Fleeing Husbands, Threatening Gardeners, and Sneaky Vulcans

This morning Darling Husband looked up from reading something on the phone and said, with a twitchy lip, “It’s, uh, grocery shopping day today, isn’t it?”  “Yeah…why?”  Suspicious.  “They’re predicting downpours all day today.”  More lip twitching.  He managed to keep his snickering under control until he left the house.  It had just started sprinkling.  “Oh, lookie here!  It’s raining!”  And he fled.

This is a picture of my backyard in today’s rain.  Willy Wonka has a chocolate river.  I have a mudslide. The kids beg me every time it rains (on grocery shopping day) to play in the backyard.  “We won’t get in the mud!”  I’d love to say yes, but whenever I try to, my eye twitches.  Sort of like Darling Husband’s twitching lip, but not really.

Let’s look at the yard:

In the back, on top of the rotting wood pile, there’s a balled up bit of blue tarp, collecting water.  We’ll be glad for that water if they ever drop a bomb on us.  (Show watched while cleaning the kitchen:  Jericho.)

The boys kicked over one of the path lights.  Not that it matters.  The lights haven’t worked in 7 years.

There’s a hose to a cpap machine in a puddle on the ground.  The boys play with it.  When I was their age, I would have been grateful to have a cpap hose to play with.  You would have been considered lucky if you had a cpap hose.  Kids today have it so easy.

If you look closely, you can even see a dirty sock hanging on that wooden thing hanging off the screened in porch (on the right side of the picture.)  The sock’s been there for about 2 years.  I think.  It all blurs together.

Obviously, we’re not really into the whole “yard” thing.  We had to put up that fence to hide our lawn from the neighbors.  Sort of.  The people we bought the house from grew mildly threatening when we joked about how nice the yard was and we weren’t sure we could maintain it like they had.  At closing they said, “You are going to keep up with the yard, aren’t you?  We’re moving just outside of town.  We drive past this house on the way to work every day.  We’ll know if the yard isn’t kept up.”  Uuuuhhh…

People get funny about their houses when they sell them.  Back when we bought our first house the sellers asked us at closing, “You’re not going to take down the (ghastly) wallpaper in the baby’s room, are you?”  And when we said, “Uuuhhh….” (because we were never, ever, having kids!  Nope!  Not us!), the woman hid her head on her husband’s shoulder and he had to comfort her, “There, there.  We can’t make them keep the baby’s wallpaper.”

But, back to the yard and gardening:

My mother and I used to sit around for hours every evening, talking.  Those are some of my favorite memories.  Just sitting and talking.  I would make a bowl of ramen noodles (I ate them for breakfast and dessert every day for about 17 years–no, I am not kidding), and she would have a cup of coffee and we’d talk about nothing for hours.

In the winter, one of our favorite topics of conversation was about the garden we were going to plant in the spring.  Oh, the ideas we had!  We would have tiny whitewashed picket fences with charming gates, hand painted with flowering vines.  We’d have flowers in one part and vegetables in the other.  Gravel paths.  Fountains.  Birdbaths.  Birdhouses that we would make ourselves.  The yard would be a Versailles of floral delights.

And then the first hot day of the year would hit.  And so would our hayfever.  No central airconditioning.  Gnats.  Dirt.  Sweat.  Pollen.  Sneezes.  And we’d laugh and laugh uproariously at all our winter plans until the tears streamed down our faces.  “And we were (gasp for air) gonna (snort) hand paint the fence!  (hahahahaha!)”

A few years ago when she lived nearby my mother called to say, “I’ve started a garden!  Now, don’t get too excited, because it’s small, but it’s sooo beautiful.  I’ve planted it in that tiny plot of land between the shed and the house.  It’s meant to be a wild garden, so don’t expect anything grand.  Sometimes I go out there and just look at it and I feel so peaceful.”

So I went to see it.  The tiny plot of land was about 1 foot by 3 feet between the house and the shed.  In the middle of some scraggly grass and a few weeds was one lone daisy.  One. Lone. Daisy.

Well, it was better than my mudslide.

