Does the thought still count if the gift is a can of baked beans?

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Mornin’ all.

It’s Christmas!

I love Christmas. Beautiful lights shining in defiance of the bleak winterscape outside. Glitter-crusted “Noel” banners turning walls into homages of tackiness in the best possible way. Candy snitched from the dessert buffet eaten in secret under the table with childhood cohorts while tipsy Gram makes a silly bet with even tipsier Grampa beneath the mistletoe. Bemused confusion around the tree when the designated Santa can’t seem to read Mrs. Claus’s handwriting while attempting to pass out gifts. Crumpled paper bombs aimed just right to bounce off an uncle’s bald spot. Shiny bow broaches to match curled ribbon wigs. The thrill and relief of seeing Dad light up with genuine happiness when he holds up what turned out to be the right gift choice. The gentle pat on the head a tired Mum with a filled heart gives her young daughter as she walks past on the way to help the aunts put back to rights the chaos of a successful holiday party. The feeling of love and joy and comfort and content when the day is done.

I *LOVE* Christmas.

This year, our celebration is going to be small. And delayed. Mother Nature decided that for Christmas this year, she would decorate with ice and snow. We just had an ice storm that turned our trees into those blown glass figurines that were so popular in the 80s. ‘Member those? Every upscale (or wannabe upscale) gift shop simply HAD to have a display of little blown glass trees, baskets, kitties with balls of yarn, and dolphins.

So. Many. Dolphins.

Anyway, she waved her magic wand and turned the world into kitschy blown glass. It was extremely beautiful, and utterly terrifying. There was nothing warm or welcoming about the trip into work yesterday. Apparently, my town forgot about the existence of road salt.

I made it to work, and it warmed up nicely during the day. It got warm enough to not only clear the roads, but dry them as well…which must have royally pissed off Mother Nature, because right now, we’re getting 5-8 inches of snow. The teens are all with their other families. The plan was for them to spend the Eve with the others, then come home for a prime rib dinner.

Yep, you heard me right. We are a roast-beef-for-Christmas family. No, I do not want to hear your debate on why smoked pig ass is the “proper” Christmas meal. And don’t even THINK of coming at me with the turkey bullshit. That was last month. Change the calendar page and get with the program.

…er…sorry. Let me pull back the curtain and give you an insider peek into another world: In the grocery biz, the discussion of Christmas meal meat is a topic best left unspoken. You’ll lose friends. You’ll be a pariah in the break room. There is literally no winning. If you like turkey, someone else will stand there at your counter and argue the historical importance of goose. If you like ham, someone will tout the merits of lamb. If you choose rib roast, you totally failed to understand the majesty of a crowned pork roast. Seriously, you can’t win.

Since I’m not at work, I don’t risk offending people on my team. I can say it here as loud as I want. I’m a proud roast-beefer. And this year, our store had prime rib on sale for $4.99/lb. That’s honestly half price. How could I pass that up?

Forget sugar plums. I had visions of rib roast. I planned on stuffing it full of slivered garlic and coating the outside with a thrilling blend of herbs and spices the night before, letting the succulent treat absorb and adopt an explosion of flavor into the velvetty, buttery, juicy meat. *heavy sigh*

And now, I must wait. Until when, we don’t know. If Mother Nature would kindly remove the iced stick from her ass, it might be tomorrow.

We’re here with the Littlest Pup. We’ll let him open his gifts from us today. I honestly don’t think I could stand it if he had to wait. I think I might just be more excited to give it to him than he is to get it. He’ll get his stocking. No, he doesn’t still believe in Santa. But *I* still believe in being “Santa”.

In our house, Santa just brings candy and silly dollar store items. My ex’s family liked to make all the big presents under the tree be from Santa, a tradition I could never get behind. Was Santa the one out there busting his hump to scrape up enough money to buy my kid the one thing he really, really wanted? No? Then why should he get the credit?

“Bethie, when the kids are older, it’ll dawn on them that it was you getting them the presents the entire time.”

And when they’re little, do you want your kids to think Mummy and Daddy only care enough to get them socks and underwear and superficial crap they didn’t even want? Bah. Get out of here with that bullshit. Santa’s cool and all, but right from the get, I wanted my kids to know that Mummy and Daddy understood them, knew them, listened when they said what they liked or hated. It’s more than just a present. It’s telling a child right from the very beginning that Mum gets him. Mum pays attention. It establishes an unspoken trust. Instead of “Santa’s watching”, I wanted my kids to know, “Mum’s listening.”

“I really think you’re reading too much into this.”

Maybe. Maybe not. There was just a very interesting article about the psychology of gift giving and the holidays that…

…you know what? It’s Christmas. I’m not going down the heavy route. I’m just going to say that I never, ever wanted an imaginary figure who was only “involved” in my kids’ lives for one day a year to be more trusted than I am. And I don’t care if that sounds selfish.

ANYWAY, I went a bit overboard with the stockings this year. I had too many dollars in my pocket when I walked into the store. Light up footballs, razors for the hairy teens, foam ball pop guns, retro board games… The very best thing I found was a set of dice.

Remember Yahtzee? Of course you do. It’s only the greatest dice game ever invented. I have no idea how many hours of my life have been spent rolling for that damn large straight, or how many times my older sister yelled, “YAH-TZEEEEEE” in our youth.

She had an absolutely rage-inducing knack for rolling Yahtzees.

“Wow, Bethie! I can’t believe they had Yahtzee at the dollar store!”

They didn’t. They had something a million times better: “Yacht.”

I shit you not, it’s a can of five dice with “Yacht” written on it. Just…Yacht. There was no way in hell I was walking out of there without one for each of my boys.

I am probably more amused by “Yacht” than I should be. It’s just so ridiculous. Bad knock-offs and weird “wtf?” gifts crack me up so much.

My man was feeling cheeky. He’s been threatening the boys with Barbies and My Little Ponies for years, every time they say “I dunno” when we ask what they want. This year, he went for it. One of the teens is getting not “My Little Pony”, but the dollar store version, “My Fairy Pony”.

I don’t know what it is that amuses me so much about these things. I think it’s the anticipated reactions. I honestly giggle at the thought of the face the recipient will make.

Take this offering from my store, for example. I was looking over the holiday gift basket display yesterday morning, and I was seeing what we had left to decide if I needed to spend my last $20 of holiday money. The baskets were neat, for the most part. There was a baking themed basket, full of baking supplies and a fun array of extracts and measuring spoons. There was a baby basket, with diapers, wipes, travel baby shampoos and such. The dried fruit basket was tempting, because it has some unusual snack mixes and nuts and fun-to-nibble items.

And then I saw it.

Folks, I am not kidding. If I could have thought of someone to give this next basket to, I would have bought it. No joke.

It was called “The Hearty Basket”. It contained an assortment of items that I have to believe someone chose by just randomly walking up and down the aisles and making a game of grabbing the first thing they saw.

The basket contained a box of scalloped potatoes, a box of instant oatmeal, a tub of panko bread crumbs, a large can of baked beans, and a jar of gravy.

Let’s just think about this for a minute. You’re at an office party. It’s a Secret Santa event. You’ve gotten your gift, a coffee mug with a print of Grumpy Cat saying “I hate Mondays” filled with what appears to be two year old Hershey’s Kisses that have clearly been knocked around the bottom of someone’s purse, and you’re waiting for the last schmuck to open their gift so you can get to the boozy portion of the party. A large, brightly wrapped gift basket is brought out and handed over to Marge, and people are oohing and ahhing while she excitedly tears into the cellophane.

“Tell us what’s in there!” come the eager pleas.

“I’m getting to it, hang on,” says Marge, tugging at a particularly troublesome bit of Scotch tape. “Okay, let’s see!” she all but squeals. “Ooh! We’ve got…baked…beans…?”

Maybe I’m low key a bitch, but just the idea of the utter confusion and bewilderment on Marge’s face… it cracks me up to the point where all day long I’d randomly chuckle.

Baked beans. Panko crumbs. Oatmeal. Scalloped potatoes. Canned gravy. I HAVE to believe that whoever put together this basket was picturing Marge as well. There is NO WAY anyone with any kind of sense at all thought these things would make a great gift. And yet, by doing so, they have created for me such a wonderfully amusing mental scene.

I have a kindred spirit somewhere in the store, folks. I must find this person and befriend them.

I hear the creature a’stirring upstairs. Last night I told him he couldn’t come down until 7 am. I was spent after a long week at work and didn’t feel like filling the fancy socks last night. He knew. He’s my kid, after all. He said, “Santa’s just going to get an early start?” I said, “You bet.” It’s 6:36 currently, and I’ve heard him go into the bathroom about half a dozen times. Ten bucks says he’s sitting on his bed right now, boring holes into the illuminated tire clock on his wall.

It’s snowing heavily, now. I highly doubt the elder kids will be able to make it home. The roast can wait another day, and we won’t have to shovel for a few more hours yet. You know what that means.

There’s plenty of time to kick his ass at Yacht.

Thus concludes a Christmas Musing for Christmas 2017. Everyone have a great day, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

A legitimate argument for bringing back typewriters…

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Episode 8/6/17…in which we check in on our heroine, who was bravely battling electronic gremlins and digital devilkins when last we met…

Mornin’ all.

‘Member that temp fix I did to allow me to babble for a bit? Yeah. Like duct tape on a crack in a dam, it didn’t hold. However, we have a brand new hard drive.

“Oooh, I thought it looked bright and fresh in here.”

Yes, but the newness came with a price. Doesn’t it always? Microsoft removed a very handy tool that used to be built into their software which would allow us to move programs from one hard drive to the other. The forums said to use this outside software. Microsoft’s web page pointed us to the same thing, saying they had “partnered with” this other company. We even called tech support and got a woman who just suggested we copy and paste…

*techie top tip: You cannot do this with a program. Individual files? Sure. But a program? No. Otherwise pirating software would be as simple as a right click. Programs embed parts of their coding tree all through OTHER programs, just to make sure that if you DO try to right click and paste, you won’t get what you need to actually use the program. And a techie at Microsoft’s call center should at least know that.*

…which sent the man of the house into an incredulous fit of scoffing befuddlement. After being briefly educated by said partner, she put him on hold to go ask for another opinion, came back, and said that the company recommends the same software we saw everywhere.

We got the software.

We should not have gotten the software.

It hiccuped in the middle of transferring the data, and almost everything on that hard drive was lost.

Again.

*sigh*

Okay. It’s not as bad as it might sound. Since the build we did after last year’s Electrical Apocalypse, I was never comfortable with the replacement hard drive, or the Windows 10 To Go OS we used. We were broke and had to take the cheapest option. Because of this, I never stored too much on it. I did not trust it, and as a result, I didn’t lose much. A couple of photos, some writing that I do not want to talk about because it was almost finished and it may just send me into a rage because I’m really trying hard to oooohhhhhmmmm the hell out of this situation and you bringing it up and asking for details is making it REALLY FUCKING HARD TO…

“Whoa Bethie! Easy, now. I won’t talk about it anymore! *grabs coffee* Here. Take it.”

