Thursday, September 27, 2007
It is Official: My brain is mush
Bunny Boop likes cartoons. What kid doesn't? So, you can often find our television tuned to Nicktoons. In particular, we find that she loves SpongeBob Squarepants, tolerates Fairly Odd Parents, and sort of likes Jimmy Neutron. She also enjoys most of the Noggin cartoons like Backyardigans, Franklin, Little Bear, and yes, even Oobi. For whatever reason, we don't catch Play With Me Sesame anymore. I don't know when it is on, but we aren't tuning in - which is a shame because it is a nicely balanced program for toddlers (learning, concepts, music, etc).

SpongeBob, to my mind, is complete crap. It isn't funny. It isn't even watchable. I despise every spongey moment. To my way of thinking, Jimmy is where it is at. I could watch Jimmy for 2 hours. I just think it is more clever. The writers clearly enjoy their job because the plots are decent and the shows are chock full of funny. And, I really like the verbal sparring that goes on between Jimmy and his gal-pal Cindy Vortex.

It just scares me how 18 months ago I didn't even know where to find Nickelodeon, NickToons, and Noggin and now I'
posted by Phoenix | 9:01 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
No, I am not channeling Grampu.

It is just that I have a view of fluffy white clouds over perfect blue sky, happy trees just beginning to turn colors, and a delightful breeze wafting in now and again. In short, it is a beautiful day.

I'm going to go have my lunch and then do some fiction writing.
posted by Phoenix | 12:58 PM | 0 comments

Monday, September 24, 2007
Where in the world is SpySistah?
"Hiking" through the "Grand Canyon."

Yeah, riiiiiight.


posted by Phoenix | 3:45 PM | 0 comments

Almost Famous Enchiladas
Over the weekend we had a little fiesta, complete with all the fixin's to accompany another Badger game. The menu included tacos (mostly for the kids), fajitas, and my almost famous enchiladas. I tweaked the enchiladas this time and they were amazing! Here's the recipe:

3/4 of an onion, finely diced
Old El Paso Mild Enchilada Sauce
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Shredded Pepperjack Cheese
large flour tortillas
1 can refried beans
1 cup cooked minute rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the hamburger. I either brown 2 pounds (for parties) or 1 pound (just for us). As the hamburger is finishing, add the onion and cook until it is soft and translucent. When done, remove excess grease and return hamburger and onion to frying pan. Add enchilada sauce. The amount will depend upon how much hamburger is in the pan. I start with one cup and adjust up from there. Next, add two handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese to the pan and allow contents to melt and marry. Spray Pam in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Take out your tortillas and prepare the other ingredients on the counter. You will need an opened can of refried beans, the cooked rice, pepperjack cheese, and more cheddar cheese. Hold a tortilla in one hand and spoon approximately 1/4 cup of meat down the center of the tortilla. Next to the meat, line up 2-3 tablespoons of refried beans. Over the top of this, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of rice. Sprinkle with cheddar and pepperjack cheese. Roll up enchilada and place in dish. Repeat until casserole dish is full. Sprinkle all enchiladas with more cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes.



posted by Phoenix | 3:25 PM | 0 comments

That Makes Three
Prince Charming's paternal grandmother died over the weekend. This makes three deaths close to us: our friend, my grandmother, and his grandmother. We will be attending the funeral on Friday, so don't expect much in the way of posts that day.

I'd say more about her, but I barely knew the woman. She was always nice to me though, I can say that. And, I know that she will be missed.

Still, we are having a rotten year.
posted by Phoenix | 10:43 AM | 0 comments

Friday, September 21, 2007
Weekend Plans
And so begins another exciting weekend at Chez Villians Vanquished.

This evening, Prince Charming, Bunny and I are meeting an old high school friend of mine for a fish fry. He is just about the sweetest guy alive and still single. It breaks my heart that he can't find a woman who deserves him. I think he is still attracted to the not-nice girls who are looking for conquests, and once they've been there, "done that," they are outta there. He deserves a nice girl next door type and I suspect he keeps dating mean girls. You know what I mean? Not that I really know for sure, of course, because he doesn't tell me as much as he used to, but still....

When we return home, it will be bed for my Prince and Bunny and sewing for me. Still working on that Halloween costume every evening as time allows.

