Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Party To Remember

When we lived in Maryland, The Big Daddy worked for The National Institutes of Health.  Before you think it was some cush government job, let me tell you that we moved there on a salary of $24K a year and that's not much anywhere, but a mere pittance on the east coast with a new baby.  A year into it we qualified for rental assistance from the county, and every month a small check would come to the landlord to be used towards our rent.  47%ers, you could say and grateful for it.  We were broke for all five years we lived there, but they were some of the most memorable years of my life.

Mark worked with a technician who had a house in Annapolis..........right on the bay and she invited a bunch of her coworkers over for a summer crab party.  She hated bridges so thank God we didn't have to cross this monster which gave me the heebie jeebies every time we went to the beach...............

She was married to an architect.  When the house next door to them became available they bought it because of the view, started their new project and sold their house when it was finished.

She wanted to be able to see the water when she was sitting in the living room, and so when the foundation was poured she brought over her lawn chair and sat down.  Nope, she said, can't see it.  Three times they poured the foundation before she gave her stamp of approval.   I thought that was a little nutty until I sat down in the living room and saw that beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

They had a screened-in porch with tables set up and brown paper covering them.  The crabs and corn were dumped on each table and the beer was flowing as fast as the conversation.  It was a dinner party that felt like a summer vacation day and like all good vacations I didn't want it to end.

The whole house was built so you could see the water wherever you were while inside, but the coolest thing was her garden room.  Off in the corner of the living room was a small, glass enclosed potting shed where she grew and potted her plants.  The floor was concrete and had a drain so she could hose the dirt down.  In a different house this might have seemed odd, but in this house it was perfect. 

The house with the lady who had a bridge phobia, who knew how to throw a great crabfest, and was smart enough to realize that if you surround yourself with people, the sea and a garden you'll have everything you need.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Different Kind Of Biggest Loser

I was driving to the bank the other day and saw a couple running.  So young and fit.  So cute in their workout wear.

Sigh.  I wish I could be like that.

And sitting at that stoplight I said to myself, "Speckled Trout, you need to get off your speckled ass and make that happen."

So last night I put on my black boot-cut yoga pants with the paisley top that was really expensive but that I got really cheap because the place was going out of business.  I put on my turquoise and neon green Nikes that The Queen Mum got me for Christmas.  I was outfitted for a jaunt on the treadmill like I was Lululemon herself.

To complete my workout, I turned on The Biggest Loser and pretended that Jillian was yelling at me.





Jillian kept me motivated and I finished The First Sweaty Workout of The First Day Of The Rest Of My Fit Life.  I'll be sore tomorrow I thought and I will tell everyone that it is because "I worked out."

I got myself a glass of water and that's when I noticed the toilet paper hanging from the back of the waistband of my black, boot-cut yoga pants.  The paper trail came to rest inside my underpants.

I. Am. Doomed.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

True Confessions

When we were growing up and trying to pull a fast one on The Queen Mum, she'd listen to the whole improbable story and say, "You know, I wasn't born yesterday."  This was her way of letting us know that she wasn't in the market for bullshit and we'd better think long and hard about the tale we were weaving.

I learned a lot about parenting from that single, often-repeated statement of hers.

I have tried to follow the Man Te'O story.  The girlfriend who died on the same day as his grandma.  The grief.  The cancer that took them both.  Of course you're playing for them.  Oh you poor thing.  Until it all cracked open and now he seems to have been the unfortunate victim of a hoax.  A hoax you say?   Even so, you probably shouldn't be publicly and repeatedly mourning A GIRL YOU'VE NEVER MET.

Sheesh.  Who tells that kind of bullshit story???  You sure didn't have the same kind of mother I did.  She'd have never fallen for that one.

When I was in the 8th grade I met up with a friend to hang out on a Saturday afternoon.  We then walked to KMart which my mom would have never let me do.  When I was late getting home she asked me what took me so long.

Well, we were right by the church so we decided to go to confession.


Yeah, Mom.  I haven't gone in awhile and we were right there so that's why I was late getting home.

