Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Wedding

This week's Sunday Scribbings prompt is "wedding."

I don't remember picking out this wedding dress, although it is stunning. I look at myself in the mirror, struggling to believe it's actually me in the reflection. How did I get here?

My sister Em is arranging silk flowers in my up-do.

"Where did I get this dress?" I ask

"Good one Violet," Em laughs. "Making jokes to calm the nerves?"

I push my mind to the edge of my remembering. How did I come to be standing in front of this mirror, with this dress, and the silk flowers in my hair? Clearly it's my wedding day, but I can't remember a single event leading up to it. The memory most noticeably absent is the one I should have of dating, a ring, a proposal and a fiance.

Suddenly the door bursts open and my mom breezes in. "They'll be ready for us in fifteen minutes," she says to Em. "How's she coming?" I catch Em rolling her eyes in her reflection.

"Mom?" I ask. "I think somethings wrong."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know who I'm marrying. I think we should call off the wedding."

"Oh Violet! What are you talking about? Leslie is wonderful, and he adores you."

Leslie? Again I reach into the corners of my mind and find no evidence of "Leslie."

"Besides," mom says, the edge of her smile twitching ever so slightly, "all the guests are here, and they've brought gifts. We can't tell them all to go home now." She tilted her head to the side and looked at me, smiling. "You look beautiful. Everything is going to be fine."

My mind notes the fact that mom's brush off did nothing to allay my concern. "Fifteen minutes, OK?" mom sings as she moves towards the door.

"Mom? Really, I don't think I can go through with this."

"Everything will be fine honey. Don't worry." Mom slips through the door and pulls it closed behind her.

I look in the mirror to catch Em's reaction. She has finished with my hair and is fussing with the train on my dress. "This beading is gorgeous," she says. "Completely worth the extra $500 to have it added." She is studying the tiny pearls as if there would be a test on them later.

"I can't get married." I tell her. "I don't know who Leslie is. I don't even know what he looks like. I don't know anything about him. Em, I can't marry someone I don't even know!"

"Oh my goodness!" Em gasps.

Does she finally understand this crisis? If I could just get Em on my side, I might have a chance at getting mom to call things off.

"There is a tiny thread hanging out at this seam." She says, fingering my dress. "You are so lucky I saw this." She reaches for the nail clippers and snips at the offending thread. "this could have snagged on something and spoiled your dress."

I can't remember one event that lead up to this moment: I'm about to be married, to someone I don't know. Did I spend a day sampling wedding cake flavors? Did I select announcements or have an engagement photo taken? Of course Leslie was the biggest mystery of all.

"Em, please." Panic starts gripping my gut and moves into my chest.

"Oh, you're right," she says looking at the wall clock. "It's time to go on over to the chapel."

There's a quick double rap on the door before my mom opens it and pops her head in. "It's time!"

She is smiling. Really big.

"Come on Violet. Let's go."

Em gently takes my arm and leads me out the door. I'm walking, but I don't know why. I've never said "no" to my mom before, but then, I've never had a reason to.

"Mom," I say, more urgently now. "We need to call this off. Can't we please stop this?"

"Honey, please...let's worry about this later."

The walk across the church courtyard to the chapel does not take nearly as long as it should and in seconds we are at the chapel doors. Mom pushes them open to reveal a packed house. I look through the crowd for someone, anyone whose glance might make sense of this moment, or save me from it. I see hair-do's and hats and lots of lipstick as I begin walk down the center aisle. My eyes finally rest on who is waiting for me at the end.


Or at least who I assume is Leslie because I am certain that I've never seen this person before in my life.

I spot my mom, beaming now on the front row. I widen my eyes at her in desperate, emergency communication. mom subtly inclines her head towards the end of the aisle and ...eventually...Leslie.


I slow my march considerably, even though Pachelbel's Canon in d is clearly coming to an end. I certainly don't remember choosing that song. The violinists improvise with a few more bars of melody as, eyes downcast, I memorize fine variations in the carpet pattern.

I'm practically shuffling in place now and I start to hear muffled coughs and whispers. I can't do it. I can't.

I look up, just to make sure, and fix my eyes on the man in the tuxedo, five inches shorter than me and possibly twenty-five years older. Give or take a few years. The gut threatening to burst the pearl covered buttons on his white, ruffled shirt indicates he also has me beat by about 65 pounds.


I stop a good fifteen feet from Leslie and the minister, waiting to unite us in holy matrimony. I can't move.

How did I get here?

This is based on a recurring dream I used to have before I was married. I don't know if this dream spoke more to anxieties I had about marriage or my mother. (Hi Mom.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm Sick

I'm sick today, both physically and emotionally.

An annoying sore throat and sinus thing came on kind of fast last night after dinner. I don't know what more I can say about it other than it's annoying. Clearly it's sapping my creative writing skills too, which is also...annoying.

I'm sick emotionally because Isaac was sobbing when I left him at pre-school today. That makes me sick, but I'm coming to the realization that I might need to take him out of pre-school and that also makes me sick.

I like a little free time each week, so sue me.

