The Stigmata Ham

March is filled with things that suck…it usually means more snow in a single month than we get all winter, Daylight Savings Time begins, St. Patrick’s Day starts out with an optimistic attitude and a clever t-shirt and usually ends with a raging hangover smattered with green beer foam that can’t be scrubbed out of the toilet….and then, burning at the end of this craptastic month, a beacon blazing against the final clutches of winter…Easter.easter

A holiday of no small consequence in our house, we had it simply paired down to the essential elements, easter egg hunt and HAM! Beautiful, spiral cut, quadruple glazed ham.  It’s arrival from the butcher rivaled that of a newborn baby coming home for the very first time…a special place had to be made in the fridge, the shelves raised to accomidate it’s swinely girth, the two party ham delivery team would carry it in carefully, reverantly place it  inside, and as it rested there, in the cold recess of the sub-zero…we all anticipated Sunday, when it’s sweet aroma would permeate the entire house…such bliss.

But first things first…the eggs.  Coloring eggs, is odd in nature if one is looking on from a completely uninformed standpoint…I mean honestly, if you were from Mars, and you just happened into a house where the family was coloring eggs, wouldn’t you reconsider an interstellar treaty with these beings? coloring_easter_eggs_holiday It’s that weird…but in defense of the entire process, it’s also dementedly fun…even if you’re a teenager, which my brother and I were the year of the Stigmata Ham…and as we gathered in our kitchen with Mom and Dad to color two dozen eggs, fiddling with the wire dipper and arguing over stickers, because the ducks are MINE damnit, we happily completed a tradition that moved us one step closer to the glorious ham awaiting us, unaware of what was to occur that fateful Sunday.

Easter Sunday, while a much anticipated holiday  in our family, was not without it’s quirks.  The year of the Stigmata Ham was no exception, and started out as many Easters had in the past. Rising at a leasurely hour, the family gathered around their brightly decorated baskets, mind boggling and gorgeous they were filled with toys and candy, and per our usual tradition, we assembled in the TV room to enjoy a breakfast comprised of their contents, mimosas and watch Ben Hurben-hurlead…as was our custom, paying special attention to the chariot race, where an extra was actually killed, and yet the scene remained uncut and released with his grizzly death forever memorialized on film…..somewhere after that, it would be time for the ham.  As we carefully, deliberately and oh-so happily were preparing the ample ham for the oven, without fail, every year, we would recieve what became known as, “The Call”.

“The Call” is a thrice annual event, in which my grandmother calls our home, to make us feel guilty007-mean-nun-shame-on-you about not attending either Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving service at the church we never went to anyway, because it was jam packed full of hypocrytical phonies and the pews were uncomfortable….it would start out the same way every time..”Are you still having supper?”  she would ask, to which my Father would always reply with no small amount of exhasperation, “Of course we are Mom, we have it every year, don’t we?”…there would be a pause, as if she was turning the page in her script of guilt, “Well, I thought maybe you forgot it was Easter, we missed you at Service.”  It is at this point, that she would begin to mention she saved us seats and how many people asked where we were, if we were alright, and how much they missed seeing us, dressed uncomfortably and dutifully trudging into that drafty old building for yet another hour of dreary singing and sermons that seem to go nowhere, while Mr. and Mrs. Noggle snore away in the third pew, and we all pretend not to notice….The Call is usually an event which is thirty minutes in duration, and always ends with, “Well, people noticed you weren’t there is all.”  And since there is no response to such tripe, my father would simply say, “See you at three, Mom.”

Having gotten that ugly business out of the way, we were free to complete our remaining  Easter traditions, which included setting our dining room table, vacuuming the house, each of us getting showered and dressed as well as laying out the epic Easter Egg hunt which was to occur on the property, after dinner.  By the time our guests began arriving, the house was glittering clean, our family as resplendant as the cover of a Sears & Roebuck Catalogsearsthe sweetly tempting smell of ham, in the air, it was Easter, it was happening and soon…the ham would be mine.