That night at dinner, The Queen Mum announced to the table, "I'd just like you all to know that Kathy went to confession today without even being told."

And the crowd went silent.

The Queen Mum might have been suffering from a temporary case of Bullshit Radar Relapse, but it was clear by the look on my brothers and sisters' stunned faces that they weren't born yesterday either.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oh Beautiful

When Maggie was but seven months old and we were living in Maryland, we decided on the spur of the moment to board a train to D.C. and watch the inaugural parade of George Bush.  We loaded up the stroller and diaper bag and went with thousands of other people to the Capitol to participate in the festivities. 

There was no great vantage point to see anything and Mark put me on his shoulders to catch a glimpse of the President walking by.  I never did see George or Barbara but that didn't matter so much. 

It was festive.  It was fun.  It was democracy.

Since then I have only watched inaugurations on t.v. but I never miss them.  I requested Monday off weeks ago so I could park myself on the couch and watch every minute of it. 

When my brothers were in high school they had a record player and my sister and I would hang out in their room when they were playing music.  My brother, Terry, bought a new 45 and played it over and over.  I knew every word of that song and once snuck it over to my friend's house for a sleepover so my friends could hear it.

It was "Fire and Rain" and I have been in love with James Taylor ever since.

Presidential elections are fire and rain and rancor and disagreement, then we vote and move on. 

Thankfully, we always move on.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Finding The Cure

I came home early from work on Sunday and suggested to Mallie Bee that we get that Target shopping done that we'd been talking about.  She was surprised by my early arrival as she was still in her jammies.  I hustled her along.  Let's go.  C'mon.  You don't need to look cute..........we're only going to Target.

By the time we got there she was surly and just wanted to get the essentials and get out of there.


It's Target.  We don't rush Target.

I've tried many strategies in dealing with pissed-off daughters, but the one I like best is to go all June Cleaver on them.  Push the cart, point out the cute dish towels, oh-will-you-look-at-that-baby, do you need some shampoo, let's get some of those granola bars you like.  This throws them off their game.  Their moody anger game.

We got to the clothes and she wanted no part of it.  Finally I said, "What is wrong with you?  Why are you so mad?  We're at Target."

"I don't feel good.  I have a headache."

Oh geez.  Oh no.  Are you achy?  Do you have a fever?  Here let me feel.  Are you getting the flu?  You are, aren't you?  What about the friends you were with the other day?  Have they had the flu?  When you went to the movie were any of them coughing?  Were their germy, plagued hands in your popcorn?  Oh we have to leave.  Let's go.  You're getting the flu.  Oh geez, you're getting the flu which means in a couple of days I'll be getting the flu.  Oh dear God.  It's the start of the flu.  I'll miss work for a few days which won't be the worst thing that ever happened to me, but it's the aches and chills that I hate.  And your dad?  Oh, you're dad never thinks I'm really sick.  Grandma was like that, too.  If you said you couldn't go to school because you were sick she'd make you stay in your bed the whole damn day.  Then you'd get up and be all dizzy from laying flat for eight hours.  You don't feel like you're going to throw up, do you?  Not that, Mal.  It can't be that.  Cuz, you know how I am with that.  Can't hear it, can't know about it, can't have it in the house.  How did the flu move so fast from Boston to Kansas?  It must have come on a plane.  Did any of your friends fly home from school?  You don't have to name names.  Was it Beth?  It was Beth, wasn't it? Did I tell you we saw her parents the other day?  And her mom was like, "Now Mallory is going in-state, right?"  Like they're so much better than us with the out-of-state tuition.  And her husband just stands there with that goofy grin on his face.  You know why?  She never lets him talk.  What?  No I do not do that.  Do you need a Motrin?  You know I always carry them.  That and Immodium.  If I ever get kidnapped and leave my purse behind call 9-1-1- and then take a Motrin.  Right away.  Or Immodium.  It's in the zippered part with my lipstck.  I should keep Immodium in my pockets because if I ever got kidnapped I'd crap my pants.   Are you feeling crampy?  That's when you take the Immodium.  At first cramp.  Here, take one anyway. 

"Geez, Mom.  Calm down.  It's a sinus headache."

