Thursday, August 31, 2006

Disposable Durables?!

Today I read an article in my local paper: Disposable Duds, subtitled Cheap fashion encourages 'shop and toss' philosophy.

Reading it felt just exactly like…well…

Have you ever been walking up a flight of stairs and thought there was one more step…and there wasn’t?!

!!JANG!! goes your brain-pan.

The upshot of the article is this: apparently, a fair number of other people out there, are buying clothing they literally do not expect to wear more than a few times.


Thank goodness, the article goes on to talk about how the clothing is recycled: to Goodwill and similar charitable resellers (where I tend to buy it), to be sold wholesale (hmm, we are intrigued…), to be shipped overseas to the Worthy Poorer Than Us (gee, sorry about the poverty and starvation and bombs and stuff – here’s a lovely turtleneck from Forever 21!) or as a last-ditch effort torn up into industrial rags (I wonder what effect sequins might have on a cleaning rag?).

Which is certainly better than simply ending up ditched into the landfill.

But I still just find the whole mindset causes me a case of kerflumpery. I am kerflumped. I cannot understand how you could buy something like clothing expecting to toss it out shortly afterward.

One example given in the article:

The low costs and quick turn around among "cheap chic" retailers can also mean low quality. For instance, a cowl-neck tunic from Forever 21 retails for $17.80. Pretty inexpensive, no? But, the lifespan of the item? Well, that's a different story.

"All my friends refer to it as the 'one-night outfit' because that's about as much as you'll wear it," says Alexis Weber, 22, of Hayward. "You don't care if it gets ruined. It's cheap and probably going to go out of fashion really soon, so it doesn't matter if it doesn't last very long. And it's not like you can get more than a dozen uses out of it anyway,"



First of all, to me, $17.80 fir a shirt? Is. Not. Cheap. $0.25 is cheap. When I can get a t-shirt from Goodwill for a quarter? I will crow for days about how awesome that was. I consider…$1.25 cheap. I’ll give you up to $3.00 for a silk work shirt. But $17.80?

It had better be cashmere, that’s all I can say. (And here we see a stunning example of how spoiled one can become by thrift store shopping…)

Granted, $17.80 is cheaper than $178.00, which is close to a price tag I saw dangling from a rather lovely piece of fabric-art at Nordstrom. And far cheaper than the $600 a jacket I was fondling lovingly would have set me back, were it not for my certain knowledge that, far from giving it a ‘good’ home, I would be opening it up to all manners of indignities – first of all being put on me, and secondly having open season declared on it by the Denizens. No. I loved it too much to do that to it. I had to let it go, let it be free to be loved by someone more worthy. *sniff, sniff*

The idea of spending $17.80 on a shirt I intend to wear once or twice and ditch?

I reject it. At the DNA level, I reject it. If I’m spending more than $4 on a shirt, I expect to wear it for at least an entire season. Regularly. As in, say, once a week. For three months. That is the least I expect of it. {Insert usual disclaimer about being on the receiving end of ketchup-encrusted embraces from a Denizen}

What I find really astonishing about this is, I never regarded clothes this way. Never. Not even when I was a red-hot credit card fiend.

I once charged $2,000 in a single week on, uh, ‘stuff’. But not one piece of it was stuff I bought thinking, “Kewl! I’ll wear this to the pub on Friday night, and throw it away on Saturday!”

Partially I’m sure it is because I am pretty far from ‘fashion conscious’. So I’m not going to be the type who is going to buy cutting-edge fashion in the first place.

But honestly, my real problem is that the idea of buying a ‘durable good’ the way I’d buy a hamburger just goes so far outside my ken as to be unintelligible to me. “Your Earth ways are strange to me…”

Who are these people? What species is this? I can’t understand it, I just can’t…grok it.

Sure. I admit it. I once bought two shirts specifically to wear while painting the house. I paid $0.50 for the two of them, at Goodwill. I ruined them, just I expected to do. Paint splatters large and small, encrusted all over them.

I washed them, folded them, and stuck them in the bottom drawer of my dresser, along with the equally paint-ruined jeans I had been wearing.

You know. For the next time I’m painting.

Because me, I agree with Scrooge on this one: “Garments were invented by the human race as protection against the cold. Once purchased, they may be used indefinitely for the purpose for which they are intended. Coal burns. Coal is momentary and coal is costly. There will be no more coal burned in this office today.”

Nor will any ‘cheap’ clothing be burned, either. I don’t care how cheap we think it is, it still took time, money, labor, and resources to make it.

Disposable duds, indeed!

Just Peachy

Peaches were on sale at Safeway this week. I looked at the peaches, on sale, and I thought to myself, I haven’t made a peach pie since Noah was a pup.

I put five good-sized peaches in a bag. And then I thought to myself that if I was going to make peach pie, well! I’m pretty sure it is against Federal law to make peach pie and not have ice cream to go with it…

So I cruised over and grabbed a (not quite a) gallon of French vanilla ice cream that was on sale.

And then I saw it. Above the Club Card banner proudly stating, “2 / $6”…

Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche.

I’m not entirely sure what happened next. All I know is, when I got home? There was a pint of Dulce de Leche in the freezer.

It is a great mystery.

Anyway. Last night, I made the pie. The peaches were splendid, mildly tart and extremely juicy. Very little sugar was needed, and the crust-gods were with me – no breaking, no overhandling, no ‘cardboard would be less chewy’-ness. An awesome pie. It was good warm out of the oven, and it was good cold this morning with coffee (hey – it’s a fruit pie, fruit counts as a healthy breakfast!) and I suspect it will be good this afternoon when I dive headfirst into the fridge to scarf the rest of it down right out of the pan with my fingers, snarling at any living creature who looks like they’re going to challenge my predatory superiority cut myself a dainty slice after my salad and tea.

But with the Dulce de Leche…Well.

Let’s just keep this between us, because if the Feds get hold of this information, they’ll probably put “Peach Pie and Dulce de Leche Haagen-Dazs” on the Banned Substances list.


I think this could well be more addicting than heroin. Thank $DEITY that Haagen-Dazs was just a wee little pint, because otherwise?

Big. Trouble.

Holy carp, it was good.

It was, in fact, just peachy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Budget Revision 3.0: The Wine Club

Accomplished: Canceling the wine club. Monthly savings: ~ $57.15 (which is actually overstating slightly, because they weren’t exactly monthly…more like ‘every five weeks-ish).

It is with some mild regret that I let this one go. I’ve really enjoyed the wine club. It has introduced me both to varietals and countries-of-origin that I wouldn’t have risked left to my own devices.

But…$60 is $60. I have a well-stocked wine rack, and frankly – I live in the Central Valley of California. Hello, the nearest winery is fifteen minutes away. The nearest wine cellar is right downtown – tastings encouraged, wide array available.

I’m pretty sure I can survive, epicureanly-speaking, for a while without imported wines.

For those of you keeping score at home…

The Score Thus Far
SacrificeMonthly Payoff
Maid Service$400.00
Cable $45.00
Phone service $12.00
Wine Club $57.00
Grand Total $514.00

There is one more big ticket item on the chopping block. The Great Grand-Daddy of Budget Cuts. One that is giving me qualms. Major qualms. The kind of cut where you pick up the phone…and put it down again…and pick it up again…aaaaaand put it down again…

Do I really want to do this? Really? Am I sure? Will this work? What if…because if it doesn’t…don’t let’s be hasty, because…but it’s a lot of money…yeah, but!...

It comes from beneath…

I believe that my house was built on top of an ancient dump, the evil spirits of which are sending forth psychic impressions of all the trash that was left there into my house.

There can be no other explanation for the way detritus simply…appears…in this Den.

No matter how many hours I may spend cleaning, no matter how many times I may sweep through the same room picking up trash, a few hours later I’ll go back through and find a sprinkling of school papers, broken toys, magazines, bits of yarn and pencil erasers, littering the carpet like snow.

I just don’t get it.

Yesterday, I swept through the front of my house. I cleaned off the little secretary in the hall. Picked up the toys from the floor. Recovered the chairs from whence they had scattered and arranged them around the table. Emptied the trash can and the recycling bin next to the secretary, and put all the shoes on the fireplace in the other room.

And yet…I look around me right now…and you would never believe that I had lifted a finger in this room since the Dawn of Man.

The secretary is covered with a blizzard of papers. Receipts, school work, notices, and what appear to be toilet paper cores capped with white paper. I’m going to bet they have beans or pasta in them. I’m going to further bet that this is what I’m glimpsing under the secretary: beans, or pasta, which have escaped from the toilet paper cores.

There is a set of DVDs on the secretary, and a game cartridge for the Pixter (Dumbest. Electronic. Gizmo. Ever.) There are empty picture frames and a couple happy meal style action figures on it.

There’s a stack of magazines or catalogs, I can’t tell which from here, on the coffee table. Plastic wrappers. An empty shipping box (my bad). Three toys. Four pencils, on the floor. And two pairs of shoes (my bad again). There are scraps of paper balled up on the floor, two Reporting Services manuals (neither of which are helping me out much today), several knitting pattern books, school supplies (glue sticks, pencils, erasers), and a set of watercolor paints. Some coloring books. A big manila envelope containing…something.

Several…cables. Which I’m sure go to electronics we own; but not the digital camera. That particular cable has been lost forever. Probably was eaten by the evil spirits of the ancient dump.

A screwdriver. And two bills, which I guess I’m supposed to be ‘doing something’ with, but for the life of me I can’t tell you why they’re here. And two pleading letters from the teachers begging me to come volunteer in the classroom.

Which I would do, if I had a minute.

Which I don’t. Because the evil spirits of the ancient dump keep pushing all this psychic noise into my house.

I’d call for an exorcism, but before I can have a priest over…I’d need to clean. You can’t have a priest over with a dirty house…

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Speaking of winter sweaters…


OK, granted. It isn't quite as much progress as might be expected, considering that this is for a wee little lad of only two (2) years.

