Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Under Pressure

My tires have had their own issues this week. Is it the heat?

In my case of the Mondays, I mentioned the rear passenger tire was low. HH filled it using his trusty air compressor. Tuesday, after driving over 100 miles, the front passenger tire decided to be low. Again, he filled it.

This morning, the front passenger tire was low again. Handy Husband being gone on another business trip, I went to a gas station. Two of them charged for air, so no thanks. The third had air, but it barely came out. I got enough in the tire to make the light go out, but it's still low. I think I'll have dinner first, before I drag out the compressor. Or maybe someone will come home in time...

Under pressure...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another One, Already

I hope Frank's day doesn't get worse...

Big accident tying up the freeway -- where he goes to school. Visabuxx card does not work at gas station (because I forgot he paid for school fees and books with it). I put some more money on the card so he was able to get gas, but he's probably going to be late as will many many other students.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One of Those Days

It's been one of those days...things usually come in 3s but I'm up to 4 now.

The low tire pressure light came on in my car. Funny thing, this happened to the husband's car yesterday. His car tells him which tire it is. I had to go around with a tire gauge, and wouldn't you know it was the last tire I checked.

There were two issues at school. Why am I always in the middle of things when all I want to do is stay in the background?

What was the fourth thing? Just a little mess I made in the grocery store when a bottle of iced tea slipped out of my hand. That wasn't nearly as bad as a previous mess -- when my cart accidentally bumped a display of orbit gum and it all went on the floor. Clean-up on Aisle 5!

I hope the rest of the evening goes smoothly.

UPDATE. It didn't.

Number Five was an issue with someone helping me in the kitchen.

Number Six was Ernest's bedroom floor issue. At House time, the only free TV was in his room, so I went there. And I couldn't help myself. During commercial time, I picked up stuff from the floor. Mostly dirty laundry and trash, but I collected approximately $12. 79 in COLD HARD CASH. I wrote it down and held the money hostage until he had put away all his clean laundry. Oh, best of all I discovered the pair of gym socks I was accused of losing in the wash...on the floor.

Seven was Frank's bathroom light bulb issue, Not a huge thing, but he came down for a 60W light bulb, which we didn't have. I gave him a new florescent -- 23 W??? They should say what they replace! He came back down-- it did not work. OK, back up with a 100W incandescent which is all we had... works but is too hot.

Eight was it was too freaking hot in my bedroom.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

House Cup

Ernest said he had to stay late at school Friday for some event, but he wasn't sure what it was all about beforehand.

Well, I knew there would be food, so I wasn't too worried. (He is a day student at a boarding school and could eat ALL his meals there if he wanted to. He has lunch there every day and believe me, I am overjoyed that I don't have to make sack lunches any more! He says the food is really good. But I digress...)

Back to the event. The students were divided into 4 groups and they had games and received points, like the house cup points the students got in the first Harry Potter book.

I am nicknaming his school "Hogwarts" from now on! I haven't heard all the details, but Ernest said he was the wheelbarrow in a wheelbarrow race. His group won over half the points.

So is he a Gryffindor? He's so NOT a Slitherin. I seem to be a Hufflepuff.

Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

Afterwards there was a bonfire. Ernest stayed to help put it out. "Mom, I got to use a fire extinguisher!" He was quite excited over that.

Friday, September 24, 2010


My husband came home last night from a lengthy business trip to the O C. After slogging through the Friday night traffic on the 405/101, he ended up at an Olive Garden in Oxnard at 9 PM.

Strangely, his waiter had the same first name and Handy said there were several other physical similarities, although the waiter was 10-15 years younger. So he went through some Doppelgänger angst. After my usual sympathetic responses, my next thought was... So what? You're in a far better place than he will ever be in 15 years.

But that made me wonder...

What has MY Doppelgänger been up to? Several ago, when I went to Curves, there was a woman who was annoyingly insistent that she knew me. She quizzed me relentlessly. Where did I go to school, where did I work, who did I know, etc. Saying, "I don't know you," just didn't turn her off. She was annoying and intrusive, and I was very uncomfortable with her questioning.


Obviously, she must have met my Doppelgänger. But if that woman was so familiar with my "D", why haven't "D" and I crossed paths?

Which led me to wonder what my Doppelgänger was up to 15 years ago. Would she be married to the Olive Garden waiter?

Would my D have been facing a layoff and a new more stressful job, wondering if she should get pregnant again, and choosing to go for the baby (which happened quite quickly) as an excuse to quit if the job got too bad. And 15 years later that baby is quite awesome.

Or would she have a completely different story? Which makes me wonder where she is. Because that woman was so sure I was her, I feel "D" has to exist somewhere.

Do you have a double somewhere?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Batching It

The Handy Husband is on a business trip, so the kids and I are home alone. Which really doesn't mean much change in the routine.

