My Own personal stimulus activities

image Regarding money, I’ve always considered myself to be ‘frugally frugal.’ Meaning that generally speaking, I like to save money. But that also means that when I see a need, such as the furniture getting old, or the carpet getting raggedy, then I am more than willing to spend the money on updates. CareerMom and I often speak amongst ourselves about how her dad and, generally speaking, her brothers, are not like this. Her dad for instance, is of the mind that if it ain’t broke, then don’t buy a new one. The same goes for painted walls, outdated fixtures, etc. So, I consider CareerMom lucky for having found someone so frugally frugal as myself.

CareerMom and I usually collude on big decisions regarding decorating and fixer-upper things around the house, such as paint colors, furniture, and things like that. But when it comes to the details, she is the accessorist. And so, as each season passes, one can mark the change in our home by noting when CareerMom removes the red Christmas pillows and replaces them with the cheerful spring pillows. In the fall, it goes from greens and yellows to warm oranges and reds.

Before we had children, we were able to re-use the same pillows from year to year, often keeping the same ones two or three years in a row, but kids are nothing if not hard on the furniture. Rather than putting the pillows in plastic bins and storing them in the basement until next year, now we usually end up having to throw them out thanks to stains that won’t come out with simple ‘spot-cleaning.’

Recently, I’d heard CareerMom remark that she’d looked for some nice spring-like pillows at the usual good places: Pier One, Tarz-yay, and Kohl’s. So while I was out with MLE the other day, I stopped in at Stein-Mart to check out the deals on summer shirts. While there, I happened to wander around to the home decor section and actually found some really nice pillows with warm browns (to match our accent wall) and some light greens and tans. So, I grabbed them. I admit that I did look at the price, and wasn’t too happy with it, but I figured I’d get them and if CareerMom liked them and they made her happy, then it was worth it.

Turns out, CareerMom does like them, or at least she’s pretending to really well. But after looking at them the other day and remarking on what a good job I’d done picking them out, she asked, “Did you get a good deal on them?”

This seemingly innocuous question might be perfectly within the realm of expectation coming from someone else, or maybe even coming from CareerMom if she were talking about a major purchase. But for her to ask that question regarding something that clearly was NOT going to break the bank…caused me to pause for a moment.

And then my overly-analytical mind kicked in:

“What did she mean by that?”

“Is she trying to say that she’s surprised I bought them if they weren’t on sale?”

“Is she calling me a cheapskate?”

“When did this happen?”

“Have I started squashing her purchasing decisions recently?”

“What the hell!”

But, I let the whole comment go. Pick your battles right?

And then, the next weekend, in what was retrospectively CLEARLY a decision influenced by this one perfectly innocent comment, I let her buy a lovely set of deck furniture.

Damn…she’s good!

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot…

Well, my trip up to TrishaTruly’s was not everything I thought it would be, primarily because two days prior, I developed a sore throat that persisted and turned into a raging sinus infection. That, coupled with the fact that this Atlanta resident is not used to daytime temps that persist in the 40s, means we didn’t do a whole lot. Which is fine really. My goal was not to go up and be entertained, but even the simple act of lounging around was hampered by my inability to breathe or to summon enough energy to get excited over a nice bottle of Bordeaux.

Families are funny though; perhaps even moreso when you know so little about them, as is the case with me and my PA family. A few know the whole story, but suffice it to say that I didn’t grow up with Trisha or either of my half-sisters, though it’s too bad really. I think we would have had fun. It’s funny though to watch them all and how they relate and how they act and then to compare it to yourself. I imagine that this is one of those things you sort of take for granted when you grow up with your real family. For instance, my oldest sister is very uptight; perhaps made even worse by the fact that she’s seven months pregnant.  But she can be an extremely warm person when she wants to be and saddens me to see her the way she was on this trip.

Trisha is a very different person than she was when I first re-met her some ten years ago. Her life has been flipped upside-down and to her credit, she’s made lemonade, and lemon meringue pie, and lemon shrimp kabobs, etc., out of it. She lives in this great old house and when MLI asked me upon my return, “What does her house look like?” I was a bit stuck on how to describe it. It’s a simple home.  I mean, it’s not going to be featured on “Fine Living” or anything, but from the moment you walk in, you feel welcome. Her house and yard sits on the edge of…I don’t know how many acres of near-pristine forest, whose ground is part dirt and part granite outcroppings that just beg to be climbed. Walking, or even just sitting on her porch in an evening and you’re likely to see any number of deer or turkey out in the field, and as was the case my first night there, a pair of copulating raccoons doing it “high-wire” style while hanging from the power line.

My last whole day there, I roused myself and half-walked, half-mucked through the running pools of melting snow and made my way back to a mostly still-frozen pond back in the woods. From there, I worked my way around the water, using it as a reference and I headed back into the woods. Not too far–just far back enough to lose sight of it, and there, among the storm broken spruce branches that had been packed down by a few of the many resident deer as they rested beneath the trees, I sat on top of a large granite boulder and meditated on the quiet. It was unearthly still, accustomed so as I am to ambient noise from my daily life. But here, there was little to spoil the moment. No trucks, no music, no phones; only the gurgling of water tumbling from some hidden rocky creek bed, and the occasional “Ca-caw!” of a distant crow. I stayed there until I figured I was nearing the cut-off time that Trisha had given me before she considered me “lost in the woods” and launched a mini-search party. And so, more than a little cold and stiff, I rose from my rocky plateau and made my way back to the house.

