Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Life Is Good (But I'm Still Pro-Choice)

I could make a list of all the crummy stuff right now. Because I have crummy stuff too, you know. I could list it all. I could. It would include things like:

* my computer going 'plaid' and destroying TWO blog entries I'd written.
* the cold weather that just keeps on keeping on.
* how effing annoying/boring Atkins people are/can be.
* the huge pain of... The Play.
* my friends who are not playing nice in the proverbial sandbox.
* my daughter and her lack of focus.
* Shelby ate a whole box of Peanut Butter Patties, my favorite.
* the secret I'm keeping from my husband.

But I don't like to dwell on the negative. Okay, yes I do. But just for a little while. Then I like to turn that frown upside down! Yes! That's the ticket. New list:

* My computer is an excellent teacher for learning to fully appreciate the moment & experience the joy of having written something wonderful. And to finally freakin' learn to SAVE things, Lisa.

* Sunshine! We've had a lot of SUNSHINE lately! As long as the days are sunny, I don't mind the cold as much. Sort of.

* Not all low-carbers are boring & annoying. Some will send helpful recipes & suggestions via email while admitting "it's rough" finding edible low-carb dessert. Besides, the Atkins trend is dying. It is. Thank you, Jesus.

* The Play is fun and very interesting to watch as it comes together. My kids are totally enjoying the experience. I'm meeting new people and learning new skills. I'm becoming better at organizing my time. I've learned how to make a red herring out of fabric. I can assemble a reasonable proximity of "dinner" and make Emily ingest it within 10 minutes now.

* Most of my friends do play well in the sandbox, very well in fact. Those who don't simply need a little time-out to figure their shit out. And the rest of us can continue having fun together in the mean time.

* My daughter has many strengths. She never, ever rushes me or others. She is keenly observant. She is kind. She is patient. She is very helpful and cooperative. She is congenial and mellow & calm. She is a joy.

* Shelby was just doing what any self-respecting dog within easy proximity of an open box of Girl Scout cookies would do. Yes, she's a total bitch for eating the whole box, but she has very nice peanut-buttery breath now.

* Ken knows I am weak-kneed around adorable older men, especially octogenarian farmers. He knows I am powerless to say no to them when they come door-to-door selling carrots & potatoes, never mind over-priced firewood. We enjoy fires! And now? We have plenty of wood. So cozy, Ken! Think of the cozy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Real Dream Weaver

Lisa: Emily, you have to go to bed.
Emily: Yes! I know! But first [incomprehensibly long story/question]
Lisa: Okay. Time for bed.
Emily: Yeah, but first...
Lisa: Ken, will you please put her to bed?
Ken: Alright.
L: Emily, go with Daddy.
E: But first I want to...
L: No. Go with Dad. He's going to tell you a story.
E: Oh? A story from when you were little?
L: Yes. Tell her a "Radio Shack" story.
K: Okay! Emily, did I ever tell you about Radio Shack?
E: Um...
K: Radio Shack, well, it was owned by the Tandy Company.
E: Uh...
K: You might know them from the leather goods they sold.
E: Hmmm...
K: Then Tandy made a computer called the TRS-80.
E: Oh...
K: Do you know what TRS stands for?
E: (yawning) Totally Righteous Stuff?
K: No, it stands for [incomprehensibly long explanation/story]
E: (silent)
K: So, the TRS-80 was the first computer at Radio Shack and...
E: Zzzz zzzz zzzz.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Newly Minted Joe's Trader

Okay, I give up. I fought it for a long time, mostly because I liked Busch's so much and because it's just so dang far to drive all the way across town, but I'm a Trader Joe's convert now. Are you happy? Well? Are you? Will you stop pestering me now? Good.

I called AAA in early January and had them do me up one of those trip-tik deals so I could find my way all the way over there to scope out the tradin' at Joe's. The locals had said how excellent the food was, how healthfully delicious and inexpensive, how wonderful the frozen stuff tastes, how the whole experience of shopping there had profoundly changed their lives, blah, blah, blah.

