Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shopping with a Caterpillar

I have this....this...thing living in my house. Usually I can him Mac, but today let's call him Caterpillar. See, he is a newly minted teenager. All of 13 years old and soon to complete the eighth grade. You know what that means? Next year he is in HIGH SCHOOL. I am way too young for this.

So why is he a caterpillar? Because he is somewhere between an egg and a butterfly. Once he was small and easy to control, and someday (please) he'll be really nice to be around. Still waiting for him to go into a cocoon, though. That would be cool. I could just lean his cottony pod in a corner somewhere; let him gather dust. Maybe decorate him for Christmas with a festive strand of colored lights and that silver tinsel that takes me right back to childhood.

The best part of this scenario? Cocoons can't talk. This boy? He has a MOUTH on him. Truly I have no idea where he gets it. It's crazy. Anyway, the mouth. Constantly in motion, usually spilling words laced with sarcasm or disgust at all things familial. His baby brother is a bacterium. His stepfather is an ogre. His mother is a prison guard with a cattle prod. Sucks to be him. Of course, I cannot relate at all. Because I was never 13. Ever. I was born when I was 30. Pissed my mother off, me being so big and all.

Back to the issue of shopping with a caterpillar. Since caterpillars are in a state of transition, shopping is not just difficult, it is amazingly, painfully, horribly impossible. Today we set out with a mission: find pants, shirt, shoes for the upcoming eighth grade end-of-year dance. He needs to look hot for all the wimmins. They are attracted by the shininess of his braces, and that sweep of hair that completely covers one eye.

Anyone care to guess how many stores we went to before we found pants that fit? This boy got his mother's long legs and short waist, so pants with a normal "rise" tend to go halfway up the ribcage. Not a good look on me; not a good look on him. And shopping for pants in late May? Not so easy. Old Navy? No luck. Marshalls? As if. TJ Maxx (oooo, the jewelry counter...snap out of it, mom!). Forget it. Goodwill? (yes, I tried there) Not a chance. Finally, pants at Belk. Forty percent off, no less. The shirt was easier - 75% off at Dillard's. Woot!

Here comes the tricky bit. Shoes. The caterpillar is in the early stages of puberty, so right now he is about 5 feet tall, but he wears a men's 8 1/2 shoe. Since September his feet have grown THREE sizes. Put a black dress shoe that big on a boy that short and the result is...not comical, exactly. (thinking, thinking...) Well, it just looks wrong. As if he might be part hobbit. Although he liked a couple of pairs of regular leather slip-ons, they resembled snowshoes on his feet. I had to move into the next aisle so I wouldn't laugh at him. Caterpillars are very touchy. And if you step on them, that green goo comes out. Nasty.

Finally I convinced him to buy a pair of solid black Chuck Taylor high tops. At least he can wear them again. And if he doesn't, I will.

Pictures. Isn't he cute? Kind of like Cousin It: The Middle School Years. Or a cyclops.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Yes, I'm a Hussy

A different blog asked for submissions of the worst scheduling nightmare ever. I shared mine there, then thought I'd copy it here. Because I crave humiliation.

So here it is. This happened years ago. I am old now. The shame lingers.

As a recent college graduate, I was lovin’ life. Had my own apartment, a decent -albeit boring- job, a nice boyfriend. But there was this other guy. For me, this other guy was just a friend. I was up front with him and he understood that although I would go out with him on occasion, we were not dating. He said he was fine with that. Still, I knew he had a horrible, huge crush on me.

So one Tuesday evening my boyfriend arrives at the apartment at 7:00. We are just hanging out with my roommate and her boyfriend, playing cards and discussing where we want to go for dinner. I’m uneasy for some reason I can’t identify. The doorbell rings. 7:30. Suddenly my feelings of unease intensify and my stomach falls through the floor.

(Yeah, you see it don’t you? You know who is at the door.)

It is the other guy. No, he wasn’t there on the wrong night. I had set up two dates for the same night. Totally, 100% my fault.

