Friday, February 27, 2009

Tough Times-Frugal Measures

I recently had my hours reduced—an expected consequence of this sagging economy. I am not alone. But…there’s no need to panic-- we can get through this with a few money saving ideas:

Ask the Elderly – What better source do we have for tips on how to live within our means than from those with experience in the Art of Frugality? I was just going to type my Mom’s recipe for “Slop Casserole” when I heard on “Good Morning America” about a 90-something woman sharing her depression era recipes. That’s exactly right…good ole’ ground meat, vegetable and pasta concoctions were both comforting and economical then…and can be again. Unexpected company? Throw in more noodles and another potato.

Grab a Wrench – My husband, Fred, already saves us tons of money fixing whatever breaks around here. The newer items with computer-chips are more difficult to repair than the Edsels of yesteryear, but not without promise. There’s joy in renewal. I’ll never forget the satisfaction I once felt fixing my own toilet …or did Fred do that too?

Old Mc-Heidi – If you have a backyard, buying some farm animals could be reassuring in times of distress and dwindling 401ks. Think of the fresh milk from your OWN cow every morning. I don’t quite have the work-ethic of a farm-girl, but if you give me an iPod and bifocals—I’ll try. Free-range chickens are also an option. A happy flock can produce dozens of eggs daily. When it’s time for some white meat… And although my crop-farming knowledge is limited to “Little House on the Prairie” and “Green Acres,” I heard if you put a corn seed in the ground and water it—it will grow.

Knit a Sweater – Turn that thermostat down and grab a sweater. Better---make one. Our mothers and grandmothers could knit blankets and shawls…and so can we! Get some knitting needles and some yarn and ….uh…a knitting teacher. Bundled, we can dial-down just short of Brrrr so heating costs go down, cuddle and family time goes up. Unless it’s time to milk the cow, of course.

Read a Newspaper – Subscribe to the newspaper. You will read non-emotional news articles they don’t typically televise, with entertainment and shopping too. Used newspapers make excellent window-washing rags; rolled-up, they can discipline husbands for not remembering anniversaries; shredded or shrunkled, they line chicken coops.

Tap your “Inner-Tight-Wad” – Say no.

No more plastic junk toys.

No more flashy magazines that are 90 percent advertisements.

No more eating in restaurants that cost a weeks worth of groceries.

No more mood-enhancing clothes shopping trips.

No more salon visits for hair color…

…wait a minute…that’s going too far.

Friday, February 20, 2009

When Fred is away….

You only have to look at the outside of our house to know my husband, Fred, is out of town. I do many things, but shoveling a driveway is not one of them. In our neighborhood of hard-working, obsessive-compulsive driveway-clearers, Fred is “Monk” or at least “Monk-Second Class.”

The other night Fred called and when I told him about our new 4” snowfall he asked:

“So, what is your plan to clear the driveway?”

“I’m going to drive over and over and over it and pack it down so when it gets super cold it will ice up," I thought, slyly, which is exactly what accidentally happened.

But...Fred is away on business, so things are a little looser here at 3077.

A number of things typically happen when Fred is away. We have at least one “Breakfast Dinner” of eggs, pancakes and/or cereal. We paint our fingernails in the living area—Fred hates the smell of nail polish. We also drink soda and let out avalanche-producing burps (you may have heard us). The glee of not cooking a well-balanced meal, adorning ourselves in improper places and practicing slacking manners lasts a couple of days. Then we start to miss that deep-voiced, brave, toy-fixer.

Yesterday, Krista brought her Mary Poppins doll to me. The head had come off and the neck was cracked. The kind-but-firm nanny replica had flat-lined; I wasn’t sure I could save her. I could Super Glue it, but she’d never be able to nod approvingly or look behind her to see if the “Chimney Sweeps” were “in-step” ever again. Krista suggested I attach her parrot parasol head instead—a ghoulish, “abi-normal” operation I scoffed at--but secretly thought would be possible. Nope, Parrot-Head would remain atop her umbrella, while smiling Poppins-Head rolled around on my desk.

