Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Believe it or not, Christmas didn't end for me until yesterday afternoon. We had a get-together at my parent's "community room" - they live in a senior apartment complex these days, which doesn't sound nearly as nice as it really is.

Check this out: This place has a library with internet access, a media theater with widescreen and current movies and a popcorn machine, an "entertainment suite" with a full kitchen (that's where we were), a wellness center, workout room, rocking chairs on the outside patios, and a club room with a fireplace where everyone gathers for poker, bingo, or potluck dinners.

I remember when my sister and I found this place a couple of years ago. After years and years of begging him to sell, my mom had finally decided to leave my dad in their way-too-big, poorly-maintained home in a not great part of town and find somewhere smaller, warmer, safer, more manageable, with alot less HIM. Fortunately for her, we found this place. Unfortunately, he showed up not too long after to harangue and aggravate her some more.

When we first spotted this place, I remember thinking then that it was unbelieveably gorgeous, especially compared to the apartment I had after my divorce. I lived in a shithole and paid more than my parents were going to pay for this place ($650 a month, because it was built with federal funds earmarked for seniors in our county, and my parents qualified for lower rents because they were living on Social Security alone).

SO . . . we gathered yesterday to have a meal together (I had a little italian place cater it . . . chicken parm, baked ziti, garlic rolls and salad for 20), and we had a White Elephant gift exchange and gave all the kids gift cards.

As we were gathered there, I thought about all of the Christmases past that we had shared together, nearly 50 of them now if you count the first Christmas for my oldest sister, and more than 40 if you start counting when I, the youngest, was born. As usual, there are are some stories that surface year after year, and we seem to never tire of telling them, even though we have all heard them over and over.

I guess alot of families do that.

I decided to put them here, for posterity:

The Charlie Brown Christmas: I was around for this one, but I was only 2 or so, so I don't remember this one firsthand, but my sister cackles with glee everytime she thinks of Christmas morning, 1968. As usual, she and my other two brothers woke up at the crack of dawn to go see what Santa brought them. She was 10 that year, and the brothers were 9 and 8, respectively. While she and my older brother checked out the Santa swag, the younger brother barely took notice of the Santa presents under the tree and instead began to investigate the contents of his Christmas stocking. Reaching in, he pulled out what he interpreted to be the Holy Grail . . . . he began running around the room, shrieking, "I got a Charlie Brown coloring book! I got a Charlie Brown coloring book!" In his excitement, he ran smack into the doorframe of the living room, and got knocked out cold. Silently, my older brother stood over him, looking down on his seemingly lifeless body. "Should we get Mama and Daddy?" my sister whispered, barely breathing herself. "Nah," said older brother, already stealing the chocolate out of the comatose brother's stocking "He'll be alright."

Over the River and Through The Woods: For some reason, in the early days of my family, my parents would pack three small children (all three were born within 3 years, God bless Catholics) into a small Ford and travel cross-country during the holidays. I guess it was a product of their mixed marriage: my dad is a New Jersey Yankee and my mother is an Alabama southern belle, so seeing family during the holidays meant some serious travel. As I understand it, the year this happened was particularly cold and wintry as they made their way from Orlando, Florida to Lodi, New Jersey and my mother was convinced that snowsuits were necessary for the children. Somewhere along their journey, they stopped at a roadside diner and herded the kids in. If you have ever seen "A Christmas Story", you know how hard it is to wrestle kids in and out of snowsuits, so my mom decided to just unzip my older brother's suit to his waist and sit him in the seat. Well . . . maybe it was the long drive, maybe it was the temperature inside that snowsuit, maybe it was the greasy, hot air in the diner, but my brother started looking kinda . . . green. Before anyone could react, he threw up a bucket of puke, but amazingly, he had barfed up everything right inside his snowsuit. Without missing a beat, my mom zipped him up, puke and all, and hustled him out the door. Merry Christmas!

Santa is an E.O.E.: During Christmas 1972, when I was 6, I had my heart set on a GabbaGail doll.

This caused no end of laughter among my older siblings. I think I wanted her because MY middle name was Gail, and they thought it was funny, because I guess I talked alot. My name (Rita Gail) regularly was morphed into "ScreamaGail", "MeanaGail", and this year, GabbaGail was added to the rotation.

No matter, I was amazed that a doll would repeat anything I said, and I fervently wished for her, circled her picture in the Sears Wish Book and asked Santa for her. Lo and behold, Christmas morning came and the old fat man had come through. A beautiful Kenner box was under the tree for me with my very own GabbaGail inside. Barely able to breathe, I opened the box in the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree at 5 am that Christmas morning, but even the magic lights couldn't disguise the fact that my GabbaGail wasn't quite . . . right.

For one thing, her eyes were painted on crooked. And the part in her hair was sewn in a zigzag pattern. And when you pulled her string to record your voice, what played back was some kind of devil-possessed backwards Alvin and the Chipmunks voice. I was devastated, of course, but my siblings were unable to resist the lure of telling me that I had a doll made by a retarded elf. For some reason, that made perfect sense to me, and I actually wanted to keep the doll. My mother convinced me that Santa wouldn't be upset if we returned the doll after Christmas to get a "good" one. I remember studying that doll for hours, thinking alot about that retarded elf.

Side note: We did take the GabbaGail back, but I prudently chose a beautiful French baby doll that I still have to this day.

1975: The Year of Oz: Christmas 1975 was the year that I got my MEGO Wizard of Oz Emerald City and all the dolls. Hands down, the coolest Christmas gift I ever got as a kid.

