Friday, October 31, 2008

My Little Ghoul

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!!!!

I know it sucks to have your birthday on a day when you have to share it with ghosts, vampires, bats, skulls, kids, costumes, parties, trick or treating, handing out candy, and everything else NOT focused on you. But I wanted you to know that I think you are amazing, excellent, awesome, smart, funny, very funny, helpful, ingeneous, creative, hardworking, kind, generous, sexy, unique, and wonderful. You are good at everything you do (except drumming) and impress me time and time again with how smart you are. You're the best dad I've ever met, seen, or heard of in my whole life. Your fajitas rock. Your hands and feet are beautiful. Your knowledge of 70's rock is unparalleled. Your beard is so multi-colored. Your driving is nearly as good as mine. You sleep quietly and don't snore (that's a big one). You do all the fix-it jobs around the house so I don't have to. And you take super good care of me. I'm lucky to have you.



p.s. You're super old.

The Ghost of Halloween Past

Consider this a tag if you want to play along...I thought it might be fun to dig up old Halloween pictures and post them. What have you been in years past?

I also wanted to see if people could tell who my husband was dressed up as. While I usually stick to classic themes, he likes to be obscure characters from movies and T.V., from 70's and 80's mostly. So, peruse for your enjoyment. But I'll also award bonus points to anyone (who doesnt' already know--don't tell if you do) who can guess who Big Daddy is dressed up as.





Thursday, October 30, 2008

These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things...

Chocolate desserts are usually at the top of my list. The chocolate mouse tart at Flour Girls and Dough Boys is one of my favorite desserts ever. The warm chocolate cake (of the molten variety) at Sundance is sublime. Oreos are by far my favorite store-bought cookie. And French Silk pie has got to be at the very top of my pie list. but there is one dessert that is not chocolate that can actually rivel one in my book:

Crème Brûlée

If you haven't had this wonderful dessert, try it sometime. They have it at quite a few restaurants. It literally means "burnt creme.and is pronounced "krem broo-lay." At it's best, it is a thick, vanilla cream, firmer than pudding, stiff enough not to ooze when you cut into it. Sugar is sprinkled on the top, and then, just before serving, the sugar is heated with a special blow torch until it melts, browns, and becomes crispy. You haven't lived until you have experienced the pleasure of taking the back of a spoon and cracking it onto the crunchy burnt sugar shell on the top of a crème brûlée. Divine.

No Chance of Recovery

Big Daddy told me this story last night over dinner. I laughed. I laughed some more. I laughed until milk dribbled from the corners of my mouth and the kids began to look worried, like something might be seriously wrong with me. But I kept laughing. Soon I wasn't making any noise--just silently shaking, tears straming down my cheeks. And then, as I continued to eat and pictured the scenario in his story again and again, I continued to laugh off and on. This lasted about 20 minutes before I got it out of my system. Now I just hope I can do the story justice as I retell it here. (Told from Big Daddy's perspective).

So I went to the video store with Daphne tonight. And as we were walking through the kids aisles checking out the movies, a young, hot, early 20's to late teens girl walked by us. She smiled at me. I think she thought I was kind of cute. I was feeling pretty smooth. Just then Daphne said in a loud clear voice to me, "Daddy, I tooted!!" I closed my eyes in shame, hoping the girl hadn't heard. I was just about to turn to check when Daphne continued, "Just like you!!"

I didn't even bother to turn around after that. There was no need. Game over.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boo Hoo Hoo

I'm very honored to have been boo'ed by my good friend the Tibster. (Thanks!)

So don't get me wrong about this, but, to whoever started this online boo-ing thing...WHERE THE HECK ARE THE COOKIES??? I don't know if they do the boo'ed thing in your neighborhood, but in my neighborhood it comes with cookies or cupcakes, or some other homemade goody.

So I will be a good sport and play along. But I want you to know that my sugar tooth is very sorry that the "treat" in this version is virtual. As for you, Tib, if you showed up at my door with, say, pumpkin chocolate chip cake, I wouldn't be sad. If not, I'm going to trace down whoever started this and tell them that next year, this better include baked goods!



While I'm on the Subject of Free Stuff...

This is actual free stuff! I just ordered mine.

Although I'm not very picky about the content of the movies I watch, I know I should be. So when I saw that a couple of my favorite movies (which I've never been able to show my mom) were available edited, I couldn't resist. So far I have ordered Amelie, and 50 First Dates will be next. Shipping was only $3.35 for the free one, so quite a bargain!

You have until Halloween. For the free Clean Flicks offer, click HERE.

Free iPods For Everyone!