“We’d better wait until Dad gets home.”

After Day 2 of Fred being gone, our house began to moan. Noises I’ve never heard before pushed up through the hardwood floor. Like some “Slasher” movie sacrificial lamb, I moved cautiously downstairs to investigate…with a dim flashlight…alone. Predictably, the flashlight went dead and I heard a loud *click* noise. I, as Sonic the Hedgehog, bolted upstairs (I am comforted to know that this “old girl” can move when she needs to). When Fred is here—“Unusual Noise Investigation” is his job.

Multiple dishes in the sink, and empty Cheerio boxes and soda cans are left “where ever,” by mid-week, I need to start readying the house for the incoming patriarch. When he arrives, I want to be sitting in the living room, with a crackling fire and a pronounced “Warm Beef" smell wafting throughout. Krista will have all her homework done; the dog, groomed, and raked.

All evidence of our *burp* week of living like “Frat-Boys,” cleared and trashed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Wanton Cinnamon Roll

Heidi and a Cinnamon Roll walk into a bar at the same time. Heidi says, “Do you come here often?” Cinnamon Roll says, “No, this is my first…” Before the pastry had a chance to fully answer, Heidi starts making-out with it—literally eating its face off with wild passion.

That was a dream I had a few days ago…then I slipped off the bakery wagon.

I made a crucial mistake yesterday evening and went grocery shopping while very hungry. My husband, Fred, and daughter, Krista, were out together and we needed some basic food items. I was alone. I was vulnerable.  
As I pushed my cart down the Piggly Wiggly aisle, I heard someone call to me:
“Pssst!!” I checked over my shoulder.
“You…with the turquoise purse!” the voice called.

“Come here. I am DELICIOUS!” I looked around and realized “Cinnamon Roll,” the gigantic, iced donut was talking to me. It winked at me, raised its eyebrows and beckoned me like a prostitute.
“What do you want?” I whispered, wiping my brow and eyeing the aisle for witnesses.
“I wanna come home with you. Eat me up…I’m DELICIOUS!”
“YES, yes. Jump in my cart.”

And so began my illicit one-nighter.

Once I got home, I raced around, fumbling with my cupboards, wildly putting away the groceries. I had other obligations, but eating this treat, immediately, was urgently necessary.  “Cinny” looked much larger that it had in the store, confined to its plastic show container.  I took a bite, then another.  I had somehow forgotten to chew, when the front door flew open and Krista came bounding in. She can’t find me like this, so I hid my “precious” in a desk drawer.
Fred came in my office. “How are you?” Silence. “Heidi, are you o.k.?” I inhaled through my nose, “Mwi mu mu waph?” which is “Why do you ask?” in “mouth-full-of-Cin” jargon. 

“Is there something you want to tell me?”
“Mwo (no).”

“What do we have HERE?” Fred asked accusingly, pointing out the gigantic, joker-like “smile” of cinnamon and frosting left on my face from cheek to cheek.

“*Gulp* It didn’t mean a THING. It was just this one time, I swear.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Chamber of Compression: Is That a Butternut Squash?

My girlfriend shared with me a comparison she recently read of, that likened the Mammogram Experience to running your boob over with a car. Although I imagine people do have some discomfort, today, after my second-annual “sandwiching,” I still felt fine. I compare all physical pain to what it was like delivering my son, Jonathan. This was no where close.

January 2008 was my introduction to “The Chamber of Compression” and I raved about it for weeks. I even wrote a blog about it entitled “Mammo-wipes.” Our local hospital has private waiting rooms, pleasant people, and most importantly, results while you wait.

Today, however, I was a bit more blasé.

