Sunday, September 22, 2013

Halloween Express

  Fall has arrived and that means caramel apples, sweater weather and the greatest joy of all.. the arrival of the Halloween Express Costume Catalog!  It ranks right up there with the Sears Christmas catalog and brings sheer joy to my family.  I have always been drawn to the Power Ranger costumes for my son and the cute witch costumes for my daughter.  Unfortunately, they have long since outgrown such, but I can still see them dressed in their festive costumes.  

  For nineteen years, I have found great enjoyment dressing my kids as Flintstones characters, superheroes, zombies, and more. For those same nineteen years, I have tried in vain to dress as a sexy pirate.  I'm never quite successful with this look as somewhere during the process of getting children dressed, dying their hair blue, mining in the attic for plastic swords and plastic pumpkins,  donning outerwear that is reflective, trying to get the blue off of my fingers, and chasing down the dog who is chasing down the neighborhood children, I find myself exhausted and feeling nothing like Anne Bonny or any other sexy pirate.  But I cling to the dream and each year the Costume Catalog shows me glimpses of what I can be one day. 

  My husband, who has no concern for costume selection, has faithfully donned the same Mexican serape for years.  Wrapped in his blanket shirt and armed with a bowl of candy, he sits on the patio watching the kids come and go.  One year, upon a whim, I opted for the King and Queen outfits, thinking we might ditch the serape.   The royal wear was on sale and my dreams of sexy pirate were put on the back burner.   While it was good to be queen, the headwear paled in comparison to a feathery hat that secretly called my name.  

  My daughter wanted to be a rock and roll cat but changed her mind after the outfit arrived and she discovered everyone else was wearing wings that year.  I couldn't fault her for this change of decision, as who doesn't want to wear wings.  I was jealous that I didn't have some and realized that wings just make everything better.  She wore them for weeks after Halloween and I never asked why.  The answer was clear.   They made her happy.  

  While my kids no longer want costumes, their mother still does.  My heart skips a beat just knowing the opportunity is there once again to dress up as something I may never be.  There is excitement in the possibility and whether that be with wings or with a ship under my command the dream is always with me.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fish On


  My husband has dreams of family outings that simply don’t play out the way he envisions them.  Once a year, the kids and I gather round and participate in some outdoor expedition sure to bring happiness to “Dad.”  It only takes one trip to steer him off of this insane pursuit of unrealistic family adventures.  This year’s annual attempt at family fun was a fishing trip in the dead of winter.   When we woke that morning to rain, I should have said "No!"  When I demanded that we take sacks of groceries, extra clothes in case anyone gets wet, an assortment of ointments for everything from contact dermatitis to cobra bites and enough camera gear to look like a tourist, my husband should have said "No!"  Instead, we loaded the gear, text our children to rise from their beds and get into the truck, and headed off to the lake. 

Note that I consider myself a professional angler with my Snoopy rod and reel and can cast a plastic lure across our backyard pool, past five cats and around our patio table with great skill.   It’s those giant saltwater rods and reels that challenge me.  Once aboard the boat, my husband gave me specific instructions not to cast the reel.  This defeats the entire purpose of fishing.  I knew this was unnecessary advice and immediately flung the rod at the water.  Much to my surprise, his advice should have been heeded because unlike the Snoopy Rod and Reel, fishing line went everywhere except towards the fish.  It’s hard to hide a giant twisted ball of monofilament line coming from your reel and my husband soon spied the mess I had made.  No words were spoken.  After what seemed like a very long time, the fishing line was back in place and the rod was placed in a holder.  Again, I received instructions not to cast the reel or even touch it.  He explained that you have to keep your finger on the line when you cast or the line will tangle.  He obviously believed I was not properly skilled to perform this maneuver.  Now that I understood the concept, I was curious if only a second was a precise measurement of time needed to create such a large and tangly mess.   Surely, you could lift your finger for a split second and still have control.  Apparently not is that answer to that question, as I stood there a second time with a giant ball of fishing line tangled around the reel.   Since my daughter was driving the boat, I wondered if my husband would be focused on her, giving me time to untangle this mess I had gotten myself into.   Apparently not is the answer to that question, as well. 

