The Post Halloween Post

halloween_2007_006.jpghalloween_2007_006.jpghalloween_2007_006.jpg 

I love Halloween more than other holiday, but I am glad it’s over for another year.  There is the stress of finding the perfect costume.  There is the stress of buying the perfect costume.  There is the stress of make-up application, accessorizing and picture taking.  Thank goodness it’s only once a year.

The costumes were the easy part this year.  John had decided, early on, that he would be a Roman gladiator.  We bought a metal trash can last year to cook a turkey in (see old blog) and he was captivated by the lid; it’s a perfect shield!  His toga was an old red bedsheet, cleverly folded so the bright blue border printed with trucks could not be seen.  Amy had a lot of angst about her outfit, but finally came up with a pair of Mork suspenders and a beanie cap with a propeller; she was a dork.  The goddess chose the “Ruby the Pirate Beauty” costume at Party City, a costume which should have been titled “Ruby the Pirate Slut”.  Yes, it’s true, I let my six year old dress like a skank for Halloween.  I’m skipping church today too.  My sins are legion.

By the big night, it was evident John’s Roman sandals, for which I paid $8.99, were not going to work.  They were too flimsy, so he tossed them aside for a pair of flip flops.  Amy’s beanie cap and the propeller parted ways.  The skull pendant which the goddess had chosen to accessorize her skank outfit broke.  We also lost the narrow strip of black nylon that was supposed to be tied around her head and NOTHING could replace it!  Nothing!!!  The tantrum was truly spectacular.  I mean, if you’re going to be a skank pirate, you have to have the attitude to go with it!  Not an auspicious start to the evening.  The soup I had made did not come out right.  The chicken noodle soup turned into chicken noodle mush.  The minestrone was too watery.  I hate holidays.  I was ready to go trick or treat and get the evening the hell over with.

 We started a tradition last year, after we purchased our lawn care company.  We take the trailer that hauls the lawnmowers and load all the kids we can onto it and drive around the neighborhood.  Our subdivision does not lend itself to trick or treating; it’s very hilly and the houses are spaced far apart, so the trailer helps avoid tired legs and theoretically avoids the whining which accompanies tired legs.  Our kids however, being the industrious sort, simply found something else to whine about.

By 6 p.m. we were ready to roll.  My friend Julie showed up with six of her seven kids and the trailer was full.  We chugged up to the main road and pulled off to let them visit the first set of houses.  It was a perfect night, unseasonably warm, and clear as a bell.  The kids were squealing with glee, thrilled to be knocking on unfamiliar doors and taking candy from strangers.  Truly, there is no better holiday!

We moved on to the next stop and the kids were having a great time.  They were raking in candy by the pound.  It was going so well, I should have known it was too good to be true.  After all, there were no less than 18 children on our trailer.  That’s an awful lot of children to count.  So it should come as no surprise that we lost a couple on that stop.

No, I am not lying.  We left a couple behind.  Go ahead and call DHR now.  Please.  I think all children should be removed from my home and placed in protective custody.  What are you waiting for??? Call now!! 

Seriously, Julie’s youngest son got on the trailer and he told me Catherine and Amy were not with us.  “Oh no, they’re in the truck,” I told him.  “Don’t worry about it.”  But he was unconvinced and kept craning his head to look in the back of the pickup truck.  We pulled away, went two blocks, turned right and went two more blocks.  Everyone got off, then Tom told them to get back on because we were going even further, so he wouldn’t have to park the trailer in the middle of the street.  When he stopped again, the kids all piled off. I was sitting in my chair, when my phone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway.

“MOM, YOU LEFT US!!!”  Amy yelled into the phone.

“What???” I said, not believing her, although a terrible sense of foreboding flooded me.  I stood up and looked into the pick up truck; no girls.

“Where Are You?” she said and I could hear her panic.  “I had to borrow a phone to call you and I don’t know where you are!”

About that time, I saw my hopes of winning “Mother of the Year” float down the drain.  “Where are you?” I asked her, hoping maybe she was not too far away.  I had images of my baby running through the dark neighborhood, pursued by vampires and goblins, her last moments of life tainted by the knowledge she had been abandoned by her mother.

“I don’t know, but we’re with John,” she said.  Some of the panic went out of me; at least she was with her brother, although considering he had a sword, she probably still wasn’t really safe. 

“TOM,” I hollered, “We left some kids behind!!!”  I handed him the phone so he could try and figure out where she was and I slumped back into my chair.  Leave it to me to lose a kid or two.  Luckily, we still had all the little ones.  We continued trick or treating and eventually Amy and Catherine caught up with us.

Once we had everyone accounted for, the rest of the night was reasonably smooth.  We finished our night by walking through a haunted house one of the neighbors had set up in his basement.  I stayed on the trailer with Julie and tried to ignore my bladder which was crying out to be relieved of the beer I had foolishly imbibed. 

We got home at 8:30 and the little angels were tucked into bed by 9:00, full of sugar.  The worst part about the end of Halloween is it makes Christmas loom that much larger on the horizon!  Now it’s time to take down the Halloween decorations and get out all the Christmas crap.  Can I get a BAH HUMBUG???  