Are you sure?


O.k., well I have to go look at the workout stuff cuz I can't get motivated to work out until I have cute work out clothes so I'll meet you back here in five minutes.

When I returned she was M.I.A. and after searching for her through the Mossimo, Converse and Merona with no luck, she emerged pink and rosy from the dressing room.


The Z-pack for everything.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I have been rocking the curls since I was born and there is a long post I'll write someday about how my hair has driven my mom up the wall my entire life.  A woman with straight, thin hair gives birth to not one, but three daughters with varying degrees of thick curls and slowly lost her mind trying to figure out how to tame the beasts upon our heads.  Most times she'd shove a barrette in it and call it a day.  Then when I was nine Mom discovered the "pixie" and it was whacked off through high school.

I call that period The Transvestite Years.

When I was married and Mark was in graduate school, I made an appointment with somebody everybody I worked with went to and loooooooooooved and he shaved my head with an electric razor as if  I was scheduled for brain surgery the next day.

I had minimal luck with hairdressers over the years and most days resembled Rosann Rosannadanna.  Nine years ago, I was checking out at the grocery store with a cashier I'd never seen before who had great curly hair and I asked her who cut it.  She put up the Sorry This Lane Is Closed sign and started dishing.  Curly girls don't mess around.

"Amy.  You have to go to Amy.  She is............ she is a magician."  Her purse was at her register and she gave me Amy's card.  "Call her.  Call her today."

Well, with a reference like that how do you not follow up?   When I had my first appointment, my new hairdresser/new best friend asked if I preferred to go by Kathy or Kathleen.

I love Kathleen, but my whole life I've been called Kathy.

"I will call you Kathleen."

Last week she texted me to remind me of Mallory's appointment.  "Sweet Kathleen, I will be seeing Mallory at 11:00.  Maggie comes at noon.  Maybe they are coming together?  The only thing that would make it better is if you could join them."  Sigh.

This is a picture the photographer took of her doing Maggie's hair for the wedding.  I framed it and gave it to her for Christmas.  She lost both her parents when she was very young and her and her brothers went to live with her aunt and uncle.  I wanted her to have something to look at every day that would remind her how talented she is, how much she is adored by all of her clients, and how the parents she had for too short of a time must be so very proud of her.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Guns & Roses

I talked to my mother-in-law on New Year's Eve to see how her holidays went.  Okay, she said.  "That shooting at that school, though.  I couldn't stop thinking about those families  I didn't feel much like celebrating."

Oh, yes.  That dark, dark cloud that hangs over this nation of ours.

Today I got in a Facebook pissing match with my nephew about guns.  This gun thing I will never, ever understand, and even when the rational voice in my head is shouting DON'T GO THERE.......I do.  I always do as if his middle-aged, left leaning aunt is going to change his mind about a culture that thinks a man and an assault rifle go together like Opie and his fishing pole.

A few weeks ago, somebody I work with said after the Sandy Hook shooting, "It's like everything is ruined now."

It does feel like that lately.

Tonight when I got home from work, my husband was on the phone talking to his daughter and looking pretty cute in his jeans and sweater.

No spandex from the bike trip home?

"I gotta go.  My girlfriend just walked in the door and I need to take her out on a dinner date.

A Tuesday date?  Out to dinner?

Sometimes that guy knows what I need even when I don't.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Making An Entrance

The kids were all here for dinner and Maggie was telling us about her friend who has become a doula.  "Doula," Will said.  "What's a doula?"  Maggie and I filled him in on the deets, and then she told us that this long-time friend of hers is considering going back to school to become a midwife.  I cannot think of a better person to do that job.

From there we had a generic conversation about birthing babies and epidurals.  "Who the heck wouldn't want one of those things?"  Maggie said.  "I don't want to feel a thing."

Well, I had one of those and I really didn't like it.  When I couldn't feel my legs my anxiety level went into overdrive.

"No way,"  Mags said.  "Which one of us did you have it for?"

For you girls I had a painkiller.  For Will I had the epidural.

That got the boy's attention.  