Sadly, even though my mother worked for Sears at the time, and Sears had an exclusive Wicked Witch's Castle, she thought that it looked too "spooky" and opted to get me the MUCH more common, and easily found Emerald City.

I have lusted after a Witch's Castle for over 30 years now, and I still have my Emerald City and my dolls. In the original box.

Hope you all created some good memories this holiday season. Oh, and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Puppet Slam - the proof

Remember that puppet slam at Dad's Garage theater I talked about a couple months back? Some brilliant person actually videoed and uploaded a snippet of the greatness - a heartwarming story about some drunk geeks at DragonCon here in Atlanta.

Please to enjoy:

The Ballad of Beau

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Marathon (Wo)Man

Whew! Thanksgiving was a delicious blur. The turducken was to die for, I think it will be a new Thanksgiving tradition. I can't possibly convey its deliciousness with words, so maybe this photo of its boneless awesomeness will help.

Other than that, let's see . . . . we hosted 18 for Thanksgiving, maybe 20 or so for our after-thanksgiving potluck, and then 15 for an after-after Thanksgiving family dinner.

I got scads of new dishes from Hubby as an early Christmas present, and we have nearly finished our decorating and shopping.

Holy crap, is there any way that I could actually be well-prepared for Christmas weeks early?

It just may happen this year.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gobble, gobble . . .

So . . .

It's that time of year, ya'll.

Actually, I've been excited about the holidays this year. I had it all planned out back in June. (JUNE?!?! you say?) Yeah, I had this crazy idea that THIS was going to be the year it all came together.

In my utopia, my 2 downstairs bedrooms were going to be emptied, steam cleaned, repainted, and redecorated, complete with new bedroom suits before the end of October, all ready for holiday company. (Really, everything sort of hinged on the end of October.)

I planned to be in my new office by the end of October (actually, I did that).

I also planned to have my dining room painted, and all furniture in place by the end of October (nope, but its getting there).

I wanted to have all of my holiday shopping done, with the gifts wrapped and tucked into my new "gift closet" by November 1. The gift closet is done, and the shelves are up, and all of my wrapping stuff is in there, and some gifts, but none are wrapped yet, and I haven't really even started my holiday shopping.


This year was going to be the year that I hosted a HUGE Thanksgiving dinner (that's still on, and I have beautiful turkey plates for all 20 guests, and Hub ordered a Turducken - its tucked into the freezer, waiting for the big day), and resurrected my annual post-Thanksgiving potluck (that's on, too, and I have a boatload of paper goods for that shindig).

SO . . . here I am, on November 14, with a half-finished dining room, a messy house, unfinished guest rooms, and a sore back that hurts like a mofo.

My back turned its back on me about 2 weeks ago, and I have been limping along, swallowing pain killers, trying to ignore it, or will it back to health. This seems to happen once or twice a year, and usually, it lasts 4 or 5 days. This time, we are cruising on Day 12, with no relief in sight, really.

OH, I had also planned to have my exercise area set up downstairs, with a treadmill, bike and elliptical, and I do. They have been sitting patiently, waiting for my back to heal.

As usual, I want everything done right, and I have overestimated my energy levels, abilities, and timeframe.

Damn it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

De-baddifying the Frap

So . . . . my dear, dear friends Jimbo and Anja sent me a care package that contained some Starbucks goodies (including the new Joni Mitchell CD - Shine).

I enjoy Starbucks coffee, but I've only been inside an actual Starbucks twice. I usually buy a bag of their coffee at the grocery store and brew it at my house. SO . . . it was a treat to go the other day with my little gift card (thanks again, Anja) and peruse the seemingly endless menu of coffees, teas, etc.

Blame it on my amazing ability to sniff out the very worst thing for me, but I innocently ordered a Java Chip Frappuccino®. God help me . . . . it was instant addiction.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, it was ALSO instant sugar coma.

When I came to, I looked up the stats on the little confection, and was stunned to see 59g of sugar and 73g of carbs. The only good news was that I didnt order the venti - that might have killed me.

I mourned for a day, finding something so good, yet so bad for me. Then . . . I decided to try to deconstruct it and rebuild it.

I did a little searching around online and found out that a small Java Chip Frap basically consists of:
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon chocolate chips
1 cup double-strength freshly brewed dark roast coffee
Chopped or crushed ice
Cream (I'm guessing)
Whipped cream
Chocolate syrup (for drizzle)

Just for kicks, I brewed up some super strong Starbucks coffee and let it cool. I had whipped cream on hand (whipped cream is low-carb friendly), and of course I had ice. I ALSO had sugarfree Hershey's chocolate syrup AND sugarfree dark chocolate Russell Stover chocolate squares.

I roughly chopped 2 chocolate squares into "chips" and got out my blender. I got 1/2 a glass of chopped ice from my fridge dispenser and began my little experiment. I dumped the ice and the coffee and a couple of packs of Splenda into the blender, along with the chocolate. After that whirred around, it started to resemble the drink I had enjoyed. I then added a splash of my International Coffee Sugar Free coffee creamer (I get that in the refrigerated section of the grocery, and they only make French Vanilla in sugar free form.)

With fingers crossed, I poured it into a glass, and topped it with Redi Whip heavy whipped cream and a drizzle of my sugarfree chocolate syrup, and I'll be damned, it was so close, it brought tears to my eyes.

There's still a few sugar/carb grams, but it's under 5, and I still get the kick of the coffee.

As I was sipping it, I thought about using one of my protein drinks next time, along with the coffee.

This probably bores most of you, but for me, it's like discovering pure gold.

