Thursday, December 30, 2010

The T Family.

Cozied Up By The Fire. Office Special 12/28/10
When I was a kid, my family lived a shortish ride on pony to a large private plot of land with a hunting reserve. It was pretty forested, with large, well-maintained paths winding in and out of this forested area and into the farm fields nearby that also belonged to the same property. We were allowed to ride there as long as we stayed on the main paths and only when it wasn’t pheasant season. This preserve was attached to an old house belonging to an old family. They had a noble title still, but there was little left of the prestige the family knew except their name, their home, their property and their history. Mr. T worked full-time.  Their other income source was their manour-house. It was open to touristsduring the week, and either Mrs. T or teenaged young Master T would give tours. The family had moved into a small part of the manour and the rest of the house was set up as the museum.

It wasn’t long before I, and a friend of mine (next door neighbour of sorts) who rode one of my ponies ran into their 2 younger kids on their ponies on the property, and they showed us all sorts of secret paths and wonderful places, and they eventually became our friends. We’d ride over to fetch them, or they come and fetch us... always on the back of a fuzzy Shetland or welsh mix pony. We’d ride right though neighbourhood streets, and bike paths to get there. We’d ride over and the Mrs. T would make us a nice healthy lunch or a goûter of a tartine and some café au lait, and we’d play inside for a while, or make figures out of marzipan to sell to people on holidays door to door in the saddle (the neighbours rarely bought it because we’d made it with our grubby pony-smelling hands). I remember wowing the T family a number of times with my marzipan renderings of Garfield and Odie and such. :)

I loved their home. It was just a few rooms of this huge manour that they lived in all clustered around the neat old kitchen with 30s style appliances. When I slept over, we’d creep about at night into the museumy bit and lie down on the really tiny beds, and play act and so on. The part they lived in was old and beautiful, but also really homey... the elegant paneled walls had these austere portraits of their ancestors hanging on them, against cracked paint and notched plaster. The furniture was elegant, but worn; the rugs rich, but threadbare. The place always smelled wonderful, of leek soup being simmered, of steak-au-poivre with fresh frites, of salad greens with vinaigrette, of baking frangipane, of mussels in white wine.. it was sheer comfort. Their Christmas trees, as most of them were for us, were gangly, very prickly assemblages with tinsel and bulbs, and their table was always welcoming to guests. I spent many hours in that house, admiring Mrs. T in her perpetual chignon, her ever-present string of pearls around her neck, even when she wore jeans, and her class and elegance that oozed from every pore, even when she was kneeling in the soil, yanking up weeds. All of the T family spoke English. And excellent English at that. But most of the time, we kids shifted between Flemish and French when we ran about in a pack of four, the hoofs of our little ponies clattering loudly on the tarmac as we roamed the neighbourhoods.

We’d go riding looking for the elusive red squirrels with the fuzzy ears that were so hard to find, and to see if we could spot some of the hunting stock ... pheasants etc. We galloped wildly along the big paths and jumped small obstacles on the ponies. We pooled our toys and acted out stories with them... We pretended to be a group of hobbits traveling to Mordor.

Every time the holidays roll around I think of the T family. I remember trying to ‘trick-or-treat’ for money dressed as kings on Three Kings day... or sitting in their parlour with the huge clock and drawing horses and ponies, or reading Thelwell Pony picture books, or putting together toys from the kinder-surprise eggs we’d gotten at the corner store. I think about them a lot. I miss you T-Family.

Happy New Year to all of you.  Think of good warm things as much as you can.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Using a Dassenplank Knitting Loom

Measurements below (and a threading guide)..

Made of nice quality hardwood with rounded corners and a simple, plain clear varnish. I forgot to mention that the board's thickness is a little under 3/4". The distance between pegs is measured on-center. The thickness of the pegs is hard to measure with what I have... but they look to be arounnd 3/16" and the ball 3/8".

 Please disregard all my ums and errs. ;)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Encyclopædia Monstrositus.

Don't ask. ::arched brow::

Hard to focus on the little guy... but still so cute. My office this morning.
He's far from monstrous... Or is he?
I am in Holiday Funk mode.  We are not 'doing' Christmas this year because there is no way to afford it frankly.  We have been struggling pretty badly these past few months with hubby's significant pay cut, and we are trying hard to keep afloat.

I have put a Christmas tree though. We bought a potted tree (a kind of scrangly one) and I weighed it down with lights and a few ornaments and it looks pretty pathetic.  I have no spirit for the season, I confess. The closest I got was buying a few things for a Giving Tree at our local hardware store.

Anyways... Just a touch of weirdness on my part. The office special of office specials, I guess. I suppose it's probably not a good idea to open up photo-editor while I'm on the phone for any length of time, that's all I have to say on that. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

A 'scienterifical' study of cop evilness.

Once upon a time, I thought policemen were the cat’s meow. They were awesome in their pockety pants with their bad-ass swagger, all those tazery implements of torture they get to use, and the license to speed like demons in powerful vehicles... Yeah. They were cool. WERE. My opinion has been strongly influenced towards the negative since I’ve moved to Oregon. In New Hampshire, I had friends who were cops and they were cool & stuff. I've discovered that I don't find cops quite so likeable here in Oregon. Why? Because I’ve discovered that Oregon cops are evil. And after a lot of dogged, 'legitimate' research and data crunching, I think I’ve discovered the fundamental reasons why this is.

Well, the statistics speak for themselves.  The reason comes down to these simple statistics to start:

Police per-capita in New Hampshire: ~ 2.2 officers per 1,000 people ~ 2,900 cops.
Population: 1,300,000
Persons per square mile: 139.0
46th largest state in the country. 9,351 square miles.
= cops that are somewhat affable and who know people.

Police per-capita in Oregon. ~ 1.5 officers per 1,000 people. ~ 5,700 cops
Population: 3,800,000
Persons per square mile: 38.6
9th largest state in the country; 98,386 square miles.
= uniforms full of concentrated evil.

Summarizing just those statistics alone, you can see that in Oregon, there are 2.9 times the number of people than there are in NH. There are only 2 times the number of police than NH, oddly. And Oregon is about 10.5 times the size of NH. Add in the rain half the year and the crappy roads and I’m thinking I can see why these overworked, tired-of-driving all over hell guys are 100% evil.

A 'scientific' study of the distribution of Police officers around the respective states:

Similar distribution patterns emerge.
Outlying communities, you're on your own! 
Incoming out of state traffic... Look out.
 NH Police, general daily cases and challenges:
  • College kids using pot.
  • Disturbance at Dunkin’ Donuts.
  • Lost pets and seniors.
  • Speeders.
  • Directing traffic around construction sites.
  • Directing traffic at the pumpkin festivals.
  • Moose-car collisions.
  • Massachusetts drivers.

