A Stealth Bomber Blew Up The House, Climate Control Parkas, and Leaping for Frozen Food

Grocery shopping day, as you can tell.  This is what was gathering above my house before I left:

Had to change grocery shopping day to today because I need ingredients for an emergency batch of minestrone soup early tomorrow morning.

Why the emergency batch?

Some acquaintances of mine were sleeping contentedly in their home the other night, when they were awakened at 3 a.m. by the sound of a car crashing into their house.  Well, that’s the original version.  The first time I heard the story it was a car.  By the 3rd time I heard the story it was a tractor trailer, and by the 5th time it was a stealth bomber.  You know the drill.

I’m sticking with the first version.

Anyway, the car took out their staircase and also bumped into a gas line.  The seven, yes seven, of them stood at the top of the second story staircase, looking past the gaping hole where their stairs used to be, and could see all the way down into the basement.  They had to leap to safety past the stairs that weren’t there into the kitchen that got smashed.  Apparently, the kitchen was an addition, and when half the house went one way from the car crash, the kitchen went the other way.  They didn’t want to waste any time waiting for help to get off the second story, because of the gas fumes they were smelling, which is why there was all the leaping.  The house could explode at any moment.

Unfortunately, the house was knocked off its foundation and was condemned.  All seven, yes seven, of them had to move back in with the wife’s parents.  They aren’t allowed back in their condemned house, so all of their belongings are pretty much gone forever.

And now all nine (seven + grandmom and granddad) need to be fed.   Hence, the emergency batch of minestrone soup.  And bread.  And butter.  And cookies!

Actually, it’s 8:00 p.m. and I’m just heading out now to the grocery store.  Sigh.  This day is lasting forever.  So, off I go to sprinkle anti-stink powder on my feet before putting on my sandals, and to grab my parka so that I don’t get too cold in the store.

The parka was Kevin’s idea. You remember Kevin,  from Photo Club.  Kevin was a little sad that I didn’t give out any of his secrets the other day when I posted Photo Club member secrets.  If you must know, whenever I drive Photo Club members around I end up having to keep my car too cold for comfort because Kevin is always too hot.  If I’m comfortable in the car, then Kevin is melting into his seat and gasping for air, like a dying fish.  When I whined about how I wish we had climate control clothes, his response was, “You do. It’s called a parka.  Put it on when you get cold.”  Thanks, Kevin.  You’re always so helpful.

Ok—off I go.  When I get back, I’ll take the picture of the storm (that you’re already looking at) off the camera and post this.


I’m back.  So glad I wore my parka!  All the cold and frozen foods that I wanted were on the top shelf and almost all gone except for the few items waaaaay in the back of the shelf.

For example, I buy a lot of milk and I buy it in half gallons.  By the time I got to the 6th half gallon, I could barely reach the remaining 5 half gallons that I needed.  I had to ask some guy in the store to give me a boost up.

No, that’s not true.  Look at the milk aisle:

No one is there.  Sure, I’m pretty tired grocery shopping at 9:00 at night, but at least the store is empty.  But, no guy to give me a boost.  I had to stretch.

Then, I couldn’t reach the frozen ravioli dinners that I like to eat for lunch.  There were only a few left, waaaay on the back of the top shelf.  For those, I had to prop open the door, stand on the little ledge and hoist myself up to the top shelf and fling the boxes of ravioli over my shoulder into my cart.  A bunch of frozen lasagna dinners came toppling down past me, bumping painfully into my knees.

And I couldn’t reach the frozen fish either.  For that one, I managed to leap into the freezer and hook the bag on the tip of my pen, and wing it out past my head.

Again, very glad I wore the parka.  Hanging about in freezers is cold.  Ok–it wasn’t a parka, exactly.  It was a fitted jacket.

They really shouldn’t put short people food on the top shelves.  They should only put tall people stuff on top shelves.  Like the French cut green beans should be on the top shelf, because French cut green beans are tall.  Or the frozen shoestring fries.  They’re tall, too.  And long johns certainly should be on the top shelf, because they’re long.

Trying to Trick the Blind Guy, My Dirt is Prettier than Your Dirt, and Butter Spray is Evil

Check out this spam comment I got on my blog:

“I think that everything published was actually very reasonable. But, think about this, suppose you wrote a catchier post title? I am not suggesting your information isn’t good., but what if you added something that makes people want more? I mean Girls Fart, Men Cry, and Where is my Sock? dustylizard is kinda boring. You should look at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create news titles to grab people to click. You might add a video or a pic or two to grab readers excited about what you’ve written. Just my opinion, it might make your posts a little livelier.”

Gee, they’re right!  “Girls Fart, Men Cry, and Where is my Sock” is such a boring title!  I’d never read a post with a dull title like that.  I’d better pop right over to Yahoo’s home page and learn something about snazzy titles for my blog posts.  And I’ll get right on that bit about adding pictures to my blog.  I’m so glad they sent me this message.


