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Thursday, June 22, 2017

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 Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.  This was a 50th Wedding anniversary thing for my parents who wanted to treat the whole family to this trip.  Peaches and Skippy were not able to make this one, and we missed them, but I digress.

The trip started a bit shaky. My parents, since they were paying for the whole thing, got to pretty much command what we did, when we did it and how we did it.  My mom took full advantage of that.   Our original plan was to travel in two cars, but nope, Mom wanted as much together time as possible. Thusly, we traveled in a ten passenger van.  I'm not saying traveling together in one vehicle
for three solid days was a bad idea. I'm saying that by the time we got home on Sunday the whole inside of the van smelled of White Castle and feet.

Anyway, as I said, things were a bit shaky at the start. We left my parents' house at 5:37 AM on Friday, which was actually 7 minutes late. My niece, who is 13, immediately plugged in to her phone to listen to music. My mother would have none of that. She told both kids, (My nephew is 11) that they were NOT to plug in so soon in the trip.  Her reasoning?

Well, it wasn't for the purpose of family togetherness, at least that's not what she said.

No, her whole deal with plugging in was this:  "Don't plug in to your music already...you wouldn't be awake at this time of day normally."

I wasn't even sure what to do with that logic, but what I did know was that I wasn't going to be listening to any of the music I'd put on my iPod for this trip, nor would I be reading the books I brought along.  That was not on the agenda.

I will say this:  Once we got through Chicago and to our first food stop (Bob Evans, someplace in Indiana) we'd settled into a pretty good van vibe.

Eating at restaurants is always a bit dicey for Hubby. Some places cook their food in an oil that does NOT agree with him.  Now, when he and I are traveling alone, it's no big deal.  If he has a "Sizzler moment" (Named after a night some 20 years ago when we ate at a Sizzler and all of his internal organs worked in concert to blow the offending food out of his body some five minutes after we left the restaurant.) then we stop and he does what he has to do.  In a ten person van, on a tight schedule, that was not going to be a possibility.  But he chose wisely...at least from a digestive point of view, for this first meal.

We got to the Creation Museum in the late afternoon and spent a few hours walking through the amazing displays and doing a lot of reading.  I could have done without walking through vomit in the Garden of Eden  (One of the older female guests couldn't take the crowds I guess and had a Sizzler moment of her own...in three spots...in the Garden.) both otherwise it was really lovely.  (For those of you who are claustrophobic like me...avoid the Kids Canyon.  I went through this dark, closed quarters hall, and came out shaky and feeling like blowing my own Garden of Eden.)

Brother decided that since we were in the South we should find a real Southern place to eat.  My parents and his kids are not exactly adventurous eaters, so I thought this was an odd request, but we pulled into a strip mall a few minutes from the museum and we walked through the doors of "Smokin'
This and That BBQ" in Florence, KY. This place was GREAT!  We walked in like goobers, and the owner sensed we were "not from around here."  Everyone was very kind and a lot of fun and the food...oh the food!  Pulled pork, brisket, and chicken wings, all lovingly smoked out in the parking lot of the strip mall.  Plus  LIVE MUSIC!  They have a group of guys who come in and play on Friday nights. The owner said they don't pay the group, which numbers anywhere from 4 to 9 members, but they do play for tips.  (For those of you who read my Rock Harbor Chronicles, you know this sounds familiar!)  It was bluegrass and folk music and we had a blast! I ate a "That Salad" which was cole slaw, pulled pork, avocado mayo and smoked eggs.  Sounds weird, tasted AWESOME!  (Plus I got to say I ate a salad!)

The next day we headed to the Ark Encounter, which was AMAZING.  I've been teaching the story of the flood for years, but seeing it in living color really made me think. Plus, the builders of this attraction put some actual thought into a number of questions I had about the Flood and the Ark. It was a super time for everyone. Fun movies, great displays  and most importantly, AIR CONDITIONING.  (That Noah, he knew how to travel!)

We finished pretty early in the day and we all decided to rest at the hotel and let the kids play in the pool.  A couple hours later, Brother woke me from a dead sleep  (at 4 in the afternoon) and informed me we were going to a RODEO.

I've never been to a rodeo, but I've watched them on TV.  Believe me, the live experience is way more fun!  They have this thing called mutton busting, where they put little kids (no one over 50 pounds) on the backs of sheep to see how long the kids can stay astride.  I about pulled a muscle I was laughing so hard. Then my nephew got involved in the calf scramble where they tie ribbons to the tales of 3 calves and then have about 100 kids chase them.

Oh, and there were bull riders and bronc busters and all that. But mostly mutton busting and calf scramble.

And then Waffle House at midnight.  Because we know how to live.

I'll bet you're all wondering what, exactly, this has to do with what may or may not be in Hubby's pants.  I'm getting to it!

Sunday my parents wanted to hit the Creation Museum one more time, mostly because Mom wanted to ride a camel  (Which she convinced me to do as well) but we also wanted to check out the gift shop.  I found my magnets (Because I am, as my niece put it, one of those magnet people.) and everyone else bought something...except Hubby.  As I was leaving the gift shop to sit down (Because I was exhausted) Hubby held up an adorable stuffed baby coatimundi. I oohed and aahed over the cuteness and then went to sit down because frankly, the weekend had caught up to me and I was done being on my feet.

Hubby joined me a few moments later. We talked about stuff we'd seen, about where our fellow travelers were, and about where the closest White Castle was.  (The nephew wanted White Castle for lunch.)   I then asked him if he'd purchased the oh-so-cute coatimundi toy.

"No," says he.  "I'm not carrying a bag am I?"

"No," I reply.  "But I don't know what you have in your pants."

Now, what I meant by all that was, he was wearing cargo shorts with big pockets.  So what I should have said was, "I don't know what you have in your pockets."

But I didn't. Which is why the conversation led to this.

