in that fluffy yet crunchy coating but it envelops the dog in a loving embrace of pure wonderfulness, a corn dog just won't do, it MUST be a Pronto Pup.  Generally there is a root beer barrel located in close proximity to the Pronto Pup booth so I naturally associate the two.  The last time dad and I went to the fair together was in 1992, a month before I got married and we managed to hit every single Pronto Pup booth on the grounds (eight, I believe) and washed a few of them down with root beer.  The sight of those booths and that first bite will always and forever bring me back to my father's side.

The other must is the All You Can Drink Milk booth.  When I was a kid, it was all you can drink for a quarter and boy, did we take advantage of that deal.  The milk was ice cold, foamy and somehow tasted a thousand times better than the milk from home because fair milk is special.  We'd hit it every year, just about first thing as it was near the entrance on Como Avenue where dad always magically managed to find parking.  That is until one fateful year when I was about nine years old.  Imagine a 90+ degree day, not a breath of breeze and packed fairgrounds.  Combine those conditions with four children drinking their body weight in milk followed by a trip to the livestock barns and I'll leave out the details of the horror that followed but a speedy departure and a change of clothes was required for all of us.  From that day on, my father issued a decree that the All You Can Drink Milk booth was off limits until we were on the way OUT of the fairgrounds, never again to be visited on the way in, and that rule stands to this very day.
The fair is a constant, comforting, familiar but ever changing piece of the Minnesota landscape and I am always shocked when I meet someone who grew up here but has never been.  That's the strangest thing I can imagine because missing the fair is simply not done.  In my family, fair time is our holy season.  Vacation days are taken, all other plans and obligations are put on hold, strategies are laid out in the days and week preceding the fair.  The new food list is pored over and disseminated in loving detail and with palpable anticipation.  New walking shoes are broken in well before the start because wussing out over a blister or sore feet will result in years of ridicule, a stock of sunscreen is laid in and appropriate headgear is tested and made ready.  Children of the family are indoctrinated from birth that these are sacred days, not to be fraught with whining, fighting or pooping out early.  If we had an official family religion, the Grandstand is our cathedral, the crowd noise our hymns and the Space Tower our ascent to the heavens.
There's me!
While the food is, obviously, a huge draw, the fair has innumerable attractions that truly requires more than just one trip to appreciate them all.  The Creative Arts building houses everything from needlework and woodcraft to Bundt cakes and jellies, all lovingly created and proudly displayed.  I am overwhelmed every year by the incredible beauty created by people all over the state.  Exquisite handmade lace, gorgeous embroidered table linens, jewel colored jams and jellies displayed and lit like pieces of art and baked goods nestled behind a frustrating glass barrier that keeps you from burying your face in the deliciousness that they promise.  You could spend the day in that building and still not see everything, it is a museum in its own right.
They kick you out for licking the glass.


Being a farm-centric state, the Agriculture/Horticulture building is the centerpiece of the fairgrounds, an enormous and beautiful art deco exterior holds many strange and mysterious things for a child raised in the city.  To me, it was like visiting a foreign land, complete with a language all its own.  To this day, I come out of that building knowing something I did not know when I walked in.  This year I learned about the gladiator style fight to the death between old and young queen bees and the shifting political scene inside a beehive. Apples, flowers, grains and sugar beets are displayed as lovingly as the quilts and cakes in the Creative Arts building.  This building also houses one of the more unusual art mediums you've ever seen...seed art.  Unbelievably detailed, painstakingly executed and sometimes surprisingly political, this is a wonder of creativity that I could never begin to accomplish.
Yep, all seeds
The Fine Arts building is more like an art gallery, again I marvel at the huge amount of beauty created by the people of my state.  While I cannot create art, I am an appreciative and mesmerized audience.  You move seamlessly from the hustle and bustle of the fairgrounds with the noise and crowds to a collection of art that rivals high end galleries.  It's a different atmosphere in the Fine Arts building, the pace is slower, it's quieter and even a bit reverent in those rooms.  I always find the Fine Arts building calming, a nice little quiet time in the midst of the fair.
There is some really beautiful stuff in there.
The Dairy building is where you find the quintessential Minnesota fair thing...the butter busts of Princess Kay and her court.  Seriously, life sized busts of 7 young women carved from butter.
Nope, not a metaphor, butter busts.