While I do a pretty good job of maintaining the cleanliness level of the home, and will even sort through paper piles that would make a less stalwart woman pack up and move back home, when it comes to mindless and thankless out of the ordinary cleaning projects that will take longer than 3 or 4 minutes, I tend to wander off in search of a good book before all the cleaning supplies have even had a chance to be gathered.

Wow.  That was a long sentence.  I really should go back and edit it, but I’m too scared.  If I try to shorten it, it’ll turn on me and attack.  It’s like a sentence from Baltimore Sun newspaper.

Darling Husband and I used to have a volunteer job reading the newspaper over the radio for blind people. The guy who headed up the radio station was named Bob and he was blind.  He could do that thing where he could tell who you were by your footsteps.  You would walk in a room and he’d say, “Hi, Jackie,” before you said a word.

Darling Husband used to try to trick Bob into thinking he was someone else by hopping into the room, or dragging one foot behind him, or tip-toeing.  But, obviously, no one else would ever do something like that, so Bob always knew it was Darling Husband.  And Darling Husband would pretend to be shocked and say, “How did you know it was me?”

At the radio station, Darling Husband and I would read from the Baltimore Sun, whose articles had the longest sentences ever.  The Sun reporters challenged each other to see who could write the longest sentence each week.   They would each throw a dollar into an old Styrofoam coffee cup every morning and whoever wrote the longest sentence by Friday would get the cup of money.  No, I don’t have proof of it, but I did read their articles on live radio for a couple of years, so I know.

Anyway.  I’ve digressed yet again.  I meant to write about cleaning.

We’ve been using cooking spray every single day with giddy recklessness, while making pancakes for our picky children.  The tiny globules of oil have been gleefully flying around the kitchen in a rodeo free for all, and then massing on the stove and sticking there with bulldog tenacity.

I wanted to get a picture that would give you a small insight into the overwhelming nature of the task, so you would understand how horrifying the job was going to be.  But the stove looks so disgusting in the pictures that I don’t want to terrify any small child that might be walking past the computer while you read this, so I’m not going to post the more revolting pictures after all.

However, the below picture of the globbed on fuzz turned out delicate and beautiful.  There’s a thick layer of lint that got stuck in the oil globules and made the stove hood fuzzy.  To see the fuzz in all its glory, I needed to take the picture from the side, but it was too dark in the kitchen to do it properly.

Then I remembered how we learned at Photo Club that if you don’t have enough light in a room, you can add light with a flashlight.

Look at the stove from the side, zoomed in nice and close, lit with a flashlight I’m holding in one hand, and focused on one little band across the picture.  The lint looks like a delicate snowflake.  It’s like a work of art.  Such a shame to clean off such beauty.

But I did.  And I have now banned cooking spray from the house.  We’ll use old fashioned butter from now on.


One more picture of the day.  Look at my calendar.  I circled the one day in the entire month that didn’t have anything scheduled on it.  Today.

Gerhard and Bridgette and Mom:  I couldn’t bear to answer the phone today, on the one day without something on the calendar.  Last time I had a somewhat free day, I made the mistake of answering the phone.  Never again!  I’ll call you guys back tomorrow.

Drooling into a Pillow, Immunity to Heat, and Don’t Leave Squat in the Hot Car

As you know, I attend Photo Club every other Saturday.  Now, I’m about to tell you stories about some of the oddities of the people at Photo Club, and Darling Husband suggested that I use fake names to protect their privacy.  He even suggested some names for me, and I’ve decided to use them here.

First of all, you know that I hitch a ride to PhotoClub with someone who lives at the other end of my street named….Gerhot.  Now, Gerhot is often hot during the summer and seems to have only one requirement in a car: that it gets cold super-duper fast.  And he has managed to find the one car on the planet that goes from boiling hot to freezing cold in 12.6 seconds, because by the time Gerhot’s car reaches my end of the street, it’s a bitter 28 degrees Fahrenheit in the car.

Every other Saturday morning, I step from my freezing house, because Darling Husband is always too hot in the summer too, into the muggy heat of the day, and then step into Gerhot’s ice cream truck of a car.  That’s a recipe for a sharp headache right above the eyeball for you right there.

The first couple of times that Gerhot drove me to PhotoClub, we’d arrive and then sit in his car gabbing until the other members arrived.  When this happened, I was a little disturbed to realize that Gerhot wasn’t going to turn off the engine, but rather let the car continue to pour out air from the vent so cold it was visibly billowing through the car, like dry ice.  By the time the other members arrived, the car was encased in ice much like Shackleton’s expedition to the North Pole, and they had to approach the car with a sled dog team to chip us out with pickaxes.

