Monthly Archives: August 2012

On Grandmothers


So I’m unpacking boxes of books and mementos and china.  In a way these boxes represent my life before nursing school, before my daughter; they contain photo albums and little odds and ends and endless supplies related in some way to paper.  Evidently I really, really love paper and doing things with paper and things made of paper.  Paper paper paper!

There are also a lot of things given to me by my grandmothers.  One of them has passed on and I think of her every day, one way or another.  She was my mother’s mother and lived closer by than my other grandmother, and so I saw more of her.  There were times that my mother and I stayed with her.  I wish she was still here, that my daughter had had the chance to know her.  She talked with everyone, anyone, and I doubt that a friendlier person ever existed.  She was a character and even the lady from the Tupperware kiosk at the mall came to her service.

Today as I rummaged in the boxes I unearthed a set of canisters that Grandma gave me.  They are plain, stainless steel with a plastic knob on the lid that you can unscrew and fill with a little of whatever is in the canister so you can tell what’s in it without opening it.  She told me a story about how she’d gotten them, I wish I could remember the details but it might have been something like she saved Green Stamps for them or something.  They are in very good condition and one of the reasons I finally got off my ass and went and got the boxes (aside from extreme guilt at them languishing in Helen’s basement for four solid years because I apparently suck as a person) was that we needed canisters.  I had all but forgotten they were still around but suddenly they flashed in my brain.  And now they are drying on the counter, and I am about to fill them with flour, sugar, coffee, and — I’m not sure what else.  The smallest one, what should I put in it?  Probably cocoa, because I put some in the French press when I make coffee.

Grandma also gave me the beginnings of what became a full set of china, and every so often at Christmas she would give me a set of crystal glassware.  When she died we found a set of silver under her bed that no one laid claim to, and I asked if I could have it.  She had probably picked it up at an estate sale.  That woman loved her an estate sale.  I think she felt about fabrics and linens the way I feel about paper.

I really, really miss my Grandma tonight.




So you’d think that since I moved in with The Lovely Rhonda four years ago, I’d have finished unpacking.  But no.

Four years ago we moved into a 900 square foot, 2-bedroom apartment with our three children.  Obviously my boxes of mementos and books (those unrelated to nursing school) and china had to go somewhere.  I was too broke to rent a storage unit, and my old friend Helen volunteered a corner of her basement to the cause.  I will forever be indebted to her for this.

I well remember TLR backing her ex-husband’s cargo van up Helen’s narrow driveway and the two of us hauling box after box of my crap downstairs.  We’d been moving for days already and with my structurally-challenged feet, I was really feeling it.  But somehow we managed.

Three years ago we moved into the house we live in now.  I couldn’t move my things from Helen’s because the garage was filled with a commercial freezer that TLR’s ex eventually had to dismantle to remove.  Then we were occupied with dividing the garage into half and building our room, and there has been drama of various types, and suddenly I came to realize that my crap was still squatting in Helen’s basement, an unlovely vestige of upheaval, and it has been there for  four years.  And it’s time to get it out of there, even though the garage-remnant is stuffed full of construction things and bicycles and you name it.  So yesterday our friend Josh met me at Helen’s and we hauled boxes up the stairs and slid them into the minivan.

There is still a small sideboard and an antique dresser there, and my frame pack.  I will get those things in a couple of weeks.  But it’s a start!

And so I have spent today sifting through boxes of books — the vast majority of the boxes are filled with books — and choosing those that can stay, and those that must go.  At the time that I packed these boxes  I was under considerable duress and didn’t have a lot of time.  I have found some pleasant surprises and some books that I don’t have strong feelings about. Probably a quarter of them will be finding new homes, but I still want to keep the rest.

We will need another bookcase, I think.



So last night as The Lovely Rhonda and I prepared to retire, I noticed something huddled in the corner of the baseboard.

I had already removed my glasses, so at first glance I took it to be the new cat, Mrs. Norris, who is smallish and striped and totes adorbs. 

But no, then I decided it looked just slightly smaller than Mrs. Norris, so I loomed a bit closer and squinted at it in the dim light and determined that it also had several more legs than I recall cats having, in general.  Also it was not stripey.

Based on this and the arrogant way it was ignoring me, there was only one conclusion I could come to which was that it was a really enormous spider.

I commented on this to TLR and she of course was indifferent to my plight.

“So get rid of it,” she said.  As if it were that easy.

“Why do I always have to get rid of the spiders?  Why don’t you ever do it?”

“BECAUSE I AM TERRIFIED OF BUGS AND JUST GET IT OUT OF HERE OMG.”  Then she hid under the covers and kicked her little legs.

I was very reluctant to address this particular spider because if its sheer magnitude.  I mean, normally you just get a tissue and bunch it up a little in your fingertips and sort of squoosh the spider in it and the spider is so tiny you don’t even feel it in the tissue at all.  Better yet you can often just get a magazine or something and scoop the spider up and take it outside where it can fulfill its many-legged destiny of menacing your neighbors instead of you.