*chugs rotgut* *the sizzle of the stomach lining brings the beast back into the present* *deep, albeit slightly inhibited by the burning pain, breath*

Thanks. Sorry.

“Namaste.”

Indeed.

Long and short, we’ve got a spiffy new hard drive full of wonders and possibilities, clearly I was not going down the right path with that book, and Microsoft can suck my dick.

“Why don’t you use a different OS?”

*snort* You know, people always say that. But when you get right down to it, why? They make the easiest to use, plug and play operating system. While not without flaws, it is the industry standard. I almost never have to tweak a program to get it to run without hassle on Windows. I can dig around and shut off annoying features without fear of tanking the whole thing…

It’s like shopping at Wal-mart. Everyone pretends to hate it. And on a visceral level, maybe we all really do. But when you’re on vacation and you realize you forgot to pack socks and underwear and your kid just fell into the Peabody river when you DAMN WELL TOLD THEM NOT TO HOP ON THE ROCKS, and now it’s 5:30 pm, starting to rain, and your hubby is griping about the goddamn traffic while the wet, hungry kid yammers that he’s cold, something inside you warms at the sight of a Wal-mart sign. Don’t even pretend like you don’t understand what I’m saying right now.

When push comes to shove, I’m glad I use Windows.

That said, Microsoft, your software partnership is ass, your tech support is a joke, and your fucking “To Go” build is worse than Windows ME.

*fistbump to anyone who understands just how horrible that is*

Yesterday was a big day. Teen Beta turned 18! I now have two adult children. *sniff* I made it clear to the other two that this trend is really getting old, and I forbade them from growing anymore. Of course, I had to look up at Teen 2.0’s laughing face to tell him this as he’s over 6 feet tall now. And the youngest pup laughed and said, “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”

I get the feeling that they did not take my dire warning as dire.

He’s 18. Man. I don’t talk about it all that much, because it’s not exactly my story to tell, but he’s the one that had cancer when he was 10. In fact, it was on his 10th birthday that I noticed an odd lump on his neck. It was the weekend, and he had just played his saxophone in a concert. The lump was right about where the strap would have rested, and we figured it was swollen because of that. Honestly, it wasn’t much of a lump. Certainly didn’t seem like anything to worry about.

He went to his Mum’s house for his birthday, and she called the next day saying that overnight it seemed that the lump grew. She brought him back, and we got him to his doctor, who sent us up to the hospital immediately. At that point, they thought he had “cat scratch fever”, and we tormented him with the Nugent song. When the antibiotics did nothing, though, and the lump grew instead of shrank, we brought him back a couple days later.

I will never forget that visit.

The man and Teen Beta (then only 10 year old Beta) were in the doctor’s office, and I was in the waiting room with the youngest pup, only a couple years old at the time. The pup was coloring, and I was chatting with the cashier of a local dent ‘n bent I was casually friendly with over the years. She was there because her husband had an ear infection, and we chatted while we waited for our folks to get out of their appointments.

The doctor came out. Not my husband, not the cat scratched kiddo. The doctor. That is NEVER good. He called me over.

“I’ll watch him,” the cashier said, pointing to the little one.

I followed the doctor into the hallway. He had a look on his face that made me want to run away. “I didn’t want to tell your husband in front of *child’s name*, but I’ve seen this a couple times before and in every case, it’s been cancer. I am going to tell them that the appointment I schedule is a routine exam, but it’s actually a biopsy. I’ll have my nurse bring you the information. I don’t want the boy worrying yet.” He put a hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry.”

I think that every person gets blindsided at least once in their life, truly blindsided with a situation that takes them utterly by surprise slapping down upon their shoulders a heavy burden that they never saw coming. We never saw it coming. It wasn’t on our radar. Cancer is slow. Cancer takes time. It was just an infection…it HAD to be! It popped up so very fast, they MUST be wrong!

I went back to the waiting area shaking. I’m generally a private person.

“*scoff*”

No, not here. Here is my outlet. But in person, I tend to keep everything surface-level with people. It is not a good trait. I’m aware.

That day, I could not keep things to myself. It was too much, and I started to cry on the shoulder of the cashier I barely knew.

There are moments in life you remember for their sheer impact. Getting told the kiddo had cancer was one, and yet, sitting in the waiting room being comforted in such a personal way by someone I barely knew was another…for an entirely different reason. I will never, ever forget that connection I made with her that day.

…in a twist, a few months later one of Teen Beta’s chemos gave him a reaction and he had to be brought to the emergency room. The cashier was there in the waiting room. Her husband had just suffered a heart attack, and it was my turn to comfort her. Anyone who says life is boring is just plain wrong.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stage 4C, by the way. That’s what the kiddo had. In his chest, around his lungs, in his leg. In the few days it took for them to do a biopsy and get us into an oncology appointment at the major hospital in the area, the nodes grew from the size of peas to the size of large grapes. It was fast, aggressive, and everywhere. It was so aggressive, in fact, that as soon as he was declared cancer-free, it came right back and he had a stem cell transplant, where the doctors seemed to try their damnedest to do the poor boy in. All of that began right after his 10th birthday.

And yesterday, he turned 18.

You know what? I think I found my calming mantra.

Thus concludes a Musing for Wednesday, March 8, 2017. I have the day off! …but not, because holy shit has the housework piled up. Methinks its a day to put “Hoarders” on in the background. You know, keep me motivated…

*blows the dust off the keyboard*

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Mini mornin’ to you all!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Things went awry. The six of us here spent about three weeks swapping back and forth between a stomach bug and the plague. As soon as that started to pass, the computer had a freak out and decided to play “What Program Will We Pretend We Don’t Know How To Run Today?”

It’s a step up from last year’s epic meltdown brought about by the electrical apocalypse, so I suppose I can’t be too upset. We are heading in the right direction. Fingers crossed that the next New Year’s PC woe is just a couple dead batteries in the mouse.

The littlest pup went and broke his thumb, my boss needs me 6 days straight for the next two weeks…

It’s been a month of “wut the hell just happened?”

Things are starting to sort themselves out. Through the power of our Winter Overlords (Vicks, Halls, and the saintly Robitussin), I think the plague has passed. No one’s shit their pants for a couple weeks, so that awful stomach nastiness seems to be done. *knock wood to both* I have tricked my computer into letting me access my writing program…we’ll see how long this lasts. And I don’t have to go into work for a couple hours.

I thought about checking out the news and commenting on things that have happened while I’ve been down for the count, but holy. shit. There isn’t enough time. There wouldn’t be enough time if I had the whole day off. And all of it happened in the circus tent we used to call the White House. Barnum and Bailey didn’t call it quits…they just changed venues.

There’s so much that it’s exhausting to read through it all. It’s become a dreaded chore. “What did our idiot in chief do now?” I don’t want to be exhausted. I’m in the middle of a push at work and I just don’t have it in me right now to slog through the slime trail Trump leaves in his wake.

Instead, let’s meet a new customer I have.

I love customer interactions, even the bad ones. I am a very character-driven person, not just in my writing but in real life. I like to hoard knowledge about all the wonderful, weird, and wacky ways beings who are almost chemically and molecularly identical are in actuality so very different. People are fascinating.

This lady is one of the more interesting ones I’ve got. She’s elderly, my guess would be in the late 70s. She’s short, with short white hair that’s poorly styled. About half of it has been curled, probably with those old pin curlers that were popular in the 50s and 60s, and the other half is clearly too far back on her head for her to reach. Her face is that of an Old World grandmother, with a large, bulbous nose, baggy eyes, and the perpetual frown crease in her forehead earned by years of telling kids to “knock it off or else.”

In some ways, she reminds me of my own Polish grandmother. Perhaps that’s what drew my attention to her in the first place.

When she comes in, she’ll look through the baked goods as if she’s searching for a lost piece of jewelry. Each item will be lifted, flipped, scrutinized. She’ll shake her head, place it back down, and move on to the next. She’s been in many times in the last couple months, and it’s always the same. She’ll spend about half an hour looking over everything, and then come to the counter asking for help.

“I can’t see so good. Bad eyes, you know. Can you tell me what this says?”

Up close under the unkind fluorescent lights, a general lack of care becomes obvious. The coat she wears speaks to another time, another life she led where she was an upper middle class housewife who was able to keep up with Jackie O. At one time, the coat was white, quilted, with a furred collar. Now, it’s stained a cigarette-butt yellow, the collar matted with years of sweat and old make-up. There’s a broach pinned to the corner of the collar, dirt crusted between the shiny rhinestones. It’s a coat that says she was somebody, and it’s clear she still believes herself to be that person.

We have several elderly people who ask for what I would consider to be an extended level of service. They want you to take them product by product, answering the same questions about each they asked the week before. I think they’re overall just lonely and looking for some human interaction. You nod, smile, walk them through until you can find a kind way to get back to your job.

The other week, this particular lady was in. I watched her sift through the tables, and was ready when she called me over. We did our regular routine, then she thanked me and moved on without buying anything.

They never buy anything.

I got back to work, feeling good. Who wouldn’t? You make a lonely person’s day a little better with just a couple minutes invested. It feels good. I finished up my shift about a half hour later, punched out, and headed onto the store floor to pick up a few things. I entered the soda aisle to grab some seltzer and I saw the same woman. I’m not going to lie…I briefly considered turning around before she saw me. Feeling good about helping is one thing, but come on. End of my work day, I just wanted to get my seltzer and go home. I didn’t want to be sucked into doing ALL of her shopping for her.

It was out of my hands, though. She glanced up from the bottle she was squinting at down to the opposite end of the aisle, then quickly placed the soda in her cart and spun around. She saw me, grabbed my arm, and said, “Oh no, dear. You don’t want to go down there,” before quickly scooting out of the aisle. I looked toward the other end to see what had ruffled her feathers.

A black man was shopping for potato chips, shaking his head. He heard her. I knew he heard her. He looked up at me, then he knew I knew he heard her. It was one of those frozen moments I will never forget.

My first thought was, “HOLY SHIT DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN??!!” My second thought right on the heels of that was, “Well you certainly saw THAT you crazy old bat! Blind my ASS!”

I got my seltzer, then asked the man if there was anything he needed help finding. I did not, in any way, want him to think I was on board with the Racist Granny. I know, I know, I know. Trite in the extreme. But what else could I do?? Should I have gone up and said, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry that wrinkled old pit stain was such a cunt?” I don’t know. I don’t feel like I handled it well, but honestly…???

He and I exchanged a few pleasantries. I hope he at least knew that I was trying.

I told him to have a nice day and went to check out. Racist Granny was in the next register, putting her groceries up on the belt faster than I’d ever seen the old bat move.