Saturday begins with Prince Charming taking my Jeep to get the freakin' window repaired so that I don't feel like I'm driving a jalopy and me ferrying Bunny to her hair appointment. Yes, her hair appointment. She has her very first all hers hair appointment. Yet another thing that makes me old. Then, I clean house. It is a never-ending battle to stay on top of the dust and detritus.

On Saturday night, it is college football time. We are having guests over to watch the Badgers beat Iowa. For food, we are planning a Mexican Fiesta with fajitas, tacos, and my not-yet-famous enchiladas. Yummmmy! Oh, and a chocolate cake. I must also find time this weekend to bake two batches of cookies for Monday's meeting and buy paint for the living room and master bedroom. It might be over-ambitious, but I'd like to wash the walls in the master to prep them for paint. I'm telling you, if there were an extra day in the week I could get so much done!

That's all I've got.
posted by Phoenix | 10:01 AM | 0 comments

Happy Birthday!
Today my littlest sister turns 20-years-old.

I can hardly believe it. It was a shock to my system when she began driving, and a bigger shock when she started college. She is no longer a teenager, and I'm realizing that this officially makes me old. Old, not cool, and distinctly fuddy-duddy.

So, thanks for the horrid self-revelation, you little brat. If you were here, I'd make you hit yourself. Then tickle you until you wet yourself.

Happy Birthday.


posted by Phoenix | 9:58 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Somedays I just want to bang my head on my desk repeatedly until I'm comatose...
How's that for a prolonged title, eh?

Here's the deal. I just had a run-in with someone who is...let's just say challenged, shall we?

I needed to order a copy of my parent's marriage license and so I called Kansas's Office of Live Records to arrange this. My call was answered by someone who was exceedingly polite...but frustrating.

The call went something like this:

"Kansas Department of Vital Records. This is Jessica*."

"Jessica, my name is Phoenix Simms Chase. I need to order a copy of my parent's marriage license please."

"Okay. I can help you with that. First, let us begin with your credit card number. What sort of card is it?"


"Okay, and what does the card say? Are there any special markings on the card, like for special groups?"

"Like the National Rifle Association?"

"Yes. We can't take those sorts of cards."


"Okay. Let's try this Visa then."

"Does this card have any special markings, any special groups?"


"No. It is a regular credit card."

"The number and expiration date please?" I read them to her.

"And your name as it appears on the card?"

So, I begin my normal spiel when it comes to this.

"My first name is Phoenix, like the city in Arizona."


"Then it is Simms, S as in Sam, I as in igloo, M like Montana, M like Montana, S as in Sam..."

Interrupting, "I'm sorry. Can you spell that again?"

"S as in Sam, I as in igloo, M like..."

Interrupting again, "I'm sorry, you are confusing me with all of that "as in" stuff. Can you just spell it?"

?!? "Of course. S - I - M - M - S."

"Okay. Repeating, F - I - N - N - S."

"No. It is Simms."

"F like Frank?" She asks?

?!? "No. S like Sam, M like Montana. S - I - M - M - S."

"Okay. I've got it."

"Then it is Chase," I finish. "C - H - A - S - E."

"So, which name is on the credit card?"

?!? "Both. All three names. Phoenix Simms Chase."

"Okay. I've got it. Now, what sort of record were you looking for?"

"My parent's marriage license."

"The name of your father?"

"Rodney Lee Simms."

"Can you spell that?"

"R - O - D - N - E - Y - L - E -E - S - I - M - M - S"

"R - O - D - N - E - Y - L - E - E - F - I - M - M - S?"

"No. It is Simms. Simms. Like my middle name on my credit card. With an S."

"Okay, I've got it now."

Really? I'm not so sure, I think to myself.

"And your mother's maiden name?"

"Deborah Erica North."

"Is that D - A - B - R - A?" She asks.

"No. D - E - B - O - R - A - H."

"Repeating... D - A - B - O - R - A - H."

"No. D - E - B. E not A."

"Okay, I've got it now. Middle name?"


"E - R - I - C - A?"

"Correct." Hurray! We got one right!

"North. Like the direction."

"N - O - R - T - H?"

Hallelujah! "Correct."

"And where did they apply for the license?"

"Uh...I'm not sure. I know that they were married in Dodge City."

"We'll do a state-wide search then."

"Okay." I'm thinking, are we done yet?

"Now, where shall I send the record?"

I give her my address and she repeats it. She gets the house number wrong and I have to correct her. She needs help spelling the name of the town and we go through the spelling bee again. Then, I give her the zip code, she repeats it, and gets that wrong. When I correct her on the zip code she says, "oh - that's what I have. I must have read it wrong."

