There Oughta Be a Law…or Not.

I’ve mentioned a number of times that the hubs and I disagree on many major issues – religion and politics being the top two.

Lately, he’s been using his Facebook feed to promote some of his beliefs, largely in the form of petition requests and YouTube clips.  Which is fine, of course.  It’s his feed, after all.  Plus, to be fair, it’s really presenting as more information-sharing, not inflammatory faux-news articles with no substance.  (We all have THAT Facebook friend, don’t we?  The one who we have to hide or unfollow during politics season because all that’s on his feed is a sewage-filled waterfall of grammatically and factually incorrect drivel?)

So the other night, the hubs posts this:

Now, before we get rolling too deeply here, please understand that I like holidays.  A lot.   Because that’s when all the good sales happen.  Let’s have a look at the calendar:

January:  Happy New Year!  Go buy yourself a winter coat, at 50% off.

February:  Presidents’ Day.  Honor the dead guys printed on money by pulling out your cash, waving it around, and exchanging it for new bed sheets!  Not to mention, it’s the week after National Being Single Sucks Day Valentine’s Day, so you can stock up on an eight-pound box of loneliness truffles to christen your linens.

(Side note:  When I die, y’all best formally designate the day as something to do with buying new shoes.  If you fail to honor my passing in this HIGHLY appropriate manner, I will TOTALLY come back and haunt your sorry @$$ by belching in your ear at completely random and inopportune times, like at funerals, during work meetings, and intimate moments with your boo.   So.  Kate + Death = National New Shoes Day.  Got it?)

March/April: EASTER!  Resurrect your wardrobe with a new dress!  And if you truly love Jesus, you’ll honor His sacrifice by buying your toddler an insanely expensive, elaborate frock, complete with ruffles and bows, which will be worn for exactly sixty-five minutes while she squirms incessantly, whines about it being itchy, spills Communion juice down the front of it, and promptly proceeds to outgrow it as soon as you exit the pews.  (Depressed about this?  No worries, the candy’s all on sale tomorrow.  Stock up on chocolate-covered therapy and gnaw the shiz outta those bunny ears.)

May:  Memorial Day!  Time to honor those who died while they served by grilling processed meat tubes in your new summer duds!  Never mind that they were all made in China.  (The clothes.  Not the hot dogs.  Although I make no guarantees if you bought your pseudo-food at Discount Dollar Dump.)

July:  Independence Day!  The US emancipated itself from Mom and Dad and celebrated by throwing a kicka$$ party and lighting things on fire.  (Come on, when YOU were sixteen, you’d have treated newfound freedom exactly the same way.)  Oddly, this seems to be the time of year for appliance and mattress sales.  While I could insert a few too-easy-and-tasteless jokes about fireworks and mattresses, I’m still scratching my head over appliances.  So I Googled, and found a few examples of why one might need something like a new microwave after the holiday:

September:  Labor Day.  We celebrate working Americans by kicking the kids off the Xbox and shipping them back to school – in new clothes, of course, as well as new backpacks and new shoes (And you know how THAT goes.  One for you, two for me….)

Christmas:  Ah…the season of greed and debauchery, where we all get sucked into the annual quagmire of buffets, potlucks, stilettos, and family obligations.  We cram an entire year’s worth of guilt and unmet expectations into this six-week period, eating and buying pretty much everything that isn’t Gorilla Glued to the floor.  The shopping season used to start on the day after Thanksgiving; now it pretty much starts on Thanksgiving Day and runs through January 2, at which point we start the year over again.

But we were talking about voting, not shopping.

I can certainly agree that not enough people exercise their right to vote.  A pathetic 57.5% of eligible voters showed up for our last big election in 2012.

And one might sit and wonder why.

And that same person might think, “Hey!  I’ll bet it’s because people are too busy.  So let’s give everyone the day off so more people vote!”

And this right here is a prime example of one of those things that SOUNDS simple…but once you look at execution, is WAY more complicated than you’d think.

First, declaring a “national holiday” only means that banks and the government will be closed. And your mail won’t be delivered.  (Which is super annoying, because you’ll invariably forget that there’s no mail that day, and check anyway.  Even though there’s never anything you really WANT in the mail.  Unless it’s your birthday or something, 99% of mail goes right in the recycle bin.  Yet, most of us are still looking in there every day, regardless, as if one day the Mail Genie will appear and grant us three winning entries to Publisher’s Clearing House.) 

Think about it…who stays open on holidays?  Well, there’s nursing homes and hospitals, of course.   Then you’ve got the service industries, like restaurants.  Don’t think for a moment that Taco Bell and Mickey D’s will lose a day of revenue over this – I mean, you gotta eat more than ya gotta vote.  Transportation will be running, as well.  Cab drivers will work. Buses will run (they HAVE to, or how will people GET to the polling station?)  Planes won’t be grounded, either.  They fly every day, Christmas and Thanksgiving included.  And, because everyone gets along so well when discussing the merits of their candidates, I sure hope the police station stays open, too.

And let’s ask ourselves something:  If you find yourself with a day off mid-week, how many of you are really going to spend it voting?  In the US, we get so few days off from work – with no mandatory leave whatsoever – will we be motivated to spend those precious, cherished free hours waiting in line to cast a vote for one of two blowhards we’re not terrifically enthused about?  Oh, and remember, because it’s a holiday, daycare’s closed, so you’ve got your kids in tow.  But don’t worry, everyone else’s sticky, rambunctious offspring will be there, too.  THAT can only end well.  <eyeroll>  I suspect, though, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, many of us will use the day to recharge – we’ll sleep in, get a pedicure, have a late lunch, and yes, go shopping – instead of “wasting” half of it at the polling station.

Another thing to remember:   just because a day is a holiday doesn’t mean anyone has to be paid for that day.  No employer is obligated to pay for hours not worked.  There are some limited exceptions, of course, like jury duty pay in some states, paid leave for bone marrow donation in Minnesota , and the many states and cities providing for paid sick leave.  (Note that this shiz is pretty much changing daily, so if you’re trying to find the current law for your location, Google it.) 

Now, let’s say that you work for an employer who DOES decide add this new holiday to the list of paid holidays.  Even if an employer added this as a paid holiday, most of their part-time workers wouldn’t be eligible, because part-time employees usually don’t get benefits. So you lose a day of pay if you’re a part-time person and your employer closes, generally.  And who’s working part-time hours?  Well, a lot of people:

OK, full disclosure:  I have no clue what this graph means.  But it looks rather patriotic, dontcha think?  Anyway, as an example, Wal-Mart has a ton of part-time employees who theoretically wouldn’t be eligible for holiday pay…but they’re also not likely to be closed on Election Day, either.  Heck, they were open on Thanksgiving Day last year.  I know because I went.  (Yes, I recognize that this makes me part of the problem.)  They had cops there at the ready to break up the anticipated brawls over crappy TVs, but sadly, it was a complete snoozefest.  I was sorely disappointed at the general civility and lack of WWE antics.  Come ON, America.  HAVE WE LOST ALL SENSE OF TRADITION?

Ah, well.

Another thing to consider here is that many states already have laws in place allowing time off to vote. Some states even require that you get paid time off to vote.  So what happens to those laws if the President declares a national holiday?  I imagine they won’t be officially repealed, but they certainly could be.  At the least, they’d be largely redundant.  And it might be cheaper for an employer to close – and pay no one for the day, because they don’t have to – than to try to stay open and schedule everyone around their voting activities.

With all that said, employees DO need to understand their rights around voting, and pursue remedies if they’re discouraged from doing so.  A lot was sacrificed to GIVE you this right, and the best way to honor those efforts is to cast your ballot.

Source:  Truthdig

But if we DO get a holiday out of the deal, I promise I won’t judge you for exercising your rights in your new Dr. Martens.     (Because I only judge Crocs.  But don’t let that keep you from voting.)

boots

These boots were made for votin’….

Have a great 4th, peeps! <insert fireworks and sparklers>

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A Jawful of Sweet Tooth

“Don’t you have a sweet tooth?”

This question was posed to me over dinner on Saturday.  I was at the in-laws with the hubs, and we were enjoying one of my mother-in-law’s delicious home-cooked meals.

Let me preface this a bit by explaining that when it came to in-law assignment, I hit the absolute jackpot.  Most in-laws, after all, are fodder for many a gripe, complaint, and vent. The very phrase “mother-in-law” is pretty much stand-alone comedy; no one has to actually SAY anything to quantify it, because, well….

Let’s try it:

Mother-in-law.

<group cringe>

Right?

After a lifetime of hearing horror stories from friends, relatives, and the internet, I know I am very blessed to be able to say that this is NOT the case with my mother-in-law.  The hubs is an only child, and when I married her son, she adopted me as her daughter.  And my kids get the same love, affection, and holiday presents as the blood grandchildren. On Mother’s Day, my mother-in-law actually sends ME a card – AND a gift.  (Which is kind of wrong.  But… I like presents.)

In addition to being an excellent cook, she’s also been gifted with the crafting gene.  She’s knitted me (and the kids, of course) many quality sweaters, hats, and scarves.  And to clarify, these are not your grandmother’s creations featured on the Goodwill rack of Ugly Christmas Sweaters.  These are things THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO WEAR IN PUBLIC.  Case in point:  A few months ago, I went to a local women’s art festival wearing a sweater and matching knit hat she had made me.  I received no fewer than a dozen unsolicited compliments on the set.  (And, incidentally, three phone numbers.  From women.  Hey, when ya got it, ya got it.  <strut strut> )  Seriously, though – is there a higher compliment in the knitting world than accolades from legit professional artists?

