Monday, June 28, 2010

Barbie? That bitch has everything.

It was another hectic weekend of house stuff. Garages were cleaned. Decks were stained. Ceilings were painted. Mental breakdowns were had.

And through it all, Foxie Doxie kept his usual vigil in the backyard. He secures the perimeter, keeping us safe from all manner of squirrels, chipmunks, and bunnies.

But yesterday? He met a new foe.

Foxie found a turtle. And had no idea what to do with it. So, he stood over it, barking. When My Guy and I went outside, Foxie looked up with relief. Finally! People with thumbs who should be knowledgeable in the management of such critters!

My Guy picked up the turtle and put it on the other side of the fence, into the yard of a neighbor who doesn’t have dogs. And my sweet boyfriend smiled as he came back into the house.

“That turtle looked just like Beep Beep!”

Now, I am tired. Really tired. But I knew something was up. “Beep Beep?” I asked. “What’s that?”

“I’ve never told you about Beep Beep? Oh, man! He was my pet turtle!”

Get this: as a young lad of about 8 years old, My Guy found a turtle in the backyard. He named it Beep Beep and painted “BEEP” on the critter’s back with red nail polish.

Beep Beep lived in the yard and My Guy and his siblings would feed it lettuce. When it was really hot, My Guy obsessed about setting water out for Beep Beep. But in the heat of the summer? My Guy and his sisters put Beep Beep in the Barbie Dream Pool.It was at this point in the telling of the tale that I morphed from delighted to insanely jealous.

Not only did he have a turtle, but his sister had the Barbie Dream Pool! It came with a shower and a slide. And only the most awesomest Barbie Dream Pool ever also had a real, live turtle swimming in it.

Color me green with eeeeeeeenvy. Although I will say that my Malibu Ken did have the sexy hooded robe sported on the box of the Barbie Dream Pool. Oh, yeah.

So, Beep Beep would turn up every year for a summer of lettuce and chillin’ by the pool. Until one year when Beep Beep didn’t show up and My Guy’s mom convinced the kids that he was just living in a neighbor’s yard … sort of the turtle equivalent of a nice big farm with plenty of room to run.

This part of the story caused My Guy to droop a bit. But maybe the neighbors had the Barbie Dream House.

Image courtesy of

Friday, June 25, 2010

Things I've learned this week.

1. If you ever need to restain your deck, shell out the whopping seven American dollars for a paint pad. It's sort of like a Swiffer, but you use it to effortlessly spread stain on your deck so that your deck doesn't look homeless. Today was so hot that even my sweat was sweating, but the deck? She was cheap and easy.

2. Mike Holmes is officially the sexiest man alive.

My mom already knew this.

There's nothing like attempting your own home improvement projects from hell to make you appreciate a decent contractor. I love his show. And I will say ... My Guy had a certain Holmes on Homes aura about him last night as we demoed some drywall. Something about the way he wielded that hammer and crowbar just made me see him in a whole new light. Or maybe it was just the dust.

Did you know that Mike Holmes started a foundation that gives scholarships to people who want to learn construction trades? Stop being so damned sexy!

3. Lil' Frankfurter is my hero. Realizing that his mama is covered in way too many bug bites from way too much time working outside, he just ate a mosquito that had landed on my arm. That's love, people. Big love coming from a tiny dog.
Image courtesy of

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We're gonna need a montage.

With all the flurry of home-improvement activity, My Guy and I have determined that our stage-two-houses-and-get-them-on-the-market efforts need two things:

1. A theme song
2. A montage

My Guy immediately nixed "Eye of the tiger" for our theme song, which sort of sucks for me. It's my go-to theme song for gettin' shit done. So, the jury's still out on the theme song business. I think we might just need a staging houses mix tape. After all, how could any one song encompass the drywall, the paint, the confused dogs? I'm thinking we need a variety of 80s rock anthems to get us through this trying time. Maybe:

Livin' on a prayer - Bon Jovi
Anyway you want it - Journey
Roll with the changes - REO Speedwagon
Working for the weekend - Loverboy
Crazy train - Ozzy

Other ideas?

As for the montage of us gettin' shit done ... well, we have a lot of inspiration.

