I love these people!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Okay,
I've gone and shot off my mouth to the point that people think I am some kind of neat freak.
Well, the freak part is right.
As far as neat goes, I am really conflicted.
I would love to be able to say screw it - my house is what it is!
But... I really do like a clean house.
But... I really don't have the inner commitment to keep a house up to my own standards.
Or my mother-in-law's. But that issue has taken the interstate out of town.
Thank you Dwight D. Eisenhower.

So 'hire the cleaning done', you say.
Good idea.... but then you get a whole new set of stress.
Say the Happy Housekeepers come on Tuesday,
well, that means on Monday night you have to make sure every family member has all their crap picked up and put away,
because Happy Housekeepers only deal with dust and dirt and fingerprints and tub rings. Or else you have to pick it up yourself.
Which is easier?
Nag it done, or do it yourself?
Usually do it yourself because typically it is just you and the cats around when cleaning needs done.
So you run around the house picking up
17 pairs of shoes, 2 backpacks, 40 pounds of blueprints and a half dozen sports bags - some of which are toxic -
as well as numerous pairs (sometimes not pairs) of socks
that apparently just fly off feet at will.
Newpapers..... phone books... blankets.... drink glasses.... empty juice boxes... wadded up Kleenexes (barf!)....
no, not real barf....
and crap,NO not real crap but,
Oh Crap as in: you never got the sheets washed from last week so there won't be clean ones to have the Happy Housekeepers put on the beds...
and on
and on.
And you can't just throw all the stuff in their rooms like you usually do because then their rooms won't get serviced by the Happy Housekeepers and that's a waste of money. Remember?
We have talked about how cheap you are?
So now, not only are you still doing all the picking up,
you are doing it on someone else's schedule,
and under pressure,
and you probably had a bad day at the office and forgot to pick up the 3 sheets of peculiar foamy stuff that your daughter needs for some ridiculous extra credit poster project and
oh shit, you are out of milk.
How can the damn calves go through a GALLON A DAY?
Why can't they just drink soda like other kids -
soda doesn't require refrigeration and can be bought in large...
unrefrigerated quantities.
And as long as they are drinking soda they might as well be playing miniature golf
which we all know leads to regular golf and
pretty soon they are mainlining smack.
All because you had to go and hire the Happy Housekeepers.

Well, aren't you proud of your-self!
Well, it's Monday and I have survived the weekend with the in-laws. Luckily Alpha talked them into staying another day so that they could watch her basketball game tonight. Remind me to reward that girl with something like....oh...maybe a new...hmm...place to live?

Actually, in my complete panic last week, I may have given you the wrong idea. Although, I do not like anyone to see my house in it's usual condition, let alone Mrs. USA-Housecleaning a.k.a. my mother-in-law, I really don't mind a visit from Homer's parents. In fact, if I could send my family away and take a week off work, make that TWO weeks off, to clean my house from top to bottom until it resembles the pristine condition of their house, then I would actually WELCOME a visit from the in-laws.

True, Mrs. USA-Housecleaning does have a few sharp spots on her tongue. But, the new, improved, crazy-minimized Jane just lets it roll. My MIL will never get over the fact that the girls spend less time with them during the annual trip to From-Where-We-Came than with my people (have I mentioned that each and everyone of both our families live all together in another part of the country?). This is because Homer's side of the family is TWO people - Gma and Gpa. That's it. Jane's side, however, is Gma, Gpa, uncles, aunts, a godmother, many cousins and several very good summer friends - all of which Alpha and Omega want to spend time. Now mine is not an enormous family by any means but surely you can do the math. Mrs USA-Housecleaning only sees that she DOES NOT GET EQUAL TIME with the 'other side'...the dark side....the *gasp* Lutheran side. And I know that I will never find the words to make her see what everyone else can CLEARLY see. So I just switch the subject to baked goods. She loves to talk a good recipe.

Another advantage I have is that my in-laws do seem to like me. They realize that a weaker woman would probably have plopped their son right back on their doorstep years ago. I have not only allowed him to stay but have made several improvements. I do love a good fixer-upper. The very last time Homer dared to utter the words "my mom used to do that for me", I promptly rung her up and asked if she would take him back. Her actual words cannot be posted here but the gist was that he's mine now to do with as I see fit.

As for the ants, not a one dared to show its face but one of my dear little tattletales DID tell Mrs USA-Housecleaning about the briefcase incident. Turns out she is quite freaked out by ants so I couldn't help but throw in Meg's tale of the ant in her ear. She was still shuddering over that last night. Cool. Thanks, Meg.

Anyhoodle, I did, in fact get the bathroom cleaned on Saturday morning. By myself. Homer had a meeting..... yeah, uh huh, sure. And my garbage disposal is fixed. Turns out my father-in-law has decided to become evolved. He no longer has a problem with women doing 'manwork'. He not only sat comfortably on the couch while I worked on the disposal, the good man kept my laptop warm - for hours.

So the men in my life may have let me down, but the internet did not. Thank you WorldWideWonderWeb for containing all the info necessary to unjam a garbage disposal WITHOUT having to stick my hand into the sickness. IN FACT, the W-4 told me not to, under ANY circumstances, put my hand in there. I liked that advice. Turns out, that you can just stick an allen wrench-type thingy in the bottom of the disposal - underneath the sink - and turn it until you clear the problem. Wow! Who knew?!

I did make the in-laws Thai food on Saturday night, which they had NEVER in their long lives had before. They seemed to like it and even talked about VISITING a Thai restaurant at home.....IF I would write down what they had so they would know what to order. I suppose when you get to be 80ish you don't want to waste your time and money ordering the wrong thing at a restaurant. Especially when you don't have all that much time and your bossy daughter-in-law keeps urging you to make your money last for as long as possible.

Oy! Can you even imagine if Mrs. USA-Housecleaning became destitute and had to come live with us full time???? She would die of a broken dustmop, I fear.

Oh, Ricky!!

The 'good' news of my day is that Fred and Ethel (my parents-in-law) are scheduled to land at our house for a 3 day visit. Today! This very today that comes just THREE days after tax day. And after the weekend where I used all my available task energy on taxes instead of on my weekendly cleaning ritual. True I made a choice, but tax prison scares me only a little more than the jaundiced eye Ethel gives my slipshod ways.

I was an hour late for work this morning because I cleaned my way out of the house - erasing all the peanut butter fingerprints as I backed to the door. I also made sure the scent reservoirs in the Wallflowers were filled. I mean if the place smells good, it MUST be clean, right? Wrong. I doubt even the Wallflowers will overpower the smell of the jammed garbage disposal. Thank you Homer who blames Alpha who blames Homer. It happened the weekend Omega and I were gone so probably only the cat knows what really happened and he takes bribes so you can't believe much of what he says.

To their credit, they did try to un-jam it – but did not try to take it apart. I was hoping it would spontaneously fix itself because just the idea of dealing with food debris makes me retch… heartily. I can’t even stand food floaters in my dishwater. Dishes must be pretty close to spotless BEFORE I will hand wash them. Right now my Diet Dew is backing up my throat a little bit just talking about it. But I’m thinking…….just maybe…..I can hook Fred into some plumbing work. He doesn’t like to see women get their hands dirty.

The other little problem that will surely shout ‘Welcome to the JaneFay Family Zoo’ is the ants. Yes I said ants. A week ago, shortly after I vacuumed the dining room, I noticed that someone had dropped a bunch of little somethings all over the floor. I was about to launch into an ‘I live with a passel of slovenly oafs’ lecture, when I saw that the somethings were MOVING because they were ANTS! And ant central seemed to be Homer’s briefcase. I picked up the briefcase and found HUNDREDS of ants underneath! Well, launch a few screams and toss in some expletives and people do come running. Homer dashed out the door with the bag. Omega grabbed the Dust*Buster and started chasing after ants. This is where those video game skills finally come in handy. I just pointed – she ran them down and sucked them up.
Turns out that Homer had a bag of raunchy grapes in one of the secret compartments of his trusty Swiss Army briefcase. I knew things would get lost in there when I bought it for him but it just seemed so…..so Swiss Armyish! I couldn't resist. But tell me honestly, would that ever happen with a woman’s purse? I don’t think so.

Now, even though I have banned that briefcase from the house, I still see an occasional ‘friend’ who must have wandered too far from the mothership. Ethel will find them, I know she will.
Maybe CatTwo will bring in another rat - that'll make the ants seem pretty insignificant, I think.

And then there’s the bathroom problem. You already know I’m no Becky Home-Ecky so I might as well air my dirty porcelain as well. See, although the guest bath has a nice Jacuzzi tub, it has no shower. And using Alpha/Omega's shower requires taking stairs, which Ethel does NOT do. Nor does she do baths because that requires sitting down low where the knees won’t go and I, personally, have NO desire to try to extract a slippery, wet, NAKED mother-in-law from the bathtub – ewww, so that leaves the master bath shower which, if you remember, is not guest appropriate. So far I have not had time to tackle it with bleach and chisel, but I informed Homer this morning that he is going to remain in the bedroom with me on Saturday morning, pretending to have sex until we get that bathroom spotless. And, if Ethel comes knocking we’ll just breathe heavy and say ‘Go...ahh... away...ohhh’ and if she gives any indication that she thinks we're cleaning instead of...umm, you know….. well, then I’ll just put the briefcase under her bed.

So, wish me luck. My time online will probably be limited to their nap time and by that time I will probably ALSO need rest time. Got that? Have a fabulous weekend! Do it for me.

Be nice to your children, they'll pick your nursing home

Looking forward to the golden years:
Morning chat at the house.

Lola: Dad, loosen your belt, you look like a nerd!

Homer: Don't tell me what to do. You can't boss me around.

Lola: I can when you're old and I put you in the nursing home. The cheapest nursing home I can find, because you are such a cheapskate.

Homer: I am not a cheapskate, I am frugal.

Jane: Oh, when she puts you in the most FRUGAL nursing home she can find... where they only change the diapers once a day.

Homer (pointing his finger): YOU (to Lola) are not nice to call me a cheapskate and YOU (to Jane) are not nice for taking her side.