Each morning Isaac asks if it's a pre-school day. If I say yes he immediately begins whining and complaining about it. I've resorted to bribes in the form of money, candy and happy meals to get him to go. Each pre-school day, however, we are back at square one. He doesn't want to go.

Isaac is very easy going and fun to be around. Having him home during that time would be fine. But I still really like that 90 minutes I have to enjoy a little peace and quiet, or take care of an errand or write or read or take a nap.

IF! If I take Isaac out of pre-school, his tuition is almost exactly what it would cost for Jonah to take taekwondo lessons. Hmm. So this got me thinking that Jonah could do the thing he wants to do, and Isaac would not have to do the thing he didn't want to do. I believe this is what is called a "win/win" situation.


On a completely unrelated note, I have a word to say about these little candy pumpkins.

Why are they so good? Why can I not stop eating them until I have a sugar induced headache? Why do they sell them bulk at Winco for like a dollar and change a pound?

Why do I keep buying them?

Stop tormenting me candy pumpkins!

Update: Can you believe it? I spend 90 minutes beating myself up for dropping my kid off at pre-school and when I pick him up he's all smiles and says, "I changed my mind mom, I like pre-school and want to keep going." I asked if he would not complain about going each day and that he would not cry when I dropped him off and he said he would not ever do those things again. Except on the days he doesn't want to go.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Sad

Did you see the OSU/USC game last night? Holy upset Batman! Who would have thought little Oregon State would have toppled no. 1 USC? And speaking of little, did you see true freshman Jacquizz Rodgers? He's 5'7", 193 pounds and could NOT be stopped. He rushed for 186 yards last night and most of that was straight up the middle into on-coming tacklers.

The Oregon State game was so fun to watch, I didn't even feel bad about missing the season premiere of The Office and Ugly Betty. Of course I thought both shows were being recorded, so it was a bit of a let down this morning when I realized they had in fact not recorded. For some reason Star Trek was set up to record and so my shows' recording was canceled. Star Trek.

Still, good times.

Now for some bad times.

Jonah has been trying out taekwondo for the last week or so. He really seems to be enjoying it and I think it's great for him. Our first few lessons were free but now it's time to decide about whether or not to go on. It will be a 6 month commitment and when Robert and I are considering cutting out TV service to save money, $700 over 6 months doesn't make a lot of financial sense.

Why didn't we figure this out before Jonah got the cool taekwondo outfit and became attached to Master George and his bi-weekly lessons? Good question.

Now the fun task of breaking the news to Jonah falls to me. Robert said I could offer to get him a pack of Pokemon cards if he seems really upset. Yeah, that should smooth things over.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Child's Prayer

Usually Jonah's bedtime prayer lasts around 10-15 seconds. Last night, however, he was making up for lost time. His prayer seemed to last 10 to 15 minutes. I didn't time it, although I wish I had.

He prayed over everything he could think of. Every possession, every person, every naturally occurring phenomenon. Oh how I wish I could have recorded it, or at least taken notes. I jotted a few things down once he finished and after the feeling came back into my legs enough so that I could walk downstairs to get a pen and paper.

Here is a sampling:

Please bless that when all the people die, that dinosaurs will come alive again. And that when people come alive again, the dinosaurs will go back extinct.

Please bless that poor people will be very rich and that very rich people will be as rich as the poor people and people with a little money will have thousands of dollars.

Please bless that babies will go to kindergarten and that kindergartners will go to first grade and first graders will go to second grade and second graders will go to third grade.

I am thankful for the ground and for friction.

I am thankful for the garbage man and for our mail lady Sarah.

Please bless that Jesus will keep growing forever and ever.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Things About Me

A little something about me after I folded the laundry and before I vacuumed hamster food off Ethan's bedroom floor.

What I was doing 5 years ago...
Living on an island in the Puget Sound, watching for orca whales out my living room window, pregnant with Isaac, making a Halloween Costume with no Jo-Ann's, Michaels or Spirit Halloween Superstore. Feeling like, after a whole year, I was finally starting to become a part of the San Juan Island community, watching the Friday Harbor Elementary School kids parade down Spring Street in their Halloween costumes and then, finding out that Robert got laid off and we were going to have to move.

Pet Peeves...
Chaos, disorder, redundancy, finding fruit snack wrappers stuffed between the couch cushions, slugs and other pests eating my vegetable plants, having some computer glitch fill out hundreds of on-line applications in your name and getting sales calls for months afterward, the first spot on a clean floor, spilled lemonade, fruit flies in the house, a bad or strange smell in the house I can not identify or eliminate, and any time someone mentions the words "good, better, best" in a church talk.

Some things I would do if I were a billionaire...
A Mediterranean Cruise (two weeks should do it), pay off or buy a new home, buy living room furniture, new family room furniture and master bedroom furniture for Robert and me. Then I'd have Candace Olson from Divine Design come and do our master bed and bath, kitchen and family room. A beach house would be nice too (Candace can design that next) and I'd invest for the kids education and missions and our retirement. Then I'd make a foundation that would do something good, maybe with education or wind power or something like that. Like T. Boone Pickens.

