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Friday, September 25, 2015

Five for Friday: I'm just DONE (and #1 is a shocker...even to me.)

Hello all and happy Friday!

Cue The Band Perry's great song:  Done


I've been thinking about this song quite a bit this week and I realize there are a number of things with which I am finished.  Over. Done.  No more room in my life for these things. (Not surprising, when this song came out I listened to it almost every day on my way to work and even now I still think of NBM at Stuff, Installed, oh so very fondly.)

If you know me, a few things on this list aren't going to shock you.  I was personally surprised that pumpkin spice didn't make the list.  But then again it's not pumpkin spice's fault that people have lost their MINDS (yep found cat litter that, while it didn't use the words pumpkin spice, was a seasonal fall cat litter.  Because...cats look forward to when their crap buckets smell like falling leaves and pie?)

Anyway, here we go:  Five things that no longer have a place in my life because I am done!

5)  Pantyhose and high heels

Granted I haven't worn either in a couple of years, but recently I thought it might be a nice idea to have a "go to" dressy outfit for a funeral or a wedding or something.  I went high heel shopping and after trying on a couple pairs realized that at my current weight class I'd be doing more harm than good to a perfectly fine pair of shoes and as for pantyhose...well they never made them exactly in my size anyway. I was either too short for my weight (and had extra "pantie" all rolled up at my waist, not very attractive) or I was too heavy for my height (and I would shred ever pair of hose I had simply by expanding them too far.)

DONE

4) Commercials

God bless DVD's, the DVR, and Netflix.  I spent the entire summer catching up on TV shows sans commercials.  I powered through 11 seasons of Grey's Anatomy in two months. How?  I watched not one second of advertising. And guess what?  I'm not going to watch one more second ever. I'm not going to watch commercials. I'm not going to watch TV shows about commercials. I may actually watch the Superbowl FOR the game!

I'm tired of skinny women selling me diet aids and men looking fifty different kinds of dorky but women all looking like they once won a beauty pageant.  I'm tired of being told I'm a bad parent if I don't buy my children this toy or if I do feed my children that snack.  I'm REALLY tired of watching commercials for medical issues that weren't even WHISPERED about when I was a kid.  (We had the Oscar Meyer bologna kid singing to us. This generation knows all the side effects of penis enhancement pills.)

I already start watching most of my shows later so I can whip through commercials.  I've started doing it with sports.  So yeah.  Way to go advertisers. You had almost two years of caring about my age group (cuz once you're 49 you may as well be dead to the advertising people) and you lost it.

DONE

3)  French fries..and possibly onion rings.

I've long wondered, if it were socially acceptable to just eat ketchup or mayonnaise straight from the bottle, would any of us eat French Fries.  Well, I don't need to wonder anymore because I'm not going to eat any fries any more.  I might even give up onion rings. Neither fried dish has made my stomach happy in a while, and I realized the other day as I forced down an order of waffle fries, that I really like mayonnaise and ketchup, not so much the fries.  

With restaurants offering more choices in place of fries, I may just branch out...try the fruit cup or the bean salad or maybe just not have a side dish. 

DONE

2) Maury Povich.

I know. I used to praise the white trash wonder that was the Maury
And I'm not the audience anymore either.
Povich show.  I loved the paternity tests, the lie detectors tests, all of it!  I watched it with my children using the show as a cautionary tale.  (See what sex before marriage leads to?  A paternity test on Maury!)  


The last couple days I've watched the show, after not watching it for a few years due to my job.  But now I have my afternoons a little more clear so after lunch and a healthy walk, I sat down to what I thought would be a nice 42 minutes of truth telling and human debate.  

Unfortunately, Maury's allowed his show to disintegrate into what Jerry Spinger's show turned into several years ago.  The couples I watched today screamed at each other using a language I don't recognize as English (or any other language for that matter)  while the audience members all shouted their opinions.  The result was you couldn't hear or understand what anyone was saying...and all you saw was Maury laughing.

Fun for him because he gets a nice check.  Not fun for me anymore because if I wanted to see people screaming incoherently at each other, I'd go to Walmart.

DONE...and that brings me to 

1)Walmart.
No...I wanted cashiers who spoke clearly and paid
attention to me.

The jokes about the societal freak show that is Walmart have been around for a long time.  Gone are the days when the commercials for the store showed us a little old grandma who got all her crafting supplies from Walmart and made a sign for her door that said, "If I'm not here I'm at Walmart."

Gone are the days, too, when Walmart posted signs showing us small American businesses that were still in business because Walmart believed in America first.  

Yeah, now it's just cheap crap for strange people.

A few years ago we got a Super Walmart and I thought for certain I would never shop any other place ever.  Except I realized that you really don't want to go to Walmart after dark...it's a strange place after dark where there are fewer employees, the aisles are mostly abandoned, and the people who are there are...scary.  

I've started to think that about Walmart during the day.  You know all those movies where the cops go to a shady part of town to a bad apartment building, which is denoted in film by bad lighting, bikes in the halls, barking dogs and screaming babies?

That's Walmart all the time.