Needless to say, she didn't inspire a lot of confidence. I'll be stunned if she actually finds the record and stunned again if I actually receive it.

If it weren't for the absence of John Cleese, I'd swear I'd just lived through a Monty Python skit...

Commence head banging in 5...4...3...2...

*Names changed to protect identities


posted by Phoenix | 3:29 PM | 2 comments

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Day From Hades
Yesterday? Sucked. Big Time. I'm talking professional suckage. It was like the perfect storm of "oh crap!"

From the outset of the day I was busy. It was data day for me at work and I had all kinds of data to compile and record and blah, blah, blah, I turn around and miraculously (ta-dah!) I have lost three hours of time. And by lost I mean, I blinked and the markets and closed and I had a whole new list of things to do. Finally, at 2:30 pm, I get to go to lunch. I have errands to do, so lunch is going to be a working lunch, but no matter. I am equal to any task, or so I thought.

Lunch went fine and I got most of my stuff done, but as I am rolling the windows up on the Jeep to go back inside I hear a horrid grinding/crunching noise from the automatic window mechanism in the driver's side door panel. And the window? She stops going up.

So, I call my husband to inform him of this latest problem and he calls his mechanic buddy (and Best Man) to see if he can take a look at it. Fabu! We make an appointment for me to meet him at a little after 5 p.m. So, after work I head straight to JoAnn Fabrics so as to find and purchase all that I will need for Bunny Boop's Halloween costume (Renaissance Lady, thank you for asking).

Have you ever been to a fabric store? Let me impart a weird little cosmic truth, sort of the Murphy's Law of Fabric Stores. Here it is:

When you are in a hurry, the line at the cutting table will be 40-deep and only one pair of scissors are working. Things will only get worse. The pattern will require something you've never heard of and that the clerks/cutters can only guess at. Moreover, you will find that you can't find what you want in the notions department.

But, if you are not in a hurry, you'll find exactly what you need in no time flat, there will be no waiting at the cutting table, and you'll find that you are eligible for some phenomenal special sale price.

Yesterday was not an example of things going my way at the Fabric Store. I had a hard time choosing the pattern. I had to settle for fabrics instead of finding what I wanted. I couldn't find anything in notions. It didn't help that the whole darn store has been reorganized to the point that you can't find anything but seasonal items and cupcake tins. Then, I finally got to the front of the cutting line and heaven help me, I found myself being helped by a talker. She had to tell me - gush really - about all of the Halloween costumes she has made for her 12 grandchildren and how adorable.... Now, I'm all for the gushing and the stories, but her talking was seriously impeding the cutting of my fabric. Which is impeding my exit from the store. Which is impeding me arriving (already late) for my window appointment. Which has the potential of making me late for Chapter.

I finally arrive at the Best Man's house thirty minutes late. And I just hate that. I hate it! I hate to be late because it gives people the impression that I am not in control of my schedule and it makes me feel like I am my schedule. (I hear Christina's voice in my head saying "Type A, anyone?")

Needless to say, I stand there, fodder for the mosquitoes who are imitating a WWII dogfight over my head, as though I am the target and they are not going home until the target has been destroyed. Best Man disassembles (Stephanie! Remember that movie?) the driver's side door panel, comes to some conclusions, and then says it will be easier if he clamps the window up and doesn't reattach the door panel cosmetic layer. And by easier, naturally he means for him. But, I am happy with the half measure because it gets me back on the road.

So, I close the door by grabbing onto the side of the door, giving it a pull, and then quickly removing my hand from the slam area. (No handles, folks. No buttons. Just me and the metal.) I drive down to the gas station to fill up (the one thing I didn't get done at lunch) and I realize that the interior cabin lights have not gone off. Enough time has passed that they should have. So, after filling the tank with $2.93/gallon gas (ASSHOLES!) I make my way back to Best Man's house because I don't want to be stranded in downtown Madison with a dead battery at 9 p.m. He is on the phone so I wait patiently for him to conclude his conversation.

Finally he comes to see the newest problem and fixes that. I am back on the road, but I am now so late for Chapter that I'm going to be sneaking in the back, not that it matters too much because they aren't taking attendance on me, but it doesn't set a good example, ya know?

