Hungry Like the Wolf, Mucus, and Tin Foil.

Look at the outside temperature on that thermometer!  It’s January 31st in Pennsylvania, for crying out loud!  It’s not supposed to be 61 degrees!

Why are you complaining about nice weather?  What’s your problem?!

My problem is that no one told me there would be nice weather today.  I wasted the whole day.  I could have sent the kids outside for recess at lunch and had a few blessed minutes of peace and quiet.  Or at least a few blessed minutes of tv.  Whatever…

Yeah, I could listen to the weather reports on the radio, but if your only options were the abysmal radio stations around here, you wouldn’t listen either.  You can choose from among 500 country stations, 1 pop station, 1 classic rock station (read: all bad 80’s), or fuzz.   If I have to hear “Hungry like the Wolf” one more time….

Since I can’t tolerate country music, and am forced to listen to pop at the skating rink, I resort to the classic rock station.  And they play weird stuff on that station.

For example, right in the middle of a normal lineup, without even the slightest hint of irony, they played “Ghostbusters.” Ghostbusters?  Really?  Out of all the music ever performed, they play Ghostbusters?

I’ve given up on music.  Soon I’ll be listening to Chinese classical music like Darling Husband.  Now there’s a man with some unusual taste in music.

Back to the weather:

Darling Husband has a special weather radio.  When there’s bad weather in our area, alarms will go off and a voice comes on telling us, “This weather advisory is to alert you that there is a horrible disaster coming your way.  Don’t you wish you’d taken it seriously when they told you to have 40 gallons of water per person on hand, along with your fully stocked pharmacy and fully loaded automatic weapons?  Too late for you, you lazy bum.”

Along with the dire advisories, I think the weather radio should give out fair weather advisories.

That way, when I gather up the boys and stuff them into their winter coats, only to walk outside to a balmy 61 degrees, I won’t have to rail at the heavens demanding my customary rain, sleet, or snow for grocery shopping day.  The day was taunting me with its warm sunniness.  It knew I wasted the whole day inside.

When I was in high school a classmate from China used to say, “Sixty degree, you wear short!”  I’m not trying to make fun of her accent, but whenever it’s in the 60s, I can still hear her voice, “Sixty degree, you wear short!”

In China they don’t add an s to pluralize words.  Our word for deer is like that.  One deer, 10 deer.  So, for her, one degree is the same as sixty degree.  I’m not sure why the musician 50 Cent calls himself 50 Cent, because it’s supposed to be 50 Cents.  And yes, it bothers me.  I take it personally.  I wonder if his agent ever tried to tell him that he’s saying it wrong, and how that conversation went down.

Today at Walmart, I learned that “the real problem isn’t always the mucus.”  It’s good information to have.  That’s why I’m passing it on to you.

I learned that little nugget from those tvs they have stationed around the store.  I resent those tvs.  I take them a little personally, too.  Especially when they tell me about mucus.

———————–

Watched while cooking/cleaning the kitchen:

The rest of “The Last Man on Earth.”  It followed the book almost exactly, but the book ending was slightly better than the movie ending.

Malcolm in the Middle.

Star Trek stats:

# of women in tin foil costumes: 1

# of shirtless men, including Kirk: 2

# of kissing scenes: 4.  The kids were appropriately disgusted.

————————–

Helpful hints (and not about mucus):

If your grapes are a little sour, dip them in cool whip.

If you get tired of standing around while the kids inspect every toy in the toy department, sit in one of these kiddie carts.  They’re way fun when the kids push you around in them.  As long as you don’t get caught.  Then it’s a little embarrassing…

Logic will get you Shrimp Fried Rice

Today I finally finished this series (in the front of the picture) that I began reading back in 2004.  Seven years ago.  That’s how long it took for the author to write the series.  When I finally got the last book, I had to re-read the first 3, just so I could remember what happened.

It’s the picture of the day because I’ve spent the last couple of weeks brushing my teeth and reading these books.

The books in the back of the picture are another series.  You can see five books in the picture.  I’ve only read the first four books.  Why?  Because the author took six years to write the fifth book.  Six years! 

The author says that he can complete the story in seven books.  But at one book every six years, he won’t be done for twelve more years!  He’s 63 years old!  In twelve years he’ll be 75!  He could die and no one will ever know how it ends!   Oh, the horror!