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Star Trek Stats:

Seduction and betrayal of a naive female:  1

This time Spock (not Kirk!) got to seduce the woman into acting like a dunderhead.  Those Romulans were just silly for letting a woman be a commander.  Obviously women can’t handle power.  They’re fluff heads as soon as a man walks in the room.  Why did we ever allow women the right to vote?  Tsk, tsk.  Well.  At least we all know that they’re voting the way their husbands tell them to, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

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Let me Nap in Peace!

The 2nd most exciting thing that happened today was that the library called to say “an item you have requested has arrived.”  Of course, they just had to call 10 and a half minutes into my 20 minute nap to tell me this.  Grrrrr!

My nap was the 1st most exciting thing to happen today.

Today is the 59th Picture of the Day I’ve posted on this blog.  I’ve written 58 very lovely posts this year, but tonight I’m going to take a mini break from writing.  My little typing fingers are tired and would rather laze around getting covered with Dorito cheese, and who am I to deny them a little break every now and then?  Bring on the Doritos!

Instead, I’ll direct you to this guy’s blog about passing out Halloween candy.  I promise its lots funnier than anything I can come up with right now.  I wish I could take credit for writing something as funny as his Halloween candy story.

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And, hey–no mean comments about Rosie.  She’s a little sensitive.  Yes, she’s old and big and wire-y, but she gets reliable reception and has a neck rest so you can handwash all your dishes and talk on the phone at the same time.  She’s part of the family.

And she’s still reeling from the blow that Henry died yesterday.  We’ve had Henry for 18 years.  We’ll miss him.  Rest in Peace, Henry.  We loved to watch our favorite shows on you, and you couldn’t help it that you took up so much room on the TV stand.  You were just stout.  That’s how they were made in the early 90’s.  I think our new TV will be named Juan.  He’ll be thin and sleek and have a sexy accent.

(Stop it, stop it!  I keep editing the post to add more.  Stop.  I’m going to bed and getting some proper rest now.  With earplugs.  No more editing.  Good-bye.)

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Star Trek Stats:

Vulcan death grips: 2

Attack cats: 1

Women in shiny purple costumes: 1

Wild and Crazy Night on the Town

Went to see The Artist with Janet tonight.  Loved it.  Love-love-loved it.  All movies should end with a tap dancing sequence.   Everybody loves tap dancing.  I’d go to movies with more tap dancing in them, wouldn’t you?

You’d think that a black and white silent film would be boring, but it wasn’t.  I mean, we all know that Shaun the Sheep is excellent and there’s no talking in that, so why not The Artist?  (I love Shaun the Sheep. See this clip.)

We were at The Majestic Theater in Gettysburg which is where the artsy-fartsy stuff is done in Gettysburg.  The stadium seating there is horrifying.  I managed to climb to the top row in an attempt to take a picture of the projector machine.  Once I was there, I made the mistake of looking down.  (Whatever you do, don’t look down!).  My knees buckled from the vertigo. That’s some serious stadium seating.  The seats were so steep that they were leaning over the other seats.  It was like an MC Escher* painting.  I froze at the top and Janet almost had to call the fire department. I’m pretty sure they don’t rescue women frozen on the top level of stadium seating, much the same way they don’t rescue cats from trees anymore.

Speaking of being afraid of heights, my favorite Mr. Bean episode is the one where he gets on the high dive and then loses his nerve.  Rowan Atkinson is very famous.  I know this because his name is in my spell checker.  Wouldn’t it be cool to be so famous that your name is in spell check??  Or to have an action figure made of you.  The best reason for being famous is for the action figures.  And the money.  And the special treatment in restaurants.   And the professionally photo-shopped pictures of you that make you look gorgeous, even if you’re not.  Here’s the Mr. Bean Swimming Pool clip.

At The Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, you don’t get that nasty, bad-for-you popcorn.  No, no.  Not at The Majestic.  The Majestic popcorn is delicious and nutritious.

Janet and I had fun looking at the works of art on display in the lobby and we took pictures of the way the lights reflect in our eyes in the bathroom.    By 9:30, the movie was done and pretty much all of Gettysburg was shutting down.  A crazy night on the town!

