Real Men Don’t Need Kits

Carving pumpkins is not easy, unless you’re Bob Ross, who I imagine could carve a pumpkin in his sleep while dreaming of “happy places” with tree lined streams and snowy mountains.

We never carved pumpkins when I was a kid, so I don’t have a high water mark set by my father that I have to try and top when it comes to carving pumpkins. But with all the hype around it, and with the plethora of pumpkin carving utensils on the market, you’d think that any schmuck (can I use that word if I’m not Jewish?) could carve a decent pumpkin, thereby reaching new heights of hero worship with his kids.

“Not so!” says the wise man whose wife has been outta town for five days now…

When I was at Old Tyme Pottery earlier this season, I happened upon a pumpkin carving kit, complete with little pinhole saws for cutting those intricate corners, a scoopy thing to pull out the punkin guts, and some paper templates and glue to guide you on your way to punkin carving greatness! Now, I’ve never used a kit before, but I’ve always wanted to. In my mind, after using this kit, I’d be able to turn out one of those Award Winning Pumpkins like you see on TV.

So I bought it and I have been waiting impatiently for the day when I could whip them out and bust a move on a wary punkin; but alas, it was not to be.

See, what I didn’t reckon on, was that the tools that came with the kit, were made of microscopically thin pieces of sheet metal that snap at the slightest pressure. The very act of trying to cut horizontally, completely broke off both of the pinhole saws that came with the kit:

Pumpkin carving kit

And that little scoop thing…was made for little hands and not for the adults who will actually be carving the pumpkin!

So…after snapping off the second saw, while trying to talk on the phone with CareerMom to catch her up on all the cutesie things the boys have done this week, AND while trying to throw the ball for the dogs to give them some exercise, while ALSO trying to keep MLE from stomping in the bowl of pumpkin guts, I finally had to just put everything down and STEP AWAY from the pumpkin!

When I was finally able to again focus on the task at hand, I realized that sometimes, a man has just got to be a man. With that, I ordered the boys (and dogs) to stay put, while I went to the basement and got out the old standby pumpkin carving tool:

Real Man Saw

If you look closely, you can still see pieces of pumpkin on the blade.

In addition to being just “the bomb” for carving holes in pumpkins, it’s also wicked looking, which gives me additional “cool” points with my kids!

It’s not so good for detail work though, which means that all I was able to do last night was the regular pumpkin face.

For the really cool pumpkin design we have planned, I might have to bring out the big gun:


Don’t laugh till you’ve tried it. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a saw shredding through the soft flesh of a pumpkin at high RPMs!

That sounded kinda creepy…




Who you gonna call?

halloween I didn’t do anything overtly mean when I was a kid, but like all kids, I did my share of tricks. One of our perennial favorites was knocking on people’s doors and then running away. I don’t know what was so funny about it, but we sure laughed our butts off when the homeowner would come look outside and get mad.

Last night, we had just finished dinner, I had cleaned up the dishes and I had just gotten the boys rounded up and naked for bathtime, when I looked out our front window and saw someone on the front porch. It was an adult woman with blonde hair. My first thought was that it was my adopted mom. She frequently travels back and forth through Atlanta without bothering to stop by, and I figured she might be coming through and leaving something for the boys. But, the vehicle at the top of the driveway was a red SUV, which I know she doesn’t have.

I sort of hovered out of sight to see what this person was doing on my front porch and then watched as she rang the doorbell and then took off running. She hopped in her car and took off.

I was like, “What the hell?”

After telling the naked boys to sit tight, I went down and opened the door to find a trick or treat bucket of goodies on the front porch.

Apparently, we’d been “Ghosted.” This was our first experience with it, but if you have older kids then you’re probably ahead of me. Basically, it’s a combination of a Blog Meme, A Random Act of Kindness, and a childhood prank, all rolled into one.

What you get when you’re ghosted:

  • A paper picture of a Ghost. You can print it off the Internet here
  • Some Halloween candy, in a trick or treat bucket, or any other kind of container; it’s your choice
  • A poem thingy and instructions for carrying on with the “Ghosting”

The rules are as follows:

  • You have to post, somewhere on your house, the printed Ghost. This supposedly keeps other “Ghosts” away from your home (and I suspect it keeps others from Ghosting you again).
  • You have to give the same “Ghosting” to two others that you know
  • You are supposed to sneak up to their house and carry out the ghosting without being seen

It’s pretty simple, and apparently pretty exciting since MLI told everyone he saw this morning about it.

But I’m wondering, how is someone with small children supposed to pull this off? I mean, it’s impossible to quickly run from someone’s house, get the kids strapped back into the car and drive off without being seen. Which I suppose, is exactly why the person I saw, was an adult doing this without her kids! HA!

Cuz, losing a 2nd cousin this past week wasn’t enough

grand canyon I really just want to cry. I want to curl up in bed and watch old re-runs of Family Ties until all my troubles go away. I want to drink really vile manly drinks with names like Rusty Nail and Beer Buster until I can’t think straight. I want to try some safe new drug that doesn’t jack me up, but rather knocks me out until my savings account has reached some astronomically large amount to where what’s bugging me, doesn’t bug me anymore because I’ll have the means to fix it.

