Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

The best thing about moving (other than the slow tedious process that is unpacking), is getting to know your new neighborhood. Living five miles from town, we have fewer neighbors than we did before, but we do live in a cluster of four or five houses along the state highway between two towns and what we lack in quantity we seem to be making up for in entertainment value.

The first night in our new house, I was sitting in the living room in front of the yet-to-be curtained picture window when I noticed a flashing light coming from across the road. It seemed to be coming from very near but not actually from inside the neighbor's house--it was like a camera flash but it came every second or so. I looked at Hubby and said, "Do you think our new neighbor is communicating with aliens?"

The next morning, all was explained when I noticed a wooden lighthouse sitting in a flower bed next to the house. But as soon as one question was answered, more arose.

The man has ponies--lots of them. Sometimes there are as many as ten or fifteen in the pasture beside his house and sometimes there are only a few and some days there aren't any to be seen. There is a tiny shedlike structure at the top of the hill and a made-from-a-kit round steel building that looks like a giant metal meatloaf, so I assume that's where the "missing" ponies are, but the weirder thing about the ponies is that even though there are so many of them there are only two color patterns--one is a rich brown with a blondish mane and tail and the other is white with chocolate brown spots.

I'm pretty sure my neighbor is cloning ponies in that shed up on the hill.

In fact, I'm so positive that this is what's going on that I no longer even call them ponies--they're clonies.

And that lighthouse? It's beaming the results of his latest cloning efforts to scientists on some other planet.

I'm pretty sure.

Monday, December 10, 2007

All The Ice Cream He Could Eat And Other Musical Commentary

We were playing cards Saturday night while listening to a mixed CD that included Nickelback's "Rock Star." Now one of my favorite lines in the song has always been "I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels..."

I mean truly, it's one of the greatest lines in any song ever--clever and funny and what better rhyme for "assholes," which, in the uncensored version, appears in the next line? I thought there was no way the line could be improved upon, until I overheard Next-To-Youngest Niece singing it Saturday night:

"I wanna be great like Elvis without the tonsils..."

It doesn't rhyme quite as well, but you gotta give her points for creativity.

In other musical news, Daughter-Only and her friend R and I were in the car when an Angels and Airwaves song came on the radio. D-O says, "I love his voice, but it's really hard to like their music when the entire band is ugly."

I'm sure they've got a place for her on the Reviews page at Rolling Stone.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Oxymorons, Emphasis On Morons

So, I missed the last day of NaBloPoMo--didn't get out of work before the library closed. And the good news is my head didn't explode.

The bad news is that we still didn't have Internet when I got home that night. Because it turns out the phone company is a big, gigantic liar too (just like the cable company)--the DSL signal that I was assured would be coming to my house was not strong enough to reach our house from their local office. I understand, I guess, that they couldn't have known that instantly in the first phone call, but I'm a little baffled as to why no one could be bothered to let me know that I wouldn't be receiving the service they had promised. When I did finally call on Monday morning, they said, "oh, yes, we tried to send the signal to your house, but you're too far out to receive it" and I said, "And why wasn't I notified of that?" She said, and I quote, "sputter, sputter, spit and mutter..." Whatever. I can't get DSL. So she says, "We do offer dial-up, would you like to sign up for that now."

Uh, no. If I'm getting crappy dial-up service then you can bet your sweet, stupid butt I'm not getting it from your company who couldn't even be bothered to call me back to tell me that all you could offer me was crappy dial-up service.

So there it is.

And the oxymoron? We got dial-up--but we got the upgraded "hi-speed dial-up."

Hi-speed dial-up.

Yeah, but we got it for $12.95/month and it was turned on the exact moment the non-moronic customer service representatives told us it would be.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

One More Lame Post From The Library...

...And then it's back to the lame posts from home--with any luck anyway. The Internet is supposed to be on at the house tomorrow, but I believe I've heard that story before.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pushing The Limits Of The Definition Of The Word Post*

This is a post, right?

*Especially since the title is actually longer than the post itself and this is also being posted by proxy--I have dictated it to poor beleagured Son-One (more academia) over the phone since the library is closed on Wednesdays. I hope the gods of NaBloPoMo appreciate my dedication.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Proudly Prostate Free Since 1968

Son-One was home over Thanksgiving break and I was a little concerned about the trip back into Buffalo on Sunday to return him to the halls of academia*--between potential traffic and potential weather, I figured there was ample opportunity for disaster and the way things have been going lately when there's a chance for disaster, disaster it will be**.

The trip went smoothly though and as Son-Two, Daughter-Only and I were making our way back onto the highway after a stop at Wendy's Drive-Thru, I said, "The traffic is so light I can eat my Frosty with a spoon!"

And from the backseat Daughter-Only says, "Did you just say you had your prostate removed?!"

*From what I've been able to discern from visits to the dorm as well as Son-One's own admissions, activity in those halls seems to consist mainly of gossip, video games and occasional surreptitious imbibing of not-quite-legal beverages. In other words, and probably not surprisingly, very little of an academic nature is actually going on in the halls of academia.

**It occurred to me as I wrote that that, really, considering the fact that we were moving somewhat under duress and that we moved a household of six people and twenty years of accumulated stuff, things have gone remarkably smoothly and really the cable/Internet issue is the only major hurdle we've faced. So, I'm a whiner.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire (Or, The Story Of How Masked Mom Was Flagged As A Lunatic By The Cable Company)

More tales of woe from the Internetless wonder. We still don't have cable or Internet at the new house and turns out we might be in a gap between two regional offices of Time Warner and unable to get service from EITHER of them. Why no one knew this until today is beyond me--and the only reason they even realized it today is because I called both offices repeatedly until I got some semblance of a straight answer and that answer wasn't even straight enough so I called everyone I know along that stretch of road that I now live on and found who has cable and where their cable is out of and now I'm waiting to hear back from one or both offices at which time I'm probably going to tell either or both of them to stuff it because I'm going to get the package through the phone company and to hell with them. Maybe.

At least I was smart enough to post from the toasty warm library instead of the soon-to-be completely abandoned old house...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blind Ambition

Daughter-Only was thisclose to winning the middle school spelling bee last year--but a teacher mispronounced/misread a word (totem--she said "tofem" and Daughter-Only was robbed. A number of other teachers who witnessed the robbery informed Daughter-Only how unfair they thought it had been. Why they didn't inform the teachers and other organizing people of the unfairness is beyond me...).

This year, she's determined to snag the win. She's practicing maniacally. And she's extremely upset that I haven't been practicing with her. She has accused me of horrible parenting for not being more interested in practicing with her.

Let's consider the evidence and you can make your own conclusions. She has asked me exactly two times to practice with her. The first time, I was actually elbow-deep in the turkey on Thanksgiving Day and the second time, I was driving the car.

I am a horrible parent, huh?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Monday Is My New Favorite Day of the Week (I Hope)

What was originally scheduled for Wednesday the 21st by the cable company has now been moved to Monday the 26th. So we should have cable/Internet access in our warm, toasty new place then. In the meantime, the gas has been turned off at the old place (where I am now) just in time for the first cold snap of the season so I'm risking frostbite to post--but frostbite is better than head explosion, right?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Too Cold To NaBlo....

Temperature outside: 29F
Temperature inside: 29F
Posting just enough to count: Priceless.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My How Times Have Changed

Many years ago, when I still had time and energy for a book group, a friend gave me a recipe for an appetizer to take to the pot luck night my book group had every September. It was extremely simple and very tasty--Uncle Ben's rice, chopped spinach and shredded Swiss cheese in fillo dough cups (in the grocery store freezer already formed, thanks very much). I was mixing the filling in a big bowl and it was all brown and green and admittedly resembled dog vomit more than anything you'd want for food. Two of the boys (Son-Two and Son-Three, I think) went by and Son-Three peeked over the edge of the bowl and said, "That's not for us to eat is it?!"

