Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ice, ice baby.

No snow on the ground here this week, but our street is a sheet of glass. We've lived here for sixteen years. The first year, I slid past our driveway every time I tried to pull in. It wasn't at all unusual for me to have to round the block twice before I'd make it in. The kids thought it was all great fun.

Of course, the years have passed, and now they know better. Thomas was riding with me yesterday as I managed to *almost* stop before the driveway. He told me, of course, that he had it all figured out, and that all I had to do was "drift" in like he did. I just gave him the look. I haven't missed this stinkin' driveway in years, but with one little layer of frozen water and I was labelled an incompetent driver. Kids.

The thing about ice is that you can't always see it, and it doesn't take much to take a person down. Our front porch is very slightly tilted, meaning that the minute I step out the front door, I'll land right on my bahoofus if I don't pay attention. How that mailman manages to get on and off the porch without a major injury, I'll never know. Of course, Jill would say it's because he's so hot he melts the stuff, but I'm not even allowed to think that. I just hang on for dear life anytime I go out.

So there I was tonight, getting off work at 11pm tonight, after a wonderful night of things like "we just need to know how to go about getting married" and "I think the baby drank out of a bottle that had pee in it." (Yeah, I get paid to talk to some really strange people.) Got to my car, and was pretty darn proud of myself for doing it, till I reached for the door handle. Momentary ADD meant that I lost track of my feet, till one flew up in front of my face and the other implanted itself under my butt. I had a few choice words for myself as I realized that I had jolted basically every joint in my body, several of which were already not feeling too well.

Adding insult to injury, once I got into the car, I realized that I was gonna have to get right back out because the windshield was covered in 1/4" of ice and would need to be scraped. With my ATM card of course, because there is no scraper in that van. There is a bag of makeup, a plastic bag of invitations (for what, I have no idea), a couple of library books, a saddle, and God knows what else. At least it is slightly better then the couch debacle of last year, but still, one would think that one would find the proper implements in the car at the time that one needs it. Heck, I'm not even sure we OWN a scraper, because I've been using that same ATM card to scrape the windshield for the last three years.

I think that tomorrow will probably involve a trip to CVS for a few necessities: scraper, de-icer, and ibuprofen for "oh my aching back." You'll recognize me. I'll be the one coming in with snowshoes on. And if I could, I'd be wearing this fabulous red lace wiggle dress, complete with vintage ice on the hip, pointing "this way up, dumbie." From Damn Good Vintage.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You (hopefully don't) light up my church

We got a call tonight from our minister. He asked Jill and Seth if they would like to do the scripture reading and light the candle on the Advent wreath at the church service on Sunday morning. Sunday, which also just happens to be The Brat's 18th birthday. She's been lamenting her lack of exciting birthday plans for the past month, and how we must not love her that much, because we aren't throwing her a party/buying her a big present/insert anything that would seem big and/or special to an 18yo girl. Well, Pastor Bob took care of that. She will now have the rapt attention of the entire church, while having fire in her hand.

Our family lit the candle at church one time years ago, when Seth was still a toddler. All five of us standing up there, which meant that we had to keep the two oldest corralled while keeping Seth from setting the church on fire. We knew not to trust him even then -- the kid has serious pyro tendencies, to the point where, after our house fire, we took all three kids to the Firestop program, henceforth referred to in our house as the "anti pyromaniac program."

Jill and Thomas were mad that I made them go. "Seth's the one lighting things on fire. Why are WE here?" "Because I said so." "But Mom, we know not to do that stuff? Why do we have to sit through this?" "Because I said so." You get my drift. Two unfortunate draftees and one reforming pyro, who sat through the whole program, listening intently. Heck, all these years later, that kid can still quote some of the things they said. And though he still loves fire, he hasn't tried to light the house up anytime lately.

I hope that is still true after Sunday's service. I think that the first time we lit the Advent wreath, Thomas lit the Advent wreath with Dan's help. I do remember that Jill did the prayer. She practiced all week by randomly climbing up on any available chair and saying, very solemnly, "Let. Us. Pray," in a tone that was all business, and probably inherited from her grandpa, the Methodist minister. It kind of sounded like "let us pray, and you'd better be listening, or I'll come and yank your sorry butt outta that pew by your ear and make you sit up here by me and bow your sorry head till I'm done talking. Amen."

Come to think of it, she hasn't really changed that tone much. I guess it all goes back to being the middle child, as well as being the only girl, sandwiched between two boys. Dan did mention when she was young that he didn't have any worries about boys messing with her. Said he was pretty sure if they did that she'd beat the hell outta them. He called it right when she was only about three. The man's a prophet. But I digress.

So my two youngest angels will be up there lighting the candle on Sunday, and we'll be there repeating history, still hoping they keep themselves corralled and don't set the church on fire. You'll know if you're in the right church when you hear the "I'm lighting it" being muttered in a sweet girl's voice, being responded to in kind by the adolescent boy's cracking tone saying that "you always get to do the good stuff. Why don't you let me do the cool stuff for once?"

"Because I said so."

Click here to buy this cool wreath, offered by Garden Devotions. Because I said so.

Friday, December 12, 2008

There's no other store like Aldi Part 2

This whole Aldi's thing was brought to mind the other day, when my friend Ann-not-the-call-girl-Ann was almost arrested there.

Ann is about as sunny as you can be. She has a little nuclear family that I tell her looks like those little dollhouse families like The Littles. You know the ones. They all look like they belong together, like a matched set. Heck Ann's family even IS on the small side. Line 'em up, and they go together like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say.

Ann says that however peaceful her life looks, she really lives on Wisteria Lane with all of the other Desperate Housewives. I think, compared to Utter Chaos, it looks pretty mild, except for that whole
escort service thing. Ann, however, always says "the Utters do the most interesting things. Yeah, right. We're always skating on the side of madness, but at least I can say that none of us have done time.

Well Ann went to Aldi's the other day, looking for a deal. She was probably looking for a ham, because when she gets worried about something, she starts stocking up the freezer. When Hurricane Ike was rumbling around last summer, and that whole area was being evacuated, Ann called me and said "don't you just feel like you need to go buy a big ham? Like one of those spiral cut ones? And maybe a turkey?" Uh, no. But that's Ann's response to stress, and if you ask me, it's a mighty fine one. She'll never starve in a crisis, that's for sure.

So she goes to Aldi's, and gets some produce, amongst other things. Gets up to the checkout with her cart full 'o deals, and the cashier starts ringing her up. Stops abruptly when ::gasp:: she finds a cucumber tucked in with the bag of apples that she was ringing. Ann quickly explained that she just put it in there to keep it from rolling around in the cart, but the cashier wasn't buying that one bit. Chewed her out about trying to steal the cucumber, till Ann was ready to put it back.

Handcuffs on register 6 please. We've got ourselves a customer in a pickle.

She ended up convincing the cashier that she really wasn't a thief -- heck, she married to a dentist, for heaven's sake. The woman goes to Yarn conventions for fun, but she had to talk her way out of Aldi's without having the police called, and it was no small feat. She's afraid to go back there now, so I guess she'll be finding her Evacuation Ham somewhere else next time, lest the family be entertaining the refugees whilst the mom is in the clink. The irony of the underscore-less Ann being arrested while the underscored Ann is roaming free does not escape me. Nor would it escape Mr. Little, who looks strangely androgynous, but who is now available on ebay, from Kiddieland, sans Mrs Little, who is probably doing time in the big house. Mr Little now is a devout shopper of Kroger, and the kids haven't touched ham since Mommy went up the river.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There's no other store like Aldi Part 1

Dan went grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago. He came home and told me how I should shop more often at Aldi's, because they have some great deals. I told him that I stopped going to Aldi years ago, because every time I was there, someone was calling the police. No joke.

