Monday, October 31, 2011

October pointless lists

October 31.  Good heavens.  "Time goes fast," Johanna told me tonight as she was getting ready for bed.  Indeed, child.  Indeed.

I suppose we need a Halloween recap, what with it being Halloween and everything.  Today was a fairly mellow day, unless you count me trying to get to the post office with our end-of-the-month billing and not being able to drive 3/4 of the streets downtown, as they were closed for "safe trick-or-treating."  You know what's safer?  Not going downtown at all.


We took Johanna trick-or-treating tonight.  Abby came along too, of course, although she didn't dress up--we decided she was too old--but she did draw a moustache on her upper lip.  Because she's a ninja.  We went to an assisted living center, the one where all of Eric's grandparents lived at one time or another.  It was happy and sad, if that makes sense.  Some of the people needed help putting candy in Johanna's pumpkin, while others chatted her up.  That's life in a nutshell, I suppose.  Next we went to my parents' house, where we were all given a gift bag o' candy.  (Thank you, Mom!)  I took Jo to a couple of houses around my parents' neighborhood, just for kicks.  There were a couple that she deemed "too scary."  We skipped those.  She didn't seem to need a lot of house-to-house trick-or-treating.  Four houses were maybe three too many.  Probably because we'd forgotten her jacket and she was freezing.

Next came Stacey's house.  Stacey apparently never gets trick-or-treaters, and was ever so pleased when I said we'd stop by.  She gave both girls king-sized candy bars (which, incidentally, was a Big Hit), and Johanna this pair of monkey socks:

Best. Socks. Ever.

Eric told one of his co-workers that we'd come by, so we stopped there for a bit.  She gave us cookies, and Johanna gave her furniture perhaps more action then it has ever seen ever.  On our way home, we stopped by a family friend's house, and then Eric's aunt and uncle's place.  We made it back by 8 p.m.  Well, it's a school night.  And Johanna was asking to be done.  (That's my girl!)

So how did Abby feel about her non-Halloween?  "I kind of wish I'd have had a better costume then a moustache made of eyeliner, and I think it's stupid that Mom and Dad wouldn't let me dress up, but the funny thing is that I got a better haul this year than last year.  And my moustache was gorgeous."  (Abby is slightly loopy from the pain of getting her braces tightened this morning.  The high of not having to wear her headgear anymore has apparently worn off.  Bring on the Tylenol!)

And now!  A pointless list o' random stuff from October!

Movies watched:
None.  Again.  What's the point?

Books read:
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (I'm a bit embarrassed to admit to reading this, because it's all Twilight and I like to pretend I'm better than that, but.  I'm not.  I really liked this book, enough to download the sequel soon after finishing the last page.  What?  It's an intriguing storyline and well written.  So there!)

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (The aforementioned second book.  It was also good, which meant I had to pre-order the third installment.  I mean, we've come THIS far, so why not?)

Dark Dream by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Sensing a theme?  This was a short story plus a preview of the third book in the series.  It was fine, but probably not something I really needed to read.)

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (I thought that this was the last book in the series.  Turns out, not so much.  Good grief.  I am way too involved with these characters for my own good.  This one jumped the shark a bit for me, what with the rapture coming because Lena broke the moon, but still, I enjoyed it and now have to wait a year or whatevs for the next one.  It's a cruel world.)

Books I tried to read but failed:
Food Inc.  (Again!  But I did get a little farther this month.  It's not really the sort of book that's easy to read unless you're already in a rage, if you know what I mean.)

Things I canned:

Quote of the month:
"Coffee can only do so much." --Stacey

Picture of the month:

Happy Halloween!  (By Johanna)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I could laugh, but I don't

I tried to write a couple of times this past week, but found the words just did not want to come.  Words are funny like that sometimes.

It was not my best week.  Eric was hunting, and my heart was a little broken.  And also: Single parenthood really, really sucks.  I feel like this whole week, we've been living by the seat of our pants.  Bedtimes are practically nonexistent, mealtimes are anarchy, routines are chaos.  I like to think of it as The Ordeal.  Fun times!

But Eric is home now, so all is right with the world again.

Not everything was a wash, though.  A couple of awesome things did happen.

Like!  The ring in the girls' toilet?  I named it Fred earlier this year, because as a houseguest, he would not go away, so I figured I may as well make him a member of the family.  Although deep in my heart, I did not move on.  But then, neither did Fred.  Then my friend Shannon (hi Shannon!) came to visit and got a firsthand look at Fred.  And she was all, what you need is a pumice stone.  And I was all, really?  Well, okay then.

The evening that Mom and the girls and I went to town to get Abby's new boots, we also hit Wal-Mart.  I did not see anything even remotely close to a pumice stone, but my mother found one betwixt all the detergents.  (Can I just say I love the word "betwixt"?)  Into the cart it went.  Two days later (I can't remember why I didn't tackle the job the next day; I can only assume I was doing something very important), I went for it.

PEOPLE.  The pumice stone is my new favorite thing.  It took a little elbow grease, because Fred was really in it for the long haul.  But I think his fatal mistake was feeling so cocky after the bleach failed to work that he didn't even see the pumice stone coming.  I scrubbed and I flushed, and I scrubbed and flushed again.  And again.  And a few more times.  And!

We went from this:

NOT AT ALL embarrassing.

To this:

Not at all embarrassing.

Truly, that toilet is a thing of beauty now.  I keep going in there just to stare into the bowl.  It's gorgeous. Thank you, Shannon!