I'm still cooking dinner, although in slightly smaller amounts.

And I still let them pick the evening's entertainment. Last night was The Big Lebowski. Ernest felt left out because he'd never seen it, and people are writing quotes from the movie on the boards at his school.

The good thing is that I have hopefully persuaded the cat that she doesn't need to wake someone (me) at 5 am. That's her little habit with my husband, but for the past three mornings she has left me alone.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Signs of Fall 2010

The hair went dark for fall. That saved about $40 and still hides the gray!


Ernest's first cross country meet is today. The uniform is sleeveless. I don't think I've seen his bare shoulders in years. When he swims he wears a rash guard. Can I convince him to put sunscreen on his shoulders?

That oogie picture I used to cover up the school name is their mascot. Seriously. Can you "NAME THAT BUG?"


The big sign of fall around here was our local festival. The best part is the breakfast!

The price went up this year.

Load up the plates.


I also helped out in the Lego tent, and was delighted to find the nephews there. At first Mr. Thomas thought he couldn't go because he wasn't Danish, but his dad convinced him it would be OK. I agreed, saying, "You don't have to be garlic to go to the Garlic Festival!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Well, That Was Fun

The cake, I mean. It's been a while since I have been that adventurous in the kitchen. It felt good.

Dinner out was nice, too. After pouring money out all summer on one thing or another, I've been trying to cut back on spending. Yeah, I think I have about $50 tucked away in an envelope now, like that'll really help. But it was a birthday! We HAD to go out. Frank had steak and quail. Look at that itty bitty drumstick.

I was especially thrilled that there were real chives for the potatoes. I have issues when green onions masquerade as chives, but these were the real deal.

Frank shares his birthday with the cat, so we brought home tidbits for her. Shrimp, quail and steak.

She preferred the steak, as if she could ever catch an animal that large. Then she settled down for a nap on her kitty throne. Her idea of fun.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Cake Reveal

And so it begins...

It's square. Any guesses yet?

I made a mess!

Quilting gear came in handy. So did the pizza cutter.


And here it is...TA DAH!

Ernest mixed up the real Rubik's cube so I would have an accurate model.

Yes, he was surprised. He liked it.

He had some presents, too.

And we still have a steak dinner to look forward to tonight.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Ernest was rather chuffed with himself yesterday...Not only is he the only freshman in his Music Ensemble 2 class (the advanced class), which we would have expected, but he is also one of the few freshmen on the cross country A team. Much more unexpected.

Frank will be away for the afternoon and evening at a friend's house, so I have plenty of time to work on THE CAKE.

Handy Husband was down south on business for a few took him almost 6 hours to make the 3.5 hour drive home. Needless to say, he's sleeping in this morning.

And me? I'm chuffed with myself too. We are being trained on new assessments at school, and I read the training manual twice beforehand. (In my previous work life, I was a hard nosed ***** and if people asked me obvious questions, the first thing I would say is "Did you read your manual?" Ha! It pays off.) Since I read the manual, I totally knew what was going on. Pat Self on back.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Yet another of Mr. Thomas's masterpieces.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Music Festival

A wonderful Saturday afternoon on the school's lawn. A Music Festival to raise funds for the music and arts program. And there was cowbell.

There was also some seriously exposed thong in a lawn chair to the right but you can thank me for not photographing it!

Many local musicians performed, to say thank you for the school programs where their talent blossomed.

Interspersed between the adult performers were the alumni younglings.

Yes, that's my youngling. It looked to me like he was the band leader when he whipped his head around to give them cues. He said he was just trying to see what the rest of them were doing.

That could be an album cover right there.

The music teacher told me how pleased he was to find the kids rehearsing before their performance. When I related that to Ernest, he said (a little ...pointedly), "Well, I instigated that." Is that why he's looking sideways at them?

I heard lots of great things about them. They were/are the top music students in their classes (3 have graduated, 2 are eighth graders.)

Group photos thanks to "Pipes" mom!

Support your school's music/arts program. It makes a difference.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The First Sign of Fall

It's not

  • falling leaves
  • a fire in the fireplace
  • apple harvest
  • using the seat heaters in the car


  • a sore throat.

Darn it, only 3 and a half weeks into the school year. At least I lasted longer than the nephews -- I heard they brought home a cold the first week.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Busy Bee

Classic bee pinstripes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Daily Drive: A Park

As we leave our small town on our daily drive, we pass a park.

It used to be, back in my day, that the road turned at right angles to go around a field. While I was away at college, the city purchased some of the field and diagonalized the road. This left a triangle of land which sat unused for many years. What to do with the "triangle" was a frequent discussion for the city council. Wisely, they decided on a park, and began work on it about 5 years ago.

Look at these tiles. We have a secret...Ernest created some of them.

