Saturday, December 31, 2005

The End Of The Year Post

Hi everyone.

I trust you all had a Merry Christmas, Spiritual Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanza, Wonderful Boxing Day...did I miss anyone? I'm sure I have. Well, whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it was a good one.

So, we are in the last hours of 2005.

Anyone care to say anything special?


Ok...I guess since it is my blog, I should do the saying.

In order to make my drivel a little more enjoyable, I will intersperse a photo tour of our Christmas/Winter Solstice/holidy tree among my comments.

And away we go!

First, I think it would be good to thank the Big Being(s) for all of the wonderfulness of the past year. (Atheists feel free to skip this part.) So, with deepest gratitude I would like to thank President George W. Bush and the ladies and gentlemen of Congress...

I'm kidding!

You all know who I mean.

Anyway, I'd like to thank God and Co. for the following:
My life because, well, it just makes sense to do that
My family - immediate and extended because they are the best
My friends - because they are also the best
Our big, beautiful world and all the cool stuff therein
My country
My home
My job

You get the idea. I guess this really would have been more suitable as a Thanksgiving post but, alas, here it is.

I think now would be a good time for a picture.

Now, other than the traditional mercury glass balls, we try to decorate our Christmas/Solstice/holiday tree with things that are meaningful to the celebration of the season and so I bring you...

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The Christmas Glasses - Do you see what I see?

Back to the scheduled post...

So, anyway...I was trying to think of the big goings on of the year and the first thing that comes to mind is getting the goat. And, while we also got a beagle this year, I think the goat might come to mind first because the beagle didn't happen to eat a rather important piece of mail yesterday that I happened to drop on the porch whilst trying to wrestle my way into the house with a pizza box, a purse, a camera, a few books, a bag of embroidery floss and the rest of the mail, all the while trying to keep the beagles in the house and the goat out. As a result, I guess I have a bit of explaining to do to the insurance company.

Photo op!

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The Christmas Coke Can - Everyone looks forward to a visit from the can dressed in red and white!

So, other than the goat, the other events that jump out are the big things that happened with the kids. Daughter went to Europe; Son got his driver's license; both got to go to Grassroots for the first time; Son got his first root canal - you know, all those great milestones of youth.

And speaking of root canals...

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The Holiday Dental Mold - You know, All I Want For Christmas Is My ... Root Canal?

Hmm...what else?

Well, I guess if I want to look beyond my own nose I could comment on things like Katrina, the war in Iraq, the earthquake in Pakistan, the ass in the White House and all of the other tragedies of the year. But rather than dwell on the negative, I would prefer to think about the positive things. Like all of the folks who pitched in to help after the tsunami; Sean Penn in a row boat; or was it Angelina Jolie in a Russian orphanage?; or was it Ethiopia?

See what happens when you don't have cable? Now I'm not sure on anything.

At any rate, the one thing that really sticks out in my mind is when the National Guard helped bring a peaceful end to a standoff between Native American casino owners and the women who performed in the nightly shows as entertainment for the casino clientele. I was so moved by the way this dipute was settled that I chose to depict it, as best I could...

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...on my Christmas/Solstice/holiday tree.

Moving right along...

I don't know. I'm trying to think of "very meaningful things" but it just isn't happening. I'm having a hard time thinking of anything. My mind is this!

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The Cristmas Cheese Grater - O Christmas Cheese, O Christmas Cheese...

You know, events just get scraped over it and these little stringy memories fall through the holes, some going where they should but most ending up on the floor.

I was still doing the mind-as-a-cheese-grater thing there in case that didn't make sense to you.

Well, since it seems my muse has left me, I will just finish up with the Christmas/Solstice/holiday tree tour.

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The Peacock, Curler and Big Glowing Gumdrop - And a Peacock in a pear treeeeeeeeeee!

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The Christmas Crow - Seven crows a-cawing and all that

And who could that be hiding in the Christmas/Soltice/holiday tree? Why it's...

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And last but not least, a vignette depicting everyone's favorite Christmas Carol...

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The Wreck Of The Old 97

Thank you all for reading my blog this past year. I wish you all a very healthy and Happy New Year full of peace and love.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Our New Pet

I wanted to take some time to introduce you all to our new pet. Before you get all excited, it's not who you think. No, not the new beagle. I will give her a proper introduction...eventually. But for now, something completely different.

The odd thing is, I wasn't even aware of this pet. None of us were. My husband discovered it the other night when he went to take care of the coal stoker in the basement.

As I've alluded to before, we have a bit of a damp basement. Damp and cool. Like a mine. It's almost as dark as one too. This special little environment lends itself to habitation by all sorts of strange and wonderful things.

Why, in this picture, you can see we have some little trees growing in our constantly wet french...oops...Freedom Drain.

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I have no idea what kind they are but they have been there - that size - for quite a while now. They probably get about 30 minutes of 40 watt lightbulb light a week. Maybe we'll develop some new low-light maple species. Who knows?

And now that I've typed the word "species", I pause to wonder why it doesn't follow the "i before e except after c" rule.


But I digress...

So, I'm in the kitchen and I hear my hubby banging on the floor from below.

Me: What? What's that you're banging about down there in the mines?
Hubby: Come here. And bring the camera.


Now my curiosity is piqued.

I get the camera and put some sandals on because you just don't want to walk around in our basement in your socks. I tell my daughter that something exciting is going on in the basement and she follows along. We make our way into the basement and locate my hubby.

Me: What's up?
Hubby: Look what I found.

Stak Trek fans are going to love this...


Daughter and I look and, sure enough, there was a tribble on the floor. So I took a picture...

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to share with you all.

Isn't it cute? We're thinking of naming it Scooter. Although it doesn't scoot very much. It just kind of sits there. We watched it for a while and it didn't really do much of anything.

Me: It's not doing anything.
Daughter: Maybe it's depressed.

We finally encouraged hubby to use his psionic talents and try the Vulcan Mind Meld on it.

And I took another picture...

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As you can see, it was in a great deal of pain.

We immediately packed it up in a box and took it to the Starship Enterprise for further analysis. The scientists gave it a thourough examination.

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We had to leave it overnight for testing and counseling. We went to pick it up the next day and the scientists said it was doing much better. As it turns out, it was just a case of the blues and loneliness. We decided to cheer it up by having a little party before we left. Look how much fun!

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And, not to worry. Our tribble isn't lonely anymore. We found a little friend for it.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Things You Can Find...

So. You might be wondering what I've been up to lately.

Or not.

But if you were, I've been off and on helping my husband replace the roof on our pump house. The pump house is this little brick building that houses, oddly enough, our well pump. Imagine. Like most of the other buildings on the property, it is sorely in need of some attention and we have finally gotten 'round to it.

Now, as I've mentioned before, our home rennovation projects seldom turn out to be weekend things. No. They are more like...month long things. Partly because of our wacky schedules which allow us to work uninterrupted on something for only 28 minutes at a time every three weeks. Ok, so I exaggerate at bit, but only a smidge. The other reason is because everything is such a MAJOR project. There is no such thing as a simple thing around here.

So here's the scoop. The pump house needed a new roof. It's a relatively small building, something like 20 x 10 - easy enough, right? Wrong. Because "new roof" doesn't just mean new shingles. It means shingle, tar paper, decking, stringers, trim, mind and soul. New EVERYTHING.

Now throw into the mix the fact that the only pieces of scaffolding owned by the extended family are in another state, involved in another roofing project. Thus leaving my hubby to now have to BUILD scaffolding before he can start on the roof.

You can kind of see where things are headed.


Whilst my dear hubby was building the scaffolding, I was given the unenviable task of "cleaning out the pump house and making some room in there".


You have no idea. None, what so ever.

You see, back when we bought this place, oh, about 10 years ago, there was a lot of weird stuff left in the house. The kind of stuff that you know you don't need to have on hand but you really should sit down and take a good look at it before you throw it away. Lots of that kind of stuff. And guess where it went? Go on, you'll never. IN THE PUMP HOUSE!

That's right. And now it was my task to sort through it all and make some sense of it.


Well, for the most part, it was just a lot of sorting into three categories - garbage, scrap metal and what the...? I was in the thick of it the one day, kind of in an akward straddle over several boxes of pipe fittings and hinges, when my son walked in.

Son: Whaterya doing?
Me: Trying to sort through all this crap.
Son: ...

So I went back to my sorting while he puttered about, looking at odd things. Finally, he spoke up again. "What's this?"

He was holding a black box that looked kind of like an old purse. Curiosity got the better of me and I stepped over my boxes to have a better look. He opened the box and I could see something that looked like a chrome hand-held hairdryer. There was an odd assortment of what I guessed were attachements and two golf balls.

Me: I don't know. A golf ball polisher?

That seemed to satisfy both of us and he closed the box and put it on a shelf. I went back to my fittings and hinges. My son eventually got bored and left and I didn't think any more about the black box.

At least until I cleaned my way to the shelf.

Now I was presented with the black box yet again. This item definitely fell into the "what the...?" category. I thought I had better have another look and maybe I can decide what exactly to do with it.

I opened the box again. Again I saw the chrome hair-dryer-ish thing and the attachments and golf balls. But this time I noticed a piece of paper at the bottom of the box, under everything else. Ah...something I didn't notice the first time. Maybe it would answer the question of what exactly this thing was.

I carefully picked out the golf balls and attachements with one hand and then lifted the hairdryer/golf ball polisher out with the other. And there on the bottom of the box was the answer to my question. The operating manual for the item.


I blinked once and read it again.


I looked at the hairdryer/golf ball polisher/vibrator. I looked at the golf balls and attachements. I looked at the hiardryer/golf ball polisher/vibrator. I looked at the golf balls and attachements. In my hand. All of a sudden a light bulb went on somewhere in my brain and I dropped the golf balls and attachments in horror.

Me: GLACK!!!!!

I wiped my hand on my pants. Several times. I think I might have stuck it in an old coffee can of acid too...I'm not sure.

A vibrator??!!!

I set it down and gingerly took the manual out of the box. And immediately lost 45 minutes. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

As it turns out, this thing is a turn of the century, variable speed vibrator, used for treating a number of ailments, not the least of which is the female disorder "hysteria", or, as I am now wont to say, dingy golf balls.

