Friday, November 17, 2017

The Ghosts of Christmas Presents Past........

Tonight we ended up in side-splitting laughter, reminiscing about our dollar store Christmas shopping days.

Let me explain: when the kids were little, I would take them to the local dollar store and give them enough money to buy a present for each family member. It was a fun, affordable way for them to participate in gift giving. We would usually go on a weeknight after school, and they would start the shopping expedition by grabbing a hand-held basket and a bandanna. The bandanna was to cover their selections, lest they pass a sibling in the aisle. When it came time to pay, I slipped them the cash and they went through the checkout one-by-one, keeping a safe distance from each other so as not to spoil the surprises.

When we arrived home, the kids would take turns wrapping their gifts themselves. There was one year they chose the most expensive gold-foil paper I had just purchased from one of those ridiculously over-priced fundraisers. I had planned to wrap a few select packages in the paper to make a stand-out display under the tree. Instead, it wrapped $1 gifts. But, damn, they looked GOOD.

The kids' choices were pretty predictable - a candle for mom, a garishly-colored stuffed animal for their siblings, and a tool of some sort for their dad. One year, Hannah picked out a delicately-sculpted floral candle for me, and it didn't survive the trip home without breaking. She cried silently in her bed until her dad finally asked what was wrong. They made a return trip to the dollar store to pick up a new one to soothe the devastation. Another year, Harrison got me one of those candles that has dried flowers in it. A few months after Christmas, I lit the candle in preparation for a party we were hosting. A short while after the party started, a guest took me aside and said "there was a small fire" - apparently the dried flowers had burst into flame. She put it out without incident.

Then there was the year Arlie gave several people a bag of rocks. Not just any rocks - these were those flat, glass marble things. There were clear ones and blue ones. I'm sure she thought they looked just like jewels. SHINY! Other years she chose a theme of resin sculptures - leaping dolphins, swimming pairs of dolphins. They looked like they had been painted by a blindfolded toddler, and always contained glitter accents.

Jeff was the lucky recipient of cheap plastic kitchen items. Spatulas, oven mitts, sets of measuring cups. If not a kitchen item, he was gifted a tool of some sort - a screwdriver or a clip-on light. Occasionally he would receive a new pair of sunglasses or a shoe-shine kit. There aren't too many dad gifts at the dollar store.

For a few years running, the kids exchanged the same brightly-colored teddy bears that looked like they had a bad case of mange. They were stuffed with what must have been the bare-minimum of fluff to be considered a "stuffed animal" and they flopped around in an ungainly fashion. They could hardly be called cute.

Some gifts were actually useful - note pads, nail polish, dish towels. As the kids got older, and especially as they started earning their own money, the dollar store lost it's florescent luster and pricier gifts from the mall replaced the BPA plastic wares from the dollar store. No longer did we take our annual gift excursion to the land of the almighty dollar.

I kind of miss those days. And I'd gladly take another cheap candle for one more day walking around, picking out surprises hidden under bandanas with my little ones. The gifts were cheap but the memories were priceless.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Shred this!

I've had a virus or something the past few days. And the main symptom that has persisted throughout is feeling like I have a balloon inflated in my belly. My belly is tight and full of, well, GAS, I guess, but it didn't seem to be wanting to expel itself anytime soon. So, I've been walking around like a Macy's Thanksgiving day balloon wishing someone would shoot me out of the sky. And if you think that's too much information, just wait.

After five days of this bloated business, I started to look things up online (as one does). Nothing quite fit my symptoms and it appeared it was just a problem of too much gas and not enough escape. It would pass eventually so I set my mind at ease. But every few hours, it would intensify and I'd think, hmmm, maybe this isn't normal. So, back to Google I'd go (as one does).

Last night, lying in bed around the wee hour of 1 a.m., I Googled some more and I unintentionally fell down the rabbit hole of reading medical discussion boards and clicking on links which led to more links (as one does).

And that's when I discovered it.

Maybe you already know, but if not, please let me introduce you to Shreddies. Shreddies are "flatulence-filtering underwear." These are special undergarments designed to absorb all offending odors from your offing of intestinal gas. A special carbon kryptonite something or other is woven into these briefs and you can fart the day away with nary a person being offended by your stench (it doesn't say if they also absorb sound).

Of course I had to explore more - fart-absorbing underwear, people! And, honestly, as I read some of these discussion boards, I felt kind of bad for this one young lady who was afraid she would never find love because of her nonstop sulphuric secretions. It's a real problem! For real people! I'll admit I eked out a particularly floral toot and that's what started this dubious Internet search. Why DO your farts smell like rotten eggs? (You can Google it. As one does.)

Now I'm afraid my Internet search history is going to look pretty suspicious, but Shreddies are a thing and maybe this will change your life. I was really curious as to why they are called Shreddies and I was hoping "shred" was a euphemism for flatulence in the British culture, but, alas, it refers to a particular undergarment worn by soldiers, who were said to literally "shred" their shorts during marches (bet they never heard of Fruit of the Loom).

Better than the description, the science behind the undies, and the exorbitant price (which, according to Amazon reviews is worth every penny) are the pictures! Here, let me show you:



This is called the "Shreddies Bum Kiss." I don't see any kissing going on there. Only sniffing. And the guy is like "Erm, Daisy, can you just gimme a sniff, love? I've just trumped one!" (P.S. I am not making that part up. Trump is slang for fart in Britain)


And then Daisy gives him a whiff of her daisies. Mmmm.....like a breath of spring! 


And this guy? I don't care what kind of underwear you're wearing. DO NOT fart in an elevator. Just don't. It's a total douche move. Even if you have a carbon filter on your ass. 


This one might be my favorite. Just LOOK at how happy she is to have her bum sniffed! And he's up in there, good, too. "Let 'er rip, Kate!"


Wait, how would she know if you're wearing your Shreddies? 

Ok, all kidding aside, I'm all for staunching the stench. Who wants to smell a fart? I mean, there WAS a study saying smelling farts was good for your health, but it was quickly snipped by Snopes, so stop it already. You don't need to inhale for your health. I've often thought, why can't we have some sort of little disk that lightly adheres to your button so when you "exhale through your butt" you can release a pleasant scent of your choosing? Bath and Body Works could sell these - pumpkin spice, Winter candy apple, peach Bellini, lavender and vanilla. You could buy, like, six in a pack for $3.99. They could be called "Butt Puffs" or something cute. Brb while I go register my patent for that. 

