Monday, December 31, 2007

Cats and Dogs

Boo Bug just came up to me and announced, “Mommy, I think I’ve changed my mind about the pet thing.”

Hmm. OK. The children have started the time-honored tradition of hassling me about getting a pet. We are currently, and have been for many years now, pet-free around the Den; we had two cats, back in the day, but one died of renal failure and the other found a new home with a friend shortly afterward, and ever since we’ve enjoyed clear sinuses and the ability to go off for a weekend without worrying about litter box levels.

As all the children put in demands for assorted furry varmints, Boo Bug has been saying she wants to get a puppy. This is laughable, because Boo Bug is terrified of dogs.

I don’t mean that she’s a little nervous around them or like that. I mean, she is so frightened of them that she will go all primal-ape-like-screaming when one is spotted walking with its owner on the sidewalk across the street.

She does the same thing to a slightly lesser degree with cats. And squirrels. And anything else with fur. I have no idea why. It can be a Chihuahua, she will act like it is a rabid, ravenous wolf about to spring upon her. Even cute little fuzzy puppies set her off. And Lord forbid it is actually a big dog. It doesn’t matter if the dog is in the backyard and she’s in the house, she will be a ball of anxiety until we leave. She came to me sobbing and sniffling because there was a cat in a house we visited and {OH THE HORROR!} it looked at her.

Ya. Pretty sure it was about to ::SPRING!!::. That was a close shave, there. Whew.

Well-intentioned people have tried to “snap her out of it” by introducing her to their friendly pups. Yeah. Ha ha. Hey, did you know that if a child-friendly dog is confronted by a child who is screaming in a pitch that can shatter glass, kicking and flailing her arms wildly, the dog will start to bark? I don’t care what dog it is, it will start barking. It’s probably just trying to be heard, and likely saying, “Dude, what’s the matter with the kid?” but the barking then makes her scream and cry harder and it all goes downhill from there.

A dog that has (according to the owner) “never even growled” at anyone once took a snap at her when she went into her meltdown. I don’t blame the dog, either. I blame my friends for thinking it would be a good idea to just get the kid away from her mom (who is obviously somehow making her this way) and introduce her to this sweet little Terrier.

Could have killed them. Seriously. Thanks for helping with the phobia, there. That’s great.

ANYWAY. Yeah, so you can imagine how seriously I’ve taken her ‘I want a puppy’ thing.

So she just came up to me and said, quite seriously, that she had changed her mind about the pet thing. And then she came up with this gem, which I give to you straight from the Bug herself:

“I think we should get a cat because a cat is like an animal that, you know, a cat is…well, if you went to DISNEYLAND with people who are allergic to them, to cats I mean, well! If you did that, the cat could stay here and relax on your chair and purr, aaaaaaand…sit there…on your chair…like that. {pause} But you’d need a basket for it. {pause} For the yarn I mean. {pause} Because you know how cats are, with yarn. But I think a cat would be a very good pet. For Disneyland and also because they like yarn and they like fires. So it would be a better pet than a puppy. I think.”

{blink, blink}

Uhhhhhhhh, okay.

Sure. We’ll think about a cat.

Just as soon as I have time to deal with the litter box maintenance. Which should happen right after I finish the laundry. And hey! Look what I found: A handy guide for catching up on dirty laundry!

Friday, December 28, 2007

And news shoots across the bow…

Well, as I expected, we’re skidding into 2008 sideways, covered in drywall dust and gasping, “@*&^&@, whadda ride!!”

Also as expected, the Den has been full of visitors, people coming and going and coughs and colds (my sinuses are at war with me – I have actually broken down and bought Afrin, which I hate using due to the rebound-effect it can sometimes have but I AM DESPERATE HERE).

There was a great deal of last-second Christmas knitting, because I have trouble telling people to bug off, I’m knitting until I am down to the wire, at which point I become completely irrational and will not only tell them to bug off, but to bug the @*^&@ off, can’t you see I’m KNITTING SOMETHING WITH LOVE IN THE STITCHES, @*^&@^ IT?!

Peace love and joy, expressed in wool. Now with more cursing.

Next year, I swear to Dog, I am going to start my Christmas knitting early. Like, now.

Anyway.

Christmas was fun, and also I got to answer the question: What happens if everybody – as in, all but three of the expected contingent – shows up an hour and fifteen minutes before you expect them for Christmas dinner?

The answer is, neither you nor your spouse get a shower, you go through the party with an absolutely disgusting kitchen floor and floury jeans, and also you might have to simply throw away the dinner roll dough you now can’t finish kneading and shaping because every available surface is suddenly covered in purses, bags and coolers. And someone has already helpfully put your oiled bowl in the sink with soapy water “to soak”.

Also, putting on scented antiperspirant and a fresh shirt is not going to fix that little BO problem you were intending to fix with hot water and soap. This is an important little detail that those of you who may be suffering from mostly-in-the-sinuses colds might not realize on your own, so I pass the information along as a public service.

Febreze might work, though. I’ll let y’all know the next time I have occasion to test the theory.

We are hosting a kind of…extended sleepover party, for the kids of some friends, over New Years. The first arrivals are tomorrow, with a few more dribbling in between Sunday and Monday. Oddly, the most local invitees are the least likely to be coming over, largely because their parents think we might be the dangerous kind of crazy their offspring are a little young and/or nervous for the overnight thing.

We will have anywhere from a mere eight (including our own Denizens) up to fourteen children running through the house hyped up on soda, popcorn, video games and self-frosted cookies. FOR FOUR DAYS.

It is going to be a very interesting party. But a lot of fun, too. Except for the part where I lose my mind and start trying to knit with uncooked spaghetti.

Until the spaghetti starts to look like a good idea, I am knitting a nice, peaceful pair of men’s socks in Schaefer Anne, because I don’t care how chaotic it gets around here, I am not going to mess up a pair of socks (she said confidently, thus inviting all manner of disaster to befall her socks):

A Nice Peaceful Sock

And oh, what’s that purple-ish thing in the background there, on the right?

Future Shawl

It’s a skein of Claudia Silk Lace 20/2 – 100% silk, hand-dyed, in Purple Earth. I’m fixated on the Pacific Northwest Shawl for this, and am looking forward to starting it. Even though I have a somewhat less than stellar track record with lace knitting.

Never let it be said that I allow such things as past performance to influence my hopes for future returns.

As spotty as my posting has been this last week, I don’t really expect it will be any better until into 2008. So! I hope your winter observances have been merry and bright, and that 2008 finds you healthy, happy and looking forward to the challenges to come.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sink-defrost a big old turkey for tomorrow night, when I should have twelve (or possibly fifteen) people here for dinner…

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rhetorical question du jour

Why.

WHY.

Why is it that my children cannot go five freakin’ seconds without needing something?

I wanted to take a shower. My first shower in three days. Is that so hard a thing to want? A shower? Just one? So I put on a Dora DVD for Dora’s #1 Fan (a.k.a. Captain Adventure, who has actually run up and kissed the screen when Dora came on), and set the other three down with video games and ran like mad for the shower.

About eight seconds into my shower, someone is banging on the bathroom door.

“WHAT?!” I shrieked. (In the most loving way possible, I assure you.)

“Murphle mumble barrifa butt!”

“Whaaaaat?” I can’t even tell which one it is…

“MURPHLE MUMBLE BARRIFA BUTT!”

Inside head: @*^&@!!! I mean @*^&@ and @*^@& and %%%%% and @*^&!

“WHAT?!?!”

“MOMMMMEEEEEEEEEE! Murphle MUMBLE barrifa BUTT!!”

So I turned off the water, got out of the shower, turned off the bathroom fan and said again, “What?!”

“Mommy, my game is paused.”

(So is mommy’s brain. What the hell is she babbling about? And what the double hell does she expect me to do about it right immediately now?!)

Having run my first eleven responses through the “should I actually use those precise words when speaking to one of my children” filter and come up dry, I finally managed to say, “Honey. I.
Am.
In.
The.
SHOWER!”

“Oh.” Philosophical silence from Boo Bug. “But, my game is paused.”

You know…my children are not disabled. They have no mental or physical defects that render them incapable of restarting a paused game. Shoot, this particular child has two older siblings, right next to her, who are fully capable of hitting the ‘pause’ key again and restarting the flibberity-gibbery game.

But no.

She must come all the way upstairs to report the issue to tech support.

Jeez louise.

Fortunately, children heal quickly. So I’m sure the blisters on her little ears will be gone by morning…

Monday, December 17, 2007

Only I could do this

People. Do not try this at home. I’m serious – this takes a trained professional. Not that I am actually trained, but I am experienced, which makes up for years and years of professional training.

Because my head is cracked, I get all kinds of crazy ideas leaking into my brain. Yesterday, I decided that what I wanted to do was bake.

It was one of those deals that seems perfectly reasonable when you start off and then suddenly you realize that you are, in fact, a lunatic and probably need some kind of intervention.

So I started off the day by noticing that we needed more bread. I had my niece and nephew staying with us this weekend, so we had managed to pretty much chew through two loaves of bread in about the first eighteen seconds they were here.

Making your own bread has a perilous pitfall attached, which I like to call the “what else can I do while I’ve got these ovens on?” syndrome. Generally speaking if we are out of bread, we are also out of cookies.

Sure enough, the cookie jar was empty (having six children around will do that) (seven, if you count the husband) (and really…we should). So I took out two sticks of butter to soften while I began tossing flour and stuff into the KitchenAid bowl. The KitchenAid is next to the fruit bowl, and in the fruit bowl I noticed a pair of overripe bananas. (Daylight come and we wanna go hooooome…)

OBVIOUSLY, I need to do “something” with the bananas. OBVIOUSLY, I need to make banana bread. (Another stick and a half of butter hits the counter.)