I feel sad for her on one level. She truly is stuck in another time and place. The world moved on, and she just didn’t. It’s clear why she’s lonely. Her nasty streak is no doubt why there is no one to help her curl the back of her hair, or tell her the stained coat needs a good dry cleaning.

I said customer interactions are fascinating, and that certainly fits that description. But, fascinating isn’t always good.

Thus concludes a quick Musing for PAY DAY WHOOP WHOOP, February 23, 2017. I’m hoping I can get back on track with regular Muses. No promises, though. I’m at the mercy of my technological overlords, who seem to be very impish during winter. Fingers crossed that my curses and tears have appeased them for yet another year…

I was legit gobbled at by a customer yesterday. An adult customer.

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Mornin’ all.

Guess what I’ve got thawing in the bathtub?

Now, if you guessed, “Medical cadaver,” then you’ve got some issues, my friend, and you need help.

It is, of course, a turkey. Just about done, too, thankfully. I just poked at it and it feels chilly but squishy. No doubt I’ll be chipping the damn giblet glacier out of the cavity to break the birdie down, but I think the meat is thawed. There was more than a fair chance it wouldn’t have been, and things would have gotten very interesting around Le Kitchen du Bethie this morning.

See, I went and bought a 28.3 lb turkey.

For six people.

“Bethie, why??”

I DON’T KNOW!!

I don’t really know, okay? I went to buy the turkey, and when I was standing at the coffin case…

*sidenote: to those who may not know, a refrigerated rolling display case, the kind that’s just a chilly box a grocery store stacks perishable items inside, is referred to as a coffin case. So I suppose, in a way, that IS a cadaver in my tub. Hm. I’m sorry about my earlier questioning of your mental processes. You were simply thinking ahead in the story. My bad.*

…looking at all the turkeys in 57¢/lb Land, doing the mental math to try and figure out how much I needed… Start at like 10 lbs, then add a half pound raw for every guest. I mean, I only needed like a 13-15 pounder. But folks, I was looking at those 13-15 pounders and they looked so small.

I have expounded in great length with lots of flowery eloquence waxing upon the Thanksgivings of my youth in previous Musings. They’re archived if you want to read about grandpas that encouraged tomfoolery and cousins that inspired diabolical snack-stealing plans. They were magical days and I hold them very dear. I also miss them terribly.

I’m in that place in life right now where my kids are growing, but not quite grown, where my adult sibs have moved to different parts of the country, where the older generation by and large have released their molecules back to the cosmos. It’s kind of a lonely era for holidays.

It won’t always be like that. Life is a cycle, the swing of a pendulum. In a few years, my kids will start having real lives, significant others, spouses, children. One by one I’ll have to set another place at the table and scramble to find another chair that doesn’t have a warped leg. And before I know it, it will be MY responsibility to run around the kitchen like a chicken with her head cut off at 4 a.m. scrambling to cram seasoned bread in the culinary cadaver because 13 guests will be arriving in only 7 hours and god DAMN I shouldn’t have had that wine last night…

My time for being the Thanksgiving ring leader will come, and my table WILL be full.

Maybe I was thinking, “Best not let ourselves get rusty, old gal,” when I was choosing my turkey. Maybe I was remembering the crowning jewel at my grandmother’s Thanksgiving table. Maybe I just didn’t want to come at this Thanksgiving with some Bob Cratchit scrawny ass pigeon. I don’t know. But as I stood there looking between a reasonable amount of food and the glorious 28.3 pound Leviathan, the choice became clear.

That leads me to a problem I should have considered before buying the giant: I can’t roast it.

Remember the epic Electrical Apocalypse of ’16? The harbinger of the shitstorm of a year to come that fried our stone age circuit box? Well, along with the computer and dryer, another casualty of the huge surge was the heating element of my oven. I didn’t want to fix it in winter, because it’s cold and I didn’t think it was a good idea to muck with gas lines in the cold, brittle weather. In spring, I started to look for the part. It quickly became apparent that it was not going to be an easy task, since the oven we have is no longer produced and there are mixed opinions on whether or not a universal part will even fit. I figured, “Eh, it’s only spring. I’ve got all summer.”

Stop laughing at me. It’s not very nice.

As we all learned with the story of the grasshopper, I done goofed. Here it is, November and chilly again, and I am looking at the same job I avoided in January.

So I’ve got no oven. I had a moment of regret as I was hoisting my turkey into the car, and I side-eyed the enormous bird in the passenger’s seat most of the way home. It wasn’t until I was watching Teen 2.0 lug the thing in that I actually came up with a game plan

game plan? Get it? Cuz it’s a turkey. *Thanksgiving pun fist bump*

I’m going to take the meat off the bone, grind up half of it to freeze, stuff and roll the other breast and thigh, and do them on the stove top, dutch oven style. I may even finish them off on the grill, if the weather cooperates.

Top tip: One bad idea can lead to several good ones if you’re a pro at working around your own poor impulse control.

I have today off. Some in the bakery do not. I don’t know if it’ll be busy today or dead in the store. I’m guessing the only customers they’ll have are the last minute panickers, because to me it seemed that every single man, woman, and child in the metropolitan area bought a pie yesterday.

The other bakery employees warned me. It’s the first major bakery-heavy holiday I’ve worked in the bakery, and my manager warned me it would be a zoo. She said, “Last year, we were handing out hot pumpkin pies right out of the oven because we could not keep up with demand.” It was one of those statements I thought was seasonal hyperbole.

No. As a first hand witness to the hundreds of pies being placed in carts and baskets, I can say without a doubt my boss wasn’t overstating the facts.

Pies. Pies and pies. If you lined up every pie we sold yesterday end to end it would stretch…well, pretty damn far, I’m guessing. Shit. I didn’t do out the math. It would be impressive, though, I promise you that. And really weird to see all those pies lined up.

Apple, in two sizes. Lattice apple. Mile high apple. Apple berry. Mixed berry, which is NOT the same as “very” berry. Blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, cherry. We had pumpkin, in two sizes, sweet potato, peach, mince…OH the mince. We broke many hearts over the past few days having mince be an available pie, but having them sold out as soon as they hit the floor. “Come back in about two hours and you can have a fresh one.”

“BUT I WANT IT NOW.”

Cream pies. Coconut custard pies, but not plain custard because it’s not 1842 and no one eats that bullshit except one very sad man who could not accept that we do not offer just plain custard pies. Pumpkin praline, pecan…

No matter how many pies we had, someone was always disappointed. I get it. On Thanksgiving, you don’t eat food. You eat nostalgia. You crave a taste of the foods your mother made you eat out of politeness because of everything that awful creamed squash represented. You want a whole wheat roll, not because you actually like them, but because your great Grammie used to make them hard enough to crack a plate if you didn’t set it down carefully and to this day they make you think of the inside jokes with your sisters. You buy olives to stick them on your fingers because you used to have a contest to see how long it would take your Mum to notice and hiss “You girls stop that and behave!” You serve mashed potatoes not because anyone actually wants mashed potatoes, but to use the scoop like a pool for gravy like your uncle pointed out when he confessed quietly that he didn’t want to eat his spuds, either.

You eat nostalgia. And you will go from store to store to find just the right item to satisfy that bittersweet craving. I felt very bad for every customer I had to disappoint.

We had a couple customers that tried my patience. There was a lady who tried to take another customer’s order yesterday. She straight up tried to pick up an order she didn’t place. First time this has ever happened to me. The woman came up to the counter and said, “Hi. I’ve got an order for a chocolate cream pie.”

I sold 7 chocolate cream pies in 2 hours yesterday. They are a hot commodity. To give you an idea of our normal volume, I probably sell one or two of them a WEEK. It is just a high demand item, and even though we made up three times as many as we normally would have, they were all sold out except for one I had set aside for a customer.

I asked the woman’s name. She gave me a different name than was on the order. I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have an order for you. When did you place it?”

She said, “I’m sure that’s mine. I was standing right here when the lady took the order.” When I reiterated that I didn’t have an order and asked when it was placed to see if there was a legit screw up afoot, she said, “You! That was it. I was in talking to you last night about it. You promised to set one aside for me. I’ll take the one you have.”

Now, this was straight up bullshit. That lady didn’t talk to me. In fact, that lady probably didn’t even come into the store. The order in my hand had been placed days in advance over the phone, and I wasn’t even at work when this hag said she was in.

But, I can’t just scream, “OUT YOU FILTHY LIAR!” Apparently it’s against company policy. *rolly eyes* Such PC bullshit. Unable to speak the truth in a corporate setting, I had no choice but to go with the nicey nice approach. “I’m sorry, but we have no more chocolate pies, and I don’t have an order for you. We have other kinds of cream pies, and many fruit pies if you’d like to choose one of them.”

And then she pulled the ace. I have to give her credit, I think she was a pro. She knew what she was doing and I wonder how many last minute pies she’s gotten with this scam. She grew artificially indignant and said, “Well I don’t know who you think you are, but I placed an order for a cream pie and YOU need to make this right!”

We don’t make our own cream pies. We get them in from the factory with shell and filling, then we just top them with fresh whipped cream (real whipped cream, not some fake ass spray can bullshit) and accoutrements like chocolate curls, toasted coconut, and cake crumbs.

We DO, however, have chocolate pie shells and chocolate pie filling we use in other recipes, and I said, “What I can do for you is make a different kind of cream pie.” I explained, and she looked stunned. I don’t know what she was expecting. Looking back, I wonder if she wanted something for free? Or a discount on the other groceries? Even in the moment, it was clear she did not actually want the pie.

Didn’t matter. She threw down the gauntlet and she was GOING to leave the store with a damn chocolate pie! I said, “I’ll just pop in the back and make you a pie. Give me five minutes and you’ll have one that’s better than the one you ordered.”

It was better, too. The shell was larger, with a chocolate bottom, and fresh filling, not frozen. I did up the pie, brought it out, and she starts to hem and haw. She said, “This isn’t like the other.” I said, “No, but it’s a superior product, and the very best we can do on such short notice without an order.”

Then, it happened.

The moment of clarity. She looked at me and she knew that I knew she didn’t actually order a pie. She knew she got bested. She stood there for a minute while I held the pie out to her and I think she actually tried to consider her options before finally taking the pie and saying, “Well. At least it’s something for the Thanksgiving table.”

I made some cute little turkey cupcakes to put in my top case. In the top case, we sell fresh items daily. What you see is what we have. A family wanted a dozen of the turkey cupcakes. I had four on display. I explained that we didn’t have any more, and they said, “Make them.” Not, “Oh, wow. Is there any way…” Or “I’m sorry to ask, but…” Nope. Just straight up, “Make them.” I said, “I’m sorry, that’s not how it works. Something like this would have to be ordered in advance.” Scoff. Glare. Storm off with the cart.

No skin off my nose. Bye, Felicia.