"What???  Are you kidding me????  I'm the only kid of yours that you didn't feel coming out your vagina?"

More or less.  No wait, it was definitely more.

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

Thursday, January 10, 2013


There has been a lot of opinions voiced in the last month regarding our gun laws.  Or lack, thereof.  I paid attention until the NRA declared "a major announcement" was coming, and then in all seriousness said we need an armed guard in every school.   Good guy with gun kills bad guy with gun, snipers on the roof, tanks in the parking lot, tear gas in the nurse's office and really, people, what could possibly go wrong when everybody's armed and ready when the kids come in the door?
Here in Kansas we have recently had some cities adopt Conceal and Carry so I guess you never know who or where somebody is packing heat. 

Lenexa, that's where.

Husband takes wife out to dinner at steak place.  Husband reaches into front pants pocket which has his pistol.  Pistol goes off in restaurant.  Wife shot in the knee.

The good guy shot his own wife with the gun that was supposed to be used for shooting the bad guys.

Who is supposed to carry the gun to shoot idiots?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Safe & Sorry

***Man, if Mom finds out about this "rant" you are going to be on the s(&% list, but don't worry, it's safe with me!   Love your Bro J ***

Many years ago, Mark (he wasn't The Big Daddy yet) and I celebrated New Year's Eve with some of our friends and siblings It was one fun party, but as soon as we walked outside and I got a deep breath of fresh air, it became apparent that I was smashed.  I thought it might be the orange roughy I had for dinner, but my fellow partygoers said it was the hours of mixing beer, wine, rum and coke and champagne.  Allegedly.  As I staggered to the car I said something about "not feeling so good", so Mark and my sister-in-law got in the back seat and I sat in the front next to my brother should we have to pull over...........

.........and we did.

Three times.

The last time was on an embankment where I hurled up more of my New Year's Rockin' Eve while sleet was hitting me smack dab in the face, and then I climbed my drunken self back into the car.  I wouldn't close the door for fear of falling out of the car and so my brother got out, came around to my side and closed it for me.  Mark tells me that at this point he and Nancy were laughing so hard in the back seat they were crying.  I kept apologizing to my brother for causing so much trouble and he said, "Ah, Kath, don't worry about it.  We've all been there.  Nobody needs to know anything about this."

Jim, you're a great guy.  A really, really, great guy and big brother.  Sniff.  I'm such a lucky girl.  Well, not at the moment with all the puking, and maybe not tomorrow with the hangover, and maybe not the day after that if I can't get this barf off my coat, and maybe not the day after that if I ruined these shoes, but after that I'll be lucky again.  Won't I, brother?  Won't I be a lucky girl again?

We made it back to their house where I fell into bed (literally) and slept until 4:00 the next afternoon.  I got up and changed out of my party clothes and Mark and I went to my mom and dad's house to get the rest of our stuff before heading home.  I wasn't at my parents' house five minutes when Mom said, "Your brother called.  Said you made a real ass out of yourself last night."

***Bro J must have forgotten that I stopped believing anything I said or did was safe with him since January 1st, 1984.***

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Club

The Big Daddy started riding with a group of guys every Saturday morning a couple of years ago.  When the weather turned colder, they'd retreat to the warmth and comfort of their suburban homes and put the spandex away until spring.

But not everybody.

The BD found out that one guy continued riding every Saturday morning, regardless of temperatures, and decided to join him.  For The BD does not let anybody outman him without a fight.  Off he'd go to meet his biking buddy, and even if he came in stiff as a popsicle wrapped in lycra, he'd say that he and Joe had a great ride.  Or at least that's what it sounded like he was saying.  It was hard to make out because his lips didn't move until he'd stood under the vent for a spell.

Before long, they named themselves The Polar Bear Club and he'd set the alarm every cold Saturday to go meet "the club."   I was confused.

Just how many people did you say are in this club?

Well, there's two of us.  Me and Joe. 

That's not a club.

Yes it is.

No..........a club is a group of people.  

We're a club. 

The Shriners are a club.   The Loyal Order of The Buffalo is a club.  The International Order of the Friendly Raccoons is a club.    Captain Kidd and the Mateys?  Club.  Two guys on a bike in January?  Not a club.