And what is even more amazing is that it works!


I mean...

Well, see it's this way...


Ok, I plugged it in. That's it, I swear! Just to see if it would do anything. And, boy, did it ever! I didn't even turn up the speed. As soon as I plugged it in it was happily buzzing away, vibrating my arm, shoulder, neck, head, back and oh, oh, oh...AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!


No, really, it actually vibrated like a small pneumatic drill. I can't even imagine putting it on my... golf balls. Not even!

So then I unplugged it. And put it back in the box. And put it up on a shelf in our library for... For what? I don't know. I guess to bring out at dinner parties and say "Hey, look what I have! A crazy old vibrator!"

So there you go.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Say Hello to Another Holiday Icon

Hi folks.

I know, I know...long time, no post. I have no excuse. But I do have some good stories.

But you won't read any of them today.

No, today I want to discuss something entirely different: The Commercialization of Holidays.

Yes, it is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

There is no such thing as a holiday being just about the day anymore, is there? I mean, I saw the Christmas decorations out by the end of August this year. August? No wonder people get cranky about it by the time it gets here.

Thanksgiving? What? What's that? You mean there's another holiday in between Halloween and Christmas? Really? And it's about what? Oh, giving thanks? You mean it's not about adding up the bonus points at the grocery store to get the free turkey? No? Well, whaddaya know!

And it's not just Christmas either. It's even infested Easter. Now, we Christians had enough trouble stealing the holidays from the pagans you would think the capitalists would just leave well enough alone. But no, they had to take Easter too.

And this, people, this is nothing compared to what I've seen today. Nothing. I can almost understand getting all wrapped up in Christmas, Halloween and Easter. Heck, I can even look past the big hoopla about Valentine's Day and the 4th of July. But this tkaes the cake, folks. I mean it really and truly does.

They have gone and commercialized Election Day.

Oh! the horror! I couldn't believe it either. And I know it may seem small to some people but I am more than certain it is going to take off across the country. Pretty soon we are all going to be inundated with this new holiday icon. Yes, you heard me right. They now have a mascot for Election Day. Pretty soon you'll see the Hallmark greeting cards with it's cute little picture on the front. Pretty soon you will see plush look-alikes in the toy department. Pretty soon you will hear the Election Day carols on the radio featuring the latest antics of this new character to grace our sick and twisted holiday celebrations. Pretty soon you will see lines of voters waiting to have a chat with our new cultural icon, whispering who they want to win the election.

What is it, you ask? You've seen the signs for Breakfast with the Easter Bunny. You've seen the signs for Breakfast with Santa Claus. Well, today I was driving past our local fire company - which just so happens to be a polling place - and saw this sign. Get a load of this...

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You read it right. Breakfast with Mackerel. Never mind that it's spelled wrong. Who is this Mackerel and, what I really want to know is, who decided it was going to be the election day mascot? Hmm? Who? And why, why oh why, did they pick a mackerel?

I can just see it all now. The night before Election Day, all the registered voters will put out their coolers and creels hoping The Mackerel will swim up the drain pipe during the night and fill them with treats and wise decisions. that I think of it, some wise decisions might not be such a bad thing.

But a Mackerel?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I am sitting here writing but my mind is not with it tonight. So forgive me, dear readers, if I am a bit disconnected.

About 10 days ago I found out that one of my neighbors - I will call him B - was in the hospital to have some tests done. It seems as though he was having some trouble remembering things. Initially, it was thought that it might have something to do with some of the medication he was on in his attempt to quit smoking. Nothing major to be sure, but some test would hopefully give some answers.

Today I found out that they brought B home. To die. He is not expected to make it through the night. It turns out he has a brain tumor and there is nothing that can be done.

I met this neighbor and his wife, C, a several years ago after we moved to our home. We didn't meet right away but, rather, came together when a municipal project was put in the works in our neighborhood.

The thing is, I'm not normally the type to go out and get to know the neighbors. I mean, I can't even see any of their houses unless I go for a drive so it's not like we cross paths on a daily basis or anything. At any rate, we started talking at the local meetings and eventually started meeting at houses in the neighborhood.

The meetings eventually moved to their house on a regular basis. They kind of became the leaders of our little pack of concerned citizens. Being retired engineers, they were able to look at plans and translate them into layman's terms for the rest of us. They would sift through zoning and code books, environmental regulations and funding criteria. They attended meetings and hearings during the day and brought back information and reports to those who had to miss them due to work. In the end, B and C are in a large part responsible for making sure the project had as little negative impact on the environment and neighborhood as possible.

During the course of all of this our little neighborhood community began to grow closer. One winter, when we all had it up to our ears with municipal project stuff, we were lamenting the fact that the stretch between Christmas and spring was just too darn long and depressing. Someone came up with the idea of having a party in the beginning of February to shake off the winter blues and thus the Boilo Festival was born. B and C graciously offered their house for the festivities and have done so ever since.

When the municipal project finished, B took on the task of monitoring the water in the local stream on a seasonal basis just to make sure nothing ever got out of whack. He would go along with another neighbor and clamber down hills, through brambles, into the stream to snatch a sample of water. Just to make sure things were ok. Just because he cared.

The last time I saw him was a few weeks ago when we got together with them and other neighbors and purchased a 20 acre tract of land that sat in the middle of our three properties. It came up for sale and we and the other neighbors, although we wanted desperately to buy it, could never afford to do it. B and C offered to go in on it with us. Their main reason for doing it? They just wanted to make sure the land got into the hands of people who would care for it. We went to the closing and signed the papers. B and C and the other neighbors asked if we wanted to go out for dinner to celebrate but, alas, my hubby had to go to work and I had to drive the kids to something or other.

And now this.

B and C don't have any kids. They don't have much other family. B has C and C has B and that's mostly it. And now C is sitting in her house with B while he slowly slips away.

I can't imagine what she is going through. They have one of those marriages where they truly are each other's best friend.

It might seem odd that I am thinking of her rather than him. Maybe it even seems cold, but I rarely feel bad for someone once they are dead. I really believe that we go on to something better so death, in that sense anyway, never really bothered me. It's the people left behind that I feel sorry for. What will she do?

Who will finish her sentences?

Who will finish her dinner when she can't?

Who will know how to make a cup of coffee for her exactly the way she likes it?

Who will snuggle up and keep her warm at night?

Who will know exactly what she is thinking just by the look on her face?

Who will be the safe harbor when she needs a break from the world?

I think about her situation and wonder what I would ever do if it were me. It couldn't be the same, of course, because I have children and other family. But I wonder what I would do if I were suddenly faced with her situation. How do you ever get over the loss of your very best friend? That friend who understands you like no one else ever will. The friend so close that you forget they are not actually a part of you but a separate person entirely. How do you wake up the next morning knowing you won't roll over and look in their face? Hear their voice? How do you ever deal with such a thing?

I guess in the end, you just do. Just like everything else.

At any rate, it's a crappy thing.

If you are of the type, please say a prayer to whoever your god is. For B and C. And everyone else who loses a spouse. And after you do that, if you are married to your best friend, go give him or her a big ol' hug and tell them how wonderful s/he is and how lucky you are to have him/her in your life.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Water, water everywhere...

On my dryer.

On my floor.

In my basement.

In about 50,000 buckets all over our house.

Yes, the rain has come and the roof is leaking. Again. So the water is everywhere.

Everywhere except...the pipes. That are supposed to have water.

Such is life.

A quickie update for you all. I know I've been away for a little while and rather lax about posting. It is not, however, without good reason.

The reason has varied parts.

The first part is that we were away for a few days closing up my mother's cabin for the winter. On the way home from there, we picked up a dog at Cornell University. It is a 1.5 year old beagle. She was one of the dogs mentioned in d.b.echo's (see side bar for link) post a little while ago that were in need of good homes. They didn't mention that good homes = dry homes. We didn't bother to bring it up.

Anyway, her name is Ruby and she's really little and really cute. And I would post a photo but...I can't. Further explanation later.

At any rate, we came home to a house with no water because the pressure tank (what?) went bad while we were away. Bad pressure tank. Bad, bad pressure tank.

And since it was our new dog's first car ride, and she was scared to death and consequently slobbered and vomitted all over herself and really needed a bath, it made our arrival home all the more special.

Oh, and the other part of the reason...

We used to have two phone lines with our dsl on one of them. I got thinking to myself..."Self?" I say, "There's no point in paying for two phone lines. Why not just cancel the one and get the dsl put onto the regular phone line?" A simple plan, you would think.

So, I called the phone company shortly before we left for the cabin and explained what I wanted to do. I would only require some minor flicking of switches and data entry on their part.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

What it in fact requires is the phone guy to come to the house when we are stuck in traffic in Ithaca - resulting in many confused and desperate phone calls to my teenage son who doesn't understand that once you let the phone guy in the house, you will incur such debt with Phone Company Guy Labor charges it will make the national deficit seem like pocket change. Then said teenage son tells you "Well, he already did all the inside work." And you are still stuck in traffic. Only because you had to meet the lady with the dog 10 minutes ago and how were you to know that I81 would be backed up with traffic really bad and the alternate route involving many small country roads - all under construction, every single one and I'm not lying - wouldn't get you there any quicker?

Because that's what it involves when you want to change your dsl to another line. Just so you know.

So when we came home with our pukey, slobbery new dog to no water, we also found out that we had no phone service either. Because the phone guy saw our phone line, which had been perfectly happy laying on the ground after the tree ripped it off the house and pole - hey, it still worked - and he thought it wasn't such a great set up. So he decided that new lines should be put in and, while we're at it, let's run them underground and avoid this whole messy tree business in the future. Which is cool by me. The only downside being that I am still without phone and internet. And I'm getting frighteningly used to it. Frightening to my kids, that is.

So I have my reasons for no update, folks.

Right now I'm at work. Making good use of my time. After this I'm going outside to hang some decorations.

I love my job.

So, if I ever get internet back at home, I'll post a picture of our new dog. Oddly enough, out of everyone in our family, she's attended the best school so far.

