Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Things that are Dangerous

Rusty pruning shears, Spider monkeys, Bathtubs and Toasters (together).
This is the public service section of this blog. I would not suggest combining any of the above with either thin ice, martinis or members of law enforcement. There's no need to thank me, but you may want to print this and put this on your refrigerator as a reminder as we go into the New Year.
Furniture stores are beginning to present a danger as well. They suck you in with all of that upholstery and those little swatches of fabric. I'm also worried that the neighbors will start to clue into my "problem" when they see the truck from the same furniture store again this week. Remember last week when I stormed the store and got my table delivered on Christmas Eve? Yesterday I bought a hutch and a smallish sideboard that will be delivered on New Years Eve. Tim is starting to get worried that I will continue to shop on holidays in the new year.
Stay safe out there.

Monday, December 28, 2009


This Christmas was the same as many others, but different. The same Christmas detritus of paper and packaging litters the house for hours. Then we leave and go litter my in-laws house as well. It's like we're a traveling, tissue paper wrapped, gift bearing, food devouring swarm of holiday pestilence, but without the disease part.
The day was different of course because the kids are older and they look upon us parental types like we're a bunch of fuddy-duddies. They have their own conversations (read: arguments) about whatever strikes their fancy. (Last night the big discussion was about sentencing guidelines for felony drug possession. Seriously!? Can't we just talk about Rudolph?)
Now I'll settle into a week at home. Note: this did not say "a week off of work." I'm not complaining, much. I have a job and a lot of people don't, so I'll accept the minor inconveniences of shushing my kids for conference calls (and removing the cat from the laptop) and the wrap up of year end projects. I hope the calls go quickly because we're finishing Boy Scout merit badges and teaching ourselves how to play the guitar this week. And, I should probably pick up some of the stuff leftover from the festivities before they start again on Thursday.
Lots for which to be thankful. Lots and lots. Now if you'll excuse me, my left hand is sore from all that guitar fingering.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Delivery?

Yesterday, it hit me that I will have 7 people for Christmas Eve dinner and not 6. I think I forgot to count myself.
This was quite a shock. I had washed 6 napkins.
So, now what? The dining table is too small. It has no leaves. We bought it right before we got married and it's been holding court in the dining room since we moved here for lack of any other place to put it or anything to put in its place.
This is not due to a lack of effort. Not a lot of effort, mind you, but I can never decide what I want. Provincial? Stuffy. Country? Casual. Colonial? Too George Washington-y.
I tromped to the basement for my normal "the table is too small solution"- a card table tacked on the end. I was completely non-plussed. This looked awful and I was so totally over the shabby chic. Now what? It's 2 days before Christmas. Tables are big and something that large won't fit in my VW. Nor will the chairs. Sigh. It would be pretty mean to make one of the boys sit in the kitchen alone just to cut out a chair.
I drove to a furniture store and walked in- sullen. I found exactly what I wanted. More depression, why didn't I do this in April? "So," I say sweetly, "any chance this could be delivered tomorrow?" YES!
So, tonight may you enjoy good food at a table that is big enough for all the people that you can cram around it. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top Secret!

If you repeat any of this to anyone, I swear to you, I will find you. Not only will I find you, but I will place a clothes pin on your nose and I will fill your mouth with peppermint toothpaste. I will wrap you up in toilet paper and chain you to the bench on your front porch. Yes, I will. You will be an example to others.

Now that we have that straight, how are you today? I'm fine and thank you for asking.

I got home kind of late. This is not unusual and the evidence of my lateness (Wendy's burger wrappers) are throughout the kitchen. Wow, did you feel that guilt? Neither did I.

Anyway, in the midst of the wrappers, there was a tin. A Christmas Tin. How cute. I hate tins. What do you do with them? I digress.

The tin was filled with candy and gum. Hmmm. I flashed back to my call home earlier when Andrew excitedly told me that he was the recipient of 6 packs of gum at the candy exchange at school. That's a lot of gum that I'm sure hoping is sugarless.

(Hold on, I will digress again. You thought I was kidding on Monday when I said all they were doing at school was watching movies and eating candy. Hmmm, see why I was miffed?)

So I see the burgers wrappers and the tin full of candy. Suddenly, Andrew appears. Innocently I say, "Hey, what's with the tin?"

I'm sorry dear reader, but I have no idea how, in words to simulate a nearly 13 year old boy being incredibly defensive and goofy all at the same time. It's like a new born donkey on ice skates eating Twinkies while being filmed on PBS. A vision, is it not?

