Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Amaryllis of DEATH

I recently posted a picture of my “new” (it’s four-years-old but a first-time bloomer this year) amaryllis that was all beautiful over the New Year holidays.

This guy here

This guy here

Well, I guess it got so much attention that my old (20+ years) amaryllis got jealous and decided it would bloom x 4, so take THAT, new amaryllis.

That's flower stalk 1 and flower stalk 2. I'm not pretending I'm bad at counting, here. I know there are two blooms on 1 and only 1 bloom on 2 (though there are really 2)

That’s flower stalk 1 and flower stalk two. I’m not pretending I’m bad at counting, here. I know there are two blooms on 1 and only 1 bloom on 2 (though there are really 2)

Ok, yes, this plant is in a different pot but they all came from the same original bulb. This is like the overflow of babies. I consider it one plant and I can because it's mine so shut up about it already.

Ok, yes, this plant is in a different pot but they all came from the same original bulb. This is like the overflow of babies. I consider it one plant and I can because it’s mine so shut up about it already.

Actually, no, that’s not why it bloomed. It bloomed because the Christmas cactus is blooming and they always bloom together because they’re best friends. It also usually blooms in the late summer or early fall without the cactus because it’s a little selfish sometimes. It wasn’t always a regular bloomer, though.

Before it was mine, it was my mom’s. It hung in the sunniest window in the house, no matter where we lived. Originally, the plant had never been much of a bloomer and I don’t know why it changed but when those first-ever flowers came on – those big, orange, sunny, happy blossoms – we went nuts. The blossoms were huge (when compared to the nearby African violets) and vibrant and thrilled us. We paid attention when it bloomed because it always seemed like a new experience.

Remember, my mom is a witch . I think that had something to do with why this plant produced flowers when death was at hand. I don’t know if she was channeling the news into the house and it was received by the plant or if the plant was in possession of knowledge via other methods, but when that blossom stalk came up the first time, we were all eagerly gathered to watch the flower bloom.  When it was just finishing its cycle, we got the first call to let us know there’d been a death in the family. The next time it flowered, we got a call that someone else had died and we all remarked on how it was odd that the amaryllis had been blooming last time there was a death, too. And then it happened again. And again. And again. Our uncle, our great grandfather, our grandmother, our great grandmother, friends of the family…the flower came, a person went. It became terrifying. That blossom stalk no longer instilled within us a sense of wonder and excitement. Instead, we dreaded it and winced every time the phone rang when the blossom was up.

The Death Amaryllis would totally win this game every time.

The Death Amaryllis would totally win this game every time.

When I returned from a year overseas and moved into my own place, my mom packed up the Amaryllis of DEATH and sent it with me. She didn’t want it any more. It freaked her out. I hung it in the sunniest window, watered it regularly, talked to it, and when it bloomed, I cringed. Nothing happened. The flower died but everyone else was fine. I breathed a sigh of relief and that was that.

Since then, it’s taken me years to train the thing to bloom regularly. (I actually did nothing at all) It blooms twice a year at pretty much the same time. No more random harbinger of doom blossoms.

It has bloomed in January since we moved into our house. This year, however, I have a very sick great-uncle and I haven’t heard from him in awhile. If he moves on while this flower is blooming – and, remember, there are 4 stalks up – I admit, I will freak out just a little.


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds

The horrible games we play

Gabe has come up with a new game for the bedroom, something spicy and unexpected. Here’s what we do: we get ready for bed, dive under the covers and cuddle up together until we’re all warm and comfy, then Gabe reaches down to the floor on his side of the bed and brings up a cooking magazine. He reads me the recipes and I tell him what I think. The ones we both agree on get bookmarked to try later.
He’s also started tormenting me with trickery and traps. Recently, he plotted to do me in – as we do – with a tumble in the dark and not the sexy kind. While I was getting ready for bed, he got the house put up for the night – locked the doors, turned out the lights, all that stuff.
We got into bed and once my eyes adjusted, I saw a faint light coming from downstairs. Gabe was already asleep and snoring loudly. I suspect, now, that he was faking it; all part of his nefarious plan to cause me pain since he’s an evil jerkface. I got up with a dramatic sigh and headed downstairs in the dark. The problem came when only half of my body made it out the doorway. The other half hit the door, head-on, at full shambling speed. I yelled, I cussed, and I shouted at Gabe that I DO NOT WANT TO SEE OR TALK TO YOU RIGHT NOW! and then I wrangled the door all the way open, stumbled through, and slammed it behind me with angry gusto.
We all know what it’s like to get hurt in a sudden, violent fashion, such as slamming one’s finger in the door or gouging a shin against a coffee table corner. Many of us get irrationally angry, full of hatred and vitriol. We jump around, cursing, ready to punch the next kitten that crosses our paths. Part of my response was that – I was alarmingly angry at my unexpected trauma. The other part, though, was that I know the ONE thing that will make Gabe laugh no matter what is seeing people take a spill. He’s a sadist. Children slipping and falling on ice doubles him over. Seeing someone trip up the stairs in a dark theater, flinging popcorn everywhere nearly makes him pee his pants. People like him are the reason those something-smacks-guys-in-the-testicles videos did so well on “America’s Stupidest Home Videos,” or whatever it was called. And the last thing I felt I could deal with at that moment was Gabe laughing at me walking face-first into the door. I’d have punched his lights right out in my sudden anger so I did what was best: I yelled at him, stomped downstairs, turned off the back porch light that HE was supposed to have turned off before coming to bed (it was a trap!), then grabbed the frozen peas and stuck them to my face. When I made it back to bed, peas on head, Gabe was all solicitous as if he had noooo idea that he’d just given me a goose egg on my forehead with his damn trap. When I told him I’d run into the door, he started laughing. Like, falling out of the bed laughing. I told him that if I got a black eye from this, I was going to tell everyone he’d done it. That sobered him up quickly. “You can’t tell people that! That’s a serious accusation! I could get in trouble!” and I said, “That’s the whole point. To get you in trouble. Because you’re abusing me.” He denied his culpability saying that he had been in bed the entire time. I told him he was going to be in trouble anyhow because if I told people the truth, that I’d walked into a door, they’d just assume that was code for “my husband hit me” He said I had a point and that he hoped there were no marks. Then he turned on the light, slowly reached down to his side of the bed and brought up the cooking magazines while I laid there with a throbbing forehead covered in frozen peas.

*Serious end note: In case you’re tempted to call the police to report domestic abuse, please know that neither Gabe nor I harm each other in any way. Sure, he irritates the snot out of me and I often personally consider his annoying ways a form of mental abuse, but in reality, we have a healthy, non-abusive relationship. We have yet to do any intentional harm to the other (though I do often imagine stabbing him).

No spouses were mistreated in the making of this post. I didn’t even have a lump on my forehead the next day.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds

The mystery of the littlest poop

It’s finally time for my first of many Tales from Toiletopia! I’m so excited and I dedicate this post to Normal For Norfolk, who shares my taste for poop. Wait! No! I mean stories about poop. Dammit.

Back when I worked in another place, the greatest thing about our building was that we didn’t have to share a bathroom with the public. Yes, that is snobby and elitist but I am squeamy about sharing my toilet time and having to use a public potty just creeps me out. The one downside to not sharing the bathroom with the public, though, is you can’t blame abnormalities on “them”; you know it came from within the building, like those threatening phone calls to the babysitter. So one day, I walked into our little restroom and headed to my favorite stall. When I pushed the door open, something on the floor caught my eye. It was a little round poop. A tiny turd. A marble-sized piece-a’ feces. It was on the floor right in front of the toilet, tucked far enough back that you didn’t see it until you were in the stall.

I reacted accordingly and professionally: I exited the room to find my co-hort-worker,  quietly sidled up to her desk and whispered, “Meet me in the bathroom,” and then slithered away again. Once we reconnoitered, I showed her the offending mass of excrement that was still lying there like a lost…well, a lost poop, really. She fah-reaked and that sent us into hysterical giggles but we knew that at any moment, someone could come in and see us squatting down like children looking at a bug only we were looking at a piece of poop and laughing like crazy people. That would have been hard to explain so we had to take immediate action. Like ninjas or Charlie’s Angels or maybe like Charlie’s Ninjas, we locked the bathroom stall door from the outside (you can totally do that with a quarter if you have the right kind of door) and raced to fetch gloves and Clorox wipes. The co-hort- worker really wanted protective face gear but we didn’t have any so she had to make do with a paper towel over her nose and mouth. We donned the gloves and carefully (no HAZMAT team has ever been more cautious) using about 70 sheets of toilet paper, picked the little turd up and tossed it into the toilet to flush it all away. Then we hand-mopped the entire floor area with Clorox wipes, put those in a bag along with our gloves and her face protection, tied it all up, and crammed it down to the bottom of the trash receptacle. To be on the safe side, we Lysolled the entire stall from top to bottom. I’m a little surprised we didn’t asphyxiate ourselves. We washed our hands as  thoroughly as possible at least five times then slathered anti-bacterial goo up to our elbows. It was like we were clean-up professionals, not mere office workers.

