Thursday, December 17, 2009

Appliance Lurve

I admit that I am enamored with certain of my appliances. My Dyson and I are still going strong after two years, the steam carpet cleaner has saved my greyhound from homelessness many times, and I still get a thrill when I cook in my spankin' new stainless steel kitchen, especially when I get to use my Kitchen Aid mixer that was my favoritest Christmas present last year. It is stainless as well, because my beloved cares enough to indulge my matchy-matchy OCD.

I also admit that when I go to a store that carries major appliances, my internal radar takes me directly to the high-efficiency washers and dryers. I approach them with something akin to reverence, lightly passing my fingertips across their gleaming metallic finishes, marveling at the buttons and whistles, opening the doors and ooohing and ahhing and whispering sweet nothings and promising one day we will be together, oh yes, we will. I have actually hugged them goodbye, much to the chagrin of my shopping companions.

When we moved last year, I lobbied for a new washer and dryer. The set I owned was staying at my rental house, and husband's set, although lovely, wasn't Shiny and Steam Powered and didn't sit on a pedestal. I was vetoed.

After moving in and realizing the reason the dryer takes FOREVER to dry clothes is because we have 1.3 miles of dryer vent, I lobbied again, and I was still vetoed. "A new dryer won't solve the problem," he says. Sure, he's right and all but what fun is that?

Today I received a call from my current tenant that the dryer isn't heating up. Of course, because the new tenants will be moving in at the end of the month. The washer and dryer are probably 20 years old. They are Kenmore, made back when Sears made applicances you could count on for decades. We have had (knock wood) one repair on the washer probably 10 years ago, and replaced the heating coil on the dryer about 5 years ago. Otherwise, they run like champs. Damn it.

As my tenant was telling me about the dryer, my mind immediately began scheming to move the husband's washer and dryer to the rental house and then we could get this new set. In my mind, I could already see the set ensconced in my laundry room, washing and drying our clothes with maximum energy efficiency, while choirs of angels sang and a soft beatific glow emanated from our fluffly towels.

Wake up and smell the fabric softener - it ain't gonna happen. A - we don't have that kind of money laying around and B - there is a distinct possibility that if we empty the lint trap and replace the heat coil on the dryer, we're back in business. Damn it.

I also seem to remember that my incoming tenants have their own set, so I won't have to fix it right now anyway. Damn it.

Until then, I will have to settle for ocassional visits at my local retailer. So next time you're at Sears and you see me embracing a dryer, just do like my family does and act like you don't know me. It won't hurt my feelings.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let's Play a Game

My office building is hosting a toy drive for Toys for Tots. The toys are being displayed in the window of the office across my mine, so when I walk through the lobby, I can see them. Among the donations of puzzles, Crayola art sets and toy trucks are board games, like Candy Land and Yahtzee.

I love board games. When I was a kid, if I told my mom I wanted a game for Christmas, I got a game - you know, a cardboard gameboard that folded in half, or quarters if it was a fancy game, dice, cards, and always little pieces we'd surely lose before Christmas day was over. Nowadays, if a kid asks for a game, it probably involves a computer or TV.

I still have my original Candy Land game somewhere, although the box is MIA and a few cards might be missing. It is a great game for little kids who can't read - just match the colors. I used to play with my little brother all the time. We'd always hope the next card we drew was the one that took you up to the Ice Cream Sea, and pray we'd never get stuck in the Molasses Swamp.

My mom used to play Yahtzee with me. She would put a kleenex in the bottom of the cup so it wouldn't make so much noise. It never failed though - I try and try to get the Large Straight filled in, and finally, just after I'd decide to give up put my total in the Chance slot, sure enough, I'd roll a large straight on the next turn.

When Trivial Pursuit came out, I was in heaven. I have so many random facts rolling around in my head, this was finally an opportunity to play a game that required knowledge and skill, and not just a random roll of the dice. I would usually win, and then people stopped playing with me. So I amused myself by reading the questions on the front, then flipping the card over and seeing if I got any right. Yes, I was a sad lonely child, why do you ask?

I think one of my favorites has to be Sorry. My brother and I would play that for hours, laughing manically when we'd send the other back to Start. My brother would take great pleasure in sliding my piece right off the board, and sometimes right off the dining room table. I swear while I was retrieiving the piece off the floor he was moving his closer to Home.

Lately I've seen TV commercials for family game nights, and I think that's a great idea. Whether you win or lose, it's not about the outcome but the memories you make.