And she really, really outdoes herself at Christmas.  She doesn’t just include my kids – she incorporates them as equals.  When her grandsons were born, she made them each a very elaborate Christmas stocking.  I don’t speak craft-ese, but I believe they’re made from felt, cross-stitching,  wishes, and pixie dust.  Anyway, they are beautiful and look like they were a hella-tonna work.  And the Christmas after her son and I got engaged, there were two new stockings hanging on the deer antlers* over the fireplace for my little cherubs.

*Yes, they decorate the deer head.  Antlers are perfect for holding lights and stockings.  (And other things.)  Besides, the mantle was full of Christmas cards and the holiday letters that spell “LEON.”  They’re meant to say “NOEL,” but I visit too often for tradition to stand unblemished.  You’ve seen my Christmas tree angel.   And the manger scene?  Sometimes, if he’s really good, Baby Jesus gets a party hat or a stogie, or a visit from Batman, a giraffe, and some Disney celebs. 

(Side note:  I hope I didn’t offend anybody with that.  But I’m of the camp that thinks Jesus appreciates a good sense of humor.  I mean, platypus.  And how babies are made.  Followed by how they actually get OUT.  Come on, man, that’s stand up GOLD right there.)

(Side B note:  We just took down our Christmas tree earlier this week, after lighting it up one last time on April Fool’s Day.  Yeah…I’m THAT neighbor.)

Suffice it to say that meals at my mother-in-law’s house are the furthest thing from “everyday.”  When we’re up, she heartily takes on the challenge of feeding two carnivores, a very picky vegetarian, AND a gluten-free person.  She plans detailed menus AHEAD OF TIME.  She uses the oven AND the stove.  Not just in the same day, but FOR THE SAME MEAL.   And her meals have a main dish, several sides, fresh fruit, and a couple veggies.

And dessert.

There is always, always dessert.

Dessert is a treat, and since she’s a people-pleaser, she wants to ensure that everyone has a treat that they like.  You would imagine that having a homemade dessert present at EVERY lunch and dinner would be an amazing act of baking heroics.  But she knocks all expectation out of the park by offering two (or three!!!) homemade desserts.  It’s become standard operating procedure to have pumpkin pie, apple pie squares, AND chocolate pudding available.  Of course, there’s vanilla ice cream AND whipped cream.  And this doesn’t even count the two or three flavors of homemade cookies just sitting on the counter – because cookies aren’t dessert, silly, they’re a snack.

Oh, and guess what?  THAT ENTIRE FAMILY IS TALL AND THIN.  If they weren’t such sweethearts, I would really, really, hate this so hard I can’t even tell you.  But they’re all gazelles, willowy and lanky and lean as can be.  At their family get-togethers, I feel like the dumpy garden gnome who married into a clan of pink flamingos.

(WARNING:  I wanted to insert a picture here, but…. Let me just say you should NOT, for the love of all that is holy and good, Google image-search “gnome with pink flamingo.”  You canNOT unsee that.)

(You did it anyway, didn’t you.)

Having food issues can be tough:  you struggle with the dichotomy of wanting to be slender, but wanting, craving, NEEDING to eat the very foods that prevent you from getting there.  After years of alternating dieting/starvation with binges of Thanksgiving-meal proportions, you and the elusive concept of moderation are, as the Brits say, like chalk and cheese.  You’re just not coexisting in the same harmonious stew.

Now imagine marrying into a family where they serve you three full meals a day, with a small buffet of desserts at two of them, and in-between you’re surrounded by cookies and other snacks and (of course!) beer and wine, and EVERY PERSON IN THE ROOM EATS ALL THIS SCRUMPTIOUS, FATTENING FOOD AND NEVER GAINS A POUND.

Every person except you.

I’ve handled these meals much as you’d expect an OSFED eating-disordered person to handle them:  randomly and illogically.  My approach on any given visit is one or more of the following:

* I’ve eaten two big platefuls of food, followed by two desserts.  (Commonly known as the “F it” approach.)

* I’ve feigned a migraine and “slept” through dinner. (Avoidance.)

* I’ve eaten only vegetables and fruit for dinner. (Restriction.)

* I’ve eaten one small, sensible plate of mostly healthy food at the table, followed by an ENTIRE (!!) batch of chocolate chip cookies at 10PM when everyone else was asleep.  (Or peanut butter cookies.  Or snickerdoodles.  BECAUSE ALL OF THEM ARE AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME.)  (I believe this is called the “hot mess” method.)

* I’ve brought my bike and put in 15 miles on the road in the morning…and then polished off several servings of pie a la mode:  one slice at the table, one slice while pretending to clean the kitchen, and a third slice on the way home in the car while remembering I was SUPPOSED to be on a diet. (A permutation of “hot mess.”  There are several.)

But most of the time – at least in the last year or so – I don’t have dessert.  I’ve been learning that sugar is the gateway drug to a bigger binge; it flips my inner switch from “calm” to “anxious”, which has the domino effect of flinging my self-esteem into the virtual Port-o-Potty.  After all, as any dieter knows, once you’ve had dessert, you’ve FAILED, and further efforts at calorie regulation are moot.

And, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been on a roll with keeping my eating in check, and I’m seeing actual PROGRESS, reflected in a weight I haven’t seen since 2009 (and not since high school before THAT.)  So I don’t want to risk cracking the dam even a little bit, no matter how fabulous that ice cream cake looks.

(By the way?   It.  Was.  Beautiful. <sniff> )

So my mother-in-law hasn’t seen me eat dessert in awhile.  I typically munch on some fresh fruit while the rest of the family heartily digs in.

So last Saturday, as she’s spooning hot fudge sauce over the ice cream cake (half chocolate, half vanilla, just in case you have a preference) that I once again politely decline, she asks me the question:

“Don’t you have a sweet tooth?”

Do I have a sweet tooth?  Inside my head, an answer screams.

Yes.  As Godiva is my witness, dear Mother of Milkshakes, YESYESYESYES YES!  I want to rip the spatula out of your hand and shovel that delicious chocolatey goodness directly into my gaping pie hole.  I want to smother your home-baked cookies in both peanut butter AND that homemade fudge sauce and eat them until the snap from my jeans pops off at a velocity that takes out a window.  I want pancakes and cotton candy and deep-fried Oreos and doughnuts, all frosted with buttercream frosting and topped with coconut.

But I can’t.

I can’t have any of this, because my self-worth is tied up with my self-control.  Because every time I use the washroom, I look up at the mirror and judge my thighs.  Because no matter how good I feel about myself today, the scale will be there in the morning, just like she is EVERY morning, tapping her foot and waiting to issue me a failing grade.  And even on that rare day when even she can’t find anything negative to say, there’s always a store window or glass door to reflect my current valuation back at me.”

Sigh.

I don’t say any of this, of course.

I quietly shake my head and help myself to some watermelon (45 calories a cup.)   I bite my tongue, paste a serene smile on my face, and silence my wistful soul.

I pretend to be satisfied.

I pretend to be happy.

 

 

(Cover image source)

 

 

The Caucus Circus

By the time you read this, Super Tuesday will be a thing of the past.  But, since this was my first time participating in an election that wasn’t directly for the next President, I thought I’d share some first-timer experience.

Yes, that’s correct.  I am…um…old enough to have participated in many elections, and have never before exercised my right to check boxes in a primary, caucus, or any other non-general election.

Now, before you go flogging me with the judgement whip – let me explain.

First, I’ve only lived in this state for about 10 years.  In my prior state, I wasn’t ALLOWED to vote in the primaries, because I’m not affiliated with any political party.  I spent most of my adult life in a state that shut out those of us not willing to provide external support to one of the two major players in this twisted, broken game we call “politics.”

And why don’t I align myself with a party?  Because parties are supposed to be fun, with friends, dancing, music, and great munchies.  They’re NOT supposed to be some twisted version of Satan’s Zoo, where all the monkeys hoot and snort around their territory while flinging virtual dung at each other.  We innocent observers stand at what we hope is a safe distance – we know the whole thing stinks, yet we’re unwilling to intervene because we might end up getting a steaming, grain-laden fecal pie right in the kisser.

So yeah, if THAT is what political “parties” are like, I think I’ll be a hermit and sit at home on the couch, eating popcorn and NOT dodging poo and NOT affiliating with either group of classless Neanderthals.

I suppose I have that in common with our esteemed former Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura.  (My dad and my brother were totally into WWE, back when it was WWF – we watched as religiously as we went to Mass – and I didn’t live here when he was Governor, so he’ll always be Jesse “The Body” to me.)

That, and these impressive guns:

Jesse

Jesse The Body’s guns (image from pro-wrestlers.com)

gunsofsteel

My Guns of Steel, yo.

It’s like we’re twins.

Anyway, he’s a bit more…well, you can view his thoughts on the whole mess here, if you’re curious.   But suffice it to say I’m not the biggest fan of the whole political machine, either.  Normally, I happily stick my head in the sand and ignore it all until it comes time to vote for President, at which time I try to pick the least unpalatable option.

This is no easy feat.  It’s much like choosing which poison to drink.  Death by suffocation or severe intestinal distress? 

This year, though, was a little bit different.  While I haven’t yet decided which of the current frontrunners is least likely to force me to flee to a deserted island*, I did know that there was at least one candidate I wanted to push out of the running.

*I used to say “move to Canada” – but that shiz is FREAKIN COLD YO.  So no.

When I first heard that Trump was running for President, I (and, I suspect, much of America) was amused.  Initially, it wasn’t a terrible thing, really.  Since he’s a personality of pop culture, he got a lot of people paying attention to politics that couldn’t be bothered with it all in the past.  Let’s face it, if you’re of the can’t-miss-The-Bachelor, Kardashians-are-fascinating** set, there isn’t much in American politics that likely interests you.

