Thursday, August 25, 2005

In a minute, in a minute...

I am going to go sit in my rocking chair and finish the last sleeve of Eldest’s new sweater . I’m more than halfway through now, and there is no reason why I can’t finish that damned sleeve before bedtime tonight. Might could even get the sweater seamed together tonight, if I get busy, like, uh, now.

Which I’m going to do! Because I have two other kids who have been clamoring, “Measure me! Measure ME!” for the last two weeks since I started this one for Eldest. And besides – it’s so close to being done. I’m going to go do it.

I mean it.

In…a minute.

I don’t know what it is about the last sleeve of a sweater, but I always seem to find it a sticking point. It’s like the last mile of a long hike: after coming all that way, facing the last few steps, you’d just really rather…not. I’ve even tried doing the sleeves first, thinking that maybe if I do the ‘gung ho’ front last instead of first, I’ll still be gung ho at the end of the project.

Nope. It still sets in, only now I don’t want to finish the front.

The only thing worse is the finishing – the part where you take the front, back, and two sleeves, and seam them carefully together in a way that creates an actual garment.

And the only thing more ‘eh’ than that is the part where you tediously pick up x stitches around the neck and finish those last 8-14 rows of ribbing that will actually make it a sweater that can be worn without having to explain, “Well, my mom got it all done to this point but then lost all motivation and said, ‘Oh, just…wear it, kid! Or don’t you love your mother, who slaved and slaved to make this for you…WITH LOVE, DAMMIT!’, so…I’m wearing it. Just as it is. With no collar and loose yarn ends flapping in the breeze.”

This, by the way, is why I like to make socks and baby jackets. You’re done long before the whole ‘eh’ thing sets in. They’re the closest thing to instant gratification that knitting offers. Socks sometimes get close while you’re doing the leg and calf areas, but then suddenly you’re turning the heel and it gets interesting again…then you’re decreasing for the toe and each round gets faster and faster to knit and then WHAM! You’re fumbling around with that damned kitchener stitch and there’s another sock, done.

Afghans, on the other hand…never again. I’ve said that for the last, uh {counts on fingers} six afghans I’ve made. About a third of the way through, I hold my hand up to my forehead and moan, “Never. Again. What was I thinking? I’m so bored with this, and I’ve got about six million rows to go!”

If you’re sensing a certain reticence about going in the other room, parking my butt and getting back to business…well, what’s your point?!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Public service announcement

Hey, in case you haven't seen it, Blogger has a way to prevent people from putting those automated spam comments in your blog (like the stock one I got a while back). Their instructions are here.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging...

Things to amuse and entertain

Let’s see. In the playroom, we have approximately $1,486,273.28 worth of toys currently all over every conceivable surface, all for His Most Royal Self’s entertainment pleasure. We have toddler-appropriate videos. We have a Leapstart Table. We have dolls and cars and blocks and Lord alone knows what-all else in there for him to play in both developmentally sound and/or fun ways.

So, what has been entertaining my toddler for the last, oh, hour? Any of the approximately $1,486,273.28 worth of toys currently all over every conceivable surface in there?


It would be his sisters, running back and forth in the kitchen while shrieking, “Catch me! Catch me, Captain Adventure!”

He has been chasing after them for, I’m not kidding you, an hour. Shrieking with laughter the whole time, even while panting for breath. He hasn’t a prayer in the world of catching either of them, since they have at least a three year head start on him in terms of running, but he’s sure having fun trying.

If there is any cooler sound, though, than a trio of young children having a blast with something as simple as dashing back and forth around a kitchen, I haven’t found it yet. Not to mention that infant laughter is so utterly infectious that I don’t care how bad a day I’m having overall – I can’t help laughing back.

In other news, I scored a folding yarn stand similar to this one at a local thrift store, only older. It is lined, with pockets, and fairly old – the wood is somewhat age-worn and feels really cool. Five dol-lah, thank you please. Oh yes. We are pleased.

And hey - guess what else has occupied Captain Adventure for hours and hours and hours on end? Little known fact about these folding stands – they can be pushed all over the place when set on Pergo. Also, the pockets are fascinating, even when empty. Plus, the chains that keep it from falling open too far as just way cool for flicking and otherwise messing around with. In addition to which…it has yarn in it. Yarn, in case you hadn’t tried it lately, is delicious. You can suck on it, run it over your sore gums, and pull-pull-pull it out of the balls – added points if what you’re pulling isn’t from the ball end, but the knitting-needle end.

