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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It’s Raining Men

I went to a male review this weekend. The word review has a bad connotation for me. I think of my former job and the dreaded performance reviews that were meaningless and painfully boring. The feeling that comes along with that word has not changed – I still feel a little nauseous, and now maybe like I need a shower. I’m also a little confused about why these shows are called a review. I didn’t get any score card to fill out. Maybe it is more of a review for the audience about what the correct body parts are or what a guy is supposed to look like naked. Either way, review is not a word that makes me jump up and say “I want to go to that!” Yet I did.

I have never been to a male review so I didn’t have a reference point. I haven’t even seen the movie Magic Mike, but I have seen quite a few memes with a bunch of half naked dancing dudes, so that was pretty much what I expected. This particular show was a group of touring performers, so I assumed the guys would meet a certain standard. None of my expectations were met. I felt like maybe the club owner walked onto the street and stopped random guys leaving the gym to see what they were doing that night. By gym, I mean the local YMCA. Oh, and he only found four guys. That’s fine though, the audience/performer ratio was still 5 to 1.

The audience consisted of a very drunken bachelorette party, a group of gay guys and their fag hags and us. The bachelorette and her posse were all wearing tight white dresses, and one of them was roughly the size of half of our group. She turned out to be the only member of the audience who really appreciated the attention from the dancers – so much in fact that she ended up on the stage with them more than once with her cell phone recording all of the incriminating evidence. The stripper/comedian on stage referred to these ladies as the “wasted white wedding” and us as “the sober divorce club” since we were the only patrons still able to stand up unassisted. He had no clever name for the gay guys which surprised me because I had about twelve. One of the gays was wearing a flannel shirt and what appeared to be a toupee. I had a half hour commentary about that guy alone before even looking at his companions.

Maybe the best part of the night was that we actually watched these yahoos setting up for the show. We arrived an hour after doors opened, right as a group of guys was hanging up a giant blanket on the back of the stage. This blanket was the highlight of the show. It was covered in dancing lights that mesmerized me for a full hour while half naked smarmy guys in cowboy hats danced around. It was magical. I spent the better part of the night trying to figure out how to remove this masterpiece from the stage and get it into my car without getting tackled by a shirtless guy with half a boner. I decided the odds were against me and left empty handed.

At one point my girlfriend turned to me and asked “where do you think they get these outfits?” My reply was “Walmart. Definitely Walmart.” They fit right in with the venue though. It was like a VFW hall outside of a trailer park. At one point I reached under my chair to move it and stuck my hand in something sticky. The makeshift bar may or may not have been on wheels and the ladies room was right outside of the dressing room for the dancers where they could be heard getting changed. At least they had a professional sound system or we may have missed all that witty banter from the guy with crooked teeth and cornrows. He announced he was from the south. No really!?

I was surprised at how many dances occurred with less than a half dozen men performing. They had group dances, individual dances, costume changes and even a few props. I think it was as entertaining as it could be given what they had to work with. From my understanding, a male review is supposed to be somewhat fantasy inducing, and my mind was definitely wandering. Unfortunately, my mind was reeling with questions like “I wonder how adonis ended up here, did he want to be a Juliard trained dancer but just couldn’t cut it?” or “I wonder if any of these guys were actually in the armed forces. Does putting on the military vest cause them to suffer PTSD?” or “who the hell picked this music? I heard the same songs at Drag Queen Bingo!” I mean seriously, when the song that is played repeatedly is pretty much the drag queen anthem, you have picked the wrong music to dance to.

When the country song came on, it was time to leave. I can only endure so much. Unfortunately, I think half of the audience was just waiting for someone to make the first move. I didn’t have to be asked twice. As soon as one of my friends made the “let’s bolt” face, I was at the door waiting. As we exited, the bachelorette party stumbled out behind us. A few other stragglers followed as well.The dancers were left with the gays and their crew which I think was right up their alley.

The woman who planned this event apologized profusely as we walked to our cars and we all assured her that the comic value made it a worthwhile night. She ended with saying “maybe we should stick to the arts and crafts…” Somehow I think we are going to end up in some DIY studio and they will also be playing “It’s Raining Men”.

**Photos have been withheld from this piece to protect the innocent.

There are only a few guys I want to see sweaty on a stage and Henry Rollins is one of them

 

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Pump It Up

I gained five pounds. While getting changed into my bathing suit at the gym I discovered exactly where the five pounds are located and all five are trying to squeeze into my bikini top. Of course the pounds are also not evenly distributed. Go figure. When I made this discovery, I of course snapped a photo and texted it to my husband. These are the kinds of texts he gets from me frequently. He should consider himself lucky that he isn’t getting shots of the new mole I have on my shoulder or what appear to be stretch marks on my right thigh. I have been told that people don’t start sharing questionable moles and cellulite photos until after fifteen years of marriage. I can’t wait until August.

He must have been amused by the photo because today, while I was out running errands he sent me a photo of himself with one of my bras slapped across his chest with the caption “I think I gained five pounds too!” Sadly, my first reaction was to look down my shirt because I was certain I was wearing the bra he was sporting. Yes, the shocking part of the photo to me was that I was not wearing what I thought. I am not at all phased by the questionable photos my husband sends. He didn’t get the memo about the fifteen year deal. He has been sending me weird shit for over a decade.

Tonight I was debating about going to the gym to get in the sauna. Just when I decided not to go, my husband rebutted “don’t you want to let the water out of those things?” Charming. And he wonders why the photos he gets from me are of stretch marks and water weight.

I wrote this blog while listening to Bouncing Souls

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Family

I love family parties. It gives me a chance to catch up with my cousins who I don’t see nearly enough and the aunt and uncle on my dad’d side of the family who provide me with a lot of information about my dad and what he was like as a kid. I hear about how their dad paid them for their report cards and how he got them to do all of the work around the house without ever having to lift a finger. My grandfather on my dad’s side was not a very good dad. It sometimes amazes me that his three sons all turned out to be really good dads and even better grandfathers.

