Super Genius

supergenius It started when I first got married. The children started to arrive. In a, hopefully, not fruitless attempt to raise solid citizens (they are teenagers and the jury is still out) I quit work to stay home. This created an obvious need for economization. My ex-husband specialized in working on the road and helping other guys fix their toilets, so I was on my own.

Eventually my experiments in mastering every skill known to the “do-it-yourself” junkie became a life choice. I have fixed toilets, faucets, drains, holes in the wall and laid sub floor. I made every Halloween costume the kids have ever worn, change my own tires and do all my own painting. I sew if you count liquid stitch, and cook from scratch. I can’t call a contractor anymore. The last one was a window guy. He did not appreciate what I considered my apprenticeship. He never said a word, but it’s apparent my name made their list, as I had to resort to an alias last time I needed a contractor.

I will try anything to be clever, ingenious and frugal. The 50-year-old windows that the contractor wanted to haul away became collage frames. Also, I discovered I could move an entire dresser down the stairs by leveraging it on my back and sliding down on my backside. This not only did the job, but also inspired my then 4-year old to call me Super Mommy. Contact paper can serve as a new counter top in lieu of new laminate. You can’t really sit much of anything on it, but it does look better. I am not the first person to appreciate the duct tape phenomena and the kids never knew that the bubbles came from dish soap. Did you know that if you are willing to don a respirator and goggles you could make your own carpet cleaner for pennies? The leftover kitchen paint looks good on the picnic table and the 40-year-old can opener I bought for a quarter at a yard sale has served me faithfully for 4 years now.

My current husband (this one is a keeper) recently suggested my ingenuity might be bordering on the “obsessive”. This from a guy who is “reducing his carbon footprint” by setting a New World’s Record for Most Consecutive Uses of the Same Paper Plate. Well, I disagree. I am a super-genius and I have proof. I just saved us seventy-five bucks by repairing a broken paddle bracket on the 15-year-old overhead fan in the kitchen. Admittedly, it took 2 weeks and 4 experiments with tape, rubber bands, super glue and epoxy. I fixed it AND found out what a fan failure can do to a cat.


A Question for God

When the time comes for me to meet my Maker, I have a burning question for Her.  In almost 40 years of life, I have learned to answer many of the eternal questions myself. Why am I here?  Why do you let bad things happen to good people?  Or more importantly, good things happen to the bad ones?  I have experienced the pain of loss and learned to work through it and seen enough proof they do exist that I do not have to ask to ask about angels.  However, there is one whopper I can’t get past and I need an answer.  “Lord, are these people really that stupid, or do they just not care?”

School has been in session for well over a month now.  The rules for pick up and drop off, are well published, clear and easy to follow.  Every year, our dedicated vice-principal, begs, pleads and threatens until the majority of us are back in line…literally.   Every year there are the select few who persist in bucking the system, giving me an insatiable urge to get my self deputized by the Carpool Police so I can issue citations.  Picture a line two city blocks long.  Dozens of parents pointed the correct direction patiently waiting to enter the school’s circle drive.  Enter the 1981 Mercury Zephyr with a dent in the door and no muffler. He is pointed the wrong direction, and stopped in the middle of the street with his left signal on.  From where he is positioned he cannot see the end of the line but he can see that it is not moving and he is blocking traffic behind him.  Is he really sitting there in ignorant oblivion or steadfastly ignoring the chaos until someone gives in?  A newer black Mercedes (my arch nemesis) is a regular when it comes to causing trouble. We got off to a bad start anyway when she showed up sporting a naked lady license plate holder.  Every time she blocks someone in, goes for the left turn, or holds up traffic I am more convinced that it is her divine mission in life to tick me off.  In the spirit of fair play, I have to admit I guess it is just possible that she really is dumb enough to play catch in traffic.

My ten-year-old and I ventured into the neighborhood sandwich shop.  Not being familiar with the menu I took her inside so we wouldn’t hold up the drive thru. They were open during remodeling.  Two painters flanked the front counter and all but the cash register was draped in plastic.  All the tables and booths had been removed and the front window was gone.  Sporting a contact high from the fumes we approached the counter to order.  Obviously under the influence himself, although someone had issued him a respirator, the Manager greeted me with, “Is this for here or to go?”  Tessa suggested he was lonely and wanted to have our breakfast on the counter, under the plastic.  I went for “to go”.

I was feeling very sorry indeed for the “dotty old man” in front of me at the grocery.  He was wearing a 1976 Bicentennial T-shirt, what appeared to be, from my angle (but surely couldn’t be) his boxers and a pair of galoshes.  Figuring him for a lonely, neglected widower, I was cursing what must be, his ungrateful children.  He noticed my selection of whole-wheat pasta and turned to chat about healthy eating while we waited.  After getting a glimpse of what was indeed the fly on his boxers and thanking the above-mention Maker for the button fly type; I discovered that “poor man” was a witty, charming husband and grandfather. He was doing the shopping for Sunday dinner that he liked to cook it himself.  I never did have the nerve to inquire as to just exactly where he lost his pants.  Perhaps that would have cleared the whole thing up, but I doubt it.

