A Wild Night on the Town

I have brand new friends–Tim and Shannon.  Which means I have a whole new set of their stories to tell you.

Here’s one about Tim.

One Sunday a long time ago Tim was in church with his girlfriend.  He put his arm around her shoulders as they listened to the sermon.  It was a long sermon.  Somewhere in the middle of the long sermon, his arm fell asleep.

It was the sort of sleep that made his arm turn entirely numb and he didn’t know it was asleep.  It was so asleep that it flopped off the back of the pew and onto the leg of the woman behind him.  Tim didn’t feel it.

From the woman behind him’s point of view, a young man was randomly groping her leg in the middle of the sermon.  She was having none of that.  So, without bothering to keep her voice down too low, she leaned forward and said, “Young man!  You will remove your hand from my leg right now!”

Tim was startled, having no idea what was going on.  Slowly he became aware that his arm was not around his girlfriend’s shoulders, but was draped down the back of the pew and lying on a woman’s leg.  He tried to move his sleeping arm, but it wouldn’t respond.  He ended up having to use his whole body to swing his arm up and over the back of the pew where it thumped down next to him.

I heard this story last night on the way home from celebrating Shannon’s birthday.  Our friendship with Tim and Shannon is so new that I don’t even know how old Shannon turned, but we still had fun celebrating.

We had planned to eat dinner in a cute little restaurant in Gettysburg, but right now it’s the 150th anniversary of the battle at Gettysburg.  It’s a teeny weeny bit crowded in Gettysburg right now.  Here’s a quote from the Baltimore Sun:

“Gettysburg officials are expecting 250,000 visitors to visit the small south-central Pennsylvania borough of about 7,700 residents for the anniversary.”

We figured that we can go to cute little restaurants in Gettysburg any time we want to.  Let the 250,000 visitors have their turn at them and we’ll go somewhere else.  We’re very gracious like that around here.

So, we headed to boring old Frederick, Maryland and went to a chain restaurant—Macaroni Grill.  Dinner was great but afterward we wondered what to do.  Frederick isn’t necessarily bristling with culture, you know.  And that’s when Darling Husband sat up straight and blurted out, “We could go to Wegmans!”

Yes, the grocery store.

Tim said,  “Er…the grocery store?”

Darling Husband said, “Yes!  It’s great!  Let’s go!”

Ok, so we’re friends with Tim and Shannon, but as I said, it’s still a relatively new friendship.  We’re not quite at the point where we can say to each other, “Are you out of your mind?  I don’t want to go to a grocery store on my birthday.  That’s a dumb idea.”

So, Tim and Shannon said a carefully polite, “Okay,” and we headed to Wegmans.  They did their best not to drag their feet through the parking lot and when we got in the entryway Darling Husband said, “We might need a cart,” and grabbed a small cart.  Tim and Shannon looked mildly bemused.

But before we even made it past the cart storage part of the store, Shannon said, “Ooo!  Look at that!” And popped a bag of trail mix into the cart.

And then we entered the store.

Now, you need to know something.  Shannon is an amazing cook and has vast knowledge of all things culinary.  She took one look at all the obscure mushrooms and exotic cheeses and swooned.  We ended up spending an hour and 45 minutes in Wegmans.  We were so wide-eyed at all the wonders of Wegmans that our eyeballs were drying out.  Darling Husband bustled about like a happy mother hen, so tickled with himself for suggesting a trip to the grocery store for Shannon’s Birthday Bash.

For the more particularly yummy looking treats, Tim would say, “It’s your birthday!  Let’s get it!” and pop it into the cart.  The cart was stuffed with saltwater taffy and pasta sauces and cheese crisps and fruit tarts and trail mix and truffles and, and, and…

We got to the register and their bill totaled up to $195.51.  Darling Husband said, “Wait!  I have a Wegmans card!”  We used it and the total dropped down to…$195.51.  Ooooo.  No discount for you.



We had a new person at photoclub this morning–Rose.  Gerhard helped her learn her (Pentax!) camera settings.  She got the usual warning:  If you come to photoclub, you will be photographed.  Here she is:


The rest of us played with our project for today:




It’s easy:  tape two colorful pieces of paper to something sturdy—like the lid of a pizza box.  I used double sided tape so it would be nice and flat.

Fill a glass with water and place it where the colors meet.   Move about a bit until you see the water refract the colors making a checkerboard effect.

Hannah used 3 colors of paper and different angles and had all sorts of crazy circus tent looks going on with her water bottles.  Good job Hannah!

Clothes Shopping Again, With Pictures

I wanted to look like an Easter Egg.  I tried to look like an Easter Egg.  But I couldn’t do it.  I’m just not an Easter Egg, no matter how much I want to be.

What am I talking about?  Clothes shopping.  More specifically, spring/summer clothes shopping.

As you are all well aware, Darling Husband and I are cheap thrifty.  We are stingy smart with our money.

Since we’re so cheap economical, we don’t like to spend a lot on clothes.  I don’t know what Darling Husband’s excuse is for not buying decent clothing because he’s a guy and wears the same clothes every day of his life.  He could actually buy a good quality shirt and keep wearing it until 2043.  If he’d pony up the extra cash for material that doesn’t fray after a season, no one would ever know how old the shirt is.  That’s how easy men have it.