Jane: You kidding? I don't want to be stuck in a dirty diaper all day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Taxed to the limit

Aah, it's April 18th. A beautiful day! The sun is shining. The birds are singing… okaynotreally.
The sun may be shining on the backside of the clouds and the wind has probably blown the birds half way to Kansas. But since I try to stay positive and my back is actually to the windowed wall of my office, I can pretend. Not so different from hallucinating, I imagine.
I am tired and a wee bit cranky today. I was up WAY past my bedtime last night, but I will not get sucked into poor-me mode. I am, instead, going to enumerate my thanks for so very many aspects of yesterday.
First of all, thank you IRS for only having ONE tax day per year. I bet the sadistic urge to shift to a semi-annual system is overwhelming at times.
Thank you to my husband for finally looking over the tax forms I printed days ago at 8 o’clock last night and for not being able to come up with that receipt for the $5 charitable contribution you made to Mothers Against Men with Bad Abs (M.A.M.B.A.) which would have required me to screw with the TurboTax and reprint the forms. Again. And recalculate the entire state form. Yet again.
Thanks to Workforce Services for kindly providing ONE copy of a withholding statement even though I am required to send in 2 and presumably keep one for my records. They always want you to keep one for your records.
Thank you to my sweet daughter who stood before me at 9pm with her W-2 in hand asking what needed to be done with it.
Thank you to the IRS for making extension forms available online.
Thank you to whomever…. removed.... Acrobat from the family computer (they never open pdf’s?). WTF?
Thanks to Adobe for providing me with a TWENTY minute download of Acrobat 8 and various opportunities to upgrade to a bigger, smarter, more sexy Acrobat.
Thank you to my former favorite television station for having a cutesy remote broadcast from the main post office showing ‘the guy in the Lexus dropping off his taxes at the last minute’. Woo hoo! It was so kind of you to mention that only a few post offices around this metropolis were open until midnight. And then… not bothering… to tell us… which ones…….?? Or how to find this out.
Thank you to my online newspaper for responding to my search for all variations of the words post office, open, late, tax day…….. I found the article telling me to prune my apple trees to be very helpful. Do it now, it says, before the flowers OPEN. Guess what? Too LATE!
Thank you to my husband’s company, whose truck was parked behind my car at 11 pm last night when I set out with my finally completed tax forms in search of a post office that was… OPEN LATE. Since I had no patience to shuffle vehicles, I drove their truck and felt very tough with my payload of three pieces of IRS mail.
Thank you to my grocery store for not having TWO pimply, high school boys with shitty attitudes whine to me about how much trouble it would be to make two copies of that hateful form for me.
Thank you God for giving me the facial resources to project a very good ‘don’t make me call your mother’ look.
Thank you to the US Postal Service for switching up the post offices that are open late. If you had left them the same as last year, I would not have been able to drive aimlessly around the city looking for the Main Post Office.
Thank you to my husband (again) for leaving a hard hat on the seat of his truck. I felt quite powerful cruising in my Mickey Mouse pajama pants and fluffy slippers, wearing a hardhat and driving a big truck. The hardhat may also have reduced the damage inflicted by the man-flashlight, also found on the seat, which I used to beat myself about the head as I realized I had no cell phone, not much gas and no address for the post office as I was driving around the ghetto part of town. Yay me!
Yes, thank you me, for finally spying the massive 10-acre postal facility, popping a u-turn on a busy street, weaseling my way into the long line of equally-desperate tax outlaws and FINALLY depositing the envelopes IN the bin. BEFORE midnight… in my jammies… in a hardhat… in (not) my Toyota truck…. OH WHAT A FEELING!
Oh, and thanks to all of you who DON’T suggest that I finish up this little tax project before the deadline next year. That is NOT the way I roll, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

He says, she does

Okay, I’ve taken a fair amount of crap about the drain cleaning post so I feel the need to explain some things.

First of all, Thystle, I can’t use what I don’t have: my eyelashes are invisible without mascara and, well, if there were breast mascara, I’d use that, too.
And Stepmonster, the reason I have a husband is to keep the toilet seat up and wet towels on the floor. Really? Yours does plumbing?
Meg? I would love to call a professional, but this was the sink in the master bath. The amount of housekeeping attention that a part of my house receives is directly proportionate to the amount of public display it gets. The rest of the house is bad enough but if I brought a plumber to ground zero, well, I would have to kill him before he called the EPA and I just didn’t have time to bury a body.

It’s rather ironic that I grew up in a family where Dad was the Fixer-of-Everything. He was our electrician, plumber, mechanic and carpenter. My mother was the painter, seamstress, cook (I use that term loosely), financial whiz, picture hanger and exterminator. I was so intent on finding a mate who could cook, so I wouldn't have to, that I totally overlooked all that other stuff. When Homer and I met, I still lived within 10 miles of Dad so I never even thought to check Homer’s home repair references. Oops.

Then we moved a thousand miles away from our families and bought a house and set about trying to muddle through the little things that needed attention. This husband of mine brought at least 200 Craftsman tools to the marriage so I wasn’t na├»ve in thinking things would get fixed. But then Homer started getting assigned to work projects that sent him from one end of the country to the other… sometimes for weeks at a time. He did manage to come home enough to knock me up a couple of times – as if I didn’t have enough to do. But a clogged toilet really can’t wait for ‘the man to get home’ when the man is in Tennessee until next month. If you think cleaning out a drain is gross, try living with the smell of a clogged one. After a week, the dog even starts to screw up his nose in disgust.

So you think to yourself “it’s not rocket science, I can figure this out” and you do what you have to do AND you save $50 to spend on NEW SHOES. Then you get a little braver and you start looking for trouble by replacing functioning faucets and light fixtures with nicer ones. Pretty soon, you are so full of yourself that you have started demolishing a cast iron tub with a sledge hammer screaming “I am WOMAN!” Then you find out that your state does not require any sort of license or even training to use power tools and Santa brings you a beautiful table saw for Christmas (which you engrave your name all over in the event of a divorce). And before you know it, if you still have all your fingers, you are in charge of remodeling and maintenance.
I may have mentioned before that I count beans for a living and Homer is an engineer. That might lead you to believe that I would handle family financial matters and he would, well, engineer things. You would be wrong. Over the years we have determined that cross-occupationing (I just made that up) is the only way to go. I would much rather tile a bathroom floor than research mutual funds. At the end of the day I am sick of financialish things. As for hiring the professionals, I am pretty picky about how the job gets done and I’d rather not have to nag strange men with low-slung pants into meeting my specifications. I’m a one-man nagger of a guy who rides his pants too HIGH. My exceptions are plumbing if pipes need to be moved, changed, or soldered and electricity because as Homer says “If it bites and you can’t see it, don’t mess with it.” I have to agree with Homer there.

Lynn and Sleepdeprivedmomma – bravo for having done it yourselves! SDM – any points you lost for hurling were more than made up for by the fact that you were 8 months pregnant. That just seems physically impossible.
And Cindy? Please come back from Wonderland. Homer contracted the yard care out to Omega years ago and we have not allowed him to even lift the hood of a vehicle since the unfortunate vocabulary lesson of 1993 caused Lola to ask me what a *bleep-bleeper* was.
“Oh, honey, that’s something under the hood of a car and if your grandma ever hears you say that she will be stuck in Hail Mary mode forever.” Yeah, after she strangles her son with her rosary.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh Captain, My Captain

Continued from the trip.....
If you look very closely at the picture titled ‘Prince of Poop’ you will see in the background a man putting away groceries. Groceries that that very man determined the need for and drove to the PX and bought all by himself. This was just one day after I saw him folding clothes as soon as the dryer buzzed, and a few hours after he emptied the dishwasher. It is true, I saw it with my own eyes and I meant to tell my niece that she is probably the luckiest girl in the world. He is a Captain and he is very captainish. But he is not only a very smart, nice, good-looking, captainish guy – he can clean! Not only can but does!
Truth be told, I shouldn’t have been surprised. We knew the first time we met him that he was a keeper. My niece brought him to my parents’ lake cabin about 7 years ago. We were all eating dinner outside around the picnic table. We were having manly barbequed food like steaks and burgers and such, as well as ‘indoor’ food like potato salad and corn on the cob. Well, when we ran out of corn at the table, this man that my niece brought, actually got up, took the empty plate into the kitchen and dished up a bunch more corn. All by himself. Well, I tell you, my jaw dropped and I looked at my sister-in-law and her jaw dropped and I said "I want one" and my sister-in-law said "I want one" although we both knew in our hearts it was too late for us.

Trippin'

In true ‘we all share a brain’ fashion, this weekend my universe ran parallel to Steph’s (Kitty’s Cattitude). I, too, made a baby-run with my youngest daughter but, judging from the pictures, hers was a little more exciting than mine. I, sadly, did NOT get new tires out of the deal. Or Bubba Gump food.
I told you that I was taking off on an 8 hour drive (one way) with Junie. Well, it was supposed to be a family trip but when Homer had to bow out for work-related reasons, Lola stepped up and volunteered to stay home to go snowboarding with him. So he wouldn’t be lonely. What a trooper. That was okay, because standing in the 3-hour passport line yesterday I remembered how naughty those two girls can be when they are together. I would not have survived with a single nerve.
So off we drove to see the 3-month-old baby of a most very favorite niece (my namesake, no less). This is her first and she has done a very good job. He is healthy and happy and loves his great aunt more than he loves just about anyone on this planet but he has promised not to tell even his mother about that because she does, after all, control the food supply. We played and exercised and made goofy faces at each other and I taught him how to juggle but he has promised to keep that on the down low, too, because we wouldn’t want his dad to feel inadequate that he wasn’t able to teach him first. His dad is such a nice guy.
While we were there the weather was unseasonably unreasonable. Let’s just say it would have been a beautiful Christmas. So we stayed inside and played with the baby and watched the tube. Kat, you would be so proud, we even DVR’D! Yes, it was incredible – they had 492 channels and STILL they said “there’s nothing on today”. And they said that the next day and the next. But it didn’t matter because that’s not the show we went to see. I will try to pull a picture of him off my camera but I’m pretty sure that his unbelievable sweetness will not be sufficiently represented. You will just have to take my word for it.
I also give you my word that that little boy is the Prince of Poop! He poops at least 10 or 32 times a day. They have a changing table set up in the living room which is good because otherwise we would barely have seen his mother. Now I know why they had the zillion pack of baby wipes under the table. I had seriously never before seen that many wipes outside of a store.
The drive itself was fairly uneventful which is probably an understatement considering that we traveled through 367 miles of Wyoming…..twice…..and that pretty much qualifies me to hand out some Wyoming tips. First of all, if you are thinking about stopping for gas in Wyoming and the sign says ‘next services 28 miles’ and you are tempted to think for even a minute that you have enough gas to drive another 28 miles, you might be wrong. ‘Next services’ does NOT mean that the services will be open, even in broad daylight or that you will be able to find the services that supposedly exist at that exit. Never drive around Wyoming with less than a half tank of gas. Trust me on that because, if you do run out, you may not find a single soul willing to pick up a crazed roadtrip-weary woman and her too-perky daughter. Just kidding, I didn’t run out of gas but I did slide below empty on down to the bargaining-with-God part of my tank. Whew!
Also, I never really realized that all road signs are written in a particular font until I got to I-80 exit 358. Otto Road is definitely written in the wrong font – a little too “Impact”y as opposed to the official “Series E Modified” font. I looked that up. Somebody should know about it.
Oh, and if you are wondering what has happened to every plastic grocery bag that you have ever lost to the wind…….they are all stuck in the fences lining I-80 in Wyoming. They have hurricane force winds that deliver these bags from all other states and Mexico. I think if you saw what I saw you would be more careful with those bags. You would also encourage makers of those bags to consider making them a bit more biodegradable. I guess the potential exists to eventually create solid fences with those bags but believe me when I tell you there is no real need for sound walls in that part of Wyoming.
I’m not sure even why those fences are there. As near as I could tell, they don’t restrain any livestock. I think their main purpose may be to keep the plastic bags and the tumbleweeds from mating. Think about the prospect of THAT if you’re bored.
Anyhoodle, we are back safe and sound but not a bit lighter. The body count for this trip was 6 bottles of Diet Dew, 6 Black Cherry Propels, and 6 or 8 waters which although they contain NO calories, do require QUITE A FEW rest stops. Which is good, because a fast trot up to the facilities is the only way to get the blood flowing back to the buttcheeks. It also helps burn off the can of squirt cheese, 1.5 rolls of veggie Ritz crackers (they’re new and oh so good), 6 Rice Krispie bars, 4 bran muffins (it’s important to stay regular when you are away from your home potty), 3 bananas, bag of grapes, and hmmmm….some Wheat Thins…oh and the cold pizza.... plus one stop at Micky D’s......and one at Taco DingDong.....and the big pigfest at Johnny Carino's....oh and those cinnamon rolls.....I LOVED those cinnamon rolls..
Yeah, I know, shut up and get to the gym!

