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Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Friend Flickr

I’m all a-twitter to find out my favorite family is not available just on, well, Twitter, anymore. No, not the Hiltons; their poorer relations, Queen Elizabeth and the gang. The British branch of the family creeper vine has signed up for a Flickr account.

These days the chances are good that you can flip through the Internet like it was a trashy magazine and find a picture of Camilla ears deep in a liplock with Bonnie Prince Charlie. How’s that for a picture? Emotional Ipecac without a prescription.

But I have to wonder. How many pictures of Queen Elizabeth in Joker makeup and patent leather pocketbook does the world need? If the desire of the royals is to reach the people, they need to stock up on a few more candid shots like the ones of Diana clad in modest, but transparent, work garb that made the public fall in love with the innocence of the young girl.

Somehow a candid shot of Camilla in a see-through skirt does nothing short of making me want indulge in the use of OSHA-approved optical rinse and pop a blindfold over my mind’s eye. I’d rather see an exposé on the Queen’s Corgis.

It’s not that I’m not a fan of the Royal Family. I was up at dawn when Diana married Charles, and I followed Andrew and Fergie’s wedding like a play by play announcer at the SuperBowl.

But these days there aren’t many faces in the royal family that are photographer-friendly. So those of us around the globe who are putting our faith in the “picture is worth a thousand words” school of thought agree.

If it’s not the new princess the Royal Family is flaunting in its electronic photo album, we’d rather have a speech. So bring on Princess Catherine.

Because if all the shots are of Camilla, the Kodak Moments are going to the dogs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fun with Lawn Care

“If I don’t come back, remember me for who I was!”

Jeffrey is on his way outside to cut the grass. He is 20 years old and displays a significant tendency toward the dramatic. Cutting the grass rates almost as high on the enjoyment of life scale as going shopping for foundations with his mother, something he has steadfastly refused to be a part of since he was four years old and I asked him publicly whether to get the T Rex or the Superman briefs.

His grass cutting clothes are cleverly designed to protect him from his arch enemy, sunlight. He is sporting sweat pants, a black T-shirt with a dashing dragon motif, and a camouflage jacket. The sun will never recognize him.

However, the fire ants who dwell in communes throughout the neighborhood think he’s a walking hors d’oeuvre, and scramble to assemble relay teams designed to bring back tender flesh for a glorious repast. These are some of nature’s most bloodthirsty creatures and should be required to post Predator signs in front of their homes and turn off their porch lights on Halloween.

The fire ants did not reckon with the maze of clothing covering Jeffrey’s body, which has not been exposed to the air since he emerged from the birth canal. They reconnoiter and launch an attack on the Captain, who, as chief officer in charge of Virginia creeper, is supervising the ordeal. His sole defense is a pair of hiking boots and the ability to swear like a seaman in several different languages.

I’ve heard that grits are to fire ants what Kryptonite is to the Man of Steel, so as Bill dances past the back door, I spring into action, flinging packet after packet of stone ground goodness at his convulsive form.

You'd think a person would be more appreciative of the help. But if I’m ever in Germany, I’ll know what to say if someone cuts me off in traffic.

Meanwhile Jeffrey has mowed the front lawn in a fairly accurate representation of legendary crop circles, and is showering—probably still wearing the camo jacket—in the guest bathroom with the fancy soap.

By the time the Captain recovers from the fire ant fox trot, Jeffrey will have left the building, borrowed the car, and forgotten the trauma of having parents.

I peer out the front door. The circles cut into the lawn resemble a peaceful rippling pattern. In all the excitement, I’ve forgotten to remind Jeffrey to feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, or clean his room.

They say in the old days families had handfuls of children to help with the planting and harvesting of crops, taking care of the livestock, and seeing to the household chores.

I don’t see how they got anything done.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Desperately Seeking Something

Spring is a glorious time of days filled with sparkling sunshine, blooming flowers, and flooded basements. I can tell it’s spring at my house when the sewer backs up and the toilet overflows like a baby with a double mouthful of strained peas. The plumber marks his annual trip out to my house on his calendar right next to “Order New Mercedes.”

About the only thing I hate worse than the first flush of spring is the annual Easter egg hunt at Dad’s farm. This year, Easter comes at the first of April, so it’s possible that the two events may coincide like a slingshot-launched rock and a plate glass window, only in this case the thing that gets launched is a good deal less desirable as a projectile than a rock.

I’m just as helpless at the egg hunt as I am in cases of explosive plumbing malfunctions. And to make matters worse, now that Easter is rolling around like the last jelly bean in the bowl, I’m running out of ways to disguise my nonconformity. It’s like trying to disguise one of the white keys on a jazz piano. I’m seek-challenged. I couldn’t find the spots on a ladybug without a field guide and labeled specimen. If it were up to me, all the hidden eggs would find a home in the wild.

I can hide eggs with no trouble. I’m the one that thought of putting the cracked one under the seat of the car when we were kids. It’s still there. I’m anticipating an ugly phone call from Dad any day. Reminder to self: Sign up for caller ID.

But when it comes to finding eggs, I can scramble all day and come up with nothing but an empty basket. Especially now that I’m at the stage of life where every morning starts off with a hunt. As I get older—I won’t say mature as that can lead to lawsuits from the false advertising people—I couldn’t find a lost thought with an All Points Bulletin and a Vulcan mind meld. I haven’t been able to locate my belly button since the baby was born, and I wouldn’t recognize my own knees in a police lineup. Note to self: Order college graduation announcements for the baby.

