Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Little Miss Muffet

When we moved into our previous house, we forgot to factor in the time it would take for our water bed to heat to a level that was comfortable to sleep on, rather than ice-skate on. So, we set it up, turned on the heater and prepared to bunk down on the hide-a-bed monster sofa we had downstairs. That was the heaviest couch IN THE WORLD. We had moved it a couple of times and it was definitely a man-killer. And uncomfortable. Oh, my gosh. It had a bar that fit right across your back, across your shoulder blades and was roughly like sleeping on the bars of a jail cell. But, better than an icy water bed. We actually tried to sleep in our water bed without heating it up when we moved last time. We kept getting up to put more blankets on the bed and add more clothing, but it was hopeless. The cold just seeped.

Anyway. We knew we had to sleep on the couch, so we opened it up and made it up. We were just getting ready to turn out the lights and get in the bed when I saw it. A spider. On the brick fireplace. Just...hanging there on the brick.

I don't like spiders. As someone with a terminal case of arachnophobia, I pretty much don't like anything that crawls or skitters. But this was..a big spider. Like, big. The size of a baby's head. It was fuzzy and had many, uncountable legs. (I know there were only eight, but it looked like many more.) We looked at each other. We looked at the mammoth spider. This was definitely a guy job. Tom got geared up. My memory actually blanks at this point. The horror. But I know at some point, we looked over at the wall. And the spider had disappeared. Rather than making us feel relieved of course, we were horrified. Where had it gone? As I recall, I did a rather entertaining spider dance on top of the coffee table, shrieking at Tom to FIND IT. We NEVER found it. We finally gave up and got in bed, shaking the covers and checking carefully before we got in. We never saw it again.

Now, here's the thing. How did a spider the size of a baby's head (I am NOT exaggerating) get out of there? It certainly couldn't go under any doors or through a crack. The only possible outlet was the fireplace so maybe it skittered up there when it saw the terrifying spider dance.

We found out later from our friend Keith that it was probably a wolf spider and they like to live in piles of old firewood, which our obligingly moronic seller had left behind. But I swear that thing was bigger than 2 inches - it was as big as a hand, no kidding. Maybe it was an escaped tarantula that had piggy-backed it's way to Kentucky on a bunch of bananas.

Seeing it bothered me for a while when we went down there to watch tv. I kept my feet curled up and checked carefully when I walked. Eventually, I forgot about it. But I will never forget looking over and seeing it hanging there on that brick wall. Huge. Hairy. Horrible.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Put the Top Down!

I'm cool. I'm suave. I'm sophisticated. Shut UP. OK, I'm actually none of those things, but I make an attempt to fake everyone out. Especially on vacation, when nobody really knows me. My daughter, Liz, and I went on a vacation to Punta Cana a few years ago. Yeah, the site of the painful horseback riding episode. We had done a lot of research about the location and knew that the beach in front of our hotel was a topless beach. We both thought we might, just possibly, go for it. So, I bought a two piece bathing suit, put it in my suitcase just in case and we headed off to our tropical oasis.

The afternoon of the first day we took a little walking tour of the resort and got into a conversation with one of the friendly, young, male employees who told us about the best places to shop. The next morning, we geared up for our topless adventure. I was still unsure about whether I would actually remove my bathing suit top but, when we got to the beach, there were lots of other women topless. They were relaxed and casual about it, walking on the beach and swimming without a care in the world. Liz and I exchanged a glance and we both reached behind us to undo our tops. Unless you have done something like this, you just can't imagine how strange it feels to be sitting there in just your bathing suit bottoms in front of a bunch of strangers on a public beach. It's very...freeing.

Of course, my daughter looked a LITTLE better than me in her little bikini bottoms, but there were women who looked much worse than me struttin' their stuff on the beach, so I looked pretty good in comparison. We were not quite bold enough to walk on the beach or swim, but we did sit there, just all topless and everything. We were just so UNBELIEVABLY cool.

Until the employee we had talked to the day before came over, greeted us and sat down on the end of my lounge chair to have a little chat. This guy was completely unfazed by our semi-nudity. He had seen it all, every day in his job. It was no big deal. He was just chattin' away, completely oblivious. Liz and I froze. We were...we were...topless! And he was sitting there talking to us. It was, without a doubt, the most...interesting...experience of my life. I can't say that I was really embarrassed because he was completely matter-of-fact, plus we were surrounded by other women in the same topless mode. But it was definitely...strange.

After he left, I put my top back on and went to the room to get us some drinks and fresh towels. On the way back, I stopped and picked us up some snacks at the buffet. One of the servers engaged me in conversation. In Spanish. I answered in my elementary, college-era Spanish. And we carried on an actual conversation. As I walked away, I felt strong. Empowered. Speaking in Spanish to someone? Huh. I had talked to a complete stranger while sun bathing topless on the beach.

I could freakin' do ANYTHING.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Isn't That Just the Cutest Thang?

So, I'm trying to eat lots of fruits and veggies. As mentioned previously, I am on the Weight Watchers wagon, trying to hang on so I can get over being (fat) slightly overweight. I actually like a lot of fruits and veggies, so it's not too much of an ordeal. It's just the planning ahead, shopping, buying, preparing, etc. It requires a great deal of time which could much better be spent reading or napping. Perhaps my priorities go a long way towards explaining the fat situation.