It's all so wrong

This will be very short. I have to go rethink my entire moral foundation.
I was confronted in the grocery store parking lot this evening by a well-dressed 20ish kid on a bicycle who informed me that since I admittedly had not read the book he was pimping, I could not possibly know 'true right from wrong'. I stopped loading my groceries long enough to look this guy in the eye and contemplate NOT turning the other cheek. Since I am weak from 40 days of chocolate sacrifice for the apparent WRONG religion and I am pretty sure that his mother in Albany is already counting the days until she gets her Mother's Day phone call, I resisted the temptation. But now I'm worried. If I do not, in fact, know true right from wrong, MAYBE that was the wrong thing to do!

Shredder Satisfaction

I admit I have a little affection for paper shredders.
I love a good shred session. When I've completed any kind of paperwork project, like income taxes, or paying bills, or almost any project at my paying job, there at the end usually sits a pile of stuff that needs to be shredded. Nothing says 'I'm done with that tedious task' like making jigsaw puzzles for crack addicts. I have even been known to pad the to-shred pile by adding things that really don't need to be shredded just because, well darn it, it is such a good feeling. Seriously, have you tried it?
So I got to thinking as I was shredding the other day. What if you could put ANYTHING you wanted in the paper shredder? Like....what if it were possible to shred everything that comes out of George Dubya's mouth? Or those gawd-awful Hush Puppies my husband insists on wearing.....in public? Definitely the lips of those chatty pre-teens behind you in the movie theater. I, personally would shred every pair of pantyhose in the world. And billboards, too - all of them. That would take a big shredder but it would be so worth it. And I think we can all agree that SPAM would be the first thing to go.
So what would YOU like to put in the cyber-shredder? Tell me!
But um....please don't say this blog cuz then I will have to shred your comment.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

What's in your drawer?

In our living room we have an end table with a drawer. The drawer is useful for storing those odd little living room things like coasters and pens and batteries and paperclips and postcards that are too pretty to throw and, of course, maps of every national park in the western U.S. because you never know when you may get the urge to plan a camping trip to torture the teenagers.

It’s a pretty full drawer but it wasn’t always that way. In simpler times, when we owned barely one child, it was mostly empty.

When Lola was a bit shy of age 2 (I’m guessing here because I am, after all, the non-documenting parent) she had a relationship with that drawer that will stick with me long after Alzheimer’s has erased the memory of breakfast.

Lola used to put things in that drawer and close it and open it to see if the item was still there and when she saw that it was she would be SO surprised and take the item out, look at it and put it back in. Wash, rinse, repeat. Over and over. I vaguely remember some child development axiom that says this is an important step in learning that things which are out of sight, do not actually disappear for good. Whatever. I don’t know nothing about no child development but I do recognize something that will keep a kid entertained for hours.

Harmless fun. Until……
The child decides to put her hand in the drawer. And close it. Well, if it works with the little Weeble toy, it oughta work with your hand, right? Um, no. Which becomes evidenced by the primal screams that send the cat right up the drapes. So, open drawer, remove hand. Close drawer. Wait for pain to subside. Open drawer. Insert hand. Close drawer – not so hard this time because a little something was learned last time. Scream. Open drawer, remove hand. Look at hand. Put back in drawer. Close drawer. More gently this time because that may be the key. Cry in frustration. Stamp foot. Remove hand. Test again with the Weeble…..which works fine so….again.. with.. the.. other.. hand….
You probably wonder where I was in all this. Obviously nearby since I seem to know exactly what happened. Yes, indeed, I stood there watching the whole thing. Part disbelief and part intense curiosity – the very same things that make you unable to turn away from a bad car wreck!

I will admit here and now that very small people frighten me. I have no memory of being that age so I have nothing to work from. Sure I could read books and stuff but who has time for that – unless you don’t have any kids and then what would be the point? I worked full-time and my children were victims of daycare. "OH NO," you say "surely they are headed for rot and ruin." Um, no. So far so good. I think it was the best thing for them. Not because of anything those studies tell you about daycare but because they had teachers that were SO much more competent than their mother in the child development area (we won't even go into their father who thought everything should be done like his parents did it - thith ith ne hoding ny tongue on thath).

But really, daycare is so amazing. You hand over your whole monthly paycheck to these people and they tell you precisely what to worry about and what is normal. It's like a daily visit with the pediatrician. Jeez, they even potty train the kid for you and that would be worth all the rest of my money if I had any when I was done paying for daycare.

But I digress. So there I was watching the whole hand-slamming episode and part of me was thinking “I should take notes so Ms. Bonnie (who is a grandmother) can tell me if all this is normal” and the other part of me was thinking “this is like physics lab for toddlers”. Real hands-on learning, if you will.

Besides, she never once asked for my input and she does still own two fully functional hands leading me to think the lesson was eventually learned... without my help.
So you’re probably wondering "Jane, what does this have to do with anything in the here and now, 15 years later?" I was, too, for a minute but then I remembered where I was headed with this.

I have a drawer of my own. It’s called Wal*mart. As Omega and I left that store last night – without the photos that were ordered 9 days ago but weren’t available as promised, and without all the other things that we had picked out but, instead left at an empty checkout because there were precisely 2 checkouts open and no less than 10 people in each line, I thought about that drawer. I am certainly not condemning all Wal*marts and maybe not even the one in my neighborhood. Maybe I just have hideously bad luck. What I question is why I keep going back to a place that consistently gets me so riled! It really is ‘always something’ and still I GO BACK. I keep slamming my hand in the Wal*mart drawer.

I need to put a big sign on the dash of my car that says “Stay away from Wal*mart, STUPID!
Otherwise, I’m pretty sure my daughters are going to be taking notes so they can ask their Psychology teachers what to worry about and what is normal because there is no daycare for parents that are still employed and own the house you live in.

So, do you have a drawer of your own? Something you can’t seem to get through your head? Maybe you are just as masochistic as me.

Monday, April 2, 2007

April Fools - all month long

Setting: Monday morning.
Homer appears in front of Jane, dressed for work.
Jane gives Homer the once-over because he is back to dressing himself, post-injury.

Homer: What color do I accessorize?

Yes, Jane has taught him the word accessorize as it applies to belt and shoes.

Jane: Hmm....brown.
Homer: Then I'm going to do black because I think you might still be pissed at me for the remark about your silly shoes. Maybe you would like me to look JUST as silly.
Jane: Mmm, clever thinking......unless..... I was counting on you thinking that.

Homer should not ever try to beat Jane in the fashion arena.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Very Taxing Day

How (not) to get your taxes done.

