To Have My Cake, And Date It Too

I am really starting to doubt myself.

I bought a short-term membership to a dating website. I put a decent picture of myself on there and a positive and realistic short writeup on who i am. I didn’t expect much. I mean, well, it is what it is. So i wasn’t expecting a thousand Prince Charmings waiting to message me. But i expected more than i got. With a couple of exceptions, i got recommended a bunch of the same basic profile:

Men who looked like Gandalf on crack, can’t put three words together lyrically, and swear they are only 40 years old.

The first time i joined an online dating service, i spent an inordinate amount of time filling out my profile and picking out just the right picture.  When i activated it, it took me a full week to get a single match. And i kid you not, that single match was a man who looked like an old tinker from a fairytale, who listed his job as “ghost hunter”… And who lived over 4,000 miles away on another continent.

It wasn’t the first blow to my ego. Nor the last. Online dating sites keep you humble.

I have met a couple very cool people via these websites. Friends that i might not have met otherwise. So it hasn’t all been for nothing. But on the whole, i have to believe that one of two things are true:

A) I am truly so incompatible that my choices will always have the visage and affect of well-chewed dog toys, or

B) People lie so much that no dating service will ever be reliable, so i either need to lie just as much or stop using them altogether.

And i had actually stopped using them. Then i guess my ego needed a smack upside the head, or i forgot about the lying.

And yes, i realize that people lie because they want to up their chances and make themselves look their best. We don’t want to admit our flaws and potentially hurt our chance at someone good. No one is ever going to post a profile that reads, “I’m generally a decent person. I am smart and funny. But i drink milk straight from the carton, and, typical of my engineering background, i often wear socks with my sandals.” It doesn’t paint the best picture. But to be honest, i’d be more inclined to go for that. At least it is real and probably true, and that scores points with me.

And in the name of all that is holy, random dating site members, if you are going to lie, at least make it plausible. If you look like Mel Brooks from last Tuesday, don’t say you just made Blazing Saddles. And conversely, don’t post pictures of you wearing your Don Johnson blazer because you look young in it. We know that blazer hasn’t seen the light of day in at least 25 years. And what the hell is it with you obviously shady-side-of-the-hill men saying you only want women 25-35? You looking for a date, or someone to adopt?

To be fair, i’m sure most women do the same thing. I’ve been told there are far too many of us posting Glamour Shot photos and posting our weight in kilograms instead of pounds. That isn’t cool either.

If, indeed, you are hoping to meet someone in person, it doesn’t make sense to lie about your appearance.

I am what i am. And i try to market myself that way. But perhaps the readers see it as, “If this is the best she can come up with, she must be really bad!” Or maybe they aren’t really looking for a date at all. Maybe they are looking for an escape from reality.

Now there’s an idea. A dating website that isn’t about real dating, but instead, one that is about fantasy dating. You can be whomever you want and have the kind of relationship you want… But only online. You never meet them, so you never know the truth. You never get to wake up to anyone for real, but you also don’t wake up to the mess they left in the bathroom. The idea does have merit. But i am thinking there are easier and cheaper ways to have that.

Anyway, i’m glad i only bought a short-term membership. Perhaps my ego needed a smack, but it doesn’t need more permanent scars. Rather than the online meat market, maybe i just need to get out more. Meet new people. Let serendipity have a chance. But the last three times i went out like that, i was receiving crass comments and photos before i ever left the venue.

Dude, if “I want to see those boobs” is the best line in your arsenal, you need to go back to 7th grade.

I really shouldn’t care about any of this. Truthfully, i have no reason to complain in my life. I have a great one. Awesome weedlings, a home, a job that i enjoy most of the time, good health, loving friends. Why do i need more?

I don’t.

So i’m just going to quit bitching and get on with life. Forcing a connection isn’t going to work, i have no control over what people post, and Liam Neeson isn’t on there anyway. (If i ever saw him on there, i’d assume it was a lie and go right past it!)  Maybe that’s why i join periodically – to remind myself that i don’t need this. I have plenty, and any icing on the cake is just that… Icing on the cake. And my cake is pretty damned good.

But a little frosting wouldn’t hurt every now and then.