The screaming kid thing gets to me I'll admit it. I've raised my kids.  Sure, I took them to Walmart when they were little, but that was still back in the charming days of Walmart, slightly before people got into open fist fights in the health and beauty department.  Now it seems like every kid in the store is screaming like they're on fire and the parents, for the most part, have left the howling offspring in the carts to go rummage through the $5 movie bin.  I know this because I've been armpit deep in that bin with those same parents.  And it's all I can do to not yell at them, "HEY, you wanna go deal with your yowling spawn?"

But it's not just the screaming kids. Lately, the adults have been screaming randomly at Walmart.  I was there one evening, a Sunday evening, not yet 7 Pm, and a gentleman was yelling into his phone over and over, "I TOLD YOU TO NOT CALL ME!"  


See, now I would have said it once and hung up.  But no, this guy ignored his screaming four year old (of course) to have this high volume yelling match with his phone. Started getting wildly vulgar in the language department.

 Reminded me of that scene in "Joe Versus the Volcano" where the boss is on the phone yelling about whether or not a guy can get the job.   (and since I know none you have has seen it, here you go.)

I thought the screaming guy with the phone was an anomaly.  I was wrong.  I was at Walmart earlier this week and there was a group of adults, and yes, they seemed like they were from some sort of group home.  But the entire forty minutes I was there I knew exactly where this group was because they would shriek every five minutes or so.  At first I thought someone was being hurt. Then I realized, nope, just Walmart.  (For the record, I've worked in group homes, and I've worked with groups of small children. It is possible to take both groups to a public place and keep them from alarming those around them.  So I'm not being mean, I'm just saying Walmart's become a place where people just don't seem to care whom they are annoying or alarming or frightening.)

But let's not talk about Walmart's customers for a moment. Let's talk about their employees. Mostly, let's talk about their cashiers. These are the people who are supposed to be the final thing you see when you are in a Walmart, they are your final impression.  They are the face of Walmart.

And in the last two years I have yet to get a cashier who doesn't either mumble incoherently or ignore me altogether.

The mumbling is annoying because I thought something was wrong with my hearing. Nope, apparently DICTION at Walmart is not important. So they have a script for each customer.  "Hello." 

"Did you find everything okay?"

"Your total is..."

"There's website at the bottom of your receipt, please take the survey and let us know how we did."

The last several times I've gotten mumblers who basically treat this interaction as one long sentence to be mumbled far below the decibel level of the screaming People of Walmart progeny.

But I suppose that's better than when I get a couple cashiers in neighboring lanes who are so busy talking about their party the night before or the next night or on Tuesday or WHATEVER, that honestly scanning your laundry detergent is just too much of an inconvenience for them, so hey, they wind up shutting down their lanes (I see you there, you know I see you, you can't all hide behind the racks of magazines) and you wind up at the self check...which would have been one of Dante's ring of hell had Dante been to Walmart.

Yep, sorry Walmart. DONE

When I told Skippy I was done with Walmart, he was surprised. He said, "WHY?"

Then he thought about it for one second. "Oh, because Target is so much better?  Except it's not open 24 hours.  Except you don't care about 24 hours anymore."

Well put, boy. Well put.

So there you have it. Five things I'm just done with.  If you see me at a Walmart or eating French fries or sitting through commercials or wearing high heels and pantyhose or watching Maury Povich, call the authorities. Clearly I'm being forced to against my will.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I'm blaming Siri and the Fitbits.

Good afternoon all!

They say couples start to drift apart after the kids have grown and moved away. They say couples realize they really don't have anything to talk about once the kids are out of the house.  And they say that as couples are together longer they touch each other less.

Yeah, all that's happening and it has nothing to do with our age or the kids.

If Hubby and I get married (and it's doubtful since we've been married for 25 years and were together for more than 4 years before that. Basically I was an infant when we met and started dating.) I'll have Siri and our FitBits to blame.


It actually started with the FitBits.  Shortly before Hubby left for Colorado for two weeks, I got us these lovely little wristwatchy things that measure our steps and our calories burned. I'm sort of addicted to checking my stats against those in my friend circle.  (I don't do all that well against two waitresses and the librarian who walks her dog six times a day.)  

When Hubby got home from his two week trip we had a very nice dinner and then a romantic walk along the river in the evening. It was then that I realized there was a problem with our romantic walk. There would be no hand holding.  

See, I wear my FitBit on my left wrist as many people do because you're sort of supposed to wear it on your non dominant hand.  (Fewer "fake" calories burned or something.)  Any, Hubby also wears his on his left hand.  If we hold hands, one of us isn't going to be able to swing our arm freely thereby getting the FitBit to measure each and every one of our steps.

And thusly, we've started to stop touching each other. That can't end well.

Nothing, you preposition dangling home-wrecker.
But the conversation thing was not something I saw coming. Hubby and I used to be able to talk, and pretty much debate, about anything.  And I mean anything.  Our most famous debate was, "Do trees talk to each other?"  (I said yes, Hubby said no, and I count this as a win for me, thank you Peter Jackson, JRR Tolkien, and those magnificent ENTS of yours.)  Our debates would go for days, years, rarely reaching a resolution.  But we always had something to talk about, sort of like when sportscasters go back to "Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?" when they have nothing else to talk about.