It’s different for women, especially women with short attention spans, like me.  The reason that I buy cheap clothes is that I get bored with my clothes and want something different, so I don’t mind if they wear out after a couple of years.  Why spend a bunch of money on something I won’t want to wear by 2015?

This means I head out about twice a year to refresh the wardrobe.

And every spring I try very hard to be an Easter Egg, but it just never works out for me.

On Sunday I headed out to the outlets and started at Maurices*.  Oh heaven!  One look in there and it’s like being inside of one of those sugar egg dioramas.  Do you remember those?  Why haven’t I seen one of those in a while?  Do they still make them?  They’re eggs made out of sugar, covered with frosting, and the insides have a little 3D scene of bunnies or chicks made out of candy.  Google images for ‘sugar egg diorama’ for examples.

Maurices is like a sugar egg diorama.  All the clothes are sweet and girly and pink and purple and everything has ruffles and flounces all over it.  Maybe this year I would finally look good in pink, frothy clothing.  One can always hope, anyway. So I gathered up all the frilly, ruffly, pastel colored clothing I could fit over my arm and headed to the fitting room.

First, here is what I wore going in.


When I go shopping I wear something I like so I can see whether the outfit I’m trying on looks as good to me as the outfit I’m shopping in.

Note the dark colors and marked lack of frills.  Also note that I haven’t edited any of these pictures, so they’re not the things of visual wonder you’re used to seeing from me.

First up: an Easter Egg Yellow dress.


Um….maybe….how about the back?


No.  It’s too thin and makes me look like I have a lumpy butt.  Of course I don’t actually have a lumpy butt (ahem.)  But it makes it look like I do.  Just say No to lumpy-butt dresses!

Easter Egg Purple top with a cute bow.


Feels like lingerie.  Maybe not to anyone else, but it does to me.  I don’t wanna wear lingerie around town.

Peach frills?


Nope.  Just not me.  Not sure why not.  I just can’t seem to carry off a lot of busyness in my clothing.

Something a little less fluffy?


I sort of liked this one, but it’s obviously much too small.  They didn’t have the next size up, and the size after that was too large.  Oh well.  Moving on…


I like this button down shirt.  I tend to be able to wear button down shirts pretty well.  I think most people can as long as they don’t floof out in the back and make you look really thick.

Turned to check.  Um.  It didn’t floof out in the back, but the back of the shirt was lace.  See through lace.  Nope.  No see-through clothes at my age.  Not gonna happen.

Bat wings?


No.  No bat wings for me.

Another sort of button down shirt?


No, I look utterly ridiculous in that shirt.  How about pretty blue?


Oh, dang it!  Almost.  I kinda like this one except for the saggy boob part.  I don’t like wearing saggy boob shirts.  And I’m not gonna try to figure out how to have it altered, so back on the rack it goes.

One last chance at a dress with a nice bird pattern.


Feels frumpy.

Let’s move to another store:  Old Lady.

They had a bunch of button down shirts at Old Lady, but apparently the 80’s are back with their big blowzy shirts.  I look like a big balloon in big blowzy shirts.  I managed to find a normal-looking button down shirt.


But it doesn’t quite fit the way I like button down shirts to fit.  It’s too square.  I am not square shaped.  Back on the rack.

And this, my friends, is why I’m not a model:


Models have to be able to wear pretty much anything and look good in it.  I do not look good in this dress.

Drab olive green shirt.


Hey!  I look awesome in drab olive green!  And thus, my Easter Egg dreams are toppled.  Oh well.  At least there’s a hint of ruffle in the shirt.

I bought it.

Might as well get some tshirts while I’m there.  In red.  (One of my best colors.)


And kelly green.


That doesn’t look kelly green.  Gerhard, why doens’t it look kelly green on my camera??

A new store.  Dress Barn.  Because I want a dress.  No, actually I want a skirt.  Every year I try to find at least one skirt that fits.  They’re nice in the summer.

How about this one?  (With the black t-shirt I got at Old Lady.)


That looks nice on me!  Sure does, if I want to stand in one spot all day.  The thing was oddly tight.  I had to take tiny mincing steps to beetle across the fitting room.  No.  I can’t live my life beetling around the house.

Ok–get ready for this one because it’s not something I’d normally get, but in the end I did.


A long shapeless tablecloth skirt.  Yup!  I got it.  No, it’s not the most flattering on me, but I needed something that’s cool in the summer that I can run around in with the kids.

And for fun, I tried one more Easter Egg shirt.


No.  It’s not me.  It reminds me of my maternity clothes–especially because it tied in the back.

On to Van Heusen.  Ooo!  Pricey!  Nah–outlets, remember?  They have ‘markdown sales!’  Everything is always $80 off the original price.

I tried on the polka dots.  I have a soft spot for polka dots.  I met my husband wearing a polka dot shirt.


It’s ok.  How about something in pastel:


I liked this one better than the polka dots.  But it didn’t fit right.  One size was entirely too small, but the next size up was too large.



Yup.  I like red.  Bought the red.

And then I was hungry.  But I’d spent money, and you know how I feel about that.  Called Darling Husband, “Should I get myself a sandwich from Quiznos or come home and eat?”

He said, “For things like this I ask myself, WWJD?”

WWJD?  Either not turn the stones into bread or multiply the sandwiches and feed all the shoppers.

“Um.  Who is J in WWJD?”

