QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The queen naps...

And when you've finished cleaning out my litterbox, give me some fresh new food and rinse out my water bowl... I need some more sleep...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Flying is funny, and Chicago needs porta pots

Right after a long road trip home from Thanksgiving in Atlanta (everyone else on I-95 left at the same time as we did, apparently), I left the next morning for a business trip to Chicago on United Airlines, whose hub is Chicago O'Hare. That's not necessarily important, but someday you might get that on a trivia question or something, so I'm just trying to educate here...

chapter 1. After 12 1/2 hours in the car with 5 other family members the previous day (no offense to any of y'all), the very last thing I wanted to do on my flight was chat incessantly (or really at all) with the person next to me. I sat down on the plane the next morning, strapped in to my window seat, and took out a book (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), clue # 1 that I am not interested in chatting.

Friendly but apparently blind and/or stupid, the guy next to me chuckled: "guess I'm the guy in the middle," as if it were a title or something. I think he wanted me to switch with him, which was not going to happen in a million, gadzillion years. nfw, buddy.

I am not apt to be rude, so I answered as concisely as I could: "yeah. sucks." I said it in a nice way. I did.

Hint not taken. He launched into his life story. I wasn't interested. I nodded my head courteously and kept my head pointed toward my book.

Finally, I said: "well, I'm gonna get back to my book," which prompted him to ask me ABOUT the book I was reading and ALL of the books I've ever read in my life. For crying out loud, buddy. Bring something to entertain yourself next time. I don't care what it is. But I am not your entertainment. capiche? I finally had to close my eyes and take a short nap to shut him up. Thank goodness it's only an hour and a half flight.

Chapter 2 - in which I run (among myriad other runners and cyclers) 11 miles along the lake front on a bucolic morning at 6 am, lake on one side of me, perfectly beautiful blue sky as the sun is rising, and gorgeous Chicago skyline on the other side. ahhhh. These are the days that make me love running and being a runner. If only there had been a porta potty, it would have been perfection. Luckily, um, there was a bird sanctuary which offered some cover.

Chapter 3 - We saw The Blind Side over Turkey Day break, and it was fabulous. My 11-year-old sat up in the front of the theatre away from the rest of us (don't ask). I have a little habit of laughing out loud at a pretty high volume in movie theaters (and everywhere... thus the title of my blog, partially) and a little longer than everyone else. At the end of the movie, when we reconvened with the 11-year-old, he said: "Mom, I heard you laughing really loudly...and I thought to myself, 'that's my mom...' "

I told you that story to make this story more meaningful.

So I'm on my United airlines flight home. As everyone was boarding, the head flight attendant did a "destination check," the humorous perspective of which I have heard before.

"Folks," he explained, "this is a flight to the land of pleasant living, which is Baltimore, Maryland. If that's not where you're going, you have a problem. Look around, grab your belongings and anyone who's with you and see if you can figure out where you're going."

I had heard a similar version of this before, so I was mildly amused - but then he kept going.

"People," he continued, "turn and look over your shoulder as you are, no doubt, trying to fit the oversized bag you refused to check into the overhead bin. You'll notice that, almost assuredly, there are people behind you. Waiting for you. If you could kindly step into the row and let those people pass so that they could, in turn, block other people, we would very much appreciate it."

Well that did it for me. I busted out laughing pretty loudly and noticed that no one else was. What a bunch of dorks. It was funny, people...

As we were coming in for a landing I also loved the variation in his spiel: "Thanks for flying the friendly skies with us," he said. "We realize you have your choice of financially-strapped airlines, and we're glad you chose United."

I need to fly United more often.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Okay... so remember the list of cookware/bakeware items my 13-year-old was supposed to bring to school to make quickbreads with the other 8th graders?

Here it is again:

two 10”-12” mixing bowls

one set of measuring spoons

one fork

one set of dry measuring cups

one liquid measuring cup

one rubber spatula

one mixing spoon

I learned in a subsequent email from the teacher that the kids, who are baking in teams of two, could divide up the necessities between them. I was glad I wasn't going to have to label all that stuff... I mean think about it - labeling every measuring spoon and every dry measuring cup ... and not being able to get the darn masking tape off of the bottom of anything. I relaxed a bit, foolishly basking in the knowledge that our duty would be cut in half.

You see the foreshadowing here once again, don't you?

Last night as we were preparing the items to accompany him to school, I brightly mentioned: "oh - hey, buddy. Your teacher said that you could divide the items between the two of you; did you do that?"