Just ask Captain Adventure.

He’ll tell you all about it. He can also tell you about the subtle flavor and texture differences between acrylic (yuck) and wool (yum) and even alpaca (a little strong flavored, but goes nicely with a lovely sippy cup of grape juice – cellar temperature, of course).

And nothing tells mom you love her like leaving her a wadded up pile of loose, sucked-upon yarn in the bottom of her knitting stand. Aaaaaaah, lovely

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ooooh, here’s ANOTHER one!

…and I quote, straight from the email…


From our records we understand that you are qualified in your profession.
Our Univsersity would like to present you with a Pre-Qualified degree.

To obtain your degree with valid transcripts call:
{number deleted just in case someone out there is silly enough to dial it }

Janet Vickers
Administration Office

Oh my, oh my. Where to begin?!

We’ve got one, two, THREE! Three misspellings! Madam is a one-d kind of word; last time I checked, University only had one ‘s’ and Sincerely had two ‘e’s.

Good gravy, folks. I mean, good gravy. Would a quick dash through the spellchecker be too much to ask?! And I can recommend several good sources for basic business letter punctuation.


Just send a SASE with $29.95, and I'll rush-rush-RUSH it right out to you!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Scams R Us

So, my paychecks dried up last Christmas. That was when I started saying “no” to clients and friends in tones of increasing weepy desperation. The money wasn’t any great shakes to begin with, but the time involvement was getting worse and worse. “Can you just make a few tweaks to this” was turning into hours and hours of back and forth emails right when we had parties and commitments and the husband was out of town on business…ugh!

Well, so, I’m now back to looking for things to do that make money (because Lord knows, I can find plenty of ways to merely waste time). So I’m emailing people and surfing the job boards for telecommute-only jobs and trying to give quotes for projects I haven’t seen enough data on to really know what I’m in for and one thing leads to another and I’m looking at an ad for data entry jobs. Or, is it?

Blah blah blah, $300-600 a week (hey, that’s good money!), we pay via Paypal blah blah blah. Pay us $29.95 for the materials (hey, look – my red flag just ran all the way up to the top of the pole!) NO WAIT! $19.95, limited time only, expiring in a vague “few days”! (Hey! That red flag just set off fireworks and is singing “Be kind to your web-footed friends…”).

Scroll to the very bottom. Beneath all that gray space. Keep scrolling, keep scrolling, ah, what’s this? In the tiny little font, next to the Legal Notice?

Here. Let me help you see that. {copy, paste special, unformatted text}

“This concept is 100% legal, refer to US Postal and Lottery Laws, Title 18, Section 1302 and 1341, or Title 18, Section 3005 in the US code, also in the code of Federal Regulations, Volume 16, Sections 255 and 436. You are purchasing of your own volition, we do not accept any liability towards your purchase or their validity (unless not delivered). This is a non-refundable purchase, we are only re-selling you materials, (that is all we are providing) you may use the materials any way you like. Above is only one way for the use of these materials. We did not write these materials, but purchased them through another company, and are re-selling it with their consent.
***You are purchasing only an e-book and work is solely dependent on your efforts. Work is not guaranteed**”

Hel-LO. Soooooooo, they’re going to sell me a book telling me how to fill out applications? Is that it?


By the way, that bridge of mine is still for sale. Plus, if you act now, I’ll throw in a cute little fort! Operators are standing by…

Thursday, August 18, 2005

To Care Bear, or not to Care Bear...

So this afternoon, I was so hungry I was ready to simply start gnawing on my van’s armrests. If you could see my van, you’d know that this is the statement of a truly desperate woman. I think they were last cleaned sometime in 1998. I was desperate. Desperate, I tell you!

Anyway, I was so hungry, and so out of bread, and so not interested in anything out of the freezer, and so even less interested in cooking something, I decided to spring for Burger King on the way back from dropping Danger Mouse off at kindergarten.

Well, Burger King is currently giving out Care Bears in their kids meals. Oooh, aaaah. So, as I’m ordering, I hear from the depths of the van a little voice piping up with, “Oh, mommy, can I have one of those Care Bears? I wannit just so-so badly!” {pause} “And also, I’d like some juice because I’m hot.” {pause} “And mommy? I also need some chicken sticks, because I’m extwemewy hungwy.”

**sigh** She probably is, too, because like her mother she has not felt like eating what was on the table all day. Waffles? Eh. Cereal bar? Nah. Spaghetti-O’s? **yawn**

OK, so I order the kids meal. And I pull forward, and I pay for it, and we pull into the parking lot. And as I’m handing her the bag, I glance at the toy.