“Jackie.”  Ah!  My name is Jackie!  Indeed.  What would Jackie do?  While I was wondering what Jackie would do Darling Husband said, “By the way, what’s for dinner?”

Exactly.  What was for dinner? If I came home, I’d have to figure that out and not just for myself.  I’d have to feed all four of us.

“I’m eating at Quiznos.  You guys will have to fend for yourselves.”


*  I am leery of thrift stores.  It cost us about $2000 to get rid of bedbugs a couple of years ago.  A cost analysis leads me to believe it’s better to buy new then to have to exterminate bedbugs.

The Bat Cave, Zombies, and Laser Noises

So, Vince stopped by on Tuesday evening.  Darling Husband and Vince hang out every Tuesday and either go for a healthy walk or eat fattening Italian food.  You just never know–will they weigh less on Wednesday morning or more?

We started being friends with Vince because we have similar tastes in tv shows.  And we stayed friends because Vince has an amazing Bat Cave in his basement.  His house is an old farm house built sometime in the 1800’s, but if you open an unassuming door and walk down a creaky set of stairs, you’ll find yourself in a subterranean lair.  It’s like a maze down there.  I’ve been lost in that basement for hours.  Vince finally had to have all 41 of his children form a chain, holding on to each other’s hands, to find me in the maze.

And in a secret room in the Bat Cave, in special filing cabinets, Vince houses every single edition of various super hero comics from 46 a.d. until now.

Next to the comic book collection is his collection of various tv series which he never, ever, ever lets anyone borrow.  Never, ever, ever. (Getting back together.)

Except for the one time he let us borrow Lost.  Oh yes, we’re just that special.  But don’t tell anyone.  Because he never, ever, ever lets anyone borrow his tv series.

So…he stopped by on Tuesday and tried yet again to get us to watch The Walking Dead.  We’ve been down this road with him before.  We tried watching an episode or two, but it was just so gory that we stopped.  But in his rapid fire way, Vince kept going on and on (and on and on) about it.  “Oh, it stops being so gory!  I mean, I guess there are a few more gory scenes in a few of the episodes…and you can just fast forward through those,”  and he scrunched up his face like it’s the easiest thing in the world to fast forward through the one or two gory scenes, and aren’t we so silly for not thinking of it ourselves.

Darling Husband ventured, “I think if we fast forwarded through the gory scenes, there might not be much of the show left to watch,” and Vince poo-pooed that idea.  “No, no!  Lots of story!  Lots of character development.  Just watch it.”

So, I tried it again.  I didn’t make poor Darling Husband watch it.  He hates gory stuff.  Just hates it.  If I asked him to watch it, he probably would have, but then would be subjected to all the gory stuff he hates.

Netflix picked up right where I left off 5 months ago, right in the middle of an episode.

Right when Rick and his family are reunited.

And then I was hooked.  Shane sure looked unhappy to see Rick.  OooOOooo.  That’s trouble brewing right there, let me tell you.  I simply had to find out what happened next.

And since Tuesday, I’ve watched all of season 1 (just 6 episodes) and all of season 2 (13 episodes)

For the record, Vince was wrong and Darling Husband was right.  There are thousands of gory scenes in every single one of those episodes.  Lots and lots of blood and lots and lots of guts.  There are blood and guts everywhere.

And after watching 18 gory episodes with zombies jumping out at someone every other minute,  I kinda felt creepy driving around in the car tonight in the dark.  I’ve told you about driving around up here, haven’t I?  In case I haven’t, here’s what it’s like:

I came from the Baltimore suburbs where there are street lamps every 5 feet.  You can’t spit without hitting a street lamp.  I’ve seen men spit, hit a street lamp, and the spit ricochets back and hits them on the forehead.

But not here.  You can drive for miles and miles and miles without seeing a single street lamp.  Or another car.  And did you know that when you drive around without street lamps or cars that when you look in the rear view mirror, all you can see is black?  Pitch black in the mirror.  So, if there’s someone, or something, in the back of your car, you’ll never know until, “Ahhhh!”

Speaking of driving around in the car, I was driving around in the car tonight because it’s grocery shopping day.

Of course it’s grocery shopping day today.

See, today was 56 degrees and sunny.  I actually sent the boys outside to play. They hate being sent outside to play and would rather lounge around inside making laser noises at their toys.  They can spend hours holding a single lego toy and making laser sounds at it.  Seriously. (100% true.)

But it was so nice that after school I sent them outside.  And I thought to myself, “Instead of taking them grocery shopping this warm, sunny afternoon I’ll let them play.  I’ll go grocery shopping this evening.  I’m so glad that I won’t be grocery shopping in the rain for a change.”

At 7:49 p.m., I opened the door to the house ready to head to the grocery store and saw that the sidewalk was glistening.  Glistening?

Yes, glistening.

With rain.

As I left the house I ranted, “I don’t believe it!  It was warm and sunny 45 seconds ago, and now it’s raining.”  Boy7 hollered from the bath he was taking, “Mom!  of course it’s raining!  Don’t cha know?  It’s grocery shopping day!”

And by the time I left the grocery store?  Snow.


Here’s a picture of Boy7 last Friday bringing in the groceries for me.  In the rain.


And now I have to go research where I can get the first 9 episodes of The Walking Dead, season 3, so I can watch them all tomorrow.

