Desperate Women and Tricky Men

This morning at 8:50 someone with small children called me.  You know there were small children involved because only people who have small children call in the wee hours of the morning like that.  8:50!   Crack of dawn!

Don’t these people know that I homeschool?  We start our school day around 10:00 after a nice leisurely morning involving chocolate chip pancakes and leftover tuna noodle casserole.  We live the good life, people.

I told you all that just to let you know that Brandi made 177 cookies this morning before I was even out of bed.

177 cookies!  Before I was out of bed! Amazing!  She runs a daycare—small children, you know.

But here it is at 11:09 p.m. and I’m just sitting down to write because I just finished making my 210 squares of chocolate bolacha.

Tomorrow is the annual Cookie Exchange.  All day long there have been Facebook updates; Katie ran out of flour and Wendy dropped one of her pumpkin rolls.  (No—not that!  Anything but that! )  She was sad and distressed because now she’d have to make a whole new roll to replace it. Twelve rolls is a lotta rolls.  I’d be distressed, too, if I had to make an extra roll to replace a dropped roll.

Brandi, in the same way that someone gets caught up in the moment at an auction and clears out their lifetime savings, was quick to respond, “Wendy!  I can take the dropped pumpkin roll!”  The idea of that pumpkin roll going to waste was just too much for Brandi to bear.  A desperate situation called for desperate measures.

Of course, Brandi’s been a little loopy lately, what with all those small children.   The other day she  fell asleep while drying her hair…standing up!  That’s some serious sleep deprivation.

Because, really, Brandi?  You really want the pumpkin roll that’s covered with cat hair and bits of fuzz from the kitchen floor?  (I’m not sure why cat hair and fuzz are part of the picture because Wendy has a very clean house…but that’s what I’m picturing.)

Luckily for Brandi, it turns out the pumpkin roll simply fell on the stove and cracked open and all that’s wrong with it is that it isn’t pretty.

Unluckily for Brandi, Wendy’s keeping that one.  I kinda wonder if maybe Mr. Wendy didn’t nudge her elbow at an opportune moment.  “Whoops!  Sorry dear.  Oh, look!  The pumpkin roll cracked open!  Guess we’ll have to keep that one…”

Men are tricky like that.

Speaking of men and their tricks, I have a new assignment for next year.  Darling Husband was puttering around the house testing the gas heaters today:  “What’s the state capitol of Omaha?”  “What’s six times seven?”  Those poor heaters.  You give them a summer vacation and when the testing starts in the fall they’ve forgotten everything they learned.

But it got me to thinking: I wouldn’t have thought to test the gas heater ahead of time.  Darling Husband is always fiddling around checking car fluids or replacing faucet washers.  I didn’t even know what a washer was until I was 35 years old.  Yes, I’m serious.

So…my new assignment for next year.  I’m going to learn Man Things.  Today I was stuck doing boring woman things and you know how I feel about boring woman things.  Not only did I do the boring chore of baking 210 squares of chocolate bolacha but I sewed up a hole in our couch pillow.  Yuck.   I can actually feel my blood pressure shooting up the moment I start to sew.

Today was better than most days, because I took a picture of the holey pillow as I sewed it.  The brush with soothing photography offset the agony of the sewing long enough to get the hole fixed.

Darling Husband has always been very supportive of my photography and writing addictions hobbies, but he did murmur the other day, “I’ll be glad in January when your evenings are more free and we have more time together.”

Awww.  It’s a good thing he feels this way.  Because my first January Man Thing project is to take apart the washer and dryer and clean the drums.  And I’m sure I’ll need lots and lots of his manly help with that.  It’ll be both quality time and quantity time.  Ooo!  Bet he can’t wait!

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James Bond, Dragons, and Monkeys

Waaaay back before I started The Blog, I needed another outlet for my creativity.  So, I did a series of pictures of…well, I don’t even know what to say they’re of.  Just pictures that tell a little story.

