Posted in Family, Minimalism, Quirks and Other Weirdness, Uncategorized

In the market

After completing a three-hour road trip where an antifreeze leak kept us smoking a good deal of the time (I should clarify: the car was smoking, Kevin and I were not), and also left us driving in 27 degree weather with no heating capabilities, I am reminded that I am in the market for a vehicle.

Now, when I say ‘in the market’ for something, this merely means I am beginning to think about a purchase. I tend to think and plan and shop for an item so long  by the time I decide to pull the trigger, I’m mentally tired of it and change my mind.  I’ve been ‘in the market’ for new living room chairs since this time last year and still have yet to purchase any appropriate seating for said room.

That being noted, I am in the market for a perfect vehicle.

It should:

*Have seating for 8. Or better yet, 10.
*Have a relatively short wheel-base so it’s easy to parallel park next to the coffee shop.
*Have cup holders wide enough and deep enough for my 32-oz Contiga flip-top water bottle and my 16-oz latte-to-go.
*Come with voice activated heat/air and stereo controls. You know, Distracted Driving is Deadly Driving.
*Get 30+ miles to the gallon. In town.
*Be self-cleaning, like my oven. Although, in all fairness, I actually USE my vehicle, so that gives the oven an unfair advantage.
*Cost less than the remaining mortgage on the house.
*Have a nifty little compartment specifically for my diva sunglasses.
*Have a center console large enough that my daughter doesn’t inadvertantly buckle my purse straps into the passenger seatbelt, leaving me frustratedly fumbling for my lipgloss while driving.
*Be a pretty color. Not like a “SWEET, there goes Stephanie!” pretty color, but more like
“That vehicle is nicely understated and Honda-Odysseyis unobtrusive in the driveway
and doesn’t at all clash with the shutters.”

There. Like I told daughter-face earlier this week, “I am not that picky”.

“MmmmHmmm,” she replied, as she buckled my purse strap into her seatbelt.

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness

traditionally untraditional part two. OR why Kevin wasn’t allowed to eat the rum cake.

The most bizarre of the untraditional has to be the characters around our table and the conversation that ensued. Did we share all the things for which we are thankful?  No. Did we discuss politics- Hillary, the Donald, immigration, or the economy?  Thank heavens, no. Was there mention of deflated footballs, California wildfires or Syrian refugees? A discussion of the year’s best books or most disappointing movies? No. No. No. No. No.  

Instead, Kevin nearly stabbed the cowboy in the face (accidentally?) with a steak knife, while Mom displayed a burn on her hand from a glue-gun mishap. 

The 10-person, full-table Thanksgiving dinner discussion
went something like this:

“Three things you should never grab with your bare hands:a pan right out of the oven, a sharp knife, and a hot glue gun.”

AND OH, THE ARK OF THE COVENANT!” the cowboy instantly interjected.

Kacey and I reenact the face-melting scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“Yeah, that would be a bad way to die.”

“True.  Speaking of bad ways to die: would you rather get chomped in half by a

Woodridge, IL, USA --- Great White Shark Opening Mouth --- Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

shark or swallowed whole by a whale?”

“Shark…no, wait…whale.”

“Seriously?!?!”

“Yeah…I’m afraid that the lower half of me would be bitten off by a shark,
and the upper half would still be alert and know what was happening.”

“True, but if you were swallowed whole by a whale,
you might get in there and find out you aren’t alone.”

Kevin waved, pretending to be inside a whale, and said, “Hi Elvis!”

“Speaking of dead, how many squirrels have you killed at the bookstore this year, Dad?”

“342 of those glorified rats, all with a single shot 22!”

Wow. These potatoes are so creamy.

Of course none of those squirrels were shot when Nana was around!”

“Of course not! Nana would set them free, then cut down an oak tree so they can find food without endangering themselves.”

(Nana asks if anyone wants rum cake. We are all stuffed from pork tenderloin and potatoes, so the answer is a unanimous “no“).

2369764376_9931db8a8cThe conversation continues with my sweet 90-year-old grandmother: “I used to catch mice and put them in the garbage disposal.”