So, if you have an odorous orifice, Shreddies might be your new best friend. Imagine being able to stride with confidence into any conference room, first date, or shared hotel room with absolutely no fear of fouling the air. That whole awkward period in a relationship before you're comfortable enough to fart in front of each other? Eliminated! Chili for dinner? Correspond with confidence around the water cooler with no repercussions from the musical fruit. Hungover? Hang with your homies over Denny's brunch with no fear of peeling the paint off the walls. Yes, friends, Shreddies is a thing. What a time to be alive! 




Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday musings.........

Once again there has been a mass shooting. This time in a church and 27 have died. These include an 18 month old and a 77 year old. In some instances, several members of the same family have died. The pastor's 14-year-old daughter has died. Didn't we JUST have a mass shooting in Las Vegas? Where 58 died and over 500 were injured? But that's yesterday's news, right? So soon we forget - it's as if we expect this to happen weekly now. We become numb. I feel agitated all the time and I am on alert - in the schools where I work, and on edge because my kids go to a public college and school shootings are the norm now, right? How can we possibly tolerate this and what changes can and will be made? Thoughts and prayers are meaningless when scores have died. We need concrete answers and real action. I don't know what the answer is. I personally don't think ANYONE outside the military (and only when on active duty) needs an assault rifle. And, Jesus, could we at least make it a little harder to GET a gun? Our world is completely nuts. Sometimes it's hard to get through a normal day without an inordinate amount of anxiety. Yes, bad things happen all the time. But it's a war zone out there - do we all have to be armed and dangerous just to survive?

In this month of thankfulness, I'm posting a daily gratitude on my Facebook page. And yesterday I almost wrote "I'm thankful I'm still alive and wasn't a victim of a mass shooting - yet." It seemed a bit crass on the timing, but I can't pretend we don't all run the same risk of being subject to the whims of a crazy person with a gun. Every time I go to work, or the store, or a concert, or.....anywhere, my number could be up. Or it could be my husband. Or one of my kids. I don't like to live with those odds. When is it going to be enough? When will the powers that be DO something? I don't think anytime soon because our leader is a crazy man himself. A year into his presidency, and Donald Trump is still a complete nut job. WHY is he still president? When will he be held to the same accountability as others before him - or others serving alongside him now? Money really talks. And what it says is evil.

It's pretty depressing (and it's a Monday, so it's like a double dose of depressing). I try not to let it get me down, but it is HARD. Add the darker days of fall and you have a perfect storm for falling into a funk....an abyss....a cycle. Whatever you want to call it. It's a dark time and it makes me want to hunker down at home with my family. And so I do, and then the days are long and unproductive and I sink a little bit more. I'm not one to be home for a long time. I need an escape - even from my protective cocoon. In order to survive, I need to purposely place myself in the world of mass shootings and crazy people and paralyzing traffic. I need to "get out" and be productive and work. And then I need to retreat and lay low and avoid socialization. It's a crazy time. I miss summer.

And I do try to focus on the positive. There is always, always something to be grateful for and happy about. Mostly it's small stuff - nothing grandiose or notable. A warm drink. Fresh-baked sweets. A movie. A fuzzy blanket. Fall decorations. Something to look forward to. Always that. Even as a child, I remember thinking I couldn't die if I had something to look forward to. As in, I can't die because there's that birthday party coming up. I can't die because it's almost Christmas. I can't die because I'm going on that trip. And as I grew older, I realized there is ALWAYS something to look forward to and I will die anyway. One day, I won't actually make it to the special event or awesome party. But how wonderful to always have something to be excited about. You just have to look hard sometimes, because it might not be a big event. It might just be the smallest thing.

So, in these dark times, we have to look harder sometimes to find the good, the happy, the anticipation. It's REALLY hard some days. But it's there. Go find it.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dollars for pounds..........

At the risk of alienating a lovely family member or two, I cannot let my most recent insult go unblogged. (That's a word, even if my spell-check says it's not).

Recently I spent ten (10!) days in California. Sounds dreamy, no? Except I was there on "business" as it were, helping Jeff's grandma after a stint in the hospital and rehab center. She had suffered a mild heart attack and was on the mend, but Jeff's mom (grandma's daughter) was scheduled to go out of town on a vacation, and her other daughter (Jeff's aunt) does not speak to her mother, so there was no one else to step in but Jeff and I. I will preface this by saying that Jeff is totally devoted to his grandparents and happily spent many vacation and sick days taking care of his grandpa previous to his death. So, of course he feels the same about grandma and always takes an opportunity to visit and help out. This time, he needed to be back to work and could not take the full ten days to help her so it was decided that I would stay the full ten days on grandma duty. We rented a condo nearby, booked plane tickets, and headed to sunny Oceanside where we ferried grandma around, took her to appointments and lunches, kept her company, and enjoyed sharing stories.

Since then, we have kept up communication with grandma through letters - she loves to send letters and it's lovely to get a piece of old-fashioned "snail mail" with a newsy letter and/or magazine clippings, or, better, a hand-colored card or postcard (grandma's new hobby is "adult coloring"). Today a letter arrived addressed to Jeff, and one to just me.

Here is what mine said:

Mary-Leah,

How does 50 for 50th sound? Losing 50 pounds for Jeff's 50th birthday. And to top it off I'll give you a dollar for every pound $50 or whatever you accomplish. That means leaving ALL sugary stuff out, including your downfall, Starbucks. 

Just think, you are going to Hawaii and that would be a start. Start after the 1st of the year or sooner if you want. 

It's a goal worth working for. Is it a deal? 

Love you, Gma Jo

Well. After reading it, I had to take a breath and a "step back" and tell myself, she's an elderly lady, different generation, etc. I TRIED to justify it. But on what level is this ok? WHO would ever want to receive a letter like this and who would not be offended? I was stunned and carefully folded the letter and put it aside. I considered hiding it. And then I thought, how does she know we're going to Hawaii? We might have mentioned it but neither Jeff or I could recall having a discussion about Hawaii, my weight, or anything of the sort while visiting. I had exactly ONE Starbucks drink in the ten days I was there, which is about the norm for me, so I wouldn't exactly say Starbucks is my "downfall". Neither did I have any sugary treats in her presence save for a bowl of ice cream she offered us the first day we were there. I got plenty of exercise while visiting, reaching my step goal every day with evening walks along the sunset-lit beach. I have no idea what prompted this letter or who she might have been talking to who knows about my travel plans and/or my eating and drinking habits.

