Monday, October 30, 2006

Enforced Family Fun Time

Pictures for you

It is somewhere mandated that, as a parent, there are certain things you are compelled to do, depending upon where on this planet you are raising your offspring and what cultural/religious/culinary/political/commercial values you have. For instance, if you believe in the teachings of Walt Disney, thou shalt take the fruit of thy womb to one of the officially sanctioned meccas each year or so, for the standing in lines and buying of icons.

I should note, here, given the popularity of things Disney, that I have nothing against this particular sect, in fact, we in the House o' Piffle even own multiple Disney movies and one plush Baby Mickey. We draw the line at Disney Princess underwear, however, and urge our kiddos toward costumes like creepy spiders and characters from The Lord of the Rings licensure. We sigh in a resigned fashion when they chose to be the Red Power Ranger. None of us have ever been to Disneyland or Disney World or Euro-Disney or that one in Japan.

This year, Sara is going to be, yet again, a spider. I tried to tempt her with things like lions and witches and such, covering her eyes when we passed the Barbie section, all hot pink and glitter and slutty. (Whoops. There I go, trashing the Church of Barbie. Better mention that some of my best friends are Barbie people. I do in fact have boxes of Barbies in the bomb shelter, waiting for Sara to be just a bit bigger. I just don't care for the Barbie style of, well, style. The colors make my teeth hurt.) But, no. She wants to wear the spider costume, this time with the antennae head band that she flat out refused to wear last year.

Colin will be an orc-like creature. As they are not allowed to bring weapons or wear masks when they take part in the annual school village Halloween parade, he will be only 1/2 a costume, but that's his lookout. He may opt to wear his Power Ranger costume from last year, instead, to school and go all evil minion for the getting of the goods Tuesday night.

As part of all this living in farm-land, one of the things that is also mandated in the Give Your Children A Happy Childhood Charter, is that the pumpkins are not to be bought in a store, but from an official pumpkin patch, complete with hayride and petting zoo consisting of an arthritic goat and an ill tempered sheep. Maybe a guinea pig or rabbits. Haunted house set up in the barn for an extra fee. Cider for $2 a small styrofoam cup.

We'd been wanting to make our trip to pick out our 2 large carving pumpkins and some pie pumpkins for weeks, but we kept getting busy or otherwise side tracked. This weekend, however, it had to happen. Halloween is Tuesday. Time is running out to create a Happy Childhood Memory, dammit.

Thursday, we decided, would be our day. Colin was out of school. We had other errands, however, and by the time we were done with them, neither kid wanted to do anything but go home. It was also raining. Hard. And about 40 degrees out. Bleh.

So. Friday! All we had to do was go to the grocery store. Piece o' cake.

It is when you get cocky that mistakes are made. Mistake #1: Trusting the weather report AND online weather radar, both of which said the day would be without wet and, actually, rather sunny! Mistake #2: Letting Sara chose her brown suede shoes rather than her tennis shoes. Mistake #3: Forgoing my 'muck out the barn' hooded, warm, deeply pocketed rain-resistant coat for my kickier leather one. The one you'd see if you leafed through an Eddie Bauer catalogue with the styling, hip people picking out pumpkins with crisp, clear sky and such. Mistake #4: Tennies on my feet instead of 'muck out the barn boots'. In fact, note the lack of boots in general.

I really DO know better.

So, yes. It rained. As it had been raining for a couple of days, the ground was saturated to the point of slipping and sliding with every procrastinated mis-begotten step. In addition, each step brought up large pounds of muck that cleaved to our soles like, well, muck. Of course, the pumpkins were also rotting. Almost all of them. The ones that had been brought up to the little store area, the ones sitting along the path, the ones still languishing in the fields. Sadly, they were also covered in the muck, so it was quite difficult to tell the rotten parts unless you stuck your fingers in the mess, probing for rotten parts.


And we sort of did. We trundled out to the fields with a little red wagon with the fattest tires we could find. Sara slipped and fell in the mud several times. Sara doesn't like to be mud covered. Colin and I just got quite damp and splattered. We did find 4 pie pumpkins (for Thanksgiving baking) and 2 carving pumpkins. With those and 2 bags of apples, we ended up spending about $27!

