Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - On the Job Dangers

My daughter’s a nanny.

I used to take care of little children a long time ago.

It’s exhausting.

I referred to my most overwhelming day of the week, a handful of five-year-old boys and a two-year-old girl, as Black Thursday.

All day long, everyday, she has three under the age of two-and-a-half.

The youngest, a seven-month-old boy is now crawling several miles a day, usually he’s chasing her. He’s begun growling. She’s not sure why.

Phone calls are always interesting. Sometimes Elmo sings in the background. The A-B-C song is a reoccurring classic. Other times the pitter-patter of little feet and chitter-chatter of sweet little voices fills the earpiece like Muzak in an elevator.

Silence means its nap-time.

One day I had to lay the phone down, and when I picked it up, she didn’t know I’d come back.

She was in the middle of a serious conversation with the youngest, then five-months-old. “Listen, the girls and I took a vote. It’s unanimous. You need to get a new hobby. If not, we’re voting you off the island.”

Apparently, before he could crawl and cling, he was very vocal about not being held constantly.

I just received an e-mail from her. She closed it “the little bald tribal leader’s banging on a toy and chanting! So I should go!"

She probably should have voted him off the island before he learned to growl.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Celebrity Match-Ups

Have you ever wanted to look like a celebrity?

Even vegetables do. You know - the photo of the potato resembling Richard Nixon that makes the front page of the newspaper on really slow news days.

Here's a link to the next best thing.

You don't have to have massive quantities of plastic surgery. You don't need a personal trainer. You, too, can look like a famous person. Uh, no guarantees on which famous people you might dig up.

I presented two pictures. These are the celebrities I resemble, with the percentage noted. Laugh with me.

Click on the really long links if you want the whole visual experience.

Picture one:

Liza Minelli - 68%
Marcia Cross - 67%
Elle Macpherson - 67% (This one resulted in the expulsion of hot coffee, through my nose, onto my keyboard.)
Patrick Swayze - 66% (I'm not sure what to say. Should I be flattered, should he?)
Victoria Principal - 64%
Jamie Lynn Spears - 63% (Maybe that's why people tell me I look young.)
Charlotte Church - 62% (Hey, I have her pipes, too. Ha.)
And a three way tie for 61%, Heike Drechsler, Roseanne Barr and Oprah Winfrey. (Maybe I'm destined to have a talk show - in Germany.)

Picture two:

Jacques Villeneuve - 71% (He's a cute, French, young man. But if you've read my post about my experience with the French language - you know this is not a good fit. If you haven't - here's the link to the's about three paragraphs into the post
I do like to go fast though. Sometimes.)
Jamie Lynn Spears - 63% (again....hmmm...)
Mischa Barton - 62% (there's a theme here. Young. Yay! And this is the more momish of the pictures.)
Helen Clark - 61% (okay - definitely looks momish - I spoke too soon)
Carl Lewis - 59%
Shania Twain and Tom Cruise tie at - 58% (well, I don't take psych meds - so Tom and I have that in common.)
Liza Minelli comes in at 57%
Monica Lewinsky - 54% (What can I possibly say that hasn't already been said?)
Konrad Adenauer - 53% (okay - this is digging pretty deep. The guy was born in the late 1800's.)

So who do you look like?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles – Pat’s Practical Joke Part Two

I fumed while I walked to my bus-stop. He’d scared at least seven years off my life. Had to have. What kind of creep puts a monster picture on a mirror?

I shuddered in the cool November morning, and not because of the chill in the air. The photograph had been an 8 x 10 glossy with a light gray background and it blended right in with the shower wall – especially since my senses were not exactly honed so early in the morning.

The hideous monster wore globby, oozy flesh colored makeup. An eye protruded and draped over a scarred cheek. A partially severed hand dangled toward an unseen victim.

A genius in the art of practical joking had placed that picture. My dad probably hunkered down to about my height and placed the monster slightly off-center so it appeared like the nasty thing stood right behind me. Very bad dad!

How could I possibly come up with something to equal, let alone best, this sinister act?

I climbed onto the bus, mulling over inadequate and anemic possibilities.

The school day flew. I mentioned the rotten trick to a few friends. My dad gained cool points in their estimation so I stopped sharing. Other than setting his sock drawer on fire, or squirting syrup on his side of the bed, I got no input on possible retaliation. All day I rejected my own lame thoughts of revenge, too.

I stepped back onto the bus ready to surrender to the master as soon as I arrived home.