I read the letter to Hannah first. She was flabbergasted. I asked Jeff if he had been discussing my weight with his grandma. He denied ever having any type of conversation like this and then I read him the letter. His mouth dropped open and he immediately apologized for his grandma's faux pas. I read the letter to Arlie. She had the same reaction and said "she must be getting old - she has no filter!" Harrison read the letter on his own and he had to read it over again to be sure. I won't repeat what his response was.

In short, my family was offended FOR me, and could not believe someone would take time to send me such a letter. After a short while, I didn't even think about it again, but Jeff brought it up once more and I thought, I have to blog about this! I just have a lot of thoughts.

There are so many things wrong with this letter. For one thing, the fact that she took time and energy to point out my weight and suggested that I lose weight FOR JEFF. Never in my wildest dreams would I lose weight for someone other than myself. And I sure as hell won't accept a bribe to lose weight. (Also, $50? Lol!) I know I can go to Hawaii no matter what I weigh - there's no requirement to be bikini-ready for a trip to the islands. Also, "that would be a start" - how much weight does she think I need to lose?

I am well aware that I am fat. Would I like to lose weight? Yes, but on my own terms, the details of which are between myself and my doctor, who is the ONLY person it's acceptable to take weight-loss advice from. Do I feel the need to lose weight as a gift to my husband, to take a vacation, or for a monetary incentive? Absolutely not. Additionally I am not in the practice of taking goal-setting advice from someone who knows almost nothing about my daily life, my health, or my personal ideals.

I do appreciate that she probably sent this to me in all sincerity and a sense of camaraderie as a woman. After all, she gained five pounds in the hospital and was desperate to lose it. She has probably weighed close to the same weight her entire adult life. She is a small, slightly-built woman. Her daughters are not of her build and carry extra weight themselves. If you lined the three of them up, you would be hard-pressed to see the familial relation. But that's exactly the point - we are all individual. Skinny moms can have fat daughters. Fat moms can have skinny daughters. My own three daughters are all different weights, and have been through weight changes over the years, just like all women. I've never considered offering them money to lose weight. I've never considered asking them to change their bodies to fit whatever my view of a "healthy weight" is.

Like all women, I have been many different sizes in my life. When I hit 96 pounds in the sixth grade, I was horrified that I was so dangerously close to the dreaded 100 lbs, and even more horrified to learn that the two most popular girls in my class each weighed 76 lbs. I felt fat.

When I went through puberty and soared to 125 lbs and didn't know how to dress myself because I wasn't comfortable in my own skin, I felt fat.

When I gained the "freshman 15" my first year of high school (not college, I was always ahead of my time!), which was also the year I learned to bake, I felt fat.

When I stalled at 130 lbs for many years, and still wore a bikini to the beach, I lamented my thighs and hips and all my perceived imperfections, and held my stomach in when taking pictures and I felt fat.

When I got married at 146 lbs, my highest weight ever, festooned in 1990's battenberg lace and puffy sleeves, I felt beautiful, but I felt fat.

When I discovered a tiny belly pooch that I couldn't seem to shake even with SlimFast shakes and aerobics at the Y, I felt fat but I got pregnant so it was ok to be fat.

When I hovered dangerously near the 200 lb mark just before delivery, and wore hideous maternity clothes (bought on clearance because we weren't rich so I couldn't afford to be cute), I felt fat, but I was going to be a mom so I didn't care much. I would lose the baby weight.

And I did, most of it, but then another baby came along and I didn't gain as much weight, but there I was raising a toddler and a newborn who didn't sleep and the stress and chaos didn't help, and I felt fat.

And another baby came and then I joined Weight Watchers and lost 30 lbs and everyone said WOW you are so skinny, but in pictures I still had a belly pooch so I felt fat.

And then I raised my kids and I got divorced and all the while I fought my debilitating anxiety and I got remarried and I decided to finally do something about my anxiety and the medication made me gain 40 lbs in record time and I felt fat.

And then. And then.........I was at my highest weight and I did two triathlons. I was at my highest weight and I had a regular yoga practice and I worked out and I was in better shape than my (much younger) kids and I took a fitness test with my (much more athletic) husband and I found out I wasn't actually in terrible shape and I was maybe even a little bit strong.

And now? Now I weigh more than I care to, but I can bike and hike and walk and exercise and I'd like to do all of those things better. I am active and standing most of the day, teaching little kids. I love healthy food and I make conscious decisions to eat well every day. I like my sweet treats, but I limit them (and I recognize this as my biggest challenge nutritionally). I have a Starbucks drink, on average, once a week (and yes, I checked my account to verify this). I drink only water most days, I rarely drink alcohol, and I almost never eat fast food, unless we're on a road trip. We eat out maybe once a week or less. I almost never watch TV and if I do, I'm folding laundry while I'm doing it. I'm not lazy. Some days I'm energized, some days I'm really, really tired. And sometimes I still feel fat.

But I forget I'm fat when I'm going about my day. Being fat doesn't define me. I don't spend every waking hour worrying about being fat. I'm healthy and all my "numbers" make my doctor happy. I take care of myself. Could I be doing a better job of it? Sure. So could all of us. But I strive for balance in my life. I'm quite happy and content and I really love my life. I seriously doubt my happiness level would change with my dress size. I like myself today and I'm sure I will like myself tomorrow and all the days to follow no matter what size I am.

So, no, Grandma Jo. I respectfully decline your offer. My weight is my business and between me and my doctor, no one else. I'll go on being awesome and you keep your $50. We'll both be richer.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Patch that!

Today we took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. Now, the "kids" are 18, 19, 21, 22 and 24 (yes, that includes the married couple). There was some debate about who's idea it was to venture out on the last sunny Sunday of October (according to the weather forecast) and mix with a crowd of hundreds to pick an overpriced pumpkin and take some festive pictures. My husband asked how long we had to take the "kids" to the pumpkin patch and how old did they have to be before we stopped? The kids said it was all my idea. I said I was the first one to suggest we skip the patch and buy pumpkins at the grocery store and just have a carving party. Either way, once again, our annual trip has come and gone (in short order this year because I'm sick and was done less than an hour in) and nothing has really changed.

