Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Oh dear

I had to buy another knitting book. IT ISN'T MY FAULT! It's THE YARN HARLOT'S FAULT!!!!

Do you see that sweater? Do you? Do you see that adorable little sweater?! Oh my ever-living Dawg. Those wee little blooms! That cute little seed stitch (which, by the way, I loathe doing) (but do a lot of because it makes a texture that teething babies love to chew on – it makes a great border for a blankie for just that reason). It was so cute, I just had to go look at the book.

And then there was this little dress in that book, too. And it's just so adorable I can't stand it. And then I go and look at the other Dale of Norway books and gol durn it all to heck – they're just so cuuuuuute. And adorable. And one of them has Just Exactly the kind of little bunting pattern I've been looking for (in vain). Plus also they have a bunch of kids patterns I think (erroneously) that my own children might wear. Well. Captain Adventure will wear them, because he has no choice right now.

I blame Stephanie personally for the $40 I just charged at that store. I would not have done it if she hadn't posted pictures.

Oh. I finished the blanket, including the crocheted border. I'm going to say this right now: I stink at crochet. Really. I can't crochet for beans. But I womaned my way through it and it's there and it looks…um. Mostly OK. I should have been a little braver I suspect, gone off the pattern and done maybe some double chains or something; but knowing about as much about crochet as I do about the Taiwanese stock market (do they even have a stock market?), I held fast to the pattern. I got through it alive. But with a new blister on my index finger. I can knit all day and night – I already have my knitting calluses, thank you very much. But crochet…well. That's like cavalierly taking up bicycling on the theory that hey – you're already an avid hiker, you're impervious to foot pain. Then you discover that biking rubs you in a whole new painful kind of way.

And I'm about ¾ of the way through another little preemie sweaters (knitting for preemies is the knitting equivalent of instant gratification), and just got the yarn in for three more blankies…um. Yes. About that. See, the problem is…it wasn't my fault!...it was Joanne Crafts. Because they sent me this cursed email about 'free shipping' and 'on sale' and the next thing you know…I've slapped down $25 for three blankie's (and a few hats) (and possibly the odd sweater or two) worth of machine-wash baby yarn. Free shipping. Just for me (and a few hundred thousand other people foolish enough to give them their email addresses).

I would not have done that, had they not enabled me. Ergo, it is their fault. I cannot be held responsible for my lack of willpower under such conditions. It would be like if someone were to send me a pack of Benson & Hedges in the mail. It would not be my fault if I broke down and smoked the whole thing in half an hour (and then was violently sick because it has been…hmm…fifteen years since I smoked last). Especially since I am rather nervous about Things right now. Foreclosures on the rise, people going broke all around me, stock market jittery, interest rates on the rise, MASS HYSTERIA!!!!!!

How I would be expected to not take up smoking again is beyond me.

Except, of course, that one cannot smoke and knit baby things. Especially for delicate little preemies, who have enough to struggle with as it is, without my adding toxic substances to their wee little blankies.

You see how good babies are for me? My own babies have forced me to start taking my health seriously because they need me (and plus I now have 'what's next' syndrome and can't stand the thought of missing anything from kindergarten graduation to my first grandchild), and even other people's babies can keep me away from cigarettes on the theory that I might hurt the baby by second-hand smoke residue.


I think that is possibly the wildest digression I have ever written.

I'd…better stop now. Before I hurt myself. Besides, I've got another twenty minutes left on this lunch hour, which should be enough to finish the back of that little blue sweater...

Monday, May 29, 2006

YES! of the day

Twitz is back.

I am happy beyond all reason. I have something to look forward to again. Perhaps a weekly *SNORT!* or groan or other expressions of ‘Dawg, but that was funny…’


Ahem. The paragraph above was added by Captain Adventure via the Farmer Leap inteli-talk toy. “Hi! I’m Farmer Pad! Listen to my banjo!!” {cheerful banjo music plays as he slams it on my laptop keyboard}

The only reason this toy is not in a million pieces right now is because…Captain Adventure adores it. Loves it outside of all reason. Has been known to give up one of his World Infamous temper tantrums for it.

The only reason he hasn't been murdered in cold blood for hitting my laptop with that stupid toy? Well...he's awful cute. Also, I'm told it's against the law to kill them. No, really. I have it on good authority. Even if they have just moved on to smacking you in the back of the head with the toy.


Anyway. Twitz is back. I am very happy. That is all. I am now off to wrestle the toy away from Captain Adventure and suffer the Toddler Wrath that will inevitably follow.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Random Acts of Friday

First: My husband and I got breakfast together. In a restaurant. Alone. We discussed The Future. We weighed the pros and cons of moving, staying, McMansions, hovels, farms and redwoods. Ultimately, we decided not to decide for sure just yet. This is a hard subject. I do want to move closer in for a lot of reasons, but staying put makes a lot more sense. Property taxes alone…but let's not ruin an otherwise pleasant afternoon with such discussions, shall we?

It was, however, very, very nice indeed to be able to discuss these things in 'neutral' surroundings (so that I wasn't thinking about how lovely our house was and he wasn't thinking about all the maintenance that so obviously wants doing) and without anybody hanging off any part of either of us screaming, "MOMMY! DADDY! {$SIBLING} took my {$TOY} and called me a name!!!!!!"

Second: The new dishwasher has arrived, is installed, and currently doing its first of many loads of dishes. We are pleased. We are very pleased. It is quiet, and has this thing where you can pour an entire huge bottle of liquid dishwasher detergent into the door and be set for three months. I consider this to be an upgrade. Mostly because I am lazy and have a very crowded under-sink space. Anything which removes a box or bottle from under that sink will be hailed as a "Modern Marvel".

Third: It is 2:30, and I reached 40 hours of work two hours ago. With this lazy day, we are likewise pleased. I have spent the last two hours tinkering around with things, but I wouldn't call it really working. In about five minutes, I'm shutting down for the three day weekend and moving on to…

Fourth: I have finished one preemie outfit, and nineteen (and a half) of twenty blocks for a wee little blankie. The preemie outfit, as usual, is so shockingly tiny that I say to myself, "That just can't be right!" and I think it was an utter waste of time to knit it. Because there is no way that a human being, however newly minted, could possibly be tiny enough to wear something Boo Bug snuck out of the knitting basket and then put on her 12" stuffed bear. But then I remember: they ask that the newborn hats be about the right size to go on a lime (!), which makes this little thing perfect.

Holy smokes.

If I were a better mother, I'd probably take advantage of this early day to go and fetch forth mine offspring from daycare early and go to frolic in the daffodils or something. Instead, I'm going to finish the baby blanket. It's going to take a lot of seaming and seaming of such quantity is best done in peace, quiet, and accompanied by large quantities of rum and/or vodka and citrus juice. And a good crime show. Cold Case Files or something. Besides. We've got three whole days to make each other utterly crazy bond as a family, so I figure I'd better take the last couple hours of peace when it's offered. Behold, the pile of seaming:

Fifth: Captain Adventure likes to watch bread bake. Turn on the oven light, and he's one happy little camper. Goes and gets his little chair (which otherwise is ignored and collecting dust in the corner because he is far to busy to sit on anything) (other than his mother, of course), and will sit there and watch the bread baking with unblinking fascination.

Cute…but weird.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I’m having a banana instead of Rice Krispie Treats for my after lunch sugar fix.

