18 December 2012

Spray Paint. The Be All, End All.

I bought, what I thought at the time, were beautiful mixed greens Christmas wreaths back at the beginning of December.  I swear, not 5 minutes after I hung them, one began to dry out, so by the time this week rolled around it was brown and crispy.  I am not about to go out and buy a brand-new wreath just for another week of showiness.  The old brain cogs began spinning....what better way to fix that problem, or for that matter a myriad of problems, than to pull out the best fixer-upper ever, spray paint?

Yeah, I know it's pretty much one-dimensional in color, but at least it has the appearance of something still fairly thriving.

And I'm not exaggerating.  This is how brown it was.  See that little patch under the bow?  That was the entire wreath not an hour ago.

I've seen wreaths this brown hanging on peoples' houses in April.  December 18th is pushing it.  Added bonus:  the wreath is so lacquered-up with paint now, those needles are going nowhere.

So...dried-out wreath?  Hit the hardware store! Nobody will ever know the difference.  At least from a distance.  In their car.  In the dark.

Damn...the mailman just delivered a package to the door where the sad sucker is drying.  Now he knows, too.  I'm sure there was a lot of WTF-ing and "That lady is WHACK" going on in his mind.

10 December 2012

A Word of Warning: Don't Let Those Labels Fool You!

I was on one of my tri-daily trips to the grocery store (no lie--that happens way too often for me) this morning when I saw something I had to buy, simply for the label attached.  The product was a bottle of dish washing liquid.  It must be considered ultra-fancy dish washing liquid because this was the label that was on it:

Now.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm sure this can be a great gift in the right context.  And by no means am I one to look a gift horse in the mouth.  But I can totally see Jay wrapping a bottle of cleaning product, putting it under the tree and calling it a day.

And so, Jay, this post is written especially for you.  Products with names such as Palmolive, Pledge, Clorox, Comet, etc. are not gifts you want to buy.  The hedge trimmers for my birthday years ago were plenty to satisfy the "HUH?" category of gifting.  Just in case you were wondering.  And while I know you are always stymied when it comes to holiday shopping, your smile is the only gift I truly need.  Yup--I went there.  Got all mushy-like.  I must be listening to too much holiday Muzak while traversing the grocery aisles.  

28 November 2012

This Cold Heart is Filled With Sap

I should be cleaning my house in preparation for this weekend when my sister will be here for her yearly pre-Christmas visit.  Sorry, Sharon, the house has to wait.  And while I'm at it, sorry in advance for the smelly-dog-couch (not that any amount of cleaning will take away its peculiar odor).  It's just that my brain sparked a musing and I need to get down pronto.

While on a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some cleaning supplies (namely furniture polish--why is it that I only dust my furniture with polish on the average of once a month [if that], but when I go to look for the polish it is gone?  Are Jay and the kids doing on-the-side cleaning that I am not privy to?  If they are, they're doing a good job of hiding it.  Snort.  Sometimes I crack me up.).

Anyway, at the grocery store there were those holiday fixtures, the Salvation Army volunteers, ringing their bells and playing Christmas music.  I put a dollar in their bucket (plug for a Jay Vocab Word:  The Imperfectionist: Of Buckets and Sauce, Poopies and Sweet Peas: A Language All Our Own ) on my way past and suddenly got so choked up and emotional that I couldn't even wish them a Merry Christmas back without my voice cracking and me feeling the need to inhale sharply.  I got into the store and realized I had actual tears in my eyes.  Good god.  I'm turning into a sap.
They get me every time.

Now, as Jay would tell it, I am a cold-hearted robot that has no feelings.  This is because I don't cry at the usual things.  The kind of stuff that makes him sob.  Sappy movies.  Doctor Who.  Our wedding.  I can't help it that his empathy gene is stronger than mine (though maybe I could have at least faked a couple of tears by screwing up my face a bit when we got married).  One exception:  we both cried during the ceremony at our friends' daughter's bat mitzvah this past spring, much to the surprise of many people who only know Jay and me to be the merry pranksters we normally are.  So sometimes I am able to match him in the getting-all-emotional department.

And today furthered that fact.  I do believe I am becoming a softie.  A chump.  I also cry at parades.  I can't watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade without a box of tissues beside me.  And that's not even being at it live.  Small impromptu parade-like things do it, too.  I remember the year our high school girls' soccer team won some kind of state thing, the fire trucks and police cruisers drove through town with their lights and sirens on, escorting the bus to the school.  I was sitting in a parking lot waiting for our son to finish basketball practice and saw the whole thing.  Yup, I got all messy-sobbing, simply because it was so overwhelming.  Happily, I was alone in the parking lot, having shown up too early.  That could have easily put the "UNSTABLE" stamp on my forehead with the other basketball parents for good, but c'mon, isn't that stirring?   And no matter how many times it is played from November 30th to December 25th, hearing the Boston Pops' version of Sleigh Ride makes me catch my breath and well up

No matter how much we think we are all tough-skinned and aloof and what-not, there is always at least one thing (and maybe eventually more!) that can hit us right smack in the heart!  

And now that I've aired those thoughts, I'm going to clean.  Here's my advice:  find that thing that makes you go all mushy and embrace it! 

13 November 2012

The Pros of Highly Affordable Furniture, or, Safety Pins, Though Safe, Can Still Be Handy Carving Tools

I miss writing.  My days lately have been a series of 24-hour spans of what constantly feels like playing catch-up.  I think it's a combination of spending too much time fawning over our new puppy and now, the looming holidays which are putting me into a cleaning/organizing frenzy, though if you took a look around our house, you'd question the second half of that statement.  It's just all of those little annoying things gnawing at me that eventually cause me to stop in the middle of whatever task I may be doing and, say, clean out the hallway closet or as I did today, attempt to beautify the messy monstrosity my daughter calls her desk.

Every time I step foot in her room, the surfaces of her desk, bureau, nightstand, and every shelf in her bookcase feebly call out to me for help, gasping from being buried under so much crap.  I looked at her desk this morning and cringed.  The majority of it was covered in every color of nail polish conceived in the last five years by Loreal, Maybelline, Revlon, and a host of others.  And Scotch tape.  Everywhere.  Stuck to the top, the sides, underneath...I think she uses it for making lines of color on her nails or something.  Meanwhile, my nails are non-existent from picking at it for a good 45 minutes.

