Where the hampster wheel always turns

About Me

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Middle aged underweight high school graduate
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy

1,000 Crickets

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Life at my house is nothing but excitement and blue-ribbon parenting.

As I have discussed earlier. Hubby (Grrr) encouraged and enabled our children to purchase a bearded dragon. He tries to deny it now that the thing has blown up in our faces a couple of times, but since our children cannot yet drive, and most of their purchases were made at Petsmart, without a consenting driver they could not have accomplished their evil plan.

So "Jimmy" is here. Before he arrived I was all, "I'm not doing ANYTHING with this @#$# new pet." Now I find myself watering the dumb thing, feeding the dumb thing and buying crickets for the dumb thing. Aaaah motherhood.

Buying crickets for Jimmy is quite the ordeal. Fortunately, the cheapest purveyor of crickets is close to our house. I have formed a friendship with the owner of the store, so when I come in, she invites me in to the back room to chat while she counts out twenty dozen crickets at ten cents a piece.

The back room of a pet store would make Alice Cooper scream. The first time I entered the room the stench was unbelievable. There was a rooster, two dogs, tanks of worms and all sorts of ick. There are rows and rows of cages where all kinds of rodents breed willy-nilly. I think rodents can be cute until I realized that these rodents were not intended to BE pets they are intended to FEED pets. This explains the many happy snakes in the shop.

Of course there are also three large metal trash cans that hold the three sizes of crickets for sale. Small - like a tic-tac, medium - like an almond and large - like a prune. The trash cans are too tall for the crickets to escape - theoretically, but I still get the heebie jeebies trying to have a casual conversation back in the lair.

Each week I walk out of the store having paid for a bagful of vermin I pay my exterminator to keep out of my house. It goes against every fiber of my being. (Grrr)

After a number of weeks the proprietor mentions that I can order crickets by the thousand. They come delivered and cost about what I was paying for a few hundred. Sounds great!

I'm driving home with the box of 1,000 crickets in my passenger seat. Stopped at a light I get the creepies when I realize the strange sound is a thousand crickets crawling all over each other writhing in the box of cricket creepiness. It was an eerie sound Hitchcock must have used because I haven't felt that creeped out since color movies were released.

Now that the crickets are home I realize they must be transferred to the "cricket keeper" so they can be fed and kept alive. How does one transfer a thousand crickets from box to container? All I know is that 1. This is definitely NOT my job and 2. This will only be done in the closed shower of the guest bath.

Child #1 was in charge of the endeavor. After closing her in, like an episode of Fear Factor, she attempts to open the box. Next thing I know all heck broke loose. There was screaming and dancing and pounding on the walls, glass and ceiling. Hubby was shouting, children were shrieking - yelling, "they're in my pants! they're in my pa-ants!" Hubby is yelling that the door of the shower is going to be broken if everyone doesn't calm down.

"Take off your pants!" I yell from the other room, 'cause you'll remember, I don't do anything with this bearded dragon.
"I don't have any underwear on!" comes the hysterical reply.
I'm giggling, but the struggle going on in the other room is getting pretty serious.

Finally extracating her from the enclosure hysteria is still in full swing. Screaming, kicking, hitting the wall - it was a full on panic attack. Hubby is calmly restraining the Tasmanian Devil when I come in to see what the heck is going on. Kid #2 is still in the shower trying to catch loose crickets in their hands while Kid #1 has lost all sense of control. I reach for them when I get whacked in the face and kicked in the shin.

Now, what happens next will be left to your imagination. I will give you some suggestive tidbits to spur you along. What would the "Mother of the Year" do with her writhing panic-stricken child? Well, I didn't do that. You know in old movies what they do with a hysterical woman? Even women who think they have crickets in their pants? Yeah, well I may or may not have done that.

Needless to say, calm was restored rather quickly after my gentle nature prevailed. Dad and kid #2 caught the rest of the crickets and got them into the enclosure. None of the crickets escaped the bathroom, so it is safe for you to come visit.

I can't wait until our second shipment arrives.

The Sunny Side

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It has been brought to my attention that my last post was less than uplifting. So in the spirit of not being Debbie Downer I would like to share some positive things about having a slipped jaw disc.

