Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Queen Mum Goes To The Eye Doctor

The Queen Mum has some eye issues of late.  My sister, who is the Go To Girl For All Things Mom (and who everyone in the family will owe until eternity) took mom to the eye doctor.

She said it was like being in the middle of an AARP meeting.

Mom had just come from one of her concerts and was looking pretty sharp.  Of all the empty seats in the waiting room, some guy came and sat right next to Mom and started chatting shmoozing her up.   Ann kept on eye on him as he seemed very interested in our Queen Mum.  After a few minutes his phone rang and he said to Mom, "Excuse me.  I've got to get this.  You know when you're a sex kitten like me........"

A sex kitten?

Mom got called in to see the doctor in the nick of time.  A few more minutes in that waiting room and the grandkids might have ended up calling Mr. Kitten...............Boompa.

Rocking a fake tattoo for my nephew's wedding.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Here Fishy Fishy

When the kids were little, The Big Daddy would take them fishing.  There were mishaps.  Oh, were there mishaps.  Like when he was putting yet another minnow on a hook and his glasses fell off his head and he had to fish them out before they settled into the murkiness of the lake.

I can't say they learned to love to fish, but they did learn to love the tale.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Fashion Train

I was on the job for all of a few weeks when who should come in one morning but this guy...............

Source: tumblr.com via Beverly on Pinterest


There was no mistaking him.  I knew from clear across the store that we had a celebrity in Da Howse.  While my coworker was enabling helping another customer, I greeted him.  He said he'd been in a year ago and loved our mix of clothes and antiques.  Me too, Carson, me too.   He was polite and pleasant but not as outgoing as the guy you see on t.v.   I left him alone and when he wandered my way again I asked him what he was in town for, had he sampled some barbeque, could he spend a couple grand so that it looked like my stellar selling skills were back.  I made that last part up.

He was impeccably (and I do mean impeccably) dressed.  Dark straight jeans, shirt and tie, plaid jacket.  A  fashion standout in the shopping district of Cowtown.

And what did the woman who sells clothing wear that day?  Was I wearing the J. Crew black dress that I feel like a million bucks in?  I got it for $6.00 at a garage sale...that's why I feel rich in it.  Or the blue silk dress with the chunky exposed zipper?  Or the jeans and heels that make me look ten pounds lighter?

No. No. And no.

I wore my grey linen pants that stretch and grow by the second, a white shirt that was acting up like the pants and my eight hour grandma shoes.

Oh Carson help me pleeeeeeeez.   The fashion train don't go through Wichita............

..............lessen you're a cattle or a hog.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Don't Make This

Awhile ago, a friend was having a party and I asked what I could bring.  Well, she asked, what's your signature dish?

My what?

Your specialty?  The thing your family loves for you to make?   

Prison Food..........my homemade concoction of Hamburger Helper.  They go crazy for it but I don't mind stopping at the liquor store for a bottle of wine if you think that might steal the thunder from your entree.

Maggie and Nathan had a party this weekend to show off the cute little house they're renting and to gather friends to watch some college football.

I decided to make these because they're so easy so good.



Except they're not.

The gist of the recipe is to toss the pretzels in oil, sugar and cinnamon.  Heat in the microwave for two minutes.  Put more sugar and cinnamon on top and when they have cooled off drizzle melted white chocolate on top.

A monkey could make that.

I melted the chocolate in the microwave until I had what you'd call caulk.  Spackle.  Grout.  Something along those lines.

Plan B.  I put my caulk in a bowl atop a pot of boiling water on the stove and waited.  The caulk didn't budge.  I pitched it and started over with the microwave method.  This time I lowered the heat, checked every thirty seconds and ended up with a fudge blob.  Undrizzable fudge.

Plan C.  I remembered back in the day that I set my chocolate bunny next to the stove when The Queen Mum was cooking an Easter ham and ended up with a chocolate block in a box, so I put the blob in a dish on the stove while our chicken dinner was cooking and waited.  When that didn't work I shoved the whole mess in the oven with the chicken.

Hmmmm..........that looks like nuclear waste and smells like chicken.

In the meantime, I watched a youtube video on how to melt chocolate.  The white stuff?  It's really hard to melt.  Ghiradelli white chocolate chips?  Fagettaboutit.

Plan D.  I ended up making pumpkin bars after dinner.  This time I had a beer during the prep.  While looking for the powdered sugar we didn't have, I knocked the brown sugar off the shelf which knocked my beer over and it guzzled onto the kitchen floor.

