Subourbon Mom


Don’t Slur Your Driving

beach

Dear Rental House Owner –

Thank you so much for your nice letter and for helpfully providing your lawyer’s name and address, although I don’t think it will be necessary.  We had a great girls’ weekend staying in your beach house, and everyone was so friendly!  It’s nice when a bunch of middle-aged women can get together for some relaxing quiet time at the beach. I hope you saw that we replaced the wine glasses and re-stocked the liquor cabinet. The combination for the replacement padlock is written on a sticky note by the phone.

And thank you for asking if we got home okay after our night out.  We had no idea that your friend Jim owns the _________________ Bar – he was very sweet to escort us personally to our car after Sarah twisted her ankle on the stage.  It was also very kind of him to kick that married guy out after he said, “I like your rack” to Lisa.  Those drinks the married guy sent over for us that tasted like liquid Skittles were nasty – give us good wine or bourbon any day – what was he thinking?  Please tell Jim we hope we didn’t drive too many of his younger customers away with our dancing.  Those millennial girls just don’t have the moves we do, and I think they were embarrassed at how much better we were. (They sure do know how to roll their eyes though.)  But one nice girl came up to Cheryl and said it must be nice to trust your friends enough to let them hold while you hang upside down like that.

Your next-door neighbor was also very nice, letting us come up on one of his balconies to watch the sunset.  When Terry fell and broke her wine glass because she miscounted the steps, he asked if she was okay and didn’t even comment on her speech impediment (it’s often confused with slurring). We cleaned up the wine and broken glass for him, but he had already gone inside so we couldn’t say thank you in person.

You must have a lot of crime in that area – that explains all the cameras.  We would greatly appreciate it if you would please tell your other neighbors we were only trying to be helpful when we checked that their hot tub was clean and the heater was working (it was).  You might also want to pass on that the cleaners didn’t do a very good job.  There was lots of sand in the bottom of the hot tub and two bottles of Fireball had been left on the porch rail.  We didn’t want the cleaners to get into trouble so we finished the Fireball off – hence the empties. There wasn’t much we could do about the sand. But if your neighbors find a diamond stud earring, they can put that towards the next cleaning fee.

We noticed that things were a bit dry in North Carolina, so we decided to save water for you by bathing over there.  Lisa’s suit color tends to run, so she thought it might do better in the pool.  Oh, and by the way, the neighbors also might want to have their pool deck leveled out.  Apparently, what they saw on the camera was Lisa falling on the uneven pavement as she was putting her clean bathing suit back on. She must have bumped her head, because she put it on upside down and inside out. We still haven’t figured out how that’s even possible, but that’s Lisa for you.  But don’t worry, she says she doesn’t have any interest in litigating the injury.

Yes, we did have one extra person stay overnight.  The nice lifeguard we met at Jim’s bar offered to drive us home, and it’s a good thing he did because there aren’t a lot of Ubers around on the off season (none seemed available that late at night – we kept getting declined).  I wonder if you know him?  There can’t be that many lifeguards who also have a degree in tribal mating dances – that’s probably what you saw on your cameras.  But it was extremely fortunate he was there because Cheryl must have had some kind of reaction to the food at the bar – she required mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The lifeguard was very concerned for her privacy so he took her into the other room and managed to revive her after several minutes.  After that, it was late and he was tired, so the least we could do was let him spend the night.  He was a real gentleman – he even fixed us all breakfast the next morning.

If you find the following items we would appreciate it if you would return them:

2 black bathing suit tops

1 pink thong

1 blue bathing suit bottom

1 floral eye mask

3 pairs of readers – black, navy blue and hunter green, varying strengths

Thanks again for your letter of concern, and as you can see, no lawyers will be necessary.  We are happy to pay for any damages we didn’t already repair, but I don’t think the tire tracks in your front yard were from us. Sadly, there were a lot of drunk people out that night – some people just can’t handle themselves on vacation. Even the nice police officer who stopped us on the way home said the lifeguard was just driving a little fast. After looking into the car when Cheryl starting yelling “Don’t slur your driving!” and seeing that Lisa was a bit green around the gills, he decided to let us go. What an understanding young man! He even fist bumped the lifeguard.  Your beach town is such a friendly place! You must feel so proud to have a house there!

Until next year,

The Girls.

 

 

 



Treadmill Tourette’s & Other Winter Exercise Hazards

After walking around all winter grumbling about how I hate the way my stomach has started moving independently of the rest of my body, I finally realized I was actually going to have to do something about it.