I'm sure that there are nice Aldi's. I've actually been to some. But the one by our house is a little ghetto crazy. I remember walking in there one time when Seth was only about two. It was a beautiful summer day. I happened to be babysitting a couple of other kids, so picture me crossing the parking lot with two seven year olds, a six year old, balancing a six month old on my hip whilst holding the two year olds' hand. Yeah, I'm sure that I was a sight, but during this time period, it wasn't at all unusual for me to be travelling with a small village, and that was fine with me. So there I was, corralling the wild animals, when I hear someone yelling from a car across the parking lot. It was obvious that it was directed to me, so I asked what they'd said, because I didn't hear them very well over the kids. "Put some shoes on that baby." What the heck? Why in the world did anyone care whether the baby had shoes on or not? I just looked at the baby, then looked at the Fashion Police and shrugged. "Not my baby."

That was weird enough, but then when we were ready to leave, someone suddenly came running in, yelling for the manager to call the police. "Someone just grabbed some woman and put them in their car and drove off with her screaming." I never did find out what that was about -- maybe she hadn't put shoes on the baby, and the Fashion Popo did a driveby -- but it was enough for me to avoid the place like the plague for a while.

Some months later, I decided to try Aldi's again, this time unaccompanied. Everything was going fine till I decided to go get in line. The line was rather long, so I just sat back and waited. There was an older man several people up from me, and he suddenly started yelling at a girl in front of him. Apparently, she had left the line briefly to go get one more thing, and he took offense when she jumped into the line in front of him. She tried to explain to him that she was with her friend, who had saved their place in line whilst she grabbed one last thing. Well, Grumpy Old Man was having none of that. He continued to carry one, and the volume kept getting a little louder, till finally Grumpy Old Man yells "why don't you go back to Africa where you came from?"

It was during that awful silence that I thought that perhaps I was going to be doing a different kind of checking out than I had originally planned.

Sister girlfriend was about to take her earrings off when Grumpy Old Man was escorted from the place, and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief that we might actually get out of there in one piece after all. I mean honestly, who says stupidity like that, in today's world? Who even thinks it? I'm telling you, the cheap green beans ain't worth risking being in the middle of a riot, so I'm a tried and true Marsh girl now. Can't shop at Kroger, cause the deli department is sitting on the site of our old church's sanctuary, which is just wrong in a lot of ways. I stay with Marsh, cause although it's not on holy ground, the worst thing that's ever happened there is the day the clerk didn't scan my discount card. The ensuing chaos resulted in me leaving the entire cart, with $400 of groceries, sitting at the counter while they all tried to figure out what to do when the clerk screws up. And then there was the time that I got all my groceries rung up, paid for them, then left the whole schmoley at the store. Don't ask me how that happened, and Dan still teases me about that to this day.

So if you, like me, don't sweat the price anymore, then check out this vintage grocery themed dishtowel from callmejasper, on etsy. Not sure if the baby's got shoes, and how the heck did she shop with that dog? But at least she got out in one piece. More Tales 'o Aldi tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Look at the time. It's currently 1:28am, and I think that everyone in this household is up. Utter Chaos knows no limits, I guess.

Jill is working on her paper, which she thought was complete several hours ago but, for some reason, didn't get printed. Of course when she went to print it, she found that she'd forgotten the abstract, then decided maybe her references weren't right, then just basically started fussing about a bunch of assorted other details. When she finally went into the sunroom to print it, I heard a lot of mutterings that were completely unintelligible and, when asked, were interpreted as "nothing, Mom" and, I suspect, a roll of the eyes.

Right about then, Thomas wandered in and mentioned that he had sliced his hand, and thrust it in front of my face. Not like I could see anything, because all of the lights were off because of Prince Charming sleeping on the couch. Thomas wandered into the bathroom and ran the water, so I figured he was serious -- remember, this is a kid whose pain tolerance is legendary -- so I got up and went to investigate. Yep, he sliced it a couple of times, but thankfully, not too badly. Just enough to need his Mommy to get him a bandaid "because you're the nurse." He muttered something about Seth, screwing something together, seeing blood.....I'm not really sure, but he went back upstairs.

Seth, the blonde one with no common sense, but a level head, is in his room watching the end of The Return of the King, so it's not surprise that in the midst of this, Dan woke up from his slumber, gave out a yell like he does, for dramatic effect, and wandered in the direction of the bedroom. Perhaps now one person here has sense and is sleeping. Heck, he may've been asleep when he staggered out of here, but who can tell with all the drama?

I should've seen all this coming when, during a night shift about 15 years ago, Dan called me at 1am to say that he was turning in the for the night. "Hang on," he said, and I was suddenly met with a tiny little voice saying "Hi, Mommy!" "Jill honey," I said, "what in the world are you doing up this late?" "Watching the fishy movie," she said. "What fishy movie?" "Draws."

Yep. Prince Charming let the three year old Bratty Girl stay up to watch Jaws with him. That was about the time that I realized that I was gonna lose the battle over bedtime.

I'm used to not sleeping till weird hours, with all of my years of nights and rotating shifts. They don't call it After Hours Triage for nothing, after all, and I'm off my normal routine, whatever that is, because of training newbies. I'm up most nights lately till 2a.m., so me being up at this hour isn't particularly surprising to anyone. Heck, the boys being up late is no real surprise to me either, but for all of us to be up this late? Someone's probably gonna pay tomorrow, and I'm just hoping it's not me.

Sleep, for me, is usually optional anyway, but I'll be heading to bed soon. But not before I share this fabulous Jerry Gilden Clock Dress, from Dorothea's Closet Vintage. Just don't use it to figure out what time it is, because the clocks all have a different time. Night, night!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Just cause you're on a diet...........

I had a nice day off today, getting tons of work done on piddly tasks that needed to be done, then going to the movies with the hubby and the two eldest in the afternoon. Not bad for a nasty, precipitous, gray Indiana day where your best bet is probably just to roll over and go back to sleep for the day.

As usual, we were running late to the movie, because it takes time to get two teenagers rousted about and ready. We were met at the door by a couple who said that if we were trying to see "Four Christmases," we were out of luck, because something had gone wrong, and they weren't showing it. Walked up to the counter annoyed, because I hate being late to the movies -- it takes time to get tickets and snacks, get settled, make sure the cell phone is off, then lean back and get ready for the show. It's a process. A process which was being interrupted by a guy who was so upset that he wasn't getting to see his movie of choice that he was yelling at the manager, despite the free passes he'd already been given, while his wife and daughter stood there looking mortified. I jumped right in and asked if we could get tickets for Australia, which broke up the argument. I went ahead and got the seats, while Dan got the snacks. Of course, with four of us there, the first bucket of popcorn is done before the opening credits, so Dan took off for a refill, and a command to let him know what he misses when he gets back.

The only thing he missed is seeing that Nicole Kidman will be a sure bet for scariest thin actress of the year. I failed to mention that we were seeing "Australia," but if you decide to see it, look at her arm when they are rowing her to the island, when she arrives from Britain. Her forearm is SCARY.

The movie was a compilation of paradoxes -- beautiful scenery, then suddenly awful, cheesy backdrops. Great horseback riding, then amateurish special effects. Acting that was all over the place. Jill and I spent a good portion of the film trying to figure out if the bad guy really WAS the actor who played Faramir in the Lord of the Rings series, which Thomas adamantly refused to believe but, when the credit ran, turned out to be true.

The one constant in the film was Hugh Jackman, who is nothing short of hot. Jill, of course, refused to allow me to acknowledge this saying that she had already laid claim to him. I pointed out that she already at her four husband limit, but she was having none of that. "You are MARRIED. And I don't want to hear you say....." she said. "What? Just because I'm on a diet doesn't mean I can't look at the menu." "THAT!" she proclaimed. "I don't want to hear THAT." Oh well, it's the truth. I'm married, not dead, for heaven's sake.