The cocktail hour passed easily enough, and slowly, the afternoon lost the constraint of an obligatory family event, and morphed slowly into a warm and lovely gathering, where we re-connected as only relatives can, with an un-forgettable ease which rivals that of an old pair of shoes….as things were reaching their peak, the swine called, and dinner was nigh.  My Mother pulled my brother and I aside, and asked that we fill the glasses on the dining room table with ice and water, then help take in all of the trays to the buffet…

My Mother has yet to learn that leaving my brother and I anywhere near anything, even remotely important, NEVER turns out well…even as an adult, something, anything, can and does happen and I can guarantee, in spite of ourselves, it is never good.  You would have thought that the New Year’s Dinner where the guests  walked into a dining room with a plunger stuck to the wall would have been enough…It wasn’t, the Thanksgiving fiasco where a super heated bowl of cranberry sauce had erupted across the entire table just seconds before they came in to eat would have niggled at her, it didn’t…and here we were…alone together again, and just as we finished with the glasses, my Father proudly brought it in….the ham.SprialHam

Glistening in the afternoon light, the steam rose off of it, as it sat majestically on a sterling silver tray, several of the ample slices, hanging heavily over themselves, burdened with their deliciousness,  revealing a never ending feast of juicy, glazey, yummy ham.  My brother and I were looking at it reverently, and then…the giant serving fork on the tray caught our interest.  It’s tines were immense!  At the end of a burnished wooden handle, the thing was impressive, and frightening and just begged to be toyed with…my brother seized it and began brandishing it like a wicked dagger, play fighting with the ham….and then suddenly, it happened.

He made contact, with the eye of the ham, one tine went right into the center of the bone that held the enormous thing together, the other wedged on the outside of the bone….stuck in there good!  We could hear the adults in the other room, gathering the remaining dishes to come in and eat..we had to get it out of there.  Without even thinking, a grabbed the end of that flaming hot bone with my bare hands and he pulled, it didn’t budge, second try I was blistering, and by the third I was numb…but the fork popped out, he quickly dropped it back on the tray and we hauled ass back into the kitchen as if nothing happened.  We were smiling at each other as Mom gave me the scalloped potatoes and him the rolls, all wrapped in a linen napkin inside of a basket.

My Father made a courtley flourish as he announced that, “Dinner was served”  and we all moved into the dining room, my brother and I bringing up the rear, ready to enjoy our Easter Dinner….then my aunt screamed.  That was followed with a masculine, “Oh my GOD!”  and finally one of the younger children started to cry, as we pushed ourselves through the adults,  it was a shock even to us to see what our tiny mistake had created that nothing could have prepared us for.

The eye of the ham was bleeding, a wet, crimson stream was running down the front of those once irresistable slices, pooling on the tray and spilling over onto the white lace table cloth…it was The Stigmata Ham.  A horror to behold, the entire scene took on a macabre and revolting air…because there was just, so…much…blood.stoker

My grandmother held back a retch and clapping her hand over her mouth, made an unceremonious exit from our home, followed quickly by the remaining guests, who decided they would rather eat Easter Pizza than risk angering or even eating whatever supernatural force was possessing our ham.  The four of us just stood there, mouths open in a confused and disgusted state…even more so for my parents, who had no idea what happened….and remain puzzled by the entire incident even fifteen years later as my brother and I decided it would be detrimental to our very lives to reveal the true cirumstance behind the hallowed and feared Stigmata Ham, the meal that left fear in the hearts of our entire family for the rest of their lives!

It literally took hours to clean up the mess from all of the blood, the tablecloth a casualty of the incident, and even now, around Easter, when we invite family to dinner once again to celebrate, they’ll always ask what we’re serving before they commit to attend, ham is indefinately OFF the menu.

Happy Easter to One and All…beware the ham!bunny

One Greyt Weekend….