My sister got in on the act too, prodding me from California, but I'm pretty sure she gets a kick-back from Joe. At Thanksgiving we stayed at her house and got to try out ALL of the entire line of Trader Joe's hand soaps, hand lotions, bath gels, face scrub, body lotions, room deodorizers, shampoos, conditioners and of course, food items, since my sister's house has been fully stocked by Joe himself. I think she's living in some kind of a test house, like a Nielsen family or something, but she won't tell me. She must have had to sign something. Anyway, it totally looks like a real house except that every single item in it came from Trader Joe's.

The one thing nobody mentioned, which would have sold me a lot sooner, is how doggone nice they are over there. Everyone I encountered was nice. I mean, super nice. Zingerman's nice. Enthusiastic. Thrilled to help me select bread for the fine art of toasting. Delighted to explain what the brass bells are for. And so excited about mozzarella & goat cheese that I faked some additional cheese enthusiasm of my own, just to be polite.

I checked out the restrooms, tried the coffee, helped myself to plenty of free samples, and nearly wept purchasing a bag of SEVEN gorgeous lemons for 2 bucks. The only thing lacking? No magazines at the checkout. I knew there had to be a catch! I just had to... stand there. Waiting. In line. (Behind one person, for the friendliest cashier on the planet.) I guess from now on I'll be like all my friends and have no idea what crazy thing Brittany has gone done or who's gotten divorced/remarried/is having an affair/pregnant with an alien's baby/gained a hundred pounds. I suppose I won't know when Angelina's baby gets born or what Brad designed for Baby's First Tat. Maybe I'll just have to sneak over to Busch's every once in a while for a junky magazine fix, you know, under the guise of picking up some cigarettes, Drano, and baby formula because you can't get everything at Joe's.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rebelling In Her Own Unique Way

Liz: Oh, 2010. That's when I'm supposed to graduate.
Ken: Supposed to?
Liz: Yeah, I guess so.
Ken: Don't you mean that's when you will graduate?
Liz: Hmmm... I suppose so...
Ken: What?
Liz: I probably will.
Ken: (speechless & wincing)
Lisa: Are you trying to kill your father?


Saw it today; my new favorite bumper sticker.

What Would Yoda Do?

Meditate on that, you must.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dog Hotel: Platinum Status

I just got off the phone with the dog kennel and I'm more than just a little suspicious. We'll be going on vacation for a week at the end of February, so I called to arrange some time for Shelby to stay at the Sleep Away Camp for Very Good Dogs. (That's what we tell her it's called, so the whole thing seems less... prison holding cell-ish.) I called up and told the woman on the phone what I wanted, without saying who I was. She said they were all filled up to the brim that week and had no available spaces left because it's a school break, so everyone goes out of town at the same time, and they book up very early, etc. I've heard this whole story before. Then she asked if I'd like to be put on the cancellation list and I said yes. That's when I gave her my name & phone number.

I called another kennel, I mean Really Fun Dog Camp, and made a reservation there with no problem. This other place is quite a bit further out of town, but comes very well recommended. I wouldn't know for sure if they are any good because even though I've used them as a backup place for years, Shelby has never actually been there. This is because very soon after speaking with them, another woman, the one in charge of things at the first kennel, called me back. She said "Oh, Mrs. Olson! We just had a change of, um, a cancellation. Of couse we will take Shelby!"

This has happened before. In fact, it has happened every single time I've made reservations for my dog. What is going on? Doesn't it seem a little odd that there's always a spot that opens up immediately after I call? Every time? And that the woman gushes about what a sweet darling angel my dog is? Is it like my kids, in that Shelby trots out her really good behavior for stangers? Does she read stories to the younger dogs? Help with light filing in the office? Answer the phone? Of course not! I'm just making up ridiculous things Shelby is completely incapable of doing. There's no logical reason I can think of that we'd be getting this kind of special treatment.