1. Despite yesterday's decline in the Dow, I am singlehandedly increasing Advil stock.

2. I no longer have to attempt to eat those pesky cruciferous foods.

3. Wearing a nifty mouth guard makes people notice me.

4. It is not corn on the cob season.

5. I can finally store a wad of chewing tobacco in my cheek without people noticing.

6. This episode is helping me achieve that svelte physique I've always wanted.

7. Lhaso Apsos have been flirting with me.

8. When I sneeze I gross my kids out.

9. Over the phone people mistake me for Barney Frank.

See, this is much more fun than I intimated in my last post.

Status Report

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thank you to everyone who has missed me lately. I am so grateful I even have readers at all!

I will get back to normal soon, but for the time being I have done something terrible to my jaw. I can't open my mouth completely - which many people are thrilled about, and I can't close my mouth enough to get my teeth to touch - which makes it hard to chew.

My doctor says it will get better; I have to believe him. For now, any creative thoughts I have are clouded by quite a bit of pain. While I no longer look like I am storing nuts for the winter, I am slowly starving to death. (Dramatic sigh).

For example, tonight my darling unnamed child #1 made dinner. She made a fabulous Jambalaya which I normally would have gobbled like a rabid dog. At the table, against better judgement, I was trying in vain to chew a carrot between my front teeth. This is a skill one would think takes little coordination. One would be wrong. The small surface area between my four front teeth make for a tricky balancing spot. Looking like an over-sized squirrel, carrot kept springing from my mouth, requiring me to hold up a napkin like a drop cloth in order to catch orange projectile bits and corral them to my plate. Let's just say any comedy found in the skit was lost as I gasped and winced any time I overextended my jaw. (Dramatic sigh)

I do have things to chronicle: our trip to DC. Our attempts to get in to the White House. Marvin the tour guide. A rash of lost pets in our area. Oranges and poop. Boughten candy. Doggie day care... but the titles are all that come as I attempt to remain still, attempting to stave off the pain.

So thank you all who have missed me. I miss you too, but my mind is an Advil numbed vacuum. (Double dramatic sigh)

The Hamster Wheel

Monday, October 19, 2009

As long as I can remember I have been plagued with an overactive brain. I don't have ADD, but I do have a terrible time turning off my brain at night. As soon as my head hits the pillow my brain snaps into action planning tomorrow, making lists, figuring out world peace treaties - you know, really important late night stuff.

This malady is partially how this blog came into being. Prior to this venue being opened up to me I just filed these musings away, where they probably should be still, but alas, here they are.

Usually a bout of writing puts me right to sleep - as I suspect my writing does for many people.

I was fortunate enough to spend this past week in our nation's capital. One of the blessings of travel is that for me, if done right, I am so spent at the end of the day I actually fall asleep rather quickly. Such was the case in D.C. Waking at dawn to get three kids and hubby ready for the excursion of the day, figuring out public transportation, walking 78 miles before lunch, and sitting rapt during the "Monuments at Night" tour which lasted until 11:30 p.m. only to do it all again the next day made for great beddie bye time for me. I loved it.

The nightly throbbing foot pain and stinging chapped hands from being over sanitized were no match for my exhaustion.

Curled up one lovely Tuesday night at the Embassy Suites I was happily slumbering away when the nemesis I thought I had left at home struck. 3:a.m. and the fire alarm goes off. I admit I lay in bed WAAAY too long having a loud discussion in my head "I don't smell smoke," "It's probably on another floor" "I'm not wearing 'outside' clothes" "#@%# fire alarm"

I finally decided I should at least try and save the kids so I bundled up, remembered (somehow) to grab a my key and herded my incoherent children down the stairwell to the blaring shriek of the alarm and the three fire trucks pulling up outside the building. I was looking for an adventurous vacation, but this was not what I had in mind.

We assembled our little family among all the other displaced patrons in their jammies and began to wait. One of the many reasons I dislike groups of people is the lack of leadership that always seems to accompany them. There we sat, having no idea what was going on, milling around in the street like zombies for long after the fire trucks had aborted the mission. One of the other patrons told us it was OK to return to our rooms. This duty should have been performed by a uniformed staff member, but hey, there was a leadership vacuum and I appreciated whoever got sucked into it. At 3 a.m. I am likely to follow pretty much anyone.