VATULELE1

This all started on Friday, which if we’re thinking of the weekend as a giant, lovely pool with a swim up bar and shaded cabanas…then Friday, is the diving board to such a lovely oasis.  Now, the driving board itself can be a frightening and potentially embarassing piece of equipment, one which commands respect and fear since even the most graceful of divers has had the misfortune of flying off one of those things into the water with the skill and poise of a shot mallard…thereby branding you as the asshole that flopped into the pool for the rest of the day, and THAT is what happened to me.

wwThe morning had started out so very well, and if I’m going to brag about it, I was on top of it.  Things at the office were getting nailed down, I had a workflow like the Amazon River going through my office, and file after file was getting sorted in short order and put in the “Done” pile.  I printed out a consent form for my greyhound’s dental cleaning appointment on Monday, had that filled out, ordered a copy of his bloodwork from the the other vet, drew cash out of the bank to pay and put it all in an envelope with his name neatly printed on the top right corner…like a boss.  I went home for lunch with Mr. Gossip feeling pretty optimistic about the whole thing, and as I relaxed on our couch for an hour, I looked forward to getting everything wrapped up that afternoon, and starting my three day weekend with a clear desk and mind.

As I left our little house, that all came crashing down when I spontaneously and without cause,  rolled my left ankle, pitched forward off our stoop, skinned my right knee onto the pavement and skidded to an undignified stop on my ass in a snowbank atop my rose bushes…well, that just tore it.  All of my Super Woman Who Has Her Shit Together-ness leaked out into that dingey snow and as I realized that my ankle was sprained, my knee was bleeding and I wouldn’t be able to get up without help, I got it over with and started crying in my front yard, like a little kid, I started howling…for anyone close enough to hear or see, hey, there’s a grown woman in a snowbank over there having a emotional breakdown…ruined

Mr. Gossip had seen my fly down like a dead swan across our font window and came out to find me braying on the frozen ground, he quickly hauled me up out of my landing strip, he pulled his wet butted, runny mascara having, snot faced, limping mess of what used to be his wife into the house to mitigate the damage.  As he rolled up my pants and took off one shoe, it was apparant that I had surpassed myself, a bloody skin the size of a saucer graced my upper calf and right knee, the ankle in question was already turning black and swelling to the point that it looked like I was hiding a softball in there…but was obviously not broken.  As I wiped the carnage of what had started out as a pretty good makeup job off my face with a tissue considerately provided by my loving spouse, I resigned myself to stumbling off to work and finishing the day, once and for all.  Mr. Gossip argued that I was done, but I would not be moved.  I limped figuratively and literally through the afternoon, fighting off random waves of tears over the whole incident, which left me exhausted by the time I got home.  In no condition to do anything, other than lay on our couch with my foot under a bag of ice, we ordered Chinese and indulged ourselves in a Locked Up Abroad overdose until bedtime.

The next morning I was as rusty as an old gate, reduced to taking stairs one at a time, and popping ibuprofen like penny candy…I was quickly sequestered to our sofa.   Mr. Gossip and my brother attended to the beer we had brewed the weekend prior, along with the project of making a superior brewing apparatus, aptly named, “Astofelopthakettle” for future beer brewing adventures, while my brother’s puppy, Von learned how a real dog pack functions with the Gossip hounds in our basement.  Exhausted from simply laying there and looking haggard, I napped most of the afternoon away and after an uneventful evening, we pressed on into Sunday.

Where a completely mis-forcasted skift of snow had turned into a day and a half long blizzard of epic proportions that dumped a foot and a half of snow on our fair town…now we’re Coloradans…and snow certainly isn’t anything that stops us….but the fact of the matter was:

3 inches my ASS!
3 inches my ASS!

On Monday, Cairo needed to be taken an hour away to a veterinary dental clinic and arrive by 7:30am sharp, Mr. Gossip’s car is the ONLY car that can accommodate said dog, since my roadster is inadequate in EVERY way, however sporty and fast, and our original plan of swapping cars, since Mr. Gossip had appointments of his own to attend was absurd since you could high center the roadster on a well placed pin so forget about forging ahead in a foot of snow…. the already stressful Monday slowly morphed into an evil dragon which I dreaded having to face.

