Fall, You are Dead to Me.

You read that correctly, fall was once my favorite season. I loved the changing colors of the trees, the slightly cooler weather that allowed me to bring out my 45+ scarfs and shawls once more. I loved going to football games. I loved my favorite fall-inspired coffee concoctions from national coffee chains that will remain unnamed.

I loved it so much that my husband and I were married in the fall.

Fall is dead to me.

I look at the window at my work and watch as fat snow flakes are dropping from the sky… today is Halloween. Today we will also have wind gusts up to 40 mph, and occasional snow. Oh yeah and it will feel like it’s in the 20s.

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Fall is such a fleeting thing. It’s beautiful for about two weeks in our fine state of Michigan. Then it crumbles into a rainy, cold, worn down version of its former glorious self.

Winter about ruined me last year. I felt there would never be warmth and sunshine and *gasp* exposed elbows and knees. I cringe at the idea that we are headed into the same type of weather, (5 months worth) and that once again fall is short and ends so abruptly.

Tonight we are going trick or treating, with possible snow, and wind, and winter coats. We aren’t native to Northern Canada. We aren’t meant for this.

Sometimes the World Doesn’t Wish You to be Early.

Every six months or so I end up with a comically bad morning. As if life was scripted specifically for some comedic performance, for which there is no camera crew. This morning was comically bad, not as bad as the day I flooded my upstairs bathroom and set off the fire alarm. But bad in its own right.

This morning’s goal was to arrive at work at 7:00 a.m.

I wanted to get an early start and offset any work I can’t get to due to a lengthy client meeting in the afternoon.

Alarm was set for 6:15 a.m.
Opened eyes at 6:15 a.m.
Opened eyes again at 6:30 a.m.
Opened eyes again at 6:45 a.m.

ugh!

Adjusted arrival time to 7:30 a.m. a solid hour of uninterrupted work awaited me.

At about 7:10 a.m. I made it downstairs. I tried to coax the dog outside. She wanted none of this. Fine. I brew my coffee, grab my computer bag, my purse, my lunch. Teeter toward the front door like a camel packed for a nomadic excursion. Open door.

Downpour. Right.

Retreat, hunt for umbrella. Find one, proceed to get tangled in umbrella cover. Snnnnnaaaaaag new scarf with umbrella cover velcro closure (damn you for working so well on all fabrics.).

Awesome.

Step onto front porch, open umbrella. Realize umbrella has a small split seam. At this point I know I will remain only 95% dry, but it’s the only umbrella in our house.

Climb into my car with all of my bags and travel mug.

Fumble with the umbrella while my arms and shoulder get soaked.

Empty light turns on.

Perfect.

Head to the Shell gas station at Ann & Monroe. Pull up in the driving rain. Step out, there is a sign posted on the pump. “We are out of regular.”

Seriously?

Adjust time to 7:45 a.m. arrival.

Run my debit card, attach nozzle to my car. Click on Midgrade, notice fine print of homemade sign:

“We are also out of midgrade.”

Unless it’s the late 70’s early 80’s there should be no gas shortage. NONE.

These signs appear at every pump. The only gas left is the V Power 85 Ethanol mix, which is 50 cents more than midgrade. I don’t know what that is, and I don’t know if my 13-year-old CIVIC will handle it. I force 5 cents of midgrade fumes into my tank. Enough to start it up again and drive it to the nearest station on Alpine.

This part meets my expectations. I fill up the car, I get in the car, I choose to use the entrance onto 131 from Alpine.

I drive straight into a traffic jam. I could walk faster at this point. Cue up the scene from Office Space, the old guy, the walker, the hopelessness.

Courtesy image from Office Space.

Courtesy image from Office Space.

Adjust arrival time to 8:00 a.m.

I eventually merge onto the freeway, otherwise I would get stuck exiting at Ann. I just want to get to work, I don’t want to exit at Ann.

5 minutes pass.

I merge back onto the Ann Street exit. I am going to take surface roads.

Adjust my arrival time to 8:15 a.m.

Hit every red light from Ann to downtown. EVERY. LIGHT.

Pull into my parking lot and begin a new round of wrestling/dancing with torn umbrella, computer bag, purse, lunch bag, and travel mug.