Decide to assemble documentation needed to start income taxes.
Clear off dining room table for lots of room to spread out.
Notice that the table needs polishing.
Find polish and rag.
Polish table taking extra care not to get stuff in the crack where the leaf goes.
Observe how unpolished the chairs look in comparison.
Polish six chairs.
Might as well vacuum the seats, too.
Empty vacuum first for best results.
Vacuum chairs and stow vacuum.
Trip over @%#$ pair of shoes by door.
Take shoes to bedroom closet.
Realize that shoes need to be organized.
Organize shoes by color.
No, by heel height.
No….by color.
Discover cat bad-side-up on bed,
perform obligatory belly scratch.
Notice how much cat is shedding.
Find grooming brush.
Brush cat until he escapes and hides under chair.
Poke under chair with hanger.
Catch cat, brush until he escapes again.
Get Neosporin and bandaids.
Notice how much cat hair is now on pants.
Find magic sticky roller thing.
Remove non-sticky layer.
Experience peeling malfunction.
Curse cheapo sticky roller thing.
Finally get a complete new layer of sticky stuff.
De-hair sweatpants.
Decide it’s getting too warm for sweatpants.
Try on capris.
No, shorts
Run outside for a weather test.
Decide to go back to pants.
But some thinner ones.
Which must be down in the laundry room.
Along with a whole basket of clothes that need to be put away.
Empty basket.
Might as well throw a load in washer.
Use up last of detergent.
Put detergent on shopping list.
Thoroughly inventory refrigerator, freezer and pantry,
Put more things on shopping list.
Gather menu ideas for next few days.
Unable to locate favorite recipe.
Look it up online.
But first check email.
Curse overdue notices from library.
Send off a few emails.
Locate recipe.
Attempt to print but see printer is out of ink.
Remove cartridge.
Rifle through desk for replacement cartridge.
Which is also empty.
Find pen and manually write down recipe from computer screen.
Shake out hand cramp.
Apply IcyHot.
Put even MORE things on shopping list.
Take potty break.
Notice pretty nail polish on counter.
Try out nail polish on pinkie finger.
And ring finger and birdie finger and right on up through thumb.
On both hands.
Wave hands furiously to dry polish.
Turn on tv while waiting for second coat to dry.
The Victory Garden is on.
Watch the VG man trim rosebushes.
OH…..MY……HECK!!!!
Realize WE FORGOT TO TRIM THE ROSEBUSHES!
Run out to shed, grab pruner and with total disregard for damp nail polish, trim rosebushes.
Place trimmings in garbage.
Put pruner away.
Rearrange gardening tools from sharpest to dullest.
Realize manicure is total loss.
Look for nail polish remover.
Which is missing.
Find it on top of tv.
Remove nail polish.
Throw cotton balls in garbage.
Which is overflowing.
Empty wastebasket.
Hear mail truck.
Going UP the hill.
Sit on front step and wait for mailman to come back DOWN the hill.
Hey HERB! How's it going?
Shoot breeze with neighbor until mailman delivers.
Empty mailbox.
Sort through mail.
Act surprised to see a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon.
Throw junk mail.
Shred 62 credit card apps.
Jam shredder.
Reverse shredder.
Shred same bunch of stuff but this time take a run at it.
Jam shredder again.
Observe very bad burning machinery smell.
Reverse shredder.
Reduce to more manageable layers.
Spray air freshener to hide smell.
Open window to get rid of air freshener smell.
Notice spring fresh smell outside.
Open more windows.
Open ALL the windows.
Find a National Geographic on couch.
Sit down to read for just a second.
Mm, interesting.
Think that monkeys are so lucky.
Read more.
Get comfortable.
Feel chill.
Get up and close window.
All of them.
Grab blanket.
Continue reading.
Doze.
For TWO hours.
Wake up.
Realize it’s dinner time.
Order pizza.
Set table.
Eat.
Clean off table again.
Notice it is too late to start working on taxes.
Take a bath.
Remark out loud, for everyone to hear, that doing taxes sure takes a LONG time.
Go to bed.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Scatterbrains Anonymous

March 29

My name is JaneFay and I am a something-aholic.

I am not sure if there is a name for what I am, but there must be a 12-step program to cover it because Step One is really a statement about MY LIFE:

I am admitting I am powerless over (in my case) EVERYTHING and my life has become unmanageable.

I love that word: Unmanageable. If one of those survey people called me on the phone right this very moment and asked me to describe my life in one word I would say without hesitation 'unmanageable'. It is much more dignified than 'disaster'. Fancier than 'a mess'. Less wordy than 'out of control'. And much more proper than 'cluster f#ck'. So unmanageable it is.

Since 12-step programs are all about numbers and I'm kind of partial to them myself, I'm going to give you a list. A numbered list of how I know my life has become unmanageable (that word is SO hard to type).

1) The last entry in my check register is February 1st. Yes, 2007 but I have debit receipts over an inch thick in my wallet that need to be recorded and balanced and all those things that a person of my occupation should have no problem taking care of once a week during a coffee break. The only reason I have not been sent to debtor's prison is because I can periodically peek at my balances online. Thank you internet.

2) Although it is almost April, I have not even started filing our taxes. I have a vague idea where my W-2 is and I have amassed quite a pile of things that came in the mail stamped 'important tax documents'. Just thinking about the organizational planets that will need to align to get all that information together at one time boggles my mind. But I do have Turbo*tax. If I can find it.

3) I have not called my mother in over a month. This only gets incrementally worse with each passing week. True, she could call ME, which she said she was going to do over FOUR weeks ago and hasn't but she will have forgotten that. She will only remember that I haven't called HER. I have to plan this for a time when I can throw back a few stiff belts to numb the ear chewing I will get.

4) I have, right there on the counter by the back door, TWO library books that were due back March 10th. I could have gone online at the time and renewed them but I was naive enough to think I would get them returned soon. Now I am over the fine limit and have been locked out of the system. Libraries may be a free service to some but not to me, I believe in paying for what I get. One fine at a time.

5) This week there has not been a single meal with any nutritional value cooked in our kitchen. That says something. The fact that it still looks like a frat-boy bachelor pad and we are always one dishwasher load short of catching up says even more.

6) There is a pile of baby gifts sitting on my china cabinet. The baby is almost 3 months old. My brothers had birthdays last Sunday, their cards are sitting next to the baby gifts.

7) I vaguely recall signing off on my daughters' school schedules for next year but I have no idea what they are taking. Hopefully, the high school doesn't let them take calligraphy, break-dancing, conversational Swahili and floral arranging all at the same time. The special fees would kill me.

8) The pile of unwashed laundry is equaled only by the washed stuff that is not yet put away. Technically I am only responsible for doing the laundry, 'they' are responsible for putting it away. The one exception is Homer's underwear. When his boxer drawer runs dry he has a special way of signaling it. Yesterday was whitey tightie day. TWENTY-year-old whitey tighties that are not as thick as one would hope. I wish I knew where he kept them stashed. Needless to say, there are no winners in this battle.

9) Last Sunday afternoon, in the middle of the day, the big, huge, multi-sectioned Sunday newspaper - even the coupons - DISAPPEARED! Right out of our house. Evaporated. Poof! Has not been seen since. I am a little worried because every night I sleep in the very spot it was last seen. I mean, makes you wonder.

10) In the 'way' back of my car, I have two milk crates full of newspapers that need to be dropped off at the recycling bin. Since the time those crates were put in my car, we have amassed the equivalent of two more milk crates full, which cannot be put in the back of my car since they are not in milk crates. I have some standards - one being no loose newspapers in the back of my car. I will take the high road here and hardly mention the fact that we have been paying the county since JANUARY for a recycling bin that has yet to be delivered. And in case you think you are so smart - NO, last Sunday's paper is not there anywhere.

11) Also car related: The oil change light has come on, signaling the need for $30 and 30 minutes of my time. It has not been cleaned and vacuumed inside since...hmm... maybe October. There is reject Halloween candy under the front seat and some kind of detritus on the back floor mats that, when wet, gives off the most heinous funk you ever smelled - kind of a cross between wet dog and sour milk. Also along for the ride: a pair of size 6 dance shoes that need to be mailed back, a pair of jeans that need to be exchanged, and a 6-pack of various blankets that get dragged into the car on cold mornings but never taken out on warm afternoons. I may have mentioned that I have a fairly small car, which, thankfully, has limited crap capacity or it could be worse. Much worse. To prove it, I'm going to take you on a tour of Lola's SUV sometime.

12) Every time I brush my teeth, I have to look at the nastiest, most stained, cancer-ridden sink you have ever seen. I actually bought a new sink TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO but since this is the master bath and no one but Homer and me use it....well, you know how that goes. It is on my list, though. For after I gain control. After step 12. Really, I just need to find a meeting of um...... what do you think? Scatter-brains Anonymous? Geez, I hope I don't have to start my own chapter 'cuz you know that means, well, it means that it probably won't happen any time soon.

Happiness is.....

March 24

If you are old like me I might have some good news for you. I was reading this article on MSN the other day about middle-age and happiness. Like most everything on MSN, the article was only posted for a fleeting moment and my subsequent efforts to track it down proved futile so I was a little sketchy on the details but it got me thinking.
I know, haven't I learned?
First, I was thinking about where all those articles go after their 15 minutes of MSN fame. I mean they are there for sometimes all day and sometimes only 5 minutes. And sometimes they come back a few days later. Like this one did. But now it's gone again so I'm still going to have to paraphrase it and you are going to have to believe what I say, but only for the sake of this story. I don't stand behind anything beyond these pages. I am not Wikipedia - just someone with too many opinions.
So, the gist of that story was that once the average American turns 18 he gets less and less happy UNTIL he hits the age of 45. Then, believe it or not, life turns around and he gets happier until, well….that’s where I was a little unclear, but I'm not making this up. I do remember that there were supposed to be at least 15 years of upswing but I’m not sure when it's all supposed to level out, assuming that centenarians aren’t a total heap of euphoric bliss. But maybe they are. Personally, I was just excited to learn that I have at least another 12 years of increasing happiness.
One thing I do remember is that the researchers who did the study were economists and their focus was on the contribution that financial security makes to happiness.....I think. The results seem a little backwards to me. Don't you typically get more financially secure as you move from age 18 to 45? So, it seems, you would get happier, not more miserable.
Whatever. I am not here to analyze their methods or dispute their conclusions. In yet another example of Jane, the absolute average American, I can truthfully say that age 45 or thereabouts was the armpit of my life. A hamster armpit. Runningrunningrunning. In the dark. On a poop-covered hamster wheel. That was my life. And since I have to agree that I have become much happier in the last few years, not solely due to pharmaceuticals, I can't dispute their conclusions but I can, as is my way, make this all about me.
SO, I have completed my own research of one and come up with my own personal list of Why Life is Better after 45 (In no particular order, just the way they rolled out of my pea).
And I'm going to leave my list up forever so you can look at it ANY TIME YOU WANT, MSN.
1) I can sleep. All night. Solid, coma-like, roll over on the cat and not care sleep.
2) I have quit wasting my time questioning authority. I have become part of authority and I know that there is usually a darn good reason for rules, laws and all that stuff that tells you what to do in life. This would not include Dubya & Co, who I do not consider to be any kind of authority. Sorry for letting my blue underwear show.
3) I think I have mostly emotionally divested myself from my job. I try to focus on what I can do and can change and forget about what I can't. There's a whole lot left of me when I get home at night.
4) My family makes me less crazy. This would be the family from where I came not the family I have helped create. I can't change them and they aren't going to change me. I can live with that. I hope they can, too.
5) I am really enjoying our kids. I am not so worried about every choice I make scarring them for life or sending them straight to rehab. Or worry that I am being selfish or too lenient. They are comfortable enough to express their opinions of my parenting techniques. I am secure enough to consider their point of view before invoking the 'Because I'm the Mom' power.
6) I don't care what I look like at the gym. I don't have to worry about my outfit matching or my butt looking big. If I had an awesome tush then I wouldn't have to be there, would I? I don't do my hair to work out either. Or to go to the grocery store although I usually try to calm it down from 'psycho mode'. No sense scaring the little ones. I could even wear footies and Birkinstocks if I wanted to. I don't want to, thank God, but the day's probably coming. At Target I could be Crazy Jane, the lady wearing a leopard headwrap, high heels and too much lipstick and no one would care - really. Did they ever or was that just our imaginations?
7) I don't have to worry about getting talked into taking my top off at drunken parties. Yeah, I know that hasn't happened in years but it's still a load off my mind.
8) I can drive the car I want. I have a cute little crossover, I think it's called. The gas mileage is delicious and it is big enough for any chick trip my friend and I can invent. It is not a mom wagon. It is not the family car. It doesn't even whisper mid-life crisis but it feels sassy to me.
9) I sweat the small stuff less than ever before. I still cuss at other drivers but I don't put as much heart into it. I have really let up on old people. I guess it's because the The Ghost of Driving Future visited me the other night. In my coma.
10) I feel less pressure to be the perfect person. I am still battling the shoulds with the coulds, but I feel like the coulds are winning more often now. Exhibit A: messy kitchen in sight while I do this.
11) Instead of worrying what bad thing is coming next, I realize how lucky I am to have made it this far in life without running into any crisis that I couldn't weather. Yes, what didn't kill me has made me stronger but I think I'm really strong enough, God. Trust me.
So there you have it. If you are under 45, you have something to look forward to.
If you are over 45 you probably have something to add to that list.
I can't wait until 60. I'll be dancing through the mall...in my leopard headwrap....dancing to old disco tunes on my ipod. Woohoo. If I just keep telling myself that....