Nestled back in our beds it took a good hour for the adrenaline to dissipate from my blood stream. The brain was active and workin', much to my dismay. Morning came all too soon.

I learned something new about my overactive night brain during this experience: night brain is amazing at holding grudges. Retribution must be had. Vengeance should be mine! I spent the next morning giving the stink eye to any patron I passed who looked like they were stupid enough to have pulled the fire alarm at 3 a.m. Charges should be filed. Seriously.

Night brain is still mad as I sit here - in the early morning hours of tomorrow, cursing the prankster and realizing that in D.C. right now it is 5 a.m. I hope Karma kept them up too.

My Friends

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I run with a bunch of delinquents. Those among us that you shake your head at in the grocery lines, the post office, you know - shameful people who really aren't safe to be among the general population.

This week I spent time with a couple of friends who separately shared their recent run-ins with the law. My personal goal is to stay far under the radar - literally. I try not to be noticed. I don't drive a red car. I shield my face in the bank line. When I see "photo enforcement zone" signs I look over my shoulder, despite my speed. I like anonymity from the law.

Not these ladies.

After a particularly stressful day, friend #1 asks her hubby to join her in picking up their children. Like most Neanderthal Y-chromosome carriers, he didn't get why it required two people to drive a few blocks and he declined her invitation. Stupid man. Justified in all her emotions of abandonment, lack of support and whatever drama us girls can come up with she jumped behind the wheel of her souped up minivan.

Souped up because like most of our minivans, if you scraped the stuff off the back seats and floor there are enough discarded ingredients to make a nice minestrone.

Peeling out of her suburban driveway she's headed the few blocks to her destination when her phone starts to ring. Trying to reach for it (which of course is her husband's fault) she stops abruptly (screechingly) at a stop sign. Coupled with a little erratic driving, which was clearly her husband's fault, post stop she caught the attention of the law. Sirens blaring she was pulled over.

Like most innocent people, she couldn't figure out why she was stopped. After speaking with the fine officer she was informed he thought she was drunk.

Yep. Drunk on love. Dang Mormon drunkards.

My second friend e-mails me this morning a story of her legal troubles. After three photo radar tickets in a short period of time, she realized she had a problem and did what any self-respecting American would do, she went to court.

Entering the vestibule of justice, she approached an man who seemed to have some authority and asked if she should sign in. "I don't know, I'm just here" he said.

A couple of minutes later the judge walks in and asks the same man what he is there for and he says a name strikingly similar to my friend's name. Looks at my friend who gives her name, and then another man who responds with a name that starts with... let's say for anonymity's sake "Q" Because it starts with the same letter as her name, she realizes that they must group these hearings alphabetically, which makes sense to a left-brained delinquent.

Being the one of the friendlier criminals, my friend leans over to the man and asks "Is your name "Q" too?

Without missing a beat, the man looks at her as if she is a complete idiot and replies, "Lady, I'm your arresting officer."

Friends, they live among us and they drive!!!

Oh, drunk friend #1 got off with a warning and the card of a marriage counselor. Friend #2 lost her case and went to traffic school. Both have been infraction free for a few weeks now.

You Just Can't Judge By the Cover

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In general I would classify myself as an optimistic realist. Most of the time I'm not wearing rose colored glasses and am OK with the realities of the world that might disappoint others. I don't get surprised by people too often - I experience other emotions derived from their behavior but surprise is not one of them. Also, I've learned I don't expect much from external sources. Life is what it is.

Last week I was at a small store that sells home decorations and produce. I know what you're thinking - how those naturally go together - well at this store they do. I often pop in to purvey their wares. Chatchke's I can't live without, vine grown tomatoes from a garden that didn't have to be tended by me, all sort of exciting things. Last Friday, it was Utah Peaches.

We all know about "Georgia Peaches". Back when we lived in Texas everyone would get all excited about Georgia peach season, so I got excited about Georgia peach season. Year after year the peaches would arrive, and while sometimes they tasted pretty good, they samplings I had were never freestone and always small. Small enough you wouldn't buy them in the store. Smaller than a plum.

I will never forget my first trip to my new in-laws home in Utah. The home was lovely, but what made a huge impact on me - surpassing my expectations - was the acreage of peach trees dotted across acres of manicured lawn. It was idyllic. Then, to go out early in the morning, select just the perfect peach fresh from the tree, so large two hands were required to carry it. Then to enjoy it for breakfast, bright, sweet. juice running down my arms - it is summer encapsulated. There is something alive and joyful in the memories of those experiences for me.