**For the record, I don’t care about either of those, OR politics, because boring.

But once the “You’re Fired” guy runs for office?  THINGS JUST GOT INTERESTING.

Trump is unabashedly and decidedly different. He’s not your mother’s politician.  He’s bold, he’s brash, and he’s saying a lot of things that a lot of people want to hear.  He made politics entertaining, which made it interesting to those of us who’d rather do yard work or go to the dentist than follow politics.

But we all knew that this was just a role he was playing.  Right?   The man’s not a politician.  HE’S A  FREAKING CARICATURE. He’s only making a statement. He can’t REALLY want to be President.  Eventually, he’ll do the right thing and bow out.

Right?

RIGHT?

?????!!!!!!?!?!?!?!! @#($*@#($@

COME ON, AMERICA.  What in the exact hell is happening here?  You DO realize that this walking satire might ACTUALLY have a shot at leading the nation in a few short months?

<insert collective “oh shi@($@#$” moment>

And you know what else totally puzzles me?  Trump has a HUGE following…but I have yet to meet a person that admits publicly that they’re voting for this clown. He’s like the most popular politician that NO ONE will admit they support.

ZOMG.  TRUMP IS THE WAL-MART OF POLITICS.

(You know how THAT is, right?  When you’re mingling in your social circle, everyone is singing the praises of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and how they only buy free range quinoa and antibiotic-free tofu and would NEVER EVER support Evil Corporate Giants and their dirty High Fructose Corn Syrup profits.  But if you peeked into their pantries, I suspect the contents would Equate to their Great Values coming from you-know-where.  It’s the biggest retail company that NOBODY SHOPS AT.  Mysterious.) <cough>

Anyway.  As an Independent in this state, I can participate in either party’s caucus, as long as I agree to only participate in one or the other.  I also have to have voted for that party at least once before, and generally agree with stuff they support.  (I assume if you don’t really care about either party, that counts.  School of Close Enough gave me a C.)  So I thought it might be a good time to use my one small voice at the state caucus to vote thusly:

Team Not Trump

Image:  Imgur

So off to the Republican caucus I went, to cast my vote for Not Trump.

The process started at 7.  I showed up at 6:30 so I could sign in and figure out what I was supposed to actually DO.  And I’m glad I did, because the place was a flippin’ madhouse.  (You’d think Prince came home to visit or something.)  I wedged my truck into a questionable half-space between another car and a lamppost, and headed inside.

By this time, it was 6:42, and from the end of the rather formidable line, I heard “we’re out of forms already.”  Even though this state has the highest voter turnout, they simply weren’t prepared for the flood of people wanting to have a say this early in the process.

Eventually, we all got directed to different rooms, separated by “precinct.”  (My precinct was green on the map.  Thus begins and ends my knowledge of precincts. ???)

Once I found my room (since I’m still in my work heels, OF COURSE it was the furthest one from the door) we all had to sign in.  They wanted my name, address, phone number, and email address.  They got my name, my signature, my address, and a dirty look.  (When you’re an independent, EVERYONE wants a piece of you come election time.  Why make it easy?  COME FIND ME BRO.)

There was one more spot on the form to complete….I was asked to “initial this box if you’re voting in the next election.”

I took a look at the box the volunteer was pointing to.  It said, “Voting GOP Next Election?”

Waitwaitwait.

“I only initial this if I’m voting Republican, then – not if I’m just planning to vote, right?”

The volunteer confirmed this.  “Right.  Are you voting Republican for our next President?”

What I wanted to say:  Well, that depends.  BUT CERTAINLY AND MOST DEFINITIVELY NOT IF YOU CLOWNS PICK TRUMP.

What I actually said:  “I’m…still undecided.”

He then gave me a name tag with my first name printed on it.  I stuck it on and watched a few others sign in.  Turns out that if you ARE voting GOP in the fall, you get a red dot on your name tag.

 

Red Color Coding Dot Labels 3/4&quot; Round .75 Diameter Inventory Code Stickers - 500 Per Roll

Image:  Amazon

Out of fifty or so caucus attendees in my little room, guess how many weren’t marked with a red dot?

C’mon.  Guess.

I remember scanning the room, my eyes locating red dot after red dot, one affixed to every. single. name tag on every. single. person.  Every last ever-loving one of ’em was claiming to vote Republican, no matter what.

Except moi.

That was a solo I wasn’t planning on singing.  But I grabbed the mike and ran with it.  The Scarlet Lemming, I ain’t.

(But seriously.  Really?  REALLY??!?? Even if it’s TRUMP?  I judge you, Red Dot Society.  I.  JUDGE.  YOU.)

Hell toupee:

Now it was time to get down to business.

We opened up with the Pledge of Allegiance (a nice touch, although someone needs to remind people to take their hats off.  Do they not teach this in schools anymore?)

Next, after “electing” the emcee  (who probably has a more official title that I can’t recall), a secretary, and two vote counters, the leader emcee dude read a statement from each of the candidates “in the running.”  YAWN.  No surprises there.  I’m sure your mothers all think you’re as fabulous as you say you are.  I’ll admit it was really difficult to refrain from playing a few rounds of Candy Crush focus on these little love letters.  I give myself C+ for the effort (and beat two more levels. GO ME)

Finally, it was time to vote.  Paper ballots (ah, good ol’ 1890’s technology!) were handed out, marked, and collected.

Then, because it was nearly 8 PM and I was hungry, I left.  (Which is totally OK – you can stay and listen as some boring politics stuff gets discussed, or you can go home and eat a turkey burger.  In my house, the burger ALWAYS wins. #teamhungry)

On the way out (and there were STILL people coming in!) I overheard a few of the volunteers commenting on the turnout.  Last go-round, they thought they had MAYBE fifty or sixty voters for the caucus at this location.  This year, there were over fifty in my precinct alone – close to a thousand total crammed into the local high school to have their say that night.

And this was consistent across the entire state.

Kind of warms my heart that so many people showed up. Because showing up means they still CARE.

My state hasn’t given up.  Not yet.

Ironically, one of Trump’s claims is that “I really unify and bring people together.  And, I suppose on Tuesday in Minnesota, he did just that. Attendance at the Republican caucus was 75% higher than it was in 2008.  People unified and turned out in droves to join their voices together and make sure they were heard.

And they didn’t pick Trump.  Neither did the Democrats pick Clinton:

MNCaucus

Image: politico.com

THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN.

Trump?  You’re fired.

<mic drop>

Electric Mess (aka Safety Professionals Gone Wild)

So I mentioned in my last post that I was in Orlando last week at a safety conference.

Normally, these things are a royal snoozefest – hour upon hour of lectures surrounding the intricacies of 29 CFR, Part 1910 of OSHA.

Two days to cover updates, changes, and best practices of over 800 pages of Workplace Safety is just about as exciting as it sounds.  The most interesting part is often the various methodologies the participants exercise in order to stay awake.  Gone are the days of propping your eyelids open with toothpicks (1910.1030, Bloodborne Pathogens) or affixing them to your forehead with tape (1910.1200, Appendix A,  A.2 and A.3 Skin/Eye Irritation.)  Nowadays, we’re limited to the safer methods of caffeine overdose, smartphone distraction, and frequent shifting of position.

In other words, we’re a group of hyper-caffeinated, mentally under-stimulated, fidgety students.  Not a great combination.  And often, you follow this with a “networking event” in the evening.  There’s typically great food AND an open bar (an act of mercy, given the day’s mind-numbing subject matter.)  But by this time…

Well, it’s kind of like electricity.  Let’s science a minute:

Here in the US, the standard power for your basic outlet is 110 volts.  (And our outlets look like a slightly horrified cartoon character):

outlet

Mine has bags under his eyes from the power saw.  Ironically, this one is powering the coffee maker.

In Europe, the outlets are 220v, not 110v.  Plus, they LOOK different.  (You can see some examples here.)  This should eliminate the possibility of ramming the plug of your $250 110v ionic hair dryer’s plug into a 220v outlet and subsequently turning its insides into a molten burnt-plastic omelet.  If you live in the US, and want to use your hair dryer* in Europe, you need a special pluggy-in thingy in order to get it to work.

*Side note:  Hair dryers have gotten WAY more complicated since the days of Sun-In and Aqua Net.  In addition to coming with a dental kit’s worth of attachments and add-ons, they NOW have technology that breaks down water molecules in order to have them evaporate from your hair faster.  What the what?  I kid you not – read it here.  Although I must add that I take serious issue with the concept of being able to purchase such a finely calibrated instrument DIRECTLY OFF THE SHELF, without ID or ANYTHING (I mean, you have to flash a license to buy freaking COLD MEDICINE, yo) yet UL still feels compelled to attach a tag warning the user not to use it in the bathtub. 

Anyway.  Simple math tells us that 220 > 110. Right?

Where am I going with this?  Well, your roomful of safety professionals normally runs around 110v.  But confining them in a conference room all day with coffee as the only entertainment, and then releasing them to a night of free booze is essentially plugging them into the 220v without an adapter.  There’s a lot of horrific noise and smoke as the internal motors buzz, snap, and hiss.  They start out the evening looking less like the US outlets, and more like the Danish one.  Wheeeeeee!!!!!

But fast forward to the next morning at 8 AM and you’d swear you were witnessing a zombie invasion, except no one is interested in anything but more coffee.  And possibly bacon.  And we’re all looking sorta like this:

I will confess, unofficially, that I did not emerge unscathed.  I came home with five (!!) extra pounds**, and I’m told there’s a video somewhere of me doing a mean Carrie Underwood at the karaoke bar.