Mom met me at the door after I trudged dejectedly up the hill from the bus stop.

“Did you have a good day?” She asked.

“Not really. Did you see what Dad did?”

Mom laughed. Not a sympathy type of laugh either, it was outright rude. It should be enough to declare defeat with becoming the butt of the joke. I headed toward the stairs, so I could have a good pout in my room.

Mom laid her hand on my arm. “Wait. I’m not laughing at you. Dad got up and took his shower a little while after you left the house. And I heard a shriek from the bathroom. You left the picture on the mirror. He ended up scaring himself, too. It was perfect.”

Ah, the irony of life. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Pat's Practical Joke

I suppose I should save this for Halloween since it factors heavily into this favorite-of-mine Pat moment. But today just feels like a great day for a spooky story.

You might want to avoid reading this after dark, and for heaven’s sake, scatter the children.

Just don’t suggest hiding under the bed, you know what’s under the bed don’t you? In my house it’s horrifying. In Iowa we grow huge dust bunnies with razor sharp teeth and they eat stray socks.

My dad, Pat, is a pharmacist. And pharmacists work in drugstores. (Not to be confused with the folk who sell drugs in the alley behind the high school.)

Drugstores sometimes have great benefits. Once, when dad owned his own drugstore he brought home some sample furniture that was perfect for Barbie and company. Well, actually it was perfect for Skipper. Barbie and Ken didn’t quite fit at the beautiful wood veneer dining room table. And Skipper had those stupid knees that wouldn’t bend. But, being Pollyanna even way back then, I made them work.

But that’s not what this story is about.

When I was a teenager, I was always the first one up in the morning. Being a teen girl in the late 70’s – early 80’s required quite a bit of bathroom time. The blue eyeshadow alone took several minutes per eye.

When I entered the bathroom each morning let’s just say I was pretty much out of it. I believe, but no one has ever confirmed this since they all slept the morning away, I continued my REM cycle in the shower. I remember the alarm, in a vague and hazy dreamlike sense. I remember sliding down the hallway or at least the bruises from smacking into the woodwork. The sound of water is there, in the recesses of my mind. My first conscience thoughts struggled to the surface and broke free as I stood under the cooling water.

One post-Halloween morning, after finally shaking off the sleep, I threw open the shower curtain and nearly died of fright.

A monster stared me in the eye. I panicked which means I stood there dripping and making fish faces. No sounds came out of my throat. Somehow, the monster was behind me, because I could see myself and the monster in the reflection.

Then it dawned on me that some rotten person had simply taped a photo of a dangly-eyed, fanged creature on the mirror.

I believed I knew exactly who that person was.

Since my heart had calmed down to its normal rhythm I pondered my response. My father slept soundly just a few steps down the hall. Hmmm. Whatever should I do? I brushed my teeth and considered a range of punishments starting with ice cold water. But then I recalled that revenge is better served cold.

To be continued…..

And a word from the sponsor of the day:

If you are interested in becoming a pharmacist as well, learn more ;here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - New Peeps....

I joined this blogging chicks thing.

Their goal mentioned something about taking over the world.

I feel like I have ENOUGH to deal with, but hey, I've always harbored the niggling desire to rule the world. So, I'll ride on some coat-tails and see what that gets me. Maybe a court jester spot.

I'm okay with that.

Happy Monday.

My Monday's lacking French Press coffee with real cream. I got up real early thinking I could trick myself with manufactured coffee run through auto-drip. Didn't work.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Coffee Crisis

My Minnesota buddy, Michelle, has forever ruined my first morning cup of Joe/Java.

She claims she was attempting to open my eyes to the reality of coffee as it should be. Instead she has set me to coveting and grousing.

Never again will I breathe in the aroma of the first morning Folgers and sigh with contentment.

Michelle’s java Pandora’s Box?

French Press coffee. With REAL cream I might add.

But French Press is only done properly with freshly-roasted, just-ground beans.

(I hope I don’t get electrocuted as I drool into the keyboard. )

The time involved, the cost involved. I’ll need to get up an hour earlier each morning.

I currently have a search window open to all the possibilities of French Press coffee makers. Hmmm, for anywhere from $9.99 to $69.95 I could purchase my own.

But then where will I find the coffee? Do I need to grow my own coffee tree, cultivate, pick and roast my own beans? Which variety of tree will I get? Hazelnut, my husband’s favorite flavored coffee, or maybe the always popular egg nog or snickerdoodle for Christmas coffee celebrations.