So there were a few that tried my patience. Most of the customers, though, were awesome. I made a new best customer friend. Awesome dude who was stressed out shopping with his elderly mother and needed a minute to vent when his mum was off looking at the breads. He came back the next day, thanked me, gave me a hug. I’m not going to lie. That was a great moment.

An old woman needed some help, and when I was helping her, she rubbed my arm and said, “Oh! You’re so soft!” And then rubbed me again. That was a confusing moment. I mean, what in the actual hell? Was she sizing me up to decide whether or not to lure me to her gingerbread house and shove me in an oven? Lesbian GILF run amok? I don’t know. But she was smiley and kind so…? I guess either way it was oddly flattering.

This elderly man came up to my counter, wild eyed. He said, “I was told I NEED a mince pie and this is the third store I’ve been to. Do you even know what the traffic is like out there? But there’s no way in hell I want to go home without a mince, so please tell me you have one.” I did. He bought two. He said, “Oh thank you, dear! Oh you just made my Thanksgiving so much better. No one even eats it, you know, but we’ve GOT to have it on the table.” He shook his head, then said, “But it makes her happy. And you have made ME happy, so I thank you.”

I know I don’t do anything personally. I’m not on the line at the factory working double time to make sure the warehouses of the US have enough pies for all the beautifully set tables. I don’t even do the baking off. But in that moment, I’m the person they thank.

I tell you what. That was a great way to start my holiday.

Thus concludes the Morning Gobble for Gobbleday, 2016. I need to go take the bird out of the bath so I can shower. You need to finish your coffee then start your own Thanksgiving prep. Thank you for keeping me company this morning. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with future memories that’ll make you chuckle and laugh and feel the warmth of being in a time and place with those you love. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Cold, gray, possibly snowy. Yep, it’s March.

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Many years ago, my dad came over for a BBQ. He brought with him the usual array of snacks for the kiddies, only this time, he also had something for me. Two somethings, actually. The first was a Chop Wizard, and the second was a Magic Slicer.

Remember those? The amazing kitchen gadgets you see advertised on TV by people who have no idea how to use a knife. You put the tomato in the Chop Wizard and fall back on your long forgotten “Whack-A-Mole” skills to smack the top of the unit and mush the tomato through a grid of slightly sharp blades to make “perfect” salsa-sized tomato blobs.

The Magic Slicer is just a more maniacal version of a kitchen mandolin. You jab a potato with the medieval torture device, then whish whish whish it over the blade to create perfect potato chip slices (as long as you don’t mind your potato chips have Swiss cheese style holes all through them), the whole time promising yourself that no matter how cumbersome the safety holder is you’ll never slice without it…knowing damn well you most certainly will.

Ah, made for TV products. They’re the best!

So Dad came over, handed out the snacks, and then gave me the gadgets. I said, “Wow. Thanks! Uh, why?”

At first he tried to tell me that he just thought I’d like them. But here’s the thing about my dad. He had no poker face. It’s an annoying trait I inherited, in fact. I knew, I just KNEW something was fishy. I pressed and of course he folded. He always folded when pressed. Also a trait I unfortunately inherited.

Turns out Dad had a few too many and got bored one night, broke out his credit card and listened to the infomercials. He didn’t even remember ordering anything. He said one day, two of each showed up at his house. He checked his bank statements, and it was, indeed, a night he knew he couldn’t remember, and he was, in fact, a compulsive shopper. He had two of each, because you MUST get the second one free (plus shipping and processing), and decided to give the spares to me.

Flash forward to yesterday. I was watching daytime TV while working on a project, and an ad came up for an automatic can opener. Have you seen this one? The Tucan. You set it on top of the can, push a button, and it opens the can for you every time. How DOES it do it? Is it magic? No! The secret is in the patented roller, don’t you know. Boy, those old ladies on the ad really sell it, too.

Anyway, I watched it and just really missed my dad. It’s weird little things that bring it all back, isn’t it?

Consequently, I wouldn’t be opposed to anyone taking a page out of his book and drunk-ordering me a “free” second Toucan. You know. In honor of Dad and all.

Bah. Let’s not get all melancholy today. It’s melancholy enough outside as it is. It’s turned chilly again, with threats of sky dandruff falling later. I don’t need that shit. I need sunshine and blue skies.

With that in mind, let’s do something to pep us up.

“You don’t mean…”

Yes, I do.

“But you’ve been doing a lot of them lately, Bethie.”

Eh, I’ve needed a lot of pepping up. It’s the end of winter in New England. I’m not alone in my need to find a cheery outlet.

“But…”

Dude. Don’t harsh my mellow. It’s gray and cloudy outside, I’ve got dead people on my mind, and my raging heartburn is letting me know I’m overdue for my 14 day patch job on the acid reflux issue (thanks for those genes, too, Pop!). I thought you liked it when I…

“…I do! It’s just…”

Then sit back, relax, and have some fun because we’re doing a….

* * * HEADLINE ROUNDUP!!! * * *

*catchy theme music* *Irish jig routine by the go-go dancers*

Look at them go! They wanted to test out their St. Patrick’s Day routine to get some practice in. I don’t know what they were worried about…it was fantastic! I’m not a fan of the pipers in the band, but they’ve got a couple weeks to sort it out. Good job, everyone!

Okay, so if you’ve read any of these Musings, you’re familiar with the concept. The world is full of stories, and some of them aren’t presented in the best way. I scour the news sites for headlines that jump out at me. Some are poorly worded, some are batshit crazy, and others just put an image in my head that must be shared. As always, every single headline is 100% real. I just add the MSG-free comments after. Let’s begin!

– Bald Eagles are Adapting to City Life

It took them awhile to learn to fly to work in single file so they could experience beak to tail grid lock, but they’re getting the hang of it.

– Oregon Goats on a Mission to Deplete Invasive Species Go Rogue

I love this. I love just knowing that somewhere in Oregon, there’s a badass band of rogue goats. Sorry, Oregonian peeps. You know that shit’s funny.

– IT SPEAKS! Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Speaks to Court

*loud screech of record* …”it?” “IT??!!” Guys, this was from the Daily Mail. Granted, it’s a rag…but it’s a large rag. An international news organization. “IT?!” W. T. F.

– Apple Lawyer, FBI to Face Off Before Congress

Sunday SUNday Sunday come on down to the congressional arena to watch a no-holds-barred slugfest…

– University President Resigns After Comparing Students to Bunnies

He had to resign because he called the kids….bunnies? And millennials wonder why we think they’re overly sensitive.

– Illinois School Apologizes for Slave Auction Skit

I’mma go out on a limb and guess that this school uses articles from the Daily Mail in their Current Events classes.

– EPA Head: Flint Water Crisis is Personal

Whoa dude, put the tin foil hat away. It wasn’t personal. No one said, “Gee, you know who we’d like to screw? This one guy in particular.” No, they wanted to screw EVERY guy in particular. Ego much?

– Abortion At the Supreme Court

Wake up, America. So many abortion clinics have been closed that women now have to travel to the Supreme Court to have them done! #outraged

– Russia’s Economy Has Tanked, So Why is Putin Smiling?

Gee, I wonder.

– Trump’s Message Resonates With White Supremacists

#NoShitGazettetop10

– Hubble Breaks Cosmic Record, Captures Most Distant Galaxy

Yeah, but that’s like the dude who eats light bulbs bragging that he ate 15 this year instead of 14. Is there really enough competition for it to be newsworthy?

– Scientists Claim to Prove Banksy’s Real Identity

I didn’t read the article because I want to believe Banksy is really a little old lady, and I don’t want my hopes and dreams shattered.

– Mexico Won’t Pay For Trump’s ‘Terrible’ Wall: Minister

‘S cool, Mexico. No one really thought you would.

– Military Beginning to Recruit Women for Combat Jobs

It is a sad state of affairs when the friggin’ MILITARY is more progressive in its attitudes towards women than the government. #gottatraveltoDCforabortions

– Spooked Police Horse Tosses Officer, Roams Times Square

Spooked my ass. That horse heard about the rogue goats and wanted in on that action.

– Family Discovers Wrong Person in Late Woman’s Clothes and Casket

Not surprised. While everyone always focuses on the brain eating, the number one crime committed by zombies is actually casket jacking. #lockyocasketshideyograndmas

– Woman Finds 9-foot Gator in Her Pool

A swim buddy! Nice.

– Slushy Mix Today- More Glimpses of April Next Week- February Was 6th Warmer Than Average Month in A Row

Last Snow Storm Wasn’t All That Special- When I Was A Kid We Had This One Lulu Of A Winter- Maybe Summer Will Be Super Hot- Oh, Now I Feel A Few Drops Starting to Fall- Say, Any Idea Whatever Happened to Toboggan Parties? Remember Those? With Hot Cider- Gee I Miss Hot Cider- Whoowhee That Wind Is Kicking Up- Better Watch Your Umbrellas!-….

– High School Teacher Whose Sexy Photos Were Shared by Student Wants Job Back

Uh yeah no.

– Trudeau: Americans Should Pay More Attention to the World

I’m sorry, what did you say? I can’t hear you over the roar of the literal talking penis.

– Trump References Penis Size in GOP Debate

Ha! And you thought I was just making an excuse, didn’t you Trudeau?

– Trump References Penis Size in GOP Debate

But for real, that happened. That is a thing that honestly, definitely happened. A candidate that millions of Americans somehow seriously consider a viable option for PRESIDENT made reference to the size of his junk on a nationally televised debate. I…I just…

– UN Envoy: Syria Cease-fire Is Holding Despite Some Fighting

Um, Mr. UN Envoy? I don’t wanna tell you how to do your job, but I’m worried that you might not understand the definition of the term “cease-fire,” and that seems like it might just be a tad important in your line of work.

– Teen Accused of Posing As Doctor Re-arrested

This kid is all over the news. He’s been exposed multiple times now for pretending to be a doctor and performing actual exams and procedures on people. I get it in the beginning. If you don’t know, I can see how someone could be conned. But he’s now been arrested for the THIRD time for the SAME con in the SAME town! HOW DO PEOPLE KEEP FALLING FOR THIS!?!…

– Millions Still Support Trump in Spite of Recent Negativity in Media

…hm. *strokes beard* You make a compelling argument.

– Daycare Teacher Convicted of Cruelty in ‘Baby Fight Club’

Yep. Exactly what it sounds like. And don’t worry, you’re not alone in the karmic hit you just took from laughing at the mental image. Pretty sure we all have some good deeds to perform now.

– Texas Shooter Evades Police Capture by Fleeing on a Hoverboard

wut. WUT. Those things go like 5 miles an hour. How, Texas? HOW.

– Read the Presidential Candidates’ Latest Tweets

Thanks, I’ll pass. This coffee’s already sitting weird on the tummy and I don’t want to push it.

– New App Can Help Non-doctors Determine Cause of Death

I was just saying to my hubby the other day how annoying it is to have to wait for a coroner to determine how someone died every time I find a body. Finally, an app I can actually use!