 

A word about greyhounds is appropriate and warranted at this point:

Every year in America, hundreds of thousands of racing greyhounds are retired as they are either too old to continue racing, at about 5 years of age, OR they were never any good at it anyway and are a total waste of the racing kennel’s time, at around 2 years of age.  I can tell you that they are amazing and lovely companions, the likes of which can never matched by any other breed, they certainly aren’t for everyone, but to the right person, the quiet grace and dignity of these lithe and soulful dogs becomes a component they wonder how they ever lived without.  And while I do not disagree with racing greyhounds in general, quite the contrary since I wish I liked any one thing as much as my darling Cairo likes to run, I understand that the life of a racing hound is basic, spartan and rather empty on an emotional level, not out of cruelty or neglect, but necessity and industry, since they are working animals, tasked with the function of racing to win and make their owners money.  Hence, it falls upon us greyhound lovers, to ensure a fantastic retirement for these athletic dogs to enjoy their years off track and asleep on our sofas, if you don’t have one, get one, they’re greyt!Cairo

That being said, these dogs, while cost effective to obtain, can be slightly high maintenance in the upkeep department, since their teeth are notorious for rotting in their heads, and anesthetizing a greyhound is risky under the best of circumstances, much more so in the case of Cairo, an 11 year old senior…I was just a little apprehensive about the entire thing to begin with…adding in the transportation issue and the snow was not helping.

It is no secret, I am a slave to three souls on this Earth, Mr. Gossip, my daughter Punkin and Cairo…as a normally reasonable and level headed individual, my common sense, pride and dignity are of no consequence when it comes to those three.  No expense, distance, danger or threat would dissuade me from doing what I had to for any one of them and I make no apologies for it, it’s who I am and how I love.

Even considering the chance that Cairo might not come out of the procedure had reduced me to tears more times than I could count over the last two weeks, and to put it mildly, I was a mess over the whole thing…but facts were facts, his teeth were diseased and painful, avoiding this procedure to prolong his life made about as much sense as teaching a pig to roller skate…

…and that is when, a hero emerged,

They may be few and far between, but when seen up close, a sight to behold!

They may be few and far between, but when seen up close, are a sight to behold!

Every woman, no matter how independant, intelligent and capable, will sooner or later,  run aground on circumstances beyond her control…and while I was certainly  prepared to make this Mini-Iditarod happen come hell or high water, one look at my limping, red eyed and apprehensive visage made it obvious that I was in no shape for the task.

Mr. Gossip, being the intuitive and sweet man that he is, cancelled his morning appointments, set the alarm for 4:45am and prepped the car for our treck North.  Before dawn we were up, stirring about the house, putting blankets in the dryer and warming up the car, as I sat on the sofa with my darling hound, waiting for the time to leave, he awkwardly curled up next to me, laid his head across my chest and with a sigh that seemed to say, “In heaven or Earth, there’s no place better than right here, right now, with you.” I savored what could be our last moments together, though I hated myself for even thinking something so bleak.

When the time came to leave him with the vet, and they were such lovely and caring people, that was obvious, I admit they had to pry his leash out of my hand, and I cried for a good twenty minutes on the way home, my husband assuring me it would be alright.  In the five and a half years I had known Cairo, I had never left him anywhere that wasn’t our house, with close friends, and the thought of him alone in a strange place with strange people, however kind hearted,  mortified me.

By the time we slid home, I was exhausted, my intrepid husband had to venture out for another appointment and he left me there, to sleep on the couch with my phone clutched in my hand, our two dogs nervously laying nearby.  The call came in around 1pm, he was done, he was awake and he had lost several molars…relief!  Mr. Gossip brought my totally dazed, un-coordinated, drooling dog home, and as tragic as he looked, I’ve never seen a more welcome, wanted or beautiful sight.