Favorite Foods...
Nectarines, Jr. Mints, the dark chocolate "Bordeaux" from See's candy, really good soup, sharp cheese with fruit, like a nice Gorgonzola pear salad with walnuts, or sharp cheddar with tart apples. Lemon bars, a melt-in-your-mouth steak, crispy flautas at Chevy's, Quizno's chicken carbonara sandwich, home made salsa fresca and this sandwich

Now I'm supposed to tag people to do this too. So I'm going to tag Betsy, since you don't blog as much as I'd like (gee, what could possibly be taking up so much of your time?) and Angela, since she is always looking for things to blog about, but I suspect doesn't even read my blog. (That's right, this is a test.) As a bonus tag, I'd like to tag Debbie, even though she doesn't have a blog yet and I'm not sure this is the type of "fare" she'd like to include on her fancy-dancy blog-of-the-future.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Canning Salsa: Absolute Torture

Like the women of Regency England, I do not like to dwell on unpleasant things. Torture falls right into the category of things unpleasant.

Today, however, while making and canning salsa, I had a few torture ideas I'd like to pass on. You know, just in case anyone in the torture business is reading this blog and looking for ideas on how to expand their torture options. (Prince Humperdink, you out there?)

Chopping onions - I chopped 6 cups of onions today for my salsa recipe and my eyes were burning half way through the first onion. I had to stop and blow my nose and then wash my hands 5 times. I was in misery. There were many times I couldn't see through the tears and came very close to slicing my finger. If anyone came by and offered to take over for me in exchange for my deepest, darkest secret, I would have sung like a bird.

Chopping tomatoes - Not a wholly unpleasant task unless you consider volume. While chopping 2 tomatoes might be considered therapeutic, chopping 30 tomatoes is down right mind numbing. Throw in the direction to "remove all seeds" and you've got yourself a nice little form of torture.

Dicing Jalapenos - I was supposed to chop 12 jalapenos, but wimped out and decided 10 would be plenty. To protect myself from the capsaicin I wore latex gloves. (Do we all remember how I feel about latex?) Due to an unpleasant respiratory reaction the last time I cut into multiple jalapenos, I decided also to wear a surgical mask. How much more unpleasant can this task be made? Make sure you are using a dull knife and require the jalapenos to be chopped into teeny, tiny pieces.

Torture is a highly unpleasant topic but today I couldn't help think that we could stop water boarding and require bad guys to make salsa for 12 hours a day until they spill the beans, we'd not only be a lot more humane (OK, that's debatable), we'd be sure to get the desired information a lot more quickly AND have plenty of tasty salsa.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Extreme Backyard Makeover

This is what our yard looked like in April 2008. The yard sloped down towards the house which meant that all winter (fall and spring too) the grass/dirt area right next to the house was always wet and swampy. I can only imagine what it looked like under the house.
This is our backyard today. Pretty nice, eh? We had the slope of the yard graded (notice the bottom of the fence in the before and after shots to see how much dirt was removed.) We installed a French drain, had a patio poured, installed paver pathways and a sprinkler system, planted a bunch of plants including 3 blueberry bushes and a cherry tree and planted a lawn (which is still filling in).

One of my favorite features in the yard is this new spigot which is much closer to our vegetable garden beds so I won't have to drag the hose all the way across the yard every time I want to water.

Robert and I kind of talked about a good way to improve the look of a spigot sticking straight up out of the ground and this is what we came up with. I love it.

There are still a few things we want to do. We will spread bark dust in the plant beds and we want to put in another gate, add a basketball hoop, and of course, I think I need a sweet patio set. Most of those things will probably wait until next year though. It's time for us (mostly Robert) to stop working and enjoy our new, beautiful backyard.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Betrayed by Technology

This week our DVR's hard drive died. Our satellite company is sending us a new DVR but until then, we will be enduring some particular hardships.

When I want to watch TV, I will be forced to watch it live, as it's happening. I can't pause during a show if the phone rings (so please don't call during Jeopardy) or if we are eating dinner. I can't even fast forward through commercials.

And, if there is a special TV event like, for example, Stephenie Meyer appearing on the Ellen show today, I can't record it with the touch of a button. If I wanted to record the show, I'd have to do an archaeological dig through a mountain of bulky video cassettes, find one that I could either record over or that was blank and insert it into the dusty VCR. Do not even get me started on what it would take to then program the VCR so that it recorded the correct channel at the correct time.

While these things all present a great inconvenience, it is almost nothing in comparison to the loss we sustained in our DVR's memory.

Max and Ruby: We had every single Max and Ruby episode ever, including all the holiday specials like "Ruby's Figure Eight" and "Max's Jack-o-lantern." In all probably 35 episodes were lost. Maybe more. Isaac had watched Max and Ruby every day and it only took seconds to choose and queue up an episode. Unfortunately, we don't even get the channel that runs Max and Ruby anymore (since we downgraded our service at the end of college football season early this year) so we won't be able to see Max and Ruby ever again. Unless we check them out of the library.