A portion of the collection.  I know there's more lurking in the dark corners of the girl's room.
So, yeah, the desk was a huge mess, and is now clean.  Let's see how long that lasts.  I blame YouTube.  There are way too many videos of new and exciting ways to do one's nails.  Come on!  Does anyone really need their nails to look like watermelon slices or candy corn?  When I was thirteen, going for bright pink polish was living on the edge.  Now the nail polish displays rival the Benjamin Moore paint chip display at the local hardware store.  Curses, you Age of Information!  

Looking at the nightmare which is a teenage girl's room (yeah, I know--teenage boys aren't any better...and why do the boys' rooms always smell like Fritos?) this morning made me start thinking of how happy I am that we did not go crazy when buying furniture for our sweet little girl who, when it was time for her "big girl bed" was the perfect image of innocence.  Who knew that a face like this:

Could, in only a couple of years, do something like this to her bed:

I like to refer to those as her Sing Sing years, where at the tender age of seven she decided it was fun to carve her name into any surface that was soft enough, kind of like a lifer in prison.  That bed didn't stand a chance.  Fortunately, we didn't have the desire (nor the deep pockets) to shop for her furniture at Ethan Allen.  And now I can simply sigh when I see her name carved into the foot of her bed, or the desk covered in nail polish, rather than go on an all-out bender like my mother did when she saw that my young 3ish-year-old self colored on my Mary-Had-a-Little-Lamb-lamp with markers.  Now that is a memory from my youth that I'll never forget.   Holy crackamoli, you'd think I had just shaved the cat (I did cut her whiskers once) or set fire to my room (that I did not do).    Not that my creative offspring did not get a good long-winded lecture.  She has yet to carve her name anywhere since.  The nail polish is another story.  I'm working on that one. 

And, yes, I know the majority of you out there reading this are saying, "Fool, why are you cleaning the girl's room in the first place?  Get her to do it herself!"  That happens, too.  But sometimes even a desk needs a full overhaul.  And now she totally owes me.  I just need to think of what.

23 October 2012

Happiness Is a New, Warm Puppy.

I feel like I have not written for a year.  But I have a good excuse.  My time has been all-encompassed by this:

Willa.  A very sweet pup.
As well as this (actually this is very subdued compared to their regular wrestling goings-on):

Meet the newest addition to our crazed house, Willa.  She fits right in.  The best thing is, she's waaaaay mellow.  She loves to sleep in the lap of the human who is closest when she gets hit by the sleep bug,  has no toileting issues (unlike some other dogs we know...I'm not mentioning names, but sounds like Drip It), and can totally hold her own.  This all balances out very nicely with Lady Neuroses, also known as Pippet, i.e., the afore-unmentioned toileting-issued (among many, many other issues) dog.

When we adopted Willa (big shout out of thanks to Kelley Prichard and her organization, Adopt A Stray http://www.adoptastrayrescue.org/ for sending this sweet girl our way!!) I knew what to expect:  the energy needed to make our little one feel at home, and the time and attention we would have to spend getting her used to her new surroundings.  But even as prepared as I was, much of everything else in our daily routine dropped out the bottom, shall I say, while the doting, learning and training ensued.  Holy crap, my floors are filled with puppy detritus brought in from the yard, which has not been mowed in weeks.  {Alex--MOW THE LAWN!!!!}  Chewed bits of unrecognizable stuff can be found under every piece of furniture in the living room.  And there are no less than twenty toys of various sizes and materials splayed about the floors from one end of the house to the other.  I'm waiting for Jay to roll an ankle on one of them so we can hear a blue streak echo throughout.  And now, Pippet is reverting.  She has decided that paws up on tables and counter tops are totally OK, and anything she finds up on said surfaces is fair game.  She took a tub of port wine cheese off the counter and consumed about half of it before I got to her (and if you are wondering who eats that garbage, well, now you know:  me and Pippet).  This morning I intercepted her schnoz from engulfing an apple core just as it (the schnoz, not the apple core) was readying for the attack.  She has suddenly taken great interest in slurping out of my coffee cup, only after taking a nice, long draw from the toilet.  I'm hoping everyone is remembering to flush while in their puppy-induced haze.  Bad behavior aside, she gets along with her new housemate, so I should be glad of that and just work through the two-year-old-acting-out.

As much as we miss our old girl Scout (who is, of course, still here in our hearts), it is wonderful to see youth and energy in the house again.  Pippet finally has a sister to play with and who actually may have more energy than her at times.  They are both passed out right now, exhausted from chewing on each other for a good hour.  I am so going to take this time to enjoy the peace and quiet.  It's just like when my kids were babies.  Talk about full circle!!

And so I am going to leave this post short and sweet.  So much has happened in the last couple of weeks.  There are Shirtless Running Guy stories, my adventures with DIY at-home mole removal (steady your stomachs for that one), discoveries made during furniture moving, and a never-ending tick season.  All stories to be told another time.  Stay tuned...I'm back at it!!

04 October 2012

Shirtless Running Guy...Done Up.

Today as I was having my routine Thursday morning cranky-fest over coffee with my friend, Sue, none other than SRG ran by.  But now that time of year is upon us that I can no longer call him Shirtless Running Guy.  And so I give you...SHIRTED RUNNING GUY:

That  je ne sais quoi is lost once the shirt appears, no? 
Sadly, the hedges prevent us from getting the full effect.  But though he wears a tank top in today's picture, the shorts remain lit-tuhl.  Very lit-tuhl.  I like the baseball cap, too.  I haven't seen him without it in a long time.  Could Shirted Running Guy be having an issue with his hair follicles atrophying?  We may never know.  Unless he ditches the hat.

25 September 2012

Adopt-a-Stray Update!

If you got through the bitching and moaning of the beginning of my post from yesterday, you probably read about our new adoptee, Jenna-the-cutest-pup-ever, coming to us very soon from a wonderful animal rescue, Adopt A Stray, down in Arkansas.  Kelley, the founder, has started up a new website.  Though it is still under construction, it is still very navigable, and the adoptees are able to be seen, which is oh so important!  Here's the address if you are so inclined to take a peek:  www.adoptastrayrescue.org/
One of the babies available for adoption.  Come on!  How cute can you get?

I dare you not to smile while looking at these faces!

24 September 2012

Digging Around for the Upside to the End of Summer

Watch out.  I've been feeling all morose and crabby for the past couple of days, due mainly to the realization that the summer was filled with lots of great events and adventures (that's the name of a singles' matchmaking place, isn't it?), all of which were fantastic, but are now merely memories (I have to say the Gotye concert, which was the most recent thing, was stellar).  That, and the first day of autumn/last day of summer was this past weekend.  I know.  I sound all jaded and whatnot.  But seriously, as I described to a couple of friends today, I feel like a kid the day after Christmas.  It's just that anticlimactic situation that's inevitable when great things happen, and then the Happy Balloon deflates.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one this happens to.  And of course, this too shall pass.  Another summer is only a short nine months away.  I wish I was as ecstatic about the upcoming ski season as the rest of my family.  It will be fun, but I do sandy beaches and warm oceans better than snowy mountains, butt-freezing chairlifts, and snotcicles.