Oregon Police, general daily cases and challenges:
  • Meth labs.
  • Pot growers.
  • Heavily armed hoarders.
  • People on shooting sprees
  • Landslides and fallen trees
  • Recovery of hikers/climbers/Californians lost in the wilderness.
  • Speeders.
  • Unlit highways
  • Catastrophic car crashes with fatalities and sometimes involving wildlife.
  • Rampant drug-related homocide.
  • Bears and cougars
  • This guy:
  • Domestic violence calls involving weapons.
  • Californian drivers.
  • Washington drivers.
  • Granolas driving Subarus.
Crime rate comparison using 2009 data:



.... further proof that Oregon cops might have good reason for being major jerks when dealing with the public.  I mean, let's consider that there aren't even 2x the number of cops in OR that there are in NH... and look at the disparities between the volume of crimes committed in each state. And we're not even talking emergencies like floods and rescues and all that other crud, or are we even looking at traffic infractions... we're just talking full-on crime here.

Other factors contributing to general cop grumpiness in Oregon:
NH: 1 Dunkin Donuts at least every square mile in densely populated areas, and at least one in pretty much every town.
OR: Only a few Krispy-Kremes in the whole state, and a general lack of any other nearby donut franchises or shops.

NH: Cop shoots skeevy guy who looks like he's reaching for a weapon in an elevated situation. Guy shouldn't have reached into his pocket screaming 'I have a gun!' RIP--natural selection. End of story.
OR: Cop shoots skeevy guy who looks like he's reaching for a weapon in an elevated situation.  Public becomes outraged because cop isn't clairevoyant or able to diagnose mental illness on-the-spot. Cop is fired.

No Excuse:
Morally, none of them should be jerks at all when they get to drive *this* bad-assness every day.

Yeah, high-speed chases and such are dangerous and scary.. but Hello.... CHARGER! Charger with crash-bars and low-profile LED lights and kickass hawtness. Of course, the real evil cops might be the ones freezing on the motorcycles, or the ones stuck driving the old Crown Vics and SUVs. If that were the case. I'd be really pissy too.

THEREFORE: Oregon cops *are* evil.  But I probably would be too if I did their job. AND I'd be forced to wear polyester... which that in and of itself can induce homocidal tendencies. 

Today is also St. Nicolas's day.  YAY! I miss that very much.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The pudgy black pig with the smooshy-face.

When I was in the fifth grade, we were living at the ‘magical house’ that I loved so much. I was getting ready to leave for school, and waiting for my father to find his keys because he always lost them. He lost his glasses a lot too and would get all huffy, shouting around the house “Whare the hell arr mai glahsses?” One of us would meekly point out that he had them up pushed them up onto the top of his head, and then scurry away snickering as he grumbled to himself and slid his glasses back down onto the bridge of his nose. My dad was kind of a curmudgeon. A good kind of curmudgeon though, on the most part. His grumpiness was endearing, and sometimes, when you called him out on it, he’d snicker mischievously and his eyes would glimmer like he’d been playing a joke on us all the while. He was a strange fellow in some ways, and you could never predict how he’d react to something. When I came home after getting into my first car-accident, I was terrified about telling him. I came into the house, and my eyes were red and puffy from crying all the way home, and there he was, coming downstairs to feed the dogs. I said: “I got into a car accident today daddy…” and started blubbering. He stopped and stared at me for a second and replied; “Vat? A car acceedent vasn’t necesserrry.” Seriously, that’s what he said. That’s just how he was. Unpredictable. He had no patience for pranks and tomfoolery though, and we of course, taunted him frequently just to get a rise out of him. I would purposefully mispronounce words to annoy him... we loved teasing daddy.

Our study used to be a room that was about three feet above the level of the living room area, and there were some steps leading up to the study. My sister Anna decided it would be funny to run up the stairs, pretend to trip, and dramatically fall onto the floor and act as if she’d died. She did a pretty bang-up job of it, but the conveniently placed sofa cushions were kind of obvious, but daddy still fell for it. I remember my dad just freaking out… He was like “Aneeta? Aneeta? ANEETA!” and then she couldn’t resist and started giggling, and he just got all pissy that he’d been duped; and eventually started laughing after giving my sister a good dressing-down, who just giggled all the while.

So that morning, when I stepped out of the house to throw my bookbag into the car, and my eyes moved reflexively to the center of the long orchard, attracted by something unusual. When I saw it, the first thing that popped into my head was; how am I going to tell daddy this? I went into the house and found him. He was already really worked up because his keys were nowhere to be found (they ended up being in the pocket of his coat that he was wearing). Anyway, I walked up to him warily and said: “Daddy, there’s a fat hairy black pig in our yard.” His head snapped in my direction and his furry brows crowded together and he replied: “Vat are you tokking about? Don’t say stoopid things, I don’t have time forrr thet.”

“Really, Daddy, there’s a really hair fat black pig, right out there in the back yard,” I insisted.  He looked even madder and then stormed out to the stone veranda, and looked out at the orchard and lo and behold, there was a massive black pig eating the fallen fruit from the apple trees and rolling chestnut burrs around with his snout. I told him: “see?” His brows arched up in puzzlement; there were a few farms near us, but they were grain farms, and the livestock in our neighbourhood were mainly draft horses and cows. Pigs were not usual, and this pig was particularly non-traditional looking, with a smooshed up face. He was really cute. I walked towards him, and daddy shouted at me not to. The pig only ran a few steps away and then continued rooting around. He sighed, and then went to wake up my mother so we could figure out the pig conundrum. He found his keys after yelling around for ten minutes, he took me to school anyway, and he went to work. We listened to BBC World Service, (this ident music still pops into my head sometimes)

as we always did, and he whistled along to it. The day was uneventful, except I spent all day wondering about the pig.

Mom came and got me after school, and as soon as I got into the car, I wanted to know about the pig. My mother discovered that the somewhat nearby Planckendael Zoo, which was a small zoo which at the time was a sort of nursery zoo for the animals from the main Antwerp zoo, had lost a Vietnamese pig. They were going to dispatch someone to get the guy.

When we got home, he was still there, this time further back in the yard, eating crab apples and chestnuts. Not long after, the young men from Planckendael showed up, and we were wildly entertained by the attempts to capture the pig. Our garden had a moat around it, I am not kidding. It was about 80% of the moat on our end, the driveway cut over part of it, and the last 15% of it was on the back side of the property where the third house was. The pig, after being leapt on by one of the guys, dragged his assailant into the moat, where he shed him, and then the pig waded on the edge a bit, and circled one end to climb out out in our pony pasture, where Penny and Silvermoon came over to check him out. He didn’t like ponies, so he went back into the water and paddled like an Olympic swimmer back to the apples. It took them another hour or so to catch the portly guy, and the two guys were worse for wear. Piggie was taken back to the zoo. We visited him there a few weeks later, he was in a pen with a bunch of other smooshy-faced pigs.

A few years ago, I was on the phone with my dad. This was before he got really sick, and I had called to ask him to help me troubleshoot some computer hardware issues I was having. In the middle of our geek-fest, he popped out with “Feffa… do you rremember when there vas a peeg in our back yahrd?” he chuckled. I laughed too, and said: “yeah, I remember you not believing me when I was telling you about it.” He had a good laugh about that, and replied: “Vat do you expect? You kids ver alvays doing stoopid things to make me mad.” His laugh was so hearty and wonderful.

