Wednesday, December 23, 2009

as per request...

Enlarged photos of our Christmas Card Extravaganza...


For cereal. Have a bodacious Holiday.

Merry Christmas...

Because Walmart wanted almost one hundred dollars from our already light pockets for Christmas cards this year, we decided to email ours instead. Besides, it's trendy to "be green", so, we're going for that too.

And in the spirit and tradition of our ever unconventional Holiday greetings,
I now present you with this...

circa 1989

(...this is a joke, by the way. My husband does not have a mullet and a mustache. Nor do I run around in tinsel colored sweaters and leggings. Just FYI)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Do you ever feel like you're having 'one of those days'?

Nothing goes right.
No one is on your side.
Nothing fits right, looks right, feels right.
You can't remember things.
You're tired and uncomfortable.
You're clumsy, fidgety, and awkward.
Constantly off balance and bumping into things.
Consistently annoyed.
And burnt out.

Well, I have, for about two weeks now. I don't know what it is, but it's a funk that I can't climb out of. Maybe it's stress. Maybe I'm just tired. Whatever it is, this feeling washes over me every year around this time.

I miss the sun.

It's dark by five o'clock. Everything is a dull and dismal grey. The colossal dump of snow we had last week isn't pretty, and light, and beautiful anymore. It gave me a sore back and numb feet.

I want to go camping.

On our honeymoon, between bouts of  soaking in the ocean and soaking in the sun, when we were too tired to drink just one more all inclusive margarita, we would go to our ocean-view room, lay on the over sized bed and watch the only English station on TV. Morning to night, seven days a week, back to back episodes of CSI played in our native tongue.

I know what you're thinking,
"CSI in Cacuun?? You couldn't think of anything better to do??"
Okay, maybe you're not thinking that, but my mom is. I bet you five bucks.

We were in Mexico for ten whole days. At a resort. There's only so much you can do.
For       ten      whole      days.

The swim up bar was awesome the first couple of days. Until flocks and flocks of people started showing up that weekend. And suddenly, it became a cesspool of disease. Thick, green sludge coated the blue tile and formed spinning whirlpools that floated past our unobservant, slightly submerged noses.

After that it was a completely ruined effect for me, swimming up to a bar.

Then there was the bus, which was awesome for the first couple of minutes. Until we realized it was not awesome, and we didn't know where to go. The bus was probably the most dangerous part of our trip. Never mind the repelling into a bottomless cave, zip lining across a gully, and canoeing in alligator infested marshes that we partook in while we were there, no, the bus scared me the most. Lumbering down the too narrow streets and careening round the corners, the bus bounced us up and down fiercely in our seats. We didn't know where to get off, we didn't even know what we wanted to do. We just wanted to get out of the resort and actually see something. We debated our next course of action. This stop? the next one?
The bus driver yelled,
"Aeropuerto! Aeropuerto! Last stop!"
and the bus came to a deliberate halt. We scurried off having no idea where we were or where to go, only knowing that we didn't want to be anywhere near the local airport hosting single jet planes. So we walked, and walked, and walked. Hailed a cab, and said the only thing that we knew would be universally understood,
We managed to make it back safe and sound, but were really unwilling to do any kind of sightseeing or pool lounging after that. And it is so that we discovered the wonderful American marathon of our all-time favorite show.

It was during one of these 'breaks from vacationing' that we saw it. A music video from a popular Spanish musician, Luis Miguel. It was absolutely hilarious to me. I couldn't stop watching. Which was good, because it played at every single commercial break. Sometimes they didn't even have other commercials, they would just stop the show and play the music video, it was...just...hilarious.

My husband thought the same thing. Whenever it was on we would grab the closest hairbrush or remote and lip synch the unknown words. 'Corny' is an understatement. We hammed it up big time.

He pretended to be the serenading adulterer, matching all the gestures on tv. Pointing his finger, tossing his head back dramatically and clutching his heart. I pretended to be the tempting seductress and would flip my hair in rejection. It was a fun, amusing game we would play, acting out the fate of the star crossed lovers.

We left Mexico feeling like we were leaving a new home. A big, fancy home with every meal prepared for us, fresh towels every day, friends at the bar, slippery newly mopped floors, a delectable backyard equipped with four pools and an entire ocean, and warmth, mmmmm, warmth.