Today I got a forward. It was an essay written by David Letterman. It showed a "rarely seen side of Letterman." He talked about how 69% of Americans report that they are unhappy about the state of our nation. And then he went on to show all the great things that America is. He cautioned that we should all be more grateful for what we have, stop bagging on the president, be grateful for our volunteer army, give thanks for modern medicine, clean drinking water, and free education. It was very inspiring. One problem though: The essay was not written by David Letterman. And it was not written by Jay Leno, who was quoted to have written it the last time I got this forward about a year ago. It was written by Craig R. Smith. (And it is quite inspiring. You can read the real article here.)

I know it's been said before on many a blog. And I know it's been screamed aloud at many a computer desk before too. But I'm going to say it again now, for myself, to anyone and everyone who has perpetrated this crime:


Don't assume that every forward you get is fact.
Most of the missing children forwards you get? Hoaxes.
Many of the "new" computer virus warnings people send you? Made up.
The vast majority of "actual" recipes from famous restaurants people excitedly forward you? Surprise. Not the actual recipes.
And you know the free giveaways and cash you can get from big name companies just for forwarding another email? Someone is sitting back laughing while you forward their made-up email.
Sadly, lots of the other amazing forwards people send you are misrepresented, outdated, changed, edited, or downright false. I know everyone wants to be helpful when they forward things like that. But it only makes things worse when people become scared about the world they live in for no good reason, or spend effort trying to follow the warnings in the email. So please, before you forward anything-- even something possibly inspiring--that proports to true...


It only takes a few seconds to check the facts on something, before you forward it, to make sure that it is true. And if it is true, more power to you! You can make REAL Nieman Marcus cookies, keep your computer safe from the greeting-card virus, ward off telemarking scams, find that missing little girl, prevent all new money being printed without the words "In God We Trust," and get $500 from Bill Gates.

In fact, when you finally get the evidence that proves that one true, please, send that forward to me!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Preview

Two years ago, we dressed up Daphne in a super cute ladybug costume for Halloween. Unfortunately, she took a bad nap that day and woke up as a little bee (otch). We couldn't get a single good picture of her. (see below)

So, in my old age, I'm getting wiser. I decided I should do some pre-Halloween pictures this year. Taken when my kids are mellow. When the smell of my desire for a good photo shoot isn't tangy in the air. When my pupils aren't dilated with the fear of not getting a single good shot. When they're lulled into a false sense of security, believing that the "dress up" is "just for fun." Suckers. So here is the Halloween preview. Now I will feel OK if they both turn into monsters (which is neither of their costume) on Halloween night.

Beck as monkey

Daphne as witch. Or "princess witch" as she calls it. My way of convincing her that her witch costume was what she wanted to be after she changed her mind.

Finn McCool

I have a nephew named Finn and he recenly sent me this letter (click to enlarge):

First notice the paper. Didn't you know, 8 1/2 x 11 is so passé. Secondly, the message. You have to read it in all its 3rd grade glory. I've transcribed it below in case you can't see it, but you are only getting half the story unless you read it yourself...

"Yesterday my dad gave me a buzz cut. Now I don't sweat as much at recess and baseball. I just got home from Egor. I thought it was weird. Have you seen Meet Dare? It is so funny. I have caught a few lizards, but they always let go of their tail. It is gross. p.s. Trick or treat."

And on the back, a hand drawn Halloween wish made of snakes, pumpkins, pollywogs (or commas) and a guy with an afro, I think.

I love kids. And Finn has got to be the coolest one of all. I want to write back, but I'm not sure what to say that could compete with that. I need a young boy to tell me what the hip kids are discussing on the playground these days. Anyone have an 8 year old I can borrow?

My Addiction

Dear Mr. UPS Man,

I'm afraid I have to break off our relationship. It's been a very fulfilling relationship for me. (Not as much for you, I fear.) Your daily visits have given me such a thrill. When your glossy brown van pulls up, I can feel my heart begin to race. By the time I see your dark brown shorts and red hiking boots between the blinds on my front window, the sweat has broken out in tiny little bubbles on my brow. Ah, the joy your packages bring with their bright white bar codes and shiny packing tape. The smell of plastic green packing peanuts makes me giddy. You can't know the thrill your computerized signing clip gives me. And my heart always flutters when you whisper those three magic words: "Please sign here." But I feel that our relationship has begun to get unhealthy. I think about you a lot, with your stream of boxes and large padded envelopes. I worry that I'm becoming addicted. I'm afraid my children will notice the way I start Little Einsteins and shut the playroom door just before the 10:30 truck arrives. And I can only shred so many credit card statements before my recycling bin starts to overflow. I hope you understand.

I will miss your handle-bar-mustache smile and your C.H.I.P's sunglasses. And the way you have managed to carry four large boxes to my door every day for the past four weeks without dropping a single one. You are my hero. But I must call this relationship off. Don't worry! It's not for forever! Just for a while. Until I can get a second job. Or transfer my balances to a card with lower interest. Or steal someone's identity. I'll be seeing you soon, UPS Man. I can feel it.