I was at Meijer, perusing the produce section. I love Meijer's produce section. And I love the way they have cut-up fruit and veggies for sale. Good, fresh ones, not those yucky old packages from Dole that Kroger sells. I realize I could cut up my OWN fruits and veggies, but this is so much easier. And allows time for the previously mentioned naps and reading. Then I saw them. Right next to the regular pears.

They pears. Tiny little pears. Miniature pears. Why, they were just the cutest thing I have ever seen. Wait, I take that back. My grandson is the cutest thing I have ever seen. OK, these are the cutest FOOD ITEM I have ever seen. They are called Seckel Pears. They can fit in your hand and they are just perfect, miniature duplicates of a regular pear.Of course, I had to buy some. And they are really good! Very sweet. I recommend them.

And just look how cute they are compared to a regular pear.

So this just opens up all kinds of possibilities in my mind. How handy would it be to have a miniature watermelon? Or a miniature cantaloupe? Wouldn't that be cool? You could just cut them and eat them with a spoon.

I am very excited about this.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Prayer for Our Child

I found this when I was organizing the files on my computer the other day. It's a poem I wrote for Wesley's parents last Christmas, right after he was born. Some of you may enjoy it. I enjoyed rereading it now that he's a big boy.

A Prayer for Our Child

Lord, help us to be good parents to our child.

Lord, help us to be loving to our child.

Help us remember to kiss him and hug him all the time and to remember there are never too many kisses and hugs. Help us to always use kind words to him, even when he has smeared peanut butter all over the kitchen and unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper and put all mom’s jewelry on the dog. And when we forget to use kind words, help us to hug and kiss him later because a disciplined child becomes a conscientious adult.

Lord, help us to be involved parents to our child.

Help us to take him to zoos and museums, to the park to feed the ducks, to the beach to play in the waves, to spend time with his friends and family, to spend time as a family just watching tv or playing games, because this will provide him with the sense of security only a well-loved child will have.

Lord, help us to keep our child close to his family.

Help us to take him to visit all his grandparents and the rest of his extended family, who love him so much, because a child with a firm grounding in family will make wiser choices later in his life.

Lord, help us to encourage creativity in our child.

Help us to remember he needs paper and paints, colored pencils and crayons, clay, wooden blocks, tools and things to build, create and design with and not just plastic toys that run on batteries, because children who are creative and imaginative grow up to be free thinkers.

Lord, help us to encourage our child to be healthy and athletic.

Help us to feed him healthy food and encourage him to try every kind of food. Help us remember he needs time to run and play outside with freedom and does not need to be involved in so many organized activities that he has no time to just play. Help us to get him involved in sports, attend practices and games and budget money for sports equipment and supplies. And help us encourage him and make him feel supported in anything he tries, even if he is not athletic and is unhappy that he can’t play a game well because a child who is encouraged even when he fails will learn to try again his whole life.

Lord, help us to encourage our child to have friends.

Help us to organize birthday parties and un-birthday parties, attend parties for his friends, arrange play dates, let him visit other friends and have friends over to our house. Help us have the stamina to stay up late when he has friends over to spend the night and the patience to play board games with them which are boring us senseless, because having friends helps a child learn the satisfaction of sharing.

Lord, help us to be good partners to each other.

Help us to remember that we will have a healthy, happy and loved child if we devote time to each other, spend time together without our child and show him that we love each other. Help us not to feel guilty when we occasionally put ourselves first, because a child with happy parents is a happy child.

Lord, help us to be perfect parents.

And when we are not perfect parents (because nobody is), help to support each other, to give each other a break from caring for our child, to not feel guilty that we are not doing the things other parents might do, that we are not spending as much time with our child as we would like or that we can’t provide every single thing tv or his friends think he should have – help us remember that love is really, truly the only thing he needs. And help us give him plenty of that.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Achilles Heel

Now that I have written a couple of blog posts (like here and here) about my lovely, wonderful, sweet husband, I have to tell the truth about him.

When we are in a rush for one reason or another, I will quickly make him a sausage-and-toast sandwich instead of a big breakfast. (Lest you think I am an unempowered, enslaved, short order cook for him, let me clarify that this is just on the weekends.) This morning, I made him one and he told me not to put mustard on it. He didn't like it with mustard. For 30 years, I've been making them with mustard because, at some point when we were newlyweds back during the ice age, he told me he liked them that way. He waited 30 years to tell me differently?

Also. He leaves the heels on the loaf of bread in the bread package. We don't eat the heels. But whenever he opens a loaf to make a peanut butter sandwich (gah), he leaves the heel. I mean, he takes some slices out of the middle, then carefully puts the heel back in the package and closes it up. So, when I go to get a piece of bread to make toast for him, I take out the heel and throw it away. EVERY TIME. When I asked him about this, he actually said someone might want to eat the heel. AND WHO WOULD THAT SOMEONE BE?? He and I are the only ones who live here. I don't like white bread; I only eat wheat. He won't eat the heel; he just likes to carefully save it. So who is gonna eat it? He had no answer to that. I have actually tested him on this and, if there are, like, three pieces of bread left in there? Two of them will be the heels. So, I throw the heels away when I open the package. Other than that, he is almost perfect.

Oh. Except for the peanut butter and crackers. He NEVER puts them away. He fixes peanut butter and crackers (gah, again) for a snack, then leaves the crackers and peanut butter on the counter. Always. Never puts them away. When I asked them (with great restraint) why, he said he might want more. But he never does. He just leaves them on the counter. I think that's it.