I expected the bulk of the conference to be a sobering contrast to “networking.”  This week’s conference, however, was decidedly different.  And it kicked me right in the feels.  I’m trying to capture the impact that it, and the events of the weekend, had on me, and I’m not quite there yet.  But I’ll get to that on my next post.


**Speaking of weight – which I know I haven’t done in awhile – let’s talk about conference food for a minute here.  I find it more than slightly ironic that you spend all day learning about safety, but as soon as you’re not in session, you’re encouraged to pursue obesity, alcoholism, or both.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s the menu:

Breakfast – Trays upon trays of scrambled eggs -with cheese, obviously.  Bacon and fried potatoes.  Muffins the size of softballs.  (Thankfully, there was fresh fruit, too, and lots of it.  Apparently you couldn’t really see it behind Mount Bakemore.)

Lunch – A buffet that included chicken AND steak AND chili.  Creamy pasta salad on the side, as well as fried potatoes (wedges, not shredded this time.)  AND THREE DIFFERENT GIANT LAYER CAKES.  Oh, and a bowl of lettuce and tomatoes that I’m calling “salad.”

Snack – Yes, at 2:30, just two hours AFTER lunch, we got fed AGAIN.  But it wasn’t just snacks – it was food with a THEME:  Movie Concessions.  Huge soft pretzels – with frosting or mustard.  Buttered popcorn and giant movie-theater boxes to eat it from.  Those ginormous movie-sized boxes of candy – Junior Mints, Swedish Fish, Sno-caps, M&Ms. And six different kinds of soda.  I know it sounds excessive, but dinner was nearly four hours away, man….

Dinner was at Universal Studios and after the 2nd glass of wine I lost track of the food.  But here’s my best, albeit blurry, recollection:  Jerk chicken skewers, muffuletta sandwiches, crispy jerk wings, cheese fondue fountain with veggie and cracker dippers, beef sliders, burger sliders, jambalaya, and a giant table (OK, it was pretty much a small stage) of cookies.  Oh, and an ice cream cart.  And an open bar (I may have mentioned that….)

Surprisingly, I really didn’t eat that much at the conference.  I stuck to chicken, veggies, and fruit.  (Bravo.  Go me.)  Except then I got to the airport to go home, and was attempting to decompress from the conference and some other bad news (more on that in my next post) and I completely fell off the rails, inhaling a burrito bowl with all the fixings and, once I got home, an entire bag of popcorn and a giant Concrete Mixer from Culver’s.

And THAT’S where the five pounds came from.  Comfort eating in the form of bad airport food and wine.

Emotional week or no, it’s back to the drawing board.

Sigh.

 

 

The Twists, Turns, and Trials of Travel

So I haven’t been here in a while.  Didja miss me at all?

I’ve been on the road a lot these last few weeks – and travel seriously crimps your writing time.

You’d think that all that time on planes and in airports would give you MORE time to write, wouldn’t you?  But, as luck would have it, I’ve spent the bulk of my layover time in the ONE international airport too cheap to spring for Wi-Fi. (Chicago, I’m glaring at YOU.  And yes, I’ve ranted about this airport before.  ORD is the airport where flights go to…well, NOT go.  I’m told that “O’Hare” is actually old Irish brogue for “F@#&, the plane is late.”  OK, I totally made that up, but no one who has spent more than ten minutes in this Midwestern airport hell will quibble with you for actual facts.  )

And the time you DO have in the airport is eaten up by one or more of the following:

  • Locating an acceptable restroom. (After bypassing several that are closed for either cleaning or repair, you change your standards from “clean” to “there.”  After three hours of entrapment in a flying sardine can, where you did your due diligence in staying hydrated, you’re desperate to make a hefty deposit in the First National Bank of Flushing, and you don’t even care that there’s a skirtless man on the door, it’s an opportunity you are NOT missing.)
  • Running from gate A6 to ZZ127. (By the way?  Airport-induced asthma is totally a thing.  You think you’re in shape running 3 miles four times a week, but that simply doesn’t prepare you for the 2500-meter dash between the aforementioned gates with 40 pounds of carry-on crapola and ten minutes until the plane door slams shut.  Keeping it exciting, United.  Keeping.  It.  Exciting.)
  • Foraging for sustenance.  It’s always a bit of an airport scavenger hunt to identify a snack that has some semblance of nutritional value AND costs less than a year’s college tuition at a reputable liberal arts school.
  • Tracking down your bags.  Like trivia games?  Good at geography?  Let’s play Guess Where My Bag Went and try to find THAT airport on a map. My bags have approximately 52% more Frequent Flier miles than I do.  That’s why they look like they’ve been rode hard and put away wet:
bag

Like the duct-tape custom mod? Goes well with the broken zippers and cat hair.

(And yes, I COULD travel with carry-on luggage only.  And I often do.  But that leaves very little room for the important things in life – namely, shoes.  So if we’re gonna look good, we check a bag.)

Suffice it to say that if you travel frequently, you quickly learn to expect the unexpected.  This past month has been no exception.  I’m convinced that Murphy’s Law originated at an airport, and have come to believe that departing on time, having a smooth flight, and arriving on time can only result after a series of coincidences, magic tricks, and small miracles.

And, true to THAT theme, a couple of my recent trips have been a little rough.

Sucktacular Trip #1:  Snow Delay.  Now, to be fair, it’s winter, and because of where I live (Great Frozen Tundra) and where I fly (Snow Belt, USA), that’s just gonna be a factor I gotta roll with.  But when your flight gets cancelled on Sunday, you do NOT want to hear “we may be able to get you on a flight by Tuesday…Wednesday for SURE.”

Wednesday? Oh HELL no.

Given the bleakness of THAT option (and the expense – the airlines offer no assistance when delays are due to weather), I confirmed a flight the following day at a “nearby” airport, crashed at a local hotel, and hoped for better luck in the morning.

Ten hours (and a foot of snow) later, after digging out the indeterminate mound I was pretty sure was my rental car, I was back on the road, headed 90+ miles north on I-90, which, by the way, was voted “Most Likely to Whiteout” by the class of 1957 .  And yes, it was STILL absolutely hemorrhaging snow.  The wipers on my “premium” vehicle were…slightly ineffective:

wipers

Just a schmear.

My travels often take me through Western NY, so fortunately, although I couldn’t SEE the road, I had a really good idea where I was going, despite the unplanned detour.

What’s there?  Pretty much nothing, actually.  This is where the Seneca Nation of Indians is located, so, as you’d expect, you’ll find casinos, bars, discounted fuel, and cheap tobacco products.  There are several wineries, too – miles and miles of grape vines line the highway between bulletin boards advertising the local specialties:

thistall

You must be THIS TALL to smoke this stogie.

Sucktacular Trip #2:  I’m back in Western NY two weeks later (because I’m a hella slow learner, I guess.)  But despite the time of year, it’s highly unlikely that snow will derail my return trip this time, because they were having a heat wave and it was freaking SIXTY degrees there.  In January.  (This is a likely sign of the apocalypse, or zombie cockroach invasion, or both.  Hoard water and Twinkies and don’t say I didn’t warn ya.)

So…what could go wrong?

How about the plane being 45 minutes late when you have a 28-minute connection?

Nah.  That’s amateur hour.

How about instead, when the plane DOES arrive 45 minutes late, you give it a flat tire?

<sigh>

So, yeah, bonus night in Buffalo.  AGAIN.

This time, at least, since it was a mechanical issue, the airline paid for my hotel stay AND they gave me $20 in food vouchers – $10 for dinner and $10 for breakfast the next day.

Which sounds good.  But…The hotel?  I kept my shoes on.  Let’s just leave it at that.  And, in case you’re wondering, here’s an example of the gourmet cuisine a $10 airport voucher will get you.  (All those years of watching The Price is Right have paid off – I rang in at $9.92 with the following):

10meal

Filling, eh?

As of late, though, it seems that the tides have turned.  Last weekend, I completed a trip in and out of Cleveland – not only was it on time, but on the way back, I got a free upgrade to first class.  Which meant I had all the red wine I could drink.  I quickly crowned myself Queen of the Cheap Dates, because I had two glasses – TWO! – and barely found my way to baggage claim.  (We’ll call this a happy ending because I managed to pour myself into the right car when the hubs came to pick me up.  All I remember is giggling at a couple wearing cowboy hats. And while I have three blurry pictures of what appear to be part of my finger and my right foot, I have no photographic evidence of the aforementioned cowboy couple.  Bummer.)

And this week, I’m at a big honkin’ HR party worker’s comp conference in Orlando.  So far, so good:  My plane actually arrived EARLY, and I gotta say, palm trees do not suck. (It took me less than ten minutes to officially OD on All Things Disney – but it’s warm, so I’ll cope.)

So here are some of the sights so far (that I got to experience WITHOUT A PARKA, yo):

The view from my hotel room:

hotel view

This is also definitively not terrible.

My new friend.  (I named him Skeeter Eater.  I needed some extra security what with Zika running rampant and all….)

geckofriend

Aw…totes adorbs!

The happiest sign on earth…?

happiestsignonearth

This feels a little too much like the airport bathroom situation….

Makes you wanna dive headfirst into the E.Coli cesspool, doesn’t it?

A Lego Loch Ness Monster.  Maybe he’s there to enforce the Rules of the Water Feature.  I mean, just LOOK at how menacing this is.

legodragon

Ferocious. Like, rowr.

One million Legos you will NEVER step on.

Cool, but I just do NOT have the patience.  On the plus side, that’s about a million Legos you and I will never step on at 3 AM.