No Lights, Alligator, and a New Car

Now that we have a (dum, dum, dum) car payment, I’ve become my father, “Turn that light out!  We have to pay for that light, you know!”

For the past few months we’ve been living in great luxury, leaving a little light on in the living room, even though we don’t need it.  It just looks cute glowing in front of the window.  I’ve been feeling very giddy with the extravagance of it, thinking, “Maybe I am an American after all!”

Because I’m not like many of the other Americans I know.  Oh, I just don’t tell you guys about it because sometimes I get tired of being the “quirky” one.  Americans are known world-wide for being gleefully reckless with resources.  But I really don’t understand America’s love affair with electricity.   For example, why would anyone routinely use an energy wasting, electricity hogging dryer when the air will dry your clothes just as effectively…for free.

Either I’m not a real American or those two years living in England during my formative years ruined me for life as an American forever after.

The other day, I was somewhere listening to a speaker talk about how different cultures feel about personal space.  (Oddly enough, this was after I’d written my post about not liking when people hug me.)  This man is from the south and he was explaining that southerners are real friendly-like and will put a hug on you faster’n you can say, “Oooeee!  Gimme some o’ that ‘gator kebob!”

I know that they like to eat ‘gators in the south because when I went to Georgia on a business trip, I ate ‘gator.  That trip to Georgia was very annoying.  The accents!  They were so over the top that I almost told the woman in the hotel gift shop to “knock it off and talk like a normal person.”  They sounded so fake.  But apparently, they really do talk with that accent all day long.  Insanity!

This Southern speaker was talking about being the odd one out when he lived in England where they most certainly do not “put hugs on you.”  I’m pretty sure that “putting a hug on you” in England will get you put in the stocks with rotten tomatoes thrown about your head.

Being that I feel a deep kinship with the rotten tomato tossing Brits, I can only assume that living in England at age 5 and 6 messed up my chances at being a Real American.  Because now, as you know, I really don’t like people hugging all over me and I have issues with wasting electricity that most people I know don’t seem to have.

In fact, if I’ve ever visited you at night I’ve very likely turned out some of your lights.  No, I’m not kidding.  I can’t stand to visit people and see lights on in all their rooms.  No one is even in the room, and the light is blazing!  It’s simply intolerable.  Many times have I skulked around my friends’ houses and sneakily turned off their lights.  Sometimes the owner of the house will walk in a room that I’ve darkened, give a puzzled, “huh?” and flip the light back on.  Oh, how irritating.  All my hard work, undone.

But, now that we have the car payment, the Boom Years are over and now I’ll be hassling everyone in my household about the lights.  Even the cute little light in the living room.

Speaking of car payments, the new car arrived today.  At 6:00, the dealer called Darling Husband’s cell phone and said, “The car is here and so are we, but only for a few more minutes.  If you want it, you’ll have to get here fast.”

We tossed everything in the two trade-in cars into boxes, and headed up the road to Gettysburg.

When we got to the dealer’s, Darling Husband opened the passenger door to my car and said, “WHERE’S THAT BOX OF PAPERS??”

“You mean the box you put in here for me to dump the glove box into?  That box?  Yeah, I dumped the glove box into and put it on the porch at home.”

That box had the titles and all the papers we need to buy the car!”

“You didn’t tell me that!”

“I know, I know.  I’ll go in and see what they say…”  droop, droop, droop.  Poor Darling Husband.  He really wanted his new car, but the dealership was closing in twenty minutes and I was worried that our old trade-ins wouldn’t make another round trip home and back without dying for good.

But the car people wanted our money badly enough that they said we could drop off the titles tomorrow.

Here’s a not-so-good picture of the new car in the driveway.  Tomorrow I’ll be sure to get a lovely picture of the new car in the daylight.  Darling Husband is using some lame picture of the car that he took with his iPad as his Facebook picture.  That’s just embarrassing.  I mean, here I am with Alex and all that practice taking pictures of hot-rod cars, and he posts an ugly iPad picture.

And someone needs to turn off that lightpost light!  Ugh!

Staring Women, A Satisfying Ending, and an Unsatisfying Dessert

I have no reason to tell the following story except that I found it to have such a satisfying ending.  Not sure why this memory popped into my head today, but here goes:

Waaaay back in the 1870’s when I was young, I worked at a small branch of Acme Health Insurance company.  (With Jane–hi, Jane!)

The office workers were almost all women.  There were only four men who worked there:  two guys in the mailroom, Darling Husband in the Medicare department, and the Office Director.  I can’t remember his name.  I’m trying to come up with a male stripper name to use as the Office Director’s name, so I asked Darling Husband for a male stripper name. All he could come up with was Vance or Roy.

Huh? Vance or Roy?

Whatever.  On with the story.

So.  I worked in this small branch of a health insurance company with about 100 women and the 4 guys.

Every now and then the office director, Roy, would have a branch meeting.  We’d all squish into the break room for the meeting.  There weren’t enough chairs for everyone, so we’d sit on the chairs and floor and stand against the wall.  Roy would stand smack in the middle of the room with everyone staaaaaring at him.