You can visit the booths of a variety of politicians, home improvement services, foods and products from all over the world.  The Miracle of Birth center is the cutest place in the entire grounds, the grandstand houses world class musical entertainment and a host of gadgets, tcotchkes and stuff you never knew you needed but you must bring them home NOW.

My little family has our own carved in stone tradition, we go to the fair early in the morning on the first Monday of the fair.  There is no better event that takes place during the entire fair than the herding dog trials.  I adore this event, not because the incredible skills of these dogs are a wonder to behold, but for the rookie class.  I love, love, love the rookies. Don't get me wrong, the experts are ah-mazing, but my heart will always by firmly held by the rookies.  These dogs are VERY new to the world of herding, most have been at it less than a year and it shows.  The dogs and their handlers have four minutes to get three uncooperative sheep through a series of obstacles and into a small pen.  The experts practically snap their fingers and the sheep obey immediately.  The rookies have not earned the respect of the sheep and it shows.  First of all, the rookies get SUPER excited to see the sheep when they are let  into the ring, the sheep are not nearly as happy and initially do their damndest to get the hell out of there with a lot of milling about and bumping into each other.  The rookies do a lot of romping about punctuated with belly crawling and straight up laying down (this is hard work, y'all).  Usually the sheep split off and then all hell breaks loose as the hapless rookies have no idea how to handle three separate sheep when the single cluster of sheep was barely manageable.  The handler tries to communicate commands to the rookie either through whistles or voice commands.  It goes well for the first thirty seconds or so but deteriorates quickly once the sheep realize they're dealing with a newbie.  By about 2:30, the handler has usually resigned him/her self to the fact that those sheep are not going into the pen.  The rookies are usually having too much fun to notice that they've failed.  This year, two handlers decided that it would be a good idea to train Corgis to herd was not.  The sheep seemed confused as hell as to what they were even seeing, much less that they were supposed to obey it.  The Corgis, to their credit, did their best to keep up but have you EVER seen a Corgi's legs?  By the end of the four minutes, each on of those poor little guys had to be carried out of the arena, probably to nap for the remainder of the day.  However, the Corgis were no match, entertainment wise, to the clueless trainer that attempted to train a Husky as a herding dog a few years ago.  Huskies are working dogs, yes, but herding is definitely not in their wheelhouse.  Not. Even. Close.  This dog was so damn happy to see the sheep, there was barking, there was cavorting, there was that thing dogs do with their head and paws at floor level and their butts wiggling in the air.  The sheep were having none of it, moving as a group, they led this Husky to every part of the arena, managing to miss every single obstacle.  The even tried taking refuge by surrounding the handler for a moment until the Husky, barking happily hurtled toward them with reckless abandon, stopping only after a graceful leap over two of the sheep and literally scaring the pee out of the third.  The clock ticked down as the sheep leaned into the handler, the Husky danced and barked and the handler reassessed his life choices.  Time ran out and Dot, the expert clean up dog, shot into the arena to restore order.  The sheep seemed glad to see her and dutifully followed her out of the ring.  The handler called his dirty, happy, goofball of a dog to his side and gratefully acknowledged the largest and loudest applause of the day.  The Husky seemed to be satisfied. 

So there you have it, my loving ode to the Minnesota State Fair, start making your plans now for next year.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thank You For Playing

I'm pretty savvy about stuff.  As a natural born skeptic, I don't fall for much.  In this day and age, more and more scams and rip offs emerge on an almost hourly basis.  Sadly, a lot of people get taken for a ride and, in some cases, lose everything.  I recently saw a story about a computer programmer that someone tried the IRS scam on and he turned the tables in delicious fashion.  Those stories are awesome and hopefully, a lesson for all of us.