Until then....Adieu.


-Shopping Fills The Hole In My Heart

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Scary Life

So on Friday night I went to the Haunted Forest with Tiburon. It was a blast! She blogged all about it here. So I won't bore you with a complete copy cat post. Hers was perfect. Instead, I'll let you in on a few scary secrets about my life...picture included.

In an attempt to get down to my college weight, I've gone on a starvation diet. I think it's working...

( I should probably focus on a new wardrobe now, huh?)

Usually, when I got out in public, I've spent some time on hair and make up. But today I'm going to expose my first-thing-in-the-morning look to the world...

But usually a good mud mask gets me back to normal...

If you know me at all, you'll know that I hate to be woken up while I'm sleeping. I can get real testy. So when my neighbor's dog wakes me up in the night, I usually run to the window and shout at them. For some reason, they always back down...

Big K has hired out our yard work. They are a bunch of clowns, but they're pretty cheap...

One thing you may not know about me is that I'm super into fashion. I have a huge closet packed full with rows of clothes. But it makes the decision-making part so stressful.

I hope my husband doesn't read this. He doesn't know that I've been getting a little something-something on the side. This is a picture of me and my afternoon delight...

Tiboron wanted a picture of herself with us. I think she may be trying to steal my man!

I live in a really old house. One hundred and 13 years old. We've heard spooky sounds coming from the basement sometimes. I've wondered if our house might be haunted. So I set up a hidden camera to take a picture if anything moves down there. Here is the first shot....
Maybe we should move.

We should probably hook our house up to the city plumbing. Our well water tastes funny sometimes.

Well, that's a little sneak peak into my life. Hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fa La La La La

I usually am a serious stickler for doing the holidays in order. And so I usually get majorly bent out of shape when stores start marketing Easter as soon as the Christmas goods have been cleared up, or putting out school supplies even before the Fourth Of July has passed, or playing Christmas music before I've even put up my Halloween decorations, let alone celebrated Thanksgiving.

But today I went shopping at Costco for butter, eggs, and chicken nuggets. 20 minutes later I had butter, eggs, chicken nuggets, and $50 worth of Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas gift tags, Christmas tissue paper, wrapping paper cutters, and tape dispensers. And as I wandered through the seasonal aisles full of twinkling lights and shiney ornaments, I found myself humming Deck the Halls without meaning to. I couldn't help it. Those nodding yard deer and musical Santas just got me in the mood.

I have betrayed everything I believe in. I hate myself.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Husband Tag

My friend Kelli invited me to play Husband Tag. If there's one thing I will never pass up, it's a good tag questionnaire...


1.What's his name? Big K or Big Daddy (he prefers his anonymity)

2.How long have you been married? 6 years. Well, 7 in February.

3.How long did you date? 2 1/2 very long, but very fun, years

4.How old is he? 37 on Halloween. Old Man River.

5.Who eats more? He does. And way faster too. He's done when I'm on my 4th bite. But if it's dessert, I do.

6.Who said "I love you" first? I did. In a letter I stuck in his suitcase when he went out of town a few months after we started dating.

7.Who is taller? He is 3 or 4 inches taller than I am. Perfect for hugging.

8.Who sings better? Um, unless it's Twinkle Twinkle, I do.

9.Who is smarter? When we first got married, I thought we were pretty equal. But I have realized since then that he is WAAAAAY smarter than I am. He is smart in a lot of areas where I am just plain clueless.

10.Whose temper is worse? Definitely his. He doesn't lose it often, but when he does...look out for flying objects.

11.Who does the laundry? I do. Unless he needs something specific washed or I get too behind on the whites.

12.Who does the dishes? The dishwasher, thank goodness. But I load and unload them.

13.Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? Me. I can't sleep on the left side because then I'd have to face into the bed.

14.Who pays the bills? His money pays the bills, but I am in charge of finances.

15. Who mows the lawn? A lawn service. After a year or so of living here, he decided his time was too valuable to waste 2 hours of his Saturday mowing. He still to this day considers it the best money he ever spent. And I'm fine with having him home with me on Saturday too.

16.Who cooks dinner? I cook 3 or 4 days a week, and he pays for dinner in or dinner out 2 or 3 days. He can cook, though. His fajitas are fantastic.

17.Who drives when you are together? In his car, he always does. In my car, he does about 80% of the time, but sometimes I like to drive.

18.Who is more stubborn? I don't think either of us is very stubborn. But I am probably a bit more stubborn than he is.

19.Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? We take turns. Sometimes he does, sometimes I do.

20. Whose parents do you see the most? His. I see my mom every week, but during the day when he's not home. So together, we see his more.

21.Who proposed? He did.

