Part Two: The Night Of The Living Helicopter Parents

This post continues where my previous one left off. If you do not share a minimum of 25% of either my DNA or aren’t a close family friend, you’re probably going to find this as boring as watching competitive cross stitch competitions. I suggest you bail now. Unless you have insomnia in which case- you’re welcome. Now you can save that Xanax for a night when you truly need it.

After the mall, we quickly hopped back into the bike to go see all of our three year old’s favourite decorations. In addition to hugging the blow up cats, monkeys and Halloween dogs, Mini-Tex of course had to tell each inflatable a story, and ask them questions. Thus started the routine of the evening, where the homeowner would come to the door after hearing voices, then stand and watch as our son mauled their decorations with hugs. The candy bearers were quite patient- they’d stand there for five minutes.

Mini-Tex, having finished his job of hugging the inflatable decorations, would head back to the bike to be ferried onto the next set of blow up decorations to be hugged, leaving the puzzled homeowner to wave their candy at him from the door. One woman even chucked a bag of chips at our bike when she realized that we weren’t going to come to her door. Mini-Tex’s entire raison d’etre was the decorations. The candy was a nice but completely unnecessary addition.

There were at least a dozen houses that we visited where we didn’t even bother ringing the doorbell. We just left. So this totally solidified our son’s assumption that Halloween was all about kissing and making friends with inflatable lawn ornaments.

Something you’ve undoubtedly realized is- I love Halloween. I don’t love getting dressed up. I don’t love decorating my house but I adore watching a parade of little people live out their dreams for one night. I’ve spent many years living in accommodations that children would never visit; above a doctor’s office, in apartment buildings, the list goes on. In the past, I’ve found friends who were willing to host me for the night. “I’ll bring the candy and dinner, you just have to let me squat in your front entrance for the evening” was always my agreement.

In the absence of trick or treaters, I’ve even been the creepy lady sticking her head out the front door when a group appears down the street, yelling at the children “I have candy! Lots of candy!” And it’s true, I heap the sugar upon the little people, like I’m at a costumed strip club and making it rain Hersheys. Wow. I just took an already awkward interaction and made it worse.

I ask every little person, “And what are you?” with all of the earnestness of Mr. Rogers. I fawn, I high five, I tell the trick or treaters how pretty/spooky/imaginative they are. Heck, I even like the sullen teenagers in plain clothes who show up at ten o’clock at night. The point is: I truly love Halloween.

Having now taken an adorable little person around for all Hallows Eve, it turns out- I’m not the only one.

Tex and I came up with a game plan while our son was napping. Start at the mall, bike to the opposite side of the city and make our way back to our house stopping at only the high yield houses. Meaning the houses with either three blow up decorations or more, or the ones with super neat decorations. For example the house with what looked like an ordinary inflatable giant pumpkin but actually played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and had lights on the inside so the face of the Jack-o-lantern changed making it appear that the pumpkin was singing the music. That was cool. We spent ten minutes camped out on that person’s lawn dancing and whooping it up. We wanted to see every one of those places in town.

This meant that there was a little old lady who watched our trio go from well decorated house to well decorated house on her street. She had gotten into the spirit, but her decorations were small and dated. Also it was getting late. Abruptly, as we were about to walk up her driveway, I insisted we return to our bike and head to a warm place to give Mini-Tex dinner. My husband agreed and we turned around. The lady watched forlornly from her window as we walked away. Once it became clear that we were about to leave, she ran out onto her porch waving a giant bag of candy. “Don’t I get to see the little one?” she cried.

I felt awful. Not just because I had now seen myself in thirty years’ time, but because I was disappointing a woman who was the spitting image of a grandmother stereotype; the kind of lumpy figure that gives out amazing hugs, short cut hair curled perfectly with rollers that she sleeps in and wire frame spectacles. She was even wearing a grandma style sweatshirt.

The problem with driving a bike is that you can’t roll up your windows or make a fast getaway. “Get pedaling” I hissed at Tex as the septuagenarian contemplated whether she was going to run down the street after us. We waved jauntily as we cycled away, watching the poor old lady deflate like a balloon after a birthday party in the bike’s rearview mirror. Apparently there are people who love this holiday as much as I do.

Luckily the hospital where Tex works is halfway in between our house and the opposite side of the city. I was on the verge of hypothermia while Tex was on the verge of a meltdown from too many layers. He quickly shucked a shirt and long johns so I could put them on. In the meantime, Mini-Tex was having the dinner of his life, sausage pieces with a side of Smarties and juice to wash it down.

Juice is not a beverage that makes an appearance in our household. Ever. It is also heavy, relative to chips. It was decided, in the interest of storage space and weight, that we would open every juice box that Mini-Tex had been given up to that point. So for dinner he had a smorgasbord of juice. Between that and the dual parent dressing moment earlier, Tex and I should get an award. I’m not sure which one- whatever the parenting version of a Razzie is likely.