I’ve learned since then to say, “Let’s go on in,” as soon as we arrive at PhotoClub.

So, a couple of weeks ago, after arriving at PhotoClub in the cold winter of Narnia, I ended up riding home in the heat of an equatorial jungle.  Here’s why:

Sometimes after PhotoClub Darling Husband and I invite another Photo Club member to our house to visit for the day, and this guest will drive me home.  Last time we invited this Photo Club member, named…Squat…I had just endured the frosty ride with Gerhot and was sort of looking forward to thawing out in the 100 degree heat outside the church.  Not thawing too much.  Just a nice, gentle thaw.

However, the day was hotter than I expected, and I had overdressed.  I was wearing my jeans, my socks and shoes because my sandals were too stinky to wear in public, and my long sleeve shirt, with the sleeves rolled up.  They started up rolled down in Gerhots car, which is why I deliberately chose to wear that shirt–for its flexibility of warmth.

I got into Squat’s car for the ride home and it wasn’t long, just long enough for Squat to pull out of the parking lot, before I realized I was covered in a sheen of sweat and that Squat wasn’t using the air conditioning in the car at all.

That saddened me a bit because being stinky and smelly makes me a little sad, and I asked, with selfish concern, “A/c broken?”

At which point I received a very bizarre response from Squat, who was drenched in sweat himself and turning beet red in the face from the heat.

“Nope.  I just don’t always like to use it.” And then he came up with some story about acclimating himself to different temperatures, and you never know when you might not be able to control the temperature around you, so he was working on building up stamina for various temperature challenges of the future.  Sort of like putting a bit of Iocaine powder in your tea every day until you build up an immunity to it.

I thought it was a little odd and unfortunate for me that Squat felt he simply had to build his immunity on a 100 degree day, with a 208 degree heat index, while he had a passenger in the car who was dressed for an arctic expedition.  But whatever.  It was his car, and I suppose that if he didn’t mind the stink, then why should I?

Besides, I needed to pick up some chicken salad for lunch from the grocery store on the way home, and the grocery store is even colder than Gerhot’s car, so I could pop into the store and the sweat would freeze on my brow, and then melt cool water over me for the remainder of the 5 minute drive home.

When we got to the grocery store, I jokingly said, “Well, Squat, I’ll just pop in and you can stay in the car!  Ha ha!”

But he agreed!  “Ok—I’ll stay in the car.”

I wasn’t sure if it was legal to leave him in the hot car, and maybe it would be like that poster on Facebook that I see every now and then about how if you leave a dog in your car, then people have a right to smash your car windows.  Poor Squat just might get a smashed car window from a concerned citizen who would try to free him from his 382 degree hunk of metal.

Why am I telling this story now?  Because I overheard Squat telling the tail end of this story today:

“…and when I’m done my shower, by the time I dry off with the towel, I’m just as wet with sweat as when I started.”  And I asked, “Is the a/c broken in your house?”


And you know, I was going to offer him one of our 2 window a/c units, but since Squat has built up that nice immunity to the heat, I’m sure he’s fine without one.


Picture of the day:

This is a picture of Darling Husband sitting on a reclining chair in the living room watching TV all afternoon. I had to take his temperature and make sure he wasn’t delusional.  Darling Husband?  Sitting still for hours on end?  He must be deathly ill!

The man never sits still.  Ever.  He’s a perpetual motion machine.

Usually on Sunday afternoon, he pops on Black Adder or some other somewhat offensive British tv show from the 80’s, and merrily bustles about all Sunday afternoon working on various projects.  While he’s working on his projects, I’ll be busy taking care of the children by snoring and drooling into a couch pillow while we spend quality time together watching a marathon session of Indiana Jones movies.

But not today.  Today I was the one puttering around, and Darling Husband was the one drooling.

Old Furniture, Muscle Cars, and Being Friendly-Like

We helped some people move into their new house today.  The new youth pastor and his wife arrived from Buffalo, New York.  They don’t know anyone here yet, so a bunch of people from the church helped them move in.  It’s always friendly-like to help new people move in, especially when they don’t have victims friends in the area who can help.

No, I’m kidding about the victims part.  I’ve always enjoyed helping people move.  Last year, Darling Husband and I helped two different people move.  Les’s furniture was crazy-heavy, and Claude and Kendra had a lot of stuff, so we really earned our pizza on those moves.

From moving 9 different times, I know that people need help when they move, and I feel like I’m paying it forward when I help others move.  Another reason I enjoy helping people move is that I enjoy living vicariously through them: the feeling of a fresh start, the question of where to put everything.  Since I probably won’t ever move again until I’m too old to climb the stairs, I like to share in the excitement with other people who are moving.

This couple have been married only a year and they haven’t accumulated a lot of stuff yet.  There were 875 of us helping them move, so we each carried in a single item and the truck was unloaded in half an hour.  I carried in a fork.  Easiest move ever!