Jill's rules for "old people" are multitudinous. I'm not allowed to acknowledge hotness when I see it. Certain music is off limits -- even though it's mandatory to listen to it when she's in the car. I'm most definitely not allowed to text, because "when old people text, it just means they're trying to be young." And on and on and on. The girl forgets that her parents don't generally live within the rules, but we just smile and move along. Some day, she'll get it, but no time soon.
Meantime, enjoy Hugh, the dessert on the menu that we grownups aren't supposed to have.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

There and back again

Dan and I went to my parents' house this weekend, so he could paint their condo. Went up on Friday, got to experience lots of snow on Saturday, and came back today. Quick trip, but that's fine. I like to drive.

I like to drive in silence. I generally don't have the radio on, and am known to play the same CD in the car for weeks at a time, because I just forget to take it out. Dan, on the other hand, must have music at all times. Drives me crazy, but at least we like the same kind of music, most days. Imagine my surprise when this man, the one who doesn't rake leaves without music, went all the way to Michigan without the radio on. That's like a nine hour drive, and he didn't turn it on once. I figured he'd go to sleep, so I turned on the MP3 player on my phone and listened to some tunes there.

He painted the condo, and informed me that night that he thought that maybe his good deed for the day was worth a little payback. No, not THAT kind of payback. Payback meaning he wanted to listen to football the whole way home which, depending upon the drive, is about 7 hours. SEVEN HOURS of listening to football. That's one heck of a paint job he did.

So we took off in the car around 11. Coast was clear, because football doesn't start till later. I took my normal detour in Zilwaukee, went to the antiques store, and got very little complaint. Dan does love to shop, though, so I figured the coast was clear. Took off again, and informed him that yes, we would make another stop along the way, but he was fine for now. Got through Flint, still no football. Things were going great.

I asked him if he was hungry, because the man generally eats by the clock. I was surprised that he declined food, but we'd had a huge breakfast, and he had a stash of M&Ms, so I figured that he'd be ok for a short while. That was before the thought came to me that he was probably waiting to eat till 4, when the Broncos game started, so that he could sit and watch the beginning in Applebees or something -- even though we were in Michigan, and the odds of the Broncos playing on TV there were pretty slim. Nonetheless, I prepared myself, and was again surprised when he suggested that we just go through drive-through at Wendy's.

Now I was on to the game. He wanted to get home as fast as possible, so that he could WATCH the game, if it was being televised. By now we had the radio going with the Detroit Lions game, but as I do when the kids have the radio on, I just tuned it out. Hit the Indiana border and just kept going, till I found the antiques place I was looking for. I was surprised that he only let out a little moan of agony, but didn't argue that we WERE going there. He declined to come in, however, because he was going to try to find the game. Ended up coming in shortly afterward, but he was happy to find a sports booth that kept him busy whilst I shopped.

Took off again with the homing beacon on full tilt. He started picking up the game on 1260AM, and was concerned that the Broncos were behind in the second quarter. "This could get ugly," I thought, "if I get trapped in the car when they lose." Oh well, we had chocolate, so I just kept driving. Round about Huntington, the game was tied up, but the signal was spotty. Now we were listening to post-game reports from Cincinnati, where the Colts had beaten them rather handily, I believe. Every now and again, they'd come in with another report of the game being tied.

The signal kept fading in and out, and at about Pendleton, they started doing the rundown of the day's scores, but the signal was really bad (probably something to do with the prisoners at the reformatory, or maybe the license plates they are making, I don't know). I kept hearing "why, why, why does the signal not come in? This is a national broadcast." And right about the time I heard Denver, he gave it a couple of swift WHACKS on the dashboard.

Yes, folks, hitting the dashboard will help your radio signal. Only it didn't, and it was so staticy that I turned it off, then immediately back on, lest the man get the shakes. Amazingly, turning it back on helped, and the signal was suddenly as clear as a bell, but they'd already run down the scores, and weren't going to repeat themselves any time soon.

Did I mention that both cell phones were dead? Well, mine was, but Dan called the boys and they wouldn't answer the phone, so his may've well have been dead.

Now he was getting pretty riled up, and about the time we took the exit toward 70, they started talking results, and the minute Denver came up, he put his hands on his head and bent over, practically with this head between his knees, until he heard the word won. At that point he shot up like he'd seen Jesus himself, and let out a huge whoop that probably caused non-migratory birds within a ten mile radius to reconsider their winter plans. This man, who had been relatively quiet for the entire trip, let forth with a soliloquy de futbol so long and so loud that when I got off the exit, he had me so rattled, forgot I was driving a stick shift, and promptly killed it when I tried to turn right on red.

I don't think the man took a breath until he'd been in the house for at least ten minutes -- five of which was spent booting his computer up and checking the fantasy league he's playing in.

Needless to say, I'm glad to be home. Even more glad that the Broncos won. But one thing I won't forget -- if I let him listen to football, I can shop as much as I want. I'll just bring ear plugs next time.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I whistle a happy tune

I worked today, then came home to The Brat's retelling of the Great Camping Adventure, which was a great success. Dan's not home yet from Cleveland, so I plopped on the couch, with full intention of listing some patterns on the website. Several hours later, I've still not listed one.
Why, you ask? It's because Jill had The Two Towers on the TV.

I have seen this movie at least 20 times. No joke, except for the fact that saying I've "seen" it may be a stretch. We bought the DVD shortly before Dan went on his first mission trip to Mexico. That was the week I opened my ebay store, which entailed a lot of sitting around figuring out HTML code, IM'ing a friend of Thomas' when I got stuck, counting pattern pieces, taking pictures (yeah, we didn't have a scanner yet). When one is spending so much concentrated time on the computer, one needs something on either the radio or the TV, so I chose The Two Towers. The kids think it's because of my fascination with Legolas (not Orlando Bloom. Legolas), but it was really because the music in that movie is simply so beautiful that you can listen to it over and over again. I've never bought the soundtrack, but I listened to the movie at least ten times in that week alone. So when Jill had it on today, I couldn't resist, and sat and listened while catching up on email and editing the website.

Jill got irritated when I mentioned, for probably the bazillionth time, how much I love the music in the Lord of the Rings series. Oh well. It was no more irritating to her, than the fact that when Titanic came out, I purchased the soundtrack, but never once was able to listen to it in its entirety with Jill around. Jill, who had never seen the movie, would begin freaking out midway through, running through the house, hands over her ears, screaming "they're in the water, they're all dying! Turn it OOOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFFFF!" And I'll be double dipped, but she always did it in the part of the soundtrack where the people really WERE in the water, dying. She had some kind of Music Whisperer gene that told her when the life jackets were donned.

One time, Thomas, who loved Titanic, said to me "Mom, she's in the tub. She won't hear it. Can we please listen to it now?" I figured he was right, and put it on pretty softly on the CD player. I'll be darned, right about the time that things went south in the movie, The Brat jumped outta the tub, grabbed a towel, and came outta the bathroom screaming about the carnage and that we HAD to turn it off.

To this day, she has never seen that movie, and she's never heard the whole soundtrack.

So if you want some more uplifting music, listen to one of these: any of the Lord of the Rings movies, The Wedding Singer (his song to Linda is hilarious, and the song at the end requires a hankie, it's so precious), Moulin Rouge (listen to the soundtrack unless you want your heart ripped out by the movie), The Sound of Music (the hills are alive........), Gladiator (gruesome, but GREAT music), White Christmas (watched it last night, for the second time in my life -- yeah, I don't understand how that happened either), O Brother Where Art Though (nothing short of hysterically funny, now matter how many times you see it), Walk the Line (I love Joaquin Phoenix, and the clothes are just plain eye candy), The King and I, et cetera, et cetera......

I just love music, which was a seed planted early on by our parents in all of the Mitchell kids. Same goes for the movies. And yeah, I can't resist great fashion either, which is what this little velvet number from Fuzzie Lizzie is. It's yours, for a song.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bowling for cab fare

Since everyone (aka Dan, Jill, and Thomas) are all gone tonight, I took Seth out to dinner, just the two of us. Being Saturday night, the parking lot was pretty full, and after I parked, Seth told me that the car next to us had a keypad on it like Dan's baby, the 1990 Towncar he bought from a customer of his. Keypad entry. Yep.