When I drop her off and pick her up, the kennel ladies gush about what a sweet, well-behaved doggie Shelby is, how neat & tidy she keeps her cell, I mean cozy area, how patient and cooperative she is with the groomer, etc. WHOSE DOG ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT? This dog they speak of cannot possibly be the same Cujo-like creature I live with who threatens me with bared fangs if I so much as take her brush from the cupboard. This cannot be the same dog who growls at me when I try to get her out of the car because she's been in there all day. (Shelby likes to wait in the car, so she can both sleep all day and be ready to go with me in case I decide to leave.) Also, when I pick her up, no matter how many treats I've sent with her, they are all gone because the woman there says "She's just so sweet I give her another treat every time I pass by her." She hasn't noticed how Shelby threatens to take a few fingers off each time because she's so aggressive with the treats? Maybe the kennel lady stands across the room and whips the treats at her, like my kids do because they are afraid. I don't know. It just plain makes no sense.

I tried studying Shelby, thinking it through and then I finally resorted to asking her outright just what the heck is going on. She looked up at me with her hmmm? what's that dear? look on her face, sort of like a dotty old aunt* who's finally tipped over and gone fully into an eccentric little world of her own. She's not saying. And I guess as long as things are working out so well, I should just stock up on treats and be grateful.

* This is a reference to stereotypical "dotty old aunts" I've seen on TV, not to anyone dead or alive, that is currently at this time nor at any time in the past been an actual aunt to myself, Ken or our children.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


This is a popular deal in the blog world, this thing called a meme. It basically means I will now talk about me, me, and me. If you’re really cool and have other blogger-type friends, then they will tag you, which of course means you’re it and have to do the next meme. I however, remain an anonymous lurker, just like you. Yes, you. I see you there. Anyway, here’s my answer to the first question:

Four jobs I have had.

1. Babysitter Extraordinaire: I watched lots of kids from many different families but my worst babysitting job was during high school. Every day after school I babysat for a near-destitute family that had five children and no TV. The oldest child was seven. After an excellent performance review (I taught them to say Please, Thank you, and May I be excused?) I got a raise, bumping me up to $1.75 an hour. I babysat their unwieldy brood while the mom was at work and the dad was away doing absolutely nothing, as it unfortunately turned out. I’d often persuade my sister or another friend to come over & keep me company as well as help with all those kids. I learned a lot on that job: First and most especially, the benefits of reliable birth control; to be very, very careful when considering potential husbands; and how to utilize a sticker chart for crowd control, I mean, to reward good behavior.

2. Babysitting, con’t. Another job I had in high school was babysitting for a darling little girl named Erin, (just one child!) and it paid really well. I was hired by the mother to be at their house watching Erin, basically any time she or the housekeepers were away. The weird part was how the dad would come home but I still had to be there. He’d come home, pour himself a huge tumbler of something brown, and then he’d drink until he “fell asleep.” In the mean time he’d mostly read the newspaper, sit & sing to himself and sometimes he’d play with Erin but whenever she wanted to hear a book he’d say “Maybe Lisa should read it to you.” In retrospect, I suppose I was really there to watch both little Erin & her father, which of course explains why the whole thing was so lucrative. Anyway, after a couple of years the parents got divorced because, get his, the dad was an alcoholic!

And that, my friends, is when the babysitting gravy train pulled into the station. I made some serious cash after the divorce because the mom often needed “Me time” on the weekends so she could go see foreign films by herself or so she could go out on one of her many, many dates. (The dad’s time with Erin was still supervised, and sometimes the mom would hire me for the handoff, but mostly I just worked for her after that.) I was also paid to arrive an hour or two early, watch the mom get dressed & put on makeup and hear all about the disastrous date she’d had the previous weekend. So it all worked out pretty swell for me, especially the part about being paid a ton of money to be a babysitter/enabler/confidant. What I learned? How to appear to listen while carefully observing new makeup techniques such as lightly spraying one’s face and throat areas with Evian mist and then patting it gently to lock in moisture.

