Saturday, July 30, 2011

A moment of unabashed and guilt-free gloating

HA! HA HA HA! There something I've wanted to be able to do for a long time here at InsomniMom, something I couldn't do because Blogger was being glitchy and weird and not allowing people to fix this particular problem that was occurring with their blogs. There were hundreds and hundreds of pleas in the Help center, begging the powers-that-be to get this thing fixed already. But yesterday? I just happened to check back and Blogger has resolved the issue with their software and I FIXED THE PROBLEM and if the problem occurs again, I CAN FIX IT THEN, TOO. So HA HA HA, stupid mean troublemakers. HAAAA!!!!

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

HGTV's reality show House Hunters is one of my favorite television programs, but honestly, I don't know why. It drives me mad. It makes me speak to my TV, an inanimate object. It sometimes makes me change the channel with a belligerent click of a button so that I can watch something more edifying and soothing. Like Hell's Kitchen, or one of those cable news shows where people with opposing viewpoints gather around a table and interrupt one another with their shrill bickering.

The reason why House Hunters makes me so crazy is that it features a nearly endless parade of young couples -- and I'm sure they're thoroughly vetted to make sure the annoyance factor is firmly in place, because I am just that cynical -- who demand endless luxury on budgets that are neither.

For instance, the girls and I were watching a show filmed in Virginia a couple of days ago. They were newlyweds; he was an Army veteran whose back had been injured while he was serving in Iraq; she was working somewhere, obviously, but also studying for her Master's degree.

Their budget was about $230,000. The realtor, with a pained expression, expressed severe doubt that they were going to be able to find a house that met all their needs in that price range. That marked the first time in the half-hour program that I was so happy that my life's path didn't lead me to trying to get people to buy houses, because I'd be in jail.

The man was hoping for a large soaking tub, preferably with jets, so that he could continue the re-hab on his back at home, which I thought was reasonable. But he also wanted a swimming pool. She wanted a lot, starting with stainless steel appliances. Granite counter tops. Two sinks in the master bathroom. Hardwood floors. And pretty much every other big-ticket item you can think of.

So the realtor did his best. He took them to two different model homes where the items they desired were upgrades from the basic package. The couple was loudly horrified when they were told that those hardwood floors throughout the entire downstairs? A $7,000 upgrade. The granite counter tops instead of the standard upscale laminate? A $4,000 upgrade. An extra sink in the master bathroom? A $2,000 upgrade, due to the fact that more plumbing had to be run and the entire room's floor plan reconfigured to accommodate the longer vanity.

Outrageous! they exclaimed. Just totally, like, not fair!

In the end, they chose one of the model homes and added so many upgrades, they went over their original budget by some $30,000. Because, you know, black appliances (the standard package) are entirely unacceptable. So now they've got shiny luxe surfaces to prepare their generic boxes of mac-and-cheese on.

The second couple, in an episode filmed in North Carolina, had a bigger budget, but no more sense than the first couple. They, too, were rigid in their expectations and there was no intention of finding a house that met their basic needs -- four bedrooms, big back yard for the kiddies, open floor plan, office space for her home-based business -- that they could work to upgrade as they lived their lives. No, it all had to be there RIGHT NOW, THIS VERY MINUTE, even if it strained their budget to bursting.

One house was entirely eliminated from the running because the solid-surface kitchen counter tops weren't granite and the sink? It was not under-mounted.

"Oh, well, then, BURN IT DOWN," I said to the television. "Seriously. Light a match and set fire to that dump."

"Mom," cautioned Meelyn in a wary voice. "You know how you get..."

"It's their fault," I mumbled irritably.

The next property, a new build, caused the couple to view their hard-working, unappreciated realtor with barely disguised disdain. "There is....carpet," the woman of the couple said, uttering the word 'carpet' in the same tone that another person might have said 'hard-packed dirt.' "There this room."

The room in question was a space that was meant to be either a formal living room or a home office, neither of which is exactly incompatible with....carpet. And the carpet was not bad. This was a new house, after all, and so the carpet was pristine and unviolated by someone else's incontinent dog. It was a low pile rough oatmeal color, which I found attractive, but.....carpet.

"Well, that will just have to go immediately," her husband said impatiently. "We don't want....carpet."

