It Is Right to Give Him Socks and Booze

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Father, all-powerful, and ever-living dad, we stress out always and everywhere to buy you gifts. There, I said it. We worship you, we give you thanks, but you have a stack of Applebee’s gift cards gathering dust on your desk. Your closets burst forth with Henley sweaters.

Dad’s getting up in years, and it’s time to switch your gift ideas from durable goods to consumables.  If your dad has three hot lather machines on his bathroom counter, and he’s still using the one from 1976, this is the year to give socks and booze.

That’s what they USE.

All winter long, my parents drink and warm their icy feet. In the spring (okay, August), they shed their fuzzy footwear which is now full of holes (presumably from staggering around the house with a scotch), and the process begins anew.

Don’t get me wrong, they are NOT alcoholics, or even heavy drinkers. They don’t even drink! They’re just cold and oldies in the Midwest, is all. They need to take the chill off.

Step inside their house on a day like today (“Bitter cold and damp,” as my dad would say) and you will feel as if you just got off a plane in Equatorial Guinea. Don’t be confused by the oil refining equipment. We thought my dad might take it up as a hobby many Christmases ago…

As I’ve said before, it’s cold here. The weather outside is frightful, so stay in and drink, is our motto. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at our Eastern European ancestors. Poland’s primary export is drunken old people falling down at weddings on YouTube.

Spoiler alert, dad, you’re getting more of the same this year. Ah, who am I kidding? My dad doesn’t read my blog.

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Bwah-bwaaaahhh!

 

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Halloween is Here!

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When I grew up, there were maybe half a dozen Halloween costumes, and they all involved borrowing an adult’s clothing. There was the hobo, the witch, the vampire, the 50’s teenager, the scary insurance claims adjuster… and the ghost.

Now, of course, costumes abound. Your kid can be the poop emoji! Yes, there are a million other things he or she could be including inspiring historical figures, clever foods or household items, costumes that pair with one or more family members like the cast of Ken Burns: The Vietnam War… but face facts: your kid can be a poop emoji and that’s the thing they MOST WANT TO BE.

So, my kids are going to be Nyan Cat and the Pumpking from the computer game Terreria. If you don’t know what those things are, you’re not alone. It’s going to be a long night of, “Oh! A… rainbow cat? And… um, Sleepy Hollow…?” But I’m not complaining because they’re making their own costumes this year!

Hallelujah!

Sort of. I have to be the procurement committee. A seven year old can’t very well make his own spherical pumpkin head, can he? I mean, last year, when he wanted to be the world’s most obscure Minecraft character, I had to make him a Wither Skeleton head out of a box and many tiny squares of black and grey tape. Now, that head holds his collection of Nerf weapons, so at least I got some mileage out of it.

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When I see it here, it looks like a lot of weapons…

This year, the only options for a wearable pumpkin head either cost $70 on amazon, or took a whole month, papier mache, and an airbrush to make. Then I had a flash of inspiration…

LOOOOOOK WHAT I FOUND IN WALMART! Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

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A seven year old boy with a pinata on his head at a Halloween party? What could go wrong?

See the resemblance? blog pumpkorn

So, with time ticking away to Halloween night (actually, Halloween night, day, and two more nights – another reason I’m glad I didn’t make my own papier mache head!) I only have to find light-up stabby boomerangs, a purple cloak, vine arms…

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(“So it’s pine garland? What’s wrong with it? Why are you crying?!?”)

And a skull pin. No problem-o!

Hey – if you’re in Muskego on 10/31 to visit the legendary Haunted Garage, don’t forget to donate a dollar or a food item to the food pantry! I’m reminding you so these very nice Halloween enthusiasts don’t have to. REMEMBER: canned food, or ghouls will torment your immortal soooooouuuul! (Or, cough up a dollar. No freebies!)

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I am Groot!

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It’s that time of year when the leaves start falling.

The leaves on my houseplants, that is. See, they go to “camp” all summer – I repot and fertilize them and leave them out on my deck. Some of them don’t make it. They cry and turn yellow, and by the time I bring them back in, it’s usually too late. That’s how I “weed out” my houseplant collection. Bwahahaha!

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Feed me, Seymour!