Well, enter Siri.  Siri, the oh so helpful little automated hag on my husband's work phone.  Sure,
we've settled some debates recently by using the "brain" which is what we call the Internet on our phones, but Siri has a voice.  You don't have to type anything into Siri, you just have to ask her.

So the other night we were walking home from choir practice or something at church, not holding hands because, you know, steps on the FitBit, and I asked Hubby a question. Doesn't matter what it was. He didn't know the answer. And instead of saying something ridiculous and hoping I'd buy it, which has been his thing for most of the 30 years we've been together, he said, "I don't know. Ask Siri."

End of conversation.

End all conversations?

Well, let the record show, if our marriage dissolves, it had nothing to do with us or money or the children, and everything to do with Siri and the FitBits. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

If you broke it Neville, you should at least not point out the fact that it's broken.


Good afternoon.

Yesterday was a really good day for me, blog idea wise.  I actually had to flip a coin as to what I would post today and what's getting posted tomorrow. I even thought about just waiting until Friday and doing a "five for Friday" but then I realized both of these things were too much just by themselves.

So here's the winner of coin toss. I doubt my Tuesday night choir director is going to think he's a winner.

I belong to a really small church body.  Most people outside Wisconsin don't know much about it.  But it's a very musical church body and, being as small as it is, anyone who's been a teacher or a pastor pretty much knows everyone else because they're either related to other teachers and pastors or they've gone to school with other teachers and pastors or both.

In my case, roughly 87% of my relatives are either teachers or pastors in this small church body and yes, I was even a teacher once  (they put her in charge of children's education?  WHAT?).  Bonus, my mother's older brother is VERY musical and was, during his career, sort of a musical force in this church body.

I'm telling you all this to explain why I have zero confidence when it comes to my singing.  See, my whole life my parents put me in school and church choirs. Not because I have any talent but because it's what you do in our churches.  I learned the piano, and later I learned all the percussion instruments just to annoy my parents.  I can read music, I can play music. I have a voice that's suitable for a church choir.

But back when I was 13 I didn't realize I wasn't a great musician.  Why?  Because my choir director then, a former classmate of my uncle's, assumed that I'd inherited my uncle's and mother's singing capabilities.  (Not sure how he figured that...oh, and there's no way he'd know from hearing me since I sat LITERALLY behind a wall in the choir rehearsal room.)  Anyway, he decided he'd have me try out for the very select traveling choir.  As a freshman in high school this was a HUGE boost for me, and pretty much solidified my dreams of becoming a world famous rock star. (I was an idiot.)

I was not, as you might guess, super subtle about being picked for a tryout.  Yep, I blared that all over campus. (wow...was I stupid, and I had a big mouth).  I made plans with actual members of the traveling choir to be their best buds forever. (Looking back, I really hate the 13 year old me.  She was so...optimistic and confident.  Moron.)

This is what I sound like in my head.
The day of the tryout came and I was all set to step into my God-given roll and a superstar high school singer.  One tiny problem.  The tryout didn't go so well.

"Um, do you have a cold or something?"

"No."  (I was in perfect voice, I felt.)

"Your voice is really thin. Sounds like you're a third grade girl."

Had the director stuck a fork in my neck I could not have been more crushed.  But then he said this:

"I thought you'd be better.  I mean, look at your uncle."

And I was officially done with singing for a very long time. I went through the motions, I was in choirs both church and high school and college, but the reviews of my voice didn't improve.  I had a high school director later in my life who said I sounded way different from how I spoke, but he put me in the traveling choir because I was teacher's kid and didn't cause trouble.

  In college I joined the scrub choir just so no one would expect much of me. I had to take a vocal
This is a little closer to what
I sound like in real life.
class and the professor, who happened to direct the super cool travelling college choir, kept telling me I had a great voice. So I asked him for a try out for the choir.  That went pretty much as I expected. No cool traveling choir for me.

Let's flash forward 25...okay 26 years.  I've been a soprano in my church choirs for a long time. I sing soprano, I tell people, because I can belt those high notes.  (And because, since I do like going to rehearsal, I don't actually have to practice that much since church choir sopranos usually since melody.)

A couple Christmas's ago, our wine drinking choir...I mean our contemporary choir, sang "Mary Did You Know?"  If you've heard the song, you know it's got some high parts.  Well, our fearless leader, let's call him Neville, wanted MORE POWER from the sopranos on that high A.  And we gave him MORE STINKING POWER,

And after that service I couldn't sing, AT ALL for eight months. Not one note.  I dropped out of that choir, and pretty much faded from the old people's choir...I mean the ADULT choir.

A couple years passed. I stayed in the adult choir and muddled through the soprano lines, not really wanting to admit I could no longer hit a high A. I could no longer hit an F without pain.  Neville had broken me.