I miss that old curmudgeon so much—I miss hearing him whistle to the BBC World Service intro, I miss watching him make a ritual out of eating an apple. I miss talking computers with him, and building them with him. I miss him so much. All these fertility-pill-induced hormones are putting me in that frame of mind lately. It’s so hard to think about him being permanently gone sometimes. I sort of pretend that he’s still in New Hampshire and I just haven’t gotten ‘round to talking to him for a few weeks—that he’s still at his ham-radio, logging his QSL contacts—sitting at the microphone enunciating: November One Mike Papaah Zulu and laughing with his Hungarian friends.

73s Papa.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Soup & Spoon

I have social anxiety, ever since I was a child. Being in social situations, it’s kind of hard to tell, because in mixed company, I am not at all what you imagine when you think of someone with a painful case of social anxiety. I am a spazz. I talk non-stop, I laugh loudly, I flutter from person to person. Of course, this person roaming around, chatting people up, never shutting up about this and that… she took years of work to create. In school, I had a hard time making and maintaining friendships. Around horse people, however, I never had a problem because I was always comfortable having a social life revolving around a beloved pastime. At our stable, I was easily able to make good long-term connections and I hardly ever felt uncomfortable at social events because everyone was a friend.

It took a lot of personal struggle to push myself to do things out of my comfort zone. The ORS is an anomaly, because I expected it would be something small and easy to control, but it blew up into a public relations extravaganza and I had to just set aside my personal insecurities and just open up to people, even if that meant coming off as a crazy chatterbox. Luckily, working for a Chamber of Commerce for some years, I learned the art of the schmooze, which has helped me secure venues and establish relationships with business people, but again… in my head, my brain is going AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Whenever it comes to just joining people for social events, I go through a personal battle every time. My brain fills with all this anxiety, and starts making all these excuses why I really don’t need to go and join in. I can understand why my brain doesn’t like it; because even though I’m outwardly social and having a good time, the whole time I am in a state of high stress… the whole time my brain is saying: I want this to be over, I want this to be over, I want this to be over…. I’m like that overused cliché of the duck on the water, sliding along quite blissfully on the still water, but underneath the surface that duck is kicking like crazy. That’s me.

But it’s something you just have to overcome things like that, I guess; although overcoming isn’t probably the best word. Compartmentalize, maybe. Put it aside, just function and get out as much as you can. But if I let my brain have its way, I’d live like a hermit, in the middle of nowhere, where I would be safe from social exchanges and away from the social expectations that make my dopamine-deficient brain go all ape on me. My social ineptitude often makes me bullish in conversation, I will interrupt people, I will talk my head off, I will tell stories when I probably should just shut the hell up… I am trying though; I’m not too old to change and learn, this I know. It’s a constant process.

Today, I went home early to work from home. I decided to stop at the Soup & Spoon in Welches for lunch. I love that place. It’s what you would imagine a small-town hangout for locals to be. You walk in, they know who you are. You order your food with informality, you talk about family problems with people, and more people come in, and people ask how you’re doing, how your fertility treatments are working, how your cabin is faring in the below-freezing temps. Everyone sort of knows each other, and if you don’t know them, you still feel like you do because you are all from this little town. We all laugh at the ski-tourists, and we talk about local concerns… and when a group comes in that has the ‘not from town’ vibe, things go quiet for a moment, until someone asks them a question. There are four tables, three four-tops and one six/eight top. There’s a bar where I sit, looking right into the kitchen. Today, the health-inspector came in, had some soup samples and then did a quick inspection, was pleased at its meticulously kept kitchens, and went on her way. A TSA employee came up to check on his cabin, and the pregnant lady from the Salon came in for soup. The lady from the acupuncture clinic next door helped wait tables because she had nothing else to do. We all talked to each other from our seats and tables as if we were all at one table. It’s so comforting. I was there an hour and a half.

The soup by the way, is fan-freakin’ tastic. She gives you four soup-samples when you come in, and you get to pick your fav. The food is fresh and delicious and the atmosphere is fantastic. I got on the web and worked there for a while… just talking and doing emails. I walked out of there feeling 1) that I talked too much, but 2) that I had a good time and 3) that I wish I could be there more often. That’s unusual or me, to *want* to go somewhere to be social… so it’s a good thing. Like our local hardware store, I feel good there, I feel comfortable with the locals, I feel like part of a community. It made me feel like I’ve grown a bit in the past few years… that my anxiety is waning, or evolving. I don’t know.

Anyway… if you’re up in Welches, Oregon… look for the Soup & Spoon, it’s small and hard to find, but you’ll likely find a lot of really nice folks there and some amazing soup.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Once upon a time; a fairy tale.

Once upon a time,
  • The customer was king and always right—they were not treated universally as the lowest common denominator.
  • When you called a phone number for customer assistance, you’d reach someone in this country, possibly in your own time zone, and they did not just read you policy and explain at length how they are not going to help you. They usually had a decent command of English, and were polite on the phone.
  • Companies treated people like their patronage was the reason the company existed, and not like customers have no other choice but to take what they are given and to suck it up if they aren’t happy.
  • Companies competed for customers, and were not handed entire markets to exploit.
  • Customer service was not a huge book titled: Policy. Individuals still mattered.
  • Small businesses were integral to communities, and we kept our wealth local instead of sending it to China.
  • Businesses hired adults who knew how to treat others, and not teenagers who care nothing about the customer or the business.

Once upon a time,
  • Airlines served cooked meals on actual plates with actual silverware. They gave passengers eye-masks, slipper socks, and beverages and movies were included with the airfare.
  • Airlines gave kids activity kits and real metal wings.
  • Airlines did not charge to check baggage, or ask costumers with long legs to pay extra for legroom.
  • Seats on airplanes were wider, and more commodious; and were not made so narrow so the airline could cram in another row of passengers.
  • Airlines did not assume everyone who came aboard was a terrorist and treat them all as such.
  • Flight attendants were fresh and kind, and not overworked and catty.

Once upon a time,
  • People had manners and said please and thank you, and taught their children to do so as well.
  • There were expectations on children, they had responsibilities and did not spend all day in front of a game console, on the internet or texting banalities to their friends.
  • Parenting still existed, accountability and discipline was not something that parents dumped on the teachers and caregivers, but was something parents actually took responsibility for. They understood that they were the ones that brought the offspring into the world and they had a responsibility to prepare their offspring to live in it as conscientious citizens.
  • You could go to a family restaurant and not hear screams and squeals of unruly children, and sit and dine without children running wildly around you.
  • Parents wanted their children to do better than they did, so they sacrificed a great deal so their kids would reach greater heights—instead of living selfishly for themselves and having children and besetting them on the world unprepared.
  • People prepared their children for the real world, and introduced them to disappointment and hardship—they did not give their children whatever they want, and praise them for everything, and teach them to have unrealistic expectations of life when they finally venture out on their own; creating burdens for others to carry and maintain.
  • Children were taught a work ethic that would propel them forward in life.

