Friday, February 24, 2017


30 years ago today, a very-much-younger, scared, in-college-loan-debt me shipped out to Navy basic training in Orlando, Florida. How I wish I could reach back and tell that person getting on the plane (you know, the one who freaked out her fellow recruit/seatmate during take-off by grabbing her arm and saying, "Oh, my gosh - we're leaving the ground!") that everything was going to be all right. Because, seriously, I wasn't at all sure of that at the time.

No one in my family was in the military (aside from my father's long-ago stint in WWII). All my college friends either had "real" jobs or were on their way to having same. I felt like a failure: college degree but no job, in debt, no real purpose or goals. What the hell was I doing on this plane?

All I knew was that I had to do something.

My favorite poster EVER
I hated most of my Navy time. There was, as is the military's wont, a lot of stupid. But I was given a job, one involving skills that could transfer to the "real" world. I was given a decent paycheck. I was given health and dental care. All of these things, incidentally, are still easier to come by in the military than in the rest of our society.

But most importantly, I was given the type of experiences that middle class suburbia and the rarefied atmosphere of an Ivy League college could not have provided at that time: living and working with people of color, working under both women and people of color (this was the 1980's, remember), learning about the world of the military and the people who inhabited it, learning about the world of government (I happen to have been stationed at a gov't agency).

Oh, yeah, and I also met Larry. You know, my spouse of 26 years and the father of our 6 kids?

All because I did something.

I look back on that day and feel proud of my scared, unsure, directionless younger self.  And I pass that lesson on to my adult and soon-to-be-adult kids: no matter what, do something. Experience beats sitting around. No matter what you do, good or bad, you take away something from it. And all those little somethings mount up to build a life.

Of course, we know how that goes - they probably won't listen to me, because I'm their mother and what the heck do I know, anyway? But that doesn't matter, really, because that doesn't change the past 3 decades. I'll always have Florida.

[Navy poster image: Wikimedia]

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Having been raised in the 1970's, a simpler (read we didn't even have microwave ovens) age, I maintain my child-like sense of wonder at all things technology-related. The 21st century is indeed full of marvels for a person who has passed the 50-year mark (that is, moi). Cellphones, Internet, self-closing toilet lids, self-driving cars, have I mentioned cellphones - there is no end of the stupefying signs of human progress.

I mean, if you ignore what happened in the good ol' USA last November, anyway...

So, the latest? Is the lowly toilet paper holder. I didn't even realize until after we finished the master bathroom - the first time I had to change the toilet paper, to be exact:

A hinge! Why didn't we figure this out sooner?
It would be difficult to overstate my astonishment when I realized the spindle (if you can even call it that now) lifted up on a hinge and involved no spring mechanism; it was akin to the feeling I had when someone first showed me she could take photos on her phone and then send those photos straight to the Internet. Whole new worlds of possibility opened up to me.

The weight of the roll pushes the arm back down.

Think about it: this is now a one-handed operation. That means you can hold a baby in one arm and change the toilet paper roll with the other (not that I have babies any more, but still...). What's more, I will no longer be spending my valuable free time chasing an escaped spindle spring across the bathroom every time I change the roll.

Was that just me? Tell me that isn't just me.

And, most important of all, the unfortunate incident from way back in November 2008 - the one where I foolishly insisted my own kid install the new toilet paper roll while she was pooping, whereupon she accidentally dropped the spindle into the just-used toilet bowl? That will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

Life is good.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Say It With Egg Cartons

It was a yarn-y sort of weekend, plus Theo drove up from Ft. Bragg to visit (he had a 4-day weekend), which meant I cooked a lot (Susie to Theo: "Mommy NEVER cooks for us!"), and you folks ended up getting the shaft.

Let's see, pot roast on Friday and then blueberry muffins Saturday morning and egg salad for lunch and then I went out all afternoon to meet friends and knit at a local yarn store, which also was having a 20% off sale, which, well, you know...

Let's just say some money changed hands, okay?

It followed me home, I swear it.

Sunday morning I made applesauce breakfast cake and then cooked up a white bean/chicken chili for my beloved family before abandoning them so I could join up with friends to knit all afternoon while eating donuts and gummy bears and bagels.

Knitting is not necessarily a healthy lifestyle, you know, despite all that fiber.

Ba-da-bum! Thank you folks, I'll be here all week.

What with all this knitting time I am getting in, you would think I'd be completing some projects, right? But no, it's a half-finished pair of socks here, and a lace shawl needing a bind-off there, and a Be Simple Shawl being worked on because it is fun, unless of course I'm busy knitting a blanket out of all my sock yarn leftovers.

This is what I do while Larry wrecks my house.

Yes, I DO have a lovely egg carton collection, thank you!

So, yeah, maybe not the most efficient way to churn out knitted objects. But I'll stick to it, because it takes my mind off the chaos which is roiling the basement and threatening to creep its way up the stairs. That's right, Larry emptied the laundry room today, and quite a few odd objects have somehow wound up in my living room (Exhibit A to the right).

Our handyman says he's planning to make a place under the stairs to store that cooler, but I guess until then I'm going to have to use it as a chair in the living room. I'm thinking it doesn't add much to the decor, actually.

And, yup, we eat a lot of eggs. In my defense, that is an entire winter's worth of egg cartons - I save them to donate to a local farm that sells eggs in the spring. This same farm allowed Theo (starting at age 12) to volunteer with them during the summer, thus saving him from dying of boredom and saving myself from dying of guilt that we didn't have the money to send him to some spiffy camp. I love those people with all my heart and I express this love in egg cartons. Which is sort of weird, but they seem to appreciate it...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spousal Deafness

The contractor finished the guest bathroom in the basement and it is truly gorgeous. I swear, the first kid that dares to use it will be disowned.

So let's just ignore the rest of the basement, which is in a thousand pieces and will never, ever become the comfortable, clutter-free family room of my dreams. IGNORE IT. Because this is the weekend Larry takes everything out of the laundry room and dumps it in the family room. One would think that perhaps this would be the perfect time to take all that crap and load it in a truck and drive it off a cliff somewhere, but no - Larry persists in the illusion that he will actually use that stuff someday.

"Listen," I told him today. "Once this basement is done, there is nothing left to do to the house. Have you realized that? You've done it all! So we don't need to keep all those tools and building supplies in the laundry room anymore."

He didn't answer me. I think that man should work on his communication skills.

In other news, remember these?

We made an entire extra batch to mail off to the kids who are away at college, but that never happened. Because I ate them. ALL of them. They were delicious.

Sorry, kids!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Off Color

You know, I thought it would be easy to select a paint for the basement bathroom, because I just needed a color that was white. Not stark white, but almost white. See? I knew what color I wanted. And then I went to the paint store and saw this:

There's 140 choices there, people.  140.

Yeah, pretty overwhelming. I'm proud to say that, even in the face of overwhelming odds, it only took me 4 tries to find the right shade (and I didn't even need the handyman's help this time). The color is called mayonnaise (Benjamin Moore), in case you want to know. And here's the result:

The paint's subtle undertones pick up the brown in the tiles and provide a nice segue to the marbled vanity top. Or so I've heard.

Now I get to move on to selecting paint colors for the entire walk-out basement, laundry room, and guest room. I'll tell you one thing - there will be absolutely no off-white involved.


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