If he does finish all seven before he dies (in 12 years), I plan on reading the entire series all in one sitting.  The kids will be out of the house by then.  I’ll only get up to go to the bathroom and open the door for the Chinese takeout delivery guy.  In 12 years I’ll have been married for 32 years, so I’m sure Darling Husband will know to leave me alone for those couple of weeks.

(My reading was a source of much tension when we first got married.  Watch this video. It’s one of my favorite songs and it pretty much sums up our first year of marriage.*)

Speaking of Chinese takeout, I had shrimp fried rice for dinner tonight.  (Not Li’s.)

I called Darling Husband and said, “I’m not cooking dinner tonight.  I want shrimp fried rice.”

And he said, “Didn’t we just get Chinese food on Saturday?”

And I said, “I fail to see the correlation between a meal that I ate two days ago and my current craving.  How are these two events related?”  He couldn’t come up with a rebuttal and I got my shrimp fried rice.

I’m finding that raising an eyebrow, speaking in measured tones, and pretending to be a Vulcan is effective.  Especially on the children.  Now that I’ve made the kids watch Star Trek, they finally understand logic.

For example, sometimes my son will ask for something and I’m not sure if I want to say yes or no.  “Can I have that donut?”  I might answer, “Hmmm.  I don’t know.  We’ll be eating dinner in an hour.  You should probably wait.”  When he hears that, he will become whiny and generally unpleasant until I tell him to knock it off.  And then he gets mopey.

But this time when he got whiny and mopey and unpleasant, I said, “It is illogical for you to behave so emotionally.  It is a medical fact that eating a donut one hour before dinner will cause you not to be hungry enough to eat your dinner, resulting in a deficiency of necessary vitamins.  Furthermore, experience should tell you that behaving in this manner is ineffective.  A more logical course of action would be to state your case to determine whether we can come to a mutually beneficial understanding.”

He gave me a confused dog stare…and then stated his case.   He got to eat a few bites of donut and saved the rest for after his meal.   And no more whining!

*For those of you who wondered:

In the house by his window, he’s reading The Nanny Diaries.

Pulled over in the car is Marley and Me.

(I know because I recognized the covers.)

Dead cars, Uno Losers, Waterlogged Husbands, and Strawberry Tea.

What a day!  How can I choose just one picture?  Instead of choosing just one and talking ad nauseam about it (like normal) I’ll just post a bunch of pictures.

First—at 7:30, when it was only 28 degrees outside, my car died on the way to church.   There I am puttering along, and the engine just….stopped.

28 degrees is really cold on a Sunday morning!

The car has over 193,000 miles.  Might have to get a new one.  But I hope not, because we’re cheap and hate buying expensive things like cars.  Makes us cranky.

At 7:50, once Darling Husband rescued me, I took some quick portraits of B.  B lives overseas and works with orphans.  She’s also a gracious loser at Uno.

She asked me to take her picture for the prayer/business cards she gives out to people.  Gulp.  A little bit of pressure there, since she’ll be getting the portrait printed on hundreds of little cards to give out to hundreds of little people (and maybe some big ones, too).  But look at her—She’s a cutie and hard to make look bad no matter how amateur the photographer.

At 8:00, I taught the preschoolers about Jesus being baptized.  Here are images of Jesus being baptized.

Wait…why is Jesus wearing a Toys R Us employee t-shirt?  Oh.  That’s actually Darling Husband from 18 years ago.  Isn’t he dreamy?  (Is that a butterfly on his shoulder?)

Wow.  Look at all that water coming off his head.  I wonder where all that water’s gonna go….?

You have to click on that one.  Look at the poor pastor’s face.  All that water…and he was right in the line of fire.  We should have given him Hazard Pay in the next offering.

Poor guy.  He did have an awesome sense of humor though, so he wasn’t really upset.  He was also prone to crying at weddings, even when he was the officiant.

At 1:30, I went to Gettysburg to take pictures of things that look like letters so I can spell out my friend’s last name to give to her for a birthday present.

Note: The last letter looks bad small, but looks good if you click on it to see it regular size.

HALL

I was tickled to find the Eiffel Tower for the A.  She gets to go to Paris for work All The Time.  Lucky!

At 5:30, Mom invited us to go out to eat at….