I’ve talked about a few of them in the past.  Here’s my second favorite picture. I took it after I’d read yet another debate over creationism vs. evolution on a classical education forum.

I’ll explain it underneath for those of you who don’t commonly lurk on classical education forums or haven’t heard of the infinite monkey theorem.

CAPTION:

London, 1860

Dr. Thomas Huxley stared back at the monkeys in stark disbelief. “An infinite number of monkeys, and not a single one of you majored in 16th century English Literature?! This’ll take longer than I thought…”

The theorem of the infinite monkeys states that an infinite number of monkeys, given an infinite amount of time, could randomly hit keys on a typewriter and end up typing out the entire works of Shakespeare.  The theorem is attributed to a pro-evolution contemporary of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, as a way of explaining how evolution can work when given enormous amounts of time.

There’s lots of debate over whether or not Mr. Huxley ever said any such thing, or whether an evolutionist would actually use that theorem to explain evolution, but the theorem and Huxley are forever linked in Urban Legend.

So….I had the stuffed monkey just begging to be photographed, and I’d just bought the typewriter at a yard sale.  It was obvious that the two should go together.  I gathered all the monkeys I could find in the house and took the shot.  All that remained was the caption.  It took me a while of re-working the wording, but in the end, I find the caption absolutely hilarious.

At the time of the picture, Huxley hasn’t yet presented his monkey theorem to the scientific community.  So, he gathers an infinite number of monkeys (which of course, can’t be done-so that amuses me right there), so test his theory.

Huxley’s secret hope is that one of the monkeys studied Shakespeare in college and will quickly prove his theory correct by typing out Shakespeare’s works from memory.  But, of course, monkeys don’t go to college, and for some reason Huxley was never made aware of that fact.  His baffled disbelief when he finds out that none of the monkeys studied 16th century English Literature gets me every time.

Picture the scene:  Huxley is looking at the monkeys and railing at them.  They know they’ve done something wrong, but they can’t quite sort out what it is, but hang their heads in shame.

And then how Huxley says at the end, “This’ll take longer than I thought…” is the best part.  Maybe his original theory was that an infinite number of monkeys given a week, could randomly type out the entire work of Shakespeare.  But now it has to be amended to be longer than a week…longer than a month…than a year.  By the time he shares his theory, he’s had to change it to “an infinite amount of time.”

You get the sense that he’s really disappointed that it would take an infinite amount of time for those monkeys to randomly type the complete works of Shakespeare.

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Picture of the Day;

You can choose whether or not you want to keep reading.  This is the part where I discuss the new James Bond movie, albeit in secret code so that I don’t spoil it for you.

Mom and I went to see the James Bond movie today.  Second time for me.  I saw it the other day and thoroughly enjoyed the action scenes, but forgot to pay attention to the plot.  It’s hard to follow the plot when there are komodo dragons distracting you.  This time around I could follow the plot and catch little nuances.  For example, the word association scene is much better when you know what “skyfall” means.  Click here for a trailer that starts with the word association scene.

Jo-Ann (remember her from lunch on Saturday?), she thinks that the ending didn’t really go down the way that it looks like it went down.  Remember how someone sort of disappeared for a while in the beginning of the movie?  She thinks that perhaps someone else wanted to disappear like that at the end of the movie.

At first I didn’t agree.  I thought what happened, really happened, and it happened because Ronson died of an untreated gunshot wound, so it was poetic justice.

But after the second watching today with Mom, Jo-Ann may be right.  Someone said to Bond, “How about we make a run for it?”  But there was no need to run anywhere.  It was done.  The movie was over.  Make a run for what?  Bond said, “I’m game if you are.”  I think they understood that someone wanted to disappear and that was what they meant by “make a run for it”.

But, on the other hand, there was a tear in an eye.  If someone was disappearing, there wouldn’t have been a tear.  Or an exhalation.  No exhalation would be needed if someone was disappearing.  Oh, it’s all very confusing.