And a random interesting tree.  I could sit under here with a good book for hours:

cooltreeSo, after an afternoon of relaxation (and a vegan, gluten-free cupcake!) I’m all set for this conference tomorrow.  While things are calm and peaceful now, there’s ample opportunity for a good ol’ fashioned plot twist before my plane lands back on the Great Frozen Tundra on Friday night:

Will Kate humiliate herself in a drunken blunder and get lost on the way to her 20th-floor hotel room?  Will someone spot her in the hotel gym at 5:30 AM without <gasp> makeup?  Will she be able to find a decent cup of coffee before 8:00 AM roll call?  Will her return flight be diverted to Detroilet, trapping her for entire weekend in a slurry of missed flights and disappointing gastric experiences?

Probably.  🙂

Stay tuned for more mishaps and adventures….

Stressing About…Stuff. Part II of II

In my last post, I pretty much threw my ex under the proverbial clutter bus and mocked his collection of endless lotion, empty plastic containers, and pianos.

But if I’m being completely honest with myself, I’m not immune to the desire to hang on to stuff I don’t need, either.

Case in point:  Shoes.

Last weekend, I was traveling (again) and my flight was booked through Erie, PA.  My return flight was cancelled when the sky started hemorrhaging snow.

(Yeah, I know better than to book through Erie during winter.  And for the unschooled, “winter” in Erie runs from October through April – if spring comes early.  But I was suckered in by a less expensive fare – can’t pass up a bargain, ya know.  Sigh.  Some bargain when you have an extra hotel night and a bonus day of car rental.)

So I got rebooked the next day, leaving me away from home for an extra 24 hours.  And how did I kill time?  Guess.

airportshoes

OK, so before you judge me, know that I was REPLACING my “airport shoes” – the shoes that are comfortable enough to get me from gate A2 to Z164 with an 11-minute layover, are easy to slip off for security, and work with both jeans AND yoga pants (because travel is sooooo glam.)  On my last trip, I noticed that my current pair was making parts of my feet fall asleep the longer I wore them,  so I NEEDED new ones. It’s a health thing.  And COME ON, MAN!  Not only were they 50% off the CLEARANCE price, they SPARKLE!  My feet are WORTH $24 glitter pillows. (Thank you, DSW, for feeding my addiction in an economically responsible way. Happiness at $12 a foot.)

And yet…I’ve been home since Monday night, and I haven’t quite moved the trusty black clogs to the donation pile yet.  I’m not sure why, exactly.  Blue sparkle SHOULD go with everything, but I’m holding back on the slim chance that flat black might be a better option at some point.  If I ever have to attend a funeral in the middle of an airport, I suppose I’m set.

And then there’s this shirt.  I got it as a thin layer to wear under sweaters and stuff, because it was ONLY $8 at Aeropostle Outlet.  But the last time I put it on, I noticed this:

justfleshwound

Just a flesh wound…

The suspected culprit:

notguilty

Nothing about THAT face says “guilty.”

Anyway, the point here is that it was only $8, I’ve worn it a kajillion times, AND thanks to the aforementioned Kohl’s addiction, I have an entire drawer full of Cuddl Duds that I bought SPECIFICALLY FOR THE SAME PURPOSE.

But…this is the only one with THIS pattern, ya know?  The OTHER black-and-white one has flowers, so it’s TOTALLY DIFFERENT. And maybe I could sew it back up.  You wouldn’t see the hole because it’d be under a sweater….

IT’S A RAG.

YET I WON’T THROW IT AWAY.

Sigh.

This behavior’s got to be at least partially hereditary.  My ex clearly gets his from his parents; there’s certainly a family resemblance in the way they cram their closets.  In my case, my guilty relative was my dad’s mom.

To be fair, Grandma was a Child of the Depression – so she learned to use up and reuse.  However, her spouse did quite well for himself with some Ford stock back in the day, and she clung to those behaviors long after she was more than “financially comfortable.”

When she passed, she left a four-bedroom house chock full of “treasures” that needed to be sorted.  And we had to actually look through everything, too, because Grandma left the plot twist of hiding cash in random locations.  I had her bedroom dresser for YEARS before I discovered a $5 bill from 1963 tucked under the shelf paper.  Oh, and remember those squeeze coin purses that banks used to give out?

squeeze coin purse:

Photo from eBay

In one of those, we found one of these:

Indian head gold coin $5:

That sucker’s about the size of a nickel, and was worth about – wait for it – $400 at the time.

FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS.  Dayum.  So yeah, we looked through EVERYTHING.

Of course, we ended up pitching a lot of stuff.  The canned food in the basement, now a furry gray, was a culinary adventure none of us were willing to take.  And there was an entire bedroom of her house filled with just two things: shopping bags and clothespins.

Yes, clothespins.

THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF THEM.

clothespins:

Much like the rest of us, Grandma didn’t just hang on to the old things.  She liked new stuff too.  Especially shoes.  I clearly inherited my love of shoes from Grandma.  She was on a life quest for the Perfect White Sandal – one with a chunky 1″ heel and straps that didn’t pinch her little toe.  (Nowadays, you’d just have that inconvenient appendage cut off.)  Unfortunately, she never found them – by the time she passed, she had well over one hundred pairs of sandals in near-mint condition.  More unfortunately, Grandma wore a size 5 1/2, which I probably haven’t worn since I WAS 5 1/2, so sadly, they all had to be donated.

Grandpa passed away a few years before I was born, leaving Grandma fairly well-off.  She spent much of her time traveling the globe, bringing back dolls and spoons from every country she visited.

Why dolls and spoons?  I HAVE NO IDEA.

But she clearly loved them.  She had several spoon racks lining the walls, and boxes and boxes of dolls.  A little girl’s dream, right?  Well, not exactly.  See, these dolls weren’t toys – they were collector’s items.  And therefore, each doll was required to remain sealed in its individual hyperbolic chamber, feet firmly affixed to the plastic base.

We didn’t care.  My sister and I played with them anyway.  While they were still in the cases.  Hey, we didn’t have cable then; you had to use your IMAGINATION.  Our star-crossed lovers could never actually kiss, or hold hands.  <raises wrist to forehead> Tragic.  But they were each encased in these cool little pods that we pretended were flying transportation devices, like on The Jetsons.

The Jetsons!:

Photo from Places of Fancy

While the collector’s items* were to be handled with care, ironically, we were allowed to play with these fellas as much and as hard as we wanted.

antique metal soldier toys:

(Well, except chucking them down the dumbwaiter.  That was only allowed to happen once.)  Of course, these dudes have some actual street value now.  Ah well.

Anyway.  It’s clear that Grandma didn’t NEED all this stuff. She didn’t NEED to keep grocery bags and ill-fitting shoes; she could afford multiple globe-spannning trips and fancy-schmancy look-but-don’t-touch dolls* each year.

*Clearly, still somewhat bitter. 

But she kept all that clutter anyway.

Most of us do.

And, you know what?  Once in a while, something you’ve saved actually comes in handy.  Witness this latest conversation I had over text with my daughter while she was at her dad’s:

DDConvo1

DDConvo2

Management dad = management FAD.  My phone hates me, remember?

Seriously, didn’t EVERYONE get one of these at one time or another?  Along with Good to Great and The Seven Highly Annoying Habits or Whatever?

stupedmgmtbook

I knew I’d find this quickly at a used bookshop…but since I’m cheap, and want to save my dinero for important things, like shoes – and I was CERTAIN her dad MUST have a copy, because he has a ton of crap, and like I said, EVERYONE had one of these – I decided to do this:

dsconvo1

dsconvo2

dsconvo3

(It’s cool.  We flip each other the bird as tokens of affection.  We’re classy like that.)

So, as much as I’ve complained about my ex’s clutter, it did come in handy today.

And, from my grandmother’s house?  Well, my folks kept some of the pricier collectibles, of course.  (Which didn’t include any of the dolls.  GO FIGURE.)  And deep in my grandmother’s closet, I discovered three shoe boxes filled with…

Go on, guess.

Travel soap.

Yep.  Three boxes of those little tiny bars of soap.  This one from an Alaskan cruise, that one from a hotel in Australia, one from each country in Europe.

My mom was going to throw it away – let’s face it, soap is cheap, and those doll-sized bars are stupid annoying.

But I decided to take the soap.  And you know what?  I USED the soap.  For nearly three years, I dipped into the box to unwrap another memory with every bar.  Ivory from Germany. Dial from Alaska.  Irish Spring from Australia.

Generally, I think we could all use with a little less clutter in our lives, and a more diligent tossing of things we don’t need to cling to.  It makes you feel lighter, somehow, to come home to an uncluttered entryway and a well-organized coat closet.  It’s refreshing, relaxing…and helps us stay focused on what’s truly important instead of staying mired in things that weigh us down.

But sometimes, it’s good for the soul to relive a fond memory – perhaps one that you’d have forgotten if not for the ancient shopping bag with the long-gone local-five-and-dime logo printed on the front.

I couldn’t fill Grandma’s shoes, but I used every scrap of soap she saved. I used it up, reviving each memory one more time, and then I threw the wrapper away.  At that point, the soap was just soap – it did exactly what it was intended to do, and gradually washed away.

I think Grandma would have been OK with that.

 

Stressing About…Stuff. Part I of II

Today’s post was inspired by Fatty McCupcakes’s recent article on Shopper Lottie: When You Are An Expensive Taste Cheapskate.

Katie is brilliantly funny, and the article’s a quick read.  (So go read it now.  I’ll wait.)  She got me thinking about…well, stuff.  Things.  Clutter.  The junk in our trunks, closets, and attics.

Whether we admit it or not, we’re largely a species of collectors, aren’t we?

The bottom line is, we like stuff.  Specifically, we like new stuff and we like more stuff.  Katie mentioned the irresistible draw of the Bath & Body Works sales – no matter how much lotion you have, it never hurts to buy MORE, especially when it’s 3/$5.   Right?  RIGHT?!?!  Walking away is basically like leaving cash on the ground here, people!