     

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MC Escher:  Look at this guys’ photographs.  At the bottom of his website click on “go to portfolio,” then click on a picture and use the arrow keys to see the next picture.   Isn’t he amazing?  Sigh.  I think I have a crush on him.  That sort of photography would be fun to do.  Not this ghastly portrait taking.  Portrait taking is so yucky.  You have to interact with people and try to make them relaxed so they don’t give you the crazy-eye smile.  *shudder*

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Boy6 saw my Belgium chocolates and asked if he could have some.  I told him that I didn’t think he’d like them.  “Why?  What do they taste like?”  “Boiled okra.”

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Star Trek Stats:

Oompa Loompa wigs: 1

Vulcan Death Grips: 2

Women in shiny gold suits: 1

Gladiator fights: 3

Insult from McCoy to Spock: “You pointy-eared hobgoblin.”

Super Hero Boots, Where’s Waldo, and Please Make Bud Stop Picking His Nose

Not much happened today, so I’ll resort to talking about my boots again.

I went ahead and wore my shabby Super Hero boots to church today.  They’re only a little shabby, and I knew I wouldn’t see B (she’s the shoe police), so it would be ok.  I can’t wear them very often because they don’t quite go with most things, but I love, love, love them.  I call them Super Hero boots because they look like Supergirl’s boots, just not bright red.   They look best when I wear my cape with them, like I did today.

Ok, it’s not a real cape, it’s just a long sweater, but it feels like a cape.  It’s the same sweater cape that I wear to the skating rink so it can swoosh out behind me.

When I first got dressed this morning I went with the lower heeled boots because they’re more practical.  They were ok and went with the outfit well enough.  (The picture is a dramatization recreated this afternoon.  I would never subject you to ghastly pictures of myself from early in the morning.  Our Founding Fathers outlawed such things.)

Ho-hum, but they work.

(Aside: See the sweater tights?  I love the sweater tights!  They’re little sweaters for my legs, but they’re not leg warmers.  Which is good, because while leg warmers were an excellent idea, they lost something in the execution.)

For fun, I tried on the Super Hero Boots with their larger heel, because I really miss wearing my Super Hero Boots.  No good.  The boots overpower the outfit and look really, really dumb.

No, no, and no.

Buuut…when I put on the cape—yes!  They look great with the cape!  Turns out, you just can’t wear Super Hero Boots without a cape.  The cape makes the outfit.

Much better! All it needed was a cape.

I wish we could wear whatever we wanted.  I mean, really wear whatever we wanted.  No, I don’t mean like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m going to wear my Ratty Family Sweatpants to Walmart and people shouldn’t judge me no matter how hideously I clothe myself.”

Which reminds me of the time that R’s boyfriend gently and respectfully approached his neighbors who would endlessly honk their car horns, cuss people out, and wear their Ratty Family Sweatpants everywhere they went.  Very softly, he told them that they were being so rude because their self-esteems were bad and that it was ok, because they are valuable human beings and he loved them and would never judge them.  But could they please stop honking their car horns and cussing people out?  Yeeeah.  That conversation went about as well as you’d expect it to go.  Ideological twenty-year olds make the world go round.  Gotta love ‘em.

No, no.  When I say we should dress the way we want to, I mean, if one wanted to wear a cape, a real cape, then one could.  Or pirate clothes.  Or a wedding dress for everyday.  Or cowboy hats and boots.  Or shiny silver clothes from the future, like in seventies science fiction shows.

I’ll bet that somewhere in New York City is a person who wears whatever they want every single day, including the cowboy hats and shiny silver clothes.  It’s always Halloween, only without all the free candy.  If I could get away with it, I’d wear my pirate costume tomorrow.  My Super Hero Boots go reeeeally well with the pirate costume.

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Aww.  I was looking for the picture of me in my pirate costume and found this picture of Jimmy at the concert.  Told you he could be spotted in a crowd of 80,000.  I was standing on the stadium steps when I took this random crowd shot.  It wasn’t until the picture was developed a few weeks later that we looked at it and someone said, “Hey!  There’s Jimmy!!”