When I told him I was taking it for the book group, he said, "You must not like them very much."

Fast forward to last night, Thanksgiving Eve. Son-Three says with evident anticipation, "You are going to make those little spinach cups, aren't you?"

(Happy Thanksgiving!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Heading Exploding Heads Off At The Pass

Son-Three asked me tonight, "Are you coming into town tomorrow?" (The new house is five miles out of town, which is a huge change for kids used to living a few blocks from basically everything and everyone.)

I said, "Well, I have to at some point because I have to post for the NaBlo thingy."

"What happens if you don't post?"

"Uh, I'm not sure. Maybe my head will explode or something..."

Probably not, but I'm not taking any chances.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Seal of Approval

Youngest Niece, along with her sister, has been hanging out at my new house the past few nights. Last night, she came up to me and said, "I'm trying to think of how to say this to you. I'm not sure exactly how to ask this question but...will you invite me to live with you?"

Guess the new house passes the seven year old's inspection.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I'll Take That Bet

Bet you're all really tired of hearing about my misadventures in moving.

Bet you're not nearly as tired of hearing about it as I am of talking about it, not to mention actually doing it.

"Real"* posts soon.

*"Real" is a strictly subjective and immeasurable, intangible quality. "Real" as it's used here is intended to signify that I will return to my usual, not necessarily "real," posts soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Straddling The Here And The There

Still here. Well, still between here and there, but anyway, still kicking.

We got the majority of our really big stuff out today with some odds-and-ends left for the next couple of days. We'll be sleeping there tonight, but some of our stuff--including the computers with the Internet access--will be here at least for a few more days.

In the name of my NaBloPoMo promise, I will be posting from an empty, echoey* house until the Internet/cable is switched to the new place. Now that's dedication.

*Is too a word.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ten-Toed Sloth

I'm not known by those closest to me as a particularly energetic person largely because I'm not a particularly energetic person. I've never met a chore I couldn't delegate and, in moments of extreme laziness, I've been known to call someone in from another room to ask them to turn off the light. I've tried fighting my, um, laziness over the years but at some point I just kind of accepted it.

I hadn't realized how much everyone around me has had to accept it as well.

The other night, on the second trip to the new house, when I got out of the car and started carrying in boxes, Hubby said in a completely sweet and sincere tone, "Baby, I didn't know you were gonna help."

He was so appreciative--and surprised--and it made me realize what a true bum I actually am most of the time. I don't know if I'll have the energy to do anything about it, but awareness is the first step, right?

Friday, November 16, 2007

With Apologies To The Memory of Shari Lewis

This is the move that never ends,
It goes on and on my friends,
Some people started moving things,
Not knowin' what it was,
And they'll continue movin' 'em forever
Just because...
This is the move that never ends,
It goes on and on my friends,
Some people started moving things,
Not knowin' what it was,
And they'll continue movin' 'em forever
Just because...
This is the move that never ends,
It goes on and on my friends,
Some people started moving things,
Not knowin' what it was,
And they'll continue movin' 'em forever
Just because...
This is the move that never ends,
It goes on and on my friends,
Some people started moving things,
Not knowin' what it was,
And they'll continue movin' 'em forever
Just because...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's All About Priorities

My mind keeps running over the "moving list"--you know all those things you have to do when you move--gas, electric, cable/Internet, post office, blah, blah, blah. Somehow in the middle of all that I remembered that I needed to be sure to change my address at the library.

I thought of the library several hours before I remembered the DMV.

I'm such a sad, little book geek and I was thisclose to being a sad, little book geek with a current library card and an unupdated driver's license.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Best Defense

One of the things I really hate is going into stores that are traditionally considered part of the male domain--hardware stores, automotive parts stores. I'm not anyone's idea of a girly girl and still time after time I've been instantly treated as though I were some fainthearted, feeble-minded twit just by virtue of the fact that I'm lacking a particular appendage.

Anyway. Tonight, I had to buy a headlight bulb and I went into the store where I'd bought my last headlight bulb, right to the rack where I found it last time I was there, flipped through the make/model/year guide just to be sure I remembered the right number and just as I reached for it, the twenty-something (male) clerk yelled from the desk across the store, "Anything I can help you with?"

And I said, "No, I'm all set." in a borderline rude voice, so ready was I to be offended by his patronizing tone (even though I'm nowhere near objective enough to determine whether his tone was actually patronizing or whether I was just expecting patronizing so much that I'd have heard it in any tone).

And he shrugged (was that a sarcastic look on his face?), "I could probably find it quicker for you on the computer..." (Not noticing that I have the bulb in my hand...)

And I held the bulb up and waved it in the air a little to make sure he really saw it then walked up to the desk.

I set it down and he said, "Now don't touch the bulb part at all when you're putting it in 'cuz it's a halogen bulb." (Um, it says that right on the package as well as in the instructions in my car's owner's manual, but thank you, you big strong (dorky) man, you.)

Then he says, "Would you like to donate a dollar to St. Jude's Children's Hospital?"

And (still with the bitter bordering on rude tone), I say, "Sure why not?"

Jeez, this punk has reduced me to being flip about St. Jude's. It's pretty bad when a smug little punk can bring out the worst in you in under a minute.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea?...

Not me, but it was looking like the only option there for a while.

The source of much of my hinted-at stress for the last few months (all the way back to the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup incident and a little further) was a housing crisis. The house we've been renting for over nine years was put on the market and sold. Finding another place to live with a family as large as ours and an income as small as ours in a town as tiny as ours was not easy--and at times has seemed impossible. Things got increasingly nasty with our current landlord because we were unable to leave as quickly as she would've liked (but she was also incapable of or uneducated about doing the work of a proper eviction and relied instead on nasty phone calls and sporadic threats, which I guess I'm grateful for since it bought us some extra time).

Anyway, we're signing a lease tomorrow and will begin moving in immediately. At the moment, I'm equal parts relieved and terrified. In other words, I'm feeling pretty much normal for the first time in months.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I have been sorting boxes from my attic in an effort to prepare for a move about which I haven't yet found the strength and sanity to blog. Some of the boxes contain things from my paternal grandmother's house. My Nan was Catholic and a kleptomaniac, among many other things, not that those two things--Catholicism and kleptomania are directly related, of course.

In any case, as I'm going through the boxes that contain some of her things, both her kleptomania and her Catholicism are readily apparent. There were something like six pairs of eyeglasses in one box and Daughter-Only's mouth gaped open wider with each pair we found. I kept saying, "Kleptomaniac. I tried to tell you..." Not only were the glasses likely to have been stolen, but each case had odd things tucked into it--fingernail clippers, coupons for free sodas from the nursing home snack bar, salt and pepper and Sweet'n'Low packets that she also probably pilfered.

The Catholicism is a little more subtle--expressed mainly in rosary beads (at least one of the sets was legitimately hers--I bought it for her) and a crucifix, which hung in her bedroom for as long as I can remember. When Daughter-Only saw the crucifix, she said, "Jesus is built like Dad."

I looked at her funny--I mean what the hell other way do you look at someone who has come out with something so random and odd?

And she says, "Or, rather, Dad is built like Jesus since Jesus was here first."

That's so much better.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Crying Wolf

As someone who has gotten into the habit of publicly and pratically perpetually predicting my own impending nervous breakdown without yet producing any significant signs of the breakdown, I've become kind of fascinated by the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Sometime last week, I was watching a movie or TV show (I can't remember at all what it might have been) and one of the characters mentioned the story and the other one said, "The moral of that story is that a liar won't be believed."