Once upon a time, we'd get the odd call on our home phone.  My method of dealing with them when they'd call for my beloved (usually butchering pronunciation of our last name, a tip off) was to burst into noisy tears and demand they tell me where the son of a bitch got himself off to leaving me alone with all these kids and no car and who the hell did he think he was anyway. The response from the other end of the line usually ranged from apologetic to sympathetic to extremely uncomfortable stammering but the end result was the same: I'd never hear from them again.  Bonus that I'd get to hone my acting skills at the same time.

I got a good one the other day, I'm sure you've heard of it, the "Windows Tech Support" call.  My call came in the form of Todd (I'm betting not his real name) who magically detected a serious problem with my computer and needed remote access to fix it. It being a bit of a slow day and this kind of shit pissing me off to no end, I decided to have a little fun with ToddNotTodd.
Our journey together begins when he tells me to get in front of my computer so he can talk me through the next steps, I happily comply (honing my acting skills again, YAY!). I immediately interrupt ToddNotTodd to tell him I turned it off because that's what they say to do on TV shows if your computer is broken and that ALWAYS fixes everything.  ToddNotTodd tells me I didn't need to do that but okay.  So we wait together while my imaginary computer reboots, I whistle tunelessly and he sighs a few times.  My imaginary computer rebooted, ToddNotTodd starts his instruction again, telling me to double click on "My Computer" on the start menu.  I say okee dokee and tell him that I've opened the start menu and clicked restart because I know that's different than turning it off and on again.  ToddNotTodd says "No!", and rather sharply, I must say.  I apologize profusely and tell him that it's showing the Windows picture and that's a good thing, right?  ToddNotTodd says that's fine, he seems a bit bothered at this point but is determined to help me.  I tell him about my five cats while we wait. ToddNotTodd seems less than enthusiastic to hear about about Boots, Sassy, Fluffy, Miss Priss and Tim.

My computer freshly rebooted, we are ready to proceed.  ToddNotTodd, a new spring in his step, gets back to the business at hand, getting me to allow him into my financials.  We move through the process slowly and on step two, I interrupt to tell him to wait a minute, Miss Priss has pulled the mouse cord loose and it doesn't work.  I tell ToddNotTodd not to worry, I can fix it by turning my computer off and on again.  I receive an anguished "DON'T DO THAT!" from the other end of the phone.  I tell ToddNotTodd it's okay, the computer will be ready in a couple on minutes.  ToddNotTodd thinks I'm low hanging fruit, too dumb to function, so he hangs in there for another restart.  I tell him how I tried to make a standing rib roast last night and after it came out of the oven, two of the cats and the dog knocked it onto the floor and we ended up having Taco John's instead and I don't usually eat that kind of food because of my digestion. ToddNotTodd is disinterested and is muttering continuously, I think it might be some kind of calming mantra.
Fourth restart finished, ToddNotTodd decides to sally forth, he has a mission to complete and failure is clearly not an option.  We start over, as I've forgotten by now what it was he wants me to do and we get three steps in when I tell him my computer just made a beep sound and I know that can't be good so what should we do? At this point, ToddNotTodd loses his head completely and shouts "DON'T, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T TURN IT OFF!" I respond with "Turn it off? Whatever you say, Todd!"
Who he thought he was dealing with.
Who he WAS dealing with.

Perhaps ToddNotTodd made a tearful plea to his God for a moment or two because there  is a long pause before he speaks again.  In very careful and measured tones, he starts again, enunciating every instruction as clearly as he possibly can while I make him repeat every single direction three times before acting on it.  I make him start over twice.  I believe ToddNottTodd has begun drinking from a hideout flask at this point because all the life has gone out of his demeanor, he seems sad and a little defeated.  I ask him if he's accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  ToddNotTodd does not respond.  I tell him I accidentally turned to computer off again and ToddNotTodd becomes more than a little put out.  By now, we've been at it for almost 30 minutes and I have an appointment in less than an hour.  While ToddNotTodd weeps and bangs his head on his desk, I reveal my true nature and tell him that there was no way in hell this was going to end with a success on his part.  I tell him I hope I gave him a migraine and he should find a more honest way to make a living.  ToddNotTodd called me a foul name and hung up on me.  I don't think we're friends anymore.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It's Not A PARTY Party

There is a cultural paradigm that I don't completely understand and, try as I might, cannot embrace.  I speak of the (Insert Something Here) party.  I'm not talking costume, kegger, Super Bowl or dance party; I'm talking the kind of party that involves demonstrations, catalogs and a huge, steaming slice of guilt. I have been to just a few of these events (I say event because, in no way do I consider them real parties) only out of a deep love for the friends who invite me.