The other awesome thing that happened: I treated myself to lunch one day, having gone on a bit of a shopping spree* and finding myself in need of sustenance.  I was sitting at a booth, writing an email to Shannon on my poser iPad between bites of cheeseburger--had to share the joy of my sparkling toilet with someone who would understand--when I see these two guys sitting at an outside table.  One had a lunchbox in front of him, and the other had a sack, which I later discovered contained a burger (I have the glasses now, so I can see things).  Both had milkshakes.  So the one takes a sip of his milkshake, and then a bite of his burger, and then I see a flash of a can... and it was a Bud Light.  Burger, shake, Bud.  Awesome.  I'm sure the workday went a little better after that.  Maybe I should have tried it myself...

In other recap news, I got an abstinence talk** from my old high school bus driver (and learned way too much about her grandson's sex life), went to dinner at my parents' house, had my favorite mother-in-law over for dinner, saw our nephew play in his last home football game (senior year of high school... we won't talk about how I remember when that kid was born), did a lot of typing, got rained on, got sunned on, made hummus and naan, helped in Johanna's classroom, complimented the girls on not fighting, asked the girls to PLEASE STOP FIGHTING, and listened to my iPod in an attempt to tune a lot of it out.

And that was my week.

I will end by saying, yay Eric!  He's leading the girls in a cleaning spree of the living room RIGHT NOW.  I gave up on order by day two of The Ordeal. 

I love when hunting season is over.

*New towels for the master bath.  Ours were generally horrible (ripped and stained and frayed and smelly), and one day I found myself in the mood to take a drive to the sort of big city next door and see what was going on in Penneys, the one major department store in town (which is why it's the sort of big city--we have nothing even remotely like that).  So I did.  They were on sale, so I could justify it.  Our new towels are wonderful--soft and gorgeous and smelling only of detergent.  But the color--Perfect Oregano--clashes a bit with our tile.  Perfect Oregano is more of a darker, grayish green, whereas the tile is more in the true green family.  Sort of.  Well, imperfection is more interesting anyway.

**I was pretty sure she was going to make me sign a pledge of some sort, but thankfully it did not come to that.  As Abby would say, AWKWARD.  I finally managed to make my escape by pretending I needed to help someone in the back.

Miracle Legion, "With a Wish."  I love the opening (I could repeat, but I won't.  That's just as causal as things can get), followed closely by the last verse (It's twelve o'clock and now I'm changing back, 'cause later looks promising, but I know better).  Oh, Miracle Legion.  I do love you so.  Totally reminds me of college and the mixed tapes Jeff used to make for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I want something that I want

So today Abby got a letter.  Abby never gets mail unless it's her birthday (well, she's in that texting generation, so I suppose that's no surprise), so the mere fact that there was a letter in the mailbox with her name on it was pretty amazing.  She opened it up and started reading... and then was like, uh, Mom, you need to see this.*
Hello Abby! So--your mom was wondering if anyone reads her blog--well, I read that you wanted some knock off Uggs?  With your mom's permission... maybe a pair are in your future compliments of Aunt Ann?  I wish you luck!  My only request... I see a photo of the boots (and your "happy feet") on Facebook! Everyone's wearing them and Aunt Ann thinks they look pretty cute.  Love, Annie
And I was all like, Ann reads my blog?  And Abby was like, I think you're sort of missing the point.  And also, when can we go?

Turns out the shoe store is open weeknights until 8:30 p.m.  I called Mom (hi, Mom!) to see if she felt like going with us.  Turns out, she did.  Abby was very excited to tell her grandma the story of Why She Was Going to the Store to Buy Ugg Knock-offs at 6:30 PM.  We all agreed that Aunt Ann rocks.

So 6:30 is THE time to buy shoes, apparently.  I sort of figured they were open late just to give the kids who work there time to restock the shelves or something.  Not so much the case.  I had not expected lines, but there they were.

Abby went straight to her size, found a pair, and put them on.  And she was like, THESE ARE PERFECT!  I did my little toe tester tap on the end--I'm never really sure what I'm looking for when I do that, but Grandma M. sold shoes and she always did that, so obviously I have to do it, too--and then Mom did the same thing, which made me laugh.  Great minds and all that.

I handed Abby the phone so she could call Ann while we waited in line, but she got her voicemail and got scared and hung up.  (Abby doesn't like answering machines. It's a family trait.)

Abby wore her new knock-offs out of the store.  She skipped all the way to the car, and kept announcing how warm and cozy her feet were.  To say she was pleased would be an understatement.

Fun fact: When I was in seventh grade, Ann took me to this really cool store with clothing way out of my price range and bought me a pair of leggings and an oversized shirt.  (Well, it was the '80s.)  Every time I wore that outfit, I felt totally awesome.  It was the only thing I wore all year that was actually "in."  So I sort of know how Abby feels, except that kid is way more stylish than I ever was.

Not too shabby for knock-offs, eh?

Once we got back home, Abby tried Ann again, and got her voicemail again, but this time left a message.  I took a picture of a very happy Abby and her new boots to post on Facebook.  We've been home for like three hours now and Abby still hasn't taken her boots off.  And I detect an extra hint of sassiness in her voice.

P.S. Abby is wondering aloud if maybe she could sleep in her boots, too, because now that she's finally taken them off, her feet are cold.

So this concludes the story about Why Ann Is Awesome.  Thank you, Ann--what a cool surprise.

*I tried to scan the actual letter, but for some reason, it's not showing up.  Well, fine!  There's more than one way to skin a cat.  Apparently.

Grace Potter, "Something That I Want."  The girls LOVE this song.  Tangled, you know.

Monday, October 24, 2011

There's some kind of light at the end

Now that I have my poser iPad, I've discovered something: It is ridiculously easy to waste hours at a time doing pretty much nothing.  It is AWESOME.  I mean, sure, the laundry pile has never been bigger, but look at the cool images I found!

Of Stormtroopers!

Of Darth Vader reading Harry Potter!

Of this totally adorable girly cut out!  Even though the boarder sort of reminds me of intestines.


StumbleUpon.  It's an addiction.

Blue October, "You Make Me Smile."  For obvious reasons.