First, it takes careful planning to make this happen. When your kids are adults, and work, and go to college, the time available when everyone can be in one place at one time is.........nonexistent. I know this because every year it takes a Herculean effort and some work schedule changes in order for us to meet at the patch for an hour (sometimes two - bonus!). Once we plan this outing, there is often the procurement of special equipment (that one year we spent over $100 getting everyone boots for the muddy patch literally minutes before we left). And since pictures are always a huge part of the day - let's be honest, it's the ONLY part I care about - everyone has to spend time transforming themselves from sloppy college student to Pinterest-worthy fall photography subject. This involves a cute outfit, makeup and maybe even a fall scarf. We traipse out to the patch, and get stuck in traffic. Just today my husband remarked how nice it was to drive all the way out to the country only to sit in traffic for 45 minutes. In fact, today's traffic jam was taking us to the WRONG pumpkin patch. The one we were supposed to meet at was the opposite direction by a good twenty minutes. So, we arrived an hour late.

I was asked to take pictures of a couple of other families while we were there. No worries, I love taking pictures. Except, as I mentioned before, I'm sick so my energy level was not up to par, and we arrived so late that one family was leaving as we arrived and the other took a while to find, at which time we snapped a few quick pictures and they returned the favor by snapping a few of our crew (hey, it's a rare event, we needed a picture to prove it happened). After pictures, we headed out to the pumpkin field to choose the perfect pumpkin.

But here's the thing about pumpkins - I like them, I think they're cute, and it's fun to pick a unique shaped one, but I HATE carving pumpkins. So, I just never carve mine. Which makes me wonder why I would want to spend $10 or more on a fun-shaped pumpkin I have no intention of carving. Instead, I have resorted to picking a mini pumpkin and maybe a couple of squash or gourds. The others spend a lot of time choosing their pumpkins (too much if you ask me, it was getting hot in the fields). We drop $40 or $100 and haul our pumpkins back home.

Today's agenda involved coming home to chili in the crock pot, biscuits, corn bread and homemade dessert. After we warmed up with this quintessential fall dinner, we would carve our pumpkins and have it all done in one day. Except, when we got home, we started watching movies and no one carved their pumpkins! This happens every year. One year we didn't carve them before Halloween arrived so we just left them as Thanksgiving decor, and when Christmas arrived, we just spray painted them white, put hats and scarves on them, and called them "snowmen". Now why do we spend money on pumpkins that we never carve? I have no idea.

Also, the lines were long, the crowds were thick, and since the kids aren't little anymore, there's no allure in hayrides, games, rubber duck races and mini-golf (and thank God, too, because those things cost even more money!). We were at the patch a whole hour before we all decided to leave - it took us longer just to get there! I was exhausted and thinking only of being out of my "cute" clothes and back in my pajamas, and I heard a few complaints of being hungry and thirsty (again, another way to blow your paycheck at the pumpkin patch - kettle corn! Hot dogs! Apple cider!). No one seemed sad that we were headed home.

So, my husband and I came up with an idea - next year we'll just create our own pumpkin patch. We'll decorate the back porch with a few hay bales, maybe even make one of those funny scarecrow boards you stick your head in for photos, serve mini donuts and apple cider, and buy a handful of pumpkins at the grocery store to scatter in the park in our backyard. We'll invite the adult children over to "pick" a pumpkin, have tables and carving tools set up for making jack-o-lanterns, and do the whole shebang in a few hours right in our backyard. No traffic, no crowds, and we won't sell out of roasted corn like the patch we visited today. Plus, we can enjoy adult beverages with the kids!

This should work for a few years until the grandkids come along. And then we'll be right back at the patch because it's really only fun with little kids. And tradition means something different to everyone and changes with the seasons. I still love taking fall photos of my family, but, truth be told, some of the best fall colors around here happen in the office park where my husband works, which is five minutes away. Next year we'll schedule an office-park photo shoot right before our backyard pumpkin patch and our fall celebration will be complete without ever leaving town.


Happy Fall, y'all! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

That time I cut my hair so I could look like my Bitmoji....

So, my hair has been bugging me lately. This is not new. I have very curly, very thick hair that does its own thing no matter how much money I spend getting it cut and styled. It's a wild mane, and I spent my formative years cursing my hair and longing for silky, flowing locks. Alas, my hair has remained wiry, frizzy and unmanageable.

The ends of my hair dry out the fastest and when I'm in need of a haircut it's pretty obvious how much needs to be cut by looking at how much length has gone from curly to frizzy. I've been needing a trim. And the other day, I realized I like how my Bitmoji's hair looked, so why not get that haircut?

For those who do not know what a Bitmoji is, it's an animated version of yourself - essentially a comic/cartoon version that you create. Once created, your Bitmoji can be used essentially like an emoji - to express a certain feeling or sentiment in a text or social media post. It's silly and completely useless but it's also kind of fun. When you create your Bitmoji, you have to be really honest with yourself. For instance, you have the option to add wrinkles and make yourself pudgy.


This is what my Bitmoji looks like. Notice I gave her some wrinkles! 


So, last night I went to bed with my hair wet from the shower. It was freshly-washed and there was no product in it (although I did condition liberally in the shower). Here is what it looked like when I woke up today: 


As you can see, it's very.......electrified. Normally when I go to bed with my hair wet, I just have to dunk my whole head in the shower the next morning and get it saturated. Then, I proceed to put massive amounts of styling products in my hair and hope for the best. But, today, I decided to try something different. I thought, perhaps, I could use the flat iron to smooth and curl my hair into something more manageable. So, I spent several minutes smoothing and twirling and smelling burning hair and this is the result: 


Besides being a little less frizzy, I'm not exactly sure how this improved things. Clearly, I needed another strategy. Styling product! Yes, that would fix it! 


Except....it didn't. This is after I slathered a liberal amount of shea butter leave-in conditioner in my hair. Definitely not improved. It was clear I needed to employ my tried-and-true method of dunking my head in the shower. But first, I fluffed it. 


Who needs volumizer? I got your volume right here, baby! 



The drowned rat look is becoming on me, no? This is me with my hair dripping after spending several minutes twisting and turning my head to saturate my hair with water. 


And this is me, using my trusty "Turbie Twist" towel that squeezes my hair up tightly, wringing all those drips out. Might as well do my makeup while I'm waiting........


This is what I start with. My trusty Olay moisturizer. It has SPF 15 and isn't terribly expensive. I've been using it for years and it works, so I'm not changing things. Mostly I just appreciate that it keeps my face from getting sunburned since I can't remember to sunscreen the rest of me. 


I also use this - neck and chest moisturizer. I don't know if it works, but I read a book once by Nora Ephron entitled "I Feel Bad About My Neck" and it made me self-conscious so I decided I better start moisturizing below my chin. Also, I heard a commercial for this lotion and decided to try it. It's probably nothing special but I recently noticed some wrinkling on my neck area so now I'm paranoid. 