Not a Care Bear. It’s some kind of transformer thing, an airplane robot or something.

Oh dear.

Now, I’m not going into the store. Both of these kids are barefoot and frankly I’m just not in the mood. I also don’t want to go back through the drive-thru, which is doing a great impersonation of the freeway at rush hour. Hmm. Let’s try…enthusiasm!!

“Wow, check it out, honey! You got something special – you got an airplane! How cool is that?!”

Did I expect this to work? Oh, hell no. I do not have a single stupid child. I expected one of three things: to be doing one heckuva sales job, to be listening to a wailing preschooler all the way home, or to be sitting in the stalled drive-thru traffic so I could explain to the nice lady that we had wanted a Care Bear (and probably hear, when I was well and truly stuck in the line, that they were out of Care Bears).

She gave me a long, long look. She looked at the not-a-Care-Bear toy in my hand, then up at me, then back at the toy, then at me.

Then suddenly, she smiled. “Cool, an airplane!” she agreed. She took it from me and began making airplane noises, lisping the song from Sesame Street: “I’m a widdle airpwane now-wow-wow, I’m a widdle airpwane now-wow-WOW! Wangity-wang, wangity-wang, I'm a widdle airpwane NOW!”

Quickly, I sat down, belted up, and began driving. Whew. She ate her chicken nuggets, and her French fries, and drank her apple juice (and may I just state for the record that I am So Damned Happy that places are starting to give me juice options with kids meals?) with one hand while playing with the airplane with the other.


I just…

I just absolutely, categorically cannot believe that actually worked!

I think I may have to rush out tonight and get a lottery ticket – because I am one lucky woman, today!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

There’s KIDS in my soup!!

There are things in life that just make the whole thing worth doing. Good food, to me, is one of them. I’ll lug my laundry out to a clothesline to save $15 a month and buy all my clothes at Goodwill if it means that I can turn around and drop $100, $200 or even {gasp} $300 on a really fabulous meal at a really fabulous restaurant.

Sometimes, when I’ve just dropped that kind of cash for a meal, I say to myself (with great severity), “You know, you have a kitchen of your very own, girl! You could so totally have made that!!”

In which spirit, last night we had a little dish called Ossobuco alla Milanese, prepared by yours truly with minimal substitutions (beef shanks instead of veal shanks). I’ll put the recipe below.

Let’s see…in what ways did this differ from the $100 Fine Dining Experience, or FDE?

FDE: Arrive at restaurant, put in cocktail order, nibble on breadsticks or what have you while conversing in quiet tones.

Homemade: Start to make cocktail. Make four rounds of apple juice, provide crackers, pretzels, and coloring books. What’s this glass of melted ice doing on the counter? Oh yeah, I was making a drink. Receive orders up for more apple juice. Pour apple juice into cocktail by mistake. Curse in Preschool Appropriate words: Gosh darn it all to HECK! Give up on cocktail, drink wine straight from the bottle.

FDE: Peruse wine list, acquire waiter and even, for the daring, sommelier suggestions regarding food and wine pairings. Sit back and continue with quiet, stimulating conversation. Ah! Hahaha! You’re so droll, my love!

Homemade: Receive phone call from SO stating that he will be 35 minutes late. Take crayon out of baby’s mouth. Dice something. Realize it was your own finger. Curse, forgetting about Preschool Appropriateness. Tell children that it means, well, it means a word that mommy shouldn’t have said and let’s not tell daddy about it, OK? Bandage finger, give screaming baby a handful of marshmallow cereal ‘just this once so he’ll stop that infernal racket’, start sautéing and stirring and doing more dicing and tasting and adjusting and glancing occasionally at the sink, which is rapidly filling with every single pot in the cupboards.

FDE: Eat, drink and be merry. Sit back and wait while dishes are cleared, dessert menus brought. Discuss the relative merits of a nice glass of port versus a lovely cappuccino. Decide to have both. And the Ultimate Chocolate Dessert of Doom. No, just one spoon, thank you…

Homemade: Plate food lovingly, and present to family. Wait for it, wait for it….here it comes… “Eeeeeeew! What IS this? Beef? It doesn’t look like beef! What’s that orange stuff? EEEEEW! I hate carrots! And tomatoes! And whatever that white one is! Can I just have rice? Is there butter in it? I can’t see the butter! Can I have more butter?! Is that a dinosaur bone? Are we eating dinosaurs?! Mommy, can I have more rice? Can I have juice? Can I have more milk! Mommy? Can I have a banana instead?! I don’t like this, it’s ICKY!!”