22.Who has more friends? Hard question. He has had the same 6 or 7 friends since middle and high school. They know each other really well, but they don't hang out much. I don't have a ton of really close friends who live near me, but I hang out with my casual friends more often than he does his good friends.

23.Who has more siblings? He does. I have one brother and one sister. He has four brothers and one sister.

24.Who wears the pants in the family? I would say that he does. We both contribute to decisions, but he usually makes the final call. (Except with the kids. I'm in charge of that arena.)

Consider yourself tagged!

Crappity Crap Crap! The Third Installment

A few of you asked what happened when I returned my scratched up rental car. And I flatter myself to think that you actually care enough for me to do a post about it. Here goes...It's pretty anti-climactic. Sorry.

I decided to play the honesty card. The "I'm a total idiot and please take pity on me" card. Fortunately, the girl who helped me was very nice and not very shocked about it. UNfortunately, the girl who helped me was not the manager who was so indebted to me for his company's many issues on my previous visit. He was not there. The girl said she would make an accident report and someone from Enterprise would call me. That was 6 days ago, and nothing yet. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that no one will ever call. I'm hoping maybe a little fairy came in that night when no one was there and shredded the accident report. Or maybe the manager came in on Monday and felt so bad for me that HE shredded the accident report. Or maybe, just maybe, someone took the car out later that day and totalled it. In which case, they wouldn't charge me for a few scratches, right? One can dream.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

David Sedaris Education

Who is David Sedaris? Don't feel bad if you don't know. You're not alone. You're also not as hip as me. Poor you.

First there was Amy Sedaris. Actually, I think David might have come first. But Amy's fame came first. At least for me. I'm not making much headway, am I? Amy Sedaris is an actress. SUPER funny. Sketch comedy, like SNL called Strangers With Candy. She's also had bit parts in a lot of shows like Sex in the City and My Name is Earl as well as doing voices for animated movies. She's absolutely brilliant. Here is a super funny clip montage of her on Letterman. Letterman loves her, so she's been on quite a few times. (p.s. CUT THE CLIP OFF BEFORE THE LAST 10 SECONDS BECAUSE THERE IS THE f-WORD AT THE END!)

Ok, so that's Amy. Later, somehow I became acquianted with her brother, David. He is also brilliant and hilarious. Though not nearly as wacky loud. He is actually a writer. His books are so funny and so true of the human experience. And as far as I could tell, his "concerts" are pretty much his book tours. He travels around reading excerts from them, and from other stuff he has written, like his diary. It's like going to a stand-up comedy show, only he reads most of it. I know, it doesn't sound that thrilling, but I swear it's the funniest 2 hours of my life I've ever spent.

Now you know. And now you are free to flaunt your ultra-hip status over others who still do not know who David Sedaris is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The $300 Question - Answered

So, yes, I did suddnely come into a vast fortune of $300. And because it came out of the blue and wasn't part of my budget, I wanted to make sure to blow it on something fun, something I'd never usually spend money on. Something I'd get major guilt for if I ever spent $300 of my monthly stipend on it. So here's what I did...

1) I bought a new guitar for our Rock Band. I discovered a guitar online that will work with both the Wii Rock Band and Wii Guitar Hero. No, I don't actually HAVE Guitar Hero. I am going to have to wait for another windfall for that. I'm planning ahead. So this guitar will be the bass guitar to complete my band (The Mollies and Peters) when I play Rock Band, and, should I ever actually get Guitar Hero, I won't have to buy a new guitar.

2) I bought more soap making supplies. I was clean out of soap base, I was NOT satisfied with my Robert's crafts soap dyes, which bleed like a....well, I'll leave out the gross analogies and just say that they bleed a lot. And I wanted to beef up my selection of both molds and scents. So I got.

1) a leaf mold with 5 small and various leaf designs
2) a mold made of oval shaped "stones" with chinese symbols
3) a mold with little animal heads-- monkey, pig, etc.
4) pumkin pie scent (which actually smells more like hot buttered rum or something)
5) Goergoe Peach scent
6) Honey Bear scent, which unfortunately smells a lot more like baby powder than honey or bears
7) Grapefruit scent, since the one I had dumped all over my bag.
8) Pink Sugar scent. Mmmmm....
9) Chamomile scent, which I am NOT pleased with. Unless it changes drastically when it is in soap, it doesn't smell anything like chamomile.
10) 8 new liquid soap dyes
11) 3 blocks of shea butter soap base and 2 blocks of goats milk, plus a tub of clear glycerin soap base

Blowing money sure feels good. Soap making party, anyone?