Oh. Except for the beard trimming. Which ends with the sink and the surrounding area covered with little, tiny hairs. When I call him on this, he says he rinsed it. In what alternate, hair worshipping universe is that sink rinsed? Dontcha see all these hairs you left? That's definitely it.

Oh. Yeah, there is the clothing issue. I noticed the other day (yeah, it's been 30 years - I'm not very observant) that he was wearing the same sleeping pants and t-shirt every night. I asked him about it and he said, yeah, I wear the same clothes every evening and change on Sunday night. This is not quite as gross as it sounds, since he showers every night and basically spends the evening vegging so it's not like they get sweaty and dirty. I thought this was EXTREMELY peculiar (what woman would wear the same clothes all week, even to lounge in?) but my son-in-law said he did the same thing.

Can you feel my pain?

That's it, I think. I guess that's not much, in reality. He's really very neat, very considerate, very sweet and he loves me with every fibre of his being.

I know this. Because a few years ago? On the fourth of July? Some moronic idiot dropped a lit firecracker in the (full) box of fireworks. It was just a matter of time before the whole box exploded. Most people jumped back, many ran away. Tom? Reached over with both hands and shoved me behind him. So I wouldn't get hurt.

I guess I can leave mustard off his sandwich, throw away those heels, put away that peanut butter and clean up a few hairs.

If he is willing to get blown up for me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cell Phone Elbow

A young man wanted to get his beautiful blonde wife something nice for their first wedding anniversary. So he decides to buy her a cell phone. She is all excited, she loves her phone and he explains all the features on the phone.
The next day, the blonde goes shopping. Her phone rings and it's her husband:
"Hi honey", he says "how do you like your new phone?"
And she replies:
"I just love it, it's so small and your voice is clear as a bell but there's one thing I don't understand though".
"What's that, baby?," asks the husband.
"How did you know I was at Wal Mart?"

No, seriously. I am not making this up. Cell Phone Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome) is an actual thing. It results from constantly holding a cell phone to the ear. It can cause severe nerve damage and surgery may be the only option.

Heh. Serves 'em right. Annoying, irritating, loud, obnoxious jerks talking about their latest visit to the gynecologist or their cheating brother-in-law in loud voices while filling their cart at the grocery store, shopping at the mall or using the stall next to you in the bathroom. No, I am not kidding. I am so serious. In the bathroom. Although...I did talk on my cell phone once in the bathroom. But Vicki called ME and I had to answer! I didn't actually dial and begin a conversation while in the stall. And let's not even get into the ethical behavior of people who answer their cell phone in the movie theatre. They should be barred from movie theatres anywhere for the rest of their annoying little lives.

I do not have long, private conversations on my cell phone. I make or take a call, talk for a few minutes and then hang up. Why do people have these long, loud conversations in public? And it's not just young people who can't conceive of a life before cell phones, it's individuals of all ages. Remember when you had to wait until you got home to make a phone call? What is so indescribably important that it can't wait? Now, I can see the importance of a cell phone in an emergency. Or even the convenience of a cell phone if you are running late or need to check on the size of that furnace filter your husband wanted you to pick up at the store. But that's it.

And what about the hands-free phones that you see people using now? The first time I saw someone walking around the mall, talking away with nobody even close to them, I backed slowly away. I've been to New York. I've been to Seattle. I know when you see someone walking around, talking to themselves in a normal conversational tone, it's best to just back away. As this person walked away, I saw the wire running from her ear to her pocket and realized she was talking on her cell phone.Whew, that was a close one.

Then we have the new, tiny cell phones that actually fasten to your ear, like the headphone used by Uhura on Star Trek. An earring or possibly a q-tip is the only thing going in my ear, thanks very much.

I love my cell phone. I use it all the time. I panic when I realize I have left it at home. What if someone tried to CALL me? And then I realize, in the overall scheme of things, it's not that important. They will reach me. If it's an emergency, they will reach me. Just like they would have back in the day when we only had phones in our homes. And they were attached to the wall. And they had a rotary dial.

I am so old.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Things I Have Said to My Elementary Students

Don't put your head in there.
Don't you dare wipe that there.
Don't climb on that.
Close the window. Because it's freezing outside.
In the future, it's OK to run in the hall if you have to throw up.
Don't kiss him again. He doesn't like it.
Don't ever say that word again.
Pick that up and put it in the trash can.
Cover your mouth.
That's not polite.
Stop talking.
Stop running.
Next time, just ask if you can go to the bathroom.
Stop jumping on my desk. Save it for recess.
Because I said so.
Please don't be rude.
Put your shirt sleeves back on.
Pull your pants up. Your bottom is going to show.
Oh, I'm sure she's still your friend.
Yes, I'll tie your shoes.
Yes, I'll fix your hair bow.
Yes, I'll zip up your pants.
No, I already ordered some wrapping paper/candy/popcorn/Girl Scout cookies/candles.
You'll have to ask your mom and dad about that.
Please don't tell me he cutted in line again or I will have a stroke.
There is no prize for getting to the classroom first.
Go to the end of the line. Because you pushed him.
I don't know why she died. That was sad, wasn't it?
I'm not sure which book with the yellow cover you are talking about; can you tell me more about it?
Thank you. It's beautiful. I'll hang it up right here.
You did such a great job.
Thank you for setting such a great example.
You are so talented.
That was really nice of you.
I love that book too. I'm so glad you like it.

