Betty Crocker

I love cake. I also love to bake, but my execution kind of sucks. I always have an idea in my head of how something is going to turn out and it rarely turns out that way. It’s okay, I have fun baking and now my daughter and I bake together so it’s twice as much fun. I normally buy a cake for our big events. I am blessed to know an amazing baker. She was a neighbor for a short period of time and she has a daughter who is a month older than my daughter so we got them together for a play date when they lived in the neighborhood. We have been friends since then. Life happened which took my baking angel away for a time period, but now she is back in the area. We have remained connected through social media and when I am in need of a beautiful cake for a big event, I know who to call. I will bake a cake for a small family party but not for larger gatherings. We alternate the size of my daughter’s birthday parties from year to year. For the years she has big parties I don’t bake, but for the small family birthday celebrations I will attempt to bake a cake. (more…)

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Little Trouble Girl

When my husband and I were first married we lived in a little house in a neighborhood that was headed into economic hardship. We lived directly across the street from a condo complex that included government subsidized housing. There lived little old ladies, single moms with gaggles of small children and our favorite resident who we called “Cracky”. She was a middle aged woman who rarely left her front porch but had many visitors. She spent most days – both warm and cold – sitting in her front yard with a tumbler full of booze in her right hand and a cigarette in her left. Mullet and mustache sporting men moved in and out monthly, some leaving in handcuffs and at least one in a body bag.

Cracky was a regular source of entertainment for us during our first few years of marriage. We watched as she drank her days away, hosting parties with loud classic rock blaring from her front windows. We had little choice in watching her antics since she was always louder than our TV and there were always some form of lights or fireworks illuminating the front of her home. When we heard sirens in the neighborhood, there was never a question of where they were headed. We saw at least three bodies removed from the house in black bags, mostly by ambulances, but one in an unmarked minivan. I had no idea the coroner’s office employed outside contractors. Maybe she found a discount service.

She had a grown son who lived with her on and off. One day we watched him pack a bunch of camping equipment and head into the complex. We saw him return every so often after that, but he never stayed long. We made up stories about him moving to the woods and living off the grid in pure paranoid stoner fashion. We were pretty sure he only came home once  a month to bathe.

A lot of hard work and a little entertainment

Occasionally Cracky got social while drinking on her porch. She came across the street to chat with my husband and dad as they installed a paver walkway from the driveway to the porch one morning. My dad commented that he thought she was drunk at 10 am. He didn’t know Cracky like we did – she had been loaded since half past 8. She spent twenty minutes hitting on my dad while my husband tried to ignore there was a drunken, half-clad woman tripping all over our yard. I think she finally noticed my dad’s wedding band or her drink was running low because she headed home pretty quickly. Later that day our neighbor told us how he had woken up from a nap one day and she was swimming in his pool – uninvited. I made a mental note to lock our gate.

She returned the following summer when we had a garage sale and offered me a nickel for every item for sale, even a leather jacket with a $10 neon orange price tag attached to the lapel. I offered her a nickel if she would remove herself from my driveway and stop scaring off potential customers. It was again before 10 am and she could barely keep her body above her dollar store flip flops. That was the first and last garage sale we even had.

We once put a couch at the curb that had seen better days. I don’t know when those better days were since it had passed through at least four houses before finding it’s way to our basement. It was worn and ugly and had been around the block more times than the ice cream truck. It sat at our curb for approximately 10 seconds before Cracky recruited her son and another dude from inside her house to drag the entire sectional across the street. Apparently a twelve year old couch is cause for a celebration. The couch sat in the center of her front yard as party guests arrived over the course of the afternoon. A bonfire was lit, the coolers were opened and we heard several very out of tune guitars playing “Smoke on the Water” until the sun came up the following morning. We thought the party was over, but apparently a white trash celebration over a dumpster find lasts longer than a Hindu death ritual. Luckily the last guitar string broke within the first day and they resorted to the classic rock radio station for their listening entertainment. It took a summer thunder storm to break up the party. We watched as the guests stumbled over themselves trying to drag the soaking wet piece of furniture into the house without spilling their beers. A few weeks later I came home to see the couch sitting in Cracky’s front yard. This time it was closer to the sidewalk with a giant sign on the front that read “FOR SALE”. I guess she had to pay for her Five O’clock Vodka and Marlboros somehow. I walked over and offered her a nickel.

It’s been awhile since we have moved from that old neighborhood, but I like to think that Cracky is still sitting on her porch, drink in hand, listening to some Sabbath. I’m guessing she is slinking around today, swimming in some poor sap’s pool while they are at work and digging through their garbage for little trinkets to sell to passersby on her sidewalk. I have yet to find a neighbor even half as colorful as Cracky in our new neighborhood.

 

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I’m a Loser, Baby…

My attire is saying “leave me alone” almost as loudly as my expression…

I will never understand people. I would like to say it’s them, but who am I kidding, it’s me. I don’t really play well with others. I’m pretty okay with this too because truth be told, I don’t like people as a whole. I mean, I like some people, but mostly in small doses. I prefer to be alone with a book or in front of a computer tapping away at the keyboard. People have too many expectations of me. They expect me to make conversation and listen when they talk. They expect me to care about what they are saying, but they are just waiting for me to stop talking so they can get back to what is on their mind. They expect me to be empathetic but they are selfish and self-centered. It seems like when I open my mouth I get in trouble but I get in even more trouble when I say nothing. I prefer to remain silent most of the time. At least that way the disapproval is based on assumption.