Arrive at 8:25 a.m.

So you see, sometimes the cosmos do not wish for you to be early.

The World is Your Oyster, Unless You are a Tall Girl

This must be my rant week, as this is ranty post #2. Bear with me.

Heads are optional.

Heads are optional.

Allow me to preface: 85% of the time I LOVE being tall. I truly love it. I can see above many in busy restaurants. I can keep staplers away from co-workers merely by keeping them out of arms’ reach. I don’t need a ladder most of the time. I can walk the dog at  4 mph without breaking into a jog. This part of being tall rocks. But there are challenges, because you see the world is your oyster, unless you are a tall girl.

Fashion plight.

Pants: In the early 90s I was 5’9″. I was also 13. Plus clothiers didn’t make “tall girl” pants back then. So all of my jeans ended at the ankle or above, before it was cool to end your pants above the ankle. And no, black socks do not create the illusion of longer pant leg. The create the affirmation that your pant leg is too short.

Shirts/sleeves: To this day they are still the bane of my existence. I love sleeves just as much as the next person, but most of the time I find myself pulling on them like a nervous school girl or rolling them up as if I love 3/4-length sleeves, ALL THE TIME. Which are fine for three out of four seasons. I don’t like that my wrists must be cold all winter. Not good. Now shirt length and layering becomes key for any tall girl. Thank God tunics are still in style and I avoid crop tops like the plague. You do not need to see my stomach, you also don’t need to see my ribcage. There is no reason this part of my body belongs at work. So I either pull the shirts down beyond reason or rock the tank top under everything. Please don’t take away the layered look, things will get really awkward really fast.

Maxi dresses.They have never, nor will they ever reach the floor. They are ankle dresses on us.

Skirts. Instantly way above the knee and slutty when meant to linger just under the knee. Professional slutty, anyone?

You get the point, cute clothes aren’t meant for the tall. Tall person clothes are only meant to cover the parts that would offend in public. Fashion is optional.

Sports.

Propensity to do so. Unless crafting or painting is a sport, I am not a sports person. My height does not increase my ability to play any sports requiring height and coordination. You should have both, just having height will not guarantee awesomeness. So stop asking. I don’t ask if you play mini golf simply because you are short.

Exercise.

Armless workouts are AWESOME. We have an XBOX, which is excellent for workouts. We also have a narrow living room which is not excellent for workouts.When I stand at the widest part of my living room to do my workout the body scanner stops at my head. So my head movements and arm movements don’t count. EVER. Been rockin’ 85% accuracy for months.

General public awkwardness.

Feeling “off” most of the time. I LOVE hanging out with my girlie friends. Especially when we are sitting down, because we can see eye to eye and I feel connected to those around me. The moment we stand up, I am alone, I am alone high above my group, I can see for miles around me, but everyone I am with is now out of my own ear shot. I look down but I can barely make out their facial features. So alone. And when it rains, yes you get umbrella in the eye and you do a weird half fold to accommodate the situation. No you are now not graceful but moving like a beaten crane who is still getting wet.

Not a ladder/ not a forklift.

I do not work here. Please don’t employ my services to reach a can, put something back, or pull down a shirt. I am shopping like you and I am likely to be in a hurry. No, I am not being unkind, I am being a person who has other things to do. Forgive me or don’t I am not likely to hear from up here anyway.

Tall comments.

I love those. Yes, I am an amazon, I must be you just made light of it. Yes, the air really is thin up here. Yep, I will definitely let you know when it starts raining so you can scramble and prepare. Why, yes, I do smack my forehead on doorways ALL THE TIME, how did you know? That is my CIVIC, and when I fold down to 1/4 my original size I too can fit into it just like you.

Perhaps you feel I am overly sensitive, that’s okay. If I was average height I would think I’m being overly sensitive as well.

Hi I’m a Left Handed Living in a Right Handed’s World

There I said it.  I admitted an undeniable fact. A dirty little secret. I am left-handed and proud, but I live in a world that doesn’t treat us as equals, you see, we live in a right-handed’s world and somehow that makes all the difference.

