Friday, May 29, 2009

White shirts and traveling don't mix

Even on the best of days, I'm kind of a messy person. I spill things on myself or splash things that wind up as spots on my clothes. Bleach and Oxy-Clean are my good friends. (Johnnie tells me that I'm the messiest teeth brusher he's ever been around. Oh well, nobody's perfect!) So I have learned when we're traveling to always wear dark colored shirts or sweaters so I can hide minor stains that appear out of nowhere.

Except when I was packing for our trip to Cleveland a few weeks ago, I didn't heed my own advice and packed a white t-shirt. I ended up wearing it on Sunday as we traveled home with a small U-Haul trailer in tow carrying the bottom part of our new entertainment center. (We tend to shop and buy everything from furniture to clothes out of town and then figure out creative ways to get them home. We once brought two Eames-like recliners and ottomans back from Cherry Hill, New Jersey in a 1997 Civic. Cozy.) I digress.

Granted, I packed for the trip in about five minutes and with little focused thought about what I was actually taking. One pair of jeans, a couple shirts, necessary underwear and we're outta here. We're still living out of laundry baskets and tipsy piles shoved into closets since our bedroom is still uninhabitable so I'm surprised (and lucky) I found anything reasonable to wear.

Anyway, I thoughtlessly wore the white t-shirt home. Just after we got on the road, I looked down to see two smallish coffee stains on my left, um, breasticle, forming a pretty perfect target in the nipplish area. What the heck?? How did they get there? Must have been some drops from my coffee mug. Argh. When we stopped at the next rest area (we were stopping at just about every one to check the trailer to make sure the tires weren't overheating and everything was riding well) I dabbed at the spots and made them less brownish but still noticeable - and now they were wet as well.

Shortly after our pit stop, I was sipping some iced tea and dribbled it down my chin. Onto my nice white shirt. Double arghh.

Still later as we rounded the bend past Buffalo, I took the lid off my mug and somehow dribbled even more coffee down the center of my shirt, looking somewhat like a Rorschach test blob. At this I gave up and just left them alone until we got home. As I took the first load of things upstairs, I changed my shirt immediately and vowed once again to never wear anything but black tops for traveling. Now if only I remember the next time we go anywhere!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Signs of our times

There are many many times in a day, week or month that we need to leave ourselves or each other reminder signs to do something or NOT to do something (like feed the dogs because the other has already done it). We leave ourselves voice mail messages. We put reminders on our electronic calendars. We write notes and post them in obvious spots on the back door, in the car or on the hood over the stove. Interesting to me that all of mine seem to have smiley faces on them.

Translations from the top: Drambuie, Message on recorder, Dogs are fed, Order nuts, Please feed dogs no pills, Chemicalize tub (the hot tub).

My favorite ones are the use-and-reuse sticky notes we keep in the cupboard nearest the garage door. The spellings are deliberately goofy. We tend to do that on grocery lists too. Dog food is often spelled as fog dood or fawg deud or something equally as silly. There have been times when Johnnie spells something so far off in left field that I have trouble figuring out what it is. We used to have a stack of these notes written on scrap paper and held together with a binder clip. We'd just search through the pack for the correct one and then stick it on a cupboard with a piece of tape. We've slimmed down most of these (getting rid of the birds definitely helped as they were the source of many notes) and now we have just a few that seem to need repetition and notification.

I'm sure there are more efficient ways of handling these types of couple communications and reminders but this works just fine for us, especially since I bought a pack of those really really sticky Post It notes. They are the cat's pyjamas.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bird Motel and Birthing Center

We have a large handmade grapevine star hanging over our front door, between the first and second levels of the house. Around holiday time, Johnnie gets up there and fixes all the bulbs that have broken or don't work by that time of the year. It stays up all year because (a) it's too darned hard to move it after the holidays are over (b) we kinda like the looks of it all year round, as it's not a perfectly symmetrical star but sort of carefree (c) it's better for grapevine to stay out in the weather so it doesn't dry out (d) the neighborhood sparrows use it for nests and shelter all year around. The picture above is, of course, a close up of the star and it looks less awkward and ungainly from the street. It's wonderful when it's lit at night.

The birds also use it to keep their babies safe in the springtime. It's been lovely waking up in the morning to all those little peeping voices asking for their next meal from the Mom and/or Dad birds. They birthed a nest full of babies (or maybe there are several nests in there, it's hard to tell but the star is roughly four to five feet square so there's plenty of room) earlier in the spring and there's another batch that hatched just recently so the tiny peeping is going full strength again.

