Monday, June 29, 2009

Camping with An Inch of Gray (Or, Why Get Your Roots Done When You Can't Even Wash Your Hair?)

Just back from our annual camping trip in WV. Here are my impressions of some of what transpired:

Buying, staging, packing, transporting, unloading, using, re-packing, transporting and cleaning 2 carloads of stuff for a trip lasting less than 48 hours: Sanity-questioning.

Breaking out in boils from the medicine I was taking for Road Rash: Painful.

Waking up surrounded by mountains, and seeing eagles overhead: Awe-inspiring.

Spending time with my brother, sister, cousins and friends: Validating and uplifting.

Tubing down a river in a raft with my slightly nervous sister: Empowering and Memory Making.

Being confident enough to sit at a picnic table reading books while everyone else was drinking copious amounts of beer and chewing tobacco: I am who I am-ing.

Indulging in the deep fried delicacies of Fry Fest (this year’s items: onion rings, chimichangas, wings, nuggets, French fries, fish, jalapeƱo hush puppies, and Twinkies): Delicious and Artery-clogging.

Using latrines and having no running water except for the river: Fine. Really.

Having the honor of dislodging a tick embedded in my sister’s bare butt: Pee in my pants funny.

No Photo Available.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Not the Heat, It's the Humidity

This outside my window:

This mere steps away:

Great food and cold beverages:

And great friends to share it with:

Yes, during my girls' weekend in Florida I toyed with the idea of running away and embracing the sun and sand on a more permanent basis. A little cottage by the sea, perhaps?

There's only one problem, and it's a biggie:

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'll Take Cream With That

Here’s my latest dumpster dive. The fun part is that I’m friends with the woman who threw it away. I think it will be cool to invite her over and see if she recognizes this old dresser, now a console, that I plucked from the curb.

The bottom drawer was broken, so out it went, and I tucked a cute little stool underneath. I switched out the old knobs for cut glass ones. I'm totally bummed that the creamy white paint made the crookedness of the drawers stand out so much, but overall I'm happy with it. Cost: $3 each for the knobs and a little white paint. Here's the cute but a little broken original. I don't feel bad about tampering with it, since it was going to a landfill anyway:

My grandma and grandpa have lived in the same house since the 1940’s. It has 2 bedrooms, a living/dining room, kitchen and a bath. Grandma’s secret to keeping it bright and airy? White paint on everything. I don’t know how long it took Grandpa to get on board with the white paint, but he’s surely been at peace with it a while, since they’ve been married over 70 years.

Most men are more than a little reluctant to embrace putting paint on anything other than walls, while women want to take the plunge. “But it’s such nice wood!” is the line heard ‘round the world when wives propose painting wood trim, cabinets, paneling or even an old chair. The “nice wood” label is certainly debatable, but men, perhaps from the earliest ages, have prized their wood. That last line did not come out the way I intended, but I think you know what I’m saying.

I bet that back in the day when some guy came back to the hut with a dandy new catapult, his wife tried to convince him to jazz it up by rubbing a little limestone on it or even some mashed berries for color.

Tom’s not too psyched about my spray painting proclivities, but he doesn’t say much. He knows he is NOT the arbiter of decor in this house. One reason my getting stuff out of the trash or at the thrift store works so well for us is that whole paint thing go. Until yesterday.

See, my latest dream is a creamy off-white kitchen. My current kitchen? Nice, dark wood cabinets. It’s easier to take the plunge and paint kitchen cabinets if they are old and dingy, but our remodeled kitchen (in a 1960’s house) is very well done and was a big selling point when we bought the house 6 years ago.

I just didn’t stop to consider that within a few years I’d be yearning to tweak, to change, okay, to paint those cabinets! And Tom? Not coming on board with tampering with them. Here he is enjoying them. Please excuse the mess.

Tom is right to be reluctant (or adamantly opposed) to my painting the cabinets, because when I paint things, it is usually pretty shoddy work. I’ve toyed with the idea of selling some of the chairs and other stuff I’ve “made over,” but I know other people’s standards would be more exacting than mine. They might expect the bottom of things to be painted, or for me to wipe off cobwebs before plunging in. None of which is a given.

If I’m doing a particularly crappy job on a project, Tom will sometimes swoop in to save me. Seeing my drips bugs him. Not that I would ever do something like this on purpose, but I will tell you that when Tom and I were dating and I burned a big hole in his pants with an iron, I sealed my fate of never having to iron again. Well played, I think.

So, my dream of off-white cabinets, black soapstone or white carrera marble counters, and gorgeous open shelving (yea, try organizing plastic Ikea cups on those!) remains just a dream for now.