I’ll confess to sleeping on the couch with him nearby all night, last night, my hand on his slender back as it slowly rose and fell in sleep….you can laugh at me if you want, hell, I’d probably join you, because he might just be a dog, and it was only a snowstorm, so what if I sprained my ankle and Mr. Gossip did what any good husband would have…I sincerely feel so fortunate and lucky today, I don’t even mind that my ankle feels like it’s going to explode and the snow has started to fall again….it’s too good to be Beulah today, too good by far.

The Saint Patrick’s Day Pentathalon

My husband has a problem with Saint Patrick’s Day, and that problem is, in 2009,  I inadvertently attempted to kill him with a potent cocktail of thirty something women and Guinness in a misguided attempt at teaching someone a lesson…it turned into an athletic event the likes of which no one should be forced to endure…ever.

I don't know about you, but I'm all funned out...

I don’t know about you, but I’m all funned out…

Things didn’t really start out with me thinking, “Today is the day I’m going to murder my husband!”  In fact, if memory serves; we were pretty stoked about the whole experience when we struck out into the world on St. Patrick’s Day. Heading to an Irish pub where some friends of ours would be playing the pipes all day long and an assortment of Celtic entertainment ranging from step dancing to folk singing was scheduled to run the whole day through.stepdancer

My husband donned his kilt, and let me tell you ladies, if you haven’t seen Mr. Gossip in a kilt…you just haven’t lived! A strikingly handsome man by any standard, he honestly would look good in a garbage bag, so in his full regailia from head to toe, complete with beefy calves and sparkling blue eyes, he’s downright devastating.  And as we arrived at the pub, which was a little slow since it was still early, we settled into a booth for the day with our friends, going relatively unnoticed since it was mostly performers and friends and family of performers patronizing the bar.

The afternoon entertainment was amazing and the food at this place knocked all of our socks off!  But one little thing was deflating my St. Patrick’s Day Fun Balloon… The thirty something, single female bar patrons.  As night fell on our celebration, they swarmed the pub like locust.  Quickly and silently they arrived in a cloud of Dior and Chanel, tastefully dressed and in groups of three to seven, the tables surrounding ours became occupied…and as the din of chatter slowly rose and the lights in the pub were dimmed, it dawned on me that these women weren’t here for food or entertainment, but something decidedly off menu.cocktail_cougar

Let me preface by saying that I’m not a jealous type of woman and I honestly cannot blame any lady for treating herself to an eyeful of my husband.  We’re also not the kind to sit next to each other all night as if no one else was around, we strike out and mingle, meet new people, catch up with old friends…after all, if we wanted it to be just us, we would have stayed home!  But these women began making a spectacle of themselves after their first round…lifting men’s kilts and pinching their butts, sending drinks to their tables as they sat there with their wives and girlfriends…it was embarassing to say the least.

By this time our booth is packed with twelve people, all chatting and laughing, switching seats and running around and in spite of the brisk weather outside, it was sweltering in that place.  I ducked outside to the patio to cool of and have a moment of quiet, bagpipes are a beautiful thing, but hearing them all day had my ears ringing!  I happened upon a nice bench near an open fire pit to have a moment of peace, when a rather large group of these broads came out, gathering around each other they lit up their slim cigarettes and started chatting….I was shivering by now, the difference between the heat inside and the biting cold meant that the sweat had turned to ice in a matter of minutes and I needed to go back inside before I expired of hypothermia!frozen

Before I could get to the door, I hear someone say, “Excuse me, Miss?’  I turn to see one of the women looking directly at me, with an expectantly pleasant expression on her face…”Can I help you?”  I reply.  “I hope so,” she says, walking closer to me, surrounded by her friends she says, “I couldn’t help but notice the group you were with….and all those men….that one in particular, the tall blonde one, in the kilt?” I manage not to smirk, after all, how could she possibly guess?  “I know he’s married, it’s hard to miss the wedding band, but…could you tell me, is his wife here? If not, I was going to buy him a drink, see if…you know?.”