Recently I decided to rejoin the wine drinking choir...I mean the contemporary choir...again.  But this time I came back as an alto.  My cousin, a boy, once pointed out that the alto voice in a choir really didn't do much.  I sort of see his point, although I come from a long line of alto singers. Sopranos have the high notes, the tenors have the high notes and the bass section get those fun low notes. It's a rare thing to hear anyone say, "wow...the altos in that choir really rock!" Being an alto isn't a glory spot in a choir.  And, given my history of choral singing, I was really, really okay with that.

So we had practice last night.  Again, I'm not a big fan of actually GOING to practice, but I've been trying to be good. It helps that Hubby is in choir with me.   Apparently, however, I missed last week...Hubby wasn't around and the people who live across the street from us who are also in choir said they honked and waved at me while I was sitting in my swing. I thought they were just being neighborly.  Anyway, last night we were going through a song I didn't know terribly well, but I was doing okay. I find if I sit next to, let's call her Suzanna, I do okay.  She sits behind me in the old people choir, and next to me in wine drinking choir.  I thought I was doing okay. And then:

Neville:  Okay, let's have the upper voices, the altos and sopranos, just at the bottom of page five.

So we sing.

Neville:  Okay, let's just have the altos.  Same spot.

So we sing again.

Then there's this silence. 

Neville:  Would you altos like to try this again?

The four of us  (Apparently I'm not the only who skips choir practice from time to time) looked at each other.  Then I had to say it:

Sarah:  No, but we're starting to feel a little picked on.

Neville:  I'm not singling you out.

Suzanna:  You sort of are.

Neville:  Well, I'm hearing something that's flat.

If you've been in choir you know that the altos rarely get told they're flat.  And most of the time if they need to go over something it's because they ask to go over something.  The alto section is literally the comfy sweats of  the choir. They just...work. 

Now, I didn't realize I was giving Neville, "the eye" but apparently I was.Probably because I was feeling all the feelings I have when someone is expressing disappointment at my singing.  (And I realize he was just trying to find out where the flat sound was coming from...and my guess is it came from me. Never had trouble singing flat before...until Neville broke me.)

Neville:  Well, I don't want to do anything that's going to get me into one of Sarah's posts.

And from the back row comes this:


Hubby:  You can't avoid it Neville. It just happens.

So there you go, Neville and all the members of the wine drinking choir!  See you next week at practice!  (maybe.) 

And let you think I was kidding about the wine drinking part, here's a shout out to our favorite local winery.  Many of the members, including Hubby and me, belong to their "case club."  And yes, it means exactly what you think it means.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five for Friday: Things I've never done before...but now I have! (Sarah's a Single Parent #3)

Don't get too used to it.
For those of you who have been reading my last couple posts, you know Hubby has been on vacation in Colorado, visiting his sister and hiking mountains and being a mountain man.  I've seen the pictures of the beard, I'm very afraid.

Meanwhile, here at home, I've been doing quite a lot. Peaches moved into her own apartment and this weekend she'll be one of 35 ladies competing in the Miss Wisconsin/USA pageant.  Kind of a big deal considering she's been anti judging people on their looks since about the age of 6.  

I managed to narrow this down to a list of five things I've done in the last two weeks that I've never done before, and all because Hubby was gone and frankly, the family would have died if I hadn't.  (Well, okay, maybe not died. I mean, Peaches doesn't live here anymore ((sniffle)) and Skippy barely takes notice of me as he goes about his day.  And the cats, well, they'd figure out how to open the food box soon enough and one of them already knows how to turn on the faucet, so they'd be okay.)

So maybe this list isn't that impressive.

No, wait!  It is!  It's totally impressive!

What's more impressive is that Skippy and I, in this last week, have decided that we are the tidy members of the family and Hubby and Peaches are to blame for the general sense of disarray the house is usually in.  It's pretty much a palace of tidy and clean in this place!

But I digress.  So, here are five things I've never done before, and now I have because I've had to.

5)  Mowed the lawn, with a gas powered motor.

If you read my blog from last week, the first one of my Single Parent series, you'll know I attempted to mow the lawn while Hubby was away. Last time I mowed anything was 15 years ago, I mowed the tiny patch of grass we called a front yard at the old house and I used a manual "push real" mower.  This time I had to start the thing, which involved several argumentative texts to and from Hubby and then I muscled through half until he decided to tell me the thing was self propelled, as long as I held the handle a certain way.  (Yes, my neighbor gent had a blast laughing at that.)


4) Reserved, rented, gassed, and DROVE a large vehicle.


The car I  drive.
Sure, I've moved many times. But there's always been a MAN involved in the move and men love to drive large trucks.  I never had the hankerin' to drive anything larger than a minivan.  And you've seen my Cube.


The truck I drove.
Well I managed to reserve a 10" Uhaul, pay for it, (No thanks to Sassy Pam at the Uhaul place) get it home (thank you to Shawn who backed into my driveway) and THEN, I put gas in the thing and THEN I backed it up a hill and into a tiny parking spot  (okay, two spots, but the building guy wouldn't let me park on the GRASS, which is where the TRUCK really wanted to be. And thank you Jolene for laughing at me when I was done!)  And I did all of that all by myself.  (You know, with some help from my friends.)  I was terrified of the thing, I mean, I've never sat eye to eye with those pick up truck guys.  I now see the appeal of sitting higher than everyone else.  Kind of cool. Of course, I was not a fan of the noise the thing made when the only thing in the back was the box dolly.  (Yeah, that was loud.)  Nor did I love the feeling of driving a fully loaded 10" truck around city block corners.  (All Peaches stuff in there?  Too much
responsibility on my part.)