Friday, October 21, 2011

So go do what you like

Wow, a whole week of harvest fest.  Good thing nothing much happened this week, aside from my house becoming such a mess that it makes my teeth hurt and that guy who called the office with a really crappy connection whom I forwarded onto the ad department because it sort of sounded like he was asking for one of the guys back there... and it turns out he was really just wanting a repair shop.

Work with me, people.

So I guess I mentioned a tangent way back in Harvest Fest, Part I, which, if I may be so bold as to quote myself, went a little something like this:
First things first: That would be our favorite local craft bazaar.  There's another craft bazaar, but it is NOT local.  Going to the local bazaar makes us feel virtuous.  Plus we really don't want to spend the $6 to get into the other one.

OH, except.  I just thought of a tangent, but it might have to wait for later.
Here's the thing.  Last Thursday--what?  The 13th?-- I was sitting at my desk, probably doing something VERY important and minding my own business.  The editor comes up to me and is all like, don't say I never give you anything, and flips me this three-day pass to the $6 non-local vendor craft show.  And I was all like, wow, thanks, haven't been there in years, that will be fun.  And he's all like, while you're there, if you could take a few pictures for us... that would be great.  And I was all, oh, gotcha.  Sure, no problem.

It's sort of funny that he wanted me to take pictures with my little old Kodak EasyShare camera.  I mean, my camera is awesome and apparently is running on nine lives--we keep thinking it's about to die and yet, it somehow does not.  Over and over again.  But the paper has an incredibly talented photographer already, plus a couple of reporters who aren't so shabby with a camera, either.  With actual, professional cameras.

That's called irony.  I think.  Sometimes it's all a little sketchy.

So Friday the girls didn't have school and my parents were good enough to watch them while I was at work.  And I was all like, hey... how about you keep my kids a little overtime and I'll go check out that $6 non-local vendor craft show?  And Mom was all like, okay!  And I'll feed them dinner!  And feed you when you pick them up!

Oh, and.  Eric's great-aunt passed away (or maybe it was a second cousin?  Family trees are confusing), so he had left town for the funeral earlier that morning.  I was thinking of going with him, but for a variety of reasons--the college game he was going to meet my dad at, plus harvest festing--we decided I'd just stay home.  I still feel bad for not going.  She was really a great lady, and I'd have gone just because of that.

But I did have a whole hour and a half TO MYSELF after work.

I was getting out of my car and trying to get my camera and reporter's notebook* and pass all squared away, and ended up seeing my eye doctor receptionist and another lady who was our old youth minister back in the day, and they're all like, hey!  And I was all like, hey back!  And then we walked to the gate together, or actually, what we thought was the gate, and the kid was all like, you have to go over there.  But then he saw my pass and was all like, except you, you can enter here if you want.  And the ladies were all like, IS THAT A PRESS PASS?  And I was like, um, sorta.

I gotta admit, I felt like a rock star.  Or a kid dressed up as a rock star for Halloween. One of those two things.

So essentially I was just planning to walk around a bit and see the sights and try to take pictures.  Turns out, the $6 non-local vendor craft show was sort of boring on the picture front.  I did enjoy seeing the vendors more than I thought I would, but pictures were not allowed in that particular area and I wasn't in the mood to try to prove myself a member of the press.  Maybe a member of the press' distant, distant relative... no, probably not even that.

Oh, but I bought this:

It's a chalkboard.

(You know what this thing is?  It's a reclaimed cabinet door.  Brilliant!  Plus Eric can totally make this, if I ever think of anyone who needs a cute little chalkboard.)

I went back outside in search of someone or something interesting to photograph.  I found Deb the Receptionist (not to be confused with Deb in Sales) and was all like, um, would you let me take a picture of your family?  And Deb was all like, sure!  So I did.  And I felt better, because at least now I had SOMETHING to show for my pass. Like maybe I earned it a little now.

I got to my parents' house around 6:30, starving.  But of course I had to share what I just bought, so I took my spankin' new chalkboard in to show Mom.  Who freaked.  She was all like, I NEED THAT.  And I was all like, I KNOW, RIGHT?  So we hopped into my car and went tearing back downtown (my dinner uneaten.  Well, there ARE priorities in this life) so we would make it there before the 7 p.m. closing.  I showed my pass at the actual front gate this time and was all like, can I take my Mommy with me?  And the lady was all like, go for it, you have 10 minutes until closing anyway.  And Mom was all like, press passes rule.

So we got her a chalkboard, too.  And then I went back to her house and ate some really yummy lasagna.

Saturday I took pictures at the various stops we made--a couple at the local craft fair, a couple at my favorite fruit stand.  I took pictures of people I knew, since I was going to have to identify them later: Abby's teacher selling jewelry, Mrs. J and her ducks, Clara at the fruit stand.  It was sort of fun.  And people were really cool about it and seemed to believe me and my purpose, even with my dorky camera.

Sunday Abby wanted a Mama Day, so we went shopping (Wal-Mart, groceries) and then hit downtown again for one more shot at picture-taking at the $6 non-local vendor craft show.  Since Abby is in the 12-and-under category, she got in free.  I'm going to have to start bringing her birth certificate along because she's so tall no one believes me.  So I have to resort to saying things like, 1999, yo.  Still have vivid birthing memories.

You'd THINK that would be impressive, but apparently not.

I tried harder this time around.  I took some random shots that I hoped "captured the feel of the event."  Or something.  Then I ran into one of my friends from high school and her husband and got a shot of them by this huge carved pumpkin.  They kissed its cheek and picked its nose.  Money shot!

I also took this:

Existential comment on the condition of mankind.
Plus the shadows make it "art."

Unfortunately, that one didn't make it in.

But my picture of Clara, Mrs. J and Deb the Receptionist and Family DID.  On the back page, sure, but whatevs.

...And that really IS the end.  I promise.