There's the montage song from South Park and Team America ...

Except I don't know crap about puppets. And if it's one more thing that I have to paint, you can freakin' forget it.

And, of course, we could go with a theme like the training montage from Rocky IV. Because training in Siberia for a boxing match is a lot like touching up paint in your kitchen in 96-degree Midwest weather.

Except I don't think we can line up Talia Shire to stand around, looking concerned about our home improvement.

I must admit, though, that last night, after realizing that repainting the trim around my house is not just a big project, but a gargantuan one that will require physical pain and contortions seen previously only in circus performers? Well, I felt a bit like the agony of defeat guy from the classic Wide World of Sports montage.

This is actually a pretty accurate portrayal of my skiing skills. Hmm.

But really? Maybe it's the recent remake, but I gotta go with The Karate Kid montage as my biggest montage influence. Maybe it's because I feel like Daniel, standing around with my mouth open.

Seriously. Does he have some sort of jaw disorder?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Transition and muscle aches.

It's been Festival of Home Improvement here.

Saturday, My Guy and I each ended up organizing our respective basements. It wasn't planned - it just happened that the moons of Jupiter aligned and it was Clean Up Your Damned Basement Day.

Sunday, we landscaped like we have never landscaped before. I showed up at his house with a car full of mulch and potting soil and hostas and plants galore. We ripped out a cruddy old planter, and then I went to town weeding and mulching and planting and hosing everything down. Basically, I was a landscaping diva while My Guy cursed home ownership while cleaning his gutters.

Did I mention it was 96 degrees and humid?

We were dying by the end of the day. Dying. So My Guy made us the dinner of champions: Kraft mac and cheese and purple Kool-Aid.

Seriously. It was beyond awesome.

But why the flurry of activity?

We've decided to put not one but both of our houses on the market right after Independence Day. Because we are insane. And the housing market scares us in a it-might-take-72-years-to-sell-these-houses sort of way.

When I got home last night after the landscaping death march, I found myself almost disappointed. Why do we own two houses? We have two, TWO houses to stage! Oh, for the love of Pete! Whoever Pete is!

But tonight, as I'm finally sanding and prepping the woodwork in my kitchen ... my kitchen that I remodeled three years ago and just lived with the chipped woodwork? Well, my heart is a bit heavier.

First of all, whoever painted the trim with the cheapo paint? You suck. I can't sand without the paint peeling off in cheapo strips. Buy the expensive paint - it is so worth the extra $10. So. Worth. It.

But also? My heart is a little funky because I'm so excited to be with My Guy. It's just that simple - I want to be with him. I want to live with him, even though he doesn't know the proper way to fold sheets or towels. I love him even though he dowsed my bag of gardening gear not once but twice yesterday with both water from the hose and the crap that comes out of gutters and smells like turtles.

But my house? I love this house. It's going to be hard to let go of this house. It's the only place I've ever lived where I had the ability to make it any way I wanted. I painted my closet pink, for Pete's sake (again - who the eff is Pete?). And buying a house was a huge accomplishment.

When I decided to leave Ex-Ex and his wicked ways, I had exactly $25.35 in my bank account. This is not an exaggeration. I was building my freelancing business and I was brokity broke, broke, broke. I moved into a slightly shady apartment that approved me because they checked my checking balance on exactly the right day, after the deposit but before the bills cleared.

Less than two years later, I bought a house. Because I could afford it. Because I was wildly successful in my freelancing career. And so, I left The Apartment of Shame behind for a house that I remodeled and tweaked and smudged with sage. My intent for this house was peace and prosperity.

And so it has been.

And so it shall be in the fab, new, yet-to-be-determined house that I will share with My Guy. And our (gulp) four dogs. Although Lil' Frankfurter is really more the size of a ferret.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My mom popped the heads off the Hungry Hungry Hippos and tried to convince us that it was more fun to play the game that way.*

I have blogger guilt. It tastes like sour milk and shame.

I haven't been writing a ton lately, and that seems to reflect me in the three-dimensional world.

When I get stressed, I tend to turn inward. All the recent craziness with layoffs at Corporate Behemoth meant that some days, I literally did come home and take to my bed. It felt very Southern Recluse in a most Tennessee Williams sort of way.