Advertisements

A Slam From the Goddess

The goddess is in first grade.  Every day, on lined paper reminscent of those mythical Big Chief tablets, she writes her daily news.  At our first parent conference, her teacher gushed about the goddess’s news.  “She is always done first,” her teacher raved, “and she never needs help finding something to say.  We never have to correct it; she comes up with everything on her own.”  Bitter, bitter words which held more meaning than I knew.

When I got home Sunday night, nose plugged up, drooping with exhaustion, the goddess brought me her backpack and I was able to peruse Friday’s daily news.  Her name is written in pseudo-cursive along the top and there is a big smiley face from her teacher on it.  Obviously, her teacher saw nothing wrong with the news.  Probably, she even got a good laugh, being the hard worker she is!

“TODAY IS FRIDAY OCTOBER 28 2007.  TOMORROW I HAVE A SOCCER GAME.  I DEEMD IT’S MY LAST ONE.”

Let me interject here that she likes to use a lot of big words, not always correctly, and it’s a trait she inherits from me.  She also poses a lot of questions, I guess because she has an endless amount of those and it fills up the news. 

“IT’S PECULIAR THAT ETHAN THREW UP.”

I find this peculiar as well.  I would have liked a little more information on that tidbit.  Where did he throw up?  In the classroom?  Did it come out of his nose?  Had he been drinking chocolate milk?  I need to ask these questions when she comes home today.

“I AM GOING TO BE A VET LIKE MY DAD.”

Because he is the hero.  Oh that dad, what a great guy!  He has a profession and he saves lives.  Not like mom.  I have to give her major points for paragraph construction because she really sets it up quite well.  That sentence is placed for maximum effect.  It lets you know Dad is the real power player in the equation.  And mom….well, hey, did you know Ethan threw up?

“DID YOU KNOW MY MOM DOESN’T HAVE A JOB?”

There it is…………SLAM!!!!!!!!!!   Right there in black and white block letters for the whole world to see!!  Mom is a deadbeat!!  Mom eats bon-bons all day!!!  Mom is a parasite, draining the financial life blood right out of good old hard-working Dad!!!

It cut me to the quick, I tell you.  Because I do have a job.  It’s a hard job and thankless too!  It’s called “MOTHERHOOD”!!!  And no one appreciates me!!  No one cares that even though I am knocking on death’s door, I still managed to put hot meals on the table Sunday night and Monday night.  No one cares that they still have clean underwear in the drawer (or at least stacked on the dining room table).  Because, at the end of the day, MOM DOESN’T GET A PAYCHECK!  So that makes her a little less admirable than dear old Dad. 

She finishes the news with the declaration “I AM 6.”  And that’s the end.  No redemption for Mom.  No sentence like “MY MOM DOESN’T HAVE  A JOB BUT SHE IS A GREAT MOM EVEN THOUGH SHE PLAYS ON THE COMPUTER A LOT.”  Or even “I DON’T WANT MY MOM TO GET A JOB BECAUSE THEN I WOULD HAVE TO BE IN DAYCARE 12 HOURS A DAY AND I WOULD BE SICK ALL THE TIME AND I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO PLAY SOCCER BECAUSE MY MOM WOULD BE WORKING HARD TO EARN A PAYCHECK AND SAVE LIVES AND WOULD NEVER HAVE TIME TO EAT BON BONS OR GO TO LUNCH WITH HER FRIENDS OR BLOG.”  She cut me to the quick and then left me bleeding.

I did ask her last night at the dinner table, because we eat dinner at the table at least three nights a week (take THAT June Cleaver!!), if she wanted me to get a job.  She shook her head and said “no way mommy!”  So I guess I’ll have to assume she meant the statement as a compliment, even though it came across as the ‘Dis of the century!  She really does love me, but she doesn’t want to BE me when she grows up!  Well, I guess I can’t blame her; veterinarian is a whole lot more glamorous than hausfrau!!

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It, Part 2

There are many things in the world that should never be changed.  I believe the Coca-Cola brouhaha of the 1980’s should serve as a lesson to us all:  some things stand above change.  Unfortunately, human beings seldom learn from their mistakes.

Recently, I used Tootsie rolls as an example of the perfect candy.  They’re chocolate, they’re chewy, but not so chewy that they pull your fillings out of your mouth.  They are perfect in every way.  Yet the manufacturer persists in making obscene “flavored” tootsie rolls.  Who wants to eat a raspberry tootsie roll or a vanilla tootsie roll (shut up Gina!!)?  Vanilla and tootsie roll don’t even sound right together.  Tootsie rolls are a chocolate food and to add any other flavoring is a sin against mankind. 

In recent weeks, I have discovered other abominations I would like to share here in this space.  Certain candies that were minding their own business, sating the masses with their chocolaty goodness, only to be tampered with by management idiots who have no moral or ethical code when it comes to their product.  Truly, the world is on the cusp of disaster.  If you didn’t believe the end times were upon us before, you will now!

Let me start with a current offering at Publix and other fine retailers:  Raspberry M & M’s.  In the commandments handed down by God to Moses, it very clearly stated that M&M’s would only be offered in two flavors:  plain and peanut.  Any other flavor is the work of Satan and should be rejected as sinful.  I know raspberry and chocolate can be good together, but not in an M&M.  The addition of raspberry flavoring might even impede the “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” action for which the candy is famous.  Let’s not mess with things that make sense, ok?  You can have your raspberry chocolate cheesecake or ice cream, but when it comes to M&M’s, plain or peanut is all that is needed.

