Saturday, May 31, 2008

Canine Eating Disorders - The New Frontier!

The Brown Dog is a Food Snob. She comes by it naturally, because she was raised by a chef. (Who, I think, put her up for adoption due to the rising cost of truffle oil. She likes her scrambled eggs with a little spritz.) You can read about The Dog Who Loves Cauliflower here.

We have tried to dial down her palate by mixing the dreaded Dog Food into her jasmine rice with curried chicken. She successfully separated good from bad, and the floor was covered with curried kibbles, to the delight of the other hounds. We have left her home alone, with only Rachael Ray for company; in hopes that she would realize caviar is not a staple. We have secretly replaced her Roaring Forties blue cheese with Velveeta. And gotten The Look, and a flounce off to the bedroom, in return. It is hopeless. But at least she isn't a

Compulsive Overeater.

Fortunately, if your dog IS a CO, there is a treatment. Go to your vet and get a prescription for Slentrol. This oily liquid, dispensed daily via syringe on your dog's food, or directly into your dog's mouth will curb her appetite. You will notice she eats less, and gradually she will lose weight. Um, couldn't I just skip the whole vet thing and put less in her bowl to begin with? Hello?

Oh, but then I wouldn't be addressing the emotional component of her overeating. Maybe she is upset because her favorite stuffed squirrel is losing its stuffing. Or maybe she missed me when I went to the dentist last week. Time to call the Dog Whisperer, or maybe the Pet Psychic.

Thank goodness there is a potential cure for compulsive overeating in dogs, but what about other eating disorders? Like Canine Bulimia? Anorexia? I think yearly vet visits should include checking teeth for acid wear caused by binging/purging behavior. Forget Doggy Day Camps. What we need are Inpatient Treatment Centers for Canine Anorectics.

The pharmaceutical companies clearly have their work cut out for them, but they are making progress. I just hope that, once they cure these devastating dog diseases, they take a long, hard look at cats. I have a feeling there is a whole lot more to "finicky" than the wrong flavor of Fancy Feast.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Working From Home: All That and a Bag of Chips! or is it?

Do you think you want to work from home? Do you envision a beautifully organized "Home Office," full of Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and The Container Store "Systems?" A DayRunner with entries like:

Thursday, 8:15 AM - CALL MR. BIG! (lock barking dogs in basement bathroom first)

Thursday, 9:30 AM - Go to Starbucks.

Thursday, 10:00 AM - CALL MR. BIG AGAIN because he was not in at 8:15, but it's good to have a nice, early time stamp on voicemail.

Thursday, 10:30 AM - Doodle while catching up on TV shows and the weekend plans with office-bound peers.

Thursday, 1 PM - Record All My Children. Heck, the phone is quiet, just watch it. And do a load of laundry.

Thursday, 2 PM - Reheat leftover pizza. Eat while filling out expense report and playing solitaire (in a separate tab, of course.)

Thursday, 2:30 PM - Quit for day to make up for working through lunch. Go shopping.

Sound good? Go for it! But when you discuss your Work-From-Home Plan with the boss, it is IMPERATIVE that your agreement includes a Personal Emergency System Lanyard Alarm Button.

I work in my basement studio, and also wherever I happen to drag my jewelry parts. Sometimes I hammer metal on the deck. Sometimes I make silver curly-cues while I am talking to my mother about gout. And frequently I assemble necklaces in waiting rooms while my mother-in-law has physical therapy. I can, and do, work almost anywhere.

This morning I hit the ground running; well, after the requisite caffeine fix. Dealt with family business first. We needed rocks for a retaining wall, and some agave plants for the back yard. (FYI: There are no plans to brew tequila. Do you "brew" tequila? Ferment it? It's probably a good thing that tequila is not the plan.) I was on the phone, and on line for a few hours with this Personal Business before I got down to Impersonal Business. Still in my cute-but-indoor-only Vera Wang navy and white pajamas. With matching flip-flops. I was mixing resin, alone in my basement, and there is no dress code there.

Man-o-man, I was Exceeding Expectations! Great rock deals, the jewelry sparkled; and there was hummus and pita in the fridge for lunch. Life was good.

And then, the Old Dog looked kind of...squirmy. The way she looks when she really, really, really needs to go out. Let me pause a moment here to tell you that she is deaf, and virtually blind. And when she gets nervous she scatters about like a pinball.

I opened the front door; she dashed out. As did The Dog Who Has No Idea You Are Talking To Her. This one is a "rescue" from a puppy mill. She spent years in a concrete box, making cute puppies, with no human companionship whatsoever. Conversation is merely background noise to her. She understands nothing beyond the word "cookie.". She is happy now, in a generic way; but, like the blind person who has surgery at age 40 and discovers sight that makes no sense, she just doesn't get the idea that vocalizations relate to her.

The two rather challenged canines took care of business and headed straight back to the corral, because sometimes cookies are handed out if they have been good. I was standing outside on the front step, ready to lead them to their rewards, and grabbed the door handle, which

Fell off in my hand. Wait, FELL OFF??? The door handle just fell off. I was on the outside of the door. The door handle just fell off. I couldn't get into the house. Where I work. Where these creatures live. Where my cell phone is. And my clothes. What the...