After that I use this cream. Well, today I did. Because I just bought it. I had another one but I got this one for reasons I will tell you about below. P.S. I liked this one. #notasponsoredpost


I was using this cream. It was a "sample" at Sephora, but it cost like $23 so that's hardly a sample price. I figured if "BB" cream was good "CC" cream had to be better, right? Plus, look at that SPF! And honestly? I really liked this CC cream until I accidentally spilled a big blob into the sink. I tried to rinse it with hot water. I used soap. I used shampoo. Finally I had to just wipe it out with paper towels. This stuff is water-resistant to the point that I wonder if any of it really ever washed off my face when I was using it and maybe I just have layer upon layer of greasy, impenetrable cover-up on the surface of my skin. I prefer cosmetics that actually wash off with soap and water, hence the new purchase of BB cream. Taking a step back. Also? Calm down, Sephora. 


Next I use this expensive powder that was a gift for my birthday last year. It's nice, but my $8.99 Cover Girl loose powder works just as well. 



Then I "do" my eyebrows. As you can see from the first make-up-less photo, my eyebrows are pretty much non-existent. I USED to have lush, bushy eyebrows that needed to be tamed with a hedge trimmer. But suddenly I got older and they disappeared. Now I have to enhance them with eyebrow stuff. I'm not sure what the official term is. 



This is the eyebrow stuff. As you can see, there is a waxy, dark substance you are supposed to apply with the brush end of this applicator. What brush end, you ask? Oh yes, the brush end that fell apart when I tried to wash it once. All the bristles fell out so I just don't use this portion any more. Instead, I use the applicator to apply the medium brown stuff to my eyebrows to make them appear and then I used the other side to apply this "highlighter" stuff that really doesn't do anything at all. 

After the eyebrows, I do the eyes. This involves a neutral eye shadow, applied with a brush however I feel like it because I have no idea what all the brushes and techniques are about. And so I get this: 


Also, I'm not sure why my face is so long in this picture. But, as you can see, the eyelids have some color on them. Yay. I'm done.  Except for mascara. 


Today I used this, but I have about six different mascaras in my drawer. This is because ALL mascara smudges under my eyes, no matter what I do, and so I keep trying new ones in an attempt to find one that doesn't. This one smudges LESS so it's the preferred brand at the moment. By the way, it needs more than one coat and does not thicken the lashes, despite what the container says. 



Oh yeah! Back to my hair! This is what it looks like when I take off the Turbie Twist towel. Like wet noodles. There's still a lot of work to be done. 


Remember - I wanted the haircut of my Bitmoji.  But I am very impatient and I don't have time to wait for a salon appointment so I figured I could do it myself! 


I know - it SEEMS like a bad idea. I am not a hairdresser. I have no skills or experience. I am attempting to cut my hair to look like a cartoon. Is this wise? Is it even sane? Probably not, but I was going to attempt it, regardless. First, I combed my hair out. 


This is what my hair looks like after I comb it out. My comb is permanently bent at a slight angle because of all the tangles, and I usually have a small handful of hair to remove from the comb afterward from all the tangly, dry, damaged hair that gets yanked out from combing. 


Then, I combed my hair into basically the style of my Bitmoji. Clearly I was going to need to remove some length here. My hair was quite long - it shrinks up about 50% when it dries. So, cutting it wet can have disastrous consequences if you're not careful. Also? I am not careful. 


As I began my careful cutting hack job, I realized my hair was drying pretty fast. This part was getting frizzy already! 


These are all the products I currently have in my arsenal. On any given day I will have at least one but up to five of these products in my hair. None of it is enough. I could put mayonnaise in my hair and it would not look greasy. My hair sucks up these products and more, including straight coconut oil, and still has a halo of frizz. There will never be enough styling product for my hair. 


Since my hair is so thick, I started with it half-up so I could work on the underside first and work up from there, layer by layer. Can you see my gray roots? Yeah, I color them every two weeks and I still get this. I should probably just give up and embrace the gray, but I am NOT READY. 


Ok, almost finished. I think I did it. I know the back and sides have some uneven places, which I had my daughter correct later, but for now, it's looking pretty good. I cut quite a bit off. Want to see? 


This actually doesn't look like much, but it's all length. When I thin my hair, which is accomplished using a pair of weird scissors that makes random cuts along the hair, I've filled the entire sink before! 


Ok, now I'm dressed for the day and I can't believe it! I actually did it. I cut off my hair so I could look like my Bitmoji. Who DOES this? 




It feels so much.......less. The tangly feeling I get when I run my hands through my hair is gone. My bangs need to grow a bit longer, but for the most part, it's pretty close! 


Done! Yay! 

I made sure I could still pull it up into a pony tail, too, since that's how I wear my hair most days. But now I can actually wear it down and not worry about "triangle head" or the fact that my hair grows all day long (well, actually that still happens but there's less to tame now). I will enjoy looking like my Bitmoji for now. And once it grows out again, maybe I'll just change my Bitmoji to match ME! 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The first day of no school............

Today was the first day since 1998 (19 years!!) that I have not risen early to take a child to school (or put them on the bus). Our yellow "first day of school" sign, made hastily one year and never intended to be used for as long as it was, stayed in the top of the closet where it has lived for the past several years. Each year, I would drag it out, add a piece of yellow paper to the bottom with the current year, and take the requisite pictures with each child.

But not today. Today I slept in until almost 8 a.m. Didn't get out of bed till 9. I didn't have to be anywhere (substitute teaching generally starts a week or two after school starts and teachers have time to catch all the germs from a classroom full of biohazards). Heck, I didn't even know where my kids WERE. I knew one daughter had to work at her nanny job, my son didn't work today, and my other daughter was apparently in bed until almost 2 p.m. but I thought she was at work. When she came downstairs I realized she had been in bed the whole time and she could have been DEAD and I didn't even check on her or worry about where she was. Because my "kids" are adults now. My youngest graduated last June and I will never dig out that "first day of school sign" again. I don't know what to do with it. Have a ceremonial burning? Hang on to it for my grandkids? Wipe my tears with it?

It's weird having all adults where my children used to be. I saw pictures on social media of the neighborhood kids at the bus stop. Those days are gone for us. I remember when my kids made up a good chunk of that bus stop crowd. Year after year, we'd take pictures and the following year, post all the old ones to see how much they had changed. Everyone says "it goes so fast" but what they should be saying is "I'm SERIOUS. It goes so fast, don't blink!" Because it did go fast. Faster than I could have ever imagined.

