For Alice On Her Birthday

Today I’m going to tell you a story. Because Alice asked me to, and it’s her birthday. Happy birthday, Alice! You don’t know her? Oh, you should! She’s funny and so, so smart. I love her posts. Sometimes her posts make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry. Sometimes it’s both. Read her. You just might love her.

I’ve gone back and forth about which story to tell. Fiction? Not fiction? Embellished not-fiction? I want to come up with a good one. For the last week, my internal dialog has gone something like this:

There was the time that… no, that’s no good.

How about… nope. Funny only to me.

I’ve got it! Yes! Um, are you kidding me? You can’t admit to that in a public setting.

So here you go.

Sharon slid the box across the counter. It didn’t look like much. About eighteen inches square, it had been white at one time, but trotting the globe had acquired a layer of grime. One corner was dinged, and the shipping label had begun to peel, but the packing tape held fast. That bit was all that mattered to Sharon.

“Here,” she said with a furtive glance at the ceiling. “Better hurry. Dad’ll be down in a minute.”

Thad’s eyes glowed. He pulled the box to himself and began to dig at the packing tape with his thumbnail.

“Don’t open it here!” Sharon hissed, terror in her eyes. She flung an arm toward the door. “GO!” she cried. “And don’t tell Dad!”

Thad dropped a pile of cash on the counter without bothering to count it and gathered his precious box gently, mindful of its delicate cargo. Balancing the box on his arm, he was gone with the jingling of the shop door.

Sharon watched him go, not daring to breathe until she heard him climb the stone steps to street level and saw his feet pass by the basement window. She turned to the new girl.

“I can’t believe I did that,” she whispered hoarsely. “Dad will kill me if he finds out.”

The new girl said nothing. She simply wondered. Then she turned back to sorting the shipment of live fish that had just been delivered to the little basement shop.

“Okay,” Sharon said, collecting herself. “Let’s see what we have here.” She lifted a gallon-sized bag teeming with tiny, colorful fish. “Guppies,” she announced. “We’ll put those in one of the 20-longs in the back.”

The new girl did as she was told. She collected the bag of fish from Sharon. It was surprisingly heavy, but she did not drop it. She upended it gently, pouring fish and water carefully into a waiting bucket. She shook out the corners of the bag to dislodge any remaining fish and then discarded it and dropped an air hose into the bucket.

Shipment days were the best days, every available surface in the tiny shop stacked with cardboard boxes and Styrofoam coolers. She liked sorting it all out, seeing order come from the chaos, but mostly, she liked the new fish. Shipments from Florida were the best. Not only did they require a trip to the airport to collect, but they contained the greatest surprises.

In the mid-1980s, few fish species beyond basic livebearers and a few cichlids were regularly bred in captivity. It was easier, and usually cheaper, to import animals freshly caught from the wilds of Africa and the Amazon. Sometimes, swimming right alongside the common side-sucking plecostamus they had ordered, she would find something weird.

When one of these tiny mysteries appeared, she snagged it, put it in a catch box and ran for the books. Sometimes even after studying Axelrod and Practical Fishkeeping, she came up short. It was her first introduction to the enormity of the world and its diversity. She could barely comprehend she was holding a creature that Herbert Axelrod, that demigod of fish keeping, had never even seen. On those occasions, she put down her money and carted her new treasure home. Sometimes it died. More often, she kept i a few months until she grew bored with it and returned it for something newer and more exciting.

So  many weird and interesting things came into the shop unexpectedly that it never occurred to her to ask Sharon to special-order things for her. It did, however, occur to Thad.

“You can order it! It’s right here on their inventory list,” he’d said, thumping his index finger on the paper for emphasis. Sharon looked at him doubtfully.

“I don’t know,” she answered, frowning. “Dad wouldn’t like it. He said no. He told me, and he told you, and he’d fire us both if he knew.”

