Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The evil knitting pixies are after me

So last night I finally got around to the steeks on the Lillehammer sweater. That’s right! I hauled my sewing machine out, set it up on the table, slapped Captain Adventure’s hands away from all moving parts fifty mazillion times until he finally lost interest and moved on to disassembling the washing machine.

I steamed the sweater as instructed. I measured the sleeves – twice. I measured the sweater. I pinned to the marks. I held the sleeves to the sweater to double check my work.

I put the sweater under the foot of the sewing machine.

I began stitching.

I got perhaps 2” down the first 12” armhole when there was a CRACK!!

…and my sewing machine needle broke.

Now, obviously, it must have hit one of the pins I’d put in to guide me – but honestly, I can’t fathom how. It’s like, pin…six stitches…pin. And I was stitching two stitches away from the pins.

Nevertheless, unless the needle just randomly broke because Merino wool was just too heavy for it…I hit a pin, and broke my needle.

Either that, or the evil knitting pixies have decided to come over and stay for a while. It would explain the other problems I’ve had with this sweater, like the fact that every time I sit down to work on it I hear a little voice calling down the stairs, “Sorry, mommy! And, I’m OK!”

I went looking for the spare needle(s) I laughably, in retrospect was certain I had. You know. Somewhere…around here…sewing machine needles…hmmmmmmmm…

Can’t find them. Must order them or something. This being a Norwegian style steek (no ‘buffer’ stitches), I’m not comfortable with the crochet-hook method or even my hand-sewing. I want two lines of tiny machine stitches, thank-you-very-much, before I cut these things to install the sleeves and get ON with it, already!!


And now I’m going through my stash trying to decide what to knit next. I’ve got some gray alpaca lace weight, I could try the Pacific Northwest shawl again in a pretty ‘fog gray’ color…but I’m not sure I’m really feeling the love for the project, or the yarn. So I’m digging through my stash, enough yarn to start my own yarn store muttering, “Darn it, I just don’t have a thing to knit!” I think this is because the evil pixies are messing with my stash. I know there is more yarn in there, yarn suitable for all sorts of projects, but darned if I can put pattern and ball together and come up with anything.

Also, the evil pixies made me forget that I had taken the Sock In Progress out of my purse to knit this morning over coffee because, well, the Lillehammer was obviously not happening. So I went to pickup / dropoff this morning without any knitting to keep me occupied for half an hour. HALF AN HOUR. Sitting. In the car. WITH NO KNITTING. It is a wonder I survived.


(And if you happened to be driving that black Yukon I sort of cut off after I shoved my son onto the curb in front of his teacher? Yeah, sorry about that – I was having wool withdrawals and had to get home pronto for a fix, I’m sure you understand…)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Floury words

I went into Smart N Final this morning to pick up my 50# sack of flour. The price is quite a bit higher than Costco, but still lower than what I’d pay at the supermarket and lower than prices I’ve seen online elsewhere.

I’m irked, but hey. It is what it is, I’m nearly out and frankly Costco is not showing me any love around “when, exactly” they will have more flour and besides – it’s entirely likely that I’ll find the price that high when Costco next has flour to sell me. Smart N Final tends to be within a couple bucks plus or minus of Costco (usually plus, frankly) so I’m not going to storm out in a huff over it.

I wrestled the 50# sack into the cart, eyed the remaining few sacks on the shelf in a moment of “what if people are still being this crazy in four to six weeks when I’ll need more?” and decided eh – it may go up, but honestly I don’t want to futz around with more than the one big old sack. I have nowhere safe to keep it and don’t really feel nervous enough to start stockpiling.

Besides. Costco did still have 50# sacks of bread flour – bread accounting for over half the flour I use, and those 50# sacks still priced at before-panic levels, I’m starting to think that maybe I’ll just toodle on back over there and grab me a sack of bread flour. While it is annoying to keep two separate flour sources, it will be worth doing to keep my bread costs down. I’m starting to bake at least every other day, which occasional bursts to every single day – I hadn’t even washed the bread pans yet when we ran out today! Geesh!!

I know somebody is wondering what the difference really is: bread flour has more gluten, barley flour and added potassium bromate and/or vitamin C in it – gluten being what gives the dough that ‘smooth, elastic’ texture, it makes wonderful bread and other ‘kneaded’ items like pizza dough, but it can make your cookies, muffins, pie crusts and other things where the instructions say something like ‘add dry ingredients and mix just until blended chewy in a bad kind of way. “All purpose” can be used for, duh, all purposes – but bread flour makes a lousy pie crust.

Anyway, I went on up to the register with my one big old sack of flour and a box of candy to refresh the ‘reward’ bin. As the flour was scanned, a manager-type walked over and said, “Excuse me, but are you a restaurant owner?”

“Nope,” I replied cheerfully. “Just a home baker.”

“Well,” he said brusquely. “I’m not sure if you’re aware that flour has a shelf life. It does. And if you’re not going to use this much flour in a timely fashion…”

About this point, naturally, I was laughing so hard I had to lean heavily on the check-writing platform to keep from melting right onto the flour.

“Dude!” I blurted out. (This is California. We call each other ‘dude’ quite frequently.) “I just wrote a ranting essay about that! Seriously!”

He stared at me for a minute.

“So…you’d actually USE all that?”

“Within six weeks at the most. Probably more like four, the way things are going around my place right now. I make two loaves of bread every other day, my friend, and we shall not touch on how many dozens of cookies, and pot pies, and biscuits, and of course now that we’re getting fresh fruit again there will be pies, and…”

“I’m available for adoption,” he interjected quickly.

“Me too!” chirped up the child young lady at the register. I actually thought about bringing her home and feeding her because seriously – she was probably a size 000. There are pixies bigger than this child young lady.

I wrestled the bag into the back of the van, wondered out loud whether or not I really wanted to get the bread flour, stared at my recipe showing that I’d just paid $22.99 for a sack that cost me $14.49 five weeks ago, and puttered right on over to Costco.

When I got there, they had some rice in stock. The 50# sacks were already gone. The 25# pound bags were going fast. The policy was that they would sell you rice based on your prior buying history.

Being out of rice, I did grab myself a bag. At the register, they didn’t bat an eye over my one (1) 25# bag. It should last me a good eight months, since honestly we’re more partial to mashed spuds around here than rice for our cheap carbs.

