Thursday, April 30, 2009

Caution Drags Her Family Down Memory Lane

We took a much-too-quick trip to Kentucky recently. Our first night seemed a portent of success when we found a room for $40!! Can you imagine? Other than the fact that we refused to allow our children to take their shoes off inside the room and threatened them with severe punishments if they touched the blankets, it was lovely.

We then detoured to have breakfast with our favorite University of Kentucky nephew. What a difference to see him as a college man.

After that, a quick stop at SONIC!!! Love that lemon-berry slush.

Next stop, Morehead State University, a much-loved alma mater for mom, siblings, and me.

After this stop at the school lake where my luggage fell out of the car and I lost my new and favorite eye liner, we went in search of a better photo op with a school sign. (Checkered is still in shock that a college could have such a name), but just before we got to the sign, I managed to rip the bottom off my slush and the ENTIRE precious drink emptied itself onto my lap. We found the sign, and my husband could NOT understand why I refused to get out in my soaking wet lemon-berry pants and take a photo. I suppose the hundreds of college students milling about the sign would have preferred the humor had I gotten out of the vehicle.

The Red Buds (how did we ever time it right this year??) provided solace for my now freezing pants and lost slush.

After attempting to make the kids car sick via a rural, but gorgeous route, we arrived at my parents' home and spent the next few days enjoying all things Eastern Kentucky. 

We play a mean Phase 10 and do NOT cheat when playing partners.

I closed my eyes for this photo because there are some things a mother shouldn't see.

Hail, hail, oh Giovanni's where the grease swims freely on the pizza.   I would travel 350 miles for one slice, thank-you.

And how about another Eastern Kentucky favorite: Ale 81 (a late one) - ginger ale with caffeine!!!
Because my kids were in the Holy Land, they got to drink it at 10 am AND 10 pm.
My daughter loves Kentucky and her grandparents, but a big thrill was going out on Friday night with her very sweet and smart cousin. My girl fretted about her hair and clothing; I fretted about the fact that my niece is a fairly new driver. They did, however, arrive home safely and my daughter has a favorite new memory.

And now, back to reality.

P.S. Pam (with whom I was texting at the time of my slush "incident") is NOT to add any additional info to this post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cashless at Bedtime

Sometimes the Tooth Fairy is forced to improvise.

And now, a clarification:  as much as I wish I could quilt, I don't even sew.  For me, getting those pesky Boy Scout badges on is a bloody task, and I do mean that literally. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quilt Show Irregular

I am happy to report that I went to my first quilt show,
and learned some things you need to know.

  • Quiltese is an official language. It's very difficult to learn and may sound suspiciously like English, but you mustn't be fooled. Smile, nod, and keep your mouth shut if you don't speak it.

  • I know one Quiltese word and am trying to incorporate it into every conversation. When I say, "strongarm" "longarm," I sound incredibly smart.

  • If you need to feel young, attend a show and take a gander at the crowd.

  • Some quilt show attendees are catty. "I don't like her colors AT ALL," was a phrase I heard more than once.

  • Those catty people are probably sore losers.

  • Quilters are amazingly artistic and creative.

  • And patient. Can you imagine spending months or years on one quilt?

  • If I were a quilter, I would invest in a sports car or yacht longarm machine.

  • One quilt there had approximately 5,000 pieces!

  • It's maybe not good manners to walk right up to a quilt just as someone is taking a picture of it. The back of my head went home on more than one camera.

  • When I won a door prize, the lady behind me got rather indignant. She wanted my fabric. I didn't give in to the pressure.

  • Quilting is not necessarily a cost-effective hobby.

  • We were given plastic gloves to wear in case we desired to touch a quilt.

  • My friend, Mrs. Caisson, wore hers long enough to accumulate condensation in it, but then used her ungloved hand to touch the quilts again and again and again. That mistake, along with the horrified looks on the faces of the people around us, raised our endorphin levels significantly.
  • Quilters are good at naming their quilts:
Flying Pinwheels
I Wooly Love Ewe
Don't Try This at Home (Without Help)
Lunch Box Short a Sandwich (a Jill quilt)
  • And lastly, it's very easy to type quit instead of quilt.
  • I may well attend another show now.  Who would've guessed?

