Friday, October 28, 2011

Jerry the Good Witch

We have a neighborhood Halloween party tonight and Jerry has selfishly declared that he is going to be Glinda the Good Witch yet again. 

This story starts the summer three years ago on a Saturday morning.  I love to go saling (yard saling) and that is where I found THE DRESS.  I stumbled across this fabulous costume at a school fundraising sale and it was priced to sell, too.  I was sooooo excited!  All little girls dream of being beautiful princesses, don't they?  I certainly did and still do, so a pink dress made of thousands of yards of tulle with silver sparkles and puffy sleeves really spoke to me.  The tag inside said "one size fits all" and that clinched it for me.  I bought my prize and brought it home.

The thrill was short-lived because when I tried on Glinda's gown, I couldn't zip it all the way.  Now this brought up a disturbing question.  If "one size" truly "fits all" then where does that leave me?  I will be the first to admit that I could use to lose a few pounds, but I've never shopped at the big girls' shops, either.  Truth is, I consider myself mildly overweight, not morbidly obese.  Clearly the Chinese factory worker didn't agree - and compared to her I probably am pretty danged big - but this outfit had English writing on the tag, so obviously it was meant for an American audience.  The dress was about a foot too long for me so I know it wasn't made for a child either.

Halloween rolled around.  Our daughter Jessica and her new husband Brent came to help pass out candy.  I dressed Brent up as a flashy pimp.  He wore a bright red vest with sequins and a huge blue hat with an ostrich feather.  He wasn't too enthused about getting dressed up but after he saw how cool he looked, he kind of got into it.  I made Jessica "his girl" with a mink stole and a long sexy gown.  Since I couldn't wear my outfit because it wouldn't zip, I wore my default costume, Little Red Riding Hood holding the basket full of candy.  It's cute but been there, done that. We were scrounging around for something for Jerry to wear when I had one of those light bulb moments.  He could put on Glinda's outfit and I'd sew the back shut for him.  That is exactly what I did, so I only have myself to blame.

It was about then that the fun started.  When he got outside, our neighbor saw him and brought over a blond wig and a sash like Miss America wears.  His costume was the hit of the evening.  Everyone commented on it, several moms got their picture taken with him and he was having a blast getting all the attention.  Red riding hood, the pimp and his girl could have been invisible for all that anybody noticed us. 

Some of the littlest kids wouldn't even come up our sidewalk to get candy because the sight of Glinda/Jerry so disturbed them. One little girl said, "Mommy, why is that man dressed like a lady?"  She replied, "It's Halloween, honey.  You can be whoever you want to be on Halloween!" 

I'm all for moments in the sun and we certainly got our money's worth out of that outfit, wringing out every ounce of fun we could.  Everyone enjoyed that Halloween and the pictures I took of Jerry as Glinda have surfaced all over facebook and even popped up as part of a presentation his boss did at work. When people see them, they laugh.

The problem is this:  I have lost ten pounds this year and now I can actually wear THE DRESS myself and zip it up.  This is a big deal for me so I feel I should get to be Glinda.  Jerry claims squatter's rights though and his trump card is that nobody in our new town has seen him in this costume yet.

One of us has to be the big man here and, in all honesty, he does look charming dressed in pink tulle.  Who could resist him?  He can wear the outfit one more time and I'll try not to begrudge him his fun.  He doesn't know it yet but I have even borrowed a wig, found a pink tiara (with marabou) and gotten a glittery silver wand for him to carry.  He will be the hit of the party, that's a given.

 As for me, I toyed with going as a munchkin - I've got that shortness thing going for me - but then I found myself the coolest witches' hat ever, made with velvet and feathers so I'm going as Elphaba (better known as the Wicked Witch of the West.)  As an added bonus, I have a wand that shoots blue lasers around the room so I will be able to cast real spells. As a final plus, everyone knows that dressing totally in black is slimming.

Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brody is ONE!!

Time does fly and our beautiful grandson Brody celebrated his first birthday last week.  I have been lucky to spend so much time with him during this year and two weeks ago he came to visit, bringing his mom and lots of baby paraphernalia with him.   What a joy to have him here!  We're all crazy in love with him.

He's got three little teeth now, pulls up on things, stands alone briefly, is clearly thinking about stepping out on his own but for now seems content to crawl like he's in the Army - rapidly and with purpose.  He also has a great personality, smiles a lot and laughs with abandon when he finds something funny which is often. 

His Grampy taught him to crawl up the stairs and as soon as he learned this trick he spent a lot of time going up and being carried down.  They both genuinely seemed to enjoy this activity and neither his mom nor I objected because it kept them busy for rather large chunks of time. 