Ruby Tuesdays!  What!? Is that allowed?  Their strawberry tea is aMAzing.

Watched no tv today.

The Glorious Powers of ADHD

This is a picture of Darling Husband (the grey one) and Rob at Li’s Buffet.  Every now and then Rob does stand-up comedy at wherever it is that people go to do stand-up comedy so you know we had a good time at lunch today.

Rob and family came to the house after lunch.  We had a blessedly quiet conversation because it was warm enough for the younglings to go outside and play.  It’s so nice that they’re finally old enough to go outside unsupervised and you’re not afraid that they’ll try to eat a rock.  Or a bug.  I guess it wouldn’t really matter if they ate a bug.  It’s not like there are poison dart frogs in the backyard.  It would just be really gross to see your kid eat a bug.

I’ve learned that the best way to keep a house clean is to invite people into it as much as possible.  It gives you motivation not to be too much of a slob.  My plan was to tidy up this morning while Darling Husband studied for the class he’s taking and planned for the class he’s teaching.

At 8:30, the alarm went off.  We both stumbled out of bed.  I made my way to my bathroom and brushed my teeth.  This takes longer for me that is does for you because I turn on the ceramic heater in the bathroom and stand in front of it reading a book while I brush my teeth.  I can thaw and get a good 10 or so pages read before the day even starts.

In that time, Darling Husband had brushed his teeth, made our bed, folded the blankets on the fold out couch where the kids sleep and put them away, folded up the fold out couch bed, put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, started the dishwasher, and was halfway done making chocolate chip pancakes for the kids.

That’s because he hadn’t taken his ADHD meds yet.  Unfettered ADHD can be a glorious thing in a grown man who has learned how to harness its powers.

I managed to shoo him away so that he could do the work he was supposed to be doing (the studying and planning.)

After he studied, he was supposed to go to the post office and mail the tax bill.  I asked him to help me move a table into the basement before he left so I could vacuum the rugs while he was gone.

Once the table was in the basement, Darling Husband bounded up the stairs, had the vacuum out, plugged in and was vacuuming before I even reached the top of the staircase.  I had to shoo him away and take over so he could head to the post office.

That man gets more done in one hour than I do all day.

Our friends got a little taste of it last night when Darling Husband shouted out in the middle of an Uno round, “Speed Uno!  GO!!” and made us play so fast we were in danger of getting carpal tunnel syndrome in our wrists from flicking out our cards so fast.

We had to stop Speed Uno after one round because the rest of us were exhausted.

Watched while cooking/cleaning in the kitchen:  The Last Man on Earth.  Which is the true version of I am Legend.  Not that phony Will Smith version with the sappy, watered down ending.

I lost at Uno AGAIN! Inconceivable!

(FYI:  you can click on any of the pictures to see them larger.)

THIS is why I love living here.  Why would I ever go back to the suburbs, when this is less than a minute from my house??!  Seriously.  I pulled the car over and snapped the picture.  There were no cars zooming by, it was silent, a bit windy…

…but lovely.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about editing photographs.
The above picture is just as it came out of the camera, except that I put my little watermark on it, and I resized it smaller.  If I don’t resize the pictures, they use up all my allotted space on WordPress.  I keep a copy of the original, a copy of the regularly edited picture, and a third copy with the watermark and resized.

Below is the picture again, as I would normally edit it.  If you look carefully, you’ll see that a white shed is missing, as is a green tank, and some powerlines, and a telephone pole.  The colors are more vibrant and just the fence post and wire fencing have been sharpened.  The field and barn/house/some of the tree line have been softened.

I did all that in my beloved Picnik (which will be gone in April.  I’m still in mourning.)

No, wait!  I take that back.  I used Photoshop Elements to get rid of the powerlines.  I could have used Picnik, but it was actually easier in Elements (for a change.)

All of those edits took about 4 minutes in Picnik.  And for the casual hobbyist, that’s exactly how long I want it to take.  Quick, editing done, don’t really care if it’s perfect.  Just want it to look good enough that I don’t embarrass myself.

Sorry, guys.  I’m still a bit whiny about losing Picnik soon.  I’m not looking forward to how long it’ll take me to play with my pictures in Elements.  And I’m not even sure how I’ll be able to sharpen tiny bits of the picture in Elements the way I can in Picnik.  Waa, waa, waa.