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Nice That She Cares, But ...

I am attempting to crawl out from under
17 tons
of laundry today,
so just one brief reflection from
the week-end.

For the record:
I do NOT appreciate the
way my dog feels she must groom me
when I exit the hot tub.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


"Chrysler could file bankruptcy next week

By Micheline Maynard and Michael J. de la Merced
The New York Times
updated 7:06 p.m. ET, Thurs., April 23, 2009

DETROIT - The Treasury Department is preparing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for Chrysler that could come as soon as next week, people with direct knowledge of the action said Thursday..."

Now, if you all will excuse me, I will be safely in bed until further notice.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Checkered: 2 Caution: 1

I have a man friend. Yes, a man. We like to chat after our kids go into school in the mornings and we talk while we wait for them to emerge from the school in the afternoon. Our paths also cross at various after-school events. It's a comfortable acquaintance and no big deal except that Checkered isn't thrilled that I have a man friend who is more comfortable with me than he is with Checkered.

Then, the other night, Checkered got a call from a PTA person. She loves my husband. Really. Truly. He's her go-to guy for certain school events, and how she can't stop thanking him is a bit sickening. She even noticed that Checkered shaved his beard off before I did. I think she needs more fast food. That might satisfy her need to gush and ooh and aah over something.

And gushing women and fast food reminds me of a certain teacher who was a bit too enthusiastic about my husband showing up to a Valentine's Day party. I had worked in her classroom several times that year. Not one thank-you from her. Then the party was planned and I suggested to Checkered that he go to spend school time with our child. I reminded him. I volunteered to stay home yet one more day with our younger kids so he could go. And that teacher who had not appreciated how I had juggled schedules to help in her classroom, couldn't stop gushing over Checkered at that party. She announced to the other adults that he deserved a medal for being at the party. "Oooh, Mr. Flag, how wonderful that you are here." "What a great dad you must be!" The mothers at that party - to whom the teacher did NOT speak that day - were quick to call me and report Checkered's great triumph.

So, after much brainstorming, I have a solution. Really, there is only one thing to do. Let's hope the teacher and the PTA lady don't recognize the new, incognito Checkered.

(I happen to think you're even sexier this way, Checkered!! And you're all mine:)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I've Joined Them

I don't have much tolerance for people who are one-uppers like these:

Oh, no. A basketball net thingie just fell on Checkered's car!
Well, that's nothing. We had a basketball thingie and the child attached to it fall on our car!

We have ADD living in our house.
Too bad, but we have ADHD living in ours!

I can't believe I came in here for a gallon of milk and just spent $127.
I only came in here to use the bathroom and it cost me $289.

Pepper the puppy ate a Lego set.
How much was it worth?
I don't know. $10?
Okay, that's good because our dog ate my glasses. That was a $400 snack.

I have a crazy student in my class this term.
I'm sorry, but I have a crazy student and I'm crazy, too.

My butt is getting bigger.
Yes, it is.

(Sometimes they take a little one-upping break...)

It was a dark day recently when someone said to me,
"I see that your son has a lazy eye."

And I simply couldn't stop myself:
His eye is NOT lazy. It's called Duane Retraction Syndrome and it's a disorder for which there is no surgical intervention. It's sooooo much more than a lazy eye.