Like a Sieve

I may think I have problems, but at least I don't have a cat who flushes the toilet at my house.

I just had a class in the library with students named Jajuan, Jakarah, Jayce, Jayden and Jaylah. All in the same class. I am not making this up. It's no wonder I can't remember anyone's name. Of course, that could also be due to the fact that, as the years progress, my brain more and more resembles a sieve. You know how when you drain broccoli, a lot of that green stuff comes out through the holes and ends up in the sink? Well, picture a sieve with bigger holes and more stuff coming through...I think I'm losing my focus here. And I want some broccoli and cheese. Maybe for lunch...

Anyway, my brain is letting me down. I have never had a good memory. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, much less hang onto memories for any time in the past. I can't really remember my childhood. It's a shame, because it looks pretty interesting in the pictures. But it seems to be getting much worse as I get older. I can barely remember what I wanted to do when I go from one room to another in my own home. And coming from downstairs to the upstairs? Forget it. Whatever I wanted to do is long gone. I won't remember that until I'm in bed, ready to fall asleep. Then I'll have to get up and get that article I wanted to put in my purse to show someone.

But my brain really let me down last night. I left the oven on. For some reason, I do this often. And I also turn on the wrong burner. Do you do this? I'm standing there waiting for the oil to get hot so I can pop in the chicken or fish and...duh...I turned on the wrong burner. I do this ALL THE TIME. I mean, the burners have always been in the same place. The button is clearly labeled as to which burner is on or off. But I do it ALL THE TIME. So I actually had the oven on Broil because I was broiling some steaks. Then we went downstairs to eat and watch tv so the oven was on for, like, three hours. If my husband had not noticed it, I would have blithely gone to bed and left it on all night. I'm not sure if an oven left on Broil for 10 hours would explode and catch the house on fire, but I don't think I want to find out.

I want to trade in my sieve for a sturdy sauce pan. One that will actually hold something.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dieting and Other Horrors

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends.

OK, I lied about the other horrors. This is just about dieting. I just thought you might be interested. Since you are probably not interested, go on and read those other blogs. I know you want to. Go on.

Whew, I thought she would never leave.

As mentioned previously, I am waging the battle against fat rolls on my back and thighs that audibly rub together when I walk. In this process (which has see-sawed back and forth so often over the years, I feel like I'm getting diet whiplash), I have discovered some foods that are really pretty good and work pretty well, if I will just stick to the diet. I'm sure you have some too, so send 'em on in a comment and, if I get a ton of comments (one can only hope), I'll put them together for you in another diet tips post.

Have you tried the 100-calorie packages of cookies and cracker snacks from Kraft and Nabisco? They have been around for a while, but they are coming out with more every day. They now have little, bitty (they are so CUTE) cheese balls and Cheetos in those little packages. They are not really diet food as such, but since they are packaged in 100-calorie amounts, they provide portion control - an important part of dieting. If you have the time and the inclination (and nothing else to do with your life), you could do the same thing by opening a big bag and measuring out the same amount into dozens of little plastic sandwich bags. What you don't want to do is open a big bag and think you can just eat a handful. Not that I would EVER do that. It just makes a nice lunch to have one of these with a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

If you like muffins for breakfast or even for a snack, you should try the Vitalicous Muffins. You have to order them online but they are SO worth it. The big ones are only 3 points and the smaller ones and the muffin tops are only 1 point. They are heavy, dense, fruit and nut packed and sweet and delicious. I have tried other low-fat muffins and they taste like sawdust. Even the Weight Watcher muffins are not good. They are small and too sweet for my taste. I like all the varieties of these, but I think my favorite is the chocolate with white chocolate chips muffin tops. At 1 point each, you can eat two just like a cookie and feel like you are having a great dessert. Sometimes, I put one in a bowl, drizzle a little low fat caramel ice cream topping on it, add whipped cream and cherry and have a great dessert for about 2 points. You have to order quite a few, so when you get the box, just pop the whole thing in your freezer. They freeze great. When are ready to eat one, just take it out in it's individual package and microwave it.

Are you eating dark chocolate? It's really the best chocolate for you since it's packed with anti-oxidants (which you know unless you have been living in a cave on Jupiter for the last year). I have tried several kinds and don't even waste your time with the cheaper brands - they taste like plastic. Go straight for the expensive stuff like Lindt Chocolates or Ghiradelli. You can order either online, but they are also available at most grocery stores. Just remember to have a small piece, not the whole bar. While we are talking about candy, the new Hershey's Snacksters are really good. They are 100 calorie packages that include cereal puffs, tiny cookies and either chocolate or peanut butter chips. Hershey's Sticks are little 60-calorie candy bars that are also good. And Hershey's also has bars of dark chocolate and chocolate covered pretzels which are 100-calorie.

I have also discovered Cocoa Via heart healthy snacks. They make bars of chocolate as well as chocolate covered almonds and raisins. It is all dark chocolate, so they are good and good for you. One of my favorites is the chocolate and blueberry bar. Sounds weird, but it's good. They vary in points value, but most are 2-3 points.

