Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Decorating Ideas

My more stylish neighbors have been working on their fall landscaping. So far I've counted about fifteen pumpkin-and-hay decorating schemes. One neighbor has at least twelve pumpkins piled up alongside her walkway. I wonder how long it will be before the squirrels turn the display into the food fight scene from "Animal House." I give it a week. As for me, I have a big basket of mums plunked down on the front steps. I didn't put it there; a friend did. I think I'm supposed to water it from time to time. Which is more than I've done for the lawn in about eight weeks. I gave up on the lawn a long time ago. It's riddled with creeping charlie and blasted buckthorn shoots, so what's the point? I keep it clipped, but that's about it. Still with the bite of fall in the air I start getting ideas. Wouldn't it be nice, I find myself musing, to come home to one of those glowing fall displays? You know, the ones on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. Flaming foliage and golden yellow flowers. Some dark grey rocks for contrast. No cute scarecrows, I don't do scarecrows. A headless horseman I wouldn't mind. Literary reference, you know. Helps educate the local schoolchildren. All right, I want to know: does anybody out there really have a yard like Better Homes and Gardens? And if so do you do anything else with your life? Or does it take up every moment? Because I'm starting to think landscaping must be either a profession or an obsession, or maybe both.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Update From the Hood

There's been a little mystery cooking in my back yard. For two or three weeks now, my very precise nose has been picking up whiffs of natural gas. Not in the house, mind you. Only when I'm standing in the middle of the back yard. Hm, I says to myself. I suppose I should call the gas company. But I've been putting it off, mainly because most of the times I find myself in the middle of the yard I'm on my way to the garage, to run some errand or other. And you know how it is when you call the gas company, you're waiting around forever. The other reason being that whenever you call to report the smell of gas, they tell you, "Open all your windows and get out of the house." Well, I was already out of the house. And if I opened all the windows I'd only be letting the gas in. A dilemma, no? So the other day a bunch of friends and I are hanging out on the patio, enjoying one of the last reasonably not freezing days of the fall, and someone says, "I smell gas." "I know," I sigh. "It's not coming from the house. I don't know what the deal is- it's a mystery." "Oh, no mystery," pipes up one friend. "You've got a meth lab in the neighborhood." Now, this friend will tell you proudly she is from "North of 694." (Another Minnesota friend explains the local to me thusly: "You know, one of those places you go there and 'Dueling Banjos' starts playing in your head.") So I figure she should know from meth labs. [Hey- did you see how I said "cooking" in the first paragraph? Get it? "Cooking?" Foreshadowing!] So now I'm not sure what to do. I suppose the next time I smell gas out there I could look around and see who has their windows open. Or I could throw a party and invite a lot of DEA agents. Or I could just call Feds and ask how they're planning on coming up with the cash to keep operating this week, and see if they start acting all evasive. You never know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another Day, Another Gala

It's just me and the dogs awake in the house at the moment, and I am surrounded by crates. In the crates are rented dishes, rented glasses, rented tablecloths, etc. We're having a party tonight. We are going to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and it just dawned on me: I must be a Minnesotan at last. Because we're having the party in the garden, and it will be barely 50 degrees. In my former life this kind of thing would be called "lunacy." But I've begun to accept it as relatively normal. Relative to what, you ask? Relative to ice-fishing. See? Oh, we'll have a heat source or two out there. A bonfire (what's a classy party without a bonfire?) and one of those patio heater things. And it's not like we're locking people out of the house, they can come in whenever they want. But since the current plan is to put the bar in the garden, and knowing the crowd I run with, my guess is most partygoers will opt for outside. Anyway, if I come down with bronchial pneumonia at least it will be in a happy setting. And I can hardly wait for the bonfire.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bad Sports Mom

I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm in danger of becoming one of those horrible sports parents. You know the ones I mean. The ones with all the opinions. The ones who yell at coaches and criticize their own kids for less-than-Olympic performance. They're always there in the bleachers, pontificating or swearing or threatening to pull their kids off the court if the coach makes on more "mistake." I don't think I'm that bad, yet. But I was a little worried at the surge of glee I felt last night, when I saw that the team the Holy Family Academy Crusaders was made up entirely of fourth grades. Little, short ones. Nowhere near as tall as half our girls. I looked at those cute little fourth graders and I thought, Hm. Our team has a few sixth-graders on it. We could murder these runts! Not a charitable thought, or even a sporting one. But still. Our team doesn't win all that much. I thought it would be good for the children's self-esteem. Not to mention mine. Anyway we did wipe out the first team we played. Then we ran into a notorious volleyball powerhouse, and , well, they wiped us out in the first two games. You win again, Holy Name of Jesus. Yeah, you think that bothers us? We weren't even surprised! How do you like that, huh?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Annals of the Writing LIfe

Heard this on the radio the other day It struck me as a pretty good description of how it is when you're between projects. Writers out there will understand. As for you non-writers-- you lucky dogs!-- remember this movie?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Harvest Time

We are well into September now, which means the first frost is maybe two weeks away and everyone is getting their vegetables in from their gardens while the sun still shines. Last week a sweet friend gave me a homegrown zucchini that could take out Baghdad, easy. And down at ye olde farmer's market under the interstate, the eggplant are in and the tomatoes, well, the tomatoes. Probably shouldn't get started on those. So I head down to the farmer's market, thinking it 's time to make the massive batch of ratatouille I make every year around this time. And I see what looks like a nice little basket of melanzane for eight bucks. The tiny Hmong lady takes my cash and fetches a plastic bag the size of an industrial trash can, dumps the basketful of veggies in, and hands it to me. I heft the bag onto my shoulder and stagger. I must have bought forty pounds of eggplant. No matter, I thought, I'll just have a lot of ratatouille this year. Now where are the zucchini? Answer: not at the farmer's market. Or, it seems, anywhere else. My sweet friend's monster zucchini is the only one I can find. I don't know if anyone out there has experienced the horror of standing back and getting a good look at the results of not thinking too clearly at the farmer's market. Produce takes over your kitchen. Neighbors stick their heads in just for a good laugh. Before long you're dreaming about eggplant. Ever dream about eggplant? It's not pretty. Let me put it in plain English: DOES ANYONE NEED ANY EGGPLANT? I know where you can get some cheap!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Week One, Done

The first full week of school draws to a close today. Let's review our experiences, shall we?

Total lunches prepared: zero. Daughter is keen on making her own. Oh please, God, let this one last.

Total uniforms laid out the night before: also zero. Every since daughter was promoted to the "big girls'" uniform- pleated skirt and oxford shirt, as opposed to boxy jumper and Peter Pan collars that never stayed down, she is also keen on handling this task on her own. Please, please, pleeeeease let this one last.

Total carpool miles logged: God knows. Compared to the other ladies in the carpool line, most of whom have at least four kids, I know my mileage would look wimpy. Still I reserve my right to grumble.

Total "hey, I'm not the one who has to play volleyball, keep track of your own darn kneepads" speeches: also zero.

Alright this one has me a little on edge. Ten days of school completed and no lectures given make Mom a dull Mom. What if daughter behaves this way all year? What if I lose my edge? Then what?

What, indeed?