*Because I was supposed to be getting names.  I never did use the thing.  Business cards!  That's where it's at.

Green Day, "When I Come Around." (My favorite part of this video is when he takes the phone off the hook.)  You may find out that our self-doubt means nothing, was ever there. You can't go forcing something if it's just not right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Harvest Fest, Part III

Part III!  I'm hopeful that this is the last installment, not that I'm getting tired of writing about my fun weekend with my mother and The Aunts, but because I'm a little sketchy on my Roman Numerals.

And also!  I'm writing this AND eating Eggplant Parmesan, so newly out of the oven that I just burned my tongue.  It's delicious.  I am very happy.

There might be tomato sauce on my keyboard.

Part II recap: Sad little bazaar and two fruit stands.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but it was a rather chilly harvest fest day.  Cloudy and sprinkles.  Lots of mud.  It made it all sort of exciting.  It didn't make a huge difference, because most of our stops were indoors, but it did make the outdoor stops seem a little lengthy.

I have definitely not mentioned that Mom and I were phone-free for the day because Eric and my dad had gone to a college football game and each taken a phone with them.  I keep telling Eric that he should keep my phone and I should get an iPhone, and then we'd both be covered and wouldn't that be fun?  So far he is unmoved, but I persevere anyway, mostly just because you never know when Eric will have a weak moment and actually agree.

So as we're driving back to Mom's house, Clara and The Aunts following, I'm all like, hey, we didn't hit that one store we usually go to downtown.  And Mom was all like, what!  Pull over!  So I did.  I guess this is what we would have done back in the '90s or, to be honest, 2009, since I didn't have a phone then either.  (Well, I guess I did, actually, but it was one of those old-timey 30-minute a month plans for $10 and I never really did figure out what my phone number was, or how to load numbers in or anything.  Mostly I just used it to call Eric.)

Mom hops back into my car and is all like, they were just saying that we forgot to go there, so!  We head back towards town.  Abby was excited because there's a McDonald's in this little mall-esque area and she wanted to check Facebook.  In her defense, it HAD been three whole hours.

We pile out in the parking lot, but instead of going into the store with everyone else, I was like, I need to get Johanna some shoes, so we're heading to the shoe store.  Johanna was quite thrilled about this.  So was I, but for different reasons--Johanna is not, shall we say, the sort of kid who just stands there with her hands in her pockets when she's in a knick-knacky store.  It's a little stressful.

We get her foot measured and then try to find something appropriate in her size.  She found a couple of shoes she liked, but every time she tested them out by running around the store, they'd fall off, so we kept getting smaller and smaller sizes.  She finally found this slip-on pair that reminded me of something I had in the '80s, minus the crazy colors, that stayed on that narrow little foot of hers, and then she was all, remember how you said I could get knee-high socks?  So she picked out a couple pairs of those as well.  Abby found some Ugg knock-offs that were $40 and I was like... no.  She took it well.  One awesome thing about my kids: They realize that just because they want something does not mean they're going to get it.

We got out of the shoe store before Mom and The Aunts were finished looking at the knick-knacks, so Clara, the girls and I hit this clothing store next door to just look around.  We took our time, went back, and Mom and The Aunts STILL were not finished.  Apparently the store was a big hit.

I was starting to panic a little, though, because.  Our time was really dwindling, and Mom, the girls and I were slated to go to Mass at 5:30.  Now, as you might reasonably be asking yourself, why not just wait for Sunday morning?  Let me tell you why: Eric and Dad were hitting Mass on the road, and Mom and I were trying very hard NOT to go on Sunday, because we just like the Saturday Vigil better.  We just do, okay?  And anyway, The Aunts decided that they didn't want to stick around for Mass or dinner, so really, there you go.

Everyone made it back to Mom's, and we pretty much just headed into the Apple Room and started tossing packages at each other.  Okay, not really.  We have a system.  It's not just chaos.  One person gets out their packages and passes them around the room, and everyone else opens at the same time (since usually it's the same thing), and then we ooh and aah and applaud.  And then someone else gets their packages and does the same thing, times... well, six this year.  My girls are not included in the gifts, but Clara and The Aunts seemed to have a little something for them anyway, which was very kind.

This year I gave everyone a jar of my special seasoning rub and another of cherry jam, all wrapped up in a dish towel.  Johanna helped me make labels for the jars.  This is when having an extensive scrapbook supply collection comes in handy, even when you don't scrapbook anymore.

The gifts were varied and wonderful: A plush bath mat from Joan, various holiday socks from my mother, apple-scented soap from Clara, a Christmas frame from Carol, and a cute reusable bag from Jan (inside: A chicken towel and a glass pumpkin).

So about 5:40, we were finished and out the door--all of us.  It was assembly line hugs and goodbyes, I tell you what.  And we were only ten minutes late, which was a miracle in and of itself.

I yawned all through Mass.  I couldn't help it.  We'd put on some miles.  Johanna rolled up her jeans so her new knee-high socks would show ("How else will anyone see them?" she reasoned.  Sound logic, that).  Mom treated us to pizza afterwards, and we waited for Dad and Eric to get back from their football game, and then we went home and debriefed each other about our various days (Eric's team lost.  Ah, well) and went to bed.

And yes, I slept in the next morning.

The end.

Oh, except.  That tangent I mentioned in Harvest Fest, Part I?  I'll get to that next.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Harvest Fest, Part II

I meant to get back to this yesterday, just because my Mommy always appreciates something new to read, but.  However, this morning I am tackling all those cooking jobs I should have gotten to this weekend, if only we weren't so busy being awesome: Chicken broth, roasted tomatoes, pesto.  I have time to write, you see, while things bubble away.  Although this can be dangerous, as I tend to forget about everything else when I'm writing.

The tomatoes will eventually be turned into Eggplant Parmesan, by the way.  But first things first.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves, no matter how delicious Eggplant Parmesan is.