“He doesn’t have to know.” The new girl hated his wheedling tone, hated how many girls caved to it, hated that  Sharon, who was an adult and supposed to know better, was no exception.

“Alright,” she said. “But you have to pay for it, dead or alive, and Dad can’t know. Dad hates snakes.”

Harry, her father was the owner and namesake of the little aquarium shop. He had started it with just a few aquariums in his basement twenty years previously. The business had grown over the years until he was forced to either quit his full time job or hand over the reins to Sharon, his youngest daughter. He still lived upstairs, but she managed the place on her own. He would likely never see the invoice.

Sharon placed the order against her better judgement. When the shipment arrived, she called Thad immediately, and the transaction went down with neither hitch nor Harry’s knowledge. She thought she was out of the woods, but then the snake, a Haitian Vine Boa, escaped into Thad’s apartment and was gone for good, likely cooked in the heating vents, and he was back on her doorstep begging her to order another. And then another. Today’s shipment was his third.

The new girl worked the following day by herself. Sundays were usually slow and sleepy, and this day was no exception.

She stood at the sink scraping the hard water line from an aquarium with salt and a razor blade. She looked up when she heard the jingle of the door and was surprised to see Thad. He never came around on his days off. It was one of the many things she disapproved of when it came to Thad. She had a list.

She was even more surprised to see him holding a pillowcase, or more correctly, holding something inside a pillowcase. She frowned.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“My new snake,” he said proudly.

“Why is it here?” she asked haughtily, pretending disapproval to mask her terror. She had never seen a living snake up close, and she was pretty sure she didn’t want to now.

He laughed, seeing right through her and making her hate him more. “Is Harry home?”

“No,” she said, stuffing down her fear and turning back to attack the hard water line with new zeal.

“Good,” Thad said gleefully. She looked up to find him reaching into the bag.

“What are you doing?” she demanded, her voice an odd point somewhere between a his and a squeal.

“Hang on,” he said, furrowing his brows in concentration. “Relax. It’s a ball python. When they get scared, they roll up in a ball.”

She didn’t answer, her blade squeaking on the aquarium glass like fingernails on a chalkboard.

She didn’t look up until she heard him say “Oh, no.” The snake, a wild-caught, thin specimen about three feet long,  had clearly not read the manuals on typical ball python behavior. It showed no inclination whatsoever to roll into a ball but a rather strong desire to bite Thad somewhere in the vicinity of his face. He managed to pin the snake’s head, pressing the animal’s mouth closed with the balls of this thumbs while the snake twined its back end all the way up his arm.

The new girl took a step back, away from crazed snake and handler. She looked over her shoulder to plan the best escape route should Thad drop the snake at the same time the snake dropped him. A thump from above stopped them both in their tracks. Harry was home.

Thad said a word the new girl had only read on bathroom walls. “Help me!” he squeaked, gesturing as if he thought she might actually step forward and assist him in his snake-handling endeavors. His hand was turning purple.

“No way,” she said, shaking her head fiercely. He frowned at her. She frowned back. Another thump and the shuffling footsteps of a knee replacement from above. Harry was coming down to the shop.

Thad said another word unfamiliar to the new girl. She was pretty sure it was German, and totally certain it was bad. He did a little dance on the spot to loosen the coils constricting his arm. By some great miracle, he was able to shake the snake into the pillowcase and tie it off. Thump-thump. Harry descended slowly down the basement steps.

Thad thrust the bag at the new girl. “We have to hide it!”

“Washer?” she suggested?

“What if he’s doing laundry? Closet?”

“He might be getting fish food for upstairs!”


Out of time and optionsThad dropped the bag into the empty display aquarium at the front of the store beside the counter just as Harry rounded the corner and appeared behind the counter, scratching his grizzled head and looking at least as grumpy as the snake.

“Thad?” he said with a frown. Men, it seemed, were immune to Thad’s charm. “What are you doing here?”

“I, uh, I just came by,” Thad squeaked, standing in front of the aquarium to block Harry’s view from the contents.

Harry walked around the counter. Thad took a step back, pressing himself against the aquarium as Harry walked toward him. Thad shot a look at the new girl over Harry’s shoulder, a look of sheer hopelessness. It was all over. Harry was going to find the snake and learn that both Sharon and Thad had disobeyed his orders. Thad would lose his job on the spot.

With the look of a hunted man, Thad darted around the corner and out of Harry’s reach. He could fire Thad, but he’d have to catch him to hit him. And hit he might. Harry hated snakes.

Harry stopped in his tracks and turned on his heel to face the new girl, his back to the aquarium and his expression inscrutable. She thought she might soil herself. Did he think her complicit.

“I thought I made myself clear,” he said sternly. Her knees felt weak. Would he fire her, too? She gulped.

“Yes?” she whispered.

“You’re listening to television.”

“What?” she asked, genuinely puzzled.

“The radio,” he barked. “The radio! You’re listening to Judge Wapner. I told you and told you, the radio is for classical. It makes customers spend more money!”

The radio! She felt positively wobbly with relief. He hadn’t seen the snake bag in the aquarium. But she could. She watched in horrified fascination as, behind Harry, the snake bag came to life and slowly rose up the side of the aquarium. Thad had not tied the pillowcase down very far, giving the snake plenty of room to stretch out.

The new girl did not hear a word Harry said, so focused was she on the snake making its slow and careful way up the front of the empty aquarium, impeded only by its pillowcase. Harry, oblivious, continued to chastise her radio choices while the snake bag danced behind him.

The new girl didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It seemed impossible that he did not see the bag contorting and stretching itself… stretching itself to the top of the tank! Oh, dear God! It was going to climb out, pillowcase and all! The snake pushed up on the lid of the aquarium and it rose a fraction of an inch. She stood transfixed, terrified. The snake pressed the lid a little further. Its head, covered by the knot in the pillowcase, was an inch from Harry’s arm. One tiny poke, and Harry would undoubtedly suffer heart attack, aneurysm, or stroke, maybe all three at once. The new girl silently lamented skipping CPR class when she was a Campfire Girl.

The snake, hampered in its exploration, fell on its side with a hollow thud as loud as a gong. Harry didn’t hear it over the radio. He made a few more points, and she nodded her head in blind agreement, eyes fixed on the snake so determined to announce its presence. Finally, he walked over to the radio, changed the station, and heaved himself back upstairs.

As soon as Harry was out of sight, Thad snatched the snake out of the aquarium and beat a hasty retreat himself, leaving the new girl to fall into helpless, hysterical giggles on the counter. Harry never found out about his close encounter of the reptilian kind, but the new girl learned that she never, in fact, hated Thad. Or snakes, and in fact went on to work with reptiles herself 20 years later.

to alice

Happy birthday, Alice! Your present will be there later this week. And no, it’s not a snake in a bag.


Peter Jackson Didn’t Ruin My Birthday

I decided that I was going to have the best birthday ever. After the dog peed in the floor, and yet another Hallmark ornament broke the first time it was out of the box, I made my decision. I get one birthday a year, and I can either enjoy it, or let it be ruined by small things. I opted to make it the best birthday ever, and it was.

I subbed for middle school, and one of my friends there made me brownies and gave me a t-shirt with a stinkbug on it. I got cards, some of them handmade, and lots and lots of hugs. And then I went home to a giant death-by-chocolate birthday cake with whipped icing so thick that the flames the candles were flush with the icing, and four new CDs. Who could ask for more? And then my husband sprung it on me. He wanted to take me to a movie.

“Which one?” I asked hesitantly, knowing the answer.

The Hobbit. Or Thor. Or The Hobbit. I thought you might like to see The Hobbit.” Because I enjoyed the last one so much.

“What if we stay home and you throw rocks at me and tell me all the many and varied reasons reasons you hate my dog? It would make me feel about the same and cost less.”

“I thought you’d really want to go see The Hobbit! And if you do, I will find a theater that isn’t sold out.”

“What did I ever do to you?”

In the end, he was just so persistent cute that I caved. The theater we chose had two showings. We expected to have to go to the later one, but there were lots of tickets left. Everyone else was clearly as excited about this flick as I was. We couldn’t have asked for better seats, unless those seats were in a theater playing just about anything else. I was determined, though, to open my mind enjoy myself. And I did.

Nothing could ruin the night. Not Azog the Mostly Fabricated chasing down elves and hobbits in his vengeful rage over something that never happened. Azog, buddy. Let’s talk about this for a minute. If you really look deep inside, I bet you know who you’re really mad at. It’s not Thorin Oakenshield. It’s Peter Jackson. Why don’t you do me a giant favor and tell him how that metal thing jammed into your arm makes you feel? It might help to clear the air.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:             Caption blame: yeah, that’s all me.

The cinematography couldn’t dampen my spirits. Even though most of the film was shot by a caffeinated toddler whose head was too heavy and kept tipping backward and whose favorite hobby is spinning in the grass until they puke. Had I seen the movie in 3D, I would have. I’ll save that particular joy for the third installment. The sound editing wasn’t all that great, either, and I’m pretty sure I could hear the cameraman over the music.

“Look! Taaaalllll building!”

“Twirlie bird! Wheeeeeee!”

“Oooh! Slavering jaws! Can I touch them? I think that Warg just ate my Beanie Baby.”

“Let’s zoom in real close so Legolas’ head is twenty feet tall and everyone can tell he looks ten years older than he will sixty years from now in Lord of the Rings! Elves are magic.”

Actually, I think there was good reason for those tight shots. Tom Hooper did that with Les Miserables last year to prove that there was no overdubbing. Jackson does it to prove that his actors can say their crummy lines with a straight face. I was impressed.

The cinematography was evocative, and if what Jackson was trying to evoke was *carsick*, he nailed it. Nailed it. Good job, Pete, and pass the Dramamine.

I thought it was great that Jackson let students work on the visual effects? What? No, I’m pretty sure he did. And I’m also fairly certain that they were elementary school students. I couldn’t tell Beorn from a warg, and my pea brain kept screaming “Green screen!” Or maybe I actually screamed it. People did keep throwing their popcorn at me.

I thought Peter Jackson’s choices for this film made a lot of sense. I mean, why wouldn’t orcs trash Mirkwood, and then show up in Laketown? And why wouldn’t Thorin leave half his party behind when he finally set off for the Lonely Mountain? It’s not like Dwarves care much for their kinfolk. They’re kind of loners, really. And of course Tauriel the Completely Made Up would work her healing magic on Kili. With his head in a bowl of nuts. Tree nuts probably have healing properties. I’m just glad he wasn’t allergic.

photo credit:

They are the victims here, not us. Well, not only us.    photo credit:

My husband and I argued a bit about which part of the movie was the best. If you’ve already seen it, maybe you can help us decide. Which was the best part  – the previews or the end credits? I know. It’s a tough call.

The movie was awful, but I had an amazing night. I learned that my husband and I are truly of one mind. We snickered inappropriately in all the same places, mimed puking on one another’s shoes, rolled our eyes in unison when Bofur delivered the cheesiest line in the history of motion pictures. And his rant on the way home was like a beautiful Hallmark card telling me we were meant to be together. What Peter Jackson has brought together, no man can put asunder.

Under Ordinary Circumstances

Give me the most ordinary extraordinary circumstances, and I shine. Need a program taught that hasn’t even been written yet? I’m your girl. Need it in five minutes? Even better. Have an event whose attendance matches the population of a mid-sized town? Call me. Need a substitute teacher for middle school the day after returning from a holiday? Bring it. I can rise to any challenge.

Until today. Today I am celebrating my birthday. It’s not my actual birthday. That comes soon. But husband couldn’t get off work that day, so today is the day. We were going to go hiking. It is currently pouring rain, with more predicted all day long, but that doesn’t bother me. Nor does the cold. I’m up for anything. Except for our shopping trip. We are going to look for Ugly Christmas Sweaters.

We’ve all seen them, the sweaters that leave us wondering what in the world the designers were thinking, or what hallucinogenics they were using at the time. We love to laugh at them, and now they are a thing to be celebrated. Everybody wants one. They’re iconic, classic in their absurdity. Here’s my greatest fear – that when I’m shopping, I won’t be able to tell if it’s an ugly sweater or not.

I’m not a girlie-girl.I know. A shocking statement.  I will pause to allow you to pick yourself up off the floor. Where was I? Oh, yeah. I grew up with two other persons of the female persuasion  in a house with only one bathroom. How in the world would three women get their primping done each morning without killing each other? I became a tomboy in self-defense. I wear makeup once or twice a year, or at least I did until one of my children absconded with my makeup bag and used all my stuff. Yes, I had a makeup bag. No, I didn’t buy it for myself. Someone gave it to me after the Padawan was born, packed with some fairly expensive bits and pieces, It was a thoughtful gift, and the message was clear.  “For heaven’s sake, woman! Cover that, won’t you?” “You’re the best, and I want you to feel pretty.” But I never learned to use the stuff, so I always looked felt awkward wearing it. 

I was never much into style, either. I am currently petitioning Garanimals to make clothing for adults, but I’d still be screwed. I could match hippo to hippo, but I’d never be able to accessorize. What kind of jewelry goes with giraffe? I couldn’t coordinate an ensemble if my life depended on it. I look at Vogue with an incredulous look on my face. People wear that? Okay, then. My idea of style is my Harry Potter Half Blood Prince jacket. It has all the characters. All of them.

So how am I supposed to pick out a sweater? How am I supposed to know the good from the bad from the downright ugly? What if I pick out something, and it’s actually high fashion. What if I wear my ugly sweater and no one knows it’s supposed to be ugly? Or they’re afraid to ask?

I do have one ugly sweater. This one:


Blitzen, is that you, buddy?

I know it’s ugly. There is no doubt there. I am sure it was the height of fashion in its day, but its day is not now. It seems like an easy out to wear it. Besides, it’s not Christmasy at all. Nothing about this sweater says Christmas Unless I can prove it was made from one of Santa’s actual reindeer, I need to find a new sweater. And not just one for me, one for my husband, too.

So now I go forth, trying to prove I have taste by showing a total lack of it. Where do I even start? It is, my friends, the ultimate challenge.

Have an ugly Christmas sweater to model? Please share a photo in the comments or email it to me. I’ll compile a post in a couple of weeks with your picture and a link back to your blog. Help a blogger out. Teach me what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s downright acceptably ugly.

My Daily Joy

Guess what? We’re now only 12 days from Christmas! Know how I know? Because it’s my birthday today. When I was a kid, I used to pretend that the Twelve Days of Christmas was written just for me. I have yet to receive a partridge. I did get a leopard gecko once, but it wasn’t in a pear tree.

Anyway, we’re in the home stretch now. Christmas is coming. The countdown has begun. Lords will soon be leaping and all that good stuff. Each day between now and Christmas, I am going to share a little joy. There’s always at least one thing to be joyful over, even on a bad day. It may be the whole topic of my post, or I may tack it on at the end, but it will be there.

My daily joy for today: I came into my classroom and found birthday presents on my desk. Since they were completely unexpected, they were all the more wonderful! And the school administrative assistant cool chick wished me a happy birthday over the intercom. Does it get any better than this? AND Peter Jackson chose today to release The Hobbit, obviously in honor of my special day. AND I don’t have to cook dinner tonight because we are buying pizza. AND my especialist friend sj wrote a birthday post for me that contained two of my favorite songs by two of my favorite musical groups ever.

Wait. That’s a lot of joy. Is it too much? I don’t think so.

What’s your joy for today?


Nearly Wordless Wednesday: When Dreams Come True

One of my birthday wishes was to win the giveaway over at Peas and Cougars. If you are not familiar with this brilliant comic blog, you are missing out. Go read it.

I didn’t win the giveaway, but upon learning that the Art Killed My Baby mug was one of my birthday wishes, the winner asked that her prize be passed on to me. Thank you to Rae at Peas and Cougars for the awesome prize, and especially to Amira at Mindblur for her generosity. Thanks for helping to make it my best birthday EVER. It’s not a flying coffee pot, but the kindness of strangers is even better.

Cookies sold separately.

If you’d like to see the original cartoon, you can read it here.

If you’d like to buy a mug of your own, be sure to stop over here.

May your dreams come true, as well.

I’m Making A Wish

Yes. That’s right. Today is my birthday. The big 4-0. My big, fat birthday. Wa-hoo.  I am excited. Not too excited, of course. The old ticker just can’t take too much.

Seeing as it’s a giant celebration and all, it seems that it is my right to make a few wishes. Feel free to grant any that are within your power. I’d do the same for you, you know.

1) I wish that stalactites and stalagmites actually had the same name. If I ran into one and was critically injured, I’d like to be able to explain what happened without having to go back through the little saying “When the ‘mites’ go up, the ‘tights’ come down.” I am injured, after all, and it’s probably a head injury. And there are probably different treatments, depending on which inflicted the damage. Like how you  “feed a cold, starve a fever.”

*** Super important note: this wish was whispered in my ear by an angel while I was sleeping, so I’m pretty sure it will come true. Either that or I have some really, really strange dreams.

2) I wish that my car would always have fuel. And this wish should apply to any car in which I am riding. Even my husband’s car. Especially my husbands car, which loves him so much that it would fly to Jupiter on fumes but will leave us stranded if I am in the passenger’s seat.

3) I wish my favorite house slippers would come out of hiding. I will be really good. I promise. Maybe the angels who are straightening out the whole cave-rock thing can handle this one, too. My feet are cold.

4) I wish that I could drive Squish’s plasmacar all by myself. Currently, I am only allowed to sit on it while he steers. And then he drives my knees straight into the furniture. Sure, it’s funny the first 15 times. But after that, cabinets leave bruises.

5) I wish that I could run a marathon. Because that is the equivalent of world peace, which is what I know should be wishing for. But again, the angels are busy on the cave-rock thing…

6) I wish that the cat would consent to drink after the dog.  Because I get tired of washing the bowl three times a day.

7) I wish I had a magic coffee pot that would buy and grind the beans and make the perfect cup of coffee all by itself. And could fly. That’s the part I really want. Airfare is too expensive, and I’d like to visit some pals in other states. I don’t expect international travel, of course.

8 ) I wish my dog could talk. Except that I’m sure the only things she would actually say are “Feed me,” and “Drink after that, Kitty.”

9) I wish I would write a best-seller. A book that is so incredibly great that millions stand in line all night to purchase their own copy. But without paparazzi. I usually look fat in unposed photos.

10) I wish for three wishes for each of my readers. Because I know they’ll each share one of their wishes with me.

11) I wish I would win the “Art Killed My Baby” mug over on Peas and Cougars. Go enter the contest. And buy some stuff in her store. My second favorite thing is the “I’m Bored” flowchart. She does charts like nobody’s business. Well, technically it’s her small business now.

And now it’s late. I am going back to bed. The weight of 40 birthdays is crushing.

Why I Don’t Get Out Much


I can think of absolutely nothing funny with which to caption this borrowed image. Nothing. Now I am very sad. And it all started with a post about humor. How ironic.


My sister made me go to Lotion and Smelly Stuff Works a couple of weeks ago. I never go in there, having lost hope that there is any fragrance in the world that will make me smell good. It’s too depressing. Seriously. There’s something about my body-chemistry that breaks down even the classiest perfume and leaves me smelling like a middle-aged streetwalker. And if you are a regular reader, you know how hard I am avoiding anything to do with middle age. But she had a coupon, and I will never, ever stand between a girl and her coupon. Against my better judgment, I went.

The saddest part about walking into the store is everything smells good. I know that sounds like a good thing, but it’s not. I end up frustrated and confused. I can go into a music store to buy a CD. Even if I don’t know the name of, if I can hum a few bars of the hottest track, I at least stand a chance of leaving with what I wanted. If I walk up to a sales-clerk in Lotion and Smelly Stuff Works and say “I want to buy that smell,” a frustrating conversation ensues.

“What smell?”

“The one that reminds me of my second grade teacher. Not my first grade teacher. She smelled like beer.”

“Um, can you be more specific?”

“Guiness, I think, although I do recall seeing her at the 7-11 buying Budweiser.”

“No, your second grade teacher. Er, I mean can you describe the fragrance you are looking for?”

“I smell it right now. It’s like soap. And maybe some fruit.”

“Fruit? We have 42 different fruity fragrances.  Um, we have Pear Passion? Is it this one? No? There is also Citrus Circus. You might like that one. It smells kind of like those giant orange marshmallow peanuts. We also have Apple Anarchy. It’s saucy…”

“No! Not those. I want THAT smell. The really loud smell.” And you know what I’m talking about. There’s always one aroma that stands out over all the rest but is impossible to identify. In frustration, I must break off the conversation and set off on my own, hoping I can find it by its name.

The store is a confusing array of colors and shiny things. They’ve got their smells arranged by mood, I think. There’s an entire section labeled “Sexy.” But their signature fragrance in that department has something to do with pomegranates, a fruit both adored and renamed in my household. I’m not sure a spritz of “moose apple candy” would get anyone in the mood for anything except a “Rocky and Bullwinkle” marathon. I move on.

Maybe looking by name isn’t going to help me. Perhaps one shops for fragrances by actually smelling them? I’m asking. I don’t actually know. Here’s how it goes for me:

1) Locate promising bottle of lotion.

2) Remove tester from shelf.

3) Carefully open tester and raise to nose.

4) Accidentally apply too much pressure to tube and squirt lotion up nose.

5) Lose ability to smell anything besides Twilight Vampire for three hours. Game over.

At this point, you could shove a decaying skunk up my left nostril, and I’d never know. I slink out of the store in defeat. My sister finds me an hour later with my head in the mall wishing fountain. Guess what my wish is?

The good news, though, is that my sister did get to redeem her coupon. There’s always a silver lining, you know.


A Word To the Wise

Dear friends, do as I say, not as I do. If you are leaving the house to run errands, don’t forget to brush your teeth and hair. And check to make sure that you remembered to get dressed in the first place. Especially if one of those errands happens to be a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew your license. Even more importantly if said license requires a new photo.

No, I am not that senile yet. I do, indeed have a birthday coming up this month, and it’s a big one, but I don’t think brain cells abandon ship as a unit. There is a reasonable explanation. I blame my long underwear.

It is December, and it’s cold. The temperature dropped so low last week that my tomatoes almost froze. As I am sure all of my Christmas-tomato-farming friends are aware, that’s pretty chilly, so it only makes sense to wear long underwear under my pajamas. And there’s the problem. Long underwear is fitted and hugs my legs. Like pants. So my coffee-deprived brain is tricked into thinking that I have already gotten dressed. And as it is never good to over-think going to the DMV,  the moment the reminder to renew my license popped up, the kid and I jumped in the car and left.

It was when we were getting out of the car that I finally noticed my attire. Old t-shirt, thermal top with a large rip in the elbow, pajama pants. I was horrified. Let the record show, I don’t leave the house in an elastic waistband unless I am going to exercise, and most of the time not even then.For me,  elastic is the beginning of a slippery slope that starts with comfort and ends in polyester stretch-pants. I am not ready to go there yet. But as we had already made the trip, I decided to bite the bullet and go in. I figured that the old picture still looked enough like me that it would serve another 5 years. They could photo-shop in some crows feet and a few more gray hairs and be done with it.

Sadly, I discovered it is not possible to reuse the old photo if you go to the office in person. Surveying my reflection in the window, I was very, very sad. I wanted no photographic evidence of this moment at all, much less one that I would have to show every shop clerk on the planet for the next five years. But there is goodness in the world. The merciful clerk looked me up and down and suggested that I renew online.

I wonder if something like this would happen if I wore footie pajamas?

Appropriate attire for Christmas morning, or for the mother of a 2 week old baby. NOT appropriate for your driver's license.

Here’s Why I Did It

My sister at the "Oh, Dear Lord, You Are OLD!" party I threw for her. You're welcome for the prunes, sis. Hope they get the job done.

You will have to excuse me this morning. I took my sister to the midnight showing of “Breaking Dawn” for her birthday. I got about three hours of sleep, and now I’m so tired that I can’t remember if the name “Edward” contains one “q” or two. Spell check doesn’t seem to like either variation, so it must not be working.

I’m not the kind of gal who would buy a ticket for a midnight showing for a Twilight movie. Truly. Because I am a grownup with three children. And it wasn’t Harry Potter. But I bought those tickets. Because my sister wanted to go. The woman who has not left her house after dark since I can remember. She’s kind of the anti-vampire, really. But the moment I reminded her that the movie was coming out soon, she said “We could go at midnight!” with a kind of manic glee usually reserved for a two-for-one sale on toilet paper. So I bough the tickets. Because I was a little afraid not to.

So here I sit, part vampire, myself. I cringe from the rising sun, have pale skin, dead eyes, and no blood running through my veins. It’s all coffee. But I am glad I did. Because I owed her. For all the things she had to put up with over the years. Taking one for the team for:


 The times I called her “fat face.” As though it were her name. It is not. Her birth certificate clearly states “Dear Little Dawn.” Or something like that.

The time I neglected to mention that she had chocolate ice cream all around her mouth. While she was talking to her former teachers. And trying to act cool. In the mall. At that marvelously awkward age of 13. She has never been able to eat ice cream in public since. Even with a spoon.

The times I may have forgotten to relay a phone message to my sister from the guy she had a crush on.  I’m sure that’s not a big deal. She didn’t even know they liked her in return, so she wasn’t missing anything, right?

The time(s) my puppy pooped in front of her bedroom door. I probably didn’t see it. Before she stepped in it. I swear.

All the undergarments of hers my dog stole and drug out into the yard. By the street. That were left out there for the neighbors to see. And guys who came to pick her up. Whoops. My bad.

The time I may or may not have forgotten to mention that she had tucked the back of her skirt into her panty-hose. As she was preparing to walk down the center aisle of our very large church to get to the choir loft. Where she had to sing. At the age of 14. Sorry, sis. I thought you knew.

All the times I may have insinuated that her make-up made her look like a transsexual circus clown. To my transsexual friends, I apologize. I was young and didn’t know how insulting that comparison might be. For you. And for circus clowns. She outgrew that stage, probably because of me. You’re welcome, world.

All the times I’ve called her “old.”  She is not old. Just much, much older than I am. And sometimes needs reminding.

That over-the-hill surprise party I threw for her last year. To remind her that she is old. Because that’s what sisters do. At least, sisters who know there is minimal chance of reciprocation.

So dear sister, if you are reading this, I apologize. I do not, in fact, hate you, although that phrase may have slipped out a time or two. Million. I would risk my life for you. Which I did last night. Those people were crazy. Happy Birthday, sis!