I can’t really describe the contempt I had for that woman right then…I expected to be asked if he was married, not hear that she knows he’s married and wants to hedge in if his wife’s not around.  It was such a blatant and disgusting display of disrespect for marriage, fellow women and good people everywhere, that I decided to tell her what she wanted to hear.

I replied cooly, “I don’t see anyone near him, do you?”

With that, they all smiled, extinguished their cigarettes and returned to their seats where they proceeded to send wave after wave of beer and shots and booze to all of the men at our table, whereupon they were compelled to go thank them…I’m not the only married lady in our group, in fact, with the exception of one gentleman, all of our strapping men are married and have been for some time…but as a group, us wives took a deep sigh of relief for our wallets, and enjoyed the opportunity to talk.drunkometer

It wasn’t long before I noticed that all of the men in question, who were no farther than I could spit from us, had been overserved by these lupine women.  Drooping eyes, slurred words, an overly large amount of swearing and unsteady feet signaled that our time at this pub and with the public, was at an end.  One by one the ladies closed out their respective tabs and rescued their men from their clutches…until finally, it was just me, signing the slip for our waiter, Mr. Gossip a lamb at the slaughter as these leering dames urged him to sit, stay…don’t worry about a ride….

I interrupted the ring leader describing her positively orgasmic hot tub to my husband, which was no more than a ten minute drive from where he was sitting, would he like to come see it?  And as drunk as that man was…in a moment I will adore him for until the day that I die he said, “No thank you, I’ve had much too much to drink and it’s time for my wife to take me home.”

I locked eyes with that woman, quirked a brow and said, “Married is married whether his wife is here or not…thus endeth the lesson.”  And I hauled my sloshing husband out of his seat, he threw an arm around my shoulders and all of the other married women in the pub cheered, after enduring these bawdy women lifting their husband’s kilts, buying them drinks and generally being awful to be around before they set their sights on our table,  I suppose it was a moment of heroic justice to see them disappointed, after all, it’s terrible to see men behave in such a fashion, watching women do it is utterly horrifying.

We stumbled out of the pub, me completely sober, my husband a drunken mess, singing show tunes and trying to clap his hands in spite of having one arm firmly braced around my shoulders…I may have taught those women a lesson, but I was about to learn one of my own…

I managed to get him to the car just fine…but as I leaned him up against it to open the door, he kept sliding down the side.  Not wanting him to completely collapse, I would stop what I was doing and prop him back up.  No sooner did I have him upright with eyes open, then he would start melting into a giggling, moon eyed mess.  I finally turned around, put my back to his front,  pulled both of his arms over my shoulders and while holding him up, got the back door open and threw my kilted man in the back seat.

Seated in the driver’s seat, my half dead husband in the back, I roll the windows down a crack and think that the drive home should be relatively quiet…I was so very wrong about that.  As we hit the highway, I see his legs sticking straight up in the air, he’s pretending to walk along the roof of the car, when he gets too close to his head, the strain of stretching is too much and down flop his legs, almost breaking the window on the other side.  That must have hurt, because he actually said, “Ow!”  It got quiet again, but before I could relax, he starts apologizing…for getting drunk, The Holocaust, John Stamos and papercuts…it was in that moment, I knew we were in for a long night.  We were pulling off the highway when he asked if we were home yet, I told him we were almost there and he says, “Good, tell me when we get there, because throw up, is definately going to happen.”

Five minutes later, I park the car in our driveway, look in the back to see him, passed out cold.hungover  I take advantage of the moment, go inside, let the dogs out and prepare the bathroom upstairs for Mr. Gossip, I laid a folded towel on the floor, put a glass of water near the wall and after letting the dogs back in to stay in the kitchen I venture outside to rouse him from the car.