I got some very boring pictures of people standing around the truck fighting over who got to carry in the towels, (no, not really–I made that part up) and then amused myself with some close ups of their lovely, old, antique-y furniture.

Oh, how I love old furniture!  It’s taken twenty years to get the balance of furniture in my house just right.  When we were first married, we had only a little bit of furniture, and it never looked pulled together.  I used to bemoan this fact to my friend, Michele.  “Oh, Michele.  I love my furniture, but it doesn’t look right.  It’s all sparse and empty on these ugly white walls.  And none of it matches.”  And she would comfort me by saying, “Oh, knock it off.  You’ve got stinkin’ one-of-a-kind antiques all over your house from Andrew the antiques dealer in England that people would kill for.  I’m sick of hearing you whine,” or something equally gentle and loving.  And then she’d roll her eyes at me.  Michele spends a good portion of our time together rolling her eyes at me.

Michele is much more down to earth than I am and often tells me to stop thinking so much.

Maybe the oddest thing about Michele is how much she loves cars.  Because she’s normally kinda girly, so you wouldn’t know from looking at her how much she loves cars.

I remember the day we stood outside of work, not going home because we started chit-chatting on the way out and couldn’t stop.  As each employee passed us to head to their cars, she told me which car was his or hers on the lot.  We’re talking about 200 people, and Michele knew which car belonged to which person.  And she had opinions on whether or not their cars were suited to them.  She would say, “There goes Richard.  He has the blue ’89 Ford Escort.  It’s totally the wrong car for him.  He should have a Chevy Silverado.”  “There goes Lisa to her red Volkswagon Jetta.  Completely suits her.”

She never thought that Darling Husband and I were driving the right cars for us.  But we were.  We were because we were driving cheap little cars.  And since we’re cheap (and little) it works for us.  She thought we were selling ourselves short and we should drive nicer cars.  Hey—it’s kinda nice to have friends who think you deserve a nicer car.

Michele’s dream car is some sort of muscle car from the 70’s.  I wrote down what it was one day, but I lost the paper.  I promised her that if I ever became rich enough to buy my friends their dream cars, I’d get that car for her.

Someone bought Michele a coffee table book of cars for Christmas, and she showed it to me.  There we were, sitting on the couch with the book opened on our laps, with Michele pointing out all the different features on the cars, “And then, in ’67, they changed the headlights, here and here.  See?” and she’d point to the cars with her long manicured nails, and give the brightest smile you’ve ever seen, gazing with affection at the pictures of the cars and comparing their bumpers.  I was bored out of my mind, but she loved to look at that book of cars.

Anyway—we helped these people move in and I loved looking at their furniture.  And Laura, who we were helping move in, told me that she loves her furniture too, so it’s not like she has it just because they don’t have anything better yet.  And she said she likes my blog.

Likes old furniture and likes my blog?  I have to say, I like Laura!

Forced to eat a Donut, Iron Maiden Chairs, and Glass Dragons

As you know, I stayed at Pam’s house last night.  (See yesterday’s blog.)  For breakfast, Pam forced me to go to Dunkin Donuts.  I wanted to stay home and eat bran cereal, but she made me go.  It would have been rude not to.

I was browbeat into eating a strawberry frosted donut for breakfast.  With orange juice.  I know, I know: strawberry frosted donuts with orange juice?  Yuck.  But what can you do?  I’d planned on eating healthy bran cereal (not really: I’d brought strawberry poptarts) and I had to offset the badness of the donut with something good for me.

We were at Dunkin Donuts with Pam’s 12-year old daughter, Faith.  I watched in horror as Faith hunched over her donut and almost bit into it.  I hollered out, “WAIT!  I’ve gotta take a picture!” and dashed the donut from Faith’s hand before she could eat it.

Pam immediately protested, “I don’t wanna be in a picture!”

“You won’t be.”  I mean, seriously?

I’ve known Pam since I was 18 years old. Does she think I don’t know how much she hates being in pictures?  It’s been 21 stinkin’ years.   We all went out to eat together 4 times a week for 10 years.  I (sort of) held her hand while she was in labor, and stayed up all night long in the hospital waiting room for 10 hours until Faith was born.  I visited her house every single day for weeks after the baby was born, bringing her food. I’ve beaten her at Uno more times than can be counted.  We’ve celebrated 15 Christmases together.  We have a history.

I think I know by now that she turns violent when I try to photograph her.

I began arranging the donuts on some napkins.  Pam and Faith tried to help, but they were dropping the donuts onto the napkins, willy-nilly.  I had to smack their hands away so I could arrange things the right way.

“Why are you putting them so close together?  We’re not sitting that close together.”

“Pam!  Settle down.  I know what I’m doing.”

“But we’re so hungry.  Why can’t we eat our donuts now?”