And for the finish? A couple fresh (so, I had that going for me at least) chocolate chip cookies and the last of the wine.

Oh yeah. A meal fit for a queen.

But…that ossobuco was very good. And it only got better in the fridge overnight – I took the leftover beef and chopped it up and made it into more of a soup and DANG. It is tasty. I had it for lunch, with great delight.

The kids…had fish sticks. With ketchup. Lots and lots of ketchup.


Oh, waiter...?

Ossobuco alla Milanese for 4-6

Plain flour, salt and pepper for dredging
4-6 meaty beef (or veal, if you must) shanks
Olive oil as needed
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
3 large onions, diced
3 large carrots, diced
5 stalks celery, yes, again, diced
2-1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes – HEY! SURPRISE! DICED!!
3-4 cups beef stock
1 cup decent wine, dryer is better than fruitier (used 2002 deLorimier Sauvignon Blanc last night)

Dredge the shanks in the flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. Heat up that oil in your largest skillet and brown those suckers on all sides, which takes about 15 minutes or so per load – my biggest frying pan is still not big enough to comfortably fry even the 3 shanks I had (one of which was about the size of your average dinner plate, I swear!!). Once they’re browned, set them aside.

Meanwhile, dice stuff until your arms are ready to drop off while simultaneously attempting not to add any new additions to your finger-scar collection and making sure the shanks don’t go from ‘brown’ to ‘burnt’. It’s particularly helpful if you can have a bunch of small children running around underfoot screaming “MOMMY!!!!!” – it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the whole experience.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Dump all the veggies EXCEPT the tomatoes in and cook them, stirring frequently while sampling the wine to assure quality, until they’re tender but not smooshy-cooked, another 15 minutes.

Put the shanks on top. Scatter the tomatoes artfully around and on top of them. Pour in the wine and the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, until that meat is positively falling off the bone.

Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

We had this with a side of salad and some Parmesan rice – just make plain old boring white rice, then add butter and Parmesan cheese and good cracked pepper. Unless you have Mutant Alien Children™, in which case just put the pepper on the table for yourself and your SO. Because the Mutant Alien Children™ will want the pepper if it’s on the table, but will loathe it if it is simply put into the dish.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hot stock tips

I don’t know if anybody noticed before I deleted it, but I got a spam comment on my blog! It was advertising a bunch of sure-to-go-up stocks.


Blah blah blah “hot stock tip”. Plus, if you act now, we’ll throw in with that sure-to-go-sky-high penny stock a free set of Ginsu knives!!

OK, gang. I’m going to say this right now: if you ever, and I mean ever, fall for one of those pink-sheet pieces of dog poop, I formally announce that from this point onward have no sympathy for you. I’ll reserve some sympathy if it happened at some point in the past, but once you’ve read this, you officially Know Better.

There are people who make money on penny stocks, sure. Mostly, they’re the people who put out the gushingly approving press releases on them. “Buy OTC.R.US today! This stock has gotten as high as $15 and will get there again! Lightening always strikes twice! At $0.31, this amazing stock has unlimited upside potential!!”

And then you (and a few hundred other pink sheet receivers) rush out and buy like crazy, and the price goes up to – oooh! ahh! – $0.50! Wow! A 60% gain in, like, two weeks! Holy speculation! It’s going to keep going up! It’s going to…hey…waitasecond, what’s this $0.25 bullshit? $0.20? $0.15?!…how low is this sucker going to go, anyway?!”

The stock market is a place where very bad things can happen to very nice people. Especially if those very nice people are in the habit of trading stocks because they saw a post on a blog somewhere that said it was guaranteed to go up 1,672% in less than a month because the gopher didn’t see a shadow.

Don’t fall for it. Just don’t fall for it. You want to trade in stocks? Learn the game first. Understand how the brokers actually do it. A fairly easy to understand primer is found here at The Motley Fool - but hey, don’t go signing up for any of the $150 a year newsletters right away, OK? I’m serious. I love them, and yes, I am subscribed to one myself and yes, I am making money on some of the stocks recommended therein BUT!!!!!!!!!!!! – you can spend a fortune on newsletters and industry rags and so forth and so on and still lose money in the market if you just blindly rush in and invest because TomG (or Phillip Durell, another big favorite of mine, runs the Inside Value newsletter) (or Bill Mann, who is another of my all-time favorites, posts all over the Fool), recommends something.

