Wednesday, March 30, 2011

unlimited monkeys

Today at lunch, hubs and I had an intense discussion about the theory that if you give a roomful of monkey's with typewriters unlimited time, they'll type the works of Shakespeare. I was firmly on the 'con' side of the discussion while hubs was holding fast to the theory that it was possible. We both left the table still convinced that our conclusion is the correct one. So, what do you and your spouse discuss when you're eating lunch?

I've been on a cabbage kick the last couple days. I bought a head yesterday while I was grocery shopping and for supper I made pirogies cooked up with shredded onions, carrots and cabbage. Today, I've got a pork roast in the slo-cooker with a couple nice hunks of cabbage sitting at the top. While I was making the roast, I was also eating sauerkraut straight out of the can. Apparently, I'm making up for some severe insufficiency in my diet...or I'm trying to give my family terminal gas attacks.

In another one of our weird discussions, last night, hubs and I were talking about visualizations. He explained that sometimes it takes him a little while to think things through because his mind has to translate things into pictures in order for him to make sense of it. I've always known that I'm not visual. If you've read any of my books, you'll see that there's very little description in them. What I do have, is kind of throwaway, because I can't picture my characters or their surroundings. I don't know what Moxie looks like and her description in It Takes Moxie is in there because it needs to be. Same with Will and Adeline's house in Eye of the Beholder, the speakeasies Susan and Jake go to in Not Looking for Trouble, and everything else in my books. I think in words, not pictures. So, last night, during our discussion, I tried to pull a picture up in my mind. For the last week or so, I've been working on a jigsaw puzzle and I finished it last night. You'd think that after being intimately involved in every aspect and nuance of a picture, I could visualize it without any problem. But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't see the entire puzzle. I could picture portions of it, a door, a person, coffee cups, etc, but when I tried to put them all together and see the puzzle in its entirety, I couldn't do it. Strange, huh?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I was born in a small town, and I live in a small town

A few things happened in the last 24 hours that reminded me that I live in a very small town, and I like it that way. First off, we had Angel #2's spring concert last night. The concert and jazz bands did great, as did the concert and jazz choirs. They had 5 or 6 kids singing the solos that won them a chance to compete at state level. But the thing that I noticed is that this is a small enough place that there was more than one song the choir sang that involved God, as well as one of the soloists. It was nice to hear it, and for the record, I wouldn't have been offended if they'd sang Jewish, Hindu or whatever songs. It was just the fact that they aren't afraid to let a higher power into their lives.

Now, on to the second thing that reaffirmed my small townedness (is that a word?). I was driving into town today and saw three teenage boys standing on a side road, all three carrying guns. Unlike in a big city where I'd be wondering who they're planning on shooting at, I simply wondered what they were hunting at this time of year. It's so nice to not even have the thought that you have something to fear come into your head.

Lastly, once I got into town, I went to the library. The librarians know me there. Not only do they know who I am, but when I walked in, one of the first things said was a book recommendation for me, and they were right, it looked good and I checked it out. They know me and they know what I like to read. Then, the checkout lady at the thrift store asked how I enjoyed my first Wisconsin winter after my years in Hawaii. I guess I just like living in a place where people know me, yet, I can stay separated enough from them that they don't know EVERYTHING about me.

So, yeah, small towns don't have things like big performing arts centers, museums, stadiums, etc, but, in my opinion they've got more to offer than the biggest cities in the world.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Everyone gets their 15 minutes

Have you ever just cruised around the web and found a random picture on yourself on somebody's website? I haven't either, but our buddy, Chris did just that. Chris has been known to do odd, random things, which led to loads of fun both here and when he spent a lot of time with us when we lived in Hawaii. Anyway, Chris enjoys dressing up when he goes to car races, his favorite character being Papa Ferrari. It makes him real popular and people are always taking pictures of him. Apparently, one of those pics has hit the mainstream: We laughed our butts off when we saw it and Chris will hereafter always be known as Ferrari Fag #11.

Today the kids only had a half day of school, it's the end of 3rd quarter. Somehow, I let Angel #4 talk me into chauffeuring her and a friend around town on a shopping trip. I dumped the girls at the store and ran my own errands, so it worked out rather well and I've made a buttload of mommy points now that I will redeem at an advantageous time.

#4 also had her school spring concert last night. School music teachers always amaze me when they put on these incredible song and dance shows. You've got to have amazing patience to teach 40 five year olds how to, not only sing a couple songs, but to also remember the dance steps that go with them. The theme was Go West and we got to see square dancing, pony riding with stick horses, and a dance involving axes made from wrapping paper rolls and construction paper. Fun schtuff!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Snow? Seriously?