The next day Grampy had to go to work and Brody started to crawl toward the staircase, stopped and looked to be sure that I was following him then went up one stair to the landing, turned and looked at me again and waited.  I had not started up behind him yet so he was sitting level to my face.  Just for a second, the most impish, mischievous expression crossed his face then he smiled his angelic smile and leaned over to me.

I swear in that moment while waiting for a kiss from my first grandchild, I thought he was absolutely perfect in every way.  Then, he leaned in further and.....

.....bit my cheek. 

That cheek chomping hurt but I couldn't stop myself from laughing even though my daughter scolded me that it was an inappropriate response.  Men!  You can never truly know what they are thinking and that goes for cute little one-year-old men-in-training, too.

Happy Birthday, Brody!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Lists

Jerry was telling our friend Mary Ann about how strict his mom was when he was little.  I'd heard this all before - how he got up every single Saturday and helped clean the entire house, not just pick up clutter but do real cleaning like dusting,  vacuuming and stuff involving soapy water.  He used to squirm into his bed dressed in his next-day's school clothes and try not to roll over in the night so his clothes would stay unwrinkled and his bed would always stay made.  This got me to thinking.....hmmm.....maybe I could use some of this early childhood training to my advantage.

We've been married thirty-some years and Jer's been darned good carrying his load (and then some) around the house.  He can fix anything, cheerfully does, can cook, do laundry, vacuum and loves to play with kids, too. We never established a regimented ritual like his mother had during his youth though.  My bad. 

Last Wednesday I remedied this oversight by make lists.  I made myself one and anything that I didn't want to do I put on a list for him.  I will admit I was kind of goofing around; I never intended to do anything with these lists. They were still fun to write though.

My list: pay bills, do laundry, bring down winter clothes from storage, straighten bookshelves, put away left-over junk from our move, hem two pair of pants, alter another two, clean out fridge, clean upstairs. 

His list:  seal the wardrobe in the laundry room, install a threshold in the basement closet, wash the windows, repair the tub, clean out the garage, hang a picture.

These lists were in no way equitable.  Mine was a powder puff, Barbie list and his was a macho, Stretch Armstrong one.  One was everyday ordinary and one was unusual over the top - requiring skill, specialized knowledge and stamina. Writing them really was just entertainment for me, a way to avoid paying bills for a little while.  (Bill paying was supposed to get easier with the advent of computers and online banking but now it takes me way longer than writing out the checks and mailing them used to.  Convenience?  I think not.) 

Jerry got up Saturday morning way before I did (I'm not going to rehash that stupid early bird vs. night owl thing again), found the lists and started working on his.  By the time I was alert and aware, he'd already removed everything from the wardrobe and had tackled sealing it inside and out.  He was busy trying to fix the closet floor.  Hey, I'm not dumb...I left him to his own devices, rationalizing that it probably felt comforting to him to be productive.  I went on my merry way, squandering more time goofing around online paying bills (or looking at emails and facebook, to be brutally honest.)  Of course I got distracted, well duh, so when lunch time arrived, I realized that Jerry was just finishing up washing the exterior windows.  I stopped what I was doing, went around inside and removed all the screens. 

While I made him caprese salad, he washed all the interior windows.  Let me repeat that for emphasis.  While I was making him a salad, he washed all the interior windows.  All.  How could it take me longer to make a salad which contains only four ingredients than it takes to wash an entire house full of windows?

There is only one explanation.  My mortal husband had somehow morphed into a combination of Wonder Woman, Batman and every other super hero you can name.  Seriously, how can anyone clean that many windows so fast?  We had purchased a soaper dealie and a squeegee on the end of a long pole a couple of weeks ago which might have seemed like a new toy to a bored guy, but still.  He washed seventeen windows inside and out in under an hour.  Like he said, they weren't perfect but they were so much improved that I didn't want to put the screens back on.  It would have lifted my spirits had it not been for the crushing guilt of watching him work like a maniac while knowing I had not crossed one thing off my list yet. Now all the junk from the wardrobe was on the family room floor and all the screens needed to go back in.  They were going to take precedence over my list items and, btw, the bills weren't finished yet.

The rest of Saturday followed suit.  Jerry: work, work, work.  Chris: starting to pay bills, getting distracted.  Sunday came.  In the  early afternoon we went for a lovely kayak ride followed by a relaxing walk.  When we got home, I started to clean the laundry room (not on my list) and Jerry piddled with something in the garage.  Around three o'clock he announced, "I'm finished with my list.  Come see the garage." 

The garage had been totally transformed!  You could actually walk on both sides of the car and he'd installed a little ball on a rope so I could pull in and park perfectly every time without getting out to check to see if the rear of the car was actually inside then pulling up until I hit the wall, which was my habit.  It was a Better Homes and Gardens garage.  Jerry went off to do what people do when they have leisure time and I went back to the bills. 