The couple and their realtor made their way to the kitchen, which had black appliances, all brand new. As one, they turned to the real estate agent with expressions of incredulous horror.

"Well, THIS certainly isn't what we were expecting," the woman finally managed to say through tight lips.

"We have to have stainless steel," her husband elaborated. "We won't consider any property that doesn't have stainless steel appliances. And the master bedroom had only the one walk-in closet."

Now, see, if I were the realtor, I would have taken my clipboard and started beating them with it about their heads and necks. But instead, seated on the sofa in my living room, I shouted, "Get the gasoline cans! The kerosene! THE MATCHES! Burn that heap down and tie the realtor up and leave him to roast like a luau pig! How dare he show you a property without stainless steel appliances!"

"Mo-o-om...." sighed Aisling, "you remember that they can't hear you, right?"

In the end, that couple also went over their budget because living on tuna-noodle casserole seemed preferable to trying to scrape out an existence in a house -- one couldn't really call it a home -- with only one walk-in closet in the master bedroom. How could they subject themselves to that indignity?

Fortunately, there are just enough nice couples on House Hunters that I don't have to fall completely apart and sit there in my own living room (which has hardwood floors, the original ones to our 1880s house, underneath the carpet that covers them) biting the remote and tearing the stuffing out of the cushions. But, oh those horrible, smug people with their demands to have it all, right this very minute, unable to contemplate life in a standard kitchen! They make me insane.

I hope their stainless steel is a constant source of grief to them as they fight a losing battle with the fingerprints. I gain strength from this thought.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Advice from your mother

This morning the girls and I were in the van, driving Aisling to work; Meelyn and I were going to drive on to do the weekly shop after we dropped her off. They had control of the radio and the station we were listening to was an alternative rock station out of Indianapolis with a morning drive program that proposed to allow listeners to call in with a problem, which the a.m. "personalities" and other callers would help them solve.

As we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant where Aisling works, the woman deejay said, "And coming up after the break, we'll have some advice for Alyssa, who was wondering if she should break up with her boyfriend before he goes to jail."

I snorted. "What's the number of this radio station. I've got some advice for that girl."

"I don't know what the number is," Meelyn replied in a voice of airy innocence.

"I don't either, but even if we did know, we wouldn't tell you," Aisling added with searing honesty.

They know me so well. "Why not?" I asked, smiling.

"Well, because for one thing, you'd be on the air," Meelyn began.

"And for another thing, your voice would be broadcast out over a large portion of Indiana," Aisling continued.

"And for a third thing, you don't think my advice would be well-received," I finished for them. "What do you think I'd say to that girl?"

Meelyn gave a little sigh. "Well, first you'd say, 'Hon, you need to respect yourself enough to find a man worthy of your love.'"

"Yes," I nodded. "Carry on..."

"And then you'd give that speech about how for every loser guy in the world, no matter how addicted or lazy or mean to his mama or stupid or half-witted or criminal or no gumption (whatever that means) or ungrateful or hateful or abusive -- there is a whole line of women standing there in front of him, convinced that they're the only ones ever to understand him, that they can change him with the power of their love and things would be even better if they had two or three babies together," Meelyn enumerated.

"Yada yada yada," Aisling put in.

"Yeah, it almost sounds like I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it?" I said smugly.

"And THEN you'd say," Aisling went on strenuously, "that the absolute BEST TIME EVER to break up with your boyfriend is when he's on his way to jail."

I shrugged. "Well, it's not like you're sending him off to the Marines or something. Why on earth would a girl tie herself to some dope who's going to jail?"

"Yes, Mother, we agree with you," said Meelyn with finality.

"I should totally be running that radio show," I said, and kissed Aisling goodbye.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This just in...

Remember these? I don't think I've seen pantyhose packaged in the actual L'eggs egg form since....the night of my high school graduation? Anyway, I was just browsing through the Femail section of the U.K. Daily Mail, and I have just discovered that panty hose are OUT, a total fashion no-no. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (the former Kate Middleton and new bride of Prince William) was excoriated with vigor in the Mail for wearing "nude tights," which the features editor severely claimed made her look "middle-aged and dated."