Up to the armpits: like greased lightning

The Rest: Eh…not so much

I have gotten the body of the sweater and about 90% of the first sleeve done. I’m rather pleased with myself for thinking to use two circulars instead of five double-pointed needles for the sleeve; it has gone much faster and with fewer wrinkly-bits. I seem to be physically incapable of allowing the yarn to ‘float gently’ across two needles.

Call it a character flaw.

Anyway. I didn’t do a whole lot of knitting last week, for which I proffer the following excuses (not that anybody cares, but still):

Item the first: My boss was out of town and I was one of his backups. Automatic five hour penalty to knitting time in the Monday – Friday period.

Item the second: My MIL was staying with us all week. Automatic twenty hour penalty to knitting time, for having a houseguest in the first place. Add another four hours per day because she is so stinkin’ fun to talk to, and I a) talk with my hands a lot and b) find myself bent over my knitting laughing so hard I can’t see when she’s around.

She’s real hard on my knitting time, let-me-tell-you.

And yes. I miss her already.

Saturday I was home alone with the kids for most of the day, and Sunday for whatever reason (I’m suspecting someone cast a hex on me) my @*^&@ing arthritis flared up So! Stinking! Bad! that really…about all I could handle was sitting on my patookis watching DVDs or listening to music or surfing the Internet.

I took too much Tylenol, gave myself stomach cramps and a case of the jitters, and still found it too painful to knit on The Boy’s sweater. I briefly contemplated starting a new project with bigger needles (these are little size 3 US deals – kind of hard to manage when your hands are sore), but feared that if I did I’d somehow never return to it.

Let’s just say I have a certain history where that kind of thing is concerned. (And a few items in the bottom of the closet.) (And that this is why I never seem to have a pair #6 circulars, even though I have purchased at least three dozen of them in my time.)

It's getting cooler by the day, though, so I'm motivated! I have FOUR MORE sweaters after this one to get through, before the first snowflake falls.

(Which fortunately, in my part of California, should be in roughly, going with most recent statistics, 2015...)

Thou Shalt NOT!!!!!

Let it be herewith written into the Book of Denizen Law: Thou Shalt Not…tempt Mother with yarn when she is in mid-budget-adjustment and already feeling abused because she hath disallowed herself such luxuries as ‘a quick bite while running errands’ and pedicures.

So it is written, so it shall be. {Clap! Clap!} {Cymbals crash. Minions shout: Hail, Pharaoh! Hail, Pharaoh! Hail, Pharaoh!}

Not two days into my new budgetary restrictions and what do I get in my email last night? “HUGE SALE!! At the Local Yarn Store! 50% off spring yarns! 20% off summer yarns! Fall yarns arriving now, And. We. Must. Make. Room!!!!”




“Argh!” I screamed, upon reading this email (twice) (drooling copiously). “And just when I had decided I’d have to give up on the sweaters Eldest and Boo Bug wanted because I don’t have the right kind of yarn in the stash!!”

See, and there’s a basic problem here: What sweaters are these? Winter sweaters! Which yarns am I going to be drawn to? The Fall yarns! Which yarns are on sale? NOT the Fall ones!!!

“Well, if we cancel daycare for the older two, that’s $900 a month you could spend on yarn!” quoth my husband. He was mostly just being a spit. Because he’s sick and tired of hearing about my wild-eyed schemes for saving money, and wishes I’d just freakin’ do things instead of picking the issue to death discussing the issue at with him.

Still. This is not a helpful suggestion. It has only caused me to think up about six hundred reasons why I’d actually be saving money by spending $300+ at the yarn store; and I’ve come up with a few (tenuous at best) reasons why I need to be in that general vicinity anyway (30 miles away); plus also? Sure! I’m saving so much money on so many other things, Surely I’m Entitled To…a little discount yarn shopping?

Surely I’m Entitled To, or SIET, spending is the bane of my existence. Every time SIET enters my mindset, I get in trouble. SIET has been responsible for easily 90% of the stupid financial decisions I’ve ever made.

You may note that 'SIET', when spoken aloud, sort of rhymes with another word. Same number of letters. Same first and last letter. I think they're definitely related.


I am resisting the temptation.

It is shockingly hard.

But I am strong.

And also? I have several good-sized boxes of yarn already in the stash. I’m confident that I’m not going to die of yarn deprivation any time soon.


I’m pretty sure I won’t, anyway.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Budget Revision 2.0: Phone bill

This is astonishing. I have been on hold with AT&T three times today. Each time, the length exceeded 30 minutes. And then? They hung up on me.

So now, here I am again. On hold, with AT&T, listening to their bright, jazzy hold music and periodic announcement that they love me and want me to continue to hold, and the occasional enthusiastic assurance that I can make changes to my service (liars!) online (LIARS!!!) by going to {extremely deliberate pronunciation} A. T. T. dot. COM.

Also? Their voice recognition software stinks. No matter what I say to it, it can’t understand me.

“So go ahead,” it encouraged me. “Tell me why you’re calling today.”

“Change. Service.” (Can I just state for the record that I do not have any kind of heavy accent; that I’m not from Brooklyn or Liverpool or Edinburgh or Egypt or anything. San Francisco born and raised. Third generation Welsh. My people are from freakin’ Kansas, at this point.)

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. One more time, please briefly tell me why you’re calling today…”

“Because I want to rip your mechanized head off and spit down your virtual neck, you lying sack of weeds!”

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. One more time, please briefly tell me why you’re calling today…”

I have now been on hold for {checks} 40 minutes, 44 seconds.

Let it never be said that I am not determined.

But I am also irked. I’m smelling a conspiracy here. Because you know how they keep telling me I can handle anything I need to handle online at {extremely deliberate pronunciation} A. T. T. dot. COM?

Well. I can add service, sure. Upgrade myself to Super Nova Long Distance with Self-Dialing for a mere $10 a month and $85 per minute, no problem!

But if, say, I want them to quit freakin’ billing me for long distance, which has been handled for the last four months by another outfit? Or if I want to stop using their message center? Or otherwise reduce my phone bill?

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. One more time, please briefly tell me why you’re calling today…”

Worse! This time, when I called back, the automated system said, “I see you called recently…” [yes, sat on hold for OVER THIRTY MINUTES, twice!, before you hung up on me!] “…are you calling about the same unresolved issue? Please say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

What? What?! WHAAAAAAT?!?!?

OK, let’s review. I have sat on hold twice for over thirty minutes. Each time, you hung up on me. And now, in vaguely accusatory tone, you’re asking if I’m calling about the same unresolved issue?!

Damn straight, you lying sack of weeds! I am calling about the same unresolved issue, the unresolved issue you still know nothing about!, because you will not allow me to talk to a lying sack of human weeds!!!!!!

But this also left me somewhat flustered. How do I answer this? Yes, I am calling about the same issue; but I haven’t told you what the issue is yet, so how can there be an issue you know about it? In other words…if you don’t know why I’m calling, how can you say I’ve got an issue, resolved or otherwise?

Eventually I unlocked my jaw and said, “No.”

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that…”


{pause} “Let’s try this a different way. Say ‘Yes’, or press 1; or, say ‘No’, or press 2.”

Damn you. Damn you all!

{punches the 2} (May I also state for the record that I am a proud graduate of kindergarten [three times now, if I count shepherding two of my own children through the process], and I’m fairly well acquainted with the numbers from 0 – 9?

“Thaaaaanks. Hold on just a minute while I transfer you to someone who can help with this unresolved issue…”

What? What?! I pressed 2. That was ‘No.’ How do you know I’ve got an issue?


47:22, and counting…


A human being was reached. She was very nice. She has been yelled at a lot today. She managed a weary chuckle, and was too tired to argue with me (much) about canceling services.

And now, I can say: Budget Item 2 has been accomplished. Message center has been removed, extra long distance coverage likewise has been removed. We are now saving $11.95 a month on our phone bill.

Whew. That was the hardest I’ve worked for a crummy twelve bucks in a long, long time…

Budget Revision 1.0: Cable

Accomplished: Reducing the cable bill from $65 to $20. For the math impaired, that’s $45 less a month, by removing 120 channels we seldom, if ever, actually watch. And if we are watching them, we really ought to be doing something else.

Nothing, however, is sacred. I reserve the right to cancel it altogether if need be – whether the need exists due to my husband staying up until midnight or later on work nights to watch Harold and Kumar Go To Whitecastle, or because I need the $20 for groceries.

And the budgetary bloodbath continues...


Well, that’s it. I did. I filled out the form, signed it, folded it neatly, put it in an envelope, addressed it, stamped it, and put it in the outgoing mailbox.

It’s official.

I am going to be deferring 100% of my income from October 1 through the end of the year into the 401k.

{pause to allow nervous palpitations to pass}

I’m not nearly as well-positioned for doing this as I wanted to be. I wanted to have more in savings, and fewer bills to pay. I’m taking a huge gamble, socking it away. I’ve just bet myself that I can go three months with no emergencies, large or small. No car repairs, no roof tiles falling off the house, no cataclysms in household appliances, no $600 medical bills.

…No really awesome yarn sales...

I’m doing something I so disagree with doing, too. I’m counting on a bonus check. Not just a bonus check - two bonus checks.

My stupidity feels like a layer of Crisco on my skin.

In real life, I don’t count a bonus check as income until it is in the bank. This old hen has pecked in that particular poop before.

“Oh!” gushes the new employer, trying to convince you that the benefits are so worth the $20-30K pay cut you’d be taking to come work for him. “And we have this Fabulous Annual Bonus Check! It’ll be anywhere from 0 to 50% of your gross pay! This year is better than ever! We’re hitting goals left, right and center! Shoot! Might even be {car commercial resonance} 60-60-60% {/car commercial resonance} of your gross pay!!”