I go to the door, open it one inch, and slither out (like the slimeball snot-covered slug that I was). With a cold sweat breaking through my deodorant and a face afire, I tell guy-friend that I have another date. Then I walk him to his car. And sit with him. While he CRIES.

This bit I didn't put in the other blog because it shows how truly shallow I was at the time.
It was all I could do to not tell this guy that his orange car clashed with his red hair and he should consider trading it for something green or blue. Hopefully I'm a bit more mature now. And as poetic justice would have it, my hair increasingly matches my silver car.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Don't tell PETA!

Get a load of my summer boarder. His name is Chico and he is my stepdaughter's chinchilla. He is cute and soft . Did I say soft? I meant SOFT. SOFT! I sooooo understand why people make coats out of these things. Come to think of it, I'd rather have a chinchilla blanket. That way I could roll up in it while I watch TV shows that cause my husband to make strange noises and leave the room.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Root Canal

I had my first root canal today. Hooray. I made it to the ripe old age of 41 before enduring this fabulous experience. I am falling apart one bit at a time, yet according to my calculations I'm not even middle aged. The women in my family tend to be long-lived, with most making it well into their 90s and a few passing 100. The men don't fare so well: their hearts tend to give out in their early 70s. (mental note to take out a larger life insurance policy on husband)

Anyhoo, back to my root canal since I know my molars are of interest to simply everyone (hey, initially I typed "toot canal" but that is something else entirely...snicker...junior high humor). My paternal grandmother died with all her teeth; my maternal grandmother with none. I want to keep my teeth. This one (points to offending tooth), was iffy. After finishing the root canal, the dentist thinks that with a crown it will be fine.

ASIDE: Yeah, a crown makes everything better. I know because I have three of them. Crowns. Well, actually tiaras. Shiny and sparkly. I like to wear them on road trips. Or when I clean the house. Nobody can be bored or depressed when wearing a tiara.

But we aren't talking about that kind of crown, are we? Words like "crown" and "root canal" make me feel old. I am dealing with the normal vagaries of age: cellulite, less skin elasticity, losing my ability to eat an entire box of Twinkies at one sitting without a single ounce being added to a frame once referred to as "skinny." But the possibility of losing a tooth? Old. Old and pitiful. Soon I'll be a crotchety crone, chasing children out of my yard while screaming at them in a drooly slur because my lips have sunken in around my two remaining fangs.

Bleacher Butt

Yes, boys and girls, it is BASEBALL season! I loooove Little League. There, I said it. I love watching little tiny boys in baseball pants trying their hardest to learn the great American sport. So with a sigh of contentment I settle on the dusty aluminum bleacher on a warm spring evening.

Around age 10 or so, Mac threw down his glove and refused to play any longer. Truthfully, it was probably the best decision for him. The other kids were sprouting up like weeds and, thanks to the genetic crapshoot of life, Mac is a late bloomer like his mom. Additionally, group sports just aren't his thing; he is much more an individualist. He prefers art, writing, skateboarding, riding his shiny new bike with trick pegs on the wheels, and making small electrical devices out of miscellaneous hardware he finds in the incredibly cluttered garage (that garage will be the topic of another post, I'm sure). As irritating as he is much of the time, I want to respect the person he is, not the person I think he should be.

Rob is a bit different. He is a people person. Seriously. He likes to have people around ALL THE EFFING TIME. This means there are constantly little boys in my yard. Stealing popsicles out of my freezer. Missing the toilet. Running around the house and screaming. Playing dodgeball with my yoga ball (which is the only use it gets). As a result of his sociability, Rob enjoys sports if for no other reason that that he is with a dozen or so of his peeps.

I love the fact that Rob's pants, handed down from Mac, have holes in the knees from sliding into base, even when not necessary. Because sliding is fun, of course. And because he knows how much I enjoy doing laundry. (the pants are double thick at the knee, so don't be thinking that my child is wearing holey pants) Did I mention that the baseball field is red dirt and pants must be white? Why doesn't the town athletic association just switch to black pants and save me some time? My son is going to grow up thinking that you have to yell "Daaaammnit!" several times whenever you wash clothes.