I wonder if Starbucks would ever consider making these? That would be awesome!

13 years ago . . .

. . . I was floating on air on a Monday morning after an all-day first date with Hub the day before.

13 is a big deal to Hub. It's his favorite number (ol' lucky 13). We marked the occasion yesterday by spending most of the day together. We had lunch (Chinese, just like we did back then), and Hub bought me the new Robert Plant/Alison Krauss CD "Raising Sand" (amazing). We also watched "Knocked Up", which was like watching us on video. We could have written that. Seriously.

It was fun to think back on where we came from. Helps you see how far you have come.

Hub and I took the opportunity to talk about some things that we would like to start, and some things that we would like to stop. Feels like a new beginning. Old dogs learning new tricks.

It rained alot (which I like, and which we needed). The Little League game was cancelled, which was kind of a relief. We stayed in with the kids last night, and I read a few chapters of The Spiderwick Chronicles to the kids, Hub and the dogs, who, for some reason, really like to sit with us when I read out loud. LilBit will even look at the pictures when I turn the book around for the kids to see.

I'm pretty sure she hasn't guessed the plot twist yet, though.

Happy Birthday, Diabetes!

Damn, it's already been a year since I got the news. Time flies.

In some ways, I'm alot better now than I was a year ago. I take my medications every day. I stay away from (most, not all) sugar. My numbers are better. My weight is (slightly) lower.

I think this year will bring bigger changes. I wasn't able to motivate myself to exercise this past year, which would have helped alot, but I have a few plans in place to rectify that. Hub is pretty much a superstar in the weightloss department - he's getting closer and closer to his goal weight, and has committed to helping me stay motivated and on track. We just bought an elliptical - it's being delivered this week. Also, I moved my office downstairs, so I climb at least 2 flights of stairs a day, sometimes more.

I made better choices this past year, and I got some good reports from the doctor.

I'd give myself a C+.

Monday, October 1, 2007

I loves me some puppets!

After reading a very cool article in Creative Loafing (local ATL edition of cool stuff to do and see), I bought tickets to something called a "Puppet Slam".

I'd heard of poetry slams before, but never a puppet slam. This one was scheduled to start at midnight Saturday, and with no idea what to expect, Hub and I drove through Sweet Auburn to Little 5 Points to a place called Dad's Garage to witness the greatness.

It was a small 50-seat improv theater, so it was pretty intimate. The next hour was spent laughing loud at long at:

A pink "muppety" puppet singing Journey karaoke-style.

Stick puppets acting out the grisly, bloody story of one geek's drunken DragonCon escapade and subsequent escape from the emergency room
The Ballad of Beau

A monkey and robot team solving the world's greatest riddles and

A sadistic evil pumpkin rod puppet smashing sweet little trick or treaters into bloody messes

Just as I suspected it would be, it was perfection! Bless me Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, for I have sinned.

American Girls/China Girls

This past week heralded the 12th birthday of my sweet girl. I was driving up 75 a couple of weeks back, wondering what to get her or do for her, since she had been fairly noncommital about what she wanted, when I saw a billboard on the horizon:

Voila. Problem solved. We would go to the new American Girl doll shop and have lunch and pick out a doll and life would be good.

I wasn't all that familiar with American Girls, so I read up a little. Seems that the woman that started the line of dolls did so with the best of intentions - to offer a little history and morality with each doll by casting the dolls as girls that lived during certain times in American history. Each of the American Girl dolls are well-developed characters, with books, outfits, and accessories available to bring the dolls and their lives into your home.

I can totally dig that. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was a little girl, and I devoured each of the "Little House on the Prairie" books, and would have killed to have had a "Laura" doll (there was no such thing back then.)

So . . . having visions of a quaint little shop with pretty little dolls in my head, we ventured out last Sunday afternoon to experience the American Girls boutique.

When we arrived at the mall, I got my first clue that this was no ordinary doll shop. Entering the mall property, I saw the sign that pointed you to the anchor stores like Sears, JCPenney, Macy's, etc. There, in proud bold letters was "American Girl" with a bright arrow pointing left. Oh my, this store had enough cache' to be considered an anchor store and have some real estate on the directional signs. I started seeing dollar signs at that point.

Nothing could have really prepared me for the greatness that was the American Girl Boutique and Bistro. Nothing could have prepared me for the prices, either.

Sure, the dolls are cute, and you can pick one that has the same eye color, skin tone and hair color that you do, but damn . . . . $102.00 for an 18" doll and her little fuzzy dog? I tried not to register any alarm - this was my little girl's birthday surprise, but I was stunned at the pricetags through the store.

I steadied myself as we took in the intoxicating displays of dolls, clothing and furniture, and we both nearly squealed with delight when we discovered an onsite "doll salon" where anxious little girls stood in line, holding well-loved AG dolls with disheveled hair, waiting to hand them over to the well-trained stylists who meticulously cleaned and restyled the dolls while you waited.
Marvelous. Simply marvelous.

2 hours and $300+ later, we left with a HUGE red shopping bag that contained a new doll with a puppy, and a couple of shirts.

No shit.

I calculated that a decent American Girl collection would be a several thousand dollar investment. As I always do, I started thinking about alternatives.

Ebay? Yard sales?

Ebay turned out to be a fairly decent source for AG and AG knockoff stuff. I found a very nice lady that hand sewed AG pajamas for $6 a set (beats the hell out of $30 a set for the real deal). Searching around a bit more, I saw a few posts that said that Target had an AG scale doll with nice furniture and accessories, etc.