Two people can make a club.

Yeah, but it's not really legit since a club is a group of people.

A club is in the eye of the beholder.  We're beholding The Polar Bear Club.

And so it's gone these past winter months this year and the year before.

This weekend, five bikers showed up to ride before the sun came up with a temperature at 35 degrees.  Some snow.  Some ice.  Some wind.

Some crazy fools on bikes getting their club on with no lodge in sight.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Preheating the Oven

We just got back from a trip to see The Queen Mum and the family.  For the last few years, The Big Daddy and I split up for the duration.  Mallie Bee and I sleep at Mom's house, Mark, Will, Maggie and Nathan sleep at my sister's.

Trouble in Paradise?

The Big Daddy and I used to sleep together on our visits, but The Queen Mum likes her house nice and toasty throughout the year.  She keeps her thermostat at 72 degrees in the winter.  Just like Florida.  In the summer, she keeps her air conditioning at 80 degrees.  Just like not turning on the air.  Sometimes she'll get a chill and say, "Is anybody else cold or is it just me?"  It's just you, Mom.  Then she cranks up the heat some more and we all lounge around like animals in the zoo waving our tails once in awhile to feel a breeze.

The Big Daddy and I would try to sleep in a bed with flannel sheets and sweat, while every few minutes the furnace would blast more hot air into our already stifling room.  Some nights we'd open the window, regardless of the frigid Chicago temps, just to feel some fresh air.

By morning we were zombies.  Sleep-deprived, baked zombies and so he moved across town to the digs of my sister and her husband who like their house a little chillier and a lot more internet accessy.

Mal and I stay at Mom's where there is no limit of good snacks and a remote that jumps between QVC,  Say Yes To The Dress and the soaps.

While it is still too warm for my menopausal self, The Mum always keeps at least two bottles of her homemade moonshine...............Irish Cream in the fridge.  A couple of shots of that, a closed vent and a wobbly ceiling fan and it's just like vacationing at your favorite sweat lodge.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Grandmas

This is a repeat from awhile back.  We went to Chicago for a few days and I saw my aunt and uncle - the brother and sister of my dad.  My aunt moved to Florida and so it is rare that her and I are in the same place at the same time.  She says she reads my blog and this one is her favorite, so this is for my Aunt Alice.  She took me and my sister to our very first movie.............Mary Poppins, and that's when I started believing in magic.

The first time my mom went to my dad's house she thought his family was rich because their house was so nice.  Not even close.  My grandpa was a mechanic for the city bus line.   My dad used to say that my mom's mom could make a ten course meal at the drop of her hat.  Not so, but she was able to pull things out of her fridge and put them in little serving dishes so that lunchtime looked like a tapas restaurant.

I have no idea how financially secure either one of them were but like most women of their generation, they had the ability to make something out of nothing.  A long time ago, that virtue was tossed aside so we could dive headfirst into consumption which doesn't seem to be giving anybody great results.

I keep pictures of both of my grandmas close by.  Like one, I love to decorate.  Like the other, I can make something little look like something big.  They left this earth many years ago but their spirits remain nearby, teaching me that making do has always been about making a life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year

I have never been one to make New Year's resolutions.   This is due to a combination of arrogance (what do I possibly need to change about me????) to laziness (there's so much wrong with me I don't know where to start).  I've been thinking a lot about resolving some things and so my 2013 mantra is...........

Pay attention.

Pay attention to.....................

1.  What I spend.  If it's on sale or at the thrift store and I am madly in love with the price point then I need to walk away. 

2.  What I eat.  My tank is compromised with sugar.

3.  What I say.  Though snarky runs in my blood, it's not necessary to haul it out for every occasion. 

4.  To creative urges.  I have traded the joy of being creative for a paycheck.  There is a balance to be struck and I need to find it.

5.  To wasting time.  When I have a day off, I need to not surf the computer most of the day and instead work on #1 thru #4.

6.  To listening more than talking.

A new year, another dance around the sun and a fresh start............lucky be thy name.