Friday, July 29, 2011

Reinvention of an American Housewife

Does anyone know where I go to turn in my notice for this mom gig? I thought this position would automatically be eliminated after my last child's graduation but then I started planning a wedding. Okay, that's the last thing, right?  I'm trying to get my request in early, but  I can't find the door to Human Resources in my kitchen. I've completed the tasks I was assigned all those years ago in the hospital but I can't get anyone to throw me a retirement party. I don't even want the gold watch, you can keep it. Diamonds would be nice, though.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about finally getting to stop someplace on a trip that my family had driven by for years. No one wants to stop to do some boring "mom" thing when we are heading to the beach. In this blog I said that a friend and I were reinventing ourselves "from moms to real people." I got a rash of e-mails saying things like "Right on!" (I didn't know anyone still said that but I think it's far out!) After a while clipping coupons, doing laundry, and answering the question "Where is my.....?" about your fifteenth million item loses its appeal. I know, hard to believe, right? No I promise, it does.


Anyway, I can't find the door to the Human Resources office or their number. I've got my paperwork all ready. It looks like this:

NAME:  Mom, I had something else previously but don't recall it.     Date: 7/29/2011

Address: Well, this is the South so I really like "Ma'am." 

Final date of separation: Management is a little vague on this...

Current Position: Sitting at a computer, but generally it's in front of the sink or dryer. 

How long have you been employed here? 28 years. But I've been in management for 25. Do I get to count being pregnant? I should totally get to count it. It was when people started telling me how to do my job, even if they weren't currently working in production.

Reason for Leaving: I've trained my team to do all the major tasks and delegated my responsibilities to them.  I'll still be available in an advisory capacity.

What you hope to achieve in the next 5 years: Becoming a National Geographic photographer, or host for a show on the Travel Channel. Skydiving, joining the circus, or the Peace Corps. Okay, if Saturday Night Live begged me I would help them write something funny.
Someone needs to.

Please list any special talents: Making something out of nothing. Breaking up fights between people smaller than me, wrangling all types of animals; dogs, cats, hamsters, lizards, and squirrels INSIDE the house.  I have the ability to give long lectures through gritted teeth and I can say "Stop!" and/or "No!" 5,618 times a day at last count.

Do you speak any other languages? Yes, I speak fairly good toddler, I can understand teenaged male "I'm separating myself from you" but I don't speak it, and I'm fluent in young adult female PMS.

Beneficiaries: Anyone who has ever had my coconut cream pie or magic cocoa. 

Spousal Consent Requirement:   Oh, man. That's gonna be a problem. 



Snarky Division Handbook

                                                     Office of Imaginary Personnel Management   
Form 758484-9686585 A   

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sun is Setting on Overzealous Sun Screen Claims

I was recently at Pilates listening to two women discuss the 100 SPF sunscreen they were using at the pool. If I hadn't been in such excruciating pain I would have told them it didn't matter. The FDA just came out with new guidelines to take effect next year that will prevent any company from saying that their product is "sweat proof" or "water proof" and the highest SPF they'll be allowed to put on a bottle or can is 50+. Read the new regulations here:

Questions and Answers: FDA announces new requirements for over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen products marketed in the U.S.

Now I'll be honest, while the FDA and doctors are concerned about skin cancer, my main objective in all this is to protect my skin from premature aging. I always cringe when I see young women with sunburned faces. I can't help going all maternal on them and saying "You should be wearing sunscreen every day!"

They look at me as if I have two heads. If I did, they'd both have on sunscreen. The old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is apropos here. It's so much easier to prevent sun damage which is the main cause of wrinkles, than to try to reverse the damage with expensive treatments and procedures.  For those of us who cannot imagine anything happening to our faces that involves a scalpel and staples (I once sat next to a recent face lift recipient at dinner and the sight of the side of her face took my appetite), we are willing to go to great lengths to avoid it.

Choose a hat you really like and will wear a lot for added protection and a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Make sure the ones you are purchasing have a sticker that indicate that the level of UV protection.  On winter days the reflection of rays from the snow can also be hard on your eyes so don't put them away in the fall.

I always recommend wearing sunscreen every day. It can be January and raining buckets and part of my morning routine still includes some sun protection, though of course you can decrease it in those cold gray months. The end of summer is just around the corner and with the new regulations taking effect soon stores should be slashing prices so it's a good time to stock up. The shelf life of sunscreen is generally 2 1/2 to three years but if it smells "off" or if it has separated, throw it out. They do break down over time and can be contaminated with bacteria. Use your common sense. Also experts say we all only use about half the amount of sunscreen we need to be optimally protected so slather it on!

None of this talk about sunscreen regulations, skin cancer, and wrinkles is very fun. But visiting the website Pale is the New Tan is.  Hop on over there so you can have a really good laugh. You may want to print one of those pics and tape it to your bottle of sunscreen as a not so subtle comical reminder. Here's a preview:

There's plenty more where that came from. Enjoy! :) Here's the link:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Detour to the Past

Has this ever happened to you? You are traveling with your family and you spot some place you want to stop.

A roadside fruit stand, an abandoned barn, an antique store. 

You mention this to your darling loved ones.

There are exasperated sighs and eye rolling. They proceed to tell you "Of course if you REALLY want to stop we can go back..." Your husband probably says "go back" the same way mine does. Apparently in the official MANual backtracking to do anything is listed on the same page with asking directions and reading Jane Austen.