(That's the trick of cooking from scratch.  You have to start at the bottom and work your way up.)

So.  To recap: The history of harvest fest and my family is lengthy; we had one day o' harvest fest fun; and our first stop was to a local craft bazaar.  And ducks.  Don't forget the ducks.

I think that pretty much sums it up.

So!  Our second stop was sort of an ad-on to the ol' schedule.  I'm not sure who decided to hit this little tiny craft bazaar by a local charitable organization, but anyway, we did.  (Peer pressure by The Aunts!)  It's always sort of a sad little sale... you could characterize it as "White Elephant" with a quilt raffle and some baked goods thrown in for good measure.  Everything was half-off because they wanted to close in like an hour.  The girls were starving--Abby had apparently not eaten lunch--so I picked out a small loaf of banana bread for them to split.  For $1.  And I paid the buck.  I was all like, um, you do good work, and I want to pay full price.  And the lady was all like, really?  THANK YOU.  And I was like, wow, that is super sad on multiple levels, but since The Aunts and Clara and my mother all found treasures, that sort of helps my conscience.

I mean, Jan and Joan got baby blankets in packages that hadn't been opened for 50-cents.  They don't even know any babies, but I guess the savings got the best of them.  Carol found some embroidered pillow cases that she bought because she "felt bad."  (Word.)  Clara spent her time in the books.  Mom found a fluted dish that she decided would be perfect for olives at Thanksgiving.  I had just broke it to her that one of her prized possessions--this wooden school house picture thing she got several years ago--was not on my list of things to take from the house when she kicks it, so she was all like, YOU WANT THIS DISH, RIGHT?  And I was all like, TOTALLY.  Except maybe you can stick around for another thirty years or so, if you don't mind.

Oh, and then the girls wouldn't eat the bread because they deemed it inedible.  Ah, well.  That's why God gave us birds.

So next!  Our favorite fruit stand!  The lady who runs it--and her daughters--look for us.  Mom and I go there all the time anyway, but they love to meet our friends and relatives for some reason.  I did my usual fruit and veggie shopping for the week (well, why not?  It's not like Mom or The Aunts were in a hurry).  The Aunts picked up some fruit for various people From Far Away.  Like my grandparents, I guess.  Clara found mini pumpkins and filled a sack for the people she works with--I thought that was a cute idea, although why she thinks mini pumpkins are better than garlic, I have no idea.  There was a cake walk, and Abby, Joan and Carol all won prizes--pumpkin bread, which was excellent and pretty much inhaled.  I felt sort of sorry for the neglected banana bread.

I love going to this fruit stand.  They've got 100-year-old trees that still produce.  It's crazy.  It's local food in action.  It's awesome.  We probably kicked around there for 30-45 minutes, and then it was time to go farther up the road to another fruit stand.

This one is maybe my second-favorite, but The Aunts love it because it's a bigger farm and thus there's more apple/pear variety.  I did not buy anything (not that I was boycotting, just that I had just stocked up and was not about to wait in those lines), but the rest of our group threw it down.  I was sort of wondering all the boxes of fruit were going to go in the SUV, but they must have worked it out.

Oh, here's a story about this particular stop: Abby, Johanna and I went to the back area, where there's this cool fort.  It actually looks like a fort, as in Fort Olden Days.  It was wet and muddy, and the slide was filthy, so I told Jo not to go down it.  But then we saw these kids sliding down by sitting on their feet, so that's what she did.  Several times.  That made a good photo op, especially when she slipped near the bottom and somehow caught herself before sitting on the muddy slide.  But eventually I got tired of sliding around in the mud, so I announced we were going back to the front.  That part went fine.  But then Jo said something to Abby and didn't appreciate the response and stomped her foot.  And JUST THEN this lady walks by and says, "No temper tantrums."  And Johanna was horrified.  She was like, who did that lady think she was, the police?  And I was all like, look, she didn't understand what was going on, and she has no idea how wonderful you are, and so you stomped your foot.  We're going to move on.

And we did, right into my car.  Because it was cold and crowded outside.  The girls and I finished off the pumpkin bread and listened to a little music.  Eventually The Aunts and Clara and my mother got the fruit they wanted, and we moved on to our last stop.  Because now we only had about 1 1/2 hours left of our harvest fest day, and we still had presents to get to.

This is a good place to end this particular episode, so that's what I'm going to do.  Wow, Harvest Fest is lengthy, I guess.  It's funny how some days, NOTHING happens, and other days, there's too much.

Irony!  Maybe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Harvest Fest, Part I

Every October, our town has this harvest festival that about quadruples the population.  It's a little nuts, truth be told, and not particularly about the harvest anymore, unless by "harvest" you really mean "craft bazaars."  Although now that I think about it, the craft fairs all do have token fruit bins, and then of course there's the actual fruit stands practically everywhere.  So I suppose it's all how you look at the thing.

Still and all, it's a fun weekend.  The trees are turning colors, and there's a nip in the air, and you just sort of feel like you need a whole bunch of apples and pears.  And maybe a little something from that booth over there...

My family is crazy when it comes to this annual event.  The date is on the calendar every year before birthdays.  The Aunts and my cousins come From Far Away, always about two hours later than they meant to get here.  My cousin Clara has been in charge of the driving the last few years, and I have to say that I admire her strength, patience and fortitude.  (Ha!  Now we'll see who reads my blog, won't we?)

Back in the day, the party would start Friday night and end sometime Sunday afternoon.  It was like an extended holiday, packed with the aforementioned craft bazaars, plus visits to fruit stands and a little quilting at my mother's house to boot.  (I've got a lot of nice quilts and wall hangings because of that weekend.)  Oh, and presents.  I'm not exactly sure when or why the whole gift-giving thing started, but that's a part of it, too.  On one of the nights--usually a Saturday--the Harvest Fest Core of Seven gather in my mother's Apple Room and pass out our presents, one at a time.  It's a highlight.