We had a van with keyless entry once. It was, as I remember, a red Mercury Villager, I think, and was really pretty. (We all know how I love red.) One night, we went up to the northside to do an American Heart Association Bowl-a-thon -- nerdy, but for a good cause and, being run by one of Dan's charge nurses, it was kind of a must-do. We picked up some good friends of ours and went up for a leisurely night of us against the pins.

When we got in there, we found out that they had a 50/50 pot going, as well as some door prizes. I, of course, never ever carry cash, so I looked at Dan for the bucks. He took off to the car, because he'd left his wallet there. Not the smartest move, but YOU try telling him not to do it. He came back in, we bought tickets, and I ended up winning a healthy heart cookbook. I love winning things. W

We had a nice evening of bowling, and when we went to go home later, Dan went out to warm up the car. It was probably 20 below -- one of the coldest nights in memory, so warming the car up was a great idea. He ended up coming back in, announcing that he couldn't get in the car. What in the world? How can you not get in the car, when the car has keyless entry?

Only in the land of Utter chaos could events unfold like this: he had left his wallet and keys in the car. Left the keys in the ignition. Left the ignition on, in the accessory position, so when he went out there to warm the car up, the battery was dead, rendering the keyless entry useless, while the only set of keys we had were in the car. In the ignition. Worst part was, when I asked him, he said he'd left them in the ignition on purpose, because he'd know where they were, wouldn't lose them, and "I knew I could use the keyless entry to get in."

That's the fireworks started.

Suffice it to say that 24 hour locksmiths lie -- they work banker's hours. We ended up having to call a cab to take us home which, by now, was probably 1 or 2 in the morning. Next thing you know, Dan was talking to his buddy about splitting the fare, since we had to all ride to their house to drop them off first, before going to our house which, of course, added to our fare. I made no bones about the fact that no way was Biggie gonna pay half for a cab that he hadn't needed till Dan left the keys in the car with the car still on. When it finally arrived, we piled into the cab, and when Dan mentioned that someone would have to sit up front with the driver, the looks he got from us were enough to tell him that that person would happen to be him.

He sat there, repeating the night's events to the driver, who I'm not even sure spoke English. Dan said "you don't think it's my fault, right" and was met with a rather blank stare that either said "stupid American," or "I'm gonna keep my mouth shut, cause the wife is obviously the one paying the tip." Dan looked at Biggie for help. Biggie just looked at him as only a best friend can, and said "face it, Dan, you f***** up."

Silence for the entire rest of the ride home.

Next day, Dan had to get a ride up to the bowling alley, as the van was our only car at the time. He waited for the locksmith, apparently telling the whole sordid story to him, in search of someone to back him up. When I asked him what the locksmith said about the whole thing, he shot me a furtive look and skulked out of the room.

We've never had keyless entry since. Never done a bowl-a-thon since, either. And I don't think Biggie and his wife have rode anywhere with us since -- they meet us on location. Me, I just make sure that a) I drive whenever we go out and b) I carry the keys, hopefully while wearing this fabulous poodle vintage bowling shirt, available now from Fast Eddie's Retro Rags. Sure, the name says Lillian, but one more incident of craziness like that and I'm going into Witness Protection anyway, so this will give me head start.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

We're having Thanksgiving today, two days ahead of the curve. The Brat is going camping this week with the crew from her place of employ, so we're having the turkey dinner whilst we're all together, and before she freezes to death in the great outdoors.

I'm not the best grocery shopper in the world. Personally, I hate grocery shopping, so sent Daniel out with a list. Twice, because of course a) I forgot a few things the first time, b) The Brat added a few of her own choices, and c) I was working, and one of my co-workers felt she might die without Diet Pepsi. Off to Meijer he went -- against his better judgement, but it was close to where he'd dropped Seth at drumming, and amongs the Stepford Wives of Carmel. I don't think he'll be going there again any time soon.

This morning, I got up and got the turkey in the oven, after stuffing it with yummy sage dressing. Getting that crazy bird ready reminded me of a Thanksgiving, about ten years ago, when Jill had just become a vegetarian. She walked in as I was pulling the baggies of innards out of the bird. Her eyes were wide when she asked me what the heck I was doing. "What the heck is that," she said. "The neck," I said. She gasped. "You chopped its head off," she said. "No, honey, it was already cut off before I got it at the store." "Oh." That seemed to give her some sense of relief, because she relaxed a little. "Well, what's that? she said, pointing to the other little baggie in my hand. "This? Oh, it's the heart and the liver," I said.

You ripped its HEART out, she said, then tore out of the room. Oh good heavens, can't a woman even fix a turkey in peace around here? She showed back up shortly, looking as pale as a ghost. "did you get sick," I asked her. "No," she said. "What're the dogs eating?"

I didn't answer.

So today, when I opened up the baggies and pulled out that liver and heart, with three dogs standing around me just waiting for a treat, they went away hungry. No meaty treats for them as long as Jill's around. Poor babies! So when I went checking around, looking for a dog treat, I found this cute dog print shirt, from Lynn's Rags, on ebay.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Give it to Mikey

The Heir to the Throne works with me, doing data entry. He likes it, because it's the perfect job: get paid to have essential no human interaction. It's perfect for him.

He enters all of our pages into our software, so the nurses can stay busy doing nursey stuff. Put your aces in their places, as McDonald's teaches. Essentially, he gets to see all the topics of the pages as they come in, but never really hears too much about the end result. He looked forward to starting there, because he knows about all of the weird things people call us for. Sadly, it's been pretty quiet there since he started, but I think yesterday took the proverbial cake.

I was over checking out the situation with another nurse. The boss had shown up on a weekend, which is unusual, but we were trying to solve a software issue someone was having, so she dropped in to play tech support and see some staff who normally don't see her. I walked over to see if they'd resolved the software issue that had plagued my co-worker for weeks, when over walked Thomas.

"I want to know how this call ends," he said. "Why," I asked, because he rarely expresses much interest in the calls. "You'll have to read it yourself," he said, so I headed over to read the incoming email, which read

"thinks the babey ait the cat"

Granted, this particular answering service is not known for its accuracy. They do give us some amusements, like paging a name as Yoda instead of Yoder. They drive us nuts with the misspellings and, when we call to have the doctor paged, they page the nurse sitting in the next cubicle instead. One of my co-workers calls them The River People, because she's sure that they are a by-product of some Deliverance-like environment. Either way, I'd never seen anything like this, and we all started arguing over who was going to take this call.

I had a trainee who was asking how they wouldn't know if the baby ate the cat, but how would the baby do that anywhere, when the call disappeared from the screen. Suddenly everyone started pointing fingers at each other, griping that they never get the good stuff. When I looked it up, I realized that my friend Ann had snagged it from home, where she works, complete with lap dog and bunny slippers. Man, the home agents are not supposed to get these calls, because we miss all the fun discussion afterward if no one in the office gets it.

I watched for a while, wondering how a mom wouldn't know if a kid had swallowed the cat. Wouldn't the tail be hanging out? Would he yack up a hairball? Ann hung up the phone, and I promptly called her to get the scoop, and read her the riot act for taking the most interesting call of the day. She answered with her typically angelic voice that meant that she hadn't looked at the caller id to see that it was me, which always then turns into giggles when she realizes it's me.

Turned out the cat was safe when mom found the kid sitting in the litter box, and thought that he might've eaten cat POOP. This, for those who are less informed, is not a big deal, and you just need to watch the kiddo for any GI signs like vomiting and diarrhea, which rarely show up. But, jaded as we are, we got some leverage from this discussion, which meant that Ann had to go into a description of where the cat poop was smeared on the child's body (basically head to toe), what kind of cat it was, the consistency of the poo, etc. At this point, my trainee probably started reconsidering her new career, but we had fun with it for the rest of the day. Amongst all the vomiting that seems to be taking over our city, the labor patients who all were delivering yesterday, and the stray "I have to go on a job interview, does alcohol/marijuana/insert drug of choice show up on a urine test", you gotta admit, the possibility of a baby eating a cat seems fodder for some pretty interesting discussions.