Meanwhile, two registers over, a shrill voice was demanding to see the Manager’s Manager because she didn’t care that she had only bought one 25# bag in the last two years, she needed six bags now.


It is going to be a long, long year, isn’t it.

Food only in my thoughts

I have to make an extra shopping trip today. Seems that over the weekend, my neighbors lost their ever-lovin’ minds got a little excited about the news that there is a dreadful shortage of flour and rice – so they immediately ran to Costco and bought every last bag of same.


I called around and found that all of my backup sources of bulk flour (and rice, too) have plenty – this rushing out to hoard it up seems to be a Costco phenomenon.

I find myself hoping, probably in vain, that most of that buying was done not by Joe Family Guy but by restaurants – for most people, buying two hundred pounds of flour at a single crack is just plain silly.

The cashier was telling me that she saw families splitting up, with a member in each line buying the full two hundred pounds – they were taking home four, six, even eight hundred pounds of flour.

Eight. Hundred. Pounds.

That would be a sixteen month supply for me, double what I could actually use before it started to get icky.

I find myself wondering how many of the people rushing out to buy their two hundred pound ration know that flour does have a shelf life: If kept tightly sealed in the fridge, up to a year. If stuck out in the garage in the paper sack it came in, eight months. Less if conditions are less than ideal out there – which they generally are. And in our area, weevils are a fairly big problem – not as bad as some places, but if you leave your grains unattended for any length of time, they’ll move right on in and make themselves at home. Not to mention the wild swings in both temperature and humidity, which encourages the formation of moisture, which creates mold…

Now, if you’re a restaurant or pizza joint or what-have-you, well. No worries. You both know how to store the stuff and can reasonably get through it all before your customers start finding weevils or rot in their French toast.

But dudes, I am going to be most severely irritated if, twelve months from now, my local newspaper is carrying articles about how many untouched 50# sacks of flour are ending up in the landfill. First and foremost, there really are hungry people in the world, suffering from honest-to-god, there is no food to be had no matter how much money you have hunger. Buying food you can’t hope to consume and then just throwing it away is not right on so many levels.

And on a personal note, I have had my life ruined been horrifically somewhat inconvenienced by all this panic over the “shortage” this week. Also, my rice castle’s walls aren’t complete yet, and my battlements need those little curvy things on top, so I need, like another forty some-odd 25# bags of rice.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Bulk Buying

All right, that’s it. I just read the umpteenth item about people rushing out to bulk buy everything from rice to peanuts, and I’m afraid we’re going to have results similar to the tremendous waste of beef during the beef shortage back in the 70s – it was caused by people buying unfamiliar cuts in attempts to still have their beef in spite of skyrocketing costs. “Hey, this has all these weird bones in it…and is it supposed to taste like liver?!”

I’m going to do my wee little part to help here. You want to buy bulk? Keep the following in mind:

Price book: A Bulk Buyers Best Friend

A price book is a simple tool that can really help you figure out whether a deal is awesome!, or smoke & mirrors!. You do not have to keep track of every single item in the entire store. Only things you buy frequently, with special attention paid to items you buy in varying sizes in an attempt to save money.

Let’s take cocoa powder for an example. Who has the best deal on cocoa powder? Is that sale price actually your ‘best possible’ price? Is the bulk purchase best?

StoreItemDateUnitsPriceCost / Unit
SafewayScharffen Bergerpowder Cocoa4/25/20086$8.54$1.42
SafewayHershey's Cocoa Powder3/24/20088$4.35$0.54
Penzey's SpicesDutch Process Cocoa Powder4/25/200816$7.90$0.49
Safeway (Sale) Hershey's Cocoa Powder4/25/20088$3.50$0.44
Penzey's SpicesNatural Cocoa Powder4/25/200816$6.80$0.43
www.BulkFoods.comNatural Cocoa Powder4/25/200880$11.25$0.14
www.BulkFoods.comNatural Cocoa Powder4/25/2008400$53.15$0.13
www.BulkFoods.comNatural Cocoa Powder4/25/2008800$87.78$0.11

Note that by calculating it by units, you level the playing field. It can be hard to compare a six ounce container to a one pound container – but by calling that one pound bag a sixteen ounce bag instead and figuring the price out in ounces rather than by the bag, you have a better chance of figuring out whether or not you’re getting a great price.

Looking at a price tag of almost ninety bucks is enough to make you just say, “Uh, no, that’s too expensive!” on face value. But look at that price-per-ounce! A third the price of the supermarket sale price!

Where’s it gonna go?

If you’re going to buy bulk, think about storage before you get home with a 50 pound sack of flour. You can’t open that bag, then stick it out in the garage and hope for the best. Moisture will make it rot, weevils will infest it, you will be very, very sorry. You need a dry, cool storage space and air-tight containers. If you have concerns about weevils or other varmints, put the food into your freezer for 24 to 48 hours.

Personally, I use food-grade containers like these. Mine are square, though, which I find stack with more stability and also make best use of my (ahem) square garage cupboards.

Check them regularly. I keep a smaller Tupperware in the kitchen, and each time I refill it I make sure I stir up the contents of the larger containers. Sometimes, varmints and wetness (and the mold it can cause, ew!) will gather only on the bottom, with seemingly innocent and clean stuff on top. Giving the stock a good deep stirring will expose any nastiness that might be happening.

If you use the stuff briskly you won’t have this problem. I go through that 50 pound sack of flour each and every month – sometimes, in less than a month. I haven’t seen a weevil in my flour buckets in years. But if you’re buying a two-year supply of rice this weekend? Make sure you keep an eye on it.


Before you buy, check the ‘use by’ dates. Yes, many things will actually survive long past their technical expiration date – but some things don’t, and sometimes the bulk items have been languishing longer than you might expect. There could be several months difference between the use by on the cases at the front of the shelf, and the back.

The freezer does not equal suspended animation

The freezer will significantly extend the life of things. But it is not, NOT, NOT!, equivalent to a complete halt of the decaying process. Things will lose moisture and texture over time, and honestly if you’ve got a self-defrosting freezer – they may desiccate faster than you expect.

As a general rule of thumb, your vegetables will last about 3 to 6 months, depending on what they are and how they are prepared. Nuts will keep about 6 months. Meats…meats are tricky. The larger the cut, the longer it lasts – up to a year for large roasts. Ground meats 3 to 6 months. I’ve had really rotten luck with really thin things like deli ham, no more than a month before I’ve found it just doesn’t taste right.

