In which Joe runs out of clean underwear.

This year, when the kiddies were all getting their new folders and crayons for the start of school, I was right along with them. I’m taking some courses to complete my Bachelor’s degree. All online, of course, because that’s the world we live in.

However, I still did treat myself to some new crayons. I huff them every chance I get and put them up very high so the grandies have to use the Rose Art ones.

close up of crayons

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My first class went pretty well for about a month, at which point I realized that I had signed up for a second session that started midway through the first class. Now I would have two classes to work on, both requiring large PowerPoint presentations and multiple page papers all formatted APA style.

Enough whining, though. Suffice it to say that nights around the Cacciatore household were a tiny bit busier. A lot busier. Like, a LOT plus I was doing homework on the weekends, writing paper after paper and wrestling with Word to figure out all the stupid fancy indentions. I made leftovers more. I haven’t dusted. I have my kids’ baby pictures still to put in their baby books.

What this meant for my long-suffering husband Joe was that I may have slacked off a tiny bit in the housework department. Now, it’s just the two of us anyway, so aside from the errant pair of socks on the living room floor and two coffee cups in the morning, it’s a breeze to keep clean. (Oh, and the black lab dog hair that clouds up and wafts all over the house but that’s a story for another time.)

person adjusting control on front load clothes washer

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

One thing that suffered mightily was the laundry—obviously—and one morning my husband came running up to me where I was applying makeup in the bathroom. “I can’t seem to find any clean underwear in my drawer. Am I missing it somewhere?”

Yeah, I thought to myself. You’re missing it because it’s still in the bottom of the hamper, where it’s been for a week, because although I have enough underwear for four women, you have only ten pairs and OH MY GOSH has it been ten days since I did the laundry?

It had. I followed him to the laundry folding table where I make a big show of looking for his underwear that I know are damn well in the hamper.

“Why don’t you just go commando? Wear Ballfree underwear?” I snicker. I mean, I wouldn’t (personal choice) but Joe’s a dude.

Dear Reader, you would think that I asked Joe to go to work naked. His mouth dropped open. He was scandalized. Years of Catholic training bubbled up and over the top. He looked trapped, like I backed him into a corner. Go without underwear? GO WITHOUT UNDERWEAR?

tenor

courtesy of angrydooting

“I guess—I guess I’ll just rewear the ones from yesterday.” He dejectedly pulled them out of the hamper and pulled them back on, all the while making a face like he was changing a dirty diaper.

I had to look away from his histrionics and smother a laugh, but I took pity on him. “Darling, I promise I’ll do some laundry tonight and get your skivvies all clean. Don’t worry.”

And I did. (But the ones he wore twice went through two washes, just fyi.)

 

My husband is married to a nerd

Yes, I said it.

I had my nails done Saturday morning at Luxe Nails. I wore my Three Broomsticks t shirt which, as everyone knows, is a restaurant/pub in the Harry Potter books and at Universal studios in Florida.

While I was at the nail place, I complimented one of the employees on her Harry Potter watch and showed her my t shirt in HP solidarity, and then it happened…a fellow fan popped her head up in excitement and we gabbed about HP for a half hour.

She’s 56. I’m 51.

I didn’t want to scare her and tell her how deeply I’m into Harry Potter and all things Hogwarts, which is to say REAL. I didn’t tell her, for instance, that I bought a set of student Gryffindor robes. I didn’t want to tell her that I bought the $32 tie that goes with it, or that I have an interactive wand that does real spells. (Yes, it does.)

I didn’t want to tell her that I wear Harry Potter socks more often than not, even though I don’t know how my husband can possibly keep his hands off my sexy self. His restraint is admirable.

img_20180820_201304

I mean, who wouldn’t want THIS?

I didn’t tell her that I’m perilously close to having an entire room devoted to Harry Potter.

Yes, my husband is married to a nerd. But I take solace in the fact that so is HER husband.