Discussions which, of course, made me think of Mikey, the Life Cereal kid back in the day, whose cat disappeared shortly after his brothers agreed "give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything." Click to see the video.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Elizabeth Taylor Calling

The craziest thing happened at work tonight. I was sitting there, plugged into my phone like a good little triage nurse, waiting for the next crazy person to call, accompanied by my obedient little trainee, when my private line rang. Now, I use the word "private" line loosely, because it's recorded too, which means that my reviewer can hear me griping at the hubby and kids every time they call me, but oh well. Everyone needs a little drama in their life.

First thing I notice is that I don't recognize the area code on the caller id, so I go to the all-knowing Google, and find that it's in Kentucky, whilst I am picking up the line. I'm met with a female voice who informs me of a very personal problem that happened while, shall I say, she was doing Number Two. It sounded like my friend Steph, who is insane, but definitely doesn't live in Kentucky -- though Greenfield, Indiana it does have its similarities. Trying to figure out who it is, I asked "how did you get our number tonight" and was promptly told, "from your husband."

She gave me a few clues, but the definite Kentuckiness of her accent threw me, till she confessed that it was Mel, a friend who was a bridesmaid in our wedding. Mel, who I had misplaced the contact info for after her third wedding, back when Jill was a baby. She said she's on hubby #4 now - "just call me Elizabeth Taylor" she said -- so I think I will.

It was Mel who drug me out on that fateful night that I met Dan -- something that I can alternately thank her for, and curse her for, depending upon the day. Mel, who was working with me in ICU on the night that someone -- maybe her -- found the "kiss me" tattoo in a very intimate part of a comatose motorcycle accident victim's anatomy. OUCH! And speaking of accidents, Mel was the one who got a concussion in my car accident, the day before our wedding. She walked down the aisle with ammonia capsules tucked into her flowers. Yeah, there's a few memories there.

It was always Mel who Dan always worried about, because of his weird idea that all divorced women are nymphomaniacs -- who on the rare night that we both got off from work at the same time, went to dinner with me at the Kapok Tree Inn in Clearwater, and helped me devise the plan that probably embedded in Dan's head forever that divorced women will lead the innocent down the path of unrighteousness, if you turn your back on them for even a second.

Mel and I went out to dinner that night, then came back to Bradenton and drove out to Anna Maria Island. Sat in the bar at, I believe, The Sandbar restaurant -- might've been somewhere else -- and had one single strawberry daiquiri, while we sat and talked. For a long, long time. I don't remember what else we did, but I know that we got home around 11:30 or so, stone cold sober from a night of Cokes and yacking about work and all that rot. I got home to a note on the table saying "call me when you get in. I can't find my keys."

Now, the man was working nights at the time, but how does one get to work without car keys, when work is several miles away, and there is no bus? Now, Mama didn't raise no dumbie. I knew that he just wanted to know 1) what time I got in and 2) what shape I was in when I got there. I found his keys, of course, in the first place I looked. So, me being me, knowing Dan and his lack of subtlety, and with some help from Mel, we devised a plan. We sat and talked till about 3:30a.m., when I called Dan to announce that yes, I was home. Did my best drunken voice. "HONEY! You're drunk" he said. "What did you have to drink?" "Six Singapore Slings," said I, whilst Mel is stifling a chortle from the couch. Dan's response was nothing but an asthmatic wheeze, because he knew that one or two of these was well enough to knock my sorry butt into lala land.

Now remember, I had had only one strawberry daiquiri, almost 8 hours earlier. Nothing else but Coke after that.

Dan was appalled, and a wee bit unforgiving. He said "well, you're going to have to come pick me up at 7, when I get off, cause I got a ride here, but I don't have a ride home." I mumbled back that he had to find his own ride home, cause I was drunk, slammed the phone down, and died laughing with Mel. We trashed the apartment, leaving a lamp by the door askew, clothes lying on the floor in the living room, and generally just making a mess. Mel went home, and I went to bed. Woke up the next morning -- over twelve hours now since my single daiquiri the night before -- to Dan climbing into bed. I rolled over and gave him a big "Hi," with emphasis on the H. "Oh my God, Lisa," he said. "You smell like a distillery."

Apparently, a wild imagination negates any sign of morning breath.

It took several years for Mel and me to tell him the truth about that night, and to this day, I'm sure he still thinks that we were sleazing around, like divorced nymphomaniacs do. It still makes me laugh, just remembering how appalled he was at his floozy wife and her nympho friend, out for a night on the town. And so in memory of that wonderful night out with Elizabeth Taylor, I went looking for the bridesmaid's dress that Mel wore in our wedding, which seems to pop up at every thrift store I visit. Alas, tonight, it eludes me, so I found a reasonable facsimile on ebay, offered by Rainydaycloset. Ammonia capsules not included.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post election relaxation disorder

We had a party at our house last night, so we could watch the election returns together. Conservative food, liberal drinks, as they say, and a bunch of steadfast Obama supporters. Oh, and one wise guy who said that IF he could vote, he'd vote for Gordon Brown. Yeah, he's a Scotsman in Indiana, and sometimes you just have to roll with that British humor thing, and pour him another drink.

It's hard, living in a red state, when you have a blue vote. It makes one wonder, how does my vote count? But last night, we, and the teenagers amongst us who had voted for the very first time, found out just how important that one vote can be. One of the kids joked about how, when the polling place workers found out that it was his first vote, they shouted "First time voter!" and all applauded him. And so, of course, every time they talked about the first time voters on CNN, or mentioned the youth vote, we too applauded them. Loudly.

And so it was that when some of the adults got bored with the holographic Capitol and the magic wall (sans bouncing Michigan), we found ourself watching Indecision 2008, a wonderful humorfest that was basically nothing but Stephen Colbert, my hero, trying successfully, multiple times, to crack up Jon Stewart. And that is where we were when the announcement was made that Barack Obama was projected to be the winner of the election. Now, imagine this: watching a program where Colbert has had a bird on his shoulder, has screamed his anger into a large plastic bottle, and where Jon Stewart just tried his loyal best to keep from totally losing it. When you're watching something like that, do you really BELIEVE it, when at the end of the show, they announce that your candidate has won?

So, we flipped to CNN and found that yes, it was true. All those months of spreading the word, hoping for the best, standing in line to listen to Obama speak downtown, and getting out the vote worked. My blue vote finally counted. And the most refreshing, and touching, moments came after everyone was gone, and I sat in the living room alone, just taking it all in, and breathing a huge sigh of relief. It was when my oldest, also a first time voter, emailed and told me "wow. I never thought that my one vote would mean anything. It really does, doesn't it?" For him to learn that lesson, this young, is an incredible thing, and hopefully one that he'll never forget.

Though I do believe that there are may be some teenagers whose most vivid memory, before the champagne flowed, is that on this night, in this room, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart reported history. Which means, of course, that as we all suspected, in America, ANYTHING is possible.

Friday, October 31, 2008

An unabashed display of motherly love

The Brat had her senior pictures done a couple of weeks ago. Now, for those of you who have not yet experienced it, the Senior Year Photo Shoot can be something quick and easy, done by a parent, or it can be something straight out of Next Top Model. Heck, if you have a boy, you can probably skip the whole thing altogether, like Thomas chose to do. He's a pragmatist at best, and a cynic at worst, but hey, he does his thing.

Jill, on the other hand, went all in, and did the two hours in the studio, 45 minutes on location, with as many clothing changes (and, apparently, animals) as she wanted to do. Girlfriend worried over the wardrobe issue for days, laying out outfits on the living room floor the night before, matching up shoes, and searching for the perfect makeup palette. She arrived at the studio with a big bag of seven outfits, six pairs of shoes, a big ole makeup case, and a dog with a Denver Broncos leash. And God love her, the photographer didn't bat an eye.