My neighbors were all working in office complexes bordered with Windmill Palm Trees (hardy to Zone 3, I learned when I ordered the agaves.) No way to break in, All the doors and windows except this one have burglar bars. And my cute-but-not-so-socially-appropriate Vera Wang Pajamas with matching flip flops were not a good look for flagging down passing vehicles.

I willed myself to stop panicking and be resourceful...coerce the hounds to the back door. We couldn't get in because of the burglar bars, but I could trap the dogs safely on the deck and...think...think...think...of what to do next.

Except, the dogs decided they must be in trouble (or I was insane) because I was flailing about and making loud noises; so they fled in the direction of the nearest busy road. My flip-flops precluded effective chase. Calling a deaf dog and one who has no language skills is not very helpful, but I tried. Fortunately, they encountered a brick wall a few houses down; and turned around. To run the other way. Down in the gully, which leads to the lake. Brambles, rocks and probably sunning snakes. I needed a game plan. Fast. Scrambled up the deck steps and pretended to be eating something delicious. Made lots of yummy smacking noises, and pantomimed exaggerated eating behavior. The dogs stopped running and came toward me, obviously intrigued. (As were the neighbors, I'm sure.) But when they reached the deck to find me dragging the storage bench across the stairs and the "food opportunity" looking a little sketchy the suspicions returned; and they made another mad dash, this one back to the relative safety of the front door. Fortunately they were bordering on exhaustion, so I had no trouble threading the flower hose through their collars to immobilize them.

Forty-five minutes of "tag," now I could sit down to think.

Should I break a window? Could we climb in? (As the cats climbed out...) Would there be any way to reach the keys to the burglar bars through a window? Should we wait, tethered to the hose, for 5 hours until Son One returned from work to pick up HIS dog (who is barking at us from inside, because we are clearly trying to break in?) Maybe I should wiggle that little remaining piece of the handle a little more?

Wiggling seemed the least dangerous option, so I started there.

I wiggled to the left. To the right. Up, down; listening (between barks) like a safe cracker. Slowly, carefully, methodically. OK, obsessively. Maniacally. For a half an hour, and suddenly

I felt something "click." Said a prayer, pushed and

I was in the house. With clothes! And a telephone! And all the animals! Oops, except for the ones tied to the hose. They fought like bulls, but I disentangled them and pushed them through the door.

Took a shower, and it was back to work as usual. Right after I ordered a new door handle, arranged a Door Handle Inspection by a Certified Door Handle Specialist, and called for my Personal Emergency System Lanyard Alarm Button. (Because I dialed "within the next ten minutes" I will also receive a Bonus Personal Emergency System Keyring Alarm Button. I think I will keep it outside, under the hose.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chemical Reaction

It is important, over the Memorial Day weekend, to remember our heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is also important to have margaritas with your girlfriends, and discuss hair color.

Men don't have to talk about single- versus double- process, or permanent versus demi-permanent, or highlights or lowlights or foiling, over cocktails. That is because, as men age, they become "Distinguished Silver-haired Gentlemen;" while women "go gray." This is clearly unfair, discriminatory, and mean. So we deserve our margaritas. Top shelf.

I have friends, beautiful and brilliant women friends, who wear their argent tresses like fine platinum jewelry. They are stunning; and they are in the minority. The rest of us cut our coloring teeth on Sun-In (Extra-Strength for me! Red hair plus Regular-Strength equaled Electric Orange; if I sprung for the Premium Sun-In I could get something loosely resembling "blonde" but most easily described [color and texture] as "shredded wheat.") and there is no patch for our addiction. Also, I firmly believe that if God had intended for us to have gray hair, we would have been born that way.

The trouble is, hair color is very dangerous. You can tell because Nick Arrojo puts on full combat gear before he foils a "contributor." You read it in the warning missives in the drugstore brands:

Do not use on eyebrows, product could cause blindness.

Use product immediately after mixing, to reduce possibility of explosion.

Conduct "patch test" 48 hours before application. Have physician biopsy area before proceeding.

Do not use if you are allergic to strawberries, Tide Laundry Detergent, or shellfish other than bivalves.

Send pets to pet hotel and send children to neighbor's house before applying.

And then, of course, one has to wonder. What's with the gloves? We are putting this stuff on our heads. Right on top of our brains, for crying out loud. The manufacturers see this as normal behavior. But we are supposed to wear gloves to protect our HANDS?

Women become oblivious to the dangers when they combine hair color with margaritas. My friend Laura interrupted my lament. "Nancy," she said, "that's enough. Sometimes it is better not to know." And my friend Penelope, who manages to insinuate herself into this blog even more often than Stacy and Clinton, added (brightly,) "That's why I have someone else do my coloring for me! (puts hands over ears) La,la,la,la,la!"

Why don't you have to sign medical waivers at hair salons?