The Purple Foot Scrubber of Deathly Tickles

There’s nothing like it…immersing your feet in a warm, bubbling foot bath while sitting in a chair that massages your back. Except of course if you’re watching Rhee Drummond and having a glass of wine while you’re having a pedicure. I can’t have the wine right now, though, because it’s only 9:30 a.m.

My sister and I probably put sixty plus miles on our poor, aching arches while we were at Universal at the beginning of June. Last year I bought a pair of slip on tennis shoes that from day one, cradled my feet in marshmallowy comfort. This year, thinking the same thing would happen, I bought a new pair of those same tennis shoes.

I was wrong about the new shoes. I got BLISTERS. I was in misery. Of course, you don’t feel them while you’re walking but let me tell you something, you sure as heck feel them when you get back to the hotel room when shreds of skin are hanging out the backs of your heels.

Fine, I think. Tomorrow I’ll just wear my tried and true, three year old tennies tomorrow. Which I do. However, I also have on brand new, plush socks and between being on my feet too long, sweating, and having those super soft socks on, I managed to work up some terrible blisters again, this time in a different spot. It’s almost funny except it’s not. My blisters sting.

I am forced to switch to flip flops the next day and I don’t know about you, but I don’t do so well walking ten miles in flip flops. My calves still haven’t quite forgiven me.

feet legs animal farm

My legs and feet kind of looked like this. (Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com)

Fast forward three weeks. We’re back from Florida, and I have my tootsies soaking in the aforementioned bath at the nail bar, relaxing.

My technician comes over and pulls my feet out of the bath and sets them on the footrest. She leans in and looks closer.

“Oh, my gosh. What did you do to your feet?” she shrieks. She’s staring at my poor arches, where the skin is pruny from the warm water. It’s also showcasing all the remnants of those blisters and all the trauma I put my feet through walking around the parks. She puts a mask on and some gloves and it’s then I notice that none of the other technicians have on gloves and a mask.

brown chair with white pillows

Almost this luxurious. (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

I’m feeling singled out.

My concentration is broken by a couple who came in with matching “Eleven years of wedded bliss” t-shirts. They’re both there to get pedicures too. Their technician doesn’t say anything about their feet.

My pedicure begins with a sugar scrub on one foot, then the other, followed by the Purple Foot Scrubber of Deathly Tickles. I’m biting my fingers to keep from kicking her in the head when she hits an especially sensitive spot.

She manages to calm my aching, previously blistered feet down so much that they’re smooth and pretty. By the time she’s done painting my toes, I’ve forgiven her for making a fuss because they look so good.

I tip her well, mostly to ensure her silence for the next time I’m in the nail bar. Maybe she’ll skip the mask. And the purple foot scrubber.

Walking is good for writing

In our never-ending quest for fitness, Saturday Joe and I went for a walk at Baumann Park, which is in Cherry Valley, Illinois. If you are a nature-y type person, if you lurrrrrve the great outdoors…you’d love this place and quite honestly, I cannot recommend it highly enough.IMG_20180707_132307

The Kishwaukee River runs alongside the park. Sometimes the water level is extremely low and the river sluggish. However, right now, due to the monsoonish rains we have experienced over the last month, the water is quite high and the current is very brisk. Over the years, it used to be a virtual hotbed for summertime tubing but since they don’t let you bring alcohol onto the river anymore, it doesn’t seem that people are planning exciting floating quests downstream anymore. It’s almost as if there’s a connection between summertime water activities and liquor.

I digress.

The weather has been so perfect lately in Rockford that we knew when we got out of bed on Saturday that it was going to be picture-perfect for a walk—80 and sunny. On the way there I downloaded a “pacer” app since my Fitbit Flex refuses to sync with my new phone. #getanewone

IMG_20180707_132319

There are paved walking paths that circle Baumann Lake. The lake is not all that big. The paths go all around the lake and one pass from start to finish is approximately a mile. The back half of the path winds through trees so just about the time the sun becomes too much for you, you have some shaded areas for a bit.

