Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Planting Day

This is my windowbox.  We paid a whole lot of $$$$$ for this piece of crap.  It came with a lifetime warranty.  Sure it did. 
We babied it last year and made it work, but this year the entire top was rotting and it no workie.  I went to Lowe's and geez as in Louise, they put something in the garden department and jack up the price like we're all crazy enough to pull out our Visa.  So I roamed the home improvement store looking for an alternative.

I ended up getting some hanging willow baskets for $7.00, but with the weight of the flowers that hanger thing would break in no time.  And join the above-mentioned piece o' crap.

Thinking, thinking.

I came home and went to my project pile and found two boards to put on the brackets.  I picked these up from a pile behind Mallie Bee's dance studio.  She was mortified.  They were there forever which means nobody needed them.  Then I had them here forever which means..........nothing.

It needed some Purse-O-Nality so I added the white border fence that I picked up from the curb.  I've got a stack of those I haven't used but can't throw them away.  Me and patina..........we go steady.

Then I stuck a chipped up gold frame in there because you must add a little class to a little junk.  This calls for a party.  With candles on my shelf.
First, I've got to paint that not painted shingleAnd then the whole house.  That thing hanging on the corner is a piece of metal that was a dollar.  Nobody knew what it was.  Me either but I bought it and stuck it there.

I love metal.  Don't tell patina.

..........and when I get to be creative and plant, I feel planted.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Raising The Barre

I was taking Mallie Bee to dance and she was telling me there's been some crack-a-lackin going on at ballet.  Her teachers are a husband and wife team who were professional ballet dancers, and they do not suffer slackers.  You'd better pay attention and work harder than you've ever worked in their classes or you will not survive.  While she was giving me the deets, I made some lame joke that I thought was hilariously funny.

This is what you do, Mom.  You crack YOURSELF up and nobody else, she said.  Do you just laugh all day at your own jokes?

Sometimes.  Which at that moment seemed loserish.

Part of the attire requirements for the girls is to have a red ribbon tied around their perfect little bun.  In these highly disciplined days of late, if you show up for class without the ribbon in your hair you'll have to sit out.

Oh, that's ridiculous. 

I know, Mallie Bee said, but they mean it. 

I dropped her off and told her to hang in there and tell 'em I said NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER.

Which I thought was hilariously funny.

For the rest of the night and part of the following day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mother The Mother

I've written about my thrifty ways enough for you to probably think I am a cheapskate.  I am not.  I spend more than I should and have a frequent chat with myself about wants vs. needs.

I started working retail when the kids were little because the schedule was flexible.  While employed at small businesses, I always saw the cost of an item from the manufacturer on the purchase order.  Typically, if it came in at $20.00 it would get doubled plus a margin of $10.00 - $12.00.  That's why even when something is marked half off there is still some money being made.  Not much, and no business can survive on that, but hopefully enough is being sold at full price to make up for the markdowns.

The Mayor of Crazy Town took that formula and threw it out the window, buying denim jackets for $15.00 and selling them for $89.00.  Cotton warm-up jackets came in at less than five dollars.  Cheap goods marked incredibly high, and because it was a boutique customers thought they were something special.

They were not.

You cannot buy the material to make a jacket for $4.50 let alone pay someone else to do it and ship it across the world.  And therein lies the problem, as this is likely coming from a sweat shop and participating in that has become a constant moral dilemma for me.

I fail frequently.  I pass a rack of shirts at Target and throw one in my cart.  Do I need it?  Where did it come from?  What did the earth choke up in resources to get it to me?  But if it's only $19.99 how can I pass it up?

I'm trying and listening to my conscience..........which has become very loud this last year. 

Source: ashberg.de via

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Wandering Soul

You may remember reading about my Irish friend here.  He has Alzheimers and I sometimes see him on my morning walk.  He says things to me like "Top of the morning" and "That's a mighty fine dog you've got there."

He starts my day with a pitter-pat.

