Friday, April 29, 2011

Visiting and viewing...

In spite of my chronic hermititude, I have managed to make a few friends along the way.

Today I visited with one such friend, my pal Edwidge. There are some things you should know about Edwidge.

Firstly, she's french.

Secondly, she's beautiful.

I'm not being nice or exaggerating here people, she is gorgeous and when you add a french accent- well, the rest of us housewives look like a bunch of stuttering trolls. Luckily, she is very sweet and kind and so she is loved in spite of her beauty and fancy accent.

The last few times I have run into her, Edwidge has been filling me in on some of her home projects. She recently rearranged her entire downstairs based upon a little bit of curb side trash picking.

See this table?

This is a table which Amy put out on her curb. Edwidge found it, took it home and painted it. So cute! She liked it so much that she brought down a couple of bookcases from her bedroom and painted those too!

I love the simple elegance of this room. It is so soothing and uncluttered, yet very warm and inviting.

A lamp, a frame and some flowers on a beautiful piano. So lovely.

When I followed her up the stairs I swooned. The light comes into the unadorned window and is caught by this plant whose leaves are echoed in the candle holders on the wall. The wall is a silver grey and the woodwork is pure gleaming white.

Even though Edwidge has more closet space than she knows what to do with, she is using this beautiful armoire to hold linens.

I tried to think of ways I could sneak this into my car without her noticing, but alas my ninja furniture stealing skills could use some work.

Edwidge's house is a great example of how to create a home which is a reflection of personal style. Clean lines, warm colors and her distinctive touches make this home a place which stands out without being fussy or overdone.  An inspiration!

Good coffee, english spoken with a french accent and lovely conversation. A perfect morning.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A litany of woes...

A recap of the last 120 hours:

1. Leave on Friday with the kids for the cape. David was to meet us there Saturday but instead...
2. David gets a stomach virus! David spends many hours barfing. We tell him not to try to come to the cape. He weeps in gratitude.
3. Lily spends Saturday and Sunday on my Dad's couch coughing, sneezing and blowing. Rebecca spends Saturday and Sunday worrying that she will get David's bug or Lily's cold.
4. Get home Monday morning. See wet cat footprints all over the house. Go to the basement where I find...
5. Water all over the floor! Assume that the water is from all of the rain we've been having. Start running dehumidifiers and curse my basement.
6. Several hours later hear David say, "Hey! There's no hot water!"
7. Feel a cold wave of horror as I realize where the water is coming from.
8. Confirm leaky water heater.
9. Swear loudly.
10. Call plumber at 6:30pm. Leave message.
11. Spend an hour heating pots of water on the stove and bringing them upstairs so that I can have a bath. Twelve trips up the stairs with scalding water and I have my tub. As god is my witness, I will not got to bed without my tub!
12. Go to bed. Listen to Lily cough.
13. 7:22 am the phone rings. It's the plumber. "Did I call too early?" I try to fake it, "Nope! I've been up for hours!"
14. Good news! The tank is still under warranty! Bad news- I have fifteen minutes to get dressed before the plumber gets here.
15. Plumber sends over new young plumbers. They look sixteen. I contemplate my own age. Realize I have become old.
16. Plumbers install new tank. Joy!
17. Load the dishwasher, set it to run and sit down in the next room with a cup of coffee and try to ignore the wet footprints, cat hair and dirty laundry all over the floor.
18. Hmmmmm. Dishwasher sounds much louder than usual.
19. Go into kitchen to witness a tsunami of dirty dishwasher water cascading across the floor.
20. Swear very, very loudly.
21. Call the plumber. Again. He insists the water heater would have nothing to do with the dishwasher problem.
22. Plumber boys return. They investigate dishwasher and confirm that the seals are leaking.
23. Dishwasher too old to repair.
24. Sit in my filthy kitchen and contemplate my life.

I sat there for a while. I had a little ice cream and sat in the sun. I spent a little time in denial, because denial can be a nice place to visit.

Finally I went back in the house and gave David the task of finding a new dishwasher. He tried to volley it back to me and so finally, we picked one together.  Once the dishwasher was settled I began the miserable task of pulling wet junk out of the basement. There is nothing like a wet basement to inspire me to get rid of everything I own.

After I was done in the basement I cleaned the cat footprints from the stairs and floors, washed the kitchen floor of grime and horror and had a nice long bath.

My house is cleanish, the basement is dryish and my checkbook is empty.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday junking!

Remember back in the olden days when I still sent my children to school and I had so many beautiful hours in the day to tidy and cook and tend to things? Those were magical days in their own quiet way, in the same way that my days with my children home full time are magical noisy days.

Back then I used to treat myself to a weekly junk trip on Fridays. I would drop the children off at school, hop in my car and be the very first to arrive at Urban Renewals. Fridays mornings are an excellent time to junk. The hipsters are either still sleeping or in class studying the meaning of Lady Gaga in the context of the economic development of the tupperware industry. Just me and my fellow junkers enjoying a quiet morning.

I miss having my weekly junk ritual, but I have found that I am able to slip away for some junking on Friday afternoons.  Today I junked a bit with Amy and found some treasures.