If I had a nickel for every time an employer has gushed about how awesome their bonus check program is…well, I’d have more money than I’ve gotten from bonus checks. It’s always because some group you never heard of that is nevertheless part of your ‘global resource partnership’ messed up their goals to the point of no return. Oh, did we say it would 6% of your total gross? Well, it’s actually 0.5%, because the Nurf Tennis Group didn’t do so hot on their target goals…

But this year, I’ve decided to take a chance on it. I have just enough savings to replace my income for October and half of November; the second half of November is a ‘drop back ten and punt’; and then the bonus checks are (allegedly) arriving the first week of December. Allegedly, they should cover us well into the new year.


{nervous palpitations}

It will make for some interesting budgetary changes around the Den, though. Cuts will be made. The phrase, “Not in the budget” will be used more often than the salt shaker. There will be whining. There will be complaints lodged, in triplicate. The Denizens may become…pissy.

But not as pissy as they’d be if Mommy turned up on their doorstep twenty years from now with her suitcase, smiling and saying, “Your turn to take care of me, dear – my goodness, don’t you ever clean in here? *tsk*tsk*tsk*tsk…”

Sunday, August 27, 2006

That which remains…

“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains – however improbable – must be the truth.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Remember all that blood work I had done back in July? Well, all those results are back in, and a couple other things were done. Everything from thyroid to lupus to Crohn’s has been eliminated. Even gout, which does run in my family a bit.

As improbable as it seems, at least to me, what remains for me is osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis, caused by simple degeneration of the cartilage between joints. There is no cure for it; it’s just one of those things that you have to suck up and walk off. I have classic symptoms, classic physical manifestations (little spurs around my joints, and a kind of ‘flat’ look on x-rays around my affected joints – which is most of them) (argh).

I learned an important medical fact, though, which I shall now pass along to you: The phrase “But I’m too young for that!” has absolutely no curative powers whatsoever.



I’m trying not to be an angst-machine over it. Because really, it is pointless to endlessly whine about what you can’t change. Whining is only appropriate when it can, say, get you a better table at a restaurant – it doesn’t make me feel any better, and it surely doesn’t help the mood of the person on the receiving end.

But since I write this blog mostly for me: WAH!!! THIS SUCKS!!!!!!!

It is life-impacting in a big old way. I’m downright shocked that something that hurts this much is ‘only’ arthritis. I can’t do things I used to love doing. I can’t go for long drives or walks or even sit through a damned movie. Even the stairs in my own house can sometimes look like Mt. Everest – you mean I’ve got to get up that, just so I can go to bed?!

I’m finding that even things I’d really, really love to do are just not worth the pain I’m going to have to go through to do them. From going to parties to attending concerts, the pleasure isn’t worth the discomfort I’m going to have to get through.

It isn’t that the aches and pains are new. I’ve had body aches after periods of (in)activity for years. Woken up with stiff joints and all that for years and years. Laughed about how ‘it ain’t the age, it’s the mileage’. Been taking glucosamine / chondroitin tablets for two years. Said over morning coffee that One Of These Days, I Am So TOTALLY Going To Get Arthritis…Someday.

It’s just that the discomfort curve seems…rather steep. As though ‘Someday’ arrived way too fast – one minute out there beyond the edge of the horizon and today SMACK! Broken nose!

One day I was ‘mildly achy after (in)activity’, and the next day I was sitting in my car crying after getting off the train home from work, because I hurt so much. The thought of having to drive myself home was unbearable, but there was no other option.

My doctor has opined that there are two factors to my perceived ‘steep curve’. One is that I actually have a high tolerance for this kind of pain, a tolerance granted to me by my long-distant past as an athlete. I have played basketball on a sprained ankle, run a 10 mile cross-country race within a fortnight of having my appendix out (pulling stitches all the way) and gone on 20 mile ‘peak bagger’ hikes with a torqued knee. Muscled through eight years of four hour daily commutes, ignoring how each day was just a little harder on me than the day before…

All of which highlights Point the Second: I’ve got a lot of mileage on these joints of mine, and quite a few of those miles were downright stupid. I was running marathons at age twelve, wearing Payless shoes (read as, ‘ballet slippers with sneaker styling’) and with a coach who was also our Civics teacher. I tended to muscle on through the discomfort, ignoring the clear signals from my body that I Was Hurting Me.

I cared a lot more about winning than how much it hurt to get there, and now I’m paying the price. I’m still doing it, too. I really should quit my job at this point, relieve my joints of the stress of even the occasional commute and the daily pounding of the keyboard for eight (twelve) hours, relieve my mind of the stress of not being able to keep up…but ooooooh no. I’m still trying to win.

Ach, well.

I wouldn’t undo anything, really. When I look back at all the things I’ve done that may or may not have contributed to my current joint distress…well. I wouldn’t trade them. I loved the basketball, and the running. I’ve climbed mountains. I’ve camped in the snow at the top of waterfalls. I’ve seen mountain lions (stalking me, in fact, which was not fun at the time but makes for a good story if you aren’t actually eaten by them). I’ve climbed trees.

I think that even if I had known at the time that I was setting myself up for this, I wouldn’t have stopped. Funny, that. You’d think you would…but I really don’t think I would have done.

Because I’m not stopping now, either. I’m still insisting on going for walks, pushing my children on swings, getting down on the floor and wrestling with them, knitting, working…when time and kids permit, I’m sure I’ll go hiking again.

With a bottle of Celebrex in one pocket, and a hipflask of whisky in the other…

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I guess this means I can stay?

Well, this was a relief, let-me-tell-you. I was expecting to be shocked! and appalled! at my lack of knowledge on this front. Politics and American History are not among my favorite topics. I’m sorry. I’m just shallow that way.

But apparently, some of all that teacher-babble must have worn a hole through my ear into my brain, because! In a shocking surprise win…

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

Work, or knit…work, or knit…

Thus far have I come on Captain Adventure’s sweater.

This is a combination of Lane Monterosa (50% virgin wool, 50% acrylic) and Woolease Sportweight (80% acrylic, 20% wool); read as, machine wash, lay flat to dry. It’s actually knitting up really, really nice.

Acrylic yarns have come a long, long way since I first started knitting. I remember the first project I did, a big old afghan I made out of Red Heart acrylic. I still have the callus. No, really. I really, honestly and truly have a callus on my right forefinger, acquired while knitting that afghan and never lost in spite of a three year knitting hiatus and $DEITY only knows how many gallons of hand lotion.

And I’d really, really like to be working on this sweater right now. I have two (2) more rows of white stripe and then I get to charge into the cool star-pattern-thing.

But instead, what am I doing? I’m sitting here waiting for Just One More Stinkin’ Thing to finish running. I’m sitting here, having spent 95% of the whole entire day enduring Technical Issues (Please Stand By) (Your Call Is Important To Us) (And Also, We Are Pathological Liars!), trying to get at least one (1) stupid task off my to-do list for the day.

Well. OK, so, technically, I did actually get three or four things off my list. But not The Thing I wanted to get off my list. So in my perverted world, this translates to ‘didn’t get anything done all day’.

I’ve been sneaking the occasional stitch or two in while I wait, but there is a sensor hidden in my knitting basket which immediately alerts the server(s) if I so much as wiggle the basket. Instantly, error messages, instant messages, or flat-out crashes will occur.

It irks the daylights out of me. It really does.

But, I am indeed rapidly approaching the point where my ‘who gives a {beep}’ overcomes my work ethic.

After all. Lookit this kid. Is he not adorable?

Does he not look like a kid who needs a sweater with love in the stitches? Not to mention that other bundle of adorableness, who is patiently waiting for me to start her sweater…like a multi-million dollar sales initiative has beans on them…!

Ever so rewarding…

I love reward programs. I’m a reward program fiend. I use reward programs purely and only for perks. They are, to me, the source of true rewards for my noble (shush!) behavior. When I am cunning with purchasing things in a way that earn me cash or cards or what-have-you, they are mine.

Mine, mine, mine.

They support my Starbucks habit. They pay for magazine subscriptions. I’ve gotten everything from coffee grinders to the latest and greatest Foreman grill. I actually feel as though I have a rather healthy “luxury” life…without actually spending the cash for them. Which perversely makes me even more pleased with them. This set of bowls? Points. This weekend trip? Points. These four silk shirts? Points. This decorative coat rack (which you can’t see because of all the coats but trust me, it’s there and it’s decorative)? Points! HA!

I do not use them for school supplies, or putting gas in the car, or groceries. (Unless, of course, the groceries are a Lobster-Gram.) (Or if we have an emergency. Like, when we’re underemployed or struggling to keep food on the table – at that point, bets are off. But in normal life? BWA-HAHAHAHA! Mine! Mine! My precious…)

Yesterday, I was grousing to myself about Things. Ever since the maids stopped coming, I have been a tad irritable – mostly because I have to put on my big girl panties and deal with my chores. Which has eaten into recreational time that was already on the scant side, which makes me feel very abused.

I wanted to do something for me. I wanted pampering! I wanted something cool, something Not In The Budget But Nyah Nyah I Got It Anyway!!

I went online and checked my options. Hmm. Enough points for a BIG gift card, that’s cool…$300 at Home Depot, eh. $300 at Sears, now you just know I’m going to end up buying stupid old school clothes for the Denizens. $300 at Office Depot you have got to be kidding me…$300 at Bath & Body Works? Geez. That would be an awful lot of stinky soap…which granted might not be the worst thing in the world, but still…

Bed Bath and Beyond, eh – wait.

Do they, or do they not, carry the Roomba Scheduler…which costs what? $330?

The Roomba is one of those things that we talk about getting frequently, because vacuuming is one of the chores around the Den that my husband and I loathe equally. I’ve got a beautiful Dyson vacuum cleaner, which in spite of being an awesome machine that has done wonders for my allergies (especially when the cat-people were still among us) is still not able to overcome my inherent dislike for the task.