So, it's time to look forward to some new things.  Now that autumn is here, cooler temps are on the horizon.  It was 39°F when I woke up this morning (that's enough to make even the happiest of people crabby).  And these cooler temps can mean only one thing:  Shirtless Running Guy is going to start putting on some duds.  I got a text from a friend last week letting me know that he was wearing a...a...a...tank topAN ACTUAL SHIRT!  I saw him as well, though at first I thought he was a woman because: a) he was far away; and b) the shirt made him look a bit androgynous.  It was kind of loose and flowy, not super-tight-wife-beater-like.  Soon, on the really cold mornings, the running tights and gloves will appear.  Maybe I can get out of my doldrums by aiming to capture some new shots of his seasonal running apparel.  It will be the opposite of a strip tease.  The clothes go on rather than come off.

And the biggest, best thing to look forward to is the new puppy-girl we are in the process of adopting.  I just got news today that she will be transported up here from Arkansas in just under two weeks.  She is the sweetest thing, and we can't wait to meet her in person!  Here are a couple of pictures of her (you know there will be a bajillion more pics on this blog the minute she gets into my car in two weeks!):
C'mon...how can you not make a smunchie-munchie noise when looking at her?

Right now her rescue name is Jenna, but I'm pretty sure it will become Willa once she's at her new home with us.  I can't say enough about the woman who rescued her.  Her name is Kelley Prichard and she is the founder of Adopt-a-Stray Rescue down in Arkansas.  She has a heart of gold, and has done so much for so many animals whose lives would have otherwise been miserable if not non-existent.  If you are ever wanting to give a loving home to a rescue dog but need some direction on where to begin, here's a link to her Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/adoptastray.rescue  She is how we found Pippet, too!

So just writing these few paragraphs of not outrageously exciting stuff has made things all warm and rosy again.  Amazing how that works.  Had a bad day?  Crabby and pissy like I was?  Write down a couple of things that make you happy.  It so works!  Bloggotherapy.

19 September 2012

An Homage to Indie

Music equals inspiration, no?  It can come in any form, dependent on the listener.  From Mozart to Lead Belly, The Sex Pistols to southern gospel, The Chieftains to The Dead (cringe: Even I had a spell of Deadhead-ism back in the 80's.  Jay still gets stuck there sometimes.).  Whatever the source, it's what gets you going.

Picture your vision going all wavy-like (kind of like if you were at a Dead show) and turn the clocks back a little for a bit of author-imposed digression.  I know--yawn.  Humor me for a sec.  Way back when, during my college years, I had high aspirations of making it big as a visual artist.  I did not know how it was supposed to pan out, whether I would fall into that romantic, starving bohemian stereotype, or the commercial drone working in the graphics world.  I just knew that making stuff was one of the very few things I was really good at and it was what ultimately made me the happiest. 

Well, I learned things don't always work the way our tiny, 20-ish, idealistic minds would prefer.  I had various jobs for various printing houses, but did not get to use my artistic talents very much.  Then marriage happened and shortly thereafter our family was started.  Not that I don't appreciate Jay and the kids, but wow.  Sort of a buzz kill for my inner artist.

OK, enough with the depressing and boring reflection.  Sometimes you've got to set ground work, ya know?  Anyway, currently things are on an upswing with my painting and overall artistic output.  Hey--I even started this blog, which finally puts my degree in English to work for the first time since I graduated over twenty years ago.  Point is, I'm doing and making stuff again.  It may not be to every one's taste, but it feels damned good to put all of the scrambled mess that's in my bizarre mind out there in a creative way.

Back to the music thing.   This newly found and prolific expression coincided with my re-appreciation for music.  There are so many great new sounds to constantly be discovered!  Music has always been a trigger for expression with me, as I know is the case with so many people.  I feel huge amounts of crazy energy/joy when I see the array of  amazing indie artists out there right now.  It's that cutting edge and freedom from the expected that makes so much of the indie music scene full of pure awesomeness.  At the helm of this reawakening of mine is a key artist whom I began listening to, just as I began to unearth all of my art supplies.  That would be Wally de Backer, a.k.a. Gotye.  Ah yes, we all know his "Somebody That I Used to Know," I can see the eyes rolling and hear the groans as I type that song title, due to the massive air time it has received in the last year (I personally still love it and will still belt it out if I'm out of earshot from other people and not near any glass that I can shatter with my voice).  But there is so much more on the rest of his Making Mirrors album as well as his previous work, i.e. Like Drawing Blood and Boardface.  Like this piece entitled "Save Me," from Making Mirrors which just happens to have incredible animation to go along with it, as so much of his work does.

And through listening to his work, I have been introduced to the music of Wally's fellow musician currently on tour with him, Tim Shiel, a.k.a. Faux Pas.   More amazing music--the kind that you can totally get lost in.  Nice.  I'm totally loving this song from his latest album, Remixes: Tim Shiel & Caitlin Park - Baby Teeth Remix .  Excellent work, and if you're inspired to do so, take a gander at his website:  www.iamfauxpas.com .  Great stuff, all of it.   AND accolades to Caitlin Park for having such a kick-ass voice.  Zounds.  Here's her website: http://caitlinpark.net/ .  I think I'm needing to listen to more of her work.

So what's the point of this diatribe that is seemingly endless?  Simply this:  I need to thank these guys.  It is because of their music that I'm back on course with my art.  Pretty neat.  And now for the...erm...odd bit.  I'm directing this precisely to Wally, Tim, et al.  I was lucky to see the show you played here in Boston back in March, and I am even luckier to have tickets to your upcoming show here this Saturday the 22nd (!).   I do not need  to shake your hands personally to show my appreciation (though c'mon, that would be great for just about anybody).  BUT, if at some time during the show, you happen to look out at the crowd, center section in the vicinity of the 11th row, I'll be there, heartily singing along (though terribly off key, much to the dismay of those near me) and grateful that there are such great artists such as you to inspire and delight so many people.  A big thank you for helping me get my art chops back!

Alright.  I don't know if these guys will ever see this, and if they do, hopefully they don't think I'm all weird- stalker-crazy.  But one thing I know is it's always good to put some thanks out into the universe.  It definitely never can hurt.  Rock on, Garth.