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Oh!  I found this one, too!  Pam is praying, “Please, God, make my husband stop picking his nose.  I promise I’ll never complain about him again–just make him stop! “

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Well, I can’t find my pirate costume picture and I’m too lazy to dress up in it and take a picture right now.  Here’s the costume, but when I wear it somehow my stomach manages to stay covered.  Oh, and no cleavage shows when I wear it, either.  That poor woman in the picture.  Someone gave her a faulty costume.  She’s a valuable human being and we won’t judge her.

Smooth Chocolate, Gritty Men, and Knickers

He cooks.

My nephew visited for the weekend.  Anyone who spends more than five hours in my house in a row is required to help with the cooking and cleaning.  Guests get bored unless you give them little jobs to do.  It makes them happy.

The trick for getting 13 year-old nephews to cook and clean is to give them the sharpest knife you have and let them use the water-sprayer thingee on the side of the sink.  Yes, water was everywhere, but that’s what (holey) towels are for.  (Dishwasher still isn’t working.  Sob.)

He cleans.

These picture are for my sister-in-law to have proof that her son knows how to chop vegetables, wash dishes, and make dump cake.  You’re welcome!

He bakes.

Then we let him play on the treadmill.

Oh no, I’m like my evil grandparents! “Here, kid, play on this treadmill if you’re bored.”

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Eaten while blogging:  A gift of Belgian chocolates from a friend back from a European business trip.  (Lucky dog!!)

European chocolate is creamier than American chocolate.  I’m not sure I like it. It’s slippery, like boiled okra.  (Lady fingers, I think?, for my British followers.)  I like a little grit in my chocolate.  My mother said that when they lived in England for 2 years, she got tired of refined British men.  She couldn’t wait to get back to America just to see a few gritty Marlboro men.  At the time (in the 70’s) England had James Bond, but America had Clint Eastwood—her favorite actor.  Now that’s a gritty man.

Gritty chocolate, gritty men.  That’s what makes America great.

Speaking of James Bond, Daniel Craig makes for an excellent James Bond, but what happened to the James Bond theme music?!?!  I am so disappointed.  It’s just not a James Bond movie without the James Bond music.

I used to read James Bond books when I was a kid.  From what I remember, James Bond was described as stocky and muscular, and I think he had dark hair.  And his eyes were the cold remorseless eyes of a killer.  Are Daniel Craig’s eyes cold?  I’m not sure.  I think I need to go look at some pictures to check out his, uh, eyes. Research for The Blog you know.  I’m dedicated like that.

Here’s a great little article about what James Bond looks like according to the books.

I’m sure that Daniel Craig would never throw a dodge ball at me.  Do they even play dodge ball in England?  That seems like a gritty American invention.  Then again, those British are a little peculiar.  When my family lived in England for those two years, I was 5 and 6 years old.  During gym class we didn’t wear gym uniforms. We would simply strip down to our underwear.  (Knickers.)  Imagine playing dodge ball in your knickers!!  Ghastly!  I’m pretty sure that Knicker Dodge Ball was what our Founding Fathers were thinking of when they outlawed “cruel and unusual punishment.”  Drawing and quartering weren’t even on their radar.

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The clouds were great today, so I attempted the picture of the brambly mailbox again.  I still don’t really like the way it turned out–there’s a discoloration from the sun around the mailbox.  Before I could spend too long tweaking the camera, the 41 mph wind gusts and 26 degree wind chill chased me away.  I think I’ll try again in spring when the mailbox is covered in something pretty.  And it’s warmer.

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Had dinner with friends.  Nephew came, too.  He was afraid he’d be bored, but ended up having a great time.  This table is gorgeous and the food was scrumptious.  We brought the dump cake.

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Dump Cake

1 can crushed pineapple

1 can apple pie filling

1 box of white cake mix

1 stick butter

8x8x2 size pan, or something somewhat equivalent.

Turn on oven to 350.