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Straight Talk About Boobs

There was a time in my life when my nickname was Knox – And it wasn’t because i had money. I had boobs. Great boobs. Damned near perfect boobs.

And then life happened.

Most women, when we are young, our boobs are like toy poodles. You are always on the lookout for something to decorate them. Inexpensive bits of material that serve the same purpose as a dress on a dog. They do nothing but look cute. Bits of material that are so small and flimsy, as a woman who sews, i wouldn’t even have kept them for my ragbag. These things are all about show – Lace, sparkles, and the straps (If it has any) are made out of the thinnest, most gossamer unicorn hair. To be honest, i didn’t get to buy those for long. Somewhere around the age of 16, i went from nubbins to too-big-to-shop-for-bras-at-Woolworths. On one hand, i grew great boobs. On the other hand, bras were no longer a commodity… They required at least a JC Penney budget.

Still, it was pretty cool. I could have a bad hair day the likes of which Sideshow Bob hadn’t even seen, but if undid one more button on my blouse, most interesting parties never noticed my hair. I was still a little bummed that i didn’t have a face like a supermodel, or an ass like an aerobics instructor… But at least i had boobs. It was something.

I somehow managed, after my first child, to keep the ducks swimming above water. Probably because i was young. And because i read somewhere that wearing a bra 24/7 would keep them as upright as a the Dalai Lama. If i wasn’t in the shower, those puppies were strapped in like a firstborn in a car seat. So after i was done with my dairy cow stage, tho i was a bit bigger, i was not too much worse for wear and could still get something kind of pretty at Macy’s. Maybe not with unicorn hair straps, but at least with some lace and sparkle.

I waited nearly 10 years to have my second child. And in that time, i had grown to like the rest of me a little bit more. I guess that is why i wasn’t as concerned about keeping Mary and Margaret in their school uniforms every moment of the day. And i don’t know if it was letting them sleep without the straightjacket, or just my age… But 6 years and 2 kids into my 30s, things just weren’t like they used to be. The girls grew up.

Mary got fat, Margaret got tall, and neither of them fit into the pretty little outfits i had bought them before. At least, not without cutting off my circulation and making it look like i had 4 of them. (In spite of what men might think, 4 boobs is not a good thing.) My ego could have really used a boost, as i wasn’t liking the changes my body was going through. Mind you, this was back before we had stores like Soma. There weren’t many bra companies that made cup sizes larger than D – At least ones that didn’t cost more than my weekly grocery budget – and very few of them looked better than your average surgical supply. My poor girls owned very few party dresses.

The downfall began like this:

Remember how i said that bras in your 20s were like dressing a toy poodle? First the poodle becomes a bulldog. New mom boobs are big, but solid. Those things are like anvils. They could crush rebar if you wielded them just right.  But as your hormones morph, and you realize that a bra isn’t really necessary when you are driving your kid to school at 0630 for a field trip to the Moon Pie factory, they go from fit to fat like an aging highschool quarterback. But you ignore it. I mean, your spouse loves you for your inside, right? And he’s a grown man… He knows that his body is starting to suffer just as much.

Ladies, no. No, he doesn’t. Most men are endowed with some kind of mental magical gift where they don’t obsess over their bodies half as much as we do.

Your kids get older. You are the have-it-all-woman now. Weedlings, work, hopefully some kind of social life. And the puppies somehow became wild boars. An abstract sculpture that defies physics and logic – Basically rocks and gravel set into jello with the occasional hair sprouting out of nowhere. God is obviously a man, because no woman would have the prize for surviving motherhood be Mom Tits. You can, with some effort and a large tax refund check, find a pretty bra, but now they are uncomfortable, and you feel like you just put a tutu on a platypus. You find yourself standing naked in front of a mirror saying, “Well this is bullshit.” (You would shout it, but you just don’t have the energy.)

Life goes on. You make the best of it until somewhere in your 40s when you head out to buy bras and realize you are trying to dress billy goats. You can’t find any outfits to fit them right, and those kids are all over the place. Victoria ain’t got no more secret, and you find yourself walking into a higher end department store, finding the “fit specialist” (Who invariably looks like a prison matron from 1950s film noir) and telling her, “I need a bra that makes my boobs look like they do when i’m flat on my back with my arms stuck to my sides.” And because this feeling is universal for women of that age, she knows exactly what you mean.