So, you see, with such memories engraved in my mind, I know the feeling of peace and tranquility. I know at some point not too long ago in my life, that I felt complete serenity.

I miss my freckles.
I miss my brown skin.
I miss the ocean and the sun.

And when you miss those things already, but you have a bad day, or week, or weeks, you miss them even more.

Yesterday marked day twelve (not that I'm counting) of my bad, 'in a funk' moodiness. I started feeling like I should just get over myself and shake it off, but then I discovered them. My boots. My brand new boots, only two days old, gnawed beyond wear. Compliments of my darling dog.

I cried. But that's not too surprising...

I just sat on my big red couch and cried. Defeated.


Pissed off.

But then, quietly at first, I heard it. The familiar piano tune.
Louder, the crooning voice of a Puerto Rican.

I turn, mascara staining my cheeks, and see my husband with a goofy grin plastered on his face.
Luis Miguel playing on iTunes.

He swoops over to me, scoops me up off the couch and whisks me across the room. We waltz, we laugh, we make fun of one another. He holds me in his arms and lets me cry. I let go off all the bad thoughts and feelings, and...I play.

A veil of weight lifts off my shoulders.
And I have a good day.

To witness the greatness of Luis and his jezebel, go here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Normally, I'm the one who will believe anything. 
Normally, my husband exploits this and uses it to my disadvantage.

The one with the picture that you're suppose to stare, and stare at to try and find out what's wrong with the image until suddenly a big, ugly, terrible face flashes before your eyes with a shrill, retching scream.

And I fall for it every time.

But not today...

Today, I was the victim of blunt force trauma to my jaw-slash-tongue. 

My sweet, innocent, little nephew was crawling all over me. Cuddling, laughing, and crawling, and just being as sweet as can be.

Until he wanted to reach the unreachable. He wanted to see out the window, look out into the world. See the cars and snow and loveliness. But, that required him climbing up onto my shoulders. He did it once and succeeded, but that was with assistance. I hoisted him up myself so I could see his little grin of happiness. The second time, however, I was no longer in the mood. 

Do something once with a toddler, be prepared to do it a hundred times more.

And so, I watched him climb his own way up. Grabbing my legs, lurching himself onto the futon, holding my waist, and bringing one chubby leg up onto my shoulder. The second wasn't as smooth. He hit a wall that was my face. My jaw clenched onto my unsuspecting tongue and I let out a yelp.

Immediate blood.

With a split tongue, I went home. Waited for my husband to come home, and, upon arrival, I told him that I had injured myself. Which isn't that uncommon of a greeting...

My eyes big and batting, I proceeded to deceive him. Never have I pulled off such ploy and deception. But I was ready, and willing... 

"Baby" I said,  "I hurt myself today..."

My concerned husband asked, 

"What happened"

Wheels turning, I planted my tale...

"Well, um...It's kind of, someone was slicing turkey at work today, and well, there was a piece left on the slicer when they were done..."

His eyes got big.

"...and...I...well...I licked the meat slicer."

"YOU WHAT!?!?"

"Yes. Um. I licked the meat slicer. I'm sorry. Are you mad at me?"

"You mean to tell me that you licked the same kind of meat slicer that my cousin almost lost all of his fingers to? and, LICKED it?!!"

I shrug innocently.

"Wow."  he says, "You are such an idiot."

I convulse into a fit of laughter and come clean. 

He won't forgive me, but I got him. 
And I got him good.

It's just too bad that my swelling tongue is outweighing my swelling pride.

Monday, December 7, 2009

operation: rogue orange retrieval...

A friend politely suggested we make a serious effort to remove the lodged orange from the heating vent. Because, it will indeed invite bugs, critters, and, believe it or not...the undead.

There was no way I would be sleeping soundly with that information.

So, we decided to delve into the unknown. A world creeping beneath our floorboards, humming with hot, stale air and thick with dust. And by "we", I mean, not me. I mean him. Master of the house.

I wasn't about to plunge my arm into that dark and dingy abyss...

The operation required the following:

One flashlight
One shop vac
One compact mirror
An assortment of miscellaneous kitchen utensils
One fish net
One random dowel
One flashlight
One bottle of clear eyes
A roll of electrical tape
And a Miller Lite, for encouragement...

First, remove heating register grate. Wrench the upper half of your torso into the vent. Realize you can't see. Back out. Place flashlight at the bottom of the vent pointed in the direction of the orange. Fashion a see-it-all mirror out of electrical tape, dowel, and compact. Resume crushed position in heating vent. Repeat this phrase:
"By-God, I think I see it!"