David Sedaris, Hobbit Extraordinaire

Big Daddy's birthday is on Halloween. That usually makes for a very lame birthday for him. We're always busy handing out fistfuls of candy to the six kids who come through our neighborhood,then carting our kiddles out to show off their costumes to the relations, and bribing them to keep their headpieces on long enough for Grandma and Aunt Marin to see. So this year I took the opportunity to get him a premature present: tickets to see David Sedaris in concert last night at Abravenel Hall. I'm SO glad I did. The tickets weren't cheap. Not even close. I got them through the KUER fund drive and I had to pledge my third child to get them. But the seats were fantastic. Fourth row, dead center. I'm actually glad they weren't closer or we wouldn't have been able to see David Sedaris over the podium. He's not tall, in case my title didn't tip you off. Anyway, he was all that AND a bag of chips. If you ever have a chance to see him live, DO IT. You will not regret it. You never thought watching someone read could be so entertaining.

Here's a clip...
(The post-production visuals are kind of distracting, so feel free to turn away and just listen.)

Hand Me That Bag

I call it a purse. Some people call it a handbag. Others call it a pocketbook. But whatever you call it, I've been on the hunt for a new one for about a year now. I love the purse I have. It's lime green, has pockets on the outside for my phone and keys, and is a good size. And Big Daddy--amazing man that he is--found me a wallet, all on his own, that matches it perfectly! Same lime green, same kind of buckle. I swear he's half gay. Anyway, my favorite purse is showing some wear. And I just feel like it's time for a change. But I'm kind of picky when it comes to choosing a new purse, and I just haven't found anything that fits the bill yet. It has to be on the smaller side. I know these gargantuon "garbage bag" purses are en vogue now. But they're just not me. Unless I have to hide a body or carry around a large dog, they are just too spacious. I want something only just big enough for my stuff; the less room, the less likely I am to fill it with junk that I have to clean out later. I also have to have at least one exterior pocket for easy access to my cell phone. I prefer lots of pockets. In fact, the purses that have made me the happiest have had pockets and compartments all over them. But those just aren't in right now. The few I have found with lots of pockets and compartments are SO not hip. And that's my other prerequisite; it has to be hip and edgy and different. Not black or brown. It has to say something about me.'s what I recently chose...

What do you think? I don't actually have it in hand. I ordered it online. So I hope I like it in real life. My only real complaint is that there is one big area inside (I like it divided). But it's kind of different and seems to have a few compartments. So hopefully I will like it. Now to find a matching wallet. Better put Big K on the job.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Exactly A Cake Walk

So does anyone out there need a cake? Cause I have a spare. And it looks pretty tasty too.

It all started when I was in charge of the birthday cake for Big Daddy's and his sister's family party yesterday. I got creative and decided to make a chocolate raspberry layer cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. I decided it would be three layers of chocolate butter cake with fresh crushed raspberries and frosting in between each layer and raspberries on top. At the last minute I decided to throw some chocolate chips into the batter because chocolate butter cake is quite light and I like my choclate darker. So all went well. I was right on schedule for having the cake cooled and ready to frost well before the guests' arrival. But I didn't count on the chocolate chips creating Swiss cheese holes in my cakes as they sunk to the bottom. so as I turned my first cake over to get it out of the pan, it crumbled into several chunks. SHOOT. So then I only had two layers to work with and a large group of people to feed. So I decided I better start over and make some more layers. Not only to get a third layer, but also in case the other two chocolate chipy layers didn't work out either, at least I would have two good ones. So I let layer 2 and 3 cool while I whipped up some more batter (this time sans chips).

In the meantime I made the frosting and crushed the raspberries for the filling. By then my surviving #2 and #3 layers were cool enough to handle. And I managed to get them out without them breaking. So I started to frost and layer them. But then I realized that the top layer wouldn't have time to cool before the guests arrived. So I made a split second decision to just make it a double layer cake. I figured if we started running out of cake, I could always quickly frost the new cakes (which would be cool by then). Here's how it turned out (plus the cupcakes I made with the spare batter from the second batch):

Now to the conclusion of this story and the dilemma of the extra cake... Well, the double layer cake ended up being just enough. So I ended up with two extra cake layers. Today I decided I couldn't bear to throw them away, so I might as well make a cake out of them. So I did. The question now is, what to do with this delicious raspberry cream cheese chocolate butter cake? (I have to warn you, it will probably be one slice short of a whole cake very soon).

Crapity Crap Crap! Part Deux

You guys are not freaking going to believe this. You're not. You're going to drop whatever you are holding and scream to the heavens, How can this happen to one poor woman??? At least that's what you should do.

So, you will remember that I backed my car into another car and dented the bumper. And you'll remember that I got a crappy mini-van as a rental. Well, since then, I upgraded my mini-van to a nicer one that didn't reek of cigarette smoke. It also had the doors that open from the remote, and a bunch of cool storage compartments on the ceiling. And his & hers temperature controls. It was way nicer. Almost fun to drive in. Here it is:

Well, the manager at Enterprise felt so bad that I had to bring it in due to the smell. And he felt even worse that when I came in 1/2 hour later than they told me the new car would be ready, it still wasn't ready. And he felt terrible that he was the only one there that day so it took him an hour to get my new car prepped for me. He swore he'd make it up to me when I brought the car back in to pay for it. Well, I am probably going to have to call on his huge sense of guilt because....