OK, I've never heard of anyone dying from dyeing. (Oh, I do crack myself up.) But, all those chemicals...I might as well be a

Pest Control Technician.

Penelope called me last week with ants. Tiny dead ants all over her sun room. Also piles of "sawdust," and ant poop on her curtains. My sage advice, since it had been nearly 40 years since I took an entomology class, was to phone an exterminator. Pennie found a company highly recommended in a book the company had paid to be listed in, as a "highly recommended company." Sherman, the highly-recommended technician, stopped by to confirm that she had ants. In the vaulted ceiling. And the only thing high about that company (except, maybe Sherman) was the recommendation. The company didn't have a ladder long enough to reach the problem area. Pennie asked if Sherman could help her find someone with a long-enough ladder. He demurred - he couldn't recommend the competition. She called the main office; spoke with the GM. He would, of course, help her find someone with a ladder. Five days later, no referral, no ladder. More sawdust, more ants. Pennie is, as I type, putting in calls to other highly recommended companies and creating a Ladder Height Spreadsheet.

We once had palmetto bugs. Roaches on steroids. In this part of the world they come in under the sliders, through the holes in the screens, when you let the dogs in, or have a pizza delivered. And, you know how sometimes there is a knock at the door, but when you open it there is no one there? Not the nine-year-old from next door. Palmetto bugs. They are ugly, sneaky, scary and aggressive. Alan The Technician (from a highly-recommended company) treated our house for them 3 or 4 times, but I would still be bugged by a bug once a month or so. In frustration, I asked Alan what I could do to make them go away. He assured me that if I dumped the contents of all the bottles in the liquor cabinet, they would disappear.

Alan disappeared shortly thereafter.

That DID explain, however, all those tiny shot glasses I found strewn across the living room on Saturday mornings; not to mention the lime peels and dirty margarita pitcher in the sink. And why we were always so low on salt.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pantyhose is so.........Undead.

In my circle, coming of age meant getting your first pair of "heels" (the Pappagallo patent-leather, bow-adorned 1"-chunky-heeled trainer) and a garter belt. Not a fancy lace-and-ribbon pole dance garter belt. A contraption similar to (but not as colorful as) the rubber band holding the raw asparagus stalks together at the grocery store, with smaller attached rubber bands ending in fabric covered rubber "fleshtone" snaps, the size of kiwis.

It was the '60s, and we were NOT going to wear our mothers' girdles; and The Fashion Designers decided rubber bands were more fashionable so we begged for garter belts. Our mothers knew our skirts were too short and they would ride up and our garters would show, and we were Too Young for Stockings Anyway; but we took vows of modesty and the mothers relented. And we got our garter belts, and stockings in every color of the rainbow (COLORED stockings? Our grandmothers just shook their heads and adjusted their girdles and wondered what was happening to Young People Today) and matching patent leather 1" heels with bows. And our garters showed.

I remember, at age 12, taking the day-long Amtrak Trek from Atlanta to New York City, because we were "School Safety Patrols" and no one had gotten squashed by passing traffic on our watch so we all got to go to see the Empire State Building. My friend, Elizabeth and I shared a hotel room IN NEW YORK CITY with NO ADULT SUPERVISION and found our way to the bus that was taking the myriad unsupervised 12-year-olds to the Empire State Building without incident. It was Easter weekend, and we were going to CHURCH before the ESB (this was a public school trip, go figure) and we were all to wear "dress-up" clothes for a photo and our dose of religion. Every girl had a Jackie O shift dress and matching stockings and Pappagallo patent leather 1" bow pumps. My ensemble was turquoise, Elizabeth's was yellow. We thought it might be rather fun to swap stocking legs, so we each had one yellow and one aqua. You can't tell from the group photo, though; because it is black and white. (I will tell you that the 2 chaperones - for 75 boys and girls - were not amused but had much more serious things to deal with. Like half the crowd who were barfing from the egg salad sandwiches at the Automat the day before.)

It took a very long time to set up for the photo. The tall girls (that would be me) had to sit on the grass in our Jackie O shifts, because our precocious hormone-induced growth spurts caused us to tower dangerously over the boys (and the two chaperones and the photographer.) We tried (without 100% success) to arrange our gangly limbs in proper photo fashion, with garters neatly tucked away. The GrownUps concentrated on arranging the barfing people in the back row where they could barf over their shoulders if necessary. There was a great deal of "Where's Mark? Where's Debbie?" and scurrying to the Central Park bathrooms (for a variety of reasons) and eventually everyone was accounted for and we got the photo. And then we went to church. Sometime between church and the Empire State Building, pantyhose was invented.

Because our mothers complained that our garter belts showed and (I think) found out that Elizabeth and I traded stocking legs.

(And 15 minutes after the invention of Thank God Pantyhose, came the Miniskirt. Which wouldn't have worked so well with the asparagus rubberbands.)

We loved pantyhose. If you had a run in one leg, you could cut the bad leg off and wear it with the "good leg" of another pair. So practical! Our garters never showed. And, as we got older, neither did our varicose veins and sunspots.