Motherly Love

March 22

Today as I was giving Junie a ride to meet up with her herd, I asked her if she had her cell phone.

J: Yes, I have my cell phone I put it in my pocket and yes it is charged and remember that time when you were taking me to Whitney's house and you told me THREE times to put my phone in my pocket and I didn't and you dropped me off and I called you on Hannah's phone and asked if you could come back and bring my phone and you said "NO" and when I got home you yelled at me and called me a 'Little son of a B-word' and smacked me and took away my phone and gave me one of those phones that only calls you and 911?
Me (confused and carefully examining her totally serious face): Did you say that was that like a dream?
J: No, it was just my imagination running away with me cuz I like to see if you are really still paying attention or if you are totally gone somewhere else you know cuz that happens alot where I could just say anything and you would never even know.
Me: Well, it is true then.
J: What is?
Me: You are a Little Son of a B-word.

The Cur-sed Piece of.....

March 21

Upon learning of his daughter’s impending major-life-happening, Homer did what any red-blooded American father would do. He whipped out the video camera.
The male techno-creed dictates ‘your children will do it, therefore you must videotape it’. He imagines one day handing over to his daughters a heaping milk crate full of the 8mm tapes which document ALL their major-life-happenings. In response the girls will fawn all over their father and assure him that he was, indeed, the more documenting parent. Exhibit B will be the empty baby books that were MY charge. In my defense, I was just too busy keeping them from putting steak knives in the power outlets and razor blades up their noses – sue me. Besides, Daddy was always there, Handycam complete with date stamp at the ready, to record the momentous occasions and quite a few less, umm…responsible activities – ones usually orchestrated by the videographer. Have I ever mentioned the cat swimming races? I will just say if you ever have occasion to make a wager, put your money on Cattoo. I think Catwon’s fur is too long which kind of messes up his sidestroke. I will also say that these things tend to take place when I am not at home or not sober (kid-ding). But please don’t call the SPCA – they would have no patience to sort through 100+ unmarked videotapes to find the incriminating footage. At least I’m hoping they wouldn’t.
Anyhoodle, Homer bought an 8mm video camera back in the early 90’s when it was all the latest technology and he diligently read all the instructions and zoomed and night-visioned things and was unable to give it over to anyone else lest they take video WITHOUT FADING IN AND FADING OUT! Hitting the stop button without fading was a mortal sin. So said Video-Pope Homer I. He made us crazy. No event was ever so urgent that everyone couldn’t…….pause……while……the man……gets…. the…..camera…..running. No trip was too short, no car was packed too full to EVER consider leaving the video camera at home. Homer was our video Marcus Welby – always with his little black bag.
Ten years and 84 tapes later, the camera suddenly met its demise – launched down 10 concrete steps by an 8-year-old school boy all hepped up on Christmas and too much sugar. The repairman shook his head as he pulled the plug. Time for a replacement. Formats were argued over. Homer’s grand plan in buying a new digital 8mm camera was to enable us to transfer the old tapes to digital as well as acquire new footage in a familiar format. Great. Fine. Except Camera-2 was not made of the steel and stone that Camera-1 was. Although it heralds the same branding, Camera-2 would appear to be made of thin plastic held together with flimsy welds. It has been to the repair shop THREE times. With each $100 repair bill I implore Homer “Buy a new camera to record the major-life-happenings! Save this one for converting the old tapes!” Because I am pretty sure the conversion won’t happen until I either break a leg or am bedridden for a month and that’s not something I can plan for. Hope for, but not plan for.
Here I should point out that Camera-2 has never become Homer's trusty companion. The bond isn’t there, but periodically when the time is right, he brings it out. Usually it is when he can’t make it to a momentous event and so he hands over the camera, without caring about fading in OR out, and asks that I record the event. I would gladly do just that except THE FREEGIN CAMERA NEVER WORKS FOR ME. It carries the same curse as the VCR. It is probably operator error as much as camera error but I am not taking MORE than 50% of the blame. I suspect the camera has a high-tech sensor that shuts down the system when it detects anything important to be videotaped. Whatever, in my eyes it is worthless.
So, through that long and circuitous story we emerge back at the Why house Sunday night. In case you missed Part 1, Junie is about to be kidnapped by rabid cheerleaders and we need some footage to show to the police if she is not promptly returned. Homer presents Camera 2 and plugs it into the charger. I say “What do you plan to do with that Cur-sed Piece of Sh it?” No emotion. No bitterness. I have come to terms with the CPS. It refuses to work for me and I refuse to respect it.
Homer’s eyes widen. “Cur-sed Piece of Sh it? What strong language for an inanimate object.”
I say, “The CPS never works. Why don’t we snag Omega’s little video camera after she goes to sleep?”
He insists on going with the CPS, secretly thinking that this is probably nothing that the Y chromosome can’t overcome.
I’m telling him: CPS. Just saying.
So at 4:15 am, the posse arrives and as they are about to dash down the (very clean) hall, Homer says “Stop! Wait, my camera isn’t working”
Big hairy SUR-PRISE.
They pause, he fiddles. Finally, knowing we are dealing with the CPS, I say “Go ahead” to the posse. Meanwhile, Homer thinks he has it. Good. Whaddayaknow. The kidnapping takes place, I take a few stills, just for insurance and they are off! He pulls the camera from his eye.
“Did you really get all that on tape?” I say amazed.
“Well, I’m not sure, it says ‘cleaning cassette’. What does that mean?”
That means, dear, you are holding a Cur-sed Piece of Sh it.

Yay, rah, rah

March 20

I have (mostly) recovered from yesterday and the weekend. It was a crazy up and down roller coaster of a weekend when put to the standards of my oatmeal-flavored life.
Since it was an unseasonably gorgeous weekend I opted to spend Saturday and much of Sunday shaping up the outside of the house. I cleaned out some more flower beds, swept the patio and pulled out, and dusted off, the patio furniture. I tidied the yard and trimmed vines and got things looking downright spiffy. I thought ‘spring has sprung’! Woo, hoo! Color me READY! This would be going up the roller coaster.
But all this came, of course, at a price. Inside the house, the weekly damage control was left undone. Well, too bad, there would be rainy days to put toward that mess. I applied my policy of ‘never do today what you can put off ‘til tomorrow’ – going down here.
By Sunday afternoon I was feeling pretty, darn self-satisfied. I was ready to sit back, put up my feet and admire my work. Outside, of course, where it was tidy.
Then the phone rang. It was a very perky high school cheerleader calling to ask if they could kidnap Junie early the next morning and take her to a breakfast for the new cheer team. Very cool, this is the absolute top; Junie has been working her little 14-year-old heart out toward this ultimate goal – being christened a high school cheerleader. It is her sport of choice. And if you do not think cheerleading is a sport then you have never tried a round-off/back-handspring/full or a scorpion with a double down. They are the kind of skills that make cheer moms wish their daughters had chosen to play football.
So, here I am thinking OH! OH!, she will be SO excited and I can’t say a word……. and I am SO not good at keeping secrets.

“But go on, Perky....You will be here at 4:15? AM? Ohhhh…kaaay…… I should just open the door for you and you’ll go get her out of bed? And blindfold her. Uh huh. No, I won’t tell her. Oh, NO problem. What could possibly be a problem?”

I’ll tell you what the problem would be; the house is a mess and there is virtually no path from front door to Junie’s room. Or worse yet, what if they come in the side door? That would lead them through the kitchen which….okay, I am screwed - this is the bottom part. Could I put Junie to bed on the patio and just send them back there? No, it’s definitely not warm enough yet. Well, forget the leisurely Sunday rest; I guess I will be cleaning the house because, yes, darn it, I am still afraid of what high school cheerleaders think of me.
For SIX freakin’ hours I clean the house – motivated by the fear of being judged a crappy housekeeper by silly 18-year-olds in short skirts. Okay, it was a safety issue, too. If strange people are going to be stumbling around my house in the middle of the night then it is probably my responsibility to clear the way. The intense labor also helps me keep my mouth shut with ‘the secret’ firmly inside. God does work in mysterious ways.

Ten o’clock pm – the house looks good, the kid is in bed, I am exhausted and headed there. Yay me, I didn’t spill the beans. I set the alarm for 4am and get 5 hours of sleep. Wake up, turn on front lights and wait. Cheer ambassadors arrive as promised – one girl and one boy, by the way, neither of which seem to give my housework a second look. Well fine. Just remember I had YOUR wellbeing in mind.

It really was fun to watch. Imagine you are not quite 15 and sound asleep in your own bed when two faces, you know only as senior-class critics at 2 weeks of grueling tryouts, now appear over your bed. Lights on! Wake up! Put on the blindfold, you’re coming with us! Personally, I would have wet my pants, thus securing my place on the school bedwetting team. Little Miss Unflappable took it all in stride.

I hope she isn’t always that compliant with kidnappers but I do have to give the kid credit: she demanded a bathroom break before leaving the house which she used instead to brush her hair and apply mascara. As she pointed out “There’s never a good excuse to look bad.”
Yep, I bet her more insecure classmates will still be in therapy 30 years from now. Myself, I need 3 more hours of sleep…. And the therapy. Of course. But, dang, is my house clean!