Masterpiece Theater: This might not sound like a great loss to some, but I had every single Jane Austen book/movie recorded and had only watched two. I also had the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice which has an incredible soundtrack and Matthew Macfadyen. (sniff, sniff)

The O'Reilly Factor: Again, many of you may be wondering why I'd be sad to lose an episode of The O'Reilly Factor. Well, did I happen to mention that it was the O'Reilly Factor where Bill O'Reilly read a comment I'd sent in on the "Viewer Mail" segment? Even though the comment was edited and he called me "sir" (Afton is a girl's name jerk!!), it would have been nice to have that little clip for posterity.

There are a few other minor losses. Robert lost a few football games, although he'd seen them already, so I don't really see what the big deal is. Ethan lost his collection of Pokemon episodes, which is also no skin off my back.

We should get our replacement DVR by Friday or Saturday. In satellite TV customer service talk that means: probably Monday or Tuesday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Coffee

It's long and I still don't know how to create expandable post summaries, even though I have 3 pages of printed instructions explaining how. (Not to mention, for some reason Blogger doesn't like to indent and all my cute spacing is screwed up and this is annoying me to no end. But I'm not really in a position to, you know, retype this whole thing right now so....)

Marla’s marshmallow stuck in a fork and hovered over the red-hot, spiral heating element. “Don’t you have any longer forks,” She asked, inching her fingers down the handle until they were just barely holding on.

Tiernan yanked back on her own forked marshmallow just as it touched the stove top and burst into flames. Waving and blowing she said, “You can pull apart a coat hanger? I’m sure there are a few extra in the hall closet you could use.”

“That’s ok.” Marla wasn’t sure she wanted to draw attention to their little marshmallow roast. She was pretty sure that if Tiernan’s mom knew what they were doing, she wouldn’t be happy.

The thing about Tiernan’s mom, though, was that she wasn’t super observant. Even though she was technically in the house (Marla’s mom would not have allowed her to come over to Tiernan’s with out a parent at home) she was very much in her own world down the hall in the back office.

Marla turned her fork so the marshmallow browned evenly, trying to ignore the increasing pain in her fingers. The hair on her knuckles began to singe and she quickly switched hands. Tiernan stuck a few chocolate chips into the blackened outer shell of her marshmallow, and then squished it between two graham crackers. “You are taking forever,” Tiernan complained. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, you know.”

“Not everyone likes to eat charcoal.” she said, as she continued to turn her forked marshmallow over the stove. “Besides, if this thing catches on fire, I could set off the smoke alarm and then your mom would come out and…”

Tiernan let out an exasperated breath. “Don’t worry about my mom,” She said. “She doesn’t mind me using the stove. I just have to clean up my mess. Besides, she won’t come out of her office for at least an hour. She just filled up her coffee mug 10 minutes ago, remember?”

Coffee just about the only reason Tiernan’s mom emerged from the office. Her oversized mug, probably more appropriate for a hearty soup than a cup of coffee, was never more than an arm’s reach away and never empty for more than a few seconds. The automatic coffee maker always had a pot on.

The marshmallow done to perfection, Marla carefully positioned it on a graham cracker and topped it with a few chocolate chips and a second cracker. “Ummm, perfect. Need some milk,” she said, sputtering cracker crumbs.

“No milk,” Tiernan said. “All we have is water.”

“Ugh, no thanks.”

“I know. My mom will probably have my dad get some on his way home from work tonight.” Tiernan tossed a few chocolate chips into her mouth and then said, “What about coffee?”

“Does your mom let you drink coffee?”

“It never really came up, but she probably wouldn’t mind. What’s the big deal anyway?”

“Well, my mom doesn’t let me drink it.”

“Marla, we are nearly twelve. Tons of kids our age drink coffee already. I know for a fact that Lisa Del Rio drinks coffee every morning. And you know that mug that Willy drinks “diet Coke” out of every morning at the bus stop? Coffee!”

“No way.”

“I heard it straight from Sophie who heard it from Zach and he knows because Willy let him have a drink last Tuesday.”

“I don’t know.” Marla said. “It doesn’t even smell very good. It’s like something is burning.”

“Would my mom drink the stuff 24/7 if it didn’t taste good? Besides, people have coffee with their dessert all the time. It’s like, the thing to do. It will go perfectly with the s’mores.” Tiernan said. “We don’t have to have a whole cup, but let’s at least taste it. We can be coffee sisters!” She added excitedly.

“Coffee sisters?”

“You know, like blood sisters.”


“Of course it’s gross, that is why we are going to drink coffee instead.”

There was a pause and Tiernan thought she’d made her case until Marla said, “You are not making sense. Blood sisters trade blood…that is what makes them sisters. You know…a little prick on your fingers, then you smoosh them together--blood sisters. Drinking coffee is nothing like becoming blood sisters.

“Then we will drink each other’s coffee,” Tiernan said.

Marla gave her a blank stare.

“You fix up a coffee for me and I’ll fix up a coffee for you. Look,” she opened the fridge, “we have cream and we can add a little sugar too, you know, to make it taste better. Then you drink mine and I’ll drink yours. Coffee sisters.

Tiernan didn’t even wait for Marla’s approval. She climbed up on the counter to reach the mugs on the very top shelf and quickly had two cups of coffee poured.

“Don’t you think we should taste it first,” Marla suggested, “just to see what it tastes like “black?”