I used to wonder if Roy felt uncomfortable with all those women staaaaaring at him while he was right in the middle of the room.  Something about the way all the women were perched around the room, staaaaaring at Roy, made me think he might have felt a little awkward.  If he was, he never showed it.  He’d pace a bit and turn in circles so he wouldn’t always have his back to the same people.  But still…it had to be uncomfortable to be a man with all those women staaaaaring at him.  I felt a little sorry for him actually, and wondered if he got nervous before the meetings.

One day I overheard a conversation between a few of my coworkers in the back of the room.  They were discussing whether or not stripping was empowering or degrading.  Roy happened to overhear the conversation as well and chimed in with, “If a woman chooses to strip as a way to earn money, then there is no shame in that.”

Hmm.  I wasn’t so sure what I thought about his answer.  I mean, what does he know about women choosing stripping as a career?

And then he said, and he was not kidding, “After all, that’s how I paid my way through college.”


I guess Roy wasn’t uncomfortable during those branch meetings after all.

Again, there was no point to that story.  It’s not a commentary on the morality of stripping.  It’s not meant to make fun of anything or anyone.  I simply like the surprise ending.


Grocery shopping day today.  Got my favorite Apple Crisp Mix and a can of apple pie filling.  Next to the Apple Crisp Mix was a Peach Cobbler Mix.  I thought, “I like peaches.  But I don’t like the texture of the topping for peach cobbler.”

And then! Brilliance struck!  Why not get the Apple Crisp Mix and put it on top of a can of peach pie filling?!?!  Bing!  Would you take a look at me thinking outside the box?  *preen* I told you yesterday that while I might have been a nerd in school, I was a brainy nerd.

When I was almost done the grocery shopping, who should appear, but Darling Husband.  He was on his way home dropping off a prescription and bumped into me in the yogurt aisle.  I showed him the apple crisp mix and peach pie filling and he said, “What about Apple Crisp Mix and a can of raspberry pie filling?!” 


We bought all three.  Apple pie filling, peach pie filling, and raspberry pie filling.

I baked the raspberry one tonight.

And I’m very sad to report that it’s not very good.  Not sure what it is, but it doesn’t quite hit the spot.  We think it’s actually too sweet.  Shocking, I know, since Sweet is my favorite flavor.  I’ll let you know how the peach one turns out.

The Queen of England, Perfume, and Permanently Deleted Files

So, I decided to shoot all my pictures in RAW today.  What’s RAW, you ask?

I wondered the same thing.

From what I understand if you shoot all your pictures in RAW, no matter what the picture, even a picture of yourself taken in front of the bathroom mirror, late at night, with two of the bathroom light fixture light bulbs burned out, your mortgage will be paid off by an anonymous donor, you’ll be chosen to be the first (insert your career here) to walk on the moon, and an official from Parliament will knock at your door, blow a shiny golden horn, and announce that after thorough investigation of your family tree, you are actually the rightful queen/king (circle one) of England and you simply must drop everything and head directly to Buckingham palace, posthaste.  Shooting in RAW is just that amazing.

But really: shooting in RAW makes your picture files reeeeeally big.  The benefit of that is when you go to edit the pictures, you can make more adjustments which makes for a better image.

But, it makes your picture files reeeeeeally big.

So, before I started editing today’s pictures, I deleted the ones that didn’t turn out.  Bam!—into the recycle bin.  And instead of letting them sit there until the end of the evening, like usual:  BAM!—“empty the recycle bin.”  “Do you want to permanently delete these files?”  Yes!  Yes, I do!

And about two seconds later, “Noooooooo!”

I deleted the picture that I wanted.

Oh, I had the most beautiful picture.  If only I could have shared this picture with the world every puppy would find a home, the sky would be continually filled with rainbows, and perfume would last all day long, even the cheap stuff.

Fortunately, I was able to crop down a different picture to recreate my deleted picture.

Here’s the picture that needed to be cropped.  I needed the sign that’s sitting on top of the dishwasher.

Here’s the crop.

Of course, this picture is just dreadful.  The original that I took, and deleted, was breathtaking.  I was planning on contacting National Geographic about it first thing on Monday morning.  Alas, it’s not to be.

Read it carefully.  Carefully.  See it?

Yes, folks, today we bought a dishweasher, and oh-ho aren’t you jealous?  Wouldn’t you like to have a dishweasher?   Even the staff at Sears was delighted and giddy with joy when Darling Husband pointed out that they were lucky enough to have the honor of selling a Real Live Dishweasher, nestled in the sea of ho-hum dishwashers.

Our new dishweasher will be delivered on Wednesday.   After 9 months of handweashing our dishes, our little bundle of joy will finally arrive.  I’m thinking of having a dinner party for 12 on Tuesday night, just so that my entire set of dishes will be waiting to be weashed on Wednesday.  Well, a dinner party of 11, since Boy7 broke one of my plates a few weeks ago.

I’ll serve lasagna and grits and let them adhere to the plates overnight.  No worries, I just know my new dishweasher will be able to handle it.


Obama Chia is enjoying his sauna.  (Obama Sauna.)  He should be able to come out of his bag/greenhouse/sauna in a few days, when his grassy hair takes root.  I’ll keep you updated.

The Food Is Bad at a Pity Party but Good at a Brandi Party

So I was feeling particularly pathetic and sorry for myself today.  No, I won’t bore you with details, but I was having quite the pity party for myself.  Pity parties are grey affairs: the appetizers are pretzel sticks (no dip), dinner is grisly pork chops, and for dessert…green jello.

