Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A taste of Pounding Sand

Hubby's band played the office Christmas party. Someone nudged the video camera, so you can't see the guitarist or the drummer or the fabulous banner I made, but you CAN see Hubby on bass, and what more do you need in concert footage? Next gig is at Cryer's Back Road Inn, on January 24th. You know you want to be there.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My dog has night terrors

Otis, our pug, is napping by my desk. He just broke into a horrific, keening wail, in his sleep. It is just about the worst sound you could ever hear.

Being the loving pet owner I am, I leaned down and shouted, "Otis! Honey! It's OK! Wake up! Otis! You're OK!" And he did wake up, calm down, and go back to sleep.

He has only done this a handful of times, all within the past few years. Never as a younger dog. Part of me would love to be able to see what he sees, because dear GOD it is terrifying, and his life is about as dull and predictable and gravy-soaked as a dog could ever hope it to be. I have no idea what could be that upsetting. But I will tell you, that sound cuts through me like a buzz saw to the brain.

Then again, anything that scares him that much would probably be a bit more than I want to witness, I guess.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yeah, that sounds good, too

Weird fact about Christine, #38: I tend to sit here and read about the nutritional profile of my food, as I eat it.

So, yeah, I'm reading about the stuff I just dumped in my tea, and I started adding more stuff. Right now I'm leaning over a hot steaming mug with a tea bag, a couple of cardamom pods, some cloves, a slice of ginger and a cinnamon stick. You instant tea people can have your way, but me, I have something to chew on, later.

Which may be disgusting, I suppose. But, hey, I'm not making YOU fish out a cardamom pod and chew it, so keep yer hands off my mug.

Completely OT? I hate Sears. I hate them all. I hate their crappy selection of stuff, their bizarre system of starting the checkout line a full 15 feet away from the cash register, and the fact that I spent hours there, last night, giving them money in exchange for Christmas gifts.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Perfection Makes Perfect

About 20 years ago, Hubby and I got a fortune cookie that rocked our world. It was not a fortune at all. It said, "Perfection makes perfect."

What the heck? We laughed about that cookie for ages.

At the time, we did not see it for what it was: a harbinger of a new day when fortune cookies wouldd not predict your future, but just piled words on you, or revisited the wisdom of your crankiest elderly relatives.

Tonight, we ordered Chinese food. Here is the sad collection of modern fortune cookie contents we endured tonight; wisdom, opinion, and wishes abound: only one could qualify as a fortune:

Share your joys and sorrows with your family.
Society prepares the crime; the criminal commits it.
Wish you a long life.
You are sociable and entertaining.
If you want to have a friend, you have to be one.
Serious trouble will bypass you.

Honestly, fortune cookie manufacturers of the world: you can do better.

On an unrelated, holiday-oriented note, Christmas preparations continue:
Two of the Sons have purchased their Secret Santa presents for their assigned brothers.
The second Christmas tree is up and decorated.
The presents we already have bought, are wrapped. Which leaves me with an updated shopping list I need to tackle, this week.
My mother came down with her annual gingerbread house extravaganza and Christmas ornament shopping trip. We are all on a sugar high.
For the third year in a row, the ornament I chose broke, before we could get it out of the bag. Traditions, man.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Christmas Tree is up

Hubby and I have always done a real Christmas tree. A few years ago, we realized that the cats found the secret spots beneath the tree to be the ideal place to, um, "go", so we replaced the Christmas tree in the basement with an artificial tree.

You'd think that meant we stopped having a real tree, but no. Now we have the Christmas Morning Fake Basement Tree for present opening purposes, and the Upstairs Real Tree for smelling-like-Christmas purposes. Kind of excessive, for a Scrooge like me, but, ok, I can get with the program.

Today the house was fairly clean, I have 2 weeks before my next deadline, and so everything else can kind of wait a bit. I decided to crank up the tunes and decorate at least one tree.

The Upstairs Real Tree is now decorated. It is not a great tree--and Hubby has spoiled me with years of consistently breathtaking trees, so maybe a normal person would not even complain about the tree we've got. But I look at it and I think, "This tree is weird".

It's not just the tree. It's the ornaments.

We have a wooden ornament in the shape of Texas. We have no Texas history at all. No Texan family. Hubby and I have never been to Texas. But there is a red Texas on my tree. It says "Merry Christmas, Y'all!" All my blog readers in Texas can feel included in the holiday spirit at chez Waste of Time. Ok.

We also have a china dog bone with holly on it. My mother gave it to us, for our dog. She gives us a dog ornament every year, because one day Otis will move out and have a tree of his own and this way he'll have a head start on an ornament collection. Only this dog bone looks for all the world like an erection. A big brown dog bone is fucking my tree, right by the living room window. But it has holly and ribbons on it, so it's festive, OK?

We have the collection of ornaments made by the Sons, when they were smaller, and even a few I made myself as a young girl. No problem there. A certain level of homemade tackiness is important to the holiday. But WHAT possessed Son #1's teacher to use that photo? The one where his poor little 2nd-grade self looks like he would rather stab himself in the eye than pose for the shot? Eh, she was a crappy teacher and we all hated her, anyway. Fine.

