Monday, December 22, 2008

Seasonal Serendipity

I stopped by the small in-town market to pick up a few 
things for dinner. As I stood in line I began chatting with 
the couple ahead of me buying a case of wine obviously 
for a party. There was a friendly, festive feel about the 
place. I bid them a Merry Christmas and turned to the 
two fresh-faced high school boys, one for check out, 
one for bagging, and smiled broadly. As the checker 
began scanning my items he inquired as to what I was 
making for Christmas dinner.

'Game hens' I replied, rifling through my huge bag 
looking for the correct plastic cards.

[pregnant pause]

'Scuse me, but did you say gay mens?' they both looked 
at me wide eyed.

I guffawed and heard a distinct echo.

I turned - behind me in line was a fabulously effeminate 
man laughing merrily.

I chortled 'Gay mens?!?!?!' hissing the 'S' slightly for effect.

'I am making Cornish Game Hens!'

The checker quickly back pedaled 'I don't mean to 
offend anybody but I thought you said 'Gay Mens..."

'You didn't offend anybody - THAT was funny!'

I high-fived the fabulously effeminate man, 
all of us now giggling uncontrollably.

Now the bagger chimed in 'I was going to ask how
you prepared that.'

'Well, I think you start somewhere back in the 
womb' I offered.

And as I walked away chuckling I thought of the full 
name of the recipe... 

Fruited Cornish Game Hens

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Singing Happy Birthday!

The Dolly, Gapetto and the Bunny.

This makes me smile.
I live with kooks! (gratefully)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Gapetto

To my trophy husband...

World's funnest dad (and handsome too!)

Dang good cook...

Family man...

Creator of things both wild...

and wonderful...

and one lucky wife's best friend.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Life's a holiday on Contaminated Lane

I wrote this post on December 14, 2008 And never published it. Since I seem to be particularly uninspired lately this will have to do...

                                         *  *  *  *  *  *

So here is the deal. We have had some form or fashion of unhealthiness in our house since late August - I am not kidding. We went to Hell-en Georgia for a little R & R with the kids and my in-laws. I don't know if you have ever heard of Helen Georgia but apparently after the interstates went through Helen was dying faster than Radiator Springs. An industrious native decided they should spruce up the little town and make it look like a Bavarian Village - and why not? (WTF) And what do you know - IT WORKED! (Marketing is a beautiful thing.) Now the place is crawling with tourists and they have all manner of nasty, terrible stores there, particularly stores with lewd t-shirts. They have a 2 -1/2 hour inner tube ride down the river (about 2-1/4 hours too long) - they have water slides - they have fudge - they've got it all. And I believe that is where this unhealthiness all started.

Now don't get me wrong - I am not trying to steer you away from Helen - in fact, it is Hog Heaven for young girls and boys like the Bunny and the Dolly. We stayed in a time share that had swimming pools and outdoor grills and paths to the river - that and the waterslide and river ride - why it's a veritable kid nirvana. 

It was there that I contracted the Mystery Cough. A hard, non-productive cough (I love that term for a cough - sounds like a louse brother-in-law) that sort of never became anything and never went away (again - like a louse brother-in-law). And when we came home with my cough a small cloud of illness parked it's happy ass right over my house and has been there ever since.

To wit: as a result of said cough, the Bunny, the Dolly and Gapetto got sick. Gapetto's turned into a nasty sinus infection, the Dolly got the croup and the Bunny's turned into walking pneumonia. Within the next three weeks both Grammy and Poppy got pneumonia as well. And Grammy had one heck of a time getting rid of it. So that shot September and part of October.

Soon I was back at the pediatrician's for strep tests. 'Are you sure you don't want to see the Doctor?' 

'Nope - just the tests please.' 

By the time children are six I am pretty sure any mom with half a brain (myself included) can recognize strep when she sees it. We had two positive strep tests. 

Meanwhile our insurance ran out from Gapetto's job that he left so we had to find individual family insurance - just don't even get me started on that. That is when we had to get the Dolly's molar removed (Baby Jay), so insurance didn't cover that one. Then, lo and behold, the Mystery Cough returned but turned into a sinus infection. Next the Bunny developed the croup (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving) and I took the Dolly with me for good measure. I was using a new pediatrician who I wasn't so sure of - mostly I was distracted by the hour and a half wait and the fact that the man did not have ONE HAIR on his body. Now alopecia areata universalisa is nothing to be mocked - it is just that it fascinates me and I can't seem to follow the conversation. (Okay, so there is no hair ANYWHERE on this man's body). So this visit to the new HMO group took a total of 2-1/2 hours (about 2-1/4 hours too long and not nearly as fun as the river ride from hell) and we left with Prednisone for both children. 

We had a quiet Thanksgiving and the kids went back to school on Monday. That afternoon I pick them up and Dolly had a fever, an unresponsive fever, for three days. I called my old pediatricians office and pleaded 'Please tell me you take this horseshit insurance!' and it turns out they did. So we loaded up the mom-van and went back to the office they have gone to since birth.

'I am sorry Ma'am we don't take this insurance'

"But I called and you said you did"

'You have an HMO and we only take Multi-Choice."

'Well f*#& - I'll just pay for them since we are here.' I couldn't face the hairless wonder and the long wait again.

The nurse comes in. 'How long has the Bunny Rabbit had this cough?'

'About 2 or 3 months.'

"How long has the Dolly Llama had this cough?'

'About 2 or 3 nights.'

'I threw up 11 times last night' the Dolly offers proudly.

So, a breathing treatment for the Dolly's pneumonia, a Z pack plus a huffer for the inflammation in her little lungs. With any luck she will return to school tomorrow. The Bunny Rabbit has a sinus infection so he gets that cotton candy colored antibiotic they take for 10 days. He returned to school on Friday. Gapetto, no doubt has a sinus infection, which is going untreated of course. Mine is clearing up.

So, I am thinking we need to cover our house like they do in California for termite treatments. They put these huge tarps over the entire house and totally fumigate the place and just let it sit for awhile till all signs of life and termites are gone. Surely there must be something like that for illnesses - right? 


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Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Past

I grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota where Christmases were white and freezing-ass cold. I remember going to the car for midnight mass, the bitter cold had seemingly turned the snow to styrofoam, a crunch you only heard when the temperature fell well below zero. My oldest brother B would wrap his arms around me and rub as hard as he could to try and warm up my sleepy, freezing body in the family station wagon with the cold, cold vinyl bench seats. 
The stars were glittering, brilliant pinpricks in the inky black sky and every in breath froze my nose hairs and every out breath melted them. Mittens became handkerchiefs to swipe at my face. 

The church was beautiful and unusually full, there were even folding chairs in the side aisles. The light was warm and golden and real Christmas trees surrounded the huge creche to the left side of the lower level of the altar. The priests were in their finest and the altar boys wore red robes underneath their white cassocks as they all proceeded in from the rear of the church instead of the side. 

It was long enough ago that our parish had 3 priests and they all 
celebrated each Christmas mass. But midnight mass was special - 
the full choir sang from the choir loft in the rear. The traditional 
hymns still warm me and take me back. One of my very favorites 
is a woman singing O, Holy Night hitting the impossible high notes 
with perfection. 

My dad was one of the regular ushers. They would rotate so he sat with us when it wasn't his turn. If he was ushering and it was time to collect the offering with the felt lined baskets on the long poles he would shake it in front of me, trying to get more out of me - either mortifying me or reducing me to giggles depending on my degree of alertness. When he sat with us there was trouble to be had. My father had one of the worst singing voices in all of the midwest and he would sing at the top of his lungs just to make us laugh. You know that church laugh - uncontrollable shaking shoulders, fruitlessly trying to suppress any sound. This would elicit stern looks from my mother and we would whisper to her 'but Dad...'

'I can't control your father' she would snip - Dad would look piously (and smugly) toward the altar - he never got in trouble. If things got too out of hand she would get between Dad and us.

I remember kneeling and not being able to see over the pew in front of me. It was long past my bedtime and I would routinely get tunnel vision which I now know to be nearly falling asleep (or fainting) while I stood or knelt or sat. I suspect all of that changing of positions was precisely to keep the young and the old awake during the long and formal mass.

After it was over people would not linger - rather yell out Merry Christmas and quickly get into their freezing cars hoping they would start yet again in the cold night air. 

When we got home we would be hurried off to bed, after all Santa Claus was coming and we all had to be asleep. I would wake to laughter as the younger two priests arrived, mom having prepared a fancy Christmas breakfast served at 1:00 am. I remember the grapefruit cut in half with a zigzag pattern, a cherry in the center and copious amounts of vodka poured over them before they were broiled. Dad was, no doubt, making his famous Bloody Marys. If nothing else, Catholics know how to imbibe. I have no idea how long the festivities would last having long since fallen back asleep despite my sister T's and my vow to stay awake to hear the sleigh bells.

Morning inevitably arrived and we would call out and see if we could get up yet. 

'No go back to sleep' my mother would reply.

Yeah, right. Tell that to any kid who still believes in Santa Claus.

When we got the OK we would race down the hall to the living room and the tree. I had six siblings for a total of nine people in that house and sometimes the presents came five or six feet out from that tree (or so it seemed). Two of us would pass out the gifts. When all were distributed we ripped in to them all at once - it would have taken days if we did it one at a time.

'Mom look at this!'

'wow! look what Santa brought me!'

'oh, there is one here with no name on it'

A boisterous, messy time, wrapping paper and bows flying - a lovely time... 

And when things had quieted down someone would remember the stockings and we would run off to get them, excitement building again. The stockings always had practical stuff in them like scotch tape and socks and an orange but lots of times if you dug way down in the toe you would find Hershey's kisses - manna from heaven as far as my chocolate-loving family was concerned. And that was as good a breakfast starter as any I've ever had.

We would run and get dressed for breakfast which consisted of eggs and bacon and orange juice AND homemade sweet rolls and caramel rolls. I would unwind them slowly and savor each bite. 

The rest of the day would go s-l-o-w-l-y -- the after-excitement-let-down settling in until late afternoon when my cousins would arrive. My dad and Uncle Bill were brothers and he and Aunt Margie had seven children as well - pretty well matched up in age to us. 

And complete chaos would ensue once again - all was right with the world.

This Christmas Gapetto and I are staying put with the Bunny Rabbit and the Dolly Llama. Gapetto is looking forward to the quiet. I will be remembering the days of mayhem with a smile...

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