This sweet little vintage suitcase was just the right size to carry home some of my treasures. Inside are an oilcloth totebag and blue painted mirror which needed to come home with me.

These cushions are the perfect size and color for the wicker chairs on my porch.

You know, when I started this post about two hours ago, I was awake and perky, but now I am very tired.

Instead of a proper concluding sentence I will give you dog pictures.

Good night.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Art imitates life...

Today Amy presented me with a gift based upon my conversation with Ms. Perky Bear Lady at the Build a Bear store the other day. You may recall that when my children dragged me into that horrible store, Ms. Perky Bear Lady asked me, "What brings you to Build a Bear today?"

My response: "Ennui."

Meet my new bear, Henwi. He is the twisted bear child of Amy.

He knows that life is meaningless so he smokes clove cigarettes. Rebecca thought that this was inappropriate behavior for a bear, but I told her that we would make an exception for Henwi.

In addition to his clove cigarette and beret, he came with a letter and a book.


My name ees Henwi. Some bourgeouis fool haz paid zee money to zee aristrocracy zat I may belong to you. Eeet makes no difference- we will all die one day. Do wees me as you weesh.

You see here a peecture of my heart, before zey stuffed it een my open, gaping wound. You weel see zat eet ess black, and tattered, also zat eet bleeds. Pourquois pas? Laff ees absurd.

                                                                                      Yours onteel death,

The book is full of heartbreak and sadness.

"Pourquois? l' mort. La bourgeoisie est la nausee et aussi de l'estrager. Un jour Je serais un ours en peluche morts. Fin."

He has a dark heart, befitting such a bear.

I will find a dark corner of the house where he can brood and smoke angrily. Undoubtedly, he'll try to seduce some of the Monster High dolls who also enjoy dark corners and sulking. I predict some unfortunate ursine poetry will come out of the inevitable drama. Hopefully the Monster High dolls will go easy on him.

I think the bear is in trouble. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A day of celebration...

Yesterday morning I did not sleep until 9am like I usually do. Instead, I was shaken awake at 7am by Lily who shrieked, "It's my BIRTHDAY!!!!!" in my ear. And so it was.

First she made her way through a pile of presents. Highlights included a bike helmet in the shape of a shark, a sling shot monkey which makes terrified monkey sounds as it flies across the room and an elaborate Playmobil animal feeding station that had about 867 pieces to be assembled and two baby chimps.

A breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and orange juice was enjoyed by all. Amy came over for some birthday cake and then it was off to the movies. We saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 which I found far less traumatizing than the first one. The first one was all about bullies. I hate bullies. This film was less about bullies and more about how to lie to your parents and get away with it. So. Awesome.

David tried to take a picture of Lily at the movie theater but a cranky movie lady said, "No picture taking in the theater." She directed our attention to a sign indicating that no recording devices are allowed and that it is illegal to record movies. I wanted to point out that we were in the lobby and that no movies were playing, and maybe even get the manager involved, but David did not want me to ruin Lily's birthday. Spoil sport.

After the movie we were all getting tired, but we needed to make a trip to the mall so that David could go to Banana Republic and buy a new shirt.

He said to me, "I need a new shirt that is less than Nordstrom's but more than Sears."

I knew where to send him. Banana Republic fit the bill perfectly. While David imagined a new wardrobe for himself at Banana Republic, the kids and I went to Build a Bear. How much do I hate Build a Bear? I hate it completely. The bears are overpriced and the clothes are nothing special. Want proof that they are a waste of money? I find them at junk stores All The Time. Constantly. This does not stop my children from needing to go into the store and contemplate throwing their money away.

We walked into the store and Miss Perky Bear Clerk asked, "What brings you to Build a Bear today?" Reader, I am not proud to admit that I said the first thing which popped into my mind.

"Ennui." I answered.

She blinked and repeated, "Ennui?"

I ushered the children of the store quicker than you can say, "Get me a dictionary, I think I've just been insulted."

After the mall it was time to go out for Lily's birthday dinner. I'd been looking forward to her birthday dinner for weeks. Lily likes food and she made an excellent choice. All you can eat Chinese buffet!  It was awesome! Plate after plate of lo mein and dumplings- pure bliss.

We staggered home, full and tired.

I wish I could say that the day ended peacefully. Sadly, the excitement and fatigue of the day caught up with young Lily, who ended her birthday with a crying/yelling/screaming/throwing fit which I will always remember. I was finally able to calm her by telling her all about the night I went into labor with her and the beautiful moment she entered this world.

Happy Birthday Lily Claire, my weird and wonderful child!

Monday, April 11, 2011

So shiny!

When we first moved into our house nine years ago we had all the floors sanded and refinished. The floor refinishers were only able to get one coat of varnish on because we had a very short window between closing on the house and moving in. We've tried not to be too hard on the floors, but over the years the floors have definitely dulled.

I hate dull. I like shiny! Shiny lip gloss, shiny mirrors and shiny floors.