When I opened the cupboard for the honey to feed the yeast in my bread, a can of pumpkin fell on my head. @*^&@ can of pumpkin. I’m so sick of this can falling out of there…and also that evaporated milk I found during the last cupboard purge is almost expired…I’m gonna make me a pie.

Those of you keeping track at home will note that I have now got the following projects going:

Minding six children – two of them toddlers who like Christmas ornaments. FOR LUNCH.
Sandwich bread
Chocolate chip cookies
Banana bread
Pumpkin pie

As I was making the pie, I got this demon-inspired great idea.

I always make the same kind of cookies. They are always either chocolate chip, oatmeal, or snickerdoodles – drop cookies, spoon up the dough and drop ‘em on the sheet, bake and you’re done.

But I never do refrigerator cookies. You know, the kind where you put the dough in the fridge for a few years and then roll it out and cut it into shapes or whatever?

You know what would be fun?

Well. Buying them at the store. THAT might be fun. There’s this bakery on Market Street right by the Montgomery BART station in San Francisco that makes these awesome butter cookies…see, THAT might be fun. Daytrip into the city, a little shopping, a little dim-sum, and then going into that bakery (the name of which escapes me) for a dozen (or so) of those delicious, buttery sugar cookies with their happy little colored sugar decorations.

But deciding to go ahead and change my mind and make spiced refrigerator cookies turned out to be one of the less fun things I did this weekend.

When the time came and the dough was ‘thoroughly chilled’, I dutifully began using my small ice cream scoop (a.k.a., my coffee scoop) to scoop out perfect little balls of dough, which I then rubbed to smoothness between my hands, dropped onto my parchment-lined cookie sheet (geesh, these things are high-maintenance to make) and then squashed into a circle with a glass.

I hadn’t even gotten the first sheet done when I was already saying to myself, “Oh yeah. THIS is why I only do drop-style cookies…”

But it was on the second sheet that I proved once again, that I am without equal in the Stupid Injuries category.

I was pushing down on the glass to squash the cookie, and I felt a little ‘pop’ in my right index finger. Just a little pop. And I said, “Ow”, but without any real feeling because it was more of a ‘ow?’ than an ‘ow!’.

A few cookies further in I said, “Wait, OW. What the…” and I looked at my finger.

It was turning purple and swelling vigorously.

I said…well, I said a few more choice words. And I stood there and watched my finger swell. It was swelling that fast, I could actually see it inflating like a balloon. And it was turning the most intriguing shade of purple.

Hmm…options.

I could…pack up the kids on that overcast Sunday, drive their still-hyper-from-yesterday’s-party butts (I do believe that my niece actually drank cookie frosting, straight from the tube) to the ER with me, and then we could all sit and wait and wait and wait and wait for someone to look at my obviously not going to kill me finger so they could tell me to take an Advil and put some ice on it.

Or I could call my husband’s cell phone and leave a message, so that when he got off stage at the Dickens Fair and immediately checked for messages IN CASE because he is so doting a mate (snort!) (seriously, I would be better off calling one of my girlfriends who also work that fair), and then he could Rush Home so that I could take my finger to the ER and wait alone and wait alone and wait alone and wait alone until someone got a second to look at my obviously not going to kill me finger so they could tell me to take an Advil and put some ice on it.

I knew I’d be waiting forever, because going to the ER with a non-life-threatening emergency is exactly the same as putting strychnine into the water supply. It actually causes heart attacks, major appendage amputations caused by freak gardening accidents, and other horrible things to happen to people within a fifty mile radius of the hospital.

I’m serious.

I have documented proof.

SO! In keeping with my mission statement to do whatever fool thing I want as long as I don’t hurt anybody, I decided to nobly stay away from the ER, take some Vicodin and perhaps a lemon-drop martini or two Advil, put ice on it, and worry myself sick for a while in the comfort of my own home.

So I did.

It raged up like a balloon…and then just as swiftly deflated (perhaps my skin has holes in it?). Last night before bed, I had some angry purple streaks and a very touch-tender underside on that finger.

This morning, I have what looks like a three or four day old burn (!) and it only hurts when I poke at it good and hard.

You know, to see if it still hurts? C’mon, doesn’t everybody do that?!

ANYWAY.

I think I am the only person I know who has ever sprained a finger while making sugar-spice cookies.

It is a talent, a (fortunately) rare talent.

…and then people wonder why I do NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, want to own an electric carving knife…

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Medical Terms, Explained

“You may feel a little pressure.”
I am about to attempt to examine your tonsils from Way Down Here.

“Deep breath, now.”
This is really going to hurt.

“Little more pressure…”
…yer tonsils look good but now I need to check the patterns inside yer brain-case…

“Bear with me…”
Dude, I have never seen this many spiderwebs in a brain-case before, I’ve got to get extra pictures of this or they’ll never believe me at the next staff meeting!

“Just a few more minutes and then we’ll be done.”
We have a bet about who can keep a full-bladdered patient on the table longest without having to call Janitorial, and I’m twenty-seven minutes behind the leader.

“OK, we’re all done! Your doctor should have the results for you in a few days! Have a Merry Christmas!”
I know you are about to ask me if I saw “anything” and I am not allowed to answer that because I am not a doctor – if I saw a Jeep Wrangler in there, I’m not going to twitch an eyelash in response, so I am going to use my most cheerful tone of voice, throw a holiday greeting into the mix to mellow you out a bit and then I will run for the door as if a pack of slavering wolves is at my heels, because in spite of the impression I am currently giving that I don’t fear you, you are in fact terrifying the crap out of me right now OK BYE!

In addition to having had a few medical expressions explained, you now know WAY MORE THAN YOU WANTED TO KNOW about my day today.

I find it particularly sad that someone like me, who really (and I mean really) loves Goode Foode keeps having digestive-tract issues that force me to be circumspect about how much I eat, of what kinds of foods. Although this newest thing is pure volume – it could be water, if I fill my stomach up?

Stomach Cramps of the Gods +10. It doesn’t last particularly long, about half an hour (which seems like FIVE DAYS AND NIGHTS), and goes away as suddenly as it hits (mid-bite to mid-groan), can mostly but not completely be avoided by not eating too much, and leaves my entire abdomen somewhat sore for roughly twenty-four hours.

We learned last week that if someone (say, a doctor) pushes on my stomach, even when there hasn’t been an “episode” for days and days, it hurts.

It hurts a lot.

The only thing that hurts more is if that someone then lets the pressure off suddenly.

Yeah. That was exciting, that discovery.

It started the day before Thanksgiving (nice timing, body, thanks for that) and gave me just enough time off to start thinking that maybe it was a virus (you know, that famous ‘intense like-labor-only-they-don’t-come-and-go-nor-do-you-get-a-baby-out-of-the-deal stomach cramps but no nausea/vomiting/anything else upon eating that goes away in half an hour and leaves your entire abdomen feeling like someone hit you with the business end of a croquet mallet’ virus), and then gave me a good hard body-slamming right when I had decided that FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I wasn’t in the mood for an ultrasound anyway so let’s call the whole thing off.

So I ate a bagel to fortify myself for the phone call to cancel, and then as I was lying on my bed waiting for the hycosamine tablet to finish dissolving under my tongue (yuck) decided that maybe just for the sake of science I’d go ahead and keep the appointment anyway.

**sigh**

Righty-o. And now, I have to go help Eldest get ready for her performance tonight. She (and her entire class, AND the second graders) are singing holiday songs.

I am bringing my knitting.

But not my earplugs, because that would be sensible tacky.

Who the heck is Billy Mays?

“HI! BILLY MAYS HERE FOR {oddly compelling product which may or may not work as advertised but by gum it surely does get the job done under their carefully controlled conditions}!”

The first time I remember seeing HI BILLY MAYS HERE, it was for OxiClean. And I didn’t really bother to stop and ponder the all-important question of who the heck IS Billy Mays, anyway then.

As the years rolled by and HI BILLY MAYS HERE kept entering my life hawking various As Seen On TV products, I began to find myself accepting that Billy Mays is somebody I know.

You know, in that way that you feel you know people you have actually either never actually met in real life or have met in the briefest possible of ways but have read/seen/listen to everything they’ve ever written/performed/recorded and therefore feel you have some kind of intimate knowledge of them as if you were best friends forever.

Which I actually had happen once when I met another blogger face to face after years of Internet communication and when she walked in it was like, ‘Oh hi, how are you’ and then we proceeded to just sit and chat as if we had been meeting in coffee shops for years and years and years and it was very weird to stop and think, I have never met this person IN PERSON before, ever because I do feel as though I know her.

ANYWAY.

Where the heck was I? Oh yeah. HI BILLY MAYS HERE is a person like that. I have this vague idea that I know who he is.

He’s, like, I don’t know. A football player or something? Or maybe he was…that guy. You know? The guy? Who did that…thing?

Yeah. Him.

Well today I opened up a package of Hercules Hooks (love them, by the way – this was the first time I’ve actually used them and they work great!) and there was Billy Mays smirking at me from the packaging and I thought, Oh, there’s Billy Mays. That guy, who did that thing, and now he sells OxiClean. And Hercules Hooks, apparently.

And then I thought, Wait.

Who the heck IS Billy Mays?!


So I looked him up.

The Internet is a wonderful thing.

Do you know who the heck Billy Mays is?!

He is…

…a…

salesman

That’s it.

Billy Mays, who says his name with such confidence because obviously, like Joe DiMaggio, you just know who he is…is a salesman.

Nothing more, nothing less.