My girl, ever the careful shopper, was delighted to find dolls that looked EXACTLY like her American Girl doll at Target for $29 bucks. "Mom! We could have just gotten these!" she exclaimed as she looked at each pretty doll. "They're made in China, just like the American Girls!" True enough, sweetie. They also had outfits for $9 that were as cute as the $50 ones at the mall.

We did get a few Target things (table, chairs and little ceramic tea set for $29, and a few outfits), then we went on to the Goodwill. Amazingly, they had 2 of the AG knockoff Target dolls there for $1.91 each (what a random price, but whatever . . .) The dolls' hair was a bit messy, but my girl and I went home and constructed our OWN hair salon (I treated the dolls' hair with watered down fabric softener) and I cut and restyled the dolls and my amazement, my girl actually liked them both BETTER than she liked her American Girl doll.

I also found a handmade doll bed at the Goodwill ($12 bucks versus $145) and dropped it off at a local artist's studio where it is being handpainted, covered in flowers in my girl's favorite color (purple) for an additional $20 bucks.

Yeah, American Girl is cute, but the most American part of them is the flagrant consumerism that makes girls and moms alike nearly rabid for the "real" thing versus the "fakes". Turns out, there is a whole class war among the "haves" and the "have nots" as exemplified in this story about a little girl that took her "knockoff" doll to the AG beauty salon and was humiliated by the stylist.

I guess that's about as American as you can get.

P.S. OK, so THIS guy got a little more upset than I would have thought he would, but what a fucking funny read. Favorite excerpt: "Drop to your knees right fucking now and-- NO! Let go of my dick, you fuckin' tramp! Get on your knees and PRAY to Jesus fucking Christ Almighty and thank him. Oh yes, thank him that I was not at American Girl Place that day. You would've been OWNED, bitch. Thank him even harder for the fact that Etta is not my daughter. Had you done that shit to my child, I swear to fucking Christ, I would have reached out and slapped every one of you bitches to the fucking ground! And if you got back up, I'd strangle your snobby ass and beat you until I fucked up your nose job!"


I am going to be slingling some major blog for the next day or so. Just alot to catch up on.

Don't be alarmed, and for God's sake, don't get used to it. I just have alot of mental vomit to spew.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm A Big Kid Now!

After nearly 12 years of working from home, I finally have a real, bona-fide home office.

Up until this point, I have been camped out on a rickety makeshift desk with mismatched plastic storage totes and pressboard shelving.

I can say goodbye to all of that now, because I have my own dedicated "big girl" space, with furniture, coordinated wall colors, art, and rug. Oh, and a really comfy chair, too.
Yea, me!

Special thanks to Hub for packing and clearing all the mess from this room, and painstakingly taping off the walls and ceiling to prep for painting. Additional thanks to my sweet girl for spotting the awesome rug on clearance at The Target.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jumping Back In The Pool

You know, I was surprised at my reaction when Teenie died. I grieved harder for her than I have for some real human people that have passed on.

Last week, a friend of mine, Kathy, said "I know you are probably NOWHERE NEAR ready to even think about this, but . . . . I have two puppies, sisters, that I am trying to find a good home for." She went on to tell me that her beloved chihuahua had had a litter of 4 pups, and she had sold one, kept one, and had 2 left that were approaching the age that they really needed to be placed permanently.

My immediate reaction was "No way" followed by "fat chance." But . . . Kathy suggested that I just "see" the girls, no strings, no pressure. That maybe ONE of them would appeal to me.

Well, you can guess how THAT went, I am sure.

Meet Honey (2 lbs 4 ozs) and LilBit (1 lb, 6 ozs).

Two of the newest members of the asylum.

The kids are thrilled.

Weenie, the canine matriarch, as usual, has withheld comment until further notice . . .but she does tend to enjoy watching the two wrestle and roll around. From a distance, of course.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Untimely passing . . .

There is no easy way to say this.

Teenie died.

It was unexpected, and as of yet, still unexplained. She became ill very quickly, had a seizure, and never recovered.

I am heartbroken. I am wearing her collar on my wrist. And crying. Alot.

I loved her so much, its hard to imagine how much she opened my heart.

I tried to explain to the kids that sometimes, life is short. They have accepted it, much better than I have.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

THIS should be interesting . . .

So . . . .

I have created a Craigslist ad to form a lunch club for people like me.

You know, hermits.

I can't wait to see who shows up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Where's Molly

I was clicking through CNN (like I do every day) and came upon an article about a new documentary called "Where's Molly?"

The man that made the documentary, Jeff Daly, lost his little sister Molly when he was about 6. Molly wasn't quite 3. Molly had a few problems: a lazy eye that didn't respond well to surgery, a club foot, and possibly some developmental delay. As was the custom, his parents were advised quietly by their trusted family doctors to send Molly away to an institution. Like all other parents of disabled kids, they were told that it would be "better" for them, for the child, and for the extended family.

Jeff recounts how he asked about his little sister every day, and was told, "Stop asking about Molly." His parents wouldn't discuss her with him, and for years, he had no idea what had happened to her.

It struck me, reading this article, that if I had had my Rachael years earlier, I, too, would have been pressured to institutionalize her. That chills my blood to think about. As much as I worry about her now, I don't know how these parents, or hundreds and hundreds more like them slept knowing that their children were, for all intents and purposes, jailed and warehoused because of their disabilities.

I guess we can thank President Kennedy for pushing through a few laws that gave the disabled some rights . . . rights to live free, to receive the education that they are capable of receiving, to work, to be productive.