So, I sit through the second half of Chapter and then attend another meeting in which I find that my work is seriously cut out for me and I have to gently inform someone that their best efforts are not as great as they could be. But, I sweeten this news with an offer of baked yummies for the next meeting, hoping I haven't inadvertently snuffed anyone's creativity or zeal for the job. It is a fine line, let me tell you.

Oh - but wait! I missed the most stressful part of the afternoon.

As I am standing in the fabric store trying to decide on notions, Prince Charming calls and asks where I am. Am I at Best Man's house yet? Nope. Gonna be a bit late. I call him back when I am in the car headed to Best Man's house and he tells me he has a problem. He is watching Bunny Boop while I am out and about and informs me that she has gotten into the Desitin and has probably eaten some. (Lord, forgive me. I wanted so badly to laugh!) I told him to call poison control. Whereupon he told me that he was trying to when I called! Thoroughly chastened, I hung up and redialed SpySistah and asked her to google the key words in this latest problem. She gave me the answer and I rang Prince Charming back.

"Give her some water, watch her carefully, and she may have some diarrhea."

"Yeah - Poison Control said the same thing."

"Okay then, I've got to talk to Best Man."

"Let me know what he says."

So, I finally get home at around 9 p.m. It would have been earlier but I gut stuck behind a train (of course! what else?). I arrive to find that the child is mightily unhappy and distinctly not in bed asleep (where she should be at that hour). Not only that, but Prince Charming hasn't eaten. I calm the child down, put her in cooler pj's, preheat the oven, get Bunny in bed, and then slide a frozen pizza into the oven. It is hot as blazes in the house. The windows are open, but there is no breeze to speak of and I am still wearing my dress clothes for work/Chapter. And now I understand what those Calgon commercials were trying to sell.

The only good news is that today can't possibly be worse.
posted by Phoenix | 8:49 AM | 2 comments

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
On the Weekend
I had a lovely weekend.

Saturday began nice enough. I got to sleep in until 7 am! Bunny wouldn't sleep longer than that, unfortunately. We had a nice breakfast, watched cartoons (SpongeBob - or "Bob" as Bunny calls him), and then got Bunny in and out of the bath. While she watched Jimmy Neutron, I showered and prepared for something I've been looking forward to for months.

I drove down the interstate to visit with Richmond and Christina who was visiting from Texas. I don't know how to explain this, but even though I had actually never met either one of them, we laughed and chatted like old friends. It was so comfortable and happy - good times. Bunny tried her best to behave herself and we had some amazing food. It should surprise nobody that I can report that Christina is absolutely as excellent a cook as you might think. She made a salad and some Shrimp Alfredo that was out of this world. I tried, but I was woefully unable to clean my plate!

Bunny got along famously with Richmond's doggies (who are incredibly patient and ought to be sainted). At one point, Bunny thwacked one of the poor doggies on the head with a toy and I was mortified (MORTIFIED!) but this patient and loving doggy took it in stride with nary a whelp. Richmond's daughters were also very helpful, playing with Bunny and the hose. I honestly wish that we could have stayed and enjoyed the company all weekend. Alas, it was not to be.

Prince Charming and I had guests over to take in the Badger game (they won again - yeehaw!) and I had to get the house straightened up and the menu items prepped. That was nice too, having guests in the house. Our entertaining has gone way down since Bunny Boop's arrival. It is harder now, somehow. The evening was a blast and I even enjoyed the friends that just dropped in (even if I did lose track of the conversation there for a while).

We went to bed far later than normal and getting up on Sunday was extremely difficult. Despite this, I still made it to the sorority house in time to take in the bid day celebrations and welcome of the new members. All in all, an excellent if busy weekend.

Christina is putting the next visit on me and I am ready! I just have to figure out the when...
posted by Phoenix | 9:15 AM | 2 comments

9/11/01 Remembered
Today, as you all undoubtedly know, is September 11th.

It is a chance for us to remember and reflect on the horror of that day and all of the innocent lives lost to a bunch of cowardly religious fanatics who have perverted the message of a religion. That day dawned with crisp blue skies, much like today, actually, if a bit warmer. I shall never forget that day. Never forget the way I felt, what I was wearing, or how I kept hoping, desperately, for some survivors to be found.

Last year there was a group blogger remembrance effort to honor each of the 2,996 victims of September 11th. I'm not sure what happened to cause this year's efforts to fall apart, but I do want to remember and honor again Francis J. Skidmore. Please click on the link and read about this wonderful man who was taken from his family too soon.