If you haven’t started taking Prozac yet, now is the time.

This is also when they start talking to you about putting in small implants to take up all that space that used to be your glorious boobs and is now melted jam. Unless you are very large already, and then they tell you – I quote – “Yeah, there’s not much we can do that will work for long except cut them down and tighten them up.”

Sir, You are not an editor, and my tits are not just a magazine article.

(Ok, i am writing this, so maybe they are a magazine article of sorts… But he isn’t my editor!)

I remember reading a quote by Maya Angelou where she said that she felt, in her silver years, like her breasts were in a race to see which could reach her knees first. Woman, as always, you hold the perfect words. That quote was in my mind this morning when the incident that started this whole rant occurred.

I have a thing for man-tailored silk pajamas. Just my sleepwear of choice. But the tops never stay buttoned. I don’t know if it’s because they are silky, if the strain of containing the liquid platypuses is too much for them, or if i dream about Liam Neeson… But i go to bed with them buttoned and wake with them not. I just accept it as life. So this morning i am lying in bed, enjoying the cool sheets and the sounds of the birds coming in the window.  Sundays are awesome. Siridog crawls out from the covers (Chihuahuas burrow when they sleep) and begins her morning stretches. Usually, she plants her bony little front paws on my sternum and begins her doggie yoga. This morning, she was a little off-center.

Bony paws pinching your tits is NOT the kind of boob attention you want to start your day.

I yelped. She winced. I apologized. She licked my face… While standing on the puddle of boob that formed when i rolled to pet her.

I am ashamed to say that i F-bombed as i lifted her paws. Poor Siridog. She had no idea she had done anything wrong. So, of course, she keeps coming in for more kisses… Standing on it over and over again with those blasted bony paws – I swear, they feel like railroad spikes- Inadvertently making it worse and worse. God love her. I ended up just calling bedtime over, since i couldn’t find a way to lay that didn’t have her standing on the tit slick.

To my silver sister friends – At some point we must accept the fact that we are more than our breasts. And tho it is depressing to watch them head south for the winter and become a thin-skinned Stretch Armstrong, it is the price we have to pay for having contributed to the world. (For what it’s worth, i am told that men face the same feeling of tragedy over their testicles. But i would bet money, it doesn’t affect them half as much. We really need some of their confidence.) This is the way the universe is designed. We get wisdom and metaphysical integrity in exchange for our young bodies and physical integrity.

I am told it is a more than fair trade.

Some days, i believe it.

Unless my dog is standing on my tit puddle.

Dignity And Moth Wings

Ya God/Goddess/Universe… You’re really funny. Ha ha. You got me good.

As i have mentioned before, Chattanooga is the allergy capital of the country – or pretty damned close anyway. And this time of year it is off the charts, especially with tree (Oak) pollen, which apparently i am insanely allergic to. Every year at this time, my head fills up with enough snot to fill an Olympic pool, and then it begins doing daily sprints between my sinuses and my lungs. While it makes these laps, i am either sneezing uncontrollably, or coughing up everything north of my hips. It is very unpleasant.

Of course, because i am so old that, as my son once said, on the very first game show i ever saw, the prize was fire; my body has a hard time coping with the 300 mile per hour gust that is coming from my respiratory tract. (No, i’m not exaggerating. I actually looked it up. A cough can produce gusts up to 300 mph. A sneeze produces a wind up to 100 mph. I read it on the internet, so it must be true!)

Anyway, like i was saying… I’m old. And i’ve had 3 kids. So sneezing or coughing that hard, unless contorted into the bent over yoga pose that i affectionately call the “Mom Maneuver”, well…. All that force has to go somewhere. Especially if you are trying to hold in  said cough to avoid sounding like a duck who has smoked too many cigars, or are trying to kibosh the sneeze because you are in the middle of a parking lot with no tissue in sight. Your body has all this kinetic energy built up. If it doesn’t come out your mouth or nose…….

If you are lucky, you will only pee a little.