Alright, I'm done for today.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Gweathest Thweeper Of Aw Thime


It's the end of a long day and I'm going on about 1 1/2 hours of sleep so I'm just about ready to crash and burn pretty hard. See, I have this little issue with an uncooperative disc in my neck and the end result is apretty constant migrain. On the bright side, I get to spend a lot of time under the influence of pain killers and muscle relaxants. Whoopee!

The down side of this - um, other than addiction and probably some long term nasty side effects - is that they don't really affect me the way you would think. Sure my muscles relax and my pain...well, I wouldn't say it really gets killed...more gets distracted. Or I do. But the sleepy side effect? Nope. Nil. Nyet. Not happenin'. As a matter of fact, I get pretty wound up. So, at the end of a particularly fulfilling day at the real estate office, I come home with a bass rhythm in my head that would put me well in the ribbons at any IASCA event. I could just see me now...standing in the lot amongst the Honda Civics and Monte Carlos - my blood vessuhls droppin' the bass line so bad, biggest dayum headache ah evuh had, I'm gonna kick all yo'asses - you know what ah'm sayin', 'cause ah got a hundred thousand watts bangin on mah brayun'...word.

Or something like that.


I come home with the migrain, take the medicine and then I'm up until all hours of the night. Or morning as the case was this fine first day of Autumn. The last time I allowed myself to look at the clock it was 4am. On the occasions I do manage to sleep, it is usually with my jaw clenched. So guess what? I wake up with a headache as well. Ah, me. My hubby keeps telling me to get one of those mouthpiece things to put in my mouth when I go to sleep. The only problem with that is that when I'm out shopping, I'm not thinking of sleeping. Or not sleeping. Consequently, I end up buying towels or something but not a mouthpiece. I suppose I could put a towel in my mouth but, really, I don't want to wake up with a literal case of cotton mouth.


I come home from work again and decide that nothing would be better for me than a shopping trip with my husband. To the mall. Right.

Actually, it wasn't bad at all other than the fact that I was so sleep deprived I was becoming a little punchy and silly. (I was a little paunchy too but that has nothing to do with anything.) So I danced to the groovy Kmart tunes while my hubby tried to do the shopping.

He's going to West Virginia on a whitewater rafting trip tomorrow. I would go can I put the words "squeal like a pig" mean anything to anyone? No, actually I went a few years ago and figured I'd let the old man do a guy weekend thing. It was my job to be the entertainment on the shopping trip for the supplies.

He was concerned about things like batteries and toothpaste and stuff. I, on the other hand, reminded him of such necessities as Halloween hillbilly teeth. So he can fit in with the locals, you know. He also bought a set for his brother.

Whilst perusing the Halloween aisles, I came across a pair of green rubbery hands that you wear like gloves over your own less rubbery hands. The tag on them said "Soft PVC Monster Hands". I told my hubby "I've never seen a Soft PVC Monster but, by the looks of these hands, it must be a pretty impressive creature." And so I wore them around the store for the rest of the shopping trip. I put them back before we left but I'm thinkin' I'll have to go back and by them. Maybe I'll be a Soft PVC Monster for Halloween. I'm thinking that would be a grand idea. Or, I'll just get the hands and wear them to work. Like a Soft PVC Monster disguising itself as a real estate agent. I could show a house to clients and when I reach my hand out to open, say, the basement door, they would notice my hands and scream, "AAAAHHHH! A Soft PVC Monster! AAAAHHHH!" Wicked scarey!

Anyway, when we got home, hubby was sorting through his stuff and suddenly tossed a little bag my way. I opened it up and what do you know, he bought me a mouthpiece! All together now...AAAAAAAWWWWWWWW! He's so nice like that. So I immediately ripped it open and stuck it in and began to thalk like thith.

Me: Thith ith umcomfthobo.
Hubby: What?
Me: Umcomfthobo. Thith ith. Thith thingh. Ah thah inthucthuns with thith?
Hubby: You're weird.
Me: Ahm weeod? AHM weeod? Yo thu one who wanth me thoo wah thith thingh.
Daughter: What are you doing?
Me: Who meh?
Daughter: Yeah, you.
Me: Ahm thwyin' thith thingh owt thath Thaddy both thor meh.
Daughter: What? What is that thing in your mouth?
Me: Mah mouth thingh. (I beging to shadow box at my daughter.) Ah fwowt wike a buthuhfwy an thing wike a bee.
Daughter: Yeah, ok.
Me: No, weewee. Ah do. Wook. Ahm fwowtin wike a buthuhfwy.
Daughter: Whatever.
Son (to Daughter): Your dog tinkled.
Daughter: Where?
Son: That's part of the fun - finding out where!
Daughter: Come on...
Me (boxing at my family): Fwowtihng wike a buthuhfwy, thinghihng wike a bee!
Hubby: I think you need to go to bed.

I looked at the baggy and, sure enough, there were instructions. You're supposed to plop the mouthpiece into a pot of boiling water and, after 30 seconds, take it out - with a set of tongs as per instructions - then grab it with your hand and put it right in your mouth! From the boiling water! Right into your mouth! How crazy is that? But, see here! The instructions say that "it will not burn". I crap you not.


Forgive me but I'm a little leary on that one.

And then you are supposed to mold it to you top teeth, biting down and sucking out all of the air. After that, you quickly put it into cold water, thus setting the mold.

Well, I figured they must know what they're talking about so I plopped it into the boiling water. Look at clock. Look at pot. Look at clock. Look at pot. Look at clock. Look at pot. I was getting a little nervous that I wouldn't get it out in time and wind up overcooking it and loosing all the flavor and valuable nutirients so I decided I would hold onto to it with the tongs and then I could spirit it out of the water when the time was up. Unfortunately, I was a little too enthusiastic with the tongs and started to squish the mouthpiece. It was sticking to the tongs and I started to panic. I shook them around and the mouthpiece popped off into the pot.

Check the clock. 30 SECONDS IS UP!!! OH NO!!!!

I really started to panic and desperately fished around the pot for the mouthpiece. I finally managed to grab it and, in my frenzy to mold it to my teeth, I stuck everyting in my mouth.

The mouthpiece did not burn at all.

The metal tongs burned like a mother.

Me: AAAAAAA! OOOooowwwwWWWW! OOOOWWWW! Mah mowth! Ith boownd! OOOOWWWWW!
(Biting down, sucking air.)
Me: Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. Mah wip. Ah boownd mah wip. Owwwwwww......

I took it out and ran it under cold water and put it back in.

Me: Aaaaahhhhhhhh..... tha feewth gooth.

Now I am off to bed to see how things will go. Hopefully I will thweep wike a buthuhfwy and dweem wike a bee.
An tho, ah bidth you aw "Goothnith".

Sunday, September 18, 2005

How To Jar Tomatoes In 2(x-5y)+7-(x+y) Easy Steps

Hi folks.

Guess what I did today? That's right. I finally dealt with some of the tomatoes. Not only did I make homemade sauce, but I jarred it as well.

You can just call me Little Suzie Homemaker.

Don't be jealous. You all know how I like to help out the common man. And so, I bring you...

Making - and Jarring, oh my God! - Tomato Sauce

What you need to get started:

- A crap load of tomatoes. What is a crap load? Well, it differs for each and every one of us.
- A big ass pot with lid. And a thingy to stick inside to hold the jars.
- Jars
- Lids and rings
- Lemon juice
- Canning salt. What is this? Darned if I know. I was told non-iodized is the same thing.
- Kitchen-aid mixer with juicer attachment gadget.
- Phone number of someone who knows how to work the attachment gadget for the Kitchen-aid.
- Extension cord.
- Some kind of grippy things to take hot jars out of boiling hot water.
- A buch of bowls.
- Coffee.
- Pry bar.
- Hammer.
- Bucket.
- Bleach.
- Window fan.
- Shop-vac.
- 2 Blueberry Pop-tarts.
- 8 oz. cold milk.
- Band-aid

Note: Do not get supplies ready ahead of time. Things will be more interesting that way.

Preparing to Jar!

1. Go out to a bar the night before you plan to jar. Drink a goodly amount of beer and stay up late.
2. Get up way to early and stumble into the kitchen. See many tomatoes on the table. Groan. Make coffee. See that dog peed on carpet in front of door.
3. Get pry bar and hammer and begin to rip up carpet because you just can't take this whole "dog not quite making it outside thing" any more. Rip up about a 5 x 5 square foot of carpeting and the possible asbestos underlayment. Finally remember to turn on window fan.
4. Vacuum area with Shop-vac. Fill bucket with very hot water and a little too much bleach. Scrub freshly exposed floor as though you are ridding your soul of the demons that have plagued you for many, many years. Feel your lungs begin to burn from the bleach.
5. Look at tomatoes again. Prolong the jarring a little bit longer by toasting 2 Pop-tarts and then dunking them in milk while you read through the jarring book to try to jog your memory on how to do this.
6. After you are sufficiently bored with trying to read through the directions, abandon book and take your breakfast dishes to the sink. Drink a coffee.
7. Go to the bathroom. Change a load of laundry. Fold laundry in the dryer and put it away before cats bed down in it. Wash hands.