I almost never, ever use the canned editing that they offer in Picnik, because it usually looks super fake.
But not on this picture!  For fun, I tried one of the canned things, and it looked kinda good.  (See below.)  This one was a canned black and white, but I used a little eraser to remove the b&w from the sky.

And for fun, I clicked on the Cinemascope edit.  Wow!  That looks good, too!

And the one called Cross-Process (whatever that is.)  It looks great!  (below.)

And Gritty!  Even gritty looks good!  This picture is amazing!  No matter what you do to the picture, it looks good!

This canned editing thing is called Holga.  I don’t know who Holga was, but I’m thinking she was blonde, with braids, and wore a viking helmet.  And lived in Sweden.  (below)

Lomo looks good.  (below)

And so does Orton.

And even boring old Sepia looks dramatic.  Wonderful!

Below is another picture that I took today, and I’ll walk you through my editing process for that one as well.

This was taken during the Homeschool Co-Op we belong to.  Every other week, homeschoolers who belong to the co-op can take their kids to classes  with real live other children!  Wow!  Homeschoolers interacting with people!  Who knew?!  

While I was supposed to be getting my classroom ready (I teach an art class), I saw these shoes some kids had taken off.  I don’t know who they belong to, but I loved the way they looked juxtaposed together.  The delicate ballet slippers next to the earthy moccasins.   I didn’t have a lot of time to set up the shot, and this picture was the best that I got.  I wish that I’d captured more of the moccasins in the picture, but I ran out of time.

Below is the picture directly from the camera, except for the watermark and resizing.

Below is how I would normally edit it.  I removed the black blob from the upper left hand corner.  I don’t think I did a very good job removing it because that part of the carpet now seems extra blurry-ish, but (again) I’m not really interested in making my pictures look professional; just presentable.  This is supposed to be  fun.

I made the colors slightly more vibrant and got rid of a couple of little cracks in the white part of the ballet slipper.  I sharpened just the ballet slipper and the metal studs on the moccasin.

Here it is:

And to show you why I rarely use the canned edits, here is the same picture using the canned edit of Holga (below.)

And Lomo.

I’ll stop with that because none of them looked good.  Instead of enhancing the picture, they detract.  Don’t you think?

For fun, here’s what I did this evening:

In the above picture you can see that we’re playing Superman Uno.  In Superman Uno there is an extra card called the Battle card (you can see it in my hand.)  When you play this card you pick another player to battle and they have to draw from the deck until they can lay down a blue or green card.

We have the following Uno games (did I already write about this in another blog?  This seems familiar.)

Cars

Batman

Barbie

Elvis

Superman

Each of those different versions has their own extra card.

In the above picture, I got a shot of K drawing cards, because we were sure that’s how the evening would go, with K drawing card after card and losing soundly.

Didn’t happen.  As you can tell from the below picture, K won four rounds in a row and the rest of us were pretty neck in neck in our losing.  (neck in neck?  Is that the phrase?  That doesn’t sound right.)

I came in dead last.  Sigh.

It’s late.  Gotta sleep.  Night, y’all!

No time to exercise today (co-op), so no Star Trek.

Watched while cooking/cleaning in the kitchen: Malcolm in the Middle.

Puny Arms and OSHA violations

Grocery Shopping Day today.

It rains or sleets or snows every single time I go shopping.  Every single time.  The only exception to the rule is during heat waves when it is 280 degrees and the ice cream melts.

I long for the day when my sons are strong enough to help me carry the groceries into the house.  They’re getting close.  This year they’re finally tall enough to carry the lighter bags without dragging them on the ground.

I once played a question game that asked, “If you could invent something, what would it be?”  My invention would be a robot or conveyor belt or transporter device that would take the groceries from the car into the house.

It’s not the endless trips back and forth from car to house (even though it means that there’ll be mud on the carpet from the rain, sleet, or snow.)  It’s the weight.  The bags are too heavy for my scrawny arms.  I walk on the treadmill, I don’t lift weights.  I have puny, toothpick arms.

Some bags are worse than others.  Right now, as I type this, I have a minor crick in my back because Janet bagged my bags too heavy.  She even said, “This one’ll be heavy,” about three different bags as I was hauling them up and over into the cart, feeling my muscle fibers pull apart like a cotton ball.

Why does Janet have to do that?   This is the second time I’ve been in her line and she’s overstuffed my bags.