Maybe when I’m an old lady in a cottage by the sea.

And as for my next half-arsed spray-painting project? I think I need to give Tom a break and start small.

With the coffee table, perhaps?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Boys and Girls are Different

I asked the kids what they had seen during my road rash incident as Shadow dragged me across the pool parking lot on Tuesday.

Molly: I saw you fly through the air and get dragged across the parking lot. You got up and looked at your leg and walked away. I figured you were okay.

Jake: I saw you fly through the air and get dragged across the parking lot. After that, I couldn't see anything because you were behind a row of cars.

Well, I did tell them to try to stay focused on their tennis lessons this year.

Into the Mouths of Babes

So Jake comes running into the house: “Mom, Andrew won’t quit saying the N- word!”

Darn. This uber-cute little boy has been testing the waters with some new vocabulary the past couple of weeks. When this happened before, he smilingly said several variations of the A-word in front of me. He wasn’t angry, or malicious, he was just trying to get a reaction. After I told him to stop, I ratted him out to the folks.

Unfortunately, I was in a hurry to get to Costco, so I sent his older sibling as my tattletale emissary. By the time the message and stories got relayed, it was a big game of he-said, she-said and it bit me in the butt big-time as it made it look like my kids had instigated the whole situation.

I knew what I saw and heard, but I decided not to press the issue, knowing full-well that many times my own family is at fault in these situations, so why push it? If I had just kept my mouth shut in the first place, and let the kids do their thing, nothing would have happened. Kids have a way of working these things out on their own.

These family members are some of our dearest friends, so after the slight AWKWARD-ness that ensued, I decided that the whole “it takes a village” thing was a load of bunk, and I’d stay out of other people’s business from here on out.

But the N-word? Oh my goodness. I’m 39 years old and I’ve never uttered that word. I even managed to teach, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huck Finn” without saying it. I had a hard time believing that word would be bandied about in my friends’ house, EVER, let alone for a kindergartner’s ears to hear. I decided there must be more to this story.

The Lowdown:

Me: "Jake, tell me everything that happened."

Jake: "Well, Andrew came up to me and bragged, I know the “F-word,” I know the “S-word!” I told him they were very bad words and he should never say them."

Me: "Okay. Jake, do you know that sometimes very little kids THINK they know bad words, but they don’t. Like they could think the F-word is “fish?” Little Andrew probably didn’t even know those words, he was just trying to get a reaction from you."

Jake: "What? Oh."

Me: "Well, what happened next?"

Jake: "Andrew said that the “F-word” was the worst curse word ever."

Me: "True. Most people do. Then what happened?"

Jake: "Well, I said that my mom said there’s a worse word. The N-word."

(Whoa. You see, without uttering the word out-loud I had used last November’s election as a time to teach the kids about our country’s legacy of racism. In the course of my history lesson, I had shared with Jake, by spelling it, this despicable word I knew he would encounter at some point through books or the media. Oh, my. Where was this conversation going?)

Me: "Okaaaaay, then what happened?"

Jake: "Andrew wanted to know if he knew the N-word but I wouldn’t tell him what it was. Then he said how would he know if he already knew it if I wouldn’t tell him? Then he said what if he said the N-word accidentally and didn’t even know he was saying it, and could I just give him a little hint?"

Me: (getting panicky) "Jake, did you give him a hint?"

Jake: "Well, I just said it rhymed with a character from Winnie the Pooh." (N-eeyore? Nabbit? There aren’t too many choices here)

"And then Pete (other kid they were playing with) guessed it right away. Then Andrew said it once and wouldn’t quit saying it. So I came home to tell you."

Me: (getting screechy) "Jake, are you telling me you just taught little Andrew the N-word?"

Jake: "No, Mom! Never! …………………….I mean, I guess maybe I did, but I didn't mean to."

Jake cried, I cried.

Haven't heard about it from our friends yet. Know any good realtors in the area?

Our work here is done.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Give Her an Inch, She'll Drag Me a Mile

Dear Shadow,

When you dragged me across the pool parking lot just now in front of all the tennis moms you must have gotten a real rush. What did it feel like for you when my shin, knee, hip, shoulder, forearm, palm and finally, face, skidded across the dirty pavement and ended up in that puddle?

I sure wish I had known to expect the sudden trip so I could have unwrapped your leash from around my wrist, instead of flying through the air like a hooked carp.

Obviously my busy day of bringing home the bacon (ok, 50 bucks) wasn’t enough for you. The doggie bones from my quick grocery trip didn’t satisfy, either. When you brought me your ball, I played fetch with you. And then, instead of sitting on my rear reading magazines while the kids had tennis lessons, I decided to bring you along for a nice long walk.