3)  Cleaned out the cat boxes, ALL OF THEM, every day for nearly two weeks.

We have four cats.  We have three cat boxes.  The cats really only use one of the boxes, the one outside my office, mostly because the other two, the one on the porch and the one in the basement NEVER get cleaned.  And this turns into a thing because one of the cats is very picky about where he puts his pooh. He will not pooh in a box that's not pristine.  So we have "gifts" outside our bedroom door...a lot...because the cat boxes don't get cleaned often enough. Ahem.
An artist's rendering of our cats.

See, I'm third in line in the poop scooping order. Hubby is first, then Peaches, then me, then some local teen we can hire, then Skippy.  Well, Hubby's gone, Peaches moved and I'm broke from paying the Teen Team of movers to unload the truck.  So I'm it.

Well, I've spent the last 12 days scooping pooh and changing litter.  And we've had, drum roll please....ONE. ONE GIFT ON THE CARPET in 12 days.  

Yeah...what now!


2)  Declared war on Pumpkin Spice everything prior to the first actual day of Autumn.

You read the post, but let's talk about this.  I've declared war on a few things:  Christmas lights up after Ground hog's Day, lounge pants in public, women who wear pants with words on the butt, things like that.  But now I've found a new nemesis and it's the turning everything orange and spicy when it's still 90 degrees (F) outside!  If the AC is on in Wisconsin it is too soon to be pulling the sweaters out of storage and drinking and eating and wearing and spraying all things pumpkin spice. It makes me sweaty and itchy just thinking about it as I sit here in a t-shirt and shorts and it's late at night.  It's still summer.  We have about 9 months of winter around here,  Let's not rush it. There will be plenty of time to drink pumpkin goo and eat pumpkin bars and pies and soups and salads and breads until we all turn into a nation of Oompa-freaking-Loopahs!

Whew!

1)  Set fire to my back yard. (Sort of)

Yep, only two other people know about this.  And if no one tells Hubby, he will never know.  See, we have a hot mess of a back yard.  The city cut down five or six pine trees along the property line to put up new power lines.  Our back yard neighbor, after unsuccessfully trying to bait and switch Hubby into paying $1000 for stump removal that we now know never happened, put up a fence.  Meanwhile, I allowed the back patch (okay the back third) of the yard to turn into what I called a "Butterfly garden."  (It was really just a massive patch of weeds.)

Well, I sort of "hired" Skippy this week to cut down the weeds, clear them as best he could, then maybe I'd rent a rototiller and turn up the dirt and level it.

Turns out, Skippy and I might be tidy, but we are also massive procrastinators, and by the time he got to the clearing part (yesterday) we realized that no rototiller we could rent and use was going to manage the plot of tree stumps ruts, and really deeply rooted scrub trees.  Skippy did his best, but the weed whacker gave out, it was too bumpy to mow and any digging he tried to do was pointless.

What to do? How does one clear a back yard mess?  

Weed killer.  We have it, but we couldn't find a nozzle to spray it.

Bleach.  Skippy's friend, OTHER OTHER DAUGHTER, (the only other one who knows what we did) suggested this might not be good for the environment and stuff.

Fire.  Burn it all.

We liked this idea.  I've always said fire was cleansing and Skippy likes to think he's a dude who can manage a controlled burn.

Thing is...it's been wet so everything back there is green.  And moist.

We need some sort of starter fluid!

Fun fact: Hubby does not use lighter fluid when he uses the grill. he does this thing with newspaper and a metal tube and stuff and honestly I never thought about it. I mean, who doesn't have lighter fluid?  

We don't

What we do (did) have is a bottle of lamp oil. Remember 1999?  Remember the Y2K bug?  Yeah, I got a bunch of oil lamps  (gave everyone in my family one for Christmas that year) and I bought some lamp oil. Still have (had) about a half a bottle.  It's flammable.

We tested our theory about burning green weeds with red lamp oil in the front yard...you know, near the cars.  We lit a couple weeds. They burned. Awesome.  TO THE BACK YARD!

We were safe. We unrolled the hose and filled two cat little tubs with water.  And then we began our magnificent controlled burn.

We tried using those candle lighters. I used to sell Party lite so I have roughly two dozen of these things in my house.  Well turns out, they aren't much good on a breezy day when you're trying to light a fire ten inches from your face but you don't want to singe off your eyebrows.  So Skippy came up with the brilliant idea of tossing lit matches onto well lamp oiled weeds.

By the time we were tired of the project, we'd managed to scorch exactly 2.3 square INCHES of earth in the back yard. We'd drained at least three of my lighters, four of five dozen wooden matches and half a gallon of lamp oil.

After that we decided maybe we should talk to a professional about the project.

So there you go.  Five things I've never done before. And I may never do again. Except for the pumpkin spice thing. IT IS ON!