I had to take some pictures to share with everyone.IMG_20180707_132117

Families with picnic lunches and fishing poles dot the shores, and lots of picnic tables and benches. There are fishing limits there (not sure what they are) and you can only bring night crawlers for bait and the water is gorgeous to look at while you’re walking. Tons of people were fishing while we were there, and lots of people walk their dogs as well.IMG_20180707_131719

My husband and I have good chats on our walk, and sometimes just companionable silence which allows me time to spin crazy ideas for books, or noodle out plot holes. I know writers out there who agree with me that walking is one of the best things you can do for your writing. You can figure out so much as you stroll along.

Although the second lap around is a teensy bit harder than the first—the smallest incline is like climbing Mt. Everest—we finish and according to my new app, it’s about 2.8 miles and a little over 7500 steps, and takes us a smidge over an hour.

I wish finishing a book would only take an hour.

Alas.

 

 

 

 

We got some weather

I used to absolutely love thunderstorms. The heavy feel of the air pressing down on my body when I stood outside sniffing at the air, knowing a humdinger of a storm was on its way. The bruised color of the sky as the storm moved into our area and the smell of the pending rain all around me. The way it got darker and darker outside, as if it were nighttime, instead of 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon and the delicious sound of the far off thunder.

And then, there was the spectacular moment the heavens opened up, lightening cracking across the sky while I watched from inside the house, mesmerized at the heavy rain and hoping the electricity doesn’t go out. I mean, I lived for thunderstorms where I could doze on the couch, with that storm sound in the background, a lovely white noise.

lightning in sky at night

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Storms relaxed me, but not anymore.

I watch the weather forecasts now while biting my nails down to the quick and not even realizing it. If weather heads into our area, I find different websites that offer radar readings, and compare each one to where we are on the map. One says 1-2 inches possible. Another says it’s going to barely clip our area. Another says to take shelter immediately. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

I’m simultaneously swallowing coffee and Xanax*. I want to be relaxed enough to enjoy the lovely but severe weather but alert enough to be able to get down the basement stairs when and if the tornado alarm goes off.  Anxiety always wins and the coffee ends up aggravating it.

Back then, when I enjoyed the storms, it was all about lighting a few candles in case the power goes out. Now, it’s about making sure that not only are the candles lit…but that we have flashlights, our most important documents in a baggie (think passports and birth certificates and the new book I haven’t read) and enough dry towels to mop up the seepage that will start coming in from the walls and window wells soon enough. You see, we have been burned before: the first time while Joe was visiting me in Plainfield in 2006.

In 2006, Rockford was deluged with rain on Labor Day. It flowed like a raging river into the back of our house while he was sitting in my Plainfield living room, blissfully unaware. It broke out two basement windows and flooded the entire basement. Five feet of water in the basement and goodbye to the water heater, washer, dryer, and of course furnace.

person riding a bicycle during rainy day

Photo by Genaro Servín on Pexels.com

Rinse and repeat that in 2007 although not as bad…The window wells flooded, the walls seeped, and we mopped up water for two days before our honeymoon and ended up sleeping away the entire first 24 hours of our trip to Mexico.

Repeat again in 2009, when sadly the train tracks were washed away in Cherry Valley and the train derailed. The storm sewer crossed with the drains somehow, we got six inches of rain dumped on us, and I don’t know what the hell happened but suddenly we had storm water surging up through every drain in our basement. We lost that fight as well as our water heater again. Two sump pumps later and it still took weeks to clean up from that mess. We were lucky compared to most…our basement is not finished so we’re working with cement that can be easily mopped.

We put in a real sump pump that year.

blue close up electric equipment

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Since we’ve been burned so badly, when the weather threatens and there’s a chance that we could get some bad storms now—meaning lots of rain—my gut churns and my heart jumps into my throat. Although I still enjoy a good thunderstorm, I also get that sinking feeling that something is going to happen to our basement; either windows will break out and we’ll have a huge disaster on our hands, or spend hours squeegeeing and sponging and drying up our basement for days on end.  Storms don’t hold the same appeal anymore.