Making Sauce

1. Look at tomatoes and sigh.
2. Put the tomatoes in the sink and begin to wash them. Place clean tomatoes into one of the many, many bowls you will use.
3. Let dog out.
4. Try to remember where you last saw the big-ass pot and lid.
5. Go into the basement and try to locate some jars, lids and rings. Oh! There's the big-ass pot and lid! Get that too. Haul everything to the kitchen.
6. Let the dog in.
7. Get Kitchen-aid mixer and set up on table. Try to find extension cord for mixer. After fuitless search for small extension cord, take 25 foot contractor's cord and plug mixer in to outlet 4 feet away.
8. Get box of attachment gadgets for mixer and try to figure out which one is the juicer. Stick your hand into the box with wild abandon and cut the tip of your right-hand index finger on slicer attachment. Mutter explicatives. Wash finger and put Band-aid on cut. Go bakc to box and gingerly remove what you think you might need for the juicer. Lay parts on table next to mixer and ponder your situation awhile.
9. Drink some more coffee.
10. Call person who knows how to work attachment gadget and get instuctions on how to put it together. Turn on mixer to speed 4.
11. Place bowl under juicer to catch juice. Place bowl under other end of juicer gadget to catch not-juice. Begin to feed tomatoes into hopper on top of juicer. DO NOT try to push tomatoes in that are just too darn big. Cut them up.
12. Stare in child-like wonder as Kitchen-aid makes short work of juicing the tomatoes.
13. Place as many jars as you can fit standing up into the big-ass pot and cover them with water. Boil jars for 10 m inutes. Place as many lids and rings as you have jars into another small pot of water and boil for 10 minutes as well.
14. Go back and squish more tomatoes into the mixer.
15. Let you son squish some tomatoes too.
16. Turn everything off because you have to drive your son to a scouting event that you didn't know about.
17. Trun everything back on.
18. Let the dog out.
19. Squish more tomatoes.
20. When you've had about enough, pour the tomato juice into a large pot. Put the not-juice in your compost bin. (You do compost, don't you?)
21. Now it's time to season the sauce. Throw in whatever you darn well please. Salt. Pepper. Um...Italian seasoning? What's that? Oregano, basil, parsley...ok.
22. Peel some garlic and onion and place in food processor to chop. Turn on food processor.
23. Let the dog back in.
24. Answer phone. Talk to your mom for a while. Forget about stuff in food processor. Come back to find it like a garlic and onion smoothie. Oh well. Put it into a small pot with some butter and set it on stove to simmer. Scream bloody murder when you get garlic juice in finger cut.
25. Change another load of laundry. Go to bathroom. Get distracted by unibrow and begin to pluck some eyebrow hairs. Suddenly remember garlic/onion smoothie.
26. Come back to kitchen to find garlic/onion smoothie has boiled all over the place. Pour whatever is left into sauce pot. Take heating element out and try to scrape off burnt garlic flakes. Return element to stove top.
27. Check book and see that sauce has to cook for - what?- 2 hours?! Crap!
28. Turn off pot with jars.
29. Find something to do for two hours. Like picking more tomatoes. And jarring them. No, I'm not kidding. And I'm not even going to get into it here.
30. Pick son up from scout event.

Let's Jar Tomato Sauce!

1. Boil jars, lids and rings again since you are finally ready for them.
2. Remove sauce from stove.
3. Take a jar out of the water - careful! It's hot! - and place it on a towel on the table. Fill the jar with sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon and 1 tablespoon of non-iodized salt.
4. Take a lid and ring from the other pot and go to place it on the jar of sauce. Realize that you used the wrong size lids.Jump around kitchen yelling "What the crap! What the crap!".
5. Find the right size lids and put them in a pot of water to boil for 10 minutes.
6. When the lids are done, take one out and place it on the jar of sauce. Twist a ring onto the jar. Very carefully put jar back into pot of hot water.
7. Continue in the same fashion with other jars until you are out of room in your big-ass pot.
8. Put lid on pot and bring the whole kit and kaboodle to a boil. Boil it all for 40 minutes.
9. When time is up, take your grabby things and try to get the jars out of the pot. This is the most exciting and dangerous part of the process. Once false slip and it's a long, painful trip to the emergency room.
10. Place jars on a towel on table to cool.
11. Look at the jars for awhile.
12. Clap when you hear a lid go "pop". That means it is sealing like a good jar.
13. If you feel like sticking around to hear them all pop, go ahead, but it might take a while.
14. Try not to think about how you just took 8 freaking hours to make seven jars of sauce. Also try not to think about how you just bought sauce at Giant for $1.00 a jar. Don't think about that. At all.
15. Clean up whatever you have the energy to. The rest will be there tomorrow.

Congratulations! You did it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Me Big Helper

Hey all.

I hope everyone had a nice Tuesday. Mine was uneventful enough. Work. Home. Migrain. Nap. Dinner. Blah, blah, blah.

While I was making dinner, I caught some kind of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked out the window and saw my son picking what was left of the grapes off the vine in the yard. I turned back to the stove thinking "Oh, isn't that nice to see. He's out there enjoying the day. Roaming the yard. Exploring nature and..."


I heard a short blast of air that I knew I should recognize. However, having just awakened from the migrain induced nap, the ol' neurons weren't firing quite right just yet.


I heard it again.

I looked out the window again.

Yes, my son was in fact enjoying the outdoors, exploring nature in his own teenage way. He was picking grapes and stuffing them down the barrel of a paint ball gun and then shooting them off at God only knows what.

These are the kinds of things that happen when you deprive your children of television.

Another example.

I asked son to whack the weeds at the end of the driveway since they were now higher than the car and it was becoming a little like Russian Roulette whenever you had to pull out. ("No whammys, no whammys, no whammys...Floor it!") I couldn't leave the goat to eat these weeds because it was just a little too close to the road and Lord knows, I don't need some goat inspired law suit over a wrecked vehicle. Son - being the good and obedient child he is - whacked the weeds and then, I guess out of boredom - or, perhaps an unquenchable desire to express himself artistically - decided to use the weed whacker to make crop circles in the lawn.

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It's a little hard to see, but I think you can get the idea.

Oh, how my children suffer...

As for myself, I did recover from the migrain enough to venture down to the garden of civil unrest. My sister-in-law begged me to go pick some tomatoes. I don't generally feel right picking any since I don't really pitch in but she was really begging this time. Like this...

Phone: Riiiiing
Me: Hello?
SIL: Have you been in the garden lately?
Me: No, why? Did it burn down or something?
SIL: No.
Me: Oh. Well, whatever it is, I didn't do it.
SIL: No, that's not it. You have to go pick some tomatoes.
Me: Are you sure? What if you don't have enough for jarring and stuff?
SIL: There's enough. Go pick some. There's a lot.
Me: Are you really sure?
SIL: Yes, they're...everywhere. Everywhere. Hundreds, no thousands of them.
Me:'re saying there's enough for me to take a few...
SIL: A few. A FEW!!! You don't understand. I...just...can't...take...anymore. I...the everywhere. I tried. I tried dammit! God help me! I...I...
Me: Are
SIL: OH GOD! I can't pick any more tomatoes! have frineds and co-workers who like tomatoes, don't you? You could get rid of them, right?
(She was sounding more and more frantic now.) You! You could take them and give them to the ladies you work with! Your clients! A housewarming basket of tomatoes!
Me: Um...I don't know on that one. I mean, some people are allergic and all...
SIL: Louisiana! Send them to the hurricane victims! A tomato relief drive!
Me: I think you need to get a grip here.
(But she was beyond help now.)
SIL: Go! Go get the tomatoes and save everyone! Save them! There are enough tomatoes to save the world!!!

And I heard the phone hit the floor and sister-in-law sobbing in the back ground.

Ok...I'm making it up.

She did say there were a lot though.

So, today I walked down to the garden while dinner was in the oven and clambered over the fence much the same way I imagine the deer do.

The garden has gone pretty wild by now. At first, everyone is all about the weeding and everything. Once the dog days of summer hit, they all become pretty much like me and are like "Garden? What?"

I walked to the end where the tomatoes are and whoa. There are a lot.

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And that's just a small smattering. Like about one fourth of the tomato population.

So I picked three.

And then I took this picture.

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See? I'm a helper!

Ok, I promise I'll go pick more tomorrow.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Posty Post...For Lack of a Better Title

See me.

I am Earthy Woman.

I am salt of the earth.

Smell me.

I am earthy and salty and sweaty.

I just spent the afternoon mowing grass and hacking through brush.

So that's what the cool people did today. That's right. I went to church, grocery shopping and then did yard/jungle work. Don't hate me because I'm terribly hip and cool.

No really. That's it. I have no life. I'm sitting here reeking of sweat and grass and blood and quite possibly dog or goat poop but I just didn't get up the nerve to look at the bottom of my boots yet. Only because I stepped in dog poop yesterday and I'm just not ready for another go-round with it.

I'm trying to hack out the small area of jungle that has grown up around our pump house. We have to put a roof on it and pronto but - and see here's the tricky part - we have to get to it first. It's become quite grown up with booger balls and thorny things and these big tall plants that have lovely dark purple berries that I always think would be cool to dye clothes with until I found out they are poisonous (not just to eat, but to touch as well...but I still think I'm going to try it) and all sorts of other bushy growth.

I seem to have an issue with run-on sentences, don't I?

So I just spent the past 2 hours or so hacking through all of this with my trusty gas powered hedge trimmer we call "Excalibur". When I am wielding it I feel like a powerful king. Lord of the Yard! Bow to me and lick my poopy boots! And tie the laces while you're there. Double knots please. I mean, DOUBLOE KNOTS AND THAT'S AN ORDER!

A little aside here... You all know I have this issue with the spell check thing, right? Well, I usually have my Webster's Unabridged College Dictionary sitting next to me so's I can check words I'm not sure of because, even though I'm not particularly careful about typos, I do try to make an effort. Just so you all know that. My typos are exactly that. Not poor spelling. Because I have very low Speller Self Esteem and I am always second guessing myself. (Guessing...u before e? Check it. Got it.) Well, it seems as though my daughter's biology teacher decided to assign a gigantic (g.i.g.a.n.t.i.c.) leaf project and my kid swiped my dictionary (a.r.y.) to keep her leaves flat while they dry. So now I have to open up a window (on my computer, not in the house. Although it is getting a little stuffy in here and something smells an awful lot like poop...) to so I can keep checking my spelling.

Life is never easy, is it?

And it's all because of my irrational fear of the spell check. I'm afraid I will get done typing a terribly witty and/or sensationally (ally? yes.) intelligent (ant or ent? Oh look, there's a bit of irony!) post and then do the spell check thing and it will disappear. Gone. Poof! Never to been seen again.

Which makes me think of a joke.