"Oh yeah," he answers, my little McFly, "yeah we did."

"Whew," I sighed with relief. "How did you split it up?"

"I agreed to bring the first 4 items and she agreed to bring the last 3."

My first thought was: "Great; that's really fair..." and then my slight irritation increased as I gazed upon the list while juxtaposing the first 4 items on the list with the last 3. Go ahead and peruse the list again yourself.

No, really. Go ahead. I'll wait.

k. See what I mean?

Essentially my son is bringing everything while the chick brings 2 spoons and a cup.

I'm frustrated now because he didn't think this through, and this means my having to send him in with not one, but TWO large, heavy good mixing bowls... not one, but FIVE separate dry measuring cups, each with its own permanently affixed label to mitigate the urchins' "little to no recall [of whose items are whose] when it comes to which cooking utensils they took out of their bags less than an hour before," individually labeled measuring spoons (again - FIVE of them), and .. oh... a fork.

She's bringing 2 spoons and a cup.

I kept shaking my head, not really believing he hadn't noticed this disparity.

"Bud," I asked, "did you not LOOK at the list? Do you think it makes sense how you divided it?"

"um, nope," he answered. "I just knew there were 7 things on a list."

I smacked myself in the forehead and managed to calm myself down while tediously labeling 13 items.

Then... as we pulled up to school this morning for him and his brother to hop out, he whined: "how am I going to carry all of this stuff in?" - the stuff being his heavy backpack, an extra large binder and folder, his lunchbox, AND 2 large mixing bowls, 5 dry measuring cups, 5 measuring spoons and a fork.

I couldn't restrain the feelings which were lying dormant.

"Well gee, I dunno, buddy! Maybe you should have looked at the list before you decided to bring most of it!"

There was no way I was parking the car (I would be lynched for stopping where I was in the drop-off line and walking all the way to the middle school with him and back) and walking him in on a morning when I had no make-up (not a big deal, really, that one), my hair in a ponytail (again - part of my regular look), my pink, green and blue pajama bottoms, my non-matching hot pink slipper socks puffed into my heelless sneakers, my long-sleeved non-matching maroon Bay State marathon Tshirt (my favorite item of clothing now since I qualifed for the Boston marathon there... I never take it off), and here's the best: a hot pink (but different shade of hot pink than my slipper socks) scarf hanging around my neck. Wait. For you to really get it (split infinitive, I know) I'd better take a picture....

See? He was on his own schlepping all of that stuff in to school.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Your kids are mentally challenged...

This memo I just received from the 13-year-old's teacher had me laughing out loud, so it's blog worthy. Here goes. Pay special attention to the part in red. llol.

To: All 8th Graders and 8th Grade Parents

From: witty Head of the Middle school and erudite librarian (these names have been changed :)

Re: 8th Grade Thanksgiving Baking Tradition

On Tuesday, November 24, the 8th Grade will bake loaves of quick bread during their first two periods. The breads will be donated to a local charity.

The class has been divided into teams of two (or three, in one case) students. Each team will need to bring in the following:

two 10”-12” mixing bowls
one set of measuring spoons
one fork
one set of dry measuring cups
one liquid measuring cup
one rubber spatula
one mixing spoon

Bitter experience has taught us that, despite our 8th Graders being bright, visually perceptive, and generally knowledgeable about their own possessions, they have little to no recall when it comes to which cooking utensils they took out of their bags less than an hour before. So please LABEL the items you send with your child in such a way that the label will remain evident after washing.

I have also enclosed the baking pairs list so that your child can work out with his or her partner who is bringing what.

We will buy all the ingredients; all you have to do is send in the requested equipment.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Only evil people write checks at the grocery store

Early this morning after I drop kicked the boys sadly said goodbye to the boys as I dropped them off at school, I went to my local Safeway for, literally, one item. Our house is on the market (anyone want a house?), we had a walk-through scheduled for late this morning, and I like to have fresh flowers in a vase on the kitchen island for walk-throughs.

I procured a lovely bouquet of alstroemeria, Gerber daisies and Asters and proceeded to the checkout line.

I like my local Safeway because it is a mile from my house and I know its contents and their whereabouts like the back of my hand. In and out.

What I don't like about Safeway is that there are never enough cashiers, but I give them a break and don't complain (much) because I know the economy is tough and they need to pinch pennies.