“For crying out loud!  It’ll only take a second!  There, I’m done!”  People just aren’t willing to make sacrifices for art these days.  But when I showed them the picture, they were appropriately awed.  Or else they were pretending to be awed because they didn’t want me to have to rearrange the donuts and keep them from eating their breakfast.

Then we all went to work at the TotSwap.  Here’s a quick picture I got of the TotSwap before people arrived.  This is only 1/3 of the building.  I don’t have a proper lens to get a picture of the entire room.  As you can tell, it’s insanity.  That’s a lot of kid junk.

You can barely even tell what you’re looking at.  Here’s a close up of just the baby toy table, so you can sort of see what it’s like.

My job was to check people out.  We have these little mats to stand on, so our little feet don’t get too tired. My feet were getting only partly tired because I borrowed Pam’s super comfy shoes since my sandals were still wet from the rain.

The cashiers at the TotSwap also each get a little chair that’s pretty uncomfortable with a hard metal back and a lumpy cushion on the seat.  It’s reminiscent of an iron maiden.  They tell us that we can sit on the iron maiden chair while we check out, but we can all tell that they don’t really mean it, or they’d give us nice fluffy chairs.  But sometimes, between checking out, you’re so desperate to rest your feet that you’ll even sit on the iron maiden chair.

When the checkout person next to me wandered off to eat or do something equally frivolous, someone stole her floor mat.   And later, when she flitting about returning an item to the floor, I stole her chair.  Well, someone had stolen mine.  I figured that by the time she got back she could steal someone elses.  Sort of like hot potato.  When the music stops, who’s without the chair?

When she got back, she stood there gazing at her little work space, blinking and muttering to herself, “First they took my mat.  Then they took my chair.”

If she started muttering about her red stapler, I would have gotten worried.  Show of hands, who loves Office Space?  I wonder if it’s funny if you don’t work in an office.  Anyone who’s worked in an office has lived at least some of that movie.  Doesn’t it start with that traffic jam scene where all the other lanes move except the one you’re in?  I think it does.  Oooo.  Look!  It’s streaming on Netflix.  Um…I’ll be back later…


Picture of the day:

I got home earlier than expected and Darling Husband said, “Let’s get Chinese take out.”  So we did.  I took pictures in the lobby while we waited for our food to cook.

Don’t Go To Work When You’re Revolting and No, I Didn’t Take A Shower

The rain got me again!  Again!

I mean, how crazy is this?  Do all the rest of you have these rain issues, or is it really just me?

So, I worked at the TotSwap today for the second time.  I had a blast, as usual.  I worked until 9 tonight and will start work again tomorrow at 9 in the morning.

This TotSwap event is being held at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Maryland, which is an hour (and a minute) according to mapquest, from my house.  But the TotSwap is only about 3 minutes from Pam’s house, so she said I could spend the night at her house.  Sounds great to me!  This way I won’t have to drive home, sleep, and then drive back in the morning.

I’m especially glad to stay at Pam’s house since a huge storm just blew in.  Huge storm.  Thunder, lightning…rain.  Lots and lots and lots of rain.   Who wants to drive in all that thunder, lightning, and rain?  Not me.

But did I respect the rain?


No.  I figured I could run reallyfast and make it to my car without getting too wet.  I mean, my car is only about 50 feet from the door.  Shouldn’t be too bad, right?


It was like running through the shower on full blast.  It was like having someone squirt you with the hose turned up all the way.  It was like sliding down a water slide into the pool at the end.

The water was ankle deep in the parking lot, so my brand new sandals are now soaking wet, and they’re the only pair of shoes I own within an hour (and a minute)’s drive.

My jeans are soaked, soaked, to the thigh.  Thankfully, I remembered that I’m not playing my role of Unemployed Person today, so I brought an extra pair of jeans to wear tomorrow.  Because yes, when you stay at home, you can wear the same pair of jeans every day for days and days in a row, probably months in a row, perhaps even years, and no one’s around to notice.

It’s like that fairy tale called Bearskin, where the guy can’t bathe or cut his hair or clip his nails for seven years.  But he has a lot of money, so he sort of buys his way into places.  In the end, he helps out some man by giving him money.  In repayment, the man says that gross Bearskin can marry one of his daughters.  Here are a couple of lines from Wikipedia describing the story:

“After several years, he grew so revolting that he had to pay heavily to get any shelter…”

“The oldest ran away, screaming, from the sight…”

So, I guess if you wear the same clothes every day for years and years, eventually you’ll be revolting and people will run from you, screaming.  This is why I decided to bring a change of clothes to work at the TotSwap.

And now Pam just got home (she worked an hour later than me.)  She looked at my hair and said, “Oh, did you already shower?”

No, Pam.  I did not shower.  It was the rain.  It got me again.