While I don’t stock up on lotion (I’ll tell you why in a bit*), I will confess that I cannot resist the siren song of…Kohl’s Cash.  Or, as it SHOULD be called, Kohl’s Crack.

Here’s how this malicious marketing method sucks you in:

First, you should know that everything at Kohl’s is always going to be on sale at some point.  And by “at some point,” I mean “on the day of the week ending in Y.”  Next, coupons.  Roughly 100% of the time there’s a coupon somewhere for at least 15% off – in either a mailing, online, or via the store’s app.  (Pro tip:  Get your spouse, your kid, and/or your cat on their mailing list, too.  Come coupon time, odds are good that at least one will be for 20% off, and more than half the time you’ll score the Golden Ticket of 30% off. BOOYAH.)

Golden Ticket 1971 movie:

In the famous words of Billy Mays, “BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!” Periodically (read: pretty much every other week), when you hit the register, AFTER you get your sale price and AFTER your coupon is applied, you get…Kohl’s Cash.  For every $50 you’ve spent, they give you a voucher for $10…to use like cash, starting NEXT WEEK.

So next week you come back, scouting sale prices, your 20% off coupon AND your Kohl’s Cash in tow, because you can’t just leave $10 worth of Kohl’s merchandise IN THE STORE, right?  That’s $10 of FREE STUFF you are GIVING AWAY TO THE EVIL CORPORATE EMPIRE AND THEIR PROFITS OF LUCIFER AND DAMMIT, THAT’S LETTING THE TERRORISTS WIN.  So you pore over the merchandise for HOURS, calculating and re-calculating to see how much you can get for basically nothing.  I mean, you can ALWAYS use a candle, right?  Or a pair of tights?  Especially when it’s FREE?

Smugly, you walk out of the store with your new Vera Wang sweater THAT YOU ONLY PAID $4 for.  $4!!  You’ve won.  Suck it, Economic Slowdown.

And three days later, they mail you a flyer announcing that there’s a Cuddl Duds sale…and include a 30% off coupon.

It’s quicksand, I tell ya.  QUICKSAND.  DANGER.  DANGER!!!  One foot in and you’re stuck.  (And now need new shoes.)

Is there a Kohl’s Anonymous?  Perhaps there should be.

So yeah, we like new stuff, especially at bargain prices.  But, oddly, we also seem to be quite attached to the stuff we already HAVE. Even if it’s no more than future landfill fodder – in other words, GARBAGE – we aren’t very good at getting RID of stuff that no longer has value.  Whether it’s clothes that no longer fit, broken clocks, or “intimate delicates” that will surely disintegrate when faced with the challenge of the rambunctious digestion of your next overly-ambitiously-spicy meal…for some reason, we’re hesitant to part with this stuff.

I’ve mentioned before that I have an aversion to clutter, largely because my ex – and his parents – collected things.  They frequented yard sales, antique malls, and flea markets, and came home with all sorts of things:  Cake plates.  Tools.  Clocks and watches.  Printers.  Diabetes.  (Hey, the Amish can bake a mean Whoopie Pie.)

And pianos.  (Yes.  PIANOS.  My kids have informed me that their Dad recently brought home his fifth.  FIFTH.  What on EARTH does one do with five pianos when you only have two hands?  That’s a rather cumbersome paperweight, friends.)

But in addition to this, they also saved EVERYTHING.  Plastic bags, shoe boxes, newspapers, magazines, clothes that hadn’t been worn in decades (thankfully!) but were “perfectly serviceable,” and plastic containers.

Which brings me to The Great Plastic Throwdown.

We all have at least one relative who saves plastic tubs, right?  Whether it held Cool Whip, Chinese food, or cottage cheese, these tubs with the locking lids are awesome for freezing soup, storing paint, and sending leftover holiday food home with your guests.

So I get the appeal of saving some of these.

SOME.

My ex saved them all.

Every. Single. One.

He stashed them in not one, but TWO, of our small kitchen’s cupboards.  Stacks of bowls and lids were crammed, shoved, and jammed in there in an attempt to fit more and more into the space.  And you know what happens when you make something FIT without looking at the space’s FUNCTION, right?

Here’s a chart to illustrate:

OrgEffChart

One day, I wandered over to the cupboard to pull out something to put soup in.

You know what’s coming, don’t you?  It’s the cat jumping on the table during Round 16 of Jenga.

I opened the door.

And this happened:

Avalanche.  When you have too much crap in your closet

TupperWars.  IT’S ON.

Working at a heated frenzy that should have fused most of the offending objects together, I began to sort.  Stained bowls, out.  Lids warped from the microwave were Frisbeed into the trash.  I declared that every bowl needed a matching lid, or it was being evicted.  But the eclectic collection mocked me, much like the laundry nightmare of black, dark brown, and navy socks. NOTHING matched.  NOTHING.

After about 45 minutes of ranting, cursing, and organizing, I finally had a small collection of bowls and matching lids.  I stacked them neatly in the cupboard.  It CLOSED!  I had EXTRA SPACE!  All was well. Until…

My ex confiscated the rest of it – ALL of the mismatched, stained, twisted-beyond-recognition pieces – and moved them to the basement.  Because, of course, “he might need them someday.”  Because OBVIOUSLY the lid that held the hot and sour soup you bought in 1998 is irreplaceable.  The bends, twists, and dents in the lid from repeated reheating?  Custom, one-of-a-kind ART, yo.

When we separated, I didn’t take a single one.

Thankfully, the current hubs isn’t like that.  Other than a mild predisposition to hoard cardboard and food, we’re largely in the clear.

However, I have to admit that I’m not immune, either.  While I routinely declutter, and take bags of excess to Goodwill, I do hang on to some things entirely too long.

But we’ll save that for the next post.  🙂


* Oh yeah, the lotion.  In addition to the clocks and watches and pianos, my ex couldn’t resist the semi-annual Bath & Body Works Stock-Up Sale, either.  He kept every “free sample” of lotion he got since probably college, AND hung on to those little bottles of lotion from hotels, too.  We didn’t travel a ton, but after ten years of marriage, I had probably three dozen of those little bottles, PLUS myriad samples AND all the stuff he’d bought over the years (or received as gifts, because “obviously you like Bath & Body Works.”)

Suffice it to say we had an ocean of lotion.

The kicker?  HE WOULDN’T USE ANY OF IT.  He only liked Vaseline Intensive Care.  But of course, we couldn’t discard or donate “perfectly good lotion.”  Because (sing along, you know the chorus) “we might use it someday.”

Finally, I had had ENOUGH.  I made a plan.  And I waited.

One Saturday morning, he was out with a friend, undoubtedly at yet another auction to buy more stupid watches.  Perfect.  It was time.

I gathered my supplies.  The miniature army of lotion bottles stood staring at me, waiting for battle.  I reached for the nearly empty warehouse-club-sized bottle of Vaseline.  I unscrewed the lid, setting it gently on the sink.  And, one by one, I poured in every little hotel bottle, free sample, and mostly-used-but-not-enough-to-throw-out container of lotion we had in the house.

Nearly an hour later, I replaced the lid on the “Vaseline,” gave it a good shake, and discreetly disposed of the evidence.

Heh.

And to answer the question you haven’t asked:  Nope.  He never noticed. 

The Purse of a Person

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had something kicking the sides of my cranium trying to work its way out.  It’s done quite a bit to try and capture my attention, distracting me from intense post-season NFL matchups and Sunday morning sermons.  Impressive for an intangible product of my imagination.  Even more impressive, it’s not about food.

What’s been festering in my frontal lobe?

Purses.

Yes, purses.  Pocketbooks.  Handbags.  Cross-body messenger bags.

(Well, it beats staring at my thighs trying in vain, yet again, to suck them in.)

(Side note:  That doesn’t work.  If you find a way to do it, hit me up.  K?)

Everybody loves a good purse, right?  Well, women, anyway.  And some dudes.  NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT and I DO NOT JUDGE.

I’m not sure exactly at what age I started carrying a purse.  I’m guessing it coincided somewhat with puberty – the age where you suddenly NEED to have, at all times, concealer, frosted eye shadow and neon-blue mascara  (hey, it was the 80s, and I bet if I looked at YOUR yearbook, your regrettable decisions would be documented, too),  and <whispers> Certain Feminine Hygiene Products We All Carry But No One Must Suspect You Have Because You Would, Like, Die.

Oh, and lip gloss.  I think that was the official sign of Becoming a Woman – you graduated from either Cherry Chapstick, or this (which came in a tin and you kept in the pocket of your Lee jeans):

To Maybelline’s Kissing Potion:

Scandalous.

In retrospect, these were actually pretty horrible.  Essentially, you were putting corn syrup on your lips.  Sure, it was delicious, but I can’t say I’d be puckering up to that sticky, smeary mess.  Especially with an inexperienced kisser.  Then again, I’m not a dude.  Curious, I asked the hubs how he felt about smooching on someone with gloopy, shiny lip gloss.  He shrugged and said, “Wouldn’t slow me down.”   (I will never understand men.  And, speaking of men…if this stuff is supposed to ATTRACT men, why doesn’t it taste like bacon instead of bubble gum?)

Because I don’t really do anything halfway*, once I started carrying a purse, I used a really BIG purse.  Something like a hobo bag – big enough to carry all the things I absolutely, positively COULD NOT be without for an hour (read:  a wallet and a ton of useless crapola), but NOT big enough to be called a tote bag (or suitcase.  Although I suppose that’s just semantics, really.)

*Except stuff like cleaning the bathroom.  Because sometimes, a C+ effort is plenty, and because eeeewwww.