I don't pass judgement on these parents, I really don't. I know the pressure that parents of disabled kids face: even now, we are pressured to listen to the experts, to accept their opinions as gospel, to not question school officials and therapists and hospitals, to accept whatever they deem is best for our kids.

Being Rachael's case manager has been a daunting task, one that I had alot more energy for a few years ago. These days, what I lack in energy, I make up for in experience. Teachers hate to see me coming when it's time to discuss Rachael's education plan. Doctors rub their foreheads when I make them listen to me. See, I have a PhD in Rachael. I made her, I love her, I live with her, and I have studied her quirks and idiosyncracies for nearly 12 years now. I know her many strengths, her challenges, her struggles, and her victories, all of them.

Sometimes it's been hard, really hard, but I'm glad Rachael was given to me, just the way she is. I'm glad no one forced me to give her up, citing medical credentials. And it breaks my heart to think of how many parents fell victim to what I was able to dodge.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Random chat

Typical of the way we spend our days, believe it or not.

Rita: You know what is sort of delightful?
kirk: saw Zodiac last night
Rita: sitting on a heating pad
kirk: i think that would make me shit myself
Rita: (laughing)
kirk: if you havent seen it. its good
Rita: what, you shitting yourself?
Rita: I dont want to see that
Rita: but thanks anyway
kirk: why not?
kirk: its filmed (set) right in my backyard
Rita: ewwwwww
Rita: do you have a toilet back there?
kirk: shut up, i mean Zodiac
Rita: ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Rita: (I have to blog this, sorry)
kirk: but if youre ever intersted
Rita: Tease! That's not even a real site!
kirk: you clicked it?!
kirk: lol
Rita: That's how much I trust you
Rita: I can see now that trust is deeply misplaced
Rita: (good one, though)
Rita: It ALSO indicates how crazy I TRULY think you are
kirk: right
kirk: i film my shitting asshole , in my backyard no less and then, as if that wasnt enough, i put it on the internet.. but really what other use is there for footage like that?
Rita: that's right . . . that is ripe for YouTube
kirk: or
kirk: i saw a lady get a bucket of semen poured on her head on that site.
kirk: ANYWAY... have you seen Zodiac?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Yo yo yo!!!! For all the moms . . .

Compliments of my dear friend, Allison. I'll never look at my ductaped sideview mirror the same way again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Public Service Announcement

From an IM with my friend Kirk this afternoon:

kirk: Myspace has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles and gave them the boot.
kirk: so if you know someone who couldnt log in today .. or notice that some of your friends on mypace have deleted accounts.. its because they were pervey.
Rita: damn
Rita: Well, I'll have to look later . . . I couldn't seem to log in this morn . . ..
Rita: oh wait
kirksucks611: lol

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The funniest thing I have read in awhile

From probably the funniest blog I have had the pleasure to peruse:
The Blank Top Chronicles (stories of a taxi cab company phone operator):

GUY: I called for a cab like an hour ago and it's still not here.

ME: (looking it up in the computer) Well, we sent him almost as soon as you called. He must have picked up the wrong person.

GUY: But I asked you to call me when he was there!

ME: Well, sometimes the driver pulls up and somebody just hops in their cab. They assume that's their passenger and they take them.

GUY: I don't understand, you were supposed to call! Why didn't you?

ME: He didn't tell us he was there, so I didn't know to call you. He assumed the guy he saw was you, he didn't consult us.

GUY: Didn't he ask the name or anything?! Isn't the driver supposed to do that?

ME: Yes, they are. But sometimes they don't. I wish I had control over what they do. Hell, I wish I had omnipotent control of the entire human race. But I don't. Yet...

GUY: Well can you send another one? And actually call when he's there?

ME: I can try, but like I said, there are really no guarantees. Your best bet is to actually be physically there waiting for him.

GUY: You'd BETTER call, understand?

ME: Man you are SO going down when I have omnipotent control of the entire human race.

If you have good control of your bladder, read more here. Hell, even if you DON'T, read it anyway.

Monday, July 23, 2007

High School Musical

So . . . eventful weekend.

We went to Hub's 20th high school reunion this past weekend, despite his initial protests and misgivings.

"No one knew me, and I didn't know anyone," he glumly remarked when he received the invitation.

"All the better!" I giggled. "That's a recipe for fun!"

And so it was.

For that evening, I adopted the persona of a fellow graduate, approaching shocked classmates with tales of debauchery, like "Oh my God! Do you remember when we hotwired that car and skipped the fence at that apartment complex and skinny dipped in the pool, drunk?"

In hindsight, I wish I hadn't chosen to say that to what appeared to be a pastor, but really, it was the $7.50 cash bar fake mojitos talking, mostly.

I managed to coerce most of the graduating class into seeking out Hub to say hello and pretending to remember him (he was right, they didn't). He did the same thing, pretty much.

By the end of the evening, everyone had figured out who had come out (of the closet), flipped out (of their minds), or gotten out (of prison). There were a few that looked like ex-strippers, a few that looked like ex-cons, and the majority that looked like they hadn't seen the backside of fun in very nearly 20 years.

Hub spent the evening giggling at me. Hell, MOST people did. The cheerleaders that never knew Hub ended the evening kissing his face and telling him how much they loved us both (granted, Hub looked hot, and granted, they were on their 3rd or 4th fake mojito, too.)

I didn't go to my reunion. I can't imagine I would have had NEARLY as much fun as I had at his, though.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Teenie Cuteness

OK, so . . .
Day 2 with Miss Teenie

Events of note:

Hubby calls her "walnut head". He was stunned to discover that when properly motivated, she can climb up his leg, up his chest, and pry open his mouth with her paws when liverwurst is at stake.