See, I bring my own cloth bags with me.  I don’t do that because I’m particularly green.  I do that because the handles on the bags don’t dig into my hands like on those horrible little plastic bags.  And the cloth bags are quieter than the plastic bags.  I don’t like noise.

In fact, I don’t like noise so much that when I was a teenager I used to go to the Magazine section of the Catonsville library just for the silence.

(Wow, it’s all coming out:  Hanging out in the library.  Thick glasses.  Bad haircuts.  When I tell people I was a nerd, I mean it.  I wasn’t a cool person pretending I was a nerd.  I really was a nerd.)

The magazine section was in its own room in the basement of the library and it was so silent you could hear your ears ringing.  You’d have to turn the pages of the magazines reeeeal slowly so that they wouldn’t crackle, or you’d get dirty looks from the other people reading their magazines.

And heaven forbid you wanted one of the magazines deeper in the racks.  The magazines were on a special rack.  The racks display the face of each current magazine, and each shelf can flip up, like a breadbox, to show the older editions inside.

You’d better hope that your shelf wouldn’t squeak when it flipped.  If it did, you had a decision: open it slowly, letting the squeak be slow and gentle and maybe no one would notice, or get it over with in a single banshee-shriek squeak.   Sort of like opening a candy wrapper in church.  I’m on the side of ripping open the candy as fast as you can, so the noise is over and done with.  But I’ve sat by women (it’s always women, isn’t it?) who will fumble with that candy wrapper for 10 minutes.  And never even share.

What were we talking about?

Oh yeah, bagging.

So, I bring the cloth bags and they’re roomier and sturdier than the plastic bags.   And Janet asks, “Do you want your milk in a bag?” and I say, “Yes, two in a bag, please.”  And Janet does that, but she also adds the pound of butter and the big yogurt container and the hotdogs and then gives me her surgeon general warning about the weight.  Today, she not only overstuffed the milk bag, but she put all of the canned goods in one bag and she put the 5 pound bag of flour, big size Bisquick, two boxes of cake mix, two bottles of spaghetti sauce, and both V8 bottles in a single bag.

I’m never going to Janet’s line again.

Like I don’t go to Nancy’s line anymore.

When I put my items on the conveyor belt, I sort them how I want them bagged.  I’m not OCD about it, but I generally want all the cold stuff together and the fruit together and the eggs and bread at the end.

But Nancy wouldn’t put stuff into the bags as it came through.  No, she would hold back the cans until the tomatoes were rung up, and then put the cans with the tomatoes and the bread.  Squished tomatoes and flat bread!  Or the milk with the roasted chicken.  Cold chicken!  Curdled milk!

No more going to Nancy’s line.

One benefit to shopping alone at night in the rain: treats.  I accidentally walked down the Valentine’s Day Candy aisle and I got myself a little $1 box of chocolates.  I ate them all in the car on the way home and didn’t even have to share.

(Is that rain next to the box of chocolates?  Or drool?)

Star Trek Episode of the day: The Trouble with Tribbles.

Watched on tv while cooking/cleaning the kitchen: episodes of Jericho

Valium and Lasers

Took The Boy to the doctor today for a lingering cough.

In order to take The Boy to the doctor, I had to dress up in my fake business clothes.   If you look like a stay at home mother they wonder why you stay at home.  Maybe you’re not smart enough to get a job.  You run the risk of being Talked Down To because you might not be smart enough to follow along.  Hence, the fake business clothes.  Business clothes make you look smarter.

So do glasses.

Before I had Lasik eye surgery I wore thick glasses.  Glasses make your eyes look beady and cunning.  People would take one look at those thick glasses and beady eyes and know how smart I was.  The bad haircuts helped, too.  Thick glasses, bad hair, and love of sci-fi.  Check, check, and check–she’s smart!

Incidentally, speaking of Lasik, I had the dubious honor of being known as the Worst Patient Ever when I had my Lasik surgery done.

Before the surgery, they give you a Valium.   Why?  First, because most people are pretty freaked out about lasers being shot into their eyes, and second, so that you can sleep after the surgery and rest your eyes.  From having lasers shot into them.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I had too much Valium.  (I was scrawny.)  My husband still talks with unrestrained glee about the loopy conversation we had before the surgery.

