Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You know you live in a poor area when ...

this is hanging at your local gas station:

(You can not buy fountain pop on foodstamp card. Thanks Mgt!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hodge Podge Ramblings and Dollar-Store Christmas Decor

I've been so lazy lately, which explains my lack of posting. I would always think to myself "I've gotta blog," but then the Hallmark Channel's repeated playing of One Magic Christmas or, my favorite, A Very Brady Christmas, would capture my attention and the thought of moving from the couch to the computer chair just didn't seem like a great idea. But, I'm sure you're all thrilled that .... I'M BACK!!

With a swift kick in the butt from Stephanie, this morning seemed like a perfect morning to post a new blog. The problem I was having, however, was what to blog about? At first I was going to do a post titled "Crazy People Make My Day," because I have a crazy lady who calls me at work to talk about her diabetes, her mentally ill husband, her one-bedroom apartment, etc .... Nothing at all to do with my job. I seriously think she's one of those crazy people who calls help lines and social service agencies just, well, to talk. This led me to think of a potential business venture for myself. Why not start a 1-800 number, like 1-800-IGiveASh$% and charge people $1.25 a minute to talk to me about their problems? I'd even pretend to care.

Then, I was going to post a blog titled, "The Historian and All Things Vampire," because The Historian, in my opinion, is a fabulous book and I'm currently obsessed with vampires. I got bored with this topic quickly, however, and chose not to go with it. Then I decided to write a blog titled, "Quirky Ohio Language," since there are so many weird terms that prior to living here, I didn't know existed. For instance, when someone says "I need a new sweeper," they are referring to what in Minnesota we would call a vacuum. Or, if someone says, "4-lane" they are talking about a highway. Further, if you hear the word "Meemaw" you know they are referring to their grandmother. The list of quirky terms goes on, of course, but as I was typing I thought, "Eh, no thanks." So I quit that blog too.

Then, it came to me: Duh, it's Christmas! So, I went with a Christmas-inspired blog theme. I decided to showcase my dollar-store decorating tastes, since, well, I don't have any extra money to spend on holiday decor. So, let's start with our stockings. I think most people probably purchase their stockings from the store, but when you are trying to have a budget-friendly Christmas you make your own! I think total our stockings cost us around $10 and have lasted us for 5 years. Both Hilde's and Madge's stockings are made from old pants. (You'll notice the skull and crossbone patch on Madge's, because she has a little evil in her.) The rest of the fabric we got at Walmart either on clearance or for very little money. The boys, of course, wanted camo fabric and Mason wanted to replicate Santa's boot. My stocking is fuzzy and has snowflakes on it and I just liked the fabric, I guess.

Our Christmas ornaments are also frugal. Some of them, like the Buddha, are just things we found around the house and then made into an ornament by super-glueing a hook on it.

While most people probably throw away those homemade ornaments people give you, we use them. In fact, they make up a large portion of the ornaments on our tree. The gingerbread tree ornament, is an actual cookie that was given to Mason by a colleague in 2004. Yep, it still goes up every year. The hand, reindeer things were given to us a couple of years by my little cousins ...

We also have the lone candy cane that someone gave Mason this year ...

We have the dollar store or clearance ornaments such as: A reindeer pooping, Santa with a gun, a dog with a gun, and this weird Monkey that Sean insists on putting up every year.

Our tree is ugly. We bought it from Big Lots like 4 years ago. We would prefer a real one, but they are messy and it would require us to buy one each year instead of just pulling this crappy one out of it's box in the basement. After we bought this tree, we were searching for tree toppers and couldn't find one that was the right size or price. Most of the toppers we saw were GIGANTO and our little tree would not have been able to handle the weight. Further, they were also more money than we wanted to spend. So, we had a star ornament that Mason attached to a spring and turned into our current topper.

The rest of our decorations are either from the dollar store or things that people have given us over the years. I think that in 5 years we have probably spent a total of $60 on Christmas decorations including the tree and Christmas lights. Not bad ...

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm It!

I've been tagged by fellow blogger Jamiee Love! This means that I have to tell you eight random facts about myself and then tag eight other people. Yay! So, here it goes:

1. I love drinking orange juice right after I brush my teeth.

2. I like eating popcorn like cereal, with milk and all!

3. I plan to leave Ohio within the next 10 years, but hopefully I'll make it out sooner like within the next 5 years or so.

4. I'm addicted to chapstick and seriously freak out if I forget it or run out without a spare nearby.

5. I have a serious sock problem: (1) Most of my socks have holes in the them; and (2) rarely do they match my outfits; (3) If you look closely most of my socks don't even match the other sock I'm wearing; and (4) If I buy socks for myself I end up buying grandma-looking socks. I hope someone buys me some for Christmas :-)

6. I will not change any part of my name if I get married, unless I can change it to the last name of Rodriguez or Rigatoni. I've always had a strange affinity to those names ...

7. Due to serious stress, I actually lost a lot of hair and started grinding my teeth in grad school.

8. I have a weakness for 80's hair bands and old school Hip Hop.

Now that you know 8 random facts about me, I want to know some about you! Here are the fellow bloggers I've tagged:


Ok, so the tag rules are as follows: Each player starts with eight random fact/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag eight people and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged and to read your blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Internet Best Friend Search!

Tiffany and I are addicted to TV, especially reality shows. Although we will watch pretty much anything, no matter how stupid or trashy it is, we do have our limits. Take for instance the MTV show Paris Hilton's My New BFF. Yah, that is wayyyy too low for us. I have never watched it and never really cared to. The only reason I even know it exists is because occasionally Joel McHale will make fun of it on The Soup.

Well, Tiffany came up with, what I consider to be, a creative, funny, brilliant idea based off of this ridiculous show - a blogger internet best friend contest! The contest has officially started, so you should read up on all of Tiffany's previous blogs about it: Originality for $500 please, Alex & New Internet Best Friend Part I & New Internet Best Friend Part II. Pay special attention to the blog titled New Internet Best Friend Part II as it contains all of the rules and the first round of the contest.

I am THE judge in the competition and will be helping Tiffany choose her new Internet BFF. This is meant to be stupid and funny and will not involve much of your time. The contests are going to be quick and simple and will NOT involve eating a bull penis or cat intestines or drinking your own urine, so don't be scared!

Go to Tiffany's blog and join the best contest on blogger! The clock is ticking y'all ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Old Man's Nightmare!!!

I'm wrong.

I can't even list all the ways I am. Yoda would say about all my intentions and tries: "NO TRY...DO!"

I didn't.

I'm wrong at being a parent and at being a "life partner". I'll begin with one and end with the other.

Being single with two hyper boys was difficult. Imagine living in a place with absolutely NOTHING to do with your kids. No Chucky Cheese. No Amusement parks. No child friendly environments AT all. And most important of all, NO MONEY!

So, I ended up at Old Man's Cave religiously. We went ALL THE TIME. It was a 20 minute drive from home, it took several hours to hike around this park, it was fairly safe, and most importantly, it didn't cost a dime.

Before I go further, please keep in mind that this was 10 years ago and there is NO INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR CHILDREN!!!

Old Man's Cave is a wilderness "retreat". It's essentially a "middle of no where" park. For the most part, it is comprised of well worn paths, steps, and bridges winding around natural waterfalls and cliffs.

You start at the top of this big huge circle where there are restrooms, a camera shop, parking lots, picnic tables, and a gathering spot.

It descends down into the bottom of a large natural falls where you have to be particularly careful that the little ones don't dart into the water. It's all very beautiful.

Well...Without failure, Sean, my youngest son, would never need to use the bathroom at the beginning of our adventure. The first time I didn't think anything about it. He was just potty trained, he would know.

And, of course, he wouldn't need to go until we reached the very bottom of the trail. If I hadn't mentioned it before, you spent a good 20 minutes walking DOWNHILL to the waterfalls. Sean would wait until he was basking in the glory of the falling water before needing to go potty. Which entailed a mad dash UPHILL for 30 MINUTES OF OUT-OF-SHAPE HELL!!!

It didn't end with that first time. Without failure, he did it every single time! It got so bad that I would wait 15, 20, 30, up to 45 minutes at the top in the hopes he would need to go. Nope. Only when he was looking up at the God Forsaken falls did he realize he had a bladder and a colon. Oh, and it was rare that it was the ol' number one he needed to rid himself of. MONSTER!

As I said, this was ten years ago. He's 15 now. The scars are barely visible any longer.

One time, I had enough. I said to him as plainly as I could, "If you don't go now and you need to go at the bottom of the falls, I WILL MAKE YOU GO IN THE WOODS!!!" We of course waited around our normal 15 minutes, nope, he didn't need to go. As we began our trek downward, I can recall an almost liberated, light, emboldened step in my strut. I must have meant it, because I was not a nervous wreck. I actually realized once again how beautiful the place was. I hadn't appreciated it for YEARS!!!

Down at the falls, I was smelling the cool, fresh, moist air when I heard his little voice say, "Daddy, I need to go."

Anger flooded my euphoria. Lost was my joy of nature. Rage engulfed me. "I told you if you needed to go, you were going in the woods!"

He replied forcefully for a 5 year old, "I need to go NUMBER 2!"

I glared at him and said, "I...DON'T...CARE."

Proceeded was a momentous stare down, we've never match that one. I was not going to be conquered. I stood my ground. It was unbearable!

Eventually, he conceded. I think it was due to the pressure that was surely mounting. He turned and begain to march off. Just as I began to lose him in the trees, he yelled back, "Don't take a picture!" Notice the photographic mastery below. Just the right angle, pose, lighting, I believe it's my best work...

As I said before, I AM WRONG!

Not only is there nothing to do with two evil boys, there is even less to do with a beautiful woman you are madly in love with. So guess where I took her? Yep. Old Man's Cave.

Unfortunately, we have not been back. It wasn't the Sean debacle, that was well in the past. Strangely, now, he forces himself to go even if we're just going a few minutes away. Nope, we'll never be back for something unspeakable. Notice the photo below. It's different than the one above. Above she appears to be enjoying the trip, below, not so much. Somewhere between the above and the below picture something very bad happened.

We didn't know at the time, but something unforgiveable and evil occurred. It slowly crept into our consciousness. It came in the form of a smell. Not a good smell. A very bad smell. Slowly it became worse. Danielle kept saying, "I smell #$%Q?" We, of course, thought nature was just a little stinky that day. It wasn't until we were sitting in the car about to leave did we realize that we had brought a little nature into the car with us. We began by examining our shoes. We progressed to our shirts with a sniff check. We stared at each other in bewilderment. Then she ran her hand through her hair and shreiked, "WTF IS THIS!?" I looked and saw a fairly massive amount of animal poo all over her hair. I don't know what type of animal did this ... definitely not a bird - way too much poop for a bird - but maybe a squirrel?

I guess we will never really know.

What I do know is that I have experienced two sh#$tasrophes at Old Man's Cave and now both Sean and Danielle refuse to go back.

Can you blame them? Like I said, I'M WRONG!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What did you just say?

I am not a good singer at all. In fact, I'm absolutely horrible. But, this doesn't stop me from singing, especially in the car! Unfortunately for Mason, he's the one that drives with me the most so he gets to listen to me sing A LOT. When I start singing, Mason will usually give me a long sigh followed by a really whiney, "NO!" and then he always ends by saying, "What did you just say?" One of the many problems I have when it comes to singing, is that unless it's a relatively easy song to learn, I rarely memorize the words of an entire song. I usually just memorize the chorus, maybe a few other verses, and mumble the rest. This drives Mason crazy!

Let me give you an example. I used to hate the song Ridin' Dirty by Chamillionaire, because, well, it's not very good. I also really hated the artist's name, Chamillionaire. But, then one day, quite awhile ago, I was watching the news and they kept talking about a press conference at the White House that was interrupted by reporter Martha Raddatz's cell phone ringtone of Ridin' Dirty. I thought that was really hilarious. The song ended up growing on me a little bit and when I would hear it on the radio instead of changing the channel like I used to do I started turning up the volume. Aside from hating the song, the problem Mason has is that I do not know the words to it. I am really strong on the chorus, mumble most of the rapping in between, but will occasionally shout out an actual word to the song. So, it ends up going something like this:

"They see me rollin', they hatin', patrollin' they tryin' to catch me ridin' dirty ... (a long reptition of "Tryin' to catch me ridin' dirty" is here) ... My music's so loud, I'm swingin', they hopin' that they gonna catch me ridin' dirty... (a whole bunch more of "Ridin' Dirty" here as well) .. tryintoseedeepleamwhenidknowknowseemerideridedecks leamriderideleamdeck TV SCREEN ridfernewchick HOLD UP nextoda PLAYSTATION CONTROLLA ..."

You can see why Mason hates me singing. It gets worse, though. I also have a problem of confusing the words to songs. I think I hear the words a certain way, so that's the way I end up singing them. However, they end up being very, very wrong. Here are just a few of my recent mess ups:

I swore the words to this song were, SECRET ASIAN MAN!!! SECRET ASIAN MAN!!!," until Mason told me Johnny Rivers was actually saying, "Secret Agent Man."


Mason particularly LOOOVED it when I butchered Randy Travis's song, If I didn't have you. I really thought he was saying "floundering around LIKE A CHIMPANZEE." Oops! It really is "ship at sea." This song makes a lot more sense to me now that I know the real words.


Could've bet my life that the Rolling Stones were singing, "YOUR FEETS A BURNIN" instead of the actual lyrics of "Beast of Burden:"


I honestly think this problem runs in my family. When my brother and sister and I were younger, we were dedicated followers of the Dick Van Dyke Show reruns on Nick at Nite. I think we saw every episode at least 4 or 5 times. If you're not familiar with the show it's an old black and white from like the 60's. It follows the life of Rob Petrie, a writer for a comedy show. Well, Rob's boss is this guy named Allen Brady. I don't think he was ever actually pictured on the show. He's kind of like George Costanza's boss at Yankee Stadium or the neighbor, Wilson, from Home Improvement. They end up being semi-prominent characters in the show but you never actually see their faces. So, anyway, one day we were at my cousin's house and he was playing Madonna's song "Holiday" and my brother, who was probably 8 years old at the time started singing along to the chorus. At first, none of us said anything because we couldn't figure out what he was saying and then all of a sudden we were like "WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?" Are you saying "ALLEN BRADY?" Yes, in place of the actual chorus of "Celebrate" and "Holiday" my brother was singing "Allen Brady" ... "Allen Brady" ... since it is so likely that Madonna would write a song about Rob Petrie's boss!

"Allen Brady! Allen Brady! Allen Brady!"

Now for the final example of my butchery of the English language. My argument with this song is that there is no way possible that you could learn the actual words to this. The one hit wonder, Informer by Snow, is a song that I consider to have mastered. I understand that I have made up jibberish to it, but, seriously, that's the only way you can sing this. No one, I mean no one, is able to sing the REAL words to this. Totally impossible! Nevertheless, Mason hates my version of Informer. Well, I should say that he hates the song period, but he hates my version more than the original ...


Friday, November 7, 2008

Total Financial Collapse!!! Bring it....

Danielle is the primary blogger, but I thought I'd give it a whirl for a change. So, here's our situation: We are $250,000 dollars in debt. Student loans, mortgage, car, TEENAGE BOYS, living in Chauncey, etc. have really dug us into a hole. And that is particularly dangerous living in a flood plane. Get it? Dug ourselves into a hole and we live in a flood plane. Anyone? Ok, sorry. Anyway, I've often asked myself, what if we really are headed for "hell in a hand-basket"? It never really solicited any trepidation. No fear. I should be, but I'm not afraid.

I then realized, if all hell breaks loose and the financial crisis comes to fruition, we just made $250,000!!! There is no way in hell we'd ever make that much otherwise, especially being civil servants wanting to save the world, stupid.

(The Athens Messenger)

I never realized something about being poor in a poor town. We are recession proof! People everyday worry about BECOMING us. Being us, we don't have to worry! It's liberating, in a sad pathetic way. As I watch the news, with our president-elect talking of certain doom, I can't help but to think that we can not lose what we DON'T HAVE.

I sort of snicker to myself when I think that people are budgeting recently for the first time in their lives. I don't want to sound like I have no compassion, I would like to feel for these people; but I can't help myself in gaining a sick twisted satisfaction in telling myself, "Welcome to my everyday life!"

(Some cartoon somebody gave. I don't know who did it.)

My routine involves pinching Lincoln until he's asphyxiated! I know he's one of many presidents that don't like me. I really abuse them and put them through the ringer. I squeeze every conceivable ounce out of them.

I get hounded all the time for choosing my low pay. People wonder why I'm wasting my high education level on serving the public good. My only retort is...why does someone have to be so poor serving the public good?

Anyway, living in a small, poor town does have its amenities...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to Put Your Foot in your Mouth

This story isn't my own, but rather one of Mason's. I'm writing about it because it's been bothering him for probably about a year and he just can't stop putting his foot in his mouth. I thought if I wrote a blog about it, he would see the humor in it and get over it. We'll see if it works!

Mason's job involves interacting with a wide variety of people on a daily basis. He is a "trainer" so to speak, so most of his work is spent teaching people. He clocks alot of hours in the classroom and also does some occasional advising. Well, one "client" of his is a woman who suffers from Graves Disease. No idea what this is? Basically, it involves an overactive thyroid that can affect the tissue behind your eyes. This makes them bulge out. Do you remember Minera McGonagall from Harry Potter? She was the Headmistress of Hogwarts' School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. She has Graves Disease. See how her eyes are kind of bulgy?