When Johnnie and I were working at full time jobs, we used to get up early in the morning and walk. We'd pass some bushes or trees that were chock full of awakening birds chirping like crazy. We called them birdie motels so I think of our star as a birdie motel and birthing center since we're definitely increasing the population of sparrows in our area.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


After an exceptionally pleasant Memorial Day weekend, I have decided that I hate chainsaws in the hands of suburban weekend warriors with a grudge against his property's trees and lilac bushes. I spent the better parts of the weekend outside happily planting annuals in planters that surround our deck, replacing some perennials which have croaked over the past year or so and pulling out dead weeds that I had previously used Round Up to kill.

The absolute only fly in the ointment was our neighbor across the street. He's a great person but he decided that this was the weekend to trim trees and (finally) trim the beautiful lilac bush at the corner of their property. With a chainsaw. Most of the branches must have been fairly small in diameter because he spent three to four hours EACH DAY cutting things up with a chainsaw. BUZZZZZZ silence BUZZZZZZ silence BUZZZZZZ silence repeat incessantly for three hours minimum. Each time was a 10 second burst of high decibel whine followed by short periods of quiet as he moved to the next branch.

I kept imagining if a person (or a baby) was napping, how completely unrestful it would be to hear that. Or even if you were sitting quietly with a nice frosty beverage and reading a good book. Concentration would be difficult. Me? I asked Johnnie's help to turn on the outside deck speakers and drowned out the noise as best as possible with music.

I really hope he's done because I sure am.

Monday, May 25, 2009

In praise of Bermuda

Shorts, I mean. I carry all my excess weight between my tummy and my knees. And, at my age, no one really is interested in my wearing shorter shorts. Seriously. Therefore, wearing skimpy shorts has never been my thing. Always working to camouflage that area. The last few years have been really challenging since shorts were short. Thank you, fashion designers, for introducing the longer length Bermuda shorts back into the discount retail market!

We work hard to never shop at WalMart but there are some things you just can't find anywhere else. In the winter months, Wegmans doesn't carry Sweet N Low in anything but little pink packets. (I even checked TOPS, another store we don't shop at much.) We buy it in six ounce (or thereabouts) bags because we use it a lot in iced tea. WallyWorld carries it in the six ounce boxes. I bought eight boxes on my last visit.

Also, no retailer around here carries Chipotle Tabasco at all. I have gone to the lengths of ordering a case of it from the Web just so we could have it. On my last trip to WallyWorld to get sweetner, I discovered they carry Chipotle Tabasco. So I bought six bottles.

As I was hauling our stash to the checkout, I saw a rack of nice looking Bermuda cargo shorts. For 12 bucks. And they had my size. I bought a pair and have worn them quite a bit. They don't shrink in the wash either. So we're going back there today so I can get another pair in another color before they're sold out.

While I dislike WallyWorld pretty intensely because of their reputedly unfair practices with their vendors (the company I used to work at regarded WW as real ball busters because they were always cutting the manufacturer's margin to virtually nothing) and possibly with their workers, there are some things that we reluctantly must visit there to get. At least until other stores come to their senses and keep what we need in stock year round.

The shorts? Very nice. Thank you fashion designers and those who take their trends and bring them down to affordable price points.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stuff and nonsense

First, let me apologize for not posting more. I am co-chair of a 5K run/walk that comes up in October and I'm frantically working to get sponsors so we meet our funding goals. For this particular project I have been procrastinating and it caught up with me. Procrastination isn't really a big trait with me but apparently I really don't want to make those calls to get people to give us big bucks to support the race and the charity (ending domestic violence and dating violence). So I have had to buckle down this past week and get current with my responsibilities. Bummer, huh? Ah well, it's worth it and I'm just a big whiner. Oh yeah, and I've had actual paying work to do too, which is fine news. I'm back to juggling many things and that's good because I'm much more effective and productive when I am busy. Go figure.

I entered a random drawing on Ree's blog, hotfessional, and won! I received a LOVELY pair of Nicole Lorentz earrings in the mail this week. They are so cool. Please zip over to Ree's blog and give her some comment love. She's an amazing lady. Thank you for the earrings, Ree. They are awesome!

Conversations with Emily
Driving home from preschool last Tuesday, we passed a rural church with a cemetery. A graveside service was in session.
Emily: what are all those people doing there?
Me, searching for an age-appropriate explanation: Uh, they're praying for someone who has passed away.
Emily: No they're not.
Me: No?
Emily: No, they're worshiping God. That's what we do at our church.
Me, much chastened by the wisdom of this little girl: You're right, that's exactly what they're doing.