It would have been so much easier if we had a winch…and after no small amount of coaxing, some heavy lifting and few close calls with the rose bushes, I got him inside….I was urging him upstairs when panic set in, it was go time and he was looking for the path of least resistance…he stumbles down the stairs into the unprepped bathroom and unleashes the fury…the dogs run to hide under the kitchen table, the cat comes out on the landing to see what’s going on and I’m left standing in our living room, listening to my husband throw up about $150 worth of booze…yuck

Fifteen minutes later, my sallow faced mate surfaces, sagging against the wall he holds both his arms out to me, limp at the wrists…he needs me to pull him up the stairs because he’s got nothing left.  We get all the way up our eleven steps, feeling like I just summited Mount Everest we head for the bedroom when the second wave hits, he ducks into the prepped bathroom and manages to close the door before he starts to put a hurting on it…left with nothing to do until he’s finished, I go downstairs to survey the damage…as I’m standing on a different floor, I hear him vomiting with such force that it’s rattling the plumbing in the walls…then…silence.

Not sure if he passed out, or just died...

Not sure if he passed out, or just died…

Oddly enough, the silence was more frightening than the noise….and it took me a moment to rally the courage to ascend the stairs and see what horror awaited me at the top.  As the bathroom door slowly swung open, there was my husband, passed out cold on the floor, head stuck between he wall and the toilet, kilt flipped up and legs ascew with a spilled glass of water soaking his wool…it was tragic.

And as easy as it would have been to leave him there, I knew I was the cause for his current state, so come hell or high water, I was getting that man into bed….exhausted from the fight thus far, I roughly rolled him onto a bathsheet and drug him on his back down the hall to our room. As I pulled and strained he kept telling me he was dying, that I needed to take him to the hospital so that they could sew his feet back on….I ignored all of this when he broke into Danny Boy and started blowing bubbles with his spit….

Unfamiliar with every piece of clothing he was wearing, I struggled to get him out of all of it, heaped it on the dresser and for my final feat, dead lifted him up off the floor and into the bed.

At that point, I wanted someone to congratulate me on completing the St. Patrick’s Day Pentathalon, but I still had quite a mess to contend with and a husband to watch over all night long.

You’ve heard of a three dog night, well, Mr. Gossip had three dogs, one cat, a wife and his electric blanket night…limping him through what I am certain was alcohol poisoning, I have never felt so guilty in all of my life….when the sun finally broke on the next day, he was a sorry sight, but I was a damn site sorrier….when he was clear enough to listen I explained and aplogized for all of it, at which point he sincerely asked me that next time I decide to teach someone a lesson, I use my own liver.300px-Four_Leaf_Clover_068

The Engagement Caper of 2012

Hello ladies,

I apologize for my absence, not that I believe for a moment it was noticed in the least. I can’t be certain about everyone, but I am confident that for most people, this was the summer from hell.

Directions
I know where I’m heading

  I know that we all have our unique set of circumstance and problems but for a while there I was just sure it had to be a joke, sincerely, it got that bad. I am happy to report however, that the dog days are over, it looks like we got everything handled, and while I expect no instant results, I find comfort in the fact that I’m working for it.

Things took a decided turn for the better just before my best friend’s birthday…best friend doesn’t quite cover it girls, if I had a sister, she would be it, in fact she is, so let’s stick with that. My sister had been through her own personal purgatory in the last few weeks, and after successfully planning and executing a family reunion that encompassed two thirds of the population of Nebraska and providing them with fried chicken, as well as buying a first home with her boyfriend while wrangling his kids, laundry, and a summer slump in employment, needless to say, the girl needed a boost.

Her boyfriend, someone I attended kindergarden with, expressed a desire to propose marriage to my sister in the near future…he said the magic word for Beulah girls…JEWELRY!

You did say diamonds, I can tell!

After that I was a woman possessed, and after a week of back and forth e-mails, we sensibly decided to go covert ring shopping on the 18th….when she had to work late.