And now I’m signing off to go and use Pam’s foot massager.  She knows how to treat a guest!

Step Back from the Stinky Sandals and Why Would Anyone Want to be a Kid Again?

Picture of the day:

These are the sandals I had to buy today because my old ones got so stinky.  The problem with sandals is that they have to be worn on bare feet.  Oh, you could wear socks with sandals, but then again, you could also wear a curly orange wig and a big red nose.

If you don’t wear socks, then the stinky foot smell gets in the sandals and not on the socks.  This is a problem, because you can wash socks, but you can’t really wash sandals.  So I had to buy new ones.

I wore my stinky sandals to Hershey Park on Monday.  At one point by the wave pool I had my hands full of towels and drinks, so Jo-Ann was helping me carry stuff.  All that remained to be carried were the stinky sandals.   Jo-Ann was smart enough not to come near the things, but before we could stop her, Jo-Ann’s daughter picked up the sandals.

Oh, she tried to be careful, and used only the tips of her fingers and held the sandals at arm’s length, but when you’re seven, your arms aren’t very long.  She was too close to the sandals.  I was hoping that the strength of her youth would shield her from the stench of the sandals, but it wasn’t to be.  Much like how the elderly and very young get flu shots, the elderly and very young really ought to stay away from stinky sandals.

The poor child wasn’t as hardy as I’d hoped, and with a little twitch of her nose and a roll of her eyes, she passed out from the stench.  Fortunately there was a life guard nearby who was trained in Stinky-Sandal Revival techniques and everything was ok, but it was a close call.

So….new shoes today.

And I’ll be sure to start wearing that anti-stink powder on my feet right from the beginning with this round of sandals.


I didn’t much like being a child and couldn’t wait to grow up.  Every now and then, I hear an adult say something about how they wish they were a kid again. I don’t share that sentiment.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite folk songs that pretty much perfectly sums up my feelings on childhood vs adulthood:

Click here to hear it.

It’s Better Than that

(Lou and Peter Berryman)

I got a flash for you kids who think adults are lucky,

Own their own cars ‘n everything’s just ducky

Goin’ to bed whenever they want to

If that’s what you think I got a flash for you..

It’s better than that.

Take Saturday and multiply it

Times fifty-four, and add thirty more

It’s better than that.

We have a chocolate eclair about as big as your head

Way before noon before we get out of bed,

We do the things you’re not allowed to do

Then we do things you haven’t thought of, too..

Hang on to your hat

Hang on to your baloney sandwich

Take 50 grand to Disneyland

It’s better than that.

If you think that our days are extra warm and sunny

A pile of toys, a pocketful of money

With no one to fear because we’re big and tall

We’re never in school because we know it all…

It’s better than that

More comfy than a secret hideout

By quite a bit, just think of it

It’s better than that.

Sullen and Surly and the Battle of the Buffets

We were at Hershey Park yesterday and Boy9 got sullen and surly.  As I stood there reprimanding him for his sullen surliness I had that deflating realization you get when you realize that your child is Just Like You.  Or at least, is Just Like You when you were at that age.  I have a number of photographs of myself as a kid with the exact same look on my face that he had on his.  In each of the photographs, we’re on vacation somewhere.

I’ve been pondering all last night and today what to do for this child.  The good news is that I can clearly remember what it was like to feel sullen and surly.  Don’t ask Darling Husband, because he’ll give you faulty information, but I’m pretty sure that for the most part my sullen, surly days are over.  But I can remember it pretty clearly, so maybe I can figure out how to help my sullen, surly boy when he gets that way.

Most of the time, I was well aware that I was being sullen and surly and needed some alone time to get over it.  But, when we were on vacation, there was no alone time.  You were crammed in a car, crammed in a hotel room, crammed waiting in line, crammed at a restaurant table.  There was no space.

So…leading up from yesterday to today’s picture of the day.

These are the books I got at the library today:

I went alone, and stayed there for over an hour wandering up and down all three aisles.  It’s been about 2 days since I had a good book in hand and I was understandably getting pretty desperate.  It was while at the library, reveling in the quiet, that I realized that Boy9 needs more alone time.   Because once Darling Husband and Boy7 wandered off to ride some water slides, and I let Boy9 play by himself on the water spray-ee things, and then rode on the lazy river with him in silence, he was fine.  He just needed some space to get over his sullen surliness.

It seems that Boy9 and I are the same on the introvert/extrovert scale; smack in the middle.  When I’m at an event with people, I love it.  But when I’m alone by myself, I love it.  I just don’t love either one too much.

There was a bit of time when the kids were very young, and I was stuck in the house alone with children for years on end.  That was the worst of both worlds.  On one hand, I was achingly alone; there was absolutely no intellectual stimulation.  But, at the same time, I was never alone.  Every minute of the day, I was unrelentingly needed.  Need, need, need, give, give, give…all day long.