He freaked out and ran away. All I said was "Hey, what's with the tin?" Does that warrant freaking out? We sent his candy for his exchange person in a zip lock bag from Big Lots. We got back a tin-load of gum and candy, all fancy like with ribbons and stuff. I'm feeling guilty, so clearly I am vectoring this back on to my child. (Is vectoring a word?)


A girl. I don't know what to say. Girls are yicky. I'm a girl. How do I reconcile that?

Dear girl, that boy is a precious soul. He's not an old soul because he does dumb things, like leave his socks on the kitchen table, but he's still ours. If you mistreat him, I will find you and put a clothes pin on your nose and....

Monday, December 21, 2009


I've got nothing. I hate that.

I slept terribly and I got up on the wrong side of the bed. As I've discussed before, I don't know what that means because in order to get out of the wrong side of the bed, I would have to crawl over Tim. This is not practical at 6am.

For some reason, A&P go to school two days this week. If you ask me, and the School Board obviously didn't, this is sandbaggery of the school schedule. They're watching movies and eating candy for two days. What do you learn from this other than laziness? We're not sitting around work watching movies. We are eating four tons of candy.

My shopping is done. I think. I hope I didn't forget anyone. If I did, you're my favorite and I just love you so much that no gift on the planet could properly express my devotion.

Yawn, so sayeth me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Christmas Present

This is not the conversation I expected to have about Christmas. As a matter of fact, in my wildest dreams I never could have imagined this request or how hard it is to fill it... what a wish fulfilling failure I've turned out to be...

Me: What do you want for Christmas?
Kid: I don't really need anything.
Me: True, but there has to be something.
Kid: I need mittens.

Until, I can't find mittens. Why didn't I know this in July when I was cruising art and craft fairs? Why don't I have a neighbor that knits? Why don't I know anyone that knits? Come to think of it, I'd be happy to learn if it's possible to drink martinis and knit. So, who wants a scarf next year for Christmas, knitted by a drunken knitter? That's a sales pitch if I've ever heard one.

In desperation, I called my in-laws. Help me, I said. The kid wants mittens. You're old, you have to have an old friend that knits. I can't let a kid down on Christmas for lack of mittens! This is almost Little Timmy Cratchett awful. The kid has everything. No, he has two or three of everything known to man and all he wants are mittens! He'll freeze his digits waiting for the bus in January without a fuzzy pair of hand knit mittens.

Christmas 2009 is now the holiday that may go down in the book as the Christmas where all the kid wanted was a pair of knit mittens and his lousy, too busy mother can't figure that out. I can feed him sushi and take him to see a Jasper James exhibit, but I can't rouse up one pair of mittens! I'm a failure!

And, now, it's worse. The other kid wants them too. Two pairs of mittens. I've got 9 days.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This May Be the Last Time We Save your....

Read on and you'll understand why I have included the picture of the lowly donkey. It has another name that rhymes with Bass, but I'm trying very hard to keep bad language out of my blog. (Disclaimer. I think all that bad stuff all the time. My brain was hardwired to mirror that of any average longshoreman.)

This afternoon, I call home.

Me: Hey.
Kid: Hey.
Me: Anything interesting happen to you at school today?
Kid: Ummmm. Not sure.
Me: No special delivery for you today?
Kid: Oh ya, someone brought me an IPod.
Me: Really. Hmmm. An IPod.
Kid: Yes, actually an IPod Touch.
Me: OK, was it delivered by a gorilla playing a saxophone?
Kid: I'm not sure.
Me: What got delivered to you?
Kid: My violin.
Me: And?
Kid: What?
Me: (Hoping, Praying for a scintilla of dread on the Kid's part when he realized he forgot it.) And when did you realize you needed it?
Kid: Later.
Me: So, your Dad killed himself to drop it off and that's all you've got?
Kid: Do you want to talk to Andrew?

It was at this point, that I wasn't even sure who I was talking to. They sound exactly the same. I started to think it has been Andrew all along, yanking my chain.

Kid: What?
Me: Which one are you?
Kid: I don't want to talk on the phone.
Me: (Silent dog scream inserted here)

I can't tell them apart. Even if I could, the kid that got the violin dropped off seems to have cared more about, I don't know, toe lint, than the fact that we saved his, well, refer to the picture.

Good times, had by all. May tomorrow be another day that ends in Y.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Contained Conspiracy

I have a cabinet.

I have 5000 plastic containers.

I have 4999 lids and never the lid I seek. Never. Dang.