In the car driving home from the store yesterday, i wasn’t so lucky. I was in traffic when i felt that twinge that told me i was about to start a coughing jag that would scare a money-hungry Pulmonologist, so i pulled to the side as quickly as i could, but it hit me just as i stepped on the brake. The force! I exploded with a cough so hard that it made me shoot a fart that sounded like a cannon! That made me laugh – even tho i was still coughing – so then i couldn’t hold anything in. A good 15 minutes later, half my lung was in the pile of tissues, i had wet my pants, my tears had smeared my makeup so i looked like an old drag queen on a bender, i had snot on my shirt, and the car stunk of cheese toot.

If i had any dignity, it would have been lost.

But thankfully, i have very little dignity left, so i just wiped my face and drove home.

Since i have been plagued by this for a week, the coughing jags have gotten less frequent, and i was certain i was doing well enough to do my weekly girl maintenance last night before bed. Relaxing bath. Fancy schmancy face masque. Sugar scrub on the feet. Aaahhhh.

Then for the less enjoyable part. I had the wax in the warmer, the usual accoutrements laid out. All good and ready to go. Leg propped and body balanced like i’m in frigging Cirque du Soleil. After the third or fourth application, that lung tickle starts again.  I can feel that mucus engine racing and rumbling like a ’55 Thunderbird. I try to get one more swipe of wax on before it overtakes me….

Bad idea.

I try to bend over so i don’t pee (Because i already needed to before i started), but forgot that my leg was halfway up the wall, so i start to fall over. Toss the tongue depressor/applicator to grab something to keep me from hitting my head because OMG IF I KNOCK MYSELF OUT THE MEDICS WILL FIND ME LIKE THIS AND HOW THE HELL WILL I EXPLAIN IT AND THOSE PEOPLE KNOW ME!!!!!!!!!!! I reach out and grab whatever is beside me – I’m coughing and sneezing and tearing up too much to see it- and because my hand has wax on it, it sticks and jerks my arm back, and i end up on my back on the floor.

Holy hell.

I open my eyes. Over my head, the oversized popsicle stick that is the wax applicator is swinging far over my head where it apparently stuck to the light chain when i tossed it. Back and forth like a puttanesca pendulum. Poe would be pleased.

The fact that my hand is stuck to the toilet seat becomes a happy coincidence, as i would likely be unable to get up unassisted as i have only one leg on the floor, and the other is still up on the sink. I pull up with my hand and push up with my foot…. And make it about 6 inches before falling back on the floor.

My back and ass are stuck to the paper floor protector, and my foot was standing on it.

I wiggle myself til there is bare floor space to set my foot, and manage to stand. The paper is still stuck to my back and looks like giant moth wings. That makes me smile, so i leave them on while i rip off the last swipe of wax that caused my literal downfall and is now as hard as a Klingon Warrior.

There aren’t enough cusswords to describe that pain.

I smile one last time at the wings before trying to peel them off. Thank the heavens that i don’t have a hairy back! I managed to get most of it. (I thought i had all of it til i went to take off my nightclothes the next morning, and found them stuck to my left ass cheek by one last bit of wax.)  Then i started coughing again.

Well, shit. This sucks.

A hot toddy later, my cough subsided enough for me to sleep. The symptoms weren’t nearly as bad today, tho the pollen count climbs again later this week. I’m sure i still have plenty of coughing and sneezing in my future. But given the events yesterday, i’ll be lucky to make it out alive. And since i have no dignity left, i’ll only have indignity left to salvage.

I may have to make myself some more moth wings as a consolation prize.

Darwin Couldn’t Shop Amazon

Just because i have a bit of a cold and am feeling a bit cranky, let me tell you one more thing that really irritates the hell out of me….

I was shopping on Amazon today – Big surprise there – for a variety of things that i have never bought before. So i do my usual schtick and sort them by average customer rating and start to go through the products.

Item number one was a bamboo bathroom shelf. You know, because i’m still not done with the finishing touches on the back bathroom. Oy. Anyway, i need to find a particular size, so i hone in on that first. Then set my budget. Then sort them by review and go through them one by one. I was already a little frustrated because a few didn’t have the exact measurements listed up top, so i was having to dig for every third one. Then i see one that i really like the looks of, but it doesn’t have the measurements listed at all. I won’t go on a rant about how that is the daftest thing a shelf salesman would ever do – not list the size of the damned shelf. You already know that. And you would probably have done what i did. I went down to the “questions” section, because i figured i couldn’t possibly be the only person with this question. I mean, the picture didn’t even have a book or anything on the shelf to help you guess its size. So i skip to the questions, and there it is, number one on the list, “What are the dimensions of this shelf?”