Back in the car, I blessed my foresight of putting in plastic bags and used a vast number of baby wipes to get as much mud off us as possible. I didn't think the grocery people would look kindly upon us depositing the contents of the pumpkin patch on their aisles.

Upon returning home, all 3 of us cranky and chilled but with bags of groceries and the pumpkins, which I washed and found that 4 of the 6, including the 2 carving ones, were rotted under the mud. Bastards. Of course, at the grocery store, there were many non-rotten, non-muck-covered, perfect stem in place pumpkins for $4.95 a piece. Barbie pumpkins.

Sunday night the kids gleefully mutilated the two big pumpkins:

Pictures for you

Sara's (on the left) has been drawn on and sawed with one of those kid-safe carving things. She only got the hang of making one eye but had lots of fun pulling the guts out and putting them back in again, which aggravated her brother.

Colin's (on the right) I think shows him as a budding ENT/facial plastics surgeon, as the jack-o-lantern clearly has a cleft lip:

Pictures for you

Pretty scary, indeed.

Happy Halloween to you all!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Joining The 21st Century

You all know me, you who've trotted along this blogging path with me, lo these couple of years. I am not cutting edge. I am lagging edge.

It is with great fanfare that I announce my latest purchase: A flippy-uppy cell phone!


Charles took today off work to do some chauffeuring and good-son-ing for his mom, and had a few hours at his disposal while she hung out at the medical center chugging bowel prep and watching a grainy TV, so we headed in to town and over to his 2nd home, B*est Buy.

See, we'd bought, well, gotten cell phones about 3 years ago, when we moved out with the cows, with an eye on the long commute and the kamikaze deer. They were 'free with plan indenture' and rather dorky and cumbersome. They were obviously jettisoning the old phones, as all the hip, new flip-phones were coming out for the holidays back then. This was fine, though, as neither of us are phone people and usually went months without using the things at all. Charles may have never actually used his, come to think of it, as it was stolen by a kid about 6 months after he got it. He thinks he knows which urchin, as the calls were made from Iowa, and there was only one student who transferred to Iowa at the time the phone was stolen. There was no real way to prove it, so we cursed the kid's name, cancelled the phone, and paid the couple of hundred bucks on the bill he rang up. (grrrrrrr. Ratbastardlittleweaselfuckingtwerp-mayyouhaveyourphonestolenbythelikesofyousomeday.)

We didn't bother to replace the phone, preferring to share the remaining one, which mostly lived in my purse. It worked, after a fashion. The calls were static-y, the shape precisely didn't enable you to speak clearly into the mouthpiece while listening to the ear-end and more than half of your conversation consisted of the word, "WHAT?" hollered over the ether.

With Charles in class, though, sharing a phone has become rather difficult. We only are able to carpool about once a week, now-a-days, and there've been many times we've really needed to each have our own phone to, well, talk to each other. I've also added some work responsibilities where it'd be a rather good thing that I be reachable when I'm out and about by those who need to ask my sage (cough, cough) and esteemed (wheeze) advice on this and that.

So, off to the electronics place we scurried and I chose a new free phone-with-plan-indenture. We had 3 plans to choose from and we chose the only one of the three that actually had coverage in the area we live in. (I did think it odd that the other 2 plans were even for sale as they both had 'iffy' to 'no' coverage where we bought them. I'm not sure if that was a trap or what. "What? You signed on to the indentured plan that doesn't even cover where you live?" "Yeah! but look at the cool phone! And it was free!" "Guess you really are too stupid to be trusted with a phone."


We drove home, me noodling through the 200 page instruction tome, and suddenly I was struck by an urge I've never experienced in my life. I had the urge to make a phone call. I didn't have the urge to actually talk to someone, just make a call. The damn thing just fits so nicely in my hand and, when flipped up, fits so nicely that angle between my ear and my mouth.