Give me your opinion.  If you haven’t seen the movie (and are still reading), go see the movie and report back to me what you think happened.

Incidentally, Mom looks uncannily like Judi Dench (M).

Favorite M line: “Go ahead, eject me.  See if I care.”

And I love (love, love, love!) the opening song.  Here’s the song.  You can see the Royal Navy’s Wildcat Helicopter in the clip and Mom.  Er, I mean Judi Dench.  ‘Course I’ll never be able to say “crumble” properly anymore.  Crumbow.

Oh, and I think the bad guy upstaged Daniel Craig whenever they had a scene together.  My opinion: Best Bond Bad Guy Yet.

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So, I’m watching this scene and Darling Husband is listening in and says from the other side of the table, “She has to get a flu shot?… Oh, wait, I see.  She needs a tetanus shot.”

Ok, maybe you had to be there.  It was funny in person…

Trying Not to be an Embarrassment to My Friends

Do you remember waaaay back when I posted about how bad of a patient I am?   It was on Jan 25th, (click here to read) when I told the pathetic tale of how I have the sorry honor of being the Worst Patient Ever at a certain ophthalmologist’s office, and how I was asked to leave a blood donation center, when I was already hooked up to the needle and dripping blood into the bag, because my (valid and insightful) questions about blood donation were freaking out the other donators.  Wimps.

Well, I’ve been wanting to move to a new doctor here in town.  Unfortunately, Barbetta just got a job as a Nurse Practitioner at the very office that I want to move to.  Grrrr.  The pressure is on.   And Barbetta knows it.  I’ll explain.

See, I can’t see Barbetta as my provider.  Boy10 didn’t understand why and I told him, “Well, what if you had an embarrassing condition, like a wart on your butt?”  (Yes, this is how we talk at home.  We just put on a good show in front of the rest of you, pretending that we’re elegant and refined.  But in the privacy of our own home, we also use the word “fart” and “stupid” quite often in conversation.)  “You wouldn’t want your friend to know you had a wart on your butt, would you?  That’s embarrassing.”

He said he’d rather have a friend know, who cares about you, rather than a stranger who might make fun of you.

I don’t agree.  So…can’t see Barbetta as a provider.  (And no, I don’t have a wart on my butt!)

Before the appointment with the other Nurse Practitioner in the office (Jen), Barbetta told me about Jen.  “Jen is great!  You’ll love her!”

And, unbeknownst to me, Barbetta told Jen, “Jackie’s great!  You’ll love her!  No weird medical conditions.”  (Well, unless you count that wart…no, no!  I’m kidding.  I have no warts.)

Today I went to see Jen and realized that I would have to Behave.  No freaking out about bleeding to death from getting my blood drawn, no passing out in the ophthalmologist’s office out of fear of going blind.  (Just read the January 25th post already.)

So, even though there were lots of times when I wanted to crack a joke, I didn’t.  I stayed calm and serious and was a Good Patient.  Very boring.  Very normal.

Tonight, I talked to Barbetta and she said, “Well?  What did you think of Jen?”  I told her that I liked Jen.  And Barbetta gave a sigh of relief. “Shew!  I like Jen and I like you, but what if the two of you thought each other was weird?!  That would be embarrassing.”

Barbetta, I’m sorry to inform you that….I am weird!  Hopefully, I can continue to keep it under wraps in front of your co-workers, but who knows?  Put me in a pressure filled medical situation and I’m bound to Fall Apart and be a Complete Embarrassment and you’ll be forced to look for a new job.

I am unhappy to report that Jen made me get a tetanus shot. I’ve been smug in the knowledge that I don’t have to get shots and when my sons have to get their shots I’ve been sympathetic, but firm, “Oh, it’s just a little shot.  You’ll be fine.  I’ll get you a slushie when it’s done.”