The first attendant I met (a male) led me to a changing room. He went in one room, “Looks like we’re out of gowns,” he said. He went in another room, “We’re out here too.” I started to wonder how prepared they were for incoming patients, when, “Here we go.” I closed the door and lifted the gown to put it on. It was the largest, most humongous, mongo-spacious gown I’d ever, ever seen. I could fit my entire family in it…after a Thanksgiving dinner. They weren’t out of gowns in those other rooms; they were out of size “Elephant” gowns. My well-meaning attendant had done his best to be discreet, but the proof of his opinion of my size versus their standard garments was the flowing, flowered tent presented to me. At least I was covered up…

…but not for long.

When I was in the actual x-ray room, a female technician “positioned” me in the “Transparent George Forman Panini Flattening Iron” and squeezed--tight. I looked at the daffodil border near the ceiling (wretched color, my inner-interior designer judged). I avoided eye-contact with my technician (that would be too personal). Finally, I had the guts to look down and saw that my boob was the size of a big foot. I decided that mental snapshot would make a good “WHAT IS THIS?” picture in some book.

“Is it a butternut squash?” someone might guess.

No…it’s not a squash.

“The Flesh Nebula?” someone else inquires.


In order to encourage more women to have this necessary x-ray, too bad they don't have drive-thru Mammograms. Some fast-food establishment could affiliate itself with a hospital radiology department. You’d roll down your car window at private Station 1, insert (like into one of those bank roll-a-drawers), flatten, repeat, then proceed to Station 2, grab some fries and a drink, and then your results (and cashier) would be ready for you at Station 3. Benefits of this idea would include being able to listen to car music, wear your OWN gown and have a little lunch too. There’d have to be some strict screening in terms of hiring, of course. I wouldn’t want some sweaty, untrained teenager handling my ‘merchandise.’

A sweaty untrained teenager could definitely hand me my fries, though.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Head-Dance Revolution

I am a terrible dancer. I can’t slow dance; I can’t fast dance. I LOVE music and I do have rhythm, but I have no idea how to match my inner “jiggy with my outer “giggly.” If I ever busta-really let loose on the dance floor, rain would fall, volcanoes would erupt, spirits would be summoned, and (to borrow a Prince lyric) “…animals (would) strike curious poses.”

I am, however, an unbelievably talented “Head Dancer.” I’m not talking about spinning on my head like an 80’s break-dancer, which would require wires, counter-weights and paramedics. If there’s a song I like, I use my head as a rhythm expression and combine nods, sways and juts. I have invented several Head-Dances I’d like to share with you:

The “Woodpecker” is a Head-Dance performed by rapidly nodding your head to the beat of the music. Beaks are optional. Not to be confused with head-banging--which is more violent and “necky.”

King-Tut is a head jut, starting in the jaw and bringing the face forward. All you’d need is an Asp and black eyeliner to complete the picture. This is a good rhythm and blues accompaniment. A lower-lip extension is a nice addition.

The Weeble is a trip back-in-time to those little round-bottom toys that teeter. Use your head to tip from side to side. Watch out though, Weebles might wobble and not fall down, but they do get VERY dizzy. Good for slower songs.

Water-in-the-Ear is a modification of The Woodpecker. The head is turned sideways to see if anyone else is enjoying the music, then the lower-ear side starts pecking.

The Vulture executed with shoulders shrugged and head bobbing up and down. This is a good Head-Dance with dinner music while waiting for your kid to leave something delicious on their plate.

The best way to “Head-Dance” is a combination of all the above. If there was a Dance-Dance Revolution game for this about-to-catch-on “movement”, it might go something like this:

Weeble- 4 ct. XXXX

Woodpecker -4 ct. XXXX

Vulture -8 ct. XXXXXXXX

King-Tut- 8 ct. XXXXXXXX

I do a lot of Head-Dancing while I'm driving my car. Highways are perfect and private, but for in-town roads, all head-action must cease at stop lights or when someone slowly passes (like if you’re picking your nose.) Everyone has cell-phones these days and I wouldn’t want someone to make a "Woman Having Seizure" call and have a cop to pull me over and check for a medic-alert bracelet.

Although…as I roll down the window, I could do 4-count “Water-in-the-Ear” and see what happens.