I debated calling the automated 'time of day' number, but then realized that I didn't know what it was, and that calling information would be stupid, especially as I was wearing a watch, so I settled for programming in some numbers (Charles's work. My work. My cell number--I never remember my number as I never call myself and in the past have given it out maybe 3 times, total; the thing's never on and I don't have people calling me, anyway, probably because the thing is never on.) and taking a picture of my knee. I then tried to delete the picture, but instead transported myself to some other place in the menu, and lost the thing all together. I'm guessing in a couple of years that knee shot will surface and cause me all sorts of perplexation.

Anyway, it's now happily charging itself on the kitchen counter and I am shocked to realize that I can remember, for the first time ever in my life, its number. I'm even thinking of giving it a name, I'm so absurdly fond of it.

I'm sure it's a sign, just not sure what it's a sign of. Probably Armageddon.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Why I'm Not Mother-of-the-Year Material

Sara: (sniiiif) "I have to blow my nose."

Diana: "Sure. There's tissue in the bathroom."

Sara: "Can I blow my nose on your shirt?"

I'm thinking the answer to that is a hearty 'NO'.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Haikus for an Obscene Forecast

Per the NOAA site, confirmed by NPR's weather reports according to the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois stations (bold text my emphasis) :

Today...Windy. Rain in the morning...Then chance of rain or light snow in the afternoon. No snow accumulation. Highs in the upper 40s. Southwest winds 5 to 15 mph increasing to west 15 to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation 100 percent.

Tonight...Colder...Breezy. Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of snow showers. Lows in the upper 20s. West winds 15 to 25 mph.

Thursday...Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain showers and snow showers. Highs upper 30s. West winds 15 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph.

Thursday Night...Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of snow showers. Lows in the upper 20s. West winds 15 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph.

Friday...Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain showers and snow showers. Highs in the mid 40s. West winds 15 to 20 mph.

********** (snowflakes)

Ok. Some things just deserve as a punishment a round of haiku bitch-slapping. Yes. This is Wisconsin, where we brag about our 'frozen tundra' and our silly ice fishing and all that, but we shouldn't look for snow until American Thanksgiving, something that is still a month and a half away.

* * * * * * *
* * * * * (snow flurries)
** * *
* * * *

"It's not like you'll have
to shovel", says obnoxious
radio D.J.

But we've still leaves on
the trees and the grass is green;
It's still soccer time.

Halloween is weeks
from now. Then there's still most of
November to go.

See, there should be rules.
Snow is fine from Thanksgiving
until Easter time.

"Ayup. This is like
The winter of '24,"
Say the old farmers.

Anything else is
just rude, in my point of view
Time to assign blame.

Find the Snow Miser.
Hold his feet to the fire,
stop his evil plan.

And while we're on it,
Why isn't global warming
Stepping in to help?

See, I've been stocking
Up on surf boards, sunscreen and
Zone 8 flower seeds.

So, all you folks who
Live somewhere nice and warm can
All point and laugh, now.

*********** (Snow storm)


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Separated At Birth

I don't know how many of you, my friends in the computer, have actually met people after conversing with them via blogs and/or e-mails.

Me? I've met a handful of the people with whom I've become friendly with in this odd, barely socially acceptable way: Beth and Dana this spring, followed by Gerah and her family and then by Ariella, who's become a demi-neighbor (remember I live out with the liquid propane tanks and the septic tanks and a well for our water source, so anyone within an hour drive is a 'neighbor') as well as a real life friend.

There are still several I've yet to meet, yet feel sure I will, at some point. You know who you are. Yes, you do.

But there's some, if you blog, who you feel as thought you share a similar history and you just completely click with them.

Teri and I seem to be in that category. We've been blog friends for about a year and a half. We've been e-mailing rather regularly for a bit less than that. The similarities are somewhat frightening: Our views of ourselves, the age range of our kids, our taste in an assortment of things, even the nickname of one of her daughters and my son, to touch on a few very superficial, non-personal ones. I get her jokes and obscure references. For an oddball like myself, do you know how rare that is? We joke that we are twins, each evil. True, she has a fondness for camping, but there is a strong strain of that running through 1/2 of my family, so she comes by it honestly.