I’m sorry…WHAT???????  

She repeats with her delicate soprano voice, “I used to catch mice and put them in the garbage disposal.”

Shock and Awe. Oh, and Disgust.

Kacey turns three shades of green (chartreuse, pistachio and olive drab, to be exact) and begins to look like she is going to lose her just-eaten holiday meal.

Nana asks if anyone wants rum cake. It has been approximately 6 minutes since the last time she asked. The answer is a resounding, and again unanimous, “NO!”

Since Kacey is now feeling pukey, she shared the memories of a “Fear Factor” competition from her college days at Lipscomb fear-factor-logowhen she finished drinking a pureed hamburger, peanut butter and DIRT milkshake and was the only remaining female competitor.

(Yes, yes. A proud moment INDEED in her $80,000 college career.)

Kacey tells her end of the table (mostly men): “After that I quit. The final contest involved eating bull balls.”

The mostly female end of the table didn’t quite hear her, so she repeated louder, “After that I quit. The final contest involved eating bull testicles.”

The cowboy then wanted to know why she felt comfortable using the term “balls” with him, but chose to say “testicles” to the matriarchs.

These potatoes are so creamy.

“I used to eat brains and eggs. I liked brains and eggs.”

“Gross. I can’t imagine eating brains, though I do like me some eggs.”

“Hyena eggs?”

“WHAT?”

“You said ‘hyena eggs’.”

“No I didn’t. I said ‘I do like me some eggs’.”

“Oh. Nevermind.”

61hrB4WrkXL._SY355_“Speaking of balls, when is Nana going to pass on her Christmas ornaments to the girls?”

“HEY! Some of those decorations are MINE!” Kevin objected.

68423_0000“Yes,” Kacey said, “But the Frosty Friends are all mine.”

“Fine. But I get all the Star Wars ornaments!”

Yes, because nothing says “Happy Birthday, Jesus

” quite like a Sith lord.

“Speaking of frosty, anybody want rum cake?”

“NO!!!”

“Well, what does everybody want for Christmas?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t even started thinking about Christmas yet,” says my mother.

“How can you not be thinking about Christmas when the entire house is decorated for it already!?!?”

“I had to start decorating early, we’re having a party here next weekend. I can’t relax till it’s done!”

“Speaking of relaxing, did I tell you I had a facial last Monday? It lasted for a full 90 minutes.”

“I got a pedicure for Christmas one year. It lasted for a full 9 months.”

“Nine months? The pedicure lasted for 9 months?”

“No, the polish on my toenails lasted for 9 months.”

Dad interjected, “Apparently they painted her toes with automotive enamel.”

christmas 2Really, ya’ll, does anybody want rum cake?”


We finally acquiesced and imbibed in a rum cake so strong it was illegal for Kevin to eat.  Then we cleared the table, put away the wheat stalks and turkey 
rings and helped Nana redecorate the dining room with a trio of glittered Christmas trees.

Posted in Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness

traditionally untraditional. part one.

My family loves to be traditionally untraditional, especially when it comes to holiday food.

For years Mom would faithfully get up in the wee hours of the morning to baste the turkey – only for us all to admit years later that none of us even like turkey. We had a few years of trial-and-error options like fried turkey and Tofurkey and Turducken and othersuch critter combinations (just don’t say it incorrectly in front of the children!), but they all taste like they sound.

For the last few years, Dad has thrown caution to the wind and prepared either a prime rib or a pork tenderloin with a Jack Daniels marinade, glazed with a brown sugar/cranberry reduction, while Mom double-stuffed the potatoes and maple-glazed the bacon and over-soaked the rum cake.  It is nothing short of A-mazing.

thanks26Adding to the traditionally untraditional feel for our holidays is Mom’s flair for decorating. The dining room is completely harvest-festive, from the dramatic stalks of wheat reigning over the tablescape, to the subtle touches like leaf-shaped pats of butter, to the whimsical turkey-embossed napkin rings.  