And now, as we sit here in the car, me fuming and composing this blog in my head and bleeding on the steering wheel, all you can do is pant and give me that stupid, happy-dog look.

I guess it’s all my fault. I mean, you did see another dog to chase after, and it’s not like you get to do that every day. Oh yeah.

And when I miss my dear friend’s going away party in an hour as I pick gravel out of my shoulder, it’s not like she’s moving to Belgium or anything. Oh yeah.

And as the sheets stick to my wounds tonight as I try to sleep, and I say goodbye to wearing any flirty, shoulder-baring fashions for the next 100 years, I’ll just say thanks again, bitch.

Not Love,


Monday, June 15, 2009

A Lot Changes in 20 Years

Yep, we used to go "sunbathing" and we wore suntan lotion (or baby oil!) for a tropical tan. Bain de Soleil SPF 2 0r 4 was considered being ultra careful.

Today, chances are we're under straw hats sporting 70+ sunscreen. About 15 years ago, I made the mistake of going into one of those light boxes that show you your sun damage. Eeek. Not helpful, not helpful at all.

Here's a pic of my first trip to FL with college friends, in 1988. That wicked sunburn made it mighty tough to flirt with the guys in Key West bars. Something about the oozing pustules must have been a turn-off. My face was actually sticky for several weeks.

Twenty something years later, I headed to FL again. I got back at 2 a.m. today and can't wait to tell you all about the awesome trip. Still processing, so I hope to post about it in a day or two.

And although a lot has changed, such as views about tanning, shoulder pads, and the staunch belief that the higher the cut of our bathing suit bottoms, the longer our legs would look, a lot hasn't changed. Friendship, for example.

Here's to 20 more years!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Show No Fear

You know I’m a house junkie who reads decorating mags like porn. Sometimes, however, I get sick of how seriously the decorating world takes itself.

If I have to read one more time about how someone, “fearlessly mixes patterns and colors” or “fearlessly uses spray paint,” or “fearlessly” shops at thrift shops and designer showrooms, I’ll scream.

Fearlessly? Seriously?

We’re talking about decorating, not Darfur.

And Who Made You Queen?

Dear Snooty Lady at the Consignment Shop,

Thanks for rejecting my clothes because they were not pressed and on hangars. I took them off hangars last week and put them in a Target bag in my minivan with my other bags of stuff to be dropped here and there.

Sure, Shadow probably sat on them because they were in “her” seat, but even Molly noticed your condescending tone. “Mom, I didn’t know grown-ups talked to other grown-ups that way.” Nice.

Well, since I don’t “press” clothes—life’s too short—I know that the folks at Goodwill will enjoy my Ralph Lauren Sundress, Ann Taylor halter dress, and Talbot’s Jackets. You be sure to enjoy YOUR wrinkle-free day.


Anna See

Friday, June 5, 2009

Photo Friday

I dug into some shoe boxes to find school picture gems to share today. Things started out pretty well:

My mom made this dress. It was Syndy-Brady short, so I’m not sure how we kept our undies from showing. Here’s Molly in the same dress 30+ years later:
I think this next one is from 3rd grade:

This year I chose my own picture clothes. That’s my sister’s summer sundress, my NEIGHBOR’S MOTHER’S polyester work blouse, and my mom’s neck scarf. My mom actually bit her lips to keep from saying something as I left the house that morning. Still turned out pretty well, I think.

Things got a little dicey after that:

Couldn’t find a seventh grade pic, so this is from the yearbook.

Puberty hit that summer. I grew about 5 inches, gained more than 30 lbs, and here’s the 8th grade pic:

9th or 10th?


Things got much, much better after that. I went from a mullet to an asymmetrical haircut that was actually cool. Seriously. Here are 11th and 12th grades, although I think the 11th grade one is really from the People's Drug Store photo booth instead of being my class picture:

Why am I showing you these, besides to subject myself to potential ridicule and abuse? Well, I was thinking about all of these different ages and stages, and the angst that went along with them.

I hit my awkward stage HARD in 5th grade, and it lasted until the beginning of 10th. That was a LONG time. 6th and 7th were the toughest on me emotionally as I navigated difficult friendships and hormonal surges.

I’m not sure what changed in 10th, but things just started getting easier.

I’ve been thinking of Molly, who is so stinking adorable right now, and I want her to keep that sense of spunk and style and enthusiasm even as the years go by and her outward appearance changes. She is blessed to be hilarious and tenderhearted, humble and outgoing all at the same time.