I used to be a fairly social person. I also used to drink a lot so it was easier to put up with people. It’s much less of a feat to pretend that you want to be present when you are not fully present. Most of my socializing also revolved around music which is still one of the few ways I enjoy being in the same place as other people. There doesn’t have to be communication when there is a common bond. Everything I need to know about the person standing next to me has already been communicated when we walked into the same venue to hear the same band. I am content sharing those few hours with like-minded people and going back to my own space.

One of the other times I have found that I enjoy being with fellow human beings is while doing volunteer work. Last year I joined a women’s organization that does charity work. My Mom has been a member of the group since I was a little girl so I decided it was time I join her. It’s easy to tell your kid that part of being a human being is to help others, but if you want them to actually help others you need to do it yourself. Our offspring never do what we tell them to do, they do what we show them to do. I jumped into volunteer work to mold my daughter. The bonus was that I enjoy the work and strangely enough it’s one of the few atmospheres where I feel like I can breathe and be me. Maybe it’s that I learn all I need to know about my fellow volunteers simply by their action of volunteering or maybe it’s that I can just shut up and work on whatever task is at hand. I don’t care why I feel at ease, I’m just relieved that I have found a place where I feel at home.

The thing about not really being a people person is that life generally demands that you be around people quite a bit. This requires that you either figure out how to adapt or you become a recluse. I adapted (somewhat), mostly to make life easier for my daughter. She is going to do what I do, not what I say. I don’t want her to lock herself in her bedroom and ignore that she is part of the human race – even though I would love to do just that most days. Life is easier when you are outgoing and likeable. She is most definitely both of those things. I have no idea where it comes from because it certainly isn’t from either of her parents!

So this year I am going to try to learn yet another thing from my child. It’s amazing that when you have a kid you have this notion that you will be teaching them all kinds of things, when in fact they teach you something daily. My daughter likes everyone. She is kind and compassionate and incredibly charming. I may not be all of these things, but I can certainly try a little harder to emulate this amazing little six year old. I don’t make New Years resolutions because I think they are a farce, but if I did, I know what mine would be. Instead I will just say that I am really trying to be a better person, even if it usually doesn’t appear that way!

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The Baddest of the Bad Moms

Bring your A game!

I volunteered to read at my daughter’s school the other day for their Halloween event. They do a lot of really nice events for the kids and they have a lot of property around the school including woods so on Halloween they have parents come read stories to the kids out in the woods. I thought since I am no longer at a nine to five job, this would be a great time for me to get more involved, so I signed up to read. I picked my book – The Night Before Halloween which is about a witch and a bunch of monsters getting ready for all of the kids to come trick or treating and when the kids finally do they are scared of the witch and monsters and they run away. It’s a cute story for the littles, and not too scary. I received an e-mail from the coordinator of the event not to bring any food treats and that other treats were not necessary – that the kids were happy just to have the readers there. I was relieved by this because I didn’t really have a lot planned. I had a book and a costume and few blankets. (more…)

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Doctor Feelgood

I had a physical last week. It had been a few years since I had gone in to see a doctor since my primary care physician packed up and moved across the country in 2015. As my new doctor and I were discussing concerns and updating my health history he said “you have put on a little weight since you were here last.” I responded with “actually I have lost weight since my last visit.” Apparently the medical assistant had transposed numbers when she entered my weight into the computer. I was taken aback for a minute but then I remembered the woman who was in the hospital bed next to me awhile ago. She was trying to convert her weight from metric to avoirdupois pounds and she couldn’t get the math right. She was really excited that she weighed 144 pounds when she actually weighed 212. I was baffled that she could be so far off and not even realize it. She was also calling the nurse for more morphine every hour so that could explain how she was so unaware. Her reality may have been just a little bit softened around the edges.  (more…)

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Worst Boat Ride Ever

Someone has to sink this ship!

My Dad has been talking about owning a boat for a few years. For every birthday, father’s day and Christmas he has asked for a boat, and he has received a variety of small plastic toys in return. This started when my parents bought a house on a lake the same year my daughter was born. They bought a couple of wave runners that summer which they have utilized fairly frequently on sunny days since then. I ride them twice a summer, when we are bringing them into the water for the first time and when we are taking them out of the water for the winter. My husband and I are not really “lake” people. As a matter of fact, I don’t like swimming in lakes. At all. This is why I was not exactly overjoyed when my parents bought a house on a lake. They, however, have slowly been turning into “lake” people since then. And lake people own boats. (more…)

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The Right Ingredients

I get my cooking skills from my Dad!

Every night my daughter asks me to tell her a story from my childhood. Most of them either include me getting into some kind of trouble or my Dad doing something that he probably shouldn’t have done. The story I shared with her a few nights ago was about my Dad trying to do something really sweet and falling a little short. This was usually a theme with him when it came to my Mom, but rarely when it came to me. Growing up, in my eyes my Dad could do no wrong, This was one of the only times that I ever was able to see a flaw in the Old Man. (more…)

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