Of course, I should be eating tons of fruits and vegetables instead of some of this snack stuff and I am doing that to a certain extent. It's a process and I'm getting there. When I eat one of those little 100-calorie treats, I tell myself "You know, you could be having two apples for the same amount of points. And it would be better for you." Sometimes, I actually listen to myself and have an apple.

Oh, but I also usually cut it into pieces and dip it into that fat-free caramel dip you can get in individual servings.

Hey - I'm getting better! How are you doing on your diet?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Use to Love Horseback Riding

Homemade Vegetable soup last night.

And dessert. Am I JUST LIKE Rachel Ray, or what?


When I was a young thing with slim, coltish legs and bangs, I loved horseback riding. The idea of it, the mental vision of myself galloping along with the wind whipping my hair back - yee-haw! And I loved the reality of it as well. I had friends with horses so I rode in college, rode on trails whenever given the opportunity and even took horseback riding lessons. I was never really trained so I was definitely not an expert rider but I was confident and had a lot of fun. Those days are over.

One of the last times I rode was in Punta Cana when my daughter and I went on a weekend getaway to this gorgeous, tropical coast. We bought the VIP package which included, among other things, a horseback ride on the beach. Anyway, I had my horseback riding vision in my head. I hadn't ridden in years, since the kids were small and we rode in Gatlinburg. But the wind in the hair vision was alive and well. And riding horseback on the beach? Well, that was just a bright colored, enhanced slow-mo vision in my head.

We got to the horseback riding stables and one of my worries was appeased when I saw the horses were glossy, well-fed and well taken care of. Liz mounted up, effortlessly and with textbook perfection. She still has the long, coltish legs. Sigh. Then I mounted up, not quite so effortlessly. Oh. This kinda hurts. My butt. My knees. But I'm cool. I can do this. I have a vision. We set out down the dusty, gravel road for the beach and I am managing but my knees are killing me. To give myself credit, I did figure out later that my stirrups were too high but I'm not sure that would solved all my problems. It was sorta painful, but the whole experience was just so...neat...that I ignored it. The beach was beautiful and the horses set off down the sandy coast, splashing in the turquoise water. It really was beautiful. But then I made a big mistake. The guide asked if we wanted to gallop.

Now, at this point, I should have given up on the vision. The vision was no longer in existence. I was a middle-aged woman who should have been content just walking down the beach, making a memory that would last forever. But no. I was simply too proud to say no. So we galloped.

Oh. My. God. That hurt.

If anyone had been passing by, they probably would have thought we looked like an advertisement for some beach vacation. Just gallopin' down the beach, our horse's hooves tossing up gleaming drops of water. Liz was holding lightly onto her reins, her bottom neatly in the saddle, effortlessly enjoying the ride. I had a death grip on the reins, my bottom not so much on the saddle as bouncing on it. My pride again kept me from screaming to stop but, finally, after about 6 or 7 days, we did. OK, it wasn't that long, it just felt like it.

That was one of the times I had to admit that I have gotten older.

How extremely annoying.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Switching the Water Bottle

It's a SNOW DAY. Life is good.

I'm sure Valentine's Day has a different meaning for everyone. Romance doesn't have to mean a candelit dinner, hands intertwined, champagne and strawberries. Sometimes, it's the simple things.

We both keep bottles of water by our beds. I keep one because I have hot flashes in the night which often require a liberal application of cold water (sometimes I'm tempted to actually throw it on my body), covers thrown off and the fan tilted so it will blow on my sweaty, annoyingly menopausal body. Tom keeps one because he has allergies and takes medicine which can cause a dry mouth. And because he just gets thirsty sometimes.

I make the beds in our house. I don't mind doing it. I like a made bed. I make mine up every morning. I arrange the pillows just so and fold my pajamas neatly by the pillow. It pleases me when I get ready to get in the bed and it is smooth and fresh and ready for me. So, if the water bottles are empty, I get fresh ones. Usually, I'll just carry mine in the kitchen in the morning, put it in the recycling bin and get a fresh one. But since Tom has his own bedroom and own bed (I adore my husband but the snoring finally got to me after 20 years), I may not notice his water bottle is empty until the weekend or a day off when I change the sheets and make his bed. If his water bottle is empty, I take it in the kitchen, put it in the recycling bin and get him a fresh one. He rarely, if ever, gets his own bottle of water. We don't talk about it.

I suppose some feminists would have a field day with this one. But when Liz switched cars with me the other night so they could borrow my little red truck, she left the car outside. Tom put it in the garage for me, so I wouldn't have to go outside in the cold in the morning. Didn't complain, just did it.

So I switch his water bottle for him. I switch his water bottle because I love him.

It's pretty simple really.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My Hair is Perfect

My hair is perfect today. It is not only a good hair day, it's a perfect hair day. The cut is just exactly the right length, not too short, not too grown out. The color is perfect, the streaks are not too grown out, the red has not faded out from the blonde. It worked with me and styled perfectly this morning. Not too sticky-uppy, just sticky-uppy enough. Perfect.

Sigh. It won't last. In just a matter of a week or so it will be too long. Just that extra 1/2 inch or inch makes a big difference when your hair is short. It gets too long to style just right. And roots. Serious gray/brown, unattractive roots. I would like to freeze this moment in time.

We have become serious "Angel" fanatics - not the winged, heavenly kind, the vampire kind. We never watched it when it was on tv but have caught up by watching them on DVD. We are so obsessed we even watched them (and "Buffy") twice because we were afraid we had missed some things. We really enjoy watching them together and discussing them. It's one of those silly things that everyone else thinks is nutsy that we share.