Once upon a time,
  • Seemingly educated people could spell.
  • They wrote letters.
  • They read books.
  • Doctors weren’t so overwhelmed with patients that they bothered to know their patients’ names, and recall their health issues.
  • Doctors took the time to talk to patients and hear their concerns.
  • Elders were treated with respect and deference, not treated like an inconvenience.

Once upon a time,
  • People were grateful.
  • People did not hide behind faith and use it to justify questionable behaviour.
  • People were not self-absorbed and uninterested in the welfare of others.
  • They stood up for what was right.
  • They did not always take the easy route.
  • They did not sacrifice integral things for the sake of convenience.
  • They had standards.
  • They understood the concept of common consideration and courtesy.
  • People did not believe that they were entitled to things, but that they had to earn them.
  • People understood that to be truly respected, one must earn it.
  • People knew that they lived in a community, and that with personal responsibility comes with social responsibility, and they did not live only to please themselves alone.

My first office special in a while. She actually
took a series of sessions to complete, due to
many interruptions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

U-Hell. A moving story.

In 2004, we drove a U-Haul from Oregon to upstate New York, then rented another one, drove from there to the Concord area of Massachusetts, then north to NH to stop by the parent’s house for a night (which turned out to be three because a Nor’easter blew in), and the made the trip back to Oregon.

Why? My sister was moving to New York, and I, although already living in Oregon for over a year, was going to move my stuff to Oregon, which was stored in my BFF's basement. This was an ambitious plan. I took some time off work, and hubby (only my fiancé at that point—or maybe not even then.. I don’t remember when he proposed… I have it written down somewhere) and I helped my sister move her crap 3,000 miles.

Now moving on its own is a stressful deal, but when you’re in a U-Haul, the stress levels skyrocket. 1) the trucks are SO loud that even if you have a radio, you can’t hear it over the engine, which is sitting on your knees, practically. 2) The seats are extraordinarily uncomfortable. 3) You can’t stretch your legs, the seats didn’t adjust in any way. So for days upon days, you’re sitting in a noisy-ass rattletrap with no way to feel comfortable at all.

On top of that, we took my dog Eddie along because he was so evil, nobody could dog-sit him, and he spent 99.999% of the time on my lap standing, or on my ‘ridge’ when I would lay down and put my head on hubby’s lap. Both he and hubby were extremely badly effected by the road-diet and I suffered from being locked in a cabin with two flatulent creatures. But not anything in the above descriptions is all that bad. What was *really* bad was that the U-Haul truck broke down a million times on this trip… and never once did U-Haul offer to send us a better truck. My sister was caravanning in her Subaru with her cat that meowed all 3,000 miles, and her dog who, like Eddie, had a taste for human flesh and loved to bite strangers. We had bought some walkies so we could communicate.

Day 1: 1.5 miles from the house; engine light goes on, brakes go on automatically, hubby pulls the truck over onto a side street. After some puzzlement and grumpiness, it starts again. We are successful at obtaining gas. We head for highway 84, and happily start trucking along.

Day 1: ~50 miles on the road, and the truck acts up again. We stop for dinner at Cascade Locks. Phone call to U-Haul brings us a mechanic. He does something that allows us to continue. He says that we should stop in Pendleton, where there’s a U-Haul certified garage there. Truck keeps breaking down as we go, we arrive late in Pendleton and stay in a hotel. Day 1, we make it a little over 200 miles. We are annoyed.

Day 2: We wait around at the garage while the guy tries to figure out what’s wrong with the truck. Thinks he’s fixed it. We’re on our way.

Day 2: We make it as far a La Grande (about 50 miles). The truck breaks down on the side of a mountainous highway with no shoulders. It is scary. We manage to start it up again, and U-Haul directs us to a garage in La Grande. We spend most of the day waiting, while the garage tries to figure out what’s wrong with the truck. U-Haul still refuses to send a replacement truck.

Day 2: We manage to get back on the road again. We think it’s fixed. We enter Idaho and cut through towards Utah. As we do, the truck begins breaking down again. It’s night. Hubby is lying on the side of the road in the darkness, underneath the truck ‘short’ starting it back up again. We get to Twin Falls, Idaho where they tell us they will fix the truck. We stay the night. The place smells like dung. The whole place. We manage 350 miles on day 2.

Day 3: Truck is supposedly fixed. We make it 151 miles. It dies just outside of a town called Tremonton. We manage to get there with multiple restarts. A nice Mormon family run shop takes the truck and ACTUALLY FIXES IT. We’re on our way. We overnight in Rock Springs, Wyoming. And then we do marathon runs for to make up for lost time. Rock Springs to Des Moines, Iowa (or just outside of it, can’t remember the town). De Moines to some random town in Northern Indiana (going around the edge of Chicago was like a deliberate death-wish act). And Northern Indiana to New York, where we arrive at an ungodly hour, seriously grumped out by the whole deal. Come morning, we go to turn in the truck, and as the technician at the U-Haul put it in drive to park it, it broke down.  We all found that very amusing.  No compensation for our problems were offered, nobody cared it had made us way late.

Hubby and I go and pick up our smaller truck. The seats are even less comfortable, the engine louder, and there isn’t even a radio at all. We are angry. We decide to drive out of Troy, New York over the mountains into Massachusetts taking a less stressful route. We make it to Shirley (near Concord) that same day, I go to my friend’s house, we load up the truck. We call Satan to let her know we’re coming up. We head up 495, and then 93… it’s nice to be on familiar ground. As we’re driving… it starts to snow.

Two days later, I manage to get the truck out of my parents’ steep driveway with my New Englander snow-drivin'-know-how. Hubby suggests we get chains if we cross the rockies again, so we drive down to find some, only to be laughed at by the guys at the car-parts store. “Yah dahn’t need chains fah snaow! …!” they admonish. I agree, and we get on our way. We cut through Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and make our way home. We are sick of Cracker Barrel and similar highway-type food.

Laramie, Wyoming. The truck breaks down. The fuel lines have frozen. We can’t leave. Technician arrives, fixes the problem, we’re on our way again. Snow is horrid. One late morning, we’re driving along and a sudden snowstorm slams the road. I tell hubby to pull over and we’ll stop for lunch. If the snow got worse, there was a hotel nearby. By the time lunch was over, the storm had passed, leaving hundreds of trucks jackknifed in the ditches. We move along. We play ‘road-kill-bingo’ and argue. When we hit Idaho, we see potatoes on the side of the highway.  Seriously. We are so tired. My side and lap feels like a punching bag and my dog is still standing there. The only difference now is that hubby is passing gas, and letting me blame the dog for it. He thinks it’s funny.