Jesus and the devil were woking on their computers, keeping track of the various people that died and the souls that were saved, or alternatively, not. All of a sudden, a big storm came trough and the power went out. (Now right here you have to go with it. Some people would say "Well, God is in charge of everything and wouldn't allow that to happen while Jesus was working on the computer." However, I pose this hypothesis [Yes, I checked it.]: Even though God might take the time out of a busy schedule to mess with the weather, the devil still put George W. Bush and Co. here to make sure global warming skyrockets, thusly messing up the weather patterns for the rest of human history. So there.) So the power goes out and the computers shut down. The next day, the devil sees Mary at the bar and says "Shit, man. That storm that came through yesterday? I lost my whole data base of souls. Everything. Gone." Mary says to him "Yeah, Jesus told me he was on the computer when the power went out too. Why don't you go ask him for a copy of his data base? I'm sure he'd give you one." The devil says "But I thought you said he was on his computer when the power went out too? Didn't he loose his dadt base?" And Mary...get this...says "Jesus saves."

A HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Um, if there are any priests here...I won't go to Hell for that, will I? No? Ok.


So here I sit, stinky, sweaty, tired and I think I have some booger balls in the back part of my arm pit. (Sis and cuz e, remember how fun it used to be to throw booger balls at each other? Golly, those were the days.) And, let's not forget, the possibly poopy boots.

Ah, me.

Anyway, again...

What I was really going to post about before I got distracted was this...

I was in the bathroom today - nothing gross, just a quick visit - and noticed that we have quite a bit of reading material on the top of the hopper. And, being the odd sort that I am, I thought to myself "What if someone came to visit - ok, someone who doesn't know us all that well. And why would they be visiting if they didn't know us all that well? I don't know. This is my daydream, lay off. - and they had to use the bathroom. Of course curiosity (iosi...ok) would get the better of them and they would at least take a look at what was there. What would the collection say about us as a family unit?" That's what I thought. And then I thought "I'll blog about this later."

So, folks, here's the collection of literature you would find if you came to visit and had to ... um ... powder your nose. And what I think it says about us.

1. Progressive Farmer - 2 issues. Well, the word progressive says it all, doesn't it?
2. Horse Illustrated - Equine people. Must have money.
3. Reader's Digest with the lead article "12 Ways to Keep More of Your Money" - Neutralizes Horse Illustrated
4. Realtor Magazine - A trade magazine is always impressive. (No one needs to know it's there in case the tp runs out. Kidding.)
5. This Old House - Obviously hip home renovators (only 1 n). (Hee, hee!)
6. Sing Out! - Either hippie or musically inclined. Or, quite possibly, the dangerous combination of the two.

1. Crosswords for the Connoisseur - Thinkers.
2. 101 Word Games - Thinkers that get bored with crossword puzzles. Or can't do them.
3. Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger - Um, what?
4. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce - Someone has a digestive tract issue. And a seriously messed up idea of light reading.

So, there it is, folks. Now I must leave you and go drive the garbage down to the end of the driveway. It's a long driveway so there's no walking it. And I have a problem with garbage smell so I have to hold it out the driver's door whilst I whiz down to the end, hopefully not knocking my door into any trees along the way. Kind of like stunt driving, if you will.

And I said I don't have an exciting life. Pshaw.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Ok...what is this all about?

Governor Rendell Offers Assistance Pennsylvania Style!

Harrisburg - At a press conference today in the captial rotunda, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced Pennsylvania's offer to the states devistated by hurricane Katrina. Flanked by the owners of Reading Anthracite Company and Lehigh Coal & Navigation, Governor Rendell detailed a plan to offer assitance in the clean up of the storm ravaged area.

"As you know, the Schuylkill County area of Pennsylvania is in the process of reclaiming land that was once used for mining. We are offering these coal lands for the disposal of any storm sludge that has to be removed from New Orleans and the surrounding areas. We think it's a real good idea. And we're going to bring it in by boat to the Philadelphia habor. Go Eagles!"

When asked about the potential toxins and contaminates contained in the sludge, Governor Rendell replied, "It's perfectly safe. DEP will say so. Can someone get me a photo-op with Nagin?"

Ok, ok...I made it up. But possible, no?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hey! It's Reality! And It's Punching You In The Face!

So, if you check out my sister's blog, you will see some links to articles and other pertinent reading. Go check them out. That's an order.

I'm having a hard time with this whole hurricane thing right now. And it's hard beyond all of the tragedy. I can't even fathom what is going on down there right now. I check it out on the computer and look at the pictures like the rest of the world. Then I go about my day and listen to all the armchair disaster workers griping about what isn't getting done soon enough, why don't they have everything under control already, why the hell are gas prices so high and hey, by the way, I can bitch and moan just don't ask me to change my lifestyle at all because that's just a little too much trouble.


The real kicker for me is that they KNEW. They knew this was all only a matter of time. No, wait. That's not the real kicker. The REAL kicker for me is that they are talking about rebuilding this area. Hello? It's a bowl, folks. And not just a bowl, but a bowl below sea level that is surrounded by water.

But we all know this.

And, yeah, I's someone's home and we can rebuild and we shall overcome because we're proud and we have sticktoitiveness and, by golly, no one, including Mother Nature, will tell us where we can build our cities.

Yeah well, let's see how far pride pays the bills. It is going to take a hell of a lot more than rebuilding. Global warming, anyone? Just how committed to rebuilding is everyone willing to get?

Why must we continuously look at problems in the face and pretend they aren't there?

Gas prices? You think they're bad now? You think there is chaos now? Do yourself a little favor and go Google "peak oil". There's something to keep you awake for a few nights. And guess what? It's not just going to happen somewhere else. No, my little Pollyannas. It's going to happen to me and you and your kids and your neighbors who you might get along with now but just see how good things go when life as we are so blindly used to living it is changes. For good.

Wake the hell up, America. World. You.

Ok, I'm getting off the soap box now.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

For Your Reading and Viewing Pleasure

I'm going to be a bit of a lame poster today and not really post anything of my own. I am, however, going to give you a few blogs to check out that I like to visit regularly. If I can remember how, I am going to link them on my list as well. So, without further ado...

I have no idea about what the author of this blog is saying since it is not in a language I can understand but, for the most part, it mainly seems to be photos anyway. And a picture truly is worth a 1,000 words.
Iranian Photo Blog

This is a blog I like to check out regularly becaue I just never know what I'm going to find here. Sometimes political, sometimes cultural, but always something interesting.

This gal is just a hoot to read.
Miss Doxie

This guy is someone I'd like to hang out with.
My Life As A Gas Station Attendant

This is a blog where people write down their secrets on a post card and send it in to this dude who then posts it on this blog. It makes me feel not so strange after all.
Post Secret

This guy has a lot of time on his hands. I wish he'd come stay at our house.
The Forgotten Technology

Ok, that's it for today folks. I realize that I have a rather scant audience as it is and I may be taking a big risk by posting links to much more interesting and well written blogs but oh well. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Just Some Kooky Stuff


I bet you didn't expect to hear from me again so soon.

Nothing exciting but just some silly things I wanted to make note of.

Today, I made my usual stop at the gas station/convenience store for breakfast (coffee and donut, thank you very much). I brought my purchase to the counter for check-out and the clerk rings up my item and then says "Did you have gas today?" To which I was forced to reply "No, I don't usually get that until after lunch."

It went unnoticed. Oh well.

Next item.

An attorney we work with called the office the other day and I answered the phone. During the usual course of small talk, he proceeded to tell me about a certain Jennifer Hyatte who tried to bust her boyfriend out of police custody and wound up killing someone in the process and how much she looked like me. This was all going on in the news a week or so I guess and, not having TV, I had no idea what the story was. After I got off the phone with him, I mentioned this to one of my co-workers and she agreed whole heartedly that, yes indeed, she looked just like me.

Curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to go online and try to find a picture of my twin. Now, apparently what happened is she changed her appearance after the incident so I actually found two photos.

So do I look like this?

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Or is it perhaps this?

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In either case, um, thanks a lot. That really makes a girl's day. My co-worker, after seeing the pictures I found, immediately swore that she saw a much better picture of this gal. Okaaaaayyyyy....... Like I said, thanks a lot.

And the last item for today.

Yesterday, hubby and I had appointments at the eye doctor. Need to be able to see and all that, you know. So while we are sitting in the waiting area, hubby picks up the magazine on the top of the pile and says "Look. We can sit and read Glamour together" knowing full well that I never read these kinds of publications. Anyway, being the good sport I am, I look over as he flips through, scanning articles such as How To Flatten That Problem Tummy, Why And How Often Do Men Masturbate?, Fashion Sense For Those Who Have None Of Their Own, etc. Finally, he stops on a page where the gist of the article is that people - readers supposedly - write in with their problems and some copy editor proposes to solve them in a paragraph or two. He points out one where a woman is so unhappy with her body that she has a problem wearing a bathing suit and is embarrassed to undress in front of her husband. Dr. Whoeveritis gives the advice that we must all learn to be happy with ourselves la dee da.

Then I pointed out the ad on the page facing the the article which is this...

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Oh, irony... thy name is Glamour.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Judgemental? Moi'?

Hi there everyone.

Since I don't lead an exciting life, all I have to post on is my rather mundane one.

Here goes...





Well! There you have it! Just another exciting day in the life of Mz. Quintessence!

Actually there is one weird thing. I had to go to the store for dog food yesterday morning. Since all I was getting was the dog food (and a COKE!) I was able to slip into the 10 Items Or Less line.

Now, being the curious sort that I am, I am usually that annoying person in line behind you - or in front of you - giving a sideways glance to see what you're buying. I think the items we buy in the 10 Items Or Less line tend to be those emergency things that we make a special trip out for and that can tell the world a lot about our lives. What things we so desperately need that we will take the time out of a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and go to the grocery store.

Well, the guy in front of me was buying orange juice and milk. He refused the offer of peaches for 79 cents a pound that I suppose all the clerks have been instructed to push on the patrons. Upon closer inspection, I noticed he was wearing dress pants and a striped dress shirt.

My take on this dude is that he is an attorney who leads a life only slightly more exciting than mine, mainly due to the fact that he is an alcoholic. That makes it more exciting, I mean. Not that it's only slightly more exciting because of him being an alcoholic, as in, if he weren't an alcoholic, his life would be much more exciting. It's just that it's probably as mundane as mine with the slight alteration of alcohol fueled days. Thereby giving it a little bit of variation. Am I getting this across? Is the horse dead yet?