I was out walking and he was standing on the porch of a home a few doors down from his own.  Knocking.  Waiting for them to answer.  I walked up to see if I could help.

He showed me a set of keys and the fob had an engraving of a German Shepard on it.  These folks lost these, he said, and I need to return them.   I've raised a few of these myself.  Good dogs.  They're going to be pretty upset to find out this is missing.

Can I see?

On the back side was an address.  His address.

Well, they don't seem to be home.  Maybe we should walk back to your house.

O.k., he said, but I'm going to come back later before they start to worry about this dog.

We walked to his house and stood in front, and he looked at it like it was the first time he'd seen it.

Maybe you should go inside and have another cup of coffee.

Yes.  Yes.  That's a good idea.

You can try later.  Maybe they'll be home by then.

Yes.  You know, my wife and I raised eight kids in this little house.

I know.

You never know, he chuckled, maybe I have another eight somewhere else.  Well, it was good visiting with you.  Top of the morning.

Eight somewhere else????

Before we parted, he remembered that he was funny and when that comes to an end me and my mighty fine dog will mourn the day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Super Cut

When The Big Daddy was in graduate school, I worked for a bank.  Two of the girls I worked with always had cute hair and so I asked them who their stylist was.  They raved about this guy with the magic touch and one of them was his hair model for stylist competitions.

I had no idea there was such a thing.

I decided to give him a try.  Many stylists will say they love the crazy curls but that doesn't mean they should be cutting them.  When I sat in his chair, he said I was in good hands since his sister had the same kind of hair.  Whew.

Then he cut my entire head with an electric razor.  I kid you not. 

The Big Daddy said my new style looked a little bit like her................

Which is something a white girl shouldn't imitate.

When I went to work the next day they were shocked, and not in a hip-makeover-oh-my-God-you-look-great way.  Shocked like he must have had an off day.  Ya think?

I read that John Edwards current financial situation requires him to cut expenses and instead of the $1200.00 haircuts he got when he was running for President, he is now going to Supercuts for $12.95.

When he was a candidate and on all the political talk shows, I was inspired by him.  The Big Daddy thought otherwise.  Nah, he said, his hair's too perfect.  Something's not right about him.

Oh BD, I thought at the time, you're talking crazy.  But just like he knew his wife was no Grace Jones, he also knew John Edwards was no President.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Liz & Me

On Saturday, I dragged The Big Daddy to an estate sale.  To me this is the most fun a person can have.  To The Big Daddy this is like prepping for a colonoscopy.

I had checked out the sale the day before with the intent of going back when things were 50% off, so I knew exactly where the goods were that I wanted.  I made my pile and after The Money Lady added it up The Big Daddy started taking it to the car.

While I was writing my check she said, "You were here yesterday, weren't you?"  Yes.

"We talked about you after you left."  You did?

 "Yes, cuz you look just like Liz Taylor."  Bwahahahahahaha......

"You do.  People must tell you that all the time."  Actually never. Ever.

When The Big Daddy came back in the house I said you're not going to believe who these people think I look like.  You could say that he wasn't in the mood.  That he looked like he wanted to shoot somebody me.  That it was over for him five miles ago when he put the key in the ignition.

Are we done here, he said, putting a halt to the celebrity look-alike conversation.    

Gotta go New BFF.  Thanks for making my day.  Sorry Mr. T. put the ix-nay on the fun-nay.

Liz Taylor married seven different men.  If I'm going to make it to the finish line with one, I'll have to leave him at home when I'm rummaging through dead people's stuff.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friends In All The Right Places

Long before I started doing this vintage/repurposing thing as a business, people would tell me about a cool piece of furniture on some curb that they thought I might like.  How did they know this?  Well, my driveway is a dead giveaway of somebody who can't help herself from cleaning, sanding, staining and painting the trash of others.

Now that I am doing it for money, the calls for potential goods have become more frequent.  If a dumpster moves in where one of my peeps lives, they will keep an eye on it to let me know whether it's dive-worthy.