I backed the rental car into my fence and scraped up the bumper.

AGH!!!! I am not even close to kidding. Yesterday I pulled the sliding gate closed across my driveway (chain link) so that my kids could play safely in the yard. And then later I had to go to pick up my babysitter so that I could go to the doctor. As I was getting in the car I thought to myself, "Don't forget to move the gate back." And then I started putting my kids in their carseats. And Daphne FREAKED OUT because she wanted to ride in the backseat, not in her car seat. And I had to wrestle her to get in her seat and buckle it up. And then she was screaming and thrashing as I got into my seat and started to back up. So I was totally distracted. Also, my car that is being fixed has back-up sensors that beep if you get close to anything. So I'm kind of handicapped by expecting those beeps anytime I back up. It has made me careless about looking behind me (as is evidenced by my recent backing up snafu). Suddenly, CRUNCH! I hit the sliding gate so hard that it swung open like a swinging gate. So I got out and swung it back, but then I couldn't get it to slide anymore. It was thrown from the track and the bar it slides on was bent. Of course my neighbors were in the yard at the time, adding to my humiliation, and offered to come over and help. That's when I noticed all the damage to the rear bumper. I hadn't thought backing up at 2 miles/hour could do damage to my bumper. But, clearly, it can.

Words cannot describe the chagrin I felt at that moment. The humiliation, the terror, the regret. I cannot BELIEVE that I just did the almost exact same thing that put me in this rental in the first place!!! ARG!!! So now I have to return my rental today and bat my eyelashes and hope that the Enterprise manager is on shift and that he remembers how he felt so bad yesterday when he switched out my car. Should I just hope he doesn't check the car for damage? Should I come in and tell him what happened right off the bat and beg for mercy? Should I say that I have no idea how it happened or pretend I didn't know it was there? No. I'll be honest. Because I need GOD on my side. I need direct divine intervention. But still. It's going to be horrible when I show them the car. Horrible horrible horrible.

And it's going to cost me a lot of money. Or another big deductible and jacked up insurance rates. I'm sure my insurance agent is going to love to hear how I backed up and crashed twice in one month. The weird thing is, I've never been responsible for an accident or car damage ever. All the accidents and fender benders I've been in have been someone else's fault. And then it's my fault twice in one month. What is going on???

The only thing I can think of to explain it is that the back up sensors are to blame. They've crippled me! Made me lazy. I think I need to sue Subaru.

The one good thing to come out of this is that my husband proved what an incredible man he is. My hero. Not only did he not yell at me when I told him, and not only was he very conciliatory when I started bawling, he brought me this when he came home from work:

My knight in shining armor.

Ok. Now I'm babbling. Babbling because I'm stalling. Stalling because in a few hours I will have to take back the rental car and I have no idea how to do what I have to do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm a Michigander

I grew up in Detroit. Not Detroit proper. But pretty close. There are cross streets heading north from the center of Detroit (much like the grid system in Utah) that are numbered: 1 Mile Road, 2 Mile Road, 3 Mile Road, etc. At 8 mile Road, Detroit ends and the suburbs begin. I grew up just off 9 Mile. So I was only barely living in a suburb.

Although Detroit is probably best known for having been the murder capital of the country for several decades, or maybe for being the Motor City (where many of the car factories of the last century were located) or even Motown (where some of the greatest music of the 60's and 70's was created), there's a lot about Detroit and Michigan that most people don't know.


1) Michigan is very green. In a lot of the western U.S., trees were planted as the settlers arrived. In Michigan, as in lots of the Midwest and Back East, cities had to be carved out of the amazing greenery that existed there. Trees and underbrush covered the whole area without a single break. So you never see a house without trees there. Or a neighborhood that is bare or brown. The greenery of Michigan is a huge part of who I am, and I miss it terribly.

2) The Great Lakes are GYNORMOUS. You can't see across them. It takes days to sail across them. Some of them are as crystal clear as the Caribbean, but very cold. Some have pebble beaches, some have golden sand beaches. They even obey the tidal pull to some extent because of their size. And major storms can brew in the Great Lakes. There are sunken ships all over them from even very large ships underestimating the size and depth and power of these lakes.

3) Party Stores. All over Michigan, at least in the Detroit area, there are little mom-n-pop owned stores called party stores. These don't sell party decorations. They sell all the kinds of stuff you'd need to stock a party: beer, wine and liquor, candy, treats, chips, magazines, and--because most of them are owned by people of Middle Eastern decent--big barrels of exotic olives and trays of fresh baklava.