– Mass Effect Andromeda Delayed Till Next Year, EA Exec. Reveals

*lone tear slowly makes its way down limp, sad face*

– N. Korea, on Defensive After Sanctions, Makes Nuclear Threat

If there is a single person alive who honestly does not understand that THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT TRUMP WOULD DO, then I really fear for society. #truth

– Check In With This Dinosaur At Japan’s Robot Hotel

I choose to believe that this is a hotel for robots run by dinosaurs. “But Bethie…” NO.

– Farmer Spells Out “No Trump” In Manure

Yeah, pretty much.

– Message In A Bottle Travels 3,600 Miles From New York to France

But did anyone help or is there still someone stuck on Staten Island?! Dear gawd, get down there and save him right now!

– Thief Returns Stolen Painting With A Note of Apology

“Sorry I took your Cezanne. Thought my lady was into post-impressionism, but she says if I was listening, I’d know that was a phase, and cubism is what’s hot right now. My bad.”

– Russian Man Creates World’s Smallest Book

Not much to do up there in there winter, eh?

– The Latest: Elton John, Katy Perry Campaign for Clinton

Didn’t we kind of draw the line with Brits in our political arena quite awhile ago? Benny, cool your jets and butt out of our clusterfuck election.

– Lost Wallet is Returned to Woman’s Home With Note Criticizing Her Spending Habits

My eyes hurt they’re rolling so hard.

– Atheist Lawmaker’s Prayer Sets Off Arizona House Dispute

Hey fuckheads, stop praying at your governmental sessions. End of dispute. #yourreligionisnotMYgovernment

– Donald Trump Just Showed Us the Kind of General Election Campaign He’ll Run

“Just?” Where’s this “just” coming from? Where have you been for the last year?

– School Bus Full of Kids Loses 2 Wheels on Way to School

Trust the Midas touch…

– Lifelike Velociraptor Invades Australia in Hunt for Jurassic World

Japan, you better get your bellhops in check.

– Killer Who Ate Friend’s Brain is Denied Parole for 5th Time

Even the killer’s got to understand why. He has to be like, “Yeah, I just figured it was worth a shot.”

– Wrongest Things That Ever Happened on Sesame St.

“Wrongest.” That’s really what you’re going with? That’s the best “you” to present to the world?

– Rare ‘Super Bloom’ Carpets Death Valley in Gold

I just like knowing that exists, especially on gloomy days. Look up photos. You will not be sorry.

And one more hopeful one to end things on an upswing:

– Repeating Fast Radio Bursts Found Coming from Outside Our Galaxy

YAAASSSS!!!! FINALLY!!!! Here. Lemme hang out the sign…

aliens

Thus concludes a ramble with some headlines for Friday, March 4, 2016. I’m off to prepare my return broadcast for the aliens. What should I say? “Greetings?” Nah, too cliche. “I welcome you in peace.” WTF? Lame. Maybe I should just keep it simple? “‘Sup?” Bah. I’m overthinking this. I’m sure it’ll come to me.

Thanksgiving in an alternate universe is pretty rad…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

I see I’ve got a few early risers today! Getting those birds in the oven, are we? Well, help yourself to the coffee. It’s not good. In fact, it’s fairly terrible. But it’s free and it gets the job done. You need a kick in the ass, and this will most definitely flip your turbo switch. Chew a stick of chalk after you swallow. I find it helps with the burn.

“I think I’ll pass, Bethie.”

Really? Don’t you have a Thanksgiving meal to prepare? Hm? One that’s going to be eaten by your in-laws, your self-righteous cousin, and the older sibling you’ll never quite live up to?

“… … … GIMME ALL THE COFFEES!!!”

That’s the spirit! Just make the stuffing soft. You really aren’t going to want to bite down after that java strips all your tooth enamel. Trust me.

So it’s Thanksgiving! I’ve waxed eloquent on the T-days of my childhood in previous blogs. If you don’t know that my grandfather was an accomplice in piscecide, you really should go into my backlogs and check it out. Don’t worry, the statute of limitations had long run out before I told the tale. I’m no stoolie.

If you go back and look, or if you’ve got a decent memory, you know that my childhood Thanksgivings were damn near the lyrics to the song “Over the River and Through the Woods”…er, only with a mini van instead of the sleigh. You know the song. Your second grade music teacher used to make you sing it over and over and over in the month leading up to Thanksgiving.

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go,

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifting snow—Oh!

….Over the river and through the woods trot fast my dapple gray,

Spring over the ground like a hunting hound for this is Thanksgiving Day!

That’s the abbreviated club remix. Sorry about the extra bass. Skrillex needed somewhere to spin this holiday and I felt bad for the little guy, ya know? Go get some pie, Skrillex. And please try not to spin it this time, k?

Sorry, folks. He’s a little more of a handful than I imagined.

*smooshy smooshy bwaaaahhhh splatsplatsplat gwaaaaahhh boop splosh*

SKRILLEX! NO! Eat the pie. EAT it!

*hangs head* *shuffles away*

Yikes.

ANYWAY, that song is old fashioned, yet when you hear it (extra bass and all) you get an image, a feeling. It’s special. It’s excitement. It’s a crystal wine glass that you absolutely mustn’t touch, young lady! It’s a holiday, a real, true holiday. THAT was a Thanksgiving when I was a child.

Now?

Look, families have peaks and dips, ebbs and flows with generations. One generation is little enough to want to hide under the snacks table with their cousins and try to snitch extra treats, while the older generation wants to commiserate about having said snacknappers, and the grandpas and great-aunts happily munch cheese in the corner easy chairs.

But then something happens. Time moves on. Soon the little imps are no longer under the table. They are big enough and old enough to start wanting to branch out, to go other places, to start being adults themselves. Some of the adults move, either physically or temporally, and one day, you find that there’s too much uneaten cheese, and empty chairs at a once full table.

I’m not trying to be a downer. Life just happens. Right now the little kids are no longer little, the adults have shuffled off or simply away, and we’ll have to mark time until the elder teens become adults themselves and start providing a new batch of snack-stealing cuties.

A LONG TIME FROM NOW, TEENAGERS. AFTER YOU’RE DONE SCHOOL AND HAVE JOBS AND HOUSES AND MET YOUR PERSONAL GOALS FIRST!! I DON’T REGRET YOU FOR ONE SECOND, BUT I WANT BETTER FOR ALL OF YOU!!!

*achem* Sorry. Just had to make that clear in case any of them are reading this. Babies shouldn’t start happening for awhile yet.

So we’re not doing a bird today.

“*collective gasp from the internet*”

Oh shit. Now Skrillex is looking even more lost and sad. We’re having food, Skrillex. Just not turkey, okay? We’re doing our turkey on Sunday.

“But Bethie, that’s not Thanksgiving!”

…why not? The date is arbitrary anyway. And before you pick up your muskets and torches, it IS arbitrary. The Pilgrims did not dine in celebration with the Native Americans on November 26. Scholars believe the event that truly inspired the holiday happened perhaps as early in the year as July, and certainly not in 1620, as all the place cards we had to make in first grade led us to believe.

They also didn’t have much in the way of turkeys, certainly didn’t wear belt buckle hats, and definitely didn’t wear all black.

But just because we fudged the details doesn’t mean the spirit of the holiday isn’t legit. We should be thankful. We live in a country that might be far from perfect, but it’s certainly also far from the pits. We’ve got food available, clean water, mostly fresh air. There’s still a strong sense of community, even when those bonds are tested, and a genuine desire to find our way back to the top. We’ve got mountains and valleys, prairies and canyons, TWO oceans and so many rivers it’s impossible to see them all. Even if you feel that you’ve got nothing, if you live in this country, you’ve already got a whole lot.

When you look at it like that, does it matter if we sacrifice a turkey on Sunday instead of Thursday? No. No it does not.

Because we’re a blended family, I always let the Others schedule the teens and then do our bird later when the chickadees return to the roost. It makes it much easier than stomping my foot and having a temper tantrum that puts the kiddies in the middle. And it SUCKS to have to have one dinner here, then waste a perfectly good turkey coma by having to rush back to the other family’s house to try and cram in MORE turkey and stuffing. It makes the holiday stressful for a kid to be treated like an overfed yo-yo. Let them go eat other birds today, and then let them have their turkey comas in peace. It’s their right as Americans to eat one enormous meal and pass out on the couch to the sound of their grandfather arguing about the football game with their loud uncle.

Today, it’s just the youngest pup, the guy, and myself at home. Oh, yeah, and Skrillex. We’re going to have Thanksgiving pizza.

*Skrillex perks up*

Get that look off your face right now, young man! YOU CAN’T SPIN THAT EITHER! Geez. Every round thing and he’s just GOT to give it a whirl… *exasperated sigh* Where was I?

Pizza. While not traditionally a Thanksgiving meal, I’ve got to think that if it had been available to them back in the 1600’s, the Native Americans would have just called out for pizza when the Pilgrims were hungry and starving. Would you really want to cook for all those people while you were trying to ready your village for winter? Hm?

The Native American husband would have come home, slung a handful of rabbits on the table. His wife would have said, “Better get cleaned up. We’ve got that dinner with the Smyths.” The husband would have groaned and tried to wheedle out of it. “You said you wanted to be good neighbors,” she’d remind him in that universal tone all wives through history have used. “Fine!” he’d say. “I’ll get cleaned up.” She’d nod, never doubting that he’d get in line, and then remind him that they had to bring the food, too. He’d groan and roll his eyes, then say, “I’ve been out hunting all day, and you’ve been gathering corn and weaving. How about we swing by Little Caesars?” She’d pull a face. “We can’t bring that cheap shit to dinner!” He’d slowly grin. “Why not? They’re Pilgrims, dear. Have you SEEN what they call food? They’re not going to know the difference.” She’d hem and haw, but in the end, they’d have shown up at the first Thanksgiving with ten Hot n’ Ready pizzas.

And the Pilgrims would have rejoiced and given many thanks, for even a Hot n’ Ready piece of shit pizza would have been better than boiled acorn mash.

The day of the week doesn’t matter. The meal doesn’t matter. Today, I’m celebrating the Thanksgiving that could have been, and might possibly be in another universe. On Sunday when I have my teens back home, we’ll celebrate the Thanksgiving that never actually was, at least not on our world. And every single day I’ll be thankful for being where I am, for who I’m with, and for what I have.

*Skrillex drops a poignant beat*

Exactly, man. Exactly.

Thus concludes a quick T-day or P-day, if you’re of the mind, Musing for Thursday, November 26, 2015. Everyone, have a fantastic day today, no matter what you eat or who you eat it with! I’m off to start the pizza dough. Come on, Skrillex. You can finally put those mad spinning skills to work. I’ll mix the dough, and you knead it for me. “Like remixing?” …sure, buddy. Just like that. *rolly eyes*

I hardly call a nose bump a fair trade in this situation…

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Mornin’ all.

