Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Got Lost On My Way To Pee

You know, this kind of stuff only happens to me.

A few weeks ago, JC Penney’s was running a great sale. We went crazy over there and bought window coverings for the living room as well as another new bed. As far as the bed goes, maybe the third time is the charm. Heaven knows we’ve had our issues with the two beds we’ve had previously!

Anyway, now it’s the bed shuffle. We had a double bed in the spare room and our room had a queen sized bed. Now we’re moving our bed to the spare room and we’ll put the double bed in storage in the attic in the hopes that someone can use it eventually. It’s a good bed and the only bed I own that even has a headboard! Anyway, the new bed was to be delivered this morning between 7 and 11. Yikes. That meant a lot of work to be done this morning.

I don’t think either Ron or I are great morning people, so luckily he had the great idea of getting everything moved last night. We took the double bed and propped it for now up against a wall until I can get protective covers for it before putting it in the attic. Our bed we moved to the spare room and had our room empty for the delivery of the new bed.

Now the fun begins. The queen sized bed in the spare room sure made me realize that the spare room really is smaller than our room. The bed fits ok, but there is not a lot of extra room around it anymore. You can now only get in and out on one side instead of both sides like you could with the smaller bed. The main problem with that is it just makes it harder to make the bed, but that’s ok, we’ll deal with that.

So last night, we slept in the spare room. That was just plain weird! I know, we’ve lived in this house almost four years now and I’ve never slept in that room. We got in bed and I ended up being by the wall. Part of me kinda like that part. I felt safe in my corner, like the closet monsters or the ghosts of the house or even the bats couldn’t get at me. Ron offered to switch sides with me since the night stand with the alarm clock was on his side of the bed, but that just seemed wrong to me. I have to sleep on MY side of the bed.

I did set the alarm on my phone to wake me up and I put the phone on the window sill. I spent the night hoping I didn’t knock it off of the window sill with my leg and have it end up unreachable under the bed! I was so worried about oversleeping this morning that I was up way before the alarm was ready to go off. Ron is extremely lucky. That phone alarm is really annoying.

It was a backwards night. Our heads were facing the opposite way in this bed. We usually have our heads pointed to the south. This time, we pointed to the north. The middle of the night bathroom break should be out the door and to the left. This time out the door and to the left had me into a wall. That’s very rude at three in the morning.

Even turned around with my head pointed the wrong way and having to crawl to the bottom of the bed to get out, I think I had the best night of sleep I’ve had in a long time.

Who knows? Maybe it’s not the bed and I’ve had it wrong this whole time. Maybe my head should be on the north wall instead of the south wall. Maybe our room should be on the east side of the house and not the west side. Maybe I’m just gonna switch rooms and the new bed in the master bedroom will now be the guest room. Maybe.

Naw. Getting lost on the way back from the bathroom once in my life is enough.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Want A Fry With That?

A lot has happened in our little fish world since the last time I’ve blogged about them.

My brother Philip was visiting a few weeks ago. One evening, we were all watching TV with Philip sitting on the end of the couch closest to the fish tank. He said he kept seeing a baby fish darting out from under a rock. Of course, we all went running over there to see for ourselves. Believe it or not, we had one baby fry in the tank, living under the flat rock at the bottom. We were elated! He was a tiny little thing, already had the orange/red color of his parents (the red wag platys) and we truly celebrated the fry sighting.

Every evening we would check that tank and scour the bottom for our little baby. Every evening we saw him, we would all hoot and holler and do our “baby-fish-happy-dance”. Yeah, I know, I need a life.

The night Philip headed back to sunny California, Ron and I were watching the fish tank. And, miracle of miracles, we saw even more fry in the tank! Between the extra rocks that were put in the tank plus the extra plants and the marbles, I think we at least gave these babies a better chance of hiding from that angel fish. I know, I should remove the babies or the angel, but I really can’t take on the added responsibility of yet another tank in the house. So, for now, we’re letting nature take its course. We will give every advantage we can for the babies and hopefully there will be more to come.