This started pre-Abby, by the way, before life got a whole lot more complicated on varying fronts.  It's changed over the years, going from the full weekend to maybe a couple of days to just one day.  Last year, we didn't have a harvest fest at all, at least not in the traditional sense for my family, because I have an aunt with a reoccurring type of cancer that happened to reoccur about that time, and.

So this year, we all sort of had this unspoken agreement that we were going to make the most of our day.  Because that's all we had.  Two of the Core of Seven were missing, but we picked up my Aunt Carol.  So that was cool.

The car arrived, with Clara at the wheel, around noon, and we hit the floor running.

First things first: That would be our favorite local craft bazaar.  There's another craft bazaar, but it is NOT local.  Going to the local bazaar makes us feel virtuous.  Plus we really don't want to spend the $6 to get into the other one.

OH, except.  I just thought of a tangent, but it might have to wait for later.

So anyway.  The local bazaar.  We tend to split up when we're shopping as everyone has different tastes and physical/mental capacities for shopping.  My girls and I went to find the duck lady, who happens to be my high school English lit teacher.  I love that my girls know who she is.  Not to get overly dramatic or anything, but she was one of those teachers who made an otherwise shitty experience fairly great.

Mrs. J sells rubber ducks that are dressed up as other things.  Animals, random creatures, aliens, professionals, historical characters.  The girls have at least forty of these things because we pick up at least two every year.  (Well, that might be an exaggeration.  Together they probably only have like 38.)  It does not matter how many they already have.  We must see what Mrs. J has this time.  She stays very current on duck trends, let me tell you what.

So we get to the booth, and Mrs. J's son looks at Abby and says, you look like our target audience for THIS.  And he held out an Edward Cullen duck.

Needless to say, Abby bought it.

Edward is on the upper right.

Johanna took a little longer to choose her duck, but she eventually picked a hula dancer with a red lei:

Johanna has the front two.

So that was that.  We could get on with the rest of our craft bazaar experience.

Stacey always helps with an art booth for her second parents, so we set out to look for her next.  Although of course she was stretching her legs at that particular moment and nowhere to be seen.  We made a mental note to come back later.  

I never find anything at craft bazaars... usually.  But.  I found some reusable cloth sacks in varying sizes that will be rock stars at the bulk bins, and some knitted dish cloths, and a red scarf.  One of Abby's favorite teachers makes jewelry, so she took me over to that booth.  And wow, there were some cool pieces.  I choose a pendant and a beaded necklace.  Abby's teacher announced that she would now be getting an A.  So that was a good investment.

Periodically we'd catch up to one of The Aunts or Clara and compare and contrast purchases.  Clara was not having any luck.  Joan and Janice and Carol fared better.  Mom found some items she couldn't live without.

As we shopped, we saw a whole lot of people.  We finally ran into Stacey, who had no idea who Edward Cullen is.  But then we saw our friends Julie, Molly and Patty, and Julie and Molly did, so that was good for Edward's self-esteem.  We saw Johanna's kindergarten teacher, the receptionist who helped me pick out my glasses, the pharmacist (always slightly awkward because he knows exactly what I'm on), a few people from church, Johanna's favorite classroom helper, and a couple of Facebook friends that I was sort of lucky to even recognize.

We had a failure to communicate, so the girls and I headed to another one of the buildings where I was sure we'd find Mom and The Aunts, but it turns out that they were waiting at the entrance of the main building instead.  Oops.  It was time to move on, two hours having been spent very satisfactorily by everyone involved.  Mom, the girls and I headed for my car, and The Aunts and Clara towards Jan's SUV.

So this is way longer than I intended, and I'm nowhere near finished.  So Part I it is.

Oh, and no song.  The only fall songs I can think of are like Monster Mash and... actually, just Monster Mash.  And it doesn't seem particularly fitting.  So.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I am done pretending

Breaking Benjamin, "Lights Out."  I love this song.  Now you want to take me down, as if I even care.  Oh, and: Life is unrelenting.  Word up, Breaking Benjamin.  Word up.  I've taken many a walk with this on my playlist.  Ben screams just as well as Chester.  And he breaks stuff.  I guess.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Your crystal ball ain't so crystal clear

Netflix, Netflix, Netflix.  I am getting so tired of this.
It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.
This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.
While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.
We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.
We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.
The Netflix Team
Yay, another email message!  From The Netflix Team this time instead of Reed Hastings, CEO and co-founder of Netflix.  Reed Hastings, CEO and co-founder of Netflix is apparently taking a break from this one.  Not that I blame him.  His last email flew like a bag of bricks.  Ton of bricks?  I can't remember the exact phrase.  My point is, who cares?  I'm still mad at you, Reed Hastings, CEO and co-founder of Netflix.  And I can really hold a grudge.  Just ask my husband.

(Not because I would hold a grudge against that darling man.  Just because he has to listen to me rant.)

Well, anyway.

No Qwikster.  But no reversal of splitting up the two services or charging the same for crappy streaming as DVDs.  (They're done raising prices "for now."  Great.)  Oh, wait--they're constantly improving their streaming selection!  That is good news.  Just for kicks, let's see what my streaming options are this fine morning, shall we?
  • Drake and Josh Go to Hollywood from Nickelodeon.  Maybe not.
  • Case 39.  Never heard of it.
  • Conan O'Brien Can't Stop.  Okay, that might be interesting.
  • Love's Kitchen.  Um, what?
  • Meet Joe Black!  Oh, wait.  We watched that in 1998.
  • White Irish Drinkers.  Do you think that's a comedy or a horror flick?  Because I can't tell.
  • And a whole bunch of TV shows!  Most of which I could already watch on Hulu!  For free!
Well, but The Netflix Team did sign their letter "Respectfully."  So that probably counts for something.