You. Must. Understand. The. Game. First.

Without that understanding, you’re relying on your gurus to be smart, gentle, and full of beaming goodwill toward you. Uh-huh. Yeah. Because the stock market is infamous for being a touchy-feeling, let’s all just have a nice group hug kind of place.


Hey, I’ve got a bridge up for sale for a mere $150,000 – you could make that back in a single day, taking $5 per car! Any takers…?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Coming soon to Den near us…

A new TV.

Yes, that’s right! The husband and I talked it over (for all of about eight seconds) and decided that we just really didn’t want to do without it. Could, but won’t. So there, nyah-nyah. In which spirit, the new TV will be delivered today.

This is what I looked at first, but obviously – ha! Hahahaha! $2500 for a TV! {snicker, snort} We love the Boob Tube enough to decide we don’t want to do without it, but we don’t love it that much.

But I did open the coffers enough for this one. It’s a considerable improvement over the old one for us. Which in turn was a great improvement over our previous television, which was, uh, well…remember rabbit ears? Yeah. That was our TV before the one that just went “pop-fizz-stink”. I think it was something like a 5 or 6 inch screen. No wonder I need glasses today…

In the process of buying a TV, I learned some interesting facts, which I will now share with you.

The closest TV repair service is 35.8 miles from my house. They don’t do service calls, didn’t really want to bother with anything less than a Ginormous model, and they guarantee their work for 30 days. After that, you’re on your own. When I described the problem, they asked me how old the set was. Seven years, I replied, in aggrieved tones, feeling betrayed by an appliance that new just going “pop-crack-stink” on me. Then they laughed and said, “Just buy a new one! A set that old, it’s just going to keep breaking…”

Now, when I was a kid, we had the same TV for about 15 years. It was just barely able to display color, that’s how old it was. I think it was repaired, uh, once? Maybe twice? And the guy came to our house, and fiddled with things, and fixed it.

There was a guy here in town, but he didn’t fix, you know, television sets. He only fixes those Great Big Ginormous sets that actually come with your house. The rear-projecting ones in the modern McMansion’s home theatre. OK, so, I don’t have a home theatre. I have a playroom / TV room. In fact, the bottom of my entertainment unit has drawers that are used not for movies but for toy storage. No home theatre. Or theater, for that matter. Although we did get a lovely home theatre sound system for Christmas, tra-la, tra-la.

And he, too, seemed to think that seven years was old, especially for a cute little thing like our old Philips.

Huh. Who knew?

I then researched washers and dryers and found that there is hope! Because the average lifespan for a washer is 7-12 years. My washer is almost eight years old now! So with any luck, it will suddenly yak up a hairball and die, and I’ll be able to say, “Oh, DARN the luck! Guess I’ll just have to rush down to Sears and get that big old Kenmore I’ve been wanting…”

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


So, I had just gotten back from dropping Danger Mouse off at kindergarten. When I walked back into the house, that ‘busted electronics’ smell was intense. Really intense. Like, the kind of intense that makes you go, “Uh-oh, do I have an electrical fire in the house somewhere?!”

No smoke, no heat (other than the ambient room temperature, which had climbed from 89 when I left to 91 when we got back in that room) (while the hallway just beside it mysteriously manages to remain 77 – what is UP with that?) (oh, and the upstairs bathroom? 95. I kid you not. 95 degrees in my bathroom. 92 in my adjoining bedroom) (hey, with the TV busted, I’ve got nothing better to do than wander around my house with the thermometer in my hand muttering, “Holy Christmas, this is ludicrous! How can it be 82 in the hall and 92 in the bedroom? Why is it 74 in the front room, and 91 in the back? Why doesn’t it help to have the doors open and the box fans going? Who killed Jimmy Hoffa and is he buried in my sandbox?!)

Anyway, back to the subject at hand: No smoke, no heat, but there is a faint yet weird clicking noise you can hear when you bend over the TV – say, to sniff at it to make sure that smell really is coming from it.

ACK! Whatever is wrong with the TV was still, uh, wrong-ing. Better unplug it…

Now. The TV is in an entertainment center which is smooshed against the wall between two shelves – both fully laden with tapes and magazines and books. To unplug the TV, I must pull the entertainment center away from the wall.