I fully expect to be seeing this on the six o’clock news tonight: {breaking news music} “BREAKING NEWS! For the first time in recorded history, Tama has voluntarily chosen something healthy for a sugar fix! In spite of having cookies, Rice Krispie treats, cocoa, and all the fixing necessary to whip out a quick cream pie, she has chosen a banana! {image of banana flashes onto screen} We’ll have the exclusive footage for you at eleven…but for now, we turn to our Senior Health Correspondent, Dr. Fatnomore, to discuss the rarity of this occurrence and the possible outcome for Democrats all over the state of California…” {/breaking news music}

OK, so it isn’t that dramatic. But after yesterday…when I decided to eat four cupcakes and a Rice Krispie treat and two Lean Cuisines for the two hour exercise in gluttony I tried to pass off as ‘lunch’…I’m feeling very proud of myself.

Especially since the fruit bowl is right next to the treat basket. Which reminds me. I think I saw some of those little miniature Twix bars in there…

Utterly Random and Pointless Ramble

I am very, very, very, shockingly tired today. I'm not sure why. I went to bed at a (more or less) reasonable hour. But I did have trouble sleeping. One of those 'too hot, too cold' nights. And my brain refused to shut up about Things. I got a shockingly high bill from my credit card, for one thing. I mean. I knew it was coming. I knew I'd spent a few thousand bucks on all this medical stuff, and a further thousand on the dishwasher, and that our 'eating out and so forth' spending was out of control for lo these many moons and of course there's half the daycare on that card and a few other things…

But there's a difference between 'knowing it's coming' and having the $6,897 bill in your hands, you know? And a huge difference between that and writing the payment instruction out for it. Pay to the order of Mastercard: Six thousand, eight hundred ninety-seven dollars and 27/100's. Hmm, what's that sound? Could it be...a significant portion of my emergency fund, flittering away?

It was a significant psychological event. I may never recover.

Furthermore. I'm not really a hypochondriac, I'm really, honestly not – but my stomach was upset and one of my incisions was aching and every time there was a twinge or rumble my brain would scream out, "OHMYGAWD! THIS IS IT! IT'S BIODEGENARTIVE GASTROINTITUS OF THE GARBLEKLETZ!!"

And no. I don't know what that means either. See, my stomach hurt because I ate too much yesterday, both volume and fat content. And the incision is sore because hey – they do that. Sometimes at random, sometimes even months after the surgery. That's called part of the healing process. But my brain refused to accept this. It insisted on coming up with all kinds of bizarre things that don't exist. Do you know how hard it is to get to sleep when your brain is insisting that you're about to explode like that android in that movie? You know the one, the one with…the androids? That exploded?

This is the kind of activity my brain got into last night when I was trying to go to sleep. Non-existent diseases I probably had and movies I sort of remembered but might just be imagining that I saw once.


And then my brain insisted on coming up with these dreams where I was doing things like trying to drive my van, packed with children, through flood water that was coming up to the windshield before taking refuge in the house of a creepy villain with silver eyes (I swear to Dog - silver eyes) who kept these enormous black crows with menacingly large beaks.

All of which serves to remind me: we've got to do something about our lawn. We have a pipe leak causing some minor flooding when the sprinklers are on. The crows love it, because it forces worms to the surface (you see how it all comes back around and almost makes sense?).

Thanks, brain. Like I couldn't have figured that out without your subconscious help.


And then the dumb alarm went off at 4:30 and startled me awake – I jumped, I think I popped one of those internal stitches because now that incision really aches.


So tired. I've got to wake up. Maybe I should make a pot of coffee. Because otherwise, I might just have to take the rest of the day off for a nap. And seeing as how my vacation time is pretty much all used up by all the time I took off to be sick these last couple months – I don't think my boss would be happy about me taking a four hour block off to lie on my sofa snoring with The Economist draped artfully over my face.

By the way: The Economist is a great magazine for napping. Seriously. Not only are the articles so preposterously economistly intellectual that they will instantly set you yawning as your brain desperately demands MORE OXYGEN! in an attempt to understand what they're saying, but when you do fall asleep it is just heavy enough to block out the light, yet light enough not to be annoying or interfere with your breathing.

And also, being that it is after all The Economist, people might assume you aren't actually sleeping, but are rather very deep in thought about Deep Matters. So they aren't as likely to bug you, because you might use big words and try to explain the concept of a Giffen Good or even (gads) attempt to come up with a real-world example. (SUVs. SUVs are a Giffen Good. The more they cost, the more people seem to want them…)

Let's see. Random fact: did you know that lighter roast coffee has more caffeine than darker roasts? I did, because without coffee I would be snoring under The Economist right now, probably having dreams about crows creating opportunity cost horizons with worms in floodwaters. I'm what you might call an expert on the coffee thing. I used to assume that darker coffees, like those shockingly bitter deep French roasts (which I still maintain is a scam enabling roasters to sell off the burnt beans at a profit by making us think it's "Premium" coffee), must have more caffeine. Because they tasted so…virile. But no! Those sweeter, lighter roasts that sometimes drink like water have more caffeine than the Attack Coffees served up by Peet's.

Go figure.

But perhaps I need to do more scientific research on the subject…I'm gonna go make a pot (or two) and let you know the results…

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

21 Months, 4 weeks, and scared of spiders?

Rather sensible, if you ask me.

OK, so, the actual point the Experts™ were making this week was about the ‘sudden’ development of fear. “If your formerly fearless child is suddenly terrified of tiny spiders, for example, the fear may have arisen from an actual incident. A spider may have swung down from the ceiling and landed on his arm — an image that may linger in his increasingly complex mind for weeks.”

Well, geez. That would linger in my increasingly less complex mind for months. I’d probably talk about it at parties for years. “There was this one time? This little spider? I swear, I’m not making this up: it came down from the ceiling? And landed ON MY ARM. It was like, the size of A PERIOD! Or maybe…a SEMICOLON!!!”

Then I’d stand there and wait (in vain) for appropriate expressions of shock and horror from the assembly.

What’s worse, I’d probably do it more than once at the same party.

This is a symptom of the devolving brain, which would the opposite of what my kids’ brains are doing, which is why I’m in Big Huge Trouble as time marches on. Their brains are getting bigger, while mine is shrinking down to a size that can’t hold two thoughts at once. Say…that I’ve set my keys down on the dining room table and that the van is blocking the driveway such that my husband won’t be able to park when he gets home. I can remember one fact, or the other. Not both. So I’m either stomping around searching for the keys, or sitting there with the keys in my pocket forgetting why I needed them. Until, right about the time daddy is pulling into the court, one of the kids says, “Mommy, didn’t you need to move the van…?”

Because their brains are more complex than mine, and they can remember what their mother was shouting half an hour ago when she was tearing the house apart looking for the keys.

That they wait to remind me until their father has made the quarter mile hike from the closest street parking and it turning his own key in the door is nothing but pure malice. Kind of not unlike this one time? When this spider…?

So maybe I told a lie…

I often say I don’t really “do” clothes, and that I dislike shopping and…so forth.

However. I think I’ve found a store that is my new Talbot’s / Nordstrom. See, I used to be able to basically walk into Nordstrom’s blindfolded, grab pretty much anything off any shelf, and go home and be thrilled with whatever I had bought.

These days…eh. Not so much. I still find things I’d love to own/wear, but I love keeping my $500-$800 in my wallet even more. And more and more, at both those stately stores that used to provide me with nothing but temptation, I walk in, wander around, and walk out again without even being slightly tempted.

I thought this meant that I had passed some kind of threshold. That I had ‘matured’ past my irrational shopping phase. That I was somehow ‘above’ such things.