I had a wonderful time slogging through sloppy sleet and snow on the way home from church this morning. As much as my brain is telling me to not even get my hopes up for spring before the beginning of May, the beautiful weather we've been having lulled me into a false sense of security. At least the garbage we got today didn't stick to the ground.

I had a great time this weekend with my friends. We spent Friday night at the Ramada and we up gabbing until 1am, waaay past all our bedtimes. I got home Saturday afternoon and when the kids asked what we did, I realized all we did was eat and talk when we were together. None of us drink or get too wild, so yeah, closing down Barnes and Nobles at 10pm was as crazy as we got. But we had SO much fun and laughed so much. I wish it was easier for us to get together more often. Three of us live fairly close together, but friend #4 has a 2 hour drive to meet up with the rest of us, so it makes planning things a bit more complicated.

When I got home, I found Angel #2 lying on the bathroom floor suffering from a stomach virus. She was still barfing away at 10:30 last night and has spent the day lying on the sofa. I hope she doesn't spread it to the rest of us, because she doesn't look like she's having a nice time.

Hubs had fun at the wedding he went to out east. As an added benefit, Angel #1 is stationed not too far from where hubs is at, so #1 found a ride over with one of the wedding guests and my two boys got to spend part of the weekend together. #1 was all gussied up in his dress blues as he escorted Rent a Grandma down the aisle. It was Rent a Grandma's son who was married this weekend. Hubs has already sent me some pics and I'm sure he's got plenty more to show me when he gets home tonight.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring is springing

I don't want to commit myself to saying spring has sprung, because it's only March 16, and I do remember enough about Wisconsin winters to know that snow has no problem falling around here right up until May and most of the time, there's still frost danger until Memorial Day weekend. BUT, it was GORGEOUS yesterday. About 45-50 degrees and beautifully sunny. I was in town doing some grocery shopping and I was driving around with the windows open. There I was, windows open, cruising along the interstate at 70mph and Journey comes on the radio, so I got to sing Faithfully along with Steve Perry at the top of my lungs. Does life get any better?

Actually, yeah, it's going to get great on Friday when I meet up with 3 of my friends for a girls night out, and since it's been so long since we were together, we're getting hotel rooms and having our girls night out overflow into Saturday. Yay us! Hubs left today for Washington DC and a friend's wedding, so the kids will be on their own on Friday, so they're looking forward to a parent-free night as well. Cool thing going on. The friend who's getting married has a friend in the military (I think he's military, anyway) who lives in the same place as Angel #1, so he's giving #1 a ride to the wedding, as well. So, not only is hubs going to have fun at the wedding, but he gets to see our little boy, too. I'll have to have #1 give me a report on the ceremony. The guy getting married has been a family friend forever and considers hubs an older brother. He's asked hubs to officiate at the wedding. I'm sure that's bound to be interesting. Since the bride just moved here from Thailand, she's never been to an American wedding, so, no matter what happens, she'll think it's normal, because she doesn't know any better. Poor thing is in for a BIG education.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


When the kids were little, they fought like cats and dogs...they still do, actually. But back about 10 years ago, I was afraid they'd kill each other before they managed to reach adulthood. So, imagine my delight this afternoon when my boys were chatting online with each other. I truly think my boys are best friends with each other, which is so cool. Angel #1 is now in North Carolina and he bought a laptop, so today he and WE were skyping each other and it's so nice listening to them just talking to each other. It sounds like #1 is going to have some time on his hands for the next two months. After he arrived in NC, he found out that the school he is supposed to be going to is 6-8 weeks behind schedule, so he's stuck there doing busy work until he can actually start taking classes. I have no problem with this, since the way I see it, the longer it takes for him to get whatever education he needs, the longer it will be before he gets deployed someplace scary. When I explained my reasoning to #1 though, and said that not going to Libya or Afghanistan right now is a good thing, he simply said, but Mom, it's what we do. WAAAAHHHH! I guess 18 year boys/Marines look at things differently than their mothers do.