When it was time for the surgery…I got nervous.  And when I get nervous, I talk.

That’s it.  Just talk.

But for some reason it annoys the medical personnel.

For example there was the time when I was donating blood and they asked me to leave.  There I was, needle in arm, blood dripping into the bag, and I got a little nervous:

“Wow, the needle hurts.  Should it hurt?  Maybe it’s not in right and it’ll damage my veins and they’ll collapse.  What if I pass out and fall off the chair and the needle rips a long gash in my vein and blood is pouring out everywhere and you can’t stop the bleeding?  What if the bag pops open and blood is dribbling out and no one notices and you keep taking my blood until I’m bled dry.  What if…”

They removed the needle after 2 minutes of this, gave me a cookie and sent me away.

Honestly.  They took out the needle and sent me away before they had all the blood.

Same sort of thing happened with the Lasik.  I don’t remember what I said (remember the valium?) but after the surgery the doctor told my husband that I was his Worst Patient Ever and he almost cancelled the surgery.  I am not exaggerating.

The follow-up visit the next day was just as bad.  All I can assume is that coming down off my triple dose of Valium left me emotionally unstable.  There’s really no other explanation.  I’ve never felt as spacey and out of control as that day, before or since.

During the follow up visit, the doctor checked my eyes, didn’t say anything, and left the room.  Another doctor came in and checked my eyes, didn’t say anything, and turned to write something down.

Two doctors?  And they won’t speak to me?  In my unstable, un-Valiumed state, I was convinced I would be blind within the hour and they were trying to figure out how to gently break the news to me.  I couldn’t breathe and blacked out, right there in the chair.

I will never take valium again.

Star Trek Quotes of the Day:

Bones:  He’s dead, Jim.

Redshirt death toll:  None.

Movie watched while cleaning/cooking in the kitchen:  Vantage Point.

Haircut

I used to have really long hair.  But my hair is fine.  (Ooo, that girl is fine!)  No, not that kind of fine.  By fine, I mean my hair is scraggly and wispy.  And scraggly and wispy doesn’t do ‘long’ very well.

I got tired of my scraggly- wispy long hair, so one day I walked into the hair stylists’ shop and said, “Do something with this hair.  Cut it all off if you want to.”

Those are the magic words!  All those years in school and updating their certifications and training on the newest techniques pays off when they hear the magic words.

With a happy sparkle in her eye, my stylist cut off all my hair.  And it looked really good!  Every time I went back for a trim, she would cut it shorter and shorter…until it looked like this.   Too short!!  Cue the sound of the needle scratching the record.

Remember records?  Oh, I loved them.  I loved that fuzzy sound they made.  Such a comforting sound.  I remember Sister Loretta’s music class at Our Lady of Victory Elementary school.  Sister Loretta hated children so she became a teacher.  She would play us records of horrible folk songs like “Jimmy Crack Corn.”  She would try to sing like an opera singer and tell us to sing along.   And then she’d sing the wrong verse and blame it on us.  One day, one of the boys brought in a record.  “Sister Loretta, I brought in a record of ‘Rock of Ages.’  Can we play it?”

The poor woman.  She didn’t see it coming.  It wasn’t this version.  It was this version.  You know the one.

She called us “horrid, horrid children.”  We probably deserved it.

Anyhoo.  Today was Soup Day (every other Tuesday I eat lunch with a group of friends) and S cuts our hair at soup day.

This is the soup we ate.  W made the soup and took the picture:

Photography lesson of the day:  it is impossible for your subject not to look silly when wearing a plastic sheet stuck around their neck and have their hair sticking up.  I tried 55 different shots of K and I getting our hair cut and we look ridiculous in all of them.  And S is just a blur.  You’d think she had drunk the McDonald’s tea-flavored sugar water.

Here’s the Picture of the Day again, in case you forgot what it looked like:

For fun, here’s a picture of the haircut after.

Usually on haircut day, I wear this hat before the haircut, so I don’t have to bother combing my hair in the morning.  I bought the hat to wear in the house when I get cold.  There’s a line in A Christmas Carol that reads, “Darkness is cheap and Scrooge liked it.”  We like to say, “Cold is cheap and we like it.”  If you’re cold, put on a sweater!  Or a hat.