Don’t ask me why. I’d really rather scrub a tub than vacuum a room. The only thing I dislike more than vacuuming is mopping.

Sweeping with a broom, oddly, I don’t mind. Even kind of enjoy.

But mopping is evil.

Go figure.


Not only am I getting a Roomba in a few weeks (time to deliver cards: three weeks; time to use up cards: eight minutes…ten if there’s more than one red light on the way), but it occurs to me that in another three months, I should have enough reward points to get another $300 at Bed Bath and Beyond.

At which point? Scooba, baby. Just in time for Christmas. No more hand-mopping the Pergo, except maybe on State Occaisons.

Scooba, scooba, scoobie-doobie-dooba, here-we-go-scooba – COME ON!

(Bonus points if you can guess what children’s video that comes from)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Not that he cares, but...

I just cast on this sweater for Captain Adventure yesterday morning. I’m using a brighter blue and white in a lovely, soft, warm wool. I’m already zipping along in the ‘stripe’ section – two more stripes and I’ll be at that main pattern.

Knitting for small children: the knitting equivalent to Instant Gratification.

As I work each round, I think about my little man. I think about how cute he’ll look in it. I think about how glad he’ll be, you know, in January, when it’s cold and he’s shivering his little patookis off and behold! His loving mommy slips a nice warm wool sweater over him, adds a matching cap and pair of mittens. What fun! Warm, soft, loving fun!

Yes. That’s what I think, as I give myself carpal tunnel and $DEITY only knows what-all else knitting up these things.

The reality, of course, is that he will hate wearing it. He will promptly try to pull it off. He will also not like the matching cap and will snatch it off his head before it has so much as disturbed a hair on it and fling it under the tires of the van. Once he gets to school, he will rip the sweater off his body and attempt to stuff it down the toilet.

I will tell myself, as I painstakingly hand-wash the yuck off the thing, that he didn’t mean to do this. I will remind myself that he is, after all, only two.

I will comfort myself with the (equally false) thought that someday, he will look forward to my annual wool-sweater-knitting convulsions.

Sure he will. Just like Ron Weasley.

“I think I know who that one’s from,” said Ron, turning a bit pink and pointing to a very lumpy parcel. “My mum. I told her you didn’t expect any presents and—oh no,” he groaned, “she’s made you a Weasley sweater.”

That’ll be my boy, too.

And my girls. Who, in spite of having had the Right of Refusal on pattern, yarn type and color, will still refuse to wear the lovingly crafted examples of how much I freakin’ love you, dammit!

And their daddy? He wants this one:

Uh-huh. Yes, that’s right. That one. Mr. 44” chest, Mr. Freakishly Long Arms, Mr. High Pockets…he wants this one.


Thank Dog knitting is so @*^&@ing relaxing! Because otherwise?! I’D HAVE A PROBLEM, HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Change Requirements Form

In regards to the application #DEN_V8.0, there is an issue with the subroutine programming interaction which urgently needs addressing.

For an example of how this occurs, set the $PARENT_FOCUS = ‘Dinner Preparation’.

As $PARENT_FOCUS changes, Denizen_Captain_Adventure_V2.0’s On_Lose_Focus property calls the function F_Scream_Bloody_Murder. The F_Scream_Bloody_Murder function interrupts the $PARENT routine, which currently has the On_Screaming_Toddler property set to override all other functions.

As $PARENT_FOCUS leaves ‘Dinner Preparation’, the $DENIZENS On_Hunger routines begin to call F_Pester_$PARENT, which overloads the processing capacities of $PARENT until an error occurs and the $PARENT application will simply collapse on the _couch endlessly cycling Print_“Stop Asking Me” and Print_“Go Ask Your ($PARENT_Next_Value)”. As the ‘Dinner Preparation’ loop condition never becomes True, eventually it will time out and the ‘Call Pizza Delivery’ will trip to True.

This is inevitably followed by the ‘Budget’ value exceeding max and a system crash.

To remedy this error, please remove the call to F_Scream_Bloody_Murder from Denizen_Captain_Adventure_V2.0.

If this is not possible, please reduce the $PARENT On_Screaming_Toddler settings from ‘9’ to a parameterized value based on the Scream_Type property. The value should be ‘9’ if Scream_Type = ‘Stuck in a Bucket’, but ‘0’ for ‘Pissed Off Petty Tyrant’.

If this could be done before 17:00 (when ‘Dinner Preparation’ = True), it would be greatly appreciated.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Couldja hook a Boo Bug up?

It is quiet in the Den. The older two girls are seeing a movie with Grandma and Daddy; Captain Adventure is snug in his crib napping. Boo Bug and I have just eaten lunch, she's picked a movie and I'm settling in to do some not-work on the computer while eating a bag of M&Ms.

Suddenly, she's at my elbow. She wants a different movie. She wants colors. And paper. And scissors and a glue stick. And glitter. And an apron, and string.

"Oh, and mommy?" she strikes a casual pose, doodling with a finger on the tabletop, eyeing the scattered remnants of my M&Ms.

"Yes?" I ask, rummaging in the closet looking for paper and glue stick and what was that other thing...?

"Could you hook me up with some M&Ms?"

Could I hook my four year old up with some M&Ms?!

Oh, my stars and garters...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lucky me

A couple evenings ago, while drinking heavily and working on my personal laptop, the phone rang.

Having already answered the phone at least 4,000 times that day, and having had 3,999 of those calls be for my husband…I picked up the ringing phone and handed it across the table to said husband, looking at him (and not the phone) and saying testily, “It’s probably for you!”

Attached to the phone was the cord of my hands-free set.

Which looped around the bottom of my wineglass like a lariat…

lifted the wineglass…

…swung it over the top of my laptop…

And then poured the lion’s share of the merlot right down the keyboard of my laptop.

Words best not repeated were uttered. Frantic activity ensued. Two days of drying was accomplished. With baited breath, we tried to turn it on this morning.

Apparently, my laptop cannot hold its booze.

Oh, poop.

So we’re doing a little bit of surgical intervention through methods devious to get the recent data off the drive before sending the machine itself off to Dell for repairs – during this process, the laptop will be returned to the state it was in when first I got it. All programs will have to be reinstalled. All settings will have to be replaced. A new motherboard will probably be installed.

It’ll be a clean slate.

This is one of those moments when I find myself pondering the nature of luck.

Some people think of luck as being…an entity. An exterior force. Something that is put upon you, and is what it is. In which case, spilling merlot into your laptop is ‘bad luck’, plain and simple.

I think it’s a matter of how you view things.

It could be argued that dumping an entire jumbo-sized glass of merlot into your laptop, frying out your motherboard and $DEITY only knows what else in the process, could be nothing but pure bad luck.

And goodness knows I’m not sitting here saying, “Isn’t it great? Now I have to have my laptop completely rebuilt, losing the use of it for heaven only knows how long! And then I’ll have to spend goodness-only-knows how many hours reinstalling software and restoring data! Wheeeeeeee!”

But at the same time…it is not all bad. It happened while the machine still under warranty. It happened when we have not one, not two, but three other Dell laptops in the house, any one of which can readily and without any convoluted shenanigans be used as a host body for the hard drive. I don’t have to go back a month to my last backup – I can get my data right up to the Point Of Spillage.

And the laptop has desperately needed to have a major overhaul done. Desperately needed it. I’ve been dreading the task. Backing up the data, wiping the drive, reinstalling the operating system and doing all the endless updates and so forth and so on…

And now, most of the really irritating work will be done by Dell technicians. All I have to do is reinstall a handful of small programs and restore my data files.

How sweet is that?

I’m one of the luckiest people I know, I really am…

Thursday, August 17, 2006

But this is GOOD moose piss!

Last night, our houseguest did indeed make his sauerkraut.

I couldn’t eat it.

I couldn’t even look at it.

The problem started when they took the bratwurst and put it in the beer and began boiling it. The smell began to permeate the house, and my stomach began to say, “Huh-uh. Not eating it.”

Then sauerkraut began to be made. The smell of the caraway seeds melded with the cooking beer and bratwurst and my stomach said, “This would be a good time to go upstairs and take a shower…”

My idea went like this: I’ll go take a shower, my husband will give the children the pork roast I made for them while he and Greg eat their food, and then I can sneak in, quietly grab a slice of pork and eat it over the sink and get out of there before the smell of the sauerkraut makes me puke up a lung.

But then almost an hour later here comes my husband to enthuse about the sauerkraut being ready. My stomach and I are barely on speaking terms as it is. If the stomach says it doesn’t want to eat something, I take it very, very seriously. And my stomach was definitely saying that if I even thought about eating sauerkraut, of all ill-begotten things, it was packing its bags and going home to Mother.

So I said, “You know, I just don’t like sauerkraut. At all. You guys have fun. I’ll have pork roast.”

There is This Thing that people will often do when you say you don’t like something. “I don’t like moose piss,” you’ll say. “Oh!” they immediately rejoin. “You just haven’t had good moose piss!”

Then they start trying to force-feed you ‘good’ moose piss. Try-it-try-it-try-it! But this is a rare vintage! It’s top shelf! Best of breed! Won ribbons! Peck-peck-peck-nag-nag-nag.

Civilized people will (eventually) drop the subject. Let’s say, for example, that upon having a bottle of moose piss waved under my nose, I yak up a kidney. A civilized person will discreetly drop the subject, put away the bottle, maybe get me a nice club soda and we will never speak of moose piss again.

…which brings me to the subject of Stinky Boys. Male humans, even those who do not habitually behave like Stinky Boys, carry within them a unique ability to behave in a manner that makes the women around them want to hit them very, very hard with the heaviest object in the room.

Stinky Boy behavior will impel them to do things like continue pushing the bottle under your nose saying, “Oh, c’mon, how can THAT WONDERFUL SMELL be making you hurl?!”, or to sit beside you with a mug full of moose piss slurping loudly, smacking their lips and announcing at ten minute intervals, “DAMN, but that sure is GOOD MOOSE PISS!!! I can’t believe you aren’t having any!!!”