And then. Somewhere around the mid 1990s, Famous People like Jennifer Aniston decided that pantyhose were stupid. They stopped wearing them, we stopped wearing them. Except to places our mothers would INSIST that we wear them. Well, everyone but me stopped wearing them. I didn't know about Jennifer Aniston; and, frankly, I didn't go to many places that my mother would insist I wore pantyhose.

Until last week. I was going to a wedding. I went to T.J. Maxx for a new purse, and decided to pick up some Wedding Pantyhose while I was there. Public Service Announcement: There IS NO LONGER a Pantyhose Section at T.J. Maxx. I brought this to the attention of my friends, who knew all about Jennifer Aniston and told me that even The Queen doesn't wear pantyhose anymore. My friend, Penelope, who once bought a REAL Chanel suit worth $3500 off eBay for $600, proving that she has great fashion sense, told me that the only place to get pantyhose now is in those little eggs at the grocery store. I still couldn't imagine a "dressy dress" without them, so I wore an old pair to the wedding, but stood at the front of the venue before the nuptials to conduct a poll. Only three other women had hosiery on. My mother-in-law, and the two grandmothers of the bride. So I went into the bathroom, took them off and threw them away. Panty hose is so dead.

After the wedding I did a little research, because I was feeling extremely old. I had witnessed the birth of the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread (which, to my knowledge, Jennifer Aniston has not taken a stand on) and then its death.

This is what I found. (On Wikipedia, so it MUST be true)

(I)n the mid-to-late '00s of this century, pantyhose have been appearing once again in fashion and in public, indicating the recurring cycle of couture once again bringing the leg covering back into vogue, especially in the form of thicker, dark tights and shades of black pantyhose. Pantyhose have even made a return to Paris runways and Haute Couture

If you know Jennifer, or T. J. Maxx, please let them know. Pantyhose is now Undead. Like Zombies. Which brings me to the question...are Zombies good or bad?

When we wore stockings, Zombies were extremely scary. Our parents wouldn't let us go to Zombie movies, because we would have nightmares. So we snuck into the movie theaters and watched the Zombie movies (we had friends who worked the popcorn machine. They accidentally left the back door of the theater ajar when they took out the trash; and, while there was no line at the box office there was quite a crowd at the back door.) Then we had nightmares. Now, if we have, for example, a son who thinks Zombies are The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread we can get him this T-shirt. And, we can put this in his Easter basket.

(If you're calling Jennifer about the pantyhose thing, would you ask her opinion on Zombies?)

So, in conclusion (one must always have a concluding paragraph to tie loose ends neatly in a bow. Unless a celebrity and The Queen have concurred that this is no longer necessary, and I have not yet been told.) Jennifer Aniston killed pantyhose. Except for the ones in the plastic eggs. But, just like Zombies, pantyhose aren't really dead. You shouldn't put bunnies in Easter baskets anymore, because Zombies are the new bunnies. If you want to get into the movies for free, befriend the Popcorn Person. And if you take 75 12-year-olds to New York City to see the Empire State Building it would be wise to avoid the egg salad at the Automat.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Clean Sweep

I really don't mind cleaning, and I'm pretty good at it. The problem is, I am a model of inefficiency. In fact, if Inefficiency was an Olympic Event I could take at least the silver medal; unless, of course, there were competitors from Guam. The Guam Motto is, "We're Guam, and We're Inefficient!" The motto, on a flashing billboard, is the first thing you see when your plane taxis to the gate at the A. B. Won Pat International Airport. It is on the sides of garbage trucks. It is stamped on Styrofoam fried chicken boxes left to disintegrate (or not) at the beach. I like Guam. I like Tumon Bay, and all the Japanese Indoor Rifle Ranges, and bubble tea, and Shirley's Coffee House where you get rice with your eggs. But I could never beat someone from Guam in an Inefficiency Competition.

Here is my cleaning system: I wake up knowing that it is Friday, which is Dust-And-Vacuum day. Start the coffee. Get the duster and head for the bedroom. Where I notice that the stick from the incense I burned last night is still in the burner. I pluck it, to toss before dusting and realize that dusting would be much more pleasant with fresh incense burning. It's off to the incense drawer, and I remember enroute that I have no more matches in the bedroom. Matchbooks are in the kitchen, in a drawer. Next to the drawer where we keep the dog pills. Did I give the dog her pills this morning? Check the pill drawer and it appears I did not. Gather dog pills, hunt the dog who knows what's about to happen and slithers behind the sofa. Move the sofa to get to the dog, and THERE are all the cats' pom-poms! Take them into the laundry room so cats can find them when they use the litter box, also in the laundry room. Oh, no, I did laundry yesterday! It is sitting in the washer. Smells a little funky. Set it to rewash, get the stuff out of the dryer (as long as I'm there,) take the dry load to the bedroom, fold it and put it away. As I'm shelving sheets, I see that we are nearly out of TP. Better head to the grocery store while I'm thinking about it - a bad thing to run out of.