My next candy is the Three Musketeers.  Who doesn’t love a Three Musketeers?  Soft, pillowy nougat cushioned inside a layer of milk chocolate is about as close to heaven as one can get.  Plus, it has less fat and calories than your average candy bar.  In short, it is a perfect food.  So why mess with it? 

Well, a few weeks ago, the “mint” Three Musketeers was introduced.  Don’t be fooled by it, because it is a total rip-off.  The manufacturer’s have simply taken a York Peppermint Patty and folded it up into a candy bar.  There is no delicious nougat involved; it’s all peppermint.  Why??????  Why?????  Help me understand why someone would try to fool humanity in this way?

And then, because that wasn’t enough for those people, they took it a step further and offered Three Musketeers in MULTIPLE flavors!!  The original flavor was absolutely fine; we didn’t need additional flavors!!  Nonetheless, while out shopping with Teensy, I discovered a bag of miniature Three Musketeers in three different flavors:  strawberry; french vanilla; and mocha cappucino.  F***ers!!!  A**H***s!!!!  (Like that Mojo???)

This is how clever those people are; they knew I would have to buy a bag.  I would have to find out for myself just how badly they had tampered with perfection.  We tried the strawberry first.  I took a bite and winced; the filling was pepto bismol pink and the flavor was sugary sweet, over the top, strawberry.  I passed it off to Teensy, who deemed it “ok”.  Next we tried the French Vanilla; it tasted a little like a Russell Stover cream filled candy, but not enough to make me want to eat more than one.  I passed it off to Teensy and she decided she liked the strawberry better.

Then came the mocha cappucino.  Now as you all know, I despise coffee and coffee flavoring, so Teensy was alone in this one.  She unwrapped it, took a bite, then rolled down the window and threw out the rest of it.  In other words, the mocha cappucino was deemed unacceptable.  I poured the rest of the bag into a bowl when I got home, figuring someone would be stupid enough to eat them.  Like maybe the dog.

Instead, my son grabbed one and came bouncing into my bedroom, where I was watching TV.  He threw himself on the bed, unwrapped the candy and popped it into his mouth before I could warn him.  A look of horror crossed his face as his tastedbuds registered that this was not a regular Three Musketeers.  “Oh MY GOD MOM, What is THIS?” he asked thickly, his eyes tearing up.

I looked at the wrapper and said casually “I think you got a mocha cappucino.”

“What are you trying to do,” he screamed, clawing at his throat, “KILL ME????”  He ran from the room, presumably to spit out the dregs.  Like I said, it’s not particularly tasty.  So the lesson we can take away is Three Musketeers comes in one flavor and anything else is idolatry and not to be tolerated.  “Thou shalt have no other flavors before my nougat, or else thou shalt choke upon the foul coffee flavor and die.”  So it is written. 

Now, I have saved the best for last.  This concept is so wrong-headed, so vile that it defies description.  It’s painful for me to contemplate, but I will put it here so you will know it exists.  Then it can be avoided and possibly even stamped out of existence.

I was at the Wal-Green’s with Gina and she had a $5.00 gift card, that really turned out to be a $3.00 gift card.  At the time, however, she didn’t know that, and she was trying to spend exactly $5.00, because that is the sort of person she is.  We were in the back, searching the clearance merchandise, and she had already gotten a box of flavored cookie straws and some Werther’s chewy caramels, when we saw it.  It was, on the end cap, a product too dreadful to bear.  We stared in horror and amazement, feeling our gorge rise, hands curling into claws, ready to tear our hair.  In honor of Elvis Pressley (did I come close on the spelling????) Reese’s has introduced a….get ready for it….never mind, you can’t get ready for it…..A CHOCOLATE BANANA PEANUT BUTTER CUP!!!!

Tell me the world isn’t about to end right now, because that’s a sign of Armageddon if you ask me!  In my opinion, the King himself would be disgusted!!  After all, there’s a HUGE difference between fried peanut butter banana sandwiches and a CHOCOLATE BANANA REESE’S CUP!!!

Take a trip back in time with me, to the golden days of TV.  It’s a classic commercial, one I’m sure you all remember.  A dude is bopping down the street, munching a chocolate bar.  A second dude is bopping down the street from the other direction, eating peanut butter from a jar.  They collide and a star is born!  Chocolate and peanut butter are great together!  But there was no THIRD PERSON WITH A BANANA!!!!  There is no classic line where the third dude says “you got your chocolate and peanut butter on my banana!!!!!”  Because, quite simply, a peanut butter banana chocolate candy would be wrong in any universe!!! 

Reese’s has occasionally deviated from its original concept with some success, but they stuck pretty faithfully to the peanut butter/chocolate recipe.  The addition of some nuts, or a candy coating is really negligible in the great scheme of things.  The Reese’s mega cup actually improved perfection by layering the peanut butter even higher and coating it with more chocolate!  But to add a banana flavor is to stray far from the acceptable.  If I wanted a banana, I would eat a freakin’ banana!!  Don’t try to hide it in my Reese’s cup!!!  Bastards!

So my thesis for today is classic candy is classic for a reason!  If you want to make a foul, peanut butter banana cup, then give it a diffferent name and different packaging.  If you must add coffee flavoring to the Three Musketeers, call it the Four Musketeers and leave the original three alone!  And sell it to the communists because we don’t want it here in America!! 