Few minutes later, we pass our Presbyterian church (we go to two churches some weeks - the Presbyterian church and the Catholic church so we give equal time) and the parking lot had bunches of cars in it.
Emily: That's your church!
Me: Yes, you're right it is.
Emily: Why are all those people there?
Me, trying to tie back to our earlier conversation: I don't know. Maybe they're worshiping God.
Emily: No, maybe they're having a doll tea party*. That's what they do at your church.
Me, feeling properly put in my place: Um yeah, but we also worship God there.
Emily, decisively: I think it's a doll tea party.

*We had a doll tea party a couple weeks ago at church as a fundraiser for the same domestic violence charity for which I'm co-chairing the 5K. Erin and I took Emily to it.
The tea party was adorable and about 100 ladies, little girls and dolls were there on the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. One of Erin's MOMS club friends (and fellow blogger) Liz and her daughter Madison came to the tea party as well which I thought was really great. In the picture above, Emily is getting ready to stand up on the altar steps where the narrator was telling everyone about her doll, what it was wearing and where it came from (that's a very proud me in the picture with Emily. She wouldn't go up to the altar by herself). Truthfully I had my doubts about the viability of this as a fundraiser but they made about $1,500 and raffled off a number of really nice doll-related items - handmade doll clothes, doll furniture and antique dolls.

This particular doll is one that my mom bought for Erin when she was about 12 (well past the doll years) and it never was destroyed. So I washed its clothes and gave it to Erin a couple months ago to keep for the girls so when they're past the disrobing-every-doll phase, they have a pretty one to play with. Emily was enchanted with the doll and named her Jane for the tea party.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In the rear view mirror

Have you ever watched people in the car behind you when you're stopped at a traffic light? There are lights around here that seem interminable and I often occupy myself (mostly when I'm alone) by watching in the rear view mirror to figure out what people are doing or saying.

I've watched couples have arguments. Obviously I can't hear the words but the expressions and the body language says argument. Other couples just sit there, each looking out their own window with no conversation at all. I always wonder what they're each thinking about and how they got to that point to look so distant and isolated from each other.

I've seen moms and kids talking ~ sometimes yelling or not speaking to each other at all, men shaving, women putting on makeup, lots of non-hands free cell phone talkers, young couples out on dates and laughing. I just find it fun to imagine where they are in their lives and what has brought them to this same intersection for this two or three minute interlude. Nothing all that extraordinary, just an idle pastime that lets me peek into other people's lives for a little while.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

What I did on Monday with Emily (almost 4) and Lucy (almost 2). Guess I'm not very good at totally wordless!

It was Lucy's first time having her nails painted. She is still staring at her hands trying to understand what happened. The color (if anyone cares) is OPI Strawberry Margarita. The girls had gone to see Thomas the Train last week and had temporary tattoos put on. Those are the remnants on Lucy's arm above and Emily's hands below.
Then we went to the park with Bridget and their new 14-week old puppy Stuka, a giant Schnauzer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Random Thoughts Tuesday

  • Last week, Emily came to our house for lunch as usual before she went swimming at 1pm on Tuesday. To save time, I changed her into her bathing suit here rather than at the recreation center. We packed her backpack and off we went. After swimming as she was getting changed, I realized that we didn't have her underpants with us. I figured they were in the car but as it turned out, I had left them behind entirely. Poor Emily was really unhappy about having to put her pants on without underwear. She was quite worried about her "girl parts" hanging out. I assured her that she was fully covered and we made it home without a problem. She was quite relieved to shuck her pants and get her underpants back on before taking her nap. Her first time going commando ~ I'm sure for a looooong time to come.
  • Johnnie is a school bus driver and one of his kids is sort of a nemesis to him, often acts out on the bus and yet quite a nice boy. Very bright. Yesterday, it was warm on the bus and Johnnie had taken off his baseball cap (he almost always wears a hat because he's had multiple pre-cancerous spots burned off his almost bald pate) and it was hanging on the shifter. Jerry (not the boy's real name) looked at him as he came up to get off the bus and said, "You're going bald!" Johnnie said, "Really? Wow - that must have happened since this morning!" A great sense of humor is essential if you are folliclely (the spelling of that looks really wrong) challenged.
  • One of Johnnie's bus kids left a Mother's Day card on the bus last Friday and it had no name on it and no one claimed it Monday or today. He brought it home to show me the contemporary sentiment. The verse:
Happy Mother's Day
Consoles are red
Handhelds are blue
I love video games and
I love you
  • Dear Canal Path bike rider:
It is the town's desire that we share the six to ten foot wide Erie Canal path and as walkers, we'll do our part and not take up too much room. However, when you come up behind us and scare the bejeesus out of people (OK, Bridget and me) because you are in stealth mode and don't announce that you're there, we tend to be a bit pissed. So when we give you the helpful hint to say "on your left" as you come up, please try to remember it. Sorry if we yell at you. Just because you can see us doesn't mean that we can see or hear you. So far, the Good Lord has not graced either Bridget or me with eyes in the back of our heads. And the slight crunching noises of the gravel as you approach are often masked by birds and other ambient noises. Just let us know you're there, for goodness sake. We're not fond of adrenaline rushes that early in the morning. Thanks, the walkers.
  • Erin and Mike made the trip to Dover yesterday in a total of 13 hours and arrived home with the new car. It looks great and Mike is thrilled. Yeay!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Word Gripes