And I have to say ‘nothing less’ because people, that is impressive. Think about it. There are not many folks out there who command that kind of name recognition, without having actually saved kittens from a burning building, or pulled off a 400 yard touchdown in the last twenty seconds to save the Miami Dolphins from defeat.

I wonder if perhaps I could build my own empire selling stuff, if I could just learn to say my name that confidently.

HI, TAMA HERE FOR LINT FUZZ! Yes that’s right, new improved lint fuzz! It can be used to insulate your house, just stuff into cracks for winter comfort! Or you can use it to steady that rocky table…stuff New Improved Lint Fuzz under one leg and presto! Steady table, perfect for your afternoon coffee! The uses for Lint Fuzz are limitless – ball them up and toss them on the floor for cat toys! Tell the children they are trash and they will play with them for hours! Avoid vacuuming forever simply by sucking them up into your vacuum hose, guaranteed to destroy even the most expensive brands of vacuum, thus excusing you from that pesky chore FOREVER!

Yes that’s right – lint fuzz! Supplies are not a bit limited, so please! CALL TODAY, OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY!

(What do y’all think? Should I be calling HSN on this baby?)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A moment of cursing

I am a gentle person, really. Live and let live, that’s my motto. I try not to judge other people (shut up, I do too try), and I try to accept that other people have other views. Other positions. That they come from different backgrounds, and that what I consider to be absolutely unquestionably the right or wrong ways to handle things may not be viewed the same way by others.

I do not tend to fling ill-wishes and other invectives at other people, is what I’m trying to get at here.

That said. My Irish is up, and it just can’t be stilled.

I don’t curse often. But when I do?

I really mean it.

May a curse follow those who broke into the home of my friend, the dear one who takes such good care of my children, who does so much good for all her life touches, who works so hard to keep her family fed and clothed and warm.

May the feet that kicked in the door wither into uselessness, that we may know them by their limps.

May disease and blight afflict every part of them which touched her things, her few and precious heirlooms, her little children’s jewelry…and even their tiny lost teeth. From the eyes that gazed with greed to the hands that seized to what lies beneath the pockets they likely stuffed them into, let them be afflicted and pained and useless.

May the hand that took their Christmas and birthday presents shake, unable to hold cup to drink or bowl to eat.

Bad cess, bad cess, bad cess, let it follow them now and always, until they find shame and amend what they have done.


Hallelujah.

Amen.

(We are looking after her. She is one of our own, and we will not allow her Christmas and that of her children to be ruined by these…unspeakable…PAH! There will be presents and there will be new doors and if these people ARE caught they’d better pray to GOD it is by the police and not us. Do not @*^&@ with the Celts – or our kin, or our kith. ‘Using our words’ is all well and good, but personally I don’t think I’d pass up the opportunity to take a hurley to the lot of them!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Things that sound cooler than they really are

“The Autumn Dishes”.

Doesn’t that sound just ever-so Hamptons?

Ya, well.

The “Autumn Dishes” were purchased a few years ago at Linens-n-Things, because I needed more dishes.

I had twelve place settings in the blue and white not-China-but-much-nicer-than-Target-brand (also known as, ‘the winter dishes’). It’s a lovely Noritake that we got as wedding gifts, and for many years they were more than sufficient. But then, we expanded from a ‘couple’ to a ‘family’ and then continued expanding and suddenly I was having Thanksgiving at my Den with 20 (or so) people expected and I needed more dishes.

So I bought eight place settings of this brown stuff (‘The Autumn Dishes’) I liked just fine out of the 50% off bin at Linens-n-Things and said, “There. Now I have plenty of dishes.” (I had twenty place settings total , and twenty-four people coming over that Thanksgiving. Let it never be claimed that I have conquered basic mathematics.)

There were two small things wrong with my plan. One was that this set of dishes have no cereal bowls – you may think this a small thing, but in a house of four full-time children and four to six ‘part-time’ kids who drift through for stays varying from a day to a week or occasionally even more…even the twelve that we have in the blue-and-white-not-China is not enough.

Sometimes, I think twelve dozen would not be enough, but that is usually on those days when I have run the dishwasher more than three times already and find myself short on dinner plates. And also the thought general precedes a medical need for a martini of some sort, because, well. See comment regarding ‘run the dishwasher more than three times already’, above.

Anyway, the set came not with cereal bowls, but STEW BOWLS. Gigantic bowls. Lumberjacks look at these bowls and say, “Damn, girl, them’s some big bowls ya got there…”

They’re large.

As are the plates. The bread plates must be 8” around, and the dinner plates are so large that the cupboard doesn’t close properly around them.

This is a case of buyer does not have good spatial awareness.

And also buyer was looking more at the price and not really thinking through the whole ‘and then I take them home and put them in the cupboard, where?’ part of the transaction

The Christmas dishes, which are beyond cheap and have snowmen on them (I know. I cringe, too.) were purchased in a moment of extreme silliness. There are eight place settings, which is not enough to get us through even one (1) day around here.

But I’m not buying more of them because, really.

Snowmen.

Do I need to say more?

ENTER THE WHITE DISHES.

The white dishes are probably the best dishware purchase I ever made. There I was, wandering through Gottschalks after Christmas. If memory serves (which is not a given), two Denizens were attending ballet lessons in the mall and Boo Bug was snoozing in the Snugli.

And there they were, a set of twenty-four place settings, dinner and bread plates, cereal bowls, soup bowls, coffee cups and saucers, serving bowl and platter, creamer and sugar dish AND a coffee pot, for $60 – 75% off.

SOLD!!

The white set is like you’ve seen in a thousand restaurants. A basic pattern, almost not even there, standard sized plates and bowls…Basic-Basic ‘country white’ plates.

Otherwise known as, ‘the spring dishes’.

So in this manner, I have acquired ‘seasonal dishware’.

Which sounds ever-so-Hamptons, but isn’t really.

We use the blue and white set (nice soup bowls, everything else ‘normal’ sized) from January through the end of March. Then we put those away and use the white dishes exclusively (they’ve always been handy, in case of company or dishwasher-related laziness) until September, when we trot out those lumberjack-sized “Autumn Dishes” (again using the white set for our cereal bowls) (and to pad out the dinner plates and such because really, eight place settings is not enough around here, especially when the holidays begin pressing in on us).

And then, as we are cleaning up after Thanksgiving, we drag out the snowmen and the children go nuts and we listen to them shriek and giggling about them until New Years.

At which point we gratefully return them to the boxes and bring out the not-China and start the whole thing again.

But it sounds so cool, doesn’t it? “Yes, I was just saying to my husband as we were putting away the Autumn Dishes…”

“…grab me a cold one outta that cooler, will ya, babe? I’m breaking a danged sweat movin’ all these dad-gummed boxes here…”

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Would it be wrong…?

I suppose if I were to buy the new sheets the kids desperately need (I am ashamed – if y’all could see how threadbare they are right now…you might call CPS on me) (their comforters also have holes, and they’ve been pulling the stuffing out of them), wrap them up and put them under the tree…that would be kind of a sucky Christmas present?

Are you sure? Even if they had princesses on them?

Damn.

I suppose that also means that wrapping up the new bathroom towels would be…?

All right, all right. It was just a thought.

Geesh.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

So…quiet…

I have twenty minutes of quiet. Twenty. Twenty minutes before the noise starts again, twenty minutes until the weight of ‘have to’ descends back on me.

Right now, I have a clamoring of ought to, but the have to column is empty until 2:00.

I have been cleaning all morning, shoveling out the filth from the children’s bedrooms, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the new bathroom fixtures, handling random bits of paper with notes scrawled on them. Buy this, fix that, bring a plate of cookies here, and we would appreciate it if you could help us with…

I have calls to make and bills to pay. The laundry needs rotating. I still need to put away the autumn dishes, and put the soup ingredients into the crockpot for dinner tonight.

I have Christmas knitting to do.

I have dozens of things I ought to do.

But it’s so quiet right now. Nobody is interrupting me with endless cries of ‘mommy’ or ‘honey’ or ‘excuse me, ma’am, could you please come look at this, it’s gonna need a $2,000 part to fix…’ No appliances are beeping, or timers chiming, or alarms reminding me that I have eight minutes to get from here to there.

Hard to work up ambition enough to do what I merely ought to do.

It is raining outside, cold and gray and wet. The water is running along the outside of the house, which is making small, surprised noises to find itself covered with the stuff. It’s been a long time since water came from above, filled its gutters and slickened the tiles of its roof.

No point in washing the hall tiles, then. They’ll just be covered in a sheen of muddy water, in an hour’s time.

…thank goodness…

Have I done this before?

Because it just familiar, somehow…I herewith decree that the ban on BOTH major parties is still in effect, and all Republicans AND Democrats can go the @*^&@ home, right now, because they are FIRED. All of 'em!

Also, I am owed approximately $1,276,027,006,775 in fines for people calling my city {shudder} Frisco. On the plus side, it might be just enough to help shore up our failing school system, eh?

So pay up. $25 per offense, people, let's have it...

I'm Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Too much fun and excitement

And then we take a moment to look at 2007! Just how bad a year was 2007? Well, let’s see. We have lost $157,594.29 in net worth since this time last year, how does that sound?

Eh, it’s not actually as bad as it sounds. I mean, it is – but yet, it isn’t. We didn’t add $157,594.29 in new debt, for example. That would be bad. It’s actually a combination of using saved cash for the remodeling project, the minivan loan, a new loan to pay for the “SURPRISE!” $9,000 in the kids bathroom (which looks fabulous) (as it damn well should, for nine thousand unexpected dollars!)…and the single biggest line item, the real estate “sag” out here, which has shaved a solid $70,000 off the average home price in our neighborhood.