Uh-huh. So when I went back to work, I had to buy clothing. I was very frustrated by my seeming inability to find anything that I felt had the right blend of ‘good enough to wear downtown’ and yet also being something I’d wear, you know, just around.

Then I wandered into Coldwater Creek. And I got a couple shirts from their discount rack (delicious shirts, I might add) and a cute skirt, too.

A couple days ago, I got their latest catalog. I’ve been going through it. FOR TWO DAYS!!!!!

Yes, that’s right. This catalog has provided me with ‘idle moment’ pleasure for two.whole.days.

I have been flipping through this catalog making squealing noises. Oooooh, I just adore those earrings (OK, yes, but I have a well-documented weakness for earrings and can’t wait for Captain Adventure to be old enough not to consider them his personal toys anymore so I can wear them without fear again)! EEEEE! Lookit this dress! Ooooooh, that shirt is hot! OH MY DAWG!! This would look so good with those pants and these pants would look so awesome with this shirt and eeeeeeeeeeek! Shoes! Shoes! What cute little shoes! And I want this little set and SHRIEK! That’s is the coolest little black dress! I could totally wear that Irish Diamond Shawl with it, and it would look awesome!!!!!!!


Apparently, I am actually a girl-type. And I might even have a fashion gene.

And the Spending Money In My Head gene, I definitely have. I calculated it out, and if I were to buy everything I want out of this catalog, I would be spending just north of $8,000.

North. Not south. North.


And if I threw all caution and common sense to the wind, it would be more like $30,000. Seriously. Because I love the handbags (even though I don’t carry one) and the shoes (which is silly because I have very fussy feet and could never just buy a pair of shoes out of a catalog) (I have even had my feet reject the same shoe model from the same manufacturer – one pair was great, the other hit my ex-bunion ‘just wrong’, go figure), and the {swoon} earrings (which I don’t need but…well…this one just has such a frisky little pearl thing on it…!)

Unfortunately, I have literally the day before I got this catalog (curse you, Slow Mail Delivery!) undertaken a fairly major savings goal. I can’t possibly reconcile Wild Eyed Spending on Clothing I Don’t Technically Need.

So I’m just going to sit here and pout until my husband says he was just kidding about wanting to move back into the Bay Area and I can spend the pile I’ve started accumulating toward the downpayment on the McMansion closer to his job.


…stupid ‘long-term goals’ and ‘what-we-really-want’ conversations and Bay Area housing costs! Coming between me and those DARLING little sparkly rainbow earrings!...


"aaAAA?" {waves pair of shoes questioningly}


Well. At least for once, I, the Mother of the Child, actually understand the sound the toddler is using. When he says 'Doos', Captain Adventure means 'shoes'.

And toddling over clutching a pair of shoes while saying, "Doos, Mum-mum!" means, "I say, mother, how about you put these on my feet so we can go outside for a wee constitutional?"

…and then we parents of toddlers wonder why people look at us so oddly when we're out in public with our babbling children saying things like, "No, Junior, you're too young for bourbon…"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

No substitutions, please!

Trying to plan menus around here can sometimes feel a lot like herding cats. I go and make my menu, and then suddenly…everything changes.

Well, shoot. Welcome to my life. The only constant is change, so get used to it.

But it still irks me.

So I made the following menu for the week:

Week of 5/22/06
Monday Roast Chicken, Parmesan rice and green beans
Tuesday Chicken & Corn Tamales, salad
Wednesday Grilled steaks, potato gratin
Thursday ‘Breakfast for Dinner’
Friday Spiced Peachy Pork Chop & Yam bake
Saturday Meatloaf, mashed potatoes & corn
Sunday Honey-Baked Chicken, rice, steamed vegetables

I have a method to my madness, too. I need tomatoes for the tamales, and happen to have some that will be rotting soon – so I’m making a whole roast chicken Monday and then ha-ha, the leftovers become the tamales and use up those tomatoes before they spoil. We have breakfast for dinner (meaning waffles and eggs and bacon) on the night daddy is likely to be late getting home. And Sunday, a night when historically speaking nobody really wants to eat anyway, I make something with those eight chicken legs I’ve got out in the freezer – usually we would go through more than what I’ve got, but on Sunday people tend to have been snacking more and I can get away with more rice, less meat.

So. What happens?

The phone rings and my husband later announces that Friend #1 will be staying with us Sunday night. Friend #1 is a good-sized guy with a good-sized-guy appetite. Oooooookay, so, I’m going to have to break into the frozen chicken breasts to pad things out. Because I’m pretty sure this guy could eat all eight chicken legs and then be looking around to see, you know, what’s for dinner

Then the phone rings again and it is announced that the husband is going to be meeting Friend #2, visiting from southern California, after work on Tuesday. There is absolutely no point in making the tamales, because the children will turn their noses up at them and not appreciate all the intensive labor involved in making them. Tamales turn into soft tacos. **sigh**

Just when I’m feeling safe, the phone rings again. Now one of the children isn’t going to be here all weekend. So instead of ‘a little left over’ we’re going to have massive piles of leftovers from the pork chops and the meat loaf. I decide to make half the recipe and scratch out half the ingredients I’m buying.

See, now I’m waiting for the phone to ring again and to find out that the entire Bavarian army is planning to come for the weekend. Or at least a giggling bevy of schoolmates. “Would you mind if Cessie and Angie and Perky and Derky and Jerky come for a sleepover?” THEN, I’m going to be short of food again. And undoubtedly calling for pizza. And grousing about paying $40 for two pizzas no bigger than >>>this<<<…

Undaunted, I went to the supermarket and purchased the weekly groceries: $22.56 for three gallons of milk, a bunch of fruit for snacking, some frozen vegetables, the yams and potatoes, and some soft corn tortillas for the tacos tomorrow.

Not tamales. Tacos. Because the tamales are a pain in the tush to make, and I’m not going to do it if there isn’t another adult around to eat and appreciate them. I’m not making them for the horrible children, who will undoubtedly turn around and say, “I don’t like those - can’t I just have a cupcake instead?!”

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cheap thrills

Today, we went to WalMart to buy a dish drainer. It is going to be several weeks before our groovy new dishwasher arrives, so we decided that probably getting something to put drying dishes in would be a good idea. As opposed to spreading three or four kitchen towels all over every flat surface in the kitchen and then later hanging three or four sodden kitchen towels up on every hangable surface all over the kitchen. (We are so not set up to hand wash a significant amount of dishes around here. What pansies!!)

Naturally, we came home with the aforementioned dish drainers…and a set of car mats for my husband's car…and five skeins of baby yarn.

The baby yarn set me back almost $20 – more than double the cost of what we actually went there to get. And for a moment I thought, "Geez. I have got to knock it off with the baby-yarn-buying thing…especially given that I don't have any specific baby to knit for right now…"

But. Get this. From that $20 worth of yarn, I expect to be able to make:

2 Christening gowns
8 wee little premie-newborn size sweaters, and
Maybe 5 or 6 little hats from the scraps

That's a pretty good bang for the buck.

It's also going to five me roughly forty hours worth of knitting time. An activity which, as I may have mentioned once or twice, I find deeply enjoyable. Doubly so when I'm knitting for babies. It's like…a hug that stays. And every button a permanent kiss.

AND THEN, what do I get to do?

I get to send them off to Stitches from the Heart. So that other mothers don't have to take home their precious babies in those Dog-awful hospital issue clothes. I make things in a variety of sizes, from so tiny you'd think it was for a doll to "normal" newborn size.