I was going to have to start…dare I say it?

Exercising.

And even worse… Eating Better.

So I did what I always do when I realize Virginia winters don’t require the amount of extra insulation I’ve been building up.  I tried a few things, and quickly realized my intentions do not match the reality of the situation.

Intention: I am trying to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day and limiting bread to get more good carbs and limit the bad.
Reality: My body went into a fiber-induced shock. Apparently, granola is not everybody’s friend, at least not at first.

Intention: I am limiting alcohol – and by that I mean I am only having drinks Thursday through Saturday. (Some folks asked me “why include Thursday?” Well duh…because Thursday is “Little Friday!”)

Little Friday

Reality: Middle Age takes care of some of that desire; I now have a whole list of drinks that make me have hot flashes, so I’m definitely weighing my choices more carefully – is it really worth having to change out of my sweat-soaked my PJs at 3:00am to have that glass of wine? Nope.

Intention: I bought a few Clean Eating and exercise magazines to give me inspiration and ideas.

Shape CoverReality: They make me feel like I am being healthy without actually being healthy…until I look at the 20-year-olds in the pictures who clearly have never had children and don’t sit in an office cube all day like a veal. I also refuse to spend a lot of money on special spices and high-end oils that those Clean Eating magazines seem to demand. And, I have never once tried any of the exercises in the fitness mags – mostly because I couldn’t follow the diagrams any more than I can put together anything that says “some assembly required.”

Intention: I am regularly exercising at the office gym, mostly doing ab work and cardio to get the weight off as fast as I can.
Reality: Running on the treadmill comes with two hazards I wasn’t expecting:

1. Watching my reflection in the windows as I run makes me unbalanced – I had to grab the rails before I shot off the back of the machine like a sweaty, horizontal human waterfall;

Unknown
2. I thought my new cheap headphones were mildly electrocuting me every few seconds, until I realized that in the winter treadmills acquire a lot of static electricity.  So, every 3rd or 4th step I had to slap the metal rail with my hand to prevent the static zap from reaching my headphones and inner ear.  I don’t know what the people walking by the gym window thought, but I’m pretty sure I looked like I had a case of Running Tourette’s.


Intention:
 I am going to look awesome in a bikini this summer.

Bikini
Reality: I will once again spend too much money on a conservative tankini that my mother will approve of.

 

Vintage bathing suit

 

But in the meantime, I’m going to be burning those extra calories flailing at the metal treadmill rails – maybe those expended calories will turn into that bikini body I remember. Or maybe they’ll just let me eat that extra helping of summertime happy hour appetizers.

 



Myth: Fake Christmas Trees Are Like Fake Boobs – You Can’t Tell the Difference

This year I made it my mission to convince our office manager Lacy that she should get a real Christmas tree instead of using the same old plastic one she’s been using for the last few years. After an hour of nagging and convincing her that a real tree smelled better and was a better way to enjoy Christmas, Lacy gave in and got one. When she explained to the folks at Lowes (she went to a store, not even a place outside – mistake #1) that she had never picked a live tree before, and asked who had the most experience with picking out live trees, a German man said “I don’t” and immediately walked away. I don’t think he got the irony that the live Christmas-Tree-in-the-House tradition comes from Germany.

What I didn’t realize was the amount of basic Christmas Tree Knowledge I have accumulated over the years, and that I probably should have passed on:

PICKING OUT A TREE:

Size Matters:   Decide what room you’re going to put it in BEFORE you go shopping.  A fat tree in a little room is like Donald Trump’s ego in an election – there isn’t room for anything else.image001

Trees are not naturally symmetrical.  Even the trees trimmed to look like perfect cones will never be perfect. The fun part is finding the most perfect one you can. This can be difficult at the places where the trees are wrapped and leaning against the wall, like, say, your local grocery store. To get the full experience of arguing for 30 minutes in the cold over which tree to get, you must suck up the cost and go to a place where the trees are set up on stands, as if they are ready to decorate, or better yet, in the field where you must cut them down.

IMG_0128
Trees Get Bad Haircuts Too – Sadly, the two-week rule doesn’t apply. Most live trees come with a bad side – that side where the branches don’t fall right and there’s a hole.image005

This is the side you turn toward the wall when you put it up, or if it isn’t going against the wall, you find your fattest, heaviest ornaments to make the branches dangle over the hole. (These ornaments, along with the most fragile ones, will be the ones the cat goes after.)