And he's right--that's no doubt the intended (and universally understood) moral of that story. But I think in clinging to that idea as the story's only relevant lesson, we've lost sight of an important point: There's a less hungry wolf at the end of this story. No matter how many times the boy lied (or joked or exaggerrated--he was really playing a prank that required a little untruth, right?) about being eaten, he was still eaten in the end. So a secondary moral to the story might be "repeatedly lying about getting eaten makes you no less eaten when you finally are telling the truth."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

All The World's A Stage

Daughter-Only's a performer from way back. She once burst into song in the library--she was four and we were looking through the videos and she saw Grease and she belted out half the first verse of Hopelessly Devoted before I could subdue her. Once, when she was about ten, she did an impromptu version of the Lollipop Guild part of the Munchkinland song from Wizard of Oz by the gas pumps at the mini mart. So I'm used to spontaneous performances--especially if she has any kind of audience.

Tonight's audience was her friend PH. And the poem went like this, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if my mom made us Rice Krispies treats?"

Jeez, even her "subtle" hints have to be performance pieces.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Free Bit Of NaBloPoMo Advice

If it's after 11 p.m. in your time zone and you're feeling uninspired but have promised to post every day, the place to look for inspiration is not your own past posts. You will find a trillion typos and even more clunky turns of phrase. You will not find anything there worth posting about except the fact that there's nothing there to post about.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Conspiracy Theorist

When I got home from work today, Son-Two had a window open on the computer--a pair of shoes that he would like for volleyball, which starts soon. They were on sale for $65, which was "like half-price of what they were on any of the other sites." You know because if you're going to ask for a third pair of sneakers, it helps your case to let Mom know you comparison shopped.

A little while later, I reminded Son-Two that he had left his white hoodie in the car after Son-Three's game last night. This is his "Class of 2008" hoodie, which he wore last night for only the second time. He was jostled at the concession stand and spilled hot cocoa down the front of it. Tonight, I said, "You should get your hoodie out of the car and pre-treat that hot cocoa stain and see if we can get it out."

He went and got it, pre-treated it, started the washer. I came into the kitchen just as he closed the lid. And he said, "By the way, I know exactly why you thought of my hoodie when you did."

Always eager to have my thought processes analyzed by adolescent males, I said, "Oh?"

And he said, "Yeah, I showed you those shoes and you were sitting there thinking about how much money you've been spending on me and listing all the things in your head and you thought, 'I just bought that hoodie and he spilled hot cocoa on it and now it's sitting out in the car.'"

It's clear he thinks he's brilliant. And he is, but in this case, he's also wrong. There was nothing anywhere near that complicated going on in my head (and there very rarely is anything that complicated going on in my head)--what had reminded me of the hoodie was a detergent commercial on TV.

In other news, Son-Three's team fought the good fight, but went down 2-1 in last night's game. Son-Three was wearing a pair of cleats for which I paid $35 (on sale at Dick's Sporting Goods), soccer socks ($6) and the uniform provided by the school (blessedly free as long as he returns it), and had $10 for dinner in his soccer bag (free as a premium from a company I do surveys for) . But who's counting?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Destination: Paetec Park

Tonight's the state qualifier for Son-Three's soccer team--in Rochester's Paetec Park. I may or may not be able to post afterward (two hour drive up, two-plus hours on the field, two hours back in my current mental state--it's not looking good). Keep your fingers and toes crossed!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Outing My Inner Seventh Grader

Over the summer, I read a book called Cabin Pressure, by a very funny man named Josh Wolk. The book is subtitled: One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor. It is the true story of Wolk voluntarily spending a summer trapped in the company of adolescent boys and steeped in memories of his own summers both as camper and counselor. It's snort out loud hilarious--in the ways that seventh grade boys tend to be hilarious--in other words in crude, gross ways that should be appalling to a presumably grown woman but which I nevertheless found myself snorting out loud to.

Anyway, I recently, completely accidentally, stumbled across Wolk's blog and I can't recommend it enough. While I have yet to read a good fart joke over there (or any fart joke for that matter), there's still plenty to keep your inner seventh grader entertained, assuming you want to provide entertainment for the little miscreant.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Amusing? Disturbing? A Little of Both?

Had an older guy in the shop first thing this morning, wanting to send a corsage to a waitress at the diner up the street--her birthday's Wednesday and she'll be working 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. I asked him what kind of flowers he would like us to use and he said, "What do you suggest?"

I said, "I would probably go with a carnation, they hold up the best and she'll be running around in the heat all day."

The guy can barely contain himself, pipes up, "Did you say she's gonna be in heat? You must know something I don't know..."

It's way too early, and on a Monday no less, for this foolishness, but I can't help myself, I offer him one of our complimentary calendars, saying, "You know, that way you can keep track of when anyone might be in heat or whatever."

He was laughing too hard to talk for a second and then he said, "Hmmm, was it three times in '62 or two times in '63? Either way, what I'm trying to say is it's been a long dry spell..."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Phoning It In Four Days In?

I'm posting.

It's not much but that's what I've got today.

It counts, right?

And I promise to do a better job tomorrow.

Maybe promise is too strong a word...

(Hey, it's got a beginning, middle and an end--they're just all really close together.)

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Son-Three's soccer team won their Sectional Title tonight.

Next up: State Qualifiers.

Too tired and hungover (hangover of the spectator variety--not the alcoholic one--spectator hangover is too a real thing!) to write more.

Friday, November 02, 2007

If It's November, It Must Be NaBlo...

I'm one of those people who has an extraordinarily hard time learning from my mistakes--not that last year's National Blog Posting Month felt like a mistake in the end, but it sure felt like a mistake some of those nights at 11:48 as I sat with my fingers poised impotently over the keyboard without a single remotely blog-worthy thought in my head.

So here we go, ringing in the new NaBlo with a confession: I almost didn't sign up this year because at the moment, I'm neck-deep in crap and the last thing I need is some petty, silly distraction...then it hit me--a silly, petty distraction might be just the thing that gets me through.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Perfect Post For October

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, my mother frequently told me that all she and my father had ever wanted was for their children to be happy*. I didn't think it was as simple as that even then, but especially now, after two decades (!) of parenting, I'm pretty sure it's a lot more complicated than that. Of course, we want our children to be happy children and grow into happy adults, but wouldn't it be nice if they could be happy while only making choices that reflect well upon their parents?

Regular readers of this blog will have no trouble understanding why I chose "Incident" posted by Gretchen at Lifenut as my Perfect Post for October. Irregular readers can read this post for a little insight into why I identified so closely with Gretchen's doubts and discomfort after one of her children got in some trouble at school.

So for having the courage to share messy emotions, here's my button:
The Original Perfect Post Awards - Oct

And, Gretchen, it's all yours.See other winners at Petroville and Suburban Turmoil.

*The context of my mother's repeated assurances was the turmoil of my late high school and early marriage years during which my parents' disapproval, real and imagined, spoken and unspoken, subtle and not-so, was a source of constant angst for me. Of course, hindsight and two decades (!) of parenting have given me insight not only into my parents' point of view but also into my own reaction to their disapproval. It's likely that my own (subconsciuos) doubts about the choices I was making contributed to my feeling that their disapproval was constant and oppressive.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


When I was in early high school or late middle school, we had an assembly in the gym featuring some guy talking about, I guess, science. I actually don't remember the stated purpose of the assembly, but I do remember that the guy had liquid nitrogen, into which he dipped a rose and one of those cheap foam rubber balls. He tapped the frozen rose against a table and it shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. He dropped the ball on the floor, as if to bounce it, and it also shattered, the pieces skittering across the gym floor. The liquid nitrogen was so cold it changed the rose and the ball from something soft and pliable to something brittle and easily shattered.

I haven't been exposed to liquid nitrogen, but I have been exposed to tremendous stress these last few months and I have come to a point where I feel it in every inch of my body, not merely in my head and heart where stress usually lives. I feel stiff and inflexible at a cellular level. I feel the slightest tap, physical or emotional, could break me into a million teeny pieces, pieces sharp enough to cut those around me and do lasting damage.

What I keep wondering, though, is when the break comes, will the pieces of me make that same almost musical tinkling sound the rose made as it shattered all those years ago?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Would This Be A Curveball Or A...Spitball?

