Obligatory Driving-Related Quote

I was going to call this post “The plague of the greasy black engines has gone East” but I figured that was too unrelated/too long (or maybe life is too short to harbor as many Joanna Newsom quotes as one might wish to use). But that is how I feel when I think of the fact that: yep, I finally got my license. Hip hip hooray, or whatever. Everyone is pretty happy about it, including myself. I was one check-mark away from failing that cone stuff but HA HA NOPE I WIN.

Mom wanted to be tagged about driving, since she was the one who had to endure the torture of teaching me the cones. However, after going to the store with her the other night, I have an even better thing to tag her for.

So I decided to be super nice and accompany Mom to the store… I somewhat dragged my feet, and then dragged a cart, and then rode the back of the cart like you’re not supposed to but everyone does. I stood in an aisle of pillows and contemplated lying down in a basket of them and having a nap while Mom debated for the rest of eternity about which one to buy. Then the groceries… Mom kneeling to peer at the bottom shelf while I lolled over the handle of my cart and made bored commentary for my own amusement and that of nearby shoppers.
Mom: “They only have strawberry lemonade and not pink lemonade!”
Me: “Well, that’s awkward.”
Mom: “I know, right?!”
I laughed, and so did the random lady passing by our predicament.

What is it about this particular store– the Target up the street from my house– that engenders interactions with strangers? And I don’t mean talking to the cashier or something. I mean I always seem to have some kind of encounter within those aisles. Like the time I wore my hat (a gray hat with a brown feather in the band) there and found myself mired in the cereals alongside a pair of hipsters who gave me scoffing sideways looks.

Speaking of which. Just now I was sitting at the table listening to my music play through the pair of computer speakers that have somehow become an intrinsic part of our house, and Dodge teased me about being a hipster (Me: “This band is actually well known though. They’re popular.” Dodge: “With hipsters.” “But they get played on the radio.” “The hipster station on the radio.” ….”You just rage quit this conversation,” he said as I finally gave up). Then Dad sat down and took off his knit hat.
Me: “What the heck is with your hair?” It was laying flat and combed back, and in its need-of-cutting state… “You look like Benjamin Franklin.”
Dodge: laughter
Me: laughter
Dad: “I’ve been wearing a hat all day!” (scowl) “And I’ll wear it all night too.” (mutters) “Kids.” He put the hat back on and went into the living room to sulk.
Dodge: *high-fives me*

Yeah I know, I’m practically a comedian. Anyway, I’m off to work.

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fire, flannel, frosty day

Dad is in the kitchen making dinner for us now. He is wearing a flannel shirt that saw better days approximately twenty years ago. It has a front pocket that is held on by safety pins. Another safety pin serves as a button. A huge rip in the side serves as another pocket. The elbow, cuffs, and collar are all worn down to the quilting.

And now…

Dad: “Whoo! My shirt caught on fire!”
He comes running into the room.
Mom: “Greeeaaaat.”
Dad: “Yeah, cause now this seam is melted back together.”

So, yep, it’s just a typical coldpocalypse day here at my house. (In the background, I hear Dad yelp, “OW! asdfghjkl”) All the weather people are freaking out about snow that’s as thin as Dad’s flannel, and about cold that’s… um… normal for this region.  Last winter was basically a prolonged fall, which threw off my internal clock (sometimes, if you’re very quiet, you can hear me ticking from across the lagoon) and made everyone else paranoid about anything below fifty degrees.

Uh, not that I’d like to be out there right now, but still. As Dad said last night admist the numerous rerun-interrupting alerts and warnings,
“Alert! Alert! It’s still winter!”

The good thing is, so far today I slept in, sewed and knitted, and wrote. I’m still hoping to write more. I’m also hoping that my window will un-freeze so that I can feed my poor, frozen sparrows. (My poor, frozen sparrows who probably just ate at someone else’s feeder today, the fickle little buggers.)

