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Archive for March, 2015

The Nose Knows

Babies are as cute as cute can be. The more they smile and coo and laugh, the more smitten we become. This, my friends, is all in God’s plan. The Big Guy Upstairs makes babies so cuddly and lovable and such an integral part of our lives because sooner than we parents could ever imagine, they become teenagers. Teenagers are about as cuddly and lovable as a nest full of pygmy rattlesnakes. All right, I will admit that I may be exaggerating just a little bit here. The worst thing about my own sweet baby girl was her room. I begged, pleaded, cajoled, yelled, and grounded to no avail. It was more than messy, it was downright dirty. I finally gave up and just kept the door closed. One warm summer Florida day, I arrived home from work, unlocked the front door, and smelled something. It wasn’t a good something. The odor was sour and musty and definitely needed investigation. I sniffed my way around the living room, bathroom, and laundry room. I checked for water leaks. I got down on my hands and knees to sniff the carpet. I wondered if there was perhaps a dead mouse in the attic. As I moved down the hallway, sniffing all the way, the odor intensified. When I opened her bedroom door, I knew I had found ground zero, and it didn’t take me long to find the pile of damp stinky towels piled on the damp stinky carpet. Any of us who have been parents of young teens know that they either shower for hours or not at all. The not at all showerers are usually males. Parents can tell when their sons become interested in girls because they will start showering for hours, too. Girls usually use two towels per shower. These towels must be clean and smell April fresh and each towel is used only once. (This logic is teenage logic and not my own, by the way.) One towel is used for the clean wet hair and one for the clean wet body. Those towels are now considered “dirty” and are unceremoniously thrown on the floor next to the growing pile of clothes that were pulled off hangers, tried on, then tossed on the floor with the loud lament of “Mom! I’ve got nothing at all to wear!” Boys will pluck the same pair of jeans from the pile and wear them for a week. Even parents with sinus allergies will figure this one out fairly quickly. If you are wondering how the pile got so high and stinky, don’t judge. In the Florida heat and humidity, mold and mildew grow rapidly. We also had a pool and since there were always two or three teenage girls hanging around, emptying the refrigerator and following the aforementioned towel logic, the pile grew quickly. For those of you who are rocking your sweet and cuddly babies right now, don’t despair. As I mentioned earlier, it is all part of the plan. Your children will grow up and become responsible adults, eat organic vegetables, and clean their rooms. They will only occasionally ask you for money. Soon, they will have teenagers of their own, and you will remember the prayer you sent heavenward during those difficult years: “I hope and pray that someday, you will have a child who turns out to be just like you!” You can smile, close the door on the chaos, and go home to your own quiet and neat house. I will bet you a week’s worth of dirty laundry that you will wish that you could have those crazy days back once again, even if it is just for a moment.

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I’ve been watching too much TV. It has been a long winter, and by long, I mean cold. Since I am married to a man who flips the remote from one ball game to another all evening long, I watch TV in the bedroom. HE has closer access to the fridge, and I have closer access to the electric blanket control. We each have our own TV remote. It works for me. It works for HIM, too, and keeps us out of divorce court. I’m digressing, though. I’ve decided that America is trend-setting, and I’m not even talking about all those reality shows or all those Kardashians, either. My taste in TV tends to run to antiques, cooking, Downton Abbey, and Judge Judy. Eclectic is an understatement. I’ve noticed that TV Americans are getting away from the McMansions with huge master bedroom suites sporting king-sized fluffy beds. That’s probably a good thing, because nobody can afford those, anyway. We enjoy living in a small house, but ours is gigantic compared to some of these. The latest trend seems to be 200 square feet teeny-tiny houses with teeny-tiny stairs heading up to the single loft bedroom, every one of which is a mattress sitting on the floor. Obviously, these are for folks that don’t have bad backs or have to make a trip to the necessary room during the night. Either that, or that potted plant in the corner is a cleverly disguised chamber pot. One also cannot be a collector/hoarder like me, unless there is a big heated garage, and that would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? I don’t think I would like a kitchen any smaller than the one I have. That means that there is only room for one person to do the dishes. I’m also certain that constantly sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with your hubby while he watches sports in a room small enough that you can reach over and flip the pork chops at the same time is not the stuff that happy marriages are made of. Unless, of course, you are married to someone who says, “Sit down, Dear. I’ve just finished making supper and I’ll finish the dishes, too. Here…take the remote. I’ll never use it.” Ah, dreams and fantasy. That’s the stuff good television is made of. Welcome, spring.
If you are interested in learning more about small and tiny house living, go to livinglargeinourlittlehouse.com/

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I am about as far from a fashionista as they come. Anything beyond jeans and a t-shirt is way too dressed up for me. Still, I like the current women’s fashion of wearing a brightly colored scarf around the neck. I like it both for the statement it makes and to cover up an unfortunate hereditary condition that runs in our family called “caruncle”, also known as “turkey wattle neck”. I have only had one scarf the past year, a simple infinity type that looks decent without me having to fuss over it. Getting it to look right is the hard part, and I don’t know why, but some people just have the knack for it. I have even watched YouTube instructional videos, and although I have tried knotting and draping the scarf every which way but loose, I always end up looking like a Farm Woman who is trying to disguise a turkey wattle neck. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new scarf. This one can double as a vest, neck scarf, and even perhaps a sari, if one is slender and young enough to pull it off. Who thinks of this stuff, anyway? On Sunday morning, I draped and knotted the darn thing around my neck, fussing and mussing with it until it looked fairly decent. Then I remembered that I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet, so I gave up and tucked the whole mess into my collar so I wouldn’t spit toothpaste on it. When I finished brushing and looked in the mirror, the scarf was perfect! I looked like a YouTube video model. Well, almost like a YouTube video model. I went to church feeling like a million bucks, but knowing that it would be unlikely that I could ever get it just right again.