Does this mean they will have to be thrown away? No. Not at all. I actually do use vegetables that are way past their prime in stocks, and sometimes will take meat that not even the dog would eat (well, if we had a dog, anyway…) due to texture and/or appearance and use it in soups. But if you were planning to grill those luscious steaks you bought last year when they were on sale?

They…uh…may not be the same filets you knew and loved.

Know What You’re Buying!!!!

Read the label very, very carefully. Take my cocoa powder up there: I’m buying natural processed powder. It is not like Hershey’s! It is like the difference between semi-sweet (Hershey’s) and unsweetened (natural process). If I use it in recipes without acknowledging this, whatever I make will come out on the ‘bittersweet’ side. (This is perfectly OK by me, actually – but not everybody likes chocolate that kind of bites you back!)

If you pay $80 for a box of cocoa powder you then despise, well, you haven’t actually saved money unless you force yourself to choke it down anyway.

Invest a little money in a smaller package if you can. As fresh milk prices continue to rise, it may well come to pass that dry milk will become economical again. Right now, a gallon of fresh 1% milk is $2.99 (actually, it’s $3.59 a gallon, but two for $5.99). The cost to make a gallon of nonfat is $3.50 if bought in extreme bulk.

If the price of a gallon of milk crept over about $3.75 around here, I’d consider buying the milk powder. But before I ran out and got three cases of #10 (enough for roughly 86 gallons of milk) cans of the stuff for the best price-break, I’d “waste” money (paying about $4 a gallon) on a single can to try it. If I loathe the brand, if it adds a nasty taste to my breads or I can’t get a white sauce to set using it – I’m not going to spend $300 only to find out it is not going to work for me!

Got Friends?

I know. We all live on little islands, we talk to nobody, we know nobody, and the last thing we want to do is go to the neighbors (who are, like, not from around here? And also they dress funny? Plus I think they might be {Catholic, Hindu, Baptist, Unitarians, Satanists} or some junk?) and say, “Heyyyyyy…wanna buy some beef with me?!”

But I think we’re going to have to get over that. Normal people simply aren’t going to be able to use an entire cow in six months.

But four families just might – and each family will enjoy the tremendous cost savings associated with going direct to the ranch and buying an entire steer. (The rancher will be happy too, because in spite of giving you a price as much as 50% less than the Costco price he still makes more selling directly to you!)

If you can force yourself to take that tremendous risk and get to know your neighbors, all sorts of things become possible. Their backyard garden has zucchini, tomatoes and lettuce…you’re growing corn, sunflowers and broccoli. Let’s make a deal!

You couldn’t possibly use 50 pounds of flour in your lifetime…but if five neighbors each take ten pounds, well. Ten pounds at my supermarket would cost $6. Fifty pounds is (was last time, anyway) $14.50 - $3 per ten pounds, or half price.

You’re brilliant at sewing, I can bake. Say, could you put a new zipper in Eldest’s dress? I’ll give you four loaves of bread for it…dude, mow my front lawn for me and I’ll give you a fresh apple pie (you would not believe how strong a motivator apple pie can be for red-blooded young men)!

You can even divvy up the cost of the club warehouse this way. Everybody puts in their requests, one person has the membership and does the shopping in bulk, and the members of the neighborhood club pay the shopper when they pick up their stuff.

The benefits of bulk pricing, without the pain of throwing away the food you just didn’t manage to eat in time – and possibly the even greater benefits of putting together a group with a wide variety of talents to offer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The eye passes over…

As recently whined about, the Crazy around here got to a level where I was starting to wonder if perhaps a little happy juicy medication was in order.

Because, gracious knows, I don’t have enough chemicals in my body at any given time.

I’m in the eye of the storm at the moment. Strange, eerie calm. That place where you dare to look up, to see just how bad the destruction has already been, to think about a mad dash for a safer hidey hole, to ask yourself if you are insured for this precise manner of storm and also, did I leave the gas on in the kitchen? Then, just when you’re saying that things aren’t really all THAT bad and perhaps it’s just going to blow over and maybe it’s actually already all done and perhaps I ought to poke my head up and see if the fence survived…the thought hits you: The worst damage usually comes in the second half!

Comforting thought, huh?

So. What all has got me all riled up?

First and most of all, there’s this. I’ve been working on a book-as-such, which has been an astonishing journey into the minute I have a deadline, I suffer immediate and crippling writer’s block and would rather play my video game for 46 hours STRAIGHT.

But my editor (eeee! I can haz editor!) has already given me some really good feedback on my first draft and promises a little more guidance, so there is hope that it will actually a) happen and b) not suck.

Which of course means I need to get back to being busy on it. Ahem. Yes. Welllllll…in other news

I’ve been looking at a variety of schemes opportunities suitable for someone who both wants and could really use a paycheck, but has Certain Conditions (cough-*horde-o-kids*-cough) which make it very difficult to commit to showing up every day at a certain time, and staying until a certain time in the evening. Because let’s face it, I’m not going to be able to do that for the foreseeable future. Been there, done that, got in trouble for excessive sick days.

So, yes, I need freelance work. A term which here means, “Work I can do on my own terms when I’ve got a minute, work that does not have day-to-day deliverables but a flat ‘due by’ date preferably with a weekend between receipt and delivery…and we must have a clear understanding that I may be rather difficult to reach especially during the afternoon hours and that any conversations we have may have so much tumult in the background that you will suspect I am at the tables in Vegas, when in fact it just my charming offspring bouncing and jiving and demanding cookies and milk, because, well, they do that.”

As unlikely as it seems, I have some nibbles. Enough of them that I am in that wonderfully awkward position of having to decide which line(s) to tug, because I can’t possibly tug all of them and remain anything resembling sane. Each thing is different from the other; some are completely unrelated, some could be kissing cousins, each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. Some make a ton of money but require a ton of time, others make just a little bit but can be done on ‘whenever’ minutes.

Also, I’m trying to decide whether I want to go W2, 1099, or sole proprietorship. Employee, Independent, or Business Owner? Again, benefits and drawbacks to each one. Some are less flexible, some are more profitable, balancing headaches with tax breaks and accountability with deniability. “I have no memory of the meeting of which you speak, sir…”

Sigh. Sometimes, I really wish I could just be like everybody else about money and opportunities, and spend both as fast as I get them (possibly a little faster) and not have to think so @^*&@ing much.