At 12:15 a.m., I called it a night.  Half my list was crossed off.   The house was (mostly) clean and the laundry room looked terrific.  We got a lot of small projects accomplished too - and the bills are paid.  It was a win for the team.  The idea worked so well (for half of us) that I think we'll do it again.  Next time he can write the lists.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Perfect Summer Afternoon

Yesterday was a perfect August afternoon, sunny, mid-seventies.  The humidity had dropped slightly and I could finally wear my blue jeans with a light weight tee shirt and feel almost comfortable again. 

We decided to go kayaking to enjoy the wonderful weather.  A slight breeze was blowing, making the waves a little choppy which translates into more kayaking fun.  Lots of speedboats were out and when their wake rolled by, we felt just like we were on the ocean riding on boogie boards.  Life doesn't get better than this!  It seemed odd that not a single person was tubing though - our guess is they think the water is too cold.  Obviously, they never did a "polar bear" swim in any of the Great Lakes.  Your lips wouldn't even turn purple in this water. 

After boating, we went for a walk around the neighborhood.  That's when I noticed all my southern friends were wearing their sweatshirts.  In my mind, it was a perfect August afternoon.  In theirs, it was a chilly October day.  I guess I still have a little more acclimating to do.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Trip to the Ice Cream Parlor

Ice cream season is winding to a close, even here in South Carolina and finally last week I got my husband to take me to "The Village" so I could try the amaretto cherry at their ice cream parlor.  It had chunks of chocolate in it and I anticipated it satisfying me on many levels.

I stepped up to the counter and ordered a scoop of my  new flavor of choice.  I had eaten lunch at this shop earlier in the summer, tried a sample of the amaretto and fantasized about having a serving of it ever since.  (My mom used to say that when you're young, you talk about guys; when you're middle-aged, you talk about food; and when you're elderly, you talk about aches and pains.  It's clear what category I fit into these days!) 

Tonight was my night. Immediately I was handed a generous scoop of pink sweet stuff and I took a teeny tiny white sample spoon to eat it with so I could savor the experience longer.

Meanwhile, Jerry ordered a hot fudge sundae.  The clerk was youngish - maybe in high school, maybe in her early 20s, it's so hard for me to tell these days -but suffice it to say that she was definitely in the "talking about guys" stage of her life.  Still, one would think that she would know what a hot fudge sundae is, especially considering that she works in an ice cream parlor.  An odd look crossed her face though and she sort of fumbled around behind the counter for a couple of minutes.  Then she vanished into the back room and came back holding - and I am not kidding - a recipe card.

A little more uncomfortable silence elapsed while she stared at the card and then she left to go back into the kitchen again.  This time a lady came out and said, "We have a designer menu of sundaes.  Would you like to look at it?  What  options would you like?"  Jerry replied, "Ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream."  She said, "No nuts?" he shook his head and that was that. 

The girl came back.  She danced nervously behind the counter a little more and then came out from behind it, looked squarely at Jerry and said, "What kind of ice cream do you want?"  Jerry replied, "Vanilla. Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream."  My husband is not known for his patience but sounded  pleasant and calm when he responded to her. For that, I was grateful. 

So I'm standing in front of the counter, taking itsy bitsy bites of my delicious ice cream while we are waiting and waiting and waiting.  We are the only customers in the shop so it would seem like making a simple sundae wouldn't be this time consuming, but it was.  The lady came out from the kitchen again and said, "Y'all take a seat and we'll bring the sundae out to you."

We went outside on their patio and I was eating away while Jerry watched.  Normally I would wait for him to be served too, but it was a warm night and ice cream melts.  A couple more minutes and his sundae arrived.  The whipped cream on it looked delicious and Jerry put a giant spoonful on top of my diminishing cup of ice cream.  He then swirled his whipped cream right into his sundae, mixing everything up making a smooth sweet chocolate dessert of soft serve consistency. 

I put the huge spoonful of the whipped cream in my mouth all at once and instantly regretted it.  This was horrible!  I could feel the globs of fat on the roof of my mouth. Yuck. Thank God there was only one spoonful.  I wasted several bites of my precious ice cream washing that feeling out of my mouth.

I told Jerry that the whipped cream was disgusting, but he'd already stirred it into his sundae so it was a moot point.  "It's fine," he said.  As we sat enjoying our evening, the lady from the kitchen appeared yet again. "How is your sundae?" she asked.  (At first, I thought it was a little odd she singled out his sundae and didn't mention my ice cream but on second thought realized it was obvious to her how my ice cream was, because it was gone.)  "Okay," replied Jerry.