Perhaps spurred by the stricken look on the face of the other person, I had an epiphany. I had become one of THEM!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Water IS Expensive, You Know

A few years ago, I was flower hunting.  As I drove up the street where my kids' schools are, on the left was a moderately-sized nursery.  But on my right was a very small greenhouse with a VISA sign hanging out front.  I love underdogs and I never carry cash, so the decision was easy.
Eventually I made my way through the plants and realized that I was totally lost.  The proprietor offered his assistance and I told him my woes of failing to keep any plant alive longer than a minute.  He then asked me what my habits were.  It was a strange question and an odd turn to the conversation, but I quickly reviewed my habits:  eating ice cream with a fork, putting one sock and shoe on before the second sock and shoe, rocking myself to sleep, and so on.  Just as I was about to confess all these habits to him, I heard him again asking about my WATERING habits.
 I answered.  But I didn't want him to think I was a bad gardener, so I actually greatly inflated the number of waterings I really gave my plants.
  He said, "How odd.  You see, most people understand that plants are living things and need water sometimes.  Why are you hellbent of starving your plants to death?"
He laughed. I didn't.
The original purpose of this post was to announce that we planned to plant a garden this year - my first.  After rereading this, perhaps it is best if I announce that we may try a single tomato plant.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

He Pulled Them Out By Himself

The vestiges of babyhood continue to slip away.
Oh! Wait! I said a while ago that I was going to embrace change as my kids grow.
Look! A new hole where a straw  two straws can fit!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

Once upon a time, Checkered was a teen-ager. One day, he went to his girl friend's house. On his way to the house, he experienced a moment he thought he had experienced previously. It was an odd feeling, and he felt he needed to share the experience. So he arrived at his destination, greeted his girlfriend's mother, and INTENDED to say, "I just had a deja vu." Unfortunately, his brain didn't cooperate, and what he told his girlfriend's mother was,

"I just had a menage a trois."

The mother was not one bit amused at the brain blip.

For years, though, I have loved that story and it has become family lore. Such a humorous example of how goofy our minds are. I have also loved that story because my brain is soooooo
superior to Checkered's. Those brain blips never happen to me.

Until recently.

We were drifting off toward slumber the other night when a Seinfeld commercial came on the television. Checkered commented that as funny as Seinfeld was, he just had no desire to watch it again. I intended to concur by saying,

"I know what you mean. I really can't stand to watch any type of rerun now."

But what actually came out of my mouth was,

"I know what you mean. I really can't stand to watch any type of hemorrhoid now."

I suppose that means I won't be able to ever again tease Checkered for his menage a trois.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shameless Sales Pitch

Look at this interesting family just back from Easter service. The service was nice and the sun was shining, so they said, "Time for a family picture." Twenty shots later, they had four pictures where all 12 eyes were open.

WHAT is wrong with the mother's hand? Maybe she's flashing a gang symbol.

Of course, there were others where the faces looked fine, but the mother's posterior was enormous. You won't see those shots here.

Marlene likes this one, but the mother's leg appears to be at an odd angle. And it is all about the mother here.

Closed eyes. Big butts. Odd appendages. But you know what the family did right? They ordered their quilted pictures from Jill. She's nice. She even came to their 14 year old's birthday dinner. Sweet, huh?

So, wanna order your own quilted picture?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Loving Lit Just a While Longer

Just because I am sure you can't wait to read the end of the list, here are the authors I've loved and still love.
We continue with the beloved Southern writers.

13. Kate Chopin: The Story of an Hour, The Awakening
14. Eudora Welty: I love her name about as much as I love her writing style.
15. John Grisham: He may not be considered a true Southern writer, but he's John Grisham!
16. Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
17. Billy Clark: from my region of Kentucky and the guy who writes circles around my county's favorite son, Jesse Stuart

Now, we have the final section.

18. Beverly Lewis: Her innocent Amish novels get me every time.
19. LaVyrle Spencer: I read every one of her novels (multiple times) and each one promised me that my prince would find me.
20. Catherine Marshall: Christy and Julie. Meeting God at Every Turn revolutionized my own faith journey.
21. Michael Connelly: The Brass Verdict.
22. Nevada Barr: Her heroine, Anna Pigeon, is a national parks ranger who tends to the needs of tourists while surviving murder attempts. I want to be Anna Pigeon. Well, maybe not the attempted murder...
23. Lisa Scottoline: I spent one vacation walking around Philadelphia pretending to be her characters. Really.
24. Elinor Lipman: I'm thinking of moving in right next door to her just so I can be the first one to buy each of her books. They're that good.

and, finally, my all-time favorite novel:
25. Annie Proulx: The Shipping News

That's it! You made it to the end :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Loving Lit

Jeannelle wants to know 25 authors I've read and loved in the past and which authors I currently read and love (can you imagine learning English as a non-native speaker?!)

First, my favorite reading story. One dark Massachusetts evening when I was quite young, I took myself and a book into my room and read it cover to cover. It was the first time I was completely "lost" in a book. It may well have been my first "big" book, but the joy of the memory for me is my mom's reaction. She was simply so proud of me and called me a reader. Then she moved a lamp into my room because "readers need good light." And I was forever hooked.

1. Margret and H.A. Rey: My first book was one of the Curious George series. Several years ago, my mom gave me the complete set in honor of that long-ago Massachusetts evening.
2. Virginia Lee Burton: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
3. Robert McCloskey: Make Way for Ducklings
4. Carl Sandburg: his biography of Lincoln was my first grown-up trilogy. It took me years to get through.

Then I got to high school and discovered that I "got" lit and my college major was decided.
5. Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage
6. Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady
7. Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House, Hedda Gabbler
8. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables, The Scarlet Letter
9. Edgar Allan Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart
10. Herman Melville: Moby Dick
11. John Greenleaf Whittier: I LOVED his poetry until I took a class and learned that the critics deride his stuff. I am still recovering from that shock.
12. Jonathan Swift: I use A Modest Proposal in class and relish how many students take it literally.

#13-25 (and lighter fare) coming tomorrow, if you can stand it.

Now, I have a 7 hour trip ahead of me tonight. Any reading suggestions??

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's Like Picking at a Scab

At what point
should the mother say to the teacher,
"My child is playing you like a Stradivarius"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Curiosity WILL Get the Better of Me

Two week-ends, two moving vans, one furniture store delivery, one appliance store delivery and just like that, the foreclosed house across the street has new residents.  And that means that I have new neighbors.

Knowing me like you do, friendly - gracious - kind, you probably believe I've been over there with house-warming gifts and full meals.  I'm sure you think I must be the greatest neighbor ever to lend a hand like that...

...wait.  Who are we talking about here? Me??  I'm all confused!

Of course I've haven't been over.  Haven't delivered one cookie or one good wish. WHY??

It's all the old neighbors' fault.  You see, for the last decade that house has been occupied by an entire Eastern European nation.  Countless generations have moved through that house at all hours of the day and night.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of them have arrived in their late model European import cars and greeted each other very loudly.  They've said good-bye at 2 A.M. each MONDAY morning and hugged and yelled and beeped horns and yelled some more.  They've refused to acknowledge that I've smiled and said hello as we cross paths on the sidewalk.  On multiple occasions, they've begun  building projects complete with whining saws beginning at midnight - outside on the front lawn.  They've driven far over the speed limit through our sub.  Cut the corners way too closely and quickly as I attempted to get through the intersections. Repeatedly parked in front of other houses so that those residents had no where for their own guests to park. AND failed to fix their brakes causing them to frequently use their other cars as stopping blocks.

I'll admit, it doesn't sound so bad now, but it is going to take me a minute or two to see just who these new neighbors are.  The police have been over there once already, so we'll see.  In the meantime, I'll be figuring out which cookies to make as a house-warming gift - because that's just who I am. Kind of.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Candles

How, baby girl, is it possible that you are turning 14?
And WHAT is Michigan thinking by beginning drivers training at 14 years, 8 months??

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Things That Make You Go Hmmm"

The only things I intended to do were blow my nose and wash my hands. Isn't that what a bathroom is for? Evidently not. For when I burst through the door in search of tissue, I became party to an animated conversation between two stalls at opposite ends of the row.

The conversation wasn't typical bathroom gabbing though. No exchanges about men or shopping or coworkers. It was an intense intellectual debate regarding the writing abilities of certain authors. One stall loved the emotional expression of a certain writer, but the other stall doubted the writer's technical acumen.