As the dust is beginning to settle and things are becoming clear (which means that I’m about to jump up and bring on the second half of the storm by implementing Changes to the Status Quo), spring is working its Wicked Wiles upon us.

My charming daughters have all developed a life-threatening homework allergy. Seriously. If they are made to do homework? They might D-I-E, die! It is only because I never did actually love them, and don’t care about their happiness, and am otherwise a really bad person that I force them to continue risking their short existences by insisting – nay, demanding! – that the homework continue to be done. Which I am doing because all three teachers approached me this week saying, “Um…she didn’t turn in her homework last week? Or this week? Hello?”

Hell hath no fury like a mother embarrassed. So I’m riding them like crazy until we get through the rest of this school year. If I’ve gotta work, you’ve gotta work.

Meanwhile, it’s IEP (Individual Education Program) season! Yes, that’s right, it’s time for me to start attending whackity-majillion meetings at which Highly Educated People will tell me that they have absolutely no idea why my son, who turns four in July, communicates at roughly a twelve to eighteen month level!

It’s so nice to know that the people with the impressive titles after their names are likewise bemused. It makes me feel less stupid. Or at least, I wish it did.

The feeling of waiting continues. Even as I’m running from fire to fire, stomping and stomping and stomping for all I’m worth, the helpless sensation of just having to wait it all out sits on me like a hair shirt.

And speaking of waiting…there’s a kid sitting at the school doing so right now. Time to start practicing my pickup speech: “Do you have homework? How much homework? Is it due tomorrow? Have you started it already?”

La-la-la-la-la-la-laaaaa! Ho-ho-ho-ho-home-wooooorrrrrrrrkkkkkk…!

Addendum: Eldest came home with an assignment to write a Three {ugh} Hundred {groan!} Word {eh-heh, eh-heh} Essssssssss{gasp}ay {gaaaaaaaaak}! Her wake will be held on the afternoon of April 27...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth and Sun

This morning, Eldest informed me that it was Earth Day (no, really? because I’d only gotten five hundred emails from assorted companies saying, ‘EARTH DAY IS TUESDAY, SHOP EARLY AND OFTEN TO SAVE THE PLANET!’, so really, Earth Day arrived completely without warning this year) and asked if we, you know, did anything around the Den to, uh, save the Earth, or something like that?

It’s funny how much of ‘green’ stuff is…boring. Especially the stuff that has the best impact. Fluorescent bulbs? Replacing a pathetically inefficient heating/air conditioning unit with a best of breed new one? The new water heater? The front-load washer/dryer?


Reducing the amount of packaging we buy, reusing things, patching rather than replacing jeans, avid (rabid) recycling procedures, producing so little waste that we can use the smallest trash tote the city provides, using reusable containers in our packed lunches, all of that…big yawn.

Bake bread in a solar oven in the backyard, an act which saves all of thirty cents off the electric bill, using a $240 Sun Oven?


OK, I admit that I, too, find the Sun Oven to be cooooooooool. It’s a fairly new toy and is fun to use. It sets up ridiculously easily, and gets not only hotter than your average homemade type – the hottest I ever got with one of my aluminum-foil-and-plywood endeavors was well under 200 degrees, while this particular model has shot right up to 350 degrees in twenty minutes – but stays there for as long as I can keep the sunlight focused on it. It has enough room on the cooking surface for two bread pans side-by-side, or a good-sized casserole dish. Yesterday, yes, I did indeed bake two loaves of bread in roughly an hour using nothing but the Power of the Sun.

Ooooooh, aaaaaaaaah.

There is no discernable difference between the loaves I baked in the Sun Oven and those I baked in the electric one. Their taste, appearance and texture are identical. The only real difference was in baking time – the electric oven takes about 40 minutes, the Sun Oven took a full hour.

Last week, it made a wonderful ‘crockpot style’ chicken stock (allowed to simmer for five hours) and a chicken and rice casserole – it would have taken about 40 minutes in the kitchen, it took an hour and a half outside.

Eldest took her backyard-baked bread to school in a reusable sandwich box, in her lead-free insulated lunch box.

It isn’t Grand or Glorious. It is, in fact, rather like tossing a grain of sand into the scales. There you go, my weighty contribution to Saving the World. That much less energy used for cooking, and in the coming dog days of summer, to removing the heat that energy generated inside the Den.

But it’s a start, anyway. Even small steps take us that much closer to where we want to go – far closer than we’d be if we just sat on our rumps thinking about doing something.

Someday, I hope people will look back on all these machinations and say, "How cute! But of course, that was before we had Eterna-Energy packs and Carbon-B-Gone..."

It's the one you don't see coming that gets you

I went wine tasting with a gaggle of girlfriends this weekend. Now, wine tasting, for me, must be a carefully planned sort of adventure, due to the fact that I take some medications that do not mix well with alcohol.

So, as I sat down Saturday morning after a sleeping-aid free night (ugh) to breakfast sans anti-muscle-spasm pill (think calm muscle thoughts), I was giving myself the old pep-talk.

“Self!” I directed firmly, as I tucked into a hearty breakfast of bacon-cheese omelet, side of bacon, potatoes sprinkled with cheddar cheese and a dotting of sour cream and buttered toast. “You have to be careful today. You don’t want to be throwing up. That would be bad. Watch how much wine you drink, and if you do take any of those medications, it’s sip-sip-toss, OK?”

I agreed with me, finished breakfast, and headed out to meet the girlfriends. We started with champagne and things were going well…except that the back muscles were tightening ominously and I began to feel that weird tingling thing in my legs – spasms are usually not far behind when the legs start tingling. Spasms suck. They’ll stop me dead in the water. Sometimes I’ll have to lie down and whimper quietly to myself for half an hour while waiting for the medication to kick in, so I prefer to head them off rather than wait to see if they actually develop. Especially when I’m in public. Because lying down in the parking lot of a winery going, “Owies! Owies! Owies!” is just really not cool.

We stopped for lunch. As I chewed on my BLT with avocado and greedily slurped down a chocolate mousse concoction and felt the first painful flutters back there, I told myself that OK. It was obvious I wasn’t going to get through this day without a Lortab. So. It is what it is, I said and took the pill.

You cannot imagine how sad I was, when I had to pour absolutely delicious merlot and cabernet sauvignon into the old spittoon. I consoled myself with cheeses brie and blue, soft and hard, and slightly more than my fair share of chocolate kisses.

