Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dodged Another Bullet

In our house, the hot water heater dwells in its own partitioned-off room in the basement, with only the well pump and water softener equipment for company.  That is to say, unless you have some specific reason to go into that area, you generally don't.  A door separates it from Petunia's side of the basement playroom, and generally there is so much little-girl stuff in front of the door that you can't easily get to it even if you want to, but I digress.

Must be a dozen years ago now, since Thing One was a toddler and absolutely obsessed with the magnetic letters on our refrigerator at the time, I was constantly hearing a high-pitched mechanical noise in the kitchen and it was making me insane since I could not for the life of me figure out where the HELL it was coming from.  Our basement stairs open into the kitchen near the refrigerator, so in a moment of extreme frustration I actually went down into the mechanical room in the basement, stuck my head behind the water heater in the course of examining it for the source of the noise, and thereby noticed that the water heater was leaking a little *before* it had a chance to totally flood my basement.  Hallelujah.  And the noise?  Turned out to be coming from the battery-operated magnetic letter reader that went with the magnetic letters on the fridge, I discovered later.

Two days ago, I went down to the mechanical room to make sure there was enough softener salt in the container that goes with the water softener.  This is something I do maybe once every six weeks.  Damned if the water heater wasn't leaking again, but again just a little.  Very happy to report that it was replaced with a brand-spanking new one this morning!  Whew.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Another Milestone

Last night, I walked Thing One through his first job application.  He filled it out himself with me looking over his shoulder.

Granted, it is for a nonpaying junior counselor spot at our town's summer camp (he's too young for a paying job yet) but still.  It's another big step for him and I am sitting here with a cup of coffee wondering yet again where my baby went!!

Saturday, May 20, 2017


I don't have anything against the sun, but it did a lot of damage to my skin in my younger years, so I stay covered up now.  I haven't gone out in the sun unprepared since about 1997.  Yes, makes it interesting to spend a week at the beach on vacation, but that's what sunblock and thatched beach umbrellas are for!  Surprisingly, about 25% of the other guests here are like me, always holed up in the shade, while the other 75% seem to be on a mission to see how much sun they can get.  Usually I'm in more of a minority but maybe skin cancer awareness is growing?  Who knows.

My other surprise for the week is just how many people have tattoos.  Hard to cover those up in swimwear if you got 'em.  I'd say also 75% or more.  My ghost white, non-tattooed hide is straight out of Sesame Street..."one of these things is not like the others."  Ha!

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Ever the scientist, I've been trying to sample one or two new things at every buffet meal here.  Some turn out great, like the scoop of gray mush I found near the eggs at breakfast this morning (seasoned plantain mash, delicious!) Some not so good: cherry tomato sauce on waffles?  (Yes really, it was right there with the syrup and honey.)  Ok, I'll try most things once.  And then the head-scratchers.  Right next to the oatmeal, a tureen of hot puréed squash. With the previous evening's postre (dessert) of cinnamon ice cream on roasted pumpkin in mind, I tried putting cinnamon and sugar from the bowls nearby on the pumpkin purée as I would have done for the oatmeal, but nope.  It was inedible.  Clearly I was supposed to do something else with the squash but who knows what?  This is not a familiar cuisine for me and without context or directions, I'm lost.  I'm still willing to try again at breakfast tomorrow though and in the end, that's all that matters.

Monday, May 15, 2017

I *Really* Need To Learn Some Spanish

It's been on my bucket list for years.  I like languages, I'm reasonably good at picking them up, and knowing some Spanish would really come in handy...two of my three children have friends whose families speak primarily Spanish, which has made for some exciting communications in charades about playdates and birthday parties and such over the years.  Good thing I grew up overseas...I'm good at charades at least.

I was reminded of this strongly last night at dinner.  We are staying at a newish resort in the Dominican Republic.  Some online reviews mention that the staffers' English is not as good as at some of the other resorts in town because of this.  Of course, given that this is a country in which the national language is Spanish, I sincerely appreciate any efforts they make *at all* to communicate with me in English, but I digress.  Generally, a smile and good intentions on both sides have worked out fine so far, but we ran into a roadblock last night at the resort's Indian-themed restaurant.  The menu was a little confusing and we were trying to ask someone who spoke mostly Spanish about an Indian menu in English, which ended with a lot of laughing and a culinary adventure!