When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny used to hide “pity eggs” out in plain sight to make sure I could find them. He could have dyed them neon colors, dotted them with iridescent sequins, and implanted them with a tracking device that emitted a sound that would shatter Plexiglas, and I would still wander from shrub to shrub saying, “Am I hot? Give me a hint.”

Last weekend, while rearranging furniture in an attempt to find my glasses, I discovered a plastic candy-filled egg in one of the nooks in my desk. Inside was a tiny candy bar huddled in a faded wrapper.

The kids acted like it was a moon rock. “Look! It’s one of last year’s Easter Eggs that we never found!”

That does it. I’m through with egg hunts. It won’t bother me if I never see my navel again, but if my chocolate detector is lost, I’ve got nothing left to dye for.

Friday, April 22, 2011


It wasn’t so hard to recycle when the boys were small. It really wasn’t any trouble to toss the glass juice bottles in one bin and the pamphlets for weight loss programs I’d decided not to try in another. But now that they’re big enough to leave six month old soda cans in places I can’t reach, the job is a little tougher.

My first instinct was to don a HazMat suit and spray their room with that industrial strength foam they use to clean up chemical spills. However, I decided that this wasn’t the example I wanted to set. First of all they’d both want to be the next to wear the suit and the first to spray their brother. I decided on another tactic: put them in charge.

Son Number Two, Destructo the Younger, flattens cardboard boxes and maintains order in the mixed paper box. Each warlord, er, boy, gets to enforce rules governing his domain (By royal decree, crushed cans go in the Christmas coffee can painted like a Gingerbread Man and flattened boxes go upright in their own tall kitchen trash can--I guess vertical is the new green.)

I let the oldest, Destructo the First on the Scene, be in charge of can smashing. There’s not a piece of recyclable aluminum that’s safe when he tours the house looking for additions to fill his container.

From what I can tell, we’re doing well on the recycling, but it sure looks like we’re leaving one heckuva carbonated footprint.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011



Peter Cottontail just whipped past, hopping at top speed down the bunny trail. The Labradors are in hot pursuit. (See action photo at left.) Somebody should tell the rapid Mr. Cottontail that he can back it out of hyperspace. Those dogs haven't caught anything yet.

And they're easily distracted. . .oh look, a caterpillar.

So, as usual, they're Hareless.

Join me at Stage of Life for our annual Easter Bunny Hunt. While you're there, seek out some of the coupon specials and writing contests that are hiding throughout the site.

Monday, April 18, 2011


“Why all the questions? I haven’t had to come up with this many answers since I broke curfew.”

“No problem. Unless you’re as creative with the government as you were with me.”

Son One is filling out tax forms with the same hearty appreciation he musters for cleaning the litter box. He was finding the two jobs alarmingly similar. I’m in the kitchen weaving bits and pieces of leftovers into something that resembles supper.

He frowned at the paper. “Tips? I don’t get tips. I found a penny on the floor once and the boss claimed it was overtime pay and made me mop the floor.”

“That reminds me. It’s your turn to do the laundry. I get half the change you find, but you can have 100% of the dog treats. No questions asked.”

“This line says Subsistence Allowance. Is that the money I lose in the school vending machines trying to get a Twinkie to hold me til lunch?”

“No. The government isn’t interested in the state of your state of being until you graduate.”

“Just as well. Whatever you’re making in there would probably count against us. Are you mixing things? You know I don’t like my food to touch.”

“Sometimes you have to have to be creative, remember?”

“What about Contributions to the College Investment Program?”

“Put zero.”

“But I paid enough in college tuition to make everyone in the county smarter than a fifth grader.”

“Doesn’t count.”

“Railroad retirement?”

“Six seasons in front of Thomas the Tank Engine? No.”

“HazMat? I can sign up for HazMat?”

“You don’t get to make hazardous materials," I said, layering asparagus with eggs and cheese.”

“Why not? I’m a natural. I’m exposed to hazardous materials every day.”

“In what form?”

He sniffed the air and made the yukky face.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sand Hassle

A good bathing suit is like a screen door. It keeps out unsavory wildlife and provides a nice view, yet allows a gentle breeze to come through and cool off the kitchen.

If the screen door doesn't work, the house fills up with smoke and somebody's biscuits are going to burn.

Join me over at An Army of Ermas. I've been frolicking in the ocean a little too long. My biscuits are in big trouble.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Royal I in London

Ten Reasons Why I Should Be the BBC Correspondent to cover the British Royal Wedding.

1. I have a hat.

2. I have a son named William.

3. I could help with the reception. The Queen should not have to go her entire life without tasting my wings. I also cut the crust off sandwiches.

4. I sometimes drink tea, and once had a crumpet, which I ate incorrectly.

5. I can use the word blimey correctly in a sentence. ("Blimey!")

6. I am an expert on royalty, having often been described as a royal pain.

7. I have seen an entire episode of Dr. Who. I can also quote appropriate lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and am prepared to do so in an audition. (I will provide my own coconuts.)

8. I would fit right in overseas as long as I didn’t have to eat kidneys. Or anything the British describe as “pudding.”

9. Beside Camilla, I would look like Princess Diana. A Diana that had to shop in the petite chubby section and wear stretchy pants, but princess material nonetheless.

10. I own a tiara. (Target. $5.99)