In the car, I drank my water and felt very proud of myself for my obvious maturity. At the next two stops, I sipped and tossed. It was good stuff, and oh, I wanted to pound it back! But I was firm with myself: Behave! I hissed, when I tried to say, How much could just ONE MORE SIP possibly hurt?

You took a Lortab a few hours ago, I said. I can already feel the pain creeping back – you will need another before you go to bed tonight. Sip, and toss. That. Is. FINAL.

Sadly, I sipped; grieving, I poured out.

But, when we stopped for a Thai dinner, I was pleased with myself. No nausea! No whirling head! Granted, the Lortab alone gives me a buzz so even small sips of wine made me one VERY happy camper, but I was not driving (thank you, Terena!) so hey.

I was delighted that I hadn’t overdone and ruined a marvelous day.

However. I was thinking back over what I had eaten. It was a little fuzzy, but I was counting up the fat (those of us without gallbladders have to do these things), and I had the vague notion that perhaps I ought to tone it down for dinner.

So I ordered a vegetarian curry with rice. And vegetarian egg rolls. Because, after all. Egg rolls are an absolute good. And besides. We’d be sharing. One egg roll, c’mon. Can’t possibly hurt.

Yeah, well. Nobody else really wanted egg rolls, having chosen other appetizers instead, so I ate three of the four.

Then we went back to our rooms. And I sat around talking for a while. And then we went to bed.

I was just starting to drift off when my intestines said, “Ahem.”

Every half hour, all night long. Did I have any Imodium with me on the trip, perhaps in the grab-n-go bag I keep stocked with the essentials required by the weekend traveler? Even though I have this come up so often that I buy the stuff at Costco? Even though it happens to me almost every single time I go away for an overnight trip, due to the fact that eating out more than one meal tends to cause a tremendous spike in my fat consumption?

No. No, I did not. See, if I had had the stuff in my bag, well. Things would have been different. I would have slept, for one thing. I am reaching a point in my life where not sleeping is just not something I can do. I cannot pull “all nighters” as once I could.

It was not really the intestinal distress that caused my Issues the next day – it was the utter lack of sleep.

The next morning at first light, I crawled out of bed and made a mad dash for the nearest supermarket for an emergency supply of Imodium. When I got back to the room, my roommate took one look at me and said, “Why don’t you try to nap for a little while. I’ll go get some coffee.”

“Yeah, OK.” Imodium works fast. I climbed back into bed, free at last from the cramping and distress, and began to drift off. To sleep, perchance to dream…I had a couple hours before we were supposed to meet everybody for breakfast. A few hours sleep would do wonders…zzzzz…

And then, the fire alarm went off.

I kid you not. The @*^&@ing fire alarm? WENT OFF. Right over my head. WHEE! WHEE! WHEE! {pause} WHEE! WHEE! WHEE! {pause} WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!

Had there been an actual fire, I probably would have died. I responded with all the speed and agility of a turtle mired in peanut butter. Blearily, I got out of bed. Grudgingly, I put on my shoes. I looked around for my purse.

See, I was waiting for the hotel to realize there was no fire but that somebody had thought setting off the fire alarm would be a funny way to wake up their Sleeping Beauty. Any second now, it would stop. Any second now. Aaaaaaaany second now…sigh. I gathered up my bag, walked to the door, felt it, peered out the window, saw no smoke, felt no heat, and opened the door.

It was only as I stepped across the threshold into the frigid Napa morning that the damned thing stopped screaming about the END OF THE WORLD. I muttered words unbecoming a lady and headed downstairs for a cup of nice mint tea and a lazy conversation with my roommate.

We were supposed to meet the rest of our group for breakfast. Needless to say, the idea of breakfast made me want to just simply die. Even though I was feeling moderately better by the time I had sipped down a large cup of tea and sat warming my sore bones in the morning sun for an hour, food?

Not. My. Friend. Right. Now.

Whenever I am sleep deprived, I feel nauseous. The idea of food just horrifies me. Ugh. No food. Don’t want to look at food. Think about food. Acknowledge food exists. No. No food. UGH.

I was also supposed to drive up to Ukiah to pick up a cat we are adopting. Yeah. Listen, I barely made it home. I had to pull over for a little walk three times, because I was nodding off. I made it! But only barely.

I walked in, grunted at the family (they all asked about the cat, even Captain Adventure), and went to bed for a power nap. Ate some plain white rice and a piece of toast. Played a video game for a little while. Went back to bed.

The next morning, I popped out of bed ready to go.

The first thing I did? Tuck a fresh supply of Imodium into my grab-and-go bag. And I had to laugh: There was a time when the stuff in there was limited to a change of clothes and the bare hygiene essentials.

Now, slowly but surely, it is filling up with a day’s worth of medications. This for sleeping, that for back pain, and of course the stuff for intestinal distress. My purse is a walking pharmacy, with the emergency ‘dissolve under your tongue’ stomach cramp pills and the Lortab in case of crippling back spasms, the allergy pills and the regular old Tylenol.

And I’m only 40. I shudder to think what things will be like by the time I’m 60.

Although with any luck, some bright young whippersnapper will have invented the Hover Purse by then, so at least I won’t have to worry about throwing my back out lifting it all.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hairy situation

I am having hair issues. Not merely bad hair days (which have been, like, every day for the last six months), but troubles with whiskers popping out of my chin (ew!) and then yesterday I realized that the last time I shaved, I did both legs, and my right armpit.

The left one, however, apparently was either not with me that day, or had a no-cut order posted to protect the forest.

I know. You could have gone your whole entire lives without that particular insight into my personal grooming habits. Although in case you were wondering where my kids get their ADD tendencies? Yeah. That about says it all, huh?

ANYWAY. I have been considering getting a hair cut.

Actually, I’ve been considering putting out a contract to have my hair whacked. Right now, it comes to just below my shoulders and looks like holy hell most of the time. This is because I have all these grand and glorious intentions around my personal appearance that simply never materialize.

Every few years, I decide that I am tired of looking tired and trashy all the time, so – and this time, I really mean it! – I am going to make myself over.

I usually buy girl-clothes and dig my ‘cute’ shoes out of the storage shed and pick up $50 in makeup and rush into Supercuts clutching photos of trim, attractive 20-somethings with cute little pixie cuts and say, “Yes! Just like this!”