Which makes me feel really, really good. Really good. Like I can reach out to other moms who might be having a hard time of things and let them know…I care about their baby. I want their baby to be happy, and healthy, and warm, and loved.

That's an awful lot of good for twenty lousy bucks.

And it's all machine wash and dry, to boot.

Now, what could be more perfect than that?!

Only in California…

OK, so, what seems like last week, I was sitting around waiting eagerly for 4:00. Why? Because 4:00 was when I had wrung the very last warmth from the very last ray of sunshine, and the heater came on and my house would go from 'icebox' to 'bearable.' This enabled me to do the dishes and cook dinner without wearing five layers of sweater and jacket and maybe a hat and gloves. (I am part lizard. I need warmth to have any motivation.)

Now, I'm sitting around waiting for 4:00. Why? Because 4:00 is when the sun finally quits beating the heck out of my house and the air conditioner comes on, bringing my house from 'sauna' to 'pleasant'. (I am part lizard. Too much heat and all I can do is lie around with my mouth open under a rock [or the dining room table] [hey, don't knock it – it is actually one of the cooler places in the house, in the summertime] waiting for the sun to go away, already.)

Two minutes ago, you know, in the winter, I was rushing in the early morning to open all the heavy wooden blinds to let every drop of warmth-giving sun in.

Now, thirty seconds later, I'm rushing around closing those heavy wooden blinds to block out as much heat as I can. 'Cause it's going to get hot later.

I swear, California can be so odd, weather-wise. I was born and raised right here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and yet, somehow, I feel the weather is just plain wrong. How can we go straight from worrying about our pipes freezing overnight to crawling around panting from the heat, with a scant two-three weeks of cold, rainy weather between? C'mon. Isn't there supposed to be, you know, a Turning of the Seasons? First you see a couple snowdrops and bluebells…then there's a rainy period where it is almost warm when it isn't raining…and this goes on for a while…and then it starts to get warmer…warmer…warmer…OK! HOT! HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT! HOT! We're dying! Too hot! Too dry! Too humid! No rain! Too much heat! Ack! Uck! Cooler…cooler…mornings get crisp…evenings become 'stroll-worthy'…nights are getting cold…pumpkins and leaves and children wearing jackets…colder…colder…oh my goodness! Is this snow?!...and then colder and wetter and snowy-er, and then you're all miserable and sick of it and wishing it was Spring already and then, lo and behold…a snowdrop! {lather, rinse, repeat}

Nossir. Not here in California. I think there's an on/off switch for winter and summer. Here in the Central Valley, it seems we're always either baking, or freezing. And occasionally, during the seasons the rest of the world calls "Spring" and "Fall", it feels as though $DEITY is having fun flicking the switch. Hey! It's winter! Psych! It's summer! Winter! Summer! Ha! Summer! WINTER! HA! Look at those weathermen sweat!!

That's my home state. Land of few(er) bugs, less "weather" and more granola than you can shake a stick at…

My feelings (almost) exactly

The Onion, America's Finest News Source, put out an article that almost precisely nails my overall opinion of my own eco-Nazi efforts: I'm Doing My Inconsequential Part For The Environment.

Oh yes, I've thought it. When sweating my butt off walking to pick up the kids from school instead of burning fossil fuels to do it; when sweltering in my Den while my neighbors, !who aren't even home!, run their air conditioners all day long so they can loaf in cool comfort the instant they return from work; when deciding to pay $400 more for my dishwasher because, and swear to Dog this is the only difference feature-wise, it (allegedly) uses about half the water and electricity to wash and dry my dishes.

And I think to myself, "Wow. What an utterly…inconsequential…thing I'm doing here."

By walking to school I've saved maybe one eighth a gallon of gasoline (OK, OK, and the walking isn't doing me any harm, either). By choosing to pay a little more for one gigantic shampoo I can then divvy into reusable individual containers instead of getting ten smaller bottles at the Dollar Tree, thus reducing even how much I'm tossing into the recycling bin, I've made precisely no headway whatsoever toward Saving The World®.

I'm planning to plunk down a staggering sum of money in the somewhat near future to do two things: replace our dinosaur of an HVAC system with a Best of Breed system. Whole house fan, dual controls, brand new duct system and, of course, the machine itself – which should heat and cool our house on a fraction of the energy and emissions of the current system. Ka-CHING! Also, we're planning to put in a fairly massive solar panel system. We have the perfect roof for a Really Big System, and see, this way, we can be putting more energy into the system than we take out, get it? So we're, like, actually generating power…

…so that our neighbors can run their @*^&ing air conditioners all day, while they're at work.


And then I lift up mine eyes to the continent of Asia and behold! I say unto myself, "Holy Carp! They outnumber me by about four zillion to one – they can go through oil faster than I can eat California Brittle!" (Dear God, please, someday…let someone decide to organize a California Brittle eating contest. I would not only win, but I would be in 7th heaven doing so. Thank you, love always, Me.)

And I feel very discouraged. And even a little stupid. It costs a lot of money to take some of these steps. It's expensive, trying to be an eco-Nazi at these levels. It was all well and good when my activities were limited to writing forceful letters to my elected officials (Pombo is so on my spit-list right now…) and maybe picking up litter and putting it in its place. And also it can be darned inconvenient. Composting can get ugly. Also, people tend to look at you a little funny when you explain that the reason you're walking down the side of the road is that you park your car central to all your errands then walk…yes…walk…the up-to-two-miles between stores. To, you know, save gas…?

But then…I consider the effect of a pebble tossed into a calm pool.

You toss the pebble. It splashes in. There is a large ripple formed from around the pebble, and the ripple moves out in circles from its center. Larger at first, slowly becoming smaller and smaller and smaller as they move out to the edges of the pond.

But they do continue on. Imperceptible, maybe. Minuscule. But there.

I can't rock the world. It's too big a pond, and I'm too small a pebble. All of my machinations are manifestly insignificant by the time they get out into the world at large.

But I can have a large impact…close to home. I can have a mighty power, here in the Den. I can make my home more efficient. I can not turn on my air conditioner, I can choose energy-efficient appliances, I can haul my lazy, fat butt off the chair and walk to school. I can choose my purchases based not only on how much money it will cost, but how much "earth" I'm using up. I can choose not to use a plastic bag to hold the one lonely bell pepper I'm buying (this one occurred to me a while ago while buying a single jalapeno, actually – it was like, the bag probably weighed as much as the pepper and why the heck do I need the bag, anyway?!).

I can teach my children to think about these things and send them forth as Conscientious World Citizens. Which is probably the biggest splash I'm going to make. Well, that and my eco-Nazi missionary work. And continuing to write forceful letters (grrrrr…Pommmmmmboooooooooo!) and monitor such things as methyl bromide use in strawberry crops (hello, what part of "banned substance" are we having problems with, people?!) (I mean! I'm pro-business and pro-people-making-a-living, I really, really am – but when we're talking about a chemical that is killing the world, I think that causing strawberry farmers some financial pain is kind of not that important…)

Sure. That my trash tote is half-empty and my recycling bin full is a tiny drop in the oceanic bucket. But for a Den with four small children in it, it's a fairly good-sized splash.

And who knows…maybe my ripples will meet up with some other ripples…and so on…and so on…and so on…and suddenly we'll have this tsunami of awareness that will sweep the world. People who today don't think twice about buying an SUV purely because it looks cool will stop and say, "Wait…being an eco-Nazi is ever-so-trendy these days…I'll take the Prius instead!!"

Hey. It could happen…

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother’s Day Gifts to Cherish

Some mothers get rubies. Some mothers get diamonds. Some mothers get ruby-encrusted diamonds on gold rings.