In the end, she had 220 shots, in the studio, outside the studio, and at the park, by herself, with her Dog Boo, her horse Speck, and even with those cheesy 2009 numbers that she swore she wasn't going to be photographed with. Only one of those 220 shots involved wearing shoes. The result? These 30 or so shots, some of which she loves, some of which I love, some of which her little brother says look "pretty," and all of which her elder brother and father glanced at, then reached for the remote because football was on.

Waddya think?
Cutesy hippie chick look that she almost didn't wear, but we convinced her was her color:

Speck's normal "Got Coke?" look. He was so proud of his pretty white tail, all brushed out:

Bratty's favorite shot, of her and her boy:

It must be love (insert 101 Damnations song). Speck looks like he thinks he's in trouble:

The bottom line? I just think she's gorgeous. And no, those are not contacts. Her eyes really are that blue:

Boo Bear and his Mommy. In a rare photogenic, in control moment for the canine half. He's usually trying to eat someone:

I would've liked it better if the rug had been in the entire shot, and no floor, but her smile is so pretty, who cares?

"Hi, I'm Jill, and I'll be your guide. Remember my pretty smile when you tip me."

Speckie says "are we done yet? Where's my mint?":

The color version of the black and white one. This is why a girl gets a horse:

Speck's normal posture -- eating -- and his Mommy, chillin' :

Speckles the bareback show horse, and Jillie, the barefoot star:

The cheesy numbers shot that came out really well. And yes, she's still barefoot:

Those braces were 100% worth it. Beautiful!

Chillaxin' in da barn, homegirl style:

Yeah. They're blue, remember?

Jillie the Cowgirl:

Chillin' with the boy:

I love this one:

After Jill's boss arrived, Speck was still hoping for some food, cause that's how he rolls:

The hard part of this one was not the horse. It was Jill, trying to keep from falling off the fence:

Jillie hates this one. I absolutely love it:

Can you tell she's a little happy?

Enjoy the rest. You don't need my commentary to tell you that I think she's beautiful:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stalking with the Stars (of Utter Chaos)

So, remember back in May, when I had my stalker? Yesterday was Stalker Day #2. I always have to wonder what these people think when they leave our house, because you know, we really are pretty odd.

Granted, it's not exactly normal around here, because everyone's been sick, but I am on the upside of it now, asthma aside, so I went ahead and had them come. Last time, I got one person, a very sweet girl named Lindsey, for the entire day. She was pretty quiet, but tagged along to the eye doctor with us, among other things, then watched the LOST season finale with us. We made it a party, of course, but never explained to the other people why this girl was watching me intently, and charting my every movement into her laptop.

She said that no one would believe the data, because at one point, I was watching Project Runway on the DVR, with my laptop on my lap, while talking on two phones at the same time. What can I say? It's Utter Chaos around here.

So yesterday, I started out with a sweet girl -- poor thing -- who was met at the door by me in my jammies, fresh out of bed less than three minutes before, looking like the Wild Man of Borneo (with cleavage). I'm talking hair totally askew, floodwater, bleach stained blue jammies, and a Faith Ministries T Shirt. It wasn't pretty, I'll say, but she still came in.

Good thing, cause she got to watch me do some cleaning for a while, and by the time I was done with my bedroom, she'd scored a brand new set of luggage -- a gift for 5 years of employment with the company, intended for Thomas when he went to school, but never opened, when I realized that the boy only travels with a laundry basket and a backpack -- and a vintage 60s brocade set that she just mentioned was pretty. It was a weird combination of puke green and blue that really did look nice, with a matching jacket, in mint condition and, after she tried it on, fit her like a glove.

My stalkers can score some goods, man.

So we hung out most of the day, because I am still kind of blah from the leftover of the cold/asthma/whatever the heck is going on with me, and just kind of cleaned, did laundry, watched TV, and started to list some patterns, but never really got around to it. Kind of boring, really.

But then, at 3 o'clock or so, I was chatting on the phone with my friend Ann, when someone knocked on the door. We'd already had one guy here, asking if we wanted lawn work done, so when I saw a guy's partial head through the window in the door, I prepared my "sorry, I have teenagers to do that" speech, and opened the door, telling Annie to hang on for a minute. I have, however, gotten so used to the canine version of Utter Chaos, that I forgot to get the dogs away. Well, actually, I figured I could deal with it through the screen, so I didn't need to restrain them -- and didn't particularly want to, because when a strange man is at your door, he kind of backs off and thinks twice when Cujo's around.

When I got the door open, I was met with a much cuter, shorter version of my college boyfriend (who was 6'8", so who isn't shorter, really). He was a cutie patootie, and way too cute to be raking leaves. I felt like an idiot when I asked him how I could help him, and he said he was here for the study. Oopsie! I forgot about the changing of the guard. Invited him in.

And Boo lunged and bit him, right on his coat. Dayum. He probably would've taken a piece out of him if I hadn't grabbed him back, totally mortified. So Mr Cutie is standing there, wondering if this stalker stuff is worth it at all. He finally came in, after a little convincing and, after being assured that the beast had been restrained in Seth's room, actually relaxed a little bit.

Poor guy. And it got worse. Within an hour we were on our way to see Jill's senior pictures. All 219 of them. No joke. They took 219 photos of my darling Bratty Girl. And, good sport that he was, he actually was interested for a while, giving a little -- all positive -- input. After a while, he quit faking it, pulled out "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," and got comfortable. What a trooper.

I think he probably had a hallelujah moment when Dan got home, and we sat down for dinner. Now, this guy didn't get any luggage, and God knows he didn't get any vintage boleros, but he did get a mighty fine pot roast. Heck, that in and of itself, skewed the results, because cooking for me is a rarity. I guess I should've pointed that out, but he was enjoying himself too much. Even helped with the dishes. I was seriously starting to bond with him.

Settled in watched Monday's episode of Dancing with the Stars on the DVR, then watched some Jeopardy while Dan went out to buy some new dog bowls (to replace the ones the Boo had chewed up) and get some movies. Boo, by now, was having a love fest with my stalker, bringing him toys so he'd play with him, and looking pathetic, like he knew that he'd been bad. Even jumped up on the couch next to him and went to sleep, using his backpack as a pillow. Oh yeah, they called it Puppy Love.

Till he went to leave. When he stood up and went to shake Jill's hand goodbye, he got a wee little growl, that went up exponentially the longer he stayed there. It's obvious that Jill will never get married while this dog breathes. Stalker just backed away slowly, and took his leave.

How many people thank their lucky stars that their stalker survives their bodyguard? Honestly. But hey, it's all in the name of money, cause I get paid $250 bucks for being stalked, and money is always good. And if I didn't have to pay bills with it, I'd be buying this fabulous , because it is probably the prettiest thing I've seen all week. From bopbbysgirl, on the bay.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Death by Chicken Nugget

If you've paid attention here, you'll realize that althought I love to cook, I hate to cook for my
family. I actually get out of doing it as much as possible, by working evenings and by going out to eat a lot. Not good for the waistline, but sometimes, it's sanity vs waistline, and the sanity part wins.

Fridays have been an exception lately, because Jill's been hanging out at work late. On Fridays, the staff usually go out on rides themselves, once the place is closed, and take the horses out to places that are literally off the beaten path. Today, The Brat had an appointment to have the bleeding ear of doom checked out. Dropped her off at work afterward, and she mentioned that she probably wouldn't be home for dinner, because she'd be going on the "fun ride."

Yippee. With the veggie girl gone, I can feel free to cook whatever the heck I want.

I decided to make a cheeseburger ring, because Seth loves it, it's quick, and Jill hates it, and she's not going to be home. Figured I'd throw some onion rings in the mix, too, so I turned on the oven and put them in, whilst I was concocting the cheeseburger ring.