"Well now you know I don't have a coatimundi in my pants."  Says my husband.  "And you're welcome because now you have a blog post."

So true, so true.

We left the museum and dragged ourselves across four states and got home late Sunday night.  Since the van had to be back to the rental place that night, we cleaned it out right away.  The kids were tasked with taking home the leftover White Castle burgers.  (We over bought by like 40 burgers.  Which is why we all smelled like tiny meat patties and brown onions.)

The burgers were removed, but the smell remained. I hope my parents didn't have to pay a fine for the stank of the thing when they returned the vehicle.

But none of that matters.  I'm just happy Hubby doesn't have a coatimundi in his pants...the last thing we need is more stuffed toys...and live animals.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Reposting a favorite childhood story

Hello all!  I'm getting on the TBT bandwagon this week and reposting something I posted a couple years ago.  But this is a story that still makes me laugh.  Enjoy!


I tell the kids in my Sunday School classes stories from my childhood to make them see that I wasn't always the very together, oh so grown up person I am today.  (Yes, Todd, I can hear you laughing...)  This is one of their favorites and, I might add, the very first story I ever sold to a magazine.  Enjoy!

I crashed my bike into the back of big silver car while I watched a one armed man build a house. 

Let me elaborate.

It was one of those sticky hot summer days when I was twelve.  It was the kind of day kids today would spend in each other's basements playing video games or drinking canned beverages and instant messaging each other.  But, since this was 1980, there were no video games, canned beverages were too expensive, so we drank out of the garden hose, and instant messaging meant you ran over to the other kid's house and yelled at their window until they came outside. 

For fun on this hot sticky day, I was baking my chocolate chip cookies for my county fair 4-H baking project.  Because that's what you want to do in a house with no air conditioning.  You want to bake cookies.

It was a Thursday, and the reason I remember that is because my mother only did laundry on Mondays and Thursdays and everyone knows that fairs run Thursday through Sunday.  So it was a Thursday morning and we were, predictably, out of chocolate chips.  (When I say "out" I mean either we never had any or my father ate them in the in the middle of the night and then put the empty bag back in the freezer.)  So I hopped on my Schwinn three speed "Sundowner" model bike and got pedaling to the grocery store a mile away.

About halfway to the store, I noticed some workmen fixing  a house.  What really caught my eye was a one armed man climbing down the ladder.  I couldn't take my eyes off of him.  See, this was the guy who'd been electrocuted months earlier.  We'd prayed for him in church every week.  I could have SWORN he was dead.  I was so certain of it, that I stared and stared and stared at him...

BAM!

That's about the the time my bike smacked into the back of a big silver sedan outside the Methodist church.  I rolled up onto the trunk of the car and then onto the street.  The workmen stopped and yelled across the street, asking me if I was okay.

Humiliated, I popped back on my bike and waved at them, ignoring both the gash in my knee and the fact that the front end of my bike was so bashed in I could barely get the front wheel moving.

I got to the grocery store, picked up my chocolate chips and went to the counter.  The lady at the counter knew my parents.  (Everyone knew my parents.  My dad was the Lutheran school principal and my mom was the local piano teacher.  In a town of 1200, they were movers and shakers.)  She said, "Dear, do you know your leg is bleeding?"

I said, "Yes," waved at her, and got back on my bike.  This time I pedaled as hard as I could, but the front tire was smashed against the central frame of the bike and wouldn't budge.  So I had to walk the bike home, holding the front end up.  The good news was that the workmen were on a break someone in the back yard of the house.

When I got home, I immediately went to my mother to tell her what happened.  I mean, I couldn't hide this one.  First of all, there was something really wrong with my bike.  Second, I was pretty sure who ever owned that care was going to call her anyway and third, my leg really hurt.

Mom was in the basement pumping away on the wringer washer.  She loved her wringer washers.  She didn't get an automatic one until I was almost 30.  She loved wringer washers so much, in the 80's she bought one just for parts so she could keep hers going.  Anyway, she was down there, pounding away on the little foot pump that kept the wringer rolling. 

"Mom," I said in my most pathetic voice, "I hit a car with my bike because I saw that dead guy with the one arm building a house."

I know...it sounds nuts to me now, too.

All my mom heard was, "I hit someones car with my bike and we're going to have to pay to repair it."

She asked me for the coordinates of my accident.  Sure enough, when I told her, she rolled her eyes upward and said, "Oh Lord, that's the Thompson's. Did you stop and tell anyone?"

By now the blood on my leg was a really more a river soaking into my sock.

"No.  I had to get the chocolate chips."

So, in her ratty jean shorts and tank top, her laundry outfit that she'd worn to do laundry in since her high school days, my mother walked me the six blocks to the Thompson's house.  Mrs. Thompson's husband owned the only funeral parlor in town.  She came to the door looking calm and cool.  They had two air conditioning window units in their downstairs.

Mother explained my story, minus the one armed guy building the house who I thought was dead.  We looked at the car, which had sustained a scratch about an inch long and one, Mrs. Thompson said, "would buff out."  Her brother worked at a body shop, so she knew this sort of thing.

Then Mrs. Thompson looked at me and said, "Do you know your leg is bleeding?"

I said yes and then Mom thanked her and we walked back home. 

By the time we got home, my sock was wet with blood and my leg was sticky.  I was afraid to say anything because, well, I still wasn't sure if Mrs. Thompson's brother would be able to buff out the scratch and if he could, what would it cost?

"Mom,"  I said as she started going back to the basement to continue doing laundry, "I'll pay for the damage to the car, but can I have a band aid for my leg?"

It was then that my mother realized I was hurt.  She took me into the bathroom, washed my cut, bandaged it up, and stuck my sock in the bleach bucket until next laundry day.  Later, like twenty years later, she told me she was so wrapped in the fact that she was a mess, that she never even realized I'd cut my leg.