And then…there are mother’s like me, who…Lord. I’m laughing so hard I can’t even write this. What did I get for my “grownup” Mother’s Day present? When other mothers who got gifts of (allegedly) equal value were gasping over little black boxes and sighing over cashmere wraps and saying the new Mercedes was just ever so darling, thank you dearest?

A video card. You know, the thing in a computer that controls how you see things?

OK, maybe you’re thinking this is something like the husband buying his wife a shop vac (when she isn’t a woodworker herself), or a new iron and ironing board (so she can get his shirts done faster).

Let me explain.

My husband bought a video game for himself last week. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. About eight seconds into it he announced, “I think this is more a ‘you’ game than a ‘me’ game.”

And about ten minutes after I shoved him out of the chair took a turn, I agreed with him. My kind of game. Getting to kick goblin butt and kill things…but as a Hero. Woo hoo.

But there was a problem. Our video card was old and testy and doesn’t even run DVDs. And the gameplay was…bothersome. The mouse couldn’t move properly and if there were two NPCs (non-player-characters, to you non-role-playing-gamers) in the scene the whole thing just went kaput and it was irritating and don’t even get me started on how annoying melee combat was!

In order to play the game, we had all the video settings on the lowest possible. Lowest detail, lowest interaction with NPCs, lowest everything relating to video. And it worked. Mostly. Sorta. When it didn’t…not…work…

So after making me two Absolutely Perfect Eggs™ with bacon and toast and everything, my husband said, “Hey. It’s Mother’s Day. You go have fun and play your game – I’ll do all the cooking and cleaning and child-wrangling.”

I made a slight pretense of not wanting to abandon the family. By which I mean, I let him finish the whole sentence before I bolted for the computer room and locked myself (and Eldest, who is very into Harry Potter and video games and by the way, kicks butt at Warcraft and I am so proud of my *ahem* eight year old for that) in there loading up the game and outlining my strategy for the day.

And a while later, while bringing me a soda (I do so love my man!), I whined vigorously mentioned that our video card sucked lumpy moose piss through a straw seemed a bit inferior. He said it was, in fact, inferior and not even on the list of supported devices. But, he said warningly, a “good” video card would run $200. And one that would really make this game go would be more like $300.

In a moment of wild abandon, I said I was more than willing to slap down $300 right here, right now, to be able to play this game right. (I may have been a tad emotional – I had just died in combat due to the stupid video card locking up on me while a couple goblins were jumping at me and I so totally could have taken them!

So what did he do?

He got in the car, went to Best Buy, bought the $300 video card (this would be the one that the teenagers stand around drooling over and begging their parents to buy for them) (sweeeeeeeeeeet), brought it home, installed it and the drivers and everything else and we loaded it up and OH MY GOD it is the BEST GAME EVER!!!

The graphics – stunning!
The detail – exquisite!
The artwork – gasp!
The melee combat – ooooohaaaaaaaaah!

I played all day. I leveled up twice (which isn’t as lamely easy in this game as in some others). I got the coolest dwarven shield that has an AC of like a zillion, and this utterly boss long sword and I have awesome blade skills now and I can hit like a thousand times per second and stuff and this one time? I hit a goblin so effin’ hard it flew backwards like ten feet and there was this huge bloodspatter all over the wall behind it and it like, shook it’s head like it was saying “whoooooooooa!” …it was wicked!


I think it is probably a rather sad commentary on my priorities in general, but Oh.My.Dawg. In the ‘not from the children’ category of Mother’s Day gifts?

Best. Present. Ever.

You can keep the rubies and the diamonds and the Mercedes.

Just give me a decent desktop with a boss video card, a game the stature of Oblivion, and several (mostly) uninterrupted hours to worship before it all…

Friday, May 12, 2006

21 Months, Three Weeks

Good gravy, time does fly. Seems like just yesterday I had a newborn in the house, and today I’ve got a sturdy little man of twenty one months, three weeks.

The Experts™ at Baby Center, always eager to help me out with things, enthusiastically asked me if I had time to spare (uh, no) and then went on to espouse the virtue of ditching the stroller and letting Captain Adventure take point on a walk around the neighborhood.

“You'll be amazed at how many times she'll stop to check out small objects such as an interesting rock, a dead leaf, or an ant hill. Your toddler isn't trying to drive you crazy by dawdling. To her, the journey is as exciting as the destination and the small details of the world are irresistible to her now.”


OK, so, yet again, my child is not ‘normal’. Because Captain Adventure does not dawdle. That’s Boo Bug’s job. Captain Adventure is all about running.

His little legs are pumping furiously before he even hits the ground, and when he leads the way, he does it at a dead run. Laughing wildly and casting occasional glances to ensure he is being chased, he will go full tilt until he runs out of sidewalk.

Interesting rocks, flowers, leaves, ant hills? Pfffft! We’re talking motion, baby! Get the lead out, Mommy! Hup-hup-hup-hup!!!

Now, this isn’t to say that he doesn’t spend a lot of time being engrossed in seemingly small details. We have some charming video of him playing with dominos – shown briefly how to set them up and knock them down in rows, the kid went to town with it. He could do that for hours. And chew on the dominos, which apparently were quite tasty. (However, being cheap Chinatown dominos, they were also coated in black ink that came off all over his little face.)

Speaking of putting things in his mouth, this is the other problem with letting him be a free-range toddler. The kid puts the most ungodly things into his mouth. He is the sort of child who will put even things which taste nasty into his mouth, purely because he knows I don’t want him to do so. He turned around the other night and stuck his tongue out at me to show off the fact that he was chewing on a point protector. One of these dealies:

*rubs forehead*

They taste nasty. (Just trust me on this. Don’t try them. You will regret it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) There are much better things to chew on. This was simply an act of chewing on something that he knew would make mommy batty. “Ha ha, look at me, I’m chewing on one of those blue thingees you don’t want me to play with, ha ha!” And then when he sees me coming with that “I’m so gonna take that away from you” glint in my eye, {trumpet sounds!} we’re OFF to the races! You cannot catch me, I am a gazelle!!

Horrible child. But I digress.

I can only imagine what it would be like to turn him loose on an unclean neighborhood. Dead birds, moldy walnuts, dog poop…he’d be going from one vile ‘treasure’ to the next with me jogging along in his wake screaming, “No! No! Eeew, no, no no no no nonononononononono. AW, NO!”

I’d probably need a week’s rest at a nice sanitarium for each ten minutes of “walk” we took. And an hour of therapy sessions. “So. When your son put the slug into his mouth, how did that make you…feel?”

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock this week, in case the endless “news stories” about how much a stay at home mom would be paid if she were paid for “all the things she does”, and the ‘Every Kiss Begins with Kays’ commercial blitz and the constant reminders from every media source in America didn’t give it away…Sunday is Mother’s Day.

I know this because I have already begun to receive a steady stream of cards and, uh, things. The Denizens are at many different levels of creative abilities, and sometimes they will thrust something at me and $DEITY help me say, “Guess what I made you?!”

Often, they’ll save me by breathlessly going on to announce what it is (“It’s a motorcycle helmet sticker!!”), but sometimes, they don’t. They stand there, with their little eyes shining eagerly and an anticipatory smile on their little lips, waiting for me to pronounce that it’s the absolute best fruit-carrier ever made!

These are the moments when I feel the earth peeling away beneath my feet. Because if I get it wrong, if I say, “Wow, what a beautiful flower basket!” when in point of fact, it is a strawberry keeper…well. It can be a crushing blow to the budding young artist.

