Tuesday, January 31, 2012


When The Boy child was in high school, we arm twisted him into trying out for cross-country.   Practice was rough going, and every day when I picked him up he would hobble to the car.  A month later the weekly meets started, which are bright and early on Saturday mornings.  The Big Daddy and I had to get up and at 'em to make it on time and that meant coffee.  Lots of coffee.

I was at one such meet when all that java started taking effect and I needed to use the port-a-potty.  No sooner had I gotten there when a group of runners had the same idea, and I let them use it ahead of me so they wouldn't miss their start.  Just as it was my turn, a truck pulled up and an older guy got out and said, "Folks, gotta clean her up so you'll have to hold it for a few minutes."  By then there was about a dozen of us waiting, and we watched him unwind a huge hose from the side of his truck that he stuck down the hole of the port-a-potty to suck the waste out and into a tank on the truck.  He wiped things down with a rag and a spray bottle, swept the floor, restocked the toilet paper, and hung an air freshener.  All the while, he never stopped whistling.  When he was done, he waved his arm toward the door, did a little bow and said, "Ladies and gents, I give you a clean Johnny." 

We all stood there dumb-founded until the guy behind me broke the silence and said, "I'm never going to complain about my job again."

Truer words never spoken.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Truth or Fiction

Our local grocery store has a card that offers a gas discount based on how much you spend.  Before the end of the year, I had accumulated enough points to get fifty cents off a tank of gas.  Yeehaw.  Except I couldn't find it, and that was the second one I lost.  I tore the car apart and dug in every coat pocket with no luck.  In January, my points were reset and now I have thirty-five cents off a fill-up.  Come to Mama, oh missing gas discount card.

It is making me crazy.

I was telling Mallie Bee about this for the hundredth time and she was like, "Too bad, so sad."  Nice display of empathy, little one.  That's when things went downhill, as she accused me of never being sympathetic when she can't find something.  This is true, but she misplaces something every single day.  We argued about this for awhile and then I told her this...........

Remember the time you called me at work because you lost a textbook?  Remember that you were so upset you started crying?  I told you that it had to be in the house somewhere, for you are the child who misplaces everything, but not the child who loses everything.  I told you to calm down, make yourself a bowl of ice cream, forget about it for awhile and when I got home I'd help you look for it.  I was as cool as a cucumber and may have called you "honey" a few times  Remember that?

She had no recollection of that incident.  None.  My bright, shining moment when I was not screaming at her for being irresponsible and she had no idea what I was talking about.

I might have been tripping down The Mother Memory Lane with the wrong kid.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cutting Back

The Speckled Trout is a year old this month, and this is post #305.  Sheesh, that's a lot of writing.  When I first started, it would take me days to finish one post.  I'd work on it, delete half of it, rewrite it, post it, take it down, put it back up, find a typo, fix it, put it back up.  I wonder if the five people who were reading it back then were like, "What the hell???  I was just in the middle of reading something and now it's gone."

Thankfully, writing nearly every day has improved my ability to clearly get my thoughts down and it doesn't take as long as it used to.  However..........since about December it has been a real struggle to maintain five days a week of posting, and I'll be my own critic here and say that I don't love what I'm putting out lately.  That takes time to formulate and I've got other things competing with that at the moment.

Rather than hold myself to the rigorous schedule I started, I am going to cut back on the posting so I'm doing it 2 - 3 times a week.  I spend my days writing in my head, and tend to fly up the stairs to get it written down because I'm so excited when it comes together.  Dork alert......a good sentence makes me crazy happy.  Instead of flying up the stairs lately, it's been more of a trudge and that makes for forced writing, not good writing.  I have some longer pieces I've been kicking around, so I will see you here sometime next week with a return of my mojo.

HE has nothing to do with the above, but I'm thinking he might be the cure for my self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, even though a certain Ellen friend always claims to have dibs on him.............

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mary Mary Never Contrary

My neighbor, Mary, has MS.  She was diagnosed when she was 19.  You couldn't imagine what thirty-five years of a disease like that can do to a person, and none of it is good.