He was 9 years old and had taken some art classes at the local museum. The museum director liked him, and invited him to be part of a kid's project to paint tiles for the new park, even though the minimum age was 10. My little man was always getting special treatment like that.

One Saturday, he joined older kids at a ceramics studio to create his own tiles...a few weeks later he went back to glaze them.

Ernest's own design of a raccoon.
Note the fine mask detail around the eyes.
Sadly, its tail was broken off during the firing.

They let me help too, and I colored a lot of bees.

Never having done anything ceramic before, it felt odd to put some dull colored liquid on the tiles and trust that they would turn into something brilliant.

Getting back to the this not the most AMAZING play structure EVER? This was the first part of the park completed and it was popular from the first day it was open. I was sad that Ernest outgrew it so quickly.

I personally love the playhouse. Right before I took the picture, a little girl was delightedly calling, "Nana, look, I'm in the GINGERBREAD HOUSE!!"

The rest of the park grew in it has soccer fields (where Mr. Thomas started his first soccer season last week) picnic tables, and shade structures -- which have been very important in these recent hot weeks!

Even though this is a relatively new park, it has family history already.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What's Cooking?

In this modern age it may seem like there is no need for cookbooks when you have a laptop.

Peach Bread is the recipe on the screen, in case you're curious.
I don't have a link to it.
Frank said it was the first one that came up in his search.

We do get a lot of recipes on line, but often return to the favorite cookbooks. Frank still uses my 70s Joy of Cooking. That's our cooking bible if we want to learn how to make something. I hated the revamp because it tried to be too trendy.

I also have my aunt's 40s version of Joy of Cooking.

Some of those recipes are freaky.

I don't think we'll be trying Salmon Loaf With Spaghetti any time soon.

I have a double stacked shelf of cookbooks. Why? Rebellion against my childhood!

My mother did not like to cook. She loved processed cheese and TV dinners. Growing up on a poor farm in the depression, I can't blame her for liking the abundance and convenience. But we always had Banquet, the cheapest TV dinners. I would beg for Swanson, which had the itty bitty dessert in the middle, but she wouldn't spend the extra 10¢. Seriously, 49¢ vs. 59¢? Even in the 70s, would 10¢ have broken the bank?

Do you know how difficult it was to get those cents signs in there????

[ALT Fn 155, then release ALT before you release Fn, according to Ernest.]

Ernest was recently astounded to see an individual piece of fake cheese wrapped in plastic. He'd never seen it before. Because I won't have that stuff in my house, even though it melts well on burgers. I had too much of of it in my childhood.

I like real cheese from happy California cows!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Daily Drive

Ernest's new school is way out in the boonies. (I can SAY that, I LIVE here.)

It's so far away that it takes a whole 12 minutes to get there if you don't get stuck behind the horse carriage, the tourists, or the high school traffic. Then it might take 15-20 minutes.

Oh, it's a dirty job. We drive past desperate housewives. And when I wait in the parking lot, I stare at dark shadows.

I hope you can tell I am joking here.

That shadowy little school house? That's the band room. How many times have I waited for my sons outside the band room? That's the story of my life, "Mom, pick me up outside the band room."

Seriously, I say a large thank you every morning that I am able to have such a beautiful drive. I vary my route home, taking different roads just for fun.

Which one is the road less traveled? I'm still finding out.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to share some of the beautiful places I pass by on our daily drive.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

How to Surprise Him?

Time is flying by and Frank's 20th birthday will be here before you know it. [Before YOU know it? Before I know it.]

Every year I ask him, "What kind of cake do you want?" Long ago he used to answer, "Chelocolate." That's how he said chocolate in his toddler days. More recently, he's been saying, "Surprise me." Well you know how that turns out!

Last year we gave him pie instead. The year before, well, I was a little naughty. Or slightly annoyed.

When I was looking for the quilt pictures I discovered 2004 was a prolific year for me cakewise. Frank got two cakes that year!

Because he loved moose and his bass.

And Ernest got my masterpiece, the coolest cake I've ever made.

That was my first attempt at rolled fondant, and my mad cake skillz all went downhill after that.

This year I'm stumped. How can I surprise Frank this year? I have a few ideas...

  • A meatloaf that looks like a cake
  • Or the opposite, a cake that looks like a burger.
  • An amp-shaped cake that goes to eleven.

Any suggestions? I've only got 10 days to outdo myself!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Here's a full view of the car quilt I made for McQueen. SIX YEARS AGO. I was quite pleased with the way it turned out and I'm glad it's still in use!
This is a corner of the rubber ducky quilt I made for Mr. Thomas.

Still unfinished is the quilt made from Frank's little Batman t-shirts... I finished the top, but I got bogged down on some elaborate Bat Signal appliques for the border. Maybe it will be done by the time he graduates college...since I think he's on the 5+ year plan that buys me a little more time.