Who told me cats are fun? Because as I sit here brooding and sulking WAY too early over my morning cup-o’-swill, I’ve got a few choice words I’d like to say to the fella that convinced me to get a mewling, whining, sadistic little fur ball.

Since 3:30 this morning, she has been meowing her head off at me. If she was a dog, I’d think to myself, “Hm. She’s making so much racket that Timmy MUST have fallen in the well. I should get up and throw the kid a rope or some shit.”

She is not, however, a dog. I knew, folks. I *knew* there was absolutely nothing amiss. And yet, when she persisted, over and over and over and over and…

I got up. She jumped on the bed, then raced to the door. Perhaps I was wrong, I thought to myself as I donned my robe and grabbed my glasses. “Okay, kitty. I’m coming. Relax. What’s wrong?”

The beastie tore down the stairs and waited in the kitchen doorway, looking eager and anxious. I got down there as quick as I dared with my half-opened eyes and clumsy bed legs that only partly worked, expecting to see the worst.

As soon as I entered the kitchen and looked around, Demon Cat purred, gave me two leg brushes, and then promptly curled up in her current favorite box, closed her eyes, and pretended to go to sleep, a smug, self-satisfied look on her fuzzy little face.

She just wanted me to be up. There was nothing wrong. Not a damn thing had run afoul in the night. No Timmies were in any wells, and she didn’t even want to show off a mousey kill. She just wanted to rend asunder my peaceful slumber.

That bitch.

So now here I sit way too early, brooding and grumbling, sucking down a fairly tame cup of coffee flavored milk, when all I really want to be doing is sleeping. It was a good sleep, folks. One of those pleasant nights where you wake up here and there, glance at the clock, see that you’ve still got four more hours, and fall back asleep with that comforting high buzzing through you. It’s not even like she interrupted a nightmare night. Or a tossy-turny night of self-reproach and regrets.

It was a good sleep. And now it is gone. *sniff*

I could have used those Zs, too. I’ve been busier than a one-armed paper hanger in a…

“Bethie!”

…what?

“You can’t say things like that anymore. It’s insensitive.”

You’re kidding, right?

“It’s offensive.”

*rolly eyes* Fine. I’m too tired to argue so I’ll rephrase. I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest who…

“NO!! That’s even worse!”

Hogwash. I’d argue that if I was a one-legged man, I’d definitely join an ass-kicking contest to prove…

“Do you want me to die from an apoplectic fit brought about by righteous indignation over here? You can’t use uni-limbed people as the butt of a joke.”

First: uni-limbed?

“Using the number one focuses on singularity, not inclusiveness.”

*blink**blink*…I…I can’t even…. *sigh* Second: it wasn’t a joke, it was an expression. Nobody was the butt of anything.

“Doesn’t matter. You can’t quantify your own mild discomforts with the struggles of the uni-limbed.”

*grinds teeth* O….kay. Let’s try this again. I’m busier than…than…a bee?

“DEAR LORD BETHIE!!! Don’t you know about the struggles bees are having now with colony collapse?? We’re going to starve within ten years and you use their plight for your comedic whims?! YOU MONSTER. Maybe YOU planted the fungus in the bee hives!”

*tic* *tic* *spasm*

I bought a few craft supplies the other day. The local cheap store was having a sale, and my youngest and I eagerly pawed through the carts to see if there was something we could find to break the hazy, humid malaise that clung to us that afternoon. Sadly, there was no glitter. But we did find some really cool neon gel pens. Score! And then in the bottom of the cart, we saw pipe cleaners.

Have you ever played with pipe cleaners? Who hasn’t, right? They used to be far more popular than they are now. When we were kids, it seemed like we had a never ending supply of the brightly colored fuzzy wires. Of course, we also had tons of pom poms to use with the pipe cleaners. To my chagrin, the sale cart contained no pom poms. Once home, we had to make do with buttons. Not the same, but still fun.

We took our bounty home and while the kiddo tested out the gel pens, I went to open the pipe cleaners and noticed that they are no longer called “pipe cleaners.” What are pipe cleaners now called, you ask?

Chenille stems.

CHENILLE. STEMS.

WHY?

“Because any reference to smoking or smoking related materials could lead to…”

Stop it. Just stop it right now. I guarantee that no kindergartener in the history of ever has thought, “Gee, these pipe cleaners sure are fun. Anyone got a light?”

Pipe cleaners have never been a gateway to anything. Your child did not become a stoner because he made a pipe cleaner and pom pom caterpillar in Miss Skidova’s class.

What’s happening to us, people? What are we even doing anymore?

We have to start drawing lines and stop being offended or scared by every little thing. Calling people racist words? Bad. Stereotypes? Bad. Sayings that put one group on a higher level than another? Unless the group is on a higher level because they build ladders, stair cases, or elevators, also bad.

But, there are really harmless things in the world that are only offensive and dangerous if you start out looking for them to be. If you look for something, you’ll find it. That’s the pisser in being human. We have imaginations that make our minds find proof of our beliefs instead of seeing the truth. We’re programmed to think we’re right, and to find evidence of our rightness so we can log on to the internet and show everyone just how right we are…no matter how wrong we might be.

Not a single one-armed, one-legged, ass kicking paper hanger ever got hooked on cigs because of pipe cleaners, so stop it. Stop looking for an excuse to be angry, folks. The world has enough shit in it without you trying to drum up more. You want to be angry? Get angry at real, tangible problems.

Like cats.

Grr.

Cats.

Thus concludes a Musing for Tuesday, July 21, 2015. If I’ve offended you with my offensive offense, I apologize. It’s not your fault I’m on edge. I’ve just been jonesin’ for a smoke since I made that pipe cleaner and button flower…

I roamed and rambled, only without the pesky “roaming”…

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Mornin’ all.

Family Holiday turned out fantastic! Great weather…perfect, in fact. Low 80s, but dry with a light breeze and plenty of shady trees to sit under. Great people. We had a couple folks pop in and they joined the revelry. Great kids, who didn’t have one single argument (except when they played a few rounds of Smash Bros. together, but with five kids taking turns smashing bros, that’s just part of the deal). The food came out awesome *toot toot of my own horn* and the stupid little games we had went over well. The teens at least tolerated most of them. That’s all I can ask! Sunday was perfect.

Yesterday, however, was not. I always say that life is a pendulum. Sunday was definitely the peek of the arc. Yesterday…yesterday was one of “those” days. I suppose if I didn’t have “those” days, I wouldn’t appreciate the Sundays as much. But jeez, Fate. I’m not stupid and you didn’t need to brow beat me. I could have inferred that lesson and still had at least one thing go right yesterday.

It started with the naive belief that I could emerge victorious from a battle with a mutinous appliance. I wrestled with my washing machine. AGAIN. Third time trying to fix it in less than a year. This time, it fought back.

Naw dude, you don’t even understand. It literally fought back. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but when I was unfastening the last bolt to remove the gear case, the whole internal assembly…shifted? Gained sentience just to eff me over? Harnessed the wisdom of a thousand Whirpool senseis to know the precise moment to launch a stealthy counter offensive? Dunno. What I *do* know is that I dragged myself out of the ring and hit the bell with a bleeding finger, a throbbing hand, and bruises on both my leg and my ego.

She won, folks. Long and short, I tasted the acrid tang of defeat. She sits there, looming uselessly in the corner. The outer casing that was sloppily slapped back together is slightly askew, tilting to one side in a sneer that lends an air of smug defiance.

I hate that washing machine. It’s a bubbling pool of loathing in the back of my throat that will not go away. Oh, my kingdom for a wrecking ball!

In the foul mood this clearly brought about, I went to the store. I hit a pothole so massive that I’m not entirely positive it wasn’t a portal to a different dimension. My beastie let out a blood-curdling scrape. I didn’t look. I haven’t looked. I’m too scared that I’ll get down and see a cartoonishly jagged rip underneath. We’re going with the Wile E. Coyote theory on this one and hoping for the best. As long as we don’t look, all is well.

Had to go to the school to pick up the youngest. He got out late, and we sat there. And sat there. And sat there, in the sticky and humid rain that was so hard we could only crack our windows, waiting for some selfless person to let us in the exit line. Didn’t happen. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my two decades of driving, it’s that rain erases all kindness on the road. “You want to get out? Well SCREW YOU! Can’t you see that it’s RAINING? What kind of moron would expect me to stop my three mile per hour escape to let them get to the road first in the RAIN? Pfft. Newb.”

It took twelve minutes. Twelve minutes of sitting there in a hot and steamy car in the rain watching the smirking faces of all the people who wanted to badly to flip me off and laugh as they passed, but knew they had to keep it together because the kids were in the car.

Did I mention the kiddo had to pee?

AND IT WAS RAINING???

Have you ever had to sit immobile in a steamy car in the rain for twelve minutes with a kid who had to pee? I’d rather not do that one ever again, Fate, k thx.

When I finally got out of the parking lot, I almost got pegged by my asshole neighbor who thinks every time he pulls out of the drive he’s suddenly transported to Talladega. He had the audacity to flip ME off for daring to drive on a public highway when HE wanted to peel out. I know. I’m such a douche like that. Then dinner was late, I knocked over an open soda can in the fridge (seriously, who leaves an open can of soda in the fridge? Either drink that shit or dump it out. Bad teenagers, bad.)

I guess what I’m saying is that it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad…

“Achem, Bethie? As your legal advisor, I must interject and stop you before you finish that phrase. You do not have the licensing rights to use it, in whole or in part.”

Oopsie! Almost forgot. Thanks. Let’s just hope Judith Viorst isn’t reading this.

*Author’s note: DUDE I totally mean the exact opposite of that. How flippin’ amazing would it be if Judith Viorst actually IS reading this? If you’re looking, Hey Jude! Don’t take it bad…*

“BETHIE NO!! DO NOT even THINK of continuing THAT one!!!”

*Jeez, chill, man. I said it as an aside between asterisks. Everyone knows an aside can’t be considered in a lawsuit as long as you put it between asterisks.*

“*blink**blink*…you have no idea how the law works, do you?”

*Of course not. I wouldn’t dream of stepping on your toes. Hey, can we just get back to the Muse now?*

Okay, okay, I’ll admit that as bad days go, it wasn’t exactly horrible. It wasn’t even in my top hundred list of bad days. But jeepers, one thing after the other just grates on my nerves, ya know?

Today has dawned with clear skies. I’ll take that as a good omen. It’s also the last day of school for the little one, who is already up and raring to go on the couch, finding it impossible to contain his excitement. I don’t mind an excited kid, but he’s not sticking to Morning Rule #1: No talking to Mum before the first cup of coffee is down the hatch. I’m giving him a pass, because I know just how much he’s itchy for this school year to end. I’ve got my headphones on so I can’t hear him, but he’s bopping around just in the edge of my vision and do you have any idea how utterly annoying that is and…hang on a sec. I’ll be right back.