Yes Lord, I am definitely going to need the benefit of Your Infinite Wisdom on this one.  I did actually forget my bra once, when the youngest lost her shoes before school; but in 22years (and nine kids) I have never met the drama that made me forget my shirt.


No one could make this up

The General StoreThe whole mess started with an upgrade at the Cable Company. My husband, whose hobbies include couch slug, was a Platinum Customer. There were 3 boxes in the house every channel known to man sprinkled in with a few that aren’t, not to mention Internet. Our monthly bill far outweighed our mortgage, but when it comes to hobbies no expense should be spared.

A good majority of our neighborhood’s service was taken out due to a “glitch” during an upgrade, the repair required a Cable Guy. Now one of the perks of being a PLATINUM CUSTOMER is the cable company’s prompt attention…2 weeks from Thursday. I briefly considered moving to Aruba, but gave it up in favor of sitting around from 8am-1pm waiting for the cable guy. That guy is a professional. It must take higher education to perfect the art of showing up when people are in the shower, or timing a drive by in the rain so he can’t do “line work”. We had no sooner corrected the original problem than a thunderstorm took out our service again.

In a month’s time our cable worked about 10 days. In my defense, any housewife might get the wrong idea. We were going out a couple nights a week. Chores must be more entertaining than thumb twiddling, because the children were doing them. The family room stopped looking like nuclear devastation and started looking like, well, a room. The seven-year-old gave up hitting and my 13-year-old replaced online video games with sleep. The real nail in my coffin was a couple of bike rides with my husband. This honeymoon period with my family led me to suggest we unplug for the summer. The children knew I was nuts, but Dad went right along with me and this is where it starts to get ugly.

He came home from work with a truck (this is really an Astro Safari van, but we don’t tell him that) full of scavenged lumber. He had been inspired to build a doghouse. Our 18-pound terrier/collie mix ended up with a house that is big enough to sit 3 full-grown adults. It might help to know that he is generally parked right up my butt (the dog not my husband) and cries if I close the bathroom door on him, so you can imagine how impressed he was.

Unfortunately, my husband was entirely too impressed and his new hobby was born.
The second project was to be a modest 6X6-foot shed for the garden tractor. Yeah, right. If there is one thing the self declared “His Royal Majesty King Shit of the Carpenters” is really good at it would have to be under estimation. After 3 days of trucking in lumber, he pulled out his tools, including one you have to be twenty-one to buy and used them to frame 11-foot walls. The tractor shed got a second story and was trimmed out to resemble an Old West Saloon. His Majesty dubbed the backyard “The Wild West” and the building boom was on.

Completion of his town involved my learning how to roof, because His Majesty informed me, “I am a carpenter, NOT a roofer.” I’ll let you guess what I had to say to him. However, it became obvious he was not coming back in the house until the town was complete and he had already moved on to a new project. Turns out, you can learn to roof from the directions on the back of the shingles, in case you ever need to know.

Three Years Later:
I have a gazebo for my garden. No, I did not garden and I was not planning on starting. We have a horse trough, hitching post and a water tower. The tractor shed turned Saloon houses his carpentry tools. There is a two-story General Store with wood floors, electricity; air-conditioning, a refrigerator, microwave and hand crafted trim. Our 19-year-old daughter approves she spent her summer home from college in there and even brought her own coffee pot. I finally managed to get him back in the house by threatening to strike if I had to trim around one more building. He came in on the condition I agree to him building The Jail. He had too…there was no place to park the tractor.


Here goes nothing

I just got the word from my brother, that my blog is ready for me. This whole endeavor is the product of years of nagging from many folks. He and the sister of my heart, his wife are the straws that broke my poor camel’s back. I am going to start sharing with the world, the stories, random thoughts and insights (if that is indeed what they are) that I have been torturing my family and friends with all these years.

I am terrified. While I am assured that, “If I write it, you will come.” I am somehow convinced that if you come, you will just as quickly, judge me the bent human being I am and just as quickly depart, shaking your heads in pity, for, “That poor, poor woman.” My lack of any sort of self-esteem has been a life long challenge and this “One small step for woman”, is a giant leap for my peace of mind.

Moving on, that is the least of my worries. I also have a long-standing love hate (mostly hate) relationship with computers that started when a TRS-80 ate my Eighth grade term paper in 1983 (I think, that was a while age to be sure). Anywho, I have only just overcome my terror of THE FACEBOOK at the unmerciful insistence of my best friend and grown children. So we (if there really is anyone out there) are about to find out if I can survive the challenge of the BLOG.

So hopefully as I giggle myself through this one. My slightly bent, but never broken constant companion, my sense of humor will make you laugh too.