  Once my rights to cast had been stripped away, my daughter drove us further into the cold and my son huddled at the back of the boat texting friends and family back home in warm, dry places. I was the only one determined to catch a fish and call it a day.  I should share with you that when you are fishing with really big fishing reels, you should not wear a hoodie with draw strings that dangle loose and free.  Since I was unaware that a giant striped bass was on the end of my line attached to a rod I didn’t cast, my husband yelled at me, “Fish On.”  I’ve since learned that those two words demand immediate attention by all and everyone has a duty to fulfill whether it be to stop the boat, reel in the other lines or set the hook and bring in dinner.  I panicked and leaned over to reel in the giant fish when the drawstrings on my hoodie wound right up into the reel.  In a split second, I had reeled myself straight up to my neck and stood there with my face attached to the rod and a 20 lb Striper attached to the other end.  The fish was pulling.  I was panicking.  Once again, I hoped that nobody would notice and the best plan I could come up with was to yell, “Don’t be mad, Don’t be mad.”   Without turning to look at the situation I had gotten myself into, my husband prepared himself for whatever mess I had created this time.  I can’t remember if we got the fish or not, but I do remember sitting in silence as he removed my drawstrings from the reel and realized this was nothing like fishing with buddies.  
  There’s a reason men fish together.  It's to keep people like me out of the boat.  Now, if a day of swimming and excellent meals is on the agenda, the kids and I are the ones you want to take fishing, but if you want to actually catch fish, it’s best to leave all of us behind and find someone who longs to hear those words “Fish On.”  I still panic when I hear those two words and do my best to move out of the way and avoid being gaffed or hooked in the head. The kids are great about going along for the ride and stand ready to post pictures of me with my head attached to a reel or of their father realizing that his dreams and his reality are two different things.  Both are good and blessed is the man who finds the fun in each.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The One Footed Sock Thief

Kabbaz-Kelly Photo

  I pay $40 a month for a security system that tells me if any doors or windows are being opened in my home for would-be thieves or wandering neighbors coming home to the wrong house.  It is supposed to protect us from crime and yet, each week, dozens of socks disappear from our home, leaving their mates to pile up in the laundry room.  Surely a one footed sock thief must be living amongst us as there is no other explanation for this loss of property.

  I've done the math and it simply doesn't add up.  Four pairs of socks go into the washer and only three have mates when they come out.  I've devised systems to ensure input equals output, but my systems fail somewhere during the cleaning process.  Someone thought it would be a good idea for me to safety pin each pair of dirty socks together before I put them in the washer.  This person obviously has no appreciation of my time and would prefer mated socks over a home cooked meal or other niceties that take priority on my to-do list.   Sock pinning is just below re-grouting the tub and somewhere above clipping the dog's toenails.   If I am ever found pinning dirty socks together, I can assure you it is only because I have slipped into madness and am sitting in the dark after the utilities have been cut off and all chaos is breaking out.

  My family is well aware of the sock trials we have and has accepted it as normal.  My son, who is away at college, was recently introduced to his own dirty laundry.  I realize I have failed him because he believes there to be four steps in the washing process.  Wash, Dry, Fold, Buy New Socks.  He was amazed when he put 18 socks in the washer and 18 came out.   He called home to share the wondrous news and I was filled with pride and envy.  I had waited for days to hear about the details of his classes and new life and yet, the news that got his attention and sent him running to me with tales of amazement was the fact that the sock product had stayed constant through the entire wash cycle.

  While the sock problem continues at home, one would think that I would be smarter than this dilemma and purchase all identical socks, thus greatly increasing the probability of matching pairs.  But, there are so many cute socks out there in the world and who can resist a pair of furry red socks or lavender infused cotton footwear.  My ten year old child surely must have needed kitty cat socks with whiskers and button nose on the toes as I still have one in my pile of mismatched socks.  Until I toss the mountain of socks out and invest in matching socks for all, my output and input will simply never add up.  I just don't know where the missing socks go and it will remain a mystery until that day when all parties have taken on their own laundry. I figure a few clean pair of socks is better than no clean pairs of socks and call it a successful day when everyone has on socks that match.  There is no time to mine for runaway socks, so those that lose their partner will be cast away where they will wait to be transformed into sock puppets or simply tomorrow's trash.

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...