11 September 2012

Greener Pastures Always Await

Sadly, we said goodbye to our old-woman-dog, Scout, this morning.  She went peacefully, on a blanket on the floor of her vet's office, with me lying right beside her, our noses touching.  My thanks to the amazing staff at Main Street Veterinary Hospital, who helped guide both Scout and me through the entire procedure, down to the doctor and technician who shared a couple of sniffles with me once everything was complete.  It takes a very special kind of person to do what they do on a daily basis. 
And so, as they say, on to greener pastures for our old girl.  Carry on, Scooter.

06 September 2012

On Brain Aneurysms, Grizzly Bears, Dust, and Gilbert Gottfried: the Composition That is My End-of-Summer Brain.

We've all heard it enough since Labor Day:  summer is over for the year 2012 (my god, I'm opening with a ray of sunshine, huh?), at least here in the Northern Hemisphere.  And though we officially have a few more weeks according to the calendar, the magic is totally gone.  Belly-up.  Gone-zo.  So, with the kids back to school, it's back to talking to my dogs or myself during the day.  And thinking about lots of weird things.  Here are a few of them that have been knocking around in all that empty space in my brain for the past week:

  • Maggots are freaking scary.  Way worse than snakes, spiders, grizzly bears (even when they have that big snarly turned-up nose thing going on) and what have you.  Why?  Well, besides being all gross and squirmy and able to move across surfaces at an alarming speed (!), I now have first-hand knowledge that they are pretty damned resistant to straight bleach.  It doesn't even seem to begin to phase them for a good 20 minutes.  Blech.  I'm not happy about the fact that I was able to discover that tidbit, nor am I happy that I'm the person who gets to deal with the outdoor trash cans.  Hint, hint, Jay.

Not nearly as scary as those nasty little buggers.
  • Blue jays are the Gilbert Gottfrieds of the avian world.   Loud.  And annoying.  And yet there still remains a certain appeal that makes you say, "I guess they're not that bad." (That may be a "just me" thing.)  I can't believe I just admitted that.

  • If I were to suffer from some life threatening event, say, ohhh, a brain aneurysm, while Jay and the kids were watching Doctor Who, I'd be toast.  Never mind that I wouldn't be discovered until somebody came looking for whatever the next meal may be and instead found me lying in a heap of rigor mortis somewhere.
  • As much as I try to make it work, dust just doesn't cut it as an addition to our house's decor.  Thicker and denser is not a plus.  
  • There has yet to be a product put on the market that truly makes dusting our house's decor not pure torture for me.  Swiffer ads LIE.
  • And finally, has Shirtless Running Guy been told by an informant that there's a crazy blogging lady who can't stop writing about him?  I wonder.  He made major eye contact with me a couple of weeks back.  Almost accusing.  I think I've got a giant case of covert picture-taking guilt. 
And so it's back to the grind of school and work and eventually extremely short days resulting in Seasonal Affective Disorder in just about everything that moves.  Time to embrace one's pasty, white, winterized self.  Know it.  Love it.  Ignore it.  A brand-sparkly-new summer will be here before you can say tan-in-a-can.

30 August 2012

My Dirty Little Orange Secret

The other day I finally bought "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. 

Excellent basics book.

Jay, if you're reading this, I know what you're thinking.  And the answer is, "Yes!  I do need another giant-sized cookbook to take up more of the limited space we have in the kitchen!"  I have a bajillion cookbooks too many already, but the reason I got this one is because I think our friend Ellen has it and I'm pretty sure she's made some amazing stuff out of it.  Hopefully I'm thinking of the right book.

Anyway, today I was looking through the dessert section.  Holy crap.  Now, one thing to know is that back in February I cut all sugar out of my diet.  I'm not preaching that this is what everyone should do, but it was the only way to put an end to the crazy sugar fiend I was becoming.  And that doesn't mean I still don't love to bake.  I just need to make sure it's not for me.  But today as I was flipping through the pages,  recipes like Butter-Almond Cake and Grand Marnier Souffle taunted me.  I think I need to have a dinner party and force-feed everyone dessert to get it out of my system.

And as I was looking through the recipes I noticed that no chocolate recipes attracted my attention.  Odd.  Then I started to think about what my very favorite sugary thing on the planet is.  I came to the conclusion that if I could have anything with sugar, it would not come from a bakery or an ice creamery.  It would come off the shelves of the drugstore candy section.  And it will probably gross out a lot of people.  It would be this:

Can't you just smell the chemical-y banana goodness?

Hello.  My name is Joanne.  I'm an artificial banana flavor addict.  And this is why it is better that  I not have sugar.  Because it leads to Circus Peanuts. 
And my final question for you to mull over is:  Love them or hate them?  There's no in-between!

27 August 2012

Just One More.

This is it.  The final picture of what I had such dreams for.  Alas, a thriving rosemary bush was just not meant to be.

And so to the compost it goes, though I have to say, I am way impressed with it's camouflage capabilities.  Just look how it blends in with the gray fence.  Those are some 'flage chops.

24 August 2012

That's a Wrap.

I vow as of today not to buy any potted plants other than cacti for my decks and porches.

Day 1.

Day 2.

Day 3.

I'm not being defeatist (as the Dowager Countess of Grantham would say, "It's so middle class."), but let's face it:  the pictures say it all.

23 August 2012

Get Some Water...Stat.

So.  Yesterday I wrote about how I'm the Grim Reaper of houseplants, yadda, yadda, yadda. ( Flora Death and Destruction by the Author, August 22, 2012 )  At the end of the post, I wrote about buying a new rosemary plant and my dreams and aspirations for it.  I was not kidding when I wrote about the plant, "Let's see if my latest conquest can make it to the end of August."

I just noticed the...well, I guess it's still a plant.  You have got to be kidding me.  This is what it looks like at the moment: 
I just doused it with water.  I'm blaming the cooler nights we've been having lately here in New England.  You don't expect it to get as damned hot as it does during the day, thus the (my) subconscious reasoning that the plants can be forgotten for a little while...they can get watered if and when the desire strikes.  That's my story and I'm staying with it.  Not sure if the rosemary agrees.

22 August 2012

Flora Death and Destruction, by the Author

I am beginning to accept the notion that I am not competent when it comes to growing houseplants.  I am in fact the Grim Reaper when it comes to green things that thrive indoors.  Well, actually I'm not that good at growing some outdoor plants, either.  Here's what my last attempt at growing tomatoes looked like:
It's like what tomatoes would look like in Mad Max.  Tomatoes of the Apocalypse.
I have ended all attempts at growing vegetables.  Jay has pretty much made me vow that I will not spend the money on any more plants in the spring, only to have them look like the above by late July.