I love the way Rob refers to his...ummm...cup and jockstrap as his "special underwear." I love that when the boys are in the field, I can't pick out my son unless they turn around so I see the jersey numbers. OK, maybe I don't like that part. I've been known to cheer for the wrong kid. More than once. In the same game. I love buying sunflower seeds in the shell from the snack bar because eating them eases the tension of a tight game and keeps me from throwing full bottles of Gatorade at the other team's coaches.

Rob's team played their fourth game this week. They lost, 19-15, but who - tell me - WHO was the star of the game? Yeah, you saw him make that awesome play at third, didn't you? And that second awesome play at third? And that third awesome play at third? That was number 11, my boy. See him in the picture at left, demonstrating what his coach calls the "sit on your toilet!" position. Probably not a Cal Ripkin-in-training, but maybe he'll hang with it a bit longer. Because sitting on the bleachers all spring does great things for the width of my behind.

UPDATE: We won our last game 21-16. So far this season: 2 wins, 1 tie and 1 loss. Not too shabby.

UPDATE, Take 2: Things are getting shabby.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pet Peeves (Not Pet Peeve's)

Working in a high school provides ample opportunities for this English major to be tortured by bad grammar. Truly, I worry about some of these kids. Not that I am Miss Perfect Grammar Queen 2007, but I hope I have a grasp of most basic concepts related to the written word.

My pet peeve of the day: the overuse and misuse of possessive apostrophes. Is it really so difficult to understand the concept of possession? Not Linda Blair, head spinning around, spewing pea soup possession, but the simple act of indicating ownership.

You're riding down the road, enjoying a fine day and there it is. Stupidity on Display. Hanging from a rusty mailbox is a lovely wooden sign, carefully carved, which reads, "The Smith's." The Smith's WHAT? The Smith's house? The Smith's mailbox? The Smith's grammatically incorrect sign? In order to save what little sanity I have left, I mentally insert a final word in order to complete the phrase. Say, maybe, The Smith's Hacienda. Or, if I'm feeling particularly snarky, something more like, The Smith's tacky concrete donkey holding brightly colored plastic flowers in its saddlebags.

Notice that I didn't type "it's saddlebags." Because its/it's is the tricky one. Maybe I should say, it's the tricky one. This is the case where you don't use an apostrophe to indicate possession. Only when indicating a contraction of "it is" or "it has." Not fair, creator of English grammar. Not fair at all. How can you expect me to love you when you are so inconsistent and unpredictable?

Apparently the possessive apostrophe bothers other people, too. My sister recently e-mailed me about a sign on the bathroom at the beauty salon she frequents. It reads, "Employee's Only." She said next time she goes, she will take along some Wite-Out. Maybe this particular peeve is genetic, but I don't think so.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Like Them...Too Much

This isn't a food blog, but when I find something that I lllloooove, it is incumbent upon me to share. These cookies qualify. Recently the PTSA (Parent-Teacher-Student Association) provided a potato bar for us, and these morsels were offered for dessert. They must have been made by angels.

Yesterday the PTSA had an end-of-year luau. Don't even get me started about all the food. They fed us shrimp that would have jumped from the ocean voluntarily onto the grill had they known they would taste so good and make so many so happy. There were these fancy salads wrapped in long, thin sections of cucumber. And, again, there were these cookies. I had a brief urge to grab the tray and lick them all to prevent others from having any. Unfortunately, rationality reigned and I only ate my share. And maybe someone else's, but just one person's, truly. What exactly would be a fair number per person? Hmmmm....

2 egg whites
Dash salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut (bag or can)

Beat egg whites with salt and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff. Fold in coconut.

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet (or line pan with non-stick Reynolds Wrap). Bake in slow oven (325 degrees) about 20 minutes or until light brown. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

Bring them to my house.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I'LL show you a cute dog...

OK, I know that there is this blogger who is famous. I love her blog and read it. And yes, her dog is cool and will balance things on his head. But CUTE? I wanna show you a CUTE dog. With no further ado, I present Pepper Coyote Half-Ear, sassiest terrier mix on the East coast.