Funny thing about space – we fill it almost as soon as we acquire it.  (Quick quiz to prove my point:  Do you have any empty cupboards in your kitchen?  Unoccupied drawers in your desk?  Unfilled shelves in your pantry or linen closet?  If you do, you’re in the minority, and basically probably not even a true American, because along with our fast food, we like our useless piles of stuff.)

The same was true for my purse.  It became a catchall for various items:  gum, mints, extra hose, Scotch tape, receipts, Happy Meal toys, a goat, old makeup, new makeup, Scrunchies,  keys to a bunch of unidentified passages to Narnia, earring backs, bobby pins, and approximately 23948324032 pens.

Rifling through my purse, looking for the latest misplaced item, my brother would lean over, look inside, and joke, “Oh, there’s my ski!”  He affectionately called it “The Abyss” and threatened to hide my sister in there, where she’d clearly never be seen again.

I kept using storage-closet-sized purses well into adulthood.  Once I had kids, I had to add entertainment to the variety show in my handbag.  So crayons, stickers, antibacterial wipes, sunscreen, fruit snacks, and Cheerios got added to the portable flea market.

It was nice to carry a convenience store on my shoulder – but I still hadn’t mastered the challenge of organization.   All of my “essentials” were in a jumbled heap in the bottom of the Pocketbook Black Hole.  After grocery shopping, I’d stand on my front doorstep, impatiently shaking my purse, listening for the metal clink of what would (hopefully) be the keys to my house, attempting to locate them before Ben and Jerry  melted into a depressing puddle of ooze.  Other times, I’d carelessly toss my phone in there before leaving the house; later, walking around the mall, a small voice beside me would pipe up, “Mommy?  Your purse is ringing.”  I’d frantically rifle through the contents, ineffectively calling out to it, “Hold on, I’m coming!  I can HEAR you, I just can’t FIND you!”  (Ah well.  I can always call them back.)

I have several friends who collect purses.  Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Vera Bradley, Kate Spade, and Louis Vuitton.   Since I spend most of my money on shoes, I’m more of a “what’s on sale at Kohl’s” kinda gal.

And I’ll let you in on a secret:  I actually only own one purse at a time.

One.

One purse.

(Yeah, I know, if it weren’t for my shoe collection, you’d be banging my door down trying to get me to relinquish my Girl Card.)

Don’t get me wrong – I truly can appreciate a really nice handbag.  But, frankly?  I’m lazy.  Remember, I’m schlepping around a boatload of miscellaneous (yet ESSENTIAL) items – the thought of transferring all that rando shiz from one bag to another just so it’ll match my shoes is EXHAUSTING.

So I buy one bag, use it until it falls apart, and then begin the arduous task of relocating all of the contents to their new home.  It’s not unlike moving a two-bedroom apartment, really.  I just don’t have to repaint.

Recently, the piping started to peel off my current bag.  Reluctantly, I started the search for its replacement.  This was a GREAT bag.  Well under $50 at Kohl’s, BEFORE the coupons and discounts.  And bonus: it had a bajillion pockets, so I could actually organize things.  (Hubs:  “Or have more places to lose things.”  WHATEVER. <eyeroll>)

<sniff>  It was a good soldier.  I wanted to post pictures, in reverence, but as you can see, I was mercilessly photobombed by an attention-whore tabby:

catpurse1

What the – oh, hi kitteh.

catpurse3

Aw, I love you too.  Now move, asshole.

catpurse3.1

GAAAH Really???

catpurse4

Uncle.  UNCLE.  Close enough.

See all the pockets?  (They’re behind the cat.)  And to help me further organize, I bought a giant wallet – an organizer WITHIN an organizer!  (Heloise should be sending me an award shortly.)

clutch

Also a superbargain at Kohl’s.

The smart thing about this clutch is that it has a detachable strap, which, since I travel a lot, I keep in my airport carryon.  So, when I’m gonna be out of town, this goes in my backpack, along with my laptop, sewing kit, sunglasses, headphones, gluten-free snacks, gum, Advil, and bottled water.

Wait a sec….

That makes my backpack just another purse, doesn’t it.

Anyway, I just bought a new purse.  Well, I bought it about a month ago, but procrastination + lazy + funk meant I was going to haul around a beat-up, falling-apart purse for awhile, while the bright, pretty new one hung in anticipation by the door.

While I’m still feeling pretty blahbulous, I did manage the purse transfer.  Here’s my new companion:

newbag

 

Isn’t it cute?  I bought this one** at the World Jubilee Fair – it’s a market where they sell crafts from around the world; the funds go to support…um…oppressed women or something.

(I probably should have been paying better attention.  But it sounded sort of like this:  blah blah blah in the country of blah blah women blah blah self-sufficient blah blah blah OOH LOOK SCARVES AND PURSES AND JEWELRYYYYYYY.  And yes, I binge-bought, but at least it helped the planet or something.  Right?)

**It didn’t come with the little state*** key fob.  Or the pepper spray.  Those were after-market upgrades. 

*** yes, it’s stupid cold here. 

The beauty of this bag is that, in addition to being ergonomic, it has TONS OF POCKETS.  Score!

So there’s room for EVERYTHING.  All the essentials listed above, AND a mini first aid kit, generic Advil, a taser, my work badge, a tape measure, and my grown-up lip balm of choice:

burtsbalm

 

I even have room for these guys:

trollguys

Although why they’ve taken up residence in my purse remains a mystery.

So what’s your bag?  What do you carry?  What’s the oddest thing – and the best weapon – in there right now?   

Sharing the Joy Bauble

In my last post, I made a promise to myself – that I’d find myself a good, solid, abdominal-muscle-exhausting belly-laugh before Christmas was over.

I am proud to report that I got one…courtesy of my cat.

So, in case Santa didn’t bring you a big bucket o’happy this holiday, I’ll share mine.  Laughter isn’t like cookies – if you share, there’s MORE, not fewer that you fight over.

Side note: I would totally cut a bish for a good gluten-free cookie.  AND I MAY AS WELL ASK FOR A UNICORN TOO I GUESS SINCE THIS SHIZ DOESN’T EXIST.

Thankfully, THIS does – AND it’s gluten-free:

helladrink

I did share.  A little.  *hic*  After about a third of it, I had lost my ability to tie the cherry stems into knots with my tongue.  Which I can TOTALLY do, sober.  (So can my daughter, because I taught her, because I’m Mother of the Year here.  Besides, HOW WILL THE CHILDREN LEARN if we don’t teach them?!)  Obviously, I didn’t care at that point…because delicious.  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME YO.

Okay.  Before I get to my cat, here’s a car I parked behind the other day:

sexypony2

Do you see it?  On the dashboard?

sexypony

That is one sexy pny.


So yesterday, I was getting in the car to go to work.  This is usually a bit of an ordeal, because I’m juggling a couple of things:

  • Laptop bag
  • Gigundic purse with all the day’s essentials (most of which I haven’t used since I put them in there when I bought said purse….)
  • Lunch (pistachios, an apple, and a cheese stick, because I have to at least PRETEND to diet at work, even if my heart hasn’t been in it lately)
  • Bag with work shoes in it (I wear my snow boots to work, because we have a big, dark, parking lot with large ice patches and several surveillance cameras.  I don’t want to fall.  I especially don’t want to fall on video.  So the fun shoes go in a bag until I’m safely at my desk.)
  • My morning smoothie
  • a 32oz cup of coffee

Today, I also have three gift bags for my team.  (They got chocolate and alcohol, because I am an awesome boss.  Don’t you wish you worked for me?)  Suffice it to say my hands are full.

I perform my circus act of getting myself to my car, hauling all my stuff down the steps, out the front door, and into the garage. Once I wedge myself through the car door, I start to arrange all my crap so that I don’t break the wine (a tragedy!) or spill my coffee (at which point I’d have to turn around and go back to bed.)

And suddenly….I hear….something.

whirr

whirr whirrrrrr

whirrwhirrwhirrrrrrrr THUD THUD THUD THUD

Whu??

Out of the corner of my eye, some motion catches my attention.  I’m alone in my garage…

and…

SOMETHING IS MOVING.

It’s…my passenger-side mirror.

IT’S TOTALLY FLIPPING OUT YO.

It’s flopping and turning like a freaking salmon trying to leap to its homeland to spawn.

WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF.

After several long minutes of vacillating between complete bewilderment and terror that AAAAAAHHHHHHH MY CAR IS HAUNTED…I figure it out.  Apparently, when you try to carry the equivalent of the contents of your hall closet out to the car, you should be careful NOT to set the ENTIRE load RIGHT ON TOP of the little doohickey in the center console that adjusts the power mirrors.

<snort>


Oh yeah, the cat.  I’ve written about my cats before.  Like all good cat people, I find them fascinating and endlessly entertaining.

But I wasn’t prepared for Oliver’s…beauty pose.  Which completely killed me dead:

toosexy

Sing it with me:

I’M

TOO SEXY FOR THIS RUG

TOO SEXYYYY YEAAAAHHHHHH


To close the holiday out, allow me to share a Christmas Miracle:

On Wednesday, I was almost DONE with Christmas.  I had ONE more present to wrap – a donation in my in-laws’ name to Heifer.org.  You might have heard of this organization – you make a donation and they use it to buy sheep and chickens and bees and stuff for folks in third-world countries.  It’s a really cool idea, especially if you have relatives who “don’t want anything.”  Because my mother-in-law is a wonderful woman with a generous spirit (unlike me, who asked for Etsy gift cards so I can buy handmade jewelry) this organization is where we get all her Christmas gifts – this year, she and her spouse are getting two goats.