Anyway. On an episode we watched just the other night some young scientist-type guy had figured out a way to make a machine that would literally freeze a moment of time. He was losing his girlfriend so he decided to freeze the last moment they would be together in bed. (And is that a guy for you? He's going to freeze one moment of their relationship and it's that last moment of ecstasy? Please. What about all those other, tender, special moments? Oh, I forgot. He's a guy.) He doesn't realize he is creating some kind of flux capacitor thing (wait, that's "Back to the Future" - whatever, some scientific gizmo) that is going to end the world as we know it. So, the good guys have to save the day.

But the idea is appealing. I'd like to freeze this time when my hair is perfect. Or the time Tom and l climbed that waterfall in Jamaica. Or the look on my daughter's face when she got that My Little Pony castle for Christmas. But...not really.

Because what that guy never thought of - but I do - is that, while those moments are perfect and all.

The next one might be even better.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hangin' With My Peeps

So, I had lunch with my peeps yesterday. Maybe someone in their 50's shouldn't try to use slang like this, but I'm still cool. Or at least, I think I am. My daughter would not agree that I am cool by any stretch of the imagination. And when I say peeps, all I can really think of is that peep research web site that cracks me up every time I see it. Whew, enough links. I'm stressing myself out. And losing my train of thought. But that train gets derailed pretty often.

Anyway. I have lunch every month or so with my sister-in-law and our daughters. Often my mom comes and my sister when she is in town. We started this a couple of years ago so we could see other on a regular basis. I named it the SISters group, since we are sisters in spirit, even though we are all not real sisters. You know how they say you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family? Well, I'm really lucky because I would choose these people for friends every time.

I am getting to the point here. I just had to have some build up. My sister-in-law and I have always been close. We have always lived physically close to each other and have been emotionally close, well, forever. I had one daughter and my sister-in-law (that crazy thing!) had three, so the four girls are as close as cousins can get. My husband and I also had a son, who we adore. But this post is about the girls. We took the kids everywhere when they were little. We basically had no money, so we took a picnic lunch and headed to the pool, the park, each other's house. We sat by the pool, chatting and counting the little seal-dark heads every few minutes. We took them to feed the ducks and pushed them on the swings and watched them grow. We took them to preschool together and watched them grow. We shopped for them at garage sales, let them play dress-up and watched them grow up. We enjoyed our children. We loved them. We experienced everything through their eyes.

What we never once thought about was that they would eventually grow up into women. Women we like, we admire, we enjoy spending time with. Both of us would rather do something with our daughters than with anyone else. None of them would consider moving anywhere that would be away from us. None would consider making a major decision without talking to us. Each of them calls us first when they have something to cry about or something to laugh about or something to celebrate.

We did the best we could with what we had. That meant no money but a whole lot of love.

Apparently, that was just the right combination. They are all wonderful women.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Sacrificing Your Shoes

It's Friday. Could life BE any better?

I was reading National Geographic magazine last weekend. OK. I was looking at the pictures in National Geographic magazine. The articles are usually a little..boring. Not always. Sometimes I read the articles.

Anyway. Did you know that ten of the twelve astronauts who landed on the moon left their boots there? They had a strict weight allowance on the lunar mission so, in order to bring back some lunar rocks, they had to leave their boots behind. They are still there. Just sittin' there in the lunar dust. Huh.

So I was thinking about this. This is why I couldn't be an astronaut. (the only reason, of course) I wouldn't want to leave my boots behind. Not to be sexist or anything, but those astronauts were all guys. I think a woman would have had to think twice about leaving her boots behind. Of course, we are not talking about a pair of high heeled, strappy sandals from Manolo Blahnik. Those you would have to wrench out of the girl astronaut's hands while she wept and wailed. (Remember when someone stole Carrie's sandals at that party? The horror!) (Oh, she was also mugged for her shoes once.) I guess the lunar boots were not quite that important. They probably had backup pairs in their lockers at NASA.

Here's my philosophy about shoes. If the shoe fits, buy it in every color. I still regret not buying those navy boots when I bought the brown and black pair. What was I THINKING? But shoes and boots are important to us. We love them. We will sacrifice money (who needs to eat?) and dignity (I need those black leather boots on sale for 1/2 price MUCH more than you - get out of my way!) and comfort (What limp? This is how I always walk when I wear my stiletto heeled red pumps with the darling polka dot bow on the toe.) for them. They can make any outfit. They can raise our self-esteem and self-confidence. They can help us get a job. They can help us take bad news. They can help us celebrate good news. They can make us feel just superior enough when we see that mean girl from high school at the mall and she has on tacky shoes from Wal-Mart.

What we can't do with them is leave 'em on the freakin' moon.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Time Keeps on Slippin'

This is the very last post about napping, I promise. Or maybe not. They are pretty fab. I might have to write about them at least once a week. But probably not. Anyway, I just took a nap. I laid my head back on the pillow at 2:48. When I looked at the clock again, it was 3:45. An hour had passed. I swear, I was just lyin' there with my head on that pillow for a minute or two. But an hour had passed while I was lying there. Isn't that strange? Time just keeps on slippin', slippin'. I'm showing my age here. Who knows who did that song? Ok, I didn't either until I looked it up on Google.* And what did we do before Google, I'd like to know? Oh yeah, we asked a librarian for help.

