Falling In Love

It finally happened. The day I had been lusting for since mid-July arrived. Last week, the temperature mercifully dropped to 49 degrees. My joy was boundless, my enthusiasm unrestrained. I celebrated in the traditional fashion of my Nordic ancestors by running naked in my backyard screaming “Jeg elsker ikke sveder!” (I love not sweating.)

Okay, I didn’t run naked (I was wearing my p.j.’s) because besides violating some city codes I’m sure it’s against a HOA covenant. I can see right it there next to fence height and width of pickets – “no person(s) shall run a lap around their back yard while donning nothing but their birthday suit.”

You see I have had a life time love affair with chilly weather. It completes me. All you summer lovers can take your clinical strength deodorant, your moisture enriched body parts, flimsy flip-flops, and your triple degree temperatures and go sit beside a dozen Costco space heaters because it’s the fall dang it and we should glory in it.

No, you know what that’s not even good enough. We should respect not just fall but the seasonal change in temperatures. This is a major beef of mine because we live in the Midwest. We’re not Gulf of Mexico or plain old Mexico adjacent so why do we grouse when the temperature finally reflects the wonders of autumn?

As I was driving to work on that chilly October morn with the windows slightly down so I could be blasted with nippy air thus making my car’s seat heater even more delicious I was in my element – cold and cozy. If fall was a food it would be Kettle Corn because it delivers a ying and yang of temperate experiences.

My euphoria was doused when some fools, yes fools, on “news” radio began complaining about the “freezing weather” and wondering when would summer be back.

That was it for me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I pulled my car into the nearest parking lot, found the stations number and gave them a ring-a-ding- ding. I felt duty bound, in the name of seasonal equity, to let these goofs have it.

As I waited for my call to go through I couldn’t decide which way to approach the topic of “hey idiots.” Should I be very motherly and explain in no more than two-syllable words what fall is? Surely they should have learned that in school.

Hmm, maybe I needed to go scientific and discuss with them that 49 degrees is not technically freezing and that perhaps they should put on a sweater and get over themselves.

Or would a public shaming be more appropriate? The duo on the radio were long-time residents of Kansas City. They were supposed to be hearty Midwesterners that can swagger walk through epic snow storms and endure the ravages of ice without so much as a pair of mittens. Not, cry babies who were upset that had to wear long sleeves and perhaps closed toe shoes (gasp!) for a couple of days in October.

Since I couldn’t figure out the best way to make my case for fall I was going to go full cornucopia and just blast them with all three. First, a quick primer on what fall is, followed by a basic science lesson on what constitutes freezing and then a no hold barred scolding (I consider that my specialty).

Finally, my call was answered and I was ready to go. Ugh. It was a recording. I had to resort to text which is not nearly as satisfying, but as autumn’s unofficial champion I was not going to be deterred. Fall repaid me for my effort by soaring into the 80’s three days later.

Sigh.

I’m Fangry

I’m fangry. In fact, this is14925403_1829202370624681_9133056398365006827_n the worst case of fangry I’ve ever had and it’s really ticking me off. To pile on to my misery there is absolutely nothing I can do to alleviate or eliminate it besides getting an attitude adjustment and I’m going to tell you straight up that’s not going to happen. My fangry is too intense and all-consuming.

You see I’m suffering from Fall Angry known as “fangry” which is classified as a seasonal affective disorder. My fangry was brought on by the non-fall like temperatures that have robbed, yes robbed, me from enjoying my favorite season. I feel totally ripped off that we have had almost zero autumnal yumminess.

The fall should herald and embrace the 3 C’s – cool, crisp and cuddly. All we’ve gotten is Summer 2.0 and it reeks. As I write this I’m in a tank top and shorts in freaking November. And for all of you thinking “yay, high-five, this is so great” slow your roll because it’s none of the above.