Recently, Mary needed to get a crown.  Not the pretty, sparkly kind, but the expensive drool-inducing kind, and she asked me to take her to the dentist.  When I picked her up, she scheduled a return appointment to get her permanent crown put on, and asked me if I could bring her back.  Only if I'm not working by then, Mary.  Sure enough, two weeks later You Know Who is available for a ride to the dentist.  It is my custom to reward myself for any dental work I have endured, and I told Mary that when I picked her up.  Little work, little reward.  Big work, big reward.  Mary's not as greedy as me, so she decided on coffee and a muffin.

We sat in the local coffee shop talking about kids and husbands, our crackpot Governor, music, writing and the neighbors.  With all her limitations and reasons to be bitter, she is not.  She is funny and interesting and dear to many of us.  Our Mary in her wheelchair conjures up all kinds of thoughts, but in her presence I see the grace.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'd Like To Thank The Academy

Well, an opportunity has come my way.  A money making opportunity that involves acting skills.  

I ran into a friend after Christmas and we were both lamenting the lack of suitable employment.  She called me a couple of weeks ago with a prospect.  It seems that teaching medical schools hire people to portray patients in order to give students the opportunity to work on taking a patient history, extracting information, and general people skills.

I was intrigued, so I called the training department and had a nice long chat with the recruiter.  Seems 50+ women are in high demand, at least in this field.  I went into their office for an orientation/overview of the program and have since passed the background check.  This week is two days of training followed by four afternoons of working with the med students.

The "patient" is a 50-something professional woman, slightly overweight and a high functioning alcoholic.

You could say I was born to play this part.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newt or Toad

On Friday night, The Big Daddy and I watched a discussion on C-Span that took place at the University of Chicago between left and right wing talking heads.  Because we're that kind of fun.  It was so intelligent and civilized that we went to sleep hopeful that the problems we face may have solutions that come from all sides.

On Saturday night, The Big Daddy and I decided to brave the chilly temps and go see The Descendants.  As is typical of us, we hung around the house too long and when we attempted to get our tickets had our choice of a dozen seats in the first row.  We declined, came home, got into our jammies, popped some popcorn and turned on the t.v.   The Big Show was this guy........................

Source: latimes.com via Valli on Pinterest

Who is married to this woman.  For reals this time.

He's King of the World this week, and all memories of that civilized debate from the night before about solving our big, big problems went up in flames faster than a lit cigarette in a parched forest when he got in front of the mike.  And the Mrs. kept clapping and nodding and saying, "That's right."

No, it isn't.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mother of the Bride

I had a dream the other night.  It was the day of Teacher Girl and Prince Charming's wedding.  I decided that since I'd be running around like crazy prior to the wedding, that I would dress for comfort for the church and put my party dress on for the reception.  When I got to the church in my black cropped pants and gray man's work shirt, I realized that the mother of the bride looked like she was there to clean the toilets.  I ran to the music director in a panic, and she tried to convince me to wear a choir robe.   I found my niece and we rummaged through her kids' closet and came up with a teeny, white communion dress that wouldn't go over my big, fat hair let alone the rest of me.   Finally, my friend came in and she took me to her church.  The dream ended as we watched every woman that came in with the idea of ripping the dress of one of them.

It was some kind of crazy.

Since I know exactly what I want, it's time to get serious about this MOB dress.  Why back in the day, I'd get dressed up to go play in the front yard, and thought there was no such thing as too many accessories. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fired Up. Ready To Go.

You may remember me writing about a new trail being installed that led to our park.  I believe my exact words were "suhweeeeeeeeeeeeet."

I changed my mind.

The trail is a winding path that leads to the park and meanders along the creek.  It is wider than the sidewalk that was already there in order to accommodate walkers and bikers.  In making it wider, they cut it too close to the edge of the creek, and ten feet down you'd seriously mess up your face should you go sailing off that fancy new trail on your Schwinn.

The city installed a fence.  A black chainlink fence that made this old, quaint neighborhood feel like the Arizona/Mexico border.  For those of us who walk every day this was too much and we sent emails to our city council members and the park board.  The head of the park board is a big buana.

Last week we went to the parks board meeting and The Big Buana said the city council approved it so they would have to approve any changes.  Except the city council never knew there was going to be a chainlink fence because The Big Buana never said anything about that part of it.

This week we picked up a few more supporters and went to the city council meeting and oh geez, It. Was. Contentious.  There was some significant veiled insults being thrown, and The Big Buana was in the hot seat.  Because she's been a buana for so long, she doesn't let people not liking her bother her one bit except for some heavy sighs and eye rolls.