Yesterday, Boo Bug came running in clutching a paper bag with a card attached. She thrust it at me and screamed, “KAAAH-PWISE!!!!”

Now, Boo Bug was actually about four seconds away from being sent for speech therapy / hearing evaluations a year ago (hmm, why does that sound familiar?), because she could not be understood by anyone – not even me, the person who was with her 24/7. She made noises that vaguely resembled words, but honestly we could not understand more than half of what she said.

The pediatrician was talking speech therapy and so forth; I sent her to preschool instead and boom – she’s speaking much more clearly and coherently. Not only can we understand 99% of what she says now, we’re stunned at how smart she is. I mean. We knew she wasn’t stupid or anything. But…well. We had no idea what-all was going on in that cute little head.

But I digress.

So she came rushing in and shoved this thing at me yelling, “KAH-PWIZE!!!” and I sat there wondering what in the world she just said. Kah-what? Kahpwize? What the heck does that mean?!

And the stream that was coming out of her mouth wasn’t helping any. It was a kahpwize and it for YOU! MOMMY! and it was a muddah’s pwize and was a’posed to be {utterly incoherent} but she had done the card and it was her hand and KAHPWIZE! KAHPWIZE! KAHPWIZE!!!!

There then came a Dreadful Pause. This was the moment when, had I been paying attention to the script, I would have gushed in praise and so forth. But instead, I sat there just staring at her, still trying to puzzle out what a kah-pwize would possibly be.

Her lower lip came out and quivered. “Mommy,” she said softly. “Don’t you wike your muddar’s kahpwize?”

And then, praise be to $DEITY, it hit me.

“It’s a lovely Mother’s Day surprise, sweetheart! It was just so…surprising!”

The lip retreated, the eyes sparkled, and the important features I may have overlooked were pointed out – the extra leaf on the tulip, the redness of the tulip, the fact that the card is attached to the bag with TWO pieces of tape, which she did HERSELF…

Whew. Disaster averted. My kahpwize has many lovely features, including a rather clever tulip made of her handprint and the obligatory schmaltzy poem about how wonderful a mother I am for reading and cuddling and putting band-aids on skinned up knees. Also, there is a paper bag which I am not allowed to open yet, because it is a kahpwize specifically for opening on Muddar’s Day. Which is not yet. It is on a not-school-day, which is Sunday, which is after Saturday but before Monday.

And if she asks us one more time if it’s Muddar’s Day yet, we may lose our minds altogether.

But my favorite part is her signature. The mismatched letters, the capital being dwarfed by the next letter, the ‘i’ bigger than the ‘l’, the backward ‘s’…those are the things that utterly charm me. And impress me, too. To go from barely knowing the alphabet song to being able to write your name in a matter of three months?

That’s a smart kid. That’s my kid.

A kahpwize a minute.

Not ANOTHER broken dishwasher...

My soda…tastes like soap. Taking the scientific approach, I licked the outside of the glass. Hmm. Tastes like soap. I'd say this glass is definitely still soap-y.

My husband washed the dishes last. Maybe his rinse cycle is broken?

Lord. I hope he doesn't need a new motherboard…

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

$400 Dishwashing Outfit

I was up to my elbows in warm sudsy water washing the dishes (again) when it suddenly struck me: I am wearing a $400 dress. This realization hit me in the emotions exactly the way missing a step on the stairs does. You know, when you're going up the stairs and you think there's one more step, and there…isn't?

The idea of forking over $400 for a dress today causes a tidal wave of nausea to wash over me. Well. That actually might be the Drunken Monkey Pills. But still. The very idea seems absolutely foreign to my nature. Rejected at the DNA level. How much? For what? When I could probably get it's twin at Goodwill for $10 to maybe $25?

No. Way.

I bought this dress nine years ago, to wear to my brother-in-law's wedding. It is the last purchase of its kind, the end of an era if you will. Oh, what's that? A summer wedding? Oh, dahling, I simply must have something Fresh! and New! to wear to it…!

I rushed out to Nordstrom's and bought a $400 dress of dubious fabulosity (honestly – I'm looking at it today and asking myself if it has always been this shapeless, because it hangs on me with all the elegance of a sack…I haven't lost that much weight) without regard for the fact that our checking account had about, oh, maybe…$5 in it. That we owed $65,000 on credit cards. That we had $30,000 in car loans. That our combined income was under $60,000. That I was, in point of fact, unemployed at that precise moment.

That we were >>>this<<< close to utter and complete fiscal disaster, that I didn't need a new dress, that even if I had "needed" a new dress, there were other options that would have covered my nekkedness just as well for a fraction the cost.

I bought it because, uh, well. I like the colors. And it is a Designer Label. Can't remember what designer and aren't going to take it off to check, but I do remember that it was a Designer. Somebody…famous.

Sometimes, it's hard to reconcile that yes – I was that person. I was that shallow, that vain, that…idiotic. So lacking in self-esteem, so utterly self-absorbed and petty. Immature. Blissfully unaware of the consequences of taking such a short-sighted approach to life, and completely out of touch with what really matter to me.

I had the same core values then that I do now, really. The same basic belief set, the same overall philosophies, the same 'guiding principles'. I just…didn't pay much attention to them.

But it was shortly after buying this dress that a pregnancy test put an interesting spin on my psyche. It took things not being All About Me anymore to make me pay attention to things like my core values, choosing what really matters to me and focusing my energy on those things, and to stop rushing around trying to borrow the values of others.

Ironic, huh?

Yeah. I thought so, too.

Now. If you'll excuse me…the sink has somehow filled up with dirty dishes yet again (how does it do that?!), so the $400 gown and I will just toddle off to wash them. See, I could have had a dishwasher installed today, but it would have cost $500 more than waiting a week or two while they ordered the non-stainless-steel model and brought it on the normally scheduled truck instead of rush-delivering it…which is more in line with my core value of providing best possible stewardship for our resources, you see…

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Signs of returning normalcy

This morning, it took me half an hour to decide that yes, I still needed to take Drunken Monkey Pills.

This is a tremendous step forward over yesterday, when I woke up wondering if there were any possible way for me to, using nothing but desperate willpower, levitate my Drunken Monkey Pills out of the Pill Fortress in the downstairs coat closet, up the stairs past not one but two child- adult-proof gates, through my closed bedroom door and into my hand, saving me the untold agony of rolling over sans drugs. We’re not even talking about sitting up. Just rolling over seemed waaaay too painful to contemplate.

But this morning, I got myself out of bed, limped downstairs, made coffee and drank half of it before I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to go without narcotics just yet.

Another sign of impending normalcy: My husband said, “Hey, why don’t you make a shopping list and I’ll go to the supermarket later today?”

Simple enough, right? A normal person would say, “Great!” and get some paper and a pencil and write a few things: Eggs, milk, bread.

I reject your reality, and substitute my own: First, I got the pad of paper and a pencil. Then, I went out to the garage to take a detailed inventory of the freezer, down to the last succulent little shrimp, followed by an equally thorough survey of the shelves in the garage.