But when I had to get my tetanus shot, I broke out in a sweat and my mouth went dry and I felt a little dizzy.  It’s really warm in that office.   But I had to be brave in front of the boys, and, more importantly, in front of Barbetta’s coworkers.

So, I got the shot and it was nothing!  Nothing!  Barely any pain at all!  I made fun of the boys, “Guys!  That was it?  All the drama and having to buy you slushies after your shots for that?

But then, about 2 hours later, the pain set in.  The shot site hurts!  Ouch!  I can barely lift my sweet tea tonight, so you know it’s bad.  And no one even got me a slushie.  😦

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Picture of the day.  Tonight is Haircut Night at Wendy’s house.  Now that Soup Day is over (good going Barbetta, getting a job and cancelling Soup Day forever), we have to come up with other ways to get our haircuts.  So, every six weeks, we have Haircut Night.

I’m here at haircut night right now, writing The Blog, because Darling Husband called to inform me that the internet is down at my house.  The internet people say it won’t be up until after midnight.  335 posts into this Daily Blog Challenge and this is my first brush with technical difficulties.  So, I’m staying late for Haircut Night, hogging Wendy’s laptop and composing The Blog.  And yes, she’s impressed with my mad typing skilz.

When You Train For a 5K Run, You Burn More Calories…and Can Eat More Chocolate.

I’m going to a cookie exchange on Saturday morning.  Cookies, cookies, cookies!

It sounds great on paper:  You make 12 batches of a single type of cookie.  You take them to the Cookie Exchange and trade your one type of cookie for 12  different types of cookies.  What a Christmas Nirvana!

But wait—screech the record to a halt. There’s a problem:  if you want to get 12 batches of assorted cookies, you have to make 12 batches of cookies.  Blech.  Every year, much like how women forget the pain of childbirth, I forget the pain of making 12 batches of cookies.

Tonight I started on the 12 batches of Chocolate Bolacha (which is sort of like cookies, only there are crackers involved) and realized to my horror that I cannot make Chocolate Bolacha without eating it.  Just can’t be done.

So, I made the executive decision to eat the first batch.  I’ll have to head to the store for more ingredients to replace the batch I’m eating, but it’s soooo worth it.  Here’s a picture of the first batch cooling in the freezer.

Also, see the Monkey Bread?  I’ll bet you don’t have Monkey Bread in your freezer.  I’d never heard of it until Vince and Gail and their 42 kids came to dinner one night and brought Monkey Bread for dessert.  It’s good to have bizarre friends who bring you bizarre desserts.

And then, horror of horrors, I realized that not only do I have to make the 12 batches of Chocolate Bolacha, but I also have to bring a breakfast dish to share.

I hate breakfast food.  Well, I make an exception for sugary cereals.  But, oatmeal?   Slimy.  Bacon?  Gross.  Eggs?  Slimy and gross.  For breakfast I eat leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.  For the cookie exchange I announced that I would bring leftover tuna noodle casserole, but at the last minute I thought better of it and changed it to milk and cereal.

And then, horror piling upon horror, it was announced today that now we’re supposed to bring a White Elephant gift to exchange.  Huh?  Where am I going to find a white elephant at this late date?  Sheesh.  All this work for 12 stinkin’ batches of cookies.

(Batches?  Batches?  We don’t need no stinkin’ batches!)

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Picture of the day.  We got a little bit of snow today.

Learning To Drive the New Stick Shift–Lesson 1

Soooo.  Yesterday marked Day 1 of Learning To Drive The New Stick Shift.

Actually, I’ve had lessons before, but either I chickened out and never finished learning, or Darling Husband chickened out and never finished teaching.  I’ll explain.

Darling Husband and I used to work together in Hunt Valley Maryland at 201 International Circle right next to the Hunt Valley Mall.  Here, look at this diagram.

The diagram pretty much tells the sad, sad tale without me having to write a single word.