I hesitated to blow because it would have been so embarrassing to have one stall call out to the other, "Excuse me! I missed your last literary criticism because someone so rudely interrupted us with a noise!"

So I waited and sniffed quietly and knew I could hold out until someone flushed. But luck was not with me because the conversation got only louder when one stall flushed. There was not even a little tiny pause in the flow of words when it happened. If anything, the other stall knew her time was limited and and she began to speak more quickly and with more passion.

Stall one opened its doors, and goodness gracious! There was a person in there! And that person was someone with whom I once attended a meeting. We even had conversation at that meeting, but since the close of that meeting, this person has looked at me with a glazed and confused expression, as if to say, "Please don't make eye contact with me anymore. Your very presence here is a mystery to me."

So there she was, desperately rooted to her spot just outside the stall while the other stall continued to talk and talk and talk. Faster. Louder. The stall was desperate because she knew that she was going to be "indisposed" a while longer BUT her audience was finished and might leave. And then I knew the person looking at me was stuck. She had willingly walked into a deep bathroom conversation thinking it would last two minutes. But now she was being held hostage by the uninterrupted philosophy issuing forth from the stall.

I looked at the talking stall. I looked at the person in front of me with those haunted eyes begging my intervention. I looked at the rough tissue and abusively dry soap. And the decision was made.

I sniffed one last time, nodded toward the door, and graciously said, "Here, let me get the door for you because I never did blow my nose and wash my hands. I already have germs." We walked out together as the talking stall continued to hold literary court in the bathroom.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My New Axe

My family gave me a new guitar for my birthday. That gift was such a sweet gesture that I have been playing it incessantly. However, as a guitarist, I stink. Royally.

In seeking to understand this problem, I have explored all possible causes and I have found that I am anatomically incompatible with guitars. Not that that explains the foggy chords really.

So what is one to do it is discovered that he or she is guitarly impaired?

Obviously, the answer is to play very, very loudly.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Little Joy

My table has very low self-esteem. Dangerously low. It doesn't know who it is. Bed or table?
It frets about what others think of it. Is it pretty enough? Useful enough? Durable enough?

And it feels unloved sometimes.
But Marlene. Beautiful, lovely, clever Marlene loves my table.

And I love Marlene.

Monday, April 6, 2009

She's a Winner!

Remember these?
The race is over and we have a winner!! After typing the names of everyone who entered the giveaway, cutting, folding, and begging someone in this family to act interested, fighting the hoards of people hanging around just hoping to see the finish  -- it's offical.

The custom-made quilted picture is headed to Iowa and my favorite dairy farmer, JEANNELLE.
Congratulations, dear friend!!  We can't wait to see the finished product.

Don't lose hope.  If you would like to order your own quilted picture, please let me know and my quilting/artist friend, Jill, will contact you directly with an estimate.  Her rates are reasonable, her work is beautiful, and that precious fridge art will be preserved forever.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I am Pretty Sure that I am Still Alive

Birthday update:  My youngest boy was singing to me yesterday, "Are you 1, are you 2, are you 3.." and so on.  His brother interrupted by saying, "This will take forever.  We better just count by 20's."

Now on to the post:
It has been my pleasure lot in life to make an unintentional mistake or two this week. Here, for your own edification, is a brief grouping of Caution's Life Lessons.

1. Baked potatoes are not enhanced by substituting sugar for salt.
2. The Walmart knock-off of Olay's Regenerist does not sooth dry, tired eyes.
3. Dove body wash should not be used when shampoo and hair with body are desired.
4. Colgate toothpaste is a lousy hair gel.

and lastly, for your pondering:
5. Lemi Shine (for sparkling glasses and shine) and BeneFiber may look alike, but they're NOT!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Checkered Flag Speaks and Renders Caution Silent

Perhaps you haven't heard about my giveaway/giveaway/giveaway/giveaway??