Back out. Fashion long extension arm out of cluster of kitchen utensils. Enter vent again. Blindly feed the extension into the heater and fumble around inside until you have a mental imagine of where you are. Somehow squeeze second hand into the vent, holding the see-it-all mirror contraption. Realize you'll never reach. Keep trying anyway. After 30 minutes...

Come up with a better idea.
Find a fish net. Fasten the fishnet to the end of the utensil arm. Try a swing and swoop method. Try again. And again. Okay...try one more time. Give up. Ask wife for a beer. Receive beer. Curse once...maybe twice. Enter shaft again. Exit shaft immediately. Turn off heat and wait for hot air to subside. Find bottle of clear eyes. Apply liberally.

Get shop vac.
Feed hose through vent. Wonder how you managed to fit inside anyway. Tell wife to "HIT IT" and wait for suction action to begin. Try to pry suction action away from wall of vent. Try again. Pull hose out and fasten new hose attachment. Lose hose attachment in vent. Realize you are now fishing for two lost items. Use second hose attachment to scoot the items closer towards you. Repeat this phrase:
"By-God, I've almost got it!"
Scoop hose attachment out of vent. Slide mirror into vent and behold the orange hath rolled. Get a sudden burst of energy. Fasten fish net to hose attachment and slowly nudge and prod orange until it is within a very uncomfortable arms reach. Reach into vent with arm. Reach. Reach. Grab. Got it. Pull dusty old rotten orange out of vent and toss into garbage delightfully. Take out of garbage so wife can take a picture. Take picture unwillingly. Toss in garbage again. Never let wife put anything near heating registers ever, ever again.


And that, friends, is your step by step tutorial on how to remove a decorative citrus fruit from your furnace.

Now you know.
And, you're welcome.

In case you're wondering, I did learn my lesson. Never put things where they don't belong. Do oranges belong in heaters? 

I now know not.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

bruised bums, egos, and less underwear than yesterday...

This weekend we picked out our Christmas tree. We decided since it's our very first real tree (last year we had a fake one), we should go all the way and cut it ourselves.

It was a perfect day! The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was a decent temperature for an excursion in the outdoors...that is, if picking out a tree were like picking out what flavor ice cream you want today. Which, to me, it isn't. I think we spent a good hour tromping around the farm trying to find the perfect one, so the nice cool weather quickly turned into a bitter cold and, because I wanted to look 'cute' for our first encounter with our new houseguest, I was wearing a skirt and a very non-warm coat.

After debating between four or five trees, we finally committed to an enormous, looming, nine-foot evergreen. It was scrumptious.

Todd was worried that the bungee cords we brought wouldn't hold the tree down. I told him not worry about it. We drove 30 MPH on the highway anyway.

I was right. Nothing happened to the tree.

Also on the agenda for this weekend was shrink wrapping the windows. Whoever conceived this idea is brilliant, our house is suddenly warmer, but really, it's quite possibly the most annoying, irritating chore ever...ever, ever. The double-sided tape never sticks to anything, except everything you don't want it to. And trying to cut those enormous sheets of plastic by yourself is impossible, your arms end up in all the wrong directions and your face squishes up like you just ate a lemon. It's annoying, and difficult. Toss a 9 month old puppy into the mix and you've got major issues.

Lena was driving me nuts. She was always under my feet, leaning up against me, and I just know she was thinking,

"Mom, why are you paying so much attention to this window and not me??"

One particularly difficult window to overcome required me steadying myself on a dining room chair. I  teetered on the seat, stretching myself as far as I could reach...streeeetchhhhh, reachhhhh, go, you're almost there, GOTCHA!...finally got the damn thing to stick.

Just as I'm about to step off the chair, I notice Lena laying directly underneath my descending foot. I pull away to bypass crushing her, but I stumble and come crashing down. I managed to miss crushing her spine, but I miscalculated how close I was to the back of the chair. I was close, close indeed. So close that I now have a major bruise on my rump from landing so hard on the ornate backrest of our antique dining room chair.