I usually love the cut for a few weeks and then hate it and let it grow out again, cussing all the way as it goes from ‘perky’ to ‘shaggy’ to ‘seriously, you should have somebody look at that’ to ‘heh heh heh…lookit that, it’s like she’s got a goat on her head or something!’ to ‘almost manageable’ and then finally, glory hallelujah, I can put it in a ponytail again.

The makeup eventually goes in the trash and the dresses into the back of the closet for a while until one day I say, “Why am I wasting all that space with those things? I never wear them!” and send them back to Goodwill.

I remember this cycle for a year or two, and then I look at myself in the mirror one morning and think, God. I look all…tired…and kind of trashy…you know what? I think I need A MAKEOVER!

This is because I never – and I mean never – learn.

This morning was going to be Hair Cut Day. I had picked up a Short Styles magazine and selected a few styles that showed the general idea. My favorite Supercut stylist had returned from her vacation. I was ready.

My hair didn’t help its case this morning. Oh no, it did not. First, it felt sticky. Then when I washed it, it went all bushy. Then it tangled itself all up and hurt like the dickens when I went to brush it. When put into a ponytail, it began pulling on my scalp and giving me a headache. @*^&@.

I dug into my drawer and found my box of hairpins. It took forty-eleven of them, a bit of water, and almost ten minutes (which is, for me, a helluva long time to be futzing with my appearance in the morning) but! Clean living prevailed, and my hair was caged into a bun-like thing.

Up off my neck, not looking stupid, perhaps even looking (dare I say it) like I had given a cuss that morning.

Which was appropriate, because I had given a cuss. Many of them, in fact.

I then descended into my usual morning routine of slamming food around, yelling at the children and trying to remember what it was that I was forgetting (oh yeah, to speak ‘calm, supportive words’ encourage them to do well on that stupid State testing thing today).

And then I came home, flopped onto the sofa and tried not to fall asleep. Not only am I still recovering from a weekend in Disneyland with two ten year olds (I was alone with them, and we arrived home at midnight – on a school night) (“pooped” does not begin to cover it), but I’ve been doing battle with a cold all week (it showed up Saturday morning as we were getting ready to go into the park: Gee, why is my throat so sore this morning? Did I not brush my teeth last night? {hack hack} Oh…that was NOT a cough…).

Of course, the minute I sat down, Captain Adventure came over to jump on me. He settled into my lap and put his arms around my neck to begin his morning monolog – a listing of not only what HAS happened, but what WILL happen and what he’d LIKE to have happen.

“Hi, mommy! Boo Bug go school today? Danger Mouse go school today? Eldest go school today? Oh! Captain Adventure go school today? Nooooooo…ee go later today. I haf…EGGS today…I haf…MILK today…I haf…mmmm…I haf park today! I haf…river today! I haf…cupcake today…I haf…”

The abrupt silence startled me into cracking an eye open to see what the problem was. He was staring at me with the strangest expression on his face. I could feel his little hands patting the back of my neck.

“Uh oh!” he said, then got up to look at the back of my head. “Uh oh! Mommy? Mommy! Where hair go?! Mommy? MOMMY! WHERE HAIR GO?!?!”

“I put it up, baby,” I said. “See? It’s in a bun today.”

His eyes were burning coals in his head.

“Where hair go, mommy?” he asked in a broken little voice. “Mommy…where hair go?”

“Honey…it’s just up, baby. Look. See? See the little pins?” I pulled a little hair out to show him.

“No, mommy,” he said. “Put hair down.”

“I want it up today,” I replied testily.





Stalemate. He was angry. I was getting there. Then he started to cry, which, I mean really – low blow!

“Hair down, mommy…”

Oh, for the love of…

I took the pins out and shook the dreadful mane down on my shoulders. It hung damp and lifeless on my neck. Hot. Sticky. Ugh.

I need a makeover…

He stood up and pressed his face into it. Snuggled down against my shoulder, wrapping his fingers in it, petting it.

He has always done that, since he was mere months old. For months, it was part of his going to sleep ritual, stroking my hair as his breathing grew steady and noisy in my ear.

“There ‘ee go,” he cooed happily. “There mommy hair. Mommy? I haf mommy hair today!”

Oh, gag me. And if you think, kid, that I am going to leave it all messy like that just because you like it…no. I’m getting a haircut today, and That. Is. FINAL.

I am a strong-minded, independent woman, dammit. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it! ROAR!

So I marched into Supercuts. I waited for my stylist. I sat down in her chair.

“So, what are we doing today?” she asked. I took a deep breath, and let it out.

“Just even it up for me and nip those bangs out of my eyes, OK?”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Can't type...laughing too hard...

This just really sums up my whole life right now...courtesy of The Bitter Pen.
I want this on a t-shirt. Seriously.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I feel right now as though I am in a hurricane. Perhaps it is obvious from the lack of posting lately, but Things are going on behind the curtain here at the Den of Chaos. I am so far behind on email that I have half a mind to just delete them all and start over.

So what’s going on? Nothing really huge, I suppose. I mean, nobody’s getting married or divorced or having a new baby or anything like that.

Yet somehow…the Chaos has kicked itself up a notch. Not necessarily in ways that are obvious, but in subtle, irritating ways that really get into your underwear and itch.

The feeling of one thing too many has been growing, and to be honest I’ve been responding in large part by goofing off. I have a list of things I “should” be doing, and instead I’m doing “other things”.

Like sorting through our financial papers from 1996 to 2000, hauled forth from the tomb in the garage and dumped onto my bedroom floor. For the love of God, why right now, when I’m already complaining about not having enough hours in a day, and looking for things to cut out?!

I also spent a considerable chunk of time cruising the thrift stores this week. I’ve re-outfitted the whole family for $65, which is awesome. But did it have to be done right immediately now?

Uhhhhhhhh…I’m going to plead the Fifth on that…

The Big Project needs to be finished and handed off. But I’m having trouble letting go of it. I keep thinking of just one more thing I want to add to it. A different color here. A different graph there. Maybe this could be said better. Did I already say that? Shouldn’t I have something about…did I mention…hmm…

I feel like I’m twelve years old and having to turn in that big English essay again. Let Teacher see what you’ve written, honey… No! NO! IT ISN’T READY YET!!!