But everybody knew she screwed this one up royally.  It made me want to get up and shout LET MY PEOPLE GO which had nothing to do with the fence or the trail, but seemed like the perfect dramatic conclusion to an eventful night.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Soaps

Like most women of her generation, my mom was a homemaker.  With six kids in one very small house, she had her work cut out for her.  My dad worked for the Edison Company in Chicago, and went to work every day in a suit, white shirt and tie.  All of us kids went to Catholic grade school.  Every memory of my mom from that time involves an ironing board, dozens of white shirts in varying sizes, and the soap operas.

She was a CBS gal.........As The World Turns, Guiding Light, Search For Tomorrow.  They were always ending as we got home from school so we saw the dramatic conclusion every day.  When The Young and The Restless debuted, she said we had to support it because it was produced by Bill Bell.  He was married to Lee Phillips who was the noon news personality, and mom always liked her.

To this day, she still records and watches her soaps, even though they're on the endangered list.  When we were there last month, she asked Mallie Bee if she'd like to watch The Bold and the Beautiful.  Mal was game, and when Ridge Forrester delivered his bad-ass lines Mom said, "One time somebody told this guy he could act and he was dumb enough to believe them."

After fifty years she would know.

Source: cbs.com via Michael on Pinterest

Monday, January 16, 2012

What To Say

Last week was a year since my cousin's wife, Carol, died.  At the wedding we went to last week, I spoke with Rhonda's cousin who's daughter died last spring.  And if you read this blog..........


..........you'll be crying several times a week.  This was probably the saddest Christmas season I can recall since my own dad died.  Too many people on my mind, too many stories of loss, too many people walking the lonely road of grief.  And just what can one do for someone in that situation?

Please tell me if there is an alternative to saying, "I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers."  For God's sake, Ann Curry says it practically daily on the Today Show.  It's right up there with "Have a nice day" as far as casually dropped and shallow in meaning statements.

But in the face of overwhelming grief for people we care about, what else of value do we have to offer?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Selling The Self

Every year the Kansas City Star invites writers to apply to a panel called Midwest Voices.  Ten people are chosen to write a column four times over the course of a year.  My writer friend, Ellen, just finished her gig and I decided to give it a shot.

The application process required a sample of your writing as well as a written bio.  I agonized over what to send and changed my mind a dozen times.  The deadline was mid-December and I hit "send" with high hopes that what I submitted was what they were looking for.  It was not.

On Saturday, the paper introduced the readers to its new panel and this is what we learned about these writers...........one guy likes to play with his pit bull and eat red meat, another likes to read comics and tabloid magazines, one was a high school champion table tennis player.  Of the women, we have someone who likes to tweet, another who walks, works out and chases her dogs and somebody who does origami.

I think I may have misunderstood the bio portion of the process.  I kept it simple and said I was married with three kids, a partner in a vintage decor business and wrote a blog.  It never occurred to me that anyone would be interested in what kind of meat I ate, what sport I excelled in forty years ago, or that when The World News was still in publication, my favorite story was of newborn monkeys being dressed in children's clothing and passed off as human babies up for adoption.

Note to self for next time:  Dumb. It. Down.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Going To The Chapel

Rhonda's son got married last weekend and it was lovely.  The new Mr. and Mrs. were all googly-eyed, Rhonda looked like a million bucks, the reception was fun and dancy, and The Big Daddy and I and the fam had a blast.

At the end of the wedding ceremony, the priest said the bride and groom would be seeing all of us shortly at the reception at 146th and Mission Road.  We came home for a spell and when it was time to leave for the party, The Big Daddy announced he knew E.X.A.C.T.L.Y where it was.  He bikes that way all the time.

On the drive there, he pointed out all the biking routes he's taken.  "Now here I would normally go right and up that hill.  Look at that hill."  This went on until I said to him that he didn't have to share every stinkin' detail to a bunch of non-biking passengers.  Sheesh, how 'bout you create some mystery once in awhile?

At 151st and Mission I told him he'd gone too far.  Nope, he said, it's here.  Well, why did they say it was at 146th at the church?  I bike here all the time, he says,  So we've heard.  For twenty minutes.  Up and down the street we went arguing the entire time.  We turned at 146th and it was a park.  The event space was down yonder from there, but we didn't figure that out until the second try.