A couple of weeks ago, People online had an article with the breathless title "Is Kate Bringing Back Sheer Pantyhose?" which makes it sound as if she's hauling them in on a cargo ship and then driving around on a forklift in a warehouse, stacking pallets of hosiery.

I make no claims on being a fashionista, but I wasn't aware that tights, er....hose, ever went out of style. Are you telling me that businesswomen going to meetings and teachers in classrooms and female lawyers arguing cases in court, not to mention all the people going to church and funeral homes and fancy-dress dances are going to these places with bare legs? I know that our culture dresses down a lot and also that women don't wear skirts and dresses as often as they used to, but still. Still. I mean, not everyone has a perfect pair of pins that are ready to show off to the critical public eye.

What are you supposed to do with that scar you got from a bike wreck when you were fifteen? Or those veins on the backs of your knees? Or your pallid skin with variable hues that range from salt white to marble white to snow white? Well, I'll tell you: you're supposed to be smearing self-tanner on them, according to a How-To article I read on Yahoo. That way your undressed legs can go from Crayola orange to Sharpie orange to traffic cone orange, and won't that be a big improvement?

Nobody wants to wear those horrible "sun-tan" pantyhose from the seventies, but I thought the entire point of nude hosiery was to make your legs look, well, NUDE. As in, the color of your skin, with all the minor imperfections in texture and hue nicely covered up.

Why is that considered middle-aged?

If it is, then put me on the list with the duchess. When I wear skirts and dresses, I like that "nude tights" look.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My personal idea of hell on earth

I was at our local YMCA this morning, dragging myself out of the pool after an hour of water aerobics (don't be too impressed - I'm a member of the Silver Splash class where the lady closest to me in age graduated from high school with Calvin Coolidge) and one lady said, as she slipped on her flip-flops and picked up her towel and swim cap, "I'm going camping with my son and daughter-in-law and grandkids this weekend, so I'm going home to take a shower."

We all made that "ahhhhhh!!!" noise associated with grannies getting to spend time with the grandkids and she continued, "I just feel like I never really get my best shower here, and since we're going to be gone until Sunday evening and I won't get a bath or a shower until then, I want to make it a good one."

"You won't get to take a shower until Sunday evening?" another lady asked dubiously. "You must be camping rough."

"Yes, with a tent and everything," said camping lady, "but it's worth it to be able to spend time with the kids!"

My heart sank down to my bare toes. Honestly, I managed to find one of the few men in this area who, due to experiences in the Army with camping outdoors during the winter, refuses to camp, fish, hike or shoot animals with gun or arrow, thus extracting myself from the possibility of close association with the great outdoors. I have brought Meelyn and Aisling up to fervently believe that Nature is best viewed through windows, behind which we can enjoy either the central air conditioning or the central heating, whichever is appropriate. But I'd never really considered until that moment that someday, they meet men who actually want to go outside and stay there, and those men may influence my sweet girls into thinking that spending all weekend out in this terrible 90 degree summer heat and sweltering in an airless tent and cooking on a teeny little Coleman stove (or worse yet, a campfire) and going showerless for days on end is a fun way to bond.

And they may drag my innocent grandchildren into that mess.

And! I, as a doting grandma, might have to GO WITH THEM and live in outdoorsy squalor in order to prove my devotion.

As I drove home from the YMCA, I pondered whether or not I actually love anyone in this world enough to voluntarily spend the weekend in a tent, unbathed. I don't think I do. I will pack them up the most awesome picnic basket ever, and even tuck in some citronella candles and an Aim-n-Flame. I will stand on my front porch to wave goodbye and shout, "I love you! Have a great time! See you on Sunday!"

But I don't think I can actually go along. Unless maybe my husband and I can somehow obtain one of them camper-truck things like in the picture above. It looks like that vehicle is big enough to at least have a sink where I can splash my face, brush my teeth and take a sponge bath. I could probably do that for a weekend, for the sake of my daughters and grandchildren.

But I'm telling you, I already don't like those sons-in-law.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Things that make you go "eeeewwwww...."

So today for lunch I was scavenging around in the fridge looking for something to eat and I came across half a baked potato, left over from dinner the other night when the first half was enough and the second half too much.

"Tasty!" I thought, and pulled it off the shelf and popped it in the microwave.

