Archive for March, 2006

A fable about karma

Once upon a time, there was a young couple who lived in small apartment. They had noisy neighbors, a tiny bathroom and had to pay one dollar each time they wanted to wash or dry a load of laundry.

After living in the small apartment for six years with the noisy neighbors, tiny bathroom and coin laundry, the couple finally decided they needed something new. They very much wanted their own home but didn’t have enough money for the required down payment. One day the woman was searching through the newspaper and saw an advertisement for a duplex for rent not far from their apartment. She called the number in the ad and arranged to have a look at the place.

The duplex was grand compared to the apartment. It had a basement, a yard to mow and a bigger bathroom. There was even a washer and dryer hook-up in the basement so that they would no longer have to use the coin laundry. Best of all, the unit had central air conditioning. Oh joy!

The owner of the duplex had the couple sign a lease and asked for the first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. The couple paid the landlord and arranged to move their possessions into the duplex. All was well with them for awhile.

A few months later, the couple had a problem with the furnace and called the landlord to have it fixed. “Just go ahead and have it fixed and deduct what you paid from next month’s rent,” the landlord said.

The couple was confused. Wasn’t it the landlord’s responsibility to arrange for and pay for repairs? They shrugged their shoulders and foolishly did what the landlord suggested. They figured they should get used to taking care of home repairs since they would eventually be responsible for them when they finally owned a home.

Over the next few years the couple saw very little of the landlord. He would stop by occasionally in his silver and black Corvette and complain about the water bill, the only utility the couple did not have to pay. Many requests for repairs were ignored or referred to the landlord’s troll of a father who didn’t appreciate having to travel the quarter mile from his house to the duplex to fix things. Eventually the couple decided it was easier to take care of minor repairs themselves instead of hassling with the horrible landlord and his equally horrible father.

One day, however, the toilet cracked and the couple knew this was one repair they didn’t want to fix themselves. They called the landlord, who said he would stop by later on and have a look at it. When the couple came home from work that day, they found a brand new toilet in their bathroom. They were impressed with how quickly the landlord had taken care of the repair.

Later that night, just before bed, the woman decided to wash a load of laundry. She brought the basket downstairs and was horrified to see a torrent of water raining down from above. It seems she had just flushed the brand new toilet and this unwelcome waterfall was the result. She tried to contact the landlord but was greeted with only a voicemail to leave a message. The only thing the couple could do was turn off the water and wait for the landlord to call back.

The next morning the landlord returned their call and explained that he had not completely installed the toilet. He had yet to seal it and failed to tell the couple, apparently thinking this was not crucial information for them to have. The couple was disgusted and from then on dubbed the idiot Evil Landlord.

After a particularly long winter in which the furnace problems returned and the pilot light extinguished at frequent intervals resulting in frigid indoor temperatures, the couple finally decided it was time to move into their own home. They looked at houses all spring and found one to their liking in June. They happily gave notice to Evil Landlord and made preparations to move. Evil Landlord was not pleased as the couple had given him less than 30 days notice. The couple did not feel obligated to give more notice since Evil Landlord had not been the most attentive owner.

The woman spent the few weeks before the move furiously cleaning the duplex. She cleaned the kitchen cabinets inside and out. She cleaned inside and under the refrigerator. She washed the windows, laundered the drapes and steam cleaned the carpets. She even mopped the concrete floor downstairs where their cats had frequently emptied the contents of their stomachs. The duplex had never looked so clean when they lived there.

A few weeks after the couple moved into their new house, they received an envelope from Evil Landlord in the mail. Inside was a check for their security deposit, made out for less than half the amount originally given to him. The couple was furious and immediately called Evil Landlord, who claimed he had to make “necessary repairs” and that the couple had not given him sufficient notice before they vacated the premises. While they momentarily considered litigation, the couple felt the lost money was worth never having to deal with Evil Landlord again.

The woman, however, was not able to forget things so easily. She entertained fantasies in which she returned to the empty duplex and turned on the outside faucet to both increase Evil Landlord’s water bill and hopefully flood the basement. Knowing she would probably get caught, the woman abandoned her plan of sabotage, her only comfort being the belief that Evil Landlord would eventually reap what he sowed. She could only hope to be there to witness it.

Over the next couple of years, the couple enjoyed their new home. They eventually had a baby and forgot all about Evil Landlord and his evil ways until one day the woman came home to find her husband with a huge grin on his face.

