Rip van Forty Winks

Y’all need to sit down and buckle up, because the last two weeks feel just like Rip van Winkle waking up in Lilliput. Or was that Buck Rogers?

This isn’t happening.

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock – aka working a full time day job – but crawling out from under it hurts my eyes. And my heart, just a little.

It’s the toilet paper that sent me over the edge.

I’m cleaning the guest bathroom because company is staying for the second weekend in a row but this time I can’t trust it to the kids because they left actual used Qtips in a drawer last week, so now I’m scrubbing the toilet and notice that the toilet paper is unrolling and wisping into the trashcan below it.

My sister-in-law will admit to being a paper snob. She insists on paper plates that hold food without bending and paper cups that won’t melt at the first touch of your lips and never in a million years would she allow single-ply toilet paper near her house.

Apparently, my guests last week were fine with it, as it was never mentioned, but I feel like if they had any common sense, they would have reached for a Qtip which is more absorbent than an entire roll of single-ply.

I’m wondering if my boys just air dry but I’ll be darned if I ask them at this point.

I pulled a dozen rolls out of the pantry before finding the last of the proper-ply old stock. I guess I grabbed the wrong case during my last shopping spree.

Before you go judging, let’s all sit back and rethink the whole “day job” situation. A shopping spree in that lifestyle consists of running through Target after work in your heels, desperately grabbing TP, shampoo, and tortillas because you promised the family a meal and a can of refried beans is going to save the day.

Again.

And let me tell you that once I got home, I did not notice that we never replaced the broken microwave plate, that the dishwasher no longer cleaned dishes, or that the oven door had never been repaired.

Rounding out the kitchen appliance alliance, although our fridge had not had a working water dispenser for years, it now was no longer making ice.

None of this was noticed until last week, when I lost my job on Tuesday and kid #5 broke his ankle on Wednesday. On Thursday, I was really really wishing we made ice.

“Self,” I said, “This is not a good week.”

And ever since, I have been looking around me and noticing that I have not been home for over two years.

The freezer has a top layer of microwaveable fake food and just below it are layers of real ingredients. I pulled out a chicken with an expiration date of over two years ago. Worried that I may have forgotten how to cook (gasp!), I fluffed it up and put it in a pot. Chicken soup does not discriminate against old age. When I dusted off a can of tomato juice to add to the pot, I noticed the date: May 19, 2016.

Good enough. Don’t tell my mother.

And because I know you were wondering, marshmallows over two years past the date on the bag will not melt into the butter in the pan when you want to make the rice crispy squares you thought of making circa 2015.

They sauté nicely into little buttered, rubbery cubes.

Even old reliable – my faithful mop bucket – gave up on me. Full of cracks, it was thrown into the trashcan, along with five pairs of broken shoes, two dead houseplants, and every single rusted ring that had graced my traveling tea mugs to the office and back.

I will never drink out of a mason jar again.

But that is a story for another day.

Reaching into the freezer like….

Kiwis are Coming

There’s a poem in the smell of pumpkin pies baking and how a gentle Santa Ana wafts it through every window.

In my house there’s an energy that sparkles from a skylight full of sunshine.

Welcome, fall. Finally.

My kids are excited about this weekend because company is coming and that means a few givens around here:

  1. The kids will be kicked out of their bedrooms and then have to turn around and deep clean the floors, beds, closets, ceilings and bathrooms to prepare for our guests’ arrival.
  2. That mom will holler about this until they leave for school and then do it all herself.
  3. That kid #3 never gives up her room for company because she still has a soul and wouldn’t wish her room on anybody. She did take a stab at cleaning it anyway. The lizard living under her bed wasn’t pleased.
  4. That mom will be so engrossed (and grossed out) by the state of her house that she will be found, hours into cleaning the fridge, down in the den throwing Nerf darts viciously into the closet and muttering to herself about ant poison and not forgetting to buy toilet paper.
  5. The fam forgives this normal routine in anticipation of feasting like kings for three days.

There may be sheets hanging in our windows and trash bags suspended from the ceiling but by George, we’re having a carne asada fiesta tonight and three pies in case someone feels peckish at midnight and the boys are arm wrestling over whether we have french toast or waffles for breakfast.

Our guests this time are the Kiwi cousins and as we haven’t seen them in almost five years, all the kids will be reacquainted over swimming pools and Lego piles.

We’ll listen to their opinions of Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm (last two days) and what it feels like to fly around half the planet from New Zealand to California. I’m guessing the snacks will be assessed.

We aren’t necessarily a huge family anymore, my people are drifting on the continental plates spread out over this big blue world and in the suburbs of my own backyard.

More than ever, I’m glad we have a revolving front door. Family is anyone who walks through it and sits down for some tea and pie. Ya’all come.

Next week, we’ll go back to cold cereal and frozen hotdogs and cobwebs and squalor.

But today, the house is clean and there’s real food cookin’ and the towels are as fresh as the autumn breeze.

“Fall”ing Apart

One of my kitchen chairs has developed a wobble. Just a little one. We use it when we have to, but we know to sit at the edge.

And most visitors have discovered that the roll-away screen door will snap violently open when you touch it – sometimes when you just look at it – shaking the house and our nerves.

These things are easily ignored during the year but suddenly start screaming at me when I’m about to have guests nonstop for the next two months.

Hmm.

The water dispenser in the fridge no longer dispenses water. I thought at first it was because the freezer recently froze the ice dispenser parts closed, but no, the valve simply decided one morning to either dispense water whether we were standing there wanting a drink or not, or refusing service point blank when we were standing there. Wanting a drink.