Then I headed back into the house and threw open the fridge. I was already making ‘tsk-tsk’ noises before I even grabbed the door handle, because I knew what I was going to find. So naturally, in order to make a shopping list, it was necessary to first take everything out of the fridge and clean the inside of it. Throw away fourteen bottles of outdated sauces, slimy vegetables and whatnot, reorganize the remaining bottles, all of this was absolutely and naturally needed before I could write ‘eggs’ on a piece of paper. Then, back out to the garage for more sodas and juice boxes/pouches to neatly line up on the bottom shelf – sodas to the left, juices to the right. Labels facing out. (Obviously, I’m not this organized all the time – it’s just when I’m consciously putting things away I try to be very neat and linear and all that, because within mere moments I will throw open the fridge, grab things at random, thrust the applesauce and barbecue sauce in front of the bag of asparagus that won’t fit in the crisper because I shoved a 20# bag of grated cheddar cheese in there and then later that afternoon go on a rampage demanding to know WHO ATE THE ASPARAGUS I JUST BOUGHT?! [as if any of the Denizens would willingly touch the stuff, let alone eat it] for a few days before finding the now-dead asparagus tucked in the farthest reaches of the fridge, smelling to high heaven.)

Now that I have a clean fridge and full disclosure on what we do and do not have already available in the Den food-wise…I can start to make my list.

So I pack the espresso filter with freshly ground coffee, fill the water reservoir and turn it on, pop a scant two cups of 1% milk into the microwave for 2 minutes, 45 seconds, put one packet of Equal and a teaspoon of cocoa powder into each cup, steam the milk carefully and blend all together and top off the creamy foam with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and fresh-ground nutmeg.

What? Well, I don’t know how you people might make your shopping lists, but around the Den of Chaos, we do things in a civilized fashion.

So I dropped off the husband’s coffee in the office, accepted his praise and gratitude gracefully, grabbed a few dozen cookbooks for “ideas” on my way back to the kitchen table and sat down to write out My List.

I start, of course, by checking the calendar for social engagements that might interfere with meals. The niece’s birthday party, for example – there is absolutely no sense in making dinner that night. Nobody will want to eat anything anyway. Sandwiches will do. Also, it can be helpful to note that I am hosting said party. Oh yeah. Heh. Forgot about that little wrinkle…might want to get a few cans of non-diet soda and maybe some hotdogs or something…

So I write down my menu plan for the week. Shrimp scampi with wild rice pilaf, meatloaf, chicken and broccoli casserole…a week’s worth of menu, writing down the grocery needs for each meal as I go, alternating Things The Children Loathe with Things The Children May Deign To Consume. I make little notes next to the Freezer Inventory column indicating on which days what meats and whatnot will need to come out of the freezer to defrost in time for their Glorious Future as our dinner.

Then, final step, I take a mental trip through the supermarket. After eight years of shopping at the same supermarket, I know each aisle better than most of the stocking clerks – writing a list in aisle-order is second nature to me. I shop each aisle in my mind’s eye, noting down all the things we need, things I want IF they’re on sale this week, until finally I drop the smoking, lead-deprived pencil to the table and survey the result with great satisfaction.

There. A shopping list. An excruciatingly detailed shopping list, organized by supermarket aisle, with the occasional note (“Do not buy off-sale” or “Check per-ounce price – smaller sometimes cheaper”) scrawled next to them. It’s ready. An alien could drop out of the sky, take this list, and come home with the right stuff from Safeway.

A little bit later, as I’m recovering from my ordeal on the sofa, my darling husband pops in from the office to say, “OK, I’ve got a window on my time – do you have a list for me?”

Now, right up until this very moment, I had fully intended to hand him the list and send him on his way. By himself. Alone. With the list, and a credit card.

But then, glancing at my detailed notes and aisle-specific directions, what do I suddenly do?

I look him square in the eye and say, “Yes. But I think you’d better just take me with you, I’m not sure my list will make sense to you.

And I honestly believed it, too. That he would become confused by my list and think, what, that a ‘bleach pen’ was one of those candles with a picture of the weeping Virgin on it?

Things are returning to normal around here.

And just to prove it…as we were pulling into the parking lot, I discovered…I had left the stupid list back at the house.

Oh yes. We are definitely on the way back to normal around the Den of Chaos.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dishwashers and Drunken Monkey Pills

It says right on my discharge papers: "Avoid making important financial decisions or signing important legal documents."

I consider this to mean that I should not have to deal with such things as broken dishwashers for the foreseeable future.


So, the dishwasher has been fritzy for a while. Basically, it throws cold water over the dishes, hums a little tune to itself for a while, and that's it. It does not actually wash the dishes. It does not, in fact, even get the water warm enough to dissolve the dish soap.

So we had a guy come out and look at it a little over a week ago. He said, "Aha, your heating element is broken. It will be $200 to replace it."

Well, this being a $600 dishwasher of only five years antiquity (note that this is outside the warranty period), we decided to pay the $200. He orders parts and arrives this morning to replace the heating element.

Shortly after arriving and yanking the unit out of the counter, he says, "Um. There's a different problem here. The heating element is broken, BUT, it isn't getting instructions from the motherboard. Yup. Your motherboard is broken, too."

The motherboard. The dishwasher has a motherboard.

A broken motherboard.

Ay yi yi.

So the total bill was now creeping up toward the $400 mark to fix the old dishwasher.

And, I am on Drunken Monkey Pills. The technical name is 'Vicodin', but I prefer to call them Drunken Monkey Pills, because when I take them – well. It's appropriate.

So I'm sitting here trying to do the math on getting a new dishwasher.

$400 to repair a dishwasher that hasn't worked right in months and never really was up to the horror that is Dishwashing for the Den of Chaos.

$600 for a new dishwasher of suitable brand/durability/ability to handle the somewhat copious dish-needs of the Den.

$400, with no guarantee that it will continue working once the new motherboard (motherboard!) and heating elements have been installed.

$600 for a new one with a full three year warranty on all moving parts.

$400, and the repairman is shaking his head sadly at me as if to say, "You and I both know that I will be back here inside of a month fixing something else that has gone wrong with this thing."

$600 is probably too low. $600 will be the price before sales tax, delivery charges, the $65 drainage tube that somehow is never included (and usually takes two weeks to be shipped from Norway or something), and the fact that the guy who comes out to install it has to carve up a 6' ring of Pergo before he can get it in.

$400 sounds better and better. Then the guy points out that there is also a mystery leak coming from 'somewhere' near the back and that the pump doesn't seem to be pumping.


I would like to direct the attention of the Guild back to the statement on my release papers: "Avoid making important financial decisions or signing important legal documents."

This includes choosing a new dishwasher, paying for a new dishwasher, and otherwise dealing with a dishwasher in any way, shape, or form.

Especially not while taking Drunken Monkey Pills.

Also, can I say right here and now that I do not feel up to making a journey out to Sears and/or Best Buy and/or Appliances-R-Us and/or SomeGuyWhoSellsAppliancesCheap.com to inspect dishwashers? I really don't give a {bleep} about dishwashers right now.

Except I have way too many control issues around my kitchen to just send forth the husband to pick a stupid dishwasher.

There is also the tiny fact that I do not technically have even the $400 to repair the old one. I will be stealing this money. Using "creative finance" to handle it. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Let's see. I have to come up with roughly $1,200 for all the medical bills I've racked up over the last few weeks, plus I'm not getting paid for my time off this week (already used up my vacation/sick pay before we even had the diagnosis), can't get disability in the thankfully unlikely case anything else goes wrong here (because they would base it on the last quarter of 2005, during which I was a stay at home mom with $0 in salary), am still trying to recover from the staggeringly huge start-up costs associated with earning money (ironic, ain't it?) and now…the damned dishwasher is broken.

I feel very, very abused right now.

And I'm also angry, because I keep telling myself I really shouldn't complain. A dishwasher, I tell myself sternly, is hardly a "need". Mankind managed to survive without dishwashers for thousands of years, I inform myself loftily.