So this little store has Utah Peaches. I go in to check them out and they are spectacular. Two hand large, Blush of the color only a peach gets with the almost animal print of red across the rosy skin. Even the store clerk gasped when she saw the beautiful box. "These are the best we've had so far." I smile at my acquisition, carrying the hefty box to my car.

Home, I pull out one of the beauties, admiring it, smelling it, and then gently wash the fuzz off the skin. The smell is one of my favorites in the whole world and as I hold the orb of goodness with both hands I sink my teeth into the flesh...only to recoil, chew a little, then walk to the sink and spit like my disrespectful children used to do with my cooking before they were afraid of me.

Good grief this was terrible. Pithy, mealy, dry, no real peach flavor; it was awful.

Of course I figure I just got an anomaly peach so I slice up a second (too smart to bite into another) and it is the same. The third, the fourth. Awww crap. I'm so disappointed I want to cry. Now I have this huge case of peaches, inedible peaches, and the store is closed...and hubby is coming home. AAAAAAA he will see these. He is a peach bigot, deservedly so, he grew up at Peach Nirvanaland. Where can I hide them? He will be so disappointed in me...

My mind is racing, the panic making my throat tighten. Can I fit the box in the oven? Maybe somewhere in the garage? Under the laundry that needs to be folded - he surely won't look there. Suddenly, I hear the garage door. In panic I pick up the box, then I set the box down, then I pick it back up, finally - having taken too long in my indecision hubby walks in.

"Oh, you bought peaches." He smiles.
"Uhhh, uhhhh, yup. Soooo, how was your day? Tell me everything." The distraction attempt was lame, but it worked for the moment.

Finally, I can distract him no longer, he selects a peach to try. PLLLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSSEEEEE let there be a good one in there. PULEEZE!!!!

As he's peeling the skin off he comments that it's not very juicy. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Then comes what I expected - the bite, the double chew and then the audible spit. "This is terrible."

"Yes, they all are, they looked so good, I can't believe how bad they are, I don't now what do to, maybe I can salvage them, maybe they'll be OK in pie..." I blather on.

"Well, did you sample them first? If they aren't giving out samples that's your first clue."

"No," I reply, hanging my head in mordant shame,"I just judged them by their cover."

Somehow I'll Fix It

Friday, October 2, 2009

WOW, who would have thought that my plight with the Federal Government would have inspired such passion and empathy. I feel like I'm not alone.

For some reason, again, my tricky little blog is filtering out who can and can't make comments, some can, some can't; it's a bit random. The irony is not lost on me as I have been 'filtered' from attending the White House tour for no good reason.

So as we all rail against the cosmic dartboard that is blog comments and White House tours, we can feel united in a common cause. Join together in purpose and meaning. Rise up against injustice and confront unfairness wherever it is encountered...

Oh, who am I kidding? Just e-mail me your comments if you need to. But unlike the White House staff, I will actually try to resolve the problem, not create new ones.

(Think this sentiment may have something to do with the 'denial'?)

Politics as Usual

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We've been planning a trip to visit our nation's capitol for about six months. In the research for the trip I discovered quite a bit about how Washington works post 9/11. There are all sorts of hoops and restrictions to visit certain forums. Particularly the White House.

After submitting a request a few months ago to get tickets to tour the White House I was told I would have to wait. In order to request tickets you must go through your local congressional leader, submit names, social security numbers, passport numbers... all sorts of personal data. Which I did.

Hubby said this was one tour he really wanted to see. Me, being a registered Independent voter thought we might actually get in. Obama said he wanted to court the independents. After submitting the request I asked how long until we heard the results. Silly me, this is government. Not only could they not tell me, they said it was likely to come very close, if not up to the day of the visit.

I came home today to a message from our local congressional intern... our request was denied. No reason. He actually sounded surprised.

To be honest, I am too. We're not traveling during a tourist season. We have a small group. We gave ample notice. To my knowledge I have no outstanding warrants anymore. My only guess is my application came through a republican office.

Fear not, I am going to research this further. I'll keep you posted on my latest political snub.