Oh, but I made the chocolate chip cookies before noon that day.  And I got a second place ribbon.  The judge liked the cookies, but said that using all butter on such a hot day made the cookies too thin and chewy.

I'll bet the one armed guy would have loved them.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hubby's Perspective on the Bathroom Debate comes out thanks to Norah Jones.

Good afternoon!


It isn't often that I get grumpy about things people say in line for stuff.  I mean, do I make comment about it here?  Sure.  Because I'm an observer of human nature, I feel it's my duty to report what people are saying out loud when they think they have privacy.

Although, why you'd think there's privacy when you're standing in line for a restroom is beyond me.

Hubby and I went to the Norah Jones concert at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee last Friday night.  I realize some people out there are thinking, "Wow, Sarah went to a concert?  Really?"  And also, "I didn't realize Sarah was a Norah Jones fan."

Let me put some doubts to rest:  I am NOT a Norah Jones fan.  The kids and I call her "Snorah Jones." While her voice is pleasant and her music is calming, it's not something I would pay to go hear live. So why was I standing in a restroom line at her concert?hubby 

Hubby listens to this really, really local radio station in town.  88.9 Radio Milwaukee.  I kid him about the station because he wins tickets from them all the time. He's always caller #4.  The joke is, only 4 people listen the station.  However, I will admit a weakness for their Saturday morning all request show.  Why I love it has less to do with the music (they play a wide array of funky stuff from national acts to super local bands) and more to do with the fact that regular people sound stupid on the radio and it makes for great comedy.  (If you live in the Milwaukee area, seriously, check out the station.  you'll hear variety with a capital V.)

Anyway, so Hubby won a pair of tickets to last week's Norah Jones concert. We had to go. I mean, of all the tickets he's won, this was actually an act I've heard of and at a theater where I knew there would be chairs.  (He once won tickets to see "Trampled by Turtles" at Turner Hall in Milwaukee. There were exactly two chairs in the building and those were reserved for the parents of the lead singer.  I can't make this stuff up.)

ANYWAY, the Riverside is one of those great old theaters with velvet chairs and gold wallpaper and very, very old restrooms.  And very small restrooms.  So I'm standing in line just ahead of these two women who were beefing about the wait.  And this is the conversation I heard:

Woman 1: The only time I didn't have to wait in line was in the 90's when the Packers went to the Superbowl...because women didn't go to football games in the 90's.

Woman 2:  That's true.  It's different now. Women go all the time.

Ummmm....were they talking about the 1890's?  I mean, sure, the NFL has marketed to women much more in the last ten years, but still Packer fans, men or women, go to the games plenty.  So....you didn't have to stand in line because...maybe all the other women were watching the game?

Woman 1:  I grew up in Green Bay, but I don't even care about football.

Woman 2:  Same here.  

Now I'm angry.  You don't care about football and you got to see the Packers in the Superbowl in New Orleans?  now I KNOW you skipped the game and used the restroom instead.  

Woman 1:  There should only be ladies' rooms and unisex bathrooms.

Woman 2:  Exactly.

It's a good thing that at this point it's my turn to get in a stall because I wanted to whirl around and slap them both and say, "It's not a crime to be a guy!"

You all know how I feel about the bathroom issue.  If not, there are several blogs dealing with it. Having all unisex bathrooms is fine. But having one specific one for women and then a unisex one...come on.  That attitude isn't about equality, it's about wanting everything for yourself.

BTW, the crowd that night was pretty evenly split between men and women. The reason the men's line was much shorter is that men don't spend five minutes checking their look in the mirror.

Men also don't need a tutorial from me on how to operate the soap dispenser...which I had to give to a couple ladies that night.  But that's another story.

So I get back to my seat, seething in righteous anger that these two old bats had 1)  Grown up in Green Bay with no appreciation for the Packers, 2)  One of them had gone to the Superbowl and clearly not appreciated the experience and 3)  They didn't think there should be mens' rooms at all.

I relayed this to Hubby...and pretty much everyone around me because I don't have a soft voice when I'm mad.  

And that's when Hubby put the whole bathroom thing into perspective.

He said, "I don't care if there's no specific men's room.  As long as there's a tree in the lobby, I'm
fine."

It's often been said, "All the world's a toilet when you're a guy."  If that's true then I suppose most guys wouldn't care if none of the world had a "MEN" sign on the door.

But also I'm glad there wasn't a tree in the lobby because...ew.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As Confuterus Says...



WARNING!

I find humor in almost any situation and my job, as I see it, is to bring levity to the world by sharing what I find humorous. Today's blog deals with a potentially sensitive medical subject and may not be funny for everyone. But if I can make one person less worried about a procedure, or maybe smile in spite of some medical tests, then my work here is done.




 As some of you know I've been dealing with severe anemia for the last several months.  Iron supplements don't seem to help and a recent colonoscopy and endoscopy showed nothing.  So, in an effort to find out why I'm simply not managing acceptable iron levels, my doctor sent me to a gynecological specialist.  

So on Tuesday I went to Dr. M's office. I should note that Dr. M is a woman. Why is this a big deal?  I haven't been to a female gyno doctor in 24 years, and that time it was under protest. See, it goes back to when I was 16 and I got my first yeast infection (hey, Todd, I warned you at the front, it just gets worse from here) I went to my mother's gyno, a woman, who basically treated me like she would a very old, very rusty Chevy.  Then, when I went in for the pre-marriage birth control appointment (I'll go no further into detail about that) I again went to my mother's woman who again jabbed tools up in my delicate places with all the tender touch of a blind Teamster with a hangover.  In short...it was a painful experience and I felt the woman had no respect for the female equipment and therefore I swore I would go to a male gyno because men had more reverence for the womanly parts.