Last fall, my friend Karen called and left a message.  A little excited and out-of-breath.  "You have to get over here.  There's a great piece on the curb across the street.  Don't wait.  Hurry."  I was in the shower and when I called her back she said she'd watch it until I got there.

When I arrived she had already dragged it over to her driveway in fear of someone else taking it.  It was a filthy, ugly fabric, rusty nailhead, sad, little wicker piece.  I will say that she had more faith in me than I did in myself because I loaded it into my car as more of a courtesy for all her effort than actual excitement.

It sat in the garage for six months and when I pulled it out last month I noticed the springs were hand-tied which nobody does anymore.  On the back was a metal plate that said Heywood Wakefield, and The Queen Mum who will never understand this trash hauling of her daughter, said I got a keeper.

This is what happens when you have a picker, some stain, a new seat, fabric, pillows, a lot of time and a crazy, unexplainable crush on all things old...................

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bye Bye Babies

This was a piece I wrote a few years ago when The Boy Child was getting ready to graduate from high school.  Now Mallie Bee is a month away from that milestone and ready to spread her wings.  It will take some getting used to not having any kids in the house, especially after this morning when that girl cracked herself up all the way to school.  The time.........it has flown.

Our daughter’s senior year of high school had all the makings of a bad storm, with foreboding clouds that seemed to relentlessly hang over the house.  I was thrilled she was able to go off and spread her wings and she was more than ready to go, but all of it made my stomach churn.  After her graduation, we spent the summer planning her dorm room, buying bedding and other necessities, so when she asked me if she should start packing her clothes, why did it stop me in my tracks?  Pack her clothes?  She lived here.  She couldn’t take her clothes with her.
That daughter is now a senior in college and anxious to finish school and begin her life, but now there is another senior in the house, a son this time, and we will start all over again.  This go-round doesn’t seem to be so raw and I don’t seem to be fretting as much which makes his life so much easier than his sister's. 

That boy ran cross country for most of high school and when his final season ended, we attended the banquet where it is a custom for each of the seniors to make a speech.  He was near the end and thanked us, his coaches and a freshman who ran behind him during a varsity race.  He told the audience that he didn’t think he could have finished the race had Reed not been behind him and encouraging him, and then he ended it with special thanks to the guys on JV, to whom he was especially close.

I was enormously proud of this child who on a daily basis struggles with many aspects of academics, but does not let it knock him down or forget to thank those who push him on.  Like his sister, there is a bigger world out there waiting for him and we will spend the summer looking for bedding and packing his clothes. 

When the car is loaded with all the things needed to start a new adventure, we will cheer from afar.  The raising of them required us to be tough when we wanted to cry, to hold them to a very high standard because we thought they were capable of so much, to demand that they work hard because a successful life requires hard work, and to sometimes let things slide when they needed a break. 

It has been no easy task to hand the reins over to teachers, principals, school nurses and guidance counselors but we did, and sooner than we thought we handed them over to each of them to manage their own destiny.  I hope we’ve done our job well enough for them to know that their dad and I believe they hung the moon.......

.........and the road we traveled to get them there was our favorite place to be.

It Ain't Over Til I Say It's Over

Yesterday I went for my annual physical.  As those things go, it was rather 2nd rate.  Nothing is wrong with me and I had to make no copay, so I guess I got what I didn't have to pay for.

The subject of bone health came up, and though I used to be a devoted calcium taker, I quit the habit.  Since The Queen Mum has osteoporosis and The Grand Mum had it before her, I have no business doing that.  Before the doctor and med student had a chance to chastise me, I beat them to the punch.  I know, I know.  I have no excuse.  Did I realize that just one fracture puts me at risk for more?  Yes, I did.  Am I aware of what happens to a person who has a hip fracture?  Kinda.  They usually die within six months to a year.  Oh, no.  In a nursing home.  Yikes.   Probably alone.  Meh.

When they were done scaring the shit out of me about that they asked me this..............

Do you still have intercourse?  What???

Intercourse?  Do you still have it?