Why is that untraditional, you ask?  

Because my mother callously engages in the practice of irreverent holiday jumping.

While the dining room is harvest-festive, you should understand that Thanksgiving is confined to that space, and that space only. If you venture out of the dining room, it’s like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, because sometime back in August she began completely Decking the Halls for Christmas…and the front porch and the den and the garden room and the foyer and all the bedrooms AND THE BATHROOMS.

516oO0W3S4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I am so not kidding. Sometimes there are as many as EIGHT lighted trees, all with different themes and/or color schemes. The house rivals a the Southern Living Christmas edition.

I, on the other hand, am still contemplating whether or not I want to go to the effort of putting a pine wreath on my front door.

Posted in Parenting, Quirks and Other Weirdness

diaLOG with my son

Kevin’s upcoming Halloween party required a costume.

It needed to be Clever. Creative. Comical. Quirky. Cheap. Mostly, it needed to rival our reputation for being different.

One year I wore a column around my neck, with two deer emerging from my cleavage, a red ribbon on my lips, and purple hair as I represented the LITERAL description of “The Ideal Woman” from the Song of Solomon.

For her middle school party, Kacey disguised herself as a sofa table, complete with a lampshade on her head.  Party-goers bumped into her, thinking she was actual furniture.

ME: “So, Kev, what’s your costume gonna be for this shindig?” 

KEV: “I dunno. Maybe I’ll go as a telephone pole.”

ME: “You COULD go as a tree.”

KEV: “A tree?  That’s so boring, mom…(long pause)…I think I’ll go as a log.”

Because that’s SO much more interesting than a tree.

Six pieces of poster board, a roll of woodgrain contact paper, and some black mesh garnered him a prize for “scariest costume”… not because the costume itself was creepy, but because the brain that produced the idea to dress up as a LOG is, apparently, pretty darn frightening.

lincoln logI told him he should put a nametag on his log costume that read, “Hello, my name is Lincoln.” Then I laughed my silly head off.

Kevin, however, doesn’t appreciate my humor.  

Posted in Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness

When Harry Met Sushi

Harry: There are two kinds of people: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally: Which one am I?
Harry: You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.
Sally: I don’t see that.
Harry: You don’t see that? “Waiter, I’ll begin with a house salad, but I don’t want the regular dressing. I’ll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side.”
“On the side” is a very big thing for you.
Sally: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry: I know; high maintenance.
~ from “When Harry Met Sally”

sushiWhen the kids and I go for sushi, we order several of our favorite rolls loaded with things like raw tuna, eel, tobiko, masago, wasabi, and the likes. Besides Kevin’s aversion to all things avocado, we love every oversized bite, and are happy to eat it exactly as the chef creates it. Low maintenance, right?

Not exactly.

Server: “What can I get you to drink?”
Kevin: “Ice water please.”
Server: “Lemon?”
Kevin: “No thanks, but I would like two straws.”
Kacey: “I’ll have a water too.”
Server: “Double straws for you too?”
Kacey: “No, but I do want lemon. And I’d also like the lemon my brother didn’t want.”
Me: “I’d like a water too, but may I have it without ice, please?”
lemon waterServer: “You don’t want ice in your ice water?”
Me: “Right. I don’t want ice water, I just want water.”
Server: “Lemon?”
Me: “Yes, but on the side.”
Server: “So… three waters. One with no lemon and two straws. One with lemon and an extra lemon. And one ice water with no ice and a lemon on the side.”

“Exactly. And can we have forks as well as chopsticks, three additional small plates, and instead of the regular soy sauce, will you bring us the low-sodium soy sauce? Oh, yeah, and a little spicy mango sauce…on the side?”

High maintenance? Nah. I just want it the way I want it.

I leave a great tip. I promise.

Posted in Parenting, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Not the half of it…

15330641I was trying on a pair of strappy ankle boots the other day, which, of course, I will never buy because of the whole, you know, “legs like tree trunks” thing. Anyway, as I was trying them on, pretending to be tall and graceful, it occurred to me:
Women’s shoes begin at size 4 and progress by half sizes.