I feel so very, very sorry for our neighbors who bought just last year. Those of us who have been here five years or more, we’re still in the black. The newer folks? Not so much. A few are in a real pickle, like the folks who bought into the McMansions a couple miles up the road. Paid $1.2M, can’t sell it for $850,000 even with the furniture thrown in for good measure. Ouch.

I’m trying very hard not to think too much about All This right now. I have lots and lots of other fish to fry, right smack in the middle of the holiday season.

Naturally, because I am trying to just leave it alone, I can think of almost nothing else.

I’ve got so many thoughts and ideas and notions and ponderings going on inside my head that it’s a wonder I get any sleep at all.

Every time I start fussing with the budget, I find myself torn between two opposite ways of handling the whole mess.

I can take the easy (lazy) way, the way I’ve been handling things for the last few years. When something jumps up in front of me, I do what I have to do to deal with it…and then I go back to the autopilot. Autopilot saving, autopilot spending. As long as I’m not spending more than I’ve transferred into the checking account, full speed ahead!!

Or, I can try to sharpen my focus and stay the course and all those other gung-ho phrases, really knuckle down and stick with it and work to position ourselves for an early and active retirement. That path involves a lot of deferred gratification, which can be annoying. It involves thinking things through, even small things like new sheets for the bed or whether I can make do with my old tennis shoes for another month – after all, it isn’t raining right now, so holes in the soles aren’t THAT big a deal, right?

Or, I could even try a combination of the two; make it a challenge each year like the knitting from our stashes last year. From January through September, take the living below your means challenge and see how far I can get; then lighten up through the holidays, relax and be merry knowing that I’ve paid down $X on the mortgage, and added $Y to our portfolio.

To be honest, I’m rather charmed by that idea. It adds a layer of fun to what is, come right down to it, not fun at all.

Telling yourself, “No, you don’t need that” repeatedly gets old in a hurry, and when there is no End Date stamped on the whole deal it is downright onerous.

But to say, “OK, maybe we’ll get that…in October, when we’re off the Challenge…” is easier. It isn’t no, it’s not right now.

And isn’t it ironic that something like a cute t-shirt can seem more important than your financial independence? Or that you’d rather have a latte right now than retire ten years sooner?

If you held up two envelopes and said, “This one has a $25 gift certificate to Sears, and this one has three months worth of your salary! Which one do you want?”, most people would choose the salary, right?

But time and again, we will pass that envelope over for the purchase at Sears – because it isn’t that easy, or that direct, or that…right in front of us.

I honestly have no idea what I could accomplish in nine months. If I took from January 1 through September 30 and really challenged myself, what could I get done? Could I pay off that entire $9,000? Or even more?

I really don’t know.

Right now, I don’t even know if I’m going to find out.

Because I’m trying not to think about it until after the holidays.

Except for the part where I make sure at least some of the holiday spending includes stocking up the freezer and the pantry against nine months worth of full-body-contact-sport style living below your means…

Monday, December 03, 2007

The bus the bus the bus the bus the bus

Let it herewith be known that the Special Needs Preschool has A BUS.

The kids? They can take the bus. The bus? It is free. The bus! Bus! The Bus! Have I heard, have you heard, has EVERYBODY HEARD…about The Bus?

Of the roughly thirty kids in the program at this school (no, not all in one classroom – there are six classrooms), about 27 of them take The Bus. The Bus picks them up outside their homes, transports them to preschool whilst parents (presumably) loll about in the pajamas eating bon-bons and watching Oprah, and then transports them home again.

The other three preschoolers, denied the splendor that is The Bus, have to be taxied to school by their crummy, boring and properly-clothed parents in their Not The Bus vehicles.

I have been told about The Bus, in exhaustive detail, at least five times now, by four different people.

They are wonderful, caring people who wish to ensure that I have heard about, you know, The Bus. Because the bus is a marvelous time-saving device, and also it can be very good for the children because it provides yet one more layer of school-related ‘predictable transition’, which is code for “helps settle their little butts down, because the bus means that they are about to be in school where there are rules and so they must begin to think about acting like civilized human beings rather than little animals who defecate on the kitchen floor and then run laughing like maniacs throughout the house while their mothers chase them with hastily snatched wipes yelping, ‘Wait, there’s still poop on your butt!!!’”.

Not, uh, that this has ever happened to me, you understand. I’m just saying, is all.

Ahem. ANYWAY.

Yes, The Bus is, indeed, a mighty thing.

We can’t use The Bus, however.

It is, you see, an issue of timing.

With the Kindertime program, my day is considerably simplified – but it is still lacking in the part where I sit around eating bon-bons and watching Oprah Money Hour.

While Captain Adventure could take the bus TO school, the part where he is taken BACK HOME is problematic. You see, he gets out of preschool at 3:00; at 3:00, I am already sitting in Homer the Odyssey in the parking lot at school, where I have been since shortly after 2:00. BECAUSE, Danger Mouse gets out at 2:20 and I am to pick up Boo Bug “before the school-age children arrive” because this is when Kindertime ends and Daycare begins and she is not in Daycare, she is in Kindertime.

By the time I’ve gotten those two, it’s at least 2:30, and often 2:40. Now I’ve got anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes before Eldest gets out at 2:55. Not really enough time to go home…so, we just stay there and wait…and wait…and wait…because Eldest takes about fifteen hours minutes to get from her classroom
allllll
the
long
weary
and
with
oh
so
many
distractions
waaaaaayyyyyyyyy

to the parking lot.

The earliest I could reliably be home to greet Captain Adventure as he descends from {angels singing} The Bus {/angels singing} is 3:30.

SOMETIMES, I’m home by 3:15. SOMETIMES, it’s almost 4:00. IT JUST DEPENDS, on everything from how long it takes Eldest to walk out from her classroom to which teacher caught me to talk about what horrible/splendid thing one of my kids did to getting stuck in traffic because some idiot must turn left out of the parking lot (though warned with stern ‘RIGHT TURN ONLY: CVC # 28672867286728671!!!!!!’ signs in not one, not two, but THREE places around the driveway) and cannot understand that until THEY move, the INTERSECTION IS BLOCKED.

See, it’s like that whole ‘circle of life’ kind of thing. Cars go into the driveway, around the pickup lane, and then out. Ergo, if the cars going into the driveway are blocking the intersection because the lane isn’t moving, and you’re sitting at the FRONT of the lane waiting for them to move…we can see the problem? Oh, we can’t? OK. We’ll all wait for it to dawn on you…because we have no choice…

Now, while it is entirely probable that at worst I would be skidding into the court just as the bus driver was coming back from having beaten on my door in a state of perplexity (“What kind of mother isn’t home to meet The Bus?!”)…it is also possible that fairly regularly we would miss The Bus entirely and I would have to drive back to the school for a sound scolding about the importance of The Bus and its time and that I should never, ever stand The Bus up like that again.

See, I just don’t want that kind of stress in my life.

It’s easier to park in the parking lot, pick up the first two, let them watch cartoons in the van for half an hour (forty minutes) while I knit and wait and wait and knit, and then we all walk over en masse to pick up Captain Adventure and yell across the quad at Eldest to hurry up, we’re not getting any younger over here!

Well, what would be easier would be if all four of them could take a bus. You know, I walk them out to the corner and the bus comes along and I hug them and they get on the bus and some hours later, I walk back out to the corner and here comes the bus and there is more hugging and perhaps we all sing a chorus of Kum Ba Yah and then we have snack.

Glory, hallelujah.

But, no. First of all, it would set me back $405 a school year for the older three Denizens – IF a bus were available to them. But it isn’t. Because you have to live 1.2 miles from the school to be on the route, and guess what?

We live 1.1 miles from the school.

Fie.

I surely do hope they’re done telling me about The Bus now. Because it is starting to depress me. Especially when you can’t do it just one way. If he can’t take it both ways, well, forget it. But! He should take it both ways! Because The Bus?

Nirvana.

**sigh**

In other news, the Yarn Monster is alive and well. While trying to pen this, he has given me three skeins of acrylic, one of Brown Sheep worsted, one of Cheryl Oberle’s Dancing and kept for himself a Lorna’s Laces and a ball of raw silk.

Little monster.

Oh crap. Now he’s after the sock yarns.

OK, so, uh, later!!

Get outta that Schaefer Anne, you little twerp…!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Irish Diamond II

Finished Friday: The Irish Diamond Shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls.

Irish Diamond II

This is the second time I’ve made this shawl. The first time, I used a baby alpaca sportweight. That one turned out very soft and warm, but a little…overly delicate? Kind of stretchy-bouncy? It’s better suited for using as a blanket than a shawl, really. If you try to wear it and walk around, it’s just not built for endurance.

This time, for the sake of extreme novelty, I used the yarn called for: Harrisville Designs Shetland, in dove gray. I know, this is a tremendous departure from my usual method of deciding that on the whole I think there should be no problem substituting this Aran-weight alpaca for that fingering-weight silk.

I think this is a great yarn for this purpose: Being wool, it is warm for its weight. It is a crisp-handed two-ply, so the lace shows up brilliantly. Given the well-documented struggles your faithful correspondent has suffered trying to do lace, I have to say that this is a great yarn to use – it isn’t too “drifty-lacy” or “fluffy”, so you can clearly see what you’re doing at all times.

That said, even after a thorough washing it is not a particularly soft and luscious yarn. It is old-school wool, a bit scratchy and definitely not something you’d want to use for things intended for right against the skin.

I remembered this shawl pattern as being very challenging the last time, so I’m a little surprised to report that it went super-fast, and without any major tribulations. I ended up only using half the yarn I bought, so hey! I could make another one!