Yeah! Finally! And then the response. The only response.

“I don’t know. I just ordered it and haven’t received mine yet.”

WTF? HOW IS THAT HELPFUL?!?!?!?!

I look through the rest of the questions while i unconsciously shake my head like i am crawling in my car behind someone who insists on walking down the middle of the parking lot straightaway.

Question number 4: “How wide is this shelf?”

Answer: “Don’t know yet. Will answer when mine arrives.”

SERIOUSLY?!?! Why not just wait to answer until it arrives?!?!?! Do you have nothing better to do? Or do you think the question was meant just for you?!?  ARRRGGGGGGGHHHHH!

I could feel my eye starting to twitch, so i retreated.

I picked one that actually had the measurements listed AND had helpful answers to the questions.  Then i went on to item number 2: A book of Japanese patterns.

For those of you who don’t sew, Japanese patterns are unique. First off, the designs are minimalist and clean – almost like if Ikea made sewing patterns. Second, because they are sparse and minimalist, most don’t come in separate tissue pieces with papers of instructions like American patterns do. They generally come as a book with either instructions on how to draft the pattern, or pattern pieces on paper, overlaying each other, that need to be traced onto pattern paper. The instructions are in the margins or are in the book itself. It probably sounds like a terrible idea, but after having tried my first one, i can tell you that it is genius. First, the pieces and techniques are such that less fitting is required, and there are infinite variations possible. And not for nothing, if you’ve ever bought an article of clothing that has similar characteristics and style (i.e. Eileen Fisher), you know that they can be cost prohibitive for a lot of us to buy already made. So anyway, i had made one that i downloaded online, but wanted to pick out a book that had more designs. I hone in and have to laugh reading some of the reviews. Most of the critical reviews obviously come from people who thought that Japanese pattern books were simply books full of patterns, and not a particular aesthetic and construction method. An easy mistake to make, especially for those new to sewing. I could understand those reviews. But some of them…

“These patterns are made for tiny people. They are made for the twiggiest of twigs.” (Seriously, it said that. “The twiggiest of twigs”)  – Hello, they are Japanese patterns. And Japanese patterns for women, at that. Did you think they’d run large?

“There aren’t many instructions to go with the pictograms, and what there is appears to be in Chinese.” – Ummmm…. I’m going out on a limb here, but i’ll say the language you can’t identify is Japanese. Just a guess.

“All the measurements are in metric.” – Yes, you continental sweetie. Most of the world uses the metric system. These aren’t American patterns, ergo….

“All the dresses are loose and baggy. Not corporate at all. Nothing was fitted.” – Yes, dear heart. That is the point. And considering there is a picture on the front of the book that is very representative of the style, i’m shocked at your surprise. It’s not like there was a three-piece suit on the cover.

And my personal favorite… “I couldn’t get past the photographs… They all have plain white backgrounds and it made the models look like they were in a mental hospital.” Bwahahhahahaha! Ok, i can kind of see that point. But it is supposed to be a functional book, not a coffee table book. The photos are there so we can tell where the seams are and how it is supposed to drape. They obviously didn’t want a background to detract from that. (But i will never look at those pictures the same way again.)

I was a little less frustrated by this search, mostly because some of the critical reviews were so funny. I did eventually pick the book that i wanted. And i was still giggling when i did so.

Item 3 was silicone molds for soap making. Generally, these come 2 ways, individually like custard dishes, or something akin to a 6 muffin pan. Mind you, this is a harder search because you can use these things for baking, too, so you really have to look both places to get the full picture. In a lateral vein to item one, tho the overall dimensions of the pan are listed in each item page, very few list the actual volume of the molds, which is the important part. I don’t care that the pan itself is 9 by 8. Does it make full-sized soaps or the kind that are only good for people with excessive OCD who can’t use the bar more than once?

I find a set of two 6 pans in lovely Celtic designs and think, “Yes, that’ll be perfect, as long as they’re not the size of a truffle.” So i search for some kind of volume measurement. Or at least the measurement of the individual cups.

Nada. Zilch. Zip.