Last night, Nomi, our beagle/German shepherd/dork mixed breed dog was climbing all over me with a desperate need to lick me. This despite the fact that I don't approve of the dogs licking me--it's icky. There are few things I'm squeamish about but dog spit is one of them.

Now the dogs, at one and a half years of age, should be well acquainted with the fact that I don't let them lick me, but both of them will occasionally lose their minds with the powerful need to lick me. My response is to hold their heads back while trying to give them a consolation ear-scratch. Last night, Nomi was having a harder than usual time being distracted from the licking and I said to Daughter-Only who was passing through the room, "I've never let them lick me, they know I don't let them lick me and still they try to lick me! I just don't understand it."

And Daughter-Only goes (in a cutesy-wootsie voice), "She wuvs you! She just wants you to know how much she wuvs you!"

And I say, "I'm not sure why dogs can't express affection without spit."

And Daughter-Only says, "Humans can't express affection without spit."*

She was just a teeny bit too pleased with herself.

*Despite Daughter-Only's amusing assertion, there are, of course, ways of expressing human affection that don't involve spit. For instance, one could continue providing food and shelter to a house full of smartasses. That would be very affectionate...and non-spitty.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Guess This Makes Me "Old Yeller"

Other Kid is on a roll lately--and don't worry, this one doesn't fall into the poopcentric conversation category. We were at the grocery store and he was a little wound up--running in the aisles and scanning his bubblegum while the cashier was distracted with the customer in front of us (it rang up twice--neato--and had to be voided off) and I spoke to him a little more sharply than I usually do, but didn't raise my voice. Even if I were the type prone to raising my voice at other people's children, I would definitely not do it in the grocery store. (Now raising my voice at my own kids, in or out of the grocery store, is a whole other matter...)

Back at the car, I was leaning over him trying to get his seatbelt hooked around his booster seat and he said, "You're squishing me." in this agonized voice.

I poked him on the forehead and said, "I never knew you were such a whiner."

Without hesitation, he poked my forehead right back and said, "I never knew you were such a yeller."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Perfect Post For September: Default Settings

You know that thing that happens when your life is busy and you're trying to do too much for too many with too few resources? You kick into auto pilot, fall back on habit or reflex and jump from one moment to the next without much conscious thought. It can be dangerous in all kinds of ways--you can look up one day and realize you have a life wholly unrelated to the one you set out to have. It can also--and I speak from a great deal of experience here--be hazardous to your waistline not to mention your health.

Pasta Queen is a blogger who has lost a great deal of weight and has about 20 pounds to go to reach her goal weight. Along the way, she's learned that it's not only a matter of eating less and moving more but of changing your entire attitude--of being aware of how established habits and thought (or non-thought) patterns affect your life. She writes about these fall-back positions as they relate to a healthy lifestyle in her post "Default Setting". But as with any brilliant observation, "default settings" can be applied to more than one aspect of life.

So, for reminding us all to check those checked boxes to see if we should uncheck them, here's my button:

The Original Perfect Post Awards – Sept ‘07

And, Pasta Queen, it's all yours!

See other winners at Petroville and Suburban Turmoil, where the awards are hosted every month.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

'Cuz That's The Kind of Geeks We Are...

Sunday afternoon, Daughter-Only, Son-Two, Hubby and I were playing a game of Carroms. The game, for the uninitiated (which is practically everyone I've ever met--lots of people have seen the board--it's a pretty common prop in TV shows, etc--but no one I've ever met has played the game), involves shooting rings into pockets on a board that looks like this:

I've never actually done more than browse the rule book that comes with the board since my grandfather taught me to play before I was old enough to remember being taught--we play by his rules, which are no doubt "house" rules and would vary at least slightly from the rules other people use (people who, for instance, read and follow the rule book).

However, in no version of the game could I imagine a dictionary being consulted. Until Sunday that is--when we did in fact have to stop midgame to consult a dictionary to settle a debate that threatened to rage out of control.

Daughter-Only had tied her "shooter" on to the hood string of her hoodie sweatshirt and couldn't figure out where it was. Hubby pointed it out and rolled his eyes saying, "I was really hoping that no daughter of mine would turn out to be a bimbo."

I said that I thought the qualifications for bimbohood involved more than mere airheadedness and I thought Daughter-Only was pretty safe in the "other areas" of bimbohood, at least for the moment.

Hubby raised an eyebrow (he's very good at the one eyebrow raising thing, but I think he should be careful because one of his eyebrows is going to wear out way sooner than the other), not understanding what I was getting at so I said, "Usually when someone uses the word 'bimbo,' they're talking about more than just a woman's brains. Most people mean someone dippy and usually big-busted and someone who's a little promiscuous."

There ensued a heated discussion about whether sluttiness was actually a common connotation of the word "bimbo." Finally, I looked at Daughter-Only and said, "Grab the dictionary."

Daughter-Only read aloud for everyone's benefit: "bimbo: informal, derogatory an attractive but empty-headed young woman, esp. one perceived as a willing sex object."



Um, no, because, according to Hubby "especially doesn't mean exclusively."

No, especially means especially--which means that more people than not are implying (and understanding) a side of sleaziness with the order of airheadedness that comes with being a bimbo.

I gave up and just concentrated on whipping his butt on the Carrom board.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And, While You're At It, How Many Licks Does It Take To Get To The Tootsie Roll Center Of A Tootsie Pop?

Over the weekend, the tattered remnants of my seventh grade yearbook surfaced, much to the amusement of Daughter-Only and Oldest Niece, daughter of Little Sister.

The girls were baffled by the clothing "styles" (or lack thereof) and the last names--there was a high concentration of German-sounding names like Shmeckenbecker and Fenstermacher, names that make you spit a little if you're saying them right. They were reading through different names and Oldest Niece said, "T. Fairchild.*"

I said, "Let me tell you a little something about 'T. Fairchild.' 'T. Fairchild' rode our bus and she sold your mother's phone number to some boys who wanted it."

Oldest Niece's eyes widened and her mouth even dropped open a little. Was Oldest Niece appalled by this betrayal of her mother's friendship? Was she horrified that anyone could stoop that low? Not exactly.

"Wow...How many boys paid for my mother's phone number?"

Alas, I was unable to remember the exact details of the financial transactions carried out by T. Fairchild. I vaguely remember something about 80 cents, but did T. Fairchild charge one boy 80 cents? Or did she charge two boys 40 cents? Hell, maybe she charged 8 boys 10 cents...

Little Sister, if you're reading this, please tell us, how many boys did pay for your phone number? The world--and your 15-year-old daughter--want to know.

*"T. Fairchild" is not an attempt to protect the identity of the phone-number-selling guilty party in this story. It is the way the names were actually listed in the yearbook and that's how we referred to her during the conversation on Saturday. T. Fairchild's first name is Teresa--I'd sell you her phone number, too, if I had it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Huh? (New and, If Not Improved, At Least Longer and More Pointless...)

While going through the basket of clean laundry that sits at the end of our bed (in eternal (but eternally unfulfilled) optimism that it might actually be put away), Hubby accuses, "You used one of my socks out of context!"

This is what I'm up against.

[Update:] This is the way my brain works--after Hubby made that comment on Friday morning, my brain kept chasing its own tail about what the real "context" of a sock was. Hubby meant that I had used one of his socks with a sock from a different pair, thereby leaving an unmated sock in the basket.

(It is way more important to one of us than the other that our socks be mated. I've always lived by Steven Wright's philosophy in the sock department--he doesn't go by color, he goes by thickness except in my case, since 98% of the socks in our house are white and color isn't an issue, I don't go by style, length,ownership, or even thickness, but by availability, which means I'm often wearing a girl's ankle sock that's been widowed in a freak accident involving teething puppies and a men's crew sock with a stretched out top that flops against my calf like a partially shed skin.