I've never answered a bullshit question with anything but a bullshit answer and so I said, "Every day."

Which will be hot-of-the-presses, front-page, late-breaking news to The Big Daddy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It takes A Village

You might have read about me trying to find the perfect MOB dress a time or twenty.  If you live with me or are on my daily call list, you may have heard about it EVERY STINKIN' DAY and thought, "Oh, Speckled Trout.........will you shut your piehole about that dress?"  

My sisters understand my OCD behaviors since they have a few of their own.  Jean became my personal shopper, sending me links to dresses that she thought I should consider.  I hemmed.  I hawed.  I DIDN'T KNOW.  I COULD NOT DECIDE.

Then she sent me a link to the perfect dress.  This dress I so loved when I saw it on the computer screen that I ran downstairs and got my Visa card to order it.  And it was backordered in every size.  My Personal Shopper told me to get a hold of customer service at Nordstrom's ASAP and tell them it was my daughter's wedding and to FIND THAT DRESS.  It was sold out in every size, in every store and expected shipment was September.

And there I was in some kind of funk when Ann called.  Ann keeps a cool head when it comes to overturning every rock in the universe to find the perfect wardrobe apparel.  While I was lighting the candles for my pity party, she suggested Ebay.  The 2nd listing was my dress, my size, altered in the shoulders and length because the woman was petite, worn once to her son's wedding, starting bid $49.99 and one hour left. 

I forgot my ebay user i.d. and password, applied for a new one, got that and then they froze my account.  I was still on the phone with Ann so she bid on it with her account and this hunka glittery awesomeness that fits me perfectly arrived on my doorstep a few days later. 

It's like we're the frickin Kardashians when we put our heads together.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chai Please

Last week when I interviewed, we met at Starbucks and I ordered a chai tea.

I dislike Starbucks for many reasons.  The first being that when they get busy they all act like they're at the trauma unit of County General and two commuter trains at rush hour just collided.

Multiple injuries.  Sirens.  Gurneys in the hall.  I need more platelets.  Get neuro down here.  Stat.

Since these are merely beverages being served, the whole place needs to chillax because nobody, and I mean NOBODY is going to die from waiting for coffee.

The other reason is this.............I was waiting for my order and they called one up for Kathy.  I started to walk to the counter when someone else came at the same time.  Two Kathys.  One drink.

Oh, you're a Kathy, too?  Sorry, I thought that was mine.

To which The Other Kathy replied, "It's only yours if you ordered a tall half-skinny half-1 percent extra hot latte with whip.”

No, that's not me.  I'm not that pretentious.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Righting A Wrong

A couple of years ago, The Big Daddy and I had gone down to KC's shopping/entertainment district to meet my brother and his family who were in town for the Easter weekend.   At a crosswalk waiting for the light to change, two guys were in front of us.  As we stood there, a car drove by and somebody hung out the window and yelled, "FUCKING FAGGOTS!"

Oh. My. God.

The light changed, we crossed the street and one of the guys said to the other, "See.  This is why I couldn't live here anymore."

In the many thoughts racing through my mind, all I could think to do was to catch up to them and say, "I'm sorry about what just happened because Kansas City is better than that."  They thanked me and told me "it was okay."

Nothing about that was okay.

I don't think of myself as some kind of do-gooder out to rid the world of homophobics who are so brave they toss slurs from a speeding car under darkness, but I cannot witness that kind of thing and do nothing.

While The BD got side-lined when he ran into a coworker, I learned their names, what they did for a living, the crushing lonely life of discovering you're gay in small town Kansas twenty years ago and why New York City was a better fit for them.  It was a ten minute conversation that we were all the better for, and before we parted ways they told me my kids were lucky to have me for a mom and hugged me goodbye.

Grace was resurrected that night.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Widow Maker

I had a job interview yesterday and it wasn't awful.  It was a sales job for a new store opening in Kansas City that sells clothing, furniture and skin-care products.  Since I'm fond of all three of those things and can write stories in my head while I steam clothes, I filled out an online application, completely forgot about it and then got a call for an interview.