I was glad to hear reports from many of my friends in Hawaii hearing that they and their houses are all still intact. Kailuatown is a bit messed up, but nothing that can't be easily remedied. There were 6 houses that were destroyed and one got sucked right out into Kealakakua Bay, the picture in the paper showed just the roof of the house out floating in the ocean. But no one was hurt, so it's all good. After church this morning, we all got to talking about the tragedies over the weekend. One of the men there works at the nuclear power plant in town and was explaining to us a little of what was going on in Japan. He said that when they try cooling things with seawater, it's a last ditch act of desperation, so that's not too promising for the Japanese. Then we got to discussing if something like that could happen to our nuke plant. He said the reactors are capable of withstanding a direct hit from a crashing airliner. They've also got it set up to suck in water from Lake Michigan if necessary, but once again, if they've gotten to that point, we're in deep doo-doo. I guess I'll keep some iodine pills around, just in case.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My cup runneth over

Wow, this week just keeps getting better and better. Today, the mail lady slogged her way through the snow piling up in our yard to hand deliver my Wondermill Junior grinder! It's the niftiest thing. It's a hand cranked wheat grinder, so you can grind wheat berries into fresh whole wheat flour. I did a lot of research online on which was the best grinder to get, then I asked Lyle what he's heard. Lyle is the owner of the local bulk foods store, and he's Amish, so I figured he'd be the one to talk to about this, especially since I wanted one that didn't require electricity to run. He said a family from their church bought wheat berries from him and ground it up, so he'd ask them what kind of grinder they used, if they liked it, etc. So, last week when I was there, he showed me a picture of the grinder the family said they used. It was ELECTRIC! We've got cheater Amish in our town! It's bad enough they cruise around on tractors, but now they're plugging in their wheat grinders, too. If you can't trust an Amish family to not use electric wheat grinders, who in the world CAN you trust? What is this world coming to? I can't wait to try out my new grinder and show those slacker Amish that some of us around here don't need to depend on electricity to do our simple daily chores. :p

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

oooo, shiny

My ability to get excited over little things has hit rock bottom today. Yesterday, I told you about our new water softener and the damage done to our dishes because we had limey water for so long. Today, I decided that since our water was all nice and softy now, I was going to get rid of all the lime deposits on our glasses because, frankly, they were gross to drink out of, especially now that I had the option of having them shiny. So, I soaked all our drinking glasses and coffee mugs in vinegar, then hand washed them. A five minute soak in a tub of vinegar made them all look soooo purdee! I had to go show hubs the difference between a soaked and a non-soaked glass and he snapped a picture of me holding the 2 different glasses to forever preserve my housewifely nerdiness into eternal posterity. Once I was done soaking the glasses, which took all morning because I only had enough vinegar to soak 2 glasses at a time half way (so I had to flip them over at the 5 min mark), it averaged 5 minutes a glass, I filled the dishwasher with all the bowls and plates I could fit in, emptied the vinegar tub into the dishwasher and ran it, thus deliming our plates and bowls as well. I am now happy to announce that you can come over to my house to eat and drink and I won't be embarrassed about the state of my tableware (I won't give any promises about the quality of my cooking though).

While I was deliming, I also did a bunch of laundry. The house rule is: if you want your clothes washed, you must have them sorted in the laundry room. All the kids claimed their laundry was sorted, so I went to work. When I take the clothes out of the dryer, I toss them on the sofa, then fold them and put them into individual piles for each person to pick up and put away in their room at the end of laundry day. FOUR of the people in this family had normal sized piles, about what you'd expect from about five days worth of dirty laundry. But, WE's pile on the other hand, was sorely lacking. He had a pair of jeans, one ripped tee-shirt, a sweatshirt and one sock (not one pair, one sock). He showers and changes clothes on a daily basis, so I'm really curious as to where in the world the rest of his laundry ran off to. Maybe his teen age boy funk reacts with the fabric, making it dissolve into a pile of lint after a certain amount of time. So, instead of laundering, a regular vacuuming is all that's required to take care of his dirty clothes. I suppose that saves on water and laundry detergent, but would cost a fortune in vacuum cleaner bags.

Monday, March 7, 2011

You'll be thrilled to know I'm still alive

On Saturday, I finally felt human. It was a nice feeling. I even made a batch of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies with the mac nuts hubs brought home from Hawaii. Sunday, I even went a step further and made a big turkey/mash potato/stuffing dinner. Between that and the big pot of veggie soup I made on Saturday, we'll be swimming in leftovers for quite awhile. I love leftovers (most of the time).

Saturday, Hubs brought WE in to the doctor to get his sports physical for school. Tonight after school was WE's first track practice. He's a bit sore, but it sounds like he liked it. He's not sure what events he's going to do, he's never done any kind of track stuff before, but he knows he's not doing long distance running, one glimpse at their practice regime helped him make that decision.