“Good idea.” Tiernan handed a mug to Marla and took the other one for herself. She looked at Marla with her scrunched up nose. “It doesn’t smell that bad.” She tilted the mug to her lips, blew just a little, in case it was too hot, and took a sip.

“So?” Marla asked.

“Just try it.”

“What did it taste like?”

“I’ll tell you what I thought after you taste it. Now drink!”

Tiernan thought for a second that Marla was going to chicken out, but then with a quick slurp, Marla drank.

“Ewww, that is so disgusting!” Marla said.

“Well, obviously. Most people don’t drink it like that.” Tiernan said. “That’s why we are going to put stuff in it.”

“You really think that will make it any better?”

“It can’t get worse.”

Marla and Tiernan added sugar and cream to their coffees and stirred it until each turned a rich caramel color. Marla slid her mug across the counter to Tiernan and Tiernan handed her cup to Marla.

“OK coffee sister, here we go.” Marla said. Each took a healthy gulp and turned to face the other, mouth full, refusing to swallow.

Tiernan was first the reach the sink where she spit the coffee then turned the faucet on and drank right out of the sink to get the taste out of her mouth. Marla wasn’t far behind and spit, most landing in the sink, but some landing in Tiernan’s curly hair.

“Maybe we didn’t add enough sugar?” Tiernan suggested as a drop of coffee dripped onto her shoulder.

“I put in 4 spoonfulls.” Marla said.

“I put in 6. Maybe we should try something else. You know how those people at the coffee shop sprinkle cinnamon and add chocolate. There has got to be a reason people drink this stuff.”

They reclaimed their mugs and Marla grabbed spices from the cupboard while Tiernan raided the fridge for ice cream toppings, jam, and a questionable tub of Cool Whip.

“Don’t over do it on the ginger,” Marla complained. “It’s supposed to taste good, remember.”

“I know what I’m doing. It’s not like I put in 2 spoons full of apricot jam.” She glared at Marla. “And don’t think I didn’t see the pickle juice too.”

“What? I did not put in pickle juice. Gross!”

“You didn’t even put the pickles back…they are right there!” Tiernan said, pointing.

“Well, if I did put in a little pickle juice, it was just a tiny bit, and I thought the acid in the juice would off-set the overly sweet taste. I saw something about it on Food Network. I was trying to make it good. Besides, I saw you stir pepper into my coffee.”

“Pepper! Not even close. It was nutmeg? They use it all the time at the coffee shop.”

“Not a whole tablespoon of nutmeg. Besides, I’m pretty sure it was pepper.”

“You wouldn’t even know what a tablespoon of pepper looked like.” Tiernan said, holding a large measuring spoon in one hand and grabbing the tin of pepper with the other.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” Said Marla.

“Like you said, I’m just trying to make it taste good. I saw it on Food Network.” She sang, mockingly, and dumped the pepper into the coffee.

Marla stared, open mouthed at the mug in Tiernan’s hands, a dusty layer of pepper laying unincorporated on top of the coffee. Marla opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of yellow mustard, turned it over the mug and squeezed. For what seemed like 20 seconds, a thin line of yellow dropped into the depths of the mug while the level of the coffee rose visibly.

Tiernan retaliated silently by squirting ketchup into the mug in front of her. She stirred briskly and tapped the spoon smartly on the edge of the mug and gave Marla a sarcastic smile.

Marla added a generous dash of salt, orange juice and chopped garlic while Tiernan shook in 9 drops of red hot pepper sauce and a few squirts of lemon juice. Finally, they both reached for the sorry looking tub of Cool Whip.

“How long has this been in your fridge?” Marla said.

“I don’t know. We don’t use Cool Whip very often. I think we got it for Thanksgiving last year.”

“You were at your aunt’s for Thanksgiving last year.”

“Oh, right. Well, those coffee shop people always top their fanciest coffees with whipped cream, so this will just have to do.” Tiernan took the plastic top off the Cool Whip to reveal thick lumps sliding around in yellow liquid.

“Isn’t it supposed to be white?” Marla asked.

“Actually, I think this is exactly how they do it on Food Network.” Tiernan took her spoon and scooped out a big lump of yellow stuff and let it slide off her spoon, right into the coffee.

“I think you’re right,” Marla said as she added her yellowy clump to her own cup. “Totally gourmet.”

“So, here you go,” Marla said, pushing her mug across the counter towards Tiernan.

“And her you go,” said Tiernan doing the same.

Both girls examined the concoction sitting in front of them. “I’m not drinking this,” Marla said.

“Oh yes you are.” said Tiernan.

“No way.”

“Coffee Sisters,” said Tiernan and she took the mug to her lips and threw back her head, swallowing.

“I can’t believe you just did that!” Marla said. “That must have tasted disgusting.

“Coffee Sisters.” Tiernan replied, looking a little green if truth be told.

Marla took her mug, and plugged her nose. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she said, then took a quick gulp followed by a hasty swallow. Marla looked up at Tiernan who was smiling, despite the odd coloring to her face which suggested that smiling was maybe not her first thought.

Marla’s eyes widened. “What?” Tiernan asked. “What’s wrong?”

“I think I’m gonna….”