I mosied up to the only line open (I could mosy because there wasn't any competition approaching the checkout area at the same time as I was), an express lane for 15 items or fewer which contained a woman with a plethora of items, I'd estimate 50. (See the link in that last marathon sentence to learn grocery store line strategy).

I know what you're thinking... but no. I wasn't irritated at the lady, because it wasn't her fault. Safeway only had that one lane open at that early hour, and I have been that lady with the 50 items needing to check out when the only lane open is an express lane. I felt her pain, I did.

I employed a different strategy. I conspicuously kept checking all around me within view of the cashier and the store manager. Getting the hint, the cashier said: "is there someone behind you?" to which I truthfully responded: "uh huh." My strategy worked; she got on the intercom and called for help with the cashier lanes. I'm brilliant, I know.

Well, Linda from produce took her sweet time getting to the lane which she was to open, and I played the game we all play when relief is coming to the cashier lanes: I tried to figure out which was it was going to be so I could dart over there, what with my being next in line. In the meantime, a harried looking woman took her spot at the end of our line, now 5 people long.

You can see the foreshadowing, can't you?

When Linda took her spot in aisle 5 and flipped on her light, the harried looking woman, last in line, darted over to the newly opened register. I walked over and planted myself behind her and bit my bottom lip hard. If she didn't have so few items and it didn't look as if she were going to make something specific with them (I think maybe it was a blueberry cheesecake? - which I imagined would be for some housebound old woman somewhere), I would have said: "excuse me, but I was before you, ma'am," in my nicest, sweetest, most diplomatic voice possible (yes, husband, it does exist).

Like I said, I held my tongue. I am going to heaven for sure.

My lip started bleeding as this woman, when her few items had been tallied and bagged by sprightly (not) Linda, proceeded to dig into her pocketbook. She couldn't possibly have begun digging into her purse while Linda was bagging and tallying, could she have!? THAT would have made sense and been efficient, especially by someone who was in such a hurry that she had to cut in front of the entire line...

As blood started running down my chin from my lower lip and my blood pressure began to rise, she finally pulled out her checkbook. People, if you still write checks in the grocery store, know that you are living in the age of dinosaurs. They take credit cards, folks. They take debit cards. It's all electronic these days, people. Get with the millenium.

Because this woman was in such a hurry that she had rudely to cut in front of everyone, she had already written out her signature and the signatory and was just waiting for Linda to give her a total, right? NO! She hadn't even pulled the checkbook out of her 80s purse!

[Insert sound effect: a distant scream, as if from a mountaintop, starting out as a piercing, loud scream and then ever so slowly fading....]

The woman took 10 minutes to fill out the check and hand it to Linda, whom I think had finished filing her nails by now. There ensued some controversy as to the exact amount of money Linda wanted to receive as change from having written above the amount she needed to pay for her flippin' blueberry cheesecake ingredients!

When the evil, check-writing woman was finally gone and I had purchased my flower bouquet (in a matter of 30 seconds; I actually timed myself and my quick credit card transaction), I had blood dripping down from my lip (oh LORD I wanted to say something to her or to the cashier after she had gone) and I decided I had burned enough calories in anxiety to skip my training run today (not).

Ah. I feel better now. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Surprise! Surprise again!

It has KILLED me not to blog about such a blogworthy subject, but I finally can now.

Get this: one of my best friends and her husband both turned the big FOUR OH this fall, and they each planned a surprise party for the other. How funny is that?

The whole plan was quite convoluted; I avoided talking to her just so I didn't mess anything up.

His surprise party came first; as everyone had gathered in their home, waiting for him to arrive, she depravedly made the rounds, proclaiming for all to hear: "he hasn't even SHOWERED today. ha ha!"

We just all nodded to ourselves and thought, knowing her turn would come in a couple of weeks. "Ha. You just wait."

Sure enough, last weekend, as she thought she was coming to listen to a band, she ended up entering a room of friends and family and a canine, some of whom had traveled 500 miles to attend.


That pooch? One of her surprise presents. This makes her FOURTH dog. (They also have 3 cats, 2 horses and 2 goats). Did I mentioned she's depraved? I love her anyway.

Her party fell on the same day as the husband's and my 16th anniversary, so we were grateful for the party...

There they are, the two 40-year-olds, each the surpriser and the surprisee in turn.

Things got a little crazy when the band played Sweet Home Alabama (3 times)

You can dress her up, but, well....
Happy Birthday, friends!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nonverbal communication

Without even muttering a "woof," Sophie has made it quite clear what she thinks of being left in her crate during the day.