Uh, later. Maybe. Because! It is one of the sneaky ones – you cast on a small number of stitches, and then increase by eight stitches per right-side row until suddenly, you’ve got some obscene number of stitches and each row is taking half an hour or more and this is usually when the children get extremely needy and then somebody plays with your row counter in the middle of row 133 while you’re changing a diaper and you come back all distracted and think you’re on 147 and don’t realize the problem until two rows further on and it just doesn’t end well.

When I decided to cast off, it was 9:00 Thursday night. By the time I finally pulled the last loop off the needles (with a few interruptions from kids demanding ‘drinks’ [pronounced, “We don’t want to go to bed, we’d rather hang here with you”] and suddenly realizing I hadn’t started the dishwasher…or, er, filled it up yet), it was 11:30. Keeping in mind that I get up at 5:00 in the morning, every morning including Sunday – you can imagine what state I was in by this time.

But it was worth it – I washed and blocked it Friday and it spent the day lounging around on my bed drying, and then I picked it up and draped it over my bedframe and it looked positively elegant.

SCORE!

And now, I’m moving on to a cabled scarf. Only at Christmas, people, only at Christmas…

scarves…meh…

Rockin’ along

Well, the living room furniture is ordered and will arrive at some point in the not really near future – the cool thing about custom furniture is that you can pick exactly what fabric and wood and trim and whatnot you want. The downside is, they then have to make it. And they aren’t sitting around reading trashy novels and longing for someone to please order something so they can get to work. You have to get in line and wait your turn.

So, it will probably be February-ish before the new furniture arrives. At which point we will have actual seating in our living room for the first time since the cats ensured the early demise of the furniture we had gotten from my mother-in-law six years ago.

They never came closer to being declawed. I am actually extremely against declawing (the very idea makes me go all squirmy and also makes my toes curl up in empathetic pain), but people – I came within inches of throwing both of those confounded animals into carriers, dragging them to the vet and screaming, “I WANT THOSE CLAWS GONE, DO YOU HEAR ME?! GONE!!!!”

Having hundreds of dollars worth of upholstery ruined by animals who are expressing their displeasure with you for $DEITY only knows what (pissy little brats!) will do that to you. And then they get into your lap and get all snuggly and purr-y and make with the kneading you with the slow-eye-squeeze-of-adoration all lovey-dovey and…I forget, what was I ranting about…?

Stupid cats.

I miss them so much.

In other news, I have just this morning saved myself some furniture-money, which makes me very happy.

The chair I had wanted for our bedroom turned out to be too big for the space (even though I had thought it was about the most petite chair I’d seen in the ‘comfy chair’ category – I mean, if you want to talk glorified dining room chair, well shoot, you’ve got smaller options), for which I was secretly glad. I had begun thinking to myself that while I did really love the chair, I didn’t think I eighteen HUNDRED dollars loved the chair.

I might have $900 loved the chair (which was the price on the chair I sat in) (which was apparently upholstered in plastic supermarket bags or something, because any fabric she showed me added at least $600 to the price and she never did seem able to find something that was comparable to the $900 price on the floor model) (GO FIGURE)…but $1,800 was giving me a severe case of squinchy-up-face.

I mean, it would in any case. That’s a lot of money for a place to put your butt. But, as we are skidding sideways into the end of the project, hey! I bet you guys have never heard this before from somebody who is remodeling any part of their house, even a linen cupboard! It is costing more than we had budgeted!

The kids’ bathroom absolutely killed us dead. That $8,000 is literally $7,500 more than I had budgeted for that space (tile, and paint, that was the extent of it before mold and dry rot happened). New refrigerator? Later. New range? Later. Kitchen island? WAY later. Backyard landscaping? Oh crap. Uh…well, how does…LATER sound?!

We’re in the phase now where every single “oh, and…” item is setting me off like a firehouse bell. My clothes iron broke last week, and the way I flipped out you would have thought it was a $12,000, diamond-encrusted thing of beauty. I have wished an early demise on that iron for years because I want something lighter and with better heat / steam control – but once it actually died (in a glorious deluge of water, from a cracked water tank) and I could honorably go out and buy the $100 model I’ve been wanting…OH, THE DRAMA! THE ANGST! I DON’T WANNA SPENT A HUNNERD BUCKS ON THAT STUPID THING RIGHT NOW!!!

Even things like “honey, I’ve got to go get $40 in brackets for the shelves” can make me start ranting and raving – so when we measured the space and said, ‘Oh, uh, that chair would totally block the bathroom door…’ I said, “OH! DARN THE LUCK! OK, so, thanks for stopping by, we’ll think about this and call you OK! Buh-bye now, buh-bye!”, shoved her out the door and locked it behind her.

Privately, I was thinking that I could simply keep cruising the consignment, thrift and even antique stores until I stumbled across something ‘shabby chic’ to stuff into that corner. And I dragged this old rocking chair of mine up from the playroom purely to see how a chair, any chair, would actually work in this corner and then I decided that, you know what?

It rocks

I like this chair. I like this chair, in this corner, right here. It is comfy. Oh, maybe someday I’ll buy myself a new glide rocker that “matches”, but for now…it makes me happy. Granted, I’m going to need to do something about a table in here (that folding tray is actually a bit unsteady and awkward to use), but I don’t think I need a new (or new-to-me) chair.

This one will do nicely.

And it isn’t costing me a dime.

It just doesn’t get more perfect than that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Toilet seat issues

OMG. OK, first, you guys, if you haven’t seen it, go read Stephanie’s account of their new toilet seat.

Go. Go on. I’ll wait…I’ve got four more rows on that Irish Diamond Shawl, I can be kept busy for hours here…

Wow, back so soon? OK, first of all, I about laughed myself out of my chair.

And then I realized that I too have a toilet seat story. It is so profoundly lame and embarrassing that I naturally feel the need to share it right immediately now, with the entire Internet.

Our downstairs bathroom toilet seat developed some marks some years ago. Like, about five years ago. These marks were nasty looking (uh, they looked like poo) and they were in a place you just couldn’t help seeing, right down front.

I put up with them for five years, suffering in silence because, well, I don’t really know why. Perhaps because every time I want something fixed around here, it ends up costing $300 or more.

ANYWAY. I was in Home Depot (not usually a place I hang out much) getting a bunch of other remodeling-related things and I happened to wander past the toilet seats and my eye was caught by the price on the standard toilet seat: $4.97.

Five bucks? FIVE BUCKS?! I have been putting up with not-poo-but-could-play-it-on-TV marks for FIVE YEARS, when I could have spent FIVE BUCKS and made it go away?!?!

Well, we didn’t have that kind of standard toilet seat, we had the longer (but still standard) one which cost a whopping $8.97.

{sarcasm} Ya. Sticker shock. {/sarcasm}

So needless to say I bought the toilet seat and I brought it home and we installed it (by which I mean, I handed it to my husband and said, “Downstairs toilet. Immediately, please.”) and I was thrilled with it.

So thrilled, in fact (LAME ALERT!), that I insisted on not only telling people about it, but showing them the new toilet seat. That’s right! People came to my house for a party, and got the deluxe Toilet Seat Tour, complete with descriptions of the poo-ish-marks and the $3 drama of ‘standard’ v. ‘extra-long’. With four part harmony and extra chorus repeats.

That this was profoundly lame and/or inappropriate behavior did not strike me until long after my victims guests had fled left.

I.
Am.
Such.
A.
Dork.

But! At least I don’t have faux poo on my toilet seats…

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Drive-by updates…

Yes, I did find the nail clippers. The nail, however, did not come off gently. It had broken below the quick and I may have muttered a few harsh words as I carefully cut it free.

I am still loving it; occasionally I wish I had, you know, people who did all the unpacking for me (or a nanny who had full charge of the Denizens while I did it, either way), but I love the whole thing ridiculously.

Captain Adventure did great in his first day of preschool! He actually talked to his teachers, and even said his own name! (I have never heard him say his own name.) He was a bit sullen at times and flat-out refused to even attempt the Word of the Day: THE. He just stomped his foot and went, “UNNNG!” at her, or growled, when she tried to make him say it.

In other news, I cannot add. I put 7 and 5 together and came up with 22. Gave myself a sleepless night, too, because what I was adding was two payments: $768 and $594. Which does not equal $2,362, which means that a) I am an idiot and b) but not such a big idiot that I would have taken on $2,362 in payments without realizing it.

The Irish Diamond shawl is at that excruciating almost there point. One more row, and then I start the twelve rows of garter stitch, and then I cast it off! Almost…there…

Of course, given that each row is now 744 stitches across, ‘twelve measly rows’ can take a while.

The phone has rung, I kid you not, eight times since I started writing this. Whew!!

And with that, I need to go make dinner and probably answer the phone some more.

Chaos: It’s not just a condition, it’s a lifestyle!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Even on Satanday, good things can happen

Well, Satanday was going about as usual, which is to say, badly. I’m picking up the Denizens and damn it, Danger Mouse is AWOL. So I got looking for her, and can’t find her, and now I’m getting worried, so I’m charging around looking for her, and I break a nail on a heavy bathroom door when a hyperactive third grader kicked it open from inside as I was reaching for the door handle.

I have acrylic nails, so breaking one is not as simple as breaking real ones. It takes a lot more to break one, but boy howdy, when you do?

Owies.

So when I got home I went In Search Of…nail clippers. You laugh, but we are still mid-project and something like nail clippers can rank right up there with Atlantis on the findability scale.

While digging in a likely looking backpack, I found…THE CAMERA!!!!

{Happy dance}

SO! The following picture-heavy post is brought to you by Satan, who was trying to ruin my life but failed due to the power of Serendipity.