I listened to my dad and aunt talk about their childhood Christmases and how they acquired the tree for the season. From what I gathered they went to the lot and picked out the tree they liked and the teenage sons were sent back at night to get the tree free of charge. This explains a lot about why my dad was really disappointed in me when I shoplifted as a kid. He raised me to work for your money and go buy the things you need. Stealing is wrong. I think his dad had a different theory about how to obtain the things in life you want or think you might need. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but I think my dad must have hit a limb on the way down and got thrown far away from that old apple tree.

My aunt stayed with my parents the night of the party. She was on her way to Florida and in town for a day or two so she slept in my parents’ spare room. My daughter and I went over to visit with her before she left since we don’t see her very often and she told me a story about how she obtained a bike the prior spring to peddle around town. She apparently found a bike that was in front of someone’s house, close to the curb, not chained to anything and in very good condition. It was a boys bike so it wasn’t ideal for her, but it was good enough to ride around town on. She jumped on the bike and rode off. She said obviously they were throwing it away if it was outside, unlocked and unattended. She also said she didn’t ride down that street all summer just in case the person wasn’t actually throwing away the bike that was somewhere between the house and the curb that night she walked by. She rode the bike all summer and when she was done she went and put it back by the house. In the end I guess she borrowed a bike for a few months without the owner’s consent or permission. She laughed when she told the story the same way she laughed about how the boys in the family got the Christmas tree.

Maybe the female apples stay close to the tree and the males roll as far away as they can. I don’t know, but I’m really grateful for that branch that shot my dad so far away from the tree that he didn’t even know he was an apple anymore.

*I wrote this story while listening to Pennywise

 

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One Track Heart

I love my father, but man is that Old Man stubborn. In his mind he is a young man and his body should be able to do what he wants it to do. But he is getting older and he really shouldn’t be doing a lot of the things he wants to keep doing by himself. He owns two homes and maintains two properties, cutting the grass every week at his house and at the lake house, bagging leaves at two houses in the fall, and caring for all of the other little things that come up. His motto is don’t pay someone else to do something you can do yourself. The problem is, he thinks he can do everything. A few weeks ago we took the boat out of the water and his brother helped, which was great. The problem is when you get these two brothers together, somehow the process of everything we are doing becomes twice as long. It’s like the two of them together creates a space time contingency where everything slows down.

We would normally have taken the dock apart and gotten the boat lift out of the water on the same day, but my mother-in-law was in town and we didn’t want to keep her waiting. Ironically, as soon as my husband and I walked into the house our daughter was mad that we returned so early because she wanted to play with Grandma alone. The weather was warm and it was a great day to be outside, so they spent the day playing in the yard.

The following weekend was not so nice. It was cold and windy, so naturally that was the best time to get the dock out of the water. My dad has three sets of waders just for this job. Two pair are more rubber and less fitted and one is like a scuba suit. I immediately grabbed the scuba suit and headed for the water. I’m no fool. My husband and dad were left with the rubber pants. I had worn these same rubber pants in the spring when we put the dock in the water, so I knew they were great for keeping you dry, but not very good at keeping you warm. Since my husband had only ever worn the scuba suit, he walked out barefoot in his bathing suit only to find the rubber booted waders waiting for him. Instead of putting his jeans and shoes back on, he threw the waders on and headed for the water where my dad was already trying to dismantle the dock by himself since he’s clearly a young, strong man who needs no help. 

We spent the next three hours hauling the dock and boat lift out of the water, where anything that could have gone wrong did. My husband was freezing and forming blisters on his feet, my scuba suit feet were flopping around in the water in front of me as I walked because the suit was made for someone at least a foot taller than me, and my dad was bleeding on his forearms after having the dock scrape him. At some point we also disrupted a bee hive between the rocks on the beach so we were being attacked by angry bees as we carried the dock out of the water. My mom was running around trying to bandage up my dad, kill the bees before we walked in with another piece of dock, and make sure that my dad was not over exerting himself. At one point she was even trying to help us pull the boat lift out of the water with the lawn mower, but she was nervous about giving it too much gas and knocking one of us down or pulling the lift into the wave runner lifts which were also lying on the beach. Putting a nervous older woman behind the wheel of anything is never a great idea. It’s an even worse idea when you have three idiots in rubber pants standing behind her yelling.

By the end of the day both my mom and my husband were looking up companies who could come out to take care of all of this work next year. Between the two of them I’ll be surprised if my dad doesn’t wake up one morning in the spring to find his dock and the lifts in the water, having been put there by people who actually know how to do this stuff.

It was a good thing that my mom was occupied on the third weekend we went out to finish up our lake winterization project. She probably would have had a heart attack watching my dad climb around on the boat lift like a monkey removing the canopy. My husband did his best to stay ahead of the old man with the ladders and tools, but peter pan moves pretty quickly and was standing on top of a ladder pulling at bungy chords and pushing the canopy off the side of the frame in no time. I was beginning to see why my mom is on high blood pressure medicine after that day.

My husband added up all the hours that we spent and decided that it was well worth the cost to pay someone else to do this next year. He told me all about it but I wasn’t really listening because I had been preoccupied for the last week and a half trying to get the videos on my phone onto my computer. I’m not great with technology, so things like this take me hours upon hours to resolve. When I was finally frustrated enough to throw my phone out the window, I asked my husband for help with tears in my eyes. He said “no problem Pat Jr. You realize I fix these types of problems at work for people all week right?” Oh crap. Just when I thought my biggest fear was turning into my mother, it’s not. It’s turning into my father and I already have.

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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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