I didn't have to go back-to-school shopping either! Once upon a time I could easily spend $500 on supplies for four kids. That was before clothes and shoes! This year, nothing. I clipped coupons for school supplies and put them under a magnet on the fridge for the taking. If they want to save money on college supplies, they know where to find them. They buy their own clothes and shoes now. They drive cars and pay bills and spend most of their disposable income on food. They come and go, and I often don't know where they are or what they're doing, but a quick check of Snapchat usually lets me know they're at work or having coffee with a friend, or on some adventure they certainly can't be old enough to navigate on their own. But they can. And they do.

Back-to-school is significant when you work in education, too. There are meetings and professional development and getting classrooms ready. Unless you are a substitute teacher. Then, there's just waiting for the phone calls asking you to fill in. Eventually, you get busy and your work schedule becomes pretty routine. But at first it's all over the place and so your days have no rhyme or reason. There's nothing to anchor you to that September-June schedule. It's weird.

Summer's off are a huge bonus and I enjoyed it immensely. It was a busy summer with a wedding, traveling, home improvements and lots of fun squeezed in. The house is in disarray from new hardwood floors and a big painting job, so I have plenty to do, but the chaos sometimes paralyzes me and I find myself delving into something mundane like cleaning out my closet when I really need to unpack boxes of china that need to be returned to their hutches. I know it will all come together eventually but I'm going out of town again in just over a week and so I need to balance the order and chaos and eventual return to the classroom so I can earn a living.

So, today was the first day of school. And it was just a regular day around here. This new life is different. And it's also good. I miss my little kids but I don't have to pack their lunches anymore and I am NOT sad about that. Plus, the chances I'm going to forget to pick them up from school have gone down infinitely. No more curriculum nights! No PTA guilt! No chaperoning! Life is good. Different, but good.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Home Improvement......

We have lived in our humble abode for 17 years this weekend. 17 years! I have achieved a personal goal, which was to remain in this house until all my kids graduated from high school. Once the youngest graduated this past June, we started to contemplate our choices - stay in this big house or sell and downsize? Since three-fourths of our kids still live here and the cost of living in the Seattle area is astronomical, making it impossible for them to move out any time soon, we decided to stay. So, we started the process of refinancing our mortgage and jumped feet-first into the rabbit hole of "updating" the home.

First on the list is getting the hardwood floors refinished. And while we were at it, we decided to also put wood floors through the living and dining rooms. Why not? So, we got several bids and finally settled on our contractor. He's a one-man show, and I'm really nervous about that, but he starts this week and there is already a huge load of wood in my now-bare dining room, so here we go!

My husband has done a lot of prep work already - pulling up and disposing of the 17-year-old carpet (gross), moving several large pieces of furniture, and pulling off the baseboards so we can give them a spit and shine before they go back on next to our gleaming new hardwoods.

I've tried to help but I kind of suck at moving large, heavy furniture and stripping up carpet has never been my forte. So, last night I decided I could help by removing all the nails from the baseboards once they had been removed from the walls. Pretty simple, right?

Except the nails they used were about the flimsiest things on the market. Every time I attempted to hammer them through so I could pull them out the other side, they would bend and twist. I resorted to cutting them off shorter so I wouldn't have so much to hammer, but that presented its own problems. For one thing, the wire cutters on my pliers suck and would only bend the nails, not snip them off. For another, it was HARD. It required strength, which I do not possess, and I not only cut a finger, I developed a blister on my hand.

Now, I'm not even sure my tetanus shot is updated, and blisters hurt! I decided I'm not a big fan of manual labor, but I AM a huge fan of paying someone to do that type of work. Even if it does add up to hundreds of dollars and less than stellar handiwork.

I noticed, when I removed all the pictures and paintings off the walls, that the living room walls need to be painted desperately. I attempted to rope in a painter (ok, I posted a request on social media) but no luck. However, the walls still need to be painted so now I need to find a painter to do the job AFTER the gleaming new hardwoods are installed instead of now, when the floors are bare and ugly and one would not even notice a paint spill.

The other complication is that this project requires us to vacate the house for a WEEK! We did not plan well, so now we are all seeking refuge in other places, further complicated by the fact that we have pets. And, just to make things more interesting, we got a brand-new kitten two days ago. Because, we thrive on chaos.

And now that the hardwoods will be beautiful, it's clear we will need new carpet. In the entire house. So, that will be the next project (after the painting) and I also noticed we really need new window coverings. And so it goes.

This never-ending spiral of home-ownership and its subsequent updates should keep us busy for the next 30 years or so because that's how long we chose for our refinance. Which means we will never really "own" this house. We're just paying very, very high rent.

And these kids will move out eventually. Then, we will have a house full of echoes and two people and a dog knocking around the vastness. But until then, these walls can barely contain the noise, chaos and general clutter. And they still need to be painted.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Interview with the spouse........

Jeff and I went camping this weekend and on the long drive home, I decided to interview him. I thought of questions off the top of my head and, well.....

Me: What's your favorite color?
Jeff: Blue.
Me: That's so boring - do you realize like 90% of the population picks blue as their favorite color?
Jeff: Green. That's my second favorite color.
Me: ME TOO!

Me: What's your favorite amusement park ride?
Jeff: Pirates of the Caribbean.
Me: Is it Cari-BEE-an or Ca-RIB-e-an?
Jeff: Pirates of the Ca-RIB-e-an.

Me: What's your favorite food?
Jeff: Pizza because it has all the things - you can put fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, pretty much anything on it.
Me: Pizza's my favorite too!

Me: What's your favorite drink?
Jeff: Berry tea.
Me: WHAT? I am buying you a male romper. And a cat.

Me: If you didn't do the job you do now, what would you do?
Jeff: I'd be a fisherman.
Me: But you never catch anything!
Jeff: So? It's better than working!

Me: What do you think is the single biggest threat facing our country today?
Jeff: Ig-nence (ignorance)
Me: How can we solve that?
Jeff: Ed-u-ma-cation!

Me: Do you think college is overrated?
Jeff: No, you gotta have a college education to get a good job.
Me: Even if you're saddled with student loans?
Jeff: You can pay those off if you get a good job. So-ci-e-tay says you can get a better job if you're educated.

Me: Who do you think is the ugliest celebrity?
Jeff: The only one that comes to mind is Danny DeVito. He's ugly, right? Wait, what about his wife? They're married, right? Urea Freeman or something?
(pause here while I pee my pants laughing - Urea Freeman?)

Me: If you could drive any car, what would it be?
Jeff: I don't give a shit as long as it runs!