She slept all night with The Boy. No whining, no pee pee. Good girl!

I took her with me when I took the kids to camp. I felt like George, John, Paul and Ringo in "Hard Day's Night". Kids stampeded us! We had to run for our lives!

I have been asked if she is a ferret. I have wondered if she is a cat.

We got a bill of good health from the vet yesterday. She officially weighs 2 pounds, 10 ounces. She tried to jump off the exam table, a jump that would have SURELY killed her. She seems to be completely fearless.

And partial to peanut butter.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain . . .

This post will bore you to tears - do yourself a favor and skip it.

I just need to record some things so I don't forget.

I am taking on the task of cooking low-carb safe meals that the kids will not balk at. It's a balancing act . . . finding low carb things, and adding just enough OTHER things that everyone can feel like they had a full meal.

Since hub has lost about 85 pounds now on Atkins, I am trying my very best to continue to support that, and with my diabetes, well, low carb is really good for me too.

BUT . . . we have two kids in the house that need a little variety, so . . . . I have been experimenting with meal combinations that work for all four of us. When something works well, I want a place to record it. And this is it.

AND . . . if you have read this far AND you are doing low carb AND you have kids AND you have recipes/meal plans that seem to go over, please do let me know.

Low Carb Dinners That The Kids Seemed To Like:
Kielbasa/Pineapple/Onion Skewers - grilled, w/light BBQ sauce
Adamame (steamed, safe for all)
Sticky Rice (steamed, for kids, not us)
Cole Slaw (ok, kids didn't eat this, but it was good. no sugar, Hellman's mayo cut and sweetened with Minute Maid diet Orange drink, Splenda sweetened sweet relish with poppy seeds)

Meatloaf (Hunt's Meatloaf, recipe on the can. Mixture of beef and pork. Used oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs to cut the carbs and minimize the glycemic impact.)
Blue Lake green beans (cooked the beJeezus out of these with Kitchen Gourmet)
Buttered Egg Noodles (for kids, not us)
Cole Slaw (again, we liked this, kids didn't)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mr. Josh

Today, after dropping The Boy off at summer day camp, I dropped by the Publix to replenish my stock of snacks and stuff to make little people's lunches. Now that summer is here, that stuff seems to disappear.

I picked a good day to go, because Publix was having a Green Tag sale (stuff all over the store was BOGO - Buy One Get One Free). I filled up the cart with 2fers and made my way to the checkout.

As I was unloading all of my stuff onto the conveyer belt, I noticed that the bagger was an older black man. This always makes me feel really guilty - when people that pack my groceries are old enough to be my parents. I just have this really deep sense of disrespect, seeing retirement-aged people asking me "paper or plastic?"

Anyway, it wasn't long before all of my things were expertly bagged and placed back into my cart. At the Publix, your cart gets taken outside and your groceries get loaded for you. Period. Also, the Publix workers are NOT allowed to accept tips (I've tried on many occasions to tip them anyway, but they never take it.)

As I completed my transaction, I heard a few other Publix workers call out "Hi Josh!" to the man that was pushing my cart full of groceries, and his cheery "Good Morning!" was a pleasant thing to hear as we made our way toward the parking lot. He made sure to ask me "Ready, ma'am?" before he proceeded, and I answered quickly, "Yes Sir," mortified that this man, easily 70, was "ma'am"ing me.

When we were about to cross the parking lot, an impatient driver was honking his horn at ANOTHER driver that had stopped momentarily at the storefront to drop off a very frazzled-looking Publix worker. As she dashed into the store, Josh confidentially said, "I hope she makes it before the top of the hour. If you're late, you get written up." He went on to say with a smile, "Isn't it a beautiful day today?"

I agreed that it was beautiful, and not nearly as hot as it had been. He went on to make pleasant conversation, saying "I always try to be early to work. Starts my day off better. The job I had before this one, I worked there 31 years. I was only late one time. It was in downtown Atlanta, so I always made sure I got there an hour early. I usually had time to have a cup of coffee and read the paper." I marveled at that, as he continued to talk . . .

"I learned my habits from my father. No matter what he had to do, no matter what day it was, he was up by 4:00 in the morning, drinking a cup of coffee." Naturally, I had to ask him what time his father went to bed, and he seemed delighted to continue the conversation.

"Well, he would go to bed about 7 or 8 of an evening. Back then, you didn't have all of the things that people have now. There wasn't much to do once the sun went down, and by that time, people that worked hard were grateful for the opportunity to rest."

I considered that for a minute and said, "Mr. Josh, I am not so sure that wouldn't be best now."

He chuckled, and said, "You can just call me plain ol' Josh, ma'am, and I think you might be right about that."

He looked thoughtful for a minute, as he finished putting my groceries into the back of my car, he continued a few of this thoughts. "I've been here 11 years now, and I have a little cleaning business, too. I've cleaned the same office now for 34 years."

Incredulous, I said, "So, you have worked 2 jobs continually for nearly 40 years?" He smiled and said, "Yes ma'am. I've always had 2 jobs. I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have a second job. I take care of my garden and yard and house chores on Saturday, and of course I go to church on Sunday. I never have worked on Sunday. I was raised that way. I saw my parents work hard always, and go to church on Sunday. They never drank, or smoked. I haven't either. I've never done any drugs, and I think that people are made for hard work. It keeps you young." With a smile, he concluded, "Now, I will admit, I do enjoy a Coke or KoolAid. As long as I can have a cold Coke or a KoolAid of an afternoon, I am all right!"