All I can say is, I wish I had had a camera on while I worked on it. Once I got the leverage right, it was a piece of cake. Before that, however, it was a sweaty, ‘surely it’s hotter than a mere 91 in here!’ gig. Which was not helped by having a giggling Boo Bug standing in the most inconvenient places possible shrieking things like, “WOW! You’re REALLY strong!!” or “Can I play with Play-Doh now?!” or “Look out mommy, you’re going to hit your foot again!” (followed, naturally, by, “Mommy, what does @*^&@(^& mean?”).

Eventually I wrestled the monster away from the wall, reached down behind it, fished the extension cord up from the depths and pulled the plug on my sick machine.

So now the TV is safely unplugged, the faint clicking noise emanating from it has stopped, the smell is already dissipating, and the damned air conditioner is on. I don’t care anymore. $500 PG&E bill? Small price to pay. It is hot, and humid, and ucky in here and I’m sick to death of it.

I’m also cranky, because I am suffering from CNBC withdrawals. It’s worse than coming off heroin. Well, OK, I might be exaggerating just a touch.

Just a wee little touch.

(Update: it is now 6:45 p.m. and I have yet to start dinner. Captain Adventure has been screaming and crawling up my legs for an hour now. I’m going to attempt once again to plop him into his high chair and placate him with food while I try to get dinner started. If successful, we may be eating by 8:00 or so. Well, either it will work, or he’ll be screaming for the next half hour solid and the police will probably be called: “I’m telling you, officer, somebody is torturing a baby over there!!” Not having the Baby Einstein Pacifier sucks lumpy moose piss through a straw. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, it is because I have given myself fatal burns trying to cook with an irate baby on my hip – did you see The Incredibles? That bit at the end, with Jack-Jack swarming all over Syndrome? That would be Captain Adventure right about now…)


Boo Bug just came in to me and complained that her show had turned off in the middle and wouldn’t come back on.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Mommy’s working, sweetie…please go watch…oh wait…

So I went over to see what the problem was, expecting to find that somebody had pushed a button or something…and instead, my nose is assaulted by the unmistakable scent of Busted Electronics.


It can’t be!!!

But yes, it is. The TV, dear friends, is feeling at best a little under the weather.

At worst, it is flat-out busted.

I’m doing one of those lame, “Let’s just give it a few hours with the fan on and see if, once it cools down, it comes back on” things right now. It is, after all, over 90 degrees in the playroom where it resides, and it has been entertaining a sick preschooler for three hours straight (do NOT tell the Mom’s Club, I’ll be banned for life – it wasn’t even Noggin, just plain old Nick!).

But I’m pretty sure it’s just dead.

Which means that I will have to {gasp!} interact with my family tonight! Oh, the horror…!

What shall my husband do without Monster Garage, World’s Hugest Building Projects, and Pointy Things Being Lobbed Into Space? How will my preschoolers survive the “mommy’s working!” phase of the mornings without Noggin? How will Mommy survive without the Closing Bell on CNBC, the evening news, How Clean Is Your House and Horrific Crimes Committed Decades Ago Covered Yet Again In Tremendous Detail?!

How will we survive?!?!

Look for much whining in days to come. I just spent more than I had for the month already on The Perfect New Chairs™ for the front room. Curse you, Going Out Of Business Sale! I could have bought a new TV with that money, but noooooo. I got chairs.

Which would be great for watching TV in. If we had a TV. Which we currently do not.


Actually, this may be a blessing in disguise. Honestly, that damned thing has been on way too much of late. To be doubly honest, there isn’t a thing on it that I need - sure, I enjoy watching the news, but I can get it online. Without paying $60 to the satellite company, too.

And haven’t I just been bitching about not having enough Means to cover our Living?

Why yes. Yes I have.

But still. It was so young! Maybe after a little rest, it will be blaring noise and disturbing images into our life again.

Here’s, uh, is ‘hoping’ the word I’m really looking for here…?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Random yet timely

Usually, my random memory bursts are fairly useless. Things will occur to me like this: “Oh, I needed to call my mother today!” Then I glance at the clock and decide that 2:15 in the morning is probably not the best time to discuss arrangements for the next family gathering.

Old phone numbers, street addresses, the name of That Guy Who Used To Play Shakespeare at Faire, and the time some asshat cut me off on 680 in 1987 when my dad was in the car and so I couldn’t even respond with appropriate commentary. That’s usually how my random memory works.

But today, I had one that was a score. Sitting in my rocking chair telling Boo Bug, yet again, to quit sucking her fingers and rocking Captain Adventure, who is sick and one very unhappy little Super Baby today.