But she's really cute, isn't she?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I am a good mom

There are exactly 3 chocolate chip cookies left, and the TWO boys get home from school in a half hour.
I think I need to eat one of them so that they're not fighting over who gets the extra, yes? (Fractions, smactions)
God I'm a good mom...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Costumes of kids whose parents have waaaay too much time on their hands...

The boys' school hosts a cut-throat, ultra-competitive fun Halloween parade each year. Each of the grades parades around the gym exactly two times while they are judged by unbiased administrators, and the winners in each grade are awarded.... a candy bar. This event is extremely well attended by parents who want to get a jump on next year's competition see their cute little ones parade around the gym. This year's parade offered no exception, perfectly exemplifying that some kids' parents have just way too much time on their hands.

Take a look...

Ya can't buy that in a store, can you?

Look - an entire Peter Pan cast + boat

check out the spookey homemade haunted houses
and the parrot....
It's a Maryland crab theme...complete with a mallet and Old Bay seasoning
For this one I took a video - this is a "costume" of the poor teacher who patrols traffic in the morning as parents are dropping their kids off at school and again in the afternoon when parents return to pick up their kids. Cell phones are strictly prohibited....
And then there are my parental-creativity-deprived kids...


and... um.... ?

These 2 just cracked me up....

that's a boy in those red high-heeled boots.
Happy Halloween, all! ;)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tardiness and Bleachers

Today I have, up for discussion, two completely unrelated items. Let's begin.

1. I don't know why it's taken me 22 years to figure this out (current age - 16 = # of years driving), but I'm a genius. Folks, ever been in your car on the way to a destination, and you're late? When you're late, you hit EVERY RED LIGHT, n'est-ce pas? Of course this has happened to you!

Now... same setting. In your car. But not late. Wanting to reply to an email on your iPhone or Blackberry or need some lipstick at the next red light. Can't get a red light to save your life, can you?

Duh... what a simple solution! The next time you're running late in your car and getting stopped frequently at red lights, simply start fumbling through your purse for a tube of lipstick to apply or start typing a reply to an email or text message during the red light. voila! No more red light. God I'm smart. Problem solved.

2. Yesterday I went to the 13-year-old's final soccer game (which they won, making their record for the year 8-0!). The game was an away game, which meant I had to schlep across town 45 minutes to an unfamiliar school's campus. I've brought Sophie to all of the home and away soccer games, because (a) generally there is an abundance of open space and grass at suburban middle school soccer fields (b) it's good for her to be social - she's extremely friendly and all the kids love her and (c) if I leave her home she eats the house. yeah. chews on the moulding. Not a good thing when one is trying to sell one's house, or really at any other time. Makes for a grumpy husband, to say the least. We now leave her in her crate if we can't take her with us during the day, and I hate to think of her cooped up for hours in a crate.

Anyway, when I arrived at the away game middle school, I noticed a distinct dearth of open space and greenery. This school had really impressive, high-rising metal bleachers towering over the soccer field instead. Sophie has no problem with stairs, so I toted her along and sat down with her in the bleachers among my fellow soccer moms and dads (of whom there was an increased presence because of its having been the last game).

Now - the above picture is not Sophie, which is fairly obvious because the owner of the pictured dog had the common sense to have the dog on a leash, while Sophie's mom does not, often.

Like the perfect dog she is (except for eating the house), Sophie snoozed on the floor of the bleachers next to me almost the entire game. She rose once to greet the husband when he arrived, then plopped back down. She did rearrange herself periodically, which prompted me to remove her leash to make it easier for her.

In the last 10 minutes or so of the game, she stood up and just casually began walking laterally down the aisle a bit. I got up to guide her back toward me but couldn't really figure out how to turn her around without (a) picking her up and turning her around (b) leading her all the way up to the top of the bleachers and back down or (c) leading her down one step to turn around and then ostensibly back up in the other direction.

I chose C.