But this monster?  Ugh.  What I was afraid of was that it was so large and meaty-looking that I would not only feel its weight in the kleenex but that I would sense also the squishing and the ichor spewing out of it and all that.  Taking it outside wasn’t an option because what if it was a spider accustomed to the comforts of indoor living?  What if it came after me?  I couldn’t risk that.  I have a family.  I have obligations.

I complained about this at length but to no avail.  Finally I went to arm myself against the thing.
I chose three 2-ply paper towels and folded them over several times.   Paper towels are thicker than kleenex and the ones we are using at the moment have a comforting print of pots of soup and flowers and curlicues and flourishes.   Every little bit helps here, folks.

I rushed at it and shoved the paper towels onto it, pinching them together quickly so as to get this thing done before the heebie-jeebies set in.  I then raced through the house bearing the spider-containment unit at arms length before me.  Once it was safely in the kitchen trash I returned to the bedroom to perform an involuntary shuddering seizure of disgust.  TLR found this amusing.

I sure hope she doesn’t lay awake nights wondering if that spider was really dead or not.

It could be dragging itself with its one remaining good leg back to the bedroom, bent on revenge.

She sleeps on the side closest to the door, and I doubt that big hairy bastard really got a good look at me to begin with.

No sir, sure hope she isn’t consumed with worry about things like this.

Beachstravaganza 2012!


So last week we took the Collective Spawn, plus two additional Spawn, to the beach for a few days.

We had a large main spawn, a small auxiliary spawn, an emergency backup spawn, and two spare spawn.  Five spawn, ages 5, 5, 7, 7 and 8.  Friends, that is a lot of spawn, and all girls too.

The mother of the extra two girls had pressing matters to attend to and joined us later on Thursday evening, so we weren’t completely responsible for all of them the whole time.  But she’s also heavy with child, so we kind of were.  Because big pregnant ladies are not that inclined to perform extraneous movements.  Except cooking, and sleeping.  She did both of those things pretty frequently.

We stayed at a beach house not far off the actual shore.  Unfortunately this involved a fairly lengthy slog over a poorly positioned sand dune.  I shall be contacting the local municipality regarding this.  Despite this and other obstacles, mainly laziness and dense fog, we stormed the beach daily.  There was digging in sand, beachcombing, kite-flying and nearly total immersion in seawater (for certain of the spawn) and/or wading up to the mid-calf region (for the less-adventuresome spawn).

Since we have paranoia issues, and vivid imaginations, we could not allow any spawn to enter the waves higher than mid-calf without adult accompaniment.

The Lovely Rhonda is not inclined to bathe in frigid Pacific waters.

The pregnant lady was excused due to her delicate condition.

Our friend Josh didn’t bring a suit and his awkward-white-guy shorts would have fallen straight off his toothpick body if they’d gotten wet, just by virtue of wicking action alone.

This left whom, exactly, to be the accompanying adult?

Why yes, that would be me.  THANKS FOR NOTHING, GUYS.

So I put on my suit and I waddled out to the water and I submerged myself in it slowly while holding the hands of wriggling children who either a) had no natural fear of drowning or b) would only go in up to their knees before screaming in terror and demanding to be returned to shore.  I did this for about forty-five minutes each time although it felt more like eternity.  The water temperature hereabouts is in the neighborhood of about 56 degrees Fahrenheit.  SO MUCH FUN OMG.

Actually it was super fun and I win the valedictorian of being awesome.

Here is a photo of the children wearing sunglasses.  Enjoy.

On a related note, as we slogged down to the beach I commented to Josh that I hated it when they ran, especially downhillish on pavement, because I just KNEW that one of them would fall down and lose her mind over the ensuing minor injury.

Obviously one of them had to then fall down, mere seconds later.  It was the spawn on the bottom right of the above photo.

When I took this photo they of course all demanded to see it, and that particular child’s response was to whine about how her knee was in the picture and she didn’t want anyone to see her knee and couldn’t we take another picture?

If you enlarge the picture you can almost see two tiny dots of scab.  I intend to traumatize her later in life with this story so it’s good I’m documenting it here.

Another Victory!


So this evening one of the Spawn decided that pork roast was yucky.  Hilarity ensued.

Our rule is that you have to try everything on your plate.  If it’s not to your liking, you keep that fact to yourself, eat the food without complaining, and there will be dessert.  If you decide to voice an unpopular opinion about the food, i.e. that it is unappetizing or not to your preference, you will be presented with another spoonful to enjoy.  We make sure that the rest of the dinner is composed of foods that are deemed generally acceptable by the Spawn at large, and the new food (or the food that has been previously served and found to be a bit iffy) is limited to a small amount, perhaps two bites.

We feel that this is an acceptable policy and it has served us well.  It’s a vast improvement over the previous system in which hysterical fits were thrown and food was openly fed to the dog or dropped on the floor.  It was done openly but the child(ren) in question, being at the time four or perhaps five years old, felt that they were operating in the greatest stealth imaginable.  Thus it always came as a surprise when we totally busted them.

Tonight one of the two Spawn present (one being elsewhere until Friday) gobbled up the aforementioned pork roast with gusto and requested more, while the other one mouthed off about it with impunity.  This is in direct violation of The Rules and stiff warnings were issued.  The backtalk continued, finally reaching a zenith of outright impertinence and flagrant threats of “Well, I’m not going to eat it.  Ever.  I’ll just sit here then.”

