The Adventure Continues

My parents’ 57th wedding anniversary is tomorrow – June 15th. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! I think this might be the first year that I haven’t confused the date. It fell on Father’s Day one year, ages ago, and for me, I’ve equated the two ever since, making me perpetually late in wishing them a Happy Anniversary. Father’s Day changes every year, you say? No matter. You underestimate my ability to be wrong about something.

Hey, did you know there are traditional gift themes for each year of wedded bliss? First year is paper. Fifth year is wood. Twentieth year is china. Well, as far as I can tell, by year 57 all the ideas have been used up. By that time only the anniversaries ending in 0s or 5s get a themed gift. Seriously. On the list of “traditional gifts” the years skip from 55 right to 60.

My guess as to why that is: maybe whoever made the list felt that people grinding out 55 to 60 years of holy matrimony are too busy trying to not kill each other to really celebrate the honored day. Who knows? Maybe they’re right. Maybe by that point, not trying to choke each other is a gift in and of itself. “I didn’t suffocate you with a pillow this morning sweetie, Happy Anniversary! Want some breakfast?” Personally, I think 57 years of marriage—murderous thoughts notwithstanding—is one hell of an accomplishment.

The lists of traditional gifts often give an alternative modern gift for the couple who want to stay hip and with the times. For example, the first-year anniversary’s “modern” take on the traditional paper theme is clocks. How the two are related completely escapes me. Now while there isn’t a traditional gift for 57 years of wedded bliss, a modern alternative my parents have for celebrating their anniversary is a glass or a mirror. A glass, particularly of the decanter variety, I can understand. Giving each other something to hold the sweet nectar of alcohol or caffeine I can see as being invaluable to such a lengthy marriage. Sadly, my parents can have neither. So that’s a firm no on the glass option.

Mirror, it is. But really? A mirror? All I can really see my parents doing with a mirror is holding it up within an inch of the other’s face and saying, “SEE! I told you there was a smudge on your face! You just couldn’t believe me, could you? Noooo…of course not.” I’m not sure I want to be the purveyor of such a contentious gift.

Despite their individual secret schemes on how to plan what can only be described as the perfect murder, in real life my parents do what they can to keep each other out of the ground for as long as possible. Which is particularly good news for my dad. If anyone was going to kill an old man and get away with it, it would be my mother. That woman is nothing if not thorough.

I’ve often wondered what the secret is to a long marriage such as theirs. In an age when a marriage that makes it five years can be seen as “a good run,” there’s got to be something special to keep two people together for close to SIX decades. I believe that my brother and I were maybe that special ingredient in the glue that has bound them. No, not because their love for us created an unbreakable bond.  It was more than that. I think they decided years ago that whichever one of them asked for a divorce, they had to be the one to take the children.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, my parents loved us…still do for some crazy reason. It’s impressive really, given what we put them through. It’s just that together, they were strong enough to counter my and my brother’s daily foolish antics. They could commiserate late at night and bolster each other’s mental stability – “Did you SEE what that boy did? Just look!” “Oh well, that’s nothing on what the girl tried to get away with today…let me tell you!”  Ahh, there’s nothing like having a common enemy to keep people together.

At its essence, having each other’s back is their mainstay – their rock. Sure, they may squabble and they may pick at each other, but my dad still makes my mom her coffee (decaf these days) every single morning before heading out to the backyard to feed her feathered friends – I mean, hey, she needs company while she sits on the deck, having her morning cup of joe. In return, she makes sure his meds are always in order and that he has his fishing hat when he goes out on the water so his shiny bald head doesn’t burn.  And god help the outsider who speaks ill of either one of them.

 

Revisiting the Realm of the Squirrel Queen

I came across this photo on Facebook — I have no idea who to credit but I do know it didn’t belong to the person who shared it.  When I saw this, I immediately thought of my mother, the squirrel queen, and all of her loyal, fuzzy squirrely subjects. And I thought I would re-share her story here. Enjoy.

 

squirrel

click the photo to read about the squirrel whisperer

 

 

Endurance

So. My parents celebrate their 56th year anniversary today.  I’ll repeat.  That’s 5 – 6.  Fifty Six.  In an age of disposable marriages as easy to come by as disposable spoons, my parents have racked up fifty-six years. Perhaps that’s because in “their day” commitment meant something other than the asylum (although really, if you ever went to their house, especially when my brother and I were young, you’d think they were already in one) and true to their word, my parents have lived up to the definition.