Today I'm taking care of the little girls all day. Erin and Mike are driving to Dover, Ohio ~ about five and a half hours away ~ to (hopefully) get Mike a new car. There are plenty of car dealers in our area but they wanted a specific model with specific features and this one came up as just about perfect! So they left at 6am and now the girls are eating breakfast bars and watching Finding Nemo because I can't figure out the right remote control to use to dial in The Disney Channel. Duh.

We are going to the
Lilac Festival with our friend Bridget when the time becomes a little more human for everyone. It should be fun and it's a springtime ritual here in the Rochester, NY area. Great sniffing, thousands of lilacs, yummy snacks and kettle corn! Yeay! What's not to like?

Anyway... that's not why I called.

I was thinking about word that drive me crazy, especially when they are perpetuated on television and in print. Words that are grammatically incorrect or just bug me. Words such as

irregardless - this work is grammatically incorrect and it's a double negative to boot. The prefix ir- means NOT. The word regardless means without regard. So irregardless means without without regard. Or WITH regard. See? It sounds right but it's wrong.

woken - While the online dictionary says that woken is the past participle of wake, I think it's incorrect or at the very least, it's bad grammar. I wake, you woke, we woke, I was awakened, not I was woken. Makes me hear nails scratching on a chalk boar despite what the online dictionary says.

got - I use this one too but it does bother me. When I was little, my parents (both of whom loved words and language so I credit them with my vocabularly and spelling skills) had a "got pot" for a while. If any of us used the word got, we had to put a nickel in the got pot. It's especially irritating when used as in "I don't got ...." already bad grammar.

have gone / went

These are all in a class by themselves - past tense words not being used correctly. There's a country song by Craig Morgan right now, God must really love me and two of the lines read:

After all the trouble I've been in
I'da gave up on me

That last line -- I would have gave up on me. Argh. No wonder people think country artists are intellectually challenged.

It's fairly easy I guess to get gone and went messed up as in "I have went to the store" or "I gone to the store" but it still doesn't sit well with me. This crops up in country lyrics sometimes too and doesn't help the cause at all.

Snuck - as in "He snuck past the open door." This one was John's mother's pet peeve and he has adopted it completely. It is not grammatically incorrect but I still change it in any writing I'm editing if it appears and avoid it in any writing I do. Sneaked works just fine, "He sneaked past the open door." See?

So .... I got to go, irregardless of the early hour and ... oh heck, I just can't do it. Have a great day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Good feelings abounding

There's no good reason (or no bad reason either, I guess) for my good feelings. But it's a beautiful day here, about 74 degrees, bright and sunny. I went out to Hobby Lobby for new living room curtain rods and just had this overwhelming feeling of good. Who cares why? It just feels good to feel good! This kind of peaceful, contented feeling doesn't happen all that often so I'm just going to go with it. I really have no stress (or darn little) in my life but some days it just feels wonderful and I can really count my blessings. This is one of those days.

Johnnie has finished the drywall mudding in the bathroom and is now priming the walls. Excellent progress and not a moment too soon. One step closer to finishing and getting our life and home back to normal. Next he'll/we'll tackle the tiling so that's exciting. With the weather getting nice outside, it's time to stop working on inside projects and either kick back and relax or work outside.

We put railing boxes on our deck and I am getting the itch to buy the flats of impatiens for those and get them pulled together. It's a couple hours of tedious work but they look wonderful once they're planted and growing. So maybe I'll do that this afternoon, after making Erin's Mother's Day surprise.* Or at least go get the flowers so they're here when I have time for them.