As if that’ll stop me.

As you can see, there is a Light Of Doom at the bottom of the Mountain of Dizzying Heights.  The heights were so dizzying that anyone wanting to drive all the way to the top of the mountain has to remember to bring their own oxygen.

The Light of Doom was always red, in all directions, at all times.  (See diagram)  Still, the cars managed to get through in a frenzy of speed, aided by the usual adrenalin of trying to get to work on time, but never, ever early.  Once through the light, pretty much all of the cars then needed to make the Wickedly Dicey Left Hand Turn to get to all the office buildings.

Pity the poor fool who couldn’t make the Wickedly Dicey Left Hand Turn on the Mountain of Dizzying Heights!  Oh, pity me, Horatio!  Pity me well!

Making the Wickedly Dicey Left Hand Turn wasn’t as simple as it sounded.  Coming down from the Mountain of Dizzing Heights were the poor hapless souls who lived at the top of the hill, but worked at the bottom.  Any driver coming down the hill would have quickly burned through his or her brake pads during the first 2000 feet of the dizzying descent.  Put some wings on those cars and by the time they were nearing the bottom of the Mountain, they had built up enough speed to fly to work rather than drive.

And there I was.  A fresh-faced, guileless New Stick Shift Driver.

We were in the brand new blue Ford Escort wagon that Darling Husband had bought.  We’d been putting in our time in parking lots and suburban neighborhoods and now Darling Husband was confident that I could drive us to work.

It was going well.  We were 29 minutes into our 30 minute commute and the building was in sight.

But…the Light of Doom!  The Wickedly Dicey Left Hand Turn!  The Mountain of Dizzying Heights!  The out of control cars zooming by!

I got stuck at the Wickedly Dicey Left Hand Turn.  Every time I’d get the car going, a brakeless car would zoom down the hill and I’d have to stop.  Or a car behind me would get fed up and wing his car around me and I’d have to stop.

We sat there for 14 hours, with me trying to make the Wickedly Dicey Left Hand Turn on the Mountain of Dizzying Heights, with cars zooming and winging and honking until Darling Husband and I switched spots.

After that, I chickened out and stopped driving the stick.

But then!  We moved to the quiet farmland of Pennsylvania.  I have sat in the middle of certain roads around here for a good half hour taking photographs without a single car passing me.  Honestly.  No, wait.  That’s not entirely true.  I haven’t merely sat on the roads, I have actually lain down in the middle of roads taking pictures for 30 minutes without a single car coming by.

This is the place to learn a stick.  No zooming, winging or beeping around here.

So when Darling Husband bought a used car with a manual transmission, I thought my time had come.  It was the ’98 Dodge Stratus that we just traded in.  It was 8 years old when we bought it.

We started in the parking lot, as usual.  But this time, it only took about two screeches of me grinding the gears before Darling Husband popped out of the passenger seat and said, “This car is too old!  You’ll kill it!  Out!  Out, I say!”  And he never let me drive it again.

But he promised that if we ever had a newer car with gears/transmission that weren’t already 8 years old, he’d teach me.

And so here we are.  Back in the parking lot.

Darling Husband was pretty calm as he taught me yesterday.  His job is pretty stressful and he’s learned calming techniques in the past few years.

While I was driving, I watched him turn off his normal ADHD Frenzy Mode and turn on his Easy Listening Calm Mode.  His voice was slow and quiet and soothing as he gave instructions:

“Foot on the brake. Foot on the clutch. Car into first. Give it some gas.Let out the clutch.”

Lurch, lurch, stall.

“Foot on the brake. Foot on the clutch. Car into first. Give it some gas. Let out the clutch. Reach into the cubby on the door. Hand me the squeezie thing.”

Darling Husband has one of those forearm strengtheners that you squeeze in your hand.  Five minutes into the lesson, I was drenched in sweat and exhausted from all the concentrating, and Darling Husband had a nice buff forearm.