And that worked out very well for me until I got pregnant for the first time and the rule of the clinic was that I had to be examined by all the docs in the practice just in case one of them got called in for delivery.  Well, one of the three was a woman whose name I remember to this day because of her cold, hard hearted approach to a first time mom who was wildly sick during pregnancy and had a ton of questions. But no, that's fine, rush through the appointment, don't answer anything, treat me like I'm a moron, and then go read your People Magazine in your office.  (I really wish I was making that up, but that's the honest truth of what happened in that appointment.)

Which brings me to Tuesday when I saw Dr. M. who is not only a woman, but also younger than some of my sweaters.  She might not be my daughter, but when she walked in I had an overwhelming urge to tell her to make sure she eats a vegetable at some point during the day.
I'm not sure why the picture of the woman wearing a winter coat
with the image of a uterus superimposed on her
makes me laugh...but it does.
I'm not going to go into detail about what happened at that appointment...well, okay maybe a little detail. See, the thing is she did an internal ultrasound.  (This was sooooooooooo not like the ones I had when I was pregnant.) I asked if I could take the pictures home. She said, "Well, if you really want to." Then I thought about how NO ONE wanted to see my colonoscopy pics, so it would be
unlikely anyone would want to check out my uterine ultrasound images. See what you people miss by being all delicate?

At the end of the ultrasound Dr. Young-Enough-To-Still-Live-In-My-Basement told me she'd found a polyp and she wanted to do a biopsy.  Big, scary words.  And all I could think was, "Is there any way I can work this into a blog?"  I kept thinking, no, because, well, it's not funny.

Yet.

So we set the biopsy for today at 1:45.  And I confirmed online on MyChart.  (Which is the online thing doctors use now to give you your test results instead of actually talking to your face.)

I got to the clinic, Hubby in tow because he wanted to be supportive, and when I got to the check in desk the woman told me I didn't have an appointment.  Oh, believe me, I put on make up and earrings...I have an appointment!  I showed her the card they gave me on Tuesday.  She looked at her computer screen and informed me I'd canceled the appointment at 8:30 this morning.

Oh no, do NOT mess with me. 

After several phone calls back to the women's center at the hospital where they scheduled the appointment and the clinic where I was supposed to have the appointment, they sorted it out, but by the time I got to the check in desk at the proper department I was very nearly late. And it didn't help that there was one receptionist and she was ancient and clearly technology challenged and the people in front of me had problems that simply COULD NOT be solved by just typing in their date of birth. 

After sorting out the cancellation snafu  AGAIN there I sat and waited for half an hour before they called me into the exam room.

Now, for those of you who have not had a uterine polyp biopsy, let me say there are a list of things they tell you to do to prep for this.

1) Show up 15 minutes early.  (I did. Fat lot of good it did me, because I showed up 20 minutes early and I was still almost late thanks to some computer glitch that cancelled my app when I hit the "confirm" button.)

2)  Take 600 MG Advil 1 hour before the appointment.  (Well I forgot to do that until hubby reminded me when we got in the car. The good news is that by the time I got on the exam table it had been an hour.)

3)  Bring in all your med bottles with the proper labels.  (Weird, since all my med info is in the chart, but okay. I brought them.  I should note, I'm in my tiny summer purse right now and two med bottles really made things crowded in there.)

Those were my instructions and I followed them.

I got weighed.  Yay.  I got blood pressured (it was a little high...go figure...) I got unclothed and covered with a sheet from the waist down and I got on the table.

Dr. Young Person came in and chatted about the weekend and the weather and the wait and all of that.  Then she had me "SCOOCH"  (so graceful) and she began her work "under the hood."  (Hey, there was a hanging light, power tools, wrenches, a socket set and drop clothes. You tell me what else to call it.)

"You'll feel some pressure..." 

Oh yeah I will.

"Now this will pinch."

Yep.

"And you're going to feel some cramping."

Oh yes. Like day two of the worst punctuation ever.
Then we were done.  And she land the nurse left.  I dressed and noticed that there was...well there was some spotting on the paper sheet on the exam table.
Hey, know what they DIDN'T tell me to bring?

Yep, female punctuation protection.  Oh good.  And here I am with my summer purse full to the gills with med bottles no one asked to see.

I headed to the ladies room where I had to MacGyver some T.P. since I had zero change for the female punctuation protection machine.  I wasn't worried...I mean, a little spotting is no big deal.

Nope, it was more than a little spotting. Cramps...clots...and all the other fun stuff I get every month.

Good lord, Female Doogie Houser pushed the eject button in my uterus!

We head to the car at a relatively brisk pace, and I tell Hubby all my symptoms and how this is weeks before I'm supposed to have them.  

And Hubby, dear Hubby who came to support me and be my hero, says...."Well, the procedure confused your uterus.  It's CONFUTERUS right now."

Some days that man of mine just makes it so easy!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Saluting Teachers Everywhere with my Hamster Story!

Good afternoon!

So school is just about at an end for the year here in the US and I want to salute the hard work and thankless weirdness teachers endure.  See, when you work with kids apart from their parents is a challenge, and when you also have to deal with parents...well, that's a recipe for saint hood in some cases.

Many, many moons ago I was also a teacher.  Yes, they trusted me with the education of tiny humans.  It didn't last long.  And this story may be part of why.

My first (and only) year of teaching was at a tiny parochial school just outside of Detroit, Michigan. I had grades K-3 (it was a TINY school) topping out at 18 students when they were all there.  I inherited from the previous teacher an aging hamster named...oh crud, what was that beast's name...oh right, CHESTER!  Chester was a very old hamster, fat, slow moving, two feet on the rainbow bridge, however you want to look at it.

In October, as most teachers know, there's a lovely long weekend we call "Teacher's Conference."  I don't know about you, but growing up in a teacher's house, that was code for, "Great weekend out of town with no kids."  I knew I was going to be away from the classroom for four days and that was too long to leave Chester alone.  So I asked for volunteers from the classroom and Timmy and Sally Brown (not their real names) volunteered.