Now that I look at it, I think the tree is perfect, for this year. A little quirky, a little obnoxious, a bit of an attitude problem in spots, but all sparkly-glowy where it counts.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's not exactly Frost/Nixon, but...

Penelope has agreed to interview me. If you'd like to play along, the rules follow at the bottom. And you should. It's your chance to be risk-taking AND the center of attention.

1. As we know, you have 4 sons. Were you tempted to try again for a girl or do you think boys are best?

I think Hubby would have enjoyed a girl, but I would not wish a teenage daughter on anyone, so I am very happy with the 4 we have. Not to mention, my great-grandmother was the 17th child in her family, and the FIRST girl...so, you know, there was no guarantee I would have produced one, anyway.

2. You have a super bass playing husband. Would you be tempted to loan him out? (Across The Pond perhaps?) ;o)

For bass playing purposes? Oh, absolutely. He lays down some of the funkiest bass lines you'll ever hear in a crappy southern Maryland bar. He can also play drums, and some guitar. And he can open a beer with anything. So, you know, he is the life of any party. Of course, if he is going to cross the pond to play bass, he will need a roadie---I think I qualify.

3. If you could do any job at all, what would it be?

I would love to be able to write more, and do more creative stuff. Not art, exactly, but interesting and decorative things. All of which requires much more time. Because, dammit, those 4 sons of mine have a nasty habit of trashing the house and requiring transportation all over the known world. So, in a way, I am fortunate in that I can SEE my ideal job, and occasionally brush my hand against it. Makes me think that at some point I will be able to achieve it all.

4. What do you never leave home without?
My GPS. A small, digital camera. My cell phone (although today Son #2 took it to school, so I have been groping for it all afternoon). And a heaping helping of Catholic guilt.

5. What is your secret to a successful family life?

Here is the small print if you would like to play along. Bear in mind that if you do, I'll be the one asking the questions this time!

Link back to the original post - in my case that was this.

Put the rest of the rules in your post:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." (Or email me cebasham at gmail dot com)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

So, to all and sundry, you really should ask me to interview you. I promise to be...aw, heck, I promise nothing, but it might be fun. Thanks, Penelope!

Son #1 Has Advice on Women, Too

The other day, I posted some advice on guys, from Son #1. Coincidentally, yesterday he offered some advice on us women, too. And although it pains me to say it, he is, again, correct.

Long story slightly less long: Son #1 has a friend--a friend who is on the edgy end of the spectrum, but who seems to have cut back on much of his wilder behavior, in recent years. This boy also has been polite to me and loves my cooking. So, you know, he's OK, even though I know his sordid past.

Unfortunately, Son #1 has started dating this guy's ex-girlfriend. The girlfriend, and her friends, have started some nasty rumors. The other day, Son #1's edgy friend believed all the rumors and assumed they were coming from Son #1, so he sent a group of kids to jump him in the school parking lot.

Son #1 has used a mixture of bravado ("Beat me up? You're half my size. You're not beating NOTHING. Stop sending your friends and fight me like a man.") and reason ("Dude! I don't know anything about these rumors. I don't want to fight you!") to smooth things over.

Last night, I think he settled it all, with one more phone call to Edgy Friend (who, all threats aside, skipped school yesterday). This is what I heard:

"Man, they are teenage girls. They are going to make drama. They are going to start rumors. They are going to blow things out of proportion. You can't let what they say change what you're doing. You can't make them stop spreading rumors and going crazy. You just have to let it go."

I'm proud of my son for his surprising store of wisdom, but just a tad embarrassed for my gender.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

So what DOES she know?

Yesterday Hubby and I took 3 of the Sons out for some trashy-but-satisfying fast food and familial conversation, without the need for dish-washing.

Son #2 was talking about his history teacher, who has spent the past few weeks praising the merciful, useful Social Security system which only has minor problems and which protects us from ourselves, by saving our money for us and giving it back to us when we need it, because "Most Americans are too undisciplined to save for their own retirement":

"She had never heard of a Ponzi scheme, so I explained it to her. Whenever there's something like that, that she doesn't know, she calls me up to her desk and asks me to explain it to her quietly, so the other students don't hear it. Then she goes on with her lesson and doesn't mention it to the class."

Son #2 comes home from school most days with some basic piece of information that his teacher swears she's never heard before. Most of the time, according to Son #2, his teacher's main goal seems to be to ensure that the rest of her students never hear about that stuff, either. Is she embarrassed by her own ignorance? Is she using her classroom to promote a political agenda?

In the spirit of "You can learn something from anyone", and "Son #2 should find something to respect in his teacher, because she is his teacher," I asked him, "Well, what does she know?"

I figured he'd say, "Well, she really loved teaching about the War of 1812" or "She gave us so much information on the Whig party that I thought it was going to come out my eyeballs" or something.


"Well, she knows Republicans are evil."

I would say she probably knows a lot about whales, too.

In The Know: Are Our Children Learning Enough About Whales?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Meme Stolen from Penelope

69 Questions Guaranteed You've Never Answered. (Not sure who guarantees it but that's what it said on the tin.)

1. Would you bang your neighbor? Dear lord, no.

2. What describes your relationship status? Married, but someone last night thought I was hubby's girlfriend, so I guess we're sufficiently affectionate.

3. Where are you? In the living room.

4. What's the last movie you've seen? I think it might have been iGo To Japan--a TV movie. Does that count?

5. The last person you held hands with? Hubby

6. Who Is Your Best Friend? I seem to have several in the running.

7. Who have you talked to most today? Hubby, so far.

8. Do you carve pumpkins every year? I did every year for about 17 years, but this year I didn't...and someone smashed my pumpkin.

9. Color of your underwear? Purple and black

10. Color of your shirt? Navy blue

11. I'm always... swamped

12. Who's on speed dial 2? 4? 6? I don't use it.

13. Honestly, how many people do you have feelings for? I have feelings about everyone I know, I think.

14. Whats your favorite season? Summer.

15. Good advice if you ever go camping? Don't invite me, as I hate camping!

16. Are you a bad influence? On occasion. But I'm not going to make you do something you wouldn't do.

17. Rather have your name or your siblings name? Mine.

18. Would you do anything for someone else? I'll do some things for some people but there aren't too many people I'd do ANYTHING for.

20. Have you ever been called a bitch? Just once, that I know about.

21. Have you ever been called a slut? Yes.

22. What is your ringtone? A horrible piece of non-music.

24. Are your grades good? Thank goodness I don't need to worry about that anymore!

25. Do you ever think people hate you for filling these out? Naaah.

26. Does your best friend(s) have a nexopia? I don't know what a nexopia is!

27. Whose page did you visit last? Penelope's blog--that's when I stole her meme.

28. Last time you went out to lunch? Son #4 and I stopped at Taco Bell on Wednesday.

30. Who is your favorite character from Friends? I take the 5th.

31. Do you have a tattoo? Nope.

32. Do you want one? Not really.

33. Do you have one or more Britney Spears CD? No.

34. What did you do last night? Danced to Hubby's band at the office Christmas party, helped the band load up their equipment. Hung out with Hubby, afterwards. Great fun.

35. Are you a LOST fanatic? No. I kind of hate TV, most of the time.

36. What's your name spelled backwards? Unpronounceable.

37. Do you have a song by Ozzy Osbourne in your library? We have some Ozzy.

38. iPod or Zune? Neither

39. Do you watch Family Guy regularly? I've only seen maybe 2 episodes.

40. King of the Hill? See the answer above.

41. Do you read trashy romance novels often? No.

42. What's the last thing you bought? I'm doing a lot of online Christmas shopping.

43. What's the last thing someone bought you? Hubby bought me a drink at a bar the other day.

44. Do you ever sing obnoxiously in the shower? Not too obnoxiously, I don't think.

45. What's in your CD player right now? Amy's mix CD.

46. What's your favorite movie? Maybe The Manchurian Candidate.

47. Another favorite movie? The Shawshank Redemption.

48. Do you believe everyone has a soul mate? Not really.

49. Can you sing? Not well enough for other people, but I have fun in the car.

50. Do you play any instruments? No.

53. Are you ever a freak about cleanliness or organization? No, unfortunately.

54. Have you ever been to South America or Africa? No.

55. Do you know how to knit? A little.

56. Do you have a job? I work, but I don't have a job.

57. Have you ever written love song lyrics yourself and put them on nexopia? No.

58. What are you doing right now besides this survey? Talking to a friend and wishing I had some tea.

59. Last place you went for vacation? New York

60. Favorite number? I don't have one.

61. Physics or chemistry? I took chemistry.

62. Facebook or Myspace? Neither

64. R-rated or G-rated movies? Can both be good, and both can stink.

66. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars? Star Wars.

67. Fly or road trip? Either.

68. Batman, Spiderman, or Superman, or the Hulk, or SilverSurfer? Spider-Man.

69. What's your favorite Disney movie? Snow White, maybe?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Advice on Guys, from a Guy

Son #1, who is 17:

"You know why I love talking to J--- on the phone? He calls, we make plans to do something, he hangs up. He doesn't ask me how my day went. Because unless you're a girl, and you're cute, guys don't want to talk to you on the phone for an hour."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

He knows the words, but not the tune

I took Son #2 to the art supply store and a teenager was running the cash register. The woman behind me (grandmotherly type) approached the register and said sweet-faced teen smiled at her and said, "How's it hangin', ma'am?"

Monday, December 01, 2008

How to be a writer

...a writer cannot afford to give in to feelings of rage, disgust, or contempt. Did you answer someone in a temper? If so, you didn't hear him out and lost track of his system of opinions. You avoided someone out of disgust--and a completely unknown personality slipped out of your ken--precisely the type you would have needed some day. But, however tardily, I nonetheless caught myself and realized I had always devoted my time and attention to people who fascinated me and were pleasant, who engaged my sympathy, and that as a result I was seeing society like the Moon, always from one side.

Alexsandr I Solzenitzyn
The Gulag Archipelago Two