But even when really wonderful, good things are happening? Well, I tend to play it pretty close to the vest. I'm scared to jinx it. There's part of me that is prepared to be disappointed and deeply hurt. And then there's another part of me that accepts that happiness is natural and welcome and expected. And sometimes, those two parts of my personality duke it out like Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots.
Or Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Or the violent 80s toy of your choice.

But sometimes? Sometimes, I just let it be.

So now, I will tell you what's really going on, because it feels like the elephant (or hippo) sitting on my laptop.

There has been talk. About houses. And futures. And jewelry has been selected. And this weekend, parental blessing was obtained. And now I'm just sort of floating along, knowing what is coming but not knowing when or how or anything.

This all feels so easy and right.

But don't ask me about it. I don't want to jinx it.

* I think she was having one of those "You're the reason Mommy drinks" sort of days. It's cool.

Images courtesy of Amazon.

Monday, June 14, 2010


As I've mentioned before, I have a real issue dealing with incoming mail. As in, I hate it and I'm not good at it. Typically, I'll flip through for anything that looks personal or urgent, and the rest gets dumped in the mail bowl. I've started getting my mail by walking through the garage, which means I pass the recycling bin. This has significantly cut back on the paper actually entering my house. However, the mail bowl? Umm ... still a shameful and prominent feature of the home.

So, that explains why I was reading a three-month-old alumni magazine like it was hot off the press. My alma mater puts together a nice publication, but I almost pitched this copy into the recycling bin without glancing at it. However, something made me pick it up. And I'm glad I did.

I always like reading the class notes section, even though I usually don't know anybody. I like reading the notes about the graduates of the 30s and 40s. It always makes me think of a note on a golden graduation reunion message board when I worked for the university. One man scrawled, "Came here with $40. Lived in a chicken coop. Left rich."

And that is the true meaning of higher education.

Anyway ... the class notes section. A familiar name popped up in the alumni deaths column. My friend Lynn passed away in December. I had to read the announcement several times to make it sink in. Lynn was old enough to be my mom but one of those eternally young people who defy age.

I met Lynn when I was 22, working for the university and trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wore button-down shirts, dress pants, and chunky oxfords. I looked like a Republican ... especially in comparison to the vintage jewelry and "I swear this is a dressy t-shirt" look I typically rock now.

I didn't know who I was, but I knew on some level that I wasn't happy. Oh, and I worked with these two crazy people who screamed at each other all day and sometimes successfully pulled me into the fray.

When I met with Lynn for a project, we immediately identified each other as kindred souls. Lynn took me under her wing while simultaneously treating me as an equal - no easy task, especially when dealing with a freaking out 22-year-old.

Lynn took everything with a grain of salt, and taught by example that this was indeed possible. She was filled with joy over finding the love of her life in middle age and marrying for the first time. She told hilarious stories about her basset hound puppy, and whenever we met for lunch, she always had a book en tow, just in case she needed to wait for a few minutes. Lynn squeezed all of the life she could out of every moment.

Mostly, she made me feel like everything was OK. And I am eternally grateful.

There's been a scholarship set up in Lynn's memory, and I'm going to make a gift there. But I feel like the greatest way I can honor her and her life is to pay it forward. It seems like such a simple thing to befriend a young person who is finding their way, but holy cow, it sure made a difference to me. I learned so much, and I am so, so thankful that our paths crossed. Lynn was a blessing in my life. And she probably never even realized it.

Who's been a surprise influence to you? How do you honor that gift?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You knew this post was coming.

I know I'm a little late to the party, but have you seen Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It?

It's a preview of the rocker's newest reality show, wherein he lets us all in on his home life with his babymama and two daughters.

Sound familiar? Gee, I wonder why. I had this little brainchild a few weeks ago, but I called it "Leave It To Bret."

Whatever. I ain't hatin'. Basically, I'm lovin' this show, which started production before Bret's recent rash of health issues. vh1 promises that the series will air this fall, and that they will replay the preview 267,983,468 times between now and then.

As much as I was enthralled by all the skanks on Rock of Love Bus, and as much as I really hope Bret will host Slut Rehab to reach out to the ladies displaced by the end of that television franchise? Well, I'm even more enthralled now with Bret. Not in a creepy stalker way. He just seems like genuine guy.