I think we all need to take some time today and remember that day. The fight is not over. The bad guys are still out to get us. Do you want to be a sheep or a sheepdog?


posted by Phoenix | 9:06 AM | 0 comments

Today's Posts Sponsored by Calgon
I am about sixteen posts behind and neck-deep in stuff to do. Nevertheless, I will post several times today to bring everyone up to speed.
posted by Phoenix | 9:04 AM | 0 comments

Friday, September 07, 2007
Hidden skills
You may think that you know me. You may be right, too. But, here is a short list of things you probably don't know about me.

1. I can catch a grasshopper with a pair of pliers and get him threaded on a fishing hook, all without actually touching the nasty buggers. Hint: keep a firm grip on the pliers and don't be squeamish if there is some spurt.

2. I make really decent enchiladas (no grasshoppers in these).

3. I make excellent cookies.

4. I am a fine embroiderer.

5. I am an excellent sketcher of insects - a skill finely honed in two entomology courses. We would have to identify the insects by sight, so I would sketch the insects and study from my notes. Phoenix draws astounding likenesses of roaches, true bugs, grasshoppers, mites, aphids, and any and all beetles. Beat that!

6. My favorite singer is George Strait.

7. I know how to castrate a cat.

8. I have a memory for color. And, by that I mean I can see something and find something that matches it 3 or 4 weeks later.


posted by Phoenix | 9:52 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 06, 2007
Fred Thompson officially announced last night on Leno that he will seek the office of President of the United States.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: I like Fred.

I like his politics. I like his hard nosed bull dog position of "mess with the bull, you get the horns." I like that he is a straight talker and not a politician of the Clinton mold who will float a poll before giving you his position. He's the kind of guy who has an opinion that he owns, the kind of guy who stands up to bullies, and the kind of conservative who isn't a bible-thumping cheerleader. A conservative in the Reagan mold, if you will.

I like him. I don't know if he can win, but I can tell you that he has the other Republican and Democratic candidates a bit nervous. If all he does is shed light on the differences in the rest of the field, in my opinion, his candidacy will have been a huge success. But, I still would like to see him win.


posted by Phoenix | 8:40 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Bite Me!
Wow. Just Wow!

The mosquitoes are thicker than quicksand today. Yowza. I went outside briefly to answer a cell phone call and acquire a caffeinated beverage and was swarmed! Swarmed, I say!

The little bastards really love me and I really hate them. Why can't they just leave me alone? Why do they pass up a dozen other blood donors to suck on me? Why? Is my blood the Cristal of all bloods? Am I filet mignon to everybody else's ground chuck? And, most particularly, why is it that they avoided me like the plague when I was pregnant, but not now?

Isn't that weird?

Anyway, all of these mosquitoes remind me of a story that I don't believe I've ever shared with my vast readership (all three of you). So, here it is...

Back when I was in high school, my dad decided to take us on a family vacation to Hawaii for two weeks. Poor me, huh? Yeah, I know. I'm a spoiled brat. Anyway, my sister and I got the assignments we were going to miss and climbed aboard a Honolulu-bound airplane. When we got to Honolulu, we changed planes for a puddle-jumper bound for Molokai.