For now, there are either four or five live fry in the tank. The largest is now just under an inch long and they go down in size to about a half inch long. There were five confirmed at one time, but now the most I can see at one time is four. The fifth could still be hiding when I’m trying to count them, I’m not sure. They still have a long way to go, but some things don’t change. At least once a night we are at the tank checking for our babies. Sightings will still produce hoots and hollers and even a “baby-fish-happy-dance”!

The down side of all of this fish tank is that this morning when I went down to feed the fish their breakfast, I was greeted with a sad sight. Our largest male silver molly was at the bottom of the tank, with parts missing. Eww. I still don’t do well with that part. I know, nature and all, but cannibalism? Once again, eww.

I didn’t want to wait for Ron to get him out of the tank so I did the nasty job myself. This was a hard blow, as he was one of the few original fish we bought that started our tank community. He grew so fast and soon became the largest and most dominate male in the molly family. He was extremely entertaining in the months we’ve had him. He will be missed.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

That’s Just Wrong, Page 11

Tuesday night, Ron and I went for dinner at Ponderosa. Not on A Ponderosa like on the old TV show, just the chain restaurant, Ponderosa. What can I say? I love their salad bar.

We were sitting there, minding our own business, enjoying a nice meal and nice conversation when I kept hearing this clinking/clanging noise. I was looking all around, I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Finally I saw it.

Biker/Cowboy Dude.

I’m going to have nightmares about this, I swear. I think my eyes bled at the sight. Picture this if you will:

Gentleman, over 50 years old, 6’2”, hefty build. Wearing an American Flag do-rag, (with his long stragly braided pony tail hanging out), a Harley Davidson t-shirt, jeans, cowboy boots and SPURS. Yes, you read that right, spurs!

That's what I kept hearing was the spurs clanking!

Ok, the whole biker dude/cowboy thing was hard enough to wrap my mind around, and then it got worse!

Outside, tied to a post, was a three wheeler Harley! That's just wrong on so many levels! A three wheeler? C'mon dude! One of these days you gotta get the training wheels off and move up to a two wheeler.

And, while you're at it, pick a stereotype and run with it. Mix and match just didn't work for ya.

That's just wrong.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Stake Out

Jim, our critter control expert (AKA Batman), showed up at our house on Wednesday afternoon. After a little walk around and walk through, he thought he saw where all the bats were coming in. Again, he seemed to think that the walls of our house were infested with bats. Since August and September are bat months (that’s when they have their babies) it wasn’t surprising to him that we would have bats now.

Ron and Batman looked in the basement to try to rid the basement of our current resident bat. Somehow, he got away, since even after a thorough search, the bat was no where to be found. Batman even looked in our coal room* for the bat! I know that’s brave, because even I won’t go in there and I live there! That door stays shut for a reason!

(*the coal room is a room in the basement that used to hold all the coal for the coal burning furnace that was originally in the house. The delivery truck would pull in the driveway, open the hatch to the room and dump the coal down a shoot and fill up that room. Then as the coal was needed, it was shoveled into the furnace. There are no windows, so now it’s just a dark creepy room that I’m positive is filled with all kinds of ookie things like spiders and bugs and stuff.)

Batman told us that we need to install these valves in the attic. The valves would let all of the bats out, but wouldn’t let them back in again. After five days with the valves, Batman would come back and take the valves out and seal up the holes. All this for the low, low price of . . . are you sitting down? For the low, low price of $1,680.00. Yeah, luckily I was sitting down when Ron told me THAT price. I’m assuming those valve thingies are made of solid gold or something.