Both my husband and our guest lapsed into Stinky Boy behavior last night. “So this is where your kids get it”, “what, are you reverting to childhood?”, “soooo, you’re not even going to try a little bit?”, “but this recipe comes straight from Germany!”, “c’mon, you know you’re going to have to try just a little bit!”

You know, when you wave the pan under my nose trying to entice me into liking it and I nearly hurl into it, this should really be a clue.

Yet still. For the entire two hours remaining in our evening, those Stinky Boys kept on and on and on about how marvelous it all was and how they couldn’t believe I wasn’t even going to try it. My husband, who is usually NOT a Stinky Boy to this level, sat on the sofa eating loudly, smacking his lips and carrying on until I was ready to smack him upside the head with the sauerkraut-laden frying pan.

And then…both Stinky Boys vanished and left me a kitchen that looked like the Bavarian army had marched through for a quick snack.


But I’m plotting my revenge. Oh yes. Because Boys may be Stinky, but when irked I am downright evil. (This is the female counterpart to Stinky Boy, the Vindictive Witch.)

First of all – I’m line-drying all my husband’s underwear and socks today. BWA-HAHAHAHA. (And if I had any, I’d’ve starched ‘em, too.)

Secondly, I have a lovely bottle of moose piss Chinigue Andes Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 I’ve been saving for just such an occasion!, a remarkably bitter complex vintage I’m sure they’ll just love…because obviously, they just haven’t had good cabernet…!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Yarn Harlot Makes Me Feel Shame

She’s making a Gansey for her husband, out of hand-spun wool. Spun by her own hands. Washed, carded, spun and then knitted – by her, herself. For him.

My husband is lucky if I’ll make him a sandwich, because he, like the Harlot’s Joe, is a big guy. Tall. Mine is 6’4”. And has these freakishly long average for a 6’4” tall human male arms.

In the twelve years (gads!) we’ve been together, I’ve knitted him one (1) sweater. One lousy sweater. From store-bought wool. Good wool! But store bought wool. BULKY wool. Oh my goodness yes. Bulky is the word. That sweater could be used to stop bullets, that’s how bulky it is. The last time I washed it, I almost couldn’t lift it out of the tub afterwards. Bulky, bulky, bulky wool yarn.

And yet, I still thought I was going to grow old and die before I finished that @*^&ing sweater for that man. I’ve never been closer to divorce. Fortunately, I realized before calling the attorney how stupid this would sound to any rational, non-knitting person: “Yes, I’d like to file for divorce. Because he’s too tall and has freakishly long average for a 6’4” tall human male arms.”

I’ve been plotting the winter sweaters for the kids. Nice, small winter sweaters. Nothing too fancy. A fish here, a bear there, a little robin on the pocket and we’re good. He watches me laying out the magazines and books and yarn samples and needles and joins in the discussion of pink v. purple, zipper v. buttons, boat-neck or crew.

It's a lot of thought, a lot of discussion, a lot of work, putting together sweaters for those children to drag through the mud, throw on the classroom floor and then leave balled up in a cubby all winter.

But for my husband? Uh…how about…I just buy you a nice windbreaker, dear?

While Stephanie is washing a mountain of fleece, carding and spinning it into a tiny tight little yarn and then painstakingly knitting around and around and around and around forever and ever and ever to make a sweater for her mate, I’m pretending mine doesn’t exist.

At least, not when it comes to sweaters. Socks, I will make for him. I’ve made him a ton of socks. And he wears them. Anytime I take out a set of double-pointed needles he says, “Oh! Are those going to be for me?!”

I know he’d like a new sweater. I know he would. It’s just that…he’s so…tall. And then there’s those freakishly long average for a 6’4” tall human male arms of his...

I can feel myself aging already.

And yet, I also feel shame. I love my husband rather tremendously. He deserves a nice warm winter sweater, especially given that on our anniversary (in February), I insist on dragging him not to Maui, but to rugged coastlines or snow-laden mountains.


OK, fine. I’ll make him a sweater, too. Geesh.

But the spinning wheel, and on this I am firm, stays on the shelf. I am not going to go all native and start buying up fleece that I then have to find time to wash and card and spin and dye and LORD ONLY KNOWS what-all else! The last time I had the wheel down, Danger Mouse toddled up to it, stuck her finger right in the drive belt and then cranked the wheel. She was just about Captain Adventure’s age at the time. And he’s even more fascinated by things that whirl and spin and bobble and make funny noises. All of which my spinning wheel definitely does.

It stays on the shelf. No piles of fleece are entering this Den. My love only goes so far, and here it stops: There shall be no washing, carding, spinning, dyeing, skeining/balling of yarn in this Den. Not even for the husband. Not unless the social order breaks down and all manufactured yarn disappears from the face of the earth.

That’s just how it is.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Helpful Hints from the Den

If you are trying to save money on groceries, here is a little phrase you should never utter: “OK, look, if this is a long story, how about if you just come with me to the supermarket?”

Bad phrase for saving money at the supermarket.

I took my husband, who had just begun regaling me with a very, very, even say extremely, long tale, with me to Food 4 Less. It set me back an extra $14 – which, considering that my total was $43?

Costly. Mistake.

First of all, having him with me was distracting in the extreme. “Are you sure you want to get apples? We hardly ever eat them all! And the kids aren’t eating bananas like they used to, have you noticed? Captain Adventure just throws them on the floor – oh, what a cute baby! Honey, look at this little guy, isn’t he cute? Lookit that hair! Why are you getting Coke, nobody drinks Coke OH! Greg’s coming, isn’t he? Do they have caraway seeds in this section? Blather blather blather blather…”

And then, suddenly, in the middle of the non-stop stream of conversation, bang! A $7.99 sack of bratwursts hits the cart. What the…?

“What’s this?” I ask suspiciously.

“For the sauerkraut.”

Sauerkraut? What sauerkraut? Oh, the sauerkraut that (allegedly) Greg is going to make while he’s stopping over with us. For one (1) night. Midweek. On a work night. Sauerkraut. Uh-huh.

So I put the $8 sack back. “But isn’t it cheaper in bulk?!”

Sigh. See, the problem here is, he’s right. Per my usual shopping techniques, yes. I would indeed be grabbing the Ginormous Sack O’Brats for $8, not the $4 for four version. I am proud of him for noticing such things. You have learned well, grasshopper…

But now I’m forced into a lecture in Advanced Supermarket Economics. Who will eat brats? Him. Anybody else? No. One (1) person wants to eat brats, one (1) time (and may I just state for the record that said person is on a D-I-E-T, and should not even touch the packaging which contains the brats due to caloric contamination?). Do we need the Ginormous Sack O’Brats? I’d call that a no. Freeze them? It would be a long, slow, lingering death for the brats. Because I will never take them out of the freezer, and you will never take them out of the freezer ergo, ipso-facto, they will never come out of the freezer at all. A year or two from now, I will chip them out of there during one of my sporadic attempts at cleaning the freezer and toss them out.

Let us instead get the $3.50 package of four. This, I feel, between himself and the aforementioned sauerkraut creating Greg, is likely to get eaten. I’d rather spend more per ounce but only $3.50 overall than less per ounce and $8 and ultimately throw away 75% of the package.

Oh! And! For the sauerkraut and brats, we need heavy cream! And beer! And not just any beer – good beer.

Now, granted. I am something of a beer snob myself. I prefer a beer with character, on those rare occasions that I’m going to down one (I’m afraid I’ve moved on – I now buy my vodka and cranberry juice at Costco) (regularly). On the other hand, the idea of spending $7 on a six pack of beer that was going to be used to boil brats…right when I was trying to economize at the market…well. I developed a slight nervous tic and the unmistakable beginnings of a stress-migraine.

We then bounced into the cereal aisle, where he insisted on getting in-person proof of my claims that there was very little difference between Marshmallow Mateys and Cheerios, from a sugar-fat-nutritional value standpoint.

This is a long-standing debate we’ve had, mostly stemming from our having extremely different opinions as to how often kids should be chowing down the cereal. When I had sole charge of their breakfasting, they had it once per week, on Friday. Woo hoo, Friday, here’s some cereal! {Confetti, balloons, clowns on unicycles juggling unicorns, angels singing!}

Daddy, on the other hand, will give them cereal every.stinking.morning. But because he is a Good Daddy, as he’s pouring the Sugar Coated Nuke ‘Ems into the bowls he’ll growl, “I don’t see why you won’t buy healthier cereal for these kids! You should get them Cheerios!”

So. There we stood, while the sands of my life trickled slowly away, so he could zip up and down the aisle seizing box after box and yelping, “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE RIGHT! OK, so corn flakes are better than Honey Nut Cheerios, but only by 35 calories? And the fat is the same!? What’s Cap’t Crunch?! Where’s the Froot Loops?!?!”

If he had been one of my children, I’d’ve smacked him.

He then waxed poetic about the Cereal Situation for the next two aisles, so thoroughly distracting me from the matter at hand that I had to continually scan my shopping list to remember what the heck I was doing in this Satanic place. Tomato paste, tomato paste, tomato paste…

Then suddenly he remembered he hadn’t finished telling me about his shopping experience earlier! So at that point where I am usually on Full Alert watching the scanning of the items and ensuring I didn’t accidentally grab the $4-a-gallon milk instead of the $2-a-gallon brand, he’s telling me about how he got stuck in this line, a long line, a HUGE LONG LINE only it wasn’t so much HUGE or LONG as it was STUPID because! You see! There were returns and then suddenly they just WALKED AWAY and…!

By the time we got out to the car, I was ready for a nap. Then, pausing, he looked at the clock in the van.

“Hey, lookit that!” he said, brightly. “Just in time to pick up the younger two!”