Can you hear the loud buzzer?
As I tried to lead her down one step, she slipped, thereby causing her claws to scrape loudly against the metal bleachers, thus freaking her out completely. She went into full panic mode, scrambling on the metal bleachers, her claws deafeningly loud against the bleachers, which only made matters worse. She wanted OFF of the bleachers (from 3/4 of the way up to the top) and she wanted off NOW. I tried to contain her, but a fully panicked, full grown German Shepherd determined to leave the immediate vicinity is not easy to contain. I grabbed her, picked her up and held her as tightly as I could against my body on the bleachers as best as I could. She was violently, visibly shaking from head to toe in fear of the evil bleachers.
"Oh my gosh," the folks in the crowd (90% of whom I knew well) observed, "look at the dog shaking! "
"What a scaredy German Shepherd."
"Poor thing."
The husband, noticing the commotion, asked as I tried desperately to keep her from bolting, while half perched on a bleacher stair, teetering back and forth with her weight: "hey - do you want me to come get her?"
well, yeah.
The knight in shining armor swooped down, picked up the frenzied, hysterical, 65-pound German Shepherd, and carried her to the safety of the flat cement above. She was exhausted. She lay down immediately and cowered in the comfort of the flat non-metal land. I was horribly embarrassed.
When all had settled down and the focus had returned to the soccer game, one of my friends chided: "hey - nice hearts," which referred to my underwear which, unbeknownst to me at the time, so tactfully stuck out of my low-rise jeans while I was holding the horrified dog.
I had to wear the underwear with the hearts.
Just to preserve her canine dignity, here she is captured on video being quite ferocious. I think there's a cat passing by in the front yard or something...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thanks.... wait a minute...

I just received this email from one of the Indonesian customers with whom I met at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany recently:
"Dear funnyrunner,

Thank you for your email of 23rd October 2009 regarding the result of the meeting with you during last Frankfurt Book Fair. It is always nice to see you once a year..."
I guess they can't take much more of me...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boys will be, well... boys

The high school applications process continues, folks.
Last weekend, the husband, the 2 boys and I schlepped to 3 high school Open Houses (one after the other after the other), dog and pony shows wherein one is ushered around the high school campus and filled with information from its administrators, student guides, and parent volunteers about all things good about the school .
I think I was more tired at the end of the day than I was after a marathon.
At one particular Catholic school, the student guide led us into the school's beautiful, college-esqe library, where we were enthusiastically greeted by two parent volunteers - moms of current students. While our sophomore student guide proceeded with my son, the husband and I got waylaid into a conversation with these two moms about laptops in the library.
"They don't allow the students to use laptops in the library during free time," one mom explained.
The other mom chimed in: "Yeah. You know... they're adolescent boys. You just don't know what they'll be up to on the internet."
The husband and I nodded, thanked the parent volunteers, and walked a few steps from the two women. When we were far enough away, we muttered in stereo without even a glance toward each other: "porn."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I DID IT !!!!

I did it I did it I did it I did it!!!!

I did it, y'all!!!

I qualifed for the Boston marathon! My time was 3:41 (previous personal best was 3:50) and I needed a 3:45!!!


A day and a half after flying home from a business trip to Germany, on a morning which was rainy, windy, and cold, I qualified!

If you need to get a hold of me I shall be on cloud 9 for awhile.

Big thanks to the husband who, notwithstanding his personal loathing of running in general and aversion to being outside on cold, rainy days, he met me at mile 23 and ran with me to the finish. (awwwww). Thanks to my brother and sister in law, too, who diverted their normal travel plans to come stand in the rain and cheer me on through miles 3 and 13. Thanks to the 13-year-old who could have stayed home with his grandparents but came to watch his mom. sniff sniff.

funny blog today, huh? more tomorrow on the funny parts of the marathon....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tomorrow's marathon forecast...

Snow and high winds at the start (38 degrees)... turning into monsoon-like winds and driving rain.
Sounds fun, huh?
What a great marathon day I've chosen for my Boston qualification attempt!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Latka is our carpet cleaner

(Note to the reader. Today's post was constructed inbetween projects and tasks readying our house to go on the market. As the writer is OCD and anal retentive [can I - I mean one- be both?] about completing tasks/projects she has begun, the writer would like lots of pats on the back for pausing from her house-cleaning-out frenzy to write about Latka. Thanks.)

We found the perfect carpet cleaner way back when we first moved into our house 11 years ago. Okay...well the carpets weren't dirty yet when we first moved in. So we probably found him 10 years ago to help purge the stains and regular traffic dirt from the carpets caused by 1 and 3 year old boys. I still remember the first day he came. From Bulgaria, he introduced himself with a thick accent and arrived at our front door, politely toting a massive notebook. He liked to talk. A lot. With his thick Bulgarian accent. He was proud. Very proud.

We invited him in to show him the areas where our babies had spit up orange carrots and green peas (different blog), where juice cups had spilled notwithstanding our steadfast keep-it-in-the-kitchen rule, and where we had tracked in dirt with our shoes.

