Sunday Fun, vol 2

Why images have been removed.

This describes my current grasp of technology.

How to look thin in pictures.  I haven’t tried it yet.  If you do, let me know how it worked for you. Click the photo for full directions.

Recently, I used the word “steampunk” in a conversation about boots.  The other middle aged women hadn’t heard of it.  I’m not sure if that makes me less fuddy duddy or just a nerd.  In case you are less nerdy than I am, it’s a genre/esthetic of the future envisioned by a Victorian.  Heavily inspired by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, it’s both retro and futuristic – clockwork time machines, steam powered, yet futuristic.  Here is a wikipedia article, if you want to know more, and here are men in steampunk garb.

You could win shoes here.  (No extra entries for me if you enter, but you probably “need” shoes, so I am sharing.)

This will be me, in another five-ten years.

Survival of the Knittest

My husband was assessing my survival skills the other day.  He came up with one: knitting.  If we lived someplace cold, and the world came crashing down, he thinks I would be able to keep us warm and maybe even barter knitted goods for some food or water.

Happy to hear that I have any survival skills at all, I pointed out that I’d need yarn because I don’t know how to spin, or keep livestock, but that if we had old sweaters, I could unravel them.  That is, if the end of the world happened to result in a lot of unused sweaters that I found before any of the cold people did.

Zombies don’t need sweaters, do they?

I think you should all befriend a knitter now, or at least next week, so if the earth loses power and/or the means of transporting warm winter wear from Chinese factories to your house, you will have a local contact for hats, mittens, and sweaters.

My husband was planning for our lottery win a day earlier.  In that scenario, I got a fabulous house and he got an airplane.  I hope I win the lottery before the infrastructure of the world crashes.  I think my knitting skills would be more marketable if I was living in my dream house.  Or, my husband could deliver my woolens to colder climes in his airplane.  Now that is a plan!

What are your survival skills?  I might need to move near you.

The Effortlessly Mean Mom

Not to brag, but, as I get older, I get better and better at inflicting cruelty upon my youngest child.  It’s become almost effortless, just being myself is enough some days.  I’m pretty sure, at this rate, I could win a major Mean Mom prize before she graduates high school.  I hope it comes with airfare.

I cannot take all the credit.  She’s my last child, so I’ve had a lot of practice, plus she is a girl, so my opportunities to be mean or embarrassing, which is just a different sort of mean, have increased substantially.  Boys are so much harder to disappoint.  With a girl, it seems like we can ruin her life with a glance.

I dashed my fourteen year old daughter’s dreams this week because:

(I am 95% sure you’ve not heard this one, at least not this century.)

I am an incompetent seamstress.

Yes, I am, and in her view this is a deliberate act to keep her dreams from coming true.  This never happened to Cinderella.  She had mice, birds, and a fairy godmother ready to whip up dresses at a moment’s notice.

She asked if I could teach her to sew a dress.

I told her I could try to help her figure it out, but I have never sewn a dress, so it’s not something I can teach her.  I can show her how to thread the machine and operate it.  I offered to take her to Joann’s to select a pattern and said I’d help her with the instructions.

She told me she doesn’t need a pattern because she has drawn a picture of the dress she wants, and needs me to help her make it.

I told her that I have no idea how to draft a dress pattern, that you have to know how dresses are put together, how to lay the fabric and how many pieces and what shape to get the look you want.  You have to draw a pattern from your picture and need to scale your pattern to your body.  I said I’m sure we could find a book at the library if she wants to try to learn that.

If looks could kill, I would not have lived to write this.  This week’s dream career as fashion designer is now beyond her reach because her mom does not sew.

Who knew the pain I could cause by not learning how to create a dress from a drawing?  That one takes a lifetime of non-readiness to accomplish, people.

The truth is, I would love to be the mom who could turn a drawing into a dress.  However, all my attempts at sewing clothes have ended in the rag bag.  It’s not for lack of trying that I am incompetent in this area, but despite knowing that I am being as ridiculous as she is, I feel like the evil stepmom because I can’t do this one thing.  I want to be the fairy godmother.  I want to make her dreams come true.  I doubt she will understand this until she is a mom herself.  Until then, I’m just mean.

I come highly recommended.

Some days, I feel like I’ve done nothing but take care of my dogs.  (It’s not their fault they are needy, and even if it was, I would love them anyway.)  That puts them in the best position to assess my qualities as an employee.  If my dogs were writing a letter of recommendation for me, it would read like this:

To Whom It May Concern,

Ginger Kay has always been an exemplary care provider.  She is very prompt with mealtimes, although she is perhaps too exact in her measurements. She is not adverse to sharing snacks, but sometimes chastises others for their generosity.  She embraces the “Spoonful of Sugar” method of administering medicine.

She wakes well upon the low rumble, only occasionally requiring the woof, even in the pre-dawn hours.  She is an indefatigable opener of doors.

She appreciates finely synchronized howling for the art form it is.  Neighbor watching, border patrol, and floor licking are rightly viewed as valuable canine contributions to the comfort and safety of all.

She never ignores requests for petting.  Her rump rubs are superb, rivaled only by her neck massages and tummy tickles.  Be forewarned, however, that she requires close proximity.  She does not stretch well.

Ginger Kay also possesses managerial skills, and is quite adept at motivating others to clean the yard and accompany us on walks.  She herself walks more continuously than we desire; we much prefer her to engage others for this task.

She is a compassionate advocate for our health.  She does not mind looking the fool to veterinarians, knowing each of our preferences in treatment.  She will stand firm on not allowing one to being removed to back room labs, if past experience has taught that yelping, panic and, later, hunger strikes and/or dehydration will ensue.  Her hearing, you may be assured, has not diminished with age.

Despite these fine qualities, we cannot recommend her for a position with your company.

Not only is it a great inconvenience to us when she leaves the house, but she returns more tired than we like.  It is highly likely that, were she not with us all day, we would need to wake her multiple times throughout the night.  She would arrive at work tired and useless to you. She is also incapable of looking professional due to our hair covering her clothing.

Please do not hire her.


Jebediah and Beatrix

Sunday Fun, vol. 1

Images have been removed.

The only part of a newspaper I ever enjoyed were the funny papers and the Style section.  I never read anything else unless a teacher demanded a current events article.  I’m going to try to give you your own little Funny Pages each Sunday.

Do you like quizzes?  I love them, more so when the results are laughably wrong.  Here is a quick visual style quiz.  Click either the picture or here for the quiz.  I’d love to hear if your results were spot-on or just plain ridiculous.  My results were “classic with a touch of boho.”  The photo below is the boho.  There was not one thing about the classic spread that I liked.

My daughter had the most ridiculous homework assignment on Monday:  watch a football game to learn what the various players do.  (If you click the comic, it’s big and readable.)

Here is an interesting article:   psychopaths have a poor sense of smell. The application for the middle aged woman is that, no matter how crazy you feel, you can assure your family you are not a psychopath because your sense of smell is stronger than ever.  Or is that just me?

Lastly, a bit of style news:  socks are making a come-back.  This is from Prada, spring 2013 collection.  Marc Jacobs also featured socks.  I already mentioned this on Facebook, but I am really looking forward to people wearing socks.  (I share odd bits of news and stuff on FB, basically whatever catches my eye.)

Socially Awkward Dishonesty

I have no poker face.  I can’t fake anything.  I have no ability for improvisation.  I don’t think fast enough to lie convincingly.*

This does not make me honest and virtuous.  It makes me socially awkward.

Example:  I helped an acquaintance with her moving sale.  She wanted to thank me, and a close friend of hers, by taking us out afterwards for margaritas and lunch.  I didn’t really want to go, but it seemed wrong to say no, so I went.  Both of their husbands joined us, and the friend’s 16 year old daughter.

I don’t drink, but I ordered lunch.  (This is not virtue, either; I don’t like the taste or smell of alcohol.)

The conversation, in which I was more of a listener than a contributor,  turned to homecoming, and did the young lady have her dress.  Yes, she did, and the next thing I knew I was being shown an iphone photo of two girls, being asked, “Do you think this dress is inappropriate?”  (I’m not kidding.  That is exactly how the question was phrased.)

In my head, I was picturing my own 14 year old daughter, who is rather modest, and my husband, who thinks there is no such thing as a too-modest daughter, and was feeling glad that this was not my child barely covered with spandex and glitter.  I wasn’t thinking about the girls in the photos at all.  Realizing I’d already paused too long, with all five looking at me expectantly, I panicked and lied, “Uh, no,” because I knew that was the desired answer.

It was not a convincing response, as evidenced by the awkward silence that followed.  (I so appreciate the socially adept who can fill these awkward silences and move conversation along.)

Later, of course, I could think of a number of non-responses.  I still don’t understand why someone I barely know would want my opinion of her daughter’s dress.  Even I don’t care what I think of her dress.

This is why I did not want to go to lunch, and why I prefer helping people with tasks to chatting.  I’m not good at it, and I know it.  I can’t fake interest for things which don’t interest me.  When people ask me questions which I can not politely answer truthfully, I feel like a child who has been called up to the board to work an incomprehensible math problem.  Clueless and embarrassed by it.

Interactions like this are fairly common for me, and have two effects.  First, they make me want to avoid social gatherings which might require small talk.  Second, they make me appreciate my friends all the more.  I have great friends.  Not tons of them, but I treasure each one of them.  I love them because I can be my socially awkward self and give them my honest answers.  They don’t ask me idle questions.  They know when I say, “Well, I wouldn’t want my daughter wearing it, but she does have the figure for it,” that that is exactly what I mean.  No judgement towards them, just my honest response.

*I can, however, keep a secret.  Being told something in confidence allows me time for advance preparation of evasive maneuvers.

Stop Wearing Granny Panties

Do you know the difference between granny panties and pin-up girl panties? Attitude.

Okay, maybe the high waisted retro panties feature a bit more lace, and a bit less beige, but those are minor differences. The real distinction is the attitude of the woman wearing them.

How do you think of yourself?

If you think of yourself as frumpy, chances are you look it.  Sorry.  I deleted that twice before leaving it there.  It’s just true.  If you think of yourself that way, no matter what you wear, it shows through.

We often are told that if we dress differently, we will feel more confident.  Sometimes that is true.  However, wearing ill-fitting or uncomfortable clothing is not a mood booster.  Nobody looks or feels fantastic when their clothing requires constant adjustment.  Tugging your pants up or your shirt down, adjusting your bra straps, trying to wiggle out of a wedgie:  these are neither attractive nor confidence builders.

I am not advocating a makeover for your lingerie drawer.  I’m advocating a makeover of your mindset.  Let’s start with not calling anything “granny panties.”  Call them Pin-Up Girl Panties.  You, you’re the pin-up girl.  Pin up girls come in all sizes, so no excuses, and they’ve been around longer than you, so you are not too old, either.

If you feel great in a thong, or boy shorts, or bikinis, or hip huggers, or spanx, wear them.  It does not matter what sort of underpinnings you wear.  It matters that you are comfortable and feel good about yourself.

Undergarments aren’t seen by most people.  Or shouldn’t be.  That hot pink bra strap that doesn’t line up with your sundress straps, or the top of the thong showing when you reach down, they don’t make your look.  They might get noticed, but people should be noticing you, not your underwear.

Have you ever thought, as the mom standing in line in front of you bent down to pick up the dropped binky, “Wow, if it wasn’t for the visible Y of her thong, she would look like such a frump?”  No, nobody ever has.  If you’d seen the top of her pin-up girl panties instead, she’d have looked no more or less like the woman she is.  So it doesn’t matter what undies you wear.

Remember, you are not a frump.  You’re a pin-up girl.  In disguise.

Why disguise it?  Because I don’t think most women are trying to convey sexy 24/7.  Sometimes, yes, and for certain people, definitely.  Usually, most women I know want to look nice, beautiful, maybe stylish, not older than we are, maybe sophisticated or quirky or professional, often thinner than we are, and more confident than many of us feel.  We don’t need or want to arouse everyone we encounter.  So everyone needn’t know you’re a pin-up girl.  It’s enough that you know it.  (You can let your husband in on the secret, but I bet he already knows.)

Whatever look you choose, it’s confidence that will make it work.  Confidence and a smile.  Do you think the most appealing photo in this set is the first?  She’s smiling, that’s why.

So wear your comfortable panties and know that you look great when you feel great.  Stop calling them granny panties.  Even if you are a grandmother.  If you don’t want to think of yourself as a pin-up girl, remember, Wonder Woman wore full coverage briefs, too.  You can be a superhero.

Anniversaries After the Half-Life

In Paris, middle aged lovers look sophisticated and glam,
or, maybe it’s just Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

My husband and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary yesterday.  Until recently, we’d never done anything special to mark the day we were married.  My husband doesn’t like special occasions or holidays, and when my children were little, I didn’t enjoy being away from them.  So, we got into a habit of not doing anything for our anniversary, and we were fine with that.

Last year, though, was my Half Life Anniversary.  Never seen a Hallmark card for it?  That’s because I made it up. It’s the anniversary that marks when you’ve been married for half your life.  Half!  Married as long as not!  Everything after that means you’ve been married longer than not. It’s a very significant date, in my mind, and I reminded him of it several times that year.

I really wanted to go to France or Italy for my Half Life Anniversary, like I wanted to go to Paris for my honeymoon.  It didn’t happen either time, but we did go away for a couple days together in July.  Alone together anywhere is lovely as it is rare.

This year, I decided we should celebrate our anniversary every year, on the actual day.  I feel like it is an accomplishment to be married this long.  I love my husband, but not all of the twenty three years have been easy ones.  Ups and downs, and knocked about by life.  Six out of the last eight years were outright hard, and there are days I still feel emotionally bruised and raw.  But we’re still together, still growing, still figuring out life together, still in love, and that is worth celebrating.

We look like Myrna Loy and William Powell.
Meaning we lounge around with our dogs.

I forgot to tell him about wanting to celebrate our anniversary every year for the rest of our lives.  I’m like that; I forget to talk out loud.  Then, about a week or two ago he was telling me about his upcoming travel schedule, including a weekend trip which fell on our anniversary.

“You can’t be away on our anniversary,” I said.

“That’s not our anniversary.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Our anniversary is the following weekend.”

“No, it’s not.”

This exchanged continued for a bit.  He had not forgotten the date we were wed; he’d miscounted the weekends.  Eventually, he realized that yes, our anniversary fell on the weekend in question.

“Were we doing something that day?”

“Yes, I want to celebrate our anniversary on the real day from now on.”

“We never do that.”

“I decided we should start.  It’s an accomplishment:  more than half my life I’ve been married to you.”

“Okay, I’ll reschedule that one for the following weekend.”

See why I am still crazy in love with him?  He may be lousy with a calendar, but he grasps the Half Life concept.  At least, he understands that the Half Life concept is significant to me.

Selfishly, I am also hoping a few little celebrations may lead us to somewhere big for his Half Life Anniversary.

(That is one of the really cool things about the Half Life Anniversary.  Unless you are the same age, you each get your own!  Then, later, if you are lucky, you each get the Twice-As-Long Anniversary, where you’ve been married twice as long as not.  I’m pretty sure I’m spending that one in a romantic European location.)

Do you have a bucket list?

Do you have a bucket list?I’m not a list maker by nature.  It requires way more organizational effort than I usually care to exercise.  If you’ve read my About Me list, you’ve probably figured this out on your own.

More than my lack of organizational skills, it is my lack of constancy that keeps me from embracing the bucket list.  Sure, if I was handed a wad of cash and told to book a vacation today, I could do it.  Today, given enough cash, I’d book an African safari for a winter vacation.  Less money, I’d go to the Florida Keys.

That’s today. Yesterday, I was thinking about Italy and Scotland.  Who knows what I’ll be thinking about tomorrow.  I don’t.

The idea of making a list today, and sticking with it, is so alien to me.  I’m too much of a flibbertigibbit to want to be held to yesterday’s dreams.

Or am I missing the point?  Is this one of those Type A things that I just don’t get?  Is the list not about daydreaming?  Is it an actual plan?

Do people rank their bucket lists and complete them in order?  Or do they allow for some randomness in the completion?  It’s a ‘to each his own’ thing, isn’t it?

Aside from my own flightiness, there are so many uncontrollable external factors.  Time, money, health, war, politics, climate change, uncooperative spouses.

I think I may have lost my chance to visit Egypt.  Not that the chance was ever great, but I feel like the political situation there has reduced my chances of seeing the pyramids from “possible, but unlikely” to “almost nil.”  How would I feel about not being able to see the pyramids at Giza if it had been part of my life’s plan, not just wishful thinking?

Do you allow yourself to erase items from your bucket list, or must you soldier on?

When I started thinking about this, ie five minutes ago, I googled and found, where people can make their lists online, and other people can browse them for ideas.  Browse for ideas?  If you can’t think of it yourself, how badly can you really want it?

I looked at the Recently Added feed.  Many people want to travel.  Several list scuba diving.  One wants to have a book published.  Get a law degree.  Fly a plane.  Win the lottery.  I hope they do all those things, but when they don’t, I hope they are happy anyway.

What about you?  Do you have a bucket list?

Peter Pan Didn’t Live in His Mother’s Basement

Peter Pan may be the boy who never grew up, but he sure didn’t live in his parents’ basement.  He moved out and led a life of adventure.  I don’t think he’d appreciate being associated with men who act like boys.

I’d like to nominate a different character for the Non-Adult Syndrome, but I cannot think of one.  Can you?  It seems like most hero types aren’t the sort to live in a basement and play video games.

My eldest turned 22 this week.  I love him; he’s a great kid.  I was hoping he’d be more of an adult by now, though.

Twice he has enrolled and then failed out of state universities.  (His money, not mine.)  I think he didn’t actually attend classes and/or turn in assignments.  I’m not sure why he kept enrolling.  His dad and I had assumed he’d go to college, but we’d be just as happy if he wanted to become a plumber.  (I would like to be related to a plumber.  Or a pastry chef.)  In fact, he himself chose to start college classes when he was fifteen.  A couple years later, he lost interest.  (He’s also not interested in being a plumber or a pastry chef.)

Not sure what he wants to do, he puts in his hours at Walmart, eats fast food, buys himself legos, writes (fiction, he is more clever than I am), and plays video games.

Living with him is not difficult.  He’s very low maintenance, plus he remembers to buy milk when we run out.  He is good company, always willing to discuss my latest tv and reading obsessions, and sometimes allowing himself to be drawn into them.  That works in reverse, too.  He introduced me to Doctor Who.  He’s a great housemate.

The problem is, I’m not his roommate, I’m his mom, which means I want so much MORE for him.  I want him to be meeting interesting people, doing things he loves, growing his mind, expanding his world, and figuring out his place in it.  Moving forward, even when that hurts and is hard and makes you want to lay around your mom’s house for a weekend to recover.  I want to hear about his progress, even if it is just in texts or on his blog or on FB.  I don’t want to watch him stagnate.

I realize it’s not about what I want for him.  I’d be happy if he wanted something for himself.

For myself, I want to be patient and gracious, but I fear those may be fancy words for enabling.

People tell me stories of their late blooming brothers, all assuring me that they did eventually grow up.  However, the last person who told me about a slow to leave brother mentioned the move-out age of 40.  I did not find that encouraging.

He does not seem depressed, if you were wondering, but neither does he seem happy.  I have suggested counseling.  He politely declined.

On my worst days (you know the ones) I feel like every one of his faults, shortcomings, fears, etc are Totally My Fault.  What I didn’t pass along in the way of bad genes, I think I passed to him through poor parenting/teaching.

On my best days, I think he just needs a little more time.  But not until he is 40, please.

Most days, I’m somewhere in between, slightly worried, but still enjoying his company.