I have so many half-formed ideas and other projects in the pipeline and things waiting on other things, and bubbling puddles of resentment, anger, frustration…not a whole lot of positive feelings right now, frankly.

And over it all, a curious sensation of waiting. I’m in a hurry and running late – but I’m taking the train. It will arrive when it arrives, and not a moment before. No matter how hard I strain my brain trying to make it go faster.

It’s a big, sullen storm. It has a lot of weight behind it. It’s on the move. I’m not sure where it is going – or even if it has any intention of going anywhere in the first place. Sometimes, storms bring changes great or small. Most of the time, they just blow over. We talk about them for a few days and then they fade away, joining a thousand other storms just like them as a collective memory of ‘all those times it stormed around here’.

But in the meantime, this feeling of Impending Something Or Other is about to drive me insane.

If the children don’t do it first.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Why did it take so long?

This morning was an interesting departure from routine. It was a pretty normal morning, with a lot of scrambling and carrying on and the short people having to be asked fourteen times to put on their shoes.

We skidded into the school parking lot with five minutes to spare, ejected the three older Denizens from the van and began the return trip to the Den. I had a list of stuff I thought I ought to get done – my new little friend wasn’t coming today (praise be) and I had thoughts of dirty kitchen floors and clothes needing putting away and ancient folders with receipts for meals long ago turned to dust needing their final closure.

As we pulled into the driveway, Captain Adventure voiced his opinion: “NO, Mommy.”

“No?” I parroted automatically. “No what, honey.”

“No go home. Go-go-go! Go van! Go out!” he enthused. Hmm. Problematic. But then, I did have some errands I’d been putting off, a deposit to make at the bank, and he needed t-shirts.

“Hmm, well, I need my glasses,” I prevaricated. All business, he unsnapped the top of his seatbelt and fussed with the bottom part.

“Go get glasses. Then go van!” he declared decisively.

He is a Leo. They are often bossy like that.

Anyway, we went into the house and I went into my bedroom and began to putter a bit. I put away a book that was on the floor, and I made the bed.

And then I turned around to find him thrusting my glasses at me (what the- where on earth?!), his eyes snapping and twinkling and a grin across his whole face.

“There ‘ee go!” he rejoiced. “Glasses! OK! Go van now!”

Uhhhhh…right. OK. Well.


So we got in the van and we headed out. The bank wasn’t open yet, nor was the thrift store. Hmm. Well, what the heck. Live dangerously. I headed for Starbucks, got myself a mocha and Himself a Snickerdoodle and a child-sized apple juice.

And then suddenly…I had the strange sensation of Responsible Behavior simply taking a hike.

We drove out toward Sonora, into the hills, looking for something interesting. A little over an hour and one sudden turn off the highway later, we were pulling into a little place called Knight’s Ferry, on the Stanislaus River.

Captain Adventure was entranced by the whole experience, which consisted of getting out of the van, greeting the local seniors having their lunch at the picnic tables and accepting their accolades about his Cuteness, and then exploring a tiny area of no more than a football-field. Blackberry bushes, he discovered, gave boo-boos. He didn’t like the look of the algae waving from under the deceptively mellow water at the edge of the river. He did like the way rocks splashed into the water, and thought mommy was the cleverest person, EVER because she could make them skip.

“Oh, dat wah-der!” he yelled, gesturing at the swiftly flowing river.

“It’s a river,” I corrected.

And then suddenly, it hit me. He’s never seen a river.

We took him and his sisters to the beach, once; I have the gray hairs to prove it. I cast around in my mind. Had I taken my son to Lake Tahoe? Had I ever taken him into San Francisco? My mind scrambled through my memories, looking for when he had been on a ferry, when he had eaten dim sum, when he had felt the icy grip of Lake Tahoe on his toes. I knew he’d never seen Yosemite – two of his sisters throw up from motion sickness no matter how straight the road or what medication we give them, so making the winding journey to that stunning display has been out of the question for years.

He’s never watched water flow like this. He’s never seen a blackberry bush. He has no idea that he should watch out for snakes in that growth, that on hot days rattlers like to curl up for a nap in the relative safety of their thorny embrace. They don’t like being abruptly awakened by a hulking creatures with appendages that look like another snake striking right above their heads. (Who would?!)

He doesn’t know that the juiciest berries always seem to be on the water-side, and that a kayak is great way to get at them – highly maneuverable, and not generally made of stuff that will pop if it encounters a large thorn or sharp rock.

He’s never slept in a tent, or gotten up in the dead of night to walk out into stars that seem so bright and so close you’d swear you could reach out and touch one. He’s never seen real snow, never had the dubious pleasure of hiking through it and finding patch after patch where a wee bit of snow is covering a big old hole.

So many things he’s never done, never seen, never tasted, never heard, never felt.

“Do you hear it?” I asked him. He was snuggled up in my arms, watching the water ripple and flow, the constant changing-sameness. He laid his cheek against mine and said, “Yeah. Hear it.”

The birds sang songs gentle and rough. Jays were scolding. Crows were cawing. Smaller birds chirped in the gaps they left. The water rippled and sang. Our rocks ploinked and plopped and skipped.

He learned that throwing a rock was better than tossing a handful of sand, especially when the wind is blowing toward you. He spit, rubbed his face, and laughed. “Oh no, mommy! Captain Adventure get dirty!”

Far too soon, it was time to go. I grieved. It seemed so unfair, to wait almost four years before showing him a river and then yanking him away before he’d even begun to become accustomed to its shapes and sounds and scents.

But we had to go. He had school to attend, and shortly after he started sisters would begin getting out. Even if I decided his chances of attending Yale wouldn’t be too badly damaged by missing a day of preschool, we still couldn’t stay much longer.

We had to go.

Why did it take this long for my boy to see a real running river? Why did I have to snatch him away from it so soon? Why is it that even when I’m being irresponsible, I still have Responsibilities?

I eased his outrage with a dum-dum and an in-flight movie. We pulled up to the park by his school for a little more running before he had to go serve his time, one last "hurrah!" before serving his time for the day. It was a mixed experience: he loves to run and play in the park, but it makes the whole going to school thing that much harder to swallow. In the end I had to sling him like a sack of potatoes and haul him, yelling and protesting, all the way down the block to school.

He wouldn’t look at his teachers or say any of the words he had been so gleefully shouting a few minutes before. But when I picked him up a few hours later, he ran out yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! I HAF RIVER TODAY!!”