For fun, here’s a picture of me with long hair.  The was taken on a film camera with black and white film, back in the olden days before people used digital cameras.  (This picture was after records, but before digital cameras.)  Unfortunately, the hair kinda looks good.  It must have been the black and white film, because it was scraggly and wispy in color.

And for extra special fun, here’s my 1990 senior prom picture.  Look at the spiral perm!  And those glasses!

Where Will We Put It?

Happy Chinese New Year!

Shockingly, we did not go to Li’s Buffet for Chinese New Year.  But I do have a Li’s Buffet story nonetheless:

Last Friday, while I was at the police station, one of the dads brazenly walked up to me and said, “I think Li’s Buffet has been beat!”  He waxed eloquent about some loser Chinese buffet in the next town over.  I gave him a raised eyebrow and let him ramble on, but I knew better.

Today, on Facebook his daughter posted a tale of tragedy.  Apparently, they went to a non-Li’s Chinese Buffet today and there was a nasty little episode involving water and Dr. Pepper.  When the daughter ordered water but later changed her order to Dr. Pepper, the server thought the daughter was trying to get the Dr. Pepper without paying for it.

I’m not sure of all the details, but being that the daughter has formidable karate skills, there may have been broken china and mei fun noodles on the ceiling.  I cannot confirm that for sure but I kinda hope there was.

And the next time when they want to go out to a peaceful family dinner, they will know to go back to Li’s.

Now…on to the picture of the day.

This is the table that Mom gave to us yesterday.  Mom does not like clutter and every now and then she wanders around in her basement Cleaning Out.  Dad is never pleased by this.  In fact, there were some tense moments at Li’s Buffet last night while they discussed what had to be Cleaned Out from the basement.

The table in this picture has been in their basement for 15 years.  And for 15 years I’ve wanted this table.  Really, really wanted the table.  Wondered why anyone who had such an amazing table would leave it in a basement.  Leaving a beauty such as this to sit idle in a basement was a travesty.  (And do you see the little drawer in the side?  I love tables with little drawers in the side.  I pulled it out just for the picture so that you could see.)

When Mom offered me the table, I told her how much I’ve always wanted the table.  She  told me I should have asked for it sooner.  But as socially clueless as I can be sometimes, even I know better than to do that.

And then Mom said the magic words, “Where will you put it?”  A myriad of memories comes back to me whenever I hear those words.  They were a staple of my childhood.  A weekly tradition.  Almost, a term of endearment?

It’s sort of hard to explain the house I grew up in.  When people would come to visit it for the first time, we would greet them at the door, bring them into the house and take their coats.  Everything would be fine until the guest had a chance to look around.  And then they would stop and…stare.  For the entire visit, the guest would be distracted, just…staring…around the room.

My parents love to collect things and they love antiques.  The house wasn’t cluttered, exactly.  But it was full of stuff.  Crammed full of stuff.  The walls were lined with stuff.

Each piece of furniture that lined the wall touched the next piece of furniture in order to squeeze all the furniture into the perimeter of the rooms.  Two pianos.  Two sideboards.  Uncounted bookcases.  Four display cases.  18 cookie jars.  24 teapots.  Row upon row of  cartoon glasses from Hardees .   China.  Music boxes.  An entire room filled with hundreds of stuffed animals, including a 25 foot long, 1 foot in diameter hot-pink stuffed snake.  The eight live cats and the two live dogs.

And the 500 coffee mugs hanging on the dining room walls.

The coffee mugs.  You know those accordion coat racks?  Here is an example of one. 

Well, they had 50 of those coatracks and on each hook was a mug.  A couple times a year, I would come home from school or work to a haggard mother.  With a twitching eye, she’d ask me if I noticed anything different about the house.  I’d look around nervously, wondering what could be different until she would bark out, “The mugs!  I washed all the mugs!  By hand!  Can’t you tell how shiny they are??”  “Oh!  Yes!  I saw that right away!  Yes!  They are shiny!  That’s real fine that you done that.”  (See 30 seconds in to this clip from “The Good Life” Twilight Zone episode.)

My parents would spend happy hours window shopping in antique stores and finding treasures at yard sales.  And every time they would buy something to put into their burgeoning home, one of them would quietly muse, “I wonder where we’ll put it,” and the other would cheerily call out, “We’ll find a place!”

So…when Mom said, “Where will you put it?”  I answered with, “I’ll find a place!”