Suddenly, out of the blue, I thought, Did I ever pay the water bill this month?

Huh. I have a scheduled reminder on that, right? So I shouldn’t need to remember that kind of thing, right? They send me an email, and I take care of it, that’s how it works, right?

But…huh…I just don’t have a clear recollection of actually paying the bill.

So I jumped online and checked and no – no, I had not. The late fee would have been $40 (ouch), and would have applied if I had waited another six hours.

Will wonders never cease! My irritating random memory actually produced something useful today!

Stay tuned tonight, for the “did I pay the car loan?!” attack at midnight…over a loan that has been paid off for six years now…

Calendar Check!

Oh look, it’s August. You know what that means? It means that it is Knit a Sweater for Your Kid To Never Wear season, that’s what it means.

Now, I have some fabulous yarns to knit up. Let’s start with this one. It comes from Lisa Souza Knitwear. Digression alert: I used to work with Lisa’s husband in my Life Before Staying At Homeness. He’s good people. And Lisa is also good people, which is convenient seeing as how they’re married and all. She spins and dyes her yarn by hand, and I haven’t bought anything from her that wasn’t gorgeous and sexy and fun to work with.

Which brings me to the problem: this yarn is half Merino wool and half silk.

It feels like butter. It is soft and warm and lovely. The colors are playful – I don’t know how they’re going to come across on a computer monitor, but in real life it looks like a ball of mixed up cotton candy – the pink, the blue, the white, with a little pale lime thrown in. Feels a little like cotton candy, too – not the stinky part, but the soft as a cloud part. The girls have each spent a few moments rubbing it on their little faces making ooh and aah noises.

It is hand-wash only. Handle with care. Use Woolite. No bleach, no OxyClean, no harsh anythings, no agitation, no machine wash, no tumble dry. Don’t even think about rough-housing in this spun gold.

I have just enough, just barely enough, to make a sweater for Eldest. Barely, and only because she’s a tiny little skinny thing. Don’t believe me? Check it out. This is Eldest, in her flower girl dress for her cousin’s wedding. Which dress, by the way, was rather expensive (considering that I get 99% of her clothes at the thrift store) and which I also clucked and fussed over until the wedding and the picture taking was safely over.

See what I mean? Tiny, and skinny.

But I digress. I was talking about the yarn. This is some deliciously delicate stuff. And part of me, having just thrown not one but two of her dresses into the “hopeless” pile due to stains of unimaginable stubbornness, is cringing at the very idea of spending all that time, all that effort, all that money (all $33.50 of it – Lisa’s stuff is also remarkably affordable) into creating something that is very likely to come home the very first day it is worn covered in asphalt-grease, chocolate, and whatever red sauce they put over the Mystery Meat in the cafeteria that day.

The other part of me can’t wait. Up until now, all the things I’ve made for the kids have been made out of synthetics – dirt cheap and machine wash and dry, if you please. Things you could soak in Clorox if need be, and agitate the dickens out of to get the nacho-cheezy-twist stains out. This is such a delicious yarn, and she will look so beautiful in it. It will be a marvelous feeling to knit this for my precious Eldest.

So I’m going to wind it into balls today. I’m going to knit the gauge swatch, I’m going to put together a very basic pattern, I’m going to cast it on and start working it up. Every afternoon for goodness knows how many weeks (could be one, could be seven – it all depends on how much screaming and crying there is from the Denizens), I’ll sit in my rocking chair after the floors have been swept and the market has closed for the day, knitting up a warm Merino/silk hug for her to wear all day long on those frosty cold Autumn days that are coming all too soon.

It’s just what I want to give her. Warmth and softness, resilience and strength, a homey elegance. Something to put on like armor when the world is cold and cruel, something to remind her when she’s off among the Philistines at school that whatever they may throw at her, her mother thinks she is special and marvelous and worth any amount of effort.

When it’s done, I’ll put it on her and immediately snap a picture so I can remember how it used to look.

And then, whatever happens to it, happens. Whether it lasts a year or a day, I’ll have said my piece.

Without saying a word.

How your toddler can make you healthier

A link to this article came in my email this morning. The ways your toddler can make you healthier, according to this article, include the following:

Reduced risk of cancer
Relief from "female disorders"
Motivation to make healthy choices
A head start on happiness

OK, yeah, blah blah blah. They left out the biggest way a toddler helps his/her mommy to good health: the constant leaping up from your chair while yelping things like, “Ah! Not the stove, not the STOVE!!” or “Ack, how did you ever get UP THERE?!?!?!” or “Where’s Poopsie? Where’s Poopsie?! WHO LEFT THE GATE OPEN?!?!?!?!”