By the time we finished our dinner, it was seven. Reasonable, good parents would have recognized that the evening had been sufficiently fun and called it a night. But as established by our actions, we are not those people. So back into the bike we went, to hug the mummy blow up and shake the hand of the baby monster. Tex wins an additional award for not tripping over the thousands of guide wires securing the nine blow up decorations at the mummy house as he lifted our son from one decoration to another in the pitch black garden.

It was shortly after that when I realize that although we had put out a giant bowl of candy next to our three pumpkins for trick-or-treaters, I had neglected to turn on the porch light because it was four o’clock in the afternoon when we left. Meaning that, at the end of the night, we would return to a giant bowl of candy.

After a quick stop to hug the moving, fake fire breathing dragon, we headed home. Oh sorry, dragon-food eating dragon. Weeks ago, while I was strapping my three year old into the bike after visiting the library across the street from the dragon, Mini-Tex asked me “What is the dragon eating?” not realizing that there was something in the dragon’s mouth, I gave him what seemed like an obvious answer- dragon-food. Then of course we rode by the house and I realized that the dragon was breathing fire. But by then the damage had be done and the fire was henceforth known as “dragon-food”. No amount of correcting could convince our son otherwise.

Tex pedaled us quickly across town and I ran into our house to refill the candy bowl a bit and turn on the light.

OK, rant. What happened to all the greedy little miscreants who empty candy bowls? I was depending on them! Otherwise I wouldn’t have purchased three boxes of treats. I swear every single kid must have respectfully taken one lone piece and left the rest. Who raised these excessively polite children with endless reserves of willpower?  What is our world coming to when we can’t rely on the candy grubbing nature of the youth?

Also, I forgot the part when we stopped at the local nursing home. When my grandmother was alive, despite how desperately painful and embarrassing the experience was due to my toddler’s behaviour, I would always bring Mini-Tex to visit her. Little kids bring old people joy. Small children dressed up for any reason bring lots of joy. So we stopped at the local nursing home. As it turned out, we entered through the dementia wing just as they were sitting down to dinner. Mini-Tex wandered around and said “Hello” to all of the residents. They were delighted. One of them was blind so the nurse described all of our costumes to him.

Then we went and knocked on the individual doors of people still living independently in the home. Tragically most of the residents were verging on deaf and didn’t hear us. (Or didn’t want a visit.) But the couple elderly people we saw were happy. Though they felt guilty about not having candy which we reassured them wasn’t the purpose of our visit.

By this point in the evening, Mini-Tex was still excited but wilting. All the other little people and their responsible parents had returned home. But we continued to cycle around the city because gosh darn it, I was going to get my money’s worth out of that fifteen dollar Olaf costume from Kjiji. Also we had yet to visit the street with the ghost that jumps out of the pumpkin or the house with the spider on the roof.

It was around this time that Tex and I decided to forgo the candy part entirely. People had once again filled our son’s decorative pumpkin basket to the brim and we were running short on toddler energy. After terrifying our offspring by holding him up to touch the peekaboo ghost, we headed for the house with the giant tarantula.

Mini-Tex was beginning to look like Olaf in summer; he became a puddle of costume and snowsuit. “Do you want to see the spider on the roof?” I asked. “No” came his terse, small reply. That was it; we had maxed out our toddler’s love of inflatable decorations. Tex and I concluded that it was time to go home. The problem was that we had agreed to visit friends of ours.

As quickly as he could, Tex cycled past the spider house. In spite of his exhaustion, our son did get out and hug both Jack Skellington and Darth Vader along the way. We quickly popped by our friends’ homes and headed home.

Then on our way home it happened. The event we had been dreading. We live in a small town. Meaning there is a small police force so we NEVER see the police. While we wear our helmets religiously, much to our son’s chagrin, on this night none of us wore one. Wearing a helmet would have mussed my do, prevented Tex from wearing his Kristoff hat and wouldn’t have fit under Mini-Tex’s Olaf costume. Even still, during the afternoon, Tex had placed our son’s helmet in the bike because it is the law for children to wear head protection while cycling.

As we were pulling away from our friend’s house, coming in the opposite direction was an RCMP vehicle. All the colour drained from my face. There was no way with all our lights that he wouldn’t notice our bike. We were going to cap off our perfect night with a ticket. A ticket that was well deserved, but a ticket nonetheless.

The Mountie rolled down his passenger window and I broke into a flop sweat. “Did you get a lot of candy?” the officer asked Mini-Tex. Our toddler had transformed into a catatonic mess so Tex answered for him because I was suffering from the worst case of dry mouth I’d ever had in my life. “Lots.” The officer gave us a wave, “You folks have a good night then” before he continued on his way. It was only when the vehicle’s lights became pinpricks in the bike’s rearview mirror that I could exhale.

Happily, when we arrived home, the candy bowl was empty. I had instructed a group of teenagers that we passed to visit our house and take everything they found there. Old people who complain that kids these days don’t listen have clearly never offered two kilograms of sugar in exchange for walking four streets over.

Unfortunately there was still a full box of treats in the house. Furthermore it was open, so I couldn’t return it even if I did do responsible adult things like save receipts, which I don’t. But, as I went to unplug our inflatable Paw Patrol decoration, I heard voices down the street. “Oi!” I yelled in the direction of the youths. “Trick-or-treaters! Come clear out our candy bowl!”

Then I went back inside, without much hope because you know, kids these days. Likely they were angel children who only took one piece from the bowl. Then, as I was stripping off layer after chilly layer, I heard voices approaching. “Take everything!” I said.

“Everything?” the kids asked incredulously.

“Well divide it fairly amongst yourselves obviously but yes, everything.”

And that was the end of our Halloween. Well sort of. Turns out eating five packages of Swedish Fish will give a toddler a second wind. So Mini-Tex was up for another hour. I am an amazing parent, for serious, where is my Razzie?

Also, I welcome all hate mail about my bike safety decisions or lack thereof on all Hallows Eve. If you’re feeling lazy, you can just put them in the comments.

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Don’t Read This. Seriously, Stop Right Here. Just Keep Scrolling.

I bet you don’t respect authority either. Oh well, your funeral. That’s if you die of boredom. Or banal cuteness. You might actually enjoy this post if you have a subscription to Reader’s Digest. So this blog belongs to me. Most of the time I make funny with the haha. On occasion, I write endearing things about my beloveds on it. But that’s rare. Most often I use it to gently insult my mother. Because she’s the one who taught me how to laugh at myself.

Anyway, the primary readers of this blog are – my parents, my grandparents, and my son’s Godparents. All of them asked about our Halloween. So as a show of how much I love them, here is our Halloween in full. (Oh also Sula and her Mom read this blog. They would also want to know about our Halloween.)

Last year we had a German au pair who had never trick or treated before. Hence why for the first time ever, I went all out with family costumes. Tex paid a Kijiji seller fifteen dollars and in exchange we got our son an Olaf costume. Janey went as Elsa and I made myself an Anna costume. It was fabulous. It was the most elaborate costume I had ever created. Which is to say not elaborate at all but I put in effort so that was a change. I offered to make Tex a Kristoff costume at the same time, because we were in a city so I could buy items like costume materials. He declined.

This year, with only two and a half weeks until Halloween, Tex comes up to me and says “I want to be Kristoff”. People, we have lived three months without a bathmat because you can’t buy them here. The likelihood of me being able to procure the materials for a Kristoff costume without making a four hour round trip to the next large city over, (Well largeish. Ok small, it’s a small city.) was next to zero. However Tex never asks for things and he really wanted to participate in Halloween. So I sent him to the mall with a list. He returned without fake fur. Not surprising.

Two days and two dollars later, after a visit to the local second hand store, I found a teddy bear. (The secondhand store is only open certain days of the week hence the wait.) I gutted that stuffed animal like a fish. I chopped it into pieces and sewed the bits as fur trim to a jacket Tex had bought when we were first dating. Then I added piping, and made him boot covers so he’d have the requisite pointy ice seller toes. Also, I made a lantern that actually lit up for our “sleigh” which was our bike.

Tex looked awesome. Mini-Tex looked adorable. I looked well, Ok. And we borrowed a stuffed reindeer toy from my in-laws to act as Sven.

The day of, Tex had the afternoon off, so we spent our son’s nap rushing around, filling water bottles, preparing dinner for the road, affixing reindeer to the front of our bike, changing bike lights over so that we would be more visible and so forth. It took two and a half hours, but eventually we were all dressed and ready. I had four layers of long underwear up top and three layers on the bottom. I was plump. But warm.

We had everything together; we were all set for the best Halloween ever. All we needed was our Olaf. But he was sleeping. So Tex and I busied ourselves with filling the candy bowl, tidying up the house and looking at the clock going “How is he still sleeping?”

Readers, until that day, I didn’t know someone could sleep belligerently; it was like Mini-Tex was trying to miss out on Halloween. Finally, it got to the point where we were going to be late for trick or treating at the mall, so Tex and I did the unthinkable- we woke a sleeping child.

Because we’re obsessive parents who both need to bear witness to our offspring’s joy, we woke him up together. “It’s Halloween! It’s time to go trick or treating! It’s time to hug the blow ups!” Mini-Tex had been waiting A MONTH AND A HALF to hug all the inflatable decorations around town. Over the past month, we had put 200 kilometers on our bike and spent countless hours pedaling out of our way so he could see the blow up monkey, the blow up dragon, the blow up Jack Skellington. And every single time we saw them, our almost three year old asked “Can I hug them?” at which point we’d answer “On Halloween.”

To say Mini-Tex was excited was an understatement. But he was also very very sleepy. He stood straight up and then promptly did a face plant back into the bed. Tex grabbed him and popped him on the potty. We started both dressing him and undressing him together. It was like an instructional video on tandem helicopter parenting.

Within three minutes our Olaf was dressed and in the sled. Despite still waking up, he would yell “Jump Sven!” at random intervals. He would only call me “Anna” and his dad was “Kristoff”. It was quite possibly the best day of his life.

While riding to the mall to trick or treat with the other little people who go to bed before seven pm, we became aware that there were houses that had waited until the last possible moment to put up their decorations. Meaning that we hadn’t seen their magnificent inflatable decoration arrangements.

“Do we want to stop?” asked Tex. And so the blow up decoration love fest began. Mini-Tex was elated, he finally got to hug every pumpkin bearing Minion, every giant cat, every spooky ghost. The first house we stopped at had four blow up decorations. We stopped at two more houses before the mall until I got panicky that we would miss seeing all of our friends whom I had made arrangements with to meet.

Of course when we got to the mall, I didn’t recognize any of Mini-Tex’s friends and we just wandered around hugging the decorations. Tex took Mini-Tex to exactly one store to trick or treat and there was an over eager salesperson who jumped in our path so she could place candy into our son’s decorative pumpkin basket.

Then, on our way out, one of the best moments of the night happened; Mini-Tex’s best friend’s family appeared. His best friend was dressed as a ninja turtle. However the friend’s little brother who Mini-Tex also plays with, was also dressed as Olaf. The kids were delighted. Mini-Tex was over the moon. The eighteen month old who was also dressed as Olaf was vaguely confused and overwhelmed. It was fantastic.

Because all of you are gluttons for punishment, I’m going to continue writing about our Halloween. But in another post, because even my family and dearest friends can only take so much banal storytelling.

I’ll Either Gain 3,000 lbs or lose 30

The last couple of months have been, well, rotund. That’s putting it nicely. My skirts have been straining at the seams. The ones that I can struggle my way into at least. My butt is developing its own gravitational pull not unlike Kim Kardashian’s but less shapely. My stomach, which has generally been a flattish (ok not really) friend to me, became a turncoat and developed a mutinous roll to accompany my omnipresent muffin top.

Something needed to be done. For a while now. Other bloggers have lost countless pounds by recording their journey for their readers, to keep them on the straight and pizza-free narrow. But this seemed like the writing equivalent of the sixteen year old girl who calls up her boyfriend every night and lists off everything she put in her mouth that day. Alarming and so many shades of irritating.

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And then I nibbled on a plain rice cake and afterwards I ate four red jelly beans but left the purple ones because like eww. Someone once told me they’re made of Smurfs which makes NO sense because I always thought Smurfs were green. (Photo Credit meangirls.wikia.com/wiki/Regina_George)

So I was in the process of accepting my slowed thirty something metabolism and my new fatness when Tex decided he would go on his high fat diet again. Earlier this year he shed twenty something pounds while following this regimen. Out of concern for his health, I told him that I would follow the diet as well, for three months. It would mean giving up buttercream icing as a food group and no longer classifying knitting as my physical activity for the day, but I had nothing to lose. Well, except for the gravitational pull around my butt, which was raking in leaves and the odd candy wrapper into its orbit.

The Basic Tenements of this Diet

  1. People are not designed to eat processed carbohydrates

It’s why I’m beginning to resemble the cast of Wall-E or at least that’s Butter Bob’s explanation.

  1. Previously people ate more fat

A lot more. A staggering amount more. Based on what Tex is eating my only conclusion is that early man survived on mammoth blubber. I wasn’t aware mammoths were that flabby.

  1. When the body gets an adequate amount of protein combined with a tremendous amount of fat, it feels sated

Tex has done the research on this, most of his research consists of reading Butter Bob’s thoughts. And as everyone knows, random people on the internet are ALWAYS right. It’s how I know that smearing axle grease on your arms cures angina and gout.

  1. People eat too often and when they’re not hungry, eat only in an 8 hour window

Agreed. Again, the roly-poly people of Wall-E, which I myself am becoming.

 

It’s only been a week or so for me, but my conclusions thus far have been

  • Life has never been more delicious. Tex loads up salads with so much fatty dressing that I feel like my arteries will clog just from the sight of them but I’m not concerned because I’ve got a can of axle grease at the ready.
  • I don’t crave sweets or breads. Strange because I’ve spent my entire life wanting to mow down entire bakeries in one sitting. For serious, Paris for me was like one giant carbohydrate trigger.
  • I’m not hungry. Like physically can’t eat because I’m that not hungry. My entire life has been a denial of hunger. I’m the fat kid in my family with my body’s end goal being that of a large pear shape, something along the lines of James and the Giant Peach. Only I’m the giant pear. So this sense of satiation is novel.
  • The amount of butter and avocados that we are consuming is frightening. But our intake of meat has not changed.

Horrible Thigh Discoveries, Cut Backs and Pride

We’re two months into our family’s Paris Accord. In June, my husband and I pledged to reduce our family’s carbon footprint by putting more kilometers on our bikes, fewer on our car and changing our consumption habits. Those were some pretty big promises, so let’s see how we’re doing.

On the bike odometer front everything is fantastic. When we initially purchased our Nihola Family bike, given how late in the season it arrived, we thought that 500 kilometers was an ambitious number. Just before I sat down to pen this post, the odometer read 633, based on our current usage of our cargo trike, we estimate that we’ll hit 1500 kilometers before the snow flies. Mini-Tex has actually started referring to the Nihola as a “car” because he’s in it so often, whereas our actual car sits ignored on our driveway. Funny enough, Mini-Tex recognizes the other cars on the road as cars though too.

As a mode of transportation, I LOVE the Nihola. For me, being able to lean over the handlebars and check in with Mini-Tex while riding is worth the extra money we paid over getting a cheaper cargo attachment for the back of the bike. The front holds at least a week’s worth of groceries in addition to our son. My personal favourite moment was when Tex arrived home with the bike packed to the gills with food. “Don’t worry” he assured me “I belted in the milk”. Tex had used the extra seat and Y-belt attachment to secure the 4 litre jug so it wouldn’t bounce around, hitting our son during the ride home.

There is one drawback to all the biking we’ve been doing. I was settling myself in for a relaxing hot bath when I looked down and realized there was more of me. I wasn’t pregnant, I hadn’t gained weight, but my thighs were HUUUUUUGE. “Tex!” I called from the bathtub, my voice panicked. My husband burst into the bathroom, shoe in hand, poised to obliterate the offending spider that had caused my scream. Upon a negative inspection for any insects he looked at me questioningly. “Are my thighs bigger?” I asked hoping for a no or at least a lie. “Ummmm, you could use a lower gear” my husband kindly suggested. So if you hear a giant rip tearing through cyberspace, don’t worry, your computer is fine, it’s just the sound of my shorts giving way. Aside from that, I’m enjoying our new lifestyle.

Onto the next bike; Tex pledged to ride 400 kilometers. This is the part of our accord that makes my heart swell with pride. As an avid pedestrian and experienced cyclist myself, I knew eschewing the car for other modes of transportation would be a breeze, but for my “man-van” loving husband, the dramatic change in lifestyle could be viewed as an inconvenient hurdle added to both sides of his long work day. True to his nature, when Tex decides to commit to an idea, he jumps in with both feet. The last I checked, his odometer read 196 kilometers, well on the way to 400 before the end of October, and this is in addition to the 30 kilometers my husband put on my bike, riding back and forth to work while he was servicing his ride. At his job, he’s being called “The New Alex”, a former coworker who rode through rain, sleet and snow. Tex loves the recognition and the extra workout as he’s dropped ten pounds in a month. In summary, the biking aspect of our agreement is going swimmingly… er bikingly?

Cutting down our usage of the van was another section of the accord that I anticipated being a challenge for Tex. Often for our jobs, especially Tex’s, we are required to make the 700 kilometer round trip commute from our town in the middle of nowhere, to the nearest metropolis. With a goal of driving only 15,000 kilometers in a year, those types of trips add up fast. Tex quickly recognized this and started investigating opportunities to carpool. In addition to already carpooling to the metropolis twice, Tex took the bus when he was in the big city. His enthusiasm and willingness to search for alternatives means of transportation have impressed me immensely and made my heart swell with pride. It makes me feel hopeful for what our family will accomplish in the coming months and hopefully years.

In terms of our consumption of goods and foods, publishing the post “Trump is Not Your Tragedy: Make Your Own Paris Accord”, expressed my thoughts and feelings about the environment and my personal goals to my extended family. It’s opened up discussions and I feel like my choices are better understood and respected, whereas before my family might have brushed them off as “Unwashed’s silly hippie-isms”.

Personally, I’ve been searching for ways to use more local products and to cut down on packaged goods. Unfortunately most of our packaged food comes from Mini-Tex’s snacks. So I’ve been baking up a storm, and then watching as Mini-Tex crumbles the healthy mini muffins in his toddler fist, throws the crumbs on the floor and then asks earnestly for “fish, fish”. As I have no interest in watching my son starve to death or return to exclusively breastfeeding (an option he would love), so I cave and hand him some of Pepperidge Farm’s best.

We still have a number of changes on our radar. Tex discovered a local flour mill, so we’ll be biking there in the near future. I heard through the grape vine that a farmer around here has local eggs so I’ll be following that trail as well. Tex is also contemplating applying for an elk tag, which would provide us with lots of local red meat that has a significantly lower carbon footprint than cattle because the animals exist naturally in the wild.

So that’s where we are. Do any of those points inspire ideas in your family? Are you enjoying biking or walking in this beautiful summer weather? Do you have any green suggestions for us?

Who Are You People?

It occurs to me, that I write about myself, my husband, son, mother and closest friend often. So I decided to give a bit of a backstory to them. Yes, this blog has existed just fine without such a page for four and a half years, but think of the “characters” page as being like streamers on a bicycle. Who doesn’t love streamers?

I just posed the streamer question to my husband Tex and he gave me a perplexed look and asked me whether I would paint dicks on a wall. It would seem that only five year old girls and me love bicycle streamers. Although now I’m somewhat relieved that Tex has never shown interest in decorating our home, I’m understandably concerned what his accents for a room would look like.

So with that profane tangent aside, I encourage you all to check out the new page on The Great Unwashed.

Golden Equine Showers and Other Dubious Events I Can Anticipate In My Future: An Update On Where I’m Going To Live

Remember when I swore that I would update everyone on where Tex and I were going to live in my post Man Eating Fish, Bakery Theft and KKK Heaven: Let’s Introduce the Contestants? And then I didn’t? Well I have an excuse. It’s because I was showering off all the horse pee that was dumped on me. Figuratively thankfully.

Not so secretly, I had thought that Tex and I were staying. That our family would get to enjoy our happy home with its sun room and live in peaceful northern harmony for a couple more years. Or at the very worst, that we would be placed in the town that is a smaller version of where we live. After all, Tex is well liked at work, I mean who can live without a man who uses the word “eutectic” in a sentence? I know I can’t. Anyways with that confounding term and all Tex’s other shining qualities, I thought we were good, no better, I thought we were golden.

And we were. Covered in golden horsey showers that is, as the universe, or karma, or the gods, or whoever it was smited the both of us for being so cocky as to believe that we were going to stay.

When Tex told me where we were going to be placed, I quickly mass texted my family and close friends the name of the town and the words “I can’t even speak.” Then I dropped my phone and went to go curl up, lick my wounded ego and contemplate where I was going to live.

Frantically Sula tried texting, then calling all the while scrolling through my words to determine what place it was on my posted list we had been placed at. “Charm City?” her voicemail asked. “I don’t think it’s Charm City.” Then, when she Googled the place name, she realized the terrible truth. That we weren’t staying where we live, that we hadn’t been placed at my second choice, or my third choice or even my fourth choice with that fabulous indoor playground.

No dear readers, I’m heading to my seventh choice. The town that considers indoor plumbing and eeelecktricity, as they call it, to be “new fangled technology”. It was karma’s way of dumping a trough full of horse urine onto my head for being so smug as to only compose one version of my “updated” post revealing where my family was going to live. I was like those actors at the award ceremony who are nominated and still stand up when their name isn’t called on the stage.

I was going to invite you all to a bonfire at my house. We were going to light up all the boxes that I had saved just in case. Instead I started frantically packing said boxes, while my cowboy brother in-law who was visiting for the day said “Well $*@^, that sucks, I’m sorry.” while wrapping my equally shocked husband and I enormous, warm, bear hugs that only a rancher can give. My brother in-law then encouraged me to “scream, cry or break things- do whatever I need to do” while he watched Mini-Tex. I didn’t need to scream or break things, but I did cry while I started to box up our life.

So now that the moving van has been booked and housing with indoor plumbing has been secured (“Golly gee- you’re going to love this marvel!”), I can write an addendum to my Introduce the Contestants post.

Goodbye cruel world. I had wanted to invite you to a bonfire, but instead I’m moving six hours away, which doesn’t sound, far but it might as well be the moon in terms of distance to everything which resembles civilization. I hope everyone enjoys their grande coffees, automatic washers and dental floss. I will miss all of those things and you, my Unwashed public.

It is with a sad heart that I will pack up our covered wagon (we had to trade in our car to move to this place which is in the middle of nowhere) and bid you all adieu. The Great Unwashed will continue for ten or so posts because I have them banked but there’s no telling how long it will take me to teach a carrier pigeon to type my thoughts so wish me luck.

Soon to be very remotely yours,

The Great Unwashed

Speaking Farsi and Interpretive Dancing With Engineers

My husband Tex makes my life nice. He’s an engineer, meaning he loves science, understands math and his entire life is organized by a series of intricate but straight forward systems. I, on the other hand am a failed scientist turned artist whose life contains no obvious organizational systems, however I cook so this arrangement works for us. I joke that he lives to solve problems and I create them by virtue of existing.

For the most part, that last statement is true. Broken door? Tex is on it. Excessively complicated taxes? Put away the calculator, the engineer is here. Hosting family Christmas on the same day a drop shipment of furniture is set to arrive to fill three empty rooms of the house? Let the organizational pro through, he’ll schedule this day into submission.

Artistic problems are a horse of a different colour though. Having dabbled in the arts throughout my life, I’m experienced at collaborating with other like-minded artsy people. In those circumstances, I will explain my vision for a project, listen to my partner’s ideas and together we’ll come up with a product that is infinitely better had I just worked on my own.

For the No Excuses November post, I wanted to recreate the John Snow “Winter is coming” meme.

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Only with my name because I am equally powerful as a season of course. Modified from makeameme.org

It was going to look like the original but with curly hair.

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It’s like John Snow is wearing a wig. Modified from makeameme.org

And of course Mini Tex would be incorporated.

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Because who doesn’t love babies with preternaturally long fingers on their left hands? Modified from makeameme.org

In his ridiculous bird/dragon/fish costume, because there is no point in purchasing a costume for your child unless you force them to wear it in all manner of situations. Admittedly, bringing a fish/bird child to that funeral was not the most popular decision but I stand by it.