So anyway...

I'm the next one in line. And naturally - or, actually probablly not naturally at all - I have to analyze myslef and what my groceries might be telling the world about me. Dog food and Coke. This tells me that my dogs have a better diet than I do. And, generally, I'm an ok person who is kind to animals.

Now the next guy...

I'm ashamed to admit that even I - the 10 Items Or Less Line Sociologist - troubled over this one for quite some time.

The next guy had a pack of cigars and a container of Metamucil. He was about a week and a half unshaven, wearing a dirty T-shirt and shorts, crazy hair and - as best as I can guess - in his 50's.

This guy vexed me at least until the clerk handed me my change when Ding! that light bulb in my head - which can go from a dull, lifeless glow to a brilliant blinding light with alarming speed - signaled the moment of clarity. All at once it was easily apparent.

This guy is a misunderstood genius, laboring away in his, um, laboratory, living off of beta-carboline loaded fried spam sandwiches because he is too busy devising a way to make a Yuengling powered engine to save his county from the looming peak oil crisis to take time out to have any kind of a healthy diet, resulting in ... well, you know ... the need for the Metamucil.

The cigars? Something to do while on the hopper.

And all of a sudden I kind of liked this guy's thinking. I mean, here he is, stuck what...5-6 hours a day? the john, and what does he do? He has a cigar. He relishes every moment of life. Doesn't waste a single minute. Even in such...circumstances...he manages to make it enjoyable and be dignified about it.

You go, Metamucil Guy! You teach us all a lesson about life!

And please, everyone? Don't ruin this for me by bringing up the possiblilty of a Hustler laying on the toilet tank lid, OK?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Fragility of Life

Or: Don't Put All Your Hopes In One Watermelon

Well, being that it's the height of summer, I suppose everyone's garden is bursting forth with excessive bounty. Right?

I wouldn't know.

Not that I don't have a garden. I do. Well, kind of. Let's put it this way, there's a garden on my property. I don't really consider it "my garden". Here's the story...

After we bought our property, there was kind of a general family consensus - extended family, that is - that our place would be a great spot for a sort of communal garden. Being the hippie sort that I am, I was all up for the idea. At first. Not that I'm against the idea now - that's not it at all. What is it? Well, a combination of things...

First would be paying the mortgage. See, there's this big, fat - really big, fat - mortgage bill that comes due every month. And, unfortunately, someone has to pay it. That someone would be us. I mean, not you and me, hubby and me. So, in order to pay the mortgage, there's this whole messy business of having a job. Strike one against the garden.

Next - I think I may have mentioned this before - but I live in a behemoth of an old farm house. You know, the one with a leaky roof and no heat in the winter? That one. And it would be one thing if I lived in it alone. But no, I share this delightful abode with a husband, two teenagers, two dogs, and three cats. All inside. Like within the walls. With all their assorted stuff, habits and hairballs. So, when the choice of "Shall I go weed that garden for an hour?" or "I have to wash the flippin flappin laundry - that was sitting in a basket waiting to be folded - again because one of the cats decided it would be a better spot to pee than the litter box!" comes up, the garden has to go on hold.

And then there's the whole thing that when I finally decide to break away from all this other crap, do I really want to spend my time bent over, standing out in the hot sun, playing Russian Roulette with the weather? How about I spend precious time that could go to painting the living room - I love to piant - digging around in the dirt, getting sunburned and bitten by mosquitoes so all of my hard work can be wiped out by 8 straight weeks of no rain and tempertaures in the 150's? Or, alternatively, 8 straight weeks of rain and temperatures hovering just above Absolute Zero? Um, no. The answer is no.

And last, but by no means least, there is the power struggle. I have a husband - who would plow the garden with an organically grown, grass fed horse - trying to garden with his brother who would spray Round-Up on all the paths between the plants. To me, this garden is somewhat akin to a small African nation. You never know who is going to be in power and I'm willing to hide in the forest so as not to get my head lopped off with a machete. Or chain saw. Leaking oil.

It is because of all this that I take my delight in my kitchen compost pile.

It doesn't get any easier than this. I put all my scraps in a bucket, and take it to a corner of what I think used to be a little kichen garden at some previous point in the history of our farm, and dump it. That's it. I don't expect anything. The funny thing is, since I don't really compost correctly and turn it ever like a good girl should, there are often things growing out of the pile. For instance, I have seen a healthy crop of garlic, decorative gourds and...

a Watermelon!

Well, the beginnings of a watermelon. It was about as big as a hacky sack. (I'm not too much of a hippie, am I?) So cute! My precious little watermelon.

And that is when I made the mistake I try not to make with growing produce. I got attached to it. I would check on it, making sure it wasn't getting attacked by the bugs that were vexing my husband and brother-in-law in the "real" garden. I would turn it once in a while to make sure the bottom didn't start to rot. I would lovingly caress it and talk about what college it might want to attend. Oh, the dreams we had!


Then, one fateful night, it all came to an end. I would like to say it came to a juicy, delicious end but that's not the case. Well, as least I wouldn't know if it was.

You see, on that dark and dreary night - I can still barely talk about it - I was finishing up milking the goat and took the milk inside. I came back out to put the goat in her pen and she was on her way to the compost pile. I hightailed it after her. She ran. I ran. She ran faster. I ran faster. She could hear me bearing down on her, my breath hot on her hindquarters. (This all took place over the space of about 20 feet, by the way.) She leaped into the compost pile just as I grabbed her harness. She locked her legs in that stubborn way she does when all she wants to do is wander around and eat instead of going to bed. I locked my legs and heaved with all my might. She budged. I began the step-heave method I've come to know as my routine for putting the goat away.


Through the compost pile.


I knew immediately what the squish was. I couldn't look down for I knew - I knew! - my beloved little watermelon was gone.

And, to add insult to injury, as soon as I stepped off my watermelon - Oh! Little Watermelon! You never even had a chance! - as SOON as I stepped off of it, the goat snatched it up in her evil little head and ate it.


I never had the urge to beat livestock before but I can see how it can happen.

I put the goat in her pen, called her some unflattering names, and went in.

After a while, I began to look at this in a philosophical sort of way. I tried to control the watermelon. I wanted it to be mine. It was taken from me. There you go.

So, instead of trying to control the goat, I am going to practice letting things be. I left her loose on Interstate 81 this morning.

Just kidding.

Monday, August 08, 2005

For Sale: One Identity, Slightly Used


It's me.

Remember me?

I figured it was time for an update on my very-oh-so-exciting life because I know you all are waiting with bated breath - or possibly bad breath? - to see what I've been up to lately.



No, really. When I say nothing, I mean nothing. Ok, I guess not really nothing because I am doing those regular things we all must do to get through life day to day. More like nothing really exciting.

At any rate...

You will all be happy to know that it would appear as though my dear hubby's identity is pobably not stolen after all. Because Lo! I have located the insurance and registration cards for my car (which, if you are just joining us for the first time, I thought were stolen when the car was. See below.) Yes, it would seem as though they were under the passenger seat of the car all along. Insert sheepish grin here.

How did I finally find them? Something rolled under there. Something that I apparently needed and could not just let roll into the netherworld of Underthecarseat and, when I reached under to get it, I had to pull out a bunch of stuff first and, well, there they were. Along with an old orange, the deed to my house, the cat that ran away a few years ago and Amelia Earhart. So, it would seem as though my hubby's identity is safe after all. Which leads me to this...

I have decided to sell my identity.

Or try to.

Now, the unfortunate part of this is that I am Catholic. Which, in itself is not the problem because I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there who could work with that particular feature. No, the problem with being Catholic is that I will be guilted into disclosing the truth about it - my identity, that is. This whole Catholic thing also works very much against me as I am in the sales business but what can ya' do?

So here's the pitch...

Looking for a change? Had enough of the normal life? Just can't stand yourself anymore? Why not consider being me? Just consider the benifits of the Ms. Quintessence Identity ...

- You get to be 5'2"! Sick and tired of walking into low hanging pipes in basements? Well, with your new Ms. Quintessence Identity, you don't have to worry about those nasty golf ball lumps on the head. No more conking the ol' melon getting into your car. Usually. And you never have to worry about reaching items on the top shelf at the grocery store again!

- You will get to work in the real estate business! Why go to that same old hum-drum job where you can count on a pay check every week? As the new Ms. Quintessence, you can deal with overly emotional people spending large amounts of money - or not - and never have a stable income again!

- You will be the owner of a big old farm house! Sick and tired of going home to a house where the roof doesn't leak, the basement isn't wet and you have hot water on a regular basis? As the new Ms. Quintessence, you can forget about that! Wake up every morning to the exciting possiblity of your shower being 55 degrees! Listen to the calming sound of trickling water during the rain storms - in your own dining room! Live in a home that would be an entomologist's dream! Milk a goat every freaking night!

- You will have a Victoria's Secret credit card! But your body will be such that the idea of actually purchasing anything from the store will make you laugh until you cry. Unless, of course, you are currently suffering from PMS in which case you will pretty much only cry. And eat. Bad things. Like ice cream and Jolly Ranchers and ice cream. And be very irritable in general. To everybody. Except the women who are the clerks at the grocery store because they understand. And your lovers - Ben and Jerry.

- You will own very desirable cars! See previous posts.

- You will have a very hard time remembering things! Bad memories? Childhood trauma? The grocery list? Your new identity will wipe your brain clear of all that clutter along with other unnecessary minutia such as important phone numbers, your children's doctor appointments, your mother-in-law's birthday and everything before 10:42 this morning. Clean slate!

- You will have very grand ideas! And no finances to see them through. Or the stick-to-it-tive-ness to even figure out the details in the first place. But this won't stop you from delving into home rennovation projects with wild abandon.

- You will have a great love for garlic! And no regard for its effects on your family or friends!

And last but certainly not least...

- You will have flat feet!

Just listen to what other people have said about being Ms. Quintessence...