Personally, I think this staying power is in large part due to infinite patience…my mother hasn’t killed my father yet and strangely, seemingly has no plans on doing so. Although in all likelihood, no-one would be surprised if she ever were to snap.

Instead, once a week, she takes an hour to count out all of the medicine he needs for the week and puts them in a sectional pill holder (and this, in addition to monitoring his diet) in a never-ending attempt to keep him around even longer. For his part, my father still opens doors, holds my mother’s hand across the parking lot to keep her footing steady, and buys her little unexpected culinary treats when he ventures to the store alone. I sincerely admire the fortitude and dedication they each extend to the relationship and the love that has endured despite the struggles they’ve shared throughout the years.

They are my rock. My sun. No matter what is going on in my world, they are the one thing I can count on as being solid, even if they are having a “nit-picking” day.

Happy Anniversary to you both!

old couple

Riding in Cars

The other week my mom and I were discussing one of the more volatile controversies that continually divides this country. Yes, I’m talking about two-door vs. four-door cars. Who cares how we got on the subject? The question brought before the panel (me, I’m the panel) was why is insurance higher for two-door cars. Before I know it I’m explaining to her that insurance rates are lower for people who own four-door cars because the insurance companies tend to think that the people who own them are more family oriented, less inclined to take risks (like drag racing with friends, taking dares on the number of donuts they can do in parking lots, or driving every day like they’re the getaway car from a massive bank robbery and the entire Sheriff’s office is on their tail), and overall just safer. Two-door car owners are more reckless, at least in the insurance company’s eyes, and, hence, more likely to get into an accident, so they get the higher premium.

My Mom interjected that despite the higher priced premium, she always insisted that our family have a two-door car when my brother and I were growing up. I will take a small detour here (ha! pun intended!) to say that you could not find a more stable, down-to-earth, no-risk-taker, family oriented kind of gal than my mother. But the inflated premium was worth it to her, or so she said.

I personally couldn’t understand why she opted for the two-door car. It seems so logical to me to upgrade to four doors when there are kids involved. I mean, it’s easier to get them in and out of the back seat in general, easier to buckle them into the car seats when they’re small, and we didn’t have to deal with that awkward climb into and out of the car over the folded down seat (with elbows to the head of whoever is in the front seat). It just seemed practical.

Then my mom explained her point of view. First of all, car seat? Ha! Not part of the equation back in those days. Yeah, okay, that makes sense. Second, only having two doors meant that there was no chance my brother and I could throw each other out of the car. Third, having only two doors meant we couldn’t carry through any brilliant ideas of jumping out of the car ourselves. That reasons 2 and 3 were likely scenarios to pop up in my mother’s head sort of sums up my childhood.

Looking back, I can easily envision both of those hilarious tragic events happening if we had the luxury of back seat doors. My brother and I were basically a live-action version of Spy vs. Spy. Take our constant battling, stuff it in a confined metal cage for a few hours, hurl it down a highway at 60 miles per hour, and one way or another one of us would find a reason to pop open that back door to show the other one the exit. Unfortunately, I mean, luckily, yes, luckily, my mom could imagine this too and preemptively put an end to that.

Each summer my father, with the whole family in tow, would navigate over the precarious road that led to my grandparents’ house. Well, this road, barely wide enough for a vehicle, ran snugly along the tall mountain on one side and on the other side was nothing but air. I’ve brought this up before…how my brother and I tried to drive my mother insane by jumping up and down on one side of the car trying to make it flip over the edge. If we had a four-door car for these treks! Oh my goodness how things would’ve changed!

I can see my brother now, swinging from the car door, legs dangling wildly in mid-air, hanging on for dear life. My parents would look back and wonder: did he jump out thinking he could fly? Did he think he could hop from the car onto the branch of a passing tree? Then, they’d look over to the other side of the back seat, where little ol’ Wendy—with her angelic doe eyes and impossibly cute grin—is sitting peaceful as a fawn, and they’d wonder to this day if something more menacing had happened to send my brother flapping in the breeze. I mean, really…who’s to say? Knowing us, it could’ve gone either way. Either scenario is equally plausible, but thankfully no one will ever know.

