Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I coordinate a group of volunteers for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. I sign us up for one performance of each play during the season and we wipe down the tables and chairs, take tickets, hand out programs, usher, bounce, and collect recyclables and trash. In exchange, we get to stake out a spot in the hillside seating (the Festival performs in a lovely outdoor amphitheater) and watch the plays free.

And there you have my ulterior motive. I’d like to say that we volunteer at the Shakespeare Festival for purely altruistic motives. But that would be telling a fib.

We volunteer at the Shakespeare Festival because we love live theater. And even the unreserved hillside seats are almost $30 a pop on a Saturday night. Multiply that by the number of folks in my family and you get a hefty outlay of cash for a night of culture. So we volunteer.

And therein lies the problem: I have a hard time using the word “volunteer” for something like that. I mean, we do the work free. But I feel kind of guilty saying I volunteer for an organization that, well, pretty much caters to the folks in the community with money. I mean, the cheapest seats are $21 before tax on weekdays. If you don’t bring your own picnic meal, the least expensive meal in the cafĂ© will set you back around $10.

Not exactly the kind of thing one usually associates with volunteer work.

Yes, the Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit organization and performs its own community service (including being very generous every time I've asked them to donate to any silent auction I've coordinated for my kids' schools).

But not what I think of as traditional volunteer work.

Oh, sure, we do other volunteer work in our community: the kids and I have served lunch at the rescue mission; we all participate in Rake Up Boise in the fall (raking leaves for the elderly and disabled); I have coordinated my company’s Christmas project the last two years (buying gifts for the residents of the Veteran’s Home and spending an evening there passing out homemade goodies and singing Christmas carols); my daughter and I helped when our company’s Community Service Committee provided dinner to Ronald McDonald House residents.

Since our bank account doesn’t lend a lot of opportunities to donate monetarily, we opt to help our community with our time when we can and those are what I think of as very legitimate volunteer activities.

Am I going to give up volunteering at the Festival? Oh, heck no. Let me see, incredible venue, wonderful and very professional productions, a great family evening of live theater … for free! Versus the slight inner cringe I feel when I say I’m “volunteering” there? The hand-scale weighing the pros and cons is definitely heavier on the pros side.

Friday, July 25, 2008

To the victor go the spoils

Or at least, to the vacuumer goes the spare change.

Found in the couch last weekend.

Money found under the couch cushions or in the washer or dryer is mine. All MINE. Of course, that would be because I’m just about the only person who ever finds money in those places because I am the person who is most likely to be cleaning under the cushions or doing the laundry.

Is it just me or does anyone else get seriously irritated at the fact that if another family member is doing any cleaning up around the house they’re “helping” you? Who assigned the entire house as my personal job anyway? I certainly didn’t sign up for that. Ever.

Oh sure, I appreciate when a kid asks “Is there anything I can do to help you?” But why is it “helping”? Why don’t they ever say “I’m going to vacuum unless you think I should start with something else.” Why don’t they just look around and see that the place needs to be swept/vacuumed/dusted? Or that the bathroom needs swabbing out? Or the laundry done? And just do it.

Certainly I’m not so much more brilliant than every other person in my family that only I can see when cleaning needs to happen. And I can’t really envision a circumstance where someone else doing any housework would irritate me, so it’s not like they actually need my permission to clean or anything. The housework fairy isn’t going to do it and I’m fairly certain that everyone in my house knows that.

Which is why it’s so frustrating to, for instance, find a dirty dish in the sink. When a dirty dish is in the sink it’s clear that SOMEONE feels it’s not his or her job to clean up after him/herself. The most oft-used excuse? “The dishwasher is clean.” Um, okay. Did someone forbid you from emptying it? Nope. Must be because it’s MY JOB to empty it.

Can you tell the dust in my living room is thick enough to write in this morning?