“No, don’t say it. You’re going to make me…”

Marla ran for the sink but Tiernan made it first and just in time as all mustard, pickle juice, cream, sugar and awful coffee came back up.

“Now that is disgusting.” Tiernan said, still leaning over the sink. “Hey, what’s in my hair?” She said, standing up again.

“I think you’re going to need a shower, Coffee Sister.” Marla said wiping her mouth. “And I think I’ll have that glass of water now.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why I Need to Supervise My Kids at the Bus Stop

Most first graders and many fifth graders have a thing about being first in line. Being first is very important and in fact, line position can sometimes make, or break a day.

Jonah wanted so much to be first in line this morning at the bus stop that he went out side 20 minutes early to claim his position. It's only the second week of school, so I'm still pretending to be a "good mom" by hanging out with my kids at the bus stop, but I'm pretty sure that by week four I'll be waving at them from the window when the bus pulls away. By week five, I might hear the bus pull away as I check my e-mail. By week six, it's entirely possible I might be snuggled under the covers, having fallen back asleep by the time the bus drives off with the kids.

Twenty minutes was way too long for me to stand on a curb on a crisp fall morning. I spent a few minutes unloading the dishwasher and figured I'd head outside when I was finished.

Jonah had been out at the bus stop for about 10 minutes when he came back in the house. I could tell he was struggling to hold back a flood of tears. "My Capri Sun is leaking he said," handing me his soaked lunch bag.

"Don't worry," I quickly assured him. "I'll make a new lunch and bring it out to you as fast as I can. Go back and wait for me in line."

I opened the lunch bag and fished out each item, now swimming in 2 inches of Grape Tide. The Uncrustable (don't judge me) was easily salvaged because it was sealed in packaging. I rinsed and dried it off, then deposited it in a clean lunch bag. The homemade brownie was a total loss, but I thought the applesauce, in its plastic cup, surely would have survived.

The applesauce had not survived. The plastic was cracked and the foil top had pulled back slightly so that applesauce was oozing out.

Suddenly my mom-sense kicked in and this scene flashed through my mind: Jonah showing off to his friends. He's going for laughs. He pulls his lunch box out of his backpack, says something silly and throws his lunch box to the ground. He picks it up and tosses it high into the air and watches as it lands in the middle of the street. Laughing, he kicks it back to the curb.

I finished making his new lunch in record time (thanks to pre-packaged foods and some grapes I already had portioned out in a zip lock bag in the fridge) and brought it outside. The good moms were standing with their kids and chatting with each other happily.

"Jonah," I said when I handed him his new lunch, "Did you throw your lunch bag on the ground?"


At this point I looked to the other moms for confirmation. They were smiling knowingly at Jonah's whispered confession.

"Don't do that again." I said. "I won't make you a new lunch next time."

Right away I knew I was lying. I could never send my little boy off to school without a lunch. So I really hope he never destroys his lunch again because I'd surely cave and make him another lunch and what little credibility I have would surely be shot.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Time to Kill

I do apologize if you find this offensive, but I must say I was highly offended when, after spending hundreds on gorgeous new plants and lovingly planting them in our backyard, little mole hills began to appear.

We have been laboring over our backyard since May for crying out loud. And along comes a mole (or two or three) and threatens to ruin the whole thing with his careless and erratic tunneling. (To be fair, I'm sure the mole felt his tunneling was careful and predictable.)

With a brand new lawn seeded and sprouting, and our baby blueberry bushes and helpless hydrangeas in need of TLC, we did not enjoy the luxury of messing around. Besides, I've tried the more "humane" ways of discouraging moles to stop digging in my yard and they have failed miserably.

I once made an concoction of cayenne pepper, Castor oil and Murphy's oil soap and poured it down several mole holes 2 years ago. The result: the next morning the mole hills had multiplied exponentially. I was pretty sure the mole was in his underground lair laughing to himself and thinking, "take that sucker."

The past mole tunnels and hills had damaged our yard to the point where the very landscaping project we are still involved in became quite necessary.

So, you see, we were left with very few options. The steel jaws of death had to be employed.

And when we pulled the sprung trap from the ground with that little devil-mole attached, I did feel sad for a moment. (About 10 seconds while I ran into the house to grab the camera and snap a few shots.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Killer Tomatoes

I did not think there were any red tomatoes in my garden until last night when I was picking beans for dinner. I spotted a flash of red deep in the leafy green of one of the tomato plants. It was a beef steak tomato plant.

I reached in and pulled out a massive tomato and saw another. And another. I brought a bowl out to gather the tomatoes, but one tomato took up the entire bowl!! (Check out the Roma in the the picture above to get an idea of just how huge these tomatoes actually are).

The first thing I did was make salsa. Then I pulled out my kitchen scale and weighed one of the tomatoes. Can you see how much it weighs? One pound, eleven ounces. One tomato.
The fresh salsa was delicious. Here's how I make it:

Chop up a bunch of tomatoes and drain the liquid. Add red onion, cilantro, a few cloves of chopped garlic, a few tablespoons of lime juice, a generous amount of chili powder, a few drops of red hot pepper sauce and salt. Mix together and heap onto a giant tortilla chip. Eat and repeat.