Of course we are. Just in time to go pick up my four year old, who starts talking shortly before she wakes up in the morning and doesn’t stop until shortly after she falls asleep at night, and my two year old, who doesn’t talk at all but commands constant and undivided attention anyway. And then the older two, who just started back to school today and who will undoubtedly have A Lot Of Stuff To Tell Me About…

You know what? I just decided I need to add a little more cash to my coffee budget. I wonder what Boca Java’s got in an Uber Caffeinated roast…?

So proud…so sad…

Well. I finally did it. I finally “remembered” to call the maid service and cancel. I have been “forgetting” (a word which in this context should be pronounced, ‘refusing’) to call and cancel for literally over a month now.

It was hard not to sob into the phone.

I’m going to miss those beautiful, cheerful ladies with their buckets and vacuum cleaner and big binder with all the notes about how filthy our Den is.

*sniff* I’m going to miss them SO MUCH…

I’m proud of me for doing it, though. It needed doing. They have been fantastic and I’ve appreciated their hard work – but at the same time, I’ve been (mostly) back on my feet for a long time now. I don’t need to have a maid service cleaning my home for me. Especially since it has bred a kind of…laziness.

Juice on the floor? Eh, the maids’ll get it in a few days.

Crackers on the sofa? See ‘eh’ above.

Everything from ring around the bathtub to sand on the hall tiles, if there were fewer than, say, seven days between the mess being made and the maids arriving, I’d just leave it.

Because, you know. They’ll get it. I’ll just sit here eating bon-bons and reading The Economist.

But at the same time. $100 a week (plus tip). That’s a lot of change. That’s $5,200 (plus tip) a year.

I can think of a lot of things I’d rather do with $5,200.

Which is, of course, one of the basic foundations of budgeting. Cash is a limited resource for most of us. We have to make choices, have to ask the questions and decide on an answer.

Did I want to pay $100 a week to have an extra four hours of freedom, instead of spending that time cleaning my own Den?

Or, would I rather put that $100 a week toward other plans and goals? Vacations, home remodeling, college savings, early retirement? Or, hey, how about this one: I could buy the children new clothes and shoes with it! Take them to the State Fair! Buy them popcorn! Oh-oh-oh, maybe I could go all crazy and get some fresh scallops for dinner! $14 a pound, and YES! I’ll take TWO, count them, TWO POUNDS…!

Push come to shove, the $100 in assorted other applications was indeed more important to me than having someone else vacuum the sand off the tile and spritz the water spots off the shower.

I still feel a little sad. A little pouty. A little ‘how come other women can afford this, AND I CAN’T?’. Maybe a touch of ‘Surely I’m Entitled To…’ pissiness.

But I can’t escape the fact that I know what I want. Maid service for the Den is very nice to have. Owning the Den outright would be nicer. Outright Den Ownership is a key indicator of Impending Retirement.

An extra $400 a month toward that end will go a long, long way.

And yeah. It’s worth four hours a week of vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, cussing, and standing at the top of the stairs yelling, “WHERE DID MY RUBBER GLOVES GO?!”

It’s the first step in our budget tightening, the only Instant And Large Fix I’ve got.

For the rest…it’s just a deluge of little stuff. A lot in the groceries department. Some in the clothes shopping department. All of it takes time, and it’ll be interesting to see how I can manage it while, you know, working.

Speaking of which…I’ve got thirty minutes left on the lunch hour. Better get to making the grocery list.

And under ‘miscellaneous’, I’d better put ‘tub cleaner’…


I have a new favorite non-word! Catastrophizing!! Which I herewith define to mean, “Doing the mental-gerbil-wheel freak-out over anything large or small in your brain.”

I picked it up from a book called Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities. (Don’t rush out and buy it – it’s kind of ‘eh’ overall, IMHO.)

But if the book gives me nothing else, it gives me…CATASTROPHIZING!!!!!

At last, a word for That Thing I find myself doing altogether too frequently, over things large and small.

“Mother Chaos, we need to have a talk. I’ll see you in my office in half an hour.”

What? A talk? What kind of talk? Holy carp! It’s about that time I was late coming back from lunch! Or the missing paperwork! Or it’s because I wore blue on Tuesday! The budget is gone and they need to cut my contract!

This is followed by a minute examination of every waking moment [and a few sleeping ones] spent at work over the last eight months, seeking to discover what it is that is about to get me fired I just KNOW it!!!!!!

I think it is a natural human thing. And not necessarily a bad thing – if a few more people took a moment to ponder the worst case scenario…well. There’d be a lot fewer 3/1 ARMs out there, I’ll tell you that for nothing!

But it can get out of hand pretty quickly. I should know. I occasionally become positively frozen by the imponderables of a situation. Sometimes very small situations. Like, walking into a restaurant for a nice gentle mildly spicy lemongrass soup and being told that, so sorry, they’re out today.

{frozen, mind in a frenzy, DEAR GOD!!!!!, what to DO?!?!}

However, I don’t generally require Dr. Stoltz’s methods of Catastrophizing Cessation: snapping yourself with a rubber band (ow), slamming your hands down on a level surface while yelling “STOP!” (imagine all the funny looks I’d get in Safeway), or refocusing on something else (well, OK, I’ll give him that one – just getting up and doing something, anything, else can be a tremendous help when in the midst of a Catastrophizing Episode).

I myself have a very simple method I’ve developed over the last thirty{mumble} years of Being Like This to settle down. It’s a very, very simple question: Are any children going to die because of this?

If the answer is no, well. I think I can stand down the red alert on this deal, huh? To date, I haven’t had a ‘yes’ answer yet on anything that has set my mind to Catastrophizing.

The power of this simple question lies in its ludicrousness. OF COURSE no children are going to die because I forgot to pay the water bill! Sheesh. I’m missing the point here, which is that…uh…I forgot to pay the water bill, which is going to lead to…well, not mass hysteria and death to millions of innocents, anyway…

It’s kind of hard to continue needing to breathe into a paper bag once you realize that actually – it’s not all that big a deal.

No children are going to die – not my own, not anybody else’s.
I’m not going to die, either.
In fact, nobody is going to die.
Even if they do turn off my water.
There shall be no death.
Or dismemberment.
Or really much more than maybe a hefty dose of inconvenience.

I’ve found that it does a great job of taking away the panic mode and making me focus on the actual problem. I forgot to pay the water bill. Nobody is going to die. I need to take the following steps, one two three.

Problem solved.

With precisely zero death.

Perspective: Cure for Catastrophizing.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Accidentally opened this morning...

So, I guess people must fall for these kinds of things. Because otherwise, well, I can’t fathom why anybody would waste their time sending an endless stream of them into the Internet.

Hey, Mother Chaos

Media Cations f or Mother Chaos is ready.
Pleaase re-confirm your Info rmation.


The Buy er as per our Rec ords: Mother Chaos

your streeet if not correct, pleaase help us to corrrect it
Just c heck the site above to make s ure all right.

Thank you,


Hey, Abe.

Get a real job.

Thank you,

Mother Chaos

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I had the most horrible nightmare last night. I don’t know if I can even share it with a clear conscience, lest the horrroooooorrrrrrr! spread to innocent people…

Oh what the heck.

I dreamed {takes deep breath and steadying sip of coffee} that I {dramatic pause} still lived with my parents!


In my dream last night, after spending a hard day working on my sunburn in what was either a very large backyard vegetable garden or a rather small working farm, I came into the house, my house down to the last teacup, had a lovely conversation with my parents, who were bustling around doing parent-stuff, we put the kids (yes, all four of my kids) to bed and went to bed ourselves – mom and I in my bed upstairs, dad and my husband in the sofa bed downstairs.

Because this was their house, and we lived here under their beneficent gaze, and given that we had no savings and housing was starting off at about $2B for a one bedroom condo it looked like that was that.

I tell you what, I had a burning need to open up Quicken and reassure myself about some things. Savings account, money market, brokerage account, CD funds, mortgage payments, car loan, credit cards…whew. Yes. It appears that all my finances are still mine. This is still my money pit, and a quick glance out the backyard reveals that my play equipment and lawn has not in fact been replaced by a quarter acre of neatly plowed (now, how would I have managed that, I wonder?) rows of vegetables in constant need of tending.


Whew, whew, whew!

Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents. And they’re very easy people to be around, even when living in the same airspace with them. I was, in fact, rather late to leave the nest. Neither party felt the burning need to get away from the other party – my parents didn’t push, and I didn’t pull.

But that was then. This is now. The idea of having to move back in with my parents makes my skin go all creepy-crawly. The idea of being >>>this<<< close to forty and so utterly destitute that I can’t even afford a car (my husband had to borrow my dad’s wheels to get to work! Oooooooh, the humanity!), and so completely without an oar that I can’t even ponder the idea of independence…

My toes are curling up. I swear, they really are. Ow. That kinda hurts…

Someday, my babies are going to be all grown and flown. As inconceivable as it may be, the Denizens will one day go forth to wreak havoc in the world without my constant direction. Free to make their own triumphs and mistakes.

Free to have nightmares about living with their parents forever and ever.

I just hope they will have the same ability to reassure themselves; that they too will be able to finger the physical mortgage papers, to review the college funds for their children, to look over the credit card statements and see all the hundreds and hundreds of dollars they’re spending on their Dens, their Dens, the car payments and oh yeah, the registration is up next month…

And the money’s in the bank, baby. The money is in the bank.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The miracles of modern science

Tuesday, 8:00 a.m.: Kinda sore throat, general feeling that I’ve got a cold

Wednesday, 3:00 a.m.: HOLY CARP I’M GONNA DIE!!!

Wednesday, 3:15 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Writing of Last Will and Testament, incessant whining, popping Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, hot tea and anything else I can think of that might make my sore throat stop hurting so much. Fever. Chills. Trying to figure out how I could kill myself without a) expending any effort or b) negating our life insurance policy.