“My dear,” he said, “you’ll never guess what I saw today. Evil Landlord on Chicago Drive, his ‘Vette in the ditch smashed to bits.”

The woman gasped. “Surely you jest! You know I’ve had a trying day at work. This isn’t just an attempt to cheer me? Are you sure it was him?”

“He was standing next to his car and talking on a cellular telephone,” her husband replied.

“Oh please, can we go look? Let’s pack the child in the car and go!” the woman exclaimed.

Her husband laughed. “My dear, they’ve probably towed the car away by now.”

The woman sighed, disappointed but her mood much elevated. She knew it to be true. Even though she didn’t witness it herself, she was able to hear a firsthand account of it:

Karma. It’s a bitch.

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Nathan and I are trying something new. We’ve made a pact to keep the TV off until 8:00 pm. I usually like nothing better than to come home, plop my pillows on the couch and nurse Autumn while the tube is on, but we’ve been watching the same shows over and over and over. I mean, how many times can you watch the “King of the Hill” episode where Chuck Mangione hides out at the Mega-lo-Mart before you start to think it’s time to change your routine?

So last night we kept the TV off. Instead, I read a book while I nursed. I know, I’m really supposed to be paying attention to the child while she’s feeding. Most of the time I do, but there’s really only so much you can say to someone who’s more interested in your chest than whatever it is you’re talking about. I have the same problem with Nathan sometimes.

I have to admit I didn’t miss the TV one bit. After I fed Autumn, I set her down on the floor to see if she’d roll over again. Apparently she kept her skills to herself while she was at daycare, much to C-’s disappointment. I have the feeling C- had her on her back quite a bit during the day because Autumn only tolerated about 20 minutes of rolling onto her side and flopping back over before she turned into a little crank-meister and refused to humor us further.

After floor time, I strapped Autumn into her swing and started back into my book. A few sentences in, I glanced over at her and saw she was staring at me with the same look Molly gives me when I’m eating, a look that says, “I’d love whatever you’ve got over there.” No matter how much I tried to get back into the book, I couldn’t do it because the girl wouldn’t take her eyes off me. I finally got off my butt and retrieved her from the swing. Still in crank mode, she didn’t finally settle down until I had her nestled in my arms with some colorful toys and her binky.

I had a wonderful time holding her in my arms. I held my hand up in front of her face while she grabbed my fingers. I shook the toys, which she enthusiastically tried to stuff in her mouth. She chatted constantly and we both enjoyed some quality time distraction-free.

I was almost sorry to see 8:00 roll around. I’m sure we could have kept the TV off all night, but we’re serious “24” addicts. Hey, the first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem, right?

Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

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Catching that elusive smile

After a week or so of trying and trying and only getting as far as her side, Autumn finally succeeded in rolling over yesterday. I’m so glad we were able to see it. It actually happened at Nathan’s parents’ house so his mom and dad were able to see it, too.

We actually missed the very first roll over. We had Autumn on her back on a blanket on the floor but we were all kind of busy doing our own thing. All of the sudden we heard her cry out and saw she had flipped over onto her stomach. Nathan flipped her over onto her back and we all watched intently to see if she’d do it again. Sure enough, she did it again and again. Of course once she’s flipped over she can’t roll back. I guess that part is covered in the intermediate roll-over lessons at baby school.

I was afraid this new found ability would make bedtime a challenge. I had visions of returning to her room throughout the night to keep flipping her onto her back, but Autumn stayed put the whole night. Getting her to finally sleep was a challenge though. She was super-crabby girl, the result of a little over-stimulation at grandma and grandpa’s, I think.

Of course I had to tell our daycare provider as soon as I dropped Autumn off this morning. I was able to keep the “nyah-nyah” tone out of my voice, but I’m still so glad this milestone happened on my watch.

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Mutant muffins

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Got Milk?

This is what I found when I came home yesterday:

That is what remained of an empty milk jug I set out on the counter before I left for work. I was supposed to take it down to our recycling bins but forgot. Usually Molly doesn’t target things like this, but she must have been especially bored yesterday. Poor pup. I think we’re going to have to up her daily kibble allowance so that she stays away from the #2 plastic. Maybe she’s not acting out so much as really really hungry because nothing seems to be safe anymore. We have to be very careful about how much we feed her because we had “weight issues” last year. Molly developed a pretty bad limp from what appeared to be the beginning of rheumatoid arthritis. We put her on the doggy diet food and were able to take about eight pounds off of her. Like me, she just can’t say no to a good snack.