Tis all for now…

Yours till the cold snaps,
Pen

stars and angels gave the sign

Hello from the time warp that is Christmas. Seriously, the day before Christmas Eve (Mom calls it Christmas Adam), Christmas Eve, and Christmas (or Christmas Day One, as I call it) felt like a whole week all by themselves. There was cleaning, decorating (I made paper chains and stars, and the stars still haven’t made it up…), church-going, and then on the night of Christmas Eve, feasting and gingerbread-house-making. Also Dad read us “The Night Before Christmas”, as is traditional. Or not.
Dad: “When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but–”
Poncho: “A chocolate cow. HEHEHEHEHEEEEE”
Dad: shakes head sadly, muttering, “Blasphemy.”

Yep, that's the gingerbread house. You either think it's cute, or else you are imagining a fairy tale witch living in there, pre-heating her oven...
Yep, that’s the gingerbread house. You either think it’s cute, or else you are imagining a fairy tale witch living in there, pre-heating her oven…

Oh yeah, and the dead Lego people in the background… The battle of Helm’s Deep spilled over. Because that’s what Poncho got for Christmas! He opened it with much excitement, and Dodge and I just looked at each other and I said, “Can we play?”

Anyway… Christmas itself was laid-back, with us basically taking turns laying on the couch with the television tuned into sleep-inducing nature shows, or new video games, or movies. I never got a nap, though, because right as I fell asleep it was time for dinner. Which was ham.
Ham, my personal nemesis.
Well, one of them. Because if ham was the mayor, Canadian bacon would be vice mayor, and why did I use mayors as an analogy. I do not know. What I’m getting at is, ham creeps me out.
Grandma: “Aren’t you going to have some meat?”
Me: “I don’t eat ham.”
Grandpa: “You’re a vegetarian!?!”
Me: “No… I just don’t eat ham.”
Grandpa: “So you just don’t like pork, huh?”
Me: “I like pork. Just not ham.”
Or Canadian bacon. But I did not mention that.
Next Christmas I think we should have catfish instead. At least one for me. (And if catfish was the mayor, corn muffins would be vice mayor and mashed potatoes would be secretary of state–)

Oh, and everyone seemed to like the presents I got or made for them, which made me happy. I was overly excited to give gifts to people. Probably because I’m about as good as keeping secrets as mashed potatoes would be at foreign affairs, so I would have just burst out “PONCHO I MADE YOU A NARWHAL” at any minute if I’d had to wait longer.

That’s kind of all I have to say about Christmas (so far, that is…). I mean, I ought to have more to say, or some touching words, or something. But nope.

Right now Mom is watching the news, and they were showing snowfall stats for different cities.
Mom: “Way to go, Little Rock!!! …I’m so happy for them.”

I’m happy for us too, that we had snow. The news tried to make it sound like it was going to be a deadly blizzard, and even the library closed early. It wasn’t a blizzard. It was more of, uhhh, normal snowfall amounts for this region.
But that’s probably not as fun to say as “SNOWPOCALYPSE!” so, yeah.

(on the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me–)
That’s all for now…
~Pen

rage against the dying of the light(s)

Driving through Dad’s old neighborhood today…
Dad: “That’s where I went to elementary school.”
Me: “Wow, that’s an intimidating-looking building.”
Dad: “Willie’s Workhouse.”
Me: “Haha! What’s the real name of it, isn’t it Wilbur Wright?”
Dad: “Wilbur Wrong.”

So, you guys. The Christmas tree is up and lit, after the Lighting Fiasco, which went like this:
Dad set up the tree. Then he and Poncho were supposed to put the lights on. So they did. Then they turned the lights on, except… the lights didn’t work. They took the lights off. Then the lights did work. Then they put the lights back on.
Poncho: “If they don’t work again, I’m quitting the lights for all enternity!”
Mom: “I am so sick of everyone quitting lights for all eternity.”
Then only half the lights worked.
Dad: “Maybe we should test to see if the tree is really fire-retardant.”

Then today we went to the store and bought new lights (well, Mom and the boys dug through lights, I perused the ornaments, which I determined were incredibly cheap-o, and also would be easy to make if I liked them). Then we came home and Poncho put the lights on the tree again, but only halfway and it looked like a net thrown over the tree. Then, finally, Mom helped him weave the strings of lights into the branches, and it was finally done.