Most of them thrive in those long, sun-soaked days and rainy afternoons. And I get a little more elbow room in here. But, turn, turn, turn… the nights got colder and it was time to bring them inside.

I guess I got used to neglecting them. School started, there was a book fair in there, and I was busy. In the middle of last night, I heard a crunching, rattling sound. It was our cat trying to euthanize my poor dragon tree! The leaves were brown and crisp: perfect for a 4 AM gnash.

This morning, I took a closer look at my poor plants. Oh, the herbacity!

There was only one thing to do: round them all up and put them in the shower in the sunny bathroom. I gave them a good spray, knocking off the dust and letting them drink deep.

Normally, I schlep them to the kitchen sink, water them and let them drain. When I do that, the cat thinks I’m serving him a salad course, and I’m sure he hasn’t read up on which house plants might be poisonous to pets.

Now that they’re all in the shower together (and dripping!) they’re a bit more intimidating.

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Semper ficus!

Who knows when I’ll put them back? They look so happy. And heavy…

The Birchbark House

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Some time ago, I wrote several posts about the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” series. My sister, Ann, had the wisdom to save that collection and hand it down to my very lucky daughter.  We read them together.

I didn’t know, however, that Laura Ingalls was only slice of what’s available…

This summer, I was wandering around the children’s section of the library and I found Louise Erdrich’s “Birchbark House.”

I’m a huge fan of Erdrich’s books. How did I not know about this?

Truth be told, I checked it out for myself, not knowing if I would foist it on my daughter.

She’s into the whole horror scene, and the books I recommend tend not to be “cool.” So I read it. It was amazing, and I forgot how much I loved Erdrich’s writing. But, I kept thinking back to those happy-ish Little House books, and that scene in “Little House on the Prairie” where they watch the Indians “ride away” (wink, wink),  and Laura cries because she wants an Indian baby for herself. (!!!)

I just had to show my daughter there’s another side to that part of American history. So, she read about the baby girl in the very first pages and what happens to her. (I won’t give it away. Are you crazy? You need to read this for yourself!) Then, we had a long discussion and she asked some very hard questions. And now, we’re kind of hooked…

This weekend, we’re off to find the other Birchbark books, “Game of Silence,” “The Porcupine Year,” “Chickadee,” and “Makoons.” I can’t wait to have another series to read with my kid. I can’t wait to see what happens.

If you have a favorite historical series, please share it! ~ Thanks!!

 

Hope in a Jar

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Check out this righteous herb, man

This morning, a good friend and well-meaning person told me their hairdresser knew the cure for Type 1 Diabetes. I had to run to my car before she finished talking, or I wouldn’t be responsible for my actions.

Why do people licensed to cut and color hair think they have medical training superior to any other hospital or research facility anywhere in the world? For the last 18 months (since my son’s diagnosis), I have had a deluge of advice either directly from hairdressers or their clients about its “cure.”

Hairdressers: you need to stop. We have laws against practicing medicine without a license because it can kill people. So, the next time you’re backcombing someone and want to tell them evening primrose oil cures cancer – Shut. It.

That goes double for people selling shakes and supplements from their garage. I know you mean well, and you would LOVE to feel personally responsible for curing someone – even better if it’s a child – of a lifelong medical condition.

YOU don’t want to cause any harm (like the emotional trauma resulting from spending lots of money on some flaky concoction that hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of making any difference in any human’s physiology), but the company that makes the product you sell has no such scruples.

“Tell them – ha ha ha – tell them if they drink this, they won’t have to take any more insulin!”drunk-i-love-lucy

Now, really… how does that even sound? Would you go up to an amputee and tell them Vitameatavegamin will grow their limb back?

Oh, am I being hostile? Sorry.

But I think if a company is going to make such a claim, they should be responsible for researching and providing proof that the product really does what they say it does. And I’m not talking about an endorsement from a customer/entrepreneur who said they had plantar warts that looked like melanoma and now they don’t have them anymore. I’m talking FDA approval.

Next time, instead of just smiling and nodding at these “product representatives,” I’m going to ask them to provide references, research studies, and a monetary guarantee that would cover any unforeseen medical side effects from the use of whatever they’re selling. I want that shit in writing.

Maybe then, people will think twice about what it really means to offer hope in a jar.