I’ll get over it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I love to cook. Oh sure, sometimes – let’s be honest here, many times – after working all day I don’t really want to slave over a hot stove for a couple of hours so we’ll hit the Wendy’s or the Panda Express (is there anything better than Panda’s Orange Chicken? I didn’t think so). And I have a few select frozen meals that my family loves (for instance, the Shrimp Scampi from Costco is fabulous). But for the most part, I cook “from scratch” and love finding new recipes to try out.

I was surprised when our first exchange student informed us that during her pre-departure orientation in Germany, she was told that Americans never cook. They eat fast food and microwave everything else. A sad commentary on how the world views us. Our exchange students have been pleasantly surprised to find that, at least at our house, cooking does happen.

Of course, it’s things like the following that probably add to our stereotype:

When you really NEED bacon, but none is handy, you can now make that chicken/fish/whatever taste like bacon. What??? I can get this stuff at 19 stores within a 30 minute drive from my house. But why???? So I can make such wonderful recipes as: Roasted Bacon Asparagus, Bacon Mayonnaise, and Bacon and Beer Steamed Clams. *shudder*

The website features rotating pictures of French fries, steak, grilled corn on the cob and hamburgers. I don’t know about you, but I’ve NEVER wanted my corn to taste like bacon. Not once. And I love bacon. A lot. Maybe not as much as this guy, though:

And because making pancakes is SO HARD, I give you Batter Blaster. Billed as “USDA Organic” no less. Okay, so the ingredients are allegedly organic, but doesn’t the whole shooting the batter out of the nozzle on an aerosol can sound like something distinctly not organic, notwithstanding the ingredients? The recipe I use is pretty darn simple. If I haven’t got time to whip up the real thing, I don’t have time to wait for these to cook, either. The little infomercial on the Batter Blaster site touts the neatness of the product: “No more cracking eggs or splattering ingredients.” Color me old fashioned, but still not a good enough reason for me to squirt my pancakes from a can. But do I wish I’d invented this little product (more than 400,000 sold from its release in October ‘til a review written in January)? Oh, yes indeedy.

I use my share of packaged goodies – Rice-a-Roni, boxed pasta mixes, spaghetti sauce from a jar – when I’m in a hurry (unlike pancakes, it takes hours to make a good spaghetti sauce). I’m usually a wee bit embarrassed when I resort to these shortcuts, though.

Not as embarrassed as I would be if I made pancakes from a can served with eggs flavored like bacon, though.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to shower

This cracks me up every time I read it.

I thought it might be appropriate to post today given that our latest arrangement for work transportation has caused some bathroom congestion lately and the showering differences (namely, my desire to have private time in the shower and my husband’s desire to wag his wiener at me) have arisen.


Take off clothing and place it in sectioned laundry hamper according to lights and darks.

Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown. If you see your husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.

Look at your womanly physique in the mirror-make mental note-must do more sit-ups.

Get in the shower. Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah and pumice stone.

Wash your hair once with Cucumber and Sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.

Wash your hair again to make sure it's clean.

Condition your hair with Grapefruit Mint conditioner enhanced with natural avocado oil. Leave on hair for fifteen minutes.

Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for ten minutes until red.

Wash entire rest of body with Ginger Nut, Oatmeal and Brown Sugar soap. Complain bitterly when you realize that your husband has once again been eating your Ginger Nut, Oatmeal and Brown Sugar soap.

Rinse conditioner off hair (you must make sure that it has all come off).

Shave armpits and legs.

Scream loudly when your husband flushed the toilet and you lose the water pressure.

Turn off shower.

Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower. Spray mold spots with Tilex.

Get out of shower. Dry with towel the size of a small country. Wrap hair in super absorbent second towel.

Check entire body for the remotest sign of a zit, tweeze hairs.

Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.

If you see your husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas and then sashay to bedroom to spend an hour and a half getting dressed.


Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.

Walk naked to the bathroom. If you see your wife along the way, shake wiener at her making the "woo-woo" sound.

Look at your manly physique in the mirror and suck in your gut to see if you have pecs (no). Admire the size of your wiener in the mirror and scratch your ass.

Get in the shower.

Don't bother to look for a washcloth (you don't use one).