So next year, I’m thinking our vacation will include Darling Husband taking Boy7 to the local pool for the day, while Boy9 and I stay at home reading books.  Then we’ll all go out to dinner with some friends at Li’s Buffet.  That sounds like a little bit of heaven.

Speaking of Li’s Buffet, we have a bigger problem than I thought.  Darling Husband made the startling declaration that he likes JJ Habachi Buffet better than Li’s!  But I like Li’s Buffet better than JJ Habachi Buffet.

I believe that this may be the first time in our 20 years of marriage that we utterly disagree on a critical issue.  I’m really not sure how we’ll resolve it, as we’ve never had to deal with such gut-wrenching conflict before.  This is Democrat marrying Republican, Atheist marrying Evangelical territory.  It’s not Chocolate marrying Peanut Butter.  That would be good.  This is not good.  This is bad.  This means that whenever we go to Li’s, we’ll simply have to go to JJ’s the next day.  And if we go to JJ’s, then we’ll have to go to Li’s.

I think it’s only fair, don’t you?

A Pictorial Mystery for you to Solve

ME: Look at this picture.  What is it a picture of?

YOU: It is a cane?  No, I can tell it’s not a cane—the water droplets give it away.  It’s an umbrella handle.  Yes, definitely an umbrella handle.

And about those water droplets: are they from the bathroom shower?  No, of course not.  No one takes an umbrella in the shower.  The drops of water must be from a rain storm.

Uh oh.  Jackie, did you go grocery shopping today?   No…you wouldn’t have gone grocery shopping today.  Grocery Shopping day isn’t until Wednesday.

So, you must have taken the boys for a walk in the rain, voluntarily.  You went on a lovely little jaunt in the rain, because you had nothing better to do, and the only goal of the day was to wander up and down the street splashing in puddles.

ME:  Maybe, but not quite.

How about this picture.  Do you remember seeing a picture much like it about a month ago?

YOU:  Oh, yes!  I remember that picture.  It’s of that ride at Hershey Park that you were planning on riding the next time you went there.  You were with a group of people who mostly didn’t like roller coasters, and then it rained all afternoon…..oh, I see.

Now all the clues come together.

It rained on you at Hershey Park today, didn’t it?  And you weren’t able to ride the ride, were you?

ME:  Bingo.

I was a little surprised when Jo-Ann invited us to spend the day with her at Hershey Park.  She reads The Blog.  She knows the history that the weather and I have with each other.  If she were smart, she would have told us to come to the park yesterday, as a decoy day.  Then, the rain would have rained its little heart out yesterday, leaving today dry and sunny for her to enjoy with her family.  But she didn’t.  And so everyone ended up as casualties in my private little war against the rain.

Is anyone living through a drought right now?  Buy me a plane ticket and plan a day for me at the local amusement park, and I can fix that for you.

Tears in our Tacos, A Day Out for the Country Bumpkins, and A Miracle

Darling Husband is on vacation this week so we’ve been doing vacationy things and will do a few more vacationy things before the week is out.  For example, Friday was the Cryptology Museum, and tomorrow is Hershey Park.

And today?

Today was…The Grocery Store.

Oh-ho.  You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  We drove 30 miles and 45 minutes (one way)to get to Wegmans grocery store, just to gawk at all the cheeses.

For those of you who currently live in civilization, you’re probably numbed to the wonder that is a Wegmans grocery store, as I would have been nine years ago.  But I’ve been out of the civilization circle for so long, that I forgot what it’s like to be surrounded by bustling crowds and real, live choices.

Yes, yes, we have choices here…a bit.  Someone from an impoverished nation would walk into any of the stores around here and weep with either joy or disgust at all the stuff piled on the shelves.

Which is rather how I felt walking into Wegmans.  All the stuff!  We were the country bumpkins in the store.  We may as well have been wearing Amish clothes and walking around looking up at the ceiling and pointing.  On wait…we did look at the ceiling and point, because there was a model train going around a track that was suspended from the ceiling.  Not sure why.  I’ve only been to the deep south once, but today I found myself drawling and say, “Hooooeeee!  Will ya lookee here?!” a few times.

So, why the special trip?

Darling Husband works near this Wegmans and has been coming home with yummy dried strawberries and raving about the grocery store and saying, “I’ve got to take you there one day!”  And I have to say that while I’ve been polite, I haven’t exactly grabbed my keys and gone rushing out the door to pile in the car in excited anticipation whenever he says he wants to take me on a field trip to the grocery store.

Last week, when Nephew13 visited and we were considering what sorts of fun things we could do with him, Darling Husband said, “Hey!  We could take him to Wegmans!”  And I said, “You want to take a 13 year old boy…to a grocery store…on his vacation?”  Darling Husband was only half convinced that Nephew13 probably wouldn’t be interested.