Remember the bake sale on the way to the grocery store, pick up the ingredients for brownies, find a nice piece of fish for dinner. Go home, stopping for the mail on the way, remember that yesterday was Bill-Paying Day, and I didn't. Bake brownies while On-Line Banking loads. Pay bills. Wrap brownies attractively, put in basket, put basket in car.

Feed milling dogs and cats, cook fish, put now non-funky wash in dryer, answerphoneanswerphoneanswerphone, crash in bed in state of exhaustion and wonder what a duster is doing in the bed.

Now that I look at it in black-and-white, I might just give those folks on Guam a run for their money.

I have tried hiring out the cleaning. First there was Belinda. She needed six weeks off every nine months to have her next baby. The first 3 months of each pregnancy she felt like throwing up and had to go home. The last 3 months she had contractions and had to go home. And the three months in the middle - well, every Thursday morning one of the brood had an ear infection. About the only time we saw Belinda for more than 10 minutes was when she came over to pick up clothes our kids had outgrown. She finally gave up "cleaning" to homeschool.

Then, there was Maggie. She would only clean houses on HER side of Spaghetti Junction, the infamous highway interchange that defines Atlanta. She made that clear in her ad in the paper. She made it clear in conversation. She had never, and will not ever, ever, drive across Spaghetti Junction. Fortunately, she could safely get to our house without encountering The Beast. Unfortunately, she didn't work from 1 PM to 3 PM because she had to watch her "stories." She left us notes that said, "You know that Bureto in the refrigerater? I ate it." And she occasionally called us from the bowling alley in the middle of the night, because she had consumed "a little white wine." Also, she was certain her lovely daughter, Shayree, was the perfect match for our son. Luckily, Shayree had other ideas, and Maggie had to stop cleaning and stay home with her "stories" because Shayree's boyfriend got kicked out of his house and moved in with Maggie and Shayree and there was too much laundry and cooking to do (when you added in "story" time) for Maggie to work outside of the home.

Patti came next, and she was far-and-away the favorite. Yes, she brought the toddling Baby Grace. Grace was pretty and sweet, and except for the time she shoved a sandwich in the VCR (which later, in revenge, ate her Barney tape) she was no trouble at all. Patti had dogs. Lots of dogs. Hair on the furniture was no match for her, and she did not rest until every fuzzy was gone. The house sparkled when Patti was finished. Sigh. We loved Patti. And so did her ex-husband; his stalking became a bit of a problem so she moved out-of-state and changed her name.

Again without help, I could conquer the laundry and dog-pilling and bill-paying and grocery shopping, but still managed to distract myself from vacuuming even while wearing my new (and quite stylish) Professional BacPacVac. Yes. I was wearing a vacuum, and I would forget to vacuum. No. I don't think I am suffering from dementia. I am just observant (and I hate to vacuum.) Example: See that frayed cord on the antique lamp? I'd best remove BacPacVac, head to garage for lamp parts, notice that the stuff for the next yard sale is in a messy heap. Rearrange it for a couple of hours until it is too late to vacuum because the natural light is gone and I miss too many spots by lamplight. Capiche? Easy Peasy.

And then I whined and whined about the unfinished vacuuming. Friends and family made the outlandish suggestion that I find another housekeeper. I had every excuse in the book - a cat would escape through a door left open (not likely when they are all quaking under the bed,) a dog would bite someone (no, the dog only bites when she doesn't get Gorgonzola on her dinner,) and the above-mentioned examples of Housekeeper Horrors.

My friend Penelope had heard enough.

"I'm sending over The Swarm Of Locusts."

Everything Pennie hates about her cleaning crew makes them perfect for me. They don't spend all day with their clients. They don't do laundry. They don't pay bills, or arrange the cereals by box height.

And they don't bring children, or watch stories or have stalking husbands. That I know of.

The Swarm blows through the front door, waving rags and plugging in vacuums on their way. They disperse like an Alka-Seltzer. Like Whirling Dervishes. No one speaks, but the noise is deafening. Furniture flung to the center of the room. Clunk, thunk, vacuums blaze. Every surface is sprayed with something. Rags and mops dance in perfectly choreographed formation. Not a cat in sight. (Dogs are shaking in the basement. They have only been down there a few times, when tornadoes threatened the neighborhood. They are sure this is "The Big One.")

And, before you know it, The Swarm is gone. Vaporized. It is eerily silent, like the wake of an F-5 tornado. We emerge, like Dorothy and Toto, from our shelters. Things are out of place, but there is no dust! There are no dust bunnies under the bed! (Well, yeah, the bed is in the middle of the room. But it's freshly made.)