You see, even though my 8th grade picture might make you cringe, as it still does me, 8th grade wasn’t all bad. I had great friends who made going to the movies, the mall, and having sleepovers loads of fun. We rode bikes, drank Slurpees and complained about our teachers. We stood awkwardly off to the side during the 4 o’clock p.m. dances in the gym.

Those same friends were still with me when I started feeling more comfortable in my own skin in high school, and those relationships blessed me with confidence and a sense of belonging (Thanks, Lisa G!).

I was already ME in all of those photos, and although on some days I felt defined by my looks (frizzy hair, braces, eventually glasses), it wasn’t every day. Some days I was more concerned about an English presentation or having crepes in French class. Some days I felt smart, sarcastic, kind and even witty. Every day I felt secure and loved by my parents, even though I didn't value that at the time because what I really wanted was to be loved by a “boy!”

I don’t know whether Molly will have a colossal awkward stage. I know some people are lucky enough to skip it all together.

Yep, there I am with my cousin, sweet Grandma, and my sister. Only 18 months older, L seemed to leap right over the awkward stage, and that made my blood boil. I felt the injustice of it all. I wanted to cut off her long blond hair while she slept. I exulted when I could move out of the room we shared, away from her and her languid "coolness."

She might be the first person to tell you that being invited to boy/girl parties in jr. high had its own challenges and risks. Or that being objectified for having a bodacious set of boobs was NOT pleasant, but as I sat home watching “Falcon Crest” each Friday night, I wasn’t buying it.

Her friends wore matching baseball shirts with iron-on slogans, and they walked the jr. high halls as if they owned them. I found out years later that she was insecure herself during this whole time... I guess pictures don't always tell the whole story.

Anyway, what’s the point of this photographic trip down memory lane?

Well, I really want to spare Molly the "awkward stage" because I remember feeling cruddy about the way I looked a lot of the time. But, I think awkward stages offer some sense of protection from growing up too fast, flying too high.

Also, I want her to understand that looks AREN’T the most important thing. No matter how I tried to cast myself to my parents as the frizzy, frumpy, lackluster preteen during this time, living out what I saw as a dreadful life sentence of blah (a little dramatic much??)—I hope and believe that they saw me as a hardworking, spunky girl with a soft heart and a flair for hyperbole.

They had, you see, known me and loved me my whole life, and they also had the wisdom and perspective to know that jr. high and even high school do not define one’s life.

So, on this last day of the school year, to Molly and Jake-- who now can be considered TWEENS-- I will say: It does get better. Much better. You don't need EVERYONE to like you, but just a few people to like you a lot. You need to see and believe who you are in God's eyes and in Mom and Dad's eyes.

Molly and Jake, I feel stronger, happier and more confident now at 39 than I ever have before. School years may be great (like this one), or terrible, but they do not last forever.

And school pictures? They always get better:

Or almost always:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fabulous or Freakish?

I have a problem. I want a scooter.

Not this kind of scooter:

This kind.

Yep. On my way to work today I was behind a woman tooling into town on her Vespa. No biker chick was she. No tattoos (from what I could see) or leather chaps. She was wearing ballet flats. And within seconds my 1999 minivan seemed a little bit…frumpy. Thoughts went through my mind. Could I pull off riding a Vespa? Is it good for the environment? Does it come in light aqua?

I toyed with the idea of a Vespa last year when gas prices were so high. It just seemed so sensible, so chic, so fun, but the problems with my scooter fantasy were numerous:

You cannot pick up children on a scooter.

Scooters severely limit curb-side shopping aka dumpster diving.

I travel with a bunch of crap at all times: stuff to return, coupons to ignore, a dog.

I buy in bulk.

I don’t like the ________ (Insert heat, sun, cold, rain, wind…)

I live in one of the most traffic-gnarled areas in the country, and I don’t mean “gnarly” in a mid-80’s good way.

Motorcycles scare me. Is this like a motorcycle?

A Vespa costs between $3,500-5,000.

Here’s a cheaper version, but it may be a bit like one of the kiddie ones I saw at ToysRUs.

On the plus side:

I work 1.5 miles from home and can get to work on neighborhood streets (before you tell me to walk or bike to work, I’d like to ask you to please focus! Let’s stay on topic here)

How cute is it?

Did I mention I’m turning 40 momentarily?

So, I’d love for you to weigh in. Should I pursue the Vespa or just leave it a dream? Could you see me lugging a gallon of milk and a bunch of Yoplait in my backpack on a Vespa, or does that make the cuteness quotient go WAY DOWN?

Truthfully, should I just hold out until I need one of these?