We finally enter Oregon about lunch-time on the fourth day. We’re thinking about stopping somewhere when we hear a strange sort of whining. We realize as it gains volume, that it’s the horn. It is stuck on ‘deafening’. We drive like that for miles, tightlipped, jaws set, brows furrowed, chewing our cheeks, ignoring the looks from other cars that go past us. In Ontario, we stop for lunch. Hubby turns off the truck and the horn keeps blaring. He messes with the horn on the steering wheel and it stops. We go inside a bad Chinese buffet restaurant to eat, and someone comes in and says: “There’s a U-Haul with its horn blaring and a dog going crazy inside.” Hubby goes outside and tears out a fuse. He comes in and it looks like a black cloud is rumbling over his head. We somehow make it home without it going off again. We get home, unload our furniture and then hubby hops back in to take the truck back to the U-Haul place to drop it off. The dog refuses to leave the house and come with us.

We walk into the U-Haul store in Clackamas… and we are angry. The lady at the desk makes the mistake of pointing out that we are a day late on our schedule, and she will have to charge us another day. My habit of flying off the handle when pushed was invoked that day. Suffice it to say, she walked away pretty much carrying her own head. She waived any additional charges, and gave us a coupon for a future rental, which I tore up into bits and threw into the garbage declaring I would never in my life EVER rent a U-Haul truck again.

So that is my advice. Don’t use U-Haul if you’re going anywhere over 30 miles. Holy crap. Don’t know why that came to mind today… but it did. I thought, wouldn't that make a good Happy Friday story?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday--sore and grumpy

Pretty maple leaves from yesterday.
My horse hates me. I’ve come to this conclusion. I got thrown pretty hard on Thursday and I spent most of the last four days in significant discomfort. Tag is still very green, and he had a little freakout on Friday (by little I mean massive) and he decided to work himself up into such a tizzy that he once more, backed himself into something (in this case, a wheelbarrow), in part falling hard onto his left side, and casting me off like a ragdoll. I hit my shoulder and hip pretty hard. My body is no longer a young 20 years old… this stuff takes its toll hard when you’re pushing 40. Holy hell. Hubby had injured his trapezius a few weeks back and he had some ‘pain meds’ <--keeping it generic. So I took some of those of Friday night and Saturday and apparently they made me completely loopy. I am dubious, because I’m always loopy. S-II claims to have been mightily entertained by my mental state. I just mainly recall both she and hubby laughing at me a lot, and my having one of my irrational laugh-attacks on Friday night (another picture just struck me as so funny as to laugh about it for about 40 minutes)… that’s about it. I think my laugh-attack was more caused by fatigue, hormones and silliness than anything else… but who knows?

Sunday, my middle sister arrived with her new hubby (so sweet!) to help get my mother moved to assisted care. After a massive rough-up between the three of us (again); upon my insistence that Satan at least get day-supervision, cleaning assistance and medication monitoring, it was decided to move her into an assisted living facility. It’s the same one where hubby’s grandmother is, so that is good. Since I’m stuck at work, middle-sis came out to handle the bulk of the move, and it’s going to be done today (we hope). I spent yesterday at the satanic den with my sister and our respective manly men, and we packed her up to the best of our ability. We took something on the line of eight huge trash-bags out of that tiny, tiny house. I am still puzzled by how we managed that.

So that was my weekend; half of it limping about ungracefully, practically drooling and giggling in a drug-induced stupor, while trying to assist S-II in making a gown (I’m surprised I didn’t instruct her to put the bodice on backwards or something); the other half I spent scrubbing dishes and packing dirty clothes. Yay.

Now it’s Monday. I so just want to stay home, cozied up in bed, pretending the world does not exist. :::sigh::: Oh well. Hi ho, hi ho, off to work I go. Later.

Monday, November 1, 2010


This is one of the reasons why I love Autumn so much.
Yaaaaaaaaaay. It’s Monday. ::stands there deadpan waving a little flag with a happy face::. I’ve decided on a new life-ambition. I am now resolved to know as soon as possible, what it’s like to wake up in the morning and not know or care what day it is—like Grandma at the assisted living facility; “What day is it?” she asks, grabbing her walker complete with tennis balls attached to the feet. She then trucks forward without really paying any heed to the answer. Why she asks, I do not know… what day it is, is completely irrelevant in her case. As long as she gets her three squares and can roam around the retirement home and accuse the staff of stealing her cigarettes every day… She’s good. I want to be the same way… to be so unstressed by daily life, to be so removed from the rat-race-routine, that I have to freakin’ ask people what day it is—but still have no reason why I need to know because it’s not relevant to my lfie. Of course, Grandma also has pretty severe dementia and it’s getting worse, but I don’t want to not know what day it is because I actually think it’s 1983 and that my grandson is my brother or something… or find myself looking for my keys every three minutes and forgetting they’re tied ‘round my neck. No. I just want to be like those retiree bastards who travel around in their campers all year, or those rich SOBs that have homes in Fiji, and just decide right off the cuff to take a trip somewhere without any consideration to what bloody day of the week it is. I want to be one of those people who can’t differentiate a Monday from the weekend because my life is a big freakin’ cakewalk. That’s what I want. Yep.

Art in nature.
Halloween has come and gone, and once more, our neighbourhood is none-the-wiser of it. In the six years we’ve lived there, we’ve never gotten a single trick-or-treater. It’s probably because at least 45% of the homes on my street are seasonal or rentals… and also probably because 30% of the remaining homes with permanent residents are owned by childless retirees. There are a few teens in the neighbourhood, this I know because I see them in the morning standing by the highway waiting for the bus wearing skinny jeans with the butt halfway down their thighs and sporting swished emo-hair. I consciously force myself not to run them over because I don’t want to scratch up the Prius. I’ve also seen a couple of them walking by when I was out watering the garden, wearing really long black trench coats and carrying two-handed medieval swords. Seriously. Methinks there might be some LARP activity going on—or Sandy High School is about to go Columbine. But they don’t trick-or-treat, or if they do, they don’t do it on their own street.

The lack of children in costumes on my doorstep is probably due to the pitch darkness, the spookiness, the darkness, the quiet, the draping old-man’s-beard mosses, the darkness, and the super-darkness. Did I mention that it’s dark? I considered putting some jack-o-lanterns down the driveway to the front door, but then I thought about having to go and buy said pumpkins, and then carve said pumpkins, and then supply ourselves with candy which would likely be un-trick-or-treated and end up at length, eaten by myself and my husband… Not to mention having the dogs going insane every time someone showed up (if anyone did at all…) so I was like “meh.., whatever.. let’s watch my backlog of DVRed shows instead..” So I did. I can get all Halloweenish if and when we ever have a child. Then I will feel free to obsess and spend the entire month of September designing and creating the most elaborate costumes we can come up with for my child. But since that person is still but a glimmer in our eye, still pending on two more months of Clomid treatment (and hormonal imbalance) and possible fallopian tube-roto-rooterage… being curmudgeons with our porch light off is FINE. The kids can go find tooth-decay somewhere else.