Need proof? Check out Bret chilling with his infamously gassy 4-year-old in one of those plastic kiddie castles.

"I spend a lot of time in the castle. Jorja learned how to swear while Daddy was building the magic castle ... "

It's my life dream that My Boyfriend Dave Grohl will one day have his own reality show. But until then? Well, I'm counting down the days until Bret's show is my own personal Weekly Television Event.

You know, like a miniseries from the 80s. But better.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Being an adult means pretending you know what you're doing.

I admittedly felt like a bit of a badass after yesterday's MacGyvering of the garage door. Is there anything Cha Cha cannot do?

No, there is not.

Evidently, my brother and his bride-to-be took notice. Today, they asked me to officiate at their upcoming nuptials.

My response? I laughed and said, "Holy crap." But of course I agreed, because it was an honor and I think I can do a good job at this solemn task. And because I'm pretty sure they aren't going to ask me to be flower girl, which is, of course, a disappointment.

Now, you might be asking, "Uh, Cha Cha? I didn't know you're an ordained minister."

And you'd be right. I'm not. Yet. But the Internet offers many exciting options for online ordination. I don't have to take a vow of celibacy (thank you eight-pound, six-ounce baby Jesus in your golden fleece diaper). However, I'm a bit concerned that the Google results screen for "get ordained" is all, "Did you mean get organized?"

If I have to get organized in order to marry these two, this marriage is in serious jeopardy. If the Official Online Ordination Committee shows up at my house, they will take one look at the dumping ground that is my office and I will never, ever be allowed to attend a wedding ever again, much less officiate at one.

But that probably won't happen.

So, now I just have to figure out what sort of officiant to be. I know I want to drop as many old-school Old Testament names as possible. After all, "Nebuchadnezzar" is fun to say. But other than that?

Well, I have to ask ... what the hell am I doing?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Does Richard Dean Anderson have these issues?

Ah. It's thunderstorm season, and you know what that means!

Yep. It means that the transformer for my neighborhood blew with a spectacular, noisy pop at 8:20 this morning. You know, that time when I'm getting dressed and my hair isn't quite dry?


I lit candles and navigated my closet with the help of my pink Disney princesses flashlight. I put on makeup by candlelight, but wisely decided to stash the mascara in my purse. I'd put it on in the car.

The car. The car that's in the garage.

I put my stuff in the car, and used my industrial-strength, non-Disney princess flashlight to get a good look at the garage door. I put the flashlight on the trunk of the car and I twisted the thingy on the garage door. Nothing happened. So, of course, I twisted it again. And again. And then I put on a pair of gloves and twisted it again.

By this time, I was sweating, because it was about 97 degrees in the airless, windowless garage. I retreated back into the house and did the one thing that a liberated, educated woman could do in the situation: I called my boyfriend.

My Guy offered to come open the garage door ... at lunch. Shaa! Right!

Instead, I had him talk me through it. Instead of twisting the thingy, I pulled the other thingy. And the door opened. But the track is so short that the door won't stay up by itself. So, while on the phone with My Guy, I held the garage door up with one hand and propped a ladder underneath it with the other. And then 27 pounds of dirt rained down from the bottom of the garage door onto my head.

"Don't worry - today's going to be a great day," My Guy said, completely misguided.

"You shut the fuck up!" I responded. With love.

And so I folded in my side mirrors and was able to feel my way to back out of my already tiny, narrow garage. Evidently, the dirt littering my hair and shoulders didn't impair my driving ability. However, it had some sort of impact on my timing.

As I pulled into my favorite parking space at Corporate Behemoth, I noticed a line of five cars stopped behind some yahoo backing to park in the garage. And then I realized who the offending driver was: Creepy Rajeev!

Creepy Rajeev is the guy who wears too much cologne and undresses all women with his eyes, all of the time. And he was parked near me.

I dawdled at my car. I straightened my sweater. I dug around in my purse for some random thing that doesn't exist. I let Creepy Rajeev get way ahead of me.

Except that he held the elevator for me.