I thought it was pretty uncool when half of my kitchen lights refused to light up last month. Only half. The parts by the sink give enough ambiance to wash dishes by (the moon outside the window does what it can) but the nether parts either flicker in migraine-inducing staccato or lie there dead. It’s not about the bulbs. It’s the shattery covers that scare us.

My million-dollar dishwasher only operates on one of it’s fancy computer-chipped programs. When I put it on “normal”, it runs for three minutes exactly and then displays an error code: 9E. As in, “I’m nine-y years old. Gimme a break.”

It’s three years old and I can prove it because the little old man who sold us this money pit house thought it was a major selling point.

His wife pulled me aside during escrow and whispered, “I hate it.”

You know who’s side I’m on, right?

And now the kitchen faucet has a teensy little leak, right at the handle.

Hubby doesn’t believe me.

It only leaks when I’m home alone and staring it down.

And this is only the kitchen.

The clothes dryer cheerfully ran a load of towels yesterday. Without heat. Because spinning things in little circles will accomplish stuff. Ask any two-year-old.

Our big, beautiful front doors? The thumb-latch just fell out. Two months ago. The little front door leprechaun who’s been holding it together in there, just died of old age. Do we buy all new handles? Do we just buy new doors? Where can we get another leprechaun?

Three days ago Hubby had a very interesting phone conversation with our internet provider.

Hubby: “The problem seems to be…that your internet isn’t working.”

Responsible Party: “Sir, can you give me the serial numbers on your modem?”

Hubby: “Yes. BMR854L3,8HW”

(Silence) (faint snorting): “Thank you, Sir. Sir, how old is your modem?”

Hubby: (frowny face) “I’m not sure. I don’t have the receipt.”

Responsible Party After Pulling it Together: “Thank you, Sir. From what I can understand, you have been paying for our highest speed service but channeling it through a modem that can only process one-eighth of it. Perhaps your modem is the problem?”

Hubby ran out and immediately fixed the twenty-years-in-the-making situation.

Our priorities seem to be in order.

Frankly, I’m doing the only sensible, helpful thing.

I’m buying new couches.

All of my girlfriends are laughing at me, not because they don’t know this is the indisputable solution, but because they have heard me say this for a long time…and they have never known me to have new couches.

May I here refer you to the first blog I ever wrote. (Yes, when you see blue words in my blogs and click your mouse over them, it tele-ports you into another one of my stories to which I am referring. Yes, you can come back and finish this story, too. No worries.)

If I buy new couches, our old couches can go into the den and the bed in there can move into the upstairs bedroom and I can replace the twins with a queen (here it is again, pay attention) and then I’m putting the new dining set into the kitchen (bye-bye wobbly chair) so my new couches have some breathing room because we are going to have heaps of people over in the next two months.

And Hubby will notice that things, they are a-changin’.

And fix stuff.

Obvs.

Dust Bunnies Beware

I am the proud owner of an industrial size regulation yellow janitor mopping bucket. And I’m not afraid to use it. I’m sure it horrifies my family when I go to town on the floors; maybe it’s the way I tie up my hair, roll up my sleeves, and put on my game face. My German roots rejoice over the shiny clean awesomeness of it all.

Yay! It’s so springy. In So Cal we have lovely weather year round but once the last of the frost is gone, we tend to get as crazy as everybody else. We toss open the windows and toss out the kids. Go digging in the garden and digging through new recipes. We have the annual rounding up of the dust buffaloes.

Our home sports mostly tile or wooden floors which is genius for heaps of people trekking through. When the floor is clean, you know it. When it’s dirty, you know it. The tiny dust bunnies scamper along, multiplying slowly beneath the radar. They curl up under the couch and behind the beds, enjoying their long winter’s nap. Come spring cleaning madness, though, the little things are no longer wee baby bunnies.

They are gi-normous dust buffaloes with attitudes!

They hear the approaching sound of doom and shrink into the corners: my cowboys are coming with the vacuum to bring them to justice.

Not many escape.

Speaking of vacuums, my faithful zoomer broke off another piece. This one might be important, it appears to hold the front wheels on. It’s the world’s best vacuum and that’s no lie. It’s got two clear plastic chambers and a spinning air filter that picks up everything in its path and holds it captive until I go tip it upside down over the trashcan and shake. What comes out is enough hair to make an actual buffalo and maybe two cups of filth. It’s better than using the old paper vacuum bags. You never know what’s going on in there until it blows! So when I go to buy a new one, it will be exactly this same model.

I found out you’re not supposed to use the vacuum on hard wood floors because of the rotating brush, so I have a huge dusting mop for those. I push it around and in two minutes, the room is swept. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or if I’m getting gypped. I see the kids who work in the grocery stores and they get to push them all up and down the aisles instead of doing real work like restocking the always-empty salad racks.

Rounding out the list of my weapons of choice is my very wonderful feather duster. You need one, you really do! Only get one with real ostrich feathers; the oils in them suck up dust like you won’t believe and grab on till you walk outside on the balcony and whack it firmly against your palm over the neighbor’s back fence. They should also have the opportunity to dust, I’m only sharing the love.

I’d like to close by mentioning two of my favorite people, persons who come to mind when I’ve got microfiber cloths in one hand and the Lysol in the other. Inspiration for the joys of hard work that isn’t actually hard, and the excellent attitudes behind it: Flylady.com and our elementary school janitor, Mr. Calvin.

Now that I’ve dropped names, someone go clean up that mess.