…back. I handed him his tablet and he is now watching hilarious YouTube videos.

“Digital bribery?”

Stop raising that eyebrow at me because it’s not going to work. I’ve been at this parenting thing far too long to look at bribery as a bad thing. First kid? Nope. Nuh uh. No way. By the book with strict limits and gentle pleading and reminders that he needed to behave for the sake of personal pride he’d feel at adhering to the rules of the house and…

Second kid? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS RIGHT AND FAIR AND JUST IN THIS WORLD, TAKE THIS MAGIC BOX OF ELECTRIC AWESOMENESS AND GO IN YOUR ROOM AND LET IT ENTRANCE YOU SO MUMMY CAN GET FIVE MINUTES OF PEACE!!

You bet your sweet bippy I use digital bribery.

There were a couple news items I wanted to bring up today, but I’ve already rambled quite a bit, so I’ll be brief.

“Is that even possible?”

I’m going to ignore that remark since your legal guidance has been extremely beneficial this morning. But I’m putting you on notice.

Anyway, the first story is that Donald Trump is running for president.

Let me know when you’re done laughing. Or groaning. Or ranting. Or simply fed up with political stories already and the damn election is still so far away. This is not the first time Donald has claimed he was running for president. Anyone want to take bets on whether he actually sticks with it this time?

Even if he doesn’t, our options are getting broader and broader, huh?

Imma give you a list of our current official candidates:

On the Dem side, we’ve got: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee.

On the Rep side, we’ve got: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, and now Donald Trump.

As well as those, there are several people who are openly still “feeling out” the public before they decide. I don’t like this. I know it’s part of politics, but if you need to spend months publicly “feeling out” people before you decide if you’ll be president, I don’t want you in the oval office. Period. If you can’t make up your own mind on what you want, then I have no time for your ego stroking shenanigans. Someone who gets the job should want the JOB, not just a prom court crown for being popular.

I’m on the fence with who to like among the candidates, though there are plenty to hate. That’s good. I mean, if we didn’t have at least a few controversial scum puppies in the fray, the elections would be a very boring process indeed. Imagine turning on the tv and only seeing GOOD ads! How utterly droll.

“Bethie, did I detect a hint of sarcasm?”

NO-OHHH. None at all.

Too soon to back anyone, but at the moment, I’m kind of liking the cow tipper. MAPLE SYRUP FOR LYFE, HAG.

The second bit of news, which honestly really does relate to the first in a way we, as a nation, really need to consider, is that the border patrol on our south western quarter is now classifying undocumented babies as “illegal workers” in an effort to get them deported faster.

Look, I’m all the way up here in NH. Our neighbor country in my neck of the woods is Canada. Would you believe that we don’t really have a problem with Canadians sneaking over the border? In fact, up here, sneaking is often done the OTHER direction.

Because of this, my life in terms of living with and understanding the day to day effects of illegal immigration from southern nations is very, very sheltered. I get that. I do. And I’m not even going to pretend otherwise. Why should I? My truth is that I live in part of the country that does not deal with ANY aspects of it. So believe me, I know my opinion should most definitely be taken with a grain of salt.

…or should it?

We once painted my Grammie’s kitchen for her while she was away. She loved green, so my dad got a nice, bright green. The sample didn’t look garish or anything and we happily painted the night away. We let it dry and came back the next morning, pleased with how well we did. It wasn’t until someone else came in and saw it and said, “MY GAWD that’s HIDEOUS!” that we were able to step back and see beyond the hours of work we put in to the color itself. It was, indeed, hideous.

But while we were in the thick of it, we couldn’t see that. We were too focused on dealing with the paint and the rollers and covering furniture and masking off the woodwork…we were too focused on the details to see the overall picture.

Electrified gecko, by the way. That’s what I’d now call that color. Hid-e-ous.

Maybe me living in the US outside the divided “war” zone of immigration problems gives me not a sheltered view, but an overall look at the bigger picture that people who are in the thick of things can’t see for themselves?

The story about the babies being migrant workers goes like this. Classically, the forces that handle illegal immigration cases (from cops and agents, to lawyers and judges) don’t really consider babies to be threats.

Oh, how naive, right? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: All babies are just a hair’s breadth away from shanking you with a binkie.

They’ve conned the nation, though, and since folks buy into the “helpless” persona, babies aren’t viewed as a threat, and classically, deportation cases involving babies have been pushed to the side in our system that is overwhelmed and bogged down. The system puts a low priority on deporting babies, and instead focuses attention on captured adults. (And of those captured adults, they really only have the time and resources to really pursue folks who have committed crimes outside of simply being here illegally, or those whom the government has deemed a threat.)

The US border patrol sees the problem differently. Since many people come to the US illegally to have their babies on US soil, thus making the infants US citizens, they believe that cracking down on deporting babies will send a message to anyone considering crossing the border illegally. To make the cases a higher priority and to get more attention, the border patrol has…upped (?) their game (I’m not sure you’d call it that, but they really did go from zero to a billion) by listing the babies as illegal migrants who have done other illegal things, such as receive fraudulent welfare/social service benefits and illegally obtained identification paperwork to seek work. This is a big no-no right now, because the only thing the US hates more than non-working undocumented workers is tax-paying working ones.

In a nutshell, in the minds of the border patrol, labeling babies as illegals looking to steal resources and jobs puts a big red flag on the cases and they’ll be fast tracked and dealt with so swiftly that any expecting parents in southern nations wouldn’t even consider hopping the border before Jr. is born.

There are a couple problems with their theory, though.

First, anyone who is desperate enough to get out of their current situation for a shot at a better life for Jr. will not- I repeat- WILL NOT follow the case law for deportation of babies. They just won’t. They do not care. These are people who are poor or scared or so strung out living the life they have that they are willing to risk death itself for a shot at something that might be better. The decision to come to the US illegally to have a baby is NOT about what they can get from the US, but what they can give their child. Period.

And secondly…THEY ARE BABIES, ASSHOLES. No one, not a single cop, agent, lawyer or judge is going to look at the “rap” sheet of an 11 day old baby (true case, folks. 11 days old. DAYS.) and consider the individual to be dangerous. No one.

We need reasonable approaches to immigration reform, and arresting babies just isn’t it. All this does is make the US look like even bigger douchebags on the international front. Serious problems need serious solutions. I think they just took a company poll, put the suggestions on the Wheel of Fortune, and gave it a spin. That is honestly the only way I can think this idea became policy.

Hold on a sec…this just in. We have a breaking news story. Donald Trump has made a statement on his ideas for immigration reform:

“When Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best. They are not sending you. They are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime, and they’re rapists.”

*crickets**crickets*

Donald Trump, ladies and gentlemen. Your latest 2016 presidential candidate.

“…you got any more of those Maple Syrup stickers kicking around, Bethie?”

Thus concludes a very long winded Muse for Wednesday, last day of school 2015. Honestly, if you stuck around this long, I’m duly impressed! That’s an extra hour of YouTube for you, my friend! Now be a good kid and don’t shank anyone with your binkie while Mummy goes and works on the car…

Oh what a beautful morning! And it won’t even be ruined by shitty coffee, either…

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Mornin’ all!

Take a whiff. You smell that? Fresh blueberry muffins. They’re cooling before they get a salted vanilla glaze. I’ve got ribs drying on the rack before I rub them down to marinate all morning. And the coffee’s brewing. I actually measured it carefully today instead of just dumping half a can of grounds in and hoping the pot won’t disintegrate.

“Whoa now, Bethie. You…you…MEASURED the coffee? Like real people do?”

Yep! Sure did!

“What’s the occasion?”

Why, I’m glad you asked. Today just so happens to be… Family Holiday!

…hey. Stop flipping through your calendar in a panic and come back here. You didn’t have a brain fart and forget to buy someone a gift. You won’t find Family Holiday in any calendar, because it’s completely made up by us.

We’re a blended family. His, mine, ours. You know, 80’s sitcom fodder. When we were a newly formed herd, and the teens weren’t even close to being teens, there was some tension amongst the ranks. Shocking, huh? Turns out “Insta-family” takes a bit more work than simply adding water (still waiting for the class action suit against those 80’s sitcoms and their lies, btw).

One day after a particularly trying he said/he said/nuh-uh/yes-suh battle between the trio, my guy saw some toys on clearance at work. He bought them, then came home and we put our heads together and decided to make a whole day of it. A special day, that only members of our family could celebrate.

And thus, Family Holiday was born.

Corny? Yep. Desperate? More than a little…at first. We really stressed the fact that the kids would now be raised as brothers, as family. Though I’d like to say that was enough to cement the bonds of brotherhood, I am not a good enough author to make that lie sound even remotely believable.

However, it did give them a fun day, and it was a fun day that no one else on the planet got to have. Their very own holiday. All they had to do to be qualified to celebrate was to be part of the family. And the next year, we made it better. We added some activities and prizes…more the year after…yada yada…here we are. I fully intend to keep it going, too, even when they finish growing up and moving out. I’ve done a lotta screwing up as a parent, but this is one thing I think was a pretty good idea.

This year we’ve got to plan around work schedules, so it’ll be an afternoon event. I got a bunch of lame outdoor activities that they haven’t played in years. The young pup is thrilled. He’s still at the right age for the bubbles and badminton and water balloons. The older kids have shunned those baby activities for a couple years. But, with the teens getting older, they are re-entering the age of wanting to do those things again. They’re eager to hold on to what is probably the last real “kid” summer for the two oldest ones.

I also got a bunch of those long balloons. I’m thinking…balloon animal contest. And I got these sponge ball slingshots. You wet the sponge and let ‘er rip! *SPLAT*

“Uh…I think you may just have regrets at the end of the day, Bethie.”

It’s not really a holiday unless you end the day with a migraine! Right?

Right!

Besides, I’m expecting the beef-handed teens to rage quit balloon animal-ing, which I would find hilarious. Shouldn’t be too much squeaky-popping before they’re sick of it.

I also got some regular balloons. The young pup won’t remember, but another thing I used to do for the yet-to-gel Three Musketeers was randomly buy a pack of balloons at the dollar store and blow them all up when the boys were napping or at school. We called it Balloon Party, and I’d do it every couple months. One dollar and a good set of ear plugs, and the afternoon that *could* have been bickering and trying was turned into a joyous cacophony of laughter and frizzy hair.

I have been getting nostalgic as well. They aren’t the only ones who realize they’re getting too big too fast and will soon have lives away from me! I’m thinking that when the teens are at work or upstairs getting angry because the game is once again cheating on their fifth play through of Skyrim, I’ll break out the air compressor and make a surprise Balloon Party.

…hm. Just had a thought. We did not have a cat when we used to do Balloon Party.

This should be interesting.