Now, I have to say right up front: We’re still in progress. It looks like a clutter nightmare right now…more than half of what is currently on these shelves is coming down over the next few days weeks to be replaced with actual books.

That said, here’s the bookcase!

Bookcase

But wait…there’s more! (Note that the bedroom door is actually standing all the way open!)

Over the door

And my desk:

Desk!

Oh looky! The Carpet Formerly Known As White is gone! And now we have this!!

Walnut!

Oh, why did the bathroom fixtures need replacing?

YUCK!

And what did we put in? (At ridiculous expense, I might add – turns out that the folks who built this bathroom assumed that their brass-plated fixtures would never in a million years need replacing – we had to cut a hole in the synthetic marble to get at them!) (Also, these “roman style” tub faucets are just plain expensive – ouch!)

American Standard

Now, this might be a little hard to see…we had the synthetic marble “painted” white. It isn’t paint-paint, but it isn’t anything much hardier either. If you’re sensing a certain level of “eh”, you’re right – I’m not really feeling the love for this refinishing. It feels kind of sub-level to me. But then, we paid about 20% of what we would have paid to replace it soooooo…you get what you pay for. We figure we’ll leave it alone for now and replace it “eventually”. Which may rhyme with “never”, because sometimes I feel like that is how long it will take to pay all this off.

Bathroom counter

Yes. We’re painting those oak cabinets. I put the unpainted drawers in for contrast – you can see why we’re painting them?! Or maybe not…well, if you were actually standing in front of them, you’d see it. Scarred up, faded in random streaks, the gloss gone in most spots but alas not ALL of them (either way would be fine, but partly one and partly the other was not good).

We replaced the carpet in the bathroom with this tile; I always hated that carpet, and when we pulled it up and found mold under it I felt vindicated for years worth of snarking about it.

Egyptian Beige

I am loving all this; even more, I am loving how it is starting to all come together. Every day, even on the days when it doesn’t feel like it, we’re making progress on All This. This weekend, I finally got my filing system put together, and the stuff that has been needing filing put away.

Where it goes. Where I’ll have a chance (however remote) of finding it again when I need it.

Every day one more box gets unloaded, the contents put not ‘wherever they will fit’ but ‘where they belong’. Soon, the space currently known as The Future Home of a Knitting / Reading / Spinning nook will actually be…home.

Future Home

I can’t wait.

(p.s., that is not a basket of intestines - it is the crap sliver, which I am using to make yarn-like substance, like this:
yarn someday

I. Hate. Mondays.

A few weeks ago, I put my hand over my heart and said, “I do herewith solemnly vow and swear that I shall, from this time forth, refrain from the running of errands, doctor’s appointments, and any other fool thing which takes me out of my Den on Monday, hallelujah! Amen.”

I said this, my dear friends, because Monday should be called Satanday. On this day, Satan has his way with all of us with children in this school district: Every Monday Satanday is an early release day.

Captain Adventure starts preschool tomorrow (and I have got the stack of paperwork to prove it) (many trees have given their all to help my son get into the special needs program, people, let us not forget their sacrifice – please plant a few (dozen) on his behalf, will ya?), not today, why? Because! Normally his preschool runs from 12:00 to 3:00, BUT! On Satanday! He goes from 10:00 to 12:00. The teachers prefer that he start on the ‘normal’ day to get into the swing of things before we go and jerk his chain around with this Satanday madness, sooooo…tomorrow it is.

Those of you keeping track at home will note that on Satanday, Boo Bug gets out of kindergarten at 10:40.

Oh yeah. I’m feelin’ the love right about now. (However, I have also done an end-run around Satan by enrolling Boo Bug in the Kindertime program at school – she now goes until the lower grades get out, so I don’t actually have to pick her up until 1:30 on Satanday.)

Early release days, how I loathe them!!

Today, in spite of my aforementioned (I am using big, legal-sounding words to impress upon you how seriously I took this vow, hence heightening the drama of the breaking thereof to follow) vow, I went to Costco.

Why would I go to Costco on Satanday? Of all days? When I have such a short window of opportunity and such a large amount of weekend-recovery-housework to do?

Because we were out of milk. Out. None. Zero. If I wanted an afternoon mocha (yes, please) or to make a casserole for dinner (uh, maybe), darn it, I had to get milk. And I needed to go to Costco anyway, seeing as how we were would of damn near everything, aaaand the milk is about fifty cents cheaper for the two gallons there so!

I had to go to Costco (‘running of errands’), on Satanday, thus giving Satan yet another chance to dig his hooks into my soul. Because Costco opens at 10:00, I was out doing the Costco thing until 11:30, at which point I had to scurry back and unload, putting things away as quickly as I could while making important (and almost forgotten) phone calls while also eating lunch (THAT had to be fun for the folks I was calling – “Hi, this is {gulp} Tama, you called me last week about some {slurp, chew chew, gulp} vital thing or other, I forget what exactly?”) AND feeding Captain Adventure, a feat of multitasking that I feel ought to be recorded somewhere (so, uh, I’ll use my blog).

And now, right immediately now in fact, I have to get back in Homer the Odyssey to pick up my Satanettes lovely daughters from school. At which point, anything and everything I try to accomplish will be punctuated with constant cries of, “Mommy? Mommy! Can I {lengthy, convoluted statement – or question, hard to tell}? Plllllleeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzz?”

I. Hate. Mondays.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I don’t know how to take this

We are still working on our master bathroom; we can use the tub and we have sinks and (arguably most importantly) a toilet.

What we are still lacking is a functioning shower and…mirrors.

We are fresh out of ways to stare at ourselves, in our ‘master suite’.

So this morning I got up and put on clothes and brushed my hair and so forth without any kind of visual guide, as it were, to my actual appearance (this becomes important later).

Then I went downstairs and made coffee and we got started with the day and all that.

A few hours later (!!!), I got my first glimpse of myself in a mirror.

I looked like…I don’t know what I looked like. Some kind of…sub-human deranged lunatic who after about eleven years of no sleep (my bottom eyelids could be used as sleeping bags) had just escaped the mental ward by braiding an escape rope out of her hair (leaving a strange ragged lunatic fringe on the sides) digging a tunnel with her teeth (I don’t want to know what IT was between those bucky monsters down front), and then attempted to assimilate into society by tucking half her shirt into her pants while leaving the other half dangling out a-la some kind of hip-hop-rap-stah look.

Good.
Grief.

My exclamation of shock and horror (“Oh my GAWD I look positively DEEEEE-RANGED!”) caught the attention of my husband, who glanced me up and down and then said, and I quote, “What?”

What? WHAT? What do you mean, “What”?!

Do you not see what is standing right in front of you?!

And then he says, matter-of-factly, “You look just like you always do – I don’t see what’s freaking you out.”

I…really don’t know how to take that. As much as I’d like to translate this to mean, You are so gorgeous that even when looking like a deranged escapee from a mental ward, you look great, I’m afraid it is probably more like, You have looked like a deranged escapee from a mental ward for so long, I have forgotten you could look any other way.

People, I need mirrors in my bathroom, and I need them yesterday - before somebody tries to put me back in the ward with my very own padded room.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And I thought I was Da Chef

So, last year I successfully (which here means, ‘without giving anybody botulism’) roasted a 25 pound turkey and thought I was pretty hot stuff. And then there was the year I managed a 30 pound beer-basted prime rib roast. Or the time that I whumped out fourteen pies in a single morning.

Oh yeah, I said to myself on these occasions, Who da chef? I’M DA CHEF, BABY.

Ya, well.

The funny white hat, she is passed to Mr. Rich Portnoy.

To win in a game of sibling rivalry gone way past the usual limits, he has roasted up a Seventy-Two (72) Pound Turkey.

Oh.
My.
Dawg.

His sister did a 47 pound (!!!) monster last year, trumping the paltry 37 pounder (!!) her brother found.

SO THIS YEAR, Mr. Brother Guy went straight to the source and found this gigantic beast and put it into his “36-inch-wide, chef-caliber oven” (when I read that, I blurted out, “Well, but, that’s like…CHEATING OR SOME JUNK!”, which is nothing but green-eyed envy at its finest…) and his sister had concede defeat.

“…but noted that her brother's large oven gave him an edge.”

YES! EXACTLY! It doesn’t count! IT DOESN’T COUNT!!!

So, in the interest of fairness, I think I should trade ovens with Mr. Portnoy, and then he and his sister can have it out in a clean, fair fight.

I am willing to make these kinds of sacrifices, this is how good a person I am.

Any time you’re ready to make this a good, clean fight, Mr. Portnoy – call me.

I’m here for you, buddy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Orange Meringue Pie

My horoscope today said, You might feel like fulfilling your needs through indulging your desire for comfort today...Finding a healthy raw food restaurant that gives you the encouragement to eat well more often could also be another way to indulge yourself.

Oh, hell no. Finding a raw food restaurant when I have orange meringue pie in my fridge right this very minute?

Are you crazy?!

This, by the way, is an awesome pie. It went really well with the turkey last night, and is a pleasantly different kind of pie to make. SO! I feel it is my moral imperative to pass along the recipe; it has been modified from the original to increase the eggs and orange juice (half a cup? That’s more like a ‘hint of orange but actually very lemony meringue’!).

Here we go.

1 9” baked pie crust

1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (depends on how sweet your orange juice is!)
5 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups orange juice (preferably fresh-squeezed, but nobody will disown you for using concentrate) (and if they do, well, that’s more pie for you, isn’t it!)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup water
1 crummy tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice (ooooh, tartness!)
1 tablespoon shredded orange peel (actually, I consider this optional)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup superfine sugar (you can also use just plain old sugar; or if you’re got the time and inclination, you can take your regular sugar and give it a quick whir in the food processor)

OK! Bake that pie crust and set it aside. Leave the oven on at 400, you’ll need it later for the meringue.