The house is very clean. I might be pleased with The Swarm. But I'll reserve judgment until I see if I get a late-night call from a bowling alley.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Message in the Music

It was shaping up, according to the clawed and chewed DayRunner, to be a busy day for Nancy and the Kitties. I planned to take my mother-in-law for Post Mother's Day Pizza at "that new place where you get two slices and a drink all for one price. And the lady from church said the slices are big and very filling." Before I headed off in the direction of pizza, however; I had to wrap, pack and post silver tornado-shaped earrings to a newly-minted Meteorologist in California. And after pizza, I planned to finish a "belly chain," which I understand to be some kind of necklace you wear around your waist, and it might or might not attach somehow to a pierced navel. So a little research (other than asking the younger of my mostly older friends whether they had heard of these things, which quickly morphed into a discussion of tattoos, which really didn't help me at all) was in order. I also ABSOLUTELY HAD to go to the ATM, which had one of those armored trucks parked in front of it the last three times I buzzed it. (I finally decided the driver parked there because there is a canopy over the ATM and he had enough shade for a good nap. Or else someone shot him dead, took all the money and no one had noticed because we were all driving by making up stories about the driver taking a nap.) And then, off to teach a dance class, which really wasn't that crucial because if I didn't show up the ladies would just swap recipes and talk trash about those of us who weren't there, and maybe pour the water from their now-unnecessary water bottles on the flowers we planted in front of our building and then go home for dinner.

The Kitties had planned to claw and chew the DayRunner a little more, and then make zillions of little corrugated cardboard crumbs out of their Costly Cosmic Catnip Corrugated Cardboard Couch Scratcher, and then hiss and spit about who got to sit on top of the Catnip Corrugated Couch; and to bring downstairs all the Glitter Rats that I had heaved upstairs for the 4 millionth time, because the dogs are confined to the downstairs and they eat Glitter Rats and then make Glitter Poop.

So there was really no time for a flat tire.

Therefore, I had a flat tire.

Ha! I am a Flat Tire Magnet. After flat tires caused by the common nail, the uncommon nail, heat bubbles, errant forks, a screwdriver, acts of God, and vicious slashing by a copy editor who took exception to my disagreement with his use of the words "that" vs "which", I have learned that I need Road Hazard Protection. "My Guys" fix my tires often, and often for free. I do not fear the Flat Tire. But I still had all this stuff to do. So I borrowed my mother's car.

It is a spankin' new, bells-and-whistles minivan; perfect because I could use it to carry home a table and my trampoline which I had forgotten that I took to dance class. (Yes, trampoline. It is a rather involved story, best left to the imagination.) And the minivan has Satellite Radio. Which is code for "Only-Works-If-No-Trees-Are-Blocking-Transmission." The signal comes and goes, but the people who pay for it are so excited about the 126 channels, they are willing to live with sound that reminds me of the back of a Chevy at a Drive-In Theater in 1968.

I have no idea how to change the Satellite Radio to the "I'm Post Fifty But I Think I'm Still A Bit Edgy and Cool" channel, so I leave it on my mother's "Movin' EZ" channel, which I might call "Barely Movin' ZZZZZZZZ" channel. At first I listen in shock, with the windows up; because I know every word and I'm singing. And someone might HEAR ME SINGING. And I don't know why I am singing "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo"? "It's Another Tequila Sunrise"????? "Someone Left the Cake Out In the Rain?" Come on. Who would bake a cake and leave it outside unless they had Alzheimer's? Then again, I left rice in the rice cooker overnight one time. "There's Got to be a Morning After" from the Poseidon Adventure. The Freaking Poseidon Adventure!!!!!!

"Feelings." "Afternoon Delight."

There is a message in this music, and our PARENTS are listening. They could be driving our children around, listening to this...this...there are no words for the horror. And SINGING ALONG.

Somebody needs to speak with our parents about the Message In The Music.

And learn from my experience. Don't borrow your mother's minivan unless you can handle her "Movin' EZ."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Helicopter Parents (hovering, hovering...)

We were Free Range Children. If we cleaned our rooms to minimum hygienic standards we were Free To Roam for the rest of the day, until the streetlights came on. There were a few rules. We were not to go into the houses under construction (but we did.) We were not supposed to play in the creek (but we did, and then we stayed in the woods climbing trees until our clothes dried out so no one would know.) We were not supposed to climb trees. (But we had to do something while our clothes dried out.)

When our children came along, Free Range was no longer in vogue. Something Terrible in the form of Scary Strangers would happen to children allowed to play in their front yards, so we fenced in the back yard and put up a swing set. We read books to our kids about shadowy men in shiny cars asking them to help find lost puppies. We turned pages advising that children should scream "Fire" if someone kidnapped them, even though we thought it would work better to shout, "Hey this person is kidnapping me!" (The Experts promised us that "Fire!" attracted more attention. And The Experts never told us what the kids should scream if there was an actual fire. "Stampede!"? "Free Ice Cream!"? "Hey, Macarena!"?) And we embraced Children's Television, which kept the darlings safely in the living room with Mr. Rogers, The Electric Company and Oscar The Grouch.