In kindergarten I was playing leap-frog on the playground at school. I leaped wrong and landed on my elbow. My left elbow. Unbeknownst to me it created a hairline fracture that revealed itself many hours later in the form of a lap dog landing on my left arm. Sweet Jesus. That hurt. Next thing I remember was the emergency room staff cutting away my t-shirt to get my x-rays done. I wore a cast for 6 weeks. I tried to color and draw with my right hand (my parents were hopeful I’d switch only because they knew a left handed wasn’t going to have an easy life in a right handed’s world.) The very next day my stubborn personality took over and I wedged the colored pencils into my left hand. I overcame. I still use my left hand. Broken arm be damned.

My parents gave in. They bought left-handed scissors for me to use. That’s when we learned I am ambidextrous. Haha, jokes on you folks.

2014-05-13 12.41.38Next I noticed the difference in my first-grade class. We were learning penmanship, so all school children were issued fountain pens (it’s the early 80s and we were in the Netherlands, so fountain pens it was.) All the kids were proudly holding their beautiful blue fountain pens, ready and eager to learn to write cursive. Meanwhile three of us had to wait for our teacher to fish out special left-handed fountain pens from the bottom of her desk, underneath her files, in a zip lock baggie. What made it worse was they were a very unlikable green color. ew. ew. ew.

The examples continue with outdated school desks catering only to the right handed, with my arm hanging off the side as I tried to keep up with my notes. My left hand confidently smudging my notes written in pencil, smearing my math homework expertly written on lined paper. My paintings slightly smudged with my “creative” hand. I cannot hide my mark. My hand always matches the shade of the work I do. Scrub scrub, go back to my desk, look down, damn it the mark is back.

When I go out to dinner with my spouse or my friends, instinctively my elbow tucks in tight against my body, as not to run into my counterparts with my feeding arm. I relish dinner dates with left handeds, it’s refreshing to sit at a table when my husband is an “outsider,” navigating his arm against our feeding elbows.

Last week I went to Costco, when it came time to sign the screen I asked the woman for a pen, “it’s right over there,” she pointed to the far corner of the checkout station. I grabbed the pen and stretched the retractable cord beyond reason so I could sign. It whipped out of my hand and shot across the station. She gave me a weak smile. I tried again.

By no means am I indicating that being left-handed is a handicap. I am able-bodied, healthy and happy and quite frankly I love being left-handed. We tend to be more creative (my work is crawling with creative left handeds.) I notice when people are left-handed in movies, you see because they are my brethren. We stand together and unite.

All I am asking for is some understanding. Make the retractable cord appear at the center of the checkout station. Allow school desks to not only cater to the right hander, but to all students. Don’t point out that I have ink stains on my hand, I know I do. Don’t you think I ran to the bathroom before my big meeting to scrub it off?

I am left-handed and I am proud.

Lent – How Hard Could it Be?

Oh very hard indeed…Each year I’d try to come up with something to test myself with during Lent. Ten years ago I tried to keep up with seven things I “gave up” yeah four of those never made it. Eight years ago I guaranteed that I would have 40 days dedicated to Lent, even if I have to extend a day – Lent lasted 53 days that year. Five years ago I gave up swearing. With disastrous results. I lasted three days (you are thinking how lame) in truth by the third day my heart began to hurt when I’d get annoyed and didn’t let off some verbal steam, slowly I realized I wouldn’t make it to my 30th birthday at that rate. So swearing was back on and I haven’t made that mistake.

Now fast forward to this year. Lent did sneak up on me. I barely gave it much thought, but I decided to do the following: stop checking my social media when I am hanging out with Henry by myself. I try my best to put away the phone and focus on the mini. It’s hard and I am getting better, I hope this one sticks post Lent. The other was simply to stop buying myself material things for the next 40 days. I didn’t give up Starbucks, I didn’t give up sushi, I am not going to stop going out to dinner. But I am not going to buy myself any clothing, books, accessories, or tchotckies. Seems like a good thing to challenge myself, with some monetary benefits. I will still buy gifts for others (I couldn’t possibly skip four March birthdays, that wouldn’t benefit the celebrants in the slightest.)

Little did I know how much it would challenge me. And when I noticed it the most was this weekend. It started on Friday. I’ve had a horrible work week and was desperately clinging to something fun and weekend related.