While I was waiting for it to nuke, I got a package of shredded cheese out of that same fridge, and then happily remembered one of those little packets of Oscar Mayer bacon bits that was in the cupboard. A cheese and bacon potato (accompanied by a number of sliced jalapeno peppers, of course) sounded like a perfect lunch.

When the microwave timer dinged, I took out the potato and threw some shredded cheese and the bacon bits on it, added my hot peppers and a little salt and popped the top on a Diet Coke. It was really, really good.

Until I finished.

Getting up from the table, I picked up the packet of bacon bits, preparatory to putting them back in the cabinet. In doing so, my eye happened to fall on a sentence in red letters printed on the little zip-seal bag: BEST IF EATEN WITHIN FOURTEEN DAYS AFTER OPENING.

Oh dear, I thought. I know those things have been in there for at least three months. Maybe longer. I can't even remember when I bought them.

Which is when my eyes fell on the sentence directly below that one:


All of a sudden, my baked potato didn't seem so tasty. I've been waiting all afternoon with a sense of impending doom for the throwing up to start, but so far so good. Unless they make their way through my digestive tract and instead of throwy-uppy, I....

Oh, it just doesn't bear thinking about. Is it too late to get my stomach pumped?

Monday, July 11, 2011

When they heard about the new Mass translation coming this Advent...

...these sisters went a-frolicking! Seriously, a lot of us are looking forward to the new/old Mass, which is making its debut on November 27, 2011, the first Sunday of Advent. The reason why I call it new/old is because it is a more consistent translation of the Latin Mass, which was used throughout the world until the 1960s, when it became possible for people to pray the Mass in the vernacular: French in France, German in Germany, English in the United States, Spanish in Mexico. However, the general thought has always been that the Novus Ordo (New Order) translation was a bit, well, hippy-dippy.

For instance, during the Mass when the priest would say, "Dominus vobiscum" in Latin, the reply from the congregation was, "Et cum spiritu tuo." That means, "May the Lord be with you," the response being, "And with thy spirit."

In the Novus Ordo Mass, the priest would say in English, "May the Lord be with you," with the congregation responding, "And also with you."


Mike McLeish, my fellow teacher in our parish's seventh/eighth grade religious education class, told our students one Sunday, "It's as if the phrase was dumbed down a bit, if you see what I mean. 'And also with you' isn't really a good translation of 'And with thy spirit.' It's a bit...." He looked over at me.

"Informal," I supplied.

One of our students, a smart eighth grader with a great sense of humor, spoke up: "It's sort of like the priest saying, 'May the Lord be with you,' and the congregation saying, 'And RIGHT BACK ATCHA.'"

Yes. Just exactly like that. So splash and leap and kick in the waves, Sisters! Rejoice in the coming of a new translation! But seriously, I would draw the line at jet-ski rental.

Monday, July 4, 2011

NUNDAY: It's a grand old flag

This Dominican sister is proud of being an American, waving her flag to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to the United States a few years back. There's just something very nice, I feel, in seeing a sister in a traditional habit seated amongst all the ordinary business suits and dresses. I liked this nun in particular because even clothed in the garb that Dominican religious have worn for hundreds of years, she's still very much the modern woman, so excited to see Il Papa, she's even brought her binoculars.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bridesmaid revisited

My mom raised me to be a smiler, and also that it is a social solecism to point my finger in the shape of a gun and say "POW!" when they annoy me. So I go about smiling at folks, even when the best they offer me in return is a grim look from a sour face.

It used to be that you could generally coax a smile from another woman, and elderly ones would often say things like "Hello" or "Good morning" and men will generally nod pleasantly. But these days, it's hard to raise a smile from anyone and I'm starting to feel a bit stupid, pushing my shopping cart through the grocery store and beaming at people like a fruitcake. People never smile back anymore, and instead look at me at best as if I have some truly unfortunate assortment of dental problems going on (and I don't - I use tooth-whitening toothpaste and I wore braces on my teeth from ages 18-22 and I've only had one cavity in my whole life, so there's nothing there to offend anyone) or at worst as if they'd like to knock me down in the aisle and roll their buggies over my head.

So I'm thinking maybe I'll be able to wake people up a little if I start doing the finger-pistol thing.

What do you think? Grin or gun?