ONE LAST THING:

Today is the 14th anniversary of the September 11th attacks here in the US.  While it was a terrible tragedy on many levels, the thing I remember in the days that followed those attacks was a singular sense of unity both in the US and in the world.  For a short time we Americans took a break from yelling at each other about politics and oil and marriage and actually took care of each other. And we felt the support from the world community.

It's a shame it took the horrifying, unprovoked, devastation of so many lives, families and businesses to bring us together like that. As we remember this anniversary, let's try and remember feeling unity with our neighbors instead of division, peace instead of acrimony.

Maybe then the terrorists truly will not win.  God bless America.  God bless us all.





Monday, September 7, 2015

Sarah's a Single Parent #2: Moving.

Good evening.  

I've spent much of the day on the couch because, as it turns out, I'm not 22 and I can't load and unload a moving truck in 90 degree heat two day sin a row without being on the couch the third day.

So Peaches has moved out.  She's in an apartment.  This week she's pretty much alone since her roommate is out of town and will be moving in next weekend.

This past week was an odd one for me, since I had to do a lot of things I haven't done, mostly because Hubby has always taken care of them.  But Hubby is in Colorado seeing his sister, so the move and all the details of the move fell to me. I know a thing or two about moving, but still...it's a bit of a task.

By the time Friday night rolled around, I'd secured a Uhaul, boxed up a few things for Peaches, and had a sturdy crew made up of 3 high school and two grade school boys to help us move the furniture out of the truck and into the apartment.  (and thank you to my friends, Jolene, Beth, Karen, and Melissa for sending me their sons.)

Friday night was all about loading.  And for loading the truck all we had was Skippy and Peaches and me.  And since both kids had to work late, the loading of the truck was not going to happen until after dark.

But before we get to that, let's talk about my Uhaul driving skills. Prior to Friday I had none.  In fact, on Friday, I had no navigational skills, as my friend Shawn will attest.   She was the one who was nice enough to say she'd drive me to the truck place. I thought I knew where the truck place was.  It was at the self storage place on Bluemound.

Fun fact:  There are three self storage places on or near Bluemound.  And we stopped at two of them before getting to the right one.  Pam, the truck lady, was amused.

Pam, the truck lady reminded me of an older version of my friend Julie, a southern transplant take no
Had to put a couple cars on the lawn to clear up the
garage and the driveway.
crap sort of lady. By the time Shawn and I managed to find the truck place, Pam was laughing at me and giving me grief in a way only a lady of Southern US extraction can.  Then we had to sign the truck contract.  She asked me a few questions I expected, but then she asked me how many miles I was going to drive.  I told her about 15 total.  Then she gave me my bill. It was $15 more than I thought it would be. 

A minute later, I realized why.  "Oh, you're charging me a buck a mile."

"No shit, Sherlock," she said with a charming Southern accent.  "You thought you'd get those miles for free?"

Shawn was laughing.

Shawn stopped laughing when Pam asked her a bunch of personal questions, like name, phone number, address.  Turns out, I needed an emergency contact in case I died in a fiery crash with the truck or  stole the truck and went on a cross country spree, they needed a second person to contact. And, since Hubby is in another time zone, and Shawn was right there, Shawn was my contact.

The next thing was the amount of gas in the tank.  Pam said, "You've got 15/16ths of a tank."

What I heard was, "You have 1/15 of a tank."

This took up the entire driveway.
It took her a few minutes to explain that no, the tank was nearly full, and I'd best return it with the same amount of gas.

What I heard was, "You have to pull this vehicle up to a gas pump and put gas in it."

I was terrified. But hey, moving is moving, and there was no one else who could do it.  So I signed the contract, paid the bill, and got in the truck. First thing I looked for was the rear view mirror.  

In a 10 foot UHaul.

THERE IS NO REARVIEW MIRROR.

Okay. next thing I had to do was look out the windshield. Which I could do.  Because of the giant cardboard price tag they have in the window.

That took me a hot minute to get out. 

At this point I couldn't hear Shawn, who was driving my Cube, but I knew she was laughing at me.  Which is a big part of the reason I had her back the truck into my driveway.  

After the kids got off work, we got to loading. I should mention this week it's been hotter and more humid than it's been most of the summer. Yay us.

Skippy has helped a number of friends move, so we put him in charge of getting stuff in the truck in a manner that would keep things from shifting while I was driving on Saturday.  Not an easy order given the fact that I wasn't used to driving a truck around corners. There would be shifting.

When you load a moving truck in the middle of the night people take notice. I never realized how many people walk late at night. Or maybe, like when there's a fire truck on our street, everyone just same out to stare and point.  Yeah, I probably deserve that. When there's a fire truck on our street, I'm the first person to leave my house and stare and point.

Our neighbor Al came out of his house at about 11:30. The kids, at this point, were singing the theme music from "The Office"  (no words, just a lot of screeching melody) and cussing at each other and boxes.  We weren't exactly a subtle bunch and it was late.

"What's going on here?" Al asked me.

I felt like that comedian Bill Envald, who does that thing about people asking stupid questions and then you say something sarcastic and then you say, "Here's you sign."  

