Sunday, March 09, 2014

21st Century Woman

I just need to document that this weekend I...

  • Took myself to the doctor (woot! sinus infection);
  • Shopped for groceries;
  • Went to a 40th birthday party and danced to '90's house music, stayed up too late, and maybe indulged more than I should have (especially considering the sinus infection);
  • Took my daughter to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese (REMEMBER: late night + vino + sinus infection = I am a Woman of Steel to venture into a Chuck E. Cheese, ESPECIALLY one that has a placard reading 'No Firearms Permitted'*);
  • Noticed some leaking around the toilet, confirmed leaking in the basement under where there toilet lives, correctly identified it as a cracked wax ring under the toilet, and REPLACED that sumbitch because Past Self is a rock star and had a spare wax ring laying around.
 So, yeah.  Normal weekend. Right?

*I mean, are firearms EVER permitted in a Chuck E. Cheese? And if the fine employees at a Chuck E. Cheese noticed that someone was bringing a weapon into said establishment, how on earth would they enforce the placard?  Most of them are tiny teenagers.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Vintage Baltimore

We're clearing out my parents' home.  Fun, right?  It's the de-accessioning of my nuclear family's belongings, natch.  But also my grandparents', and whatever familial detritus was handed down from them.

One of the things that I happened upon was a random collection of negatives.  My father, for the entirety of my life, was STRAPPED.  With cameras.  Lots and lots of cameras. The result of which were lots and lots of pictures.  But sometimes, we only have the negatives.

Know what?  I *enjoy* the negatives.  Because the negatives are kind of like secrets...  I'm finding places he went, compositions he considered, family events he participated in, but stood slightly apart from...  And, I've uncovered  dozens of photos of Baltimore from the '40s and '50's.  I think I'm going to do something with them...  What, I'm not quite sure.  But some of these?  Really need to see the light of day, and not hang loose in a dank basement.







Friday, February 21, 2014

I Probably Should Have Planned That Better

A couple of years ago, my Dad added me to his bank accounts.  This was after my mother passed away, and just at the start of what I now recognize as his debilitation. He never veered off into full-on dementia or anything like that, but became more and more forgetful. Didn't remember conversations, quips he'd just made, things like that.  Anyway, I started tracking his finances and paying bills, and he added me to his accounts to facilitate that.

In the initial wake of his death, this actually made things bunches easier.  We didn't all have to pitch in to pay bills until we could start using some of the estate money or anything like that -- since he added me to his accounts, I just wrote checks against that money.  Yeah, my name was on it, but it was his money.  Didn't feel right to use it for anything but his bills...

He had this one account that only had a few hundred dollars in it, and I've been letting it drift for the past 6 months.  It wasn't hurting anything to let it lie, and he had a a decent chunk of change in the other account to which I had easy online access.  But, the easy account dwindled down to a few dollars, so I knew it was time to close the other account and siphon that money to help cover the electricity bills for his house (still working on clearing that out and selling it, but that is another post).

His bank branch is a stone's throw away from my office Since today was a fairly meeting-free day at work, I decided to carpe diem.  Or carpe argentum?  Anyway, I knew that this task would be tinged with emotion. Saying the words, "My father passed away," well, that's never easy.

Here's what got me:  she went to retrieve a few papers after I turned over my license and his death certificate.  When she sat back down, I glanced at what she'd placed on the desk as a reference.  It was the little slip of paper that my father and I signed three years ago when he added me to the account.  There was his signature, a scrawl I've seen thousands of times, floating next to mine.  Memories of that day came flooding back, and I was very grateful that the bank staffer had to get up and make a photocopy of some other documents.  I didn't need her to see me getting all melty over a scrap of paper, no did I?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everything Is Awesome

If you've seen "The Lego Movie," that title likely triggered an earworm that is more persistent than Chekov's parasite in 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.' (I am a very happy gigantic nerd.)

My kids have seen the movie.  My older two have seen it twice, and I am so very happy that it has re-ignited their love of all things Lego.  My oldest boy has persistently, ardently loved Lego for many years now.  But he drifted into the kit zone.  'The kit zone,' in my completely made-up parlance, is the zone in which a kid thinks s/he can construct ONLY the thing in the instructions.

The underlying message of The Lego Movie is: Dude, you can mix and match and do whatever the heck you want with Lego.

And so they have...

My coffee table is currently decorated by roughly one billion Lego.  Among them are a cannibalized Joker's play set (currently occupied by Superman, the Human Torch, a hairless Indiana Jones-lookin' sumbitch, Patrick the Starfish, and a pink fairy), half a Star Wars pleasure barge, and some 'Friends' pink and purple and purple and pink blocks.

Most precious to me, though, is the 'house' that my oldest boy and my daughter co-constructed.  According to the two of them, within it, you will find two families -- my son's and my daughter's fantasy families -- having a dinner party.  The menu?  Pizza.  Here, take a look:


I'm not really sure what the trophy's about?  Being awesome?