Is it any wonder a generation of children on the lookout for lurking Scary Strangers, trying to remember what they were supposed to shout, would grow up to embrace The Disposable Toddler Helmet? Buy 'em like disposable diapers, slap one on your newly toddling toddler because, dang, she is toddling, and that fireplace corner could be SHARP! Oh, My God, she's veering off that way! Thank goodness she's wearing her Disposable Toddler Helmet!...You can even use the link to sign up to carry them in your retail establishment. Perhaps, for example, you own a grocery store. You could offer them as freebies, right next to the sanitizer wipes, for anyone who dares to put a child in the "child seat" (with safety strap) of the buggy, instead of the AWESOME (and sanitized daily) Plastic Race Car cum Shopping Cart, capable of blocking Aisle Two completely even if little Maddie is not reaching out for the Chocolate Chex. (I really want to know who was in the focus groups for that one. Women with cramps and a migraine so bad that they couldn't cook breakfast because the sound of cracking eggshells was too loud? Perimenopausal women wearing T-shirts that say, "I'm out of Estrogen and I Have a Gun"? Who else would think Chocolate CHEX was a good idea?) I also think there is a market for a Disposable Toddler Helmet Vending Machine. What kind of parent wouldn't cough up a few tuppence for the peace of mind afforded by Disposable Toddler Helmets? Because if your little one should happen to reach for the Chocolate CHEX and overextend, or Heaven forbid, her brother pushes her out of the Plastic Race Car cum Shopping Cart, it is a good six inches to the floor and there is no recycled rubber chip padding.

I think that the next frontier is disposable goggles. In case a child learns to USE A FORK, which might put an eye out. Or runs with scissors, or chases his brother with a stick. Until then, I have two words:

Bubble Wrap.

Oh, I need two more:

Duct Tape.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Oh, NO! It's Wednesday, and We're out of Cat Food!

Due to circumstances beyond my control, dear friends in town for a conference, re-scheduled doctor's appointments and my car still being full of all the stuff from Saturday's show, it is now Wednesday. It is supposed to be Monday. Grocery day. Big-Buggy-Full-of-Cat-Litter-Kibbles-Dog-Biscuits-Laundry-
Potato-Chips Day. There is no coffee creamer in the fridge. There are no eggs. The Brown Dog "needs" her cauliflower. And we are dangerously low on Kitty High (street name. AKA, catnip.) That means I have to do the grocery shopping. On Wednesday. On

Styrofoam-Cups-of-Weak-Coffee Day.

There are two major problems here. I am tall. DOPWDCSCWCs are not. There will be a great deal of, "Honey, would you reach that Metamucil on the top shelf for me? They keep the freshest ones up there, you know." And by the time I stand on the lowest shelf, clinging to the shelf divider - because even in my platform flip-flops I'm not quite able to reach it - and snag the Metamucil (which I had to poke forward with the DOPWDCSCWC's umbrella first,) the intended recipient has wandered over to the meat counter to join a crowd admiring freshly cut round steak and I'm not exactly sure which one she is until I see the umbrella. I'll smile and hand her the canister, and she'll say, "Thank you, honey, but the store brand was on sale so I just picked up one of those." Don't get me wrong, I am glad to use my God-given gift of height to help out at the grocery store. But I also need to buy toothpaste.

The other problem is a bit more complex. Many of my fellow Wednesday shoppers knew me when I was six. Played bridge with my parents. In fact, had gallbladder surgery, angioplasty and bunion removal with my parents. Some of them led my Girl Scout troops (they don't, thank goodness, remember that little brouhaha resulting in my eventual "retirement" from the World of Scouting) and can wax poetic on those glitter pine cones we made that year in the church basement. And many of them think I am my sister.

My sister and I have looked so alike in the past that one of us could walk into a family party for the first time and a family member would ask us why we changed clothes. And our sense of style, or lack thereof, has been eerily similar as well. We have on more than one occasion shown up to an event in the same shoes. (Not the same PAIR of shoes; two sets of shoes. I just realized I might have confused some people. I decided to expand and clarify.)

So shopping on Wednesday requires me to limber up first, in case I need to be tall; and remember which sister I am and which children are mine in case someone inquires about them, and - God help me - WHO that man is, asking about my father's dizziness.

Arriving at the store, I'll scan the parking lot for familiar vehicles - the ones with ancient school booster stickers, or American Flag decals strategically placed. I'll take note of the "Hollywood Cars", the boat-like Caddies and Lincoln Towncars so favored by Mr. and Mrs. SoandSo. I'll grab a cup of the weak coffee, which gives me a little mental edge (very little) and helps me to blend in. And then I will

Attempt. To. Shop.

If I am lucky, I will remember everyone familiar by name. I will be tall gracefully. And I will remember that the "Self-Checkout" volume is dialed up on Wednesday, so I won't jump out of my skin when the AutoChick shouts, "WELCOME, VALUED CUSTOMER!" And I will not hyperventilate when I reach into my wallet for my credit card, and notice again, with tremors of shock, that it is right next to

My AARP Membership Card.

I hate Wednesdays.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What do you get when you combine

A dozen talented and especially charming artists, totally unpredictable weather, some tables, some tents, some shoppers, and ten dozen Krispy Kreme donuts? All hosted by a "Well-Bred Ladies' Dance Group" (and Gretchen...she is not Well-Bred but we let her hang around with us anyway)?

I have no idea, but it sure was fun.