What’s that?

Oh. Sorry…a little history for those of you at home. Basically, I’m losing my backyard to erosion.

And we’re not talking about a little erosion here, we’re talking about foundation exposing, trees falling off the side of the cliff erosion. All to the tune of $25 thousand to fix erosion. That’s what I’m stressing over.

When we bought this house two years ago, a tornado had just finished ripping through the backyard. And while everyone else left their downed trees to be reclaimed by nature, the previous owner of our house opted to clean it all up.

It looked great. It gave us a bit of a backyard down at the bottom where it leveled out; we’ll take it! SOLD!
Unfortunately, it also took away all the trees and mulch that were holding the hill in place. And now I am left with the REAL aftermath.

I’ve had three “experts” in to qualify the problem and propose a fix. And even in “this economy,” where you’d think you could catch a break on labor costs, here’s what I’ve gotten:

Option #1

  • “You need a retaining wall about “head high.”  A retaining wall “head high” means one about 7′ tall and about 100′ wide. The materials alone come out to around $8 grand, and then you add on the labor costs and you’re hitting about $15K.

Option #2

  • “For the money, unless you just want to spend $16K, I would just come in here with a drip irrigation system and plant the shit out of it. I mean, plants all over it.”  This would run me about $9K

Now, “if money weren’t an object” the optimum solution would be a two-tier retaining wall system with the plants, but since money IS an object, I have NO FRIGGIN IDEA WHAT TO DO!

But do you see my quandry? What if I spend $9K on plants and it doesn’t fix the problem? I mean, that’s a butt-load of money to put on something that “might” work. The contractor is pretty confident it will, but…I don’t share his optimism.

I keep thinking, “OK, you put up a 7′ retaining wall and you’ve at least got SOMETHING. I mean, if I suddenly fell off the hill, at least the wall would catch me right? Has a Juniper bush  ever stopped a person from falling off a hill? I don’t think so.”

Oh, also part of the problem is that we don’t HAVE the money to do this, but we don’t really have a choice. We HAVE to do this. Only, which one do you do? Do you go the less expensive route and hope it works, or do you go the more expensive route and hope it works? Or, do you bite the bullet and do them both figuring, “Hey, if one is good, then two should be even better?”

Seriously, where’s the booze, cuz I could really use something stronger than my reality right now!

Childhood stories…then, and now

Some of my favorites books from my childhood were contained within a set my brother received in 1974, which I held onto and now claim as my own. They were titled, “The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls.”

In all, I believe my set included approximately ten books, on all manner of subjects, art, science, etc.; but, my favorites were the stories. These, along with another book of Fairy Tales, kept me reading whenever my brother would run off with his friends, or when I just needed some alone time.

Nursery Rhymes and Stories

We’ve recently started reading them to MLI, because his imagination is finally outgrowing Curious George and Dingo…sorry, I mean Diego. And he seems to like them a lot; although I had forgotten how violent some of them were.

Just last night, I was reading the story about the little Tin Soldier. You’ll recall, he only had one leg and he fell in love with a little paper ballerina. But, fate stole him away from her where he then rode a paper boat into the sewers, only to be eaten by a fish, and finally returned back home when someone in the house went to the local market and purchased the fish that ate him. Unfortunately, just as the Tin Soldier and his lady were to be reunited, the Tin Man was blown into the fire where he melted.

Yeah…I had gotten too far into the ending before I realized his fate. I had forgotten that, like many REAL fairy tales, the Tin Soldier was not to have a happy ending.

This got me to thinking about how parenting has changed and I was delighted to find, in the preface of the book titled, “Folk and Fairy Tales” from my set, a forward by one of the editors. It was delightfully candid (if a tad sexist), but I found the honesty of yesterday refreshing:

“Once upon a time parents had to bring up their children without graded reading plans. The children got either little sermons with the moral sticking out like a red flag or the fairy and folk tales that have come down to us from the feudal Middle Ages. Many children had these stories read to them, together with Mother Goose, while they were still in their perambulators.

Some of today’s psychologists shake their heads over the effect this literary diet may have had on the children too young to cope with such strong doses of morality and immortality.

But most children can stand a good deal more than adults think they can. Besides, some mothers have always been blessed with common sense. If they saw that some gruesome tale induced nightmares, they stopped reading it and made up, instead, little stories about ordinary children and animals within a child’s understanding.”

The normal healthy-minded child is not harmed by fairy tales, but it is unwise indeed to expose a child to them before he is emotionally ready to accept them as fantasy. The child whose life is generally satisfying and secure, and who is mature enough, will take the most gruesome fairy tales in his stride, as he does the blood-and-thunder shows he sees on television.”

Isn’t that great! Imagine, parents—not organizations or the government—deciding what is best for their children. Wow.

But see…a tad sexist…but not surprising considering the gender roles at play. I wonder what they would have thought about today’s video games?