Drain the crushed pineapple.  This will take you a lot longer than you expect.  A lot longer.  Use the lid to squeeze out the pineapple juice.  Done?  No you’re not.  Smush down the lid at a different angle and lots more juice comes out.  Keep smushing at different angles.  When you’ve done this for about 3 minutes, and when the pineapple is so smushed that it fills only about 1/3 of the can, then you’re done.

Spread pineapple on the bottom of the pan.

Spread the pie filling over the pineapple.

Spread the dry cake mix over the apples.  DO NOT MIX THE DRY CAKE MIX INTO THE FILLING.

Use a butter knife to slice the stick of butter into paper thin slices and spread it evenly over the dry cake mix.

Bake 30 minutes.  The butter will melt (oh, drool!) all over the cake mix.  The pie filling will bubble (eye flutter).  It’s up to you if you want it in there longer.  I like the edges to be a very light brown.  Darling Husband likes them darker, so it’s up to you how long you bake it.

I like to eat it hot.  Darling Husband likes to eat it cold.  Again, up to you.

Carnival Food is Good, Gerhard is Funny, and My House is Windy

Went to Casa Rico with Gerhard and Janet for Gerhard’s birthday dinner.  Casa Rico is a Mexican restaurant, but they also offer Indian food.  This is a picture of my Mixed Pakodas.  Basically, they’re breaded deep-fried vegetables, like you get at the carnival. And since carnival food is awesome, (funnel cakes, candied apples, cotton candy, kettle corn) you know they were good.

Yes,  it’s a boring picture, but I was focused on the conversation, and not the photography.  Conversations with Gerhard and Janet are the best.  The kids went to Grandma’s house instead of to dinner with us and they were disappointed.  “But we wanted to hear Mr. Gerhard’s stories!”  And no wonder:  Last week before Photo Club he told me awesome stories about his 80 year old mother and the meth lab.

Today he told us about taking a swimming class at UMBC in the 60’s.  No swimsuits allowed.  You had to swim naked.  It was the 60’s.  ‘Nuff said.

On the drive home, the wind was gusting and blowing the car around, which got me to thinking about the wind patterns in my playroom.

See, while I write the blog, I have a portable heater on in the room.  This heater to be exact.

Let’s read some of the specs:

Reg. Price: $472.00

Sale Price: $297.00

First of all, it’s $300, so you know we didn’t buy it.  The heater belongs to Darling Husband’s parents and I have no idea how it got into my house, but the thing works, so I don’t ask too many questions.  Here’s why—look at this next spec:

Elec Thermo: Range 50 to 90 Degrees

Ninety degrees, people!  It’s sitting here now, not 2 inches from me, burning a hole through the legs of my jeans.  It’s heaven.  (Isn’t heaven the hot one?)

Next spec:

Heats Up To 1000 Square Feet

This room is about 500 square feet.  The heater is pumping out 90 degree heat, designed for a room twice its size.  Does it get any better than this?

Next spec:

Watts: 1483

Whoa, whoa, whoa!  1483 watts?!  Is that like having a 1483 watt lightbulb?!  What’s that doing to my electric bill??  Darling Husband has been wondering why the electric bill has been so high lately, and has been throwing around accusations with wild abandon: “Are you telling me you leave the fridge on all day??”

Poor Darling Husband.  He hates being too hot.  He used to watch Ice Road Truckers with naked longing in his eyes.

But, Darling Husband wants to be near me in the evening (awww).  So while I write the blog, basking in my heat, he languishes across the room, sweating, downing glass after glass of ice water, splashing the dregs on his face.  One night, I said, “What’s that smell?  It smells like hotdogs.”  And Darling Husband replied, “It’s probably your skin, cooking from the heater.”   I think he was right.

When the door to the playroom is opened, it forms a frontal boundary (cold air mass meets warm air mass).  The cold air slips under the hot air and creates wind in the house.

Oh, you think I’m exaggerating.  I am not.  Really.  I am not.  When that door opens, a steady wind blows in from the open door.  It’ll blow for a good 5 minutes before the temperatures even out.