So i go to the questions. Oh boy! And there it is, number one on the list: “How big are the cups? What size soap will they make?”

And the answer… Are you ready? There was only one response. Just one. Even tho it had hundreds of ratings for the product. Just one answer.

“I don’t know. I’ve only bought their donut molds. And those are standard size.”

Dude.

It’s a good thing you aren’t sitting next to me. I would force you to explain why in anyone’s name you would think that was helpful in any way. And then i would smack you.

Am i the only one who is driven crazy by this? Does anyone else think it is possible that Amazon allows people to post useless remarks just because they know it will drive us nuts? Am i the only one who wishes that, in addition to “4 stars and above” and “Prime eligible”, there was a filter called,  “Ones with reviews that are actually worth a damn” or “Questions that actually contain meaningful answers”? I am about to prioritize my need for these just above my need for a bird finger in addition to a thumbs up and thumbs down on most social media platforms.

And you know how badly we all want that bird finger.

With all the money Amazon is raking in, you’d think someone would be policing such things.

Or maybe it is their idea of entertainment.

Anyway, thank you for listening to me complain. I’m sure i look and sound like a goose who just watched a busload of people disembark without a single bag of bread. But hopefully it made you laugh, or at least shake your head in agreement. Because i know you have been there. We’ve all been there. But sometimes it feels good to let it out.

Japanese patterns with Chinese instructions. Really? Sheesh.

 

 

Adventures in Renovation – The Baccalà Edition

I just spent 4 hours scraping and sanding an 8 by 9 foot bathroom. And when i tell you that a part of me wishes i had just moved to a newer house, I’m not talking about a small part of me. But i did it, and now i’m so sore and tired and angry, i’ll have to live in this house til i die so i can feel it was worth it.

You might remember that my house is over 100 years old. I can’t help it, i love the character of an old house. Even knowing that it comes with its own issues.

First there was the bit with the the pantry. Then The dead raccoon.  And The kitchen cabinets.  Then there was the beginning of this same room (the last adventure). Not to mention the bugs i battled, first with geckos and then with chemicals. The yard work. Or the squirrels who had sex in the soffits over my bed for an entire spring – annoying as hell and made me feel lonely besides.

Mind you, i’ve never lived in a brand new house. I’m sure they come with their own issues. Probably no mushrooms or dead trash pandas, but still… issues.

After $2500 and 2 weeks worth of days without a shower, we are finally in the home stretch. Old, ugly wall thingies are down. Holes spackled. Nasty, peeling paint chipped and sanded as much as is possible (This house is old enough that the bathroom used to be a mudroom, so it has lap siding for walls with 100 years of paint on them.) It is probably still going to look a bit rough, even with fresh paint, but i keep telling myself, that will go with the nautical theme. I have bought towel hooks that are whales (And tails of whales), toilet paper and towel holders that are anchors, and i even bought a new switch plate with a sexy mermaid on it (Don’t judge me.) It will look better when it’s finished, tho still nothing like a brand new house.

And that’s ok with me. I love that this cottage has character. I mean, i’m a character, so it suits. And as much as a day of painting prep has sucked, it was good for some exercise and for my creative psyche. Plus, my son and i got to spend some time together. (I would like to say we spent it discussing important things, but mostly we spent it singing pirate songs from Muppet Treasure Island and at least a dozen verses of Mah Nà Mah Nà, )   So it wasn’t a total loss.

But now that i have been sitting for an hour or so, i’m pretty sure my son is going to have to unfold me off the couch like a rusty lawn chair. Or at least bring me a muscle relaxer. I mean, i can barely raise my arms from sanding the ceiling. And my back and legs feel…  well, they feel like i’ve been climbing up and down a ladder all day. No big surprise there. Suffice it to say that i am sore all over and stiff as a baccalà. Damn, my exercise regime of tap dancing and planks didn’t prepare me for this. Go figure.

Maybe i should consider just giving up and buying a newer house, but, realistically, even if i did, i’d still be sore tomorrow. So i guess i’m screwed either way. Better to save my money and travel more.

Well, here comes my son now. I told him of my situation, and once he stops laughing, he’s going to help me up off the couch and get me some aspirin. So, if you’ll excuse me, i’ll be signing off and, like an elderly sloth, making my way to bed. Once my son stops laughing.