We didn’t want to think too hard about who had left that little present but we would have liked to have known if it was intentional or not. And if not, how did it get there? We had our theories but we will never know for sure.  I can say with surety, however, that it was a long time before we could look any of our co-workers in the eye.


Filed under Tales from Toiletopia

I just realized how difficult retirement will be

I live with the belief that I will retire in the next 20 years; it is a great hope of mine. I’ve heard that a lot of people retire and then just die because they have no purpose left in life. That is not going to happen to me. Gabe and I have a whole list of things we want to do when I no longer have to work. It’s a long list and after the past week, I worry we will never get to it.

I took the first week of the New Year off  (highly recommended, by the way) and had hoped to take down Indoor Christmas on the 1st. Usually, I like to leave it all up for awhile but the house has been non-stop decorated for one holiday after another since October 1st and I was 100% ready to have it all back to normal. After Christmas was packed away, we were going to clean like crazy. I figured that would take me to the 3rd and then I could tackle my list things I wanted to accomplish after the house was clean and put to rights:


It’s not a long list. There are no difficult items. I had a week to do this. Why didn’t I get it all done?

Well, guess what?
The Goodwill stuff only got packed up because I did laundry and had to put it away and needed space. I did manage to finish And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading In the Fast Lane For My Own Dirt Road  by Margaret Roach  and felt good about that, but everything else? Didn’t even touch it. And you know why? Because as we cleaned, all these other things that needed doing kept popping up.

I emptied the china cabinet, dusted and oiled it, cleaned the contents, then put it all back and found that I am missing 3 little garden party cups.


The cups in the foreground? There should be 12. I can only find 9. My heart hurts over this.

I know the set was whole when I moved in, but I don’t know if I put all the pieces in the cabinet, or not. That necessitated a trip to the Underhouse (like an undercroft only different because we don’t live in a medieval dwelling) to see if there was still a box of fancy dishes down there. I didn’t find one. Since the shed is a disaster zone, I couldn’t look out there but I don’t put things like that in the shed. After an hour of searching, I had to give up and just cry. This particular set is important to me and I hate knowing I’ve lost some of it.

Gabe got us a new bird feeder to replace the one that met with a horrible demise in a recent bear attack. It was taking up space on the living room floor so I had to fill and hang it and, in the process, was mugged for my birdseed by the local gang. Little bastards.


That deer that’s looking at the seed on the ground? It just came right up. I marched off to get the dog who then barked these bullies straight out of the yard. Good job, Daisy May!

The amaryllis my mom gave me – it came as a bulb in a box – four years ago finally bloomed for the first time so I had to take a LOT of pictures of it. Every day. And I had to tell it how happy I was that it was finally able to show off and that it was stunning. That sort of cut into my cleaning and sorting time.


It’s so pretty! I want to stare at it for hours like I’m some sort of creep. I don’t think it would mind, though. That’s why I have a lot of plants. They don’t care if I’m creepy. At least, I don’t think they do.

We celebrated Toki&Evie’s 5th birthday on January 3rd. We sang to them and gave them birthday food (Fancy Feast, something they NEVER get any other time of year) and presents (new treats and new stuffed mice) It was a good birthday for them but I can’t believe they’re five. That has nothing to do with cleaning, really, but it deserves mention because Evie told me to put it in here.


Five years old! He’s so big!


Also five…and apparently none too thrilled about it. Well, she sure changed her tune when we popped that Fancy Feast lid.

And once we were finally finished after FOUR DAYS!!! (seriously? how dirty are we?), we sat down and discussed the problems and gaps we’d found and what do to about them. This lead to a discussion of things that need to change. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing differently:
-The little tabletop water fountain I’ve got in the dining area will be used more often; I’ve had it running since I put it back out and it’s been a pleasant background noise. Also, I like to think the water that is surely evaporating from it is good for all the plants nearby. Win/win.
-We will plan meals. We ate well and on-time the entire week despite being horrendously busy getting dust and cobwebs in our nose holes. It wasn’t hard – the eating responsibly thing, not the dust in the nose-holes thing (though that wasn’t hard, either). If we can do it while on a mission to restore tidiness to our home, we can do it in a normal week.
-We are taking back the kitchen table! It’s not a parking lot, it’s a place to eat. No more gnawing food mindlessly on the couch in front of the TV and no more messy table top. We both want to lose weight and I have a feeling this will help (it’s far too easy to sit on the couch and just continue shoving food in our faces while we watch an entire season of some TV show or another on DVD)
-We are going to clean up after ourselves immediately. We’ll just clean as we go, all day every day, and then I won’t have to clean the house on weekends and we can do fun things, instead!

