February 24, 2013

Stop whatever you are doing right now and head over to Amazon......yes, it's a book review

I am not kidding.  I have just read the MOST amazing book.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.

You might recognize that name as she also wrote The Time Traveler's Wife (also an excellent book, pick it up while you are buying this one).

Verbatim from the back cover....

Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year old sisters with an intense attachment to each other.  One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago.  Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment.  There are two conditions for this inheritance:  that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which border the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried.  Julia and Valentina becoming involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery.  They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including - perhaps - their aunt.

If THAT isn't enough to pull you in - then let me tell you this; although this is a ghost story; it isn't.  I mean you are not going to find yourself knee-deep in a Stephen King-esque kind of story.

I have just spent the majority of the weekend with my head buried in this book.  Seriously.

I want so badly to spill it all out, but I know if I keep typing much longer I will.  So, I'll just say this.  This woman knows how to write.  She knows how to develop her characters and pull you in.  Once you pick up this novel you will not want to put it down until you are finished.  And then?

Then you will want to pick it up again immediately and start over...just to see what you might have missed on the first read.

I kid you not - this is a book that you need to read.  And then after you've read it, let's discuss, seriously.  Because I need to talk to someone about this book.

Now go!  I'm waiting...

February 19, 2013

Thoughts about houses, college life, taxes, FAFSA and hair...it always boils down to the hair

Yeah, I know.  I've not been the best blogger in the world lately.

Would it help if I told you that I "write" blog posts every single day....IN MY MIND?

Yeah, I didn't think so.  But it's true.  They are there, bogged down in the insane recesses of my brain.  Somewhere.

The thing is, I generally have to have a fairly reasonable grasp on sanity in order to sit down and share my thoughts.  And lately?  I have not had any semblance of having a grasp on sanity.  And for the life of me I can't figure out why.

At any rate, here's what's been on my mind lately.

First up, the house.

The husband is once again making noises about selling the house.  He has listed all sorts of valid reasons and justifications.  And I know that he is right.

But here's the thing.  I LOVE this house.  We designed and built this house and it has everything I've ever wanted in a house; except for the fact that it's not exactly IN a neighborhood.

I really don't want to think about packing and moving.  I don't want to deal with the whole "keeping the house perfect" thing that goes along with showing a house.  I don't want to try and figure out where we will live.

I know that selling is the best option.  For one thing it will help get us out from under this mountain of debt we have accrued over the past two and a half years while Hubby was unemployed.  I know that downsizing would mean that I have much less housework to deal with and more money in the checking account, so that I could sneak purchases into my closet more often.  I know all this and still....I don't want to do it. Our plan had been to live here for at least ten years.  It's only been about four.

But for now, he's just talking.  He hasn't stuck the sign in the yard.  So I've got time to make my peace with it.

Next up? Man-Child.

Bless him.  He loves college.  And up until now, has been breezing through.  But this semester he had to take a math class.  He told me the other day that he'd had a test and he wasn't sure how he'd done.  Yesterday he called me to tell me that he'd completely bombed the test.  He was unhappy.  He said, "Mom, the questions and problems looked like they were in Russian."  I know; GOD do I know!  Neither his father or I am mathematically inclined either.  In high school he did okay in math, how I don't know, when he's got our genes coursing through his body.

But despite this being the "easy" math course, he's having a rough go of it.  He has decided that he will look into tutoring to get through it.  I don't think he will be selecting a major that requires a lot of math.  And I don't blame him, not one tiny bit.

The next thing that has been on my mind - taxes and filling out the FAFSA for college next year.

Well, not really.  I had banished those thoughts from my mind.  But Hubby kept reminding me.  Over and over and OVER again.

I hate doing our taxes.  Like a dummy, I persuaded him to use TurboTax last year.  Because it would be SO much cheaper.  I forgot that using TurboTax meant that a computer would be involved.  And since a computer would be involved that meant *I* would be involved.

Doing our taxes now means that I sit at the keyboard and ask the questions while he shuffles through the papers and throws out the occasional, "I don't know!" while running his fingers through his hair and I get frustrated.

But I can mark that one as done.  We did them on Sunday and miraculously I didn't kill him and, obviously, he didn't kill me since I am typing this post.  And we are once again crossing our fingers and praying that we don't get audited all because we don't know what in the hell we are doing; as referenced a few paragraphs previously.

After we were done, I made him take me to dinner because I deserved a reward after spending an afternoon going through that particular hell.

Dinner was an event only because our waitress, bless her heart, came up to us with the check, looking extremely flustered and said, "Here's the thing...oh, my heart is pounding....my manager is going to kill me..."

Apparently, she'd given our check to another table, that had already left.  When we noticed that their check was very similar to what ours would have been we told her not to worry about it; that we would take care of it.  The look of relief on her face was palpable.  It was only after we left that Hubby informed me that MC had told him he would never work at this restaurant because he'd heard from other kids, who have worked there, that the manager is an ass.  And after seeing this poor girl's face, I can believe it.  For the record, I will never eat there again - despite the fact that I like the place, only because I don't want to give someone my money who is terrorizing to his staff.  The staff which is mainly made up of kids.

At any rate yesterday, bright and early, Hubby reminds me about the FAFSA application.  Dear God in heaven...

But I did it.  It's done.  So now, I can well and truly banish them from my brain until next year.

And then there is....my hair.

Yes, if you've been around here for any length of time, then you are well aware of how much time I spend pondering my hair.  The state of it.  The length.  The cut.  All of it is up for pondering.

I've been growing it out, mainly because of finances and also out of curiousity.  And it got to be the longest (and rattiest) it's ever been.  So I called the new lady I've been seeing lately to get a trim.  It turns out she left the establishment (before Thanksgiving - so that gives you an indication of how long it has been since I last cut my hair.  It also gives you an idea of how ratty it was).

Now I had a quandary on my hands.  Take my chances with someone new or suck it up and go back to the guy I used to go to back when we occasionally had money to throw away on frivolous things like haircuts.  Throw into the mix, that I'd mentioned getting a haircut to a friend who immediately informed me that she liked my hair shorter and even told me the way she liked it best.  Funny, I'd been thinking about cutting it off anyway....

So I decided to call my old guy.  Because if I was going to chop it, he was the one to do it.  I called him on Friday.  But it's been so long since I've seen him, I soon discovered that he now doesn't work on Fridays or Mondays and only works every other Saturday.  And, as I'm sure you've guessed, I hit the weekend that he didn't work.  When he called me back, he squeezed me in for today.  I love that guy.

So I went in and he chopped it.  About three to four inches.  Sorry, no before and after pictures because I didn't think about it that's how I roll.  Now keep in mind, I've just lost THREE TO FOUR inches and, if you are a woman, you know that is a LOT of hair to lose.

So I'm feeling all kinds of sassy and pretty - because this guy has the knack of not only cutting your hair to perfection and chatting but also for making you feel like the prettiest woman on earth by the time you leave his chair.  But when I came strolling in the house Hubby looks at me and says, "I thought you were getting a haircut?"

I may have to kill him yet.

February 4, 2013

Lincoln...and the drama of shower curtain liners

How does the two very different topics relate?  They don't.  Unless I am giving you a quick re-cap of my weekend.  Which I am.

On Saturday the most unusual thing happened.  My husband and I went to a matinee.

This is unusual because it normally it is easier to move a mountain than it is to 1) get him to actually go to a theater and 2) actually have us both agree to see the same thing.  And that is why I rarely get to the movies unless I am with a girlfriend or Man-Child.

But, somehow, Friday night we were discussing various movies and we both agreed we would like to see Lincoln.  So I declared it a date.

Although there was some hedging on his part - not about going but he thought he might want to see Argo instead.  I'm sure it's a good movie - but not one that I'm particularly interested in seeing at this point.  Especially at theater prices.

Although, we all know the outcome of the movie, Lincoln, I'm reluctant to give anything away because I don't want to spoil the experience.  But I will say this, the movie is excellent.  Daniel Day-Lewis is a very convincing Lincoln and does an fabulous job.  As does Sally Field; I heard she had to fight  for the part - and I'm glad she did because, as usual, she was amazing!  And if you are even slightly interested, I'd heartily recommend that you go see it.  

Although I've never been a history buff, after the film I found myself scouring Google for all the information I could find on Mary Todd Lincoln and her youngest son, Tad.  I was curious to see what had happened to them.  As I'm sure you all remember from your history classes taken, lo those many years ago, much of the attention was focused on Lincoln, his legacy and not so much on what happened to his family after he was gone.

I was saddened to learn that Tad died when he was eighteen and that Mary was, in fact, institutionalized, by her oldest son, for a time.  But looking at the circumstances, I'm not surprised.  She outlived three of her four children.

Which leads to shower curtain liners....somehow.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but we have been displaced from our shower.  We've been forced to use *shudder* the guest/Man-Child's shower.

We've been displaced since prior to Christmas.  Despite Hubby's everyday statement, "We've GOT to get this finished this weekend!"

As I am sure you can surmise, via this post, the shower has yet to be fixed.

At any rate, over the Christmas break it was brought to my attention that not just one of my guys, but BOTH of them, had issues with the shower curtain rings.  Seriously?  How hard can it be to work shower curtain rings?  (It was also made apparent to me, that none of us are tolerant of the others shower habits.  But surely, that is another post for another day.)

Apparently, if the rings are open-ended like this....

Then the boys tend to yank the curtain right off the rod.  Because, ya know, brute strength is required when closing a shower curtain....

So in my infinite wisdom (weeks later, of course) I forced Hubby into a department store prior to the movie and bought some closed rings...

With the purchase accomplished, I figured yesterday would be the perfect day to remove the old rings, wash the curtain and the liner and replace with the new rings.

Oh....if only it were that simple...

After I washed the (plastic) liner and began to hang it, I realized that somehow I had shrunk the liner!  Who knew that plastic could shrink?  That much!

To my dismay, I discovered that I'd washed the liner in hot water, in an attempt to get that bad boy as clean as it could possibly get.  Which, apparently, is a big NO-NO in the plastic world, and that darn liner had shrunk.  It had shrunk to the point that it was useless.

Not to be undeterred, I marched off to the nearest Target in search of another liner.  They aren't expensive, this was no big deal.  I bought the liner and headed back home.  And as I was replacing the liner and the curtain, I marveled at how wonderful it is that the ring people and the liner people keep things so simple, by selling twelve rings in a box and liners and curtains with exactly twelve grommets.  Everything in life should be so easy-peasy.....

Only to be befuddled three minutes later.  THIS new liner only had ten grommets....but, I had twelve rings.  In my confusion, I turned to the poor, old, shrunken liner to count.  Yes, it had twelve grommets.  The curtain had twelve grommets....but the new liner only had ten?

What kind of foolishness was this?

I called Hubby upstairs.  He looked at the liner.  He looked at the rings.  And he proclaimed the liner to be too short.  I could have killed him.

Right about that time he pointed to the package and said, "Well, here's the problem...this liner is for a shower stall...not a tub."


In my twenty some odd years of dealing with bathtubs, shower curtains and liners, I have NEVER run across different sized liners....never, not once!  NOW I find out that they have different sizes?

"You need to go back and get a different size" he said.

Needless to say, I gave him the death-ray glare since, obviously, none of this would have happened had our shower been fixed weeks ago...as he's been declaring since before Christmas!

So this evening, after work, I found myself back at Target perusing the shower curtain liner aisle - funnily enough, half an aisle is dedicated to liners....seriously, who knew the options were endless?  Heavy weight, medium weight, light weight.  Clear.  Almond.  White.  Regular size and stall size (which I still maintain is a new edition to the liner world).  Did I notice a price difference in the regular size and the stall size?  No, I did not.  Apparently, you pay the same price for the ten grommet liner as you do for the twelve grommet liner.  I sense a ripoff.

So I leave you with this - go see Lincoln and pay attention when you are in the market for a new liner.  Oh, and what are the odds that my shower will be fixed before Easter?  I'm thinking slim to none. *sigh*