So when Al asked me what was going on, I wanted to say, "Oh, we're just getting ready for a formal tea party.  Here's your sign."

But I didn't. Mostly because it was 11:30 at night, I'd been up since 5 AM and I was sweating in a way I hadn't in a long time. Very pore clearing, but also very stinky.


We finished loading about midnight.  We showered and went to bed.

Skippy worked Saturday, so I had to line up a moving crew because I knew there was no way Peaches and I were going to unload that truck and drag her stuff up a flight of stairs.  

Loading and unloading her lamps and wall hangings, which took up my entire Cube, took me long enough.

It took my crew of 3 high school students and 2 grade school students under 30 minutes to unload the truck. To compare, it took them less time to unload the truck than it did for me to back the truck into a parking space. I didn't want to call Shawn and ask her to back the truck up for me...I didn't want to be that lame...but I probably should have.  Although, if I had, then Jolene wouldn't have had a good healthy laugh.

Once all the stuff was in the apartment and the boys all sent home with their wages  (best money I ever spent) Peaches needed a "few things" so I took her to that big box store no one likes and $90 later she had a shower curtain, bath mat, a toilet brush, a plunger, and my old microwave cart.  (Hubby doesn't really know about that yet.)  

I was going to make her hang up the shower curtain by herself, because as we all know, that's the WORST job ever.  But she was so pitiful.  "Aren't you going to help me?"

Turns out, maybe she does need me a little yet.

I didn't cry. I want everyone to know I didn't cry. At least not because she was moving.  I cried a little when it looked like she and I were the only ones unloading the truck. I cried a little at the thought of driving a large vehicle through traffic.

But, as it turned out, it all turned out.  Sure, she still has some stuff at the house, and this week we have to get her hooked up for internet.  (Something else I've never done without hubby) but hey, I'm CRUSHING this single parent thing these two weeks so far.

Just don't ask me to back up a truck.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sarah's A Single Parent, #1: Fit Bit fights, a new gym, "ARE YOU SERIOUS" and family shame averted. ( Hubby makes the blog.)

Good evening all!

So Hubby is being a mountain man for two weeks, visiting his sister in Colorado.  (No, robbers, I'm not alone. My surly adult son, my four attack cats, and my new set of CUTCO knives are with me.)  I'm telling people I'm a single parent, although my children are 21 and 18, and the 18 year old, who is moving out this next weekend  (I'd get misty eyed, but at this point, so much of her stuff is piled all over the house I just want it OUT!)  So it's not like I'm wrangling toddlers and getting kids to school. My kids don't even get up before...two PM.

Anyway, Hubby bid farewell on Sunday...and it's Wednesday.  And things have been...well, you know how my life is normally?  Yeah, now picture it without the adult supervision Hubby brings to the table.

Like that.

Let's start with the Fit Bit.  Two weeks ago I got Hubby and myself Fit Bit Charges for his birthday.  Couples fitness, competition, married shaming, all that fun stuff.  What I found out is that I don't obsess about Hubby and his fitness. I obsess about the Fit Bit on my wrist and why it hates me.

oh no, Sarah, you say, the Fit Bit doesn't hate you. It accurately measures your steps, your calories burned, and your sleep time. And if you input the food you eat, it'll tell you when you've eaten too much.

Yeah, that last part?  I'm not doing that.

I count my steps. In my head. I do. I can tell how many steps it is from my house to several points in my neighborhood.  Fit Bit doesn't count all my steps.  I was at the mall today...Fit Bit didn't count 189 of my steps. I know this because I was counting my steps...out loud. Yep, I'm the crazy fluffy lady at the mall counting out loud. So I didn't feel bad drumming on my steering wheel all the way home (321 steps added) from the mall because, all's fair in Fit Bit steps war, right?

I'll delve more into my Fit Bit battles, I promise, it's going to be epic.

Okay, then yesterday I decided to finally cancel my kids' membership at the 24 hr gym I've been paying $45 bucks a month for them to ignore.  Instead, I got all four of us a membership at a 24 hour gym I can pay $60 bucks a month for all of us to ignore!  (Well, it's 24 hours for the kids, `16 hours for us. The 24 hour membership costs more and frankly, I doubt I'm going to hit the gym past 10 PM ever in my life.  Or before 6 AM. I'm just not that girl.)

So I went in for the great signing up of the membership.  If you recall the battle I did when I joined
Gold's, I wound up making that sales guy cry and get transferred to another store.  It's a story I shared with Pie, the guy who signed me up and thinks he's going to make me thin.

Why do I call him Pie?  Because we had to sign a lot of pages.  When you join a gym for four people, you get to sign the membership agreement four times. And then Pie had to sing four times. Only he was signing his initials and he was signing upside down. So his initials are T.T.  He drew two lines and a single horizontal line.  Pie.  (So when you're at Xperience Fitness in Waukesha...and you see Timothy, call him Pie.  He'll know.)

Look for that to be fun. They are going to have a pool in their new facility. How can this possibly end?  Not BADLY NO!