I do try to avoid Hubby's socks and I do try to go for everyone else's socks that are worn out or already mismatched--in other words I try to go for the socks that have been abandoned and rejected by the rest of the family (and thus less likely to be missed, or in Hubby's case desperately pined for). If I am reduced for whatever reason (pick one: a) laziness, b) disorganization, c) desperation, and d) extreme tardiness brought on by all of the above) to grabbing Hubby's socks, I am always, always careful to take a matched set both because I know it ruins his whole day to have a single in a basketful of pairs and because if I take a pair, I am way less likely to be "caught" and have to listen to him rant about "people" (by which he means me) "stealing" (by which he means borrowing--no he probably does mean stealing, but really it's just borrowing) his socks (by which he means his socks).

What happens, though, is that regardless of my stealthy, pairs-only sock stealing, and regardless of whether I've actually stolen any of his socks or not, I still have to listen to him rant about missing socks, which he's always convinced have been stolen, not merely misplaced in the dryer or wherever it is they disappear to by the millions in "normal" (by which I mean not my own) households. Despite his deep-seated conviction, I had not stolen/borrowed a single (or pair of) sock(s) in several weeks prior to the morning in question. And speaking of the morning in question, let's close these parentheses and get on with the brain-chasing-tail portion of our post.)

I'm not sure what you would call using a sock without its mate (On one of its trips around the futile tail chase, my brain observed that socks--especially those purchased in multipacks--are actually polygamists and can be mated with any other sock from their pack as well as with any other sock from any other pack of the same style/brand/size. Socks are the Casanovas of the clothing world, but again, I've wandered from the original point which was:) I'm not sure what you would call using a sock without (one of) its mate(s)--mismatching, misusing, misappropriating or (to use some letter of the alphabet other than "m") stealing a single, but whatever you call it, I'm pretty sure that using a sock "out of context" must mean something entirely different than merely pairing it with the "wrong" sock. (Right or wrong sock is a gray area if you ask me and not merely because most of the once white socks that comprise 98% of our household's sock inventory have been overworn and underwashed to varying shades of that color.)

To the extent that a sock (or socks, though for the purposes of our argument, it seems more accurate to deal with the sock on an individual basis) can be said to have a context, I'm pretty sure putting it on a foot is precisely the context in which a sock belongs. Now, if you were to use the sock, say, as a mitten, that might be a little out of context. And if you were to mix a martini (shaken or stirred) in a sock--an enterprise that would no doubt fail in a spectacular fashion, particularly if you were using one of our very off-white socks--that would be using a sock extremely out of context.

When it comes to the expression "Put a sock in it." we are once again in a gray area. Is this proper sock context or not? I'm not sure, why don't I try it and find out?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I Don't Really Miss The Poopcentric Conversations

Recent events have had me yearning for the simpler (in my memory at least) times, when the kids were younger and the biggest crisis we seemed to face was what to tell them about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. An evening spent one-on-one with Other Kid, who's about to turn six (SIX!!!!) reminded me that those long lost days had some pitfalls of their own.

For one thing, he requires constant entertaining--even though tonight my contribution consisted mainly of slouching back on the couch while he orchestrated a Beanie Baby attack on my head, it seemed endless and exhausting. For another, the conversation often leaves much to be desired.

At one point, trying to distract him from beating me in the face with a stuffed (but surprisingly firm) anteater, I said, "Hey, I heard you went to Ponderosa for dinner."

His response--which he gave all in one very long breath--was, "Oh yeah, and I ate everything they had there, they have nothing left, ha ha, tricked ya', I couldn't really do that, my stomach isn't big enough, but for such a small butt crack, I sure can poop big turds."

Yeah, I'm not missing those days so much anymore.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Perfect Post for August: Perspective

As I've hinted, implied and outright whined about here lately, I have been in the middle of one crisis after another for what feels like months. Even in the midst of all the blubbering, I try to tell myself that lots and lots of people have it way worse than me and this is absolutely true.

Perhaps it is the petulant child in me that doesn't find much comfort in that thought.

In any case, when I found 30 Days Is Just 1,440 Back-to-Back Episodes of DragonTales over at Looky, Daddy, I couldn't help thinking that the Universe was trying to send me a message that it's tried to send me a bazzillion times before. Everything's relative.

So, for the friendly, timely and entertaining reminder, here's my button:

Perfect Post Award for August 2007

And, The Dad, it's all yours!

See other winners at Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two Milestones In One Week--Almost More Than One Mom Can Stand

A few weeks ago, while reading the short story collection The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass, I came across a passage in the short story "Goats" that seemed directed specifically (and maybe even a little eerily) at me:

"I've read recently that scientists have measured the brains of adolescent boys and have determined that there is a period of transformation in which the ridges of the brain swell and then flatten out, becoming smoother, like mere rolling hills, rather than the deep ravines and canyons of the highly intelligent, and that during this physiological metamorphosis it is for the boys as if they have received some debilitating injury, some blow to the head, so that,neurologically speaking, they glide, or perhaps stumble, through the world as if in a borderline coma.

Simple commands, much less reason and rules of consequence, are beyond their ken..."

Though Mr. Bass was writing fiction, I know this to be a fact. Not because I Googled it (although I did because that's the kind of geeky girl I am), but because I've spent the last seven years with one, then two, then lord help me, three teenage boys. I know without a doubt that at some point something goes horribly (and, let's hope, temporarily) afoul inside their brains.

Son-Three was arrested last week, two days before Son-One was dropped off for college. And you thought he was too busy with "Bible study" to get into any real trouble.*

Son-Three had some friends over--they had been at soccer practice together earlier in the evening and then "walked around" together for a little while before ending up in the tent in our backyard. I looked out before I went to bed at eleven and I could see five distinct teenage boy shadows and figured we were good--after all, we'd been good every other night this summer. There's a TV out there and a Playstation, a boom box (or whatever they're called now) and a few old chairs. It's essentially a soft-sided guest house.

Anyway, they were out there--Son-Three and four of his friends: G, C, M and M's foreign exchange student, three days off the plane from Brazil. I went to bed. And was awakened at 3:30 by the local police. Son-Three and one of his friends had been stopped driving the flower delivery van. (The police officer said, "We called Cranky Boss Lady, and she was not aware that they had the van." You think? Um, Son-Three doesn't have a license and it was 3:30 in the morning--were you thinking I thought she gave them permission to drive the vehicle? I don't mean to mock law enforcement, but--okay, maybe just a little, from a respectful and anonymous distance.)

Apparently, the five boys were out there in the tent and S, the Brazilian foreign exchange student, was anxious to meet some "American girls." (In instant messages before he came to the States, S told Son-Three that he had had a girlfriend in Brazil but that he broke up with her so he could "do single in the US.") The only American girl available at 2-something a.m. was NF, of Bible study fame, who lives a long, dark four miles from our house and who happened to have an also available friend staying over that night.

Somehow--and I'm not sure exactly how and the reason I'm not sure exactly how is that asking them how it happened and what they were thinking when they did it seemed the ultimate exercise in futility because was there any answer they could give me that would even approach normal human logic? so I didn't ask--the boys came to the conclusion that the best way to get the girls to our house was to take my shop keys and get the shop van.

I assume the shop van was preferable to the car in our driveway because a) it's an automatic and our car is an aging and temperamental manual and b) the van would be much less likely to be missed during this escapade than would our car. (Son-Three may be an idiot with a (temporarily) unridged brain, but he's an idiot that realized he has two parents with insomnia and three nocturnal (especially during the summer) siblings who would certainly wonder where the car had gone.)

So, leaving the other four boys in the tent, M and Son-Three walked to the flower shop where they used my key to get in to the shop to get the van key. Son-Three had the presence of mind to lock the shop behind him. He did not, however, have the presence of mind to turn on the headlights.

