Lyrical Laughs

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Being thankful we can still laugh

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I’ve been faithfully conjuring up something I am thankful for (almost) every day in November as my contribution on social media. Okay, technically I'm about 5 days behind but in general my Facebook page has been graced with statements of appreciation for all the good stuff in my life. I’ve never jumped on this particular bandwagon before, but I found it to be kind of an interesting experiment as well as a feel-good thing. It does make one think about the little things we take for granted, and maybe even a few big moments we need to be reminded about. For now, though, let’s just have some fun.

I am thankful that I found the perfect hair stylist in a salon that doesn’t have a fancy café, personnel with names like Saffron or Xander who are constantly checking their own reflection in the mirror, or reception area sofas that you need a ladder to climb out of.

I am thankful that Netflix brought every season of Gilmore Girls back, even though I don’t have Netflix. Yet. Which leads me to my next thought.

I am thankful that in just a few weeks Second Born will be home for her break. She has Netflix (thanks to an awesome future brother-in-law she owes Big Time).

I am thankful for the days when we arrive at Sam’s Club to shop, just in time to try the various samples they serve, especially the pie.

Speaking of pie, can someone explain to me how you forget about pie? We had chocolate pudding pie left over from the weekend and I asked the Spouse a little while ago if he wanted some. He had the audacity to say he forgot all about it. That simply cannot be true – seriously, who forgets about pie?

Whatever (liar) - back to my list.

I am thankful for the new kitchen curtains I’ll soon be getting. That one was thrown in because I’m typing at the kitchen table and just realized how sad and tattered my curtains are. I believe they may have been part of the first Thanksgiving.

I am thankful I’m still getting a decent night’s sleep knowing First Born’s wedding is six months away and her shower is less than five months from now, and there are a million things to think about and do, and – and – DANGIT, there goes the whole decent night’s sleep thing.

I am thankful The Fiancé and The Spouse can have guy conversations when they are together without grunting or snorting. Mostly.

I am thankful that our kids can stand each other for a whole week during Thanksgiving break (and they probably get along better without us around).

There is always something to be thankful for, even in rough times. Recently I found a photo First Born had taken of Spouse and me when I was going through chemo treatments for Leukemia back in 2008. I had just the littlest bit of peach fuzz on my head, and the photo actually made me laugh. Laughter is good for the soul, no matter when you feel it coming on.

It’s a good idea to remember that thankfulness shouldn’t be confused with looking for perfection. There are few perfect moments in life, so we need to find what is perfect about the moment itself.

Did your 2-year-old get through a whole meal without using part of it as wallpaper?

Has your mother-in-law pronounced your name correctly the last three (fine, two) times you saw her?

Did your significant other suggest dinner out that didn’t include a drive-through?

Celebrate with thankfulness!

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love and those you can laugh with.

By the way, I signed up to bring a vegetable and dessert for our annual Thanksgiving dinner with church friends. I'm not planning on combining them into one dish.

Be very thankful.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A picture is worth a thousand words.. and one meltdown.

My car hates Pennsylvania. In the same way business travelers hate Chicago O’Hare Airport, or the way that I hate the mall (you heard me), my car seems to detest traveling through the Keystone State (yes, that is Pennsylvania's nickname - don't ask me to explain).

Last weekend was Family Weekend at Second Born’s college. Spouse and I planned to get there early enough Friday to spend the whole afternoon with our kid (all I had was Skype since August, I was long past due). We left work early Thursday to get a chunk of the trip done, and made it just over the Delaware River to Matamoras, PA before we stopped for the night. We figured if we hit the road by 10 the next morning, we would get to our destination by or before 1 p.m., and we'd have the whole afternoon and weekend with her, which would make me very happy.

The car, however, had other plans.

We had only put about 30 minutes behind us Friday morning when the car began losing power with each incline. I should mention there is no shortage of inclines in Pennsylvania. All of a sudden our vehicle emitted a loud BANG that startled us both. Spouse slowed down and pulled over to the emergency lane, flashers on. We crawled along I-84 hoping to make it to the next exit, not that there was a sign for an exit anywhere in sight.