I’d ask Michelle, but she’s currently away from technology and roughing it in the Minnesota wilds.


Without electricity she can’t grind her beans. No French Press for her, either.

I feel better.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Mapping it Out

Yahoo Maps and MapQuest didn’t agree on how long it would take three girls to travel from our driveway to Michelle’s. MapQuest’s time estimate was closer. Even though a- tend-to-be race-car-driver daughter and owner of the traveling vehicle tried to make up for our frequent sanity stops, Yahoo was way off.

The most time-consuming detour was the chocolate hunt. Years ago, my hubby and I stopped in a little town in the middle of Iowa that happened to have the best candy shop ever. As we hurtled down the road on Friday, I spied the town’s name on a sign and took the exit. Three miles of winding farm country took us into town and I crawled through the main streets looking for Drew’s. I gave up and asked for directions. We sped to the shop, jumped out of the car and read the note on the door. “Sorry, Closed Early. Open at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.” Three miles later we were back on the interstate. Though I’ll admit that the disappointment, and dare I call it no-chocolate bitterness, made the next few miles quiet ones.

Even though MapQuest and Yahoo didn’t agree on length of time, had I not had the printed copies of those maps in my hand, we’d have likely ended up in Kansas City.

Oh, I know north from south and east from west in my little neck of the woods. Beyond that, they are just little letters on interstate signs. So I appreciate the maps that instruct me to turn right or left and travel 0.2 miles and take another left onto __________ St.

Michelle and I hadn’t discussed my deficiency in directional functionality. She kindly e-mailed me instructions to reach her home. Without the other back-up maps, I’d still be driving around trying to figure out which way was north or south. I suppose I could’ve had made some serious ground when the sun rose and set. Maybe.

Once we met face to face, Michelle somehow realized that my strengths do not lie in finding my way around, and when she drew a tiny map to get me back on the big interstate on Sunday she put a little N with an arrow at the top of the note. I smiled and thanked her went over the note with her -- confirming right, right, left and then right.

I’m sure her very early Monday morning e-mail was just a greeting, not an attempt to make sure we made it home. Even though she asked me if we’d made it home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Mall Madness

It only took me five hours to discover this tidbit of information. You get it in two seconds.

A mall is a mall no matter how big it is.

Deep, I know. I can’t help it. Poke me and great dregs of wisdom ooze.

My daughters and I spent Saturday at THE Mall of America. This is the world famous mall near Minneapolis. NOT to be confused with the Mall of THE AmericaS in Florida.

I gleaned this subtle distinction – well – because there was some confusion. We drove from Iowa to Mall of America Friday evening to catch a movie with some friends. I should’ve driven to Florida.

But then we didn’t find that out until after we saw the movie.

Note to readers and self. Look before you leap when ordering tickets on-line.

According to Wikipedia, The Mall of America is not the largest mall in the world or even the United States, but it’s definitely way bigger than anything we got going on in Iowa.

So, in light of that fact, and because we are girls, the mall topped our must-experience list.

We tried to keep the country out of our expressions, and I wouldn’t let the girls wear their corn hats. No identifying Iowa T-Shirts for any of us, either. Totally incognito, we managed the mall without embarrassing our host family. They read this blog so I’m sure I’ll hear otherwise if we did.

Minnesota really should grow coffee trees.

The mall houses at least three thousand coffee shops.
Unless they have a special coffee shop lane and we got lost and kept circling back. That’s possible. I don’t have a real strong sense of direction. Several other stores seemed eerily familiar also. Is Minnesota a leading state in cloning?

The good news, for us, is that the mall didn’t keep much of our money. Drool from open-mouthed zombie stares maybe, but not money.

Other than the creepy, suffocating sense of déjà vu, it was a positive cultural experience.

So, if you’re planning a visit, take comfortable shoes and watch for wet shiny spots on the floor. You don’t want to slip in tourist drool. And if you miss your favorite shop on one floor, travel another few miles, and you’ll find another one just like it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Bouncing Couch Adventure - Conclusion

Seven miles from home, an accident had funneled the interstate traffic into a twenty minute a mile crawl. Finally, after we crept past the fire and tow trucks we hit clear interstate.

Rob prepared to enter warp speed.

And then the unthinkable happened.

I saw it peripherally from the mirror on the visor. Peripherally, because I’d turned to stare at Rob when he groaned. The green leather couch, airborne, headed toward a maroon van. We watched in hind-sight horror as Rob pulled onto the shoulder. The van stopped in time, and the loveseat wedged against the bridge railing.