By the time we pulled into the parking lot we pretty much couldn't stand each other.  Nice wedding reception attitude.  We found a table and he made a beeline to the bar.  A glass of wine later, all was forgotten.

That night as I watched The Brand New Mr. and Mrs., I was tempted to tell those crazy-in-love kids........Enjoy this night.  It's absolutely perfect, and from this day forward you'd better buckle your seat belt cuz you're about to go for a ride.

Source: etsy.com via Helen on Pinterest

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Batten Down The Hatches

In January 1967, Chicago had a winter storm that didn't leave until it had dumped 26" of snow.  The day before it was sixty degrees.  Those days were long before our current sophisticated radars, so nobody knew it was coming.  My dad carpooled to the city with a guy who had a VW Beetle, and it took them eight hours to get home.  Mom was worried sick as the only conversation she'd had with him was at 3:00 when he said he was leaving the office.

Those were the days when men were men and a snowstorm was a snowstorm.

On the local news this afternoon, it was reported that we just may get our first look at the white stuff.  Doppler radar showed it in western Kansas with predicted arrival at about 9:00 p.m. and tapering off at 2:00 a.m.  Reporters were sent to overpasses and highways, and the streets and sanitation guy was interviewed to see if they were ready with salt and crews to spread it.

Protect the women and babies.  Predicted snowfall amount is 1".


Nancy and I have expanded the space we rent to sell our vintage wares.  While we previously rented half the space, we now rent the entire room.  We had a pretty good weekend and now have to refill our space in ten days.  Hence, no time to write.  This says it all along with the paint and stain still stuck under my nails from working all day yesterday on some dressers that are.......awesome.

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Offer

Last week I got a letter from a psychiatrist.  I know.  How did he know I needed a couple of sessions???  I ripped open the envelope and here's the short version of what it said..............

In May I wrote a letter to the editor of the paper that got published.  It was critical of some new policies enacted by our state legislature and governor.  This doctor had read the letter and suggested I consider becoming a precinct captain for the Democratic Party in my area since the party is lacking one for the 2012 election.

There's a couple of things wrong here.  First, I had no idea what letter he was talking about and had to search the archives of the paper to even read what I wrote.  Second, there are actually people who read a letter, note where it's from, and then reference it seven months later in order to fill a volunteer position for a political party.  Third, there are about twenty Democrats in my entire precinct and I know all of them.  Lastly............

........some folks just don't take kindly to you knocking on their door and wondering who they might be voting for on Election Day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Queen Mumisms

We recently went to see the fam.  Mallie Bee and I stayed with my mom, Big Daddy and the rest stayed a few miles away at my sister and brother-in-law's house since neither house is big enough for all of us.

Since we've been married we've never lived all that close to home so I only see my mom a couple of times a year.  She's always been entertaining, but especially this time when she was talking about this guy.............

Source: askmen.com via Susan on Pinterest

"That guy is such a horse's ass," she said one night.


"Oh, he is.  He has no intention of ever marrying any of those babes he dates.  None whatsoever."

True that, but LOOK. AT. THAT. FACE.  Then we watched Fashion Police because she loves Joan Rivers who's face is only shown for seconds at a time so as not to scare the bejeezits out of anybody everybody.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Going Down The Chimney

When The Teacher Girl was a mere baby, we had a two-door VW Jetta.  About 99% of the time, we conked her head on the door frame as we were putting her in her car seat in the back.  She'd start wailing and we'd console her, and before long I think she kind of expected it and quit crying.

We were that kind of stellar first-time parents.

During her baby years, my sister and her husband had a cute, old house that had a circular fireplace in the middle of the living room.  It vented through the roof so there was a hole cut in their bedroom floor for the pipe.  Like you could be upstairs and look through the hole to the first floor and tell The Captain to crack open another beer, you're coming down for a cold one.  Anyhow, Sister Jean, me and The Little Teacher Girl were upstairs looking at some new clothing purchases that the sis had made.  We looooooooooove doing Retail Show and Tell.  Little Teacher Girl was crawling by then so we both knew we needed to keep an extra close eye on her so she didn't fall through the hole.  All was going well until we both got distracted by the clothes and............"Hey, where did that Little Varmint go?????"