By the time he realized that not only were his headlights not on, he had no idea how to turn them on, a police car was coming around the bend from the opposite direction. Full-on panic must've set in at that moment and Son-Three was pushing, pulling, turning and jiggling every button, knob, and dial within his reach, all to no avail**. He had the windshield wipers waving (front and back), the radio blaring, the A/C blasting and he'd probably turned the overdrive on and off six or seven times. They were pulled over and taken to the police station. After an hour and a half of questioning, they were released to their exhausted parents.

Cranky Boss Lady, in an unprecendentedly uncranky move, declined to press charges so the boys were only charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, which is a misdemeanor but since neither of them has ever been in any kind of trouble before, it's likely to be dismissed as long as neither of them gets into any additional trouble in the next six months.

Here's hoping this etched some deep ridges into their brains and not just some new lines on their parents' foreheads***.

*Yes, I know, and more importantly, so does he that "Bible study," especially advanced, unprotected "Bible study," has its own share of potentially very real "real trouble."

**The light switch is on the dash to the left of the steering wheel. Difficult to find under normal circumstances and, I would imagine, much more so when you're busy crapping your pants at the sight of an oncoming police car.

***The jury's still out on the new ridges, but it does appear as though Son-Three has mono (he's being tested in the morning), which I can't help seeing as a little viral karma.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thisclose To Speechless

The countdown is on.

Of course, in some ways the countdown has been on for nineteen years or so, but now we're really coming into the final days of The Countdown.

Son-One leaves for college on Friday.

This Friday.

It doesn't seem really possible to me since I just dropped him off for kindergarten a week or so ago. I know all those "my how time flies" sentiments are cliche, but I believe they're cliches for a reason...they're universal emotions--and they kick you in the gut, no matter how prepared you are, no matter how many people you know who've been kicked in the gut before you.

You can see it coming but you can't get out of the way.

Friday, August 17, 2007

They've Reserved The Deluxe Suite In Hell For Him...

No, not Dick Cheney, my sixteen-year-old son.

We were in line at the grocery store the other night and the woman three people in front of us said hi to Son-Three. I didn't recognize her so I gave him the "who's that" look and he said, "That's NF's mom."

NF is a girl he sometimes hangs out with, for lack of a better word. She's one of the girls Daughter-Only refers to as one of Son-Three's "four or five girlfriends," not quite grasping the subtle (and somewhat sleazy) distinction that while you definitely can make out with your girlfriend, not everyone you make out with is your girlfriend. Yes, I fear my youngest son has become something of a player, a boy-slut, but that's a post for another time...

Back at the grocery store, Son-Three chuckled to himself--a somewhat frightening sound, I don't mind saying--and launched into this story: "I was up at [a friend's house who lives near NF] and wanted NF to come over, but it was 11 o'clock and her mom wasn't that excited about it so I said [here his voice switches into his little white boy version of a ghetto player voice], 'Put Wanda* on the phone.' Then I told her I didn't understand why she didn't want NF to come over for Bible study."

I gasped and used all three of his names--with an exclamation point--right there in the checkout lane.

Now barely able to speak for laughing so hard at his own cleverness, he continued, "So Wanda says [here he switches to his middle-aged mother voice, laced with sarcasm and snootiness], 'Oh, and what Bible verses will you be studying this evening?' And I grabbed the Bible off the bookshelf and read her something from Corinthians."

I was appalled.

And, okay, maybe a little tiny bit proud, too.

*Not her real name. And while we're on the subject of "Wanda," she clearly--judging from the smiles she kept shooting our way--found Son-Three quite charming. I keep telling him, "With great power, comes great responsibility." It doesn't seem to be sinking in yet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

1-800-Frivolous Lawsuit

So, there's this guy who sends his girlfriend flowers through the online flower ordering service 1-800-Flowers. And the company sends a thank you for the order to his house, where it is intercepted by his wife, who naturally curious, calls the company and receives all the details of the order, including the card message ("Just wanted to say that I love you and you mean the world to me."). And now of course, the guy is suing for a million dollars or something...

A few other facts: the couple were already in ("amicable" according to his lawyer) divorce proceedings--this revelation has made things considerably less amicable, but the girlfriend/flower thing is not the root cause of the divorce. And the guy claims that he asked that the order be kept private and was assured that the company honors requests not to discuss orders with "third parties."

My first reaction--mostly a wife reaction--is that the guy is a weasel, not just for cheating, but also for not having the balls to accept his just desserts (apparently the difference between what the wife had been willing to settle for and what she's asking for now is $300,000--so it is quite a plate of dessert). And, perhaps worse yet, for filing a lawsuit that has brought national attention to his idiocy--and no doubt additional embarassment and pain to his wife. (They were already getting a divorce, I know, but if you think this whole thing isn't an additional kick in the gut, you would be so wrong.)

My second reaction--as a florist who has been on the receiving end of more than one curious wife phone call--is fascination with the subject. Cranky Boss Lady and I have often wondered about florist-client confidentiality and what we owe and to whom. We have mostly let conscience and common sense be our guide--a wife whose name is also on the credit card account the flowers were charged to can have any information she wants. With everyone else, we proceed with caution. But then, we don't promise anything in the privacy department either--as 1-800-Flowers apparently did.

Which brings me--and not a moment too soon--to the real point of this post. Even though I think the guy behind the suit is a weasel (among other less family-friendly words), I'm pretty sure he's telling the truth about 1-800-Flowers essentially promising something (privacy) and then not delivering...because 1-800-Flowers is one of the most disorganized, unprofessionally run companies I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with.

The way the service works is that they offer a variety of products, some of which I believe are shipped directly from their own warehouses and the remainder of which are ordered through local florists through a "wire service" (like FTD or Teleflora). The wire service collects the money from 1-800-Flowers, takes a percentage and pays the rest to the filling florist.

My first problem with the service is that partly because you're dealing with not one, but two middlemen, you're getting (0ver)charged enough to be sure all three parties get their "cut." We have heard cases where a customer has paid as much as double what we would've charged for the same arrangement if they had called us directly--and even when the difference is not so drastic it's always ten or fifteen dollars. Now if you go into it knowing you're being overcharged and you feel that the extra "convenience" is worth the extra money, then good for you, but I feel like maybe a lot of people don't really realize how much extra they're really paying for something that in the end (witness Weasel Guy) may not be as convenient as you'd hoped.

My second problem is from the florist's point of view. We repeatedly get orders from this company that are for towns we do not serve. Without getting too much into the intricacies (too late, I know) of the flower business, the wire service we deal with has a directory of florists and which towns they serve. Despite the fact that 1-800-Flowers has access to the directory, they send us orders for towns 50 or 60 miles from our shop--towns which, needless to say, we aren't listed as serving. These orders are received over a computer system and then we are required to refuse the orders over the same system, which takes a few minutes max--no big deal except, say, at Mother's Day when there aren't many minutes to spare--especially for orders we're not actually going to fill (and therefore we won't actually be paid for) and then add to that the fact that we get the same exact order five or six times in an afternoon, even after repeatedly refusing it.

Then, just when you feel your only option is to bash the computer screen with a sledgehammer or your own head, the order stops coming over the system...because they're going to start calling the order to you sometimes four or five times in an hour--even though you've repeatedly told them you don't go to that town. My guess is that these little people in their cubicles don't want to be the one who has to contact the customer to let them know their order can't be filled so they kick it back into the system without noting the previous refusal.

This is just the tip of the 1-800-Flowers iceberg and I realize I've probably lost all but the most bored* of my readers, but anyone who's still out there, don't you think I have way more of a case against 1-800-Flowers than Weasel Man?

*And if you weren't bored before, you sure as hell are now.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Oscar De La Hoya!

Something is very wrong with my brain, I just thought you all should know.

All night, I kept chasing the name Oscar De La Hoya round and round in my brain. I would wake up from a deep sleep with my first conscious thought being "Oscar De La Hoya."

Sometimes it was a question: "Oscar De La Hoya?"