And that’s what I did today.  Found a place for the table.  Only problem is that I don’t have anymore space for a table.  My perimeters are full!

I had to resort to the ol’, put-the-skinny-table-behind-the-couch trick.

Ahhh!  Look at that house!  Look at all those colors!  I love color.  I love my house.  One day, when there’s nothing else going on, I’ll take pictures of the my house for the Picture of the Day and tell you all about it.

Star Trek quote of the day:  Bones: She’s dead, Jim.

Redshirt death toll:  5

Show/movie watched while cooking/cleaning in the kitchen:  Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Mother-In-Law

Today we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday.  (We call her Mom.)

As you all might have noticed by now, I tend to view things through a lens of humor.  It is difficult for me to have a friendship with someone who does not have a matching sense of humor to mine.  We quickly run out of things to say and the friendship sort of fades away.

When I first met Mom, she was pleasant, but serious.  When I would be my goofy self, she would nod and smile politely at me.  The goofier I got, the more she would nod and smile politely.  When I inevitably ran out of things to say, I resorted to talking at great length about the weather.  (This was before The Master’s Degree–back when darling husband didn’t usurp all weather conversations.)

This went on for 11 years.

One day, about 8 years ago, she called me on the phone and invited me to go out to lunch with her and her friend.

Oh dear.  What would we talk about?  But I said yes, because it was a kind invitation.

I met Mom at her house and we walked to Pat’s house next door.  Pat was going to drive.

We got to Pat’s house.  And Pat, with her curly dyed jet-black hair, blue eye shadow, dangly earrings, and fingers covered with rings, comes charging out of the house and immediately starts a string of lighthearted conversation punctuated with bursts of laughter.  She bustles us into her Cadillac and goes weaving down the driveway, cackling over a joke she made.

And that’s when everything changed.

Because Mom started cackling, too.

They bantered.  They made fun of each other and laughed uproariously at their own jokes.  Mom laughed so hard she shook and got tears in her eyes.

Pat ran through a red light and then drove up and over the curb on the way to the restaurant, hollering out, “Did I just come in through the exit?!  Oh yes I did!” which set them both off into hoots of laughter.

At lunch they told funny stories about their husbands, made jokes about the food, and Pat flirted with the server.

Mom had been holding out on me for 11 years!

And ever since then we’ve had fun together.  We go out every few weeks to lunch or to a movie.  (She’s wondering if we might like Albert Nobbs which is coming out this Friday.)

In all the times I’ve spent with her I’ve never heard her speak a bad word about anyone.  Ever.  All-in-all, I spend more time with her than any of my other friends, and she is consistently kind.

So, the picture of the day is of the earrings that I bought for her today, because I ended up getting a pair for myself as well.

See, before I bought the earrings, I bought her flowers.   While the guy was arranging the flowers for me, I browsed and was tempted to buy a yellow vase that would have looked great on the sideboard in the dining room.  But I resisted.

After the flowers, I went to Christmas Tree Hill and bought her this Crabtree and Evelyn handcream.  Click here to see it. 

That was a very difficult purchase.  I’ve been wanting the Crabtree and Evelyn Rosewater Eau de Toilette for years, but for every gift-giving occasion, I end up asking for something else that I want/need more than perfume.  (Like a camera, or a camera battery, or a cell phone that holds a charge longer than the time it takes to unplug it.)  The perfume was there and I took long, noisy sniffs of it, but I resisted buying it.

In the same store with the hand cream was a little knick-knack thing that would have looked great on my piano.  I resisted buying it.

Finally I went to Dress Barn for the earrings because Jeff said that he always has luck getting earrings there.  Jeff likes to buy his wife presents of clothes and jewelry.  And he has a good eye for women’s fashion, for which I am grateful.  His wife passed on a couple of shirts to me that didn’t fit her and I get lots of compliments when I wear them.  (In fact, I’m wearing the blue one now–here’s an old picture of it.)

By the time I got to the earring rack and saw the round metal dangly earrings (which are my favorite type of earrings and I didn’t have any in silver), all resistance had been worn down and I bought them.

We ended the day at Li’s Buffet for Mom’s dinner.  And this time I remembered to get the hot tea!

No exercise, so no Star Trek Quotes.

Number of free dinners at Li’s due to the buy 9, get one free card: 2