Tonight he lay in my arms drifting off to sleep, one hand curled in my hair, the other grasping my arm firmly – it is important to make sure The Woman can’t sneak off, even though she always somehow manages it.

“I haf…river today…” he told me softly. “I haf…rocks today…I haf…birds today…I haf…ah-weh-nuh today!”

It took me a while to realize he was saying adventure.

Oh, baby. So many adventures still to have.

Just you wait, my little Captain Adventure. Just you wait, and see.

And touch.

And hear.

And taste.

And feel.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Suddenly, around 5:30 this evening, just when my boyfriend Brian was starting his newscast, It hit me.


Not just tired, not just feelin’ the burn.

I mean, I was bone-achingly, irritably, eyes-burning, stomach-churning, my-legs-can’t-take-me-all-the-way-upstairs exhausted.

A few moments before, I was getting to that point in the evening where I start barking, “Stop that infernal racket!” at the children, who are so terrified of my wrath that they immediately continue banging on the pots with the wooden spoons while singing GOD BLESS AMERRRRRICAAAAAAAA at the top of their lungs.

If they pause at all, it will be to say something like, “But mommy, we need an audience!”

Oh. Well. By all means, please do continue to disregard the way my face is turning red, the disturbing way my eyeballs are beginning to protrude from my head and, should you see any steam curling out of my eardrums, please take it to mean that I am just that much excited by your outstanding use of the flat AND edge of the spoon on that damned pot.

Because I think too much inquiring minds want to know, I began questing back through the day for the Cause.

As is occasionally sometimes nearly always the case, I’ve simply got forty-seven things too many on my To Do List.

I have an amended tax form to file (I received a Miscellaneous Whatnot form two weeks after I filed) (we are owed an additional $1,000 from Uncle Sam, which is much better than having to return $1,000 to him I suppose except that on the whole, I’d rather have NEITHER be the case).

The same Project I was bitching about some time ago is still itching at me. But I can have courage because it is nearly done. Soon it will be somebody else’s problem for a while. I only hope we will still be friends after this thing is put to bed.

I have a massive donation to pull together for the Veterans, who are coming next week. (The Veterans are coming! The Veterans are coming!) There is a pile of clothing and Whatnots assembled on the rocking chair in my room, which gives the entire room a feeling of clutter that irks me.

Also, there are files all over my bedroom floor. Files reaching as far back as 1996. Ah, the memories! I’ve found financial statements from the height of the Really Stupid Years! Good times, yessir, goooooood times…(Although I have to say, it is making me feel a lot better about my I Ain’t Going Into Debt For That stance on most non-essential things. Sometimes, I do feel kind of left out when other people, people relatively close to me, are doing downright idiotic things with their money while I’m refusing to spend money I actually could spend if I weren’t so uptight about things like college funds and early retirement.)

I was talked into babysitting a four year old (brother to Eldest’s Best Friend Forever, who is rapidly turning into my fifth child) while his grandmother is away. He is cute as a bug, but he is also four. He talks constantly, and I can understand about every sixteenth word. I thought it was for about two weeks. I just learned Grandma is away for six months. There will have to be discussions, here.

Speaking of six months, guess how overdue for dental exams the children are?! I got my hokey dental benefits card last week, and today interviewed six local dentists who are “in network”. Mommy and Daddy will probably go to one of them. The Denizens, on the other hand, will be seeing their Very Expensive Pediatric Specialist dentist in a couple weeks. If I want the children tortured, I will do it myself thank you. There goes another $725. When is that tax rebate arriving, again…?

The entire Den is in need of a good cleaning. Which would be easier to do if there wasn’t a solid layer of crap all over every surface. The husband cleaned out the garage, which naturally means that a whack of stuff migrated into the house and is now watching me expectantly all day long – waiting for its new home, inside. Oy. Do you think he’d notice if I started sneaking it back out to the garage again…?

I fixed one (1) of the three (3) broken strings on my largest harp today. It has been so long since I did this that I was all dyslexic and dysfunctional and otherwise doin’ it wrong. There is this Certain Knot Thing that you do when putting a new string on a harp? And I used to be able to do them blindfolded in a dark restaurant while giving tourists from Minnesota detailed directions to the nearest BART station?

Yeah. Can’t do that any more. In fact, I couldn’t do it in bright sunlight with my full attention on the task at hand. I broke the string and was out of 0.025mm nylon but I knew I had another bag of strings…somewhere…and then it was twenty minutes of looking and OH CRAP, it was time to run a kid from Point A to Point B and now, at 10:00, I am remembering that I only did one (1) of three (3).

And one of them is the High C, which should have a red string. Feck . If I were a red 0.025mm string…where would I be?!

I need the strings fixed because I have lost my mind utterly agreed to play for some upcoming events. And, see, I need to fix the strings so that I can fix my performing, which at the moment is complete ass. Fortunately, the harp is a very forgiving instrument to play and honestly I have often wondered if I could just sit there and bang on random strings and still have people wandering up saying, “Oh, wow, that is just, so, like, beautiful and peaceful…you are sooooooo talented!”

Swear to God, someone actually said that while I was tuning the harp before a performance, and then asked me what the piece was called. I told him it was an original piece called Simple Arpeggios in C Minor. He believed me.

Meanwhile, it has been suggested that I could help ease a certain workflow issue for some folks who could surely use the help if I would consider working for a company on a purely hourly, as-you-can 1099 independent contractor basis. Now, I think we all know what happens next: Tama says she’s going to work just a little, maybe a few hours on weekends and three or four midweek.

And promptly begins pulling down 65 hour weeks.

Because she is incorrigible, can’t resist “easy” money, and definitely can’t ever seem to say, “I can’t, I have knitting to do.”

Which, by the way, I do. I finished the second sleeve on Lillehammer, which means that what I need to do now is set up my sewing machine, run a couple lines of stitches around where the sleeves are to be sewn in, then cut the steeks (eep!) and sew in the sleeves and then pick up the forty-eleven stitches around the neck and do that and then I’d be done with the sweater. Just in time for the temperatures to hit the 80s around here.

Naturally…I am working on a sock instead. Which has the marvelous quality of being fast knitting. I turned the heel on the first sock tonight while my boyfriend was being devilishly handsome and intelligent telling me about important things like the economy and maybe something about bowling. I don’t remember, really. I was too busy castigating myself for taking on way too many Things, again.

Film at eleven.