Tonight, I whipped up some spaghetti with leftover beef. This, in and of itself, is almost miraculous. I never use leftovers. But, this was leftover Wagyu beef and I would have been struck down by the leftover gods had I let it go to waste.

Shortly after serving everyone up and scarfing it down, we surveyed the leftovers. By careful viewing of the approximate volume of food left in the pot, I found the perfect container- A beautiful little Rubbermaid #2. Hmmm, where's the lid?

No lid. Sheesh. I got down on my hands and knees. Then I sat Indian style on the floor and rooted around like one of those truffle seeking pigs in the Italian forest. No lid. Really.

Kid: I hide those in my room you know.


Kid: I'm kidding.

I emptied the contents of the entire cabinet onto the kitchen floor. There was not a single Rubbermaid #2 lid. This is a conspiracy.

Kid: My friends come over and take the lids.

Me: Seriously. You're just rubbing this in.

I don't get it. The lids are like socks except I'm fairly certain I don't have container lids static clinging to my pants.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Devil Made Me Do It

Meetings started before 7am this morning and I'm still going at 5:30 pm. I am starting to lose my mind.
I'm not sure I'm still effective because I am starting to want to hurt people with office supplies. (Dear employee, if I am looking at you strangely it's because I'm wondering how I could stuff wads of paper in ...) I think I'll leave that thought to my inside voice.

My assistant accuses me of sniffing white-out. That's got to be better than the rubber cement we spread all over our desks in 5th grade.

Back to the present, I managed to throw dinner in the oven although I was supposed to do it last night for the crock pot. Details!

I think all of this business and year end craziness beyond all normalcy and reason is causing me to lose touch with my children. Andrew told me last night that he wants to be a grape when he grows up. I can only hope he's talking about champagne grapes. Today he reassessed and informed me that he's back on for archeology. I'm glad, but I would have loved him even he was a grape- even a yellowed grocery store grape.

Now that's love, huh? Please excuse me while I undo this string of paperclips that I could probably use to....

Monday, December 7, 2009

This is so Glamorous

I should be in a magazine

5:15 pm Arrive home
5:16 pm Turn on lights (kids sitting in the dark, too worn out from such a long day to turn them on apparently. Poor darlings.)
5:17 pm Assess homework status
5:18 pm Peter runs to bathroom to lock himself in after having negative homework status assessment; Andrew directed to practice cello
5:19 pm Clean up cat barf
5:20 pm Put dinner in pot
5:21pm Get mail, take out garbage
5:22 pm Save burning dinner from overheated pot
5:23 pm Return mother in law's phone call to confirm everyone is a alive (you can never be too careful)
5:24 pm Reassess homework. Peter still in bathroom. Investigate Andrew's disappearance.
5:25 pm Find Andrew. Thought he was to practice cello recital piece. (Note to self: work on communication skills) Reassess homework and re-evaluate overall status upon determining that "done" meant "almost done."
5:26 pm Return to kitchen and feed cat
5:27 pm Relocate Peter and check status of assigned tasks. Claims "done." Locate other previously unidentified tasks and realign priorities.
5:28 pm Andrew checks dinner progress and menu options. Inquires about TV viewing.
5:29 pm TV viewing rejected and reminder given about cello recital
5:30 pm Head pounding, oh wait that's the hallway clock.
5:31 pm Peter appears in kitchen apparently dying of thirst. Reassess homework priorities. Again question communication effectiveness.
5:32 pm Google Dale Carnegie course
5:33 pm Holler at Peter for ignoring instructions, sandbagging homework and leaving juice ring on the counter
5:34 pm Dinner totally burning
5:35 pm Andrew is practicing his cello. No longer question my reason for being his mother. Still questioning where that Peter kid came from.
5:36 pm Recover from mini crisis and reassess.
5:37 pm Husband running late. Good choice.
5:38 pm Peter still avoiding work. Again drinking juice and I'm about a minute away from seeing stars.
5:39 pm Peter requests dinner status and menu choices. Didn't I already say this?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Needlessly Pleased with Myself

(Names changed to protect the innocent- Except for mine) Yesterday...

Dials phone number on document

Them: Member Services
Me: What company is this?
Them: Universal
Me: Universal? You're supposed to be Larry's Super Fantastic Insurance Company- LSF
Them: Oh, well, we're really Universal
Me: So you're not LSF?
Them: Who is this?
Me: (Name and Company)
Them: I am going to transfer you.

I get transferred to a phone tree and give/hang up in self righteous disgust. They're busted- they're supposed to answer LSF on that phone number. But, I'll horse around with that later and I go back to my other work.