"I've been Ms. Quintessence for over 35 years and that's a long time!" - Ms. Quintessence

"People think I'm pretty strange sometimes..." - Ms. Quintessence

"I could really use a break." - Ms. Quintessence

"Did anyone see where I put the car keys?" - Ms. Quintessence

That's right! And if you act now, I'll throw in my permission for unlimited use of the phrases "What the crap?" and "Flippin' flappin'" (ie. "I can't get this flippin'flappin' thing to work!")!

DON'T DELAY! This offer won't last long and there is only 1 identity left! It can be yours for the low, low price of ...



make an offer!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Prodigal Car Returns Home

Hi again.

Ok, so as you may have guessed from the title, we got the Camry back.

My insurance guy called Wednesday morning and said "Good news! They found your car! It turns out that it was just towed after all and you can pick it up at the Navy Yard."

Now, I'm not exactly sure what part of this was supposed to be the good news.

Finding the car? Well, ok, I'll give him that one. But, to be honest, hubby and I were already online picking which car we were going to get as a replacement. I had my eye on a cute little Mazda Millenia for 3,000 clams. Oh well.

They towed it? Is that the good news? Because the last I heard, the towing of a car rarely turns out to be any kind of good news for the owner. As a matter of fact, from my understanding, the towing of one's car is exactly the opposite of good news.

Pick it up in at the Navy Yard? Um, in New York? Is that the good news? Well, after having gone there I can emphatically state that no, it is definitely not good news to hear you are going on a littly tripsy to the Navy Yard to try to recover your car. No siree.

Anyway, I figured I would first call my cousin and let him know the car turned up. It's a good thing I did because he gave me the best advice for dealing with the fiasco that was about to ensue. He told me that New York is basically like a very large Pennsylvania Department of Transportation office and "if it doesn't say it on the paper, you can't do it". As it turns out, that is exactly true. And the funny thing is, to get your car, that is supposedly stolen, you have to coordinate the police department with the Navy Yard with the insurance guy and they all have different pieces of paper and none of them say the same thing. In fact, they all say something different.

I called the Navy Yard first and asked what I needed to do to get my car. The womam I spoke to said to bring $225 and my registration. Then I asked where it was towed from. She told me that it was towed from some location far, far away from where I parked it. Ha! Stolen! I told her my registration was in the car which was stolen. To which she replied "Dat's okay, you can jus come here an' git it outta yo car." I tried to explain that I didn't know if it was in my car because it was stolen. My car. Was stolen, you see. So I don't know if I even have a glove compartment any more let alone the contents that are supposed to be therein. To which she replied "Hmmmmm......" After a while of back and forth with her, she told me to call the police department and get a copy of the report. Ok. I can do that.

Or not.

Because, as it turns out, the policeman, Officer Oats - McCarthey, NEVER FILED THE REPORT!!!!! That's right. No report. Because he apparently didn't get my message with my license number. Or, maybe he did but he just didn't get around to doing the paperwork. So, now I had a real problem. The piece of paper that the gal at the Yard had said I needed to have one of two other pieces of paper, neither of which I had. And since you cannot reason with a piece of paper at the Navy Yard, you are shit out of luck if you want your car.

In the mean time, I figured I better call my insurance guy and see what I do if I can't drive the car. You know, if they took the engine along with the glove compartment. So I call him and ask and he says since it was towed, they don't cover anything.


Um, what?

He explains again that, since my car was just towed and not actually stolen, they don't really cover anyting.

Um, no.

I explain to him that oh yes indeedy my car was so stolen and what do you think I am? Some nincompoop who doesn't know the difference between having a car stolen and having a car towed? What do I look like? Or sound like since you can't see me? Anyway? He wasn't having any of it. He was all Mister No Tow.

I called the Navy Yard. Again. And the woman was "Oh, you're the one with the Camry." And I said "Not really but I'm still working on it" and she thought I was all kinds of funny. Anyway, I asked her to verify where it was towed from and she told me it was picked up in a land far, far away on a street called Eastern Parkway. And I know - even if I don't know my way around Brooklyn - I know it wasn't parked on Eastern Parkway. So I asked her if there was something she could print out because my insurance guy was getting a little bit of an attitude with me. She was very understanding and told me to have him call and talk to her. Directly. Because she is the woman with the paper. Ha!

So, I call the insurance guy and he was all "Sure, I checked and it was towed from a different spot so you just go and look at it and here's my number and you call me if we need to get you a tow truck." That's right, insurance guy! You will tow my car if it doesn' have an engine, glove compartment and registration card.

Crap! I still didn't have the card. And then I remembered that the renewal form was sitting in front of me. Ho, ho! Things were falling into place now. Now all I had to do was get to Pottsville and pay an exorbitant amount of money to get an on-the-spot renewal, drive to New York and get my car! Cake!

However, on the way to the renewal place, the pressure started getting to me. And my hubby. By the time we got to Pottsville I was ready to just take a bus "and take care of everything myself! Harumph!" Fortunately, cooler heads eventually prevailed and we decided to take our aggression out on some snack food instead.

The next part of the story is really boring because it involves driving to Brooklyn. Which takes about 59 hours. And isn't very exciting. Especially when you did it two days before. Then it is anything but exciting. More like excruciating.

Fortunately, my dear cousin set me up with spot-on directions to the Navy Yard and we made it there without incident. They only let one person back to get the car because, I guess, "two people" is not an option on the paper. Since the car is in my hubby's name, he had to go do the claiming. I got to sit on the sidewalk and watch as unfortunate car after unfortunate car was brought in riding the hook of an NYPD tow truck. I gave my hubby strict orders to call me on my cell phone when he got to the car. I anxiously awaited the news.

Tick, tick, tick...

Tick, tick, tick...


Me: What? What is it? Is it a wreck?
Him: No. I'm not there yet. I'm still in line.
Me: Oh, ok. How long do you think it will take?
Him: It's a slow process.
Me: Oh. Got ya. Ok, call me when you get there.
Him: Ok

Tick, tick, tick...

Tick, tick, tick...


Me: Well? How is it?
Him: I'm not there yet.
Me: Oh, well where are you?
Him: Waiting for the shuttle to take me to the car.
Me: Shuttle?
Him: Apparently there's a lot of cars.
Me: Oh.
Him: Where are you?
Me: Still sitting on the front side walk.
Him: Stand up and turn around
I stand up and turn around.
Him: Do you see me?
Me: Oh, there you are.
Him: Ok, here's the shuttle.
Me: Ok, well have fun. Good luck.

Tick, tick, tick...

Tick, tick, tick...

Tick, tick, tick...


Me: What? What's the story?
My son: What?
Me: What?
My son: What are you doing?
Me: I'm waiting for daddy to get to the car.
My son: Is it wrecked?
Me: I don't know yet.
My son: Ok, well call me when you know.
Me: Ok, bye.
My son: Ok.

Tick, tick, tick...

Tick, tick, tick...


Me: Well?
My son: Well?
Me: What?
My son: Did he see it yet?
Me: No! I'll call you. Don't call me. I'll call you.
My son: So you don't know anyting?
Me: I will call you. Ok? I promise.
My son: Ok

Tick, tick, tick...

Tick, tick, ti...


Me: Who is this?
Hubby: It's me. What do you mean?
Me: Nevermind. What's the story?
Hubby: Flat tire. Dead battery. Looks like they went through the glove compartment.
Me: That's it?
Hubby: Hold on. Let me check. (Opens trunk.) looks like they ransacked the trunk. Everything is all over the place.
Me: Um...
Hubby: What?
Me: Um...they probably didn't ransack it. That's how I keep it.
Hubby: mumble, mumble, mumble
Me: Anything else?
Hubby: Doesn't look like it. Let me change the tire and get the shuttle people to jump the car and I'll be out.

After a little while, he came out with our little rolling stone and we looked it over again. As it turns out, there was a little dent on the front driver's side, the blown out tire and a very loose ignition. As far as personal belongings, they took the owners manual (what?), the registration and insurance, the change out of the ashtray and a case of water out of the trunk. Apparently none of my other belongings hold much value in the city. Well.

So, folks, there it is. The conclusion to my very exciting tale of Grand Theft Auto. No large loss or damage, hubby got to see the Navy Yard and our little Camry is hopefully over its case of wanderlust. I love a happy ending.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Just A Quick Post

Hey everyone.

Thank you all for the kinds words and encouragement on the whole grand theft auto thing.

I am going away for a few days - nothing to do with the recent episode, although it is going to be a welcome respite from reality right now.

When I come back, I will fill you all in on the Tale Of The Prodigal Camry. My cousin kind of knows where things stand but it is just too involved for me to write at this moment as I am supposed to be on the road in a matter of hours to a music festival in upstate New York. But, I promise that when I get back I will fill you in all the excruciating details.

Take care everyone and have a nice few days!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Apparently, I Have A Reputation

Hi everyone. This is a super crazy long post but it's so kooky I just have to tell the whole story.

Well, as some of you know, my dear little daughter was just off, traipsing about Europe with a bunch of high-school band people, playing concerts and living the high life. She's been gone since July 3rd (well, technically since June 30th to the University but they didn't really fly out until the 3rd) and arrived home today.

You would think that nothing could even compete with the fact that one's daughter is arriving home from Europe let alone eclipse the event. You would think.

But no.

You see, the problem is, that nothing - NOTHING - can ever happen normally for this family. Nothing.

Did I mention nothing?

Here's the story...

Ok, so there's the whole beginning of the going to Europe thing...getting ready, passport, shopping, everything, everything, everything...and our last item in the actual parent part of this was going to the farewell concert and dinner at Millersville University. We drove down, had dinner, saw the concert (which was very, very good) and then went back to my daughter's dorm room for our final goodbyes. After that, we went out to the parking lot, got in the car and...nothing. The battery was dead. Sigh. And since I was silly enough to be lured by low milage rather than a standard transmission when buying the car in the first place, I now had to go find someone with jumper cables. The first guy I ask says "Jumper cables? Oh, no. I don't carry them. Actually, I don't ever anticipate being in the position to need tham." Then he got into his ass-mobile and drove off to Ass-land.