The last one I attended was a Tupperware(tm) gathering. I was not planning to go but my very dear friend who was hosting called me an hour before it was due to start in a state of advanced panic that no one but her daughter was coming.  I love her so I went.  And that's when the trouble started.  Upon arriving at the soiree, I met Debbie the Tupperware(tm) lady.  Debbie is a true believer, a true Tupperware(tm) zealot, a high priestess of the Church of Plastic Food Storage and Other Plastic Items You Never Knew You Needed (CPFSOPIYNKYN for short). First off, High Priestess Debbie is a toucher, not a pat on the shoulder or too long handshake kind of toucher, but the kind that will rest a hand on your should when standing behind you while making her sales pitch...repeatedly, kind of toucher.
A little like that, yeah.

So right away High Priestess Debbie is giving me the willies with all the unnecessary touching, this does not bode well for the rest of the fete, but because I love my friend, I suppress my usual reaction to unwelcome touching and sally forth. HP Debbie is a bundle of energy, I'll give her that, she rocketed around the room with the kind of frenetic energy usually only seen in overstimulated toddlers and that thing Will Smith set loose in "Men In Black"

Yup, exactly.
She was a sight to behold, both her energy and enthusiasm were boundless, I do admire that kind of dedication so long as they don't try to suck me down their particular rabbit hole. That, however, is EXACTLY the goal of these affairs. Of course they're going to sell you loads of shit you MUST HAVE NOW or you will have a sad, unfulfilled life and will die alone. So you buy the shit.  But that's not all, you see. If you're smart, you buy your shit, fake a seizure and get the hell out of there before it goes any further.  I was overtired, hungry and my reflexes are not what they used to be so I did not quickly take the necessary steps to protect myself from what came next.

HP Debbie did not achieve her lofty position within the Tupperware(tm) corp by being complacent, no siree! She got there by sucking people into her vortex and getting them to agree to things they never would have dreamed themselves capable of doing outside of the mysterious and heady confines of a Tupperware(tm) fete. First, she tells you that you have the perfect personality to be a Tupperware(tm) consultant and that becoming one is a life-changing experience on par with orgasms or finding out that chocolate cures cancer, aging and makes you thin and hot.  She barely misses a beat when you find the strength within you to decline and parries with the suggestion (and I use that word loosely) that you host a party of your own.  When the temptations of all the free shit and discounted items that will rain down like manna from the gods don't work on you, she drops the Fat Man and Little Boy of guilt on your head. If you book a party, your friend, the one you love enough to come to this shindig, will get gifts and credits and discounts and if your really love her and she means anything to you at all and if you're any kind of friend and not a complete bastard coated bastard with a creamy bastard center dipped in bastard sauce with colorful bastard sprinkles you'll do it.

I tried to stand my ground, I hemmed, I hawed, I hedged, I broke...she got me. With my remaining backbone, I pleaded my case down to a "Facebook Party" so I could have all the benefits and none of the work. Whatever, by that point I truly believed I was never getting out of that room unless I agreed to something. I handed over a $140 check for the shit I purchased and beat a hasty retreat before I could betray any more of my beliefs that night.