But I digress. About time slipping away. Time is strange, isn't it? How it passes? I remember a Stephen King book in which one of the characters has to spend time in a shed because he changes into a werewolf...well, anyway, it's complicated. But the thing is, he talked about "shed time" vs. "real time". Shed time was slow, slow, slow. Each minute lasted an hour while he waited to be set free. I know the feeling. It's like that week before the prom. You watched that big, round clock face in the classroom (digital clocks hadn't been invented then, my children) and it DRAGGED. But when you are on a cruise, that week FLIES BY. Boring time vs. Fun time.

And what about when you have surgery or have to be put to sleep for something minor, like a colonoscopy? Yeah, that was minor. Seriously. I don't know people make such a big deal about a colonoscopy. I slept right through it and never even noticed them probing around back there. But, the point is, the time during that procedure just...went. Slipped by. I was in the little waiting room in my gown, kinda drowsy. Then, I was in there waking up to Tom's face. Kinda weird. Not his face. I like his face. You know what I mean.

Sometimes it would be nice to be able to slow time down. Like when you are having such a good time laughing at something someone said. You know that feeling? Like you just can't stop laughing, it's so funny? Then you look at each other and start laughing again? On the other hand, it would be nice to speed time up. Like when you are waiting in line at the motor vehicle place because you forgot to mail in that license plate stuff. Not that I ever do that.

Sometimes I think it would be great to speed time up. But whenever I think that, I think about wishing aloud that it was such and such a time already. And my mom always said "Don't wish your life away." I guess that's true. You just don't know what might happen in the next minute.

It could be something really nice.

*It's from "Fly Like an Eagle", by The Steve Miller Band.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

My Son, The Chef

So, our son Mark came over for dinner a couple weeks ago. The kids always come for dinner on Sunday night. We love having them come over and spend time with us. We like our family. We like to see them, to be with them, to talk to them, to hug them, to kiss them. We appreciate them. Liz and Cory and Wes were in Wisconsin, so it was just us and Mark.

He called on Saturday and said he had seen a recipe for some pasta dish and could we make that? This, in itself, was news. As far as I know, he has never read a recipe. He said he just saw it in the paper and it looked good. I said, go for it. If you bring the stuff, we will make it. I NEVER thought he would really shop for the ingredients and actually bring them. But he did.

He came in with pasta and Italian sausage and cans of tomatoes and spices. Whoa. I was really impressed. And a little intimidated. Apparently, we had to make this sauce from scratch. I've never made pasta sauce from scratch. I mean, I knew it was a possibility. It has to get into those Ragu jars somehow. But I always thought it was something only, like, Rachel Ray did.

But, you know what? It's easy!! We just sauteed (I sauteed!) onions, garlic and spices and then added cans of chopped tomatoes. Then we pureed (I pureed!) them in the blender. We added some more spices and salt and pepper, but that's it. We had sauce. That's it? You mean I could have been making homemade sauce all these years? Cool. And, really, we didn't even need to saute the onions and stuff because he bought the chopped tomatoes with onions and garlic in them. And I think I have seen canned chopped tomatoes with Italian and other seasonings, when I was looking for the Ragu. So, maybe I'll get those. I'm very excited.

And, a whole 'nother issue. Italian sausage? Is delicious. I thought Italian sausage was some exotic meat that only, say (again) Rachel Ray used. But it's, like, regular sausage - only Italian. It's easy to buy, easy to cook and it's delicious.

Whole culinary worlds are opening up to me now.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Is your package ready to MAIL??

I mail a lot of packages. I list and sell on Ebay, so I mail a lot of packages. My packages are always neatly packed with a preprinted label. Even when I have to stand in line to send something by Airmail, the item is IN THE PACKAGE. I realize I have learned a lot about the packing and mailing process in the last couple of years, but come on.

What's with the people who don't have their packages ready? I'm not talking about those who haven't sealed their packages because they don't, apparently, own tape (Duh, they DO sell tape EVERYWHERE) or don't have a label (Again, Duh) or need to look up a zip code. I'm talking about those people who walk in the Post Office with their item, like literally a little outfit for precious Suzie's birthday, not even in a package. They have no envelope or package, no label, no tape. Just a clueless look. And an expectation that the clerk at the counter will help them package up their items and get them in the mail. And, because the clerks at the Post Office (at least at some branches) are nice, understanding people, they do help them get everything ready to mail.

Meanwhile, I am standing there in line with my nicely sealed package, just waiting to send it by Airmail. Tapping my foot. Getting more annoyed.

I think they should have two lines at the Post Office. One that says "Get in Line Here if You Have Packed, Taped, Sealed and Labeled Your Package and Are Ready To Go Home Because You Have Worked Hard All Day Teaching Children Not To Wipe Boogers On Each Other Because It Is Not Polite" (OK, maybe that could be slightly shorter. Or not quite so specific.)

And the other one says "Clueless Losers Who Are Holding Their Items In Their Hands And Are Not At All Ready To Mail Them".