Wash your face.

Wash your armpits.

Take a bite out of that yummy thing that kinda tastes like ginger, oatmeal and brown sugar.

Blow your nose in your hands, then let the water just rinse it off.

Crack up at how loud your fart sounds in the shower.

Majority of time is spent washing your privates and surrounding area.

Wash your behind using wife’s loofah.

Shampoo your hair (do not use conditioner).

Make a shampoo Mohawk.

Peek out of shower curtain to look at yourself in the mirror again.

Pee (in the shower).

Rinse off and get out of the shower. Fail to notice water on the floor because you left the curtain hanging out of the tub the whole time.

Partially dry off.

Look at yourself in the mirror, flex muscles. Admire wiener size again.

Leave shower curtain open and wet bath mat on the floor.

Leave bathroom fan and light on.

Return to the bedroom with towel around your waist. If you pass your wife, pull off the towel, shake wiener at her, and make the "woo-woo" sound again.

Throw wet towel on the bed. Take 2 minutes to get dressed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Old, old, old, ugh

Remember my daughter? The one who made her first trip that was not to visit family, but to visit other friends unaccompanied by adults, just a couple of months ago? Well, she'll be flying to Germany ALL BY HERSELF in about two weeks. Freaks me out. 'Cause you know what that makes me? Old.

Very, very old.

When you have a kid who has earned enough money to buy airfare to Europe and is planning to get there all by her little lonesome, you are officially OLD. She's quite excited, of course, to be visiting our first and third exchange students (in Germany) and the one who just left (in Italy). Me? I'm having a hard time visualizing her:

flying across the ocean. Oh, I guess it would help if I tried visualizing her:

Nope, still not easy.

I've been doing a lot of swapping on Swap-Bot and through mix CD swaps discovered Camille. I can listen to this song all day long:

Yeah, I admit it looks strange. And some of it sounds strange. But it's just got something about it that I am lovin'. In spite of the fact that I have absolutely no idea what she's singing about.

Lest you think I have abandoned my old fogey-hood, I did take my daughter to see Boston in concert for her 19th birthday. I'm just trying to avoid the pitfalls of being stuck in the past musically. Mostly because during my high school years? Disco was popular. I'm still trying to scrub that from my memory.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Departure day

Well, one of the saddest days of our year (not counting funerals) has come and gone. Our exchange student has packed up and gone home.

She had watched both a season of Survivor and some episodes of the game show “Password” with us during her stay and decided to incorporate some elements of both into our last evening together. First, she made fake money for each of us and then “auctioned” some of the items she was leaving behind (school supplies, last year’s calendar featuring the Dolomites, a fuzzy red Christmas stocking she received from a friend, etc.). My son enjoyed bidding items up that he had no desire to have simply so the rest of us would have to forfeit more of our money.

Next, she gave each of us a stack of passwords relating to her stay with us and a couple of clues we were forbidden from using for each password. For instance, I had the word “Wal-Mart” and was forbidden from using “store” or “groceries” when giving hints to my daughter. We live within walking distance from our closest Wal-Mart and it’s a family joke that we seem to wind up there nearly every day. So, all I had to say was “shopping” and “daily” and the word was abundantly clear!

When we had successfully guessed all of the passwords, she gave each of us a gift to remember her – I received a travel mug containing a photograph of the two of us taken during our last hike together; my husband received a mouse pad with a photo of the entire family together; my daughter got a t-shirt with a photo of the two of them together; and my son received a coffee mug with a photo of the two of them in a fountain in Portland. Then we had the cheesecake she had requested that I make for her last night at home.

AFS, the organization we usually host through, has changed their requirements for how long the students have to be separated from their host families before departure, so we were able to keep our student for an extra night this year. However, morning did come and we had no choice but to load her luggage and a big box of Kleenex into the car on Sunday and drop her off.

The Kleenex box was substantially less full on our return home, and we spent the rest of the day moping around our emptier home. No matter how I try to prepare myself for departure day, it’s always incredibly difficult.