However, since I’m from the Midwest, in Illinois, I of course will stand on the porch until the last second, until the twister is practically in our front yard before I’ll hightail it to the basement. I mean, dude. I did used to live in Tornado Alley.

As I get older now, I have to balance that “hold my beer” mentality against how fast I can make it down the stairs with a knee that sounds like Rice Krispies.

Having said that, lest you think I’m irresponsible, I would like to also point out that I am down in the basement long, long moments before my husband believes we’re in imminent enough danger that he deigns to come down the stairs. He normally just stands at the top of the stairs and laughs at me for being down there with the TV blaring warning sounds. Yuck it up, Huckleberry. We’ll see who’s laughing when you’re sucked up into the sky along with the basement door, a’la Twister.

Until then, I’ll cower downstairs, thanking God that we have a cozy basement to bunker down in, and wait for the all clear.

So I can mop up the water.

 

 

Saturday, I arted.

I had an incredible day Saturday with my family dying silk scarves. The only bad thing? One wasn’t enough. Heck, ten wouldn’t have been enough. It’s addicting!

Saturday morning, I gassed up my little Cruze (meep meep, 48 mpg highway) and picked up my girls for a little road trip into Plainfield, where we were going to meet two of my sisters and two of my nieces, as well as my mother. After the requisite McDonalds stop for a couple of breakfast sandwiches, we were on our way. It was going to be a fun day.

It wasn’t just a fun day, though.

It was a super fun day!

The eight of us gathered in the home of Jennifer Lagerwall, who with her husband has a cool set up in her basement where you can dye silk scarves. They run a business called Silk Avenue. You can bring a bunch of your friends (and snacks/drinks, if you so choose) and, working two at a time, create beautiful masterpieces that you can then take home and wear.IMG_20180623_130750

My sister and I went first, each choosing various shadesIMG_20180623_115231 of purple and pink for our colors. Then you drip paint carefully onto a big flat tray of water that has been thickened with a special ingredient, making it a little goopier. Think paper mache. You let drops of paint fall onto the water and they spread out, then you can pick different colors to accent your scarf. The best part is after your paint is all applied to the water, you can carefully guide a thin metal bar through it (or a piece of plywood with lots of bars) and the pattern swirls in delicious ways.IMG_20180623_122752_1

After we finished, we got to watch the others work on theirs. It was gratifying to observe them not only choose their colors, but show the vision they had for their own scarves.

We oohed. We aahed. Each was truly a work of art, and I could have done one scarf after another, seriously. It’s so addictive and none of them are the same.

IMG_20180623_130807

After our masterpieces were finished (it took us about two hours for eight of us) we all trooped to lunch where we were able to relax and chat.

I cannot recommend this type of afternoon highly enough. Our hosts were phenomenal and helpful, and it’s a really fun afternoon out for your book club, or girls from school, teacher friends, etc.

You get a really cool scarf out of it…not to mention, you get to hang out with your friends. It’s a win-win situation!

 

 

Whoa, ho, ho…it’s Magic

One week ago today, we were sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight back from Orlando marveling at  how quickly a vacation can come and go.

Was it a vacation, though? I believe it was, only in the strictest definition of the word. “Vacation” implies that one relaxed. Slept in. Lounged.

This was not that kind of vacation because we were at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and we had things to do, things to see, and ride attractions to experience…AND ONLY SIX DAYS TO DO THEM.

XG-hsx7gRQp0_Jm0A9QxvylGcT5HNnO5h_m4kMcLxAgeJxFPc

I can feel the magic from here. It tickles.

Three years ago, I was introduced to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am not ashamed to tell you, dear reader, that when I stepped foot into Hogsmeade, I cried. It’s magical beyond anything you could imagine. The shops, the music, the staff that populate the stores…all of it is geared to letting you have the most enchanted time of your life.

0QeB1OWVZpmkvlDbNEA-kXfZgxcUY3s4V7kRkqQLnc8eJxFPc

it really is this glorious. even better in person.

