Friday, May 20, 2016


Five-gallon bucket with motivational message.
Last Saturday our house had an emergency colonoscopy.  Dr Roto-rooter determined that the house needs a full intestinal replacement.  Disembowelment.  Evisceration. 

Nasty house abdominal symptom, found
in our basement last Saturday. This is
Not Good.

During the past two weeks some things have happened that make me feel that I and my loved ones have been spiritually eviscerated.  Basically, it’s been a truly shitty two weeks.  I’m devastated, angry, perplexed, and appalled. But I am not going to say anything more about that, because:

"I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you!
And now... well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!
After we handed over large suitcases full of money to the plumbers, the process of disemboweling our only abode began on Tuesday with the jack hammering of large portions of the garage floor.  It took the workers all day.  I discovered that jack hammering affects things in other rooms.

This is what I found in the basement, which
shares a wall with the jackhammered room.
This is where I store extra food, which just
 leapt off the shelves!  Fortunately nothing broke.
Our jack-hammered garage floor

I am really glad I didn't waste any time sweeping
 the garage floor this spring, because they just turned it into this.
The project has proceeded apace.  It seems if you pay people enough money, they will do the job quickly, using space-age techniques where possible.  It’s Friday morning, and we have all new sewer lines in the garage.  We did not find any interesting things, such as casks of Amontillado, beating hearts, or cats, under the floor of the garage.

New sewer line in this direction

And new sewer line in that direction

A photo showing how thick the garage floor is,
with (given the week I have had) what might become
 my new morning beverage, included for size comparison.

Also, there is a new sewer line running from the powder room to this main sewer line.  That job was done without digging, using a technique involving a cloth sleeve impregnated with alien sinews.  The sleeve is inserted in the existing pipe, inflated and then some alien juice is added at which point the alien sinews become as strong and as solid as iron or PVC pipe.  This new pipe can never be destroyed because it is from outer space.  Or maybe it lasts exactly five years, which is what the length of the warranty is.

Today, they are doing a similar alien material procedure on the sewer line leading from the house to the municipal sewer.  I will bet that in five years we will be looking for Sigourney Weaver to help us fight the aliens that will be born in this sewer line. 

I left the house this morning before the plumbers arrived, but came home while they were working on this.   The process apparently requires that the cloth pipe be ironed before being installed.  This is the first time in six years that an iron has been used on our property.  The length of cloth pipe they need ran the entire length of the driveway. 
The neighbors are all highly amused by all this
drama.  Just wait 'til it's their turn!

Dalek in our basement.
Run, before it exterminates you!

The procedure also required them to bring in this Dalek, which I found sitting in front of the clothes washer.  Since Dr. Who is unlikely to show up anytime soon to protect me, I am clearing out and taking myself to a place where I can finally get a cup of hot tea, a mark of civilization which, for me, requires the presence of another mark of civilization, that is, a working bathroom.

Dr Roto-rooter called the substance “resins”.  But I am pretty sure the material is alien.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Quotable Quotes for Morning Notes

A few days ago, one of my most loyal readers turned to me and said, “Mom, you haven’t posted anything on your blog lately.”

To which I replied something like, “Yep.  I’ve been busy.”

But inside I yelled, “THAT’S BECAUSE I’M IN THE SANDWICH!”   The sandwich generation, that is.  Doing my tasks as parent and as adult niece of elderly people and as regular citizen has lately been time-consuming.  More on that later, or perhaps not at all.

Nevertheless, I have faithfully been writing notes to my resident high school student for every school-day morning.  I usually write these on the back of scraps of paper discarded from other projects.  In addition to the “Monday Morning Quiz” format, I sometimes try to find interesting quotes. Wednesday night I was delighted to pull out a piece of scrap paper for my morning note and find a discarded powerpoint presentation, with quotes already on it from two different distinguished famous people!  This saved me the time it would take to look up and copy quotes.

I added my own personal touch and left the note at the table.

Pithy Quote Note

The quotes say “Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing you will be successful.”

And then I wrote:
Look!  It’s a pre-printed Morning Note!  With pithy quotes from famous people! 
I hope you have a pithy day. 
Today is Uncle’s birthday.
                      Pithy Mom

My husband saw the note the next morning.  He said, “What is on this Morning Note?”  I said, “Isn’t this great?!  It’s some quotes by famous people. Usually quotes are said by either Albert Einstein or Abraham Lincoln, but these are said by Albert Schweitzer and Buddha.”