What About Bugs? Some tree vendors will do the Tree Shake, which entails putting the tree on a spike attached to a generator that shakes the tree so hard that it looks like Beyonce twerking, until all the loose needles and bugs fall out – of the tree, not Beyonce. If your vendor doesn’t do that, you can console yourself with the fact that the fallen needles will make your vacuum cleaner smell good for months.

image004Net or No Net?  I recommend getting one, even though it might ruin your Norman Rockwell vision of a Christmas tree strapped to the roof of your car. The net is crucial to getting the tree through the door and easily sitting in its stand. Trying to get a tree through the door without the net is like trying to thread a needle with a sausage.

SETTING UP YOUR TREE

Size matters – again.  Tree trunks come in varying sizes and diameters, and they often come with branches sticking out of the bottom. Trim the branches at the bottom – you’ve heard the adage, “trim the bushes to make the deck look bigger“ – well, we don’t need the stand to look bigger, but we do need the tree to glide into the hole smoothly.

image001Getting the tree to stand up straight in the stand is usually a deal breaker – worse than hanging pictures on a wall. This task is for the patient and determined. If you’re like me and not allowed to go into the car dealership because you get too impatient to sit through the deal-making process, sighing and rolling your eyes for the entire three hours, this may not be the task for you. Some tips:

Wear gloves! Christmas trees look and smell great, but their trunks are covered in sap that is harder to remove from your hands than the image of Miley Cyrus twerking from your memory.

 

image004When you’ve given up and decided that tree that leans is now “charming,” make sure the tree doesn’t fall by tying some part of it to the wall. If you have cats or dogs, this is a must – they will find a way to bring that big green monster to the ground, and then skitter your breakable ornaments over the floor for the next two days.

FEEDING YOUR TREE

To determine if the tree needs water, you have to see how much water is left in the stand each morning and evening. Checking the water level for a live tree requires freakishly long arms and a relationship with your tree. As Lacy said, “I feel like I’m feeling up my tree.” Would that be second base? IMG_0171

Watering the tree requires the ability to slither along the floor and pour a pitcher of water into the stand without spilling any. I recommend placing a piece of plastic under the stand, hidden by your tree skirt to prevent any stains on the carpet from water spills. image005I also recommend getting one of the tree watering tubes that blend in with the branches, the top of which sticks out for easy access.

Check your tree for tree food – some vendors provide it. The tree food is the little white thing on a random branch that you thought was the price tag.

If all of this seems like too much of a hassle, and you want to go back to taking your tree bits and pieces out of a box each year, and putting it together like a Tinker Toy that’s fine. I totally understand. Nothing says Christmas like a plastic tree with “Sensicles” hanging discreetly among the branches so that the whole house smells like fake Christmas.

Perhaps Lacy said it best when she was describing the experience of getting a live tree vs. setting up a plastic one: “It’s like trying to pick an animal out from the pound, but it’s such a pain in the ass I want to give it back.”

Well, I’ll take my temporary, evergreen mutt with its holes, dropping needles and intimate watering/groping sessions. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. Your plastic tree may make your house look like it was decorated by Southern Living, but my tree reminds me that life goes on, even in winter.

image001

 



Laughter–A Gift Wrapped in Toilet Paper

images-8Last weekend we attended the annual Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that the stately Montpelier event has always provided me with literary fodder. One election year, I was interviewed in my inebriated condition by an Irish news channel about my thoughts on what it’s like to live in a swing state (see “Schwing State”). Last year, Hubby had an “accident” in the parking lot that involved road rage and karma sent straight from the animal world (see “Traffic Martyrs & Sliders” and “Chipmunk Popsicles”).

This year, I was given a gift. It wasn’t wrapped in Wal-mart Christmas paper with a stick-on bow, or delivered in a turquoise Tiffany box, but it was a gift that I think is priceless—it was a bend-over-because–you-can’t-breathe-oh-my-God-I’m-crying-belly laugh.

Maybe it happened because it’s been a difficult couple of months; maybe it was the wine; or, maybe it happened because sometimes there are just those moments in life that come together to make the perfect storm of funny at the time. Either way, I’m grateful.

My friends Stacie*, Helen* and I were walking back to the tailgate after shopping among the vendors. Helen is single and younger than Stacie and I, and still cares what other people think about how she looks, and about retaining her dignity. We’d watched Helen try on hats, agonizing over gray or brown, feathers or not, and by the time we left the area, I was long past caring about hats, and more concerned with getting back to place our bets on the next race. Halfway there, we made a pit stop at the port-a-johns.

Helen is also a slow learner—despite knowing me for several years now, she still made the crucial mistake of telling me how much she HATES using port-a-johns.