In the meantime, Dad put a string of lights up outside, and I made approximately 40 feet of paper chain. I would have kept going, but my fingers started to give up the will to live, and I was also hoarse from singing along with endless Beatles. (which I am still listening to now.)

During the Tree-Lighting Fiasco, Mom instructed me to put on some music for Poncho as he lit the tree… So what did I put on but “Please Please Me”? When Mom came back into the room, she gave me a look.
Mom: “What is this.”
Me: “The Beatles are always appropriate.”
Mom: “They are not Christmas music.”

Hey, the season’s supposed to be joyous, right? Well, there you go.

So, anyway, there is some tree-related news… This is probably the last year that we’ll use this tree. It’s lasted over fifteen years, and its condition is what Mom would call well-loved. Of course, after the Fiasco, the boys are begging for a pre-lighted one, but Mom has a specific vision that must be carried out, and the main tenet is: The lights must be multi-colored, not all white. I totally understand this because our tree is so eclectic. It’s basically a mishmash of all of our lives, past and present, all of our likes and phases and yes, even craft projects– including a blue snowman that Mom made in third grade. We don’t decorate the tree, we barrage it. And it’s kind of awesome.

Poncho, looking at the (finally) lighted tree: “Awesomesauce.”
Me: “You did not just say ‘awesomesauce’.”
Poncho: “Naaaaar-whaaaaaals!”
Me: “Okay then.”

Yours till the fire lights,
Pen

Breaking News (and news about breaking things)

I got the library job!

I kind of can’t believe it.

It’s a rainy day, and the first day of school for us, and the only people here/awake are Grandma Vegas and Poncho. They’re happy for me, but the atmosphere of quiet studiousness makes for a subdued celebration. Although I am pretty sure I said “yay” on the phone.

Oy.

Well, I’m excited. But there has been other news in this house as well, such as…

I broke Dad’s blender.

The glass part was near the edge of the counter, and as I was putting dishes away I knocked it with my elbow. Crash! Glass everywhere at 11:30 pm. Mom and I started to clean up, and then Dodge joined in. I went to call Dad and let him know what had happened.
Dad: “Hello.”
Me: “Dad, um, I have some bad news for you…”
Dad: “You broke my blender.”
Me: “How did you know?!”
Dad: “I read your mind.”
Me: “No, seriously.”
Dad: “I felt it in the force.”
Me: “…Dodge texted you.”
Dad: “Yeah, and that.”
Me: “I’m really sorry…”
Dad: “That’s OK. I guess I’m just not meant to have a blender… Your mother broke one, you broke one…”
Me: “When did Mom break one?”
Dad: “That was years ago. She put it in the dishwaser and it destroyed all the plastic components.”
Mom: (eavesdropping) “I do not remember that.”

The next day…
Dad: “I was gonna eat a smoothie for lunch…”

So currently he has no real obsession. I mean, he’s been creating and drinking inordinate amounts of sweet tea, but I don’t know if it’s reached true obsession status yet. We shall see.

Yours till the decimal systems,
Pen

P.S. I have come to realize something through writing this blog: I am a klutz. And there is no cure.

Smooth, Dad.

Dad: “Try this, Pen.” He held a mug out to me, a mug which was filled with–
Me: “That looks like crud from the bottom of a pond.”
Dad: “It’s coffee and oatmeal and–” (tastes) “I think it needs more ice.”
VRRRRR, VRRRRRRRRRRR went the blender.

That’s right: Dad’s new obsession is, as Mom put it, “smoothifying everything.”

Including…
Dad: “Oh, and there was a sandwich in the fridge today, which I ate.”
Mom: “That’s okay, it was for you.”
Dad: “Oh, good.” (evil smile) “VRRRRRRRR.”
Me: “You did not. blend. a sandwich!”
Dad: “Everything’s a smoothie to me now.”
He went on to explain how it’s a “much more efficient way to eat” and that we should all be doing it. Well, it is 2012. Isn’t it time all those visions of the future where we wear spacesuits and drink our food come true?