I am happy for one reason… Halloween is gone and soon, the political ads will disappear. THANK GOD. Seriously, I can only take dead-eyed, grimacing talking head candidates spewing out-of-context statements taken from eight-year-old articles as proof of something or other, and making hollow promises to address and fix hot-topic issues just to get into office, only to do nothing about them once they’re there. I think it would be really cool if we could get this special code we could enter into our cable box when we mail out our ballots, and it would filter out all the political mud-slinging ads and pundits.  I think a lot more people would have incentive to vote if the action resulted in peace from the political media.  I am The Hungarican Chick, and I endorse this message.

Now it’s time to BRING ON CHRISTMAS!!!! Seriously, I saw my first Christmas advertisement last night. I think it was Sears. They get earlier every year. When I’m fifty, they’ll start ads at the end of June. These days, everything gets all Christmasified so early, that by the time the actual holiday arrives, I’m sick to death of it—and the hearing a single octave of a Christmas Carol brings my homicidal tendencies to peak levels. I’ve seen trees go up as soon as November 15th in some homes. I think putting it up after Thanksgiving is already pushing it… but hey. I’m a childless curmudgeon—maybe I’ll drink the Kool-Aid when I have my own child—but I hope to hell not. IKEA already had all the Christmas stuff out when I went last week to buy stuff for my brother… I’ll wager everyone else does too. Hell, they should just leave that shit up all year ‘round, and dilute the holiday completely. Because shopping for the holiday is what it’s all about. Yep… I love Christmas for its five-dollar sale-table items wrapped in paper covered in portly santas and Coca-cola logos.

We *might* do the Christmas Tree Train this year. It’s kinda spendy though. I confess that it was kind of fun when we did it last time. You board the old train at Hood River, and you ride up to Parkdale,(while being sung Christmas Carols), a lovely little town near Mt. Hood and there, you can buy a Christmas tree, which they will put on the train for you. They serve a buffet lunch when in Parkdale, and you can mosey around a bit and look at gift-shops. It’s really fun and festive. Hood River and the Columbia-side of the mountain is a beautiful area all year ‘round… orchards to pick fruit when in season, lots of beautiful scenery areas. Ahh… I love Oregon. Anyway, back to being grumpy… it is Monday after all….

I am definitely in one of my most grumbly Monday moods… I had a good weekend. I got to ride my idiot horse, and I got to sleep in BOTH days (a lot too), and I cooked rice and beans, and we went for a nice walk at the Wildwood Recreational Area across the road from our house. We took the dogs; who love such excursions, and enjoyed a nice stroll by the Salmon River. I stayed up late both nights too, reading the The Darwin Conspiracy, which started off fairly slowly but has been getting better and better as I go along. Haven’t finished it yet, but I do like it so far. :) I will not be nice at work today, I can already tell. I will work on an office special at some point, but lately I just haven't had the time. Toodeloo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Things that mystify me.

My husband posed a question to me recently and as I mussed it about in my head for an answer, I realized, I could not come up with a viable reply. Not even a decent rationalization.

“Why do people wear toupees?” I couldn’t come up with even a mildly credible reason why anyone would wear what looks like a dead squirrel on their head. I can’t find a single reason to think it’s a better alternative than being bald. There is no such thing as a good toupee… a discreet toupee. They all scream: I’M WEARING A COWPAT ON MY HEAD! Toupee wearers are sort of irrational about it, really. They seem blind to the distinct separation of hair colours, the matted, wiry texture that just advertises that one would rather feed an insecurity rather than just maintain one's dignity… It’s completely inexplicable.

That's a fine hair-hat you've got there sir.
Did he really look in the mirror that morning and say to himself; "this isn't obvious at all?

Then I started to think about comb-overs. Trump has the most famous comb-over, and he’s even cavalier about it… but dude… just cut those ten-inch strands and go sexy Picard… the combover is doing you no favours. Once, I was walking down Mass Ave in Boston, and it was really cold and windy, and I saw this guy walking towards me, and for a second I thought he was wearing a tall ostrich feather on his head, but realized it was his combover lifting up in the wind. It was horrific. I was traumatized. I wanted to pull him aside, and pat his arm and say: Shave it. You’ll look so much manlier. There is NOTHING wrong with baldness. In fact, I’m of the type that finds bald men (like Patrick Stewart, Jason Statham or Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis) super hot. Nummy. Baldness is a manifestation and proof of excessive testosterone—in short, your incredible studliness is making your hair fall out. Embrace it! Don’t hide from it.

This is an image of the rare greasy 'front and center combover'.
Anyway. Here are a few other things that just puzzle me exceedingly:


..... o_O ....
Is it a girl? Is it a boy? Is it even human? Or is it one of Old Navy's mannequins?
The appeal of UGG boots:

Artificial cankles... for those who don't have real ones and really, really want them.
This look that just won’t go away…

It's like the dough that you forgot you left to rise... it's billowing out of control.
Holy crap.  Go to Wal-Mart and buy pants that frikkin’ FIT! Suck it up! You’re a 10… you’re a 12, not a 6, not an 8… Accept it, and you’ll look SO much better if you wear pants that are your actual size. OMG…

Beyond my capacity for understanding:

Okay.. this thing should have run its course when the 90s ended. Enough already.
Not getting it.

Because giant streaks of blond are hawt. I won't even bring up those glasses.

Freaky Plastic-Spider-Face:

GAHH! Imagine waking up to *that* one morning. You'd probably want
to burn your eyes out with a poker.
What the hell? If I were a man, and my wife thought that by doing this to her face that she would keep me (and my money), I’d divorce her and marry a nubile 21 year old just to reap revenge on her for turning herself into a freak-show. Seriously! I watched the Real Housewives the other night, and one of these plastic skanks (whose family owns a hotel in Vegas) looks like… Ugh… I can’t even describe what she looks like because it’s so extraterrestrial and unnatural looking. Her face slopes back from these massive alien-looking cheekbones, her eyebrows … OMG the eyebrows… her skin looks like it was made from smoothened silicone.

Madame Tussaud's best work. Look, she's emoting. Or is she?
Were her eyes always being yanked up at her temples? What the hell? There is no explanation to me as to how this is what women think is beautiful? You know what’s beautiful?

This is beautiful.

This is beautiful too.

If a woman is with a man who would leave her because she is aging gracefully, then let him leave! He's a shallow ***hole. I’d rather be *alone* the rest of my life than to be constantly living in fear of dashing unrealistic expectations with my naturally  degrading looks; and slicing my body up into something that is just wholly inhuman to keep someone whose depth could be doubled by a pasting a sheet of paper onto his forehead. I just don’t get it. I really don’t. Who are these women anyway? What is the appeal of these ridiculous, shallow, clueless creatures? It’s a train wreck.


And WTF are these? And why are they famous? Seriously? Why?

A-durrrrrrp de deeerp....
Apparently outing everyone in the universe can make you famous.
Bad taste and classlessness in one convenient tool-kit.
Proof that completely useless wastes of space do exist.
And honestly… is this really hot? Take away the silicone, wife off the makeup, cut the hair and she’d look like a 12-year-old boy. I don’t get it. Not hot.