What? It could work.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Not So Funny Blogaholic

I am not quite a blogaholic yet. (And I thought I should make some serious bucks for making up this word, but no, someone beat me to it.) But I'm getting there. I'm going to have to exert a modicum of self-control or I could easily spend days doing nothing but reading about total strangers and their lives. Once my daughter pointed out (to my dismay) that some of the many people reading my blog (I was excitedly counting the numbers.) could have come upon it by accident instead of actively searching for a FANTASTIC BLOG, simply by clicking on "Next Blog" at the top of the web site, I began clicking that myself, just out of curiosity.

Whoa. What an experience. I haven't found any blogs I want to link to yet (my actual goal) but I have learned some stuff about the world.

1. There are some really weird people out there.

2. There are a lot of people who don't live in America and speak English. Who knew?

Seriously, though, some of the people who post are...idiots. Banal listings of every detail of their indescribably boring day. Of course, my blog has fascinating, mesmerizing details of my boring days. It's all in your point of view, I guess.

And perhaps I shouldn't be so judgemental about being idiotic, since I occasionally fall into that very category myself.

I was reading a book last night that had a passage that made me laugh out loud. She was talking about a friend of hers who had some extra time before an appointment, so she called a friend on her cell phone. They chatted for a few minutes, then she glanced in her purse and saw her empty cell phone case. "Oh, darn", she said. "I've lost my cell phone!" Wait, that's not the worst of it. Her friend (who was ON THE PHONE with her) said "Let's retrace your steps and maybe we can find it." I thought that was hilarious. Yesterday.

This morning, I used my glasses for, like, an hour. Then, I did a few other things, started another project and realized I needed my glasses. I went to my glasses case, opened it up - empty. I was extremely annoyed. Darn, I forgot my glasses at home. Seriously. I thought that. Then I remembered they were lying right where I left them. That story is not quite so hilarious this morning.

See. Not quite so judgemental.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Laughing and Storytelling

My dad died in the fall. He got lung cancer and it swept through his body like some kind of virulent tsunami, sweeping through organs and seeping into his very bones.

He was a good man. A quiet, taciturn man. A strong, loving family man. My family is very lucky. We are really close. We laugh until we cry, we like to eat and we are big storytellers. When we tell a story, we want every single, last detail. My mom is the champion storyteller and Dad always sat back and let her tell the stories. About how they almost froze in Minneapolis because she had on a fur coat but just stockings on her legs. About how she got the worst sunburn of her life on a cloudy day. About not knowing how to make biscuits from scratch. He never said much. But he always listened to the rest of us. And he laughed when the rest of us laughed.

My mom came to take me to lunch one year for my birthday and she presented me with a card, after she had given me some gifts. "It's from your dad." she said. I was surprised to find a hundred dollar bill inside. My family was far from affluent when I was growing up. My dad was in the Marine Corps and, with four kids, things were tight. So I had never been given that amount of money for a gift. "He said it's for a coat. You said you needed a coat." I had said that. He had remembered. I bought a coat.

We liked to travel together as a family. We often went to Pensacola and rented a place right on the beach. Dad cracked us all up one year when we played Win, Lose or Draw. He kept adding sound effects to his drawings. We couldn't stop laughing long enough to make him stop.

One Thanksgiving, Dad stood up and tried to give a little speech about his feelings for his family. He started speaking but got so choked up he couldn't speak. He couldn't finish the speech. That was OK. We knew what he meant.

When he was in the hospital and the morphine was really strong and he was sleeping all the time, we were all there. One night we sat and told stories and laughed until we cried. I don't think we disturbed him. I think he enjoyed it.

I wasn't there when he died. I was pulling into the hospital parking lot with a big picnic basket full of food for the others who were on duty in the room. My cell phone rang and I knew.

After we had made all the arrangements, we all came back to my house. We ate all the food in the picnic basket. We told stories. And we laughed.

Dad would have approved.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Poofy Recliner

We have two Lazy Boy recliners down in our family room. We bought them, along with the couch, when we moved in and finished the downstairs. One is closer to the door, so that's the one I automatically took as my chair. Tom, of course, takes the couch. This is not even up for discussion. Sometimes, when he is working at the computer, I will lie on the couch to watch tv and it's comfortable...but not quite right. I need my chair.

The chairs are those big man Lazy Boys and when we first got them, I thought we had made a mistake and they were too big. But if I put a big pillow on one side, I fit perfectly. I can pull up my feet, tuck them under me, lean on the pillow and be cozy and comfy. And we can reach each other. Tom always reaches back to my chair from the couch and we have this sliding hand movement thing we do when something is particularly moving or funny or an inside joke on tv. This has been the status quo for us for several years now. Tom lies on the couch, I sit in my chair and we watch tv.

But, the other night he was working at his computer and I sat down in the other chair to talk to him for a minute and...oh, my God!...that chair is so much softer and poofier!! I have totally smooshed mine down! Well, this wouldn't do. I decided to switch chairs. I began my chair-switching campaign the next night. I could actually see the big screen tv better, but the lamp was reflected in the screen. Patiently, Tom turned it off so I could see. He did ask why I was sitting over there and, when I told him, he didn't say anything. But he sighed when he turned the light off.

The next night, when I headed for the poofy chair, he just sat on the couch and looked at me. "What?" I said. "Well..." he said. "When you sit over there...I can't reach back and touch you." I looked at him. My unromantic husband of almost 30 years who always buys me everything on my Christmas list. Never anything else. Never anything spontaneous or surprising. And I moved back to the other chair. So he can reach back and touch me.

Tonight, I think I'll just switch the chairs. Duh.