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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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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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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