I figured I was being efficient and all, till I smelled something burning, and saw flames in the oven.

I was perplexed, because the flames were coming out from under the bottom of the stove, and above the drawer underneath. Let me give you a hint: there should not be any fire coming out from where it was coming from, so I was a little concerned. Concerned because the flames, though not huge, were not going away. I looked in there, and it looked like a puddle of grease aflame, which started me worrying.

I went looking for the baking soda, and couldn't find it, so I settled for tossing cornstarch on it, hoping for the best. No dice -- I was still seeing flames coming up from underneath, and can't see just how MANY flames are under there that I can't see. I had visions f the gas line blowing the house up, so I found the fire extinguisher, pulled the pin and let 'er rip. This, of course, caused a rather sizeable mushroom cloud of cornstarch to fly up in the air, and set me straight out of the room, in a huge coughin fit. By the time I stopped coughing, I realized that I still didn't know if the fire was out, so I went back into the haze to see what was up. Still flames, so I gave it a blast again, which about required a full blown resuscitation, but at least got rid of the fire.

Now I was nervous, because what do you do with your stove, after you've blasted the insides with a fire extinguisher, and what the heck was causing it to begin with? Heck if I know, so I did what any intelligent woman would do. Called 911, and calmly told the operator that I did NOT have a true emergency, but I needed them to come and look at my stove, to make sure it was safe to use, now that I've tried to blow us up.

Mind you, we had a housefire several years ago, so I'm not really fond of open flames in our house. I hardly ever even light candles anymore, so yeah, I'm nervous. Standing on the back porch, talking to 911, when Dan pulls in and sees me there, phone in one hand, fire extinguisher in the other, and a cloud of white smoke coming out of the kitchen windows. All he could say was "What the hell have you done NOW?"

Thanks, dear, I love you too.

I explained to him what had happened, and he asks, a little sheepishly, if it was a chicken nugget. Why, says I, and he says "oh, I dropped one down in the bottom of the oven the other night, and couldn't get it out." I didn't think that was it, and went out front to wait for the firemen to get there. The phone, still in my hand, promptly started ringing. I answered it, still short of breath from the cloud of god knows what in the kitchen, and the remainder of the asthma symptoms I already had for the past week. It was Jill, who said that she's not going on the fun ride after all, is on her way home, and wants to know what's for dinner.

The irony doesn't escape me.

I stutter and stammer, and tell her I have no idea what is going on. She gets exasperated because she can't hear me (bad signal), and hangs up right as I hear the sirens. I was leaning against the front porch wall, trying to get my breath, when the fire truck pulled up. Two firemen get out, and I tell them that I think it's out, but want them to check on the oven. Their only question is whether or not I've put the dogs up, because they are barking now like they are going to eat someone.

See? I DO live in Utter Chaos.

I go into the kitchen, in which the oven door is thrown open, the cheeseburger ring is still on the counter, and the oven's interior is all white, but at least there's no fire. Dan has disappeared. The firemen inspect things, say it's fine, but take the bottom of the oven out, so that we can see what happened.

The pull out a charred chicken nugget.

They tell me to clean the oven out really well, that it should be fine to use, once it's clean, hand me the screwdriver back, and take off. I went out to the garage, where Dan's only question is what we're doing about dinner, of course. I go in the kitchen to figure things out, and the phone rings again. It's The Brat again, asking, yet again, what's for dinner. I tell her that I haven't sorted it out, because the firemen just left. "WHAT," she said, to which I said, "wait till you get home, and I'll explain it then." Jill's response: "There were firemen in our house?" "Yes, Jill." "Were they hot?" "Yes, Jill, you would've said that one of them was." "Did you take pictures?"

Oh. My. God.

Dan wanders in and says "well, the onion rings should be ok, right," and starts foraging around for these half baked onion rings that have been through the fire and back. I go to work cleaning up the mess, which, I might add, was no small feat. Dan sends Dan to get the fan, so we can air the place out a little bit. Jill wanders through, asking yet again what's for dinner. I told Dan that he had tried to kill me, since he didn't tell me about the mislaid poultry piece, and he assures me that he's really sorry and that no, he's really not in the market for a trophy wife.

I was just rinsing out the last of the rags, and the cheeseburger ring was safely in the oven, when Seth wandered in and asked why the heck it was so cloudy in the kitchen. I looked at him with that blank look that comes with post-traumatic-cooking disorder, and ask him what the heck he's talking about. "Didn't you see the firemen here?" "WHAT," he says. "Why do I always miss the good stuff?" I don't know, baby. I don't know. "What the heck happened," he asked, and when I told him that the oven had started on fire, his response?

"Was it that chicken nugget that Dad dropped?"

So now Seth is an accessory to attempted murder, his buddy, who is visiting for the weekend, enjoyed Seth firing the fire extinguisher his way, out in the alley, Dan has gone back to sanding Purdue Pete out in the garage, and Jill is still wandering around, wondering what's for dinner.

I give up. There are truly some days where I'm afraid to live my own life, here in Utter Chaos, but you take what you get, and you dive right in, lest you miss the good stuff. And speaking of good stuff, check out this cute vintage

50s novelty print skirt, of chickens and eggs, from Spitfire Vintage Clothing, on ebay. Spitfire Vintage. How appropriate. Alas, it will not answer that eternal question -- which came first? The chicken or the fire?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where the socks are

Laundry is an every day, every night thing around here. It's a job that's never done -- and when it is, then one of the kids comes down with their hamper, or Thomas shows up with everything that's been on his dorm room floor for two weeks.
I'm pretty used to it, and the kids will do their own laundry most of the time, but there's one thing that brings it all to a dead stop. Socks.

I did laundry today, and decided to wash our bedspread and sheets,then put them on the line in back to dry. It was a nice, warm, breezy day, so I figured they'd dry pretty quickly. This was also date night, where Dan and I go out to dinner without the kids, while they're at youth group. We got ready to head out, and I asked Dan if I should take the bedding in, because it was cloudy out. "Nope," says he, "we've got time."

Except in the middle of dinner, it started to rain. Had to run home and take it all in. In order to get it in the dryer, we had to take out a load of, of course, socks, because no one ever wants to match the socks up. Since we didn't have any bedding on the bed, I threw all the socks down and started matching them up. It's not an easy job around here, because I'm the only one who doesnt wear white socks, with the exception of two pairs of Denver Broncos socks.

Of course, with the weird sock fixation around here, I know that the footies with no ankle are all Thomas', the ones that are ankle high are Seth's, and Dan gets the over the calf socks. Jill has a few footies with logos on them, but mostly just steals my socks, which are of all different colors, with several pair of knit white amongs them - just to make them easy to find.

Of course, when I was done matching up this load of socks, I had a few leftovers, so I went to go get the sock basket, where the spares are kept. This is an oval woven basket that holds all the odd socks till I find their match. The only problem is that sometimes I don't find the match. Like, I think I have some socks in their that Seth wore when he was 8 or 9.

He'll be 14 next month. What can I say? I'm an optimist.

So when I was done matching up all the socks, I wondered just how many odd socks I had. After counting them up, I found that I had 21 footies, six colored socks (or socks of color, to be politically correct), 23 over the calf socks (including six men's church socks, most of which were likely worn only once, because they belonged to Seth, and he wears jeans to church - on a good day), and two Broncos socks. That makes 52 socks: one for every week of the year.

I figure at this rate, if we stay in this house till we retire, we won't need to buy socks for the rest of our lives. We should be set on footwear, even if it's Broncos socks and blue and white Hello Kitty anklets, because who looks at your socks anyway? And in reality, I'm usually barefoot anyway. If the kids ever move out, we'll probably even find a match or two, which would be even better.