Back to the houseplants.  My intentions are always good.  But something on either end of the plant care spectrum happens when I bring a new plant home.  I either over-love it and water it too much or I totally abandon it and forget to water it after a week, leaving it to die a Saharan death.  You know how before people get a pet they are supposed to get a plant, and if the plant lives then they know they can take care of a pet?  It's pretty much the opposite for me.  Well, not even the opposite.  I have pets and they are living happy, healthy lives.  So you'd think a plant would be able to live with me taking care of it.  Yeah, no.

Last year my sister, Laura, gave me two jade plants.   I had admired the behemoths she had growing in her living room and she was kind enough to root, pot. and bring me two of their offspring.  Laura, by the way, has the gift of a very green thumb.  I don't think plants have the nerve to die in her house.  That's how good she is.  "There is no way you can kill these things," she told me with the utmost confidence.  Oh, really?  Within six months all that was left of one of them were two sad, leafless stems standing forlornly in the dirt, like two abandoned fence posts in a ghost town.  This is what is left of the second plant: 

There used to be a LOT more leaves.
I sadly know where the story will end up for this poor thing.  Have I watered too much?  Not enough?  All I know is that the fat, succulent leaves turn to a mushy brown, dry out, and fall off in my care.  Impending death is certain.  I'm sorry, Laura.  I feel like I've done you an injustice.  Do not give me any more of your beautiful plants.  I'm not worthy!  On a happier note, the plant to the left in the picture is a bamboo plant that is something like four or five-years-old.  That thing dries out to near death and I water it and it perks right back up.  It is the one plant that I cannot kill.  Kind of like a cockroach.  And it was given to me by the parent of an obnoxious student of mine when I was working as a preschool teacher.  It's a constant reminder of all the bratty things he pulled (sorry if this is offensive to any parents of preschoolers--even teachers have their limits).  Go figure.

Last winter I was also inspired to plant some African violets because Martha Stewart said that they perk a room up in the middle of those bleak months.  She made it all sound so easy.  They sat out in full bloom on my coffee table through last February and March.  I thought I had nailed it.  And then they took on that death look.  They were retired to a corner where they wouldn't depress everyone.  Perk up a room, my non-green ass, Martha!  This is what they look like right now:

How did my grandmother make growing these things look so easy?
There is some green coming out of the middle of a couple of the plants.  Maybe there is hope for them yet.  I'm not holding my breath.

And that brings me to today, when I found myself at the grocery store eyeing a rosemary plant.  Look out, this was the last one among all of the other potted herbs.  I resignedly put it in my basket, trying to be positive and upturning my thoughts to, "YES!  I can and will grow this plant to a huge rosemary bush...maybe even a...a...TOPIARY!"  This is what it looks like now:

Perhaps my positive attitude at the store was a little overkill.  Let's see if my latest conquest can make it to the end of August.

20 August 2012

School's Looming and Coffee Grounds Apparently are not a Dog's Best Friend

I got a jolt this morning while pouring my first cup of coffee (mind you,  in that non-caffeinated state, I should never receive any kind of surprise when holding hot liquid), when Jay asked/stated, "The kids are back to school next week?"  Damn.  Not that reviving and expanding their summer-soaked brains aren't good things, it's just that there's always that same slap in the face every mid-August that reminds us summer is almost over.  But, just as I was reminded by my parents when I was a kid that if Christmas were every day it would totally lose its appeal, summer cannot be year-round lest we take its lazy-ass-gin-and-tonics-on-a-school-night attitude for granted.

Enough waxing all sappy and wistful.  The onset of the autumn months brings about a couple of other occasions.  Our old-woman-dog, Scout, tacks on another year.  This will be number 15 for her in September, warts and all, though the warts are a few years younger than the rest of her bod.
Awesome capture of Scooter's eye-wart.  Sorry if you're eating breakfast.  Amazing how--erm--we don't even notice it.
And Pippet, the Poster Dog for High Maintenance, turns two on her quasi-birthday, which we made Halloween since we only know she was born about eight weeks prior to Christmas.  I don't know much about the zodiac calendar, but she makes me wonder if the sign for late October is The Anxious Worrier. 

And you know where this is going.  Cue the musings on Canis Bizarrus, a.k.a. Pippet.  She's calmed down a lot in the last year, though her love of all paper products is still ever-present.  So she's still in the running for a spot on "My Strange Addiction."

Taken today.  Kleenex the victim.
The thing I'm noticing now is that all of her cute puppy oddities are being replaced by full-on neurotic behavior.  Behavior that makes her a great candidate for Xanax.  Here are some of her latest things that she's sprung on me, just in the last 6 months:
  • Full hatred for Leo, the neighbor's cat.  This vitriol has been a work in progress, which is aided by the fact that Leo has taken over our yard as his own.  Pippet's not buying.
Leo.  One of the most lovable cats around.  But after petting him you have this film on your hands that makes you want to scrub with soap and water surgeon-style. 
  • Howling in the middle of the night, usually when Jay is away on business, so that I have every light and TV on at 3:30 in the morning to make things all the livelier, though not necessarily safer against  hooligans. 
  • Constant stalking of Scout.  Like hiding and peeking around corners and then jumping out at the old girl.  Not nice.
  • Barking at my phone (and only mine), be it a call, text, alert, whatever.
  • Whining like Timmy's Stuck in the Well whenever I knock the soggy coffee grounds out into the sink (yes--I know that's bad for the septic--Jay makes sure to remind me).  Also when I fill the coffee pot back up with water.  This is a fairly new behavior.  And super-weird.  Here she is watching me fill the coffee pot, whining the whole time.  Note the concerned face.
  • Chewing the remaining fringe off the living room rug when nobody will play with her according to her schedule.  She'd forgotten about the fringe for a while, but is currently back at it.  I wish she'd finish it off so that the new look would be complete.

I know.  All of the strange behavior must say something about the owner.  Maybe.  Or maybe Pippet's just a seriously uptight dog. 

One thing is certain.  From the way my mind has wandered through these paragraphs, obviously I need some structure back in my life.  School to the rescue!  We'll work on Pippet later.

14 August 2012

Praying Mantises: The Honey Badgers of the Insect World

Practically every day I catch myself thinking, "Hey, dummy, you should write about that," about a strange assortment of stuff.  Then my feeble, sieve-ish, middle-aged brain takes over and wipes away all memory of what was supposedly a great idea.  Lots of times those ideas are gone forever.  Sometimes little things can give the old brain a kick in the pants, though, and I remember some odd bit.  This happened yesterday.