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You can properly appreciate the randomness of the fin/wing/foreshortened arms of the costume at this angle. Modified from makeameme.org

But no matter how many images Tex and I took, or alterations that I made to the poses or suggestions for framing, the photos all looked completely awkward and not even remotely like the meme. And it wasn’t even like I was unprepared! I had fur! I had a giant heavy dark coat! I even had a giant sword-like thing! All of the elements were there but the fairies of luck and creativity refused to smile on us that day.

I concluded it was a one-off, that there was all the possibility in the world that Tex would suddenly morph into a free love spouting, organic eating, Burning Man attending, artsy hippie. I mean, I’m becoming like him after having lived together- just last week I used the words “anaerobic reaction” in a sentence and it wasn’t just an example of my mommy brain substituting words while trying to describe a new fitness class.

Only time will tell though. In his words, I’ll continue asking him to “take weird pictures of me” and hope that in the future we’ll be able to artistically trouble shoot together. In the meantime, my readers can enjoy my Microsoft Paint photos.

Five Things Friday: The Murderous Family Christmas Edition

It’s Friday in New Zealand. It doesn’t make any sense, but time zones are like that; they’re tricky devils, sometimes, for example last weekend, they jump backwards an hour for no reason at all. Time zones don’t obey the laws of physics. Scientists thought everything had to obey the laws of physics. And everything does, except for time zones. Also Cher.

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This lack of adherence to physics is the only possible explanation for this woman. Photo Credit: MTV.com

Anyway, on with Five Things Friday

  1. My In-Laws Gave Me Coal For Christmas

It wasn’t actually coal, it looked more like severed tree roots. Regardless, it sent a message -be nicer to our son; this is your Christmas gift. Following celebrating an early Christmas with Tex’s family this past weekend, I found a “present” at the bottom of the bag of produce they had brought from the farm. It was underneath the beets and the lone zucchini which was the size and shape of a baseball bat.

I turned the oddly shaped, dirt clod coated bulb-ish/shrub-ish thing over in my hands trying to find an identifiable feature so I could figure out whether to cook it or plant it. Finally I gave up and called my mother-in-law Zoey*. “Did you give us a piece of a tree?” I asked. “Pardon?” Zoey replied masking her obvious disapproval of my naughty behavior over the past year with confusion.

“I’m holding a plant” I said. At least I thought it was a plant, it very well could have been dirty petrified wood. “Is it for the garden?” I questioned further. “Oh!” Zoey burst out, “it’s the horseradish”. So it wasn’t coal, it was condiment ingredients. Close enough, it ended up making me cry. Message received -I should be nicer to Tex.

 

  1. I Drove Over Two Men With My Van

To clarify, I drove over a pit AND two men with my van. It was horrifying and I cried in the way that one does when they’re about to commit murder. I’d never patronized a Jiffy Lube before, consequently I was shocked when the garage doors opened and in lieu of a friendly mechanic trotting out to relieve me of my keys, a youth in a pit beckoned me to drive over him. Then to make matters worse, another young man jumped in with him. Double manslaughter, goody.

I drive infrequently because I loathe it, but more importantly because I’m terrible at it. The examiner had to coach me through a three point turn on my licensing test. Thus, the pit/youth situation spelled certain doom and jail time to me. However I somehow managed to very slowly maneuver the van over the pit and the youths lived to scare another unsuspecting customer.

 

  1. Babies + Oranges = Mistake

Mini-Tex is into eating exactly what I’m eating. I made the mistake of consuming citrus in front of him so now our floor is like a high school cafeteria- sticky and more than a little gross. I debated not washing it and leaving the job for Tex but thought better of it upon remembering the number of baseball bat sized zucchini my mother-in-law has in her garage. Death by squash is never pretty.

 

  1. I Don’t Actually Have A Fourth Or Fifth Thing

Cher took them to another time zone. I’m sending a search party to Taiwan and Austria, I’ll let you know when my other writing points turn up.

 

 

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of lovely, thoughtful women whose fondest desire is for their families to have well seasoned, delicious, local food. She also would never think of using her zucchinis for anything other than baking and is so gentle that she makes people who would never hurt a fly look aggressive. My mother-in-law is compassionate to the point that I’m pretty sure she mourns the dust-mites that accidently get sucked out of the air by the vacuum cleaner.

Accidental Poisoning

It’s “Instructional Guides on Spousal Murder Week” here at The Great Unwashed. I kid, I would never poison Tex and had he realized what I was doing, my loving husband would have stopped me.

I’ve alluded to the fact that our family lives in the middle of nowhere, a place so remote that in a strong wind, we lose cell phone service. It’s an hour and a half to the nearest city, which in the grand scheme of cities, isn’t actually a grand city at all. We’re here for Tex’s job but sometimes Tex’s job decides that a cell phone signal, neighbours and street lights are just too great of a luxury, so we’re sent to places so small that they couldn’t even be called the middle of nowhere because nowhere is a place. The kinds of areas that you can’t say “they roll up the sidewalks at night” because there aren’t sidewalks to begin with.