Example: When I bought my interactive wand. (Yes, even at almost 50, I bought an interactive wand.) I finished up my purchase on a Chase card so my husband wouldn’t know how much it was and still doesn’t. The cashier handed me the receipt and a pen, and asked me to “sign for the Ministry of Magic.” Charmed, after I had done so, he handed me back my card and said, “Here’s your Muggle plastic.” Talk about getting—and keeping—you in the magic. Same thing happened when I bought a Gryffindor student robe this year…but we won’t talk about that right now. I modeled my wizard robe to my daughters and they both snickered so hard they fell off the couch. #nerd #bignerd #biggergeek

HGMsoi-2qdYUIgOI7p_vqjDi5-6MQVopUuGtsqFGZN8eJxFPc

Girls, don’t make me get my little friend.

I stood in line to do spells with six year olds and I don’t regret a single minute of it because the spellcasting fed my soul. I was actually pretty good at it.

This year, the cast of characters going to Orlando changed a bit, meaning it was extra fun because we got to watch two people who had never been there become just as bewitched as we were upon first seeing it.8CRUDME7NcVACQDd7K9H69buheuZyktXJzsId9Dzgy0eJxFPc

We drank butterbeer almost every day, sometimes sharing one because you could buy the froo frootiest drink at Starbucks and it STILL wouldn’t be as much as a butterbeer. Five of us shared the giant feast at Three Broomsticks restaurant. I rode almost every single ride except for the Hulk and Rip Ride Rocket, which I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole because reasons. We saw some Transformers, got a little wet on the Jurassic Park ride, and met Blue the T-Rex, who doesn’t like eye contact so my sister promptly made eye contact. Silly Muggle.

We had volcano nachos at Margaritaville,

J_zFzfjgnFG66ZOw-T4ddxRFdQC6ndwyHdjZAWd1TSgeJxFPc

delish.

toured the Hogwarts Castle, and watched that very castle light up at night with the four different house colors. We had sushi at Cowfish,

zdV7QrT9I5D9e5FyZkMTyV_sbrc2Z62vlaCTxr9b04QeJxFPc

double cheeseburgooshi.

rode the Hogwarts Express train, and risked our very lives to take a picture with Jaws.

Screenshot_20180618-150146We wandered around Diagon Alley, where we watched the fire-breathing dragon scare the stuffing out of newcomers. We had dinner at the Chocolate Emporium. We sweated our butts off, since the average daily temperature was only slightly cooler than hell. In a related story, the first day there, I got a blister from new shoes. Fine. So I wore my old ones the second and third days, and developed even bigger blisters. My sister and I wore SPF 50 every single day and barely have any tan to speak of, even after a week of being outside in sunny Florida for six days. Yet despite the regular and vigorous sunscreen application, I still developed sun poisoning on my inner shins. K7y4l1S_dBNEOuUv0_WtzLs_FBlhyUEuxT5A2lnD0GceJxFPcI know, right? Unfair. I also started referring to myself as Sister Chris of the Wailing Hip. (I didn’t tell anyone that, though.) I cannot emphasize to you how sore I was…we were up (well, Jenny was up) freakishly early so we could get to the parks early, then we’d be there for seven or eight hours during which we walked, strolled, or in my case, stomped and/or lumbered, take your pick.  My sister Jenny, going through thyroid treatment, RAN CIRCLES around me the entire time we were there. #letmesleepfortheloveofgod

We also were, by some miracle, upgraded to suites. These suites were bigger than my entire house and had a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a living room with a sectional, dining room, and FbgWeiN4bsTAbFFdKhINVT7XkSBQQ-WZGCtji6WdnwYeJxFPcconversation pit. The suite was so big we needed the GPS to find the bathroom. We also had good snacks delivered via Instacart. We rode the boat through the waterways to get to the parks each day. We had tropical drinks poolside, made memories and laughed until we couldn’t breathe.

It may not have been the lounging, relaxing vacation you think of when you think vacation, but I believe it might have been the most fun yet. As I kept saying to my sister, “I can sleep when I’m home.”

I cannot wait to do again. As a matter of fact, I’m going to go check–and clear–my Muggle calendar right now.