Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Red Alert

Lovely, isn't it?

DO NOT ask for whom the mosquito buzzes; it buzzes for thee.  That's right, folks - the first locally acquired case of chikungunya has been diagnosed in Florida.  IT'S HERE.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

[Mosquito image: Wikipedia]

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

News You Can Use

On the parenting front:

You heard it here first, folks, teens are stressful...according to one study quoted by NPR, "...about one-third (34 percent) of those who live with one or more teenagers said they'd had a great deal of stress in the past month."  To which I say, "Yup."

The health beat:

We've already discussed this particularly lovely bug that bites your face and deposits its eggs in your skin, right? You know, the eggs that end up making your heart or intestines explode?  Well, this bug's existence has now provided me with yet another reason not to get a pet for the children.

These will change my life

And, finally, style (the home variety): among the things homeschoolers REALLY like to buy...can one ever have enough bookshelves?  And these fold flat when not in use!  Now you have a place to put all the schoolbooks that your children insist on losing during the year.  ALL the books will stay RIGHT HERE, on this marvelous, foldable set of shelves. This is the story we homeschoolers tell ourselves, in that idealistic time known as mid-summer, before another ugly academic year has begun to trample all our pedagogical dreams.

A thing of beauty...

Ditto for this thing here...I swear to you, it's all the rage in homeschool circles.  THIS year, there will be pencils.  They will be sharpened, without having to search for batteries first.  NO ONE will spend the morning on the couch whining over and over about not being able to find a usable writing implement. Peace and joy will reign, forever and ever, amen.

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Monday, July 14, 2014


I've been away all weekend at a belated memorial service for my friend, who passed away last October.  I told the story about our ill-fated trip to Harris Teeter (among other things), and made everybody laugh.  It felt awesome.

We all had a lot of fun.  Is that so wrong?

Anyway, we had brunch the next day at her daughter's house, a cute dwelling built back in 1931.  I was happy until I walked into the kitchen, where I saw the stove.  THIS stove:

Look at the dials - looks like an H.A. Rey drawing of a stove

"Wow," I said to her husband.  "I didn't think they made that kind of stove anymore."

"They don't," he said. "That's the original stove. It came with the house."

People, I was looking at a stove from 1931 that still worked. It was 83 YEARS OLD.  Those of you who are long-time readers can understand my angst, can't you?  Remember the crappy stove from 1983 that came with our house, that I finally had to put out of its misery?  Remember the almost-new CraigsList stove we now own, the one whose oven insists on turning itself off at random?

Yet these people were sitting there using an 83-year-old stove.  It just...rankles.  What's so special about them?  How come they don't kill every stove they come in contact with?  Do I unknowingly bear an appliance curse?  These are the thoughts that went through my head as I stared at this particular appliance that should, by logic, be in a museum, not a suburban NY kitchen.

"Can I take a picture?" I asked.

"What?" asked my startled host. "Um, sure.  But why?"

Was there any good answer for that?  Could I possibly explain to him that I needed to share this stove with you all, because you'd understand just how unfair this all is?  I guessed that he didn't want to stand there and be regaled with all my tales of appliance woe, so I mumbled something about wanting to show it to Larry as I positioned my IPad for the shot.  Then he and his wife showed me all the stove's neat features: a soup well, a stove-top broiler, the plate-warming device behind that little door to the right.

Salt in a wound, my friends, it was like salt in a wound.  They truly have no idea...

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Amish Style

Worn, yet serviceable..
So, that thing over there to the left is my phone.  I call it the dinosaur phone when I joke about it with other people, but really?  In my head, it's a Star Trek communicator.  I channel Captain Kirk each time I flip it open; what's more, I like the challenge of texting without a keyboard, and I don't mind that I don't get data.  When I try to use a newfangled smartphone, it feels like I am a little kid holding a wooden block to my head and pretending it's a phone.

In short, I LIKE my phone.  AND it costs only $30, so if I lose it, no biggie - I go get another one.  The time I dropped it between a wall and a Metro escalator?  I didn't even panic.  The one sitting at the bottom of a storm drain in our town center? I don't miss it.  Really, I am too careless to own an expensive phone.

So why then is it so embarrassing when I leave it somewhere - on a cash register counter, say (see above re too careless) - and the clerk calls after me, "Oh, hey, is this your phone?"  And I turn around to see her holding it aloft in front of all the other customers, half of whom are probably thinking, "What the heck is THAT?"

Just...embarrassing.  And I don't know why.  It's not as if I am one to bow to peer pressure and jump on the latest technological bandwagon.

Oh, and did I mention that, when I was buying Rachel's bicycle, the cashier at the bike store could not BELIEVE I was unable to take a legible picture of the receipt with my cellphone.  INCREDULOUS, he was. He probably thinks I'm Amish.

Then again, that's what the kids think, too.  They consider themselves lucky to have zippers, as they tote around their own Star Trek communicators and explain to their friends yet AGAIN that, no, we don't have cable.  Top that off with a family camping trip each summer, and they have resigned themselves to being forced to live in the previous century.

I tell them that it's like time travel, but they don't buy that.  At least they're not stupid, right?

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

FitBit Me

Susie's been sick, the kind of fever-and-sore-throat sick where she doesn't really sleep at night but tosses and turns and generally keeps me awake ALL NIGHT LONG.  By 2 AM, I had pretty much reconciled myself to the thought of being sleepless and was glad enough to catch an hour or so closer to dawn.  At 6, I kicked Susie out of the bed so I could grab a little more sleep, only to feel myself being shaken awake around 7 by Rachel, who -- for reasons unknown to me - had to know RIGHT THEN whether or not Susie had slept last night.

One wonders why she didn't just ask Susie, who was awake on the couch downstairs.  Or maybe Larry, who was also up.  Why did she pick the sleeping person?  WHY?

So, yeah, the day hasn't been so great.  I"m tired, Susie is most definitely not on the mend, I'm looking at another night like the last one...AND, in an illogical moment, I started prepping the kitchen cabinets for repainting, only to realize I was missing some important tools for the operation - drip pan, drop cloths, enough PAINT.  So now I have an unpainted kitchen that is missing all the hardware from the cabinet doors.  Not quite what I would call progress, but there you are.

Lord, I"m tired.

In other news, I ordered a FitBit Zip.  What with all the rave reviews it receives, I figured I might as well jump on the bandwagon and see if it makes me be more active during the day.  Also, it seems to help to get a new toy every once in a while, just to rev up a tired fitness routine.  Maybe I'll pick up a skateboard next.

Just kidding - I can't even ride my kids' scooters.

So will FitBit turn me into one of those people who become obsessed with fitting more steps into my day? Probably not. In this weather, I am much more likely to obsess over where to find my next fix of air conditioning to sit down in, I'm thinking. But I'll give it a try.  Maybe last night would have felt more productive if I had been keeping track of all the steps I took to refill Susie's water and get the VapoRub and turn the air conditioner on and off.  ALL NIGHT.  Really, I"m surprised I don't feel more fit already.

New trend?  Nocturnal fitness routines?  Hmmm....

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