Sometimes it was an exclamation: "Holy Oscar De La Hoya!!!"

Sometimes it was a simple declarative statement: "And then, Oscar De La Hoya."

For one memorable and seemingly interminable stretch between 4:17 and 5:02 or so, I engaged my brain in a long and circular debate about whether fixating on the name Oscar De La Hoya was somehow racist. Not surprisingly, considering the time and my sorry, sorry state of mind, I came to no conclusion.

If there's help out there, please send it soon.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Perfect Post For July: Do You Sense a Theme?

It should come as no surprise (after recent posts involving my getting teary-eyed over peanut butter cups and explaining to the Universe what an unselfish, level-headed lottery winner I would be) that this summer has been a bit overwhelming for me and some of those closest to me. There are a number of icky things going on, some of which I will likely elaborate on soon, and some of which require major decision making.

Decision making is not my strong suit. I've noticed especially in the past ten years or so, that I spend a lot more time reacting to things around me rather than acting to take any control of the things around me. Part of what holds me back is the nagging voice of self-doubt.

Yes, my self-doubt has a voice--a grating, whiny voice whose every sentence starts with "But..."

I thought I was a little strange, hearing voices and all, but then I found "My Inner Critic" over at The Silent K. Krista is well-acquainted with her inner critic--to the point of knowing her critic's desperate need for a pedicure. After reading her post, I realized I'm not alone in all that toxic self-doubt. I am, in fact, in some pretty good company.

So, for some good advice for putting that inner critic in her petty little place, here's my button:

Original Perfect Post Awards – July 2007

And Krista, it's all yours.

(For other winners see Suburban Turmoil or Petroville.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pay No Attention To The Tiny Beads of Blood Popping Out On My Forehead...

I often talk about how crazy my job makes me, but the truth is my job, by itself, is practically a cakewalk--I do paperwork, make deliveries, do some flower arranging, nothing too challenging but not too boring either. What really makes me crazy (beads-of-blood-popping-out-on-my-forehead-frustrated-crazy) is Cranky Boss Lady.

As the observant among you are no doubt able to discern from her name, she's cranky quite a lot of the time, but I've come to expect it and I'm usually able to adjust for it so it's actually less of a problem than the other stuff. Stuff like the "conversation" we had today about potstickers...

For lunch, she brought a bag of frozen potstickers from home and was talking about where potstickers "come from" (you know, other than from her freezer). She said, "Aren't they Korean or something?"

And I said, "I have no idea. I do know they're on the buffet at the Chinese restaurant."

"Yeah, but I don't think they're Chinese. I think they might be Vietnamese or Korean or something."

Again, not being an expert on Asian cuisine, let alone on potstickers specifically, which I've never even tried before today because at the Chinese buffet they're sitting there looking sort of larval and not at all tempting, not something I'd want to put in my mouth or study academically, I said, "I really have no idea--all I know is they're on the buffet. It's entirely possible that more than one country makes potstickers."

"I know, but I just don't think they're Chinese. 'Potstickers' just doesn't sound Chinese."

Duh. How do you have a conversation with someone who thinks the English word "potsticker" sounds more Korean than Chinese?

The saddest part of all--and I would only admit this to you, my Internet friends--is that I came straight in the door from work and Googled "potstickers," about which I'd like to remind you, I don't give one small crap, and what I got was repeated mentions of China (including a column about Chinese-American author Amy Tan's family tradition of making potstickers on the anniversary of her mother's death). In fact, "potstickers" are also called "Chinese dumplings."

A further frightening truth: This entire post is an attempt by me to distract myself from my urgent need to call Cranky Boss Lady at home to tell her that "potstickers" might not sound Chinese but they are, in fact, Chinese. I won't let myself call because calling and saying "I told you so" especially when I didn't actually tell her at all (I repeatedly said I didn't know), is so something she would do.

Which brings me to the real crux of the problem here--I guess it's not really Cranky Boss Lady who's the problem, it's the horrifying things she brings out in my personality that frustrate and, frankly, terrify me.

(Tune in next time when we discuss why (according to the wise and wonderful CBL), salmon is "man fish.")

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's Like Winning The Lottery...Sort Of, But With Less Money and More Medication

Last week, Daughter-Only woke up with a very sore throat and some stomach, um, disturbances. Worried about strep, I called to see if she could be squeezed into the doctor's office. They said they could fit her in if we came right away, so I dropped everything at work (not that there was much to drop, summer being a slow time in the flower business) and, an hour and a half later, we emerged from the doctor's office with a diagnosis of Coxsackie virus, commonly referred to as "the summer virus," which the doctor helpfully informed us he had just recovered from. He recommended zinc lozenges for the throat pain and Pepto for the other stuff.

So Daughter-Only suffers nobly for several days--her nose is stuffed up and her throat is froggy and mostly all she wants to do is lie around on the couch (which is not all that easy to distinguish from the regular lying on of the couch that goes on from time to time). But Saturday morning, she woke up and her voice was almost completely gone. From her spot on the couch she croak-whispered, "Mom! Mom! I can't talk."

I said, "Okay." and she said it again...and again...and again*, each time a little more urgently. Finally, I said, "I don't know what you expect me to do about it, you know, other than jumping for joy."

For the record, this is not the proper response to your daughter's distress at being unable to speak. But, in my defense, the girl does talk a lot** and for the past few days she's been stuck at home with no viable outlet for all that talking except for me and her other family members. All the other members are male so basically it's been me and me fielding the yammering.

Speaking of the "men" of the house--especially the adolescent ones. A bit of advice? If someone in your house comes down with Coxsackie virus and you happen to also share that house with teenaged boys, don't, whatever you do, let the name of that virus slip. Because while the possible variations on the word Coxsackie aren't exactly endless***, they are endlessly amusing to said boys and tediously annoying to everyone else.

*For someone who couldn't talk, she was certainly able to talk a lot about not being able to talk.

**Yes, before you volunteer to help me figure out where that chattering might originate, I do know exactly where she gets it from. Thanks.

***In fact, they seem to be limited to Coxsuckie, Coxsucker, and Coxsucking and one or two unsuccessful attempts to work the "sack" angle.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Scheduling Conflict

Three or four days ago, Son-Two says to me, "Mr. C (the volleyball coach) wants me to play in a tournament on Saturday. Do you think I should?"

Confused, I said, "Sure, why not?"

In a voice saturated with duh, he said, "Mom, the last Harry Potter book comes out Saturday!"

*PS--Do you have any idea how much I love the fact that my 6'2" seventeen-year-old badass of a son is so excited about the release of a book?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One Of Those Women

There's a guy who comes into the shop every few weeks--he's one of our advertising representatives so, technically, he has a legitimate business reason for being there, but he always ends up staying longer than is strictly necessary and often stops when there's no real business to be done. He will sit on the futon in our office and pour his heart out, mostly completely unprovoked. I consider him one of the Shop Groupies, even though he would no doubt be appalled by that designation.

He's been married for seven years and been with his wife even longer than that--double digits, I think. They have a daughter who will soon be turning four. For the longest time, his wife's main complaint about him has been that he doesn't do enough around the house and his main complaint about her has been that whatever he does do, she criticizes him for.

Especially when their daughter was an infant, his wife was hypercritical--she would literally count the stack of diapers before she left him alone with the baby and then count them when she got home to be sure he'd changed the baby "often enough." (The fact that the kid didn't develop a rash and/or wasn't sitting in a soggy diaper when Mom got home was apparently not proof enough.) She objected to the way he burped the baby, to how he wrapped a blanket around her, to which direction he wiped her butt in. It was completely insane and made this guy even less motivated to help. I mean, let's see, I can help and have every move I make criticized or I can save the energy, not help, and be criticized anyway. Pretty soon, not helping is just the only logical choice: it conserves energy.