Molokai, in case you don't know, is the island with the leper colony. We didn't visit the leper colony (an 8-hour donkey ride is not in the definition of vacation for this girl), but we did see a lot of the rest of the island.
However, we were impeded in our full enjoyment of the beautiful island by three days of rain. As in, the first three days were all rain. So, my sister and I buckled down and did two weeks worth of homework. On the fourth day the sun came out and we set out to see the sights.
We found lots to do and lots to see and eventually arrived at Halawa Falls - or more precisely - at the place where you begin the journey to Halawa Falls.
We get out of the rental car and walk over to this decrepit little hut which is peeling green paint. Inside the hut there sits a very old, very small, very wizened-looking Hawaiian man. He was not easy to understand, but the gist of it was basically "20-minutes, easy, that way (pointing), follow paint on rocks" which we understood to mean a 20-minute hike with the trail identified by paint on rocks.
Now, this is a journey that has become a part of family lore. I tell you what I tell you know with the utmost sincerity and faith. Please keep that in mind as you read the following.
The four of us head out proudly, hitting the trail eagerly. We figure if it is 20 minutes for a little old guy, no matter how spry, we should be there in 30 minutes even if we lollygag a bit. So, we take time to smell the hibiscus along the way. I am beginning to feel the bite of mosquitoes, however, so I keep pushing my family up the trail.
About 5 minutes into the hike, we come to...small rapids. The crossing was at least 30 feet across and, lest you think we got off the trail, the rocks sticking up out of the water were adorned in yellow paint here and there. A little old couple in front of us is about to make their way into the water, so my father rushes ahead to assist them both. Wet rocks can be slippery you know.
My sister and I begin to follow and my father comes back to help my stepmother make her crossing. Once all four of us have reached dry land again (considerably wetter, but happier for not having been plunged into the drink), we decide to split up. This is the point in the tale where you should hear "dunt dunt dunnnnnn...." Having successfully forded the stream, my father and sister decided to push on ahead at a brisker pace, leaving me to bring up the rear with my stepmother. Now, I'm no piker; I would have appreciated getting to the Falls faster because at this point I'm almost constantly fending off mosquitoes. But, somebody had to be my stepmother's buddy, so I stepped in. Lewis and Clark head out and are soon distant memories.
I'm batting at my arms and legs, trying to keep moving as I fend off the blood sucking beasts. I walk ahead, scouting the terrain, and then walk back to where my stepmother is to report. Then, I would walk ahead again and come back, all the while fighting off the 6-legged Draculas. We reach the 20-minute point in the excursion and, ominously, the paint on the rocks changes colors. Now the paint is green. I say "ominous" because that's how I see it now, but at the time I saw it as an optimistic development. Of course, five minutes later I was no longer convinced that it had been a good sign....
We can't see anybody else on the trail now, you see. Nobody. All we have are mosquitoes, tropical rain forest quiet, and the occasional pile of wild pig shit. Lovely.
So, we keep on going and ten minutes later, the paint changes to red. Now I'm really concerned. I am still scouting the trail and then rejoining my stepmother, but now I decide to backtrack the trail to see if we missed some paint somewhere, but we didn't. So, I'm beating off the mosquitoes and becoming concerned that the little old man is down in his hut laughing, laughing!, at the stupid main-landers. That, or we are hopelessly lost.
We continue up the trail and I look at my watch. Forty minutes have passed since we left the little old man and his peeling green hut. I've seen three different paint colors and no people for about 20 minutes. My legs are bloody and coated with the carcasses of dead mosquitoes. I'm also sweating and starting to get a bit bitchy. We keep going though, because we come from pioneer stock and there isn't much quit in me. That is until I saw the crack in the Earth.
As I was on one of my millions of pre-scouting mini-trips, I came upon this huge freaking crack in the Earth. It was kind of like a cartoon, actually. You know, the sort of gap in the earth that the road runner easily passes over but that results in the overconfident Wile E. Coyote falling to his doom. Again. That's what I was looking at. A big freakin' hole in the planet that I was pretty sure could kill me.
Now, I'm only 5'3" tall and I'm wearing espadrilles and jean shorts. My hands are sweaty and my legs are bloody and bumpy. I itch all over. I sort of lean over to see if I can see the bottom of the chasm and I lose my stomach. I step back from the edge. And then, I had a good chat with myself.
Sure. You could take a running leap at it and probably make it. Probably. Of course, there's nobody on the other side to pull you up should you land precariously and be dangling from the scraggly undependable root of some rain forest bush. And, falling is seriously not just gonna hurt, it is gonna put an end to the need to take the ACT and SAT. I see headlines in my head.
"Family Hike Ends in Tragedy"
"Girl Falls to Death, Lands in Rapids"
"'Espadrilles Not Acceptable Hiking Gear' says Little Old Man in Hut"
I weigh the alternatives and finally come down on the side of caution being the better part of valor. I wimped out. I folded. I decided to go lick my wounds in a place free of mosquitoes!
I turned tail and hiked back to where my stepmother was checking out an odd insect and informed her that I was not going to make the leap. I told her that she could do it if she wanted, but I wasn't going to do it. She said that if I wasn't going to do it, no way was she going to do so, so we both turn tail.
I am now little more than chum for those blood-thirsty sharks on the wing. Worse, I feel a nuclear level raging bitch coming on. I turn to my stepmother, politely, and ask her if she would mind if I pushed on ahead without her to avoid the loss of more blood. She takes one look at me and agrees. So, I hightail it out of the jungle. I make it back to the little hut in 30 minutes, walking at an exceedingly rapid pace, with so many mosquito bites I am now very uncomfortable.
As I pass the little hut, I take a look at the little man. He is napping in his chair, chin on his chest. And, much to my shame, I cursed the little man. I said all manner of ugly names under my breath, damning him to an eternal jungle of hell, traveling a poorly marked trail where the paint changes colors and the mosquitoes claim small children as appetizers. I realize now that my reaction was mostly borne of frustration and fear - that chasm really scared me - but at the time, I wanted to see that SOB strung up on a spit and enjoying a down home BBQ, if you know what I mean. "Twenty minutes" my ass!
I stomped over to the car, opened the door quickly, got in, and slammed the door quickly behind me to segregate myself from my own personal cumulus cloud of mosquitoes. After five minutes I had managed to kill all of the bastards who had followed me into the car and for the next 30 minutes, I counted my mosquito bites. I had over 200 bites on my legs alone. Over 200!
They bit me through my jean shorts. I had bites under my espadrilles. I had bites in places nice girls don't talk about! My family eventually returned to the car and quickly jumped to the matter at hand, as they saw it: my wimping out. I explained that even were I able to successfully make the leap of faith, there was no way for me to get my stepmother over to the other side. And they conceded the point. But, they said, it was only another five minutes....
But I asked them if the little old guy's assertion of "20 minutes, easy, that-way, follow paint on rocks" was accurate. They said no way. No Way! Even an experienced hiker couldn't make it in less than 30, let alone the elderly! And, Mr. 20-Minutes never mentioned fording rapids or jumping canyons either. The bastard.
I still can't forgive the lying sack of shit.
And, to this day in my family, when you tell someone "20-minutes, easy, that-way..." we all know that you are a sick and twisted SOB sending someone on a pleasure cruise like Gilligan's. Standing family joke.
But those mosquitoes? Not fucking funny.