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Someday

After my mother died, I inherited the large dresser that was in her bedroom for many years. I also inherited all the family photos, and there are boxes of them from both my mother’s and my father’s side of the family. It was not that my sister didn’t want them, but I have more storage room than she does, namely, the large dresser. All of the drawers are filled with loose photographs and albums of even more photographs as well as documents and scrapbooks. Even though I reminded my mom to write on the back of these photos so we would know who they were when we went though them someday, she didn’t. I guess that maybe the project was a little too overwhelming for her, but someday is here already, and it came sooner than we all expected it to. I wanted to make it my winter project to go through and clean out those drawers, but time got away from me and I didn’t get a lot done. It’s not that I’m lazy. I just don’t like to be cold, and spend most of those dark winter evenings under my electric blanket watching old movies and House Hunters episodes featuring Caribbean beach homes. Yesterday, there was finally a hint of spring in the air, and after a walk in the sunshine with Barney the Chihuahua, who also spent the winter under the electric blanket, I pulled out the first drawer and got started. After looking through Mom’s collection of childhood valentines from the 1930’s, I sorted the mixed-up photographs into piles and decided that I would harden my heart and toss in the trash anyone we didn’t know, was unfocused, or any landscape pictures of unknown places. You can probably guess what happened. I was transported back to bygone days. My mother and her sister Olive were young and beautiful in the early 1940’s and looked so carefree, despite the fact that there was a war going on and the world was a very serious place. Thrown into the mix were photos of our toddler grandson as a newborn, my daughter and nephew with silly grins on their faces sitting in Dad’s old boat, and my beautiful baby niece who was born prematurely and lived only a few short months. I studied the face of the grandmother I never knew to see if there was a hint of any of them in her smile or in her eyes. I found assorted posed family Christmas pictures, and a favorite first-day-of-school picture with half of the neighborhood kids standing on our front steps, dressed in our finest first-day-of-school clothes. I can still hear my mom asking us to say “cheese” while trying to squeeze us all into the picture and it looks like I may have been rolling my teenage eyes behind some very groovy glasses. Before I knew it, the afternoon had disappeared and I had only emptied out the first drawer. There’s five more to go, as well as my own boxes of photographs. I haven’t written on the back of any of them yet, but I’ll get to it….someday.

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The Travelers

My vacations are usually pretty calm and relaxing. I don’t climb mountains, parasail, or surf the big waves in shark-infested waters. For the most part, I eat, shop, visit, and relax, with perhaps a glass or two of good wine thrown in. I’ve often wondered why, with such low-key plans, the airlines seem to want me to always have a heart racing, catch-your-breath adventure on flight days. Travelling this year with my BFF, we had an uneventful flight to sunny warm Arizona and a wonderful but very short week there. After being dropped off at the Phoenix airport, I attempted to check in electronically but got the message “See attendant.” Uh oh. Come to find out, our flight was delayed due to bad weather in every state other than the one we were in and the one we were going to. The chances of catching our connecting flight from Minneapolis to Bemidji looked dismal. The airline, of course, would put us up for the night. Not in sunny warm Arizona, though. We couldn’t have that kind of luck. We would be staying in below-zero Minneapolis, which wouldn’t have been so bad but for the fact that we had no jackets. Since we didn’t have room to pack a heavy Minnesota winter jacket in our carry-on bags, our jackets were locked in the car back in Bemidji. During the delay, we had a late lunch at a very crowded Mexican restaurant. So crowded, in fact, that by 3 p.m. they were out of salsa. Yes, I know that Mexican restaurants NEVER run out of salsa, but this one did. The margarita-drinking guys seated at the next table, which in this crowded venue meant that we were close enough that had we lived in another culture, we would have had to get married, said that the only thing worse would have been if they were to run out of tequila, and I think they were working on that. After a nice safe flight to Minneapolis, we found we had 10 minutes to get from point A to point Z at the other end of the airport to make our connection. We decided to make a run for it. I don’t run, but I walked very, very fast. Fast, that is, until I got to the down escalator, which was turned off. If you’re flying to the northern part of Minnesota, no matter what airline you take, your flight departs from the farthest lowest corner of the airport. There were no other stairs heading down. The escalator stairs were not wide enough for a person to carry their suitcase normally, so it either needed to be pushed down ahead or dragged behind. Neither was working. I held up the whole line of sweating, wheezing people trying to make that flight, but I think they were secretly thanking me for giving them time to catch their breath. As we all made the final dash to our gate, we learned that the flight was delayed due to “mechanical issues”. You would think that they could have told us that when we arrived at point A, but perhaps the airport security team entertains themselves by watching an old Farm Woman run through the airport pulling a suitcase, purse, and tote bag full of citrus fruit and takes bets on whether or not she will lose her grapefruit. When it comes to flying, I think the term “mechanical issues” is often used instead of “we’re waiting for all our late flights to arrive so we won’t have to pay for motel rooms for everyone and his mother.” We arrived safely at 11:30 p.m., only 30 minutes later than expected. It was 17 degrees below zero, with a wind chill factor of 35 below. Our jackets were locked in the car across the parking lot. Whoever said that a good brisk walk got the blood moving and warmed you up never lived in northern Minnesota. Welcome home.

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