Sunday, hubs and I had a romantic shopping trip to get a water softener. The one in our house hasn't been working since we moved in and finally our landlord said to just pick one up. Hubs knows how to install them, so we're no longer showering in lime water and eating off gritty dishes. I think I'm going to have to soak our glasses in vinegar though, the lime made them absolutely disgusting looking and it was embarrassing to give someone a drink of water out of the nasty looking things. I guess when you've been married 20 years, it's just as exciting to get a new water softener than it is to get a new diamond ring...sparkly glasses are better than sparkly bling anyway.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I don't know if you should send an ambulance or a hearse

I'm still sick - sicker than I've been in years, I think. And, I'm not getting the required amount of sympathy from my family because most of them are and/or have been sick already. I WANT MY SYMPATHY NOW DARN IT!!!
This morning, I was laying in bed, half dead, and at 7:38 hubs asks if I'm going to take a shower. I said yeah, then he said, okay, the nurse is going to be here in 22 minutes. Nurse? Then I remembered that he had told me that a nurse was going to come today to do physicals for a new life insurance policy we're taking out. What he didn't tell me was that she was coming at 8 o'clock in the least he didn't tell me that until 22 minutes to eight. Fortunately, I have the ability to speed shower, so I was out by 7:50 with freshly shaved legs and 3 feet of drippy hair hanging down my back. When she showed up at around 8:02, I even had the coffee maker going. I've got speed skilz.

I learned something interesting about myself this week. A local radio station was giving out a survey and for the first 100 surveys taken they were going to pull out 5 names of surveyors who would win a 2 night stay at a resort in Door County (that little sticky-out thumb part of Wisconsin) where all the cool kids go on vacation. The survey asked my opinion on several different songs and I had to click on numbers 1-5 how much I liked them. My personal system I developed was a song ranked a '5' if I cranked up the radio and sang along with the entire song when it came on the radio. A '4' was a cranked radio singing only the chorus, a '3' was a don't even touch the volume knob, a two was a possible station change if it came on and a '1' was when I would cringe and immediately change the station. It was while doing this that I realized that a lot of Beatles songs ranked a '1' for me. (sorry Jeanie) I knew I didn't really care for the Beatles, but I didn't realize that they ranked right along with Neal Young on the cringe scale. Who woulda thunk? I don't know if the station will listen to me and purge the Fab 5 from their playlist, but I can only hope. (I can only hope more that they pick my name for the resort package, for that, I'll even listen to Eleanor Rigby a couple times)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

welcome to typhoid alley

There has been constant coughing, sneezing, snotting or wheezing going on at this house since January. I had 2 out of 3 kids stay home from school sick today and I was sick as well. This is one of the bad things about winter in Wisconsin. We never had a month 'o sickness when living in Hawaii. In Hawaii we had a wider variety of illnesses since the tourists brought their sick germs from exotic places like Japan, Australia and Nebraska by the boatload (literally), but we were outside so much more often that we just didn't stay sick for long. Here, though we're restricted for the most part to good old Wisconsin germs, they circulate around in the air for months as we're all trapped inside until it's warm enough that our nosehairs don't freeze off if we inhale too deeply when we're outside. I'm ready for spring.

Hubs has avoided the diseases so far as he's spent the last 2 weeks working in Hawaii. He was supposed to be home this morning, but due to a flight change, he was 'stranded' in Hawaii an additional day. I think he thought I was supposed to feel sorry for him, but I was too busy shoveling the slush out of the driveway to waste time on sympathy for him...especially since he said he was going to try to get a little surfing in before he left. I think I'm going to cough on him when I pick him up at the airport tomorrow.

Last night I took Angel #2 and her boyfriend to an open house at the local university. It's a small, two year school that's close enough to our house to make it an easy drive in. She started doing the math and decided that going there is a bit more economical than going to her school of choice. So, though she's already been accepted at West Texas A&M, I think she's going to stay closer to home and save a little $. She had a little epiphany last week when she was making lists of things she needed when she lives on her own and realized that buying those things takes money. Yep, who woulda thunk? So she's finally decided that maybe she should be saving a bit more of the green stuff than she has in the past and cut down in the impulsive gummi bear/tee shirt/concer ticket purchases. I'm glad she came to this realization at the age of 17 rather than at 25 when she's up to her eyeballs in debt and trying to figure out how to dig herself out of the hole. I got myself a smart kid!