Which should be soon.

Any minute now.

Still waiting.

Crap.

 

Home Renovations – The It Episode

Due to some excessive rain (I started to say “Unusually excessive rain…”, but excessive rain IS the usual here), the power was going on and off for a bit this morning. My son’s room was unusually cluttered because we are doing some renovations on his bathroom (More about that later), so the towel racks, towels, and assorted accessories, along with my ladder, are stuffed into his fairly small bedroom. And to note: The kid keeps it as dark as a cave.

So as various household appliances are switching on an off with the indecisive power surges, they are all making different noises. The humidifiers beep. The temperature gauge clicks. And something in the house made an upward sloping attempt at middle A.

It was the last that creeped my son out.

He recounts to me after dawn that laying there in the pitch black, unfamiliar shadows from the extra stuff stashed in his room, he was seriously rattled. All the added flotsam, plus the emptiness of a bathroom devoid of part of its floors and walls changed the acoustics such that the poor kid couldn’t tell where the noise was coming from. He tried to convince himself it was the heat, but given that it was unseasonably warm, he couldn’t get that  thought to solidify.  He ended up staying awake til morning.

He comes in my room when he hears me waking and playing with Siridog. he tells me about the storm and the dark and the noises. He especially points out that the strange, eerily musical hum really rattled him. It sounded like song notes. Like a half scale. It didn’t sound random. It freaked him out. I can tell by his expression that he wasn’t exaggerating – The kid had been really scared.

“You just need to take a deep breath and remind yourself, ” I say to him, “That this is a safe neighborhood and that it was unlikely to be a bear or criminal.”

“Criminal?!? Ma, I was afraid it was a clown!”

I couldn’t help it. I busted out laughing.

“I’m serious, Ma! If a clown had shown up, I’d have beat him with my lamp and then wet my pants.”

Truth be told, if I’d been in that situation, and a clown had jumped out of the closet, I’d have wet my pants before beating him with the lamp.

 

*****

 

So about the bathroom renovation…

My house is ancient, and the people who lived there before did most of their own repairs. Which is to say, a lot of stuff is totally jerry-rigged. Makeshift. Mechanically creative. When I decided I was ready to replace the shower stall in the back bathroom, I knew better than to expect it would be pristine underneath.

First, the contractor, a friend of mine, tells me he is there to start the demo. Then he sends pics of some wood rot around the drain. To be expected in an old house, I remind myself.

Then pics of some wood rot on the bottom of the wall behind the shower. No surprise there – The back wall had a bit of a crack in it.

Then some pics of wood rot around the perimeter of the shower pan. No surprise there either. There is no air vent, heating vent, or fan in that room. It gets damp easily.

Then a pic of the joist and crawl space below the shower section of the floor. In the center of the photo, there is a mushroom… A cream colored, beautifully topographically sculpted fungus, big enough to feed a small country, or at least a large city, for a day.

THAT was a surprise.

It wasn’t a clown, but it was damned unnerving.

It has since been pushed down into the dirt and been broken, sprayed and sterilized (Pretty much everything short of set on fire). The room will get fixed, my son’s room will go back to normal, and hopefully neither of us will be tortured any more by thoughts of clowns, or mushrooms, or clowns with mushrooms, or mushrooms shaped like clowns.

Effing clowns.

Stupid mushrooms.

Please, let us not find anything else.

 

 

Have You Met My Son, Black+Decker?

I am dirty. Like, literally. I am covered in dirt and leaves and twigs and sweat. My deodorant gave out about 30 minutes ago, and i just pulled a little spider out of my hair. All that, not including a couple minor injuries… And i feel wonderful.

The first warm day in ages. Granted, in a couple of months, this will be considered cold; but after weeks of hard freeze and some snow, my son and i are both in short sleeves and bare feet as we revel in the sunny outdoors. (Well, truthfully, i’ve been reveling for a few hours. My son only came out when i finished my part and gave him no choice but to do his.) Because it is almost time for the palmettos to come out of their winter hiding, i took the opportunity to get all their food – the aforementioned leaves and twigs – raked and blown to the curb. Of course, this is at least the 6th time i’ve done that this season. Hopefully it will be the last. I have far too many deciduous trees in my yard, including one hickory whose nuts are the bane of my existence, but i am loath to cut them down. Trees are so majestic and mistreated that i can’t bring myself to take them out just because i am too lazy to deal with the leaves (and nuts.)