The lady continued, "We make our own whipped cream here and we ran out earlier.  When you ordered your sundae, the cook made more but he forgot to add the sugar.  He's back there making more right now and we'll bring it out for you when it's done."  "Nah," said Jerry, never one to make waves.  "I'm almost done anyway.  This is fine."  "Are you sure?"  "Yeah."

My amaretto cherry ice cream with large chunks of chocolate surpassed my expectations and achieved number one status on my list of favorite flavors.  Jerry's sundae was, to be quite frank, not so stellar.  It cost roughly three times what my single scoop sold for, disproving once and for all that old adage, "You get what you pay for." 

We went back for ice cream again last night.  I got another cup of amaretto cherry but Jerry chose to go a totally different route, this time making himself a little sundae at the yogurt bar.  So, in fact, "you can teach an old dog new tricks."  He skipped the whipped cream too, which confirms it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Cereal

Brody (the most perfect grandson in the world) is visiting us and is a most mellow, gentle little man.  In addition to being "Mister Congeniality," he must be having a growth spurt because he has been a little Cheerios pig the past couple of days.  He has developed a cute two-fisted eating style and has ploughed through almost the entire box of cereal and not the snack-pack size, either.

The word "snack-pack" sucks me back through time and deposits me smack in the middle of a tour of Kellogg's of Battle Creek.  In my youth our family lived about a half an hour away, so I toured that plant plenty - from annual spring field trips to family vacations, with tours thrown in whenever we had out-of-town guests as well.  Yep I - and most kids who lived in the area - became well-versed in the fast and furious world of funnels filling endless boxes with sugary goodness.

What I remember vividly about the event was that there was a yellow stripe painted on the cement floor with signs everywhere saying, "For your protection, stay to the right of the stripe" which you can bet your Apple Jacks I did and did obsessively too.  Never did one saddle-shoed toe even graze that yellow danger zone, no sirree Bob.  I prided myself on being a model student and model students did what they were told, end of story. The plant was loud and scary and I did my level best to focus all my attention on getting out of there alive - which I clearly succeeded at, I might add.

It did not escape my attention though that the man who was leading the tour was wearing a hardhat but I was not, which seemed like a kind of shabby way to treat a guest in my elementary-school-sized mind.  It was noisy in there, hot and icky but there was an up side to it too which made all the drama worthwhile.  At the end of each and every tour we were ushered to a cafeteria where we received not only a snack pack containing two of my favorite cereals of all time - Sugar Smacks and Sugar Pops - but a scoop of vanilla ice cream with Froot Loops sprinkled all over the top.  Whoever thought of that glorious finishing touch was a genius and it was the highlight of my personal tour every single time I took it, including the last time when I was an adult and took my own son to see cereal being made. 

My daughters never experienced the pleasure of the tour though because somewhere along the way Kellogg's stopped giving it, citing "industrial espionage" as the reason.  Really?  I can understand why  spies wouldn't stoop to asking random kids in the area their nefarious cereal questions because most adults (even spies) aren't that comfortable conversing with children.  In truth, they probably didn't even think of it.  But why the spies didn't take all the pictures they needed in the decades that we all were encouraged to visit, I can't say.  Maybe they were just too busy munching Sugar Pops from their free snack packs to bother.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gimme a Break!

I spent today on my hands and knees, scrubbing the wood floors.  I finished at around 4:30 so I had half an hour before it was time to start supper.  I decided to read on the deck.  As I was turning to leave the kitchen, I looked at the refrigerator and thought, "If I just clean out the fridge, the entire first floor will be sparkling clean."

Don't do it, Chris!  Don't do it!  Can't you just hear the ominous background music?  Wish I had....because when I opened the door, a jug of cranberry juice fell out and as it was falling, the top flew off.  Not only was I drenched in cranberry, so were my shoes, the kitchen floor and the interior of the fridge, even underneath the drawers. 

So much for "virtue is its own reward."  I am grateful though that it was the juice that fell because right next to it was a quart of milk with an expiration date of July 30th.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I have a wonderful Oreck vacuum that we bought at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for thirty-five dollars.  Jerry installed new brushes and it's almost as good as new.  Almost. It vacuums fairly well and is feather light, so I can carry it up and down the stairs with only one hand.   The only problem is that when I turn it on, it sounds like an airplane is taking off in the room, so I wear an industrial set of ear muffs like the guys on the runway wear.  When I have them on, I can hear only blissful silence.

I vacuum a lot, especially very early in the morning.  So if you call me at, say, 8:15 a.m. for example, (well, any time before 10:00 a.m. really) I'm not in bed asleep, I'm vacuuming. 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.