Jeezus take me now.

The Big Daddy saved the day and went to the store for powdered sugar that I spilled on my pants when I opened the bag.

Wine.  It's what I bring to a party.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Wills

My dad's name was Bill.  My son's name is Will.  My nephew's name is Liam.  I am surrounded by versions of William.

When Maggie was dating in high school, her boyfriend's best friend was named Will.  Since that breakup and over the years, Best Friend Will has remained a constant in her life.  He has been to our house many times and was an usher when she and Nate got hitched.

We heart the Will.

Maggie and Nate stood up in a wedding this weekend that we were invited to.  Maggie's best friend and Will sat with Mark and I.  I chatted with them for awhile and after dinner the bridesmaid and groomsman joined our table.  I said something to Will which caused Maggie to announce, "I'm sorry.  I have to apologize for my mom, Will.  She's got a crush on you."

What????

"When the pictures from the wedding came in every time she saw you she said........oh there's Will.  I love Will."

Oh, geez, Maggie.  Really???

Will gives Maggie shit when she deserves it.  He's smart, funny, a good friend and a ten on the cute meter.  What's not to like about him?

Before dinner when we were catching up on his last year of med school, he told me he reads my blog every day.  It's in his favorites.  Your favorites?   Oh my.

I have a crush on every one of my daily readers.  As for Will the Friend, I hope one day that he meets a girl who falls crazy in love with him and thinks he hung the moon...........and that I'm there to celebrate.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Mighty Fine Line

The Big Daddy and I often talk about writing.  He writes professional papers.  I write here.  Every conversation comes down to the same thing..........being concise.  Writing enough to get your point across but not so much that you bore your audience to death.

It's a tightrope.  A tightrope cluttered with words.

I often come up with a sentence that I fall in love with.  Crazy, head over heels, oh-my-God-you're-a-brilliant-sentence.  Then I read it over and over.  It's so cute!  Isn't it cute?  You guys, don't you think it's cute????  At some point, though, it starts to not work but I'm not a quitter.  Well, maybe when it comes to jobs these last few years.  I fight for the rights of a sentence far longer than I should.

Eventually I delete it just to see if it reads better, and it never fails that My Boyfriend of a Sentence makes everything better as soon as he is erased.  Like this one.................

There is a fine line between melancholy and wonder.

As much as I loved this sentence, and copied and pasted it somewhere for posterity, even as its author I have failed to have any understanding of what it means.   

There's plenty more of that crap in the vault ;)


Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Prince

My dad died far too soon at the age of sixty four from a melanoma that started behind his retina.....a highly unusual place to get that.  It was Dad's wishes that his casket not be open.  He had said that during a random dinner conversation long before he got sick, believing that it was too difficult for the remaining family.  In death, he looked far more peaceful than his last weeks and Mom toyed with the idea of keeping it open.

While we sat in disbelief at the events that led us to a funeral home of all places, my brother warned Mom that going against Dad's wishes wouldn't lead to any good place.  "Nah, Mom, you'd better not.  He'll pay you back with a car that breaks down in the middle of nowhere."  Even in grief his family remained practical with a touch of snark.

From the moment the funeral home director opened the doors to the public it was a constant stream of people who had come to pay their respects.  By dinner time the wait was over an hour to talk to Mom.  Over that long day she stayed right next to Dad, always remaining gracious and overwhelmed by how many lives he touched.

Someone who worked with Dad introduced himself to me and said, "Your father....... your father was a prince of a man."  The next day was cold and rainy, more like November than mid-September.  When we arrived at the funeral home to move Dad to his beloved church this same friend said to Mom, "The angels weep for our Bill."

Well, my prince of a Dad, that sweet guy from your office was right.  The angels did weep that day for they could see how much you were loved.  Then they planted the memory of your goodness in the hearts of those you left behind and carried you home. 




Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Do You Stand For?

Spending five years on the east coast was a gift from the relocation gods.  Mark worked for the NIH for those years, and since we knew we wouldn't end up living there permanently we crammed everything we could into our stay.  My favorite place was Arlington Cemetery.  I never failed to be in awe.  I LOVED Rehobeth Beach in Delaware and even though driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge scared the bejeezits out of me we went often.  We saw the White House, Monticello, Mt. Vernon, Annapolis, Harper's Ferry, Assateague and Chincoteague.  We saw the monuments more times than I could count and you really must see them at night as the quiet of the dark gives them special meaning.