All that jumping and running and racing and good-old artery clearing adrenaline are worth a year’s membership at a gym any day.

Yesterday, for example, I glanced up and Captain Adventure was standing on the rocking horse (!) so he could reach the very tip-top of the shorter shelf (!!) which is where we’ve been putting all the things we don’t want him flinging on the floor (!!!).

I think I lost two pounds just from the shock of seeing him teetering away up there.

And that’s not even counting all the rounds of hokey-pokey in the kitchen, or London Bridging, or ballet dancing (I never took ballet, and believe me anybody older than, say, five will guess it), or having to climb up the play equipment to pluck someone who has gotten a leeeeeeetle bit higher than they were comfortable with from their perch.

Ah yes. Healthy living through constant agitation. Gotta love it.

Friday, August 05, 2005

You know you’re cheap when…

…after making popcorn to take for snack during the ‘pickup hiatus’ between Eldest and Danger Mouse’s school days, you scoop the popcorn out of the glass bowl into the Tupperware, put the unpopped kernels back into the air popper and turn it on to get every last possible blossom of popped corn.


Because goodness knows, each of those kernels (purchased by the barrel at Costco) cost me $0.000000000782 cents! I want my money’s worth, dammit!!!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cool…but weird…

Almost two years ago, I lost a Starbucks card in my van. I literally lost it while I was sitting in the drive-thru – one moment it was sitting on the console, the next it was gone.

I searched everywhere. All over the floor. In every conceivable nook and cranny. I even popped the doghouse (which is what they call that irritating jutting-out-thingee in a full-sized van which ensures that you do not have nearly as much leg room as honestly you should in a vehicle that size) off to see if it had somehow ended up falling through the cracks I there.

Nothing. Double nothing.

I’ve never quite gotten over the loss. Innumerable washings, professional and otherwise, have happened since. I’ve often wondered if perhaps one of the underpaid folks who scrubbed my van once a quarter or so had scored a $10 coffee-break-bonus. It’s just one of those things that occasionally floats up into my forebrain: Huh…where DID that card get to, anyway?

And on those occasions when the thought has percolated up, I have searched yet again. And it was as though aliens had beamed it right up to their ship. Vaporized.

Gone. Forever.

So this morning, I filled up the van. And as is my custom on such occasions, I started scrambling around gathering the trash from inside the van. The deceased French fries, old homework papers, and the other detritus that invariably builds up in there.

There, on the floor, in plain sight, right where a passenger’s foot would be if I had one tall enough to sit in the front seat, was a vaguely familiar Starbucks card.

“Where did THIS come from?” I muttered, picking it up. “Wait…waitasecond…this can’t be…this isn’t…you don’t suppose…is this…?”

Yes. Yes it is. The prodigal card has returned, its $10.35 intact.

{Twilight Zone Music here}

Oddly enough, it has mildly freaked me out. For two years, that card has been floating somewhere in that van. I’ve taken the doghouse off to search. I’ve lain on the floor and peered up under the seats, on the off-chance that it somehow had bounced up and lodged there. I’ve done the same thing under the dashboard, and in all the pockets on all the doors and seats.

And then suddenly - !pop! There it is!

I guess the aliens were done with their testing and decided to return it. But now I’m afraid that if I use the card, I’ll somehow be assisting them in their world-conquering and will end up having to learn their language. I couldn’t even manage to mangle French back in high school well enough to be understood by someone who spoke same. My chances of learning to speak AGhsklghSPgpk are slim to nil. I’ll be unable to hold down a job other than, say, as a drive-thru attendant saying, “What? You want a what?” while the nine-armed critter in the car I can no longer afford yells, “GHSGHK! GHSGHK, y zitirim! Achka txhcka zzibim AGhsklghSPgpk trek?!?!?” (which means “Hamburger! Hamburger, you moron! GOD, why do they put people who can’t speaking frickin’ AGhsklghSPgpk in the frickin’ drive-thru?!?!?”)

Oh the horror. Maybe I ought to just put that card through the shredder right now.

On the other hand…we are talking about coffee here…prepaid…which is almost if not quite the same as ‘free’…at the very least it is a sunk cost…the world conquered by AGhsklghSPgpk-speaking aliens, or free coffee…hmm…how bad could it be, being conquered by coffee-providing aliens…?