I don't know how I got here.
I got home, back to the safety of my den and into the arms of my beloved, dazed, exhausted and salsa streaked, but whole and alive. I made it through the darkness and all the many dangers that threatened me, but damn it, I survived.  I immersed myself in my normal life and slowly put the events of that night behind me until a couple of weeks passed and my shit didn't arrive. WHERE IN THE HELL was my microwave breakfast maker and my vegetable keeper system?  I had been convinced that my life was incomplete without them by HP Debbie and was adrift and consumed by anguish without them. I did notice my check had been cashed posthaste.  Finally, the Holy Grail of kitchen items arrived and at last, the clouds parted and the skies turned blue again as I unboxed the items that I had been assured would change my life.

The microwave breakfast maker with the poached egg inserts (add. $8) emerged from the box like The Birth Of Venus as a choir of angelic voices heralded the arrival of all that is good and beautiful and purple plastic on this earth.  At last! I will be able to make omelets and French toast and poached eggs in 2 1/2 minutes any time I want to! It doesn't matter that I never wanted to before, I CAN.  A quick wash and dry and I'm ready to poach some eggs, don't care that it's 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon, I can poach eggs in the microwave.  I follow the instructions to the letter, I poke the yolk like I'm supposed to even though it's counter-intuitive, I do it. I set the timer for 2 and a half minutes, per the booklet. I push start and breathlessly watch the numbers tick down to silky, poached perfection.  It all goes as planned until the timer shows :27 and BANG! the lid pops off, the unit jumps like it was stung and egg suddenly coats the window of the microwave.  
My view now blocked, I can only imagine what's happening as further bangs and a strange hissing noise now fill the kitchen.  The cats have since fled the room, leaving me to face whatever is trying to escape the microwave on my own.  I cautiously, and with shaking hands, push "Cancel" to stop further mutation of the eggs within.  Opening the microwave after a couple of shots of liquid courage, I encounter carnage my kitchen has not seen since the Great Peeps slaughter of '03. Bits of egg have flown everywhere, restrained only by the door of the appliance, I owe it a life debt that can never be repaid.
Okay, maybe not QUITE.

Cautious but undeterred, I repeat the process and set the timer for 2 minutes. While the bangs and hissing return, nothing explodes this time, I am encouraged.  Opening the microwave, all appears to be well so I carefully open the purple, kidney shaped wonder that shall change the lives of all that use it to find solidified eggs.  This is not what is supposed to happen, poached eggs are supposed to be runny and gooey and gorgeous and sexy and not the approximate texture and appearance of a golf ball.  THIS SHALL NOT STAND.  I go in once more, setting for 1:30 this time.  The microwave gamely chugs on, doing its job without drama or argument. I am encouraged by the lack of fuss or fanfare from within the purple confines of the breakfast maker, I think we've done it.  The oven finishes its work and happily lets me know it's time for some lovely poached eggs.  Or not, once again, the breakfast maker with poached egg inserts (add. $8) has made a mockery of all I've been trying to accomplish.  The yolks are again hard and unyielding while the whites are still clear and only barely cooked.  Fine, I don't even want effing poached effing eggs any more.  Stupid eggs. Stupid breakfast maker. Stupid poached egg inserts (add. $8). Stupid Tupperware(tm). Stupid HP Debbie.

By now, I'm covered with sadness and bits of egg as a lay on the floor in the fetal position while the cats happily gorge on scattered chunks of weird, rubbery orange and white material that once was innocent, unspoiled eggs.  Damn me for what I have done to the eggs, the microwave and the kitchen at large.

Unfortunately for HP Debbie, this is the moment she chose to call to hear all about my Facebook Party that wasn't a party at all.  Parties are fun and have people and fun and not Tupperware(tm).  Oh Debbie, just no.  To say she was disappointed when I told her the entire thing had slipped my mind completely, is a bit of an understatement.  She tried her damndest to keep the dream alive by offering to extend the time another week. I finally told her that another week wasn't going to make a difference as I really had no desire to continue this charade and I was little sorry about that.  I could hear HP Debbie deflating, turning back into just Debbie, her powers gone, her hold over me broken at last, I was free.  Free to reclaim the word PARTY, to bring it back to its former glory, to reestablish its identity once again.  This is my gift to the world, I have liberated the word party from this sales pitch prison and that is, perhaps, the destiny I was born to fulfill.