Now, teachers know this, but for those who don't, getting a kindergartener and a first grader to volunteer for anything is easy.  Getting proper follow through on the part of the parents is more of a challenge.  (I believe the phrase we all know is, "My kid said I'd do WHAT?")  But in the case of the Brown children, I knew the mother well and knew her to be a lovely, giving, attentive person.

Or so I thought.

I handed Chester off to Mrs. Brown on Wednesday afternoon. I gave the Browns the food, litter, water dish, and tank. Basically they were going to have to feed and water and poop producing paper weight for four days.  

Something you should know about Timmy Brown: The child was a hot mess.  I mean, he was definitely genius material, so smart, but when it came to basic stuff like holding on to a pencil for more than five minutes without losing it or playing outside for one ten minute recess without tearing a hole in his clothes or getting covered in mud...the kid just wasn't able to do it.  I would give him one pencil each morning at 8 and by 9:30 he'd lost it. Same with crayons. I'd give him one and within five minutes he'd either eaten it or lost it.  I'm pretty sure the kid pooped rainbows.  But so smart!  He loved to take things apart and put them back together again, just to see how they worked.  

Timmy's younger sister, Sally, was just as smart, but far more together. Her desk was always perfection, she never got dirty, and I could put a 64 box of crayons in her hand and it would return to me days later in pristine condition.

Knowing all this, I gave the Brown family the classroom pet and I dashed off to teachers conference.

Monday morning dawned full of enthusiasm and excitement. Remember, I was a rookie and everything seemed like a new, great, wonderful idea.  I was sorting things at my desk and greeting the wee ones as they came in, when I heard this:

"Miss Schultz! Timmy killed Chester!"

All eyes shot to the classroom door where Sally Brown, looking very old maid school marm with her
spotless white blouse and jumper and her stern facial expression. (Hilarious on a five year old.)

"I'm sorry, what did you say Sally?"

"Timmy killed Chester!"  She walked in the room with a grave air of importance.  The normal buzz from the other students silenced as she approached my desk.  "Chester escaped from his cage and Timmy was chasing him and Timmy fell on Chester and crushed him."

Sure, at first I gasped at the horror of it.  But let's think about this:  Chester escaped from his cage? This was a hamster housed in a big fish tank.  I checked on a regular basis to see if he was BREATHING. The idea that he'd made a break for it was...not even in my power to envision.

Second, Chester moved fast enough that someone had to CHASE him?  

Third: What kind of trauma did that create in the Brown household when the six year old fell and CRUSHED the geriatric classroom pet?

Sometimes it's hard to be a teacher when you want to just laugh right out loud and you can't because doing so might just damage those spongy little brains and face it, don't we all live to NOT be mentioned in a serial killer's memoir?

At this point Timmy walked in looked quite crestfallen.  It was the same expression he wore when he lost, ate, or destroyed ten crayons before lunch.  "I'm sorry Missus Schultz"  (Half the kids called me Miss, half Missus.  I didn't correct them because...well, it just didn't matter in the scope of things.)  "Chester somehow broke out of his cage and he was running away and I was chasing him and I tripped and fell on him."

Now, you'd think there would be a parent in the classroom somehow explaining this so the youngsters wouldn't have to relive the horror of a crushed critter on their own. You'd be wrong. The parents in this "not quite Detroit" classroom weren't what you'd call "hands on" so much as they were "get out of the car and don't bother me until I have to come get you at 3:30."  So no, Mrs. Brown dropped her kids off and did not step in to give me the true details of what had happened.

Of course, later in the year, at a field trip to an amusement park, Mrs. Brown had some sort of brain injury (inflicted on her when a boarder she'd taken in beat her head with a baseball bat. She didn't bother to get treatment at the time. Why would she?) and we had to send her from the field trip to the hospital...which was in Canada...because that's where the amusement park was. (What, you don't take gradeschool kids across international lines to ride roller coasters and call it a field trip?  Well you should!  But that's another story for another day.)

My point in all of this is that there was no more Chester, I never did get the fish tank or the hamster food back, and Mrs. Brown never did fully explain what happened. Quite honestly, I counted it as a win because I never had to worry about a classroom pet again.

So stay strong my dear teacher friends!  The school year is nearly over, you almost get to turn those kids back over to their parents for ten weeks...just so the parents can ruin everything you've worked for in the last nine months.

Think of it as job security.

Have a great summer!




Monday, May 22, 2017

Ninja Pig in My Teeth: Not the Weirdest thing Hubby and I Discussed this Weekend.



WARNING! 
 This post contains some elements that may be too adult for anyone under the age of 14.



Good evening!

So this weekend was a bit of a revelation for me.  Due to the lousy weather and the fact that our children are now adults and no longer spend time with us, (Unless one of their cars is broken) Hubby and I had plenty of time to spend together and actually...talk.

When you've been together as long as Hubby and I have been, it's a wonder we have anything left to say to each other that don't involve the words "cat litter" or "muscle ache."  The kids are old enough now that we're not monitoring their day to day everything, so we don't talk about them as much. (Sorry kids!) And since we both work from home, we don't have a lot in the way of fun office stories to tell.

You'd think we be bored, but then a weekend like this happens.

It started with the drive to Walmart.  Now, I know you think I'd have given up on Walmart after the "mini-soda" incident, but I have not.  I still like that if I have a weird shopping list there's one place I know I'm going to find everything in one place.  And we had a weird shopping list full of grocery, yard, gift, and storage items.

It was raining HARD on Saturday and, as we pulled out of the the Sunset Family Restaurant parking lot (If you live in Waukesha you need to check out their breakfast menu.  Nothing fancy, but solid food.) Hubby says, "That car behind us...now that's something that pisses me off."

I look in the side mirror and I see a gray vehicle without it's lights on. When it's raining and gray, if you are in a gray vehicle you are all but invisible.  "Yes," says I.  "That's not safe."