In other news, I know someone who turned four months old yesterday…

Who, me?

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A co-worker just emailed me and asked if I had any Reese’s peanut butter eggs stashed at my desk. At first I had to wonder if she sent me the email by mistake because, folks, I do not stash Reese’s. If a peanut butter egg is hanging around my desk it’s because I haven’t found it yet. I’m not one of those freaks who can take three eggs, eat one and let the other two hang out at my desk to become friends for the rest of the day. They disappear before they can tell the other eggs what really happens when you leave the bag.

Did I happen to mention I absolutely love Reese’s?

I was really excited when they started coming out with all these new flavors. White chocolate, inside out, caramel, chocolate lovers, peanut butter lovers. And the big cup. I thought the big cup was the next thing to heaven until I found out they only come one to a package. There’s nothing like the classic cup, though.

I remember one year for Christmas I bought both of my uncles tree-shaped candy containers and bags of mini Reese’s to fill them. I made the mistake of filling the containers a couple of weeks before Christmas. I should have just kept the bags sealed, shoved them under my bed and tried to forget about them. First I took a Reese’s out of one container and then the other (to even things out) until I was back at the store buying two more bags of candy. I think my uncles eventually received tree-shaped containers filled with pretzels or nuts that year.

When I hear someone say, “I’d kill for a drink right now,” I think, “I’d kill for a peanut butter cup.” If I thought I could successfully be acquitted of the crime, I’d probably kill. Okay maybe not kill, but maim. All I’d need is some hotshot lawyer willing to take a risk and declare Reese’s addiction a mental deficit. Maybe I could pay the retainer in chocolate.

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We had a gorgeous day here today. The sun was out, we took a walk and went shopping. We couldn’t resist these sunglasses. They just screamed “buy me!” so we did. Autumn didn’t quite know what to make of them at first. It was kind of like trying to put a hat on a dog (which we’ve also tried before), but she got used to them pretty quick.

Mom and Dad also got into the act

Sunshine and shopping at Target. Now that’s a pretty good day.

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365 days ago

When you first find out you’re pregnant and are preparing to break the news to your husband, all sorts of clever and romantic scenarios to convey the news pop into your head. Not one of those scenarios involve sending your husband an instant message that goes like this:

YOU: Would I freak you out if I told you I thought I could be pregnant?
HIM: nope

Well, that’s exactly how I broke the news to Nathan one year ago today. We don’t talk to each other on the phone much during work hours because both of our jobs involve answering a lot of customer calls. We’ve found it easier to just IM each other and mostly use it to discuss dinner plans or continue an argument we had before work. You gotta love technology.

I can’t remember exactly what prompted me that day to think I could have been pregnant. I think it was an idea that kept coming back again and again until I decided to investigate it. I may have googled “pregnancy signs” or something of the sort. I’d been feeling very tired and there were other physical indicators that, when put together, spelled out M-O-M.

I only live about 15 minutes from work, so I stopped off at the store on my lunch hour and bought a pregnancy test. It was a stupid EPT test that was very ineffective at answering my question. EPT tests are the ones that have a plus sign if you’re pregnant and a minus sign if you’re not. The line that makes the minus sign is the control line that’s supposed to be bright pink no matter what the result is. My control line was very faint to the point of being invisible, but the line that’s supposed to make the plus was bright pink. All I could think was, “okay, what the hell does this mean?”

Later that night I sprung for the expensive, high tech test that actually says “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” That one was more accurate and a bit more fun, too. It was like pulling the arm of a slot machine and waiting to see how the fruit line up. Just for shits and giggles, I took it again before I went to bed so that I could see the word “pregnant” flash at me one more time.

I eventually made up for my un-romantic IM to Nathan with a cute reveal to my parents. We bought each of them a university sweatshirt, one that said “Grandma” and another that said “Grandpa.” My mother’s reaction when she pulled hers out of the bag is one I will always remember. As she sat there screaming, my father, who had yet to open his bag, looked at my mother like she was nuts. “Open your bag! Open your bag!” she shouted. My father’s reaction? “Oooohhhh…”

Wow, has it really been a year?

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Inspired by a couple of my favorite bloggers and just because I can, I compiled the following list of 100 bits of random info about yours truly. Kudos to you if you make it through the whole thing.