Check it out, it's Justin Beiber with silicone implants and extensions.
What a world we live in. Seriously. Happy Friday all. I intend to sleep all weekend, and maybe see the horse. ;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Office Special? What's that?

The sisterly chaperone is bored.

I think a few new species might have evolved and a few stars faded since I last did an office special. It’s time! I’ve been slow on the updates of late, mostly because of the family crap that’s been heaped on hubby and I.

Current Issues and Demands:

-Satan: Mommy Dearest had a bit of a ‘paranoia break’ while she was admitted to the hospital last week. She instructed us to call the police for she believed her life was in danger, and she dialed 911 twice while she was there. She also yanked out her IVs twice, and had to have a room sitter to keep her from yanking the one they ultimately placed in her neck. She is now discharged as of Saturday and staying with her sister. Let’s hope she doesn’t get kicked out like last time for being too mean and obnoxious. I’m surprised my aunt let her come back, honestly.

-Satan’s gross dog: Currently at our house grossing it up.

-My Brother: His case-worker is thinking of moving him to another living situation, and I’m not too keen on disrupting his stability, he’s been through enough upheaval as it is. So we’re in ‘talks’. Yesterday I spent hours with his case worker, another sweet girl from the state and his caretaker completing two state needs assessments. I had the“pleasure” of taking Satan to see her doctor after that. I drove 100 miles yesterday.

-Grandmother on Hubby’s side: The process of selling and cleaning out her home continues. We skipped out on the sale this past weekend for our much-needed and all-too-brief anniversary getaway… but hubby has spent his time after work (despite a shoulder injury) helping his siblings pack up all the remaining piles of useless crap and clearing out the property.

-Satan’s House. The den of squalour. Enough said.

-Horse: Sadly neglected. Am resolved to see him tonight, maybe ride even depending on how busy the barn is. It's been hopping lately, but a lot of people have chosen riding outdoors rather in the indoor arena, which has received a new thick layer construction grade sand, which makes it pretty boggy and laborious to trudge through.  AND, what's worse, is that since 95% of the riders at the barn are Western Pleasure riders, they are all complaining to high-heaven about the sand.  You see, Western Pleasure horses move with the languid, lazy grace of Eeyore, dragging their feet in a slow, lazy, undefined gait, all of their energy (which isn't really much) poured onto the shoulders, their noses dropped so they're only a foot from the ground. It's ridiculous. So they stumble CONSTANTLY in this deep stuff.  Luckily, Tag has been whipped up into a good, energetic, impulsive, collected gait of the English style, which means he holds his energy more balanced and onto his rear, he lifts his feet with aplomb and lifts his neck fairly high (but not saddle-seat high)--he sails through the boggy sand like an ice-breaker in the arctic, doesn't even notice it.  So I get the arena to myself more often than not these days (until the rains come anyway).  ::sigh:: Sorry Western-Pleasure people... don't mean to be obnoxious, but I just don't get the appeal, and I can totally see why equine chiropractors are so frequently present at the barn. ::heh heh::

::SNORE::: You call that riding? I call it a nap. And look at the size of that huge shank bit! Seriously! LOL
What does she need all that leverage for? The horse is half-dead--it's not going to take off running anywhere.
I believe most of the audience in the bleachers have gone comatose with boredom. What is that gait anyway? Wrot? Tralk?
Okay. I'm done. LOL

Now here's some Dressage as a counterpoint:

This video has SO many things going for it. 
2) A MAN IN DRESSAGE GEAR (Oh, those tails).
That has to be the sexiest combination in the world. Yummy
. Damn that horse is beautiful. I wants one.

-Brother: Must spend $12,000 as soon as possible.  Just blew $4,000 on furniture for his bedroom. I figured IKEA furniture wouldn't hold up too well to my brother's wear and tear. This stuff is solid wood and beautifully constructed. It better be. It cost $4,000. And it took me less that 20 minutes between the assessment meetings and my mother's doctor appointment to pick it out and arrange the purchase and delivery. ::burnishes knuckles on her shirt:: Yeah, I'm good.

- Brother: Need to go and spend about $1,000 at IKEA on other sundries.  Am going to solicit S-II to come with me... maybe after work tomorrow.  I have my list... I have the card... I'm ready to attack. :)

It’s been a busy week so far. I’m already ready for the weekend. LOL.

I’m so tired of having these subjects occupy my daily existence, and it’s making for Debbie Downer style blogging. My apologies! I’ve done no cool projects lately to post about… but I will be back on the wagon soon enough, I promise. Once we square away all these outstanding worries—things will hopefully be less stressful again. Where did I find that optimism? It’s been missing for months… Heh. ;) Happy Wednesday.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An impromptu anniversary

At this very moment, I am perched on a stylish stool, at a tall table made from what looks like a heavy wooden trap-door from a barn.  The bungalow we've gotten is tiny; about two thirds of our living room in size (and remember, I live in a small house...)... it has paneled and bead-board walls, a king sized bed  made of heavy lumbers and lag-bolts that takes up 26% of the space at least, a riverstone fireplace (that turns on with a switch) a itty bitty kitchenette with an adorable antiquated stove... We are at Long Beach Washington; one of our favourite places to go when we want to escape and escape quickly.

We were planning to spend the weekend selling more of Grandma's stuff... but I think after one of the most difficult weeks in forever... we just decided, screw this---we're going to the coast for our anniversary and that's that.  So on Wednesday, I found these little 'bungalows' and we rented #4.  After insuring mother had somewhere to go after being discharged from the hospital, and having a Friday that was to rival all Fridays (this past Friday had the distinctive reek of a Monday if you ask me...), we took the dogs and hit the road, crossed the Willamette and drove along the Columbia to Astoria, and then across that seemingly endless bridge towards Long Beach.

So here we are.  It's our 5-year anniversary.  At this very moment one year ago, we would have been just finishing up our wedding ceremony and trying to get away from the photos to join everyone else for our reception.  We got married at the Timberline Lodge... (you might recognize the exterior from 'The Shining').  Like that day, today was a sunny, bright, chilly day.  This morning, before 10, we'd already had breakfast and enjoyed our first beach walk.  Since then, we've bought some fresh crab, came back here to cook it up with linguine for a heavy lunch (blargh), walked back out to the beach to watch people fly this massive kites while lying on a fleece blanket making sand-castles and playing with dogs. The dogs are so tuckered, I've never seen them this quiet.  Flower is draped over the pillow completely sacked out.  The only reason I'm here typing and not doing other things is that my husband met someone his step-father once knew, he's out there looking at this guy's amazing 1940s hot rod...

Some man-tertainment. Gruntedy grunt.

S'up dawgs. Just chillin'.

Pitty pat of paws.