While we were waiting, a guy came out and said, with his eyes watering like he’d been cutting an onion, “I know they’re not supposed to be great, but that was awful!”

“Why? Did someone take a crap in there?” I asked, trying to find something to say.

He looked at me in pure wonderment and nodded. “Who does that in one of those?” he whispered, and walked away.

Helen’s eyes bugged out and she looked like she might bolt, but somehow she summoned her courage and went in anyway. Must have been all those beers–liquid courage, on so many levels.

As soon as Helen was inside, Stacie and I looked at each other, grinned and took action. Stacie went to the back and I went to the front of Helen’s port-a-john, and we banged on the walls like the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse were thundering by.

Helen screamed.

Stacie and I ran, hiding around the corner. Predictably, Helen came storming out of the port-a-john, strutting her angry 5-foot-3-self across the field.

As she yelled at us and pointed her finger, we couldn’t help but double over laughing—

Helen, jaunty new brown hat slightly askew, was trailing a 3-foot ribbon of toilet paper from her shoe.

While it may be a location joke (you had to be there), to us, it was funny.

When you’re an adult, these moments don’t come nearly as often as they do when you’re a kid. Kids know how to belly laugh, and they don’t care who sees them or how loud they are. As adults, we may occasionally have those laughing fits that make you cry, but we usually try to hide them behind our hands or we leave the room. This time, I didn’t do either. I let out my full-throttle laugh, which as you may know, is pretty freakin’ loud. I’m sure people were staring, appalled at our behavior at such a dignified event—and I don’t care. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe, and it was wonderful.

So thank you Helen, for sacrificing your dignity (albeit unwillingly). And thanks to Stacie, who laughed right along with me. Gifts don’t always arrive with a card and a song—sometimes they arrive on a ribbon of toilet paper.

*Names have been changed to protect my friends’ professional images. Now, if we could just get rid of all those pictures with red cups…



Birds on a Budget

Every now and then Hubby and I have a Come-To-Jesus meeting about our budget, where we both agree we eat meals out too often, among the other things we spend too much money on. That’s an easy way to cut back. Then we promptly go out with friends to a Mexican place and have beer and margaritas.  I’m always lecturing the girls on not spending their money at restaurants, and to save it for something they really want—and they promptly go to a local dive called Satterwites and order breakfast. Shocker…

Come to find out, the Animal Kingdom isn’t much different than the People Kingdom in that regard. Nobody likes to eat what’s in their own house.

We (okay, really it was Hubby and friends) recently finished the back porch. I was the SOA (Sr. Outside Assistant, handling things like running to the kitchen for rum and cokes and beer).  The porch is another dream come true (seriously, I’ve been thinking about it for years—BIG points for Hubby)—and then came the opportunity to get some good karma from the Animal Kingdom, to balance out the massive amounts of fish we’d been catching and eating.  (I’m sure that someday I will come back as a catfish—that will be my punishment—in fact, I’ve already got these suspiciously long hairs around my mouth that I now have to get waxed off…seriously, getting old is so gross.)

Unfortunately, a family of wrens built their nest (complete with 3 eggs) in the stack of cushions we were storing on the porch.  By the time we got the screen done and were ready to move the whole stack outside, nest included, there were three baby wrens in the nest instead of just eggs.  What a dilemma—make birds happy, or push on with my dream of sitting bug-free on the porch.

Newsflash: I’m not a bird fan, Baltimore Orioles excepted. They creep me out—all twitchy and beady-eyed.

I spent some time trying to determine how to move the nest without dropping the babies, but finally, better people (Mom and Daughters and Niece) decided the right thing to do was to leave the nest where it was and leave the porch doors open so Mama and Daddy Bird could feed the babies and teach them how to fly. According to the internet, this takes about 2 weeks.

I was not happy to have to share my porch with my feathered friends.

So we spent the rest of the time with the doors open and citronella candles burning, watching wasps, ants, mosquitos and other creepy crawlies enjoy their new home. It was also entertaining to watch the bugs have to re-route their flight paths once the porch was enclosed in a no-fly zone–lots of smacks against the screens. Those smacking sounds were almost as satisfying as hearing a bug zapper, or hitting them with the electric for swatter.

Finally, after dodging yet another angry, Kamikaze wasp, Big Brother said, “If those birds are going to live in here with us, the least they can do is stop going out for dinner. They should eat what’s here.”

I guess even the birds need to have a Come-to-Jesus budget meeting, too.




%d bloggers like this: