Saturday, September 30, 2006

The purse your psychotherapist warned you about

As summer fades into fall in Texas, it's a time for all women of style and substance to update their look, including their handbag. I have retired the Tarzan & Jane bag for the season, and recently started carrying my newest creation (see below).

I'm proud to say the last time my daughter and I were out together, no fewer than four women commented on my "cute purse." This never fails to produce a look of utter dismay on my poor daughter's face, and gales of laughter from yours truly.

So, whaddya think? Is this going to be The Item that finally makes me a billionaire? Or will it get me featured on "What Not to Wear?"

Friday, September 29, 2006

Letters to TC

Often, in the midst of the 4,682 junk emails I get daily, I find a note from a desperate parent, seeking my sage advice on a familial crisis. Okay, it's not really often. Actually, it's only been once. And it was just a couple of days ago. Here is the actual email, followed by my response:


I don't want to go all "Dear Abby" on you, but I am guessing that you can help. I noticed that on your blog you are endorsing "Children's Good Manners Month". We have been trying to get our offspring to have just one manner, the thought of several of these manners is quite overwhelming. We do fine with the other eleven months, when we are free to have bad manners.

Any advice for enforcing this particular holiday?


Dear Underdog,

You are not the first parent with this problem. Believe it or not, I have even seen a bad manner or two in my own home. It happens in the best of families.

It has been my observation that when children are having a difficult time following a certain standard of behavior, it is most often because that standard of behavior has not been well-modeled to them by one of the parents. And by one of the parents, I mean, of course, the father.

I would bet my entire bathroom cupboard filled with Mary Kay products that, very shortly after the whole forbidden fruit debacle, Adam started making farts with his armpit at the dinner table. Eve scowled at him while their sons fell off their chairs in hysterical laughter, and the whole human race has been on a rapid downhill course ever since.

So, my recommendation is that you let your wife do the manners training. And in the event that your children grow up and leave home with all the social graces of a billy goat, your wife can always fall back on the line my mother-in-law uses: "We didn't raise him that way! ... He's only been like that since he married you."

Best wishes,


Friday, September 22, 2006

And the award goes to... my husband, the mighty skunk slayer.

If there's one thing that'll get you respect and maybe even a round of applause in these parts, it's the ability to shoot stuff. Especially living, menacing stuff like hungry coyotes, sneaky copperheads, and teenage boys who have been eyeballing your daughter.

Anyway. My husband is the shoot stuff expert in our house. I, of course, am not, seeing as how I can't even set a mousetrap, and the only way I could actually succeed at killing a wild critter would be if the animal walked up to me, took the gun from my hand, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger himself. So naturally, it was my husband who killed the skunk that was trolling our backyard yesterday, and my husband who got a standing ovation from the rest of us when he came back inside. The only applause I got was when I assured the kids that no, I would not attempt to cook the skunk into something resembling meatloaf. Even I know that ketchup can cover up only so much.

This was actually my husband's second successful scampering skunk shoot. The first was a lot more exciting and, well, smelly.

It was a few years ago, in the depth of a cold Texas winter, and the prairie animals were becoming desperate to escape the bitter winds. (Translation: it was 40 degrees. Skunks are wimps.) We heard our black lab barking her head off near the front door. Now, our lab is famous for barking at anything that moves, because she thinks it's either 1) edible, or 2) a playmate, which will later become edible. I ignored her for a few minutes, but finally got up to look through the window of the front door. I was way beyond surprised to look down and see, nestled up next to the exterior of the door, a real, live skunk. The kids were quick to gather round the floor-to-ceiling windows adjacent to the door, all marveling at being able to see the thing so up close and personal.

But then it got ugly. The skunk had, understandably, gotten tired of being harrassed by the barking dog, and went into full skunk mode. It really is quite fascinating to watch a skunk lift its entire back end off the ground, use its little front paws to do a walking handstand, and squirt its deadly scent with amazing accuracy. Well, it's fascinating for all of about 2 seconds - until the stench hits. And then, besides having a stinky dog and a skunk that had become a front porch squatter, we had another problem. The skunk decided to fully fragrantize his new home, so he made a little circle in the handstand position, spraying the porch posts, the brick wall, and the front door. At that proximity, my eyes started to water, my nose hair started to curl, and I began to have serious thoughts of actually deeding the house over to the skunk and his entire family.

Husband to the rescue. He headed around the front of the house with a trusty firearm. I scurried to move children away from the window, having visions of him spraying the house commando-style, or blowing the front door into a hundred thousand toothpick-sized splinters of wood. My oldest son, who thinks gunpowder should be an ingredient in our weekly science experiments, was so disappointed when neither happened. Instead, my husband dispatched the trespasser with amazing accuracy and very little damage to the front porch.

He got applause that time, too. I'm trying not to be jealous. Really. But would it kill my family to give me a little recognition when I manage not to burn the potatoes? Is a tiara really too much to ask for?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Make ready the main sail, yeh scurvy dogs! Gar!

Tomorrow, September 19, is undoubtedly the most eagerly anticipated holiday of the year - at least by those of us who are only marginally sane. Yes, it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

To fully immerse yourself in the holiday, first you must first learn pirate-speak. Phrases like "Where be m' breeches, yeh bilge rat?" must roll off your tongue. Throw in several "arrrr's" and "ya swabbies" for good measure. If you need more help, look here. You can also see how a pirate would read your blog or website.

Next, you have to get yourself a pirate name. Go here or here. Then get yourself a pirate ship, here.

Finally, if you just can't get your fill of piracy and all things pirate-y, go to the original Talk Like a Pirate Day site.

Oh, and don't forget to indulge in some pirate food (maggoty bread, anyone?) and pirate attire. Remember, it's never too young to start turning your children into scurvy dogs. Here is our now-15 year old son, in his very first pirate gear.

I look forward to hearing about the festivities in your house. Er, I mean, "I look fore t' hearin' about th' festivities in yer house. Ya horn swollowin' scallywag!"


Red Bess Flint of the Cursed Grail of the South

Friday, September 15, 2006

Communication skills

Visiting with my parents back in August was interesting, to say the least.

Dad is about 80% deaf and refuses to wear his hearing aids. Mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. All normal communication goes right out the window when you walk into their house. This was one of our typical conversations.

Mom: What should we have for lunch?

Me: Let's just have sandwiches. I'll go to the store & get some lunch meat.

Dad: You're going up the street? Why don't you stop in the store and get something for lunch? Maybe some lunch meat.


Dad: Humph. You may think you're the queen bee, but I used to change your diapers, missy.

Me: Mom, do you want to come with me?

Mom: Where are you going?

Me: To the grocery store.

Mom: I think I'll just stay here and make lunch.

Me: No, Mom, I'm going to the store to get the stuff to make lunch. I think we need chips, too.

Dad: Why are you worried about your hips? You got arthritis?


Dad: Did you see that episode on "Everybody Loves Raymond" about Marie's artificial hip?

Me: NO, DAD.

Dad: Well, it'll be on in 15 minutes. Or we can watch Bonanza on channel 31.


Dad: Yeah, that sounds good! Mom, she's going to pick up some lemon pies!

Mom: Oh! Are you going to the store?

Me, sighing: Yes, mom. I'll be back in a few minutes.

My sister informed me that after I left, the conversation continued...

Dad picks up the phone.

Mom: Who are you calling?

Dad: I'm going to call the prayer chain and ask them to pray for her hip. Did you know she had arthritis? Our kids never tell us anything.

Mom: I know, she didn't even tell me where she was going.

Dad, on phone: Hey, Pastor! I need you to pray for my daughter. We just found out she needs a hip replacement.

Mom: Ask him if he and the missus have plans for lunch. We could meet them at that nice little diner.

Dad: Would you like to join us for lunch at the diner? I think I've heard that they serve good lemon pie.

I'm telling you, it was like trying to converse in Swahili with a gerbil and a manhole cover. It was enough to make my hip hurt. Oy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blog update

You know, you just can't stare cancer in the face without coming away with a sense of needing to live each day to the fullest. Well, that, plus realizing you need to look through your wardrobe to mark a certain outfit with a tag, "Bury me in this," or your husband will have you laid out in sweatpants and your t-shirt that says, "I childproofed my home, but they keep getting in."

Anyway. With that in mind, I decided to add a new feature to the sidebar of my blog. I want to make sure we here at HomeschoolBlogger don't miss celebrating every day, so I have listed some of the monthly and daily "holidays" that aren't to be missed. I'm sure holidays like "National Beheading Day" (Sep. 2), "Take Your Pants for a Walk Day" (July 27), and "Cuckoo Dancing Week" (Jan. 11-17) will be valuable additions to every homeschool curriculum.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I'm alive! And I have photos! (No, not of the surgery.)

I'm happy to report that I'm not dead, yet. I also want to say that if you're ever in need of material for your blog, just go hang out at a hospital (and by hang out, I don't mean literally, despite those wretched gowns they make you wear). It doesn't have to be a long stay. In fact, it probably won't be a long stay unless you're minutes away from death (and then it still might not be a long stay, ha ha) or unless you are the latest 74 year old woman to deliver triplets.

I realize that hospital personnel are just trying to be pleasant, but really. Can't they come up with a better pre-op greeting than, "How are you today?" How's a patient supposed to answer that? "Great, just great. Getting cancer, having a big chunk of my body removed, puking after anesthesia -- it's a dream come true!"

I did try to lighten the mood a little on the trip to the operating room. As they were wheeling me down the hallway on my stretcher, I raised my arms, roller-coaster-rider fashion, and yelled, "Whoo whee!" Then everything went black. They said later that was because of the medications, but I think they decided I was having a little too much pre-operative fun and one of them whacked me with one of those rubber reflex hammers.

But the worst part is when your little recovery period is over. They wheel you from the privacy of your room back out into the public eye and there you sit, looking like something the cat coughed up. Your eyes are going in two different directions, your nose is itchy, and you've got a sore throat. You've got your bra on, but it's backward. You've got the worst case of bed head hair in history. But the most humiliating thing by far is this:

Yes! You have to wear these lovely support hose (modeled here with denim capris) out in front of everyone, including God and His dog. If I had known this was to be my post-operative attire, I would have prepared accordingly. I'd have taken mine home beforehand, done a tie-dye job on them, and then watched the nurses nervously discuss in whispered tones whether or not to get a psych consult. Good gravy. If you have to wear clothes that scream, "I'm old and infirm!", they might as well scream with flourish.

Anyway. I'm back. Now, where were we?

Monday, September 4, 2006

Yet another reason why I love Texas.

According to the true fact printed inside my Snapple bottle cap, Texas is the only state in the union that allows absentee voting from outer space.

Is this a great state, or what?!

Saturday, September 2, 2006

My underwear (mis)adventure

Way back in May, when I received the invitation to my high school class reunion, two questions came to mind immediately: 1) What would I wear, and 2) I wonder if I can get dental veneers cheap on ebay?

I decided to tackle Question #1 first. Without too much difficulty, I located a nice Little Black Dress that covered all my sagging and wrinkled parts without making me look like a elephant that got tangled up in the Big Top, a cute pair of black sling-back shoes, and a funky necklace. There was just one small - or not so small - problem: the body that had to go INTO the outfit.

Ah, but not to worry, I reasoned. I'd just get one of those foundation garments that squeezes all the fat cells closer together and I'll look two sizes smaller. So I happily finished my shopping trip with a 4000-calorie milk shake and went home, with my mind busily Photoshopping 30 pounds off my frame.

As the reunion loomed closer, it was time to find that undergarment that was going to turn me into Angelina Jolie's clone. I headed for the Lycra/Spandex section of the store, and quickly found exactly what I needed - a pair of MegaPowerNetPanties, complete with strategically places Uplift Panels and (this is what cinched the deal, so to speak) No-Roll Waist Nipper Band. Eureka!! For only $25.99, and without breaking a sweat, I was going to have a waist.

The night of the reunion arrived. I squeezed into my MegaPanties, pulling the waist band up as high as it would go without squishing the excess fat out under my armpits. I slipped on my Little Black Dress, and, if I do say so myself, I looked great. But the night was young, and, as I was soon to discover, MegaPanties work their magic only when you are standing still in a department store dressing room.

See, what they don't tell you is that the No-Roll Band clings best to a waist with, well, no rolls. What's up with THAT? Like a woman with no rolls even NEEDS MegaPanties with a No-Roll Waist Nipper Band?!

Anyway. Halfway through the evening, when the DJ played Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," I could no longer resist the pull of the dance floor, and out I went to join the rest of my former flower-children classmates. Strange things were happening around my middle, but I ignored them, thinking that in the dimmed lights of the hotel ballroom, no one was going to notice my slipping, shifting MegaPanties. But then disaster struck.

The DJ put on "American Pie" (which, I still believe, was written by Don McClean after he smoked something very strange), and my classmates & I formed a large circle on the dance floor, singing along and swaying with our arms around each other's waists. I don't remember who was standing on either side of me, but I'm pretty sure they were wondering what was happening under the middle of my dress. You see, by that time, my No-Roll Waist Nipper Band had rolled, and rolled BIG. I had about a 3 inch diameter wad of rolled-up Spandex and rubber encircling me, and above and below it were the 4-inch rolls of squished natural fat. The Uplift Panels had uplifted so much they were giving me a wedgie. I'd gone from being Angelina Jolie to a steroidal StaPuf Marshmallow Man with a tractor tire around my waist.

Thankfully, my classmates were much too kind (or, in some cases, too, er, liquified) to mention my rapidly changing torso. As far as I can tell, no one has posted pictures of my panty problem on the internet, so maybe they really didn't notice. In my heart of hearts, I'm hoping I wasn't the only one there wearing a pair of drifting MegaPanties. Maybe we can band together and file a class action suit, claiming "humiliation, mental distress, and excessive fat bulging."

On a completely unrelated note, my MegaPanties will not be accompanying me into the operating room on Tuesday, when I have what we hope is the complete removal of all cancerous cells. Hopefully I won't be gone long. I still have to tell the story of my encounter with scary warning signs along Pennsylvania roads.