And now Checkered takes the wheel:

It’s my wife’s birthday and I have asked if I could venture out into her cyber world of friends with some thoughts about her. I could do one of those clever acronyms or acrostics but those seem so cliché. I could attach a bunch of lovely pictures of her, documenting our lives together but she’s really not in many of those, she’s usually on the other side of the camera. So I think I’ll just go down the line and tell you all the great things she is.

She’s a discoverer. My wife seems to be constantly discovering things about herself. And with that, we get to discover them too. It can be anything: blogging, a new musical instrument, a recipe for crunchy cookies (I’m for that), an interior décor theme (we may not always act on them but she still has the ideas), …

She’s a trier (is that a word?). As “cautious” as she is, she’s not afraid to go out and get that guitar, buy that paint (and stripe the wall with it), ask me to invent that Tony Little Gazelle exerciser and computer desk combo (patent still pending), keep buying dogs until we get it right. I think we’re good now.

She’s sexy. OK, so the Victoria’s Secrets Christmas kit turned into a giggle fest before she made me take it all back, I still find her to be extremely hot.

Smart, she’s very smart. I know you all know how smart and clever she is. I don’t let just anyone do my homework. I thank God for blessing me with a partner that I can share the wheel with. If it were just me and a half wit wife, I’d be terrified to navigate a family through this race course (a little corny NASCAR throw back). I take great comfort in having a wife that questions my decisions.

She’s a fantastic mom. Health, school, sports, music, she’s got it all covered. I pity the teachers and doctors who don’t seem to have a clue about what our precious children need. Caution will not rest until her kitty cats are taken care of.

One of my favorites, she’s silly. I’m all about silliness. That may well be what we have the most in common. Don’t ever do a hippo yawn in front of her, you just may get her finger in your mouth (sorry, Honey). She loves to bring up “sensitive” topics to discuss with our daughter in front of all of us then stands back to watch the fireworks. That’s always good for some laughs. The Victoria Secrets thing, ahhh…, we’ll skip over that one.

She’s Godly. Not to be confused with “Holy.” She always seems to keep the family well grounded in our spiritual walks, even though we haven’t found the “perfect” traditionally contemporary church. My wife has a beautiful spiritual way about her. She’s introduced you to Christ and sometimes you don’t even realize it.

Last but not least, she is selfless. My wife would give you her last DQ Blizzard if it would make you happy (OK, maybe she’d think on that one a moment and then give it to you). My wife is one of the champion gift buyers of the world. I don’t know how she does it. If you just think it, she’s on line trying to find it. I once tried to match her skills, only to end up buying her the complete (every episode ever made) Waltons DVD set. I was ordered to send that back too but she did give me credit for trying.

Well, it looks like a long winded document now and I’m sure she’s going to pare this down and edit the heck out of it before she posts it to her page. Bottom line, I love my wife and I thank God that she has come into my life and made it so beautiful. She has taken me so much further that I would have ever gone without her. Thanks for believing in me, Babe. I hope you had a wonderful birthday. You deserve many days that celebrate you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Menu and GIVEAWAY!!


I love cake. It calls to me like nothing else I've ever experienced. Okay, that's an untruth. Ice cream works equally well.

My mom was always very creative with my birthday cakes. They reflected whatever my interests were at the time. A fire truck (yes, I was a tomboy) one year. Another year it was the Easter Bunny because my birthday was on Easter.

Then I grew up and got married and Checkered doesn't bake, so we went through some dry spells at birthday time. Then I discovered the Michigan Bumpy cake.

You gutter minds may just keep your comments to yourselves (actually, you can email them to me because I would really love to read them, but I am trying to be mature this week blogwise)
If the Bumpy Cake doesn't work, we could just go to Tim Hortons since my Lenten abstinence is ALMOST over and THo's will soon be back in my life.

Then again, I do believe the Dairy Maid may be opening soon.

Maybe I should just head to Alaska and have Miss Ladies of the House whip up one of her magical creations.

Too many decisions for an indecisive person.

What is your favorite birthday cake?