Two hours phone rings. I don't answer it because someone is in my office and I'm busy and my assistant is busy. The phone rings again. And then again. Sheesh! Is someone calling me from a prison? Maybe I finally won the cruise from the fishbowl of business cards at the mall, I pick it up....

Them: This is George Jetson, CEO at Universal. Did you call a while ago?
Me: Yes.
George: You scared the hell out of our phone person.
Me: Oops.
George: She was so upset all we got out of her was "Jennifer..."
Me: (Silence- but muffling a guffaw. They never call me this fast. Ever.)
George:... and I figured it must be you. You're the only Jennifer in town that would call and scare the hell out of Customer Service.

Our conversation continued with them apologizing all over themselves for the Universal vs. LSF thing which I can't explain here, because it's a convoluted nightmare mess. Needless to say, I am now a ONE NAME WONDER! Like OPRAH or SHAKIRA or MARMADUKE!

Now if you'll excuse me, my family doesn't care one lick about this and they call me the one word name of MOM and someone wants to eat and said something about clean clothes and needing money. Does this happen to Oprah?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

An Interlude...

I started at least four posts today. The office is maniacally busy until the end of the year. My last project for the year will probably wrap up around the time I start popping champagne corks on New Years' Eve. (Yes, shortly after breakfast.)

I needed something peaceful. The creek along the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park did the trick (see above).
This picture was actually taken on a June afternoon around the Bison Range, but it looks like winter doesn't it? The snow is deceived by the little yellow flowers in the field.

I had this picture on my computer at work forever. Then, I went to work for another company that doesn't allow any pictures. I get to look at security warnings if my computer takes a nap. The napping doesn't occur very often, so there's really no loss I suppose. Between those two mountains is Glacier Park. Cool, huh? I love the little yellow house. I wonder who lives there and if they know that I stare at them and look in their windows.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Overactive Bladder? Underactive Colon?

Every time I ask one of the children to something, do you know where he goes? He goes to the bathroom. He spends hours in the bathroom. He is the only child who does this (Since there are only two of them, that means that 50% of my children torture me with this little game.) It makes me want to scream.

Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes I do scream. This bathroom lock up is so annoying, it makes me sweat and itch just to think about it. EVERY SINGLE TIME I ask him to do something that is not related to eating junk food or playing XBox, he disappears.

Either he has a serious problem with an internal back up, probably requiring the assistance of a skilled surgeon or Fiber One cereal (or both), or it is an evasion tactic. I'm leaning towards evasion. (I would pass out if this kid ever ate Fiber One anything, but I digress. Again.)

Here is how it works..

Me: Hey, it's time to practice your violin.

Kid: OK

Time passes....

Me: I don't hear anything. Where are you?

Kid: I had to go to the bathroom.

More time passes...

Me: Did you fall in?

Kid: Nope, really had to go.

Me: For 2 hours?

This evasion technique, as developed by Kid #2, is so effective it completely subverts or deflects many of the following activities..

  • Room cleaning

  • Dishwasher emptying

  • Dinner table setting/clearing

  • Lawn mowing/raking/snow removal

  • Violin practice

  • Book reading

  • Homework completion

  • Aeronautical design

  • Rocketry

OK, those last two are things that he will probably miss because he's in the bathroom.

And, he's got me right where he wants me...if I yell at the kid in the bathroom I'll mess up his elimination activities forever. Yes, forever.

Is this melodramatic? Oh yes. Now if you would excuse me, I need to go pound on the bathroom door.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Strings of Lights: An Open Letter to Light Manufacturers

Dear Sir/Madam:

Your products are awful, terrible in fact. The strings I bought last year worked perfectly well until I plugged them in again this year. Poof. Nothing. We tested each light. We changed the microscopic fuses. Nothing. They're off to the landfill. Your light strings are more disposable than paper towels, toilet paper and baby wipes.

I went to buy new lights. Several sets, right out of the box, didn't work properly. Half a strand was unlit here and there. I rallied and used the unlit sections to bridge sections of the landscape. I've nearly given up.

The lighted garland for the banister wouldn't even give us a flicker. We've had this stuff for 3 years. Why now? Are you sending your children to college? Paying for your fishing trawler? Laughing in your secret office while stroking your hairless cat?

I've decided that I will only buy decorations at Big Lots. At $5 a box, I can't go wrong. If they blow up after one season, I could really care less. Go on, go feed your hairless kitty.

Sincerely, Torqued in Toledo