Now he makes stupid blender jokes: “What’s green and red and goes a hundred miles an hour?”
Dodge: “Oh, oh, I know this one! A frog in a blender!”
Dad: “Haha– Hmmmm….”

Mom: “I liked it better when he made lawn furniture.”

the long fall back to earth…

Day one of being home: “Ahh, it’s so nice to be back…” 
Day three…
Me: “Oh, what a delicious dinner, I love pita bread!”
Dad: “As long as you don’t pita bed.”
Me: …”I miss being with civilized people.”

Really, though, everything did fall right back into place when I came home. Besides inordinate amounts of weeds in the gardens I tend, and Poncho clinging desperately to me for two days, it’s kind of like I was never gone.

Except every few hours or so I think, WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?!?!??
Sigh. I miss the peacefulness of the beach and being away. Oh, need me to do something? Well, too bad, I’m on vacation, can’t take care of it right now. It’s a procrastinator’s dream come true! 

But at the same time I’m glad to be doing things. For example, last night I took my first ever dance-that-is-not-Irish-dance class. (It was, in fact, contemporary ballet.) I think I did surprisingly well, all things considered. Now I am sore in strange places. It was a lot of fun, though! I’m not used to arching my back and flinging my arms about (OK, maybe the flinging was just me) and dancing to music that actually has words. Also, despite my obvious newbie-ness, I didn’t feel completely lost because I knew how to watch what the teacher was doing and mentally break it down into which foot goes first and that sort of thing. Except sometimes I would watch and think: All right, we go down, then do that hoppy thing, and UP one two! And the teacher would say something completely different with official terinology. Irish dance has no official terminology. Half the time, the teacher goes, “No! It’s not dot-did-diddly-dum, it’s da-dum-dot-dadada! Try again.”
That’s usually the point where my head metaphorically explodes. Either that, or I experience the strange sensation of actually understanding such gibberish.

So anyway, I’m glad that Eliza had the idea of getting me into the contemporary class. Brill!

Oh, and something else that lingers with me from The Trip…
Eliza singing “Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley! Ding, ding, ding, went the bell! Zing, zing, zing, went my heartstrings!…” And I kept accidentally singing it the past few days, due to its catchiness. Later on, I heard:
Mom: “Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley! Ding, ding, ding– Oh, I don’t want to be singing this.”

Also, the first time Eliza sang that song, we were all in the car and Rachel jumped in with her own verses… “Blub, blup, blup, went my liver! My kidneys ran off down the street!…”

I think the sea air does something to people’s brains.

Perhaps I shall post a bit more about The Trip later. Maybe with pictures. Maybe…. 

Oh, here’s one picture, at least…

Wawa!

Unfortunately, here at home there are no stores with names so endlessly entertaining. ;) I am glad to be home. The long fall leads to a soft landing.
~Pen

*shudder*

I finally planted my garden at home! The plants were all way beyond ready and living in flats in the front yard… So thanks to Dad roto-tilling and fencing a nice sunny space (probably the only sunny space) for me, I was able to get everything in the ground. Tomatoes (purple ones), kohlrabi, lettuce, nasturtiums, eggplant, sorrel, yarrow, thyme, and cosmos. Oh, and three super tiny chamomile plants that I highly doubt will live, but I refuse to give up on them.
And looking at the list of what I planted, I realize that a bunch of it was for prettiness.

Oh dear.

I really am turning into a flower sort of girl. How terrifying. The other day I decided I want to have peonies someday. Peonies! Just look at the word! It makes me shudder. I’ll have to offset this strange new tendency toward prettiness by getting a pet tarantula or something. Except I would probably feel bad for the food-crickets, and then there would be a big horrible dilemma and probably everyone–crickets and tarantula–would die in the end. Or they would escape and turn out to be radioactive science-lab bugs and grow to the size of horses and eat fou-fou dogs.