Fall in the Midwest is a thing of glory. It’s God’s gift for enduring summer. It’s everything you want from a season. The temperatures drop, the humidity takes a holiday and goes to visit Texas, and you’re free, free at last, from the constant hum of your air conditioner. It’s a time to throw open your windows and let your neighbors hear you yell at your kids to rake the leaves.

You also get to mercifully cover up your arms and legs and swathe yourself in cozy sweaters that then allow you to eat loads of pumpkin cinnamon rolls because no one’s going to notice your fat layers in an “on trend” oversize chunky cable knit.

Fall is the season that gives you a hug and whispers, “It’s all going to be okay I’m here now.”

Except it’s not here and I’m ready to issue an APB. I’m not kidding. This is serious. Do you know what’s happening right now because fall has forsaken us or been abducted?

Let me answer that for you in no particular order of importance. My craving for pumpkin pie and/or bread is non-existent. For the first time in years I didn’t even buy a pumpkin candle from Bath and Bodyworks. Who in the hell wants to smell pumpkin when they’re sweating?

I still have all my begonias blooming and it just looks odd – begonias in November. If I wanted begonias in November I would live in Disneyland. (Not that I don’t love Disneyland, but 365 of the Magic Kingdom would be not so magical.)

My trees have barely lost any leaves, which means that in December, in the midst of all the holiday havoc, I’ll be doing hard time in the yard. Like I need raking leaves and bagging leaves  on my “to do” list.

Oh and Halloween was weird. Trick-or-treaters in shorts and flip-flops – ugh. It’s unseemly that’s what it was.

And two more words for you – oak mites. Those jerks, along with assorted gnats and flies, are still around ruining my life because we haven’t even gotten close to a hard freeze.

Then to turbo kick my fangry into Defcon 5 I’m being told that this weather trend probably means we’re going to have a mild winter and then record-breaking summer heat. Noooo!

That terrifying prognostication reminds me that I need to do a public service announcement. To everyone out there, most especially folks who broadcast the weather or coo the time and temp, it’s heartless of you to say in November, in the Midwest, that “it’s a beautiful 84 degrees out.” There is nothing the least bit attractive about running your A.C. in November.

The correct verbiage to use, in an effort to be sensitive to fangry sufferers everywhere, is that, “It’s 84 degrees and I’m sorry, very sorry.”

 

 

I Love You Fall!

I’m glad summer is over. 00b41e4efd6fb742f647b26aa76be188There are only so many bad hair days one girl can handle. Plus, I’m beyond excited to cover up my arms. This Armageddon thing is new for me. Before last week I had really never thought about my arms, but there I was in Nordstroms “helping” my daughter shop for a homecoming dress (ie keeping my opinion to myself and trying to stop from rolling my eyes while she proclaimed every dress “grandma.” I wanted to say, “and by grandma do you mean an article of clothing that allows you to exhale without a body part trying to escape?) when I caught the quickest of glimpses of my arms in a three-way mirror.

Good Lord, what hell hath time wrought? The back of my arms looked like Pillsbury braided breadsticks with extra “popping fresh” action. And there was this roll of dough doing a whole swing low sweet chariot thing and swaying. It was a little hypnotic. I couldn’t stop myself from lifting my arms and just staring at the to and fro action. In the cup half full department I think I could take my arms to Vegas and do some sort of hypnotism act on the strip.

I can see it now. I’m standing on stage in a sleeveless dress and ever so slowly I raise my arms and chant, “You are getting very sleepy.” The next thing you know I and my, let’s call them gifted, upper appendages have managed to hypnotize a crowd of gamblers into giving me their $5.99 all you can buffet coupons.

But enough about my Armageddon. Let’s move on with my love affair with fall that trumps summer in almost every way. The biggest win for fall is no more time spent at the pool. It’ not that don’t like water. I love swimming. I think in a former life I was porpoise. I was about to say dolphin but then I remember a porpoise is basically a dolphin’s portly doppelgänger. So porpoise it is. (I don’t know much about the porpoises fins, but I’m sure they’ve got a little more meat on them. Hmm, maybe I should add a porpoise to my hypnotist act if I ever do the Vegas thing. Just a thought people don’t get overly excited.)