But no, they assure you that if YOU really want to "we can stop"...You doubt the sincerity in their voices...because you know them. And because they are saying this with the amount of enthusiasm they could summon for cleaning out the garage or eating tofu, or cleaning out the garage WHILE eating tofu. 

For several years while traveling on Alt 45 in Mississippi I would longingly point to an abandoned school on the side of the highway as my husband pressed the accelerator and my kids turned up their i-pods to drown me out. But recently I traveled with a friend (we are reinventing ourselves from mothers to real people now that everyone is grown up) and I told her about the school. We watched carefully for it since I wasn't exactly sure precisely where it was. Mid day we rounded a bend and it appeared.

 It seemed ghostly and I wondered about the children who attended it, what happened, why it closed. The curved walls and glass tiles with their art deco sleekness seemed like they would have been out of place in rural Mississippi so long ago.

Nothing about rural Mississippi says art deco.

 We walked around and I shot some photos while 3 black men casually eyed us as they played dominoes under a big oak in the heat of the day. I got the feeling they were use to trespassers.

My fearless friend suggested we try to go inside.
I declined. Letting my overactive imagination conjure up snakes, hornets nests, and spiders. No, outside is fine. This is all I wanted. It took all of ten minutes.
 When I came home I tried to google the school because that's what we do now, isn't it? I came up with this site: Abandoned Places.

I so don't need another addiction, but this site is fascinating. If you've ever wondered about those places that call to you from the highway, those houses that look like they were loved once upon a time, those forlorn barns or ruins in foreign countries, then check it out. Apparently there is a community of people who wonder about these ghosts of brick and stone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Slipping Away From Shore

A couple of weeks ago  I headed to the Gulf of Mexico with a friend for a small getaway before the serious wedding countdown and all that goes with it begins in earnest. I was fortunate that she is a companion willing to get into the water and stay there, languishing in the healing saltwater for hours at a time. The waves were big and rough and neither of us being great swimmers we lingered along the shallows, being pummeled by wave after wave. Being tossed by a series of powerful flaps of water that lifted us and then slammed us onto the sandy bottom, holding us there while conspiring with the one that followed to catch us just as we arose unaware only to be dragged like rag dolls across shoreline again, eventually caused us to head for deeper water, past the foamy turmoil.

It was a little scary at first. Our feet didn't quite touch the bottom. The next series of waves came, and they were huge. I thought we'd made a mistake as I saw how they were towering over us, but then ever so gently we were picked up by a huge undulating swell and let down again. It felt momentarily dangerous and exciting, then fun, safe...relaxing even. We watched as it slammed the swimmers just a few yards from us who felt safer in the shallower water.

How often is life like that? Often times we  hug a dangerous shoreline that is giving us the illusion of safety. We fight to gain sure footing in the turmoil because we cannot imagine that sometimes in risk there is, not only the giddiness that comes with the unknown, but also peace in the deeper water.

We nurse our skinned knees and complain about them; we rub our sore shoulders,   yet stay where we are because from a distance the deep water looks ominous. Our minds find it impossible to imagine that a gigantic wave might gently lift us allowing a different perspective from new heights

How often are we missing what we long for and could easily move toward were we not blinded by the crashing waves obscuring all other possibilities? It is counter-intuitive to think that more control and not less may be available to us in such conditions. We take comfort in the fact that all our friends are right there with us in the knee deep water, it's crowded. We like that. We take security in it.

Is all we want out of life to hang around with our heels dug in the sand, our reasoning defined by fear of the unknown, settled safely in the patch of shore we've claimed? Are we going to stay there forever, or are we going to wade out beyond our comfort zone and see what happens?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Something From Nothing: Project 2

Remember when I recovered my dining room chairs and had all that fabric left over? The women in this house cannot count or measure.

I loved this fabric combination and knew I'd find more projects for it. You saw it on the chicken coop redux.
 I know we went over this when I redid those chairs but how is it that we don't notice things that need a bit of help when we see them every day?

This bench on the front porch finally screamed out for a makeover the day I threw my hedge trimmers, rake, and extension cord on it.

This looks ratty, doesn't it?

You can tell me.

 I had already used some of the coffee bag burlap to make this pillow for my dining room bench.
 I just whip stitched this by hand while watching Mad Men on demand.

Do you like that show?

The sets and costume design...

okay and maybe that rogue, Don Draper....

I used the excess fabric to make another pillow.

I repaired the bench and painted it a glossy black then sprayed it with water sealer.

I moved an iron planter from the back porch where no one sees it much next to the bench.

Viola! New updated, tres chic front porch, that cost me nothing except the price of a can of spray paint.






Thursday, July 7, 2011

Studying Anthropologie and Yacht Shopping

I need a yacht.

Why are you laughing? 

I am in love with a set of dishes from Anthropologie called From the Deep.

I can imagine how beautiful they would be on a table topside while we dine as the sun sinks beyond the horizon...

"Darling can you pass the lobster?"

Okay, fine. I'll settle for a beach house.

Which I would clearly design around these dishes.

That little anchor in relief makes me giddy.

The stamp...oooh.....

The fact that the design is on the top AND the bottom...

I'm in love.

This is the inside (THE INSIDE) of the cups...

I'm in love with a squid...

The artistic detail is hypnotizing.

Can't decide if I should save for the plates and bowls or the yacht first...