I guess.

Here's a tip: Think it through next time, okay?  Because at this point, you pretty much just look like a three year old out of breath from all the screaming.  And also, I so wish I could break up with you like I broke up with Safeway.  Someday, Netflix.  Someday...

There are SO MANY song options for this one that it sort of makes my brain hurt.  I'm thinking we'll have to go with The Beastie Boys, "Sabotage."  The official video, because it's hilarious.  (You can skip the ad after a couple of seconds.)  Why are our backs now against the wall? You're scheming on a thing, that's sabotage.  (Word.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I think about this world a lot and I cry

So yesterday afternoon we had this guy come into the office and basically just go bat shit crazy on us.  And I was sort of thinking of writing about that, but now I'm thinking, why bother?  The guy was a jerk, sucks to be him, life goes on.

Stacey and I found it necessary to medicate ourselves with coffee afterwards, though.  I mean, life goes on a little easier with coffee.

And that's way too much time on that particular subject.  So.

Friday night!  Eric and Abby's plans involved going to our nephew Cody's football game with my father-in-law.* Johanna and I were slated to spend a quiet evening at home, except.  Grocery shopping would provide an excuse to get out, but why not stop by my parents' as well?  We hadn't seen them for  a while.  I missed them.  I gave them a call.

My parents were ever so happy to see us.  They've been under self-quarantine with bad colds for the past week and apparently hadn't gotten out much.  That probably explains the excitement.  (Well, that, and Johanna and I are awesome.)  Normally I have an agenda when I go over there (my parents are great about watching the girls when I work).  Not this time.  So I was all, hey, let's check out your computer.  And Mom was all, yay!

Because: Mom's cousin had sent a link to pictures of my grandparents' anniversary party weeks ago, but the 'rents couldn't get them loaded onto a CD.  And there's always music Mom wants on her iPod.  And then I remembered iTunes 69-cent songs and I was all like, DAD!  iTUNES!  And he was all, okay.

First things first: I failed getting the pictures off the website.  Their Dell does not work like my iMac (another reminder of why my poser computer is SO WORTH IT).  Well, that was disappointing.  Especially since now I have to remember to pull the pictures off of my computer...

So then we moved onto pictures taken at a carnival Mom and Dad put on for Johanna and her friends this summer (pre-blog, which is unfortunate, because that would have been a post for the books).  I've been meaning to get Mom's pictures since July so I can make her a scrapbook.  So I did emerge victorious on that count.

And can I just say, yay USB drives?  Love them.

We tackled Mom's iPod next, although we got a little sidetracked by iTunes.  I mean, come on!  Those 69-cent songs are sort of awesome.  You can find all kinds of stuff that you've totally forgotten about.  And rocking out with my parents to Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby?"  Priceless.

You may be wondering what Johanna was doing all this time.  She was playing and reading.  Sometimes she'd come in to check on us.  Sometimes she'd join the from-the-chair dance party.  This, I believe, is called "letting your child find her wings," which sounds way better than "throwing your kid over for iTunes."

After an hour or two, Johanna and I announced it was time to go shopping, but we should have just taken a seat because we spent the next twenty minutes or so chatting in the living room.  It'd had been a while since we'd all seen each other, remember?  There was a lot to talk about.  And!  Mom gave me my birthday quilt she'd recently finished.  Here's a picture of it almost finished, when Skilly was under the mistaken impression his grandmother made the quilt for him:

Flannel Christmas squares.
Gorgeous here, even better finished.

Johanna and I hit the grocery store about 8 p.m., and let me tell you this: THAT is the time to shop, because the place was deserted.  There was plenty of room for Johanna to dance when "Thriller" came on over the store sound system.  She normally doesn't have the luxury of open space.  It still took a while to get through the store, though, just because Johanna likes to really check things out.  She is a good shopper.  And I got extra hugs for tossing hot chocolate mix into the cart.

We made it home around 9 p.m., way past Johanna's bedtime, which she loved.  We put groceries away, got the kid a snack (she's growing again) and then wrapped up in my new quilt to read a bedtime story.

And then I went onto iTunes and picked up a few 69-cent songs for myself.  Eric came home and teased me for getting Cheap Trick's "The Flame," but he doesn't have the camp memories I do.  That was a theme song one year, so clearly I need it for my collection.  I also got Mazzy Star's "Fade into You" because it reminds me of my senior year of college, and of Eric, and missing him.  He did not tease me about that particular purchase.

The end.

*Let's just say that cold weather, plus the fact that Johanna can NOT sit still over the course of a football game, makes staying at home a better option for the two of us.  Waiting for her to fall through the bleachers isn't exactly the most relaxing way to spend an evening.

REM, "You Are the Everything."  This song contains my all-time favorite line ever: And you're drifting off to sleep with your teeth in your mouth.  Probably I could also say something about how when the world makes me want to cry, I have family and friends and Eric who make me laugh.  But that would be really cheesy, so never mind.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The West is dry, your mind is clear

A couple stories for the "awesome" column:

This morning I volunteered in Johanna's classroom for the first time this school year.  I was around some of these kids last year, of course, but my volunteer time mostly just coincided with recess, plus the teacher made me Queen of the Copy Machine.  Today, I got to help with journal writing and then go do a bunch of busywork (which I don't mind doing--I'm not in it for the entertainment value, although I got a good deal of it anyway, as it turned out).

The kids had to write an entry that began, "I have."  You'd think that would open the door to numerous possibilities, but 75% of the kids wrote about their cats.  One kid wanted me to help spell her kitten's name--Tyler Rhinoceros something-or-other, which I suspect she just made up right there on the spot.  Another kid didn't want to talk about her kitten; she wanted to discuss how tall I am and how I am able to fit in my car (she figured it would have to be big and was shocked when I told her it wasn't, but I assured her I could just scootch the seat back and my legs fit just fine).  I'm like, look, don't worry, my little car is great.  Now, tell me about your kitten.  And she was all, are you married?  And I was all, sigh.