"It is not a problem!" he proudly declared. To show us just how not a problem it was, he opened his prodigious notebook, which proved to be a repository for all nice things ever said about him and his carpet cleaning business. Just seeing the dauntingly large notebook was enough to convince us; he had us at "it is not a problem." It was not enough for him, though. He showed us, despite the resistance which surely showed on our faces, every page of his accolades. Every before and after picture. Every word of praise for his miraculous cleansing of carpets. It took a long time. Each displayed picture was accompanied by a thickly Bulgarian-accented description of the people who owned the carpets photographed. He was fond of his clients, and they of him, ostensibly.

When he finally began the actual carpet cleaning, the husband and I huddled out of his hearing range in a different room.

"Oh my God," the husband mused. "He looks and sounds exactly like Latka from Taxi!"

"Oh my God," I agreed. "He totally does!"

When Latka left, he gave us pointers on how to preserve the carpet's cleanliness.

"You are not wearing of the shoes on the carpet," he lectured. "Most of the dirt of the carpet comes when wearing of the shoes on it." We nodded vigorously, not about to argue with the accent.

From then on, we have always referred to him fondly as Latka, so much so that I sometimes forget his real name. When our carpets are in need of their annual cleaning, we say: "time to call Latka."

Throughout the years when Latka has come to purge our carpets of their stains and dirt, he always brings the notebook. It seems he must convince us every year that he is worthy.

Last week was no exception. Latka entered my house. I put out my hand to shake his. He lurched toward me and gave me a bear hug. "How you are doing?!" he asked excitedly. "You are not wearing of the shoes on the carpet, yes?"

I swore I was not, but that the boys didn't always listen.

He proceeded to my kitchen and put down his heavy notebook. I rolled my eyes to myself.

"Oh, I know how good you are," I said as convincingly as I could muster, "I have seen your miracles with my own eyes."

"Oh," he laughed, "no. no. This is new here. Come look at the papers. You listen of the Angie's list?"

"Oh - yes!" I lied. I have never heard of Angie's list.

"See all of the people who recommend of me to the Angie's list? Look! They talk good things on me. You see the stars the people give to me?"

"Oh wow," I replied. "I am not surprised at all. You do a fabulous job."

He stopped, smiled a very proud smile, and put his chin in the air.

I thought perhaps that did it. I was wrong. He continued to turn the pages of his notebook.

"It is funny," he shared with me. "I do not know the people who write these stars. The name of the people are not here."

After awhile, Latka finally went to get started. He did the 11-year-old's room and came downstairs to talk to me.

"I finished from the one room," he announced. He narrowed his eyes and looked at me with a frown. "You see the stain on the carpet that was there to the door?"

"Oh," I reacted. "You couldn't get it, huh?"

He burst into an ebulliant grin. "It is gone," he told me. "The spot to the window?"

"Ah," I played along. "Too tough to get it out?"

"It is not here," he assured me.

With that, he went outside for his first of 10 "coffee" breaks, during each of which he spoke on his cell phone and smoked a cigarette.

When the husband arrived home from work, Latka was still there. We were in the home stretch. I was hoping he could finish so we could leave for an appointment, so I didn't want to start any new conversations.

The husband greeted him: "Hey there! Good to see you! How are you?"

Latka put his chin up and grinned. "I am fine," he answered.

"Great!" said the husband. "And how is your daughter doing?"


"Oh. You are nice so to ask. She is to ABC school and she is artist. She is so good from the drawings!"

"Wow; that's great," we said.

"Wait. You wait here. I go to see I have of a picture."

I shot the husband the look of death. He shrugged helplessly.

Latka bounced back, returning with a Christmas card whose cover was adorned with a pencil drawing of the virgin Mary and baby Jesus. It was pretty good.

"She win of the contest for the picture to Christmas," he boasted.

"Wow," I said. "It's terrific. Does she draw animals? I'd love to have a sketch of Sophie."

Latka didn't hesitate. He pulled out his cell phone, dialed his daughter, and gave the cell phone to me to talk to her. After an uncomfortable conversation, I returned Latka's phone to him as he finished the last room.

As he was leaving, he admonished us: "No wear of the shoes on the carpet!"

"Oh," the husband chuckled. "We don't; it's the kids!"

"Yes," said Latka, "that is the thing the people they all say."

And with that, he was gone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hello? Anyone there?