Mark loved the the civil war battlefields.  We saw several but we're especially close to Antietam.  I didn't get into it as much as he did until we went there.  When you saw how close the North and the South were shooting cannons at each other...........well, dear God it's a wonder anybody lived.  It is hallowed sacred ground.

In the last few days, I've seen the trailer of the Lincoln movie that Steven Spielberg made that is coming out in November.  When my sister and her husband came to town we went to the Ford Museum and the boarding house across the street where he died.  It's surreal to be standing in the place where Lincoln was shot.  Besides seeing the clothes that John Wilkes Booth was wearing when he was captured there were artifacts like a letter from a fourteen year old boy to his mom and dad.  A soldier at fourteen.

This video is almost like the movie in my head when I went to all those places.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Happy Life

This is a video I came across via another blog.  This woman was a Russian ballet dancer and at 95, exercises every day with a routine she and her mother came up with long before there were exercise classes, gym memberships or yoga studios. 

I think she is lovely, the video was well-done and I need to stretch.  Every day.

Simplicity, work and enjoyment.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Schooling

I have never finished college.   I attended a community college with the purpose of becoming an occupational therapist because it looked promising when I was going through the course catalog.  Yes, I think I will be one of those even though I don't know what one of those actually is.

In a role playing exercise in front of the class, I was the therapist dealing with an uncooperative patient and had to use my newly learned skills to get the patient to agree to a therapy session.  The patient was another student who either secretly hated me or was pursuing an acting degree.  She was good.  Me?  Not so much.  After the exercise the professor pulled me aside and told me that I should think about this course of study as "it might not be suited to you."

What??????

She did me a huge favor.

I left for a semester and went back to get an associate's degree in business.  I paid for every cent of tuition, every book and every supply until I reached the one year mark in my job for a utility company and could take advantage of their tuition assistance program.  Do companies still have those perks?  Oh please be so. 

My college experience was very different than what my kids have had which is what made me so determined that they would get the chance to go away to school and finish with a bachelor's degree.

If you were to ask me my one regret in life it would be that I don't have one of those.  I pine for it.  Dream of it.   Hope that when we finish paying tuition for the kids that it will be my turn.

I read a decorating blog whose author announced last month that she was going back to school for an interior design degree.  A few weeks into it she decided it wasn't for her.   As someone who quit a job after a week when I knew it wasn't a good fit, I get it.  What I didn't get was the number of comments knocking the pursuit of a degree.....almost to the point of mocking.

A few years ago when one of Mark's students got their PhD. we went to the ceremony.  As one of the graduates walked across the stage, a kid in the balcony stood up and shouted, "GO GRANDMA!!!"

That will be me one day and I will weep right there on the stage.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Perspective

I've been on the new job for nearly a month and it's about what I expected.  Long stretches of dullness, aching legs and feet, flurries of activity, credit card machines not working, thirty boxes of inventory coming in one day.

A day in the life of a shopgirl.

When I went on an interview this summer for an office job I knew that I could not do that.  I knew I'm the kind of girl that needs to keep moving during the day and putting me in a chair behind a desk would be like eight hours of time-out. 

When you never know who will walk through the door, the potential to meet somebody interesting is present on every shift.  Today we had a lovely woman in from Joplin, Missouri.

That Joplin.

We asked her how the town is doing.  How rebuilding was coming along.  She told us of a friend who got picked up three different times by that tornado and landed upside down inside a car.  Not only did she live......she remembers the entire thing.  That you can see clear down blocks where businesses used to be and there is absolutely nothing.  That the hospital will not be rebuilt in the same place because it was too close to the other one in town and they cannot risk another tornado taking out both.   That while one hospital was destroyed the other one had dozens of severely injured patients coming in with no electricity and a week before they had running water again.  That in her lifetime she will never see her town resemble anything close to what it was.

That on any day she is a combination of sad, lucky and grateful.

On this day, I was happy to be a shopgirl once again.  To hear customers stories, to be reminded that it's all fleeting, to know that despite what one wears attitude always makes the girl.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Madam Speaker

When the kids were in grade school, I was asked by the PTA to be in charge of the all-school reading program.  I said I would but only if I could change everything about it.

Prior to taking it over, the reading program was a contest between classes to see who could read the most minutes over the course of a week.  The winning class would get a pizza party.  There were two problems with this.

#1.  Kids cheated so their class would win.  I know it's a damning accusation but it was true.

#2.  I don't believe reading is a contest.

I started an all-school book club with activities in the lunchroom every day geared to all age groups.  The first year we did Charlotte's Web.  Swoon.  By week's end we had set up a mini county fair on the first floor with blue ribbon pies, quilts and dioramas that the 3rd graders made.