My dear college friend and sorority sister, Christine, posted this terrific photo of a praying mantis on Facebook:
How cool is this guy?!

I can't help but be mesmerized whenever I see them.  I should know better.  It got me to thinking about a photo I took a couple of weeks ago while out doing the continuous grocery run that will never end until my kids move away from home:

Unassuming, pretty trees that house demon spawn.

What does one have to do with the other?  Oh, so very much in a convoluted sort of way.  The picture of the tree was taken while thinking about stupid things I have done in the past.  Things I should share to let folks know what an idiot I can be.  This is one of those stupid things:

The above pictured tree, and others like it in the grocery store parking lot near where I live are a favorite home for praying mantises.   Last year I was walking past this tree to my car, which happened to be parked alongside.  There was a heavyweight-category mantis sitting on one of the outer branches, surely just knowing what a prize it was.  I could not resist.  I knew that praying mantises eat other bugs.  What better way to have pest control in my herb garden than to have one of these puppies in there, no?  I needed something to pick it up with.  Being the wuss I am not very proud to admit to, I refused to use my bare hands.  God knows what kind of sharp, pointy things were lurking on that monster.  I found an old ski hat and, with people rubber-necking at me as they walked to and from the store (Why couldn't they mind their own business?  Can't a person publicly act like a fool in peace?), I gingerly wrapped the hat around the bug, thinking we would just hang out in the car together for the short drive home.  WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?   As soon as I shut the car door, the devil-mantis went nutters on me.  When it wasn't dive-bombing my head, it was smacking against the windows with alarmingly loud cracks.  And if you think they look big on a branch, they're downright huge when locked in a car with you.  Anyone walking by my car (which most definitely was displaying a lot of animation for not even having the key in the ignition), saw me flailing about the front seat,  swatting at my head in spasmodic fits,  and heard from within, my muffled screams. Interesting.  I finally gave up on my spur-of-the-moment nature project, opened all the car doors and shooed the damned thing from my car, uninjured (the mantis, that is).  I knew that praying mantises were ruthless predators in the bug-world, but had no idea  how bad-ass they could be with something 1,000 times their size.  You live and learn, as the cliche says.  And now I know to leave nature alone and that Praying Mantis Transport by Automobile is not a good idea.  Stupid, in fact.   

08 August 2012

Three Words: Shirtless Running Guy.

OmigodOmigodOmigodOmigod!!!!!  You know, sometimes the best things can happen from the worst situations.  Take this morning, for example.  I was supposed to pick up Janie, our daughter, from a sleepover at 8:30 AM (an unheard of hour for a teenager, mind you) so that she could head out to a water park first thing with a friend.  She promised me that she would be ready to go when I showed up.  You can imagine my utter shock (yeah, right) when I pulled into the driveway, no daughter to be found.  I called and texted her cell six or seven times, no answer.  The parents of the house had already left for work, so no dice there.  I banged on the door, nothing.  These were some seriously heavy sleepers I was dealing with.  Just short of throwing rocks at all the windows, I got in my car and drove away, trying to figure out what I would say to the mom who was supposed to be picking Janie up in a half hour.  Just as I drove away, the daughter calls.  Poor, sleep-deprived urchin could not get a word in edgewise, as I went into full-on yelling lecture mode about being a responsible person and following through with promises.

All that done, I picked her up and on the way home, guess who we see.  Yup.  SHIRTLESS RUNNING GUY.  In a frenzy I tried to grab my phone and get it into camera mode, but I was still all pissy and flustered, so I missed him.  I was not going to let that ruin my chances.  I blew home, dropped Janie off, told her to get ready and blew back out to the celebrated running route.  And there he was.  Oh, the beauty of it all.  I gleefully took shot after shot, giggling maniacally.  So yes, our daughter caused all kinds of inconvenience for me this morning, but she also induced the best photo ops of SRG so far.  As that crafty guy Shakespeare said, All's Well That Ends Well.

And so, here he is, in my best snaps yet, Shirtless Running Guy.
Wait...what's that up ahead?  Could it BE?

Yes!  It is!  I'd know that tan anywhere!

And those shorts!  They're like old friends to me!

Hello, Shirtless Running Guy!  Long time, no see!

I even turned around to get a front shot.  Pretty sure dude knows I'm nuts.

24 July 2012

No Sleep, No Shirtless Running Guy, No Nothing. It's One of Those Days.

A thunderstorm came through our area somewhere between 4:00 and 4:30 this morning.  I have been awake ever since.  While driving our son to gut camp this morning, I asked him if he had fallen back to sleep after the storm passed through.  His reply was, "What storm?"  Are you kidding me?

Ever since our kids were born, I have not been able to sleep without my eyes half open and one foot ready to hit the floor, running.  Pseudo-sleeping, I like to call it.  A mother's legacy.  I'm jealous of our son and now even our daughter (who until this summer would be up at 6:30 every morning, whether she had to or not), for their incredible ability to sleep through everything:  dogs barking, giant storms, snow plows in the winter, alarm clocks, the muffler-less truck owned by the dude currently shacking up at our neighbor's house (THAT is a whole other blog in itself).  And there was the time one of our son's friends played the cute prank of setting his phone alarm to go off at 1:30 in the morning.  Do you think the son woke up and turned his alarm off, which happened to be right next to his head?  No.  I had the pleasure of blindly trudging down the hall, stepping on who knows what was lurking on his floor in the dark, finding the phone, and fumbling to turn the damn alarm off.  I still haven't figured out how to pay back this friend.  But it'll happen.  You know who you are.  I wonder if I can coax his mom into loaning me some mortifying baby pictures. 

I'm also jealous of Jay's ability to fall back to sleep, once woken.  By 4:45 this morning, thunder, rain and wind going at full force, he was back to sleep, happily snoring away.  Oh, wait, he doesn't snore.  He makes sure to remind me of this factoid, even when I'm kept awake for good chunks of time by the goofy sounds escaping from the back of his throat (not snoring), only being extinguished by me ripping the covers off him to make him roll over.  I remember reading an article on tips to get your husband to stop snoring.  One of them was to sew a tennis ball in the back of his pajama top.  Oh, really?  "Here, Jay, put these pajamas on that can double as a torture device.  Trust me, they're SO comfy.  And they're excellent as a lumbar massage!"