"Oh no," says he.  "I mean, not having your lights on, that annoys me.  But it's the other thing he's doing that pisses me off."

I look again. I notice nothing.

"It's not raining that hard." My dear husband of many years glances in the rear view mirror.  "It's not
But is it raining hard enough to set the wipers to 'high?'
raining that hard, and he's got his wipers on full high like it's pouring or something."

I'm going to give you a moment, much like the one I took, to let that sink in.

My unflappable husband, my rock, the one who puts up with all my quirks (although he has been known to privately mock some of them) has an odd thing that wildly annoys him...and I'm just now finding out about it?

How is this possible?

"Let me get this straight," says I.  "You aren't as annoyed by the fact that the car behind us is all but invisible because he's not smart enough to turn on his lights, but the fact that his wipers are going a bit too fast for rain conditions has got you all tied up?"

"Yes.  It's stupid to run your wipers that fast. It's not raining that hard."

"You're as nuts as I am!"  I shout gleefully.  All these years, I thought I was the irrational one with my rage at unmade beds and plates of co mingled Christmas cookies.  Nope, turns out...Hubby's got a thing too!

Now, that was going to be my complete blog...but then the weekend of conversations got weirder.


Sunday evening, a time of day when I normally don't go anywhere or do anything, Hubby convinced me to go out for dinner.  We went to the new Belair Cantina  that just opened in the monstrosity of a shopping center hubby lovingly calls his "new coffee shop."  I've never been to Belair, but the minute I get to any new restaurant, the same thing happens:  I turn into the world's biggest food critic know it all.  It's annoying, really.  I annoy myself, but I can't stop. Blame it on 20 years of watching Food Network, because I can't blame it on any childhood experience or cooking talent of my own.

We get there and we're enjoying our tacos and I'm spouting all kinds of nonsense about "farm to table" produce and "never frozen" meat and "Asian influences" on my taco.

Good lord.

Anyway they seat a couple next to us and we're eating and they're reading the menu and the guy asks us what we're eating. We tell him, and I suggest the vegetarian tacos because, yes, in the middle of my foodie mania, I will order vegetarian just to seem smart.

I'm such a moron sometimes.

Anyway, the woman actually orders the black bean and corn taco (which is very good by the way) but does not order the Ninja Pig taco, which is a sort of sweet pork taco and it's yummy.  (You'll need to know that taco name in a minute.)  The guy opts for the burrito, which is massive.  They dive into their food and we're eating and all is well. 


Then, randomly , the guy looks at me and says, "Greatest movie of the 80's?"

Oh it's on!

I answered, "Breakfast Club" as did hubby and the couple agreed. This began a conversation about movies so in depth that the waitress offered to push our tables together.  We declined, but kept talking and then the subject of Bob and Brian, my favorite morning radio show came up and turns out, the wife listens to B and B as well so we shared stories about that. It was so fun ...and so weird, because when we're out we don't generally become besties with the people next to us.  

During our talk, I mentioned Hubby and I had been together for almost 30 years. The man looked at me and laughed and said, "And you still like each other?"

We all laughed, but it is funny to think about...in this day and age, when relationships fall apart at a blink, Hubby and I have managed to stay together and stay best friends.

Oh, oops. Almost got mushy there.  

Upon leaving the restaurant, Hubby and I stopped at the local liquor store to pick up a six pack of the beer he'd tried at dinner. This is a new hobby for Hubby.  (A hubby hobby. Who else is laughing?)  I don't mind because that just leaves more wine for me!  (We're at a delicate balance in the fridge right now.  It's getting very close to being more alcoholic beverages in there than anything else.  Is that a problem?)

On the way out of the store I mentioned that he should remind me to floss as soon as we got home because, "I have a chunk of Ninja Pig in my teeth."

"That's a blog title," says he.

And it should have been.

Except...

On the way home, we passed by a little four resident apartment building we've long called "The Gates of Hell."  (If you live in Waukesha, it's on the part of East Moreland that's 25 MPH, but everyone goes 40.  If you live in town, you know what I'm talking about.)  Outside the building was a recliner, sitting on the curb for anyone to take.

"Hey, we could pick that up."  I suggest this because we've been thinking about getting a recliner.

"I'm not taking anything that came from in front of the gates of hell," Hubby says.  "You know someone died in that chair."

"Someone was murdered in that chair."

"Right. And I don't want any murder death chair in my house."

This is where it gets nuts.  "And you just know someone overdosed on heroin in that chair.  So that makes it a murder, death, heroin suicide chair."

"And I still don't want it in my house," says he.

"Oh, but YOU KNOW someone did some kind of sex fetish thing in that chair."  (See, you should never allow a writer to let an idea start rolling downhill in her brain.  Things go really wrong quickly.)

"So then it's a death-murder-heroin-suicide-sex-fetish chair. And I STILL don't want it in my house!"

We stop at a light and I have a brilliant idea!  "That's a blog title!"\

Now hubby, in spite of his thing about windshield wipers, is still the more logical of the two of us.  "No, you can't," says he.  "You have kids who read your blog. You can't be putting up a title about a death-murder-heroin-suicide-sex-fetish chair at the gates of Hell."

He's right. Of course he's right.

So I'll just put it in my blog....and put a warning at the top... and let you people sort it out!

And yes, when we got home, I did floss out the Ninja Pig.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The People of Walmart: Raising spirits and crushing them in one stop.



Good afternoon!

Have you ever gone out in public thinking, "Well I feel sort of crappy and I look not my best...but I need toilet paper, so I'll go to Walmart?"

I can't possibly be the only person whose had that thought.

That was me today anyway.  I've got a plugged ear, something I get probably once, maybe twice a year.  This wreaks havoc with me on all levels.  The echo in my head makes it hard for me to hear, and gives me a headache. And it's super not fun when you work on the phone, using a headset, like I do.  Work's been a bit hairy for me the last couple days (I'm learning a new procedure and you know the saying about old dogs and new anythings?)