Well. That was quite a tangent…

But speaking of spiders (and old horror movie storylines), the other day Mom and I went into this one labyrinth-like vintage store. It’s kind of a spooky feeling because you’re downstairs in this maze of clothes and records and whatever, and there are mannequins lurking around, and you rarely brush with another human. If the mannequins weren’t creepy enough, this time there was a life-size Spiderman… thing. I don’t know what to call it. Like a mannequin, but it looked more lifelike and it had that spider mask on, the eyes of which had an evil yellow glint. It was standing in the middle of the hall with fingers splayed like it was waiting to snatch us.
Mom: “Oh, here’s the other hall.”
Me: “No no no no nooooo….”
Mom: “What?”
Me: (points to the Spiderman) “I don’t want to go near it.”
Mom: “Seriously?…. You’re so weird.”

Well, I did scrounge up the courage to walk past it, but I didn’t take my eyes off it for one second. Also I may have used Mom as a human shield.

Can you blame me? Not-alive lifelike things are creepy.

But don’t you think it strange that we’re often afraid of stuff like that? I mean look at how many times dolls are used for creepy effect, or as the creepiness themselves. And why are dolls creepy? Because they look alive, but they’re not. So why don’t we just go back to cornhusk dolls, then! People, we created this problem, because we created lifelike dolls. Same goes for all the robot/computer-coming-to-kill-us stories. We invented computers and robots! In fact, even if the thing we’re afraid of involves something we didn’t create, like a wolf, we still mentally give the wolf things, like the ability to talk, or the desire for revenge, that a wolf doesn’t actually have. And with the dolls and the mannequins and the statues– we work so hard to make them look real, and then, once we achieve this feat, it scares the pants off us.

Basically, we’re responsible for a lot of the stuff we’re afraid of. (Also, Frankenstien? Another perfect example of trying really hard to create something, and once it’s created being afraid that it will kill you in the night.) (Although he didn’t create the monster the way he wanted to. He was traumatized by how ugly the monster was. So is that why we’re afraid of the things we create? Because we create them imperfectly, and then we’re afraid that they’ll hate and come back to haunt us the way that the Monster hated Frankenstien for making him so ugly and therefore alone?)

I just think that’s paradoxical. And by paradoxical I mean oh, the fascinating human nature! Blah blah blah.

One more random thing… Yesterday we got something in the mail about the County Fair…

Mom: “Oh, what’s the theme this year?” (reads cover) ” ‘Wind Power for the Future’?”
Dad: “Yeah, because their fair blows.”

Har har,
Pen

dinner past, dinners future…

Dad arrived home this evening with a smile on his face. Admist some faint blood spatters.
Me: “You got something?”
Dad: “What do you think? Look at my pants.” Which also had blood spatters on them.

Every time I try to explain this situation to someone, I always say, “He kills deer for this lady [we always call her “the deer lady”] who lives in the park” and then people stare and gawp until I realize that they think I mean that she’s homeless so she lives in the park. No. She has a house. And a barn, and a horse, and a large poodle named Velcro. She lives on the fringe of the parks, and of course that means she is overrun by deer. So she apparently called the park people every day until they allowed her to have “designated killers” to shoot deer on her land whenever the vermin step hoof on it. (Are deer’s feet even called hooves? I thought they were cloven hooves or something… Right?)

So, she calls Dad now, instead of the park, and he gets his gun and tries to shoot something and bring home the bacon– er, venison.

Dad: “Yeah, while I was there another one of her killers showed up with a trail cam.”
Mom: “Why didn’t he bring a gun?”
Dad: “That’s what the deer lady said. Apparently I’m the only one who came prepared.”
Mom: “So you’re her favorite killer now.”
Dad: “Yup.” 

Well. Now there is a carcass in the shed.

Dad: “Good thing I didn’t get pulled over on the way home. They probably would have wondered about the blood spatters on my face…”
Me: (thinking, And the tarp wrapped around what appears to be a corpse in the back of the truck… And then trying to explain by saying he is some lady’s ‘killer’… Yeah, that would’ve gone very well.)

Anyway. That is the excitement for today. Food chain, circle of life, blah blah blah, tacos. Also, Poncho and I were home by just our two selves today, and so I made him a fancy dinner (by fancy I mean, rolls and candy broccoli and scrambled eggs.)