Right in the middle of my pity party, I realized that I didn’t have a crucial ingredient for dinner tonight, so I moped out of the house in my green minivan to the grocery store for the ingredient.

And there was Brandi in the parking lot getting out of her blue minivan at the same time.  Mope, mope.  “Hi, Brandi.”  “Hi, Jackie.  Why aren’t you coming to my Thirty-One party tonight?”  Thirty-One is a company that sells all sorts of bags.

Cringe.  Be honest?  Or lie?  What the heck: be honest.  “Because I won’t buy anything.”

“That’s ok.  You can come anyway.”

“I mean…I really won’t buy anything.  Nothing.”  I have a roof to buy.  And a flash.  And a zoom lens.  And boots.  I need two pair of boots this year and I missed all the sales at the end of last year.

“Really, come anyway.  We’d love to have your …”  Dang it.  I can’t remember what she said, but it was complimentary.  Something about my wit and charm and amazing good looks.  Who am I to resist when people are begging for my company and plying me with compliments?  So with one last reassurance to Brandi that I wouldn’t buy a thing, I agreed to go to the party.

And no, I didn’t buy anything, but I did manage to get a couple of pictures.

Here they are:

The philo dough things.  Appetizers at Thirty-One parties are way better than appetizers at pity parties.  (There were homemade crab cakes, too.  Oh, heaven!)  The philo dough things look particularly good in the picture because Brandi has black dishes.  That’s because she’s married to Kevin.  She wanted her food to look good on the plates when Kevin took pictures of them, so that’s why she bought the black plates.  Actually, I made that up, but it’s a good theory.

Here is a picture of some flowers.  It’s pretty blah.

So, I took a picture of Alesia across the room from the flowers.  I like this one much better than the one of just the flowers:

You may not know it, but you saw Alesia on my blog last Friday.  Here:

Alesia asked me, “So, how do you do make one part of the picture blurry and one part clear?”

I hesitated.  If you ask me a question like that about photography I’ll quite happily take the next half hour to explain it to you in great detail.  She was looking at me so trustingly, not knowing that at that point I could have bored her to tears and driven her from the party before she had a chance to finish placing her order.

Fortunately for her, all the essay assessing I’ve been doing is helping me with my social graces.  I’m constantly telling the essay writers, “Be succinct and use small words.”  I took my own advice and managed to tell her how to do the blurry/clear thing in about three sentences.  Very impressive.  She has no idea of the bullet she dodged.  Shew!

Girls Squeak and Boys Drool

I got a call yesterday morning at 8:40.  8:40?!  My kids aren’t toddlers anymore.  This means that I can sleep in until whenever I want.

Yes, you read that right.

I get to sleep in until whenever I want!  Or until 8:30, whichever comes first.

Ok, ok.  8:30 comes first, so I don’t technically get to sleep in to whenever I want, but 8:30 is stinkin’ sweet!

I sleep in late because I stay up late.  This wasn’t always true.  I used to go to bed early and get up early.  Had to.  If I wanted my bowl of ramen noodles for breakfast before work (and I did), then I had to get up extra early.

And then I had babies, which meant sleep was all mixed up and gotten in bits and pieces.

And now the babies are seven and nine years old.  And they kind of like their free time to play in the morning without Mom interfering.  And I kind of like staying up late writing blogs and reading books and watching tv.

So…I got a call yesterday morning at 8:40.  I was still stumbling around the house trying to find the bathroom at 8:40.  I let the answering machine get it.

It was a request for babysitting for this morning at….(are you ready?)…7:45 a.m.! 

7:45!  I haven’t gotten up at 7:45 since…well, since Sunday.  We go to church early, so I get up at 6:00 on Sunday, but still!  7:45 on a Wednesday?!  That’s just crazy!

I waited to call back about the babysitting until 7:00 that night.  Maybe by then, she’d have gotten someone else to help her.  Because I knew I was going to say yes.  She asked me to watch the kids because she needed blood work done.  You can’t tell someone, “No, I’m so self-centered that I will not watch your three young children while you’re having shards of metal stuck in your arm.”

No one else had stepped up to watch the kids, so I got the job.  Which meant I had to head to bed early.  I wrote The Blog extra fast yesterday, which is why it was just a long story about stinky socks.  I mean, seriously.  An entire post about stinky socks?  Oh, and that butt rash that poor trainee got.  You’re all hoping that I never get asked to babysit at 7:45 in the morning ever again.

And then…what to do with these three kids?  The two oldest were pretty easy to handle.  They’ve been drooling over our Game Cube for a while now.  I sat them down with Boy7 and he taught them how to play on it and they were happily mesmerized by Juan for the entire hour.

But the Girl3?  What to do with her?  I don’t know what to do with a Girl3.  I have a Boy9 and a Boy7.

First I showed her the mouse.  There’s only one left now.  Little Rose died a couple of weeks ago.  I put her in the box that my rose perfume came in.  It seemed fitting for Rose to be buried in the rose perfume box.  I put the box in a bag for us to bury her later, but I forgot about it until now.  (Thursday to do list: bury mouse.)

Girl3 took one look at the mouse and started speaking in the squeakiest voice I’ve ever heard.  Male children cannot duplicate the squeakiness of a female child.  It was a bizarre sound, though I’m sure those of you with daughters are familiar with it.

After she was done squeaking at the mouse I gave her some Playmobil toys to play with.   I heard her saying, “Nay nay,” and thought, “What an archaic way to say ‘no’.”  Then I realized she was holding a horse and it was neighing.

Another difference between boys and girls:  My boys have never said, “Nay” or “Baa” or “Bark.”  They make the actual noise.  And horses don’t make a delicate “Nay” sound.  When I was a child I was always so impressed by how the boys could sound exactly like the animal they were mimicking.  Now that I have boys of my own, I have discovered the secret.  The secret is that boys don’t mind spraying spit everywhere and having strings of drool stuck to their chins.  You can’t make accurate sounds without a lot of spit.

After she squeaked at the mouse and played with the horse, she got hold of one of my boys’ lightsabers.  Boy9, who loves to babysit babies and small children, was idly sitting near Girl3 playing on his DS, so she stabbed at him with the lightsaber and said, “I kill you dead!”  Without taking his eyes from the DS, he hammed up playing dead, so she stabbed him again and said, “I kill you dead.”  Without taking his eyes from the DS, he hammed up playing dead again.

And, I swear I am not exaggerating, she stabbed him and said, “I kill you dead” while he hammed up playing dead, never taking his eyes off the DS, for the next thirty minutes!  And neither one got tired of it.  I tried to rescue Boy9 after 10 minutes of this, but he said, “It’s ok, Mom.  She’s happy.”

I sat in the kitchen eating a pancake and watching Desperate Housewives, relaxing.

What a great morning!


I didn’t get a picture of all the stabbing.  Instead I got a picture of the rain on the windshield, my umbrella, and my empty bag of sugar snap peas.  It’s a twenty minute ride home from the grocery store.   The peas don’t stand a chance.

If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ll know that it rains, sleets or snows every single time I go grocery shopping.

The Bugs Muscled Their Way into my Picture, Two Presents (!), and It’s a Small World

Today is grocery shopping day and wouldn’t you know, as soon as we left the house there was a tremendous downpour.  I told you so!  But at least Darling Husband wasn’t with us, so, shew!, sigh of relief.  I won’t have to cry in the grocery store bathroom.

I shook my fist at the sky and made the rain go away.  But when the sun came out I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses with me, so I had to squint for the rest of the day.

Before the grocery store, the kids and I stopped by Vince’s house to give him a CD of the pictures that I took when we were visiting on Friday. Remember, he told me yesterday that he wants to be a guest blogger and write what “really” happened when we visited.  I don’t know what he’s talking with all this “what really happened” nonsense.  I’m a trustworthy narrator and never, ever exaggerate or make anything up.  Really.  As if.

Vince's Street

This house and barn are on the road that Vince and Gail and their 41 children live on.  Gorgeous!  Had to stop and take pictures.

Then, on to the pediatrician to pick up a prescription.  This house is across the street from the pediatrician.  I have a particular fascination for Dogwood trees against red brick houses; it’s such a pleasing combination.

Dogwood and bricks

Got home after Darling Husband did.  I’d told him to reheat leftovers, but when we got home, he was sadly wandering around the house with a frowny face.  “Why are you looking so sad?”  “I’m not.  I’m trying to remember the last time we ate out.”  Bing!

I called Gerhard and Janet to see if they wanted to go with us, but Gerhard had just finished washing his hands in preparation to try out a new recipe for tortilla soup in his brand new blue Dutch Oven, so they didn’t come with us.

On our way to Li’s Buffet, we saw some lovely clouds.  If you recall, I’m collecting cloud pictures.  But look at these goofy little bugs getting in my shot!  Dumb bugs.  Another day I’ll write about the monster bugs around here.  They live in my basement and work out on the weight bench down there.   There are so many I have to put my name on the sign-up sheet to get a turn on the weight bench.

Dumb bugs

While at Li’s Buffet, Jin pointed out that I was using the chopsticks wrong.  Apparently, it’s a matter of etiquette as to where you hold the chopsticks.  Darling Husband was doing it right so here’s a picture of where you’re supposed to hold the chopsticks. (High—not close to the food.)

Chopsticks. Oyster Sauce. White shirt. Doomed.

Not sure it really worked for Darling Husband, though.  The poor man can’t eat a meal without spilling food all over himself and that goes double for when he’s wearing white.  His first bite of shrimp went winging out of the chopsticks and flew through the air and landed on his shirt.  Same thing happened later with a mushroom.  I couldn’t bear to watch.

While paying the bill I admired some earrings for sale at the counter.  I asked how much they are and Jin said, “For you, they’re free.”  “No, no…I couldn’t.”  “Yes!  Take them.”  “No…really?”  “Yes!”  I think he felt bad for pointing out my bad etiquette with the chopsticks.  Either way; a present!  I love presents!

Aside:  Jin said that the recipes will be completely different at the new restaurant and they hope to open in about a month.  Boy9 told Jin about how he put the cigarette in the Dragon’s mouth at the new restaurant.  Jin said, “I wondered who did that!!”  Here’s the picture again.

Who did that to our dragon???

Then we stopped by the Gettysburg library.  I tried taking pictures of it in the dark, but it was a tricky shot.  I wanted both the well-lit sign and the dark columns.  It was either bright or too dark.  So I used spot metering on the sign and upped the exposure for the columns, and this was the best I got.  It’s so-so.  Not the best, but not horribly bad, and I couldn’t have gotten it at all if I didn’t know about spot metering.    I really should pay Scott in something besides lemon bars.  I can’t believe all the photography stuff I’m learning from him for free.  I wonder if he likes earrings?