4) Speaking of people of Middle Eastern decent, Detroit has a very colorful ethnic population. A big percentage is African American. The school where I went for middle school was about 60% black. There are lots of Jews. We even got Jewish holidays off from school. I was told at the Holocaust Museum there that Detroit has the largest population of Jews outside of Isreal. I'm not sure if that's true, but that's what we were told. There are also lots of Arabic people there. Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian, mostly. There are Chaldeans. I'm not 100% sure what/who they are. But they come from that same area and definitely distinguished themslves as different from the Arabs. There are a lot of Greeks in Detroit. There is even a Greektown downtown. Finally, there are a ton of Indians (from India) in Detroit. A good portion of my friends at private school in high school were of Indian decent. There are also a lot of Poles, Germans, and Dutch in Detroit. There is even a Holland, Michiagan with its own tulip festival. I grew up with people of all different cultures and different colors. It really, seriously freaked me out when I moved to Utah and everyone was so white. So homogenous. I still sometimes feel like I'm living in an Aryan Nation poster.

4) Michigan is made up of two barely connected sections, or penninsulas: the lower penninsula, and the U.P. (Upper Penninsula). Everyone in Michigan knows what you mean when you say "the U.P." But no one from the lower pennensula refers to themselves as the L.P. or even as the lower penninsula. There's just Michigan, and the U.P. Also, since the lower penninsula is shaped like a mittin, whenever anyone in Michigan wants to show you were another city in Michigan is, they hold their hand up like a mittin and point to some part of their palm or fingers. Also, all Michiganders know what "up north" means. Almost everyone has a cabin "up north." This rarely refers to the U.P. It just means somewhere farther than the suburbs of Detroit. The climate is much cooler, there are tons of lakes, and not much has been carved out of the amazing greenery. If you ever go to Michigan, make sure you go up north--it's breathtaking.

5) Michiganers have one of the most unfortunate accents in the United States. It's vaguely like a Canadian accent (), not quite a Minnesota/Wisconsin accent, closer to a Chicago accent. Very flat "a"s. Everything is nasal. "Mom" sounds more like "Maam." "Car" sounds more like "cair." And the R's are harder. If you've ever heard me talk, you'll know that those hard R's is one of the parts of my Michigan accent I just haven't been able to shake.

6) Speaking of Canada, Detroit is one of the few places in the country where you can travel SOUTH to get to Canada. If you look at my map above, you'll see that from the northern suburb I lived in, we had to drive south to hit the border between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario (Canada). We went to Canada a lot as a kid. It was only a 20 minute drive to Windsor, a 3 hour drive to Toronto, and we launched our sailboat at Tobermory on the Georgean Bay into Lake Huron. I took for granted that everyone went back and forth across the two countries several times a year. In fact, in Detroit, people used Canadian pennies, dimes, and quarters interchanably for a long time, even though they weren't exactly equal, just because they were the same colors and sizes and had a pretty close value. But now, I've heard, they won't do that any more.

7) Michigan was one-time Indian country (Native American this time). It was also settled by French fur trappers. So you see alot of strange names that are either French or Indian in origin: Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Saginaw, Sault Ste. Marie, and Kalamazoo, to name a few. Also Mackinac Island (where Somewhere In Time was filmed) is pronounced Mackinaw, FYI.

8) Michigan is HUMID. The weather only gets into the 80's and sometimes 90's on average in the summer (at least in Detroit), but it feels like you're in a steam room all the time. The winters are freezing cold. Literally. None of this 20 and 30 degree stuff we have here in Utah. No, I'm talking teens, single digits, and below zero temperatures on a regular basis. I can remember wind chills of -30 where your eyelashes froze and your nose hairs froze the second you walked outside. I remember standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus with my damp hair actually forming icicles. No lie. And because the winters are damp, the cold goes right through you and chills you to the bone. The snow doesn't melt away over and over there like it does in Utah. So by spring, there are huge mounds of hard, grey, dirty snow everywhere you look. I miss a lot about Detroit. But the winters are one thing I will never ever miss.

9) Wildlife. Despite growing up in a suburb just on the border of Detroit, I felt like I lived in a little oasis. My street was a private lane. Dirt, not paved. Huge expanses of trees were left untouched with a few houses built into the edges of them. Our backyard of several acres was all trees with a river running through. And it was filled with all kinds of wildlife. Racoons, Opposums, rabbits, muskrats, squirrels, blue jays, cardinals, pheasants, stray cats....pretty much every small animal you can name was living right there in my back yard. Whenever we had leftover food, we didn't throw it away or put it down the disposal. We just chucked it out the back door and the animals would eat it. The downside of all the wildlife in Michigan? Roadkill. EVERYWHERE. You can't drive 10 feet without seeing numerous animals smashed to oblivion on the side of the road. That was the one thing that startled me when I went back there last time.