Meet the Punchers

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When I was a kid, there was a family in the neighborhood. I’ll call them the Punchers, because that was something they really enjoyed. (Besides, they might hunt me down and beat me if I identify them.)

The Punchers are directly responsible for much of my parental anxiety.

They had a kid my age – a girl, even! She just loved to hit, but she did not love reciprocity. I preferred to play with the neighborhood boys even though they weren’t my age. It was safer.

Of course, sometimes I had to play with her. Her mom would come over and threaten to punch my mom if I didn’t.

The Puncher kids went to public school, which colored my view of public school kids and public school in general.

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Ahem.

One day, I was having dinner at the Punchers, and Mrs. Puncher asked me about parochial school.*

The brother (who was about 4 years older) interrupted my answer to ask why he didn’t go to parochial school.

“You think we’d pay for your education?” she laughed, “That would be a waste of money!”

The Punchers all thought this was hilarious, and their son didn’t seem the least bit hurt.

Anyway, I thought about them recently when I heard my kids were playing musical chairs in school. I have only one experience with musical chairs, and it’s from Puncher girl’s birthday party. When the music stopped, she punched the crap out of me until I gave up my chair.

Thank goodness, those aren’t the rules of the game, even in public school. Still, my kids are lukewarm to the Darwinian nature of musical chairs.

In our school, it’s more like,

“Here’s a chair, old chum. Trust me, you need it more than I do.”

“Ha, ha! No, thank you, I insist!  I prefer to watch those other poor souls duke it out for dwindling resources.”

“Right-o! That’s what passes for entertainment nowadays…”

Monocles and spatter-dashes are big at my kids’ school.

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Maman, do pack more of those nummy fruit leathers!

And punching is so-o-o last year.

*Parochial school in the eighties had a whole ‘nother set of problems.

When You Walk into a Poo Storm

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Everyone knows there are some things you just don’t post on social media, right? I mean, we’ve learned our lesson with this woman , these guys , and this

Social media’s not a free-for-all! Other people see it. More people than you realize. (Wake up, dummies!)

But what about those days when you post something seemingly innocuous? Like, “Look at this pretty rainbow!” with a picture of a pretty rainbow, and you get comments. Lots and lots of comments…

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Warning: actual rainbow.

“It must be nice living in a temperate climate where it rains and you can take shelter in your comfortable house with your expensive phone, and by the way, check your privilege!!!

“Unfortunately, some of us can’t see rainbows at all because of colorblindness. :/”

“Stop trying to foist your Judeo-Christian symbolism on us!!”

“It’s Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve! Wait, you know what I mean… NOW look what you made me do, you $%&#@!!”

“This rainbow reminds me of my huge LuLaRoe sale* – here’s a link!”

… and that’s just the replies to your original post, not to mention all of the infighting that results in your friends’ comments.

Sometimes, it seems like you can’t post anything without stepping in a steaming pile. When that happens, it can throw you for a loop,

  • Remember these people are all just reacting to a sliver of who you areblog intersect what happened

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    Go to your happy place!

  • It’s not worth the psychic energy
  • You can take it down

Take it down?!? But, but, my freedom!!

Look, I’m just saying: it’s an option.

Once upon a time, a very silly, fleeting thing happened in a very specific place. A place most of the world doesn’t know or care very much about: Milwaukee.

During the entertainment segment of a Brewer’s baseball game, four people dressed as sausages raced each other around the field. As they ran, a player from the opposing team thought it would be hilarious to hit one of the sausages with a baseball bat. (You know, like you do…)

It was an unfortunate but funny story, and someone made a shirt out of it, and it said, “Milwaukee: Don’t Whack Our Wiener,” and I bought the shirt.

Not for myself, for my husband.

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You’re welcome, baby!

We didn’t even live in Milwaukee at the time, so he wore it in Atlanta when we were hiking.

WELL.

Neither of us anticipated the looks we were about to get, and when a family with little kids came along, my husband had the good sense to leave the trail and turn his shirt inside out.

I still laugh about the whole thing. Him, not so much.

In conclusion, social media is just like everything else. You never know when someone’s going to make a stink, so don’t be surprised.

Anyone looking for a very clever Brewers’ pop culture souvenir T-shirt, let me know: only worn once!

*I do not like LuLaRoe. Please stop trying to sell it to me. Thank you.