So it began:

YAY! Old navy has my favorite jeans on sale. Boo, I cannot buy them.

Oh yay! World Market has all of their Bohemian clothing on sale, totally befitting my love of Bohemian springwear. Booo, I can’t buy this either.Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.05.01 PM

The theme continued on my Mama’s night out which ended up at Barnes and Noble (happy place.) I spied a lovely crafty magazine that I know I’d absolutely love, I nearly drooled over it while sipping coffee in silence. Mollie Makes. Perfect projects, perfect quirk, perfect for me. I put it back.

Follow this up with the next day’s adventures at the mall play area (the breakfast food happy place I recently spoke about.) We cut through Barnes and Noble (where I visited my crafty magazine again – we shall meet again in 40 days.) Then we made the mistake of weaving through the discount section. Where I spotted the book, the one I have hunted for a year, considered buying put back on the shelf, considered for book club… and here it stood, The Dove Keepers mine for just $5.99.Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.03.28 PM YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. I didn’t even touch the book. Cursing at my stupidity, I walked away. Hoping to reunite with it in 40 days.

One thing I am learning is that I am strong, I can withhold purchasing things for myself over these 40 days and I understand and appreciate the reasons why we keep on with tradition for sacrificing something for Lent.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the next 40 days will go at a snail’s pace.

p.s. I can accept gifts…. hint, hint, hint, hint, hint.

Finding a Winter Happy Place

With Mother Nature out to destroy our fair state of Michigan with her hideous winter weather we must find solace somewhere.

In the summer you can take a walk, go have a picnic in the park, play endlessly at the park, go to the beach, sit outside of a quaint coffee shop and enjoy a lovely caffeinated beverage while pouring over a great book. And they are relatively inexpensive! Oh yes, you feel like a new you – so does your family!

In the winter none of this is possible, in the winter you experience endless weeks of cold weather, bleak washed out faces and a general feeling that your soul has been sucked out by Mother Nature. (Thanks Dear.)

Many winter activities tend to be expensive too. Want your kids to go romp around in the big inflatable play center? That will be $10. Per person. Food? $30. Per Person. Enjoy. So you find yourself scrambling to do something to let the kiddies work off some energy and you build up some strength without a money tree.

May I present to you the mall play area.

Before I became a parent I swore I would NEVER, NOT EVER, allow my perfect peanut to play in the germ pool that is the mall play area. You would want to hose your child down with purell  after the experience. But I get it now.

When your child has taken to jumping from couch to couch, has clocked loved ones in the head with blocks and is now running into a wall for 10 minutes straight screaming, you know your child has gone haywire and will need to be reset.

The baby manual never explained where that reset button is. It never told you how to manage this crazy-gone-off-the-deep-end-cabin-fever behavior. You must be resourceful.

My I present again, the mall play area. AGAIN

As long as your kid has socks, is less than 4 feet tall (they s-t-r-e-t-c-h this rule. No pun intended.) You are good to go!

A great place for them to interact with other kids, to learn how to share, to learn to be bold and actually climb the play toys versus look at them. To be mindful of their actions and cautious, experience cause and effect, as well as to let loose and get a bit sweaty and tired out for the perfect three-hour blessed nap.

Avoiding the pitfalls of banana slices in the road.

Avoiding the pitfalls of banana slices in the road.

But to make sure it’s a good experience for all involved, try not to be one of those parents. Simple things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t talk on your phone the whole time. Your child wants you to “watch me, watch me, watch me, watch me….” This is a big deal to them that they just climbed up the shredded wheat. WAY TO GO!

2. Don’t only react to the negative… “Don’t climb up that way.” “Let go of her hair!” Your child might be doing some of this to get attention. Try reacting to the good stuff too. They might like the praise better than the verbal tear down.

3. Don’t be a helicopter parent… we don’t like you. Hover, lift, hover, help, hover, hover, hover, “let me” … hover. STOP. Let your child struggle a little, maybe they could climb that banana but you keep doing it for them. How will they EVER LEARN? You gonna zip up their coat in college? Hope not, otherwise you’ll have bigger problems. Make sure the help is age-appropriate. An 18-month-old child needs more help than a 4-year-old, adjust as necessary, but for the love of God, let them breathe and experience.