Sunday Scribblings: Miracle, Part 2

Here is the rest of the soup story:

Roommates came and went. Roommate's boyfriends came and went. Friends and friends of friends came and went. There was plenty of other homework to focus on and decided I'd worry about my soup dilemma later.

After a delightful dinner of boxed macaroni and cheese and Bisquick biscuits, my 6 roommates and I got ready for the annual "Polyester Prom" on campus. We'd spent weeks getting our thrift store outfits together. I looked at the $3.50 platform shoes that went perfectly with my black and white floor length polyester dress and knew tonight would be the only night I'd ever wear them.

Soup. Shoes. Hmm.

There was no denying I looked great, shoes and all. I wasn't going to let the stupid soup assignment ruin my evening. I'm pretty sure I didn't think about soup again until Monday in advertising class.

"Don't forget about your Progresso Soup ad," the professor said minutes before the end of class. "I hope by now that most of you have purchased and tried the soup."

I walked out of class with my head down, not from shame or discouragement, but because I wanted to see if I could spot any change that had fallen, unnoticed, to the ground. No lucky pennies that day. I passed the small fountain and reflecting pool on my way out of the fine arts building and pictured myself wading, ankle-deep, to gather $1.75 in carelessly tossed-out change. I wasn't that desperate, thank goodness.

How could it be that I let myself get so low on cash that I didn't even have a measly dollar seventy-five for soup? It was more than a bit humiliating.

I considered faking the assignment. I'd seen ads for Progresso soup after all. I knew it had giant chunks of meat and vegetables and fancy spiral pasta. "Progresso soup tastes home made," I tried out. "Progresso soup makes me feel like someone cares about me." Better.

Maybe I could convince one of my roommates to buy a can for herself, then mooch just one tiny taste. One bite was surely all I needed to understand the exciting complexities of Progresso soup.

So I had options. The world, it seemed, was not going to end.

I tried my soup suggestion out on Brooke. She and I worked as janitors together at some fancy, off-campus offices. She was on board immediately and we made plants to head to the grocery store after our morning classes the next day.

Tuesday morning I was the only one awake as I prepared for my 8am class. None of my roommates were delusional enough to have signed up for any class earlier than 10am. I loaded my bag with books and notebooks and headed out the front door. I stopped though, when I saw a paper sack sitting on our front step. Probably a surprise from one of my roommates boyfriends, I thought.

I grabbed the bag and brought it inside, but as I set it on the front room table, I saw my name on the bag. MY name.

I opened the bag and was immediately humbled to see a can of Progresso soup and a ten dollar bill. All the foolish 2 taco deals and cheap, 70's platform shoes assaulted my conscience. I had not been careful with my money. I didn't deserve this charity.

All the possible do-gooders did a little parade through my brain and I alternated feeling elated and embarrassed. Who could have done this? Who had I been whining to? Who had seen me as so helpless and hopeless?

I decided quickly to focus on the thoughtfulness of the person who'd anonymously come to my rescue with a can of Progresso soup. Part of me wanted to know who it was, but another part really, sincerely didn't.

I put the ten dollars in my wallet and felt like a queen. No more taco deals or silly purchases. I had a responsibility towards that money and would not spend it foolishly. Maybe I'd even find someone else to pass it on to.

I put the blessed can of Progresso soup on the kitchen counter so Brooke would know she could hold on to a her hard earned janitor-cash a bit longer, then left for campus feeling like a little rough edge on my heart had just been sanded smooth.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Miracle

One of my goals for the school year is to write regularly. I've wanted to participate in "Sunday Scribblings" for a while and now is the time...no more excuses. I'm going to post my Sunday Scribblings on my blog so I can include a link to my blog over at the Sunday Scribblings website. I feel like this exposes me a little, and that makes me nervous. But I need to get over that sometime, don't I? Please do not feel compelled to comment. I do enjoy comments and would welcome whatever you have to say. I'm not posting for praise though. This is simply a time for me to flex my out-of-shape writing muscles and see if I can't start to inch myself towards my writing goals. While I'm sure much of what I write will have some basis in fact, please consider everything I write as "fiction."

I never thought a simple can of soup would be my undoing. OK, maybe I was being a tad over-dramatic, but if not my undoing, then certainly one thing that would stand between me and an A in advertising.

My professor had just announced our homework assignment, due in 3 days: Write a print ad for Progresso soup. He urged us to consider the target audience, to pay attention to the layout and design, and turn in only our best work.

"One last thing, " he added. "You will need to actually buy and eat a can of Progresso soup."

It wasn't that I didn't like soup. I loved soup. All kinds of soup. In fact, nothing beat a bowl of hot soup on a crisp fall afternoon while working on advertising homework. I was a huge soup fan.

However, I was a poor college student who couldn't afford to spend frivolously on things like name-brand soup. More than that, however, I was a poor college student who was really, really bad at managing her finances. I had worked over the summer to save money for school, but most of that went to books and rent. Oh yeah...and a really cute fall wardrobe.

I had a part time job, but was in between paychecks. I had just gone through the rounds of paying registration fees, lab fees, buying a parking pass, and taking advantage of the tasty 2 taco deal at Taco Bell (more than once.) I was seriously broke.