It has been awhile since I've gone on one of those and I told The Big Daddy that I was kind of nervous about it.  He told me to "be myself".  Therein lies the problem.

I met with the co-managers and was mindful of my chattiness which almost always leads down the road to Flakeville.  They did not have my application in front of them so they asked for a rundown of my retail experience.  Clothing chain for petites...closed.  Parent company of said clothing chain....closed.  Lighting shop...closed.  Funky, hippie clothing store...closed.

Wow, they said, you sure have worked for a lot of places that have gone out of business.

For fear of driving a nail into this interview coffin or scaring them off, I did not share the name bestowed upon me many years ago by The Big Daddy.

The Black Widow Of Retail.

Source: google.com via Jeanne on Pinterest

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The One

I have been on the hunt for the perfect MOB dress.  My criteria is something that makes me look tall, thin and not frizzy.

I thought my search was over when I spotted a beauty on the clearance rack at Macy's marked down from $180.00 to $29.99.  And guess who had a 20% off coupon in her hands?  It didn't fit but that didn't stop me from becoming obsessed with it and spending all afternoon on the computer trying to hunt it down.

I decided to go to Hall's, which is a department store exclusive to Kansas City and very expensive.  In 21 years of living here I have never set foot inside, but I thought this occasion called for an exception.  I was greeted by not one but two salespeople.  I ended up with four dresses to try on and after I was escorted to the dressing room they asked if I'd like anything to drink.  They never ask me that at the thrift store.   Dress #1 made me look short and fat which is how I look all the time.  Dress #2 wasn't a good color.  Dress #3 was something they snuck in as an option for the rehearsal dinner.  I don't believe I asked for that.  Dress #4 was a gold sequined frock that in a million years I'd have never picked and I LOOKED AMAZING in it.  Oh my, I think I found the one.

It was $550.00.   

As soon as I saw the price tag I got a hot flash.  Full out hot sweaty mess with an expensive sequined dress plastered to me.

I hung everything up all nice and pretty, put my head down and made no eye contact when I left the dressing room, then hot-tailed it out of there like I'd just held up the place.

Which I kind of did.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giving It Up

We had our first burgers of the season this weekend and since it was so hot we sat on the porch to eat.  When we were done, Mallie Bee came out with a box of popsicles and passed them around.  When she got to The Big Daddy he declined as HE HAS GIVEN UP ALL SWEETS FOR LENT.  Really?  I hadn't heard.  Only one more week left, he said.

Ummmm, what about that piece of cake you had last nite?  That was complimentary he said.  Yes, it was free, I said.  No, no, no, I mean it was a birthday.  It would have been rude to turn it down.  And the piece of cake you had the week before?  Another birthday, he said.

Oh Big Daddy, come, come..........have a seat at the table for sinners.  Why there's plenty of company.

I got here early.

Day #4 to be exact.

A personal best.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Green-Eyed Monster

Next door to us lives two professional women who are a couple.  We love having them as neighbors, and remarkably they aren't attempting to break up our marriage.  They have good jobs, nice cars, great house, trips a few times a year, steak on the grill, wine from a bottle instead of a box.  Here at Green Acres, The Big Daddy and I make it up as we go and make tuition payments.

Every spring our screened-in porch is some kind of cluster or another.  We are always repairing and/or repainting and it seems to me that they sweep theirs off and next thing they're talking over a cocktail while we're ten days and a gallon of paint away from having any fun.

It pisses me off.

This year things were different on the other side of the fence.  They had a repairman there for FIVE days.  A new door, rescreening, repainting.  There was some kind of buck$ getting shelled out and I tsked tsked the misfortune next door.

While I was basking in the glow of superiority, Lowe's delivered some suh-weet outdoor furniture for their soon-to-be-totally-redone porch.  I looked at my curbside/vintage/garage sale finds strategically placed so the hole in the screen where the squirrel came in and the whole in the screen where the squirrel went out weren't so obvious and thought one thing.....