My son's family comprises his wife and his son, whereas my daughter's family (whom you can't see) comprises a boyfriend/partner (she don't need no ring!) and they have two adopted children.

(I don't know who the angry dude through the doorway is.  Maybe my youngest son? Who is the opposite of angry at the tender age of 4.  Maybe my other kids think he will become embittered with age?)

I love this. Love it like I love coffee.  Which is a lot, let me tell you.  Anyway, maybe (read: certainly) I am reading too much into this, but I feel like if my 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter are envisioning futures where they are partnered up with wives and boyfriends and raising children, that maybe they feel like my husband and I are doing an OK job. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our DVR Must Be So Confused

Since my father passed away, (one of) my older sister(s) has been staying with us for multi-week stretches.  (Don't sigh!  This post won't be maudlin, I swear!)  She has a diagnosed intellectual disability.  In layman's terms, she is a forty-something seven-year-old.  Actually, in a bunch of situations, she presents older than that.  Like, she can cook without burning the house down, and can call pharmacies for prescriptions.  And, socially, she comes off as downright teenagery.  Be that as it may, she's not able to live on her own, so she's been circulating among those of us who happen to have spare bedrooms.

She is lovely, if at times challenging.  The challenges are familiar to parents of younger children, and are nothing outrageous.  Not putting wrappers in the trash, having to be reminded to tidy up, etc.

The biggest, most hilarious impact she has had on our home can be found in the scheduled recordings feature of our DVR.  Now, to really appreciate this, you have to understand that there are exactly two household chores that my husband owns.  By 'owns,' I mean he took the chores upon himself, and performs the duties with no external forces (translation: I never, ever, ever, have to nag him to do these things).

These chores are:  maintaining the DVR recordings, and taking out the trash.

He is especially on top of that DVR thing.  He gets the season preview of Entertainment Weekly, plugs in the shows we intend watch, manages conflicts, and prompts us to watch things that have been sitting for too long.  It's like the platonic ideal of stewardship.

My sister is also an enthusiastic television-watcher.  If you stir in the fact that she struggles a little with reading the digital guide, well, you get someone who is a little trigger-happy with the record button.  As such, a really eclectic mix of programs has started popping up on the DVR.  Her tastes swing further than Big Ben's pendulum.  Around the holidays we would find things like, "A Puppy for Christmas," followed by "Sleepaway Chainsaw Ghost Murders."  "Christmas Teddy Bear Parade" and all of the episodes of 'Bones' ever made.  Seriously.  I think through some sort of time warp she's even snagged some future episodes.

And so, it makes me giggle when I see my wonderful husband purse his lips and furrow his brow when there's a recording conflict between 'Sherlock' and the latest Eddie Cibrian drama on 'Lifetime.'

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Dwindling Wineglasses...

My husband's a bit of a teetotaler.  He's no Carrie Nation. Or...  Is he?

He's destroyed seven wineglasses in five years.  I can't remember the last time I broke a glass.  He claims that he is not personally wreaking this havoc.  The dishwasher was blamed for three of them.  Okay, fine.  But the other four?  Those, he says, simply slipped and exploded when they hit the granite counter tops.  (I know, I know... My diamond shoes are a total bitch, too.)

In an attempt to thwart either his (a) passive-aggressive booze prevention methods, or (b) legit butterfingered-ness, I bought shatterproof wineglasses. Shatterproof!  Elegant solution, yes?  Except, they are plastic.  As such, they are not immune to the melty nature of the dishwasher.  It's tough to see, but observe:


Oh, yes, those are warped lips to the wineglass.  HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO ENJOY THE BOUQUET OF A $12 BOTTLE OF YELLOWTAIL SHIRAZ IN A VESSEL SUCH AS THIS?

So, anyway, I'm having a very 'we can't have nice things' moment about my wineglasses, because if I buy fancy ones, they will inevitably end up shattered or melted.  Do they make wooden wineglasses?  Besides the Holy Grail prop from 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?'

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Happy New Year!

So, it's 12:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I'm under a blanket watching 'Celebrity Ghost Stories.' 'Cause I'm cool like that.

I have uncharacteristic energy at this time of night because I've spent the past two days in bed.  Not for any good reason, mind you.  I came down with whatever my husband and sons were infected with (tortured by?) earlier in the week.  Looking back, it was unwise of me to indulge in an evening snack of summer sausage and red wine while the threat of stomach flu hung in the air.  Trust, that is a meal that does not look good in reverse.

My husband's a hero and took care of all of the things around here (meals, groceries, JumpZone birthday party) so that I could loll around and recover.  The lolling happened in various places.  If you are ever a guest of ours, please note that the bathroom floor is *nearly* as comfortable as a bed!  Especially if you are lying prone and helpless.

I don't have any good reason for sharing this, except that I wanted you to know that my New Year started off with a bang.