Johanna's entry: I have a mom. She loves me.

Which she erased to write: I have a mom. I love her.

Ah, shucks!

The kids started moving around to their various reading groups, and I went into the common area to work on the stack o' projects the teacher had for me.  I figured I'd just work for a couple of hours and see how far I could get.  Answer: Not as far as I thought.  (Sorry.)

I made some of those little copied, paper books that Jo is always bringing home.  It was boring, but I amused myself by trying to figure out ways to shortcut the process and make it quicker.  Eric says that I need to pay attention (what?) and that it's the end result, not how fast you get there.  He just says that because he's very slow and methodical.  (Hi, Eric!)  Anyway, this was a case where I probably should have listened to Eric's voice in my head because a couple of times I had to take out staples or flip pages or whatevs.  I made three stacks of those little suckers--about 15 to a stack, I'd guess--and had probably about 10 more to get to.  Three ended up being my limit.  But, as I told myself, I'd go work on the next project and see if I had any time left to get back to the books.

(And no.  No, I did not.)

Being tall makes bulletin board work very easy.  Except when I have to scrunch down for the bottom parts, I guess.  But that was my next project.  I was busy taking the kids' artwork off when the recess bell rang.  Johanna came out to give me a hug, and her little friend (who was the car/life talker) started grilling me about what I was doing.  Why was I removing all those staples?

"Does my teacher know you're doing this?" she finally asked, clearly worried that I was going to be put in a timeout or get a number on my Star Card.

"I have permission," I told her, and she nodded, satisfied, and went off to recess with Johanna.

I stuffed old art into cubbies and then went to put new art up.  And people!  This art was awesome.  The school is lucky enough to have an Honest to God Artist working there (she's technically ELL or something, but she's still in the building) who meets with the kids once a week for art projects--she reads them a story and then they create something that corresponds to that.  I'm not sure what the story was, but the kids had painted patterns onto paper, then cut out shapes to create pictures.  Colorful and awesome.  Every. Single. One.  The bulletin board looked fantastic.  First graders rule!  (I can't wait for Johanna to bring her pumpkin picture home.  I'm totally going to frame it.)

Oh, and my hanging abilities weren't too shabby, even though I have a hard time maintaining a straight line.  I'd blame it on my eyes, but I've got the glasses now and that damn depth perception that I'm still not sure about.

Anyway, so that was highly entertaining all around.  I left another two projects plus the books undone, which I feel bad about, but.  There's always next week.

And!  Last night, I went to my first PTO meeting since Abby was in first grade.  And I learned that I, Trisha, can sponsor the annual walk-a-thon thing and get my business card on the t-shirt for a very reasonable fee.  Only I don't have a business card.  So I'm thinking: Johanna's Mom.  I can't stop giggling when I think about it.  Johanna's Mom in the midst of all the actual business cards, and people being all like, whaaaaat?  And me laughing in the corner.  It's almost too much awesome.  I'm TOTALLY going to do it.

That's all.

I think today's song will be Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories, "Waiting for Wednesday."  Because it's Wednesday and my stomach doesn't hurt enough. Pain always is the sign.  (And) no proof of mine exists so I don't have to take it back.  (So there!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time to reach out to the side

I've had glasses now for... almost 72 hours.  It's been an interesting three days.

The thing is that with my glasses, I'm actually seeing depth.  Let's just say I wasn't quite getting the whole 3D experience before.  Which is weird.  I had no idea.  But now that I am, it's sensory overload.  It's going to take a while to get used to this.

I was a little self-conscious going into work on Friday with my glasses.  And then a little relieved that almost no one noticed, although a little anxious, too, in case they finally did.  Stacey volunteered to take the banking in, which was awesome, because I wasn't so sure I could walk with these things on my face.  I tried to keep them on, though, because aside from the potted plants looking so nuts, just sticking out like that, I could see my computer screen much better, and everything was a lot clearer.

So that ended up being fairly okay.

Then Eric and I went to a brew festival on Saturday.  I dutifully wore my glasses, because how else am I going to get used to them?  I was doing okay in the house.  I like them in the house.  But my house isn't all that big or crowded.  My brain hasn't had a lot of trouble with what it's seeing when I'm at home.

But there were A LOT of people at this festival.  (And they must have all been from out of town, because we saw like three people we actually knew.  And two WERE from out of town.)  It was very odd, looking at this crowd.  It was shifting and moving, and the whole 3D experience was making me feel sort of nauseous.  It's funny, because I'm not getting the headaches I expected.  I'm getting dizzy.

I did not see that coming, which is ironic.  (Oh, never mind.)

So I finally just took my glasses off.  It was a relief to have everything shift back to a blurry two dimensions again.  I mean, I guess I see in two dimensions.  I can tell what is above and below, ahead and behind, but I just didn't think there was so much space between the two... that it was so... like it is.

Depth is a funny thing.  I'm not sure if I like it.

So today I've tried to be good and leave my glasses on, and I really haven't had much trouble at all.  But then, I've mostly just been at home.  My biggest challenge came when I opened up the oven door and my glasses got all fogged up.  Twice, because I am a slow learner, apparently.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  Eventually I'll get used to this, right?


Chapterhouse, "Falling Down."  Mostly just because I'm afraid I'll fall down.  You know what's funny... I've been listening to this band/song since I was in college (we won't talk about how long ago that was) and I have never been able to figure out what they're singing about.  So I Googled the lyrics, and low and behold, now I do: Lead me to a sacred low.  Higher now, tell me what I wanna know.  Okay, then.  I always thought he was saying, "Take me on a walk about."  Ah, well.