Juice your oranges! This time around, I used a whack of Satsuma Mandarins I got from Planet Organics. Their juice was very sweet and a really intense orange. You would have sworn I used food dye in it! It took about a dozen of these little guys to get a cup and a half (plus a quality assurance swallow for the cook, very important) of juice.

Separate your eggs! It is very important that you have no yolk in the whites! A little white in the yolks is OK, but if there is even a drop of yolk in the whites you won’t get a big old fluffy meringue. Also, make sure you are putting them into a bowl which is absolutely clean. Any oil in there will also keep them from getting good and stiff. Set the whites aside, but don’t put them back in the fridge. You want them to come up to room temperature because, again, that’s how you get a nice big fluffy meringue.

Now, put your starch, sugar, and salt into a heavy saucepan. I have found that the heavier pans really do make this a lot easier; they tend to distribute heat more evenly and gently. Combine those together, then add the orange juice and mix.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and water together. Turn on your heat to medium (no cheating! I know it takes forever, but High Is Not Your Friend!), and slowly pour in the yolk/water potion.

Settle in and enjoy the gentle motion of your spoon as you stir constantly and I mean constantly for about eighteen years well, for as long as it takes for the concoction to thicken up and start to boil. Boil and stir for one minute, taking care not to be splattered with the napalm custard. It hurts. Trust me on that one.

Take it off the heat, mix in your butter and lemon juice and orange peel (if using) (frankly, I almost never do), and pour it into the pie shell.

Now, quick! To the meringue! You want to make it fast and get it on there because otherwise you’ll get an unpleasant film on the top of your pie! If you must walk away right now, put some plastic wrap over the filling – actually press it down onto the filling. Yes. You will lose a little filling – but at least you won’t have a Saran-wrap-like gelatin uck between your meringue and the filling.

Sprinkle the cream of tartar into your egg whites and set those beaters on stun medium. Beat those eggs like they’re your ex for about a minute, until soft peaks are forming. Then remember just how mean that ex was, raise the speed to annihilate high and continue beating away while sprinkling your sugar about a tablespoon at a time into the bowl, until you’ve got nice stiff, glossy peaks forming – the kind you could, if so inclined, do artwork with like rosettes or stars or the Mona Lisa (in egg white form!).

Then do whatever you feel like doing. Only once in my life have I actually piped stars all over my pie; usually I just take a spoon and plop it all over, smooth it down, give it a few artistic twirls and then?

Into that 400 degree oven, for about five minutes. WATCH IT CLOSELY. Sometimes, in five minutes you don’t have a single patch of brown anywhere; sometimes, in five minutes, it’s starting to blacken. The transition from ‘perfect’ to ‘too dark’ is literally a matter of seconds, so I tend to perch anxiously next to the oven staring at it from the 3 minute mark until I pull it out.

And then, uh, you eat it. Sharing is considered polite, but sometimes is a little overrated.

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving! And don't you just love me sharing FOOD recipes the day after?!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yarn Gone Wild!!

Well, the socks in progress had suffered one of those things that sometimes happen to projects which are ‘take along’ projects: The working ball of yarn had become more of a working blob of yarn, due entirely to mishandling on my part. I had taken it out of my bag and put it someplace stupid and annoying so that I would remember that I needed to deal with the problem before putting it back in my bag to work on some more.

And then Captain Adventure got hold of it.

**sigh**

So, I spent some quality time teasing it back from blob to strand form, and then I had my husband hold the project overhead while I wound the yarn into a ball with my ball winder. Now, when you do this (and now that I’ve put the idea into your head, you know you will!), the yarn between the beginning of the ball and your project will be wildly overspun.

You’ve got to let it unravel.

So I hung the sock in progress over the railing and let it dangle toward the first floor of the Den, where it slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y revolved. My husband, hereinafter referred to as Mr. Engineering Expertise, was fascinated by this whole process.

“The ball would spin faster!” Mr. Engineering Expertise exclaimed. He exclaimed this because he is a bright boy with a keen grasp of aerodynamics.

I said, “Uh…” but the ball was already starting over the rail, lowered by his enthusiastic hand. It was spinning like a top. Whirrrrrrrrrrrr!!

And then it began to slow down, and a test of the strand showed that the over-spin was greatly lessened. So I delicately pulled up the ball, thanking the Knitting Goddesses that the ball hadn’t broken loose and shot all over the house when we dangled it over the ra-

“I think it needs a quick spin,” Mr. Engineering Expertise sang out eagerly. He went on burbling about how the spin was almost out and it just needed a quick and before I could yell “WAIT!”, he gave the center-pull ball a firm tap in the direction he wanted it to spin.

That ball of yarn giggled wildly as it flew to the floor and scurried unsteadily out of sight under the hallway. “Whoooooo! I’m so dizzy! I’m all fuzzily-wuzzily! Eeeeehee hee hee hee heeeeeeeee!”

If it had been wearing a bra, I’m pretty sure it would have pulled it all the way over its head and wriggled its loose bits at us.

**sigh**

In case you were wondering how long it takes to knit up a strand of sock yarn equal to one story plus about three feet?

About half an hour.

If you can stop laughing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Parenting is SO overrated

My children are annoying me. They want snack. And (ugh) interaction, or some junk like that.

Do they not understand that having just discovered Judy's Magic Cast-On, I cannot be expected to do anything else except IMMEDIATELY cast on a pair of socks so I can see how this works?!

Sheesh. This "parenting" thing can be so darned inconvenient sometimes...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Serendipity and Interior Design

I went furniture shopping this weekend. I have now been to so many furniture stores my mind boggles just thinking about it. I have been to stores new, used, consignment, cheap, expensive, going out of business and just starting into business.

My last two stops of the day were a consignment store, and Ethan Allen.

In the consignment store, I found no furniture – but! I did find something else.

So there I was, poking around in search of club chairs and a sofa. And there it was, forlorn in the back of the store, shoved unceremoniously on top of a truly hideous end table.

An antique skein winder.

Have you ever had the feeling that Hands Unseen were guiding you?

Two weekends ago, I took a spinning class at Meridian Jacobs farm. See, twenty years ago I used to spin with a drop spindle…but I never learned to use a wheel. My husband bought me one way back when, and it has been a lovely decorative feature in our various homes since then – but it has never produced actual yarn.

Until a couple weekends ago, when Robin taught me what all those knobs and springs were for, and showed me how to turn sliver into actual yarn.

I think it is a tribute to her skills that I was producing actual yarn by the end of our time together. She is a seriously good teacher, and also a Darned Good Person©. Her weaving is seriously beautiful, too, and now I want to learn to weave.

Where I think I could put a floor loom is beyond me, and also beside the point. I want to make things like the things Robin was producing on her looms, and that’s all the logic I need. I am currently holding myself back only by the thought that really, one new obsession at a time is all I can handle. I’ve got a couple bags of crap sliver to learn with, and then one bag of gorgeous sliver to perfect with, and then I’ve got a few Hefty bags of raw fleece in the garage, which was what drove me to the spinning lessons in the first place. Long story, for another time, but I’m determined to actually make something with that fleece.

ANYWAY.

There it was, a beautiful old skein winder. It measures out to a rather odd 79.5” around (two yards would be 72”, two and a half 90”…I don’t get this, but as I’m not a commercial spinner I’m not going to worry about it), and the clicker gives out a loud and cheerful :click!: every forty revolutions.

It had a tag on it which said: “Spinning Wheel: $99.00 $79.00 $65.00 $45.00”

After I got done snickering about the ‘spinning wheel’ part, I grabbed it, lugged it up to the front, set it down and bellowed, “SOLD!” as I shoved money at the nice lady.

She then got a touch irritated, because after being in her shop for over a year without anybody giving it so much as a single curious glance, almost a dozen people crowded around it while she was filling out the sales receipt going, “Oh, what’s that? A which? What’s it for? You mean it actually DOES something? Isn’t it cute! Oh, how awesome! Do you have any more? Do you get a lot of them? Eek shriek giggle envy oh I just love it!”

After that triumph, I walked next door to Ethan Allen, waving my sock (closest thing to a white flag I could find at the time), shoved my Amex at them and said, “Want sit-on-thingees. You send in truck, charge Amex. Ugh. Wah. OK. Bye bye.”

OK, the conversation was slightly more high level than that, but not by much. Basically, I walked in, looked around, picked out the chair I wanted for my bedroom, and then sobbed hysterically about the insane requirements my husband has for the club chairs downstairs. Leather club chairs, tall ones with robust wings. Built for Mr. 6’4”.

I defy you to find this at IKEA. Or Macy’s. Or Sue’s Furniture Loft. ANYWHERE. We are talking about some very old-school ‘gentleman’s club’ style wing chairs. They just don’t make them like that anymore – everything is very ‘sleek and modern’ right now, and my husband wants a very, extremely, almost down to the precise measurements in centimeters style of chair.

I have looked. I did not find. Until I walked into Ethan Allen, where they said, “Oh yes, certainly we have those, right here! Now, here are approximately 11,000 different kinds of leather – which would you like? With or without nail trim? Do you like lion foot, or plain? And for the sofa, do you want fabric or leather? Reaaaalllllly? Are you suuuuuure? {shaking head at me to indicate correct answer would be ‘no, I’ve changed my mind, please take me by my interior-design-impaired hand and lead me’}”

I have given up, people. I am paying about $500 over my already inflated, “OK, but this is as high as I go and I really mean it!” budget for this furniture – and it is worth it to me. My ‘personal decorator’ Lisa is coming out here week after next to measure the room and check out our (so-called) d├ęcor and help us choose fabric and whatnot and to advise us on tables and then she is going to order our furniture and it will be delivered and I will sign the charge slip possibly without even looking at it and next year?