Then I spied the parents of two boys that were kind of from our area that we got to meet before. I asked them and being the good coal region sorts they are, of course they have them and of course they don't make us feel like idiots for needing them. That part was understood. Off we go.

Now, other than phone calls, faxes, emails or adding money to the cash card account, our role was pretty much done until the end of the trip. The tour offered a shuttle bus from the airport, making various stops across the state for those parents who did not want to drive out to JFK to pick up their child. I figured that a kid who just got off a 7 hour flight from a trip where they just did a huge amount of travel on a bus is not going to want to ride yet another bus but, rather, ride in the comfort of her own family car, enjoying the company of no one but her mother. I mean, wouldn't you?

I happen to have a cousin and cousin-in-law who live in Brooklyn. Since my daughter was flying into JFK, I figured I could take this opportunity to drive out a day early, pay a visit, enjoy some fun with the relatives and then be at the airport in plenty of time the next morning to pick up my travel-weary daughter. That's what I figured.

So, I get directions, drive out and meet up with my cousin and his wife. We have a very nice evening, eating some awesome Thai food and then seeing the sights of Brooklyn - at least what you can see at night. And in the haze. Because it was super hazy. And hot. And hazy. Did I mention hazy? How about muggy? Humid? All of those. But despite that, I had a great time.

The plan for the next morning was that my cousin would head out to work, I would hang with his wife until she had to leave (around 10ish) and then I would leave as well and go to a beautiful little beach until it was time to pick up my daughter. We spent the end of the night going over all of the routes from the apartment to the beach, the beach to the airport, the airport to home. And alternate routes just in case. I was so prepared.


The next morning - why this very morning it was - my cousin left for work. The plan was set in motion. I had coffee with his wife and we got ourselves ready. I skipped taking a shower because I was going right for the beach, no sense in that. We walked downstairs and said our goodbyes and she headed in one direction and I in the other. I crossed the street and walked a half block. And then I became kind of...confused. Here's a little replay of my thoughts...

"Hmm, hmm, hmm....whew it sure is hot. Can't wait to get to the...
Look left. That looks like the fence I parked next to.
Look right. That is definitely not my car.
Look left. That sure looks like the fence.
Look right. That isn't a Toyota Camry.
Look back. Ok, cousnin's wife is watching. Maybe I parked in the next block. But I'm sure I was parked in front of their car.
Look back at cars. That sure looks like their car. That definitely isn't my car in front of it.

So I decided I better check with my cousin's wife to make sure I was not, in fact lost in one block. Fortunately she saw me standing there bumfuzzled (slipped that on right in, didn't I?) and was headed back my way. I met her back in front of their apartment building and explained that I must be confused as to where I parked the car. She walked back with me and said "It's right up here in front of... Oh my God! WHERE'S YOUR CAR?!!!!"

My thoughts exactly.

So then we both kind of stood there bumfuzzled.

"Um..." I said, "I be stolen."

Cousin's wife: "OH MY GOD! YOUR CAR! WHERE IS IT?"


So then we figured there might have been some small chance that it was towed because it wasn't parked illegally and none of the other cars there were towed and really it didn't seem like it was towed as opposed to robbed but do we really want to even admit that yet. We headed back to the apartment to call the loacl police to see if it was towed and if not, well, it was stolen and could you please find it because I have to pick up my daughter very shortly at the airport.

While she was on the phone trying to convince the police guy that they towed a '91 Camry didn't you please, please, please, I was on the phone to home because, wouldn't you know, I don't even know my licens plate number and what are police going to think of that? I could tell them that it was the '91 Toyota Camry with Pennsylvania plates. Oh yeah, and the bumper sticker that said "Support Your Local Farmer". Oh yeah, and the big sign that said "Steal me please because I belong to an out-of-towner-back-woods-hick who has nothing better to do than pick huckleberries and milk goats." That sign. Ok, it's not an actual sign but you can see it just the same if you're looking through the eyes of a crafty city car thief.

So I call home and get my son. I start walking him through the whole treasure hunt of where to find the insurance policy information, hoping, hoping, hoping that somewhere on it there will be my license plate number. I knew it would eventually happen... and then he asked it.
Son: "What do you need it for?"
Me: "Um...the car? Well... Um. It was um...kind of ... well, it seems to have been stolen."
Son: "What?!"
Me: "The car. Um. Stolen."
Son: "Did you leave the keys in it?"

Alright. I may not be the brightest bulb in the shed but, for cryin' out loud, I know better than that. I mean, really. And I told him so.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that it wasn't on the insurance information. Anywhere. My son asked if he should wake up my husband (who jsut finished working 3rd shift) and I told him to just let him sleep and we'll check in later.

My next attempt was with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Or, more appropriately the Pennsylvania Department of We Can't Help You With Anything But We Won't Tell You That Until After We've Kept You On Hold For Four Minutes And Then Run You Through A Crazy Goose Chase Of Menu Options Only To Tell You That You Have To Go To A Local Office And Fill Out A Report And Pay Five Dollars And Then We'll Tell You Because We Are Pretty Much Going To Hold Your License Number Hostage Because We All Suffer From Power Issues. That's what they should call it. So when the very nice Officer McCarthey - who looked a little bit like John Oats acting in a police prime time drama - came to fill out the report, he couldn't really do anything. He tried to be hopeful though, when I said "Um, I'm pretty much never going to see my car again, am I?" He assured me that it is very possible it was towed and the paperwork on it didn't reach the central office yet. Then I put it to him this way: The cars in front and in back weren't towed and it wasn't parked illegally in the first place. Then he said "A '91 Camrey, right?" "Yep" says I. And he just hung his head in a moment of silence. For he knew, as well as I, that my car was no longer even a car. It was a mass of parts already making their way around the city. At any rate, he gave me his number and asked me out to dinner. No, not really. He told me to call when I got my license number so he could finish the report. Will do, Officer Oats. I mean, McCarthey.

By the way, this whole trying to track down the license plate number took an obscenely crazy amount of time and involved at least 10 phone calls to my son trying to instruct him to check various parts of the house because maybe, just maybe... In the end, it was all to no avail.

Well, my cousin's wife had a big meeting so she had to head into work. She waited until my cousin came home because now, he had to drive me to the airport - not even the beach - and then we would come back to the apartment and figure out what to do next.

So we get to the airport just as the plane lands but, since my daughter was coming back into the country, we had a good 40 minute wait anyway because of customs and whatnot. We sit down to wait and guess who I see? Go ahead. You'll never. It's the folks who had to jump start our car the night of the dinner. I clued my cousin in on this previous history and he agrees to keep the whole grand theft of my auto on the QT so as to not have me appear as a total freak. The first thing they ask is whether or not we made it home alright the night of the dinner. "Sure" I say, "no problem at all." In all fairness, they didn't ask if I had any problems today. We chat with them a bit until the kids start to come from baggage claim.

I must say, it was wonderful to see my daughter. She was literally beaming. It was so obvious that she had a great time. I couldn't wait to hear all about it. Unfortunately, there were a deal with first. She said her goodbyes to her friends - the friends that were riding the shuttle bus home - and we headed out to the parking lot. I told her we were going back to my cousin's apartment and them we were going to figure out how to get home.

Daughter: "What do you mean figure out how to get home?"
Me: "Um...figure out. That what we have to do."
Daughter: "I thought you drove out."
Me: "I did."
Daughter: "So why aren't we driving home?"
Me: " would appear as though...the car? Well, it seems to have been stolen."
Daughter: "WHAT????!!!! Our car??!! STOLEN???!!!
Me: "Um...yep."
Daughter: "Did you leave the keys in it?"

This is not fair. Or necessary. It certainly isn't constructive.

We got back to the apartment and, after some discussion and much soul searching, decided it would be best to take the subway to Port Authority and catch a bus to Somewhereclosetohome. My cousin gave my daughter some duffle bags to transfer her belongings for ease of public transportation navigation and walked us to the subway station. He gave me one last set of directions and we were on our way.

Now, I have to pause here a moment and thank my cousin and his wife - who, by the way, could not apologize enough for the poor behavior of the New York City car thieves - for, first of all, their wonderful hospitality and, second, their patience and help with my dilemma. You two were EXTREMELY helpful and wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. They did everything possible to assure safe passage back to Pennsylvania for me and my daughter. A MILLION BAZILLION thanks!

We made it to Port Authority, had a slice of pizza, bought tickets and were on a bus by 4:30, merrily making our way home. Because, you know, I knew the last thing my daughter would want to do after a 7 hour flight from a trip where they just did a huge amount of travel on a bus, would be to ride another bus home. So, there you go.

But wait. It's not over yet.

I knew my husband had to go into work for 6pm and I still didn't hear from him. I called my son again and told him to go make sure his dad was up for work and maybe tell him to give me a call too. As it turns out, my husband, who rarely sleeps more than 6 hours, picked today to have a sleep-a-thon. Well, good for him because he was in for a bit of a rude awakening.

He finally called me at about 5:35.

Him: "Hey, you wanted me to call. Is something wrong?"
Me: "Um...kind of."
Him: "What is it?"
Me: "We need someone to pick us up at the bus station in Allentown around 7 o'clock."
Him: "Why, what happened? Did the car break down?"
Me: "Not that I know of..."
Him: "Well what is it...I have to get ready to leave for work soon."
Me: "The car? The one we used to have?"
Him: (impatiently)"Yes..."
Me: "It's stolen."
Him: (more calmly)"Stolen?"
Me: "Yes."
Him: laughs
Him: "I'm sorry. I don't mean to laugh but...stolen? Our car? Why would anyone even want it?"
Me: "For parts, I'm guessing."
Him: "Ok, I'll call into work and come get you."
Me: "Ok, bring son. He has the directions to the bus station." (From one of additional 20 phone conversations.)

My hero. What a guy. And so, we would all get to bring my daughter home from Europe after all. They picked us up at the bus station, after a long, hot day - one, I might add, that I did not begin with a shower. They pulled into the bus station and there was joyfull reunion all around. We loaded all the bags in the back, climbed in, and we were on our way - finally - home.

I think it was within the first mile from the bus station when my husband asked, "Did you leave the keys in the car?"