Sometimes I go to the animal shelter just to look around. People are like, "How can you do that? Go there and look at those animals?" Because I like to torture myself, maybe. Or perhaps I think that stooping down to pet a dog or cat makes their day a tad brighter. So I do, I go to the animal shelter when I have no intention of adding to my home zoo.

On a nice July afternoon, my niece and I cruise the animal shelter in my parents' hometown. And there is this thing; this thing in cage number one. I see a butt. I can't tell the size, breed or color. All I see is what I assume to be dogbutt. She has turned away from the world, because the world turned away from her. I go to the desk and say, "I'd like to see the dog in cage one, please." Without looking up from her computer, the kind and gentle public servant growls (Working with dogs a bit too long, dear? You growl and bark rather than speaking?) "Is there an 'A' on the door?" I am perplexed. "A what?" Bark, "An A!"

I wander over and look. Yes, there is an A. Does it stand for "adoptable"? I don't know and I'm not going to ask the growly lady. She huffs, and slowly prises her behind from the desk chair, where apparently it has fused with the stained canvas. She goes into the dog room - visitors must look through the glass at the dogs, like a hospital nursery - and gets the dogbutt.

We are handed the world's ugliest dog. She shivers. Her bald body resembles that of a hog, with a few wild, bristling hairs scattered on black and grey speckled skin. What fur she has is no definable color: individual hairs are randomly part black, part grey, part tan. Her ears are squared off at the top and heavily scabbed, a result of biting flies the animal control meanie says (and the vet later confirms). She is sickly thin, yet proceeds to vomit all over the floor. Twice. And she smells horrible. Far, far beyond "dirty dog" and into the realm of "pork chops left in the sun for a week in August."

It is, of course, love at first sight. My mother gene kicks in. Or my rescue complex. Or maybe I just want the animal control meanie to know that she did not rise from the chair in vain. My sister arrives and names this miserable beast "Pepper" because of the speckled skin. We later add "Coyote" because she looks like a wild animal. And "Half-Ear" figure it out. Luckily the fur on her ears grows past the chewed off tips and this particular abnormality is no longer obvious.

I sign the papers, pay $95 ($75 is refundable if the vet determines that the dog is already spayed - she is), and ask if I can PLEASE wash the dog before leaving. If I take her in my car the way she is, the smell will work its way into the upholstery and make me gag forever. Suddenly the animal control meanie is the animal control angel. She gets two different kinds of doggie shampoo, a couple of towels, and tells me the dog's life story.

Pepper's life story is thus: a deputy found her on the road and brought her in. That's it. That's all we know. Pepper's body tells the rest of the story. She is spayed so someone once cared for her. She is in horrible condition, so she hasn't been loved in a long time. She is desperate for affection, so she still has hope. We take her home.

For months she is skittish. We move slowly around her. Touching her side or trying to pick her up usually results in a nasty reaction and sometimes a bite. It may be that she was injured during her vagabond time; possibly there were some cracked ribs. One afternoon she bites Rob badly on the leg and almost gets a ticket back to the slammer for that.

Our patience eventually is rewarded. Pepper is still a bitch, but she doesn't bite at all. She is bossy and loud and we love her. The kids like to form the wiry hair on her head into various wild styles and Pepper puts up with it. Sometimes she chases the cat and he plays along like he is really scared of a dog that weighs less than he does. She is prancy and proud and proof that the best dogs in the world are the ones that find US.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Gritting My Teeth

Two months ago Mac got braces. Yippee! Happy teenager! He has braces! Yeah, I'm not kidding, he was excited to get braces. Already the change has been dramatic. They wires could come off today and we'd all be happy. But then the orthodontist wouldn't get to charge me a bajillion dollars and might even have to refund 42 cents.

Mac's mouth is now worth more than my car. Couldn't they have just melted down my 1992 Honda and made the braces from the scrap metal and wires to save me a little bit?