And so I have been up for a very, very long time today.  To think of what my sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated self has accomplished:  laundry, breakfasts for everyone, grocery shopping, almost all of Sunday's Globe crossword, and now this blog that just keeps going.  Yup, I'm smugly patting myself on the back.  Who cares if my left eyelid has had a constant twitch in it for the last two hours?  Or that if I stop drinking coffee, I will crash so hard I'll end up on my ass on the basement floor?  I even had the impulse to go out looking for Shirtless Running Guy.  I had a good feeling about it: driving up and down his regular route, one jittery hand on the steering wheel, the other on my camera.  Alas, no SRG.  It was at his regular time, but the day started out warm and muggy, so maybe he was out earlier.  I want to shake my fists at the sky and yell, "Shirtless Running Guy, WHERE ARE YOU?!"  I am not giving up, I'll eventually get the perfect shot of him.  I even swung by the cat-on-the-leash house to see if they were out.  Nope.  It's just not in the cards to get a fun pic today.  This is all I got:
No SRG.  Boring.
Still no SRG.  Still boring.

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those days that drags on...and on....and on.  You know the kind.  When you look at the clock thinking it has to be about 3:00 PM and it's only 10:30 AM.  By the time our daughter's softball game rolls around tonight, I should be ready to snooze on the bleachers.  I wonder if I can get away with wearing something pajama-y.  At least I don't snore.

20 July 2012

The Saga of the Softball Season Slobette

I am renaming our daughter The Slobbette.  Kind of sounds like the name of a really bad diner, but it works.  Why?  So many reasons, but not just because of nail polish decorating the bathroom sink or the perpetual state of chaos which is her bedroom.  The main reason right now is softball season.  Each year, from the beginning of April until the middle of July, I get to deal with this after each and every practice and game:

Cleats kicked haphazardly wherever suits the mood, after clomping through the house, leaving a trail of dry (or muddy, depending on the weather) clots of dirt everywhere.  I especially like the creative placement here. 

And this:
Sliding pad is always on the back of the couch if it is not on her leg. 

And this:
Socks, always crumpled up in a ball (and inside-out which drives me insane at laundry time), and usually directly below the sliding pad.

And this:
The equipment.  By this time, its permanent home is the back of my car.  It makes loading the groceries a fun game of balance and placement every time.  Whoo.

If you have/had kids in any kind of sport, activity, etc., I know you can commiserate.  To my friends whose daughters play on the same teams as Janie, I know you're nodding fervently in agreement with my current grievances.  Happily, all things must come to an end.  Our end happens next week.  Until soccer season begins.  &^%*&#&$^ .

19 July 2012

Caution: Too Much Caffeine May Lead to Distracted Ramblings About British Television

Coffee.  If there's one thing you could say I have an unhealthy addiction to, that would be it.  I prefer not to call it an addiction, but a very fond, very involved, love.  Lately, one pot of coffee in the morning is not cutting it for Jay and me.  Forget those crappy K-cup jobbers that give you one cup of weak, watery coffee at a time*.  We need two pots of the strongest dark roast the coffee market offers to get us through the morning.
I blame this partially on Jay's travel coffee mug, which he claims to have "Tardis Technology" (Jay's very own coinage).  For those of you who do not know the word "Tardis", allow me to explain.  First you must know it is in relation to the show Doctor Who.  Since I am not a fan of Doctor Who like the rest of my family, I'm depending on the good folks at Wikipedia to help me out in the definition department.  According to their description (roughly), the Tardis (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is a time machine and spacecraft.  It looks like a Police Box and it's interior expands to much larger than it's exterior.  Here's a picture:

So now that we all know what a Tardis is, Jay thinks that his travel mug is much larger than it appears to be on the outside, just like a Tardis, and thus holding much more coffee than we expect.  Ahhh, the pleasures of living with a sci-fi geek. I'm thinking that some of his business trips are secretly trips to things like Comic-Con.  But back to the travel cup, it really is deceiving.  Here's a picture of it compared to our coffee pot and one of our regular coffee mugs:
Deceiving, no?  The Tardis Cup takes one and a half of my mugs to fill up.  Sneaky.
Since it takes much more coffee than expected for Jay to fill up in the morning, I'm left with not nearly enough coffee to get me through the day.  Thus, the second pot.  And I'm beginning to see the need to rethink this, due to those pesky heart palpitations I get on the days when too much coffee is involved.  The prices you pay for that little extra jolt in the morning!  I'm not sure which is worse:  going through the morning fuzzy-minded and let's face it, kind of grumpy; or my cardio system doing the cha-cha when it should be getting ready for some down time at night.  For the time, I'm choosing the coffee.  Maybe I can start weaning myself when I feel the strength to just say no.

Now.  Back to the whole Doctor Who thing, since it's on my mind.  This is Amy Pond:
She's a crafty one.
She is a character on the show and somebody that the male gender in my family is apparently very attracted to.  So as a joke, we gave our son this Amy Pond standee as a Christmas gift.  Only problem is that he didn't see the humor in said gift and thought instead that is was just plain creepy.  So now Amy hangs out in Jay's ersatz office and keeps him company when he's working from home.  Sometimes she appears out of nowhere when somebody in the house is feeling frisky and wants to scare the bejeezus out another unsuspecting family member. She can pop up next to a sleeping person's bed to greet them when they wake up in the morning, or be standing on the other side of the door to greet a certain person when they get home to what they believe is an empty house.  I'm not saying who the culprit is (#cough#anymaleinthishouse) nor the victim (hel-lo!), but I'm sure you can guess.  Let's just say that having the jitters from too much coffee do not help being surprised by Ms. Pond.

I'm thinking that I need to give some payback.  So, Jay....Alex....if you're reading this, beware.  You never know who's lurking around the corner.  Nor the hyper-caffeinated person behind her.

*I hope I have not offended any K-cup users.  I completely understand the allure of them and how they are perfect for many, many coffee drinkers, and respect your choice in using them.  I'm just an opinionated idiot when it comes to my personal caffeine consumption.  Another one of my many faults I'm working on.

16 July 2012

Summer Recklessness: Sounds Like a Richard Gere Movie, Not My Life.

I've decided that summertime turns our house upside-down and makes it suspended in a constant state of "WTF?"   From September to the middle of June I have life in relative order.  Appointments and events get written down on the calendar immediately.  Forms get filled out and returned.  We're pretty much on time and on schedule for the variety of things each day throws at us.  But from the end of school until Labor Day it's a whole new, messed-up world. 