1. I used to want to be an actress.

2. I once auditioned for a commercial for a grocery store chain. I didn’t get the job.

3. I don’t get along with people who are most like me.

4. I have the theme to Harry Potter set as my cell phone ring tone.

5. I met my husband when we were both working at Target.

6. My parents met when they were both working at K-Mart.

7. Both my father and my husband have worked for Pinkerton’s Security Service.

8. I have a personalized autographed photo of Wolfman Jack.

9. I attended the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

10. One of those years I brought a TV band radio along so I could listen to Dick Button’s commentary during ABC’s live broadcast. Before they went on air, I picked up ABC’s audio feed on my radio and listened as Peggy Fleming trashed another skater’s outfit.

11. I met Tonya Harding the year before the infamous Kerrigan “knee whacking” incident.

12. Harding totally snubbed me when I asked for her autograph.

13. I was at the practice session where the Kerrigan “knee whacking” incident occurred but left before it actually happened.

14. My mother once shared an elevator with Tara Lipinski.

15. I’m no longer that much of a figure skating fan, though I did watch every episode of “Skating with Celebrities.”

16. I once wrapped a boyfriend’s car in plastic wrap after he failed to help me tee pee my boss’ house.

17. I “borrowed” the plastic wrap from the stockroom at Target.

18. The reason he didn’t help me was because he was drunk.

19. He was only my boyfriend for three months. We were supposedly better off being just friends but I hated his guts afterwards and only pretended to be cool with the breakup.

20. He was the last boyfriend I had before I met my husband.

21. When I was sixteen, I dressed up in a gorilla costume and stood on a busy street with a sign that said, “Buy One Get One Free” as a promotion for the Subway restaurant where I worked.

22. I once mistakenly wrote down the wrong hours for my Subway schedule and failed to open the restaurant on a Sunday morning.

23. No one opened the Subway until the owner dropped by later in the afternoon. He was pissed but didn’t fire me.

24. I showed up for work later that day dressed as a witch because it was the day before Halloween. That was by far one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

25. I used to say I never wanted children. Now I wish I had the time, money and energy for more.

26. I had a huge fight with my paternal grandmother and didn’t speak to her for five years. See also item #3.

27. Said grandmother has a rare copy of Mein Kampf in its original German.

28. My paternal grandfather died during my first week of college.

29. My brother and I had a fight at his funeral.

30. I’m not fighting with any members of my family at the moment.

31. I’ve written fan letters to Olivia Newton John and Kirk Cameron.

32. My lowest adult weight was 165 lbs.

33. My highest adult weight was 312 lbs.

34. I’m somewhere in between those two numbers now.

35. The last time I called in sick to work when I really wasn’t sick was in order to meet mystery author Sue Grafton.

36. During my “acting” days, I dressed up as a ghoul for the Haunted Train ride from Coopersville to Marne.

37. I still can’t believe people paid good money for that ride.

38. I changed my major four times during college and actually ended up getting a degree in my original major; English Lit.

39. It took me eleven years to earn that degree.

40. I once went out with a guy who told me he didn’t mind dating “big girls” and that he had once gone out with a girl who weighed “almost 300 lbs.”

41. The world applauded him for his community service and I dumped him shortly afterwards.

42. I once had a woman ask me when I was “due.” I wasn’t pregnant at the time, yet when I was pregnant my grandmother repeatedly told me I didn’t look pregnant at all.

43. I started dating my husband while he was still married to another woman.

44. I’m not a homewrecker. They were separated.

45. I’m the only grandchild in my family to go to college.

46. I’ve had only three jobs over the past 17 years.

47. The best job I had was driving hi-lo in a factory warehouse.

48. The worst job I had was working at Burger King.

49. I hate peas but love split pea soup.

50. My mom and I were once locked out of a parking ramp in Phoenix. We walked the whole way around the ramp in the middle of the night before flagging down the cops.

51. My mom told me never to tell my father we were walking around downtown Phoenix in the middle of the night.

52. My father found out I was moving in with my husband after he came home from a vacation and found our brand new bedroom furniture in his living room.