Or if we decide that matching is mandatory, and we're in a bind, I could go to wearing panty hose, or some unmistakeable stockings like
these wonderful red, white and blue vintage ones from finefindings, on ebay. Maybe I should invite her over to my house, to find me some fine socks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Great Mashed Potato Controversy

We had meat loaf for dinner last night. If you have read much of my blog, you know that I hate cooking for my family, because of their vegetarian-carnivorous-eat-anything-in-your-path ways, but usually meat loaf is a good bet. Granted The Brat won't eat the meat part, but the mashed potatoes are a winner with everyone.

That is, till Thomas said he doesn't like my mashed potatoes.

This was maybe two years ago. The kid had been eating my mashed potatoes for seventeen years, and now he decides he doesn't like them? How very teenager of him. And to even TELL me, in the middle of dinner that he doesn't like them? That's even more teenager. "They're too.........starchy," says The Heir to the Throne. Gee, thanks, Bubba.

So, the quest for the perfect mashed potatoes began. From then on out, every time I've made mashed potatoes, I ask Thomas how they are. Occasionally, I get an enthusiastic answer, but more often, in perfect "eat anything in my path" manner, he just grunts "s'ok." Dan wondered what the big deal was, because he'll pretty much eat anything, anytime, and never saw the problem. Once he realized what the deal was, the real competition began, unbeknownst to me.

I went to work one night, and he had to feed them dinner. I don't even remember what the kids said he fed them, I just know that they called me at work, raving about his wonderful mashed potatoes. How in the world he did it, I'll never know, because he had never made them before this, that I knew of, and we'd bee married almost twenty years at this point, but I was totally humiliated by the wonderful reviews of those stinkin' mashed potatoes. They went one about them for what seemed like weeks, and I decided that I wasn't going to bother making them again.

That is, till we went to M.C.L. Cafeteria one night, and he confessed. Sitting right there, eating his beef Manhattan, he told me that those amazing mashed potatoes that the kids had raved about had come from M.C.L.

Good grief. He's a mashed potato imposter. Made me feel better, right off the bat. And the kids have never let him hear the end of it since. Now, whenever I make mashed potatoes and ask Thomas how they are, Seth pipes up with "compared to yours, or M.C.L.'s," and Dan slumps down in his chair, muttering something about how he "just wanted them to like the mashed potatoes." So yeah, although the mashed potatoes are generally a winner, somebody's gonna lose face, either way.

So if you want to just stick with mashed potatoes when you're dancing, instead of eating them, check out this cute
yoked shirtwaist dress pattern, from 1962 -- year of the Mashed Potato -- from my gal Jen, at It's comfort dressing at its finest.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pet Cemetery

We have two dogs, two cats, and a guinea pig, all living in our house. Jill has her horse at the park where she works, thank God, though when she bought him, we did let Dan think for about ten minutes that we were putting him in the backyard. It was pretty funny,and by the end of that ten minutes, Dan was so glad Speck wasn't coming here that he forgot to get upset that Jill was buying a horse.

Mama didn't raise no dumbie.

The number of animals in our house, though, pales in comparison to the number of animals buried in the backyard. I've often said that if someone decides one day in the year 2200 that they'd like to do an archaelogical dig in our yard, they're gonna think it's some kind of animal graveyard.

Jill's other guinea pig is out there, after being found in rigor mortis one morning. Actually, there are two guinea pigs out there -- I forgot about one. We got that one from an acquaintance who no longer wanted it. Imagine her embarressment when we discovered that OreA was actually an OreO. The shock must've killed the pig, cause it went belly up shortly afterward.

Jill used to do animal rescue, and adopted out over 100 cats over a period of two years or so. Some of them came to us sick, and at one point, she lost two litters of kittens, all of whom are lined up in the backyard. And our dear departed Chelsea, our first cat, who Dan gave to me shortly after we met, and who lived for 19 long years, is out there as well. And a sweet little runt kitten that Jill rescued, who had a horrible eye infection that resulted in him a)getting his eye removed and b) being named Wink. I carried him around in the bib of my overalls, and even took him to Putt Putt with us once. When he died of a post op infection, I thought we might have to bury both Jill AND me back there.

All in all, there's probably more than a dozen animals out there. Kinda creepy if you think about it, but it's the mark of an animal lover, I guess, and Jill is surely that. I think we're done with the burials back there, though, cause I don't want to put my dogs back there, and Speck is way too big. I'm sure that the neighbors will be happy about that.

So, I went looking for lions, and tigers, and bears -- because those are a few of the animals I'm sure will never cross my threshold, and I came across this vintage child's hankie, from Yesterday's Timeless Treasures, on ebay. Lions, and tigers, and bears........oh my!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weird moments in music

Music plays a big part in our life, here in the Utter household. It started for me very young, since my parents love music of all kinds, from the unforgettable
Mrs Miller (scroll down for the song files), to The Sound of Music soundtrack, which we sang incessantly as kids. I remember many drives to St Louis in our old green Ranch Wagon station wagon, listening to Donna Fargo, singing "The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.," which my sister still sings, complete with the twang, at the drop of hat.

Memories are made of this.

We've got our own, albeit strange, moments in music, usually in the car, too. Like the time we all went to hear Jill sing with the Indianapolis Children's Choir. It was a Christmas Concert, and afterward, we decided to drive down to the Circle downtown, to see the lights. We ended up somehow with K.C. and the Sunshine Band on the CD player, and drove around the circle I can't tell you how many times, windows down, with all of us singing classics like "That's the Way I like It," and "Get Down Tonight." The kids still talk about that one. It was definitely something to go from the formal concert to disco beats, all while Jill was still in uniform.

We got a lot of strange looks, but we're used to that around here.

One time here at the house, Thomas and I were both on our computers, doing our thing. He was probably about 12 or so, and I realized that he was listening to Frank Sinatra sing "Fly Me To the Moon," or something like that. I commented, "is that Frank Sinatra," and was met with a snarling "WHY does everyone think it's weird that I like Frank Sinatra" followed by glaring silence.

It wouldn't have been weird at all, except the previous two songs had been Metallica and Mindless Self Indulgence.

Then there was the time that he and I drove back from his cousin's wedding, and listened to Lillium, the theme from Elfen Lied, continously, for the two hour trip from Terre Haute to Indianapolis. It's singularly one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of music ever, in my opinion, and I think Thomas agrees, to the tune of him listening to it repeatedly for five hours straight one night. Be careful, it's addictive.

Of course, five hours doesn't compare to the time that Dan and I went to see my parents in Winter Park, when we all lived in Florida. We tuned to a station that was playing "Twist and Shout," by the Beatles. Over and over. And over. They played it back to back and, as far as we could tell, without commercial interruption for at least two days straight. We never figured out what that was about, but it definitely elicits a memory every time I hear the song now.

Nowadays, Thomas has something like 3000 songs on his iPod, which he shares with me on the ride to and from school. He's got a little bit of everything in here, except country, because he likes just about any type of music except the twangy stuff. Me, I travel in silence generally, if I'm by myself, but if he's with me, it's Radiohead and Ludo. If it's Jill, it's Jonas Brothers, AC/DC, and the soundtrack from the Patriot (yeah, she's into an eclectic mix of music too), and with Seth, it's usually techno beats. Dan's tendency is toward R.E.M. and the Police, with a side of football commentating.

Me, I have a thing for leaving the same CD in the car for weeks at a time, listening to it over and over, which drives The Brat crazy. One that tends to land there for a season is Nirvana's Unplugged, because I love "The Man Who Sold the World." One time, Thomas' buddy Potter climbed in the van and said, "man, I wish that just once my parents would listen to Nirvana in the car." When I asked him what they listened to, he said "my dad listens to African drum music, and my mom listens to NPR."

Yeah, I guess Nirvana would be a welcome change.

And so, after a long discussion about Radiohead on the way back to school last night, then pulling in the driveway to Miley Cyrus, I went looking for something with a musical bent, and found this vintage poly novelty musical notes print. Wonder what the music on it is? Maybe "Smells Like Teen Spirit?" It'd make me the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A. if you can tell me. It's on ebay, offered by anythingbutlove.