3. Drive-thru McDonald’s Wench: There was nothing really noteworthy about that job other than I made some friends while working there that I still have today, 20-plus years later. I kicked butt on that drive-thru window, by the way. This was in the olden days, too, before cushy headsets and all those whiny OSHA rules. Although I did develop a nervous disorder whereupon I still flinch every time a beeper/buzzer/timer goes off in a restaurant. Lesson learned: Get the fries. Get the fries! Get the fries RIGHT NOW!!

4. Head Cashier: I worked briefly at a produce market where I got promoted from regular cashier very quickly, way ahead of the other women who’d been there a lot longer than me and were probably much better cashiers. For example: I’ll bet those other cashiers probably charged the actual prices per pound on produce items, instead of either randomly making up prices or charging a flat $.39 a pound because there was too much memorization involved in learning all the real prices. Besides, who really knows what bok choy should go for and is willing to argue about it?

Nobody in my cashier peer group seemed to be jealous that I’d been promoted over them, which I noticed and thought rather strange. It turns out the owner was a lecherously dirty old man who “liked me” rather a lot, and not in a good-for-me kind of way. Today we’d call it sexual harassment. After he’d leered at me one too many times, while suggestively making one of his double entendre comments, I went home and called in sick for a few days, while I devised my plan for revenge. Finally, I called up and very dramatically quit, right on the spot, with no advance warning. I purposely quit on a very busy day when I knew it would do him the most damage. Ha! Oh yeah, I showed him alright. What I learned: Trust my damn instincts.

Tomorrow: Four places I have lived

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Coolio Decoder For Non-Coolio Parents

This morning, while waiting in line at Bob Evan's with my Mack, I saw a sign that said 'Soothe Your Soul, Meatloaf and Gravy.' I thought, hmmm... for rizzle? I don't mean any disrespect or intend to diss on Bob, but that sign is totally wack. Bob Evans needs to represent.

Didn't understand the above? That used to be me, too, until I discovered www.urbandictionary.com which has virtually saved my relationship with my teenaged daughter. No, not really. But we did have a lot of fun looking up the foreign language/slang terms she hears in the hallways at school. Finally we know what that one boy really means when he calls that other girl laffy taffy...

The small print: Warning! Urban dictionary is highly addictive. And hysterically funny. Urban dictionary contains some highly profane content. Urban dictionary is not recommended for the faint of heart. Urban dictionary is not for children, or anyone who would whine about the judicious use of 'the F word' or similar. Urban dictionary should not be used as a substitute for medical attention. Shelby's Mum and her subsidiaries are not to be held responsible or liable for spilled, inhaled or sputtered coffee. Thank you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gratitude Big & Small

Small: To whoever put Disney stickers all over the food in our kitchen and created a pleasant little surprise/mystery for me. First, I noticed two apples had Jiminy Cricket stickers stuck to them. Then, the orange juice carton had a Donald Duck sticker on it. Pretty soon Goofy was on the Swiss Miss... Mickey on the Triscuits... Daisy Duck on the milk... I've stopped myself from searching for more because they come to me.

HUGE: To Susan* for cheerfully offering to pick up, drop off, pick up again and then return both of my kids, at different times, to & from play practice on Friday, so I can go to PBG. Because she's a saint, that woman. Of course I offered to reciprocate by schlepping her kids wherever she needs them to go, on another day. She said "Oh, no! We're even. You took my kid to Chuck E. Cheese's, remember?" I'd tried to block it out of course, but yes, I still remember. Susan is good people, y'all. Very, very good people.

* Susan, in fact, is her real name. But she isn't Susan, of course. Or Sue. Or the other Sue. Or Aunt Sue.