Wednesday, 3:15 p.m.: Official diagnosis of strep throat. Prescriptions given for antibiotics and codeine. Pediatrician called and Captain Adventure accused of being the infectious agent of doom.

Thursday, 3:00 a.m.: Still wishing I were dead. Not sure whether the codeine is helping or just adding ‘queasiness’ to the list of symptoms. Hating myself for not realizing that Captain Adventure so obviously also had strep throat. What kind of mother am I, anyway?!

Thursday, 6:00 p.m.: Drank soup, decided I’d probably survive. Gave the codeine a miss in favor of a nice hot cup of Theraflu and an early bedtime.

Friday, 6:00 a.m.: Hey. I’m going to live after all!! How cool is that?!

Modern science is amazing. The last time I had strep throat, they did the throat culture and sent it off to the lab, gave me antibiotics ‘in case’ and then called me a few days later to affirm that yes, I had strep. This time, they did the swab and set it in a little pregnancy-test like tray. Badda-bing, badda-boom: two lines means yes, strep is present. Two bold lines tell the good doctor that I’ve got a red-hot case of it. No messing around with ‘minimal treatment until confirmation’, oh no! He jumped straight for the antibiotics and the codeine. Hot diggity.

I still feel ‘eh’, but compared to yesterday? I feel great!! Which is also astonishing to me. In my memory, having strep throat is a week-long ordeal of lying around wishing my mom would quit trying to help and just let me die in peace. The last time I can remember having it as an adult, it was five days (and one emergency room trip) of wretchedness. And trying to run my mom off, because naturally she came to the apartment to help.

She’s a good mom. I only hope I’m a good enough mom to drive my children batty when they’re sick by insisting on fluffing their pillows and changing their blankets and constantly popping in to ask if they’re sure they don’t want {soup, tea, soda, water, popsicles, a sandwich, a trip to Monte Carlo}.

As much as I loathe modern medicine, there are times when I am amazed by how well things work These Days. I remember well taking the sulfurous penicillin choke-a-horse sized tablets for ten days. I remember wondering what kind of sadist would create a tablet that big for someone whose throat was swollen all but shut and hurt so badly the idea of swallowing air made their soul shrivel up and die inside them.

But now? Little capsules of amoxicillin, which turn all slippery when they hit water, tasteless and easily managed even when death was certainly nigh.

With any luck, by the time I’m old, they’ll be able to do tests that currently require {shudder} blood by having me spit into a cup; and test for cancers and stuff by waving a Star Trek-style wand around; and do surgery without messy old knives and sutures and stuff.

Shoot. If they can get me (mostly) through a strep throat episode in only two days, anything is possible...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Memo to Self


When one has made coffee using the french press and allowed it to sit on the counter for a period of more than an hour (or, as in the unfortunate incident this morning, two hours and forty-five minutes), there are certain regrettable facts one must then take into consideration. That, for example, the coffee may well have become cold and incredibly bitter between the time one poured the first luscious cup and now.

So in future, when faced with wanting another cup of coffee after a two hour and forty-five minute wrangle with a SQL Server, one may wish to reconsider pouring another cup of the stuff and swinging back a ginormous swallow of it without first taking a wee little taste to see if the above conditions are true.

Especially if one’s system is currently in a ‘delicate’ phase.

Thank you for your immediate and ongoing attention to the above.


Calling in ‘disinterested’ today

No, not really. But I thought about it. I’m still thinking about, even though I have already begun working.

There is a certain natural order to things in this life; one of them is that when a child gets an illness, the mother will not be far behind. Captain Adventure had a sore throat, sniffy nose and general malaise last week, ergo…I was awake all night with a sore throat, sniffy nose and general malaise.

Sore throat. Can’t sleep. Maybe some medicine? But no. I’m already on 28,217,201 megagrams of Tylenol at this point, if I add anything else to my system I will definitely throw up. Hmm. Actually, I already feel a little sick right now. So. If I were to throw up, would that mean I could go ahead and take some Sudafed?

This morning, I am barely awake and extremely Not Interested. Hence, I would like to call in not sick, but Disinterested. “OK team listen up because I’m only going to say this once: I’m not interested in working today. I feel my time today would be better spent lying on the sofa watching Lime and drinking Grey Goose Cosmopolitan Martinis (they have Vitamin C!) water. If you need me, suck it up and walk it off, because I’m not.interested.

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t fly. But it is a nice daydream, yes?

Of course, then I think back, way back, backity-back-back-back to the days when I worked for a project manager who would take ‘mental health days’. There I’d be, up to my elbows in screaming ‘task owners’, and then I’d get a voicemail from her saying, “I’m taking a mental health day.”

A what? You’re taking a what?! Six months to meltdown, tasks slipping all over the place, and you’re taking a mental health day?!

W. T. F., woman?!?!

I’m afraid that I’m becoming something of a weak point in the structure of my new company. You know, one of those points that, when not available for some reason, causes a few zillion things to simply grind to a painful and ignoble halt?

Unlike my former boss, foolishly probably, I just can’t bring myself to say that I don’t care if this, or that, or the other thing, doesn’t get done. I can to a certain extent – but that extent doesn’t extend all that far. It extends to things that were dropped on me, but not to things I said I’d handle. If I said I’d handle it…I’ll handle it.

Even though I’m not even a little tiny bit interested today…

Monday, August 07, 2006

Whoa…that don’t look right…

Over the weekend, I worked on the baby sweater for the boss’ impending arrival. The first two-thirds is just straight stockinette stitch – nice and fast.

Then I began shaping the yoke of the sweater. I read the destructions about sixteen times. I went online to see if anybody had put out a correction on them. They made next to no sense to me. Wait. Work two rows even and then bind off 6? Are you sure, Debbie? That sounds…kinda mental. I mean, I know you’re a Famous Designer© and all, and I’m just, uh, me, but I’m just not feeling where we’re going here...

But, being that I have done…counting this one…uh…{counts on fingers}…precisely…zero Fair Isle cardigans, I finally decided to just take my good friend Debbie’s word for it and plunge on. I misquoted the words of my beloved Yarn Harlot to myself: “Be afraid of bungee jumping…be afraid of tigers…be afraid of bear markets…be fearless in knitting…”

As often happens, it became (mostly) clear as I went on. I did the first side with great reservation. I did the first half of the back with slightly less trepidation. And then, as the overall garment began to resemble a jester’s hat, I realized where we were headed.

All of which is graphic illustration as to why I didn’t opt for a career as an architect – I can’t see things in my head very well. I need them to be more or less right in front of me before I can grok them.

But now, I’m obsessed. I have to work on this tonight, and get it past the current stage. Because it just don’t look right, and it is bugging me.

It looks like a jester’s hat that has been sliced open and laid flat – four spiky bits, with scoops between them. The four spiky bits will be grafted together to become shoulders, and then the yoke of the sweater is picked up and worked from the cast-off edges. At which point, it should hopefully cease to look like a malformed jester’s hat and become an adorable little baby sweater for the Impending Arrival.

At least, that’s the idea. I’m pretty sure. But I’m still not 100% convinced that this thing is going to work out as planned. I already had one catastrophe when the yarn arrived and the ‘brown’ was actually ‘mustard’. No lie. The color on my computer was brownish, and the name is ‘harvest’, but the color in person? Mustard. Eeeeeeeeeew! It would have been OK as an accent color, but as the main color it was right out.

Fortunately and after a little frantic digging in the boxes of ‘too much to throw away, not enough for a project’ leavings, I found a nice soft warm gray wool of ‘close enough’ content in my stash which goes well with the other colors and I was back in business.

Only to be hit with this. The deformed jester’s hat. Yes, yes, I know, I know. I’m going to seam the shoulders and pick up the stitches and it will be a sweater. But right now, it says to me only, “I would make an excellent jester’s hat. A little starch, a little seam, and I’m perfect for the Depressed Gray-Wearing Jester…you could stitch little bells on my edges…ting-a-ling-ling, who’s there, the Depressed Jester…!”

I can’t stand it. After I’ve cleaned the kitchen (again) and picked up the toys (again) and put away all the clothes currently strewn for Reasons Unknown all over the Den (AGAIN!), I’m going to get busy on picking up that yoke.

At which point I will undoubtedly discover that my 'teal' is actually 'turquoise' and there'll be a hex on the whole thing...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A marvelous time for all

After Captain Adventure’s birthday party last weekend, we had histrionics from our niece, who wanted to stay the night. Well, that won’t work this weekend, we said; other plans and so forth. How about next weekend, we said.

So this weekend, over she came and with us she stayed. As did her baby brother! Which was not planned, but the husband and I are fast talkers and my poor sister-in-law really never stood a chance.

I grabbed The Nephew out of her arms faster than you can say “baby hog”, coolly informed her that we had blankies, outgrown clothes that would fit him, baby cereal, baby shampoo, diapers, wipes, and in fact every other thing a child of his tender months could possibly need; and also, a supermarket where anything we might not have that would be required for 48 hours of infant survival could be purchased. HA HA! Argue with that logic!!

Combined with the suggestion that it would be So Cool if she and my brother could go do their thing on their own…imagine! Going to the art festival without strollers, diaper bags, fussiness from children, the constant fear that you’re giving them skin cancer by taking them outside…being able to stop and say, “Hey, this looks like a nice place, why don’t we have lunch here?” without having to go through the Kids Are With Us checklist for food type v. service speed v. family appropriateness…a whole solid 30 someodd hours of not worrying about who wants juice and who needs a diaper change and who is getting tired…

Yes. My juju was too powerful. I got to keep The Nephew overnight. SQUEAL! {singing} I got to keep the baaaaaaby…I got to keep the baaaaaabyyyyyy… {/singing}

It was his First Overnight Stay Away From Home Ever™ and he took it like a champion. I think he was too busy playing with cousins and new toys all day, and by the time he got tired he was so tired he simply passed out and didn’t mind that he was sleeping in a porta-crib in our bedroom with a borrowed blankie. He’s one of the chubbiest, happiest little guys I’ve ever known. As long as you’ve got food, he’s fine.