So…if you live in the farmlands of Pennsylvania and you see a little orange car drifting backwards down a hill while trying to make a left hand turn, give me a little wave as you wing by, and honk your horn so I know it’s you.

A Confession

Today not one, but two of my friends have instructed me to set the record straight in The Blog.

First was Jo-Ann.  I’ve known Jo-Ann for 27 years, so by now we know each other pretty well. She’s the one whom I accidentally hugged at the funeral to both of our horror.

I haven’t had a face-to-face conversation alone with Jo-Ann in 3 years.  There have always been packs of children screeching in the background or husbands hogging the conversation.   Now, granted, when her husband Rob and Darling Husband get together they’re one of the funniest acts I’ve seen in a long time so it’s been worth not having a conversation with Jo-Ann in three years just to listen to the two of them crack jokes.

Today Jo-Ann drove the hour and a half so that she and I could go to a quiet lunch alone.  Over lunch, she mentioned Darling Husband’s new car.  She told me that Rob expressed concern over our dire financial straits.  She responded with something like, “Dude.  They’re the most well-to-do “poor” people I know.  I may be thrifty, but the Lizards are just plain cheap.  Darling Husband makes a decent salary and they hoard all their money, so they’re fine.”

Sigh.  She’s right.  I’ve made a big to-do about the car payment because she’s right: we are cheap!  It pains us to part with our beautiful cocaine laced cash.  (Google “cocaine money”.)  It’s not that we can’t afford the car.  We just don’t want to pay for the car.

After a dreadful lunch of congealed cheese (I had to eat my French Onion Soup with a knife and fork.), we came back to my house to find that Michael was visiting.  I knew he was there because on the back of his car are four stickers of a little Wookie/Ewok/Padme/Jawa family.

On the back of Jo-Ann’s car are four stickers of a little AT-AT family.  Jo-Ann and Michael, though they’ve never met before, had an immediate rapport.

The new car came up in conversation again with Michael and he said, “I don’t believe the car payment is really as bad as you’ve made it out to be.  Something doesn’t ring true.”

Michael knows.

Darling Husband and Michael are on the finance committee at church. I’ve never been to the meetings, but I’d love to be a fly on the wall.  Darling Husband’s response to everything is, “Let’s wait and think it over until enough time has passed that we’ve talked ourselves out of actually spending any money.”

Michael’s response to everything is, “That’s an awesome idea!  Let’s implement it right now!  And if we have to buy a brand new Apple product to implement it, all the better!”

Even though I suspect there is much gritting of teeth on both sides, this is a good thing.  The two of them together bring balance to the force.

Jo-Ann and Michael, who understand the Lizards’ cheapness better than anyone else on the planet, both agreed that I’d better set the record straight on The Blog, or we’ll start getting bags of groceries on our doorstep.

So, guys, no bags of groceries, please.  We’re fine.

And now I’m off to unscrew half the light bulbs in each chandelier.

No, not really!  …But it is a good idea now that I think about it…

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Picture of the Day.

But first, a Facebook exchange:

Jo-Ann: Lunch today with Jackie. I’m gonna have to do my hair & makeup. Because you know she’s gonna have that camera.

Stacy:  Who is Jackie?

Rob:  Just don’t let Elizabeth do your hair and makeup. Because you know Jackie’s gonna have that camera.

Jo-Ann:  Stacy, Jackie is a friend from Lansdowne.  She’s taken up photography lately so you always have to be prepared when she’s around.

Jackie: If E does you makeup, I can do a Bond girl picture of you!!

Jackie: YouR. Dreadful iPad.

Jenn:  I remember her! Wasn’t she from England?

Jo-Ann, in the ill-lit basement of The Dobbin House.  Sorry for the blur.

Cherry cheesecake.

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Edited to add stolen pictures from Michael and Jo-Ann’s Facebook pages:

Michael’s car

Jo-Ann’s car