I was having serious, serious, Internet withdrawal.
What to do with all this time on my hands?
Some days I’d aimlessly wander around the house in a sort of unplugged daze until I found myself just sitting in front of my computer staring wistfully into the dark screen. Occasionally, I’d turn it on and move the colorful icons around - sometimes organizing them according to width and height, sometimes just going for a random but aesthetically pleasing desktop pattern - but always absently wondering what it is I used to do with my computer before the Internet. By day five, I had rediscovered solitaire, and then a day later, another version of solitaire called Spider Solitaire. I’m now up to playing with six decks, but it’s just not the same as a daily dose of Rude Pundit or Bitch Ph.D. And the suicide kings just made me think of how much I missed reading I Blame The Patriarchy.
And you may not know this, but here at Chateau Halushki we don’t subscribe to cable television, either. And no local access unless you open the garage door, stand on one foot, and hold the TV antenna at a 45 degree angle in a northwesterly direction, 40.13N and 77.01W to be exact. I’ll tell you all about our television eschewing some other time. For now, it’s only important to know that for the past twelve-ish days my only access to weather forecasts, news, and entertainment has been the radio.
That guy on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards has some sexy voice, let me tell you. He gives good weather.
But I miss me my radar maps and 10-day forecasts with the little cloud icons.
They make me giggle.
Anyway, I have had a lot on my mind while I was away and need to clear my palate before I launch into a proper blog post. So bear with me. And fasten your seatbelts. This is free association at its most dangerous.
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?
It’s been raining here.
A real, real lot. “A lot” in the Biblical sense with arks and floating animals and my kids forgetting to say “Oh my gosh!” and instead saying “Holy Jehovah On A Dingy!” every time we crossed the surging brown waters of the Conodoguinet Creek.
And without access to my radar maps or 10-day forecasts, really, this large amount of water dropping down took me completely by surprise. It was sort of quaint, actually. Sort of an endearing flashback to those days when my grandfather used to forecast the weather in his folksy way by pointing out the upturned leaves on the neighbor’s maple tree, predicting that within the hour we’d have a thunderstorm. Or when he’d pick up a wooly bear caterpillar, examine the width of the stripes, and then tip back his hat and - with the confidence of someone who considered conversing with caterpillars as scientifically sound as reading a textbook on meteorology - declare that the winter would be a long, hard one with many snow days and a late thaw.
Which didn’t matter a whit to me because the nuns would never,
ever, ever cancel school for a snow day. No siree, never. If St. Agatha could suffer having her breasts cut off for refusing to accept customers at a brothel, and St. Lucy withstand being enucleated, burned and then stabbed to death for not accepting her pagan bridegroom (and on top of being a pagan, I hear that he also smelled of wet oxen), then by Mary, Joseph and the Blessed Infant, you better believe that you’ll be walking to school in five feet of snow in nothing but your plaid skirt, knee socks and a snorkel jacket. And when you get there, you’ll start the morning with a joyful prayer of thanksgiving that you had knees at all, followed by a prayer of forgiveness for coveting the public school students’ pagan snow day celebration when your good father has been saving pennies in a rice bowl and sacrificing new leather shoes, and your sainted mother making due with her tattered undergarments with the stretched out elastic bands and all just to pay for your Catholic education.
And there’s no way to segue back to the current local flooding after all that, but I warned you that this would be a bumpy ride.
Anyway, it’s been like that with our media blackout.
Surprise! It’s sunny!
Surprise! It’s cloudy!
Surprise! There’s two feet of water and a family of beavers in your basement!
I suppose I could have learned a little down-home weather forecasting from my grandfather if I had really paid attention. But I think that I once saw him put raw onions under his armpits to ward off the flu, so I took all his down -home hocus pocus with a grain of caterpillar dung.
And before I move on to the next random note, I have to tell you something truly hilarious:
At the same time we were being soaked to our skivvies with just about all the water we could bear to soak up (and I have pretty large skivvies, let me tell you), the Pennsylvania-American Water Company announced that the water from our faucets - the water we actually did want in our house - we couldn’t use.
Water, water everywhere, but just not from our sink.
My lordy, my sides are splitting just thinking about it.
Oh, we had the option of boiling the tap water and stockpiling it for cooking, brushing teeth, washing dishes, drinking, and so on. Other than that, welcome to New Delhi what with the monsoons and the dicey drinking water and the electricity just coming and going as it darn well pleased.
Luckily, because I am a doomsday fanatic and get all warm and fuzzy thinking about all things end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it, I had about 20 gallons of bottled water already stockpiled in the basement. (I’m planning on a very short doomsday.) I began collecting my H20 shortly after the last Pennsylvania-American Water Company fiasco when some employee tripped over his drooling lower lip and accidentally knocked 372 gallons of hydroflurosilic acid into the water system. That’s fluoride to you and me, and let me tell you, I can now crush steel pipes between my front teeth. It’s a great party trick.
So yeah, good times.
I’ve dried out a bit, but am now re-moistening in the 99% humidity. And gosh-golly-gee, being enormously 8-months pregnant during all this?
I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
For the first time in my life, I’ve had to use antiperspirant under my boobs and between my thighs, and man oh man, I’ve never felt more like a woman.