And Ernest? I promised him a Pokemon quilt...but I think he's long outgrown that motif. Maybe something out of his old rock concert T-shirts would be more appropriate.

What UFO's do you have lurking around your house?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Time with Mr. Thomas

I enjoyed Mr. Thomas's visit yesterday. He got very busy with his Hot Wheels. His brother was kind enough to loan him the car quilt (one of the 4 quilts I've ever actually finished). Mr. Thomas was entranced when I pointed out the flame fabric...because he wears that shirt now.

More of his artistic clothing design...this masterpiece depicts a girl watching a baseball. I think this boy is going to have a clothing line soon.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Traditions

Happy Labor Day, dedicated to "the social and economic achievements of American workers." .

Until recently, Labor Day also meant that school would start the next day. That doesn't happen anymore, and I am oh so grumpy about it. Many of the Sunday funnies (as I called them when I was a kid) were about school starting and completely annoyed me yesterday... get with the times, comic strip writers.

Ernest did not even have a holiday today -- he is now a day student at a boarding school, and they don't do some of the Monday holidays. But they do get a full week at Thanksgiving and a week at President's Day so the boarders can have enough time to go home. I think I get the full Thanksgiving week off too...that's why we started so early. Frank only gets three days at Thanksgiving but he is gloating over his 5 weeks at Christmas. Ain't college grand?

But I digress...

Since Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer, I think we will be having the traditional barbecue tonight. I am planning:

  • tri-tip (the Handy Husband's traditional responsibility)
  • a traditional potato salad (mayo, olives, sweet pickles but no eggs because then it smells like farts)
  • and something non-traditional for us, broccoli slaw
  • but traditionally, I'll leave the dessert up to Frank!!!!

What's cookin' at your house today? Are you mixing it up or cooking old school?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Vehicle Violation

Ever since we bought the Mini 7 years ago, it's had a rattle in the dashboard that's driven the Handy Husband crazy. More recently, it's developed a wonky speaker. So while the HH was searching the net for instructions on how to take the door apart (to get to the speaker) he also found instructions on how to take the dash apart.

He was delighted.

But the poor little car?

It feels so violated.

But maybe it's not as bad as being pooped on. We are pleased to report that the psycho bird has given up for now.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Ever since Frank entered band in 5th grade, I've had a problem saying "saxophone."

This is why...

Damn you, Simpsons.

We rented Frank's tenor sax so long that we eventually paid for it.

Ernest chose alto sax instead and due to a change in school policy he was able to play a school instrument for the past two years, so no rental bills! But he had to give it back at graduation. Literally -- the 8th graders played their last song, laid the instruments down, and that was it.

But Ernest does want to continue playing. His new music teacher was very excited to get a sax player.

So we went to the city today to find him a saxamaphone of his very own. Mission accomplished!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Fish Heads

You know you've raised your kids right, or at least with a sense of humor, when you are preparing trout for dinner and say:

"I've got to cut the heads off the fish." (I hate the way they are staring at me.)

And they both sing:

"Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish them up YUM"

(Long opening on this starts at 2:19.)

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I'm in awe of Ernest most of the time, but especially this week. First week of school, a whole new environment, 90 degree weather, and he's out there running. Literally.

He's required to do a sport -- he picked cross-country. Since the rest of us in the household are non-athletic slugs, we are quite impressed. (He says it will help his cycling.)

So the point of this title? Is not just a milestone in his education. HE'S RUN OVER 4 MILES EVERY DAY THIS WEEK. IN THE HEAT...

Run for the stars, Ernest.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Recent Events

How can it be September already? I have lost track of time. This post is a bit rambly, but if I don't get it out of my head I can never move on.

Ernest and I visited the nephews/cousins last week, while their parents went to a spectacular Cyndi Lauper concert.

Oops, that was my Cyndi Lauper Barbie. Cyndi's blonde now.

McQueen showed us his current 2010 Hot Wheels collection. "But I don't have The Mythbusters car yet." Ernest and I are thinking, ??? "What car? The MythBusters wreck them all!"

[I would put a picture of a wrecked Mythbusters car here but I can't find one.]

OK, turns out it is the Ghostbusters car, which is also really cool.

Mr. Thomas wore the coolest T-shirt, which he designed himself. He drew the Blue Ranger morphing into a Shark. I think he could have his own clothing line. I am the envy of the school staff because I put my first aid stuff into a nephew-designed bag!

[I wish I had a picture of it, but it's at school!]

It's so great this year because they came up with more budget money and now every K-5th class has an aide. And great for us aides because we don't have to move from class to class. Last year I worked in three classrooms -- besides feeling like I never finished anything, I had no place to keep my stuff. This year I have my very own table! Mine! And a shelf! To put my beautiful bag on! I love it!