WHY??

Please tell me what’s wrong with consecutive Arabic numerals? Why the “half” sizes?  Why could they not begin at ONE and proceed to two, three, four, and so on? Whose asinine idea was it to require the use of fractions and decimals when purchasing footwear? (Probably the same genius who established a mile at 5,280 feet, or a pound at 16 ounces. Or maybe it was the gy who decided to say “numeral” instead of “numberal”.)

As I was mentally trying to figure out what my hypothetical shoe size would be if adult shoes began at size 1 and progressed upward by whole numbers, I overheard a conversation between a mom and her preschooler.  The child was repeatedly kicking the angled shoe-mirror at the end of the aisle with her black patent-leathers.
“Bailey, stop kicking the mirror. Bailey, I mean it. Stop. Do you want to go to the car? I’m going to count to three, Bailey. One. Two. Two-and-a-half…”

3-stepsAnd…there we go.

 

Posted in Minimalism, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Desperately Seeking Simplicity

elfilm.com-the-jerk-302431“I don’t need this stuff…I don’t need anything except this ashtray. That’s it. And this paddle game. The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game and the remote control, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle game. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this! And this! And that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.”

Sitting barefoot under a tree on this serenely gorgeous September afternoon, I should be content to just be. But I can’t get my mind off all the stuff.  The stuff in the house. The stuff in the garage.  The stuff in the barn. The stuff in the other house. (Yes, we just bought a 2nd house). The stuff in the other garage. The stuff in the other barn. The stuff in the cabinets and closets and boxes and drawers.  

This is not the first time I’ve proclaimed this, but
I AM SO TIRED OF ALL THE STUFF.

I don’t deal well with clutter – physical or mental. Disorder and chaos make me feel overwhelmed and out of control. Truthfully, the “Where’s Waldo?” books even kinda stress me out. I spent the first half 5706126657_cca84635bdof my adult life wanting and wishing I had more; a bigger house, nicer car, more shoes, and an endless supply of essential throw pillows.  But now all I want is less. It’s not exactly the Amurican Dream, but collecting and cleaning and organizing useless junk is not how I want to spend the remaining 301,128 hours of my life (give or take a few).  

I’ve been on this journey of simplifying for about 4 years; unfortunately most of it has been verbal. I talk a good game. I get on a kick and clean out a couple of closets, haul it off to Goodwill/consignment/the dump, but to be honest, I haven’t made notable progress.  I continually bring more in than I remove.  The closets are overflowing, the utility is packed, and there is such a quantity of food in the house we could survive the apocalypse by bartering frozen okra and jars of salsa.

minimalism-empty-shelf (2)Do the cowboy and I really NEED 16 towels and 32 washcloths? What about the collection of coffee mugs in the cabinet or the accumulation of boots by the garage door?  Does every flat surface in the house have to be “decorated” with lamps and vases and picture frames? And have we EVER used the pickle fork that came with the flatware?

My makeup bag contains no fewer than 27 cosmetic items, when I’m certain paring down to 8 items would achieve the same underwhelming morning makeover. I have an entire drawer devoted to hoarding nail polish and Jamberry stickers, and I haven’t done my nails since April.  And don’t even get me started on the clothes (the ones that fit now, the ones the optimist in me hopes to wear, and the ones the pessimist in me is afraid to let go of)…and shoes…and bags…and oh my goodness, the jewelry.

Why do we feel the need to possess 207 dvds when we have Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime and a library card?  For that matter, why do we have Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime when we hardly ever watch tv? And can I confess the only reason I stockpile books is because smart people have books and I want you to think I’m smart even if I never intend to read most of those books again???

ZZ08EBF772I may not have the body of a minimalist, but I sure have a frustrated one living in my brain. One who needs to go home and start decluttering. Again. But it’s so much nicer spending this afternoon lounging under a tree, soaking up the 72° weather, and pinning dozens and dozens of great ideas to my “Minimalism” board on Pinterest.  

Yes, I get the irony.