Sadly being at the pool isn’t all about getting wet. You’ve got the hot mom squad to navigate (or splash). These are the women that go to the pool in bikinis, high heels (note a 4 inch wedge flip-flop qualifies as a heel) and makeup. Then they spend their time not in the water (you know because that would make sense) but strolling the pool area like it’s Fashion Week in New York. Ugh.

Here’s fun fact for you. Any mom who gets all gussied or tarted up (I’m channeling my Grandma Stella there) to take her kids to the pool is not to be trusted. Think about, now think about it some more. Uh huh, I’m right. You’re welcome.

To make matters even sadder some of these moms, who do look amazing I’m not going to take that away from them, have on smaller patches of lycra than their teenage daughters. The only bit of gratitude I received from my daughter this summer was a “I’m so grateful you’ll never look better in a swimsuit than I do.”  For sure she’s got nothing to worry about on that front.

One of the reasons I may not be a swimsuit model can be blamed directly on fall. It’s a delicious season that celebrates stuffing yourself. How great is that? From Halloween candy to the Thanksgiving chow down it’s one big yum.

Summer is not so yummy. It’s all about watermelon and cucumber fasts. In the fall you get to reap the mighty health benefits of a pumpkin cleanse. (In the did you know department pumpkin is one of nature’s richest sources of alpha-carotene. Take that kale detox smoothie .) My typical cleanse features pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cheesecake and a pumpkin cinnamon roll which may be as close to heaven as I’ll ever get.

Who cares if all that alpha-carotene leads to a muffin top? It’s the fall just throw on a hoodie and stuff that extra pumpkin roll into your jeans. You know your special “fall size” jeans. The ones that are stretched to capacity and ready for all the autumnal bounty you have to offer. Then tell yourself you’re going to burn off all those calories raking leaves. You know just as soon as there’s no more football to watch.

Alpha-Carotene Nutritional Squares (aka Pumpkin Bars that will make you go weak in the knees) I first tried these bars at Williams Sonoma a couple of years ago and I kept going back for samples until I was aggressively scolded by one of the sales associates. Was I embarrassed? Hell no. A girl’s got a right to get her pumpkin on. 

-1 package of yellow cake mix; set aside 1 cup

-1/2 cup butter, melted

-3 large eggs

1 jar of Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter from Williams Sonoma

-1/8 cup milk

-1 T. flour

-1/4 cup sugar

-1/4 cup butter, softened

-1 t. cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Divide yellow cake mix, placing all but one cup in a mixing bowl. Stir the melted butter and one egg into the cake mix. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Mix the jar of Pecan Pumpkin Butter with two eggs and milk. Pour this result over the cake mix. Stir the reserved cup of cake mix with the flour, sugar, softened butter, and cinnamon. Mix together until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of the pumpkin layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 2″ squares. (Or 4 inch or maybe throw caution and your daily calorie intake to the wind and just eat half the pan.)

August – The Bipolar Month

awesome-comics-derp-and-derpina-funny-Favim.com-799200I have a love hate relationship with the month of August. The hate comes, I think, from being water-logged. By now I have clocked so many hours in a pool or at a waterpark I feel like the Center for Disease Control should have me on a retainer for some sort of long-term chlorine exposure experiment.

 I’m also extremely weary of the swimsuit/bathroom shimmy. Now, if you’re a guy or a woman who has only worn a bikini her whole life (and may I just say right now that I admire either your self-confidence and/or dedication to the burpee) you won’t know what I’m talking about. So, let me try to explain to those of you who have never experienced the hand-to-hand combat of peeling off a wet, Lycra infused one piece.

 Imagine if your body was being hugged to death by a slippery, yet very tenacious and amorous seal. Now, envision trying to remove that seal from your body. You tug, you pull and eventually you hop and up down trying to enlist gravity to be on your team. Finally, you manage to roll your one piece down far enough so you can use the bathroom. That, my friends was the easy part because now you have to do the ultimate heave-ho and get that wet sucker back on.

 It’s a Sisyphean task. No matter how hard you yank your swimsuit up it barely moves. Wet Lycra must have the adhesion quality of duct tape infused with Gorilla Glue. By the time I have my suit at my stomach I usually resort to prayer and request divine intervention for the final journey – up and over the boobs. Last month at the Schlitterbahn water park it was such an arduous task getting my swimsuit off and on that by 2 p.m. I had reached my Fitbit goal for the day. It had to be all the jumping.

 Right about now I’m also sick of being hot. Heat is the enemy. Yes, I know lots of folks love living the 110-degree life. I just don’t happen to be one of them. Primarily because I find hot weather unattractive. There’s the sweating, the bad hair days, the melting make up and all the shaving. Could anything be more yuck?

 Now, let’s take a gander at fall and winter, summer’s much more beautiful sisters. These seasons are all about long sleeves, long pants and cable knit sweaters so bulky they conceal a wide variety of sins like weekly trips to the Krispy Kreme drive thru. And then there’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world – low humidity.

When that first crisp hint of autumn is in the air I become giddy. It’s life affirming and that’s just me talking about my hair. It’s got a bounce, a shine, a sheen that says, “Here you go brave girl. This is just for you for surviving summer.”

 August also brings unwanted attention to my lackluster parenting skills. Every summer I become a slacker mom. Anything that smacks of school from reading logs to summer assignments and “must have this done before school starts” packets I completely ignore nagging my kids about until the calendar says August 1.

Then it’s time for me to go into what I call the hurry and harass mode. Hurry, as in, “What do you mean you haven’t even gotten the book yet? You better get a move on it right now!” After that I follow-up with a level of harassment so fierce that my kids accuse me a being a bully or worse a “summer buzz buster.”

 All this school talk brings me to what I love about August. Yep, you guessed it – school starting! I’m not and never have been one of those moms that does the big boo hoo about her precious flock going back to school. The crocodile tears mothers are the worst.

Primarily because their angst is so disingenuous. I believe that these moms are confused and feel that to maintain their “Mother of the Year” street cred they must act inconsolable about their children being gone seven, wonderful, delicious, hours a day.

 So for you ladies getting ready to assault social media with your tales of abandonment because school has started and giving an Meryl Streep level performance of misery and despair at “Meet the Teacher” night may I suggest you rethink this strategy because no one is buying it. Mainly because if you’re that bereft about being child free why wouldn’t you just home school? 

 A couple of years ago at one of those back-to-school coffees I asked a mom who was clutching a handful of Kleenex that question. Let’s just say it didn’t go well.

 Of course, a downside to school starting, besides the phony mom weeping, is school supply shopping. I’m still in recovery from being at Target during a school sales tax holiday. You would have thought it was T minus 24 hours till the rapture. You know if the rapture was all about going to heaven with Trapper Keepers and college ruled notebooks. The best/worst was when two moms began fighting over the last couple of three-ring binder folders.

 It was intense. I got really scared when one mom reached into her cart and started gesturing with a ruler and not one of those plastic floppy rulers. Oh no, she was going all back in the day, little red schoolhouse with a hardcore wooden one. I was like, “Uh oh, it’s a throw down” and settled in with my Diet Coke for what I was sure was going to dinner theatre – Target style. The one-act drama was interrupted when an employee saved the day by restocking folders.

 But trumping even theatrics at Target and school starting the biggest gift August brings is one of new beginnings. For anyone with children still pursing their educational journey this month is when the New Year starts. Forget about January 1. August is where it’s at.

There’s excitement and hope for what the school year will bring. Resolutions are made. New routines are established and parents everywhere, engulfed in the fumes of new backpacks and number two pencils, are wishing for their children to have their very best year yet.

*Attention Snarky Friends, I have a new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂 

 

 

To Rake, or Not to Rake, That Is The Question

b5b97e47293b2ac67801194aa8ddd9daI have lived all over the United States – From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam I’ve unpacked moving boxes. In fact, you know you get around a lot when there are multiple moving stickers on the underside of your furniture. I considered it the suburban version of carbon dating. One of the hardest things about moving can be deciphering the unwritten code of your new neighborhood as it pertains to outdoor maintenance. Primarily leaf raking and redistributing snow.

For example, in Texas when it snows, and by that a mean a smattering, maybe a quarter cup of semi-frozen precipitation gently falling from the sky, everyone freaks out. The whole city goes into lockdown. Grocery stores get picked clean of perishables, booze and ammo. For days prior to the 32 degrees with a chance of crystallized vapor forecast, news crews position their live trucks outside the Super Target to interview frenzied shoppers about the status of their provisions. The one thing no Texan worries about is clearing their driveway. Mainly, because no one owns, or perhaps has ever seen, a snow shovel.

When my family lived in the Lake Tahoe region of Nevada anyone who shoveled snow was a chump and a seasonal hater. You do not vanquish your driveway of the white stuff no matter how much Mother Nature dumped on it. To shovel your driveway means three things: 1) You aren’t a native and 2) because you aren’t a native you don’t own a vehicle big enough to plow through and over 12 foot snow drifts which means 3) you must not ski because with this much new snow you should be heading to the slopes not wasting time on driveway beautification.

(As for our brief sojourn in Los Angeles, folks there get freaked out when it rains. I had a neighbor who refused to drive in the rain and another one who had NEVER driven in the rain. Earthquakes though didn’t bother either of them. Go figure.)

Now based on these experiences, when my family moved to the middle of the country four years ago, I was lackadaisical about snow removal. My husband still had his big “Lake Tahoe” vehicle and no snowstorm could stop that bad boy from going anywhere. (Note: bad boy is referring to the car not my husband just in case anyone was getting confused.) Little did we know our non-shoveling practices were proving confusing to the neighbors. I started to catch on when people would seek me out and volunteer to “help me” shovel my driveway. This is when I learned that in the Midwest a non-shoveled driveway is sign of slothful living or you have a heart condition that prohibits interaction with a snow shovel. Now, I consider myself an almost native because not only do I shovel my driveway with a vengeance (and I own two different kinds of shovels. One for clearing large areas and one for detail work on porches, patios and porticos) but I’m one of those crazies that go out mid blizzard to get an early start on snow removal.

My lack of knowledge about the etiquette of snow removal was nothing compared to my leaf raking ignorance. Once again, I must blame Texas, Los Angeles and Nevada for my stupidity. In L.A. and the Lone Star state there are no leaves to rake. The trees never shed their green. In northern Nevada if you rake your leaves you’re an environmental terrorist. There’s not even any kind of leaf pickup and just say no to being able to find any leaf bags. Your residential layer of leaves are meant to stay on our yard so they can act as a winter blanket, a snow barrier, a compost cover, whatever you want to call it, until Spring when you then gently mulch the leaf refuse with your solar-powered mower.

This is my way of saying, I did not know that leaf raking is considered a competitive sport in the Midwest. I was woefully unaware that the number of brown leaf bags lining your curb was how you keep score or that there was something called “yarpet” which is where you strive for your lawn to look like green carpet unmarred by unattractive, past their expiration date, crumpled leaves. In fact, it wasn’t until a neighbor put up a makeshift leaf fence, which consisted of chicken wire strung between two stakes, that I got the hint. (It took awhile. I stared at that fence for days wondering what it was all about. Thinking it was yard art or maybe a weird kind of Native American dream catcher.) Finally, I had my Oprah Aha moment and embraced leaf removal. Last weekend, I filled 17 bags. Yeah, that’s right, I’m now a proud middle nation dweller and I have the yarpet to prove it.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.