Just this morning, I realized we had missed my son's school physical, which I now need to write in Sharpie somewhere on my person to remind myself to reschedule first thing tomorrow morning.  And it wasn't like we had overslept.  No, because we were up at the crack of dawn to bring him to this thing called "Gut Camp" (an hour of ungodly exercise for young people who have too much energy) at 6:30.  Only problem was, I had not written on the calendar that this was the one week they have off.  Got a lovely, unnecessary tour of town in all its early morning sleepiness.  It was even too early for Shirtless Running Guy.  Stupid.  Oh, and I didn't write the doctor's appointment on the calendar either, thus the screw-up.  Stupid again.  And while I was checking the calendar to see if any of this was written down (if it was, it would have been by some magic calendar fairy, because I am the only one in this house who writes anything down on that thing, and it damn well wasn't me), I noticed three more appointment cards attached to the top of said calendar.  Now here's the clincher:  Did I write those appointments down, then and there?  Absolutely NOT.  What the hell is wrong with me?  It's like my brain stops working the minute school lets out.  And as I write and proofread this, those cards are still sitting at the top of the calendar.

And then there are all these weird things everyone else in this family does that they wouldn't dream of doing any other time of the year.  Our son sleeps so late on the days he doesn't have to be up early, that his whole eating schedule gets knocked off course and he ends up usually eating an extra meal.  I know what you're thinking:  Wouldn't a normal person lose a meal if they slept until noon or later?  Yup.  That's what I think, too.  Key here is the term "normal person." I have still yet to figure it out.  I think somehow he eats on his own and then eats with us as a family as well.  I'm just irked that he has a metabolism that allows him to do that and stay skinny. Memo:  invent miracle drug that gives middle-aged women the metabolism of a teenage boy/become bazillionaire. 

Then there is our daughter.  When she is not at somebody's house (I apologize to all of her friends' parents who suddenly think they've gained a new child.  Apparently our house is not nearly as fun as everyone else's in town), she is wreaking beauty havoc.  A couple of weeks ago I was searching through cabinets to find something powerful enough to scrub through bright red nail polish that had seemingly become part of the glaze on the white porcelain sink in the bathroom.  What was going on with her and the polish, I have no idea.  It looked like a massacre.  Or maybe she was trying to emulate Jackson Pollock.  And she had cleverly hidden the nail polish remover well enough to push me into a crazed frenzy to find a decent scrubby strong enough to power through NYC Nail Polish Shade 135A. 

This afternoon, I went upstairs to put away some laundry.  My bedroom door was closed, which should have been an immediate red flag that something was going down.  I opened the door to find our resident beautician sitting on the floor in front of the television, shaving her legs.  Odd, but kind of creative, and resourceful, to boot.  She was totally conserving water by rinsing her razor in a solo cup.  She explained that she needed to shave her legs for her softball game, but wanted to watch TV, too.  Multitasking.  Whatever.  I gave her a towel and walked out.  I'm careful to pick my battles.  The summer is still young.      

Totally normal items...when used in normal circumstances.
The only person who is acting normal is Jay.  Any free time he gets, he's watching the Tour de France and keeping out of trouble.  Amazing how mesmerized he is by watching cycling...and cycling....and....more cycling.  I'll take it.  He's not demanding to be fed non-stop, spilling nail polish all over the place, nor shaving his legs in places he should not be (I'm leaving that last bit just as it is, read into it what you like).

14 July 2012

A Trip Not Quite Like They Show in the Ads, But Who's Complaining? We're Less Than Normal Anyway.

Jumping Jehoshaphat (Who is Jehoshaphat, anyway?  Good thing to Google), it's back to the drawing board!  Or keyboard, in this case.  After ten days of travel to Exuma (a tiny and kind of less-popular-diamond-in-the-rough island in the Bahamas) with the family, and one very full day spent in my laundry room washing a total of ten loads of laundry, it feels good to be back and typing away at whatever ol' nonsense comes to mind.
The trip was fun and a lot of times flat-out weird.  We did a lot of things that we'd never dreamt of doing.  There is one event that stands out, and the only one I'll bore you with: 

So one of our daughter's big dreams is to swim with dolphins.  Jay and I figured before we headed out on the trip, OK, piece of cake.  No problem.  We're headed to warm waters, shouldn't be too difficult a thing to find some kind of excursion with dolphins involved.  We guessed wrong.  Not one to be had.  BUT!  We found THIS
Yup...that's right.  Don't they look cute in the picture?

Swimming pigs.  We rationalized, well, it's an animal, she should be happy to swim with SOMETHING, right?  Not to mention we were probably feeling a little guilt from not entirely believing her right away when she claimed to have been stung by a jellyfish on our second day there.  Which she had, and which we quickly discovered was the truth.  Or for the early morning interrogation she was put through (think the Spanish Inquisition) our third day into the trip, when we got a message from our wireless provider alerting us that her phone number had accrued $4000 (yes--there are no decimals in that number) in data plan overages (that was wrong and got fixed, only after Jay's forehead had turned the color of beets, never to recover 100%).   But those are whole other stories, both which she'll probably keep in her coffers for when she needs to pull the guilt card on us.  And so we signed up for the tour which included the pigs; the images in my feeble, unwitting brain were of swimming with the likes of that little mini pig, Kingsford (damn he's cute):

Kingsford--who wouldn't want to hang out with a beastie that looks like that?
 So you can imagine my surprise when our boat pulled up into the bay and this is what we found:
Yours truly having a grand old time with one of the pigs.  Not quite Kingsford's size.

This gesture apparently means "Feed me NOW."
They were HUGE.  And HUNGRY.  And to make matters worse, there was a really strong current there that made you have to keep swimming so that you wouldn't get swept away from the boat.  Those freaking pigs made swimming against it look effortless.  Not.  So our pathetic, jelly-stung daughter missed out on swimming with the pigs, too, simply because the idea of picking her up a few days later on the coast of Cuba wasn't all that appealing.  Personally I think she would have freaked the minute one of those hooves or snouts came into contact with her, anyway.  Chaos averted.

And now it's back to reality.  The laundry was crazy, but it's done.  This was a portion of what I faced yesterday morning: 
It took me around twelve hours to finish it all.  And actually led me to be grateful for the meagre and terrible way Jay packs for himself when allowed, which to my chagrin usually leaves him for the last two days of any vacation mixing outrageous patterns and/or colors, or looking as monotone as the UPS delivery guy, all because he refuses to pack the least bit over what he believes he needs.  And don't get me started on how he is always short a few pairs of underwear.  Scariest of all, I think this way of thinking is following through to our son.  To his poor wife-of-the-future, I'm sorry--it happened too fast for me to stop it, and now there's no correcting it.  But I won't complain, because I think their lack of clothing chops saved me at least one extra load of laundry.

It's good to be back.  As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing."  And now let the imperfections and dysfunctions resume on home turf.