Tap Tap Tap Tap.
Anyone still out there in blogland?
I am hereby certifiably the worst blog reader friend in the blogosphere. Not only have I not been blogging (with no paucity of material, either), but I haven't read any blogs. I'm so sorry, y'all.
I get in that crazy mode when life gets busy. It feels like I'm all hyped up on caffeine and I must accomplish 300 things at once every minute. I have no time to chat on the phone, let alone blog. I'm a bad, bad blogger. Guilt. guilt. guilt.
I can explain. Want a list?
- We've just unexpectedly bought our dream house. It fell into our laps and we jumped. This has led to all sorts of unplanned things that take up lots of time, such as the ho hum task of getting our house all cleaned out and ready to go on the market (hey - anyone looking for a house in the Baltimore area?). Yesterday I put out 9 (N I N E) huge trash bags of stuff for Purple Heart to pick up and take away from me... Remember over the summer (or was it spring break?) when the boys cleaned out their rooms? That was nothing. nada. zilch. zippo. I have cleaned out the basement. The finished part. The unfinished part. I have sold Tonka trucks. A plethora of Legos. I am selling a piano. I have filled bags with useless toys and puzzles my boys have outgrown. I have cleaned out the 11-year-old's room. With him. There were tears. There was yelling. But it's done. I have much more to do...
- We have been working on high school applications for the 13-year-old. It's time consuming and a lot of work. This is simultaneous with the house stuff.
- I have a full-time job. yup.
- I haven't written any articles for Examiner.com, and I feel guilty about that, too. Especially since it's MARATHON SEASON!!! wahoo! excuse me. sorry about that.
- Speaking of which, I have been training for the marathon that's on October 18th! Almost there. Can't skimp on the training now!
- I have a business trip to Germany next week which takes A LOT of preparation. Days of it.
ARRRGGHHHHH! again. k. excuse me. I'm even drinking decaf coffee.
So... since I'll be on a plane to Europe on Monday with 9 hours of peace and quiet, I thought I'd revisit some pointers for long flights.
Long flights ROCK. They are THE BOMB. (but only if your kids aren't with you). It's hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet. Except when the captain breaks in to announce that he's turned off the fasten seatbelt sign. No s**t, really? Thanks for that. Oh - and when they interrupt the MOVIE to announce a special CREDIT CARD DEAL. Yes - that happened to me on the way home from China once. Advertising is both ubiquitous and obnoxious these days.
Anyway. I digress. How surprising.
To make the most of your hours of peace and quiet on a long flight, you must follow these guidelines.
1. Under absolutely NO circumstances do you make friends with the person (or people, God forbid) sitting next to you. He or she may SEEM friendly at first, but inevitably on a 9-hour flight s/he will want to chat when you don't. Don't get started. You can nod or say a quiet "hi" but that's it. Don't ask where they're from, where or why they're going. You just don't care. This is me time, people. It's all about you.
2. If the person next to you persists in trying to be friendly, employ one of these strategies:
- Take out a book and pretend to read. Or you can really read, of course.
- Put on headphones.
- Take out a laptop
If the person overlooks any of these strategies or sees them for the farces they are (and this has happened to me), you DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH.
Or... you can't hear very well if at all. It's a last resort, but some people are annoyingly tenacious.
- For overnight flights to Europe, I highly recommend a glass or two of wine followed by a Sonata sleeping pill. What? We're here already? Geez. And I was just starting to enjoy the "me" time.
Ciao, y'all.
I don't know when I'll see you again. But I'm here. I'm trying.
Oh, hey. Before you go.
Any recommendations for inspirational tunes for my marathon playlist? Don't tell me Rocky theme music. It's corny and I already have it. Music to hype me up and kick my own butt? Warrior stance stuff? You can do it kind of tunes? Don't give up kind of stuff? Recommendations for your blog-absent friend?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Caution: homework may be hazardous

Scene: Sitting in the car on the driveway at home with the 13-year-old, waiting for the 11-year-old to come out and get in so we can drive to school.
13-year-old: (aghast) Ya know, I just realized I haven't watched tv in, like, a month!
me: (delighted) Well that's good!
13-year-old: (disgusted that homework and sports have kept him from tv) No it's not. I feel like my brain is turning to mush!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This post is about fruit flies

Having a predilection for both bananas and red wine, the husband and I tend to attract fruit flies every year at this time. Well... our house does.