I spent most of the winter plotting against the floors. White floors work fine upstairs where there is little foot traffic. Downstairs white floors would be dirty all the time and I would have a housewife breakdown. Refinishing them would be both too expensive and unfeasible. Getting all of the people, furniture and animals out of the house long enough to get the floors done would be a logistical nightmare.

I was left with whatever I could find at the Market Basket that promised "shiny". I was skeptical that floor salvation could be found in the crowded cleaning supplies aisle of the Market Basket, but I gave it a shot anyway. I purchased Holloway House Quick Shine Floor Finish (5.99).


People, this stuff in amazing. No one is paying me to say these things. This is completely unsolicited adulation. I used two coats on the floor. Each coat dried in about twenty minutes.

What I saw before my eyes was spectacular! My floors looked brand new! So shiny! So glossy! I called the children down to see and they too sung its praises!  Even my husband noticed!

So there you have it. Floor salvation can be found at the Market Basket for 5.99.

Wonders never cease.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

In which I offend everyone equally...

Every grocery store attracts a different segment of the population.

Whole Foods: Upper middle class or outright rich people, health conscious, status conscious, does not mind burning piles of money on apples that cost 7.99 a pound.

Stop and Shop: Feels like they don't speak enough foreign languages to shop at Whole Foods, is willing to spend too much on groceries that are merely average, enjoys the self scanner guns so they can avoid talking to chronically depressed cashiers.

Trader Joe's: Young and hip. Would like to shop at Whole Foods but their jobs as massage therapists and chakra cleaners prevent them from this. They enjoy the free samples, great music and overall festive mood.

Market Basket: Zombies, drones, cheap housewives, competitive coupon clippers and the entire elderly population of New England.

I have been all of these people over the past decade (except elderly!), but now I am a Market Basket drone. I begin to feel the joy fleeing my soul as I start the car and begin my journey. Once there, I move through the crowded aisles, jostling for 6.99 a case K-cups (7.99 at Stop and Shop, not carried at Trader Joe's, not free range enough for Whole Foods). I have been verbally abused twice at Market Basket. Once a man told me that I should be ashamed of myself because I did not put my cart away properly. My point is that at the Market Basket I can get apples for .99 a pound, but I need to bleed for the privilege.

This morning I told my visiting mother-in-law Ellen that I needed to go to the Market Basket to pick up Lily's birthday cake. She asked to come along. I tried to talk her out of it.

"It's horrible. It's crowded and miserable and I can't imagine anyone going there who didn't actually have to go." I said

She came anyway. Lily came too since it was her cake and she wanted to be the first to see it.

I walked into the store and braced myself for the wave of despair. Instead, where there should have been a big pile of misery, there was a huge pirate! A pirate! Giving away Pirate Booty! We chatted with the friendly pirate and received four (!) packages of free Pirate Booty.

I thought for sure that the cheerfulness we experienced with the Pirate was an aberration. After all, he is not a Market Basket employee. He does not know that gloom is part of the dress code.

We next went to the bakery and the lady at the bakery counter asked Lily if she would like some cookies. As the kind lady gave Lily three (!) free cookies I began to suspect that I had wandered into the twilight zone. This was not my Market Basket. Where were the cranky people? Why was no one berating me for taking too long selecting green beans (.89 a pound)?

My mother in law found some inexpensive and delicious sushi- such delights at the Market Basket! Such a bargain and so wonderful! Finally, as we were checking out, the cashier asked Lily if it was her birthday and wished her a very happy birthday.

The Market Basket made a liar of out of me today. Whether it was a grocery miracle or the universe laughing at me I may never know. I am merely grateful for the opportunity to achieve grocery nirvana with the most unlikely of candidates.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The silly season...

In addition to leather couches and dinette sets, spring also brings the silly season to my life. It all started back in 1998 when David and I decided to start a family. I wanted a spring baby, and being the Type A-control freak-compulsive planner that I am, I got one. Rebecca was born on May 2, which was in fact her due date. The lilacs were blooming, the trees were green and I patted myself on the back for being such an efficient little breeder.

When it was time to add another child to our family, I decided that I would be very clever and have another spring baby. My spring baby clothes from infant Rebecca would fit my new spring baby, and readers, that is exactly what happened. Lily was born on April 12 and wore every one of Rebecca's onesies.

It became obvious to me almost immediately that I had not thought out my plan properly. I realized my mistake that very first year when I was three weeks post-partum and getting ready to host a ducky themed birthday party for Rebecca. I was exhausted and only fit into one pair of pants, yet there I was helping twelve three year olds glue feathers onto ducks.

The next year was not so bad. Lily was only turning one and had no friends so a family party of cake and balloons was plenty. It was once Lily turned two and every year thereafter that things have been tricky.

Now I begin to plan in February, because come April 1st, I need to hit the ground running. April brings Lily's birthday, Easter, Passover and a dance team dinner show. May arrives bringing Rebecca's birthday, the dance recital, Mother's Day, and the dance team competition. Every minute of every weekend is busy with events, parties and occasions which must be cooked and cleaned for.

Then June will come and I'll catch up on my loafing and murder mysteries.

Until then you can find me with my nose in my day planner making sure that I haven't forgotten anything.