10) Michigan may be in the Mid-west, but it always seemed more like Back East to me. Maybe because it's in the Eastern time zone. I don't know. But for all its crime problems and its bad reputation, it's got a lot of culture. It has a huge art museum, lots of cultural events, Greenfield Village (both an outdoor village and an indoor museum--one is a recreation of an 1800's town with authentic bakery, farm, blacksmith, carriage house, etc., and lots of historical buildings transported there. The other is an indoor museum dedicated to the ingenuity of man. Every kind of car, train, carriage, airplane, dishwasher, lightbulb, etc. is in that museum on display), Greektown, the Rennaisance Center, and I'm sure a lot of other things I'm forgetting.

So now you know a little more about me. And a LOT more than you ever wanted to know about Michigan and Detroit.

10 Things I Remember From Growing Up

I saw this post on Tiburon's blog and thought it sounded fun. I love a good trip down memory lane. Let's see what you remember...

1) Big League Chew - Of course we weren't allowed to actually HAVE any of this. But as kids, we would go to the corner party store (Hay's Market) and stare longlingly at it, wishing we could buy some. We couldn't think of anything cooler than eating strings of gum in handfuls from a little pouch. Now, as a parent, I can see why my parents objected. For the same reason they objected to us buying candy cigarettes: BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T WANT US TO HAVE ANY FUN AT ALL!

2) Strawberry Shortcake Dolls - Oh, just saying this name brings back the fond memory of their sweet smelling, plastic-fibered hair. My favorite was Raspberry Tart, with her delicious pink raspberry afro. Remember Apricot & Hopsalot? Or the Purple Pie man? Toys should always smell that good, I think.

3) The Muppet Show - A family tradition was watching this together on Sunday nights. Pigs in Space. Beaker. Animal. The Swedish Chef ("mordy mordy bork bork"), Gonzo and his insecurities. And Fozy Bear's bad jokes. And my favorite, the two guys in the balcony who would make wise cracks.

4) Big Green Machine - We didn't have one of these, but we "borrowed" our neighbor's whenever we could. We had a regular Big Wheel, but nothing compared to driving the Big Green Machine with the two hand controls instead of the stearing wheel.

5) Sea Wees - One of my favorite childhood toys. These little mermaid dolls came with a lily pad made out of a sponge. You could put the Sea Wee through a hole in the sponge and she would float in the tub. I had the light blue one with silvery hair, and I thought she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

6) Crazy Foam - Does anyone else remember this stuff? I remember that I loved it. And I remember that my mom actually bought it for us. But as far as I can tell, it's just shaving cream in a cooler can. Or was there more to it? Well, either way, I remember that I loved it.

7) Jordache Jeans - There was NO WAY my mom was ever going to buy us Jordache jeans. She was strictly a Kmart shopper. I remember wishing with all my heart to get a pair of jeans with the Jordache horse on the coin pocket. Never happened. (But while I'm thinking of Kmart, does anyone remember the blue light specials? How everyone would run to the ailse with the blue light flashing to get a super good deal? Or how the back of Kmart had a greasy cafeteria in it? My mom would get us ham and cheese sandwiches with mustard on them to eat while we shopped. Ah, Kmart.)

8) Underoos - We thought the Wonder Woman underoos were about the coolest thing we could ever wear. But it always made me jealous that the boys had more choices (Superman, Spiderman, and Batman). I think Underoos' stock probably plummeted when parents suddenly realized that Underoos made their kids want to run around in their skivies ALL DAY LONG. No one wanted to put clothes on over those sweet babies!

9) Atari - We never had one (boy, this seems to be the pattern of my childhood!), but our neighbors did. I remember thinking how amazing it was, especially Duck Hunt. That you could shoot that gun at the screen and an invisible bullet would take down the blocky targets that only barely resembled ducks. And then Pitfall--SO advanced! Our kids would just laugh at us now.

10) I had such a happy thought today when I was thinking of things for this post and remembered this one: the Barbie Corvette. We didn't get many cool toys when we were kids. Or cool clothes, or cool candy, or cool cereal. Nothing cool, really. We were poor, our mom was terribly unhip and incredibly, um, thrifty. But my parents really fulfilled one of my greatest childhood fantasies when they bought me the Barbie Super Vette. Remote controls were a new technology then, way too space age to be used for a toy. So this had a non-remote controlled, battery operated, tiny steering wheel with about 3 1/2 feet of cord to connect it to the Corvette. You had to walk right behind it in order to steer it, but it still was by far the most amazing and awesome toy I ever got.

Hope you had a fun stroll down memory lane. If you want to play along with this post, consider yourself tagged!