I may have been able to accost the couch cushions to raise 49 cents for a can of generic tomato soup. It was even possible that I could have rounded up 89 cents for the can of Campbell's. But Progresso? No way.

Progross was the fanciest, most expensive soup in the grocery store. I would gaze longingly at the blue labels in the soup aisle as I loaded up on Top Ramen and Jiffy Muffin mixes. For now, the can's of $1.75 soup were simple out of reach--a goal. I envisioned the day I'd come back to this very grocery store, a wealthy advertising executive. I'd drive up in my Porsche and walk in wearing my Liz Claiborne suit and sporting a $150 hair cut.

I pictured my rich self loading up the cart with expensive cuts of meat, fresh squeezed orange juice, halibut and those fancy mushrooms that cost $15 a pound. And of course, I'd buy only Porgresso soup. Not condensed, but 1 and a half servings of $1.75 soup.

I tossed my bag onto the worn sofa and sighed dramatically as I came home from class that day. Beatty kicked open the door to her room where she'd been studying for an evening class. "How was your day?" She asked.

I told her my sad story. "I'm being forced to buy the most expensive soup in the grocery store." I whined. "I might as well have been asked to buy a Rolex in order to write an ad for fine watches."

Beatty was nothing if not empathetic. She knew what it was like to be short on money. Just the other day when we were driving back from campus, she'd begged me to stop when she saw a homeless man sitting on the side of the road with a cardboard sign and a cup held out for change.

"I really feel like I need to do something." She'd said. I couldn't argue with "the feeling," so I pulled over so she could relieve her conscience. Beatty started to rifle through her wallet and soon moved onto explore the depths of her purse, a bit flustered. When she turned out her pockets searching for change things got a bit awkward.

"Um, I don't have any money," she said, looking at me expectantly.

What? She wanted ME to give him money? She was the one who wanted to stop. I would have kept going. I felt like I was a step away from sitting on the street corner myself, not in a position to be handling out what little money I had.

As it turned out, I did have very little cash. One dollar to be exact. No quarters, dimes or nickles. Not even a "buy one get one" coupon for frozen yogurt. Grudgingly, I handed my last dollar to the homeless man and silently pledged to ignore all of Beatty's pleadings in the future.

"I'm sure I'll figure out a way to get the soup." I said. "It's just a dollar seventy-five for crying out loud."

Over the next few hours my story probably slipped out once or twice as roommates came and went. When it came right down to it, I was embarrassed at being so careless with my money.

Sorry, this is so long, I'm going to stop here. I have 3 more pages of this story and I'm just going to leave it in Word for now. At the end of the story there is a little miracle that really isn't a miracle, but it's still a good story. Maybe I'll post the rest another time....maybe.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Et tu Tar-jay?

Went to Target yesterday to get a bunch of stuff that I may or may not have needed. Stopped by the little snack bar to get the popcorn/drink deal. Remember the popcorn/drink deal? You pay 99 cents for popcorn and get a drink for a penny? It was a good deal.


Now it's $1.50.

Sometimes change stinks.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tiny Connect 4, I'm Putting You On Notice!

I know several of you have checked to see if I blogged about my reaction to the fact that (holy cow!!!) the kids are now in school. Sorry to keep you waiting for a witty post describing my joy. Honestly, I've been so happy, I couldn't think of anything witty to say.

The house was in such a state that I've spent the last two days cleaning. Maybe not the best way to start the school year, but there is something to be said for cleaning a room, and then coming back 2 hours later and finding it exactly as you left it. So, I don't mind the cleaning so much.

During my clean sweep today, I ran across this little gem:

As you can see, this is the world's smallest "Connect 4" game. We have 4 of these games. They were prizes issued at the Intel Family picnic this summer and just a few of the other 138 things we came home with that day.

I know you are thinking I just pulled a number out of my head and typed it to create some kind of drama, and while I do admit to kind of doing that in the past, this time, I did not. We really brought home 138 things from the Intel Family Picnic. (Yes, I'm the nerd who counted them all.)

We got things like 12 paddle ball games, a camp chair, 5 large Frisbees and 4 small Frisbees, 3 mini beach balls, 5 rubber ducks, 1 book light, 7 red, white and blue hackey sacks, 2 fancy Intel pen sets and 3 hula hoops. Really, I'm not making this up. We had to make 3 trips to the car during the picnic just to unload our loot. Insane.

Back to the world's smallest Connect 4. When I look at this game and even more, when I vacuum up the pieces of this game that have found every little crevice in the back of the car, I can't help thinking that someone hates me.

Really, what is the purpose of this game? Even a child's fingers are too small to grasp the tiny pieces. And if by some miracle, you were able to pick up one of those little discs, I'm sure any optometrist would agree that serious eye damage is likely to result just from the squinting it would take to plan your next move.

Clearly this game was created by malicious people who want to drive moms crazy.

And we have 4 of them. Well actually, we now have 3. Remember, I already vacuumed up that one in the car. Tomorrow, maybe we will only have 2 tiny Connect 4 games....mwah, hahh, haaaa!