Oh, if only it were that simple!

Negotiations failed, predictably, at this point and the offending Spawn found herself in the corner.  Like all political prisoners, she began a campaign of protest.  Unfortunately it wasn’t silent protest since it did involve griping and occasional “accidental” kicking of the wall.  This was tolerated by the totalitarian regime up to a point.  Allowing a certain amount of self-expression can often keep high emotions at a simmer and prevent outright revolution.

Eventually the delicate peace process began anew, largely due to the blistering logic applied by the peacekeepers.  The prisoner was advised to re-examine the historical record, specifically to analyze past outcomes of the strategy being employed, which consisted of declaring that she would neither go to bed nor put on pajamas but would rather stand naked in her bedroom until her Nintendo DS was returned to her, and all without eating the pork roast.

At this point she was forced to capitulate and the offending pork roast, now dredged liberally in ketchup, was consumed.  There was a brief threat of vomiting but this was vetoed soundly.  (This kid can vomit at will and is not afraid to demonstrate this under duress.)

When at last the smoke of battle had cleared, the Spawn found herself in bed, no stories having been read to her and no Nintendo DS in her possession for an unspecified period of probably more than 24 hours, but probably less than 48 hours.

And The Lovely Rhonda?

She wins.


Brick. House.


So the other day The Lovely Rhonda called me and plaintively whined about The Brick On The House and how unlovely it is and can we please have our siding wallah take it down before his crew of minions left for the day.  This was on Wednesday and I was at work. 

Because I live to make TLR happy, and also because she had been cogitating over this brick thing for months on end, I said yes, please have them take it down.  I didn’t have strong feelings about the brick either way and clearly it meant a great deal to TLR, whom, as I said, it is my sole aim in life to make insane with happiness and harmonious agreeableness.

So I can check that off my list, because she continues to rave about the brick and how it is gone and what a difference it makes and so forth.  This after three entire days have passed.

It took a bit of a toll on my plants because the brick fell in great slabs directly onto them.  So I lost an azalea, and a few Gerber daisies, and probably some other things, but the important thing here is that the brick, it is gone.

Actually it isn’t so much gone as it is relocated, into a jumbled heap of masonry along one side of the house. 

You can tell who your friends are when you face adversity, and I’m thinking that the jumbled heap is definitely named Adversity.

Did I mention how today is the hottest day so far this year, in fact in three years, and it was 102 degrees, and nobody can stop talking about the heat?  Yet despite this, two different friends came and sat with me in the shade of my garage and knocked mortar off of brick.  I am salvaging usable brick from this heap so that we can use it to put a path next to the driveway and also to expand the patio a bit on three sides.

I bought a couple of different types of chisel and some rubber mallets and a stiff wire brush, and dragged a defunct kiddie pool from the back yard and we submerged bricks in it.  We did this because my mother, who is a fount of knowledge about these things, told me that it makes the process easier if you soak the bricks.  Lord knows they will dry out quite nicely in This Heat.

And so for about six hours today I sat with soaking wet leather work gloves on and chiseled mortar from bricks.  The water kept The Heat at bay, and the friends made the process less tedious, and so far we’ve made the tiniest dent in the heap. 

And my arms and hands are so tired.  I only stopped because I was having difficulty gripping the chisels and mallets any longer.  My hands are stiff.

But there will be brick!  For projects!

Old Lady Classes


So I checked out another class at La Fitnesse today.  Because I am socially awkward I did this by spying on them from the comfort of the Deathmaster where I put in a good sweaty twenty minutes of toil.  So it was a win-win.

My theory going into this was that the class would be attended largely by helmet-haired ladies of a Certain Age who would arrive perfectly coiffed and wearing matchy-matchy gym gold lame’ outfits that perfectly went with their shoes and all that.  I fully expected there to be no men at all or perhaps one.  One old guy wearing terrycloth wristbands with his t-shirt tucked into his sweatpants.  You know the one I’m talking about.

Stereotypes, people.  STEREOTYPES ARE HURTFUL.

But anyway.  There I was, perched atop the stairstepper, gawking furtively into the glass-walled classroom.  Along came a rather trim older lady, certainly well-groomed but not Yetta from “The Nanny” or anything.  If anything, she looked like she could totally kick my ass.  And then another one showed up.  And then a little older lady who was slightly less sprightly.  And then the really buff older lady who taught the class.  And then a guy.  Okay, he was older, but he didn’t have wristbands and his shirt wasn’t tucked in.  But he certainly had a raging case of White Guy Rhythm.

By “older” I mean “older than me by at least ten years, maybe twenty, it’s so damn hard to tell.”  Just to clarify.

And then someone a bit younger than me who was wearing a neoprene knee brace, and then at the last second, two girls who look like they maybe just graduated from high school.

I kept my eye on them as I finished my Deathmastering.  They were doing stuff that looked like non-impact aerobics with a lot of moving this way and that way and so on.  I’ll feel like a moron but I think I can manage this.

See you next week, ladies.  And Mr. Astaire.