53. One year I gained forty pounds in four months. I wasn’t sick, I just ate a lot.

54. My transmission conked out on me one day after the dealer’s warranty expired.

55. I was in Chicago at the time and had to rent a car to get back home.

56. The car rental cost more than the new transmission because we had invested in an extended warranty.

57. That was the only time we took advantage of an extended warranty. For anything. Ever.

58. I’ve seen every Star Wars movie during its original run.

59. Before I saw the The Empire Strikes Back, my best friend at the time spoiled the ending for me by revealing that Vader was Luke’s father.

60. I used to be in love with Michael J. Fox and entered a contest to win the denim jacket he wore in Back to the Future. I didn’t win it.

61. I did, however, win free airline tickets through a Diet Rite cola contest. That’s how I ended up walking around downtown Phoenix in the middle of the night with my mother.

62. I won first place in the fiction category in a college writing contest.

63. The next year I tied for second in two categories, neither of them fiction.

64. When I was a little kid, my uncle was a DJ for a rock station. I called during his shift once and asked him to play a Barry Manilow song.

65. He laughed at me and ended up playing something else. He added a nice dedication to me, though.

66. I only liked Barry because my mom did.

67. I was in a college class with the son of one of the Four Tops.

68. The first TV show I remember watching on cable was “The Flintsones.”

69. I’ve had a TV in my bedroom since I was 12 years old.

70. I’ve had the same TV in my bedroom since 1992.

71. The only movie I ever felt like walking out of was Cape Fear with Robert DeNiro yet I sat through Jim Carey’s The Mask twice.

72. My father used to teach sex ed in school but never once had “the talk” with me.

73. I’m old enough to have been vaccinated for smallpox yet young enough to only be familiar with two Kennedys; John Jr. and Edward.

74. I was watching “Saturday Night Live” the night Sinead O’Connor dissed the Pope.

75. I love Mowtown music.

76. I’m addicted to lip balm.

77. A picture of my father holding a picket sign ran in our local paper when he and the other teachers at his school went on strike.

78. I found my first gray hair when I was 19 years old.

79. I’ve seen Amy Grant in concert five times.

80. My goal is to set foot in all 50 states before I die. So far I have about half of them covered.

81. I’ve never once taken drugs.

82. I got sick the first time I saw Pretty Woman in the theater. The movie didn’t make me sick, I just happened to come down with the flu that day.

83. I used to own every Strawberry Shortcake doll ever made.

84. My father once gave away all my sweaters to Goodwill after he mistakenly thought they were clothes no one wore anymore.

85. I’m still waiting for an apology from him for that.

86. I’ve only kept in touch with one friend from high school.

87. I’m becoming more and more like my mother every day.

88. I tried smoking when I was sixteen.

89. I once stole candy from a store. My mom made me return it when she heard me trying to unwrap it in the back seat of the car.

90. I’ve been both behind and in front of the camera during PBS pledge week.

91. I watch PBS but have never pledged money to them.

92. I had the most hideous lime green paint and carpet in my room when I was a kid.

93. I live thirty minutes from Lake Michigan but haven’t been to the beach in fourteen years.

94. I do not tan, I burn.

95. The last trip I took was to Las Vegas.

96. The last good trip I took was to Boston.

97. I freaked out the first time I saw this picture of Louisa May Alcott because she looked so much like my mother.

98. I believe in karma.

99. My daughter is the most precious thing in my life.

100. My husband is a very tolerant man to put up with me.

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Let’s take bread

Last night a lady from the church we’ve been attending stopped over for a little welcome visit. We chatted for a few minutes and she handed us a loaf of bread and some church literature. After she left, Nathan set the bread on the counter and we loaded Autumn into the car to go to Costco.

By this point you can probably see where I’m going with this.

On the way to Costco, Nathan gasped. “Oh no. I left the bread on the counter.”

“Let’s turn around,” I said.

“It’s no use, ” he said, “it’s already gone.”

“Well it is church bread. You don’t think maybe it will be protected by the grace of God?” I asked, only half joking.

“No way. That dog has the devil in her,” he said.

Of course he wasn’t wrong. As soon as we got home, Nathan went upstairs, curious to see what, if anything, remained of the bread. All he found was the plastic bag it came in, which was torn to bits. He looked down at Molly. “Well you’re not getting any dinner now,” he said.

We’d only been home about five minutes before Molly proceeded to puke up the entire loaf of bread on the rug of our front landing. Fortunately I was nursing Autumn and didn’t have to clean that mess up.

At this rate, I’ll be able to write one hell of a good book about that dog some day.

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