Batman suggested that Ron and I stake out the house at night and count bats to see how many were really living in our house. He suggested starting about 8:45 and as soon as we saw our first bat come out, count how many of them come out for the next 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes were up, multiply the number of bats we counted leaving our house by 10 and that is how many bats are in the house. For the last two nights now, Ron and I have staked out our positions around the house. He took the corner so he could see the north and the east side. I took the south and the west side. We set up our lawn chairs and we hunkered down. Wednesday night, we were out there for 45 minutes. By 9:30 it was too dark to see. Last night we tried again, and I didn’t last quite long due to all of the darn mosquitos. After all that, in two nights we didn’t see one bat leave our house.

So, Ron came up with a great idea! Let’s NOT pay Batman $1,680 and instead, spend $50 or so and just caulk and plaster and fill up any and all holes that we think are there and call it good. Here’s hoping that turns out to be a great solution and that we find all of the holes. I’m done bat watching and I’m done being afraid to be in my own house.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Bat Is Back!

This is just not funny anymore.

I’ve blogged before about having a bat in the house. Actually, we’ve had bats a couple of times. Ron has been able to catch and release the bats. Well, we have a persistent one this time.

He won’t leave our attic. I’ve been forced to call a professional. Once again, you’d think that would be easy, wouldn’t you.

I went online under pest control, exterminators and vermin. I’ve been calling for two days. Either people don’t answer their phones and I’m forced to leave voicemails which never get returned, or I’m told that they don’t do bats or if they do bats, they don’t do them in my town.

I really have been ready to pull my hair out. I don’t want to be forced to take things in my own hands. I mean, I do own a .357 Magnum and I even have enough ammo to take care of him and any little friends he might have. Sorry, just a crazy moment there. I think I’m back now.

What was I saying? Oh yes, a professional. Everyone that I have talked to that said they don’t do bats or don’t come as far west as we are, I’ve asked them if they could recommend anyone. That just led to more phone calls that didn’t get answered. Until, my new buddy Jim answered the phone yesterday. At least I’m hoping he’s going to be my new buddy.

Jim does bats. He’ll help us rid our house of bats and tell us where they are getting in at. The only bad part about Jim is the information he gave me yesterday. He said that first of all, if you have one bat, you have more. Ok, NOT what I wanted to hear. And, when I told him where I lived, and started to give him directions, he gave me that “hey! Wait a minute! I know that area!”

Ok, he was a little too excited about that. Then he said that he had just done a bat problem on my street about a month ago. Hmm. I told him that’s when our newest bat problem started! What the heck! Did he kick the bats out of the house he did on my street and just send them our way? I should get a discount for that, shouldn’t I? Anyway, he proceeded to tell me THAT bat infestation was so bad that the health department made the people move out of their house. Hello? C’mon now! I HOPE I just have one bat!

The kicker came last night though, when I went to do a load of laundry. Ron was helping me carry our two full laundry baskets down to the basement. I was going to go downstairs first with Ron right behind me. As soon as I rounded the corner to head downstairs, I told him I just saw a shadow downstairs. Of course, he thought my tired eyes must be playing a trick on me. So, he went around me and went downstairs to show me everything was fine. He was down there maybe 10 seconds telling me it’s ok when an expletive came out of his mouth and he was quickly coming back upstairs! HA! There’s a bat down there, isn’t there? He told me yes, a bat was flying around down there. Believe it or not, I was not happy to be right about this. I really wish I’d have lost this argument.

I dropped the basket I was carrying right there on the landing and we high tailed it back into the kitchen and slammed the door shut. Now what? I really didn’t want to leave my basket on the landing in full view of anyone walking up to the door, especially with my bra on top of the basket. I had to get it out of there. We waited awhile, opened the kitchen door and Ron dashed to get my basket back! Whew. It was a close call, I’m sure.

That’s all I could think about all night is that the bat is taking over our house. Ron tried to give me some cockamamie story about how the bat could have followed a sewer pipe from the attic to the basement or he could have followed the chimney, but I wasn’t totally convinced. I just know that he has me afraid to now go on TWO floors of my house. Only two left, and I must defend them with my life.