The scary thing is that his brother also was referred to the orthodontist. His eight year old brother. Apprently the fact that Rob's top tooth (the only one he has so far, which allows a nice gap for spitting and holding chopsticks) hits the bottom tooth directly is a problem. A problem that could result in either or both cracking and having to be pulled. And me, being the great mom that I am, didn't notice that this alignment already has caused the top and bottom teeth to wear at an angle. Significantly. *sigh*

Since these are permanent teeth and I don't want to consign Rob to a life as a redneck at such a young age (despite the genetic predisposition - he already has a lifetime hunting license), off to the orthodontist we went. When Dr. C reviewed Rob's panoramic X-ray I could almost hear the cash register "CHA-CHING!" sound bouncing around in her head. The film looked like a handful of Scrabble tiles dropped on a table . Rob apparently is slow to lose teeth and therefore has all kinds of big boy teeth jumbled up in his gums, just waiting for their chance to shine (and get cavities, no doubt). For now he has a retainer, and Dr. C wants him to have 6 (six...SIX) teeth pulled after school gets out. Did I mention SIX? TEETH? PULLED? Oy vey. Two of them are loose, but they could be loose for months because he is not the obsessive-tooth-wiggler his mother was.

By the way, he has already lost his first retainer by utilizing the classic "put it on your lunch tray and then toss it in the trash" trick. I really enjoyed spending that additional $150. This one I will superglue in place. But, really, why bother? Because I may be putting a Mercedes in this boy's mouth before he is old enough to drive.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Really Good Diet Food

Here is a very easy recipe that is yummy and doesn't involve fat or sugar, my two best friends that I can't hang with anymore. Because they were bad for me. You know how some friends seem great, but are really going behind your back and screwing up your life? Well, that's what fat and sugar have done to me. They've gone behind my back...and settled on my ass and thighs. So they are verbotten. Except for that tiny, tiny sliver of coconut pie I ate last night.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (Because that gooky stuff in the can is GROSS. What *is* that? Looks like what I have to wash out from between Rob's toes after a baseball game.)

1 bag frozen corn, thawed or microwaved and cooled

1 large jar of chunk salsa, whatever hotness level you so desire. Me? I'm mild. Ask anyone.

1 medium onion, diced. Vidalia or another sweet onion is super yummy.

Fresh cilantro. I'm thinking about a tablespoon. But this stuff smells so good I can't stop chopping it. I like to rub a bit behind my ears.

Powered garlic - as much as you'd like. I like it. Come over here and smell my breath.

Some cumin if you want. I want.


Mix, refrigerate, eat. Serve to your friends and they will rant and rave and not believe that this is soooooo easy.

Zoo Trip

OK, here is a quiz for you. Two pictures at left. Which one is an ape who is likely to spit at you and throw his poo? Which one is a pubescent teeanger who hides in his room, refuses to cut his hair, and rolls his eyes?

Friday was a teacher workday. Boy howdy did I need the break. The kids at school are really getting antsy as the end of the year approaches, and I have exhausted my ten month supply of patience for high school drama and backtalk.

So, teacher workday = I ain't working today. Off to the zoo with the neighbor and our collection of boys. Weather was overcast and quite cool, which is actually great zoo weather. There is so much walking involved that it can be miserable on a hot day. The animals were all mellow; the kids were all wild.

My favorite animal of the day was this, the Red River Hog. I'm trying to drop 15 pounds, so being this close to bacon was just exciting for me.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

New Trend - Gerbil on a String

Is this a dog? My sister thinks it is. Nevermind that it weighs less than my plate at dinner last night. Nevermind that it doesn't bark, it squeaks. I present Maggie May, a gerbil on a string. Have to say, though, as cute as this thing is, gerbils on strings may be the next big thing. Like the pet rock I had in fifth grade.

Or the marble I named Glory because it was red, white and blue. Glory and I went to the mall all day one Saturday. I walked around, nudging Glory with my toe and having a lovely time. Until Glory rolled under the ice cream cooler at Baskin Robin. Yeah, I was heartbroken. Maybe if my mother had let us keep pets I wouldn't have needed to develop bizarre anthropomorphic relationships. Or maybe, as I am often told, I am just weird and have too vivid an imagination.
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