Poncho: “The broccoli is really good.”
Me: “Thanks.”
Poncho: “And the rolls. Much better than Mom’s.”
Me: “Yeah, because Mom is always distracted and burns them so it’s like eating a lump of coal.”
Poncho: “Or one of your pizza rolls…”
Me: scowl.
Poncho: “Sorry! But you burn them. Every. Time.”
Me: “Hmph.”

Tomayto, tomahto, potayto, potahto.

Dad: “Would you like some tomatoes?”
Me: “Blech.”
Dad: “Tomahtoes?”
Me: “No one says ‘tomahtoes’. Seriously. No one.”
Dad: “Potayto, potahto.”
Me: “No one says potahto!”
Dad: “Maybe in some snooty town in Maine they do. (snooty British voice) [why he thinks they are British in Maine, I don’t know] ‘Oh, I would like some potahto… What do they call it in the Midwest? A Backed Potahto?'”
Me: (same snooty voice) “Yes, I’d like some Backed Potahto whilst I watch for Horse Chestnut Charles…”
Dodge: “What was that from? I remember that!”

(It was from this, in case you were wondering.)

Well, I had a very humorous day yesterday with Dad. He took me to the Most Pointless Doctor’s Visit of My Life So Far. It went like this:

Doctor: “Hi, how are you today?”
Me: “Um, better than yesterday, because yesterday I couldn’t even move–”
Doctor: “How old are you now? What grade are you in?”
Me: “Er.”
Doctor: “Wow, you are growing up so fast.” (looks in my ear) “Are you going to college?”
Me: “No.”
Doctor: “So you’re going to stay home and commute to college?”
Me: “No. I’m not… doing… college.”
Doctor: *has heart attack* “WHAT? BUT HOW WILL YOU GET A BETTER JOB?”
Me: “Actually, going to college doesn’t guarantee– I mean, no one has a job right now–”
Doctor: “Well, that’s because they go to college undeclared and become, like, business majors. You can’t get a job as a business major.”
Me: “Er. Okay. Well, anyway, yesterday I thought my appendix was ruptured–”
Doctor: “What do you want to be?”
Me: “Writer. And, um, I think I’m having a severe food allergy to milk–”
Doctor: “Oh, you want to do journalism–”
Me: “Actually, books– But what I really mean is, well, yesterday, I thought I was dying–”
Doctor: “Well, how are you ever going to write for a national newspaper if you don’t go to college?”
Me: “Novels!!!”
Doctor: “Oh, I hate those…You know, like that guy who’s worth a billion dollars now… You’re not going to write like him, are you?”
Me: “Like who?”
Doctor: “You know, the guy with the glasses? Oh, Harry Potter.”
Me: …………… (thinking, Does she think Harry Potter WROTE the Harry Potter books? Holy cow.)
Doctor: “So you felt sick yesterday? You felt nauseated?”
Me: (thank God, she’s finally getting to it!) “Yeah, I really did. I couldn’t move all day, and I still feel weak–”
Doctor: “Were you really stressed about anything?”
Me: “No.”
Doctor: “Well, just drink rice milk. Keep track of what you eat. Then call me back in two weeks and we can see if you need bloodwork.”
Me: “I also thought it might be wheat–”
Doctor: “Oh, yes, Celiac. Well, they usually have some real symptoms.”
Me: ………………….

That was just great. Wow. I feel so much better now that I had my ear looked in. The whole time, I was thinking, I came here because you’re my doctor, not my college counselor! And, you see me, what? Like twice a year, maybe? How do you presume to give advice about my personal decisions? While not even listening to my SYMPTOMS???

Time for a new doctor. And I have decided to, at least for now, avoid dairy like the plague. Which makes me sad! Oh, colby jack cheese, must I be so early parted from thee?

Sigh. Well, to celebrate the milestone of Most Pointless Doctor’s Visit In My Life So Far, Dad took me to lunch just us two. Which was very nice. Then Mom called and asked what the doctor said, and he answered, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed”. Classic Dad…. What else can I do but shake my head and smile?