Now, admittedly, I lucked out. Instead of getting a hug from Creepy Rajeev, I just got a handshake. But I was glad that I'd already planned on washing my hands due to the Garage Dirt Situation.

I got to my desk. My coworkers assured me that I didn't look like I'd just MacGyvered my way out of my house. I calmed down.

And then I walked down the hallway and had the fortune to meet Creepy Rajeev as he exited the men's room.

"Cha Cha!" he exclaimed. "Twice in one day - it's the best day!"

Unable to find an escape hatch in the middle of the hall, I responded, "Yeah? Well, you should get out more."

"OK," Creepy Rajeev replied. Then, he positively cooed. "Just tell me when."

And that was way grosser and more disgusting than having 27 pounds of dirt fall on my head.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


My brother Poochie was born on Halloween. Despite the fact that she had gone to the hospital in the middle of the prior night, my poor petite mama struggled with that giganto baby until well after trick-or-treating was over.

However, I had certain safeguards in place should my trick-or-treating be endangered by an ill-timed baby. Basically, I insisted that my mom finish my witch costume in August. So I was all ready to go begging for candy with my mom's friend and her daughter since my own folks were busy. Whatever. I was 5 years old.

I returned to my grandparents' house with a huge bag of candy, but all I wanted was a bowl of Grape Nuts. I was seated in the dinette with a little glass bowl of heaven when the phone rang.

My grandpa answered it in the other room. I heard his familiar, even "Hello," and then I heard him laugh. His laugh filled the house and came from his toes. It echoed and made everything brighter.

He then told me that the phone was for me. I picked up the receiver in the dinette, and my daddy told me that I had a baby brother.

My grandpa's laughter is key to this memory for me. It's the soundtrack of that moment in time. So, it's only fitting that when the phone rang at 7:30 yesterday morning, my mom and my dad and I all laughed with glee - that same sort of laugh.

Poochie called to tell us that he'd asked his sweet girlfriend to marry him. And she said yes. And they were playing hookie to go find a ring.

It seems my baby brother is barely old enough to drive, much less get married. But he is old enough, and in love enough, and brave enough, and crazy enough. I am so, so excited.

So, ladies? Poochie's officially off the market. Sorry.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

You don't even know.

This weekend, I traveled to Iowa to see my parents. Then my dad and I traveled to the Hoosier State, where we once again saw The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

It was 96 degrees. I got heat rash from my underwire. And Dario Franchitti won, and we don't really like him because his wife is a camera hog and acts like she's the one who just drove 500 miles and that's just distasteful.

But I digress.

The real excitement started when we got back to the homestead Monday night. I helped my mom in her garden and evidently really pissed off some highly venomous insect while I was watering. I got stung on the joint of my thumb. And it hurt really really badly and I think I cursed and I definitely dropped the hose. But then I womaned up, picked up the hose, and continued watering, letting the cold water numb the sting.

Then I put away the hose. And my thumb really hurt. So I put some baking soda on it. And then went to help my mom in the front yard. And then I realized that my entire hand hurt and had turned a lovely shade of Death Red, a color that complemented the swelling.

And then I remembered how cool it is to be with your parents, who are required by law to keep you alive.

There was ice. There was a trip to the HyVee Food Store for Benadryl. And a phone call from my dad, who wanted to know exactly which of the 17 varieties of Benadryl we were requesting.

And then I took said Benadryl and promptly turned into Druggie Daughter. Everything was soooo funny. My mom asked if we should have potatoes with dinner and I thought I was going to pee my pants - I had never heard anything so fantastic.

I just kept thinking, "I got stung on my thumb, and now I'm losing my mind and will probably have to have my entire arm amputated, but I'm supposed to be back at work on Wednesday and gee, maybe I should eat something because that Benadryl is making me loopy, but you aren't supposed to eat before surgery, but if it's emergency surgery, do they make an exception?"

We had dinner. There were no potatoes. But at some point, I stopped laughing and I could hardly keep my eyes open. I went to bed before 9 p.m. for pretty much the first time in my life, ever.

And then? The phone rang at 7:30 this morning. And you will never guess what happened then!

But if you stay tuned tomorrow, I'll tell you. Trust me, it's really, really cool ...