Being the Christmas stickler that I am, though, I really feel like she should have something to unwrap.  So I printed out a certificate:

goatcert

And, to commemorate the event, we ordered a Christmas goat for them to hang on their tree:

White Goat Christmas Ornament Red Gift Box

You can find this beauty on amazon.com.

Yes, a legit goat Christmas ornament.  Don’t ever say I don’t make things memorable. I mean, you don’t just HAVE something like this – there HAS to be a story behind such a thing.  Right?

So I’m wrapping this – the LAST present, and then Christmas is DONE! and I can have WINE!

And I ran out of paper. @#$(*#@($@*!!!!

I had ALMOST enough, but, dernit, the paper, much like last season’s skinny jeans, was just not gonna close around the box.  I did the best I could, defying generally accepted rules of geometry and physics, but try as I might, I had a small space on the top and bottom, about 1″ square, of cardboard-colored Christmas failure peeking through the hole and mocking me.

But then I found a sheet of old address labels (why were these in with the wrapping paper, anyway?) – oddly, from Heifer.org.  (You know how that works – once you make a donation somewhere, they thank you by sending address labels.  I have about ninety six gazillion of these, and it’s not because I’m especially philanthropic.  I have so many that one year I actually used them instead of cellophane to tape presents shut.  Because I’m all resourceful and shiz like that.  Especially when it’s totally tacky.)

But this sheet of address labels HAD CHRISTMAS STICKERS ON THEM.

And they fit PERFECTLY on the Square of Shame on my meager offering.

miraclestamp

CHRISTMAS IS SAVED!  HALLELUJAH!

May you all have a delightful holiday, filled with sparkles, sprinkles, and new shoes.  Thank you for being part of my joy this year!

 

Procrastination Station: Seven Rando Factoids

So I have some stuff I need to get out of my head and write about, but I’m procrastinating, because it’s kind of painful and therefore feels like work.  Which I have no interest in starting, contemplating, or completing today.  BECAUSE WEEKEND. Plus, I’m really, really good at procrastination. It’s the zippy convertible I use to drive through life – tight corners on two wheels, slamming into the last available parking space thirty seconds before the show begins.  WHAT. A. RUSH.

(And yes, I recognize that life would PROBABLY be a lot less stressful if I actually planned out things and allowed ample time to complete them, and this last-minute-Charlie thing I’m sporting feeds my anxiety like fertilizer on corn in July.  But dat’s how I roll, yo.  It’s as much a part of me as curly hair and birthmarks, and I’m not sure I could change it if I tried.)

Today I’m putting off stuff by buying shoes.  Here’s what’s coming to my house later this month:

 

Merry Christmas to me, yo.

So, since I’ve spent my shoe allowance for December (and probably most of 2016), and have to clean out some old shoes to make room for these, I’ll clean out my blog awards closet, too, and post one of the awards that’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a bit.

So, without further ado…

versatile-blogger1

whereishappy was kind enough to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  (Over a month ago.  But again, why do TODAY what can be done after the mall closes?)  You can find the rules on her post. And you should check out her blog anyway, so go click on it.

Since I dropped my grocery money on shoes this morning, I’m not feeling too rules-y today.  But, as the award commands, I will post Seven Meaningful (and Potentially Creepy) Facts about Myself.

1. My tree has been up since October 24.  We put it up specifically because the hubs is a cardboard hoarder.

Makes sense, right?  Let me explain:

I may have mentioned in the past that I have an aversion to hoarding clutter.  Thankfully, the hubs is pretty good about not collecting useless crapola that belongs on the Goodwill truck; if he DOES hang on to something, at least it’s only ONE of the thing, not seventy thousand million of the thing.

(Well, wait.  That’s not entirely true.  He kind of hoards food.  Meaning, if one of the kids mentions that he likes a specific Luna bar, for example, he’ll buy ten boxes of said Luna bar.  But, the hubs is 6’4″, so frankly, he eats a lot of what he buys.  And he DOES toss it if it gets old or expires, so we’re not going to be featured in a TLC documentary anytime soon.  But currently, Target started stocking his favorite frozen pizza again, and there are now SEVEN of them in my freezer, despite the fact that there are THREE Super Target locations within spitting distance of my front door.)

Yet… the one thing that the hubs cannot seem to part with?  Cardboard boxes.  Whenever you buy a new computer monitor, video game, vacuum cleaner, etc., the rule is that you keep the box just in case the new item goes kaput and you have to send it back.  OK, I get that, but you don’t have to keep EVERY BOX FOREVER AND EVER UNTIL DEATH DO US PART.

So, since he’s been in and out of the doghouse these last few months, I announced one Saturday that we were cleaning out the shed AND the garage.  We have been blessed with a shizton of storage – we have a four-car garage AND an external shed.  Plenty of room for storing bikes, your mower, rakes, extra furniture, a helicopter, a few horses, and probably a national monument or two.

What we had?  Two cars, a workbench, an armoire, 4 bikes, a Christmas tree, and FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY MILLION CARDBOARD BOXES.

So we excavated Mt. Cardboardicus.  Our township recycles cardboard IF you tie it neatly in 2′ X 3′ squares no more than 12″ tall.  That day, after cutting and stacking boxes and boxes from old appliances we no longer had and furniture we bought over a year ago (seriously – who is gonna mail a couch?  !!??!!) I ended up with two cardboard towers each about 4′ high.  A veritable…wait for it… skyscrapper. <rim shot>

But the good news?  I got to use a saw to cut the cardboard down.  Power tools are such a rush.  Even if you’re only using them to terrorize glorified paper, saws are awesome for channeling your inner Dexter.

Plus, I found my old rollerblades that I hadn’t been able to locate for two years, AND we unearthed the Christmas tree.  So, since we spent all that time digging it out…why not bring it inside?  Going ALL THE WAY to the backyard AGAIN to get it in a month or so?  Super inefficient.  I mean, you’re halfway to Target by that point.

Also, that night, the neighbors were having a Halloween party, and their yard was THOROUGHLY decorated.  I mean – Frankenstein automatons, fog, cobwebs….I have nothing against National Beg for Candy and Dress Like a Ho day, but for some reason, the juxtaposition of a lit tree beaming down on the graveyard zombie scene cracked me up.

Hey, someone’s gotta be first, right?  And this gave free license to our other neighbors putting their lights up, as well.  Including this one.  Although, if anyone actually has any clue what it’s supposed to be, you get mad props because I’m stumped.

xmaswut

Christmas kangaroo, anyone?  Kids, let this be a lesson: Lights first, cider second. 

2. This is our tree topper:

treetopper

Angels watchin’ over me, my Lord….

3. Last year, our tree didn’t come down until April.  Because again, PROCRASTINATION.  I had to finish our taxes first, ya know.  Hey, if there’s snow on the ground SOMEWHERE, the tree can stay.  MY HOUSE, MY RULES.

4.  Speaking of houses…Last year the kiddos and I made a gingerbread house.  Since we suck at all things art, we made it a crack house complete with a murder scene:

crackhouse2

See the rats?  And the blood gushing from the head? And the door blocked off?  Parent of the year, right here, folks, molding tomorrow’s youth.

5.  More “I can’t art”:  Super-glue HAAATES me.

Every.  Single. Time.

I come by it honestly, though.  I have fond memories of my aunt gluing herself to a hairbrush when I was a kid.  Who needs a DNA test to prove blood relation when you’re bonded by your lack of adhesive skills?

6.  My son isn’t good at art, either.  When he was in kindergarten, his class made a recipe book.  He needed to illustrate a favorite recipe from home.  I present to you “Ice Cream Pie.”

pieno

Brings tears to my eyes, it does.  TEARS.  Someday, when he’s the lead burrito assembler at Chipotle (yes, this is his current career aspiration,) we’ll be able to say “we knew him when….”

By the way?  I have never, EVER, made Ice Cream Pie.  Ever.  I asked him later why he chose this recipe.  “Mom.  It’s pie.  Anyone can draw a circle.”  Well, kiddo, clearly not EVERYONE.  Love you.

7.  I made my own pens.  This is a Big Deal because I suck at all things art (see above) AND because I very nearly failed shop class in middle school.  Apparently, I can’t smooth out a solder bead smaller than buckshot – my “lines” probably spell out something obscene in Braille – and when it comes to wood, straight lines and right angles are for non-creative types, in my humble opinion.  <turns nose upward>

The ONLY reason I passed Industrial Arts was because half of our grade was a written test to identify tools.  I got 100% on the test, but my projects are likely either polluting our planet in a landfill, or they’re a horrible joke circulating through a local club’s annual White Elephant Swap.  If you come across one of them, they’re SUPPOSED to be a metal pencil box and a wooden Tic-Tac-Toe board.  No, really.  Quit laughing.

But recently, I tried my hand at turning, through the help of a friend at work, and I MAKED THESE PENS ALL BY MYSELF (practically) AND I AM SO PROUD.

The red and the purple are fountain pens, because I so fancee.  And the purple pen has purple ink.  BECAUSE PURPLE.

Here’s a shot of Pen #2 in progress so you can sort of see how it’s done.

pen2a

Essentially, you start with a “blank”, which is a rectangle of wood or acrylic or whatever.  (The orange is all acrylic; the red and purple are actual wood with added colored resins – kind of a hybrid of wood/plastic, which you probably guessed as purple trees currently only exist in The Lorax.)  Then you cut it, drill out the barrel, and turn it to get the shape. I got to use saws and drills and lathes and polishers and I STILL HAVE ALL MY FINGERS YO.

Plus, I have three very elegant pens.  I sign benefits contracts and written warnings with just a little more flourish.  It’s like using the good china for a grilled cheese sandwich.  Why not?  You’re worth it.

Next up will be turning a bowl.  Fingers crossed (while they’re still attached, that is….)

Happy Sunday!