Thongs are for feet

March 18
About a month ago, I wiped out one of my first posts on my Space so I could use the location to hide my address book. No big deal, I knew if I flushed one blog into cyberspace, two more would quickly fill the hole it left. Besides it was one of the first things I wrote and surely not very important in the giant scheme of things. Right? Umm, wrong, maybe.

Because I am the kind of snoop who likes to snoop on the people who are snooping on me, I peep at my statistics from time to time. There I noticed that I had a visit from someone who Googled ‘thongism’. Huh? I hit the link and it took me to my guestbook. Odd. I went to the Google results – yes, there was a snippet from my old blog. I hit the cache button and there from the sewer of the internet I plucked ‘Why Thongs?' the very first dang thing I ever put on my Space. Now, I really haven’t been in business long enough to be running golden oldies, but I feel a certain responsibility to bring this back into the fold. I mean if the internet is keeping it, I guess I might as well, too. So, because I’m lazy today, and Karma conspired to deliver me from my laziness by letting me peek into the cybertoilet, I give you the #6 Google search result for Thongism:

There has been a sure sign that we are approaching the end of innocence at our house. Over the weekend Junie bought herself some thong underwear. Aaaah!!! I am blaming her sister, Lola, who converted to thongism a few years back. Ick! I swear I am going to stop doing their laundry. My biggest beef, besides the shiver it sends up my spine when I think of string up my crack, is putting them in the washer. There is NO safe place to grab!! I usually grab them with a dirty wash cloth (I give little thought to where that washcloth MIGHT have been, I KNOW where that thong was) just like picking up a dog turd.
See that's why they put those big wide waistbands on men's underwear - so that women know where to touch it! Yeah, I know I sound like the old, out-of-touch fossil that I am but I have spent so much of my life pulling underwear OUT of my crack that I think it is just counter-intuitive to put it IN there.
I know that underwear is a personal choice, most of which I can understand - even the need to go commando. Be shocked - I've done that myself - but only by necessity. I'm a boycut brief woman myself and I won't say that I am too old to change, I will just say that some rear ends need more than one layer of fabric between them and the world (you're welcome).

Riding the Peace Train

Setting: Tuesday morning in the master bathroom. Homer is in the shower. JaneFay is putting on makeup.
Jane (rambling, as she often does): ..speaking of cats, I was listening to Teaser and the Firecat on my ipod yesterday which I hadn't listened to in forever and then I got in the car and there was a remake of Peace Train on the radio. Isn't that a weird coincidence cuz that song is like over 30 years old?
(Shower noise. Sound of undercarriage being scrubbed but.....no response.)
Homer (finally): I'm pretty sure you aren't going to be able to help me with this......but....
Jane: Way to build me up, hon. I appreciate that you have such confidence in me. (Jane is thinking Homer is going to ask who sings the remake, knowing that she has NO idea. Jane is planning to throw out the name of some imaginary band like, say, Beveled Rodent that, of course, Homer won't have heard of, making Jane seem like the musically savvy one. Jane is wiley like that.)
Homer: Yeah, sorry, what I meant was..... I can't think of what Peace Train sounds like and......
Jane: .....and you don't think my singing will be able to get the tune across?
Homer: Something like that.
Jane (top of lungs, mascara for microphone): Peace..train..sound-ing louder.....Riiide on the peace train...Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-ooh-ah....Come on the peace train........I've been crying....
(Jane, so amazed at her ability to pull the lyrics out of her head that she is unable to stop.)
Homer: Okay, okay. Wow! I was wrong. I do know that song.
Jane: And the tune.
Homer: And the tune.
Jane: I believe it was the mascara microphone.
Homer: No doubt.

Pi Day

March 15
Pi Day
Did you know that yesterday was Pi day? 3-14 get it? Pi is 3.14.......
Probably doesn't sound important but pi day means PIE day at Junie's junior high. Pies brought to math class on Pi day are worth extra credit points. Junie has never met an extra credit point that she didn't want, especially if they can be BOUGHT with Mom's money instead of EARNED by actual school-type work.

So she calls me at home the night before last. What? You think she should be home, sleeping in her own bed on a school night? Silly, you don't know Junie, do you? Whole 'nother story - maybe later.

Anyhoodle, she calls at 8 pm-ish and asks if I can buy 5 Hos*tess fruit pies for Pi day. I use my best irritated-mom voice to run through the why, and is it really necessary? and who am I, your slave? part. Finally, I tell her I can't because I have no idea what they are.

Me: "Are those from the Twin*kie family?"
You can tell we are not a Host*ess household. I did experiments on Twin*kies in college biology and I haven't forgotten.
She: "I think so. We're going to the grocery store in a bit, I'll see if I can find one and then send you a picture on your phone."

Really? I'm thinking that I have her RIGHT where I want her.

She (calls later): "Albert*son's has them for a dollar. They are in a rectangle package and they say blah, blah, blah......"
That's what I'm hearing because I am just waiting for her to stop talking so I can say....

Me: "Since you are there looking at them, why don't you just BUY them?"
She: "Because I only have FOUR dollars. It takes FIVE pies for extra credit."

The girl has some logic going. I mean if I am going to make a special trip to the store and then make a drop at her school in the morning on my way to work, it would be MUCH more worthwhile for me to be hustling FIVE pies instead of ONE pie. Right? Yeah, whatever, you must be 14, too.

So, because I don't want to cause her to sponge off her friends by making her use her last $4 for her own extra credit, I consent to do the deed, as assigned. Sometimes I hate myself for not being able to stay ahead of teen-logic. I would drink myself silly but that would eliminate the last tiny defense I have: my wits. I would wake up with size 7 cheer-shoe imprints all over my body.

So I trip to the closest Albert*sons and look for the Hos*tess shelf. First I look in the bakery. Nothing. Hmm. I check the snack district. No. The Wonder*bread aisle? Cookie department? Not even close. Could they be with the cleaning supplies? I finally have no choice; "Sir, could you please direct me to the Twinkie display?" His look is a cross between 'I'm so stoned' and 'You're kidding me; you don't know where we keep the Twinkies?' I'm uncomfortable. I expect that he will tell me that what I am looking for is right under my nose, dummy! I bite my lip. I look around. No, not seeing them.

I finally shake mute-boy by the shoulders. "Cmon buddy, where have you hidden the FRUIT PIES?. I need a fix bad. Let me make my connection, make a buy and get outta here before the heat busts in!"
Okaynotreally, but I'm feeling just about that hard up.
"The Twin*kies?" he finally says too loudly, "They're at the end of Aisle 5 (DUH!)". Okaaay. Go to the end of aisle 5. Well, why didn't I think to look between the fresh meat and the frozen food. Makes perfect sense. Cuz that way you can bake 'em with your fish sticks or stuff 'em into your meatloaf.

There are 3 blackberry and 7 chocolate pies left in the pitiful display. It is 9:45pm and apparently most of the pie-addicts have beat me here. I have been cautioned against both these particular flavors but, screw it, I am NOT going through this humiliation at yet another grocery store. I decide on 2 blackberry and 3 chocolate. I put them in the bottom of my basket and quickly cover them with less-embarrassing things like Depends and Lotrimin. I use the self-checkout and escape through the side door. The things we do for love

I have fallen

Maybe I told you that I gave up sugar-based products for Lent. That was the idea, anyway, but I'm pretty sure that when God said "Jane, go forth and live with Catholics who scowl at you until your little Protestant heart makes you relent and offer up some type of Lenten sacrifice" he had NO IDEA that some bound-for-sainthood individual would ever invent something like the CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! And that he would be aided and abetted by the person who thought to put small cream puffs upon the skewers which lie next to the CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN or the teenage girls, with zero thigh-fat, who voted this to be the official dessert at the annual team banquet. Lord, weak doesn't begin to cover it. I was outnumbered, outsouled and in WAY over my head. In my defense I will say that I think the 2 pretzels and 2 strawberries that I dipped SHOULD, in fact, cancel out the four little creampuffs. Which leaves just the chocolate. The only excuse I have for the chocolate is that it was all warm and meltey and chocolatey and flowing in THREE, count 'em THREE TIERS! The pretzel was strong but the flesh was weak.

Swimming in the Dough

YES! The wardrobe changeover is starting to pay off – this morning I found $4.03 in the pocket of a pair of khakis that I haven’t worn since last fall. It doesn’t sound like much but it was $4 that I found AFTER the girls had left for school, so it is $4 that I still have in my possession! Woohoo. I am a simple woman, easily entertained with spring clothes and $4. Escalating the excitement: the weatherman says it is going to be SEVENTY degrees today. SEVENTY!!! Our weatherman has not said SEVENTY since last November.

All that talk of tropical weather has perhaps messed with my head. Last night I dreamed we set up the swimming pool. Don’t get excited and start planning parties at my house. It’s just one of those 15 foot above-ground metal-frame contraptions that the girls bought 4 years ago. Homer and I thought it was the dumbest thing ever but since we believe in letting life’s lessons, which include buyer’s remorse, take their course, we stood back and let it happen. We did steer them away from the inflatable-ring, tub-o-jello kind of pool, since we live on the side of a hill, and we were foresighted enough to imagine what 9000 gallons of water would look like running through our neighbors yards. ALL the way DOWN.

Anyway, ahem, cou*we were wrong*gh! I think we might have actually used it more than the kids. Which is only fair because you can imagine who gets to set it up and fill it and change the filters and buy the chemicals and test the water and clean the darn thing and then take it down. If you said Homer, you would be terribly wrong and not my friend. But my hard work does entitle me to bring a date so; again Homer slides in on my coattails.

But, alas, a $300 pool does not last forever. After four summers (very full, bake in the high-altitude, hot sun and dry air summers) of heavy use we now have a dilemma. The plastic liner is showing its age and I don’t think the filter pump will pump us through another year - it was starting to sound like a feral cat might be caught in there. I realize that replacing parts could quickly send you down that ‘I could have bought a whole new pool’ road. Which is also an option, but this summer the girls will be 15 and 17. Maybe they will be MUCH more interested in going to the neighborhood pool, where they can hang with their friends and toss back their hair in that carefree manner and giggle and do all those teenage things that make laying in the hot, torrid sun, eating Banana Boat tainted Doritos with warm pop seem like what life is really all about.