4. The mall play area is not a baby sitting service. The other parents are not babysitters. Don’t leave to go check a sale at a nearby store. Don’t let your kid run all the way down the mall concourse before you notice. Bad parent, bad.

Once you get this under your belt, this happy place away from home, which is free and enjoyed by the public can become your wintertime oasis to regenerate and rejuvenate. Attend. Enjoy. Disinfect. Attend. Repeat.

Preparing for Thanksgiving Festivities.

I am armed and I am dangerous. In one hand I wield a avocado-color Pampered Chef® knife, in the other I hold a bowl full of uncooked sweet potato. I am ready for action, it’s Thanksgiving eve and I have some recipes to complete, birthday presents to wrap (my dad and my niece Rosalie), and I have to pack. We are heading eastward to visit family tomorrow morning… early in the morning.

Tonight I am alone, tonight I have to accomplish my tasks without complaint. And because I am an only child, I will also have to over achieve. “So what’s on the menu?” you may wonder. I am prepping some garlic mashed sweet potato to bring to my parents house on Saturday. I thank whoever posted this recipe online. And I will also attempt a Pumpkin Chiffon Cake, “thank you” Rachael Ray for that contribution. Neither recipe has been tested before, but I am confident that both will work. When I cook, I live on the edge. I modify recipes that would make some only whimper, I double batches, or reduce fat and I don’t even bat an eye.

So far I have claimed the life of a head of garlic. Smashing it against my cutting board I peeled every last clove. Only a pile of garlic skins remain. This garlic sacrifice was roasted in the oven with olive oil for half an hour. Meanwhile I begin the mountainous task of scrubbing, prepping and peeling the sweet potato. Potatoes are chilling in their bowl and I reach for my trusty peeler. A delightful wedding gift that has pulled me through many a holiday now. I look down (please cue screeching record) and realize that the blade is gone. I am holding a peeling handle. Without the peeler essence. I will have to peel those potatoes by hand, with a knife?! No this cannot be.

Let’s explain something right now, I tend to overreact so now I am starting to work myself into one of those famous panicked states where the contents of my utensil drawer have now be dumped onto the counter. Like a miner digging for gold I sifted through the pile to find something, anything that resembled my peeler blade. A mere 15 minutes later I have success. I leave the mess on the counter, a mixed bag of Valentine’s day cookie cutters, egg slicer, pumpkin carving tools. All the holidays have thrown up onto my counter.

We are back on track (there is a God.) Potatoes are now corralled in the pot and we are waiting for those to boil.

Onto the chiffon cake and all of its glory.

I am an expert, mixing the ingredients and folding the whipped egg whites into the dry mix. But realizing that for much of this time I was wearing some pumpkin goo in my hair, puts me right back at novice (Giada De Laurentiis wouldn’t let this happen.) These are the nights I am happy I am toiling away alone. No witnesses. Well except for the pets… but they don’t speak English.

While the cake is baking I am reviewing my list, walk dog (check), pack presents (check), make mashed sweet potato (check), make cake (semi check), and then I get to the part of the list that makes me a bit ashamed… “make a list of things to bring.” Yes, I made a to-do list and wrote on there to make another list. Stop judging me. I feel accomplished when I can cross it off.

My list is getting impressively long and I have to start packing. Relaxing and “me” time this evening should never have entered my brain nor my vocabulary, neither is happening tonight. Must. Over achieve. Thanksgiving tasks.

*Ding*. The pumpkin chiffon cake is ready. Oh, that is one sexy looking baked good. “Let it rest for 5 minutes, then invert the pan and set it over a narrow-necked bottle.” Yeah, this will be interesting. Apparently, I do not live in a home with narrow-necked bottles, or perhaps I’ve emptied them all by now. So instead the chiffon is resting inverted in its pan teetering precariously on a can of green beans. Who knew green beans had so many uses?

Most people wouldn’t think to recount an average evening in a blog. But I am not “most people” and this wasn’t some “average evening.” It was Thanksgiving eve and I had a lot to do and quite frankly I always have a lot to say.