I laughed at that, telling him I loved KoolAid too. He seemed pleased to hear that, and wished me a good day. "I hope you have a good day, too, Mr. Josh," I said, as I got into my car.

You can find heroes in the most unlikely places.

Monday, May 7, 2007

It's Been Awhile

Yeah, I know. I haven't posted in awhile. I've been busy.

Found out last night that my mom's cancer that miraculously went into remission for better than a year is no longer in remission, and has spread to her kidney and liver. Keep her in your thoughts, please.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Spoils of War

In honor of my new best friend that doesn't know I'm alive yet (cough cough ardsaleYay eenQuay), I ventured out to a community sale this morning, as I often do this time of year, and got some freaking fantastic stuff.

Since I am building myself a new office downstairs, I have been in the market for furniture, lamps, pictures, etc. I was able to find a few things off my list. One lady had 2 black torch lamps that became mine for a mere $4 apiece.

I then found a gorgeous black lamp with an exquisite shade. The lamp was HEAVY, and really well-made (it really does pay to yardsale in expensive neighborhoods). The shade alone was probably $40 - $50 bucks, and I estimated the lamp base was probably in the $30 - $40 neighborhood, as well.

The lamp was initially marked $20, which was a steal, but since I am NEVER above haggling, I offered a tenner. We settled on $15 and the lamp was mine. Booyah!

I plan to set up a coffee kitchen next to my new office, and I was very excited to see these Pfaltzgraf coffee cups for 25 cents each. Even at the Pfaltzgraf outlets, these cups usually run somewhere around $6 apiece (I have collected this pottery for years, and can spot it a mile away). The lady had NO IDEA what she had, nor chould she do math very well, because she accepted $1.50 for all seven.

I also got a large Ansel Adams black framed print of an evening sky (really nicely framed with glass) for 3 bucks, and that same lady had a pretty set of barware glasses for 50 cents each, along with a funky set of wine bottle candleholders (we plan to put a bar downstairs, too.) Score!

Last but not least, the children made out like bandits. The Boy used his money wisely and purchased a Darth Tater Mr. Potato Head for a mere buck (still in the box) and a HUGE box of new Crayolas with a sharpener for ANOTHER buck.

Sweet girl and her friend scored a couple of purses from their favorite preteen store, Limited Too. The little purses usually run about $20 at the store, and they got these for a buck a pop. The girls very soon understood the value of a good yardsale.

Last, but not least, I scored a Rubbermaid tote full of Lincoln Logs for the boy for 5 smackers. Outside of the black lamp, this might have been the deal of the day.

EToys has the Lincoln log sets anywhere from $25 - $75 each, and I figured that we have at LEAST 2 large sets in this tote, maybe 3.

Hell, the TOTE costs nearly 5 bucks, so that was a great buy.

You know, a few years ago, this became a bit of an obsession for me . . . yardsaleing and EBaying. Today, I remembered why.
What a rush.

Friday, April 20, 2007

There Goes My Hero


Check out my newest online hero. May I present: YardSale Queen

She's not JUST a yardsale queen. She's also a couponer, and a mom, and a thrift store shopper.

And she doesn't know it yet, but she is my new best friend.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Through the Looking Glass

Oh man, I love "Shear Genius".

Yep. I know what you are thinking. "Come on, ANOTHER reality show. Spare me your babble."

But this one is different. This one has hairstylists!

Very few people know this about me, but in my fantasy life, I AM a hairstylist. You know, that life you think you'd have if things had gone down a different path.

Yep, in my fantasy life, I am a kick-ass hairstylist, and I have my own shop, and a list of clients that let me do whatever I want to to their tresses.

And they all love me.

Fantasy Rita is also slightly younger. And thinner.


I do get to pretend I am a hairstylist a little bit. I mean, I cut my OWN hair. I have for years. I cut my husband's hair, and my kids' hair. I recently even cut my dog's hair. Hell, I'd cut YOUR hair, if you'd let me.

SO . . . Shear Genius lets me live vicariously through 12 kick ass hairstylists as they wrestle each other for the top spot. It's even hosted by Jacklyn Smith, the QUEEN of great hair.

(nicked from the site)

Shear Genius, airing Wednesdays on Bravo, is an eight-week competition with a Nexxus apprenticeship, an Allure magazine photo spread, and $100,000 in "seed money" at stake. The cast members include stylists from South Africa, France, the U.K., Australia (Tabatha) and throughout the United States.

THIS girl (Tabatha) is my favorite. She looks like she'd cut your hair AND beat your ass, to boot.

She's my choice to win, but honestly, they are all really good.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The "THE" Thing

I feel like I discovered the Rosetta Stone or something.

The other night, I was having dinner with my friend Judd, and explaining to him that I felt self-conscious when chatting with my west coast friends, because of certain Southern idioms, idiosyncracies, and just plain 'ol wierd things we Southerners interject into our coversation.

Most notably, the use of the word "the". Let me explain.

Very often, when I am not really concentrating, I will let fly with something like, "I have to go to the SuperTarget later."

For some reason, this elicited giggles from my non-Southern friends, or at the very least, polite questions. "Why do you call it 'the SuperTarget'?"

Up until now, I haven't had a good answer. "I just DO, I don't know, its a Southern thing."

BUT . . . . Friday night, as I sat at a festive table at a Mexican restaurant dining with my friend Judd, I was handed the golden light of wisdom.

"The use of "the" as an article when referring to a specific location," mused Judd, in between bites of sopapillo, "indicates the implied presence of the exact location of the store."