All because my mother had the supreme forethought to buy a two-door car.  You’d think the insurance company would’ve given her a discount for her smart car choices given the money she surely saved them, but no. I guarantee you though, had they known her little bundles of joy, they would have.

A Little Help, Please?

I love scones. What’s not to love? They’re delicious. When done right, that is. According to Grocery Budget 101, “Scones are a simple, forgiving treat that even an inexperienced baker can throw together easily.” Well. That should make things easy. Any one of you should be able to toddle on over and just whip me up a batch or two or three of these to die for looking scones I found a recipe for the other day (Pumpkin Raisin Scones!) without a problem in the world.  Don’t look at me like that. I know my limitations and I simply don’t have enough Baileys to pull this recipe off.   But, I’ll leave the light on…AND preheat the oven!

Hey, the article even says, these delightful pastries are: “are perfect for those back to school mornings on the go.” (emphasis is mine)

I’m looking at you here M-O-T-H-E-R…your granddaughter needs sustenance. Of course don’t let the fact that her picky eating habits would never ever allow anything even slightly resembling a raisin much less something called a scone (gasp!) pass her lips even bother you for a moment. They are a back to school necessity, I tell you!

Oh!  And I bet they would go really well with that Irish potato soup recipe I emailed you last week. What? Do you think I just send you these things for no reason?? That’s what happens when you cook so well. Guess you should’ve thought of that all those years ago when you started spoiling everyone and we all got so used to it. Bet you wish you had burned more dinners now, don’t you?

And as for anyone else who wants to try their hand…I’m more than happy to be a guinea pig. Just send those scones on over to me!  I’ll get the Devonshire Cream!

 

CLICK FOR RECIPE!

CLICK FOR RECIPE!

Inside Joke

This, this is my mother’s refrigerator in a nutshell. You just never know what to expect. Don’t even get me started on the Cool Whip container that I thought was Cool Whip (who wouldn’t, right!?) but turned out to be lard. Which, believe it or not, look surprisingly similar when they’re both chilled…but trust me, do not taste the same at all.

And I would like to say it’s contained to her refrigerator, but it’s not. There are Danish Butter Cookie tins and the like tempting you tantalizingly from the kitchen counter-top, but do they have those amazing little cookies and other sweet treats in them? No. Of course not. Really. Why would you even think that? They might have buttons nestled inside or they might be filled with cast-off grease. It’s a crap-shoot. 

It’s taken years — yes, I’m a slow learner — but now each foray into the unknown is prefaced with “Is this really…”  As in, “Is this really Cool Whip?” Or “Are there really cookies in here?”

Mom thinks it’s funny, though I’m sure slightly annoying too, when I put her through these pop quizzes on the inventory of her home-made tupperware system each time I’m craving a snack or maybe want a PBJ, but she brought it upon herself.

I do not, and here I must I reiterate most emphatically, I do not want a repeat of the Cool Whip vs Lard incident.

mom's house

Overheard Conversations

I’ve never claimed to be normal. Anyone who says I have is just a liar. And I’ve never claimed to have a normal household.

My daughter and I have quite a few interesting conversations…even fascinating ones…often at quite a loud decibel level since we’re a loud house regardless of what we’re doing.

Sometimes, I wonder just what the neighbors must think when my windows are wide open and our voices carry over to their houses on the clear, still air.

For example, we have a dog, and we have quite a few adventures with this dog, Petra. If our one neighbor’s windows were open, they surely heard this conversation one evening because it was really sort of loud and fraught with hilarious exasperation on Sarah’s part—and I’m sure it threw them for a loop:

“Stop putting the dog on my face, I’m trying to sleep!  You’re supposed to be the adult here, you know!”

You see, in reality, it’s not always just children who try to be annoying. There. I admit it. But it did eventually make Sarah laugh, and that was the main point of it all.

“What have I told you about letting the dog sleep in my pillow? “
“But she likes to sleep in pillowcases, you know that.”
“Then let her sleep in yours.”
“Ewww, no, I don’t want her in my pillow.”