 Husband said, “Here’s a quote: ‘Always check your zipper.’ Lincoln said that. It’s good advice.”

It wasn’t until much later that I saw that in the above note, both Albert Schweitzer and Buddha said exactly the same thing, and in English, even though neither of them was British or American.

Here are some other pithy quote Morning Notes:

John James Audubon
A Quote for today
“I would strongly advise you to make up your mind, shoulder your gun, muster all your spirits, and start in search of the interesting unknown.”
                                                - John James Audubon
(Either that, or just get to the bus stop on time.  I do not recommend taking a gun.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Lao Tzu
 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
                                                            - Lao Tzu

“I hope you make it to the bus stop this morning.”
                                                            - Mom

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Dr Seuss

A quote for today:
            “Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”                        
                                                            - Dr. Seuss
Have fun thinking thinks today!
* * * * * * * * * * * * 

Spike Milligan and April Winchell

Quotes for Thursday

And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.
                                                            - Spike Milligan

I wish you a tolerable Thursday.  That’s all any of us can hope for.
                                                            - April Winchell

I wish you a tolerable weekend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Band trip: Ninety-five Gifts

I was filled with such foreboding about the band trip that I decided I needed an attitude change.  Modeled after the idea in the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (great concept; couldn't stand the writing style), I challenged myself to find 100 gifts during the 6 days of the trip. 

That list is below, with a few comments.  This is perhaps not interesting to anyone but myself.  I might wish to read this when I am older and more decrepit, to remind myself that I was able (barely) to do this trip.

By far the most enjoyable part of the trip for me was at Universal Studios parks, in the Harry Potter worlds.  They have recreated Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in an utterly charming, if expensive, way.  A wand costs $48, people.  That's a lot of galleons. The sales staff refer to a credit card as Muggle Money, although I was so lacking in sleep I thought they were saying “bubble money.”  That made sense to me, because going to an amusement park is like being in a bubble. The music in the Harry Potter worlds is vastly superior to the usual amusement park music pablum.

I also enjoyed seeing the dance team workshop.  These young women have a remarkable ability to quickly learn a physical move, remember it, and repeat it gracefully.  Their workshop was a huge intellectual and physical endeavor and they excelled.

Hogwarts at Universal Studios park.  I did not enter;
it was enough for me to admire it from the outside.

The entrance to the village of Hogsmeade

Over in the other Universal Studios park,
Diagon Alley

A very fine mode of transportation.  I rode this train three times.

Band trip Tuesday

Riding this bus is like living with a newborn baby.  You wake up every two hours whether you want to or not.

100 gifts
1 Younger Daughter very helpful during check-in procedure.
2 YD cheerful & enthusiastic!
3 I brought extra water which was needed for students
4 my travel pillow
5 bus has seat belts. Which I am using
6 grapes from fellow chaperone
7 my blanket
8 the chaperone jacket
9 my sweatshirt

Band trip Wednesday
Total steps walked today: at least 20,000

730 am breakfast stop at a McDonald's at Exit 57 off of I95 in Walterboro, SC. Left at 8:35. About 100 people in that McD's all at once (2 buses worth). And that's only 1/3 of the band.
Arrive Univ Studios park 2:30 PM
Met up with Sandy B (orch chaperone) and walked with her for a while. 
Bought choc frog
Arrived at hotel 10:30 PM

100 gifts
10 got extra water from band medic
11 bladder holding up well
12 short legs are better for this type trip. I have short legs
13 breakfast with egg mcmuffin, oj (no caffeine!) and grapefruit
14 so glad I had a shower before leaving home.
15 EK
16 LF
17 VM
18 Husband added more minutes on YD’s phone
19 rather short wait times at the rides at Univ Studios
20 the train between Hogwarts and Diagon Alley
21 Diagon Alley
22 Apple
23 roommate with congenial personality
24 music in the Harry Potter worlds.
25 Advil
Snow-covered roofs in Florida

Every few minutes that dragon spews actual fire.
I was not able to catch it with my camera.

Band trip Thurs
Total steps 12,800 - a lazy day

In bed at approx 12:30 AM
Did not sleep one wink
Today I spent most of the day being photographer for the dance team and flag team. Fun!