Oh shit, we both thought at the same time and went tearing down the stairs.  There sat The Little Teacher Girl on the floor and I'm no mind reader, but I think if she could talk she would have said.........How the f*** did you two morons let this happen????

Lord. Have. The. Mercy.  It scared the bejeezus out of us.  And The Little Teacher Girl?  Well, we think she slid down the pipe and landed on the floor diaper first.  She didn't make a peep, and I'm not sure if it was because she was so stunned by what had just happened to her or if all those times she got conked on the head had trained her for that day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


At The Annual Family Bowl, my sister announced that she was hosting Game Night the following evening.  This was a surprise to everyone, including her husband.

When I got there, I decided to spend my time surfing the ipad and getting my internet fix since my mom doesn't have a computer.  The Teacher Girl thought this was unacceptable and told me I couldn't stay at the table unless I was playing.  She has numerous control issues when it comes to board games.  Fine by me, I said, but when I got up to leave there was nowhere to go.   Mom said, "Well, if there's nobody sitting on the toilet you can have that seat." 

By Game #Two I decided to play, and I won't say who, but somebody fell off their chair and that's when things really got fun.  After a few times around the table playing Fact or Crap, Mom asked the Fallee if she had fastened the seatbelt on her chair.

When the idea of Game Night was discussed the night before, The Queen Mum didn't seem all that interested.  Who knew she was out to win and packing some serious swag?

Source: amazon.com via Katie on Pinterest

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Family Bowl

A few years ago, we did away with the Christmas grab between the siblings and the cousins.  Which everybody was happy about.  In its place, my sister and I decided to take our kids bowling.  We did this for a couple of years and added people as we went along.  Last year, The Sis sent out an invite to the whole family.  This Sis with her Cutie Patootie daughter.................

She found a bowling alley that is all of six lanes and let's you bring in your own food.  There is a prize for high guy/girl bowler and I took home the sweet trophy I picked up off the curb for being the only chick to break a hunnerd.  Twice.  There was an assortment of door prizes............mustache of the week, a Virgin Mary bread press, juvenile delinquent mints and a grow your own mermaid to name a few.  There was a prize for 2012 Nuptials that these guys won..............

And the Hofmeister Ham Brother brought Me Scotty Snowman back to pass to the next family who is obligated to post pictures of his adventures throughout this year.

Like the previous year, a good time was had by all.  If you are stuck in the exchanging dollars gift route, I recommend A Bowlathon.  Besides counting the pins you knocked down, you'll be counting your blessings, and if there's no outstanding warrants, you can take a big, ol' group pic and post it wherever you want.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On The Advice of Counsel

The Big Daddy works with a guy named Joe.  He lent his car to The BD recently when he had to go to a meeting and couldn't get there by way of bike.  When I protested this plan, Joe told him to tell me to chillax, and if I had a problem with it to write about it on my blog.  I think I just did.

Anyhow, at the Annual Christmas Party, Joe told me he knows exactly what this blog needs to up the daily hits and make me a contender in the Big Bad Blog World.


Geez, that Joe has come to the the rescue of me and The Big Daddy a lot lately.  It's like he's a Superhero.  Or something.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Clean Up Clean Up

When my parents put up the Christmas decorations, oh me oh my, we'd all hightail it out of The Homestead.  It was STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEressful.  When I got older, I'd work the whole dang day just to have a good excuse not to be around for the disagreements and general crabbiness.

I am not like that.  I am calm.

Until it is time to put away the decorations.  Not only do I put them away, I organize them, organize the house, clean the house, and get my decorating mojo into gear.  I want to redo the whole place, and if The Big Daddy would just leave for a spell, I'd get in the car and go buy new furniture to surprise him.  I surround myself with chaos and don't know what the hell I'm doing.  If you ask to help me I say that's o.k. I'm not sure what I've got going here.  Then when you walk away I talk about how frickin lazy you are behind your back, and your back may have not left the room.  Oh, I'm a post-holiday delight for sure.

This is some of Christmas puked up on the dining room table.  The basement?  Oh my God.  Even worse.  It took me the whole day to get it together and when I was done The Teacher Girl stopped by and walked through the spotlessly clean house with dog crap on her shoe. 

Next year?   Old people Christmas.  Puny tree on a table in the front window that smells like moth balls, and I'm pretty sure I'm o.k. with that.