The accidental poisoning happened just before Tex, Mini-Tex and I were about to head to one such place for a month. Seeing as there are no sidewalks, there are no 7/11s either, thus any snacks must be preplanned events; a challenge for someone like me, who feels it’s their duty to consume delicious goods in their entirety, as soon as they cross the threshold of my home.

As I stared down the barrel of thirty some odd days without cookies, chocolate bars or candy, otherwise known as three of my four major food groups,

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This is me at every meal. (Photo Credit : drafthouse.com)

I felt the need to indulge in a big way. This was how I found myself buying both a package of Glossettes and a family size candy bar at a local store at ten o’clock at night.

I decided to be healthy, so I purchased a family sized candy bar of dark chocolate. Seventy percent cacao dark chocolate is delicious and on the same shelf there was eighty percent cacao, ninety percent cacao and ninety-nine percent cacao dark chocolate. I reasoned that if seventy percent cacao dark chocolate is somewhat healthy, then ninety-nine percent cacao dark chocolate is probably like eating a salad

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One with avocados because it has the kind of fat that’s so good it fights both cancer AND terrorists. (Photo Credit: http://www.recipeshubs.com)

so if I chose that then I should buy a package of gummies as well to reward myself for being so nutritionally conscientious.

When Tex is feeling particularly tired or unwell, he’s fond of saying that he feels like “a bag of crushed @&&holes”. I’m being kind when I describe ninety-nine percent cacao dark chocolate as tasting like an unexpectedly salty bag of crushed @&&holes. However, in the face of thirty days without any chocolate of any kind, either delicious or disgusting, I ate the whole bar.

Chocolate in large quantities gives me a migraine, as does any quantity of red wine larger than a thimble. Supposedly the latter has something to do with tannins. I’m forced to conclude that the ninety-nine percent cocao bar of chocolate was also one hundred percent tannins because extremely dark chocolate left me wishing I was dead. The next morning I crawled back under the covers at the first glint of sunlight, and begged Tex to either shoot me or bring me an intravenous drip of migraine medication. My head throbbed in a way that left me fantasizing about guillotines. It goes without saying that my husband whom I normally encourage to sleep in on days when he doesn’t work, was responsible for Mini-Tex from six o’clock onwards.

It was only when Tex discovered the detritus from the night before splayed across the coffee table that he figured out that I had unintentionally poisoned myself. After copious amounts of Excedrin, I made a full recovery by the afternoon and having learned nothing from my experience, I was pressing for us to make a pit stop at a gas station on our way out of town to procure more chocolate for the road.

 

 

This post is dedicated to Natalie*; I miss you too, thank you for your words of encouragement about my writing.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of people so organized that they wouldn’t need to hire a hitman to assassinate me for revealing their name to the interwebs; they’d stealthily carry out the act themselves and then cover it up flawlessly.

Stabbing Your Husband – An Unusual But Useful How-To Guide With 8 Easy Steps

  1. Start By Crying

It’s your husband, you’re planning on stabbing him in the back with a knife, unless you’re some sort of monster without feelings. you ought to be upset.

  1. Pick Up The Knife

It might be comforting to use your favourite kitchen knife. Also, your familiarity with this tool increases the odds that your stabbing will be successful.

  1. Close Your Eyes

What you’re about to do is terrible, it’s best not to look.

  1. Open Your Eyes

When you realize that you’re liable to stab at the air rather than your beloved if you keep your eyes closed.

  1. Prepare To Stab Your Partner

Then pull back at the last second because ultimately, you really really don’t want to sink a knife into their back.

  1. Try To Stab Your Husband Again

This only happens after some encouragement from your spouse and more crying

  1. Successfully Poke The Tip Of The Knife Ever So Gently Into Your Other Half’s Back

So lightly in fact that it doesn’t break the skin.

  1. Press Harder With The Knife Until You Stab Your Husband

This part may be accompanied by a turning of your stomach.

This actually happened – I totally stabbed my husband. Tex boasts many wonderful qualities and charms; the ability to jump off a rolling horse, a dashing head of thick hair with just enough salt in it and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the properties of metals. However, he has extremely oily skin which often erupts into angry blemishes on his back.

A couple of months ago, one such blemish grew up and had a party with a whole bunch of bacteria, so it became giant and infected. Causing Tex to turn to me and say “You’ll have to lance this. It’s easy; I’ll go sterilize the paring knife” in that calm, confident way of his that convinces me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t, like mercilessly murder lobsters or shoot a gun. Tex then spent twenty minutes hunched underneath the best light in our apartment, trying to convince me that I was brave enough the stab him. I cried and resisted the entire time, it was like the lobsters all over again only thankfully no one died.

Addendum: For once Tex’s near eidetic memory failed him and when he saw what I was typing he said in a panicked tone “Are you mad at me? Can we find another way to solve this?”