These sound like resolutions, but they’re not. They are the things we need to do because we are grown-ups managing our own household, because we care about our health and well-being and about our marriage. So…we’re just going to do them, new year or not.

Come Saturday, I was exhausted. So was Gabe. We sat around all day and read. It was glorious but I felt a twinge of guilt because I hadn’t done anything else on my list and I knew I wouldn’t because Sunday was devoted to meal planning, grocery shopping, and getting ready for Monday.
That’s when I realized how hard retirement will be and I wondered if we would ever get to our Things To Do When We Retire list. Maybe that’s the real reason people just up and die after retiring; it’s disheartening to know that you thought you were done working only to find you are just beginning. I think I’d rather some eternal rest, too, than a retirement full of finishing unfinished crap.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds, My Phenomenal Fake Life

Then came a Sucker Upper

One of the things I love most about the holidays is spending time with my siblings, their kids, and our parents. We play games and reminisce on our childhood because, apparently, our current state of affairs are not nearly so hilarious. The Kids (Chris’ two and Noelle’s two) listen to us talk; by this point, they can recite the stories for us. Their favorite walk down memory lane is about our favorite childhood game. “We want to play Sucker-Upper!” they’ll cry, as we, the grown-ups, argue over some technicality in that long-ago pastime.

There are four of us (Bedot, Noelle, Chris and I) and I’m the oldest, making me the ring leader. I am pretty sure I came up with most of this game though no one remembers why it started or what the original goal had been. Mom forbade us playing it, but it was super fun and we disobeyed her command at every opportunity. Oh, you’ve never heard of Sucker-Upper? That’s probably because we made it up.

Instructions For Playing Sucker-Upper


  • One long staircase, preferably a walled-in stairwell leading to a basement.
  • Pitch-black darkness (you may need towels to plug any light coming from under doors or around windows)
  • Stupid children


One kid is the Sucker-Upper, the monster that sucks-up children. (We may have gotten that idea from watching the cats freak out over the vacuum cleaner.)

All the other kids are victims

The Sucker-Upper lurks at the bottom of the stairs and can only come three stairs up but is allowed to reach beyond that. If the Sucker-Upper grabs a kid and can get that kid to touch the bottom landing, that kid has to go to “jail” (in our case, it was the bathroom around the corner) and they have to stay in there in the dark because everything has to stay pitch black. They can have a flashlight or night light but that’s it.

It then becomes the mission of the leftover children to rescue the kids from jail but to do so, they have to sneak past the Sucker-Upper and make it down the hallway and into the jail without getting caught. And they have to do this in darkness. Silently. 

This game only works when some of the children sacrifice the slowest child to the Sucker-Upper so that there’s an objective. That’s where the argument on how this all started in the first place begins: what was the original goal? Noelle says the it was to get to Mom & Dad’s bed and the kid who did that got to be the next Sucker-Upper which was supposedly a coveted position probably because I was always the Sucker-Upper and told them that it was a coveted position. But some of us think there may have been a different goal originally. I was actually probably trying to kill my siblings, or something.

Chris was great at this game. He’d spider crawl over me, bracing himself via his hands and feet on the walls of the stairwell. And he was smart – he’d usually be on a mission to rescue Bedot who almost always got caught (sacrificed) within the first minute and he’d have Noelle create a distraction so I couldn’t hear him as he leapt from above me to the carpet behind me then snuck down the hallway. Of course, he ran the risk of Noelle freaking out at the top of the stairs because she was alone in the dark with the Sucker-Upper waiting to get her, but about half the time, his plan worked. The other half of the time, I’d catch him and drag his squirmy little body down the last three stairs to plant him firmly on the landing, often getting kicked in the face for my monsterly efforts.

This is usually where Mom chimes in, stating she was worried we’d get hurt dragging each other down a bunch of stairs in the darkness. Obviously, she was a paranoid parent; we all survived and look! The next generation is dying to play this game. If any of us still had darkened stairwells, it would happen. Sorry, kids. Blame Grammie and Poppa; they’re the ones who moved to a split-level with no scary stairs.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds, White trash childhood