Getting ready for bed, all I could think of is the bat down in the basement. Then I remembered that there is a small space under the door into the kitchen. Way big enough for a bat to fit through and get into the remaining levels of the house! No way! I ran back downstairs, took a blanket off of the couch and stuffed it under the kitchen door that goes down to the basement. For good measure so that the bat couldn’t push the blanket away, I grabbed a box of parts that Ron got in that were in the dining room and I shoved that up against the blanket. Over my dead body and all that was I screaming at the bat down below. Coupled with a few good foot stomps on the floor which would be his ceiling, just to make sure he wasn’t enjoying himself in our house.

Ok, that made me feel a little better. Back upstairs, I climbed into bed. It wasn’t working. I lost my warm fuzzy safe feeling. I could hear the bat trying to get at me. I got back out of bed and shut the bedroom door and pulled the covers over my head. Maybe that will keep him away.

It was a rough night and we’re exhausted. Now we just wait for my new buddy Jim to come over this afternoon and make things right in my world again. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Police Blotter

Yes, once again there has been police activity in our neighborhood. There has even been a policeman IN our house last night! Can’t get any closer than that, huh?

It started a couple of weeks ago. The neighbors I’ve blogged about before, two houses to the north of us (that have the killer dog) were broken into. All that was stolen was a 50something inch large screen television. The television I hear was purchased at Rent Way, and since the burglars walked into an unlocked back door and there was no sign of forced entry, Rent Way isn’t buying the “my TV was stolen” line and she is liable for the payments on the TV.

Well, I guess she then did what most people would do. She went back to Rent Way, this time for a 60” large screen TV. I guess if you’re paying on one TV you might as well get a second one. You’ll never guess what happened to it last night!

Yep. Someone again walked into her unlocked back door (the one by the dog as a matter of fact) and stole the second TV as well.

The kicker to this one is that it happened at about 6:30 in the evening. Better yet, I think I watched it happen.

Ron was out talking to another neighbor last night when the neighbor two doors down came over to see if Ron had seen anything a few hours earlier. She told him about the TV being gone for the second time. When Ron came inside, he told me the story. Dang, I couldn’t believe it. Who leaves doors unlocked, especially in OUR neighborhood?

I didn’t think too much about it. Then it hit me awhile later, that about 6:30 last night, I was standing at my kitchen sink doing dishes, when I saw a different car in her driveway. By different, I just mean it’s not her car. Actually it was either a mini van or a small SUV, light brown or dark tan in color and it was parked right by her back door.

I wasn’t trying to be overly nosey, like I sometimes can be. I was just watching out the window and her property is right in my line of sight. I noticed a different car in the driveway, but there is also a chestnut tree in between where I am and where she is. The best I saw was part of a vehicle, and legs in blue jeans. I couldn’t even tell you how many people were there. I’d say more than one, less than 10. No idea if they were male, female, white, black or purple. All I saw was legs.

Just after this internal revelation, Ron and I were sitting outside while Ron was having a cigarette, and the police drove by slowly. He had the spotlight out, checking addresses. I saw him pull into a driveway and turn around, and I erroneously thought he was just looking around after the report had been filed. I thought I’d do my good deed for the day and I flagged him down to tell him about the van in the driveway.

I told him I might have seen the vehicle involved in the break in next door. Imagine my surprise when he said “what break in?” I gave him a little run down of what little I knew and he said as a matter of fact he was on his way next door to take her report. I told him I didn’t know much, but if he needed me, I’d be right here.

Sure enough, about fifteen minutes later, he’s banging on my door. We let him in, and I told him what little I knew. Keep in mind; I’m in a mild panic that there has been a break in. This after the wonderful little elderly couple next door just had a rock thrown through their picture window the other day and our painter just had all the windows out of the side of his van busted out the night before. (Him and 12 other cars in his neighborhood.) I’m telling you my neighborhood is going downhill quickly.

In spite of my mounting internal panic, the police officer did not seem too concerned. He even said something like “c’mon now. You’d had one TV stolen without anyone having to break in and now you’ve had a second one taken?” Yeah, he wasn’t too impressed and I guess he wasn’t buying much of her story. But, he took my info along with my name and number and he left.

A few minutes later, there was another knock on the door. This time, it was the neighbor that was involved in the incident.

The officer had told her he was headed to our place as I told him I might have seen something, so now she came in and we chatted with her a bit. She told me that both TVs were stolen and both times the remote controls were left on the coffee table. She even brought the remove control over to show us. I told her what I told the police officer. To be honest, I don’t think she looked too upset about the whole thing. I think I’d have been a mess about it, but she was calm. She told us that Rent Way was still expecting her to pay for the first TV and now that the second one was gone, she was dreading telling them about that one too.

I don’t know what the whole story is, but I know I don’t like it. Whether she’s a slime that is pulling a scam with Rent Way or her friends are thieves, it stinks. I know I was up a lot last night. I’m hearing things, I’m imagining someone’s in the house.

We really do need to move. Maybe to Siberia.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Family Tree - With A Few Warped Branches

Let’s go into a little background information.

I am the youngest of six children. The oldest sibling is 17 years older than I am. In a list, we are:

Brother Jim, 5 years older than me
Sister Cathie, 7 years older than me
Brother Michael, 10 years older than me
Sister Barb, 15 years older than me
Brother Philip, 17 years older than me

Quite a group, huh?

As stated previously, Philip was in town visiting. He left this morning to head back to sunny California. So, it was time for the good byes. Wednesday night, we met up with Michael for dinner and Michael had a huge surprise for us!

He and his wife had been clearing out the basement and came across some old pictures. Now, I have been through Mom and Dad’s pictures a gazillion times. I love those old pictures. But, the pictures I’ve seen are either of Philip and Barb really really young, or pictures of all six of us. The best of which is all six of us kids, with me as a little baby in Barb’s lap!

Michael brought out whole new pictures that I have never seen before. Once again, family pictures with both parents and only FIVE kids, the youngest being Jim as a teeny tiny baby in Mom’s arms. First, that was awesome just because of the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever seen pictures of Jim as a baby. I’ve seen pictures of him as a little kid yes, but not as a baby. He was just as cute as the dickens, just like he is today!

Then it hit me. If Jim is just an infant, where am I? (Michael tried to tell me that I must have been taking the picture since I’m not in it!) Ok, I know in the scheme of things it’s an easy answer of I’m just not born yet. But then I got to think about it. Where was I?? Five years before I was born, I’m sure I wasn’t even a thought or a glimmer in my parents’ minds.

Michael and Philip were recounting stories of when they were young, and of the two of them doing things together. I’ve never heard these stories before. They had experiences that I never knew about and memories that I am not part of. I know this probably isn’t making sense to anyone else, but it was really a mind shattering wall I ran into last night with these thoughts. Before I was born. It’s a concept I’m just having trouble wrapping my mind around.

I know that George Washington was President, before I was born. I know that Napoleon had a complex about his height way before I was born. I know that the cavemen were battling wooly mammoths long before I was born. But to hear two of my brothers telling stories that I’m just not part of is just so weird to me. When we tell stories together, I either remember what they are talking about, or the stories being told are stories that have been told for the last 40 years.

Before I was born. It’s crazy, but this has just blew my mind thinking about it. It was an existential moment.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

They Grow Them Big Here

Today is the last day of my current audit. This audit has not been good from day one, and I just want out of here.

I am alone here at the job site, and as it was my last day here, I thought I'd treat myself to a nice lunch. I tried to get my contact here to go to lunch, but he was tied up in meetings all day and couldn't make it. On to Plan B.

I took myself to lunch at a sit-down chain restaurant that is less than two miles away from the job site. I should have chosen better.

I walked into the lobby of the restaurant and there were two other women customers waiting on a hostess to seat them. They were nice enough to inform me that they were keeping themselves busy while waiting for a hostess by taking bets on if the spider on the floor in front of them was a killer spider or not.

First of all, we all know I HATE spiders. (Right, honey?) I know I tend to exaggerate from time to time on the size of spiders that have been in my house, but I swear, this one was truly the largest spider I have ever seen live. This gargantuan belonged on a movie screen, or in a Steve Irwin episode. It was freakin' HUGE. No lie, it had to be three inches across. His body alone was the size of a quarter.

The three of us backed up as far as we could go without leaving the restaurant. The first hostess came by and the spider was pointed out to her. She promptly screamed and then ran for a manager. In the meanwhile, a couple of other hostesses came by who pretty much yelled and stepped back with us. The manager came to the lobby and decided this was a job for a manly man. She called for a busboy and a male waiter both of whom decided that monster killing was not in their job descriptions. I suggested calling the police as they have been known to carry guns that could probably kill this spawn of evil. Surprisingly, no one really looked at me funny over that suggestion.

Finally, one of the waitresses came over, saw the spider, gently laid a menu over it and then with all the power of her 88 pounds dripping wet, proceeded to jump up and down on the menu! She got a rousing ovation from the crowd now gathered in the lobby until she picked up the menu to be sure she was successful. Ugh, she was.

I can attest to the fact that she threw the menu away so that no unsuspecting future diner would have to handle it. Even after the bloody sight I just witnessed, I still accepted a seat and ordered lunch.

Granted, I did eat a fast lunch as I wanted my feet off of their floor. However, I have a feeling that I will continue to feel things crawling on me until I can get into the shower tonight. I'm just hoping that the crawling feeling I have is only in my imagination.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Let Me Return The Favor

When Ron and I go out to eat, Ron doesn’t always get to eat what he ordered.

Sometimes I just don’t care for what I ordered, and I don’t want to send it back since it’s not always the cook’s fault that I don’t like something. But more often than not, it’s just that Ron orders his meals better than I do!

I’ve been known to switch soups with him, or salads, or even whole entrees. What he orders doesn’t always sound good to me at the time, but when it’s brought to the table, I smack myself in the head and say “dang, I should have ordered that”. To which, Ron will usually say “do you want it honey? I’ll trade with you”. What a good guy!

After a few days of eating leftovers this week after Sunday’s birthday party, we decided to meet up after work the other night and we were going to have dinner out. Some times our biggest problem is agreeing on where we should go to dinner. Wednesday, we settled on Texas Roadhouse. It’s nothing fancy, but the food is good. Plus all the peanuts on the tables are nice to munch on while you’re waiting on your dinner.

I ordered what I always order; a sirloin, medium, topped with mushrooms with applesauce and steak fries.

Ron went out of the box. He ordered the chicken fried steak. That surprised me since I know the gravy for that is usually heavy on the black pepper and he doesn’t normally go for black pepper. But, hey, whatever makes him happy. I know the sirloin, I’ll be happy with the sirloin. Ron also ordered the baked sweet potato and the applesauce.

We had a nice chat at the restaurant while shelling and munching on peanuts. Then, the dinner arrives. I’m getting ready to start eating, and Ron tastes his meal. He is not happy with it. It’s not that it wasn’t cooked right; it was just not what he thought it was going to be.

You have to understand, Ron will eat anything you put in front of him. If it doesn’t eat him first, Ron is good with it. I have put some crap meals in front of him (hey, my cooking doesn’t always produce a winning meal) and he’s eaten them. When he said he didn’t like his dinner I thought something was truly wrong with it. I reached across the table with my fork and had a little taste. Tasted pretty good to me!

Ok, honey, I’ll switch plates with you! What? That’s never happened before! It’s always him offering to let me have the choice of meals! We did have to haggle a little on the side dishes. After all, his sweet potato was starting to look might tasty. However, he held firm that the sweet potato was staying on his side of the table. Fine. We switched the meat dishes and he was happy with my steak and I was very happy with his.

Wow! For once, I finally got to return the favor!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Checking In

What a horrific tragedy that has happened in Minneapolis a few days ago. These poor people, who were just trying to get home after work and the bridge collapses without warning. My heart is with the families that wait yet to find their loved ones still trapped in their cars under the water.

My heart and my prayers go out to all those affected.

Ron’s kids live in the Minneapolis area. They have checked in with their Dad and all are accounted for and were not involved.

Thank you, God.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Congratulations Grandpa Ron!!

Ron had some great news over the weekend! His middle son Derick and his wife Amanda are expecting their first child! This will be Ron’s first GRANDchild!

Even though the words coming out of his mouth said that he wasn’t old enough to be a Grandpa, you still can’t wipe that happy grin off of his face!

Not many things in life can top that kind of news! Congratulations to Derick and Amanda, and to you too, Grandpa!

Can’t Count

Speaking of Philip, after getting his glasses fixed at the mall the other day, we stopped at the news stand to buy a newspaper. Reminiscent of a previous post, I found out more people can’t count!

Philip pulled out his change holder, counted out some change for the paper and put it on the counter telling the clerk “there, I think that’s fifty cents”.

The clerk counted it and said “yeah, that’s it”.

Of course, I had to butt in.

“Um, that sure did look like sixty cents to me!”

Sure enough, the clerk didn’t even recount the money. He just agreed and handed Philip back a dime!

Even the great ones have a bad day, huh brother? I told you that this story had to make the blog!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Good Times For The Birthday Boy!

7/29/07 - Happy Birthday Dad!! Is he a cutie patootie or what!
Anyway . . .
My oldest brother, Philip (Hi, Phil!) flew in from California Friday for a little vacation. Well, at least that’s what HE thought it was going to be! However, Sunday was my Dad’s 83rd birthday, and we were having a family birthday party at our house. That meant that no one in the house was exempt from work detail in getting ready for the party.

We had a good old Slovak birthday party with some old favorites that none of us get too often. We had Dad’s choice of Mom’s home made chicken and beef soup. I didn’t make home made noodles to go with the soup, but I did find some nice fine cut soup noodles, just the kind he likes. It was close enough.

Then we had halupki. That’s Slovak for stuffed cabbage, pigs in a blanket, what ever else you want to call them. I called them delicious! Mary Jane was nice enough to provide the creamed peas. Y’all know that’s not one of MY favorite things being made from peas and all, but it always used to be a favorite of Dad’s to go along with the halupki. Judging from the amount he ate, I’d say they were winners! To round off the dinner, we had desert. For the birthday boy, of course his favorite chocolate cake with Mom’s chocolate frosting and for the rest of us, two big batches of Chex party mix! Yeah, we were all gonna be fat and happy for this party!

Thinking back now as I’m writing this, it hits me just how truly lucky I am to have the family that I do. We have our fair share of arguments, but who doesn’t. But I don’t care how much we argue, you get any number of us together in the same room and it’s going to be fun! As brother Michael likes to say, “Our family puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional”!

Like I said, Philip thought he was going to be on vacation. After meeting up Friday night for dinner with Michael and Mary Jane, the first course of business was grocery shopping. Hey, I don’t like to do it either, so poor Ron and Philip got to join in my misery and we all went shopping. Come to think of it, Michael and Mary Jane joined in the fun as well! As true members of our family, we all took turns in the bathroom at Giant Eagle, but aside from that little bit of too much information, shopping was an experience. I did break into song, both loudly and badly, but that was towards the end of the excursion so it wasn’t too hard on our fellow shoppers. We didn’t get kicked out, so it couldn’t have been too bad.

Shopping done, it was relaxing at home for the rest of the night.

Saturday was work day. Again, Philip thought he was on vacation until I told him to scrub up; he was stuffing five pounds of hamburger into five heads of cabbage! Michael picked the perfect time to stop over (He had to bring a cooking pot I needed to borrow!) and he jumped in with us. The three of us, between tasting the raw halupki for quality control, trimmed and stuffed all that cabbage. And, worthy of making my Mom proud of her kids, after the dishes were done, we took a little break. For those not in the family, that means a rousing game of three handed Pinochle! One of these days, I really have to teach Ron that game!

It took awhile, but my brothers finally let me win the Pinochle game.

Sunday, Jim was willing to take the day off of work and make the trip with Dad to come to Ohio for the party. Dad started off his day a little rough, as he didn’t want Jim to wake him up for the trip. But once he got into the mix of the rest of us, I think he really perked up and ended up having a great time. This was the first time in a long time I’ve seen Dad eat so well. He ate and he ate and then he asked if it was time for dinner so he could eat some more! It was good to see him like that. The best part was that my Dad turned down a nap so he could stay at the table with us and just be part of the story telling. You have to understand that my Dad would rather nap than do anything. And for him to say no to that, it was awesome! It was a great time that was complete with great food.

Monday, I took the day off of work and I putzed around with Philip and Ron. We weren’t in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere, but we did run to the mall to get Philip’s glasses fixed, then we had a nice lunch at Jackalope’s, sitting outside looking out over the marina. We closed out the afternoon doing a few touristy things around town.

As most of the people in my family are serious game players, no day would be complete without some game time, so Philip and I even got in some cribbage! If I’m not mistaken (and I rarely am when it comes to winning!) I am up six games to three. Go me!

Since all of that Chex party mix ended up being consumed, Philip asked if I’d make one more batch. He even offered to pay for the ingredients. What the heck, I love it as much as he does, so I told him that by the time he got back from spending a few days in Erie with brother Jim, I’d have it cooked up.

That was my plan for last night. It wasn’t a good night.

It was late when I was working with the party mix. You end up pouring melted butter, with seasonings, over about four boxes of cereal. Then you bake it on low to bake the butter in. You bake it about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, mixing every twenty minutes or so. When it looks almost all the way dry, I turn off the oven and just let the pan of mix stay in the oven. The heat from the oven cooks the rest of that butter in. I guess I was more tired last night than I thought. I mixed it for the last time, put it back in the oven, and went upstairs to bed.

This morning, Ron was actually the first one downstairs to put on coffee. He yells up the steps at me asking if I meant to leave the oven on all night! NO! Oh crap. It’s not a cheap snack to make to begin with and the thought of burning an entire batch just really made me mad at myself. Sure enough, the butter was baked in, but so was the burnt taste. Maybe I’ll throw all that out to the birds instead of in the garbage. I hate throwing that much food away, but it really is inedible. I am lucky I didn’t burn the house down.

As a side note, I usually really look forward to Philip’s visits. Mainly because he is the best snorer I know. Whenever Philip visits, I get the BEST sleep. I keep telling Ron he has to work on his snoring but so far, he’s still a rank amateur. Philip however, used to be a professional! He could shake the rafters on the neighbor’s house with his snoring! Not this time. In order to hear him snoring, I have to plaster my ear against his door and maybe I’ll hear it a little bit. Grrr. I should be able to hear him in the basement! He has so lost some status in my eyes over this. That was truly one of the greatest perks of having Philip visit. I don’t know what he’s doing differently, but he needs to stop it! I was looking forward to the snoring filling the house!

The only thing missing this weekend was our sister Cathie. She couldn’t make it in from California for Dad’s birthday but she is coming for a visit in the beginning of September! She’s no stranger to working at my house when she comes to visit, so she made me promise that I won’t make her help me with Roshki again (Slovak for nut horns) before she’d buy her plane ticket! Geez, some guests! The good news is that we get to party all over again in September when Cathie comes to visit, minus the Roshki. The bad news is that we really did miss you this weekend. But, not to worry, Sissy! We all talked about you a LOT!

Good times!