It really is a wonderful place…the kind of place about which you constantly find yourself thinking, “I could live here.” But then, I also imagine that if I did live there, I would eventually take it for granted and that would be a travesty. Faced with increasing costs required to maintain a 100-year-old homestead, Trisha may end up having to sell the old place off, but I hope she can keep it for a while. As my family grows, I don’t know how many more times I’ll be able to venture up there to see her and the land, but I’d love to have the boys up there once or twice. There’s little to compare to it in Atlanta, and there is something to be said for taking boys out into the woods and letting them lose themselves in the simplicity of rocks, trees and wildlife.

All in all, health issues aside, it was a good trip, a necessary trip. And now it’s back home to wailing banshee boys and hectic schedules.

I can’t wait!

Sleeping in a strange bed…and loving it!

(Posted last night around 9 p.m. apparently right before the raccoons took up breeding right outside the house up in a tree)

image So I’m up here at TrishaTruly’s place, and after a relaxing evening of smoked Gouda cheese and a nice red wine whose name my foggy brain cannot recall, I am purt-near pooped. I must admit that I do miss my boys and hearing them on the phone asking, “Where are you daddy,” just about made me get all teary eyed  (just about).

I didn’t plan on blogging at all on my trip, but I happened to check and I know that Trisha has wireless here on the old homestead. So, I just have to get her crypto key before I can get online…something I’ll hit her up for tomorrow.

But, I noticed something on my trip up today: My first plane from Atlanta to Newark was your typical 80-passenger jet. I sat next to a very nice lady who was all dolled up (with pearls). She was a flight attendant coming off of vacation and flying back home to Newark. The other attendants on duty were also nice and well-dressed and overall, it was a decent flight.

And…then…I walked down the runway in Newark to catch my flight to Scranton, PA, only to find myself walking back down some stairs onto the tarmac in order to get on a Dehavilland Dash 8. If you haven’t flown one of these little gems, it’s a dual prop plane that seats about 50 passengers.

And I noticed something that perhaps isn’t applicable worldwide, but which certainly deserves more study:

The quality of the flight attendant is directly proportional to the size of the plane

Yes folks, apparently in the airline industry, SIZE MATTERS!

Whereas with my larger plane from Atlanta to Newark, the crew was nice and neatly pressed; however, the lone attendant on my journey from Newark to Scranton (home of, “The Office”), the flight attendant looked as if she’d woken up late, pulled on last week’s uniform and then had a couple of shots of bourbon on the way into the airport.

Anyway, just something I noticed.

Tomorrow, I meet the oft-quoted “D”, who is Trisha’s Beau and we will drink more wine and eat red meat. A healthy evening if ever I had one. In between all of that, sinuses permitting, I hope to get some sort of workout over at my sister’s house so that I don’t slide even further into being a fat blog of a husband and father. If we get bored, Trisha has offered to lend me one of her rifles so that we can go shoot critters and if I get good enough, perhaps when I get home I can stake out my front lawn in hopes that my turf-destroying mole will stick his scruffy lil’ head above ground long enough for me to shout, “FREEZE GOPHER” and take a pot-shot or two before the cops show up.

Hey, a guy can dream!

Marriage and child-rearing…tricks of the trade part 1

I’m not sure when my ‘clean’ gene kicked in, but I know it was sometime in my late teens. I suspect it had something to do with the cleanliness with which our house was kept as I was growing up, coupled with the fact that, as a child, I didn’t have much “stuff.” I didn’t have action figures, or Hot Wheels cars lying around. No, everything I had could easily be hidden under the bed, in the closet, or in the hideously 70s green colored toy box my dad made for me. Even when I was single, I was never afraid to have a girl over to my condo because it was always immaculate, even with my dog there.

But the funny thing is, my organization only goes so far as the exterior. Once something is in a box, or in a drawer, it can be as disorganized as it wants and I’m generally OK with it.

Out of sight…out of mind

If you were to walk through our house either at night after the kids go to bed, or after the kids go to school in the mornings, you would hardly know we have kids. CareerMom and I do our best to keep things picked up and hidden. We do such a good job compared to CareerMom’s siblings in fact, that my MIL is always remarking about how clean our house is.

Don’t get me wrong, we clean a lot, but the trick my friend, is in storage.

Let me show you some of our many storage areas:

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The Bombay Company cedar-lined toy(?) box
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The really really tall, dark-wood entertainment center we bought in our old house…that really doesn’t work with a large flat-screen TV
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Living room bookcase on the left…

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…and…Living room bookcase on the right

Let it also be said that there MUST be at least one “tosser” in the marriage. And I use the word “tosser” in the American vernacular to mean, “Someone who throws things out,” as compared to the English tosser which generally means, “wanker.” And if you need further explanation as to the origins of the word “wanker,” well then, I’m just gonna send you here.