On the bright side, I have already learned how to properly order cafe con leche and banana daiquiris in Spanish, so I am making some headway in the important areas.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Early Morning Thoughts From The Patio Overlooking The Ocean

Thing One made it to the state Geography Bee all three years that he was in middle school.  To qualify, he had to win his school-level Bee and then score in the top 100 on a written exam taken by all of the school Bee winners in the state.  (He also signed up to take Geography as an elective next year as a freshman because it interests him.)  Safe to say the kid knows about planet Earth.

I blame it all on the globe I bought him for his third birthday.

You see, my husband travelled a lot for work when we were first married.  I mean A LOT.  All over the place.  And when your toddler keeps asking where Daddy is, you can't really say "Amsterdam" or "Sydney" or "San José" and have it mean anything.  So you buy the kid a real, big-kid globe and you point to places on it.  "You are here and Daddy is there."  And then the questions *really* start.  Ye gods.

On the bright side, all that travel adds up over time.  In Himself's case, to over a million miles flown on one airline as on last year, which qualified us both (not even just him!) for Platinum frequent flyer status.  Which explains why we found ourselves upgraded to Business Class for our flight to Punta Cana yesterday morning, and were able to toast the beginning of our (slightly belated) fifteenth anniversary trip with mimosas on the plane at 7:30AM.

Happy Anniversary to us.  Grateful thanks to my in-laws, who are watching the children this week so we can have this getaway.  And happy Mother's Day to the best mom ever.  Lots to celebrate today!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Yeah, I Should Probably Get That Out Of There...

Cleaning out my purse just now prior to getting on a plane tomorrow morning.  Got to the bottom and found a large black plastic rubber knife!  Yikes.  Pretty sure the TSA folks wouldn't be too happy about me trying to bring that on a plane.

I borrowed it from the taekwondo dojo before my black belt test to practice with, since one of the self-defenses I created for the test would be used against a knife attack.  Perfectly legitimate reason for me to have it (although I really do need to remember to return it) but not so much a reason for me to carry it on a plane.  Glad I found that before the TSA did!!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Absolutely Heartsick

Penn State just can't stop shooting itself in the foot.

For those who haven't seen the story, a sophomore died there in February during fraternity initiation hazing.  Yesterday, it was announced that a number of people would be facing involuntary manslaughter charges as a result.

For the story, click here.  The details are absolutely horrifying.

I can't even begin to imagine how this young man's parents (or brother, or girlfriend) will ever have another peaceful moment's sleep in their lives, knowing how much and for how long he suffered before he died.

Most of the men on my father's side of the family are members of one fraternity.  Not the one involved with the Penn State incident, as it happens, but I'm not sure that matters.  At various points Thing One, knowing that he is a legacy many times over, has mentioned possibly pledging the fraternity as well when he goes to college.  I want to sit him down right now and make him read that article, although I won't.  Not yet, because it would give him nightmares.  But sure as hell before he goes to college.


Friday, May 5, 2017


Thing One's class has been doing a unit on the Holocaust in Social Studies.  Our community happens to have in it an Army veteran (now in his early 90s) who was both a liberator of Auschwitz and an observer at Nuremberg, and he comes to the kids' school every year to talk to the eighth graders about his experiences, which is an absolutely amazing opportunity for them.  How many kids are lucky enough to hear about Nuremberg from someone who was actually there??  To cap off the unit, the grade takes a day-long field trip to a nearby university to visit their Holocaust museum.  Now, Thing One is a rabid soccer fan and wears a professional soccer jersey of some variety to school as many days as not.  He told me that he had a jersey from his favorite team in his hand to put on that morning but it occurred to him that it might not be a good idea, since that team is Bayern Munich!!!  Good call, kid; good call.

Preview, Part 2

(Or maybe this should have been part 1 since it will happen first.) We dropped Thing One off at his first sleepaway soccer camp on Saturda...