So this afternoon I was feeling drained and sweaty  (Yes, we went from, "Holy moly it's cold" to "Can I PLEASE turn on the AC" in a week.) but I needed a few things, including toilet paper, so I figured I'd go to Walmart and be anonymous.

And I was, for the first half hour.  It was actually funny, fans of the show "Fargo" will appreciate the
fact that automatic door didn't open for me until I backed up and tried again.  (If you're not watching FX's "Fargo" you should be.)  The greeter at the door, once upon a time a fun old person, has been replaced by a lethargic teen who would rather die than actually say something to anyone who is not another teen.

I got through most of my list being invisible, which was nice.  I didn't feel bad about the fact that I had bed head that had been mussed by the winds we've got going outside.  I still felt sweaty, but the AC in Walmart, bless them, was on and I wasn't suffering.

Then I was in the candy/bulk ketchup/Asian food aisle  (It's a thing, check it out.  Sweet and sour sauce, Sour Patch kids, and 120 ounces of ketchup all in one aisle. I love this country.) getting some sweet and sour sauce when a gentleman roughly my age, and in pretty rough shape hygienically speaking, walked almost past me.  

"How are you?" says he.

"I'm good," says I, without really looking away from the sweet and sour sauce shelf.  "How are you today?"

"Oh I feel like I got into a fight with an ugly stick." Says the man.  And yes, he looked like he slept in his clothes...in a garage...under a car...that was leaking oil...and mud.

"Oh no," says I.  "That's too bad."

"Yeah, and the ugly stick won!"

With that, we reached opposite ends of the aisle and turned corners away from each other.  But amazingly enough I felt good.  I felt good about myself that this filthy guy had no trouble starting a conversation with me.  Maybe I wasn't so bad today! 

Having secured all the goods I needed and with a bounce in my step, I headed up to the check out counter.

And that's where this happened.

I greeted the checker who greeted me back and we exchanged a few pleasantries.  And then, she picks up the 10 pack of 7.5 ounce Cokes I bought and says, "3.50 for such small cans.  Why would you be stupid and buy these when the bigger cans are cheaper?"

There are many reasons.  1)  I don't need 12 ounces of soda at one time ever and I hate wasting half a  can.  2)  fewer calories in a can.  3)  Less aluminum, less energy to make the aluminum. 4)  Less per serving, less sugar in my life  5) they are cute cans 6)  WHY DO YOU CARE WHAT I BOUGHT AS LONG AS I BOUGHT IT HERE AND I PAID FOR IT?

That one little comment, said half under her breath, brought back all the icky feelings I was having as it echoed painfully in my head. Maybe I am stupid for spending more money on a smaller product.  Maybe I'm stupid for buying Coke at all.

She handed me my receipt and told me not to put it in my purse because someone "might" check it at the door.

If it's the same person at the door, it's not likely she's going to see me much less ask me to stop and let her look in my cart.

On my way out I saw the filthy guy again and I smiled at him because he'd made my blues go away for a minute and I appreciate that.  

And I was right about the girl at the door not checking my receipt.  So I had to stop and put it in my purse in the entry way....the echoey, noisy entry way.  Which didn't mess with my head at all.

And now I'm going to go and have an ice cold mini Coke.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reposting a favorite: Willie Nelson would not love the road if he had trips like this.

Good morning!

So last night while talking to my friend Shayna, the story of my trip back from my uncle's funeral came up and, as she was laughing, Shayna asked, "Where is THIS blog?"

Well I found it.  This is from October 2010.  This is all for you, Shayna.








Good afternoon all!

It's been sort of a lousy weekend.  The Packers lost today, which was my last hope for something cheerful.  My uncle passed away early this week after a long illness and the funeral was Friday in a town 6 hours from home.  Well, when normal people drive it, it's six hours.

See, on the trip back from the funeral, since Hubby had a family thing to attend in his hometown halfway between the funeral and where we live, I rode up with him on Thursday night. The funeral was late Friday afternoon, so by 6 pm he was ready to go, and I was to ride with my parents and my brother.  That was my big mistake. 

Let me create a mental image.  Ever hear of the movie "National Lampoon's Family Vacation?"  Yeah, that's our family.  Right down the the dog pee sandwiches.  The four of us have done very well in radio contests with disaster stories from our family vacations.

So riding home, late at night, with my parents and my brother, I knew was going to be...interesting.  At best.

It started out okay.  Dad and Bro driving the rental  (For the record, everyone of us has cars bigger than this rental.)  Mom and I folded up like origami in the back seat.  We were making good time because Bro was driving and Bro thinks of speed limits more as general suggestions for the weak. 

I should mention two things:

1) My mother has restless leg syndrome and is lactose intolerant.

2)  I'd been in pumps for 9 hours, and my already lousy feet went from numb to searingly painful pretty quickly.

Our first stop, 150 miles into the trip, (And 150 minutes, according to bro) got us past the tedious, two lane highway, section of the trip.  It was all interstate from here!  And, since we were leaving Minnesota, a lovely state, but one I've now dubbed "Land of 10,000 funky smells" I was jazzed.  Looking at the clock and working out the math, I figured we'd be home by midnight. 

Then my uncle, not the one who passed away, but the one who lives an hour east of the Wisconsin boarder, called my dad and invited him, since we were going that way, over for cake and soda.  Bro and I groaned because 1) This would cut into the fantastic time we were making  (The New Ulm, MN to Milwaukee, WI run is something college kids in New Ulm challenge each other to generation after generation.  IT was a matter of pride to beat the standing record.  As old people, we needed this, no matter how unofficial it would be.  We'd know we broke the record.)  and 2)  We were hungry and cake and soda was not going to do it.

We took a vote, three normal people and the lactose intolerant one, and we decided to hit the McDonald's in La Crosse, easy on/easy off exit.  Three of us knew these exits very, very well.