The beautiful SUNNNNY

I hope all the moms among us (and dads who are fulfilling both roles) have a wonderful Mother's Day. We'll have brunch with Erin, Mike, Emily and Lucy and then play for the day. Depending on the weather, we may take a SUNNNNY ride or just plunk ourselves on the deck and vegetate. In any event, we'll enjoy every second. I hope you do too.

*Erin's surprise isn't much of a surprise: she's getting a homemade gluten-free tiramisu cheesecake. Shhhhhhhh! Don't tell her! :})

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Sign at the dock near Doolin, County Clare, Ireland where you catch the ferry for one of the Aran Islands.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Random Thought Tuesday

Johnnie is missing

Missing Poseable Figure Report

Last seen: several weeks ago when we dismantled the family room and living room for painting and new carpeting.

Description: Gumby-like, orange, yellow and green with a photograph for a face, 6.25 inches tall

Suspects: Emily (almost four) and/or Lucy (almost two). Might be found in said suspects' toy box or in any container anywhere between our house and theirs.
If you have information or find him, please return to Bama Cheryl as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Conversation with Lucy

Last Saturday morning I arrived at Erin and Mike's to pick up Lucy for The Little Gym class we take. Although Lucy doesn't yet talk intelligibly much, she makes her wishes well known.

Mike, holding Lucy: Give Daddy a kiss cuz you're going with Grandma to play!

Lucy, wiggling and pulling back from me: NOOOOOooooooooo!

Me: C'mon Lucy, we'll have fun!

Lucy: NOOOOOOoooooooo!

Mike hands Lucy to me as we get to the back door.

Lucy, crying as though we've removed her arms without anesthetic: NOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

Continues crying as we walk to the car and she's strapped into her seat.

I put her milk sippee cup and Monkey within arm's reach. They are both flung to the floor with heated contempt.

As we drive away, the wailing continues then starts to abate somewhat at the two mile mark.

I adjust the rear view mirror so I can see Lucy.

Me, smiling and waving in the rear view mirror: Hi Lucy!

Lucy fixes me with her special brand of crusty and squinches her eyes shut as a solitary tear slips down her cheek. Clearly I am the devil and by not looking at me she can escape my evil spell.

By the time we reach the Thruway, about four miles, she has unsquinched her eyes, found her milk cup and is drinking calmly. By the time we get to The Little Gym (TLG), she's smiling and all is forgotten.

Shortly afterwards, waiting for our class to start at TLG, Lucy is playing around me as I was sitting and watching the kids in the previous class.

Me: Do you want to dance?

Lucy: Noooooo

Me: Do you want to jump?

Lucy: No!

Me: Do you want to sit on my lap?

Lucy: NOOOooooo!

Me: Do you want to get up on the chair so you can see the kids?

Lucy: NO!

Me: Do you want me to stop asking you so many questions?

Lucy, looking satisfied that I finally said something right: Eh (which means yes).

Conversation with Emily

We were in the back lobby of church on Saturday evening, waiting for Mass to let out. I was selling tickets to a doll tea party benefit for a charity I volunteer for. I asked Erin to bring the girls over in cute little dresses to act as decoys to get people to stop and buy tickets. Yes, I'm not above using our granddaughters. And I'm OK with that. Erin and Lucy had departed hastily after several spectacular pluking episodes with Lucy as a result of a reaction to Augmentin, leaving Emily with me.

Emily: I'm hungry.

Me: I know, sweetheart but I don't have anything for you.

Emily, wheedling voice: We could look in the kitchen for something to eat.

Me: Well, there's nothing in there that's for us.

Emily, more wheedling and whining: I saw cookies....

Me: I know but they're for someone else, not for us.

Emily: I could have a cookie...

Me, more firmly and exasperated: No, they're someone else's cookies.

Emily: Someone else's? I'm hungry.

Me: Sorry, I don't have anything.

Emily: I could have a lollypop.

Me: I don't have any lollypops* sweetie.

Emily: What kind of a place is this?

Me, working to keep last strands of patience: It's a church, not a restaurant so there's no food you can have.

Emily: Why not?

Me: It just is, that's why.

Emily finally distracted herself by pouring water from one Dixie cup to another until Erin returned to pick us up.

*Emily knows I have a bag of 300 lollypops in my car. Only issue is we drove Erin's car to church and we're now here without any car. Besides, the kid is going to eat dinner within an hour. No nuttin, honey.