That’s what daughters are for, don’t you think, to let a burrowing dog sleep in her pillowcase so said dog won’t sleep in yours? But apparently not my daughter. Oh no, not mine. She cares enough about the dog to want her to have a pillowcase to burrow in, just not her pillowcase. Go figure.

My daughter is very analytical, yet strangely compassionate, even when it comes to finding ways to fall asleep.

“I can’t count sheep to go sleep – cause then I wonder where the sheep are.  Are they just living with some farmer, in which case he’s going to need money eventually and then he’s going to have to sell those sheep to slaughter, which is messed up.

Or do those sheep live in some existential plane and just in emptiness in which case that’s just depressing. Too depressing to go to sleep.  I mean really, where are the poor sheep!?  They’re jumping over a fence, is the fence the bridge between life and death? Are the sheep dying!?  If I count them, do they die?? That’s a lot of power for one person to have.

Or is counting sheep just symbolic of the wasted years of our lives, the years we waste going to sleep? Are they really just counting the seconds passing to our inevitable death, our inevitable demise? Talk about depressing, that’s even more depressing than thinking about sheep being slaughtered. Although maybe not. Sheep getting slaughtered is pretty darn depressing.”

My well thought out and heartfelt response to these types of existential questions:

 “Sarah, just shut the hell up and go to sleep.”

We had this following conversation a couple of days before school ended last week. Admittedly I was frustrated with the topic, so I was a bit loud when this nonsensical sentence came flying out my mouth.  Even at the time a part of me was wondering what the neighbors would think if they heard this:

“If you don’t want to throw eggs, then don’t throw eggs.  I don’t care what the teacher says.”

I’ll explain further – Sarah’s Honors Chemistry teacher, at a time when eggs are at their most expensive in our area, decided that the students should each bring in a dozen eggs to simply fling at each other during class.

Sometimes my daughter brings up things or asks questions that I simply don’t understand. These encounters always leave me shaking my head and questioning my sanity.

Me: “I know you don’t like onions. No, there are no onions in the tuna fish salad. You just watched me make it. Did you see me put onions in the tuna fish salad? I rest my case then.”

Or:

Me: “No, I don’t usually go around spitting into random bottles of water that I find lying about the house.”  (in response to: “is there anything wrong with this water?”)

And then there’s the case of….the socks. Some people have sock monsters who make off with their socks, or dryers that eat them  I, on the other hand, have Sarah:

“In the name of everything that is holy, why is there just one sock strewn about in every single room of the house?”
“My feet get hot so I take my socks off.”
“But…but…where are the other socks?”
“I don’t know.”

It’s a myth that only guys argue about the powers of superheroes and what they can and cannot do.

Sarah and I recently had this debate in a game of “would you rather:”

 ‘If you had to pick, would you rather freeze people or blow them up a la Piper Halliwell?’
“If you can freeze people, you can walk into banks undetected.  But if you can blow people up, it wouldn’t matter, you could do what you wanted.”
“She could do both, why can’t I do both, why do I have to choose!? Why do you always have to make everything so difficult!? I don’t see why I can’t just do both. Jeez.”

I’ll leave it up to ya’ll as to which one was the adult and which one was the child in that conversation.

And then there’s my daughter’s refreshing attitude toward the afterlife.  I think we’re going to be haunting people…because I mean hey, haunting people would be fun, right? My sweet daughter is of a different opinion.

“I can’t wait until we’re dead and we’re haunting places together and I have all of eternity to tell you ‘I told you so,’ because we’re not just dirt in the ground somewhere and I’m gonna be like ‘Hey look, we’re scaring the bejeebies out of these people because I was right and you were wrong, we’re not just dirt’ and ‘Oooo look, we’re floating through walls cause I was right and you were wrong…told you so, nah nah …’ You’ll have to hang out with me for like eons. See what you have to look forward to?”

 “Nope. Cause I’m gonna be dirt.”

When you have cats in the house, you can’t help but think of the important questions. I can only imagine what someone, someone sane that is, would think of this issue recently discussed round our dinner table:

“Do you think cats know what Capitalism is?”
“I bet they’re Socialists.”

There you have it. A brief look into our mindset and the little snippets of accompanying dialogue. Now don’t you wish you were a fly on our wall to catch some of the really good stuff? Although you’re likely to buzz off shaking your little fly head.

 

not normal