This is a picture of probably a more severe case of Grave's Disease:

Now, if you are a sufferer of Graves Disease, please don't think I'm making fun of you, because I'm not. I don't think it's a funny disease at all. I am actually quite sensitive about diseases that affect the eyes, since I have a lazy eye that is difficult to keep straight. It's even more difficult when I'm tired. There are some days where, if I don't get enough sleep, I can't control it and it just keeps going "crazy". It's horrible. I remember sitting through classes as an undergrad, when my right eye was going crazy and I couldn't straighten it out and the professor would happen to glance my way and then do a double-take because there I am with one eye looking straight ahead and the other one staring off at the kid's head sitting next to me. Awful! So please don't mistake this blog for anything other than an attempt to tell a story about Mason's many missteps involving a woman with Graves Disease.

Ok. Back to the story. Mason is the kind of "trainer" that discusses what some may consider to be shocking topics. One of our close friends nicknamed him a Gonzo-ologist for his subversive style. (If you don't know the term "Gonzo" then you really need to read about Hunter S. Thompson.) So, it's not unusual for some of his clients to look really shocked and surprised in his trainings. One day, about a year ago, Mason had been discussing a topic that really wasn't anything that should have prompted a surprising reaction, but yet this woman appeared to have a shocked look on her face. So, Mason asks "Why do you look so surprised?" This led to her getting a little embarassed, turning her head down slightly, and muttering "Um, I don't know." At the time, Mason didn't think anything about it and just went on with the training.

A few weeks later, she came to his office. For those of you who don't know Mason or interact with him regularly, he has a bad habit of doing random facial expressions for no particular reason. He has this strange ability to make his eyebrows roll. It looks kind of like a snake slithering along the ground or even like "the wave" that fans do at baseball games. It's totally bizarre. He will also randomly acted shocked, surprised, really happy, really angry, or totally bewildered. I have no idea why he does this and I don't even think he really knows why either. So, when this woman comes to his office Mason gives her this random look of surprise. You know, that look: you raise your eyebrows and your eyes get really big. Well, she gets a little frustrated and with hand on hip tells him, "I have Graves Disease." OH CRAP! Mason goes on to ask what is and she explains it to him and he feels really terrible. I remember him coming home that day feeling guilty about doing that to her, because he didn't know she had Graves Disease and really didn't mean anything by it.

After this last incident, probably about a year went by and then this Fall she ended up in one his trainings again. One day, he sees her walking down the hallway and she's wearing these weird socks. Mason says to her "Um, nice tube socks." She replies, "They're not tube socks, they're knee highs." "Oh, ok," Mason says and walks away. Well, then a few days later he sees her again with a different pair of knee highs on and Mason says, "Nice knee highs." And, she looks at him with this bewildered expression and asks, "Did you just say nice, big eyes?" PANIC!! Mason yells, "No! No, I said NICE KNEE HIGHS. NICE KNEE HIGHS!" OH GOD! It was like something out of a Seinfeld episode, when Jerry suddenly realizes he screwed up and gets that high pitched, shrilly screech and scrambles to tell the person what he really meant. Yeah, it was bad. So, yet, again, without even intending to put his foot in his mouth. He did.

There is one final incident that I must share: While heading to his office, Mason ran into her again. He was having a bad day and decided to share with her how horrible his day was. He began by telling her, "I have a paper cut between my fingers." She replies, "Well, I'm broke." So he says, "The battery just went dead in my car." And then she tells him, "My boyfriend broke up with me." He retorts, "I work 60 hours a week for sub-standard pay." And she comes back with, "I'm getting my thyroid removed." AAARRRRRHHHHHH! No! Not again!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Very Own Political Nightmare

This is definitely the silly season: all of those automated phone messages telling you to vote for Susie Q. McGee, hundreds of flyers in the mail letting you know that Joe Toe's opponent clogged the toilet at a local restaurant, and the Todd Blobb supporters walking door to door asking you to vote for him. I can't wait until this election is over! Unfortunately, though, Chauncey's political nightmare is far from over. No, it's not any negative or annoying campaigning that's the problem, because it's not time yet for any of Chauncey's "elected officials" to run for office. No, our problem, is one that has been around since the local elections last year ... our mayor. Remember her? The one with the toilet in her yard?

Ever since she came into office, she has caused total chaos in our small town. I really wish that I would have kept all of the news articles outlining her bizarre behavior. Basically, to make a year long story short here's what has been going on with the mayor of Chauncelot: (1) When the mayor took office she decided to move herself into a brand new office. Well, Chauncey is poor, couldn't afford it so the council terminated the lease. She refused to give back the keys or the office furniture; (2) The mayor actually tells people not to pay their water and sewer bills, because there has been discrepancies regarding the billing; (3) She put 20,000 minutes and 1200 text messages on the village cell phone over a 4 month period of time. She claimed these were all "work related" calls/messages. (4) She recorded an executive (closed) council session and then turned the recording over to our former police chief; (4) She apparently had an "illicit sexual relationship" with an employee she supervised; (5) The mayor adjusted her own water and sewer bills and allowed residents to do the same; (6) She ordered the water clerk to turn the water on at her residence after it had been disconnected due to non payment; (7) The mayor was threatened litigation and used profanities at several council meetings; (8) She says that she is being "hit on" by male employees of the village and male residents; (9) The mayor also will not listen to the village solicitor's advice because she "knows the law and he is wrong." I should also mention that Chauncelot is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification for unknown reasons.

All of the above, has happened over the last few months. It seems, however, that just when things start to calm down a little bit, the mayor just can't help but to stir the pot again. Take for instance this headline that came across the front page a few weeks ago:

She's taking a leave of office "for a few months" after only being in office for less than 10 months! WTH!? She won't tell anyone why she needs to take leave either, other than to say it's "to deal with personal issues." Oh yeah, she also wants full pay during this time. So, the council had a special meeting to discuss whether she could receive full pay during her leave. Well, I guess the village solicitor told the council that he was unsure whether "the mayor can legally take a leave of absence." So, two days later this was in the paper:

Her "leave of absence" totalled just a few days!

Then a few weeks went by and all of a sudden this is in the paper:

Yes, our own mayor is suing her own village for twisting her ankle in a pot hole two years ago!!! She is asking $25,000 for "lost wages, great physical pain, mental anguish and emotional distress" because she has been unable to participate in her usual activities.

We find out a possible reason behind this ridiculous lawsuit:

Um, she wants $2,000 to step down as mayor? You can tell what a poor area this is, can't you? Most times when you here about people being "paid off" to leave, you hear about them getting like $20, $30, $50, maybe even $100,000 dollars. But, no, our mayor just wants $2,000. Geez! Someone give it to her already!

The next day, this headline appears:

And the next day:

In this article, the mayor finally admits what she's guilty of:

Wow, mayor. You sound so professional! You only used one cuss word at a public council meeting? Good for you.

I guess the reality of the situation is that you can't expect much for only $400 a month:

I am sure this drama will continue until either the mayor gets her $2,000 or the city wins their suit to oust her from office. This means, I should have alot more blog material on this subject in the months to come!

It's always something here in Chauncey!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


One of the best things about Halloween is carving pumpkins!!! We do it every year. We used to just buy those pumpkin carving kits and then use whatever patterns we found inside. The last couple of years, though, we surf the internet and look for pumpkin patterns or Mason makes them from images we find.

Here are the ones we made last year ...

(Mason's skull and my mummy)

(Michael's and Sean's faces)

This year I really wanted to carve Medusa, but I couldn't find a pattern I liked on the internet, so Mason found an image of Medusa and then somehow made it into a really sweet pattern!

I think it turned out great.

Mason wanted to do Sarah Palin so he found an image and then played around with it until it would work as a pumpkin pattern.

Pretty good, huh? It really looks like her! Mason was worried that his Sarah Palin image might be too scary for all the little kiddies that come out trick or treating ...

Here's a picture of all of the pumpkins. Sean's pumpkin is the moon thingy and Mason did the Homer Simpson pumpkin since Michael didn't want to carve one this year.

Happy Halloween Freaks!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Changing Chauncey, One Picture at a Time

At the beginning of September I took a picture of one of our stop signs in Chauncey so people could see what a large portion of the stop signs around my neighborhood look like ...

The sign is completely washed out. It's just a white octagon. This made me think to myself ... if you went through one of those stop signs, could you still get a ticket? I think you'd have a pretty good argument against being cited. How would you know that you were supposed to stop? Anyway, I am pleased to tell you that we now have brand new stop signs!!!! YAY!!!!

Well this got me thinking ... Ok, I have been living in Chauncey for about a year and a half and the stop signs, at least on my side of the street, have always been washed out octagons. This means that they have been fading for a LONG, LONG time, probably years, and have never been replaced ... UNTIL ... I took a picture of them a few weeks ago!!!!! Is there a connection? Do you think if I start taking pictures of the giganto potholes, or the junk in my neighbor's yard, or even of Albert, they will all of the sudden be replaced with nice, new versions?

I know, I know. I am so conceited to think that I am the reason for the new stop signs! Stephanie thinks that since starting this blog I have become very full of myself, which I absolutely disagree. I am far from having a big head about myself!!! The only reason Stephanie even thinks this is because a couple of weeks ago I opened this package of poptarts that had knock-knock jokes on them and this particular one had my name on it! I admit that I was extremely excited and showed everyone the poptart and even took a picture of it. But, I feel that I'm justified because how often do you hear knock-knock jokes with the name Danielle in it? Not often.

(It says "Danielle at him he didn't do it!")

See? Unique, don't you think? Well, I should tell you that I think I also made the comment, "I think this means something, don't you?" So, yeah, I guess that is kind of big-headed of me ... I mean it's not like an image of Jesus showed up on the poptart or anything. I suppose I do need to humble myself a little bit and realize that just because I have a blog doesn't mean that now all of these amazing things will happen to me like my stops signs being replaced or finding food with my name on it. Crap. I'm feeling depressed ...

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Things in Chauncelot have been slow lately. Or maybe I just haven't been around my house enough to really notice what actually is happening? Sure, I have almost run over Albert with my car about five times in the last week, because he plays an extremely good game of "chicken" with passing vehicles. For instance, you will see him riding his bike on the side of the road and then just as you are about to pass him he will look back at you and then swerve out so you have to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting him. Really grates my nerves when he does this. He also hides behind parked cars and then when you are about to drive past he will throw a ball across the street and then jump out and chase it. That kid seriously owes me some brake pads! (Don't know who he is? You should read my first blog.) I also inadvertently found myself in the middle of a mob of people that were screaming threats at each other while I was walking my dogs a couple of nights ago. But, that's about it. So, for now, you're just going to have to deal with stories about me until I get the time to trapse around Chauncey collecting great blog material. So here it goes ...

A few weeks ago, I was going through a really bad time period, apparently, because my friend, Stephanie, was forced to do a "friendvention" on me. One day, Stephanie and I were going to meet Mason and Ryan for lunch during our lunch hour at work. Well, I must have been giving off depressive vibes, because before we left Stephanie was like, "WTH is wrong with you? You're acting weird today." I went on this long rant about how I hated everyone and how everything was going wrong and, blah, blah, blah. Well, then, as we're walking out to her car she sees the "purse" I was carrying and she says, "Oh my god. WTH is that?" I'm like, "What is what?" And she points to my "purse" and says something like, "THAT! You're turning into a hippie. You have a freakin' tote as a purse. WTH is going on?" I was like, "Yeah, I know, but I dropped a pop in my real purse a few weeks ago and I had to throw it away because there was standing pop water and it would have been all sticky. I just haven't bought a new one yet." - Let me pause for a moment to explain the pop and the purse accident. A couple of weeks prior to this, I was sitting in my office drinking a Coke Zero and talking to my coworker, Kelly. All of a sudden, the almost full can slips out of my hand and lands face down right into my purse. It was horrible. My cute, little purse was filled with Coke Zero. I pulled everything out of there to dry off and dumped the pop in my purse in the sink and then threw my purse away. It was a sad, sad moment. - So, anyway, then Stephanie says to me, "You better buy a new purse or I'm going to kill you. You can't carry around some old tote you found at work." I did find it at work, too. I actually use it FOR WORK to carry stuff in when I go to community events and, after I dumped my pop in my real purse, I just put my wallet in the tote and started carrying that around. Below is the picture of the tote:

So, anyway, we get to the restaurant and sit down and order. Then our food arrives and I am having trouble eating it. I have really bad heartburn, which I've had all morning, and I'm kinda nauseous as well. I tell everyone, "I don't feel good. I have bad heartburn and I can't eat this. I think it may have been the apple cider vinegar I drank this morning." Stephanie was like, "WTF is wrong with you? Why have you been drinking apple cider vinegar you freak?" I point to the skin around my nose and mouth and say "Because I have eczema and I read on a website that apple cider vinegar is good for your skin." She's like, "No you don't have eczema and you need to stop being depressed and hating everyone and carrying around a tote for a purse and drinking vinegar!!!" I started laughing and was like, "Yeah I know. I promise I won't drink anymore vinegar and I will get a new purse."

I think Stephanie was worried about me for a few days after that ... I stopped hating everyone and I didn't drink anymore vinegar, but I was still carrying around that tote, primarily because I didn't want to spend the money for a new one. I think I also let it slip that I had recently been using the neti pot and I thought my ears were all plugged up from that. Oops! Since the "friendvention," though, things have gotten much better for me. I did, FINALLY, get a new purse. Isn't it cute? (It only cost me like $2 at a thrift store.)

Stephanie has also become both my medical doctor and counselor. I have decided to run all of my "medical" ideas by her first, before I try them. That way, hopefully, I can avoid the terrible apple cider vinegar incident. Stephanie is my counselor as well, because when I'm depressed it really does help me to hear someone tell me, "I'll kick your ass if you don't stop this," and "I'm seriously going to come over and kill you." Those violent phrases always put things into perspective for me ... or ... at the very least, they make me laugh really hard!!

This post just made me think of something. Do you mind if a digress a little? Oh, good. I didn't think so ... My family has known this about me for a long time, but I'm somewhat of a hypochondriac. I always think that I am dying of some horrible illness. Now, when I text my sister, Brittany, to tell her that WEBMD says I have some terrible, life threatening illness, I'll just get a text back that says, "That sux" or "I hope u die quickly so u don't suffer" or "U will look scary if that really happens 2 ur face." I guess, Brittany and Stephanie are similiar in the fact that they always keep me grounded, in reality. They never let my neuroses or possible psychosis get too out of control before they smack me back down. Thank God for that.

I hate to admit this, but my neuroses or psychosis or whatever you want to call it has, unfortunately, affected other people in my life, namely Mason. Probably about three years ago, I became obsessed with the thought that Mason was going to die of a heart attack, so I began making him take a bunch of daily vitamins, eventually an aspirin. He didn't even know what I was giving him when I handed him a bunch of pills! He'd just toss them in his mouth and chug 'em down with a glass of water. Talk about trust!

A few days after I began giving him the concoction of vitamins and aspirin, he began having a really, really upset stomach. It got to the point where I was really concerned. At first, I thought he had developed some sort of bowel or colon cancer because of his symptoms; I didn't even make the connection that it might have something to do with the vitamins and the aspirin, in particular, that I was making him take everyday. So, I began to do all of this psycho online research, trying to uncover Mason's unknown illness, when somehow I came across a site that said that aspirin can upset your stomach and produce the exact symptoms that Mason was experiencing! Oh my God! I figured it out!

Now, I had to make sure that it was the aspirin that was making Mason sick and that he was not, in fact, dying of bowel or colon cancer. So, for the next few days I only gave Mason the vitamins, but stopped giving him the aspirin. Wallah! Mason's symptoms disappeared and he felt better. YAY! This just wasn't enough for me, though. I really had to make sure it was indeed the aspirin. So, I began giving Mason the vitamins AND the aspirin again. Well, one night Mason got up around 3am to go to the bathroom and when he came back he kept tossing and turning and didn't seem like he could sleep. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I don't know, but I think I should go to the doctor." He told me that the symptoms started happening again ... I thought to myself, "It really IS the aspirin!" So, I explained to Mason that I had been doing an experiment to make sure that the aspirin was causing the symptoms and that I was sure he didn't have bowel or colon cancer. I thought he was going to be upset, but instead he just rolled over and went to sleep.

I feel really bad that I performed an experiment like this on someone I love. I mean, I didn't intend for him to get sick. It all started because I didn't want him to be sick in the first place!! Luckily, Mason thinks this experiment was really funny ... he doesn't seem to have any post traumatic stress whatsoever. Although, now that I think about it, he is very apprehensive about taking any vitamins or herbs from me anymore. As a matter of fact, Mason and the boys don't seem to EVER get sick anymore ... ... ... ... ... Sorry for the pause. I was just re-reading this and I thought to myself, "Wow! I'm a freakin' psycho!" Ok, I think at this point I just need to stop writing before someone tries to admit me into the local psych ward ...

Well, to end this blog I thought you all might be wondering what me, Mason, Stephanie and Brittany all look like ... Well, maybe you aren't, but I really don't care. Mason didn't want to be featured, although his picture is on an earlier blog .... Oh yeah, my brother also appears in the photos because that's the only picture I had on my computer with Brittany in it. I've done a bit of editing to the pictures to protect my innocent friend, sister and brother since I haven't asked their permission to use these. Maybe someday you'll be lucky enough to see who they really are. The top photo is of me and Stephanie and the bottom photo is of me, Brittany and my brother, Derek.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Something Wicked This Way Comes: A Walmart Experience

Actually, I think the full line is "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." Shakespeare wrote it. Fabulous isn't it? I love that line.

I bought a Halloween card the other day at Walmart with that phrase on it. It was really cool. The entire front of the card was black and white with a spooky haunted house and cemetary. The only thing that was in color were these orange pumpkins that sat outside of the cemetary. At the very top was the line, "Something wicked this way comes." On the inside it said, "Have yourself a creepy little Halloween."

I'm not totally sure what the meaning of the line was supposed to be in Shakespeare. I think it was said by one of the witches in Macbeth, but I can't remember. The way it's written, however, seems to suggest some kind of impending doom. I guess it was fitting, because little did I know that after picking out that card, I was going to have a horrible Walmart experience.

I should back up a little bit ... Normally, I leave my house to go grocery shopping every Saturday morning at 8:45am. My routine is that I head to Aldi first, which opens at 9am, and then I finish my shopping at Walmart. My goal is always to be done no later than 10am or 10:15am, which I almost always accomplish. My reasoning for this is that after 10am, it gets hellish. I mean CRAZY, HORRIBLE, Walmart HELL! The store starts to fill up, the lines get long, and there are people EVERYWHERE. For me, Walmart after 10am is kind of like what would happen to Cinderella at midnight - her dress would turn to rags, the horses to mice, the coach to a pumpkin - but in my case, my blood pressure rises, I get a pounding headache, I begin to stare daggers into anyone I see, my hands get a slight tremor in them, I sweat, I feel like I could turn homicidal at any moment ... yeah, you get the picture. I absolutely cannot handle Walmart after 10am.

So, I'm not sure what I've been thinking these past couple of weeks when I've attempted to go grocery shopping on Friday's. The Friday before last I decided to go grocery shopping at around 7pm. Bad idea. It was crowded and there were only like 2 lanes open so the lines were extremely long. That's another Walmart complaint I have: Why do they have like 30 checkout lanes but only a maximum of 6 lanes are ever open at once? I've never understood this. So, anyway, my stress levels rose significantly when I saw how packed the store was. And, the sight of only two lanes open just made my blood boil. But, what made me even more upset was that there was hardly any food! I'm serious. It was like some evil, psychic human being knew what was on my list and came and purchased the entire stock before I arrived at the store. UGH!

Well, then, I had last Friday off of work so I went to the store around 10am with Mason, thinking, "Oh it won't be bad at this time on a Friday." Ha! We get there and it's the same thing: crowded, with only a couple of lanes open. Immediately, I'm in a bad mood. I think back on this experience and I just think, "Poor Mason." Mason is almost always in a good mood or maybe it would be better to say he's always even-keeled. He never really gets angry to the point where he's mean and crabby, no matter what situation he's in.

So, the first thing we do is buy shampoo at the Walmart hair place, because I love their Olive Oil Shampoo. That experience goes relatively smoothly. Next, we go over to look at the cards, because I need to buy one for a friend of mine. I end up getting even more annoyed and frustrated, because I'm trying to pick out a nice, cool card and Mason is showing me all of these stupid ones with fart jokes and other immature crap. He thinks they're hilarious and that my friend would just think it was the funniest card ever. Whatever, Mason. I end up picking out the cool "Something wicked this way comes" card and I'm ready to head to the food aisles and I look over at Mason and he has this stack of fart joke cards and is threatening to buy them and send them to everyone I know. ARGH! I end up just walking away from him. So annoying!

We finally get to grocery shopping and I'm walking around picking up the items we need and crossing them off of the list. I give Mason a few items off of the list and he walks off to go get them. Well, I'm over in the cereal aisle getting poptarts for the boys when Mason comes back with the items we need, but also with an arm full of other junk food that he wants. Now, don't get me wrong, I really don't mind getting extra stuff that's not on the list, but every week I try really hard to stay on budget and I plan every meal we have based off of this budget. Every time Mason goes grocery shopping with me, he always irritates me by getting a million extra things. He will even tell you that he does it just to "torture you." I mean, one time he even got pickled eggs and pigs feet just to be annoying. Those nasty things sat in the fridge for months until I threw them away. Although, at the time, he swore to me that he was going to eat them. Mason also likes to irritate me by pointing to anything and everything and saying, "Look, DVD's for $4! We need to buy some," or "That plasma TV is only $1500. We have to get it," or "We'll just put it on credit ... to help the economy." So, as you can see, I am the holy crab from hell when I try to go grocery shopping with Mason!

Once we finally get everything off of our list, we attempt to find a relatively short line to stand in. Of course, we pick the "short" line where everyone has some sort of a problem where they need a "CSM" to come and take care of it or they are paying with a check and don't even start writing it out until the cashier has finished scanning their million groceries and putting all of the bags in their cart! I hate that! As we're standing in line, Mason says really loudly, "Sweetie why are you so crabby" and "You're reeeeaaaaalllly mad at me, aren't you?" He also does this just to torture me, because he knows that everyone in line will turn to look at the mean, crabby girl who is horrible to her boyfriend. ARGH!

Ok, I know, I know. My stressful Walmart experience, should really be a "stressful" Walmart experience, because in the bigger picture it really shouldn't be anything that I'm stressed out about anyway, and, Mason is just trying to be funny and make the whole experience a little more exciting, I guess, so I really shouldn't get mad and crabby with him. Yet I do. I know all of these things, but I just can't seem to put them into practice. It's like I turn into a different person when I enter the doors of Walmart. That phrase, "Something wicked this way comes," really sums up my Walmart experiences .... especially after 10am on Saturday's, but probably on any given day. Maybe I should change the line to "Something annoying this way comes," because that really is what the problem is .... everything that could possibly annoy me happens at Walmart after 10am. Although, you know, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe me reading that card that day was like a warning that I was the "wicked" in the "something wicked this way comes." That I was the crabby, evil, wicked woman who was going to be mean to everything in her path.

Wow. That realization just changed my perspective on everything. Maybe from now on there will be a kinder, more even-keeled Danielle that can enter Walmart at any time, even if it's after 10am.

Or ... maybe not.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The (Un)Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread is perhaps the best bread in the world. It is absolutely delicious and full of sweet, cinnamonny, sugary, goodness. If you have no idea what I'm talking about then let me explain the basics to you: it all starts with one of your friends handing you a recipe for the Amish Friendship Bread along with a Ziploc bag filled with a cup of this runny, stinky, starter. The recipe tells you that you have to wait 10 days before you can actually bake the bread. Along the way, however, you have to mush the bag and add some more ingredients to it. Long story short, once you get to the 10th day you end up with not only 2 delicious loaves of bread but 4 bags of starter; you keep one bag for yourself and the other three you pass along to friends. The recipe then ends by saying, "Only the Amish know how to make the starter so if you give them all away, you'll have to wait until someone gives you one back." Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you, "That is sooooooo not true!"

Before I tell you the secret to the (Un)Amish Friendship Bread or as I like to call it F.T.'s Friendship Bread, I should tell you how I uncovered the Amish secrets. Tiffany and I both received our little baggies filled with starter around the same time, at the beginning of summer, I believe. I was only able to do two 10 day cycles before I was like, "Yeah, OK, this sucks," and threw away my remaining starter. (Hey, I can't help it ... I'm a product of my culture, I need things NOW!) Not only did I not like that the bread took 10 long, stinkin', days before I could bake it and eat it, I also hated trying to give away the starters. Well, I should say that I actually kinda enjoyed giving them away, because I knew people really didn't want to take it, but felt obligated to because it's "friendship" bread. Ha! So, anyway, I gave up on the bread and the starters. Tiffany, however, was a faithful, Amish Friendship Bread (AFB) baking machine! She consistently made the bread and gave away the starters! Amazing!

One day, Tiffany and I were talking on the phone and we started talking about AFB and I said "I wish I would have saved a starter because I really want some of that bread right now!" And then Tiffany says, "I think the starter is just milk, flour, and sugar. I don't think there's any yeast in it." So the more we talked about it, we realized that as many times as she has made the recipe and divided her original starter there's no way that there could still be any yeast in it even if there was to begin with. We also knew that the original ingredients had to be milk, flour, and sugar because, as you can see below, on day 6 you add 1 cup each of milk, flour, and sugar and then on day 10 you add 1 1/2 cups each of milk, flour, and sugar and then you divide up the starters before you add the remaining ingredients to the starter that you are going to bake with. Got it? ANYWAY, Tiffany came up with the idea of trying to make AFB by putting 1/3 cup each of milk, flour, and sugar (which would be equivalent to the starter divied out in the original recipe) in a Ziploc bag and then just following the original instructions on the recipe. So, I tried it ......... and ..... IT WORKED!!!!!!!! THE AMISH SECRETS WERE UNCOVERED!!!

After I got over my initial excitement, I realized that none of my other problems were really solved. Sure I got to eat the bread again (without knowing an Amish person mind you) but I still had to wait 10 days to eat it and I still had all of these Ziploc bags full of starter that I either had to give away or throw away. So, I started doing some research online and http://www.wikipedia.com/ mentioned that you could do a 5 day bread cycle instead of the normal 10 days. The site didn't give the specifics of how you would do it though, so again Tiffany and I put our giant brains together and figured out that if you bake on a 5 day cycle you will only have enough starter for 2 loaves of bread, but not for the additional starters. PERFECTO! The 10 day cycle is only needed if you want the additional starters, which is why you add the extra milk, flour and sugar on day 6 ... it needs an extra 5 days to ferment.

Now that we figured out the 5 day cycle we had to figure out the recipe specifics since the recipe we had was based off of the 10 day cycle. Tiffany did the complicated mathematics and below you will find F.T.'s friendship bread or the (Un)Amish Friendship Bread recipe:

To make the starter add 1/3 cup each of milk, flour, and sugar to a Ziploc bag. (Do not refrigerate)

Day 1: Mush the bag

Day 2: Mush the bag

Day 3: Mush the bag

Day 4: Mush the bag

Day 5: Pour everything into a non-metal bowl and add the following ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup Vegetable Oil

1 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Milk

2 cups + 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Sugar

1 large Vanilla Pudding Mix (Instant)

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

3 cups + 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Flour

Grease 2 pans. Mix 1tsp Cinnamon and 1/2 cup Sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle into bottom of pans. Add batter, sprinkle rest of sugar mixture over tops. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour (mine always takes longer than an hour) or until bread loosens from pan. Run a knife around edges of bread, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Random Newsletter

So, I drive up to my house after work and, as I pull in the driveway, I notice something sitting on the porch with shiny things on it. WTH??!!

I get out of the car and walk up to it and realize it's some sort of a note with pennies on top of it. Again, WTH??!!

Then, it occurs to me: it's a newsletter! I think I mentioned in my first post that our neighbor's granddaughters will leave us candy, fake money, love letters, and sometimes even a newsletter. We haven't gotten anything in almost a month so it kinda took me by surprise when I saw it sitting there today.

I don't really know if I would call this a newsletter as it seems more like a homework assignment:

I really don't get it. It's driving me crazy ... What does it mean, "Answer the question that makes 8?" What's the answer? I mean, 4 + 4 makes 8, but so does 7 + 1 or 5 + 3 or 6 + 2 or 8 + 0 and then you get into all the possibilities with subtraction, division, or even multiplication. And, WTH is the 0 + 0 stuff at the very top? Is this more than just a math problem? Is it really supposed to be some mathematical metaphor for life? If I solve this problem will I in turn solve my personal problems? Do these girls somehow know that I'm going through an existential crisis? Is this assignment meant to help me through it. AAAAAHHHH, the torture!!!!