We couldn’t leave it -- visions of late night traveling child-laden vehicles careening into the couch tormented me. Rob threw the truck into reverse and wobbled toward the wayward furniture on the nearly non-existent shoulder. I glanced into my side mirror and spied a light pole rapidly approaching.

My husband hates it when I gasp or scream when he’s driving. (Okay, so I get nervous sometimes.)

I whimpered and yelled, “Pole!” It sounded something like this. “Pole! Screech, crumple. Pole!” Need I tell you that he kissed the pole and flattened his fender on his almost new white pick up?
Not only does my husband have an excellent sense of humor, he also possesses great self-control. A tiny trickle of negative words were expelled in his sigh. He straightened up the truck and backed as far as he could.

Cliches best describe the atmosphere in the cab -- deafening silence and tension that could be cut with a knife.

He parked, waited for barreling semi’s to pass and jumped out of the truck. I followed, urging caution. The traffic flew. My hair whipped around my face, slapping me, and tiny sand shrapnel pelted me. At one point a semi kissed the shoulder as it barreled past and the resulting vacuum made certain that I’ll never need a face lift. (I don’t recommend this, though.)

I made suggestions. He answered them with muttered comments through a locked jaw and took off to push the couch out of the path of the traffic. I am smart enough to know that sashaying onto the interstate to help him would be a very bad idea. So I crawled back into the truck and prayed.

After back-tracking to the previous exit and four-wheeling into the ditch beside the interstate, we arrived home with our hard won couches.

And after a few short hours my husband spoke to me again.

Ahhhh, the joys of marriage, and free furniture.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Bouncing Couch Adventure - Part 2

The couch would not budge through the door. My husband, being a handy guy, disappeared and returned with a large flat-blade screwdriver. He grabbed the couch, pushed it backward, undoing the millimeter we’d gained, and popped the pins from the door hinge.

It didn’t help.

My friend scratched her head. “We got it in here.”

Rob directed me to lift and tilt. We did, close, but still no way was it going to go through the door.
We set the couch in the corner, lifted the loveseat, and tasted success. Not so difficult, just had to slide it just so and then hug the doorway before it popped through on the other side.

My friend’s husband arrived. His face twisted as he hemmed and hawed while watching us try every possible configuration. “We got it in here.”

He took my place.

Something beautiful and primitive followed. A sweaty guy ballet of grace and agility finally nailed the sweet spot. The couch moved. They stumbled into the hallway.

Two other doors had to be dismantled. More engineering feats ensued.

While the guys grunted and conquered, I got involved in packing the kitchen.

The couch was birthed a mere thirty minutes after we arrived.

Two hours later, we set off toward home.

We couldn’t leave them to pack alone when they’d given us a free couch.
Rob was in surprisingly good spirits when we left.

We were both unaware of what waited for us down the road.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Bouncing Couch Adventure

My husband deserves some sort of medal. Not only has kept me for almost twenty-five years, he’s also managed to keep his sense of humor.

Well, most of the time anyway.

I think he’s currently searching for it after yesterday, but I’m confident that he’ll find it.

Some women bring home stray children -- others stray animals. I’ve done both. In addition, I have perfected the art of procuring stray furniture. Furniture that doesn’t have anyone who really wants it pulls at my heart strings.

In my defense, I’m collecting only because we need to furnish a couple more rooms in the remodeling of our home.

Last winter in the snow and ice, hubby and I scored a load of great wood storage pieces. I need storage, I crave it. And I have a wall all picked out for this huge conglomeration of wooden hidey-holes. My husband, a carpenter, has a soft spot for fine furniture, so we left smiling. Of course, he smiled less as we puzzled-pieced the furniture into the shed, but I’m confident he will love the look when it’s all installed in the proper room.

The rooms needing furnished are in the painting stage, so my quest has intensified. A co-worker, the poor girl who is building, see previous post, offered me a leather couch -- free for the hauling.

If there is anything I love more than storage furniture, it would be free furniture.

Free is a relative term, I’ve noticed.

We set out to bag our couch yesterday, one of the warmest days of summer. “Kind of a nice contrast to the last furniture run in the bitterness of winter,” I suggested to my husband. He offered a tight smile. Not a good sign.

Interestingly, there were two couches, in great shape. So I rubbed my hands together and clamped down on the vocal glee. My husband shot me the look. I hunkered down on my end of the big soft couch and we headed for the door…I pushed, he pulled. Nothing happened.

That’s when it got fun. To be continued…..