My daughters approached me with a tape measure and asked to measure me belly. Prima was concerned that the tape measure was only 3 feet long and that it wouldn’t reach all the way around. I rolled my eyes (because sometimes kids only understand sarcasm) and told her to get real.
And then, as she measured me, we quickly ran out of tape measure.
The girls rolled their eyes at each other and said they’d be back with something longer. They returned with the 300-cubit measure I was using to build our ark.
Right about now, most everyone who has planted a little vegetable garden in their backyard will soon be knocking on your front door looking slightly wild-eyed and bearing gifts of zucchini.
If you live in any of the recently flooded areas, the quantity of zucchini they will be trying to unload on you will be massive. Huge, green tubers the size of The Jolly Green Giant’s…forearm. And the zucchini-bearers will be a bit more than wild-eyed. In fact, you may be accepting zucchini at gun point.
I recommend this site for recipes.
And remember, zucchini bread freezes real good. I have a Mennonite recipe that includes something like forty eggs and ten cups of sugar, and really, you don’t try to go the healthy route with this stuff. You’re going to be eating a lot of zucchini. Make it fun.
Of course, those real big zucchinis might be hard to chaw on no matter what form. In that case, here’s a few other creative ideas.
Some of my favorites are
“Spray paint them a lovely gold and arrange them into a festive wreath a-la-Martha Stewart. Top with a wonderful red velvety bow. (I just know she's going to steal this idea). ~ Brenda “And for the college-aged children living in your basement, they may find that in a pinch, a large zucchini and a few carrots can be fashioned into a refreshing summertime bong, like so (except of course with a zucchini, not a pineapple):
“Give the really big ones to my mechanic husband to put behind the wheels of the car, on a hill. ~ Eileen “
“Invent a zucchini gun (like the spud gun, only longer calibre & longer range). ~ Mrs. Corvette “
Kids! Who Knew!
Babies are wonderful. So soft and innocent and a joy to behold.
And toddlers! Oh the joy of toddlers and their endless creativity and open-armed, chubby-fingered hugs.
Little kids. There just ain’t nothing like ‘em.
But lets get real for a second.
At some point - after all the diaper changes and scrubbing crayon off the walls and slathering peanut butter on bread for the 135, 006th time - you begin to wonder
“Sure, these kids are great and all. But what’s in it for me? When is the big payoff?”
Well, friends, for me it happened a few days ago.
Now, my kids are 5 and 7-years-old, so granted, I’ve put in a lot of years in the doesn’t -do-much-more-than-a-loaf-of-bread stage and then the “NO! DON’T LICK THE OUTLET” stage and then the holy-tantrums-when-is-Kid Jekyll-going-to-turn-human stage. Even up until a few weeks ago, I was walking around the house ranting that some children were treating mommy like Cinderella, and Prince Charming wasn’t off work to save her until another five hours, and if they wanted a second snack they could darn well fix it themselves or wait until the talking mice appeared to fix it for them.
But that's all changed.
One rainy day, while liberating yet another wall from its evil wallpaper, I was interrupted by my darling darlings and their plaintive plea of
“Weeeee’rrrreeeeeee boooorrrreeeeeeedddddd. Whhhhhhaaaatttttt ccccaaaaannnnn wwweeeee ddooooooooo?”
Music to a mother’s ears. Really. Like tiny crystal bells…scraping across a blackboard.
I turned back to my DIF and my scraper and huffed, “I’m working. It’s Saturday. Go find the other parent.”
“Buuuuuttttt weeeeeeeeeee wwwwwaaaaaaaannnnnntttt tttooooooo heeeeeellllllllpppppp!”
Now, normally, I’m not fooled by this. Normally, “we want to help” means either “we’ll help for two minutes and then go chase the cat” or it means "we’ll help until the 'help' becomes chaos' " and now a ten minute job has become two hours of damage control as Mommy scrapes pancake batter from the ceiling.
But for some reason - some moment of weakness or inspiration or delirium - I said
“Okay. You can help.”
And after stripping them down to their skivvies and handing them spray bottles of hot water and plastic scrapers, they got down to the job of soaking the walls, soaking each other, and peeling off the paper and throwing it on the floor.
Water and destruction!
The perfect kid job!
And the toilet in the room provided hours of good-natured ribbing in the form of “You’re next to the potty! You’re next to the potty! Potty girl! Potty girl!” and nostalgic stories about the time that so-and-so threw up macaroni and cheese in the potty and the other time that whosit didn’t put the seat down and fell into the potty butt first…
And during that time, they stripped the paper from two entire walls.
I love my children.
I can’t wait until this next one is old enough to grade the backyard.
So, that’s some of what I’ve been up to while sans Internet.
For now, the baby is still staying put which is good. He’s only 35 weeks along and we still need to spackle and paint, put together a crib, bust out tile, wash baby clothes, clean the gutters, buy more diapers, and replace the subfloor of the bathroom.
(I wonder if we can use zucchini to do that?)
In the meantime, if anyone wants to watch my kids for me while I’m tackling my nest, they come with their own spray bottles and scrapers. Take advantage of the offer while they still think that wallpaper removal is fun.
(In her comments to this post, Her Bad Mother mentions a, uhm, genital-sized vegetable. It would be this one. I have no idea whether it's organic or not.)