Me: If money were no object, where would you take your next vacation?
Jeff: Hawaii, 'cause it's where I wanna go and I ain't been there! (Ed-u-ma-cation)

Me: If you could never do one household chore for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jeff: Picking up dog shit.

Me: If you'd had a boy, what would you have named him?
Jeff: Hunter? Or Forrest, I like Forrest?

Me: Why do you dress up like a mountain man?
Jeff: 'Cause I like history, hunting and camping.
Me: But you can do those things without dressing up.
Jeff: Yeah, but you're LIVING it!
Me: What do you have against modern conveniences?
Jeff: Nothing.

Me: If you could have dinner with 3 people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
Jeff: Well, one would have to be you. How about Merriweather Lewis and William Clark? So we would find out exactly which guns they used and how they dressed.
Me: What would we eat?
Jeff: Buffalo or elk.

Me: What is the most annoying habit of other people?
Jeff: Other people don't annoy me. Tailgating!

Me: If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
Jeff: I'd be an elk because then I'd be perfectly safe from me. Or a dog. They live the life, man.

Me: Why do you drink ginormous fountain drinks on road trips?
Jeff: It give me something to do. Keeps me alert. If I get past the liquid I can suck on the ice.
Me: Don't I keep you alert?
Jeff: Yeah. But not when you're sleeping.

Me: What's my most endearing trait?
Jeff: You've got lots.
Me: Pick one.
Jeff: Thoughtful.
Me: Elaborate.
Jeff: You're caring. You're always thinking about other people.

Me: What's my most annoying trait?
Jeff: You're on your cell phone too much.

Me: What can you say about a guy who's been married three times?
Jeff: He knows what he doesn't want after the first two.

Me: Explain your job to a 5 yr old?
Jeff: I tell people what to do.

Me: What is the worst age of childhood?
Jeff: Teenagers. Because they're not human. They're unreasonable and selfish.
Me: Any redeeming qualities?
Jeff: They're young.

Me: What advice would you give your 18 yr old self?
Jeff: Go to college. Stay in college. Graduate from college soon.

Me: What is feminism?
Jeff: The -ism of being feminine. What you think of that?

Me: How do you feel about your current state of fitness?
Jeff: It could be better.

Me: Name 3 things on your bucket list.
Jeff: Get my elk. Get my turkey. Retire so I have more time to think of more bucket list items.

Me: Describe our marriage using a food theme.
Jeff: Our marriage is like a banquet because you get a little bit of everything and comfort food.

Me: Do you like cats? Why?
Jeff: Yeah, I like cats. Because they can be cuddly.
Me: Our cats aren't cuddly.
Jeff: But they CAN be.
Me: So you like to cuddle?
Jeff: I mean, it's nice to sit on the couch and watch a football game or movie with a cat sitting on your lap.
Me: Why can't you just cuddle with your wife?
Jeff: I can!

Me: How do you feel about traffic?
Jeff: It sucks donkey balls.

Me: Are you bored of this interview?
Jeff: No.

Me: What's the best part about coming home from camping?
Jeff: Sleeping in my own bed.
Me: Not the shower?
Jeff: Eh. I really enjoy camping.

Me: Why do you think there's bumper to bumper traffic at 2:33 on a Monday?
Jeff: Because there are too many people on the road who should be working!
Me: But, you're not at work!
Jeff: I'm on vacation!

Me: What is your dream life?
Jeff: I don't know. You think about your dream life and then you get there and what if it's not your dream life anymore? I guess living in a semi-rural area in a nice house making a living selling my crafts I enjoy doing. Although I don't feel confident I could sustain myself with that.

Me: What is your dream for me?
Jeff: To be an author. I wish you were a wildly successful Steven King-type author so we could move to our B&B and have a garden and make crafts.

Me: Why do you think you lose your sense of adventure when you get older?
Jeff: Because you've been there, done that.

Me: Why do you eat yourself (as he bites the skin on his fingers)?
Jeff: Antsy-ness. Maybe I don't take enough meds.

Me: What are your thoughts on mental illness?
Jeff: A lot of people have it. I often wonder what it's like for people who don't have it. What is must be like to be them. At least I'm better at recognizing it. Instead of someone is just an asshole, I think maybe they have anxiety. Untreated anxiety.

Me: What do you struggle more with, anxiety or depression?
Jeff: Depression is the hardest to deal with.

Then, he asked me some questions..........

Jeff: What is your favorite food?
Me: Pizza because it can be anything.

Jeff: If there was one place you could live in the US where would it be?
Me: I like it here. Washington state.
Jeff: Where in Washington?
Me: Closer to the beach.

Jeff: What is your ideal existence?
Me: Living in a nice house, on some land, with a detached writing studio.

Jeff: What do you want to do when you retire?
Me: Am I going to retire? I guess writing, taking trips, and being involved in my community or a non-profit.

Jeff: What irritates you the most about where we live?
Me: Traffic.

Jeff: What irritates you the most about the people where we live?
Me: Self-centered-ness and entitlement.

Jeff: What is your ideal vacation?
Me: A nice hotel, a beach, lots of shopping, but also exploring and plenty of time to just relax.

Jeff: What's your perfect vehicle?
Me: Big enough to tow shit, but gets good gas mileage. Or a 1957 pink T-bird.

Jeff: What's your favorite drink?
Me: Iced mocha.

Jeff: Favorite pastime?
Me: Idle time? Social media. Spending time? Road trips.

Jeff: Where would you like to kayak?
Me: Everywhere.

Jeff: What is your greatest weakness?
Me: Believing in myself.

Jeff: What is your greatest strength?
Me: Weathering tough times while maintaining my sense of humor.

Jeff: If you were a car, what would you be?
Me: A red Mustang!

Jeff: If you were an animal, what would you be?
Me: A chimpanzee because I'd be adorable and everyone would love me but if anyone fucked with me I could eat their face off.

Jeff: If you could be a reenactor, what time period would you reenact?
Me: The 1950's but with less racism and homophobia.

Jeff: Did you care about homophobia before you had gay kids?
Me: YES!

Jeff: Would you rather be hot or cold?
Me: Well, I'm already hot......so.....if you're cold you can put more clothes on.

Jeff: What advice would you give your 18 yr old self?
Me: That was my question.
Jeff: No, I just thunk that up!
Me: I literally just asked you the same question!
Jeff: Just answer the damn question.
Me: Don't marry the first guy who asks you just because you want to be married and don't care so much what other people think.

Jeff: If you could live somebody else's life who would it be?
Me: I like my life. But Jennifer Aniston because she still looks super hot and has lots of money.