Given that, it was with great trepidation and sheer delight that we laid our plans to meet. Trepidation on my part, because, well, what if she met me and thought, "Eh. Pity. She seemed like someone I'd really like, but in person, she's got the personality of a rubber door stop." And then I'd lose my friend, which would make me sad, sad, sad. Hey, it's happened. I converse much more easily in writing. In person, my mouth disconnects and the oddest, stupidest things come out.

One example: Her husband, C, and I are just getting acquainted, chatting a bit as Teri attends to her kids. He'd been a bit leery about meeting someone his wife had only become acquainted with online. C asks me the easy and innocuous question, "How old is your daughter?" I answer, "Um, 5... No! 4! NO! 3!" The poor guy looks a bit uneasily at me and says, "So...which is it?" I'm sure he thought I had rented the kids and hadn't thought to get my story straight. That's just me under social pressure. A disaster. Fortunately, he's the forgiving sort and had the guts to continue the conversation and things went better after that.

So? What did we do for our afternoon together? Actually it was only supposed to be about 2 hours, as they were headed home, just detouring to hook up with us and, as we kept reminding our kids, it was a school night. We decided to visit an Oktoberfest in a small town and meet in the local park, by the jungle gym, figuring that who ever got there first, could hang with the kids being easily entertained, then we could wander around the festival and have a bit of a chat.

The weather was absolutely amazing. Warmish, brightly sunny, most of the trees in high color, nice fresh breeze, no eau-de-cow wafting around. Playground not crowded, in fact, I was rather surprised to find that the expected hoards of festival goers were not at all in evidence, only a few tents were up and they looked like they'd been abandoned. But, we could hear a polka band near by, probably on the other side of the big church. So, we got acquainted, let the kids run and slide and such, and then wandered off to find sustenance. We sort of succeeded, in that the festival, which consisted of a beer tent with only about 20 people and a polka band playing tunes from The Sound of Music, a couple of those giant inflatable kid slides, a gold fish toss booth and, to C's relief, a brat stand. Fortunately, there was also an ice cream and cheese shop in the block and the kids were all rewarded with ice cream.

We pronounced the whole festival as 'lame', shrugged and wandered back to the park with our ice-cream-smeared brood. 2 hours were up. Then 2+1/2 hours. Then C had the brilliant suggestion of getting some dinner from the only fast food place in the town and bringing it back to the park. We then decided that, as we needed to pick up Charles's mom, we should grab dinner and caravan back to our place for a bite and a sup and a bit of beer. Which worked out splendidly for us, although Molly-dog was disappointed to not get to go out and jump and pee all over our guests, being kept safely in her crate.

Finally, we faced the facts that the sun was almost down and, despite our best efforts to deny it, it was still a school night, and waved them off down the road.

So, what is our Teri like?

-Completely lovely.
-She twinkles even when discussing something serious.
-She is one of the most easy people to talk to I've come across.
-She's got lovely dark brown hair and big brown eyes.
-She laughs lots and lots.
-If you were both taking the same class, you'd try to sit next to her, even if you didn't know her.
-She has a sly sense of humor.

And best of all? They want to get together again! Ain't the internet grand?


Saturday, October 07, 2006


Him (flipping through a small book): "So Colin's reading assignment is titled My Worm Farm. She (indicating the person narrating the book, smiling in the pictures, running her hands through compost, meticulously detailing the care of compost worms--not to be confused with earth mover worms!) has a worm farm as a hobby and gets to write a book about it?"

Her: "Yeah. Poor kids. Maybe you should write one entitled My Home Theater."

Him: "Or we could write one entitled My Home Theater and My Garden With Compost Bin."

Her: "And I could follow it up with the sequel: Squash Bugs are Evil."

Him: "Or a picture book: Squashing the Squash Bugs."

Her: "Or Squash Bugs are Evil and Cucumber Beetles are Fuckers."

Him: "And at the end of the book, you could go through how to conjugate the verb 'fuck'.

Her: "Or maybe not."

Him: "It'd still be better than My Worm Farm."