100 gifts
26 I am still alive
27 comfortable bed
28 did not have to spend $10 on a rain poncho yesterday
29 in Lahore Pakistan it is 100 degrees and I am not there
30 Younger Daughter!
31 YD got up on time and ate a healthy hearty breakfast.
32 smoked salmon at breakfast.
33 water bottle.  Spill-proof (as long as the lid is closed!)
34 granola bars and cereal snack bags I packed at home
35 flexible Disney auditions staff
36 Air conditioned audition studios
37 blessed time alone, completely alone, while waiting for second dance group to arrive.
38 knee functioning okay
39 someone in our group found my lost hotel key in magic Kingdom
40 electrical outlets on the bus for recharging phone
41 ice cream
42 I only had to spend 2 hours in Magic Kingdom
43 got to see the dance team in action
44  the Peoplemover ride
45 cough medicine and antihistamine to help me sleep

Dance team photos involve lots of flying ponytails

Apparently this guy is a member of the Disney empire

Band trip Friday

JB (student) missing pair very expensive dress shoes.

About 10:30 AM entered Epcot
11:30 call time for Band
12:00 departed on bus from Epcot to concert venue
2:30 left to return to Epcot

By 9 pm had walked 16,300 steps
Total steps probably 25,000 for Friday.

100 gifts
46 bus drivers who know their job and do it well
47 dedicated and competent band parents - all volunteers
48 my fanny pack.
49 kids tolerant, cooperative, and even sometimes enthusiastic about me taking their photo
50 athletic bra
51 peanut butter biscuit for lunch
52 Younger Daughter's henna art
53 news from Older Daughter
54 that my roommate did not drown when she fell asleep in the bathtub and that I was able to wake her up so she could go to bed
55 that sharing a bed with someone I didn't know isn't too bad.

The Happiest Iconic Golf-Ball
at Epcot

The hotel pool at 5:30 AM.  There was no time for chaperones
to enter this paradise.

Band trip Saturday

Left hotel at 10:05 am

Today is at Hollywood studios park
impressive live show about stunts in Indiana Jones.
Left that park at 5 pm to go to our 5th amusement park in 4 days.
swim party and awards ceremony at Typhoon Lagoon.
Feeling totally drained. Sciatic nerve pain when walking. Every muscle hurts.
Left TL at 10:20 pm to head for Pgh

Total steps for the day 16,000

100 gifts
56 pleasant lunch in sitdown resto with other chaps
57 Star Wars music
58 Indiana jones stunt show was cool
59 I didn't get blisters
60 apparently I am still alive
61 ice cream bar in iconic Mickey Mouse shape with dark chocolate
62 no mosquitos until Sat evening.
63 wore long pants today - good choice
64 did not get shoes wet at water park
65 did not get a sinus infection
66 did not get any stomach ailment
67 Did not get a virus.
68 weather was reasonable
69 Husband
70 Younger Daughter
71 camera seemed to function okay
72 Advil
73 my new water bottle
74 there was not a nuclear bomb
75 nothing was stolen (except perhaps JB's dress shoes)
76 that labor and childbirth doesn't last as long as this band trip
77 my travel pillow
78 granolA bars
79 gorgeous day for traveling
80 prayers of friends and family
81 that sciatica did not appear until today.

Errant marching band shoe found at the hotel breakfast venue.
Not JB's dress shoe

The Happiest and Largest Wave Pool on Earth
at Typhoon Lagoon

Band trip Sunday

100 gifts
82 chance to brush teeth for 20 seconds
83 at breakfast stop. we are 6.5 hours drive away from high school (if we could drive straight through without stopping. Which we can't.
84 I am told it is promising to be a beautiful day in Pgh today
85 Advil
86 beautiful mountain scenery of southwestern Virginia
87 saw the New River Gorge in WV
88 thought of Bil Lepp
89 a lovely thank you text from a student
90 the only thing I lost was one cheap earring and I had three of those so now I still have two.
91 there were no traffic accidents. The only bus breakdown was before we even started the trip
92 I did not hear or read one word about the election campaign during this entire trip. Not. One. Word.  Hallelujah!
93 We did not leave anyone behind.
94 If there was any illness among the students, it didn't get passed around.
95 JB found one of his shoes. 

So I didn’t quite list 100 gifts.  But I was 1000 times grateful at making it home.

The student who lost his shoes ended up finding one of his own and someone else’s shoe.  He went home with two right shoes.

I was explosively happy to arrive home