The nuts… Good Lord… If there isn’t a chipmunk city in my yard, i can’t imagine why. That tree produces enough in a year to make nut condos for every small, furry mammal in the neighborhood. In the summer, i find them half buried in my planters where they are being squirreled away for winter. And stepping on them is almost as bad as a Lego. But this time of year…. Oy…. Strewn about the side yard, it’s a bit like a roller skating rink, except the wheels are on the ground instead of your footwear. Twice today i did the cartoon can-can when they caused me to lose my footing. Legs and arms in all different directions, once being “saved” by body-slamming the shed, and once by falling forward into what was meant to be a push-up, but became more of a belly flop.

Then there is the little matter of bushes and corners. These are, of course, the explanation for the dirt in my eyes, the twigs in my hair, and the leaf mold setting up like cement in my nostrils. I know my life would be easier if i’d just rake or pull the leaves out from the corners and that little strip between the bushes and the house… but that seems a step backward from the leaf blower. I keep telling myself that i am smart enough at math to find just the trajectory to aim the air stream where the leaves will shoot out from the corner in a perfect arc and land in a neat pile away from the house.

I am, apparently, not that smart.

Instead, about a quarter of the leaves blow away from the house, a quarter blow at me, and the other half ends up, inexplicably, back up against the wall behind me. It was one of these frustrating moments that gave me my first ego-blow of the day. Backed up against the drain, battling a whirlwind of yard flotsam,  i look up and see my neighbor laughing at me thru his window. I wanted to yell something snarky, but i couldn’t open my mouth without choking on flying ivy. Instead, i shot him a “Come on! Cut me some slack!” face, and he mouthed a chuckling apology before ducking out of sight.

At the last leg of my chore, i see the mail man drive up to the post box next door. This caught my attention because, as Vernon Dursley says, “There is no post on Sundays.” Now, in my head, i know being distracted while using yard tools is a no-no, but the sight of the mail truck didn’t distract me quite enough to make me stop and turn off the leaf blower. Instead, i kept on blowing and slowly moving backwards while my eyes stayed glued to the truck and my mind wandered.

Right about the time i figured it must be an overnight delivery, my heel caught on a wayward weedbush. As i went ass-over-teakettle, something in my wonky brain made me hang onto the leaf blower like it was a newborn baby. And when i landed with a thud in the damp earth, the damned thing was still cradled to my chest, with its hard plastic snuffle extension perfectly positioned between my face and the ground, motor whirring in my ear as if it were Peewee Herman screeching sweet nothings. I sat up just in time to see the mailman, having turned around in the cul-de-sac, staring at me from the road, a look of horror on his face.

At first i thought the look was because he was worried i was hurt. Then i realized my t-shirt was clear up to my armpit on one side, as if i were nursing my leaf blowing baby.

I turned the machine off, threw the postman a little salute, pulled my shirt down, and told my son it was his turn.

So now he is finishing the last quarter of the chore. I am on the porch, still barefoot, enjoying a cold drink and hoping against hope that i can move my arms tomorrow and wondering how long it will take to get all the dirt out of my nose. The polish i put on my fingernails yesterday is a little worse for wear. I can feel the layer of grime on my skin. My eyes and head are already aching because i didn’t take an allergy pill first. And i can feel that i have leaves in places i shouldn’t.

But the sun is still up. It is still warm. The yard is looking better. I just found out that i burned about 700 calories. All my other chores are done.  And, since i started my day making a wonderful vegan ragu, i have a great meal coming up in about an hour.  I feel accomplished and content.

So yes, i am dirty and sore and a little bit battered. I lost a bit of my dignity to the neighbor and the postman. And i will be looking for more spiders in my hair all night. But those things pale in comparison to all the good i get from working outdoors. There is no anti-depressant like a warm, sunny day in the middle of winter. There is no chore as fulfilling as ones that get dirt under your fingernails. And there is no sleep as deep as the kind you get after a day of yard work.

Tomorrow may be a bitch of a Monday, but today was glorious.