Later that day I was on the computer, catching up on celebrity gossip. My clean laundry was waiting patiently in a basket nearby for me to fold and put away. Lena was being abnormally quiet. She was adapting well to the monstrosity of a Christmas tree in our living room. We put all of our shatter-proof ornaments near the bottom of the tree in case she got an appetite and tested the sparkling glassware for her supper. Lena didn't even pay attention to the tree, or the ornaments, or the lights. She did, however, think that the tree stand that held three quarts of water must have been a new watering hole. A buffet of drinks before her, she lapped up every ounce left in it. I replaced the water and scolded her.
(Lena, the Christmas Elf. Notice the orange in the heater, I reference that in a bit.)

At some point I noticed that my house smells like dog. Not just dog, but that smell that overcomes you when you open the door to the vet and it's as if someone slapped you across the face with canine slobber laced with half digested kibble and you get that tickling feeling in your nose that means stray hairs have lodged themselves in your nasal passages and you'll never be able to breath the same unless you're able to let out a good productive sneeze, but that doesn't help either because after you sneeze you just have to breath in deeper, and then it gets stuck in your throat and all you can think about is the nasty saliva that must be embedded in those dog hairs, so you gag, and then gag again, but nothing happens because you're unknowingly trying to prevent yourself from breathing in any more of the air surrounding you and then you pass out and die.

At least, that's what it reminded me of. 

Which is why we haven't had company over for awhile.

Anyway. I tore myself away from the smut gossip website and started to think of ways I could freshen up my home and make it smell like Mrs. Claus resides here. I love the smell of oranges studded with cloves, so I made five of them. Our house is old and has these gorgeous heating registers that blow out a ton of air. I investigated one and thought it might be a neat idea to tie an orange on the inside of the register. That way, whenever the heat turns on, we'll get a huge gust of spiced orange wafting past our noses.

I needed Todd's help holding the grate. He looked at me like I was crazy, but agreed, something needed to be done with the foul aroma of our living quarters.

Before he allowed me to do this, however, he laid down some strict instructions about the care of our new furnace decor. I was to be very careful with the dangling orange and keep an eye on it every day. If it started to shrink, I needed to remove it pronto before it slipped out of it's green, festive noose so it wouldn't fall into the dark oblivion of the heater.

"Don't worry, I'm not a child, I'll keep an eye on it."

For a whole two hours I basked in the scent of spicy citrus, priding myself of what a cunning, cunning woman I was, fooling the furnace and canine smell.

And then, just like a cheap plug-in, the smell left.

It was at that moment that I realized Lena wasn't being abnormally quiet...she was being the kind of quiet that gets her into trouble. If she's not annoying us by whining or chewing at our slippers, she's most definitely got herself into something she shouldn't have. I looked down at my feet. Over at the laundry. And then over to where she lay. Six pairs of my most treasured underpants lay at her feet. Chewed beyond distinction. My most treasured, I mean the kind of underwear you can wear with anything. Wear on a long car ride because they're not uncomfortable, wear with a cute dress because they're not uncomfortable, and wear for a date because you're married and you don't need to wear uncomfortable underwear anymore, so, they're comfortable.

I lunged at her from my computer chair to try and get them away from her. But, unfortunately for me, the chair on wheels I so willingly put my trust in, slipped out from underneath me. In a short second I was on the floor, tears welling in my eyes, and grasping my arm and foot that took the major brunt of the fall. Oh, how I hurt. And still do. I have matching bruises, leg and arm, all from a four legged animal.

Because of this, I decided to relieve my stress and perk up the Christmas scent by adding the last few oranges I had decorated. I lifted the register off, tied two more oranges onto the grate, and set it back in it's place.


Oh. Crap.

There it went. One of the oranges propelled itself down the long and dusty vent. Down and down and down into extinction.

If I hadn't gasped so loud, my husband would have never found out. But, I did. And just as I did, he rounded the corner saying,


That 'what' is something I dread hearing. It's the 'what' that makes my tummy skip up into my throat, fully knowing what I did wrong.

I was right about the tree being bungeed to the car, nothing would happen. But I was SO WRONG about the stupid oranges hanging loosely in the register.

He was mad, and rightly so.

Now, the orange sits, distressed and alone at the bottom of the heating shaft. Who knows what will happen. Will it just dry up and stay there forever? or will it attract rodents and monsters and ghosts? (it is an old house after all...)

One thing is certain, there is a moral to this entire post. It took me two bruises, a humbled ego, and several pairs of panties to realize...

More often than I care to admit, my husband is right.


Never put all of your good underwear in one basket.