The rec pool doesn’t hold the same appeal for us parental units. Homer swears that a pre-bedtime dip makes him sleep like a baby in the summer – the public pool closes at 8 or 9 and they like you to wear trunks. As for me, there is something that soothes my soul about laying on my water lounger in the pool with my tankini pulled up to expose my fish-belly stomach so it can catch a few rays – because darker looks smaller, you know. Well, the public pool doesn’t like water lounges or fish bellies and, can you even believe this? They serve NO MARGARITAS and they even have this rule against bringing your own! Mexico is SO much more evolved in some respects.

So last fall as I was dismantling the ol’ watering hole, with mounting despair over its condition, I decided that it was the time to plant a seed. I made my report and cautioned the girls: “sorry, kids, you know the pool is getting quite old and, well, nothing lasts forever but it had a good life and we can remember the good times we had with it and know that we will always have it in our hearts”. Okay, that might be the dying-pet talk but I love anything with more than one use.

Anyhoodle, I was thinking….and that is often where I go wrong.… if they had all winter to save up their hard earned money we could perhaps be financially ready for the spring pool sales!

Well, in my excitement about SEVENTY degrees and my pool dream, I threw the matter out for discussion at the breakfast table this morning. Surely they must be as excited as I am? Have they thought at all about a new pool? I bet Target will be getting pools in any day (oh, who am I kidding, they’ve probably had them out since they took down the Christmas displays). What do you girls think? Huh? I was all smiling and excited and, I remind you this was before 7 am - before 7 am Daylight Savings Time! Yes, happy I was, no ecstatic and hopeful and then they put the knives through my heart.

Lola: “Remember, 1) I'm saving my money for my dream Jeep and 2) I will be working or training or out of town most of the summer. What would I get out of a backyard pool?”

Junie(again with the numbers): “1) I plan to spend most of MY time at my friends’ who have REAL pools and 2) You are pitiful to be trying to squeeze money for your filthy pool habit out of your children.”

Me: “Are you serious? C’mon guys! Didn’t we have fun? What about our whirlpool games and the lazy river? Wasn’t it fun to swirl the water round and round and then watch your dad try not to chum in his little innertube because he can’t handle any spinning motion? And, and…I can’t do my Shamu imitation without a pool! Shamu out of water is just…..pitiful… and NOT very....fun…..or alive.

Homer: “Honey? Honey! It’s okay.
Me: Is it?
Homer: We can still get a new pool.
Me: We can?
Homer: We don’t need those fickle children. The dream isn’t dead……….it’s just coming out of your pocket.


Of course it is.
There goes my $4.

Not my kind of Whitman Sampler

Hang with me through this first sentence.
Oh, imputation it shall be when foreordination conspires to lacerate ourselves on the fleshy posterior and spawns our progeny to imagine we resemble buffoons.
Yeah, um, what I meant to say was “It’s a bitch when Karma bites us on the butt and makes us look foolish in front of our children”.
Case Study: Lola called me into the computer room last night with a big dose of distress in her voice.
“Maaaahhhm, I need your help.”
Oh, child you are that flatters me to think I can be of assistance.
I’m tired, on the cusp of dreamland but I’m the mom, it is my job.
I, what reckless optimist that did bound to her side.
I look at the computer. I look at her textbook. Oh, my mother-lovin’....NNNOOOOOO! The fight or flight response kicks in. Every piece of my soul screams “RUN!!!”
But, alas, my heart perceives that I must not abandon my pledge.
This wasn’t supposed to happen until college. Homer and I have diligently contributed to her college savings plan so that this would not happen in our charge! We planned, we budgeted, oh did we sacrifice from the heart that she should attend college out of state and not bring this havoc into our home.
But she is only a high school junior; it’s too early to send her away.
It waxes apparent that thy anticipation of preparedness has been for nil.
BECAUSE: She is required to write an essay on *choke* Walt Whitman.
Not simply on Walt Whitman but specifically his Song of Myself poem.
For those of you as poetry-challenged as I, Whitman is considered the Godfather of unmetered, unrhyming poetry where this means the other thing and mostly sounds just like Cousin Larry when he's had too much hooch and gets to rambling on with the squirrels. For those of you that love this stuff, move along and no one gets hurt.
But....was I not just talking about this? Remember the whole ‘Woodchuck Rant’? This is one of the things I CANNOT DO! My cerebellum does not run this program.
Sadly, this offspring before me is of like intellect. Oh, useless be the embraces and kisses that will heal not thy deficits.
I’m not heartless. I did give it a go. I really did. Until my brain spun out of my head, whacked into the wall and fell to the floor with a sick thud. Bummer.
With apologies fair lassie, that your matriarch should be so simple.
I fear at this point all I can do is excuse the grade she gets on this project and lend my support to any non-poetry extra credit that may be made available to her.
And so I ponder the filthy lucre that may be salvaged by relieving intended obligations for lodging and provisions.
Translation: We're gonna save a butt load on college room and board

Not your average JaneFay

1 - I can jiggle my eyeballs really fast. I have only known one other person whose talent equaled mine and he died. I miss freaking people out with our tandem jiggle.
2 - When I do laundry, I sing ‘Camptown Races’ in my head, but instead of the words, I substitute numbers. I can’t help this.
3 - I cannot stand to touch (or wear) pantyhose. I have made career choices based on this aversion.
4 - I purposely avoid stepping on cracks whenever possible. I am very ground-focused when I walk or run. I don’t think it is an esteem thing, it is an OCD thing. Also probably a self-preservation issue – I lean toward the clumsy side.
5 - I do not buckle my seatbelt until I put the car in DRIVE. Backing down our driveway at 30mph, I am a brain-injury waiting to happen.
6 - Family legend has it that I used to eat onions right out of the garden as one would eat an apple. Although I still like the flavor of cooked onions in food, I am repulsed by chunks of onion or the smell of raw onion. The odor of potato salad makes me dry heave.
7 - Not so weird but, I am very claustrophobic. If I'm driving alone I need my car window open just a little – rain, freeze or shine. I can’t breathe in thick crowds. I will scuba dive but only with open water above me – and I must be able to see it. Just hearing about cave diving makes me panicky. I cannot consider myself or my loved ones being buried in boxes. This has probably helped me stay a law abiding citizen – a prison cell is beyond comprehension. I’m getting all freaky just writing about this.
8 - I will not eat dried or baked fruit products of any kind – jelly, jam, fruit pies, filled donuts, raisins. Or anything in the goop family - mayo, mustard, salad dressing . Make mine PLAIN, please.
9 - Growing up, I played the bassoon. It’s still my favorite instrument because it is quite odd and very sassy. Wish I had one.
10 - I am oddly enchanted by things I think I can’t do. I like to get close, examine them, and let myself get sucked in. When my husband tells me I should do something I haven’t done before (he has endless faith in me), my immediate response is that “I can’t”. That sets off an inner challenge. It usually turns out well, but I am hella pissed that I still can’t wakeboard. Maybe next summer

Payback?

Yesterday at noon my mother called me at work (she and my father are visiting for a couple weeks). The phone rings. I check the caller ID.
Me: Hello (Trying to keep the ‘now what?’ out of my voice).
Usually she calls to ask where I keep something. But it doesn’t come off like a simple inquiry. It sounds more like an accusation that I don’t have said item and when I am able to direct her to the item, I get the sense that if I kept it in the logical place (ie. where SHE keeps it) she would not have had to waste our time with this call.
She: Hi. pause, sigh. You’re probably not going to want to hear this.
OH…FRICKIN...NO….. She has flooded the basement/killed my father/dumped out the liquor/invited missionaries in/what else? Think, OMG, what has she done? Wait…..she called on her cell phone. Maybe that’s because I have no house….. That’s it. She has put hot ashes in the garbage and burned down our house. Never mind that we don’t have a fireplace, you don’t know this woman.
But…..waitjustadarnminute…… Isn’t that the phrase I used to use when I called her at work to impart some bad news? As in: ‘Mom, you probably don’t want to hear this but your son is skateboarding down Broadway in your wedding dress.’ Could this be a joke? That’s it. She’s messing with me.
Me: Hear whaaat?
Come on, tell me you’re kidding.
She: I have CatTwo locked in your bedroom.
Me: WHY? ;-)
She: She has a rat in there.
Okay, she’s been drinking the liquor. On the other hand, CatTwo is pretty good about bringing home her share of the bacon. Our neighbors down the hill have a bad, nasty woodpile where I have seen some ‘big mice’ on occasion.
Me: Can’t you pick it up with a shovel.
She: pause It’s still alive.
Me: Alive. Not a question.
She: Yes, I don’t think it’s even wounded. It moves really fast.
Me: Any idea how she got it in there?
She: I let CatTwo in the house. I guess it was in her mouth.
Me: (yeah, I know I shouldn’t have said it) And you didn’t notice a big ole RAT hanging from her mouth???????
She: I’m sorry, I was making the frosting for your bars. Of course, my fault, Alpha has a team potluck tonight and Mom volunteered to take the brownie baking off my hands.
Let me think, I’m only about 3 days behind at work. I have two reports due the next morning. One half-finished, one not started. Homer would be no help. Even if he could get away from work, I don’t think he could hop fast enough to catch a rat – being injured and all.
Me: sigh I’ll be home in half an hour.
I pack up my reports and other work, brief my boss and head out. I’m driving home, trying to plot a strategy. I take mental inventory of my bedroom: 67 pairs of shoes on my closet floor, multiple boxes of stuff jammed under the bed, the dressers have great hidey holes underneath, the man-closet has backpacks, hiking gear and half his wardrobe on the floor. I start to feel defeated. This is going to be an all day project.
Arrive home. Status update: Cat and, presumably, Rat are still in bedroom. Mom has armed herself with a hammer, traded her Crocs for boots and has tucked her pants into her socks. I deem the sock idea a good one. I grab the mop and a huge plastic container. I’m thinking if the cat would just catch the rat again, I’ll pick up the cat and put them both in the container, put on the lid and escort them outside. That was a bit optimistic.
My dad announces that he’s going to take a shower – DOWNSTAIRS. This is so totally NOT his problem. Thanks, Dad.
So we head to battle. A rat SWAT team of two. It takes about an hour of picking stuff off the floor and carefully poking things out from under the bed. We gradually get braver. At last the rat is exposed! Much excitement! Cat pounces, rat runs, Mom jumps, hammer flies, hits my knee! Before I blacked out from the pain, I see blur of gray run towards the bathroom door. From that point, it didn’t go so well for the rat. I will spare you the grisly details but let’s just say the rat is no longer in the house. CatTwo is rather confused and a bit slighted. Mom goes round blaming the woodpile owners (she’s going to call the health department), blaming the cat, and blaming herself for letting the cat in, although she swears if the rat had been in her mouth, she would have noticed. What! You think she had it in her pocket, Mom?
Anyway, I am left with a room in total disaster. What the heck, might as well make lemonade. I trip off to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up the bed jacks that I have been planning to install. No, Jane, no browsing. I LOVE that place - the coolest stuff. Wow, the vacuum fits under the bed now. Well, I guess I better clean under there before I put all the stuff back. Hmm, who put all this crap under there? Sort, fill large garbage bag and reorganize. One thing leads to another and hours later my room is immaculate. And organized. Woo hoo.
I finished off with sniffy clean sheets and totally washed bedding (to banish the rat cooties) just in time for bed. I say good night to parentals and head to the bedroom. A thought hits me. An evil thought. She wouldn’t. She WOULD. Would she? She’s used some pretty drastic tactics before – but it’s been a long time.
Me: Uh, Mom?
She: Yes.
Me: You didn’t coax the cat and rat into my room just to get me to clean it. Did you??