Homeschoolers have to be inventive.  It’s tough to get access to science equipment.  At the end of the year, when I show the school district our homeschooling portfolio,I can include a picture of the children standing in the playroom doorway, their long hair blowing in the wind, with the caption, “Field trip: Tornado chasing.”

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Star Trek Stat:

Red Shirt death tally: 1

Memories of Gym Class Torture

It was Dental Day at the local skating ring.  The tooth fairy gave us a lesson on dental hygiene and we skated.  Health Class and P.E. rolled into one.  Boy6 can’t quite skate yet and Boy9 moves at a slow ooze.  It’s hardly a workout for the two of them, but I got some great exercise at the skating rink today.

My kids are lucky that they’re homeschooled.  Homeschool P.E. is the best.  When I was a kid, we didn’t go to the skating rink for gym class.  No.  When I was a kid, I went to a Catholic elementary school that had no budget for gym class so we played a lot of Dodge Ball.

I was really, really good at Dodge Ball.

My birthday is in December, so I was always the rock-bottom youngest of all the kids in the class.  That meant I was the smallest in the class.  I was skinny.  I had braces.  Glasses.  Home perm.  Complete nerd.  Total wimp.

The rules of Dodge Ball are simple.  You form two mobs.  Up to 72 balls may be in play at the same time.  Each mob throws the balls at the other mob in an effort to render as many opposing mob members unconscious as possible.  Unconscious members are dragged to the side of the gym and given CPR until they revive.

If, instead of being dashed in the head with a ball, you manage to catch the ball, you may call one of your downed mob-mates back into the game.

I tell you, with pride, that I was never, ever once hit with a ball.  Terror will do that to a person.  When under extreme duress, it’s astounding how fast a person can move.  At the end of every game, there would be three (always three) boys (always boys) on the opposing mob with all the balls gathered around their feet.  With veins sticking out from their necks, their faces red, their lips forming Billy Idol snarls, they’d get a running start, coordinate their efforts, and hurl the balls at me in tandem.

You’d think, “She doesn’t stand a chance!”  But, then again, maybe you’ve never seen a desperate, cornered animal.  The fear of injury propelled me to speeds unheard of outside of Olympic level short distance sprints.  The males on my mob, revived, would perch on the edges of the gym floor screaming, “Catch the ball!” “Idiots!” I’d think.  “If you wanted to play so much, you shouldn’t have let yourself be bludgeoned with the ball!”

After a few minutes of me leaping and dodging and pirouetting with awkward grace, and the boys on the opposing mob shaking off globs of sweat, glittering as it sailed through the air under the florescent lights, the gym teacher would give a heavy sigh and blow the whistle.

I’m never sure if I won or if they won or if it was a stalemate.

You have got to watch this scene from Freaks and Geeks.  I did not steal my own story from this show.  Apparently there have been others who have lived the same ghastly torture I have lived.  This clip is pretty much exactly how Dodge Ball went down when I played it.  This clip makes me laugh so much I can’t breathe.

On the way home from the skating rink, the clouds were pretty so I turned down a road I’ve never been on before and found this ratty old mailbox with all the brambles on it and attempted a picture.  I took this picture lying down in the middle of the road.  I was there for a good 10 minutes.  Not a single car went by, so I just plopped myself in the middle of the road, played with different angles and adjusted the settings on the camera, and kept shooting pictures.  I wish I’d gotten more of the surroundings in the shot.  I think I’m too close to the mailbox.  I like the flare from the sunlight.  You’re supposed to avoid it normally, but I like it in this shot.

Darling Husband has to fast for some blood work tomorrow morning.  So, as a last hurrah before fasting, while the boys were at church, we played hooky and snuck away to get some pie.  Halfway to the restaurant, we both realized that neither of us was hungry, but that didn’t stop us.

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Song stuck in my head today.  Boom Boom Pow.  Thanks, skating rink.

(The Black Eyed Peas are frighteningly cool.   I have nightmares of them staring me down, dodgeballs scattered about their feet.)

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Boy9 counted 302 wipe outs at the skating rink.  Most of them were by the same two kids.