Monday, December 7, 2009

You're Never Too Old to Believe

(A conversation between Maddy and I, last night at Sears Hardware):

Mom: Hey Mad, they have a Santa here. Want your picture taken?
Maddy: (Shoots me look of disbelief and derision) Seriously?
Mom: Oh, come on. Why not?
Maddy: Mom. Please. I am not five.
Mom: Hey, you never know. He might be the real one.
Maddy: (Again with the look) No.
Mom: (Feeling old and realizing her baby isn't a baby anymore). Okay. Let's go find the allen wrenches for your PaPa.

As we walked by the Santa, he looked, well, bored. Bless his heart, there really aren't a lot of children running around Sears Hardware at 7:00 on a Sunday night. Heck, we wouldn't have been there if I hadn't noticed the sign advertising late hours and "big savings!"

Mom: Maddy, come on. The poor guy is bored out of his mind. At least go talk to him.
Maddy: (Sighing with resignation to the fact that the sooner she does this the sooner I'll stop harassing her). Fiiiiinnnnnne. What should I ask for?
Mom: A power drill and a sliding compound miter saw.
Maddy: (Finally showing signs of excitement) Really! Do you think I'll get them? Those would be COOL!
Mom: Uh, no. Go talk to Santa.

And she did. And she survived. And I stopped harassing her. And Santa had a kid to talk to. It was a win-win all around.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Pink Tree

Last year I participated in Collinsville's Festival of Trees. I asked for ornament donations and we decorated a tree in memory of Jessica and Kelli. All the trees were then put up for auction to raise money for the local Miner's Theater. I ended up buying the tree myself last year, as it only had one other bid on it, and well, I wanted it for myelf, especially with all the donated ornaments.

We used it for our Christmas tree, which worked out as we had just moved into our new house, so it saved us some time and effort to set up the artificial tree and decorate it.

This year, I participated again. I did the same pink theme, but I didn't put any of the donated ornaments on it. I only used the pink and silver ones that I bought, along with the pink lights and pink bead garland. I did put two silver rhinestone-studded letters - J and K - right in the middle.

The dinner and auction was held last night. I checked the tree early in the night, and no bids. When I checked an hour later, there were three bids, up to $200. When I did my final check right before the end of the auction, it was up to $250. It finally sold for $265. I was so proud of my tree.

Before we left, I went to the tree and looked at it one last time. It was harder than I thought it would be to let it go. I briefly regretted not buying it, but I think I needed to let it go. If I had been a sentimental fool, I might have rubbed a branch and touched an ornament and whispered "Goodbye tree. We did good." Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. Oh, who am I kidding - I would have hugged it if I could have without knocking it over.

I hope it went to a happy home, where it will be loved and appreciated as a tribute not only to pink and shiny, but to two little girls who loved Christmas and also loved all things pink and shiny.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Rant

A recent news story about a couple who left their children in a shopping cart at Wal-Mart so they could shop on black Friday had me shaking my head and asking "what the hell?" The couple said the children would slow them down. Really? This is a reason to abandon your children in a store on the busiest shopping day of the year.

As an aside, it was a nice change of pace that the children were unharmed, as most stories do not have such a happy ending.

Last night we were at our local Kmart store. It was around 8:00 in the evening, and it was starting to get pretty chilly out. As we were getting in our car, Maddy said "Mom, there's a baby in the backseat of that car." I looked in the car window and sure enough, there was indeed a child in the carseat, sound asleep.

I wasn't sure who to call. Should I call 911? Is this an emergency, would the parents be gone before they got there? The fire department is across the street, should we go there?

One thing I did know for sure is that I did not want to be around when the parents came out. Maybe I'm a chicken but as much as I would like to get all over them, you never know how people will react. And quite frankly, if you are callous enough to leave a small child unattended in the back seat of a car in a shopping mall parking lot when it is 40 degrees outside, how are you going to react to me telling you how to parent?

I decided to go back in the store and tell the cashier at the service desk. I gave him the make and model and license plate of the car, told him where it was parked, and he immediately picked up the phone to call the police.

As we left, I kept looking back. I felt bad leaving the child, but had faith that the police would come quickly or at the very least, the driver would return. I still feel that I should have done more.

When Jessica was about 9 months old, I accidentally locked her in the car. While putting her in the car seat, I sat my purse in the floorboard. I hit the door lock, shut the door and said Oh Holy Crap my keys are in there. Of course, I did this in the parking lot of the commissary of an Air Force base. Leaving your kids in the car on base is a serious offense. I ran back to the store, babbling incoherently about keys and babies and needing a phone. I called her dad to come up with the extra key (thank God we lived on base then) and then raced back out the car to talk to her through the window. Luckily it was a mild day and she seemed perfectly content to sit there and wave at me. I just knew a base cop was going to drive by and arrest me for leaving her in the car.

Maddy told me that she routinely looks in car windows, and if she sees a baby seat she makes sure no one has left a child in the car. I'm so proud of her for being so watchful, but also saddens that she feels that she has to do that.