posted by Phoenix | 8:37 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Back to School
It is a big day around here. Lots of children are packing their backpacks and making their way back to school today. Ah, the smell of brand new Trapper Keepers! Can you smell the sharpened pencils, the Big Chief tablets, the brand new tennis shoes?

I can.

The first day back to school was always so magical for me. I always looked forward to it. New clothes, new school supplies, getting to see all my friends again. Very exciting stuff. A new teacher(s), new locker/desk, and a whole bunch of new stuff to learn.

Makes me want to go buy myself a day planner...
posted by Phoenix | 9:04 AM | 1 comments

Saturday, September 01, 2007
Tragedy Here On the Block
Wow. Yesterday was one of those days where you are surrounded by accidents and sure you are next, at least for me.

As I was making my way home from work yesterday (because the markets closed early ahead of the holiday), I came into bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate. Now, that wouldn't be particularly unusual, considering the expected mass exodus of Illinoians out of that state and into ours on summer weekends and long weekends in particular, but this was different. For one thing, it was much earlier in the day that that sort of thing begins (normally) and for another, it was confined to a 4-mile stretch where two interstates meet.

It turns out that earlier in that same area there was a vehicle pulling a camper that had rolled over. Nobody was hurt, but still - near miss, if you know what I mean.

I get off the interstate at my normal exit and notice that traffic is again sluggish and oddly so. It starts to pick up, however, and soon we are humming along. But, as soon as I get north of DeForest, traffic has stopped. No crawling, just stopped. So, I call the sitter and let her know that I'm going to be late. She informs me that there was an accident about 3 miles ahead of where I was and that I should turn off and find another way home. I call Prince Charming and give him a head's up and ask what alternate route would be best.

Cars ahead of me start to bail out of line and I follow suit, back-tracking through the country and finally making my way to our hometown. When I pull up at the sitter's, she informs me that the accident I just avoided was a fatality and that there's another one on my street.


We live on just about the sleepiest town I've ever seen (outside of Kansas). I mean, our excitement is when an ambulance shows up or when the cops pull over a speeder! Apparently the sitter's neighbor is an EMT or something and said yes - there was an accident with a garbage truck on our street. I roll home and soon discover the truth of those words. Turns out the garbage man was run over by his own truck and died. Horrible tragedy, just horrible. Nobody seems to know exactly what caused it - whether the man failed to engage the brake properly or whether it was a mechanical failure. However, it happened right in front of a cop's house and he tried to revive the man with CPR, but it wasn't happening. Soon there were a bajillion flashing lights and a police line and a news truck.

Bad deal. Just awful.

The whole neighborhood was out talking about it.

I guess when it is your time, it is your time.
posted by Phoenix | 9:55 AM | 0 comments


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