We pull out all the stops to get red of the pesky varmints, who delight in flying close to my face and then whizzing off just before I clap my hands together to end his pathetic life. Or hers. I don't want to be sexist.

When we first started having this problem, I did what any educated, intelligent person would do to ameliorate the problem. I googled.

Ye old wise internet counseled me to set about, as traps for the fruit flies, glasses of wine or vinegar covered with plastic wrap with a few tiny holes punctured in the top. It's also necessary, to thwart their breeding, to get rid of the fruit (duh). We therefore placed the bananas in the refrigerator. Cold bananas suck, don't they?

We placed said glasses throughout the downstairs, each filled with a bit of wine to attract and trap the delinquent invertebrates.

The husband wandered around, a dejected look on his face: "what a waste of good wine," he lamented.
Meanwhile, the 13-year-old, ever the recent star of this blog, questioned: "why are we trying to catch fruit flies?"
"So we can kill them," I brilliantly responded.
He considered the fatuous nature of his question immediately, and tried to save face: "I'm not buying it."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who's on first?

The 13-year-old was doing some last-minute studying for his French quiz on the way to school this morning....

13-year-old: "Mom, what does 'quoi' mean?"

me: "what."

13-year-old: "quoi."

me: "what."

13-year-old: "Quoi, Mom..."

me: "It means 'what,' son."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Huh? and yahoo!

me: "Buddy, is your seatbelt on?"

13-year-old: "no."

me: "Put your seatbelt on!"

13-year-old: "It is on!"


(photo from the Philly Distance Run official website)

In other news, the weather for the Philadelphia Distance Run (1/2 marathon) yesterday was GORGEOUS! 54 degrees at the start, ideal for running. Our own American Ryan Hall won it, outpacing 3 Kenyans, and I, myself, came in with a new Personal Record! 1:44:44 (7:52 minute/mile pace). yahoo!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's a mad, mad world

I live with an insane asylum bunch of looneys (no offense to anyone there... not that there's anything wrong with that...).

I have an 11-year-old who loves to make up his own complex math problems and give them to me for "fun."
"Hey, Mom. Here. Try this math puzzle I made up."
"Buddy," I say. "You know how you find math fun?"
"I don't."

I have a dog whose purpose in life is to shed as much hair as humanly possible, well as caninely possible. She does quite an admirable job fulfilling that purpose, too.

Then this morning... I call in my chipper morning voice (a rare thing) to the 13-year-old, still upstairs getting himself moving before school.
"Dude!" I yell (in a chipper sweet voice, of course). "Are you up and dressed?!"
"Would you like a hamburger?" he answers.

You see what I'm dealing with? See what I'm up against?

On top of all that, get this. My cat loves ear wax. Yeah, no. I'm not kidding. She lives for it. Craves it. Goes nuts for it. Catnip? It's nuthin'. Wait for it.... wait for it... yeah. Earwax. Look. I can prove it. Here (below) she pillages the bathroom trash can for a Q-tip like a homeless person looking through a trash can (no offense to those of you who are homeless). She's nuts. Maybe that's why she pukes all the time?

So she doesn't mind eating the earwax, but God forbid it get all over her pristine paws.

Me? I'm completely normal. What? I am. Really.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Uh.. what kind of dog do you have?

I went to pick up the gas-guzzling, eco-conscious Expedition from Dr. Detail yesterday. Before I walked in, I took a quick look at it. Wow. I don't know how, but the dog hair? Gone. It smelled... clean.

(above: the Perpetrator)

The manager saw me looking at it and waved me inside. I walked inside to pay for it. He looked at me for a moment. Then he said, and I quote exactly:

"Uh. What kind of dog do you have?"

After I stopped laughing, I explained that she is a German Shepherd, the breed of dog which sheds most profusely, year-round.

I asked him what his secret was- told him my shop vac didn't even begin to suck those hairs out of the carpet fiber of the back of the truck.
He said if he told me he'd have to kill me. wink wink.
As if on cue, one of the employees then walked in.
"Wow!" he exclaimed, a big smile on his face, "we filled up an entire industrial shop vac with all that dog hair!"

Moments later, another employee entered. He didn't miss a beat.

"Holy cow, man," he told me, "we filled up a whole shop vac with your dog's hair..."
After I stopped laughing again, I asked for a discount for the dog hair. After all, they could use it... to um.. stuff pillows. I made a donation.

For the next, oh... 3 days? The truck is free of dog hair. Maybe Soph will have to stay home from now on...