Anyway, I listened sympathetically to this guy's plight (and, living in a small town, I also heard (through a mutual friend) his wife's side of the story, "He never does anything to help out...") and the whole time thought to myself, maybe a little smugly, "Jeez, at least I'm not one of those women, who complain about every little thing when their husbands are only trying to help."

And I wasn't. Until I was.

Hubby makes tuna salad without draining the tuna. Hubby browns ground beef in the microwave. Hubby doubles the butter in the packaged rice recipe (his response when I asked him if he'd followed the package directions? "No, I doubled the butter, but I decreased the water to make up for it."). Hubby repeatedly purchases the exact opposite type of toilet paper that I buy. Hubby was just trying to help...does that make these errors any easier to overlook?

I now understand completely how those women end up that way. They marry men who lack the domestic common sense gene.*

*Hall of Fame lack of common sense: I've got a friend who was so proud and grateful for the way her husband helped out with their infant son until...she realized he was wiping the baby's face not with the sensitive skin baby wipes but with the bleach wipes she kept for wiping down the counter.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Perfect Post For June: My Own Worst Enemy

Working as I do with the woman who is destined to win the gold if cutting off your nose to spite your own face ever becomes an Olympic sport, I've given a lot of thought to the expression, "She's her own worst enemy." And, mostly, what I've thought is that we're all pretty much our own worst enemy. For myself and so very many of the people I know, self-sabotage is written in pen on our daily agendas--looking when we should be leaping, leaping when we should be looking and a thousand variations on that theme. What holds most of us back, it sometimes seems to me is our own damn selves. If I do have an enemy in my life worse than myself, please don't ever let me meet him, her or it in a dark alley or even on a brightly lit street.

Somehow, after reading "Probably some people would just say stubborn..." I know that Lori over at Superfantastic knows how I feel. Not only did I laugh out loud several times while reading the post, I walked away with a new motto: "Present Me loves nothing better than screwing over Future Me."

So for your knack for being your own worst enemy (not to mention the ability to tell funny stories about it), here's my button:

June 2007 Perfect Post Awards

And, Lori, it's all yours!

Check out other winners at Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Deeper Than He Looks

My brother, often referred to here and elsewhere as Baby Brother despite his inching ever further into his thirties, is the youngest of my siblings and the only boy. He was also born nearly two months premature and was always small for his age. None of these things lent themselves to being taken terribly seriously--especially by his older sisters. We babied him, of course we did, it could hardly be helped--and in some ways we still do.

We may have created a monster--not just in him but also in ourselves. We consistently expect less of him than he's probably capable of giving and, in return, he gives less than he's capable of giving. He's the go-to guy for a good time--all his nieces and nephews will tell you so, but you don't get the feeling that he spends a whole lot of time contemplating the meaning of life.

Every once in a while, though, I get a glimpse of the deeper, more philosophical side of Baby Brother and I realize that he too struggles with the issues that try men's souls.

On a recent day trip, he came out of a convenience store bathroom and offered this observation: "You know, piss on a public toilet seat* is really one of the great dilemmas in life. You don't want to wipe it off, because it means touching someone else's pee, even indirectly, but you also don't want to leave it there and let the next person in line think you can't hit the bowl."

*"Piss on a public toilet seat" is the funniest phrase isn't it? It could be a directive, a milder form of F- You, or, as it's intended here, a very specific puddle somewhere. Either way, I'm pretty sure it belongs on a CD cover--not sure if it would make a better album title or band name, but you just know they'd line up to buy Piss On A Public Toilet Seat.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Serving the Community

Our school district (and maybe the whole state for all I know) has a community service requirement for graduation. Each student must log 20 hours of community service during his or her senior year. Naturally, many of the students put off their service until the last possible minute and then scramble to find acceptable community service opportunities.

For three nights in a row (tonight was his second), Son-One is working the Little League concession stand. When Son-Three heard this news in the car on the way to drop Son-One off at his assignment, he said, with a completely straight face* and tinged with just the right note of mock disbelief, "You know how to concess?"

*It just hit me how often the phrase "with a completely straight face" is a key element in my "amusing" anecdotes. Apparently the only way to be truly funny is to act like you're not being funny at all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Overwrought Much?

I have been exhausted lately, watching my siblings face alternating crises while facing one or two of my own. Sleep is one of the first things that goes when I'm under stress. (The things that go after sleep probably don't bear talking about.) Sleep always abandons me just when I need it the most.

So I'm exhausted and feel constantly on the edge of hysteria and I've known for weeks that the tiniest nudge could send me around a bend. I just didn't realize how tiny.

Hubby and I were in the grocery store candy aisle, where I was trying to find a six pack of candy bars that would satisfy everyone (or at least not outright offend anyone) waiting at home for their junk food fix. Hubby saw a six pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups With Caramel on the shelf and said, "Ooooh--caramel--have you tried them?"

Let me stop here to tell you something that you may not know about me: I hate peanut butter, always have, I hate it with a fiery passion I usually reserve for human beings rather than inanimate foodstuffs. You, of course, can be forgiven for not knowing that fact about me. Hubby, however, has been married to me for almost 20 years--twenty years in which it has somehow escaped his attention that I hate peanut butter.

I consider my hatred of peanut butter to be a fundamental fact of my personality, a core element of my Self. And somehow, Hubby has no idea or, maybe worse, has completely forgotten, that I hate peanut butter.

I am not so overwrought that I actually said any of this in the grocery store, but I am so far gone that I did get a little teary-eyed standing there.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Flower Sending Hall of Shame

Some days the only thing keeping me at my job (you know other than the big, big bucks) is the glimpse into people's minds the job allows me.

One day I had a guy come in and when I said, "How can we help you today?" He said, "My fiancee is about to kick me to the curb and I really need your help. You know what chicks like, right?"

I said, "Well, for starters, most of us don't like being called 'chicks.'" Then I sold him a dozen roses, which would never have worked on me, and must not have worked entirely on the fiancee because they broke up shortly after that. However, they did reconcile six or eight months later and were recently married, so maybe they were time delayed roses or something.

More recently, we had a kid call from out of town to send his girlfriend a dozen roses with the message, "Me and my hangover miss you." Other than the obvious grammatical issues*, I was amused by his willingness to admit he got drunk without her. Maybe he tried to pass it off as missing her so much he needed the escape. But if he missed her that much and he was drunk in a bar so far from home, what other "escape" might he have indulged in?

My favorite of all time though, was the guy who came in the morning after he "did something stupid." He asked for help writing the card. Cranky Boss Lady (who's not above prying) asked, "Did this something stupid involve another woman?" It did, so Cranky Boss Lady, in her infinite wisdom, came up with "I'm sorry. She means nothing to me. I love you and only you." When I came back and found the order on my desk, where it was waiting for me to write out the card, I was appalled.

First of all, he didn't write the card himself, while he was there? When the card arrived in someone else's handwriting, my first thought if I were the wife would not be a forgiving one--he obviously messed around at least a little and then he compounds the error by letting the staff of the flower shop in on his "mistake."

Secondly, the line "she means nothing to me" is actually not at all reassuring. She means nothing to you and yet you're willing to risk your marriage to do whatever it is you did with her? What the hell does that say about what your marriage means to you?

Third--and this is not card-related so much as flower-related--I'm thoroughly over flowers as an apology. You have no idea how much of that we see. There's actually an enclosure card with a guy in a dog house on the corner of it and plenty of room for an apology. I mean, I know everyone makes mistakes, but how did men get it into their heads that flowers will make everything okay? And in the case of doing something stupid that involved another woman, I personally would find flowers insulting--I couldn't help feeling that the flowers were an attempt to minimize and even trivialize the mistake.

But what do I know? I'm just the cynical chick behind the counter who overthinks everything.

*I've created a monster or two in the grammar police department. When I was telling the boys this story (as a cautionary tale, mostly), Son-Two goes, "Wow! Wow! What horrible grammar!" assuming that was the point of my story.