But then, today, after our long drive, we arrived at the store.  And there was So Much Stuff.  So much stuff.  For instance, before we even began touring the store, the boys used the bathroom, and reported back that each stall had a dispenser of toilet seat sanitizer.  Wha…?  Not only were there the little tissue paper seat covers, but, each and every stall had a cleaning solution for the toilet seats, for those customers with a particularly high level of germ paranoia.

And then we started walking around the store.  Darling Husband said, “Let’s start at the food court!”  And so we did.  And very quickly after we got there, I started taking pictures.

An entire Wing Bar.  Eight different types of wings to choose from.

A wall of drinks.  No, nothing’s being reflected in a mirror in this picture.  The drinks really do just keep going and going and going….

Rolls, and I only got 1/3 of them in the shot.  In fact, in most of the below shots, I got only about half, or less, of what was actually there.



Sticky bun things

Asparagus, in green and white.  I never knew it came in white!



…and here’s where the pictures stop.  Just when I was getting to the good stuff.  Oh!  The good stuff!  There were 400 thousand different cheeses, all artfully arranged, berry tarts that I’m sure weren’t rancid, whole fish with their eyes still attached, packed in ice, tanks of clams, a florist shop, an aisle of candies in those tubes where you can put your bag under the tube and pour in the candy…it just goes on and on and on…

But even though my picture-taking energy was back at full level again, there are no pictures of all that.  Because right as I was done with the cupcake shot and moving to the tarts and a fish shot, a very pleasant worker informed me that no photography is allowed in the store.

There’s a no photography rule?  In a grocery store?

Are you wondering why?

I know why.  It’s because everything in there was so flipping amazing that if they allowed photography in there, every photographer in a 50 mile radius would be clogging up the aisles, crouching down, setting up tripods, and blinding everyone with their flashes, taking pictures.

Aside:  Becky and Melissa—there were a billion Gluten Free foods everywhere in the store.  I had to hang on to the children’s shirts, because there were so many gluten-free foods in the store, the boys kept falling over them and hitting their heads on all the organic stuff.

So, the plan was to eat lunch in the food court, but Darling Husband pointed out to me before entering the store that there was a Chipotle (pronounced Chip-oat-lee, not Chip-ott-ul, like I thought) in the same parking lot.

While the Chinese food bar, the vegetarian food bar, the homestyle food bar, the wing food bar and the Mexican food bar all looked lovely, once I knew there was a Chipotle within a few meters from me, I couldn’t resist it’s lure.

I got the tacos at Chipotle.  They look a little gross, but they taste like a little bit of heaven.

The first time I was in Chipotle was last December.  We’d gone on a Photo Club expedition, Kevin, Scott and I, and were on our way home and stopped in for dinner.  As we were just sitting down to eat, Kevin was talking and then said something about, “…God healed my leg.”  ??  “Healed your leg?” I asked.

He took a breath and started to explain, and he tells the story infinitely better than I’m about to tell it here.

When he was a child, he had a rare disease that making his leg grow wrong, or something like that.  It was a big mess and he couldn’t use it properly.  He was 8 or 9 at the time of this story, and had had many treatments and had been wearing a brace but nothing was working.  He was a normal 8 or 9 year old, and wanted to run and play, but he couldn’t.

For years and years, the doctors had tried everything until there was nothing left to try.  There could be no more treatments.  And in the end, Kevin and his mother were told that he would be in that brace until adulthood and there might never be a good outcome, even after he was grown.

They left the doctor’s office, depressed and quiet.  A while later, Kevin’s mother gathered her little son close to her and said, “We’re going to pray and ask Jesus to help you.”  And so they did.  Kevin’s mother made up a little song for them to sing together, something along the lines that the doctors were wrong and God would make it right.

Now, at this point in the story, Scott and I aren’t eating, but are just staring at Kevin, who lifted a finger and choked out, “Excuse me,” and took a sip of soda.

His mother made another appointment to the doctor to check the leg, because she believed that God had healed her son’s leg.  And some time later, a week or so?  I can’t recall when, Kevin went to his appointment.  And the doctor examined the leg…the leg that had the rare disease and there were no treatments left and had to be put in a brace until adulthood…and the leg was fine.  Completely healed.  Just, poof!  All was well.

Kevin went out and immediately joined the local little league baseball team and went on to play all through his childhood and teen years, winning awards and trophies and his leg has been fine ever since.  He’s in his thirties now.

Of course, at this point, the three of us were still sitting in the crowded Chipotle, with the blaring music, sniffling over our burrito bowls and there were tears welling in our eyes, and we had to wait for the lumps in our throats to clear so we could finish eating dinner.

And oooo—this post has too many words, so…signing off until tomorrow.  And sorry Kevin, for not telling your story as well as you did.