We’re breaking out the ice cream maker. It’s my son’s, the 14 year-old. He won it as his prize for winning the math bee in 8th grade. He had his pick of any reasonably priced item, and he chose and ice cream maker. Now, I didn’t complain, not one bit! But, you gotta admit, it’s a bit odd of a choice for a 12 year old, right?

Ice cream. Ribs on the grill. I thought of corn on the cob, but holy mackerel is it pricey! They wanted corn on the cob and burgers. But there was a really good deal on ribs, and I just couldn’t swing burgers and corn. The way things are going, I don’t know if we’ll get burger cookout at all this summer.

I’m going to do it.

“NO BETHIE!”

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I must.

When I was a kid…

” *groan* ”

…actually, scratch that. We don’t even have to go that far back. When my teens were kids, I could get hamburger for about a buck a pound and paid a couple bucks for a dozen ears of corn. You know what the stores are advertising those items at this week? Burger at $4.29/lb, and corn on the cob for $6/dozen. And that’s on special! Why aren’t burgers and corn on the cob still cheap eats? It makes no sense, folks. I thought this was America!?

“…uh…”

Oh. Oh, yeah. Heh. Sorry. Didn’t really mean to get on a soap box today. I just stood in the grocery store yesterday and it floored me that it would be cheaper to do a spare rib BBQ than classic burgers. Tirade over.

So it’s a holiday here in the afternoon. Some finishing work on the car this morning before the relaxing fun. Did I mention that we got those firework poppers? You know, the ones you pull the string and a blob of confetti shoots out the end? We saw them at the grocery store and they were dirt cheap. Snappers, too.

Remember snappers? They’re tiny little sperm-shaped paper packets that have a few rocks and a couple grains of gun powder in them that make an oddly satisfying snap when you throw them on the ground. Or at someone’s ass.

Here. Let me refresh your memory. I scanned in the actual box because you NEED to see this:

snapbox1

snapbox2

Is that not the most amazing box you’ve ever seen? I love everything that’s wrong with it. “It’s rappin’, it’s snappin’, it’s what’s hapnin’…” GUG. Cannot stop saying that!

And then the monster…I get it. The brand is “Monster Snaps”. But why the mohawk and drinking straw hairdo? Wouldn’t one or the other have sufficed? And can we just talk about those fingernails please? And those jorts. THOSE JORTS. And what the hell is up with his nicely tied sneakers? I’m sorry, but if I’m going for a kickass monster, I’m not looking for one with Lee press on nails and pristine sneakers. Or a beer gut that hangs over jorts.

I love it.

I love this box.

And I’m not just saying it. I legitimately ONLY bought these particular kinds of snappers so I could have the box to put on my fridge after the fun of snapping is over.

So that’s the story for today. A bit of work, then a lot of fun. I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend a Sunday.

Thus concludes a Morning Musing for Family Holiday 2015. I hope you all have a good day, even if you can’t be eating ribs and twisting epic balloon animals like us. Well, you *could*. Maybe your family needs a holiday, too.

Rusty crusty rainy day…

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Mornin’ all.

Speaking of mornings, this one has dawned loudly here at the House of Bethie. We’ve got two sets of birds that have decided the best place for their roosts are in the eaves on either side of my bedroom window. On the left are the mourning doves.

Are you familiar with mourning doves?

I mean, I’m sure you know they exist and all, but have you ever heard them? They say, “Who who whoooooooo whooo whoooooooo,” in a sad, soulful way. I like them. At least, I thought I did.

When we were kids, we had this enormous maple tree in the yard with branches that grew to a stop just outside my sister’s bedroom window. There was a nest of mourning doves out there, and she would complain about them almost daily one summer. On the other side of the house, I had no doves, so I just thought she was being a twit. Who doesn’t like doves? They’re symbols of peace, for pete’s sake.

Oh how naive I was. My innocence has officially been lost. My eyes are open, folks, and I’d like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to my sister. She was right all along. Mourning doves begin their cooing at about 3 am and they

just.

don’t.

stop.

Symbols of peace? Pfft. Damn uppity pigeons, that’s all they are.

So the mourning doves would be enough on their own. However, I mentioned two nests of pests. Not to be outdone, the birdies to the right try their best to out-coo the doves. I say “coo”, but that’s really too pleasant of a sound for what the other birds make. They sing.

“Oooh! I like singing birdies, Bethie!”

Well let me see if I can accurately ruin that notion for you, too. They don’t sing so much as warble, really. I don’t know what kind of birds they are, but they sound Swedish.

For real. You should hear these little tweeters. Remember the Swedish chef muppet? “Orgie bourgeh..” Okay, now that you’ve got that cadence and lilt in your head, think of the same words, only pitched about four octaves higher and coming out of a bird instead of a muppet. You can keep the chef hat on the bird in your mind if you so choose.

From this moment forward, they will forever be known as “Ikea warblers.” I’ll contact Audubon and let them know to add the name to the national bird index.

These Ikea warblers are as peppy as the mourning doves are depressed. I suppose if it was daylight and I only heard the Ikea Warblers for a bit at a time, their song would sound pretty. I’d hold my finger out to offer them a perch so they could sing me a happy little tune while I swept a cabin in the forest and made pies and shit for seven miners of sub-average height.

But it’s not the middle of the day, and I don’t need happy woodland creatures to help me snore.

Now add to all that one kitty who a) desperately wants to get to said birdies, and b) can’t push her way through the glass to get them no matter how hard she tries, and it’s clear why I really need this coffee.

*slurp* Ahhh…nap in a cup, how I need your chemical enhancement. It’s going to be a busy day. I’ve got a lot of body work to do today.

“New fitness regimen, Bethie?”

*pppfffttthhhhbt* *choke* *gak*

Dude. Warn me before you crack a joke! Now I’ve got coffee dripping off my monitor.

*wipe* *squeegie* *squeak*

No, not MY body. Auto body. We actually have an offer on one of the rusty putt-putts but only if we can spruce up the doors enough so they don’t have, you know, GAPING HOLES in them. Remember I said someone in my life partnership that was not me loaned out one of our cars over the winter to a tool who did as tools do in such situations? Yeah. Someone actually wants that car. Like, paying us actual MONEY for it.

…now wait. That’s not fair to the car. The engine’s great, transmission’s awesome, and frame is solid. It’s not surprising that someone would want to buy it. The bones are good. The rest…needs work.

On second thought, I guess it kind of *is* like me. Outer packaging not indicative of inner beast.

It’s a quick job, though. He just wants it to pass inspection for now, and then he said he’d even pay us to keep restoring it down the road. If you’ve never sold a car, let me tell you that this is both a dream and a nightmare situation. On the one hand, we’ve got someone who is not picky at time of purchase. On the other, he’s leaving the door open for YEARS of pickiness to come. The ideal car sale goes like this:

1. Agree on price.

2. Get cash.

3. Watch new driver take the car away into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

You don’t really want people to be able to keep harping on you about the car you sold them. Every little thing that goes wrong with the 35 year old car WILL be a reason for the dude to call me. Now, if he’s going to keep sliding me some cash for the upkeep and future repairs, I’m okay with that. However, I think you can see the potential for this to come back and bite me in the ass.

I’m doing the deal, though, no matter how great the possibility of annoyance is down the line. We need the cash, and this is a way I can make us some. Time to put the automotive crafting skills to the test.

Now I just need to get energized to do it.

Hard to get pepped up to work out in the rain. Hang on a sec. I want to make it clear I am in NO WAY complaining about the rain. Whoo baby do we need it. The Smokey the Bear sign downtown that tells of the fire danger has been in the red for weeks. In fact, we’ve had such a high danger of fire that someone added red flags to the sign. You know shit just got real when flags get involved.

So no, I’m not griping about the rain. I want the rain. I welcome the rain. Maybe it’ll tamp down the great dust bowl that is my front “lawn”. I just don’t want to work in it.

“Then give it a day, Bethie.”

Ah, but I can’t. See, the magical little car fairy sent my other half a vision, a dream of autos to come.

…okay, maybe it was less “magical fairy” and more “dude at the scrap yard.”

Around here, we are “those Mercedes people.” We have recently found out that our house is now a landmark by which other townsfolk give directions. “Go about a mile up from the lights. If you pass those Mercedes people, you went to far.” I suppose it’s better than being the “rusty lawnmower guy” landmark.

My point is that folks know us, even if they don’t actually know us. And we get offers/questions about Mercedes from complete strangers with some regularity…and that’s only growing. Well, when said other half brought my car in for an inspection, his buddy there told him that he saw an old Mercedes diesel at a local junkyard the day before and was going to call him about but remembered he’d be in for the inspection. Other half hopped in the now legal wagon (thanks, hon!) and came home to get me to go see the car.

Of course he wants it. To be honest, I do, too, but we both figured the cost would be insane. No rust. There’s no rust. No rot. Interior is beautiful. It is having shifting issues, but we’ve already got a good idea how to take care of from our experience with past vehicles. Other than that, it looks like an incredible find. We thought there would be no way to afford it. We’re always juuuuust this side of ending up living under a bridge somewhere.

The guys that run that scrap yard don’t like foreign cars. In any other market because of what it is and the condition of the body alone, it would be at least $1500, and if you just parted out the bits that are in good shape, you could get upwards of $2500 or so (good original interior parts go for insane money).

They are asking $500.

…and it’s a junkyard, which actually likes trade as much as cash. And what do you know? We happen to have a junker! So my other half worked a deal. We’re getting the parts car that has donated its all out of here and getting a spiffy new project with way more potential, and he even managed to get them to throw in some old 70’s wheels off a different wagon, all for only a few hundred bucks.

I love junkyards. Junkyards are the ultimate hoard. Not only can you acquire all the crap you want, but you’re SUPPOSED to. No one’s going to bitch. No one’s going to yell. Instead of turning their noses up and wondering how in the hell you managed to fit so much crap into one pile, people who show up at a junkyard and see the space crammed are impressed with your business prowess. Same issue. Same problem. Hell, same junk. It’s all just a matter of context.

People at my house: “Wow. The amount of stuff she fit in her house…wow. I’m…speechless.”

People at a junkyard: “Wow! The amount of stuff she fit in the yard…wow! I’m…speechless!”

Those exclamation points really make a difference.

Anyway, back on track. We’re getting rid of the parts wagon. The carcass has given all he had to give and it’s time to let him go to the scrap yard in the sky. We’re getting another project, but one with an incredibly solid start. And to finance it, we’re selling the car we never thought we’d be able to sell. THAT’S why I have to rush. That’s why I will be working in the rain.

One more cup. One more cup of coffee to fortify my resolve, then I’ll get on it. I swear. One more cup and I’ll be rarin’ to go.

Hey, at least it’s not snow.

Thus concludes a loud and soggy Musing for Monday, June 1, 2015. Fun fact: It’s the 1st of June, and Boston STILL has snow piles that haven’t melted yet. Think the piles will stick around until next winter?