SO going to be a Living Below Your Means: Full Body Contact Sport kind of year.

But that’s OK. I can be frugal in my new bedroom, and hold coupon clipping sessions in my very grown-up living room, and if I want to read a nice book as an alternative to going out on an expensive jaunt to the mall, I can pick one from my own library upstairs.

If I’m not too busy spinning and skeining, anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Preschool at 12:00, Captain!

Today was Captain Adventure’s big day, the day on which the gathered professionals would give us their professional opinions about what (if any) professional intervention he needed to make up for my bad parenting overcome the bad genes he inherited from me move him out of this strange world he’s mired in and into this so-called ‘real life’ we humans have invented for ourselves.

So first they gave me the run-down on their test results, which they were anxious to assure me were to be taken “cautiously”, because, duh, he’s only three. They tested a three year old, and he didn’t necessarily ace the test, WHAT A SURPRISE! He can do a lot of these things we did not observe, they said. Blah blah blah.

And then they laid on me that my three year, four month old son tests to about a one to one-and-a-half year level on everything from speech and language to social skills. His motor skills are all over the place – on some tests, he comes back at that one year level again, on others he’s either at or even above age level.

I wasn’t surprised at all. If you asked me, that’s exactly what I would have said from my position of Not A Professional, Nor Do I Play One On TV. As his mommy, I would have said that my son talked like a baby of 18 months old-ish.

I still wanted to cry, though. And get all defensive and try to bring up whatever-all he’s done lately that was so definitely better than that.

I’m not sure why I do that. I want my boy to get whatever help is appropriate for him. Sugar-coating his issues is not helpful. I want other people to take his problems seriously and HELP US DAMMIT.

So why I find myself going all weepy and denial-y whenever someone agrees with me that he has issues that need intervention, I cannot begin to fathom.

Anyway, after they laid their results on me (and I resisted the urge to argue with them), they then made their recommendations.

Get the paperwork filled out right away, because the boy is eligible for and welcome to the special needs preschool, Speech and Language Edition. This is a pretty heavy-duty program (for a little guy, anyway), five days a week, three hours a day. There is speech therapy, physical education, preschool curriculum including pre-reading and pre-math. I was hoping and praying he would be invited to go, because I had heard incredible things about it from other parents around town.

He starts the week after the Thanksgiving break (eep! that’s so soon!), and these lovely ladies are really expecting that he is going to take to it like a duck to water and that we will start to see his speech and language and social skills ramp up at an incredible rate.

I believe them, because frankly his progress just here at home with me has been incredible already. He’s even lost most of his separation anxiety over the last couple months. He runs right into the speech therapy center without a backward glance and has a rockin’ great time without me (sniff!), and loves to go to the daycare at the gym.

This being only three hours a day, I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine.

I, on the other hand…may be sniffling into a hankie a lot the first couple weeks. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I am very much looking forward to those roughly two hours a day I will have with no Denizens clinging to me. I can get my nails done, do my grocery shopping, pay bills, whatever – without either having to turn on the Electronic Babysitter or repeat “Mommy is busy, please go play for a little while” eleventy-zillion times, or dragging them along and then saying, “NO!” every eight seconds for the duration of the outing.

Sometimes, I just want to grab the milk and some bananas and get out of there, without having to defend my decisions to a gaggle of over-opinionated children.

But still…I am very protective of Captain Adventure. That thing where I agree that he’s like a one year old baby? That’s kind of how I view him, and I coddle him as such. Whiiiiich of course makes it a darned good thing that they will be prying him out of my over-protective cocoon. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a lot of his delays are because I enable him in them.

**sigh**

But then came the part I was pretty sure was coming, but was hoping against hope they were going to dismiss as impossible. This is the part where I once again start arguing and denying something that I have demanded and insisted be looked into for my son.

There are still concerns about autism.

The problem is, the few behaviors he has that could maybe might be signs of autism are also classic signs of a frustrated three year old who can’t figure out how to communicate with people. He doesn’t always do any of them, and most of them only occur when he is tired, sick, over-stimulated (say, at parties) or otherwise off. None of them are the obvious signs, but many of them are “troubling.”

Instantly, I’m getting all defensive and arguing. But he doesn’t do this or this or this! And he does do that and that and that! Sure, he’s a little odd, but he’s only three! He’s getting better!

I have to sit there and say to myself, over and over again, that what I want, what I’m there for, what I have fought for and argued for and otherwise made a pain in the butt of myself to get, is precisely this. For this group of skilled, experienced people to give him a good hard professional look, and tell me what to do for my boy.

We are still walking his path together, just as I am with his sisters. Sometimes, the paths are easy (having Eldest tested for GATE, for example, is easy-peasy). Sometimes, they aren’t so much fun. Denial is not going to make it all better. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to walk down these various possible paths with him to see where they lead…if anywhere.

I’ve got to keep walking onward, even if what I want to do is snatch him up and run back home and pretend there’s nothing wrong, and that his path is no harder than anybody else’s, and that absolutely without any extra work he will be just like any other five year old by the time he’s five.

So onward it is. To preschool, and more assessments, and more screenings, and more “now, does your son do this? and that? I see…what about this other thing? No? Are you sure?”

Which I very much want them to do.

And it would be much easier for them to do it if I were not so busy sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting, “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another milestone

The carpet on the stairs and upstairs hallway, she is installed. I had forgotten how good new carpet feels to walk on – the new pad is firm and quiet, and the carpet itself pushes back against your foot.

Also it is not “formerly white” nor does it have large mysterious black spots mocking me from each and every stair.

Life is good.

We are now in a period of lull. There should be no hammering, pounding, nailing, sawing, drywall-ing or baseboard-ing in this Den until after Thanksgiving. There will be some painting and such, but unless a miracle happens and the tile guy suddenly has a window on his time to do the kid’s bathroom – no more contractors until after the holiday.

I suppose I should be pouting, but I am actually incredibly relieved. I am tired, people. Tired of strangers in the house, tired of the noise and the dust and the inability to get things done. Today I couldn’t go upstairs for most of the day, because they were installing the carpet. They finished right before I went to collect the older Denizens from school, and by the time we got home I was wiped out.

No longer interested in putting away laundry, for Pete’s sake.

Tomorrow is another day, and on that day I hope to spend a considerable chunk of time putting our lives back together. Getting the ironing done, unloading boxes into drawers, that kind of thing.

Meanwhile, I don’t even guarantee I’m going to do the dishes tonight. Captain Adventure has been pissy all day (he’s got a nasty cold). He went to bed at THREE-THIRTY, woke up briefly at 5:30 screaming and carrying on, then went back to sleep and declined to get up for dinner.

It’s going to be an interesting night around here. Either he’s going to just sleep on through (best possible thing for him right now), or, he’s going to be up and needy in a few hours time.

And I am already feeling that tickle in the back of my throat, and the creeping headache.

Ugh.

I’m supposed to be taking my three daughters to tea on Saturday, and my husband to a charity dinner that night. This is not good timing for a cold!

No. Think positive. THINK POSITIVE. It isn’t a cold, it’s just that…I need…a glass of wine! Yes, it is simply that there is too much blood in my alcohol stream, and a quick glass of Malbec is just the ticket…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Empty stores and overflowing boxes

OK, a few years ago I was driving around town and a new furniture place was opening up and I said to myself, said I, “Self! How the heck many furniture stores do we NEED around here?!”

There were five that I was aware of, plus about three that I vaguely remembered but never drove past.

Today, I loaded up Captain Adventure to go in search of {dramatic music} furniture.

There are now two (2) games in town.

And one is going out of business, liquidating inventory and calling it quits, after fourteen years in that (gosh-awful) location, and they have precisely nothing left I would be interested in.

Even though the manager of that store had told me all about how they had hoped, given that stores 1, 2, 3…7 had all folded, that their business would pick up due to the utter lack of competition, well, it hadn’t…there then followed a highly amusing little drive around town while Captain Adventure pounded back a chocolate milk and Snickerdoodle, and I sucked down a peppermint mocha while muttering, “Wait, wasn’t there a furniture store in here? I’d swear there was…didn’t we get a dresser there once?”

Gone. Gone, gone, gone.

Whoa.

The surviving store, alas, specializes in modern-transitional…we’re going for more of a traditional thing (delusions of English manor house abound), and while I found their stuff interesting, amusing, kewl and otherwise groovy…I don’t actually want it.

**sigh**

I’m going to have to make a pilgrimage to Modesto.

To shop for furniture.

In other news, I asked my husband if he had found the camera yet. When he got done laughing, he said, “I can’t believe you’re even asking me about that!”

You see the kind of support I get around here?! He obviously does not understand that taking pictures of this is critical for the health and well-being of my blog. Also I need to take pictures of the shawl, which is behaving itself nicely and knitting rather quickly (although it is one of those deceitful little beggars, which starts with a bland, “Cast on 74 stitches…” and ends up at 11,072,761 stitches which you are then commanded to “bind off loosely”, as if having just knit a final row of 11,072,761 stitches you are going to have any possibility of binding off in any fashion not involving wild-eyed desperation and extreme tightness).

But I digress.

Upshot being, I still owe you pictures. And somewhere in all this, is a camera.

Somewhere.

I’m dying to show you. But first, I have to get off my butt, get through the boxes, and find the danged camera.

Right. I think we all know what I need to do.

To the liquor cabinet! To the boxes!! HO!!!!