Which is why it was so ridiculous that we missed it. 

So we went two up, to Onalaska.  But the Mc D's in Onalaska isn't on the freeway.  So we had to make a quick change of plans. 

Culvers!

Ahhhhh, Culvers.  That blessed blue glow promising butter burgers and frozen custard.  (For those of you not familiar with Culvers, I feel very sorry for you.)  We all voted for that.

The thing about Culvers is, however, that they make everything when you order it.  So there's a wait.  And, since there were no cup holders in the rental  (for the record, everyone in this trip has cars that have no less that six cup holders.)  we had to eat in the restaurant.

We ate, but as we did so, Mother announced that it wasn't just dairy that gave her gas attacks...no, it was all restaurant food.  Oh, and she couldn't find her gas pills.

Eat up everyone!

Forty minutes later, our eta for home now closer to 1 AM, we get back in the car.  Another vote is taken on the cake and soda offer and since the parents get two votes (How did that happen?)  we stopped. 

"Half an hour"  my mother swears.  "We'll eat some cake and go in half an hour."

Well, my aunt, bless her, made brownies for our visit.  Warm brownies and ice cream!  Yum!

My mother ate a plate baked goods.  She weighs nine pounds and since she ate a plateful of baked goods, I gained six pounds. 

And then, as we were thanking my aunt and uncle...the subject of politics came up. 

CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, my parents and my relatives AGREE on all things political.  Seriously.  What this debate was about, I couldn't tell you.  It was four adults sitting at a table eating dessert and howling about the general state of affairs. 

Tick, tick, tick...

At 11 PM we made our way out of the house.  Mother, of course, stayed behind to use the gas room.  Uncle, who is a planter guy, wanted to show us his moon flowers.  Bro and I were as polite as we could be, but come on, we were five hours into what should have been a six hour trip, we still had a solid 2 hours and more to go, and it was already 11 PM.

But, flowers viewed, dessert eaten, gas released, we were back on the road. 

Well, for another 45 minutes.

At this point, Mother and I, both with legs and feet roiling in pain, were trying to sit face to face in the back seat of the rental, with our legs on the seat of the rental.  Since Mother is tiny, this worked, except getting the two of us out of the car took the skill of acrobatic conjoined twins.  (Hey, I watch a lot of Health Channel, I've seen the coordination it takes to move around.  I do not have that sort of coordination and Mother certainly doesn't.)

Rental cars...you think you hate them now, wait 'til you drive one!
At this point in the trip we stopped because my father is the master of the tiny details.  He knew that if he gassed up at the Kwik Trip in Mauston, he would have exactly the right amount of gas in the rental when he turned it in.  I should note here that had we been driving any one of our FOUR OWNED CARS, this fact would not have mattered.

So, Mother and I unfolded out of the car.  I used the ladies room, sharing a hand washing moment with a Chris-Farley-in-a-dress-look-alike. Since the universe is balanced, of course the mad she was with was a tiny, feminine looking fellow.  Hey, it was well after midnight at this point.

I wanted coffee.  But I didn't want hot coffee. Why not?

1)  It was roughly 1100 degrees in the car.

2) NO CUP HOLDERS IN THE RENTAL.

So I went to the "iced coffee" dispenser.  I had an insulated cup, but that was okay, I told the clerk it was iced coffee.  It's Kwik Trip, they really don't care what you put in the cup.

We got ourselves folded back into the car for the last two, yep you read that right, two hours of the trip.  I took a sip of blessed iced coffee.

It wasn't iced.

It wasn't even cold.

It was WARM! 

Not hot, but warm.  Warm and sticky and thick and gross.

I've never had a mental breakdown, but I think I know what the warning signs are now.

Somewhere in the woods of I-94, as we approached the Wisconsin Dells, I did something I never do. 

I threw out food. 

I opened my window, took the lid off the cup, and let the sticky coffee fly.

Have I mentioned I've never been really good with things like Physics?

While most of the coffee did fly into the semi behind us  (I started yelling, I've just hit a Teamster....DRIVE!)  a goodly portion stayed on my arm.

Great.  Now I'm sticky.

Mother is a problem solver.  She got a bottle of warm water  (Because  again, it's about 1100 degrees in the car.)  and said, "Rinse with this."

Then we hit a bump and the water splashed all over me, except on my arm.

Great, now I'm wet and sticky.

At this point, we are laughing so hard, it's hard to breath.  Mother then announces to the entire car, that she has a feminine wipe in her purse and that will clean me up.

That's when Bro turns on the radio.  Since my father avoids all things rock and roll, the radio is turned to his favorite AM station.  Do you know what they play on AM stations in the wee hours?

Radio plays.

Radio plays from the 40's.  I'm sitting there, wet and sticky, laughing my face off, twisted in some weird seating position they only picture in love making books from other cultures, and I'm listening to a radio play.

Well, I don't like being sticky, so I accepted my mother's feminine wipe.  Which made the volume of the radio play soar.  (Apparently Bro is not comfortable enough with his manliness to listen to a Massengill ad in the car.)  I wiped myself down.  Now, I'm not sticky.  I'm still wet, but at least I smell like flowers.

We rolled into Waukesha at 2 AM, 8 hours after we'd left New Ulm.  My kids waited up for me.  Awwww....Okay, Skippy doesn't go to bed on Friday nights, so that doesn't count.  But Peaches waited up for me which was nice.

My parents returned the rental, so they didn't get home until after 3.  I should note that had we driven one of our own cars, with the bigger back seat, the cup holders, and no rental rules worries, they would have been in bed almost an hour earlier.

I'm just sayin'.

So, you may ask, am I afraid my parents will be offended that I'm telling you all this?  Nope, I'm not. Know why?

Because somewhere on this death march into darkness, my mother said to me, "Sarah, your best writing is when you just tell it like it is."

So, here's to you, Mom!

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...