Tricky shot.

While we were in the children’s section, we heard the librarian talking on the phone:

“Hello, Gettysburg library.

Sweetie, you’ll have to slow down, I can’t understand you.

No, no…wait.  First, what’s your name?

Can you repeat that slower?
You are Leia Doe.

Yes.  Yes, we have it right here.

No, we’re about to close, but we’ll be open tomorrow at 9:00.”

While we were at the checkout I saw a red lightsaber behind the librarians’ desk.  I thought, “Poor kid who forgot their lightsaber.  I hope they realize they left it at the library and come back for it.”

When we got in the car, Boy9 said, “I wonder if the Leia Doe who called the library was the Leia Doe that we know?”

This made sense.  The Leia Doe that we know talks pretty fast.  And how many kids named Leia Doe are there around here?  I got home and sent her mom a message on Facebook, “Did your Leia call the library this evening?”  Sure enough, it was her!  She’d called because she left her lightsaber there.  Small world.  No, not small world: small town.  You can’t help but know everybody’s business in a small town.

(I wrote about Leia Doe in this post.  You can see her picture—with lightsaber.  She loves that lightsaber.)

Dutch oven, resting in a warm sudsy bath after an evening of hard work.

Got home just in time for Gerhard to call and say the soup was ready and there was a container of it for us if I would come and get it.  Walked down the street to get my soup, and the recipe, and took a picture of the new Dutch oven.  Gerhard also gave me a Cadbury egg.  Two presents in one day!  And of two of my favorite things: earrings and Cadbury eggs.

Controlling People Should Not Grocery Shop Together

I don't like this picture. But the others were worse.

Today we went on a field trip to the planetarium at Gettysburg College with the homeschool group.  Today’s trip was like the swish-swoosh coats in the Hall of Presidents.  Lots of whispers and shuffling and escorting of bored toddlers in and out of the room.  Toddlers?  Yes.  Because when you homeschool, all your kids come with you everywhere you go, like little ducklings.

One of my students from my art class made a point of sitting next to me.  He’s a wiggle worm.  I like this kid a lot, but I’ve also had to give him the The Look a few times to get him to stop interrupting my art class.  Most mothers know how to do The Look.  I had to give him The Look today to get him to stop poking his brother during the presentation.   He gave me a sweet smile and stopped poking his brother.   Kids know you mean business when you give them The Look.

My kids are well acquainted with The Look.  We stopped by the local Karate school the other day for information and I told the boys to put down their DSs while we talked with the sensei.  They didn’t.  I said, “Put them down.”  They didn’t.  I said, “Look at me.”

They put them down.

The planetarium show itself was great.  And the presenters were appreciative of the door opening and shutting as wiggly toddlers were escorted in and out.  Each time it opened, the light from the hallway flooded the room and winked out the little stars on the ceiling.  They said, “Well, this is a perfect example of light pollution…”

When it was over, I was a little frazzled from being in a room full of wiggly, poking children. Unfortunately my friend with the doctorate in psychotherapy was there with her kids.  Psychologists simply cannot help but notice when you’re frazzled and they simply must touch you on the arm and ask if you’re ok.  I lied and told her I was fine, but kept my face turned aside so she wouldn’t see the twitching eye.

After the planetarium I had to go grocery shopping.  It didn’t rain, sleet or snow.  No, it was worse:  Darling Husband came with me.

We really needed my psychotherapist friend with us at the grocery store.  I do not understand what happens to us at the grocery store.  We get along great everywhere else, but not at the grocery store.  One time when we grocery shopped together, it got so bad that I ended up crying in the grocery store bathroom.

To be honest, it’s not all my fault or all Darling Husband’s fault. It’s both of us. His Oldest Child and my Only Child personalities come roaring out and try to duke it out.  He accuses me of being controlling, and I know he’s controlling.

The tension starts right at the beginning over who gets to push the cart and goes downhill from there.

He tries to move the cart out of someone’s way, at the expense of banging the cart into my ankles.  This has happened not once or twice, but pretty much every time we grocery shop together.

He wanders off just when I have all the cold stuff in the cart and now we all have to hang around waiting until he shows up again, eating up the thawing ice cream.  Don’t want it to be wasted, after all…

I won’t give him time to browse and bark orders at him through the store, “We don’t need anything in the candy aisle!  Get out of the candy aisle!  I thought you were trying to lose weight?!”  Yes, I’m that woman at the store.  My poor man.

I won’t let him help unload the groceries onto the conveyor belt, because I have a ‘special way of doing it.’  Even though he won prizes in his early twenties for being the “Fastest Bagger” at Toys R Us.  Really: the man has won actual awards for bagging items, but I just can’t seem to let go and let him help with the unloading and bagging…

By the end of grocery shopping, we’re at the point where we’re refusing to give each other any eye contact, because we might inadvertently give each other The Look.  In a marriage, using The Look is a no-no.  You do not use The Look on a spouse.  Only on the kids.

After today, I am not grocery shopping with Darling Husband ever again.  This is wisdom, people, born of almost twenty years of marriage; wisdom.