I’m Sick….Leave Me Alone!!

I’m back from Pensacola.  I am sick.  I am sure it has nothing to do with me sitting outside all day yesterday, freezing my patootie off, with gale force winds gusting into my face.  Cold doesn’t make you sick; germs make you sick.  However, I am sick and I was cold yesterday, so I am sure somehow the two are related.  It might even be MRSA.  Or bird flu.  Or possibly even that disease from that powdery stuff that freaked everybody out after 9/11 and I can’t remember the name of it right now because I am sick.  I am going to take two Nyquil, which will induce a coma.  I will spend tomorrow sleeping off the coma.

Leave me alone tomorrow.  Don’t call me because I don’t want to talk to you.  I want to lay in bed and slowly suffocate to death on my own mucous.  Gah, I hate a stuffy nose!  Don’t bother me because I will be far too busy sneezing for the 277th time.  My throat hurts, it’s all scratchy and I am cranky.  I need my rest.

Do not ask me to blog.  I don’t want to blog.  I want to die.  I am never going to another soccer tournament as long as I live.  At least not until next month.  I am glad my child had one moment of happiness before her mother succumbed to her illness and coughed herself to death.  I make the tubercular tot sound healthy!

I love you all, now go away!!  I have to…..ah…..ah…..ah…..CHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blogging Cause I Have To!!….PG 13 blog

I have nothing to say!  Nothing at all!!  I’ve started a couple of pieces this week and they taper off into nothingness.  I am not funny.  My life is meaningless.  I need to learn to say no.

On Sunday, I was in charge of the church Halloween carnival.  It was miserable.  The inflatables arrived on time and then they wouldn’t fit through the door.  The person in charge of the facilities wouldn’t help me.  I wanted to hurt him a lot and possibly inflict great damage upon his male parts, but I didn’t.  I got my husband to help me instead, even though he does not get paid to do anything around the church.  The carnival was a smashing success and I smashed nobody.

On Monday, I started preparing my house for a multi-level girl scout meeting, an event only I am stupid enough to host.  I persuaded my dearest Teensy to help me transform the basement into the nature trail to Hell.  I love Teensy.  She loves me.  We both love Halloween.  It’s a good fit.

We began the transformation by cutting up 200 black garbage bags and hanging them from the ceiling.  I climbed up and down the ladder, duct taping them to the gas line.  Yes, that’s right, we were going to gas the Brownies at the end of the trail.  “WE TOLD YOU NOT TO VENTURE INTO THE DARK”!!!!  Muahahhahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Anyway, that night, in all my spare time, I had to go work the concession stand at a football game.  Within thirty minutes of my arrival, my knees were in agony.  It took me all night to figure out that my ladder clambering combined with the concrete floor of the concession stand was the cause of my agony.  Do they still make Anacin??

While in the concession stand, my phone rang.  It was the goddess and she was weeping most copiously.  “Moooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” she wailed, “I…I….I…wu…..wu……wuz…..wa…..wa…..wa….watching Hannah Montana…..and…..Sissy…..ch….ch…..ch….changed the ch….ch…..ch….channel….and I NEVER EVEN SAW THAT EPISODE!!!!!!”  Let me assure you readers that NO episode of Hannah Montana has gone unwatched in my house, so her story did not ring true, but I played along.

“Well, fine,” I said, “go watch it in my room.”

“I aaaaaaammmmmmmmm,” she wailed.  ‘Um, ok,’ I wondered, ‘then what exactly is the problem?’  I had nachos to serve and did not have time to talk to her so I hung up the phone.

Ten minutes later, it rang again.  “Mooooooooooom,” came my son’s voice, “Amy called me a butthead!!!”

‘Well,’ I thought to myself, ‘that’s  because you are a butthead,’ but I didn’t say it.  Instead, I said “Do you know where I am?” 

“Uh, no,” he said.

“I’m in the concession stand.”

“Well, what are you doing there?” he asked intelligently

“Working my BUTT off so you can be in the BAND,” I said rather loudly.  “Now will you leave me alone??” ‘you little butthead,’ I added under my breath.

“Oh, sorry,” he said.

After the phone calls, the zest went out of my evening.  Between the crippling arthritic pains in my knees and the fact that there were twenty of us milling around the concession stand, doing nothing, I decided it was time to leave.  So I headed home.

Got home, found out that John had been grounded to his room for calling Amy an a-hole.  I love that he is hanging out with all these older kids and expanding his vocabulary.  He was in trouble because Amy had called her daddy and not me and daddy was having none of it!  The fact that Amy is occasionally an a-hole and had, in fact, been pelting him with tiny plastic monster figures did not excuse him from shouting obscenities.  

“I’m not a hypocrite, son,” I told him.  “I have a potty mouth and I admit it.  But I’m 38 and you’re 14 and (say it with me y’all!!) AS LONG AS YOU LIVE UNDER MY ROOF YOU WILL NOT CALL YOUR SISTER AN  A-HOLE!!!”  Even if she is one.  For punishment, he is banished from Facebook for a week, a fate worse than death for a 14 year old.

Tuesday, I spent all day with Teensy, continuing the basement transformation.  Gina came over and supervised for a little while. We got the bags hung up and then went shopping for more props.  I found a truly spectacular remote control rat (better watch out Renee…muahahaha) and a flying bat.  Only problem was, once I got them home, the rat didn’t work.  Fucker.

Wednesday dawned gray and gloomy.  I was starting to panic because we hadn’t done much to the basement at all.  The bags were up, but that was it.  My friend Cheryl showed up with a car full of props and we set to with a will.  By 2 p.m., the transformation was complete.  The basement was dark and eerie, filled with bats and spiders and skulls, and a really fabulous animatronic tree that added the perfect touch to the woods from Hell.

Best of all, my friend Mr. Green came over before the party and fixed the rat.  The door to the battery compartment was not tight enough, or something.  Mr. Green channeled his inner McGyver and jerry-rigged the rat with an empty DOTS box.  There are no words to express the bliss of having a furry little rat zoom around between people’s feet, his eyes glowing with the red demon fires of hell.  Truly spectacular!!

The girl scouts all came, the party was an enormous success and I have been proclaimed girl scout leader of the century!!  I led the girls through the basement over and over again, up and down the stairs, frequently with one of the smaller scouts on my hip.  And my knees still hurt. 

Yesterday I took the stuff down; it’s amazing to me that we spent three days putting it all up and it came down in less than an hour!!  That was all I did yesterday.  At least until the kids got home.  Then I took Amy to the eye doctor, left her there, drove to school to get the goddess from art lessons, drove back to the eye doctor to get Amy, drove the goddess to soccer, drove to Hacienda to meet the boys for dinner, drove home to get Amy’s soccer stuff, then drove her out to soccer practice, which wasn’t over until 8:45.  And my knees still hurt.

Today, I am catching up on all the laundry because I have to drive Amy to Pensacola for a stupid soccer tournament.  I won’t be back until late Sunday afternoon.  NOW do you see why I haven’t been blogging????  If you guessed it’s because my knees hurt, you would be right!!  Next week, we are going to earn the orthopedic surgery Try-It because I am getting bi-lateral knee replacements!  Or maybe I’ll just start drinking heavily!!  Stay tuned for tales from Pensacola!!

Typhoid Mary

The goddess has a cough.  It’s one of those post nasal drip coughs that keeps her (and me) awake all night.  It’s the sort of cough no medication will ease.  As soon as she gets horizontal, the drip begins and tortures us both all night.

It started Saturday night.  I had a full house, with seven 12 year old girls in one room and two 14 year old boys in another.  The goddess was in bed with me to get her out of the way.  The cough began and lasted all night.

Last night, I was up reading, and she was coughing.  I went up and gave her an antihistamine, hoping it would help.  I repositioned her pillows.  I told her to come get me if she needed me.

Then I went back downstairs and resumed my book.  We are reading “Carrie” for our book group.  I had just gotten to the part where buckets of pig blood are poured over Carrie and her date.  Carrie has run screaming from the dance.  I was starting to feel pleasantly creeped out, anticipating the revenge.  “Carrie’s back,” observes one character.  “Yes, she is,”the other agrees.

At that moment, my bedroom door silently swung open and my heart jumped.  The dogs were already in the room and my husband was not home yet.  My mouth was slightly ajar, my heart rate was elevated and my hands were clammy.  There was  a long moment of nothing, then  the goddess glided silently through the door.  She was dressed in a long white t-shirt, her hair a tangled cloud around her head; a small ghostly figure.  I nearly wet myself.

“Mommy,” she whimpered plaintively, “I can’t stop coughing.” 

The tension drained out of me as quickly as it had come.  She was not going to telekinetically lob rocks at me.  She was not going to use any paranormal abilities to set my bed on fire.  She just needed her mommy.

I pulled my tubercular tot into my arms and turned out the light.  She continued to cough, shaking the bed with the force of her spasms.  I really should have stopped letting her smoke those unfiltered Camels years ago. 

My husband finally got home and he agreed to sleep in bed with her.  I went upstairs to her room to try and get some sleep.  Right now, she is still asleep and I guess I will take her to school late.  Then I’m going to finish my book.  In an open field.  In the broad daylight.  Where no one can sneak up on me!!

Parts is Parts

Today I met Kiki and Renee to discuss our latest book.  Every three weeks or so, we pick a book, read it and then meet to discuss it.  We all have similar eclectic tastes and will read just about anything, although I personally draw the line at cannibals and demons.  Were they to choose a book about demonic cannibals, I would skip that month. 

After our discussion, Kiki left and Renee and I hung out at the coffee shop for awhile.  I love sitting in a coffee shop because it feels so grown up.  I don’t drink coffee in any form, though.  I don’t care how much sugar, cream, vanilla flavoring, or whipped cream you put in, it still tastes exactly like burnt dirt to me.  It’s one of those things that smells soooooooo good and tastes sooooo bad!  I usually order a diet coke; works for me!

There we sat and I was doing my usual stream of consciousness thing, blurting out whatever came into my head, when I remembered the scrapple.  “I was in the Publix the other day,” I told her, “and I came across scrapple in the frozen food section.”

She looked mildly intrigued, so I continued “I picked it up and do you KNOW what is in that stuff???”

She did not, so I informed her “It’s made of pork, pork livers, pork hearts, pork eyebrows, pork skins and some other pork parts they can’t even list on the package because it’s just too disgusting.”

We fell into a discussion about scrapple, wondering who would eat it and how it would be fixed.  We paused, looked at each other and I said “Do you wanna go look at the Scrapple??”

“Oh yeah,” she said enthusiastically.  Because that’s the kind of friend Renee is.  She is always ready for adventure.  Not the hop a plane and head to Tibet to see the Dalai Lama kind of adventure because that is way too ordinary.  No, Renee is the kind of friend who says “yes, I want to go to the Publix and find weird food items and mock those who might possibly consume them.”  In other words, Renee is a true friend.  And she can also write prescriptions, which is just bonus in my opinion!

So off we went to the Publix which, conveniently enough, was located in the same strip mall.   I made a beeline for the freezer section and there it was:  SCRAPPLE.  We opened the case and solemnly removed the scrapple, handling it reverently as we read the ingredient list.  I freely admit here that I am far removed from the farm and I refuse to eat organs of any type!!  Yes, I have probably ingested them unknowingly, but there is honor and better digestion in ignorance!

“Ewwwwwww, pork hearts,” we squealed.  There were two types of scrapple, so we debated the merits of the Philadelphia style versus the country style.  We determined the Philly style looked slightly  more palatable, being a beige color versus the sickly gray of the country style.  The package gave no clues as to preparation, but I figured it was something probably fried in a  pan.  But more on that later.

From the freezer section, we headed to the canned meat aisle, drawn by a higher power to see what weirdness awaited our discovery.  Publix has a more refined section than Winn Dixie and there are no cans of pork brains (in milk gravy…yum!!!) or tripe.  There is, however, potted meat.  Potted Meat comes in a tiny can and if memory serves, it is a sickly pink paste.  I guess you eat it on a sandwich.  I had it when I was a child.  Imagine my horror when we picked up the can and discovered it was made with TRIPE!!  For those of you not familiar with tripe, let me enlighten you….it’s the scrapple of the beef world.  In other words, it’s parts!!

The other fascinating ingredient in potted meat was mechanically separated chicken.  Many images popped into our heads, including that of a chicken being tortured on the rack or run through the wood chipper.  Here is the actual definition: 

Mechanically Separated Poultry
is a paste-like poultry product produced by forcing crushed bone and tissue through a sieve or similar device to separate bone from tissue. Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since 1969 after the National Academy of Sciences found it safe for use. In 1995 the final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe to use without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the ingredient statement. The final rule became effective Nov. 1996.

  

Yummy!!  You would be amazed by how many of your favorite meat products, like Underwood deviled ham (I love that little devil guy!!!) and Spam contain mechanically separated chicken!  It makes me hungry just thinking about it!  “Paste-like Poultry Product: it’s what’s for dinner!!!!”

We moved back to the frozen foods and examined Goya Ham Croquettes.  These beauties are deep fried to a golden brown and stuffed with a pink paste the color of pepto bismol!  The ingredient list was 4 inches long and I am not exaggerating.  The paste itself contained two different red dyes, #4 and #37.  Intestinal cancer anyone?? The Goya chicken croquettes contain your favorite and mine, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN!!!  At least the ingredient list for the chicken croquettes was only about one inch long!

After we parted ways, I headed home to pick up my husband and we headed right back out to meet our friend Karen for lunch.  Friday is my husband’s day off and I try to make sure we eat three meals out that day!  We went to Olive Garden and I mentioned my trip to Publix over the salad.

“Oh, I LOVE scrapple,” said Karen. 

I choked on a crouton because those were the last words I was expecting to hear from her.  She has some sort of fabulous corporate job and is not the sort of person I envisioned eating scrapple.  Renee and I had decided that the consumers of scrapple and olive loaf and other fine meat by-products were over the age of 90 and had been raised on farms in Iowa.

It turns out, according to Karen, that scrapple is a popular food in the New Jersey area.  It is, indeed, sliced and fried up in a pan.  “It’s one of my favorite breakfast meats,” she gushed.  “Every diner in New Jersey serves it!”  Ok, right away, I am crossing New Jersey off my list of possible vacation sites!

I gave her a sickly look and she said defensively “and you might as well know, I eat head cheese too.  Only you can’t get it at Publix anymore.”  FOR A GOOD REASON!!!  HEAD AND CHEESE ARE TWO FOODS THAT DO NOT COMBINE WELL AT ALL!!!! 

To be fair, my husband eats his fair share of gross meat products.  His family all adore a vile concoction called “blood sausage”; I’ll let your imaginations go to work here.  He is also a lover of fine head cheese and would probably eat scrapple if I cooked it up for him.

So the moral of the story is every region has its weird delicacies.  We have chitlins (chitterlings) here in the south and scrapple is big in the north.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the wholesome foods like Twinkies and Hershey chocolate and leave the meat by products to those with stronger constitutions!

Tuesday PTO meeting

Tuesday was an extremely busy day for me.  I can’t imagine doing everything I have to do and holding down a paying job as well.  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get it all done.  And with all my volunteer work, well you can imagine how little free time I have!!

I started out my day at a PTO meeting.  I do so love meetings, especially the type where the agenda is discarded and everyone throws out topics, at will, for discussion.  But I volunteered for that stupid Sunshine Position, so I had to go.

Upon entering the school, I was immediately subjected to the new security measures.  Our school is piloting a new school security computer program and I have to admit, it’s pretty cool.  All the doors to the school are locked, except for the door into the main office.  Upon entering, you give your driver’s license to the secretary and she swipes it through a little swiper thingy on her computer.  Your entire criminal history comes up and she knows right away if you are a pervert.   But more on that in a minute.

The best part is the computer program then generates a sticky label with your name, your destination within the school and, as if that wasn’t enough, YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE PICTURE!!!  Big enough for everybody to see the picture of you with one eye closed and your mouth open because you weren’t ready for the camera.  Personally, mine looks a lot like Charles Manson’s mug shot, minus the scar.  What it comes down to is I would much rather be labeled a pervert than have my driver’s license picture on display for everyone to see.

On the plus side, your weight doesn’t print out on the badge.  Mine would certainly generate some comments, like “when was the last time you weighed 120 pounds…when you were ten???”  Ok, so I fudge a little on my weight; is it a crime???  Are you going to call America’s Most Wanted and turn me in for fraud and misrepresentation??  One half of my body probably weighs 120, so it’s not strictly a lie.  And besides, I bloat.  A lot.  And I retain water too.  And I’m big-boned, so get off my case, alright??

Anyway, so I made it through the system, so evidently I am not a pervert.  During the PTO meeting, the new system was discussed at great, exhaustive length, including the pervert issue.  I became a little concerned about their pervert protocol.  If the license is scanned and the person’s name is flagged as a known pervert, an e-mail alert goes out to all the principals and the School Resource Officer.  That’s great, but what if none of them are by a computer?  Then what happens?  Is the secretary supposed to stall the pervert in the office until someone decides to log onto his or her computer and see the pervert alert?  What happens if the pervert demands his/her tag so he/she can go stalking through the school to leer at the children, then what?  Should the secretary start lobbing paper clips at him or her?  Shooting rubber bands??

Obviously, they need to hire a security consultant, and I have just the firm for the job:  the goddess and her friends, dubya and the czarina.  Perverts and strangers are similar dangers and the goddess and company have already demonstrated their competence in dispatching strangers.  It’s not much of a stretch to dispatch a pervert.  So, for a brief moment during that Oh-So-Boring meeting, I considered  offering up their services to lead the school administration through some Pervert Practice. 

However, I kept my mouth shut, hard as that is for me.  I was not at all sure my levity would be appreciated by the administration, proud as they were of their new technology.  So I slumped in my seat, obliterating my id tag with my rolls of fat so no one could see the unflattering picture.  And I am going to the driver’s license office to get a new picture, just as soon as I finish my Glamor Shots session!

The Cotton Candy Monster

I should not be put in charge of things.  I am barely competent enough to work the scanner in the self checkout lane at Wal-Mart.  I am certainly not ready to operate complicated machinery.

Like cotton candy makers.  We had our church picnic yesterday and, as president of my ladies group, I had to order the cotton candy machine and the snow cone machine.  This was simple enough; I made a phone call and it was done.  Unfortunately, I was also required to operate them and this was not so simple.

I arrived early, ready to go a few rounds with the machines.  How hard could it be, I reasoned, to operate a cotton candy maker?  I have a college degree.  Ok, so it’s a liberal arts degree, but it’s from a highly respected university.  One with a really good football team!  And I did quite well in my studies.  If people in carnivals can operate cotton candy machines, thought I, then there should be no problems.  Oh such wicked, wicked hubris!!!

My first mistake was putting the machine on a table.  This caused the machine to be higher than me, as most things are.  The lord blessed me with many things, but height was not one of them.  Once the machine was on the table, it was chest high to me, making it difficult for me to reach. 

Well there it sat and I was at a loss as to the next step.  The warning on the side advised me not to operate it until I had thoroughly read the detailed instructions provided with the machine.  Unfortunately, the rental company had failed to provide them with the machine, so I had no guidance.

Nancy S. sauntered up, holding a beer (I love Catholic church picnics!!!) and said “I think you just pour the sugar in there (gesturing to the hole in the middle) and turn on the machine.” 

“Well, go for it,” I told her, erroneously assuming she knew what she was doing.  She opened the carton of bright blue sugar and dumped away.  Then we turned the machine on and waited.

Almost immediately, wisps of cotton candy began forming.  I grabbed a paper cone and started twirling.  If you’ve ever purchased cotton candy at the fair before, you have witnessed this action.  The competent server rotates the cone through the drum and the cotton candy forms a giant fluffy mass right there on the cone!

I am not a competent server.  I started rotating the cone and succeeded only in wrapping the cotton candy around my hands.  It was a windy day and wisps of cotton candy were blowing up and out of the machine, right into my face and up my nose.  Within minutes, I was completely coated in cotton candy. 

There is no hyperbole in this particular entry.  When I say coated, I mean coated!!  A lady standing nearby started howling with laughter, and was so taken with my appearance, she ran to get her camera so she could take pictures, presumably to sell to the Weekly World News:  Mutant Half Woman Half Sugar Monster!

I had cotton candy all over my hair, giving new meaning to the term “blue hair”.  It was all over my face and in my eyebrows.  But most compelling of all was the fact that absolutely none of the cotton candy had twirled onto the cone.  Instead, I had managed to twirl it onto my hands so a giant fluffy mass had formed on my hands.  I looked like I was wearing cotton candy mittens.  Within minutes, I could no longer use my hands because they were so bound up in cotton candy.

I later told a friend I felt a lot like Lucy in the candy factory episode.  The harder I tried to twirl, the more cotton candy I ended up with on myself.  I was handing children white paper cones with a tiny drift of cotton candy.  I did try to get several children to eat it off of me, but no one took me up on it.  

The cotton candy was continuing to form at a frantic rate and a lot of it blew away into the atmosphere.  A lot of it blew onto me.  A little of it actually made it into the hands of the crying children.  “I guess I put too much in,” laughed Nancy and she walked away with her beer.  I fantasized briefly about suffocating her to death with my cotton candy mittens, but I was too busy trying to twirl.

About that time, Kiki’s teenage daughter came over and said “I know how to do that.” 

“Great,” I told her.  Inside, I thought ‘yeah, everything looks easy when someone else is doing it,’ but I smiled and moved aside.  She picked up a cone and within seconds, had a large, fluffy, perfect cotton candy for the next child in line.  She continued to generate perfect cotton candies and within minutes, had tamed the machine.

I lamely thanked her and betook my glistening, sugar coated self inside to wash.  A swarm of yellow jackets formed around me, a sort of honor guard as I made my way through the crowd….ok, I made that up, but it would have been really funny!

So needless to say, I have crossed carnival worker off my list of possible occupations.  The management doesn’t take to kindly to workers winding themselves up in the product!

If It Ain’t Delivery, It Ain’t Worth Eating!!!

I was in the Publix last night picking up a few things for my daughter’s Spanish project.  She was required to bring in an authentic spanish dish.  Not being an authentic spaniard, this caused me some concern, but I managed to come up with something on the ethnic foods aisle.

I was standing in the ten items or less line, praying no one would count and notice I had eleven items.  A gentleman got into line behind me, carrying a single frozen pizza.  I generously allowed him to go in front of me since I was in line illegally. But his frozen pizza got me thinking.

I have never tasted a good frozen pizza.  Ok, I admit to a strange fondness for the el-cheapo Jenos/Tostinos pizzas, but they don’t even really taste like pizza.  I’m not sure what they taste like.  However, I like them and they’re cheap, so I don’t think about it too hard.  I never speculate as to what the composition of the pepperoni nuggets on their pizzas might be.  It might be rat droppings dyed with red dye #48 for all I know, but they taste good, so why analyze it to death?  You can feed a family of five for $2.00 and have enough left over for chemotherapy when the children get cancer from all the preservatives.

Its the frozen pizzas attempting to pass themselves off as real pizza that bug me.  I have tried most of the varieties on the market and they all taste identical to me.  They taste like cardboard topped with synthetic cheese food.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a “gourmet” pizza, or a “brick oven” pizza, or a “self rising, cornmeal dusted, organic crust” pizza.  They all taste like sawdust shavings, topped with nylon.

The gentleman in front of me had a Digiorno pizza.  You all know their ad: “it’s not delivery, it’s Digiorno.”  Damn right it’s Digiorno.  Let’s examine the differences. 

Delivery means I call the pizza place from my couch, in my pajamas, while watching a Sponge Bob marathon and place my order.  The pizza place makes my pizza to my specifications then slips it, piping hot, into a special delivery pouch to keep it piping hot.  The pizza man then breaks all traffic rules, mowing down armadillos and senior citizens, to deliver the pizza to my door while it is still piping hot.  The only work I am required to do is pay him and then slip the pizza onto paper plates.  We then retreat back to the couch to slurp up the greasy, cheesy goodness without having missed a single second of Gary the Snail’s antics.

Now let’s look at Digiorno.  I have to go to the grocery store to purchase it, necessitating a change out of my pajamas.  Remember, “it’s not delivery”!!  I have to bring it home and heat up the oven.  Then I have to decide whether to place the pizza directly on the rack for a crisper crust or to place it on a cookie sheet for a softer crust.  If I opt for softer, I have to search for something to hold the pizza.  You can’t actually put it on a cookie sheet, because cookie sheets are rectangular and pizzas are round.  Even a toddler knows this.  The sides of the pizza flop over the cookie sheet, and as the cheese melts, it drips down the sides of sheet and onto the bottom of the oven, resulting in a mess I have to clean up later, or, worst case scenario, an oven fire.

If I opt for placing it directly on the rack, a new set of problems ensues.  The toppings still drip down onto the heating element.  Sometimes they catch on fire.  I am notorious for oven fires, so I am a pro at putting them out, but still, cajun pizza gets old after awhile.  Putting the pizza in is not a problem; it’s great when the pizza is frozen, because that sucker slides right in!  But getting it out is a different story.  You see, I don’t have one of those cool, long handled pizza removal things the delivery place has.  All I have is a lousy spatula.  It’s not long enough to go underneath.  It’s not wide enough to support the pizza.  Two spatulas does not work any better.  Invariably, as I try to slide the pizza out,  I drop part of it on the oven door.   Then I am cussing and trying to scoop up boiling hot cheese to get it back on the pizza so we will have more to eat than just cardboard crust.

Now really, which one makes more sense?  Frozen pizzas are ridiculously over-priced.  If I’m going to pay $7.99 for the Digiorno brick oven style, self-rising, deluxe pizza, I might as well pay $11.99 for a Papa Johns large, six cheese, Tuscan style pizza.  With delivery, there is no oven fire, no third degree burns and no oven cleaning marathon afterward.  There is just pizza, the way God intended it to be.  So you can keep your Tombstone and your Digiorno’s, but I am calling Dominos!