Here's the irony, and proof that my car has an aversion to traveling through Pennsylvania (we once had a car that hated New Jersey, but who could blame it?). A year and a half ago the car’s transmission decided to seize on the same trip, within a few miles of our current spot.  At least it had the decency to so do within a half mile of a garage that day.

A few minutes later, on the side of the highway in Not-on-the-Map, Pennsylvania, the car took its last breath.

My first call was to Second Born’s Best Friend’s parents who left Maine for PA that Friday morning. They were a couple of hours away and very kindly offered to be our backup ride if we needed it. Ironically, since we had to wait for our car, they arrived long before we did at the school by leaving home 18 hours later. Sigh.

My second call was to AAA roadside service. After being transferred twice - the first time from the main number to a PA AAA, then to a PA AAA that had actually heard of this area - the operator asked what our exact location was. “Mile Marker 12.8 on I-84 West!” Seriously, that was all I had. There was nothing else to identify the area. I took a photo of the sign - there was that fleeting thought that this may be the last place anyone saw us alive.

When the tow truck driver finally reached us we realized why it took him an hour to arrive. That dilapidated truck couldn’t move more than 35 mph, I believe to avoid shattering into little pieces on the road. Spouse and I were practically gripping whatever we could (except the seat belts - they were so disgusting that clouds of some unidentifiable substance floated by when you touched them). Somehow it delivered us to Sears Automotive in the Scranton area in one piece, more or less.

We had already lost an hour and a half by then. Usually I am the calm one in these situations, commenting that the fiasco at hand will provide me with plenty of material. But having to tell Second Born we wouldn't be there any time soon, after sending her a text that we'd be there in a few hours just before the car hit rock bottom, sent me into a tailspin. Spouse started to joke that I should shed some tears to coax the mechanic along… until he realized the tears were freely flowing, in the car, in the garage waiting room, any time I let myself think about the delay and how much I've been missing my girls.


I knew I had to shake myself out of this state of mind before it made me feel even worse. I started taking pictures with my cell phone. I already had my classic mile marker photo, so I had kind of a head start.

In the Sears waiting room I snapped one of this.
Why? Because I tried to drink out of it and it brought me right back to bad elementary school memories. How ridiculously designed are water bubblers? Do you know anybody who can drink from one without sticking out their tongue like a labrador, slurping like they hadn't had water in weeks and getting their favorite vest that Gramma hand-knitted soaked in the process? And when was the water in these things ever actually cold??

A man who reminded me of a castoff from Duck Dynasty had wandered into the waiting area and changed the television station to a disastrous show called 1,000 Ways to Die on Spike TV. You would think that should be reason enough to seek other entertainment, right? But no, I was annoyed that he just commandeered the remote so I coaxed Spouse into doing what we do so well (and which has almost gotten us kicked out of theaters). Heckling. This show was beyond heckle-worthy, seriously. Eventually we got bored with the bad puns and watching idiots like the bride who overdosed just before walking down the aisle and collapsed, or the cheating moron who went blind while tenting with his girlfriend and got eaten by a bear. These are clearly signs of a gene pool in need of cleaning up.

We wandered back into the store where Spouse found, among other treasures, a vital accessory for any car - the french fry holder.

Back on the road a few hours later, I took photos of strange road signs on our way. Pennsylvania has some interesting ones.

This one is a nice thought but a little excessive, I think... what if you need a rest stop?

And then there's this... 

So should we be watching for and reporting cars we see weaving in and out that seem to be driven by someone under the influence? Or did you just give a college student permission to open a 6-pack? "Hey guys, we're finally here - crack that baby open."

And finally -

Aggressive driver high crash area - really? Because I'm not paranoid enough about my kid being 9 hours away in a college town!

But my favorite photo of the weekend is right here.
First Born and The Fiancé surprised her sister on Saturday, and our gang spent the rest of the weekend together. It was perfect.

It could have been much worse. The car may have decided to bite the bullet on a dark highway Thursday night, or in the middle of the many construction zones with one-lane Jersey barriers we came across. So despite an uncooperative automobile, I put aside the car-tastrophe and enjoy every moment of our short reunion, once I “snapped" myself out of it (I'll be here all week, folks).