Jeff: If you could re-live a phase of your life what would it be?
Me: I'm mostly glad they're over, but if I had to pick it would be when we first started dating.

Jeff: What's your favorite way to eat shrimp?
Me: Well, there's shrimp cocktail, grilled shrimp, shrimp scampi, shrimp alfredo, shrimp salad, and that's about all I can think of.

Jeff: What foreign country do you want to visit the most?
Me: I've always wanted to go to Italy.

Jeff: What's your favorite sport to watch?
Me: They're all so boring! I only used to like what my kids played but now they don't play sports. I guess baseball?

Jeff: What's your second favorite flower?
Me: Lilac!

Wrapping it up.......

Me: Have you enjoyed this interview?
Jeff: Sure. The interview session has been enjoyable.

Me: What do you want to do when we get home?
Jeff: Fix my truck. Or nothing.

Me: Are you sad our camping trip is over?
Jeff: Yes. I could live like that a lot more days.
Me: Is that proper English?
Jeff: Yep!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Estate sales and prosthetic legs

Today, while running errands after work, I was distracted by yellow signs proclaiming "SALE!" So, naturally, I veered off-course to check it out because it's a Thursday and garage sales never happen on Thursday around here so who was I to turn down this amazing opportunity to browse through someone else's junk?

I followed the signs and eventually one said "Estate sale" and I died a little inside because an estate sale is NOT the same as a garage sale and here's why: an estate sale is either super cool, full of treasures and antiques and amazing finds, or it's a super-sad walk through someone else's memories and dreams and the remnants of a life lived tossed on a bed and priced at $2/apiece. Today's sale was the latter.

I love a good garage sale as much as the next person, and finding something vintage or useful at a steal of a deal brings me great joy. But estate sales make me sad. For one thing, it's weird to walk through someone's home when you are not an invited guest. At a garage sale, you can set your things in the driveway and maybe one part of your garage, and hang tarps or cover things to say "Stay away! Not here! Not for sale!" At an estate sale, you wander through someone's home - every last inch of it. The home often looks like someone left in a hurry - or suddenly died, which is often the case. No one bothers to make it look nice - instead, you shop IN someone's closet and items are often piled on beds and kitchen counters. Half-used toiletries fill the bathroom shelves and yes, they are for sale. It feels so invasive.

This particular sale was in a home that was probably once pretty cool. It had a sauna! And a bar! With swiveling bar stools! I'm guessing in the 80's, this place was the ultimate party house. But today, those gold-colored bar stools just seemed dated and the sauna was filled with piles of clothes and boxes. Plus, everything that was for sale was just old and useless. The clothing wasn't vintage - just outdated. And the prices are always higher at estate sales - since they're run by companies, there is overhead to pay, but I can't imagine who would be interested in buying a polyester lilac suit dress for $25 or an out-of-style hat for $12. They weren't cool enough to be ironic. In one room, there was an impressive collection of ladies' shoes - someone enjoyed a good shopping trip in days gone by!

I wandered from room to room, hoping to stumble upon a treasure - perhaps a piece of milk glass, which I like to collect, or a cool vintage hat for the drama department at the high school, but it was really all just "stuff", not treasures. Well, someone's treasures, once upon a time, but certainly nothing that caught my eye. Plus, it just feels so odd to browse through someone else's dresser drawers - is there no privacy anymore?

I decided to take a tip from my husband and head to the garage. When we go to garage sales, he heads straight for the tools, and almost always comes away with another wrench or doohickey that he simply must have, and which I am certain he does NOT need. Today's garage seemed uninspired, much like the house - a few tools, some holiday junk. There was a full-size shoe-shine stand that was pretty impressive. But I can't even imagine how the most creative home decorator would upcycle a shoe-shine stand. Certainly nothing popped into my mind. I figured the garage was a bust as well, and I slowly turned to wander out.

And that's when I saw it.

A prosthetic leg!

I am not even kidding.

It was an older model, I believe, but since I am no expert in prosthetics, I can't say for sure. All I know is it had a rudimentary bowl in which to place the stump, a metal bar for a lower leg, and a wooden, sock-covered "foot". I instinctively went to check the price and then a little voice inside my head said "What the hell are you going to do with a prosthetic leg? You can't even wear it, because unless you HAVE an actual stump, the thing won't go on your leg. So, what would you do with it? Display it? That would be kind of politically incorrect, right? But would it? Is it art? Who else could say they have a prosthetic leg when they're not an amputee? Wouldn't it come in handy in the case of a sudden, unexpected, amputation? If an actual amputee comes to visit, and sees it, would they be offended? Why are you touching it? Ew, who knows where that thing has been?" (The little voice inside my head doesn't know when to shut up. Kind of like the voice that comes out of my head).

So, against all the weird impulses I was having to actually buy and own a prosthetic leg (maybe a vintage one?), I walked away from what might have been the greatest estate sale find of all time. Because I got sad again thinking of the poor person who lived in that house with their missing limb. Maybe they were once virile and healthy and a horrible accident befell them. Maybe they lost their lower limb to diabetes (and also had to stop using that awesome sauna because aren't saunas bad for diabetics?) Maybe the lady of the house shouldn't have had so many shoes with which to mock the poor, prosthetic-wearing person who might have been lucky to own a couple pairs of shoes that fit over the fake foot.

The point is, I don't know the story. I don't know the people, or the house, or the memories it held, or anything else, but I do know this: when you die, or are moved into an assisted living home, or otherwise leave your place of residence, there is a good chance that someone, on a random Thursday, will come and wander through your personal belongings, find your prosthetic leg, and make up crazy stories in their head about you. Better to just get rid of everything as you age. Leave nothing to your children. Sell it all and buy an RV. Take a road trip. Embrace the crazy and hold nothing back. But do it while you still can, before something unfortunate happens to take away the control you have over your own destiny. And if, while on that cross-country trip, your demise is imminent, drive to the Grand Canyon, and toss your prosthetic leg over the rim. Let some poor fool find it and make up fantastical stories about how it got there. Much more interesting than leaving it on the garage shelf for the estate sale.

The moral of this story is two-fold. One, don't hang on to things from the past. Sure, there are antiques and special mementos, but trust me when I say none of your relatives are going to want the crushed velvet skirt you wore to the Christmas party in 1989. Just let it go. Purge regularly. And two, if you come across a prosthetic leg at an estate sale, just buy the damn thing. You might regret it if you don't. I wonder if the sale is still going tomorrow?