Hark! Doth I hear the voices of children?
Dan and I don't get a lot of downtime together.  We both have hellish commutes (his is 42 miles each way, mine is 35 each way)... we both work hard, are always very tired when we get home, and we both have family members who demand a great deal of our time and energy.  Getting away is always a challenge, both time wise and financially.  This was an 'irresponsible' choice, to just come up here this weekend.  We really can't afford to do it, but we also simply cannot afford not to. 

Last night I slept so deeply... I can't remember the last time I did that.  I wish I could have trailered Tag up here with us, and ridden him on the beach today, it was the perfect day to do that.  I saw some evidence of other riders out today and I was so jealous.  But we are having fun despite the lack of horses this time.  Next time, Tag comes with us! I'm resolved. :)

Simon's a digger. It's what he does.
Have a lovely weekend all.  I'm going to make a cup of warm tea and relax a bit before we go and find somewhere by the water to eat dinner and watch the sun set.

It turns out while Hubbs and I were lying on the windy beach being silly--see below:

my eldest sister was doing her deepest dive ever off the coast of Florida, and while she was down there, her boyfriend (whose birthday they were celebrating with this deep dive) wrote "Will You Marry Me" on his slate.  My sister said she just started laughing, and they thought she was suffering from narcosis for a second--and she said they were breathing helium, so she sounded like a chimpmunk laughing...) anyway... they posted this awesome video of them when they came out of the water:

Cute huh? Congratulations sis. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A so-called surprise & sassy shots

God I despise Mondays. :::BLARGH!:::

Last night was my hubby’s ‘surprise’ party. The reason why I put ‘surprise’ into quotes is because it was only a partial surprise. S-II and I were planning to pull together a group of friends and family to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I trawled his facebook profile for people I thought he might like to see there, and sent out the requisite invitations, including one to his mother and family. Hubby’s never had a surprise party and I thought it would be effing brilliant to have our tiny house stuffed to the seams with happy people yelling SURPRISE!

Unfortunately, his mother only set up the Facebook account so they could play something called ‘Farkle’, and then promptly disregarded the account… so they did not read the Facebook message invitation. So the weekend before last, while we toiled among estate-sale goers, my hubby got a phone call from his mom telling him what they had planned for his birthday—which was their usual combination birthday with his nephew at his sibling’s house that they do every year. I was presented with a pickle… I couldn’t say “NO! I planned something already god damnit!” to him, because it would ruin the surprise. I was pretty pissed. Then to top it off, the planned estate sale for this last weekend was put off because there were weddings and showers and other things family members needed to attend; so my built-in hubby-distracter was not there any more so S-II and I could stealth around and make preparations. I was doubly pissed.

So I invented some malarkey and told hubby “I don’t know why she’s inviting you over… I sent them an invitation to dinner at our house, which was supposed to be a surprise, which is now ruined.” He wondered why they never answered my invitation, discovered that they didn’t read their FB mail, so I eventually was able to pass the invitation along… So the plan was, combo birthday at sibling’s house at 3PM… secret party at home, 6PM… Hubby would just think mom & her significant other would just follow him up the mountain for a nice sedate dinner. It worked out pretty decently too because he was out of the house most of the afternoon, and left just as S-II and I were making preparations, so he had no idea what was in store food wise.

Of course, to throw a huge monkey wrench into everything as usual, the all-too-predictable re-admittance of my mother to the hospital occurred on Saturday as it was expected at any point. Her lack-of-taking-her-required-medication led to the inevitable, and she is now at present hospitalized until further notice and surgery. She could have had that surgery much earlier, and much more safely had she followed her doctor’s instructions about taking her medication, and followed up as requested, but the gall-bladder issue has escalated, and she is still a high-risk surgery because her heart-rate is so high, but now there is no choice. Surgery it is. Tomorrow. I asked if they could perform an EvilSelfishCrone-ectomy while they had her under… but they said not at this time since she is already high-risk for surgery. The funny and sad thing is; the Doctor, and all her nurses have made mention of her ‘bellicose’ and ‘difficult’ manners. Her doctor complained to me yesterday that she keeps getting up and moving all over the place… he is diplomatic “It’s a good sign, at least… even if she disconnected her potassium and let it pool onto the floor while she wandered the hallway… she’s active…”

Because of her being admitted, attending the ORS dance assembly that night was not an option… We both gave up that day in order to be there for her self-created crisis—and all she did was act spiteful and defensive and totally impossible the whole time we were there. “Well… if I get visits like *this* maybe they should just LET me die…” she exclaimed after I grumbled at her to stop taking off the compression things on her legs and disconnecting the IV. She kept trying to tear out her IV the whole time too… I’m like “Stop that Mom!” --- “I *have* to, look!” shows us a dangling piece of tubing taped to her arm… “they keep poking holes in me…”---“Mom, they will just poke more holes in you again if you rip off your IV… Knock it off!”—“Stop f***ing telling me what to do, god damnit!” I know this sounds evil, but I thought; I don’t care if she rips out her IV and bleeds to death tonight… I am not canceling the ‘surprise’ party for hubby. NOT happening.

Sunday morning I slept in a smidge, and then hubby and I cleaned up the tiny abode a bit in preparation for the ‘dinner’. He took off about an hour after S-II arrived, and we spent most of the early afternoon in the kitchen wearing June Cleaver aprons and stirring sauces, filling pastry puffs and popping ‘broken/ruined/extra’ things into our mouths as we went along. It was seriously fun, despite the sore feet and the phonecalls to the hospital to hear the doctor mention what a hellacious pain in the ass my mother is being to everyone there.

Raspberry Lemon tartlets. ::mmm::
Chocolate ganache cupcakes of death.
Strawberry and chocolate ganache pastry puffs of goodness.
My sideboard overfloweth with hors d'œuvres.
Come 5:50, the sideboard was overflowing with goodies… deviled eggs, stuffed ‘shrooms, raspberry and strawberry pastry confections, mini-quiches, decadent chocolate cupcakes with ganache frosting and raspberries and puffs with nummy cream-cheesy filling. PLUS we had two types of pasta sauce going for pasta and salad and S-II cracked out four loaves of fresh bread.

The best part was hubby finally coming home. He did spy an ex-work friend driving there, and so the jig was up… but when he walked in and saw his old school-friend and had a chance to spend time with old work-buddies too, he was happy. He kept saying he didn’t deserve it… LOL. S-II did a bang-up job and I’m proud to call her my friend.

Oh, and speaking of S-II, this unconventional creature has created a new blog called Sassy Shots… The premise of this blog is to post images taken to a particular theme. Each month, Sassy S-II will post the month’s daily shot theme list… challenging readers to submit their own interpretation of each daily theme. She then posts the pictures people take for that day. Check it out: You should try it. It’s fun (even though my photo-taking is pretty lame…) :). The original theme list for October is here. Today’s photo theme is HEAT… I was literal in my interpretation, since our office heating system is dead, I took a photo of the little radiant heater I have next to my desk. But poetic license is encouraged… I like my goldfish picture the best. Stephie-II’s pictures are usually very pretty, and so are Charlotte’s.


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