Monday, March 26, 2007

Turns out you CAN be too careful.

I was watching 20/20 one Friday night. I use the 'watching' term loosely because I tend to turn on the tv just for noise and to pretend it's my friend while I clean, cook, fold clothes - all those chores that send other family members scrambling to anywhere they won't be asked to help. God forbid.
Anyhoodle, I actually watched this time. John Stoessel was doing a great show on fear and worry and unintended consequences. One example (and I quote here):

"Most of us, when we have a new baby in the house, make an extra effort to keep the house especially clean. I was no exception. But now there's research suggesting that kids who are exposed to more endotoxins — mild dust, bacteria, pollen, like kids who go to daycare or have pets or live on farms — are less likely to develop allergies and asthma."

Hallelujah! There's something they didn't put in the baby books. I am proud to say that my children do not have allergies or asthma and they have ME to thank for that. They grew up in a house with a cat, a dog, and many, many (dust) bunnies. They also went to daycare, they did. I'm going to pretend I knew this all along and failed to keep the house immaculately (not even close) clean because I was preparing them for a life of good pulmonary health! I hope my mother and mother-in-law also saw the show. PFFTHT!!!

I found other validation in that show, as well. I tend to be a pretty laid back parent - the bad kind that has a trampoline in the back yard. I know that in most cases what could happen probably won't. I have friends who are strung tighter than piano wire trying to anticipate every danger that might befall their child. It seems to me that when accidents do happen they tend to come from places you never suspected. Or the risk is calculated. You know that bicycles can be dangerous but they also have benefits - transportation, exercise, fun - that in my mind override the fear (ditto with the trampoline). I have tried to be a vigilant helmet-mom but sometimes even I forget to wear one. Well, according to the 20/20 report, helmets aren't all that effective either. This guy they interviewed did research and found that when you wear a helmet, drivers are less careful around you. They also found that helmet wearers tend to take more risks. And, in places where the law requires helmets, head injuries have not dropped because now there are fewer cyclists on the road.

"When people don't cycle, they're not getting exercise," he said. "We know that not getting exercise and being sedentary is incredibly dangerous. You get heart attacks, you get strokes … proven killers that kill thousands of people. So when people make helmets a requirement, with the best intentions, it may actually kill more people."

I am also a big fan of prescription medicines. They can do great things. I know that many have side effects. But if you read the fine print you will also find that people taking placebos experienced side effects. My mother wouldn't take Claritin because of the possible side effects listed on the package. She never experienced any of the side effects because she never took the medicine, even though Claritin was found to have proven benefits for allergy sufferers (her mother was a clean freak, by the way). Score: Fear 1, Mother 0.

Here's what they had to say about that:
"You may have seen the warnings about anti-depressants (causing increased suicide in teenagers). The FDA demanded that a black box be added to every package. The unintended consequence? Prescriptions to anti-depressants dropped 20 percent. And with fewer teenagers taking the medication, many experts say they are seeing more teen suicide."

I read an article a few years ago that bit me to the bone. It was about a toddler who pulled on the cord of an electric frying pan and was covered with boiling oil. I realized that there, but for the grace of God, go I. At some point I probably left a cord dangling. It is pretty dang hard to always be vigilant, always one step ahead of a toddler, child, teenager. It's hard to know how to balance caution and the business of being a kid.

I guess my point is that it was good to hear that you can worry too much. I always felt that I was missing the parental-worry gene so maybe I wasn't supposed to reproduce. My husband is even worse. I don't seriously take credit for raising my children to the good place they are today. I know that it is as much luck as parental care that has made them good, happy, productive kids thus far. I just hope the good luck stays with us.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Progress?

Heading home from a family outing yesterday, Homer made some Homerish comment which escapes me now. Lola asked me if I don't sometimes feel like I am a single mom with 3 kids. I chuckled and said yes. She said that she often feels like she has a big brother instead of a dad. She didn't say it with any particular emotion, merely an observation, but it must have made an impact on Homer.

This morning as I was mixing up some muffins for breakfast he walked by me and said "Wow, I must be growing up. I was going to spit on your cheek just now but I didn't". I just stared at him dumbfounded. He says, "Well, not like a lugie or anything, just a little love lick". This came less than 5 minutes after he pantsed me. I'm pretty sure my oldest child is 50, not 17.

Just wanted to unload that.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Be JaneFay Cleans Out the Drain

Be JaneFay Quotient: 8.5 on the Gag-Me scale

THE BACKGROUND: Two years ago, while in Cabo, JaneFay bought one of those pretty Mexican talavera sinks. She loved the intricate painting and the fact that it was different from anything she has. It also didn’t escape her that all the gook that accumulates in her sink would certainly go unnoticed in all that visual noise. Less cleaning is always a good thing. So she carefully packed her prize, along with a matching toothbrush holder, soap dispenser and wall lizard (JaneFay got caught up in the bartering process) in her carryon and brought it all home whereupon she packed it away and pretty much ignored it. For two years. Not because her sink doesn’t need to be replaced. If that sink were human it would be in Hospice care. It has lost half its finish and the original color is indeterminate. It now contains permanent samples of every shade of hair color she has ever used and she thinks something may have died in the overflow. It is time to replace it. Yes it is, but that is not what today’s lesson is about.

THE PROBLEM: It seems the sink cancer must have spread down to the popup mechanism in the drain. One day it no longer popped up. JaneFay tripped off to the Depot only to discover that repair parts would be nigh onto $20. Well, since she was planning to replace the faucet, complete with popup, she thought, why throw good money 'down the drain'? JaneFay’s a little tight that way. Instead she bought one of those little rubber drain plugs for $1.29 – a temporary fix, but surely she would start ‘the sink project’ soon.

Well, days quickly turn to months and JaneFay discovers that an unguarded drain is pretty much a magnet for bobby pins, Q-tips and makeup bottle tops. The drain gets slow…. and slower….. and finally all but stops. JaneFay is totally disgusted. When a drain doesn’t drain well the scum from every hand wash and tooth brushing adheres to the sink as it s..l..o..w..l..y goes down. I’m sure you all get the picture. Vomitrocious with a capital V.

THE ACTION: JaneFay uses her better sense and determines that Plumber-in-a-Bottle would probably not be effective against metal and plastic objects since those are the very things of which plumbing is made. That leaves one alternative. Manual clean out *spine shiver*.

In retrospect, JaneFay recommends you get a bucket at the very beginning of this project. A big bucket. You should place the bucket under the trap BEFORE you start loosening the pipes because, well, it’s darn hard to hold water in your hands and grab the bucket (just a..scootch,scootch..TINY bit out of reach) at the same time. So bucket in place, you should start to loosen the connections around the trap. Note: the trap is the part below the drain that does the u-turn. Hopefully, you have the plastic kind of pipes, like JaneFay does, which can be loosened by hand. Otherwise you need to go get some kind of a tool in which case JaneFay also recommends you put on gloves since tools and plumbing often conspire to shave skin from your knuckles. JaneFay knows how long it takes knuckles to heal. Another caution: trap connections are crazy. Lefty is not always loosie, depending on your angle. JaneFay’s advice is to try one way and if that doesn’t work, try the other way before you apply brute force and naughty words. Next, remove the trap and clean it out. They call it a trap because stuff gets trapped in there. Try not to make that retching noise too loud, it scares the kids. Good news, JaneFay found three missing earrings and 22 cents! Reattach the trap. Same process but in reverse with the alternate caution: Rightie may not be Tightie. You will figure that out after going round and round and round without feeling anything catch.

With trap reattached, run water full force and check underneath for leaks. Make adjustments if necessary. It’s important that your pipes aren’t skewed a little, this will cause leaks like JaneFay’s. It’s also important to make sure you leave all those little washer... ring thingys in place – turns out they are NOT decorative. Adjust, tighten, reach up and turn off water….. notice that the sink… is full……it’s not draining AT ALL! Check to see that little rubber plug is not in. Determine that clog must be farther down the line. Oh, my. JaneFay’s lunch is going to be lost for sure! She removes the trap once more and also the length of pipe that attaches to the stub on the wall. Oly, Mother of Maude, JaneFay nearly passes out. Repeat clean out process that was used on the trap, but don’t examine it this time. Seriously. Nothing that may be caught in there is worth retrieving. Off to get a piece of wire, and a good stiff swig of root beer. JaneFay highly recommends you also grab a bandana soaked in your favorite perfume and place over your nose cuz, believe her, the smell is going to be worse than when Uncle Murray ‘meditates’ in there after Christmas dinner.

Make a little hook on the end of your wire and poke it in and out of the wall pipe. Oh, no, the hairspray cap comes out sporting a 6 inch trail of indescribable heinousness. Dump in bucket, poke, repeat. When you’ve had enough of the smell of plumbing pitch and, now, vomit, take the bucket and quickly dump it down the toilet. Sit on the lid and flush before anything comes to back to life and crawls out. Take a few deep breaths – through the bandana …. you did turn on the fan, didn’t you? Reattach the pipe parts. Examine your life, as JaneFay did, make mental restitution for all the people you have wronged and hope on hope that when you turn on the water, IT ALL GOES DOWN!

While your vision clears, turn on that tap again and leave it running for five minutes. Relax, close your eyes, embrace the sound of the rushing water and realize why plumbers get $80 an hour. Pour a little bleach down that sink to kill any creature offspring that may still be in there. Clean up the mess under the sink. Note that black sewer gook has properties similar to Magic Marker.

Next time: The importance of using an undercoating when painting over sewer crud stains.