I sat there, blinking, not really comprehending. Nibbling on a chip, I urged him to continue to impart his wisdom, and he layed it out.

"Well, for instance . . . . saying 'the' Target implies that the other party would either know the location or ask you for more information. If you say you are going to THE Target, they will either nod knowingly, or ask "which one?" and you will respond "the Target on Oak Drive . . ." or whatever. We Southerners have incorporated this into our way of commuicating. Simple as that.

I shared this with Kirk this morning via IM, feeling sure that I had finally solved the riddle. He opined, "Maybe it's because when you get a store in your town in the South, it's a big deal, like THE Walmart, because there is only one." I agreed that this was just as reasonable an explanation as any. He went on to say, "Southerners (maybe he said hicks) are retarded, sorry."

Hmm. He might be right. Anyway, I gotta go to the Kroger and get something for lunch. Later, ya'll.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How To Drop $3 Large During 1 Week in Myrtle Beach, SC and NOT Have Even 1 Strip Club Experience Under Your Belt, Numero Tres

In the continuing saga of issuing reports from Central Accounting regarding the recent Spring Break Family Vacation, I'd like to revisit something I touched briefly upon in Part 1.

See . . . here's the part that no one tells you. Taking kids to the beach for vacation has VERY LITTLE to do with the actual beach.

You'd think that by the time you square away a nice place to stay on the beach and with pools in close proximity, you would have it made in the shade, right?

Oh, dear reader . . . you could not be MORE mistaken!

Here's the thing. Kids tire of sand in their crack pretty quick. The few that DON'T tire of it can't stay out on the beach all the time, cause they would fry like earthworms on a hot sidewalk.

So, the enterprising parent soon figures out that the vacation must be supplemented with extracurricular kiddie fun.

Enter the Family Fun Centers. In Myrtle Beach, this pretty much centers around a few core activities:

Putt Putt
The Putt Putt courses at Myrtle Beach are like none I have ever encountered. They are 1 part Vegas, 1 part Disney World, and 1 part Master's Tournament in Augusta. I fully expected to see people win green jackets at the end of these things. Here's a few pictures to detail the fantabulousness that makes these courses worth $40-$50 a game (for a family of 4):

When you tire of Putt Putt, there are a few other diversions to capture the hearts of your crumb snatchers (not to mention the extra few dollars in your wallet). This little ride was situated in an outdoor mall, along with a ferris wheel and a couple of other little rides. At $3 a ride per kid, well, these little tooth chippers probably paid the rent on the whole damn place, my guess.

One of the coolest things we stumbled across was a bowling alley situated inside a (once) fabulous (used to be) beachfront resort.

This place had at one time, evidently, been THE PLACE to be, until some moneygrubbing bastard sold the property adjacent to them for a stacked parking lot and turned their oceanview rooms into parkinglot view rooms.

But, you know, they turned lemons into lemonade.

The floor that got screwed by the parking deck? They just said "fuck it" and built one of the most awesome bowling alleys I have ever been in in my entire life.

This place was top notch, state of the art. The attendants typed in your names when you came in the door, and even coded the lanes so that the gutters would pop up ball guards when the kids were up to bowl.

The screens were animated with little cartoons that played after every bowler's turn to let you know how many pins you hit. Totally mechanized.

But to hell with ALL of that . . .the thing that turned this place from cool to awesome was the light up furniture and the nonstop Cosmic Bowling! Even the bar was bathed in cool, everchanging neon!

Totally worth $28 bucks a game for 4 (with shoes, which are sorta mandatory, I guess, it jumped to $36. We played twice.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Forgot to say . . .

Oh yeah, forgot to say . . . . Happy Belated Easter.

How To Drop $3 Large During 1 Week in Myrtle Beach, SC and NOT Have Even 1 Strip Club Experience Under Your Belt, Part Deux

In the interest of full disclosure to all of my readers who have yet to experience the pageantry and majesty of a "Family Vacation" with children, I feel compelled to lay it all out for you.
As I alluded to earlier, the most shocking part is how much it fucking COSTS to take your children away for a week of (mildly entertaining) fun.

Let's take it from the top, shall we?

Our luxe accomodations were worth every penny, let me just start by saying that.

My good buddy, Larry, who I met through EBay last year, hooked us up AGAIN with amazing beachfront condos.

Initially, we were to have a 3 bedroom condo in Myrtle Beach, but as it turns out, we were given 2 2-bedroom condos instead. Since grandparents tagged along for the trip, it was perfect! Both condos overlooked the pool, and were right next to each other. Grandparents got some peace and quiet in the evenings, and were close enough for the kids to run over and show off their seashells, etc.

This place had several indoor AND outdoor pools and hot tubs, a lazy river, game rooms that showed movies all day, all kinds of stuff. Our room had a HUGE jacuzzi tub, and the kid's room had a large bath, too. They even had a washer and dryer in the condo, so no one had to put on cold, wet bathing suits in the morning.

Situated right on the sand, this place even built a little boardwalk straight from the pool to the beach.

We booked with Larry a month before we left, so by the time we left for vacation, we had very nearly forgotten the sting from shelling out $900 for the reservation.

Believe it or not, $900 was a steal, because the condos regularly booked for $1600 apiece for a week.

I was thrilled with our places for $900. I would have stabbed someone in the leg if I had paid $3,200, though. Actually, that might explain the looks on the faces of a few of the other parents we saw down there. I'd be pissed off, too, if I had ponied up full money for this place.

Anyway . . . . it was nice, but for those of you keeping track, we were into it for $1G before we even left the house.
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