A Virgin Venue, we had never attempted an art sale at Sketchworks before. But the theatre folks were excited to give it a try, and so was a group of mostly Etsy sellers. For some, it was their very first show, so it was doubly exciting.

A nailbiter yesterday. We knew we had a lot of drive-by visibility from the road in front of the theatre, and thought that, given "pretty" weather, we could set up all over the lawn for curb appeal. Vendors had tents, umbrellas, vividly colored would have been a lovely scene. BUT, Mother Nature had other ideas. Yesterday emails (or "Convos," if you speak "Etsy") flew here and there. Do we give in to the weather? Do we chance that it won't get messy until later in the afternoon (the prevailing wisdom at that moment)? The forecasts were ambiguous, we had a "rain plan", and we "went for it."

Today dawned, well, threateningly. No fluffy cirrus or cumulus clouds for us! Big, black icky blobs. Some of us were brave. Especially the very shy and retiring LeAnn Christian, Lampwork-Icon-to-Be. In her very shy and retiring style, LeAnn had a GIANT rainbow patio umbrella, and the most decidedly fancy set-up. She became our Official Lawn Ornament, until Gen and Hubby of Sewphisticate hit the scene with their EXTREMELY ELABORATE tent. Which they had to set up using an instruction manual. Which, thank God, they had with them. They bravely joined LeAnn as the Front Yard Team; which worked until it started to drizzle.

Not a drizzle that becomes steady to clearly indicate that we should all go home because it is about to turn into a downpour. More like a drizzle when one person says, "Oh look! It's clearing to the west!" And someone else says, "I just heard on the car radio that we are about to get tornadoes." So, we mostly moved tables out on the lawn, back under the covered patio, and in and out of tents until...

A very kind and wonderful benefactor donated 10 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to us to sell for profit. At that point, since we were short on customers, we made a "Free Donuts" sign and fed all the vendors donuts and handed freebies to people walking home from the grocery store and ate too many ourselves, and fed them to our very cute children who were extremely well-behaved up to that point and we all suffered a collective sugar high.

And we talked to each other, and we bought things from each other; and I'll bet everyone who was there feels like they ended the day with a whole bunch of new friends.

My personal highlights:

I felt a little warm in the afternoon and couldn't figure out why. The temp had dropped, it was damp; but I realized I WAS wearing the most beautiful purple scarf that everyone who knew me thought I should buy. And I did, because it was ME! Product of Adripratt - and it is sooooooo soft! My gut tells me I looked just a little silly, with a scarf (that matched my outfit so well) in 70 degree weather.

I have new notecards! The Jinkywink girls have the PRETTIEST '50s retro dinner party designs! And their own website, with even more goodies at more jinkywink.

Gen of Sewphisticate has the most wondrous hammered copper jewelry. I want it, and I could probably do it myself; but after seeing her work out on her anvil (she brought it for a little demo) with 6 gauge copper wire (really more like rebar!) I am going to let her make it for me. And her husband is going to bring his FORGE! Yes, I said, FORGE! to the next sale, to do demonstrations. Be still, my beating heart.

I lovelovelove what Danielle of GracefulBabies makes. Tutus! American Sign Language Initial Onesies! Pillowcase pinafores! Monkeypants with Banana pockets! I cannot wait for people small enough to wear them in my life. And it was so nice to have Danielle's personal babies around to keep us all amused.!

More FAB baby stuff at SugarPlumDelights. Oh, my goodness, the adorableness of the bibs! (It seems like a million years ago since I needed bibs for tiny people...I can't wait to need them again!) I Know I am not alone. Many friends told me they would so love to have a reason to purchase baby goodies...

I was completely captivated by Diana of Knotty Sheep, and her stuffed sheep and her "knottiness." How she can remember all those patterns! Watching her at work, doing something I can't even conceive. And they are soooo Personal Fashion Consultant helped me to select a pair of earrings that will match everything earthtone I own. Love.

I am going to learn how to make glass beads! From the ICON, according to LeAnn. (Shy and retiring Leann exudes quiet wisdom in the lampwork world.) StudioMarcy! The woman who told me I can etch Czech glass. You don't know what that means to me...I can etch(?) Czech glass? I LOVELOVELOVE Czech glass and I can make something new and different out of what I already have? How much do I love this?

And, The Most Amusing Moment of the Day had to be when tsiphotography(y'all, she repairs old photos, and rehabs Uncle So-and-So's slides!) had a display of her pet portraits, a terrier on one side, and a calico cat on the other. My friend Cynthia's dog, Pete; who LOVES cats and comes to my house to hunt for them, was asked repeatedly - where is the Kitty? And he lunged at the appropriately feline figure in Sam's display every single time; much to the amusement of everyone involved. Gifted photographer, or brilliant Keeshond? You be the judge.

Carol Southerland, Orchid Documenter Extraodinaire, was also a part of the crowd. She is famous for botanical works showing in venues from the Botanical Gardens to the Varsity; and a true Atlanta Gem.

So the weather pretty much stunk.

But. We had a bake sale. We had cover; and we HAD EACH OTHER. We had fun!