Captain Adventure had a few moments. He had to make it absolutely clear that I am his woman. His. Not yours. So don’t get any ideas, bub. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t start thinking, you know, that you’ve got any kind of rights around here. That lap? Mine. The boobies? Definitely mine. That snuggly back-rubbing thing? On loan, pal.

Because…the woman is mine. So are the toys. All of them. And the food. All of it. Except the rice cereal, because it’s yucky. But the other food? Mine. This turkey right here? MINE. And the mashed potatoes? Also mine – and I will prove it by rubbing it in my hair! Ha ha! HA!

Cousin M, the elder girl-child, is a triple handful of energy. She’s a hoot. And naturally, because she isn’t completely sure that I’m kidding when I say I’ll sell her on eBay if she doesn’t behave, she is very good for us.

Hopefully, their parents got a relaxing weekend of grown-up togetherness. And we had a blast with their kids. It really is amazing how the Den can simply absorb an ‘extra’ two, three people without it being…noticeable. Sure, I used the visitors as an excuse to finally roast up the twelve pound turkey that has been languishing in my freezer since that really great post-Thanksgiving sale, but other than that – it really didn’t feel like we had three extra humans in the house (oh yeah – we also had an old high school buddy of the husband’s staying with us this weekend) (you begin to see why it is The Den of Chaos…).

It’s weird having a baby in the house again, though. The Nephew is just at the mobile stage – fireman crawling around like crazy, pulling himself up on furniture to cruise. I thought I had clean floors, I really did. Then, as I plucked everything from ancient hot dogs to plastic straw wrappers out of his mouth (don’t you dare tell his mother!), I realized that, uh, clean? Is apparently pretty relative.

My Den is clean compared to, say, a bus stop.

But it is not ‘and now we’ll drop an eight month old baby into it and let him roam’ clean.

Not even close to that kind of clean.

There were tears and bickering and laughing and running and shouting and asking the same question fourteen times in a row without pausing for either breath or answer. The baby got cuddled and Captain Adventure was reassured and bottles were consumed, Captain Adventure tried to shove his baby cousin over and was reprimanded, more tears, more shrieking, more cuddling and reassuring, and somehow or other the three that weren’t ours got safely on their way.

My Den…is even more Den-like than usual right now. And also, I feel rather tired. Rather in a ‘I’m so not doing those dishes tonight’ kind of mood. Looking forward to work, because it is so peaceful.

But a marvelous time was had by all.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I’m tired of winning

First, the spam artists were calling to tell me I’d won thousands of dollars in coupons from Mastercard.

Now, I’ve won again. I’ve won! I’ve won!! One of the following is mine, all mine:

$5,000 cash!
3 days, 2 nights in FABULOUS LAS VEGAS!!!!
A plasma TV!
Or! $1,000 in cash!!

All I need to do to get my Fabulous! Prize!! is to get in the car on a workday, make a two hour each way drive out to San Mateo, California and view a two hour presentation about the Fabulous! Time! Share! Opportunities! that Glitz, Incorporated has to offer in several Fabulous! Locations!!!!!!!


Can I please not win anything else?

On the bright side, at least the timeshare lady was upfront about who she was, who she was calling for and what-all they wanted from me. And when I said, “Thanks but no thanks” she confined her hard sell to saying, “You know, you can always just come out, watch the video, and say no. I’ve done that. Twice. Been to Vegas. Twice.” And she had a very cute laugh, and one of her coworkers laughed and said (stage left), “You did not do that!” and she said (sotto-voce, obviously having put her hand over the mouthpiece of her headset) “Oh yes I did. Twice!” and we all had a really good laugh.

But no. No, I really don’t wanna. I don’t wanna drive to San Mateo, and I don’t wanna watch the presentation, and I don’t want the Fabulous! Prize! either, which is undoubtedly going to be an off-season cruise I will never in a bazillion years be able to take or the Vegas thing, which again – I’m never in a bazillion years going to be able to take.

And don’t want to, frankly. I know it is sacrilege, but I don’t like Vegas. Or Reno. I find it too loud, too crowded, too full of people trying to hustle me, too many time share operators leaping into my path shrieking, “HAVE YOU SEEN OUR BROCHURE?!”, too many children looking at inappropriate things (who, I ask you, WHO?! brings their children into the casinos of Vegas?!?!), dirty floors and the overall feeling that I’m surrounded by…desperation. It’s leaves a taste in my mouth like I’ve been chewing on dirty aluminum siding, desperation does – I don’t like it.

It isn’t that I don’t like to gamble, because I do. I’m particularly fond of blackjack as a way to throw my money away. But I like to do it on quiet Sunday mornings in Tahoe. I like to sit at the nearly empty low-limit tables with the senior citizens and fledgling gamblers trying to figure out how the game works, to socialize and laugh and give a big old cold shoulder to any ‘high rollers’ that make the mistake of seeking action with us at our table. I like to look at pictures of their grandchildren and laugh with the dealer about the things our kids get up to and drink my ‘free’ coffee or diet Coke until my crummy $100 is gone…at which point I like to go out into the mountain air, down to the lake, to sit and watch the boats and the people. To go for a hike, or a bike ride, or rent a kayak and head out into the lake.

I like to gamble with other people for whom the gambling is just a side attraction, one of the many other things they’re doing there. In a place with a normal balance of human emotions. The content, the desperate, the peaceful, the fired up, the just getting through one day at a time like everybody else.

And no.

I don’t want a timeshare in Tahoe, either.

Not even if it comes with a plasma TV.


Um...excuse me, I don't mean to be rude, darling, but...are we absolutely sure about these numbers?!

You Are 92% Lady

No doubt about it, you are a lady with impeccable etiquette

You know how to put others at ease, even if their manners aren't the greatest.


So I asked my doctor. “Doctor,” I said. “Look. The Tylenol thing isn’t working and I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired and there has just got to be something else I can do…I mean! {more self-absorbed sniveling}…”

Do you know what that nice man said?

He said, and I quote, “Why don’t we try a body wrap and therapeutic massage?”

Every day of my life, I learn something new. I learned yesterday, for example, that the sound of one jaw dropping is exactly like the sound of one hand clapping.

So he listed a few recommended places where he sends his other chronically whiny uncomfortable patients for regular (!) treatments (!!). He explained carefully that I wasn’t getting a spa treatment, I was getting…something that sounds exactly like a spa treatment, only it’s therapeutic. He said it won’t be like regular spa treatments where they do the whole-body thing; see, instead you get a ‘targeted’ massage where they work on the parts that are sore. By use of gentle pressure and aromatic botanicals, they release muscle tension; which may not cure what actually ails me, but can help with ‘collateral’ pain. And then the body wrap is supposed to be like a cross between Tiger Balm and regular old spa mud; and a paraffin dip for my gosh-awful hands.

Hmm. OK, OK, I’m letting him say it ain’t a spa treatment per se. But if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck…and ain’t covered by insurance like a duck (although I can use my HSA funds for it if I want)…I’m just sayin’…

I’m sayin’, SPA TRIP, BABY!!!!!!

Oh, I’m sorry. I mean, I’m going for the serious, nothing-fun-about-it medical treatment for pain reduction. At the spa. Says so right on my prescription form: “For pain reduction.” And then there’s a bunch of squiggly lines which I’m sure the masseuse will be able to read. I think they may be actual Greek. They probably say, “Sorry about inflicting this patient on you, but I had to get her to stop with the whining somehow…I do have a life, you know, and other patients waiting to whine at me about their issues…”

I feel like I won the lottery. I think the only time I’ve been more childishly thrilled was the time my OB prescribed pedicures while I was pregnant with Eldest. Weekly pedicures. To help with the swelling (and probably my attitude, which may have been a little less than pleasant – but shoot, when your feet are swollen up by two shoe sizes, it can make one a little…pissy…).

I may just have to forgive him one of those seven vials of blood he ordered drawn last week. Of course, he ordered two more drawn this morning, so he still owes me…maybe a two week paid-via-HSA vacation in Maui? For serious not-a-spa-trip therapeutic treatments? I hear that warm ocean waters are very, very good for sore joints, after all…

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Things that make me go ‘huh?!’

Apparently, Medicare will cover the cost of your wheelchair or power scooter if you need it to get from, say, your sofa to your bathroom.

But if you need one to get from your house to your doctor, or to get your groceries, or to, I dunno, leave the house? Or even if you DO need a wheelchair to get from kitchen to bedroom, but can’t use one due to the confines of your living space?


I don’t get this at all.

We know for a fact that keeping active is one of the best things we can do for just about any malady. Getting out to the supermarket, going to play bridge, taking yourself to the park, keeping it moving and grooving, encourages both physical and mental health.

Saying that unless you are unable to get to the potty without one you can’t have a scooter or a wheelchair?

Lame. Lame, lame, lame.

As a taxpayer who keeps one hand on her wallet and shrieks, “Don’t you DARE tax me for that!!” quite frequently, I herewith declare: Tax me for that. Use my money for this. Get those people what they need to get out into the sun again.

This is not just about feeling bad for the poor shut-ins of our society. It makes fiscal sense, too. Encouraging people with disabilities to be as self-sufficient as possible is only good business. A person who is getting out and keeping mobile is going to stay healthier longer than a person who is sitting on their sofa waiting for the hospice worker to bring their Twinkies.

I’m going to go ahead and pen a little note to my senators asking them to support S. 3677. Here’s the (remarkably brief) text of the bill; and here are Senator Bingman’s comments on the bill (lengthier than the actual text of the bill, there’s a surprise – a politician talka-talk-talking).

If the spirit moves, I’d encourage you to do the same.