Then, once again, it's that time of month, the time of month when women my age wonder why on God's Green Earth we need punctuation lessons.  I mean, it's not like we need to know how to writ anything anymore.  We're pretty much done writing.  Reading, not so much, but writing yes.  (Okay, if you think about it, you'll get what I'm saying.  If you don't, well, I can't help you, just keep reading.)  Anyway, so I'm at the big box store in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, and I'm just going to say it, ALL MEN OF WORKING AGE SHOULD BE AT WORK.  So tell me why, why, WHY was there a man in the punctuation protection aisle, blocking most of both sides of the aisle?  I'll tell you why...he was snap chatting someone, sending them pictures of different brands of punctuation protection.  (I noted he wasn't near anything that ALWAYS leaks.  I mean, that's half the aisle on one side. They don't have to restock...because you know, it ALWAYS fails.  Anyway, since he was blocking all of the products I needed to reach, I had to wait for him to leave the aisle, (WITHOUT PICKLING ANYTHING UP...apparently the person he was send pictures to wasn't liking anything he was sending.)  ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? Middle of the day, middle of the week and this guy in a dress shirt and dress pants and a tie is sending pictures of punctuation protection and BLOCKING ME?  There were roughly 19 people in the whole store.  And he was blocking me in this one aisle.  Really?

But I did manage to save the family from major neighborhood shame.  It's been a dry summer, the grass really hasn't grown that much. Those who mow grass haven't been busy. Until last week.  Yeah, it rained. It rained plenty. And it's going to rain this week. And guess what?  Hubby is gone for two weeks.  Everyone else moved on Sunday, because that's what they do. Everyone except our one neighbor and he's the guy we all say, "whoa, we better mow, that guy just mowed."

Well he mowed yesterday. Which made us the shaggy grass of the neighborhood.  I offered money to Skippy who was too busy working and moving his friends into an apartment.  So I offered money to Peaches who is busy doing whatever it is 18 year old girls do when they're getting ready to move and they only come home to push things into the living room and watch Netflix.  And bake cookies.  I like the cookie.

so I couldn't wait any longer.  I got the mower out of the garage. This isn't going to be hard, I thought. I mean, I'm watching the boom boom redneck truck guy across the street mow...he's just walking. He's strolling like he's got a noisy baby in a stroller. I can do that.

I know you're supposed to pull a cord.  But the only cord I saw was attached to the arm handle and too short to yank and start anything. So I texted hubby.

here's how that went:

Me: How do you turn on the mower?

him:  Just leave it.

Me:  No. Grass is longer than anyone's in the neighborhood. I need to mow.

Him: Call Heidi and ask if her son needs a few bucks. He goes to school in Waukesha. 

 (Heidi is a friend of ours, but I haven't seen her in a very long time and it would be weird for me to randomly call her and ask if her kid who I really haven't seen in a long time would come and mow my grass when I have two perfectly healthy kids who can't make time to do it.)

Me:  I won't be able to tell him how to turn on the mower.  What's the big secret?  I'm not going to steal your job.  I want to cut the d*** grass!

Him:  No secret.  Squeeze the safety bar on the handlebar.  Pull cord.

Okay, so at this point I'm sort of like Laura Dern in the first Jurrasic Park movie, the part where she's looking at the sick dinosaur and muttering to herself and then she reaches into the big pile of poop.  Yeah, that was me trying to figure out what part of the handlebar the safety bar was.  

But I figured it out and I was on my way.

Ya know, I realize I'm out of shape, but I'm watching boom boom truck guy across the street and he's not heaving and shoving like he's dragging a row boat full of supplies across Antarctica.  (It's been hot lately so I've been watching "Shackleton" on DVD.  Very fun.  Very chilly. Man those guys lived through some cold stuff!)  Anyway, he's just strolling along.  La la la.  

Meanwhile I'm like GRUNT, push, drag shove, GRUNT.  I did a few patches and then had to pause for a lady who was my level of fluffiness to walk by. She looked at me with pity because even though both of us were sweating and both of us were working way too hard for our body types, she had a shot at surviving her exercise.

I sent a text to Hubby.

Me:  I'm mowing.  I may just do the front yard.  Leave the back yard. This is hard!

Him:  Great way to get in steps!!!

Then, two solid minutes later, and this is why he's in the blog, he sends me this text:

Push the bar between your thumbs down. Self propelled.

WHAT?  He was keeping that tiny smidge of info to himself until what, I died on the front lawn?  Hey, guess what, self propelled is awesome!  It's rather like being a kite or something. It goes, you go flying behind it. Like being dragged by a horse.   

But mowing with self propulsion is better than now and I managed to finish the front yard. However, pushing and holding things with my thumbs is not something I'm able to do for long stretches, so the front yard is done, the back yard is not. Doesn't matter. The back yard neighbors sort of don't like us anyway.

There you go.  He's been gone less than 4 days.  And this is what's happening around here.

This week I'm renting a 10 foot UHaul truck and driving it down the road so girl child can move.  I've never driven anything bigger than a mini van before.

We are all going to die.


We now know what Hubby does NOT have in his pants.

Good morning! So last weekend Hubby and I joined my parents, brother, and my brother's kids on a trek to Kentucky to see the Crea...