"You know," I tell myself with the droll self-importance of The Enlightened. "You really need a reality check. Food is a need. Your health care costs are a need. A dishwasher is not a need. There are children in Africa right now who…"

Aw, shaddup. I'm pissed, and depressed, and feeling very, very put upon. And oddly, counting my blessings is making me even pissier. And I can't blame anybody else for doing it to me – it's all coming from inside my own head.

I get upset because I'm sick and sore and 'recovering', and what do I say to myself? "You should be grateful you have those Drunken Monkey Pills, and a nice clean hospital with kindly nurses to tend you! Millions of people all over the world are dying from far less than this for lack of basic medical care!"

I feel kind of sick inside because I'm facing a major expense, and there goes that snarky-mouthed witch inside my brain: "You know, first of all, a dishwasher is hardly a 'need'. Hardly. And secondly, you know full well that financing such things on a whim is not sound fiscal policy. Furthermore, washing dishes by hand is a wholesome, family-building experience blah blah blah blah blah…"

Usually I'm grateful for my gratitude. I think it helps me laugh off things that might otherwise be Crushing Disappointments™. I feel I have it pretty darned good, even when things are going pretty darned poorly.

But right about now…well. Maybe it's just the Drunken Monkey Pills, but I surely do wish I could stop feeling like I should be grateful and just wallow in a little self-pity for a little while.

Of course, what's a good pity party, without tea and cookies…and I can't eat real food yet. You see how bad things are?! I can't even have a nice little sugar cookie with my self-pity!

"You know…there are people all over the world who would trade their right arm to have a lovely cup of lukewarm chicken broth right now…!"

(Can I send them mine? Seriously. I'll box it right up…)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Home at last

Everything went brilliantly. Gallbladder-less, I am home and higher than a kite comfortable, thanks to Vicodin.

I also finished the pair of socks. I had the first sock more than half done before I even arrived at the hospital, because I was so nervous I kept picking them up and ripping off a few rounds. I got no knitting whatsoever done Thursday, but then spent the entire day Friday knitting and waiting, knitting and waiting. I just finished the toe of the second sock about half an hour ago.

I think that is a new speed record for a pair of socks here in the Den.

I find it amazing how quickly they can get you in and out these days. The girl in the bed next to me had come roaring into the emergency room Wednesday night with appendicitis. Quick! To surgery! Four small holes just like mine later, she was going home a few hours before I did Friday.

I had my appendix out in 1981, and I had to stay in the hospital for eight days.


But now, in and out. Just like that.

It’s fabulous. My surgeon saw me precisely twenty-four hours after surgery and said I could go home. I had a few hours worth of delay because we first had trouble getting my pain under control (without morphine backing it up, Darvocet didn’t do a whole lot for me), and then they got pissy because I hadn’t eaten any of the “gel-like dessert” (sugar, gluten and flavor free) or drunk the “cranberry-juice-flavored cocktail” or choked down any of the lukewarm water that had once shared a kitchen with a bouillon cube and my tummy wasn’t rumbling even a little bit.

Fortunately, my loyal husband brought me a mocha from the outside world; after I drank it, my guts made appropriate rumblings and I was able to proudly answer, “Yes, yes I have!” when they asked if I had passed gas. (Gotta love hospitals – nowhere else are people so keen to know about your every internal pop and rumble.)

So I was wheeled out of the Land of Gel-Like Desserts and dumped at the curb. Here at home, I have been upgraded to Campbell’s Vegetable Soup and homemade French Onion soup – flavor! Flavor! Ooooooh, lovely flavor!

It all gets better from here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

For the life of me I don't know…

…why I write SQL in ALL CAPS.

But I do.

I write VB in standard upper/lower. I write C++ (on the, like, two occasions I've ever had to do so) in plain-Jane upper/lower. And Java. HTML. Any other coding language I have ever had cause to mangle use, I write as if I were writing a note to my friend. "Dear Computer, please loop through the following items and do this, that or the other until Condition A is no longer true, thanks, love always, Me."

But not SQL. For some reason known only to the deep, dark recesses of my mind, I always write SQL in CAPS.


And then, when I flip over to, say, write an email, I'm in ALL CAPS. And I grouse and mutter to myself and hit the cap lock key and get on with my life.

It isn't like it doesn't work if you say "select * from TABLE" (<== this is about the only place where it matters – field and table names can sometimes-but-not-always be fussy about caps), it won't work. It works just fine. But I tried to do some coding in lowercase on purpose, just to prove to myself that it worked just fine…and it made me feel uneasy. As if I expected someone to swoop down and shout, "NO! That's WRONG! Five points off!!"

It's like the old story where the newly married woman cuts the ends off the ham, every single time she makes one. Her new husband asks her why she does this. She says she doesn't know – her mother always did, and that's why she does.

Asking the mother, she replies that she also has no idea why she did this. It was because grandma always did. Naturally, they turn to grandma expecting something wonderful, some sage bit of elder advice, some 'magic cooking technique' kind of reason for the cutting off of the ham-ends…

And she says, "Well, because otherwise it wouldn't fit in the roasting pan, dear!"

I have no idea why I do SQL in all caps. I suspect it will ultimately be because somebody, somewhere in the dim recesses of my career, taught it to me that way. And I dutifully pass it along, to anyone who ever has the misfortune of being taught by me.

And someday, somewhere down the line, someone will question my logic. And they'll call me seeking my sage elder knowledge (snort!), and I'll say, "Well…because I thought it looked neater, dear!"

Knitting crisis solved

I'm doing a pair of socks. Yes, another pair of socks. I'm using some of the Lisa Souza sock yarn, though, which after all the cotton/wool blend and rotgut wool superwash is heavenly. And the colors are delightful. I just hope I don't finish them before Thursday. I'm so nervous, I find myself picking them up incessantly.

If I can motivate myself out the door, I'm also going to put together everything I need to make this sweater, which is in a pattern book I couldn't resist.

Only, I'm making it in a kind of soft gray for the main color and a darker moss green for the border. Because that's what I have in my stash (see, I'm saving money and cleaning out the infernal craft closet – that's called "multitasking"). But I need a pair of #4 circulars of at least 36" circumference.

Oh, and I feel great! I feel better right now than I have felt in literally months!!

See, here's what I think is happening. My gallbladder is kissing up to me right now. It's saying, "Oh, heh heh, no! No, it wasn't me! There's nothing wrong here, we're still buds!! It was…uh…the mayo! At Wendy's! That's what happened! And the flu, you must have had the flu! Just the flu, and bad mayo!...dude…you're not really going to take me out, are you? After all the good times we've had? All the laughs? The steak and fries and deep-fried zucchini we've shared?"

Seriously. I feel so good that, my short-term memory being rather poor and my horror of All Things Medical being of long standing, I'm second-guessing the whole thing.

Sure, yes, it was miserable, but I feel fine right now! I feel up to a super double cheese-bacon-lard-spread burger and a double bag of fries! With a milkshake!

How in the world could there possibly be anything wrong with my gallbladder?

Or at least, anything wrong enough to justify going to the hospital and having it taken out.

I even ate (checks to see if her doctor is reading over her shoulder) a couple onion rings last week. Nothing happened. Well. I take that back. A little cramping, and a lot of belching. But nothing, you know, dreadful. My kids thought the belching was hysterical, and after all – what could be bad about something that makes the eight-and-under set laugh maniacally and scream, "Do it again, Mommy!"?


Yes, that's me. A delicate little bloom of femininity.