I knocked it out of the park.

After that success, the PTA asked me if I would be the chair of programs for the following year.  I knew that doing this would require me to get up in front of an audience each time to introduce the guest and I couldn't do it.  Couldn't stand up in front of others and talk like a normal person.

I declined but said I'd consider being the treasurer as I was a loan officer in my before kids life and could manage a budget.  This is one of the hardest jobs to fill and they must have been high-fiving each other when I offered to take it without even being asked.

It wasn't the most well thought out decision.

#1.  People would show up at my place of employment looking for a PTA payout and get pissy when I couldn't give them their money because I didn't carry the checkbook with me.   To my job.  Where I was being paid to work not run an ATM.

#2.  It's a two year gig.  After being treasurer for a year you become VP of Finance which is a mentoring position for the new treasurer.  TWO years of regular PTA meetings followed by PTA board meetings.

#3.  I had to give a budget report each month.

I'd shot myself in the foot but good.

Every meeting I'd get up in front of an audience in the cafeteria and give a shaky voiced report on the status of the money.  While I rarely strayed from my printed report, once in awhile I'd wing it and look out at an audience who seemed to be showing outright pity over my anxiety.  I would try to calm myself and regroup but usually ended up gagging on some wayward spit.

For the last two weeks, we have watched both the Republican and Democratic conventions and geez..............where do these women come from?  These powerful, eloquent women who can speak to thousands of people in a convention center and millions of people at home and never skip a beat.  Never have a crack in their voice that induces sympathy.  Never continually rub their forehead as anxiety induced pain roars through their bodies.  Never have armpit stained dresses or beads of sweat on their newly waxed mustaches.

They came from somewhere but it sure wasn't the PTA I was in.  That produced somebody like me who exhibited all of the above when speaking in front of thirty people and that was after a bathroom run due to a case of The Nervous Poop.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Super Bowl

Labor Day weekend may be about celebrating the American worker, but in my part of the world it's about the Sparks Flea Market.

Sparks Kansas.

Yep, it's in the middle of nowhere.

Last year we took Will and he thought it was all kinds of fun.  This year we took Maggie and Nate.  Prior to leaving, Nate told the siblings, "Kids, this is your mother's Super Bowl, now don't do anything to spoil it."

Yeah kids, don't make me get out a can of whoop-ass.

The siblings got along.  They bought stuff, they survived ridiculously hot temps, they ate corn dogs and sat in a tub that a farm boy cut in half and made into a loveseat.

The Farm Boy is not married.  He's never even dated which led to some awkward silence on our part.  If I knew a guy who was that talented I'd snap him up in a heartbeat, but I didn't say that out loud as you never know the sketchiness of the kind of guy who would tell complete strangers that he's never dated.

We came home with an old trellis, a rusty blue tool box, a green oar, a bowling pin, birdhouse, some locker baskets and a shelf made from an old piece of luggage.

And just before we left, we ran back to buy one more thing from the farm boy.  That's when we discovered that he may have some issues with gas. 


 



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Go Tell It On The Mountain

The first time I ever saw a protest was in the sixties when we were piled in the family station wagon headed to see our grandparents.  It was a civil rights protest that we passed and it made The Queen Mum really nervous.  Dad said they were standing out there to make a point and weren't interested in bothering anybody.

A few years ago, our church organized a walk to join a protest in Kansas City against the Iraq War.  I told The Big Daddy that we needed to put our money where our mouth was when it came to this and so the whole family went.  He and I might have been more effective protestors had we not both been suffering from A Massive Hangover.  As I was walking with a friend, she told me she was suffering from the same affliction, and that church of ours wasted their best intentions on some of their slacker parishioners who thought the prep was to get shit-faced the the night before.

When the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at the kids high school with their "God Hates Fags" posters, every man, woman and child within twenty miles came to that protest to drown them out and send crazy packing.

Last week in New York City, two dozen women protested their right to go topless.  One woman said that her dog has six nipples that anybody can see, but if she were to show her two she'd be arrested.

But your dog isn't picking the kids up from school, making a deposit at the bank or digging in the freezer case at the Winn-Dixie for the Green Giant Sweet Kernel Corn that's two for one.

My years of living make me believe that if we all gave peace a chance we'd be better off.  And while I appreciate the right to protest and wouldn't hesitate to do it if I believed in the cause, I'd rather passer-bys just be looking at my sign.