Before the 18th could come, a weekend festival found the four of us braving the heat for bagpipes and overpriced beer….as my sister and I peered through the stalls with their various wares…a set of toasting flutes was prominently displayed on sale, the words Bride and Groom in golden script across the crystal…I saw a look of dreamy longing on her face, the fact is these particular flutes were hideous,

I know pronounce you…god these are ugly

and if something that awful starts to look good to a woman, she needs a miracle…fast! I quirked an eyebrow at her inquisitively, “Want me to buy them for you? It could be your birthday present.” Thankfully she said no, I’m certain my credit rating would plummet if I actually purchased those, besides, she and I knew it wasn’t so much the flutes, as what they represented. “He’s taking me for a drive tomorrow..” she says looking pointedly at me. “Oh? That sounds nice! Do you know where?” I ask innocently. “No.” she replies, “He told me it was a surprise.” I turn away from her, she can always tell when I’m lying, I hate that, because sometimes you have to lie for a good cause. “Well, that should be fun.” I say and distract her with a baby sized kilt. The remainder of the festival goes without incident, even when an acquaintance of ours ambles by with a 1 carat dazzler on her hand, which she shows off with that limp wristed pride only newly engaged women can pull off….my sister smiles, congratulates her and excuses herself for a walk.

By the time her birthday comes around she’s had it, the Sunday drive turned into a trip to IKEA, and while they had a great time, I just knew in her head that was Custer’s Last Proposal Stand, and Sitting Bull scalped her engagement dreams, surrounded by moderately priced housewares and furniture. She has to work on her birthday, so does her boyfriend, her night out has turned into a night in at the folks house where they’re making chicken, and she’s pretty sure no one even bothered to get her a cake. As her boyfriend e-mails his regrets about this sub-par birthday for such a marvelous woman…a light turns on over both our heads…today is her birthday…TODAY!

It is perhaps the greatest idea ever had by two people at the same time, and if pulled off, will go down in history as one of the best capers I’ve ever been a part of. He knows what setting he wants, I know what size, we figured out the stone…but can they make it? Can they make it today? Never fear, Beulah is here, and after a conversation I’m sure the jeweler will never forget,

You want what…? By when????

they agree to have it set and sized by lunch time! Now, we just have to get her out of the house…..no worries, she never turns down an invite from me! It’ll free up her dad for a conversation that every man should have with his father in law, that way, he can come striding into the restaurant, bend down on one knee and surprise her with the ring….that’s what would have happened if she’d accepted my invitation anyway…..

Well, just because one plan didn’t work does not mean we give up……time for some tweaking! He decides he’s going to have to talk to her parents over the phone, bring them in on the plan and hope to god they can keep it under their hats for the afternoon. We’re all eating out at their favorite little restaurant, we can hand off the ring there.

It was perhaps the longest afternoon of my life, I’ve never been so excited and happy for someone else in my life. Once I got off work it took every ounce off strength not to get all gussied up for the event, but I knew if I showed up looking like anything other than the overworked mess I usually am on Tuesday nights, she would suspect something. We arrive, get a table, but before my sister can get there he calls, he’s late….we’re going to have to wait! We order some birthday margaritas and I distract her with way too specific plot summaries of the movies I watched over the weekend.

Finally he arrives! As luck would have it he sits directly across the table from me, in a moment of mind melding not seen on this side of Vulcan we lock eyes so very briefly, I thank my genetics for my unusually long arms and pass it to him under the table…she never even notices! Now that he’s got it, the time seems to crawl by while we rattle our orders off to the waitress….she opens her other gifts happily, never questioning all the pictures her dad is taking. Then he gets up, we all freeze, he kneels in front of her at the table and gives her the box, there’s no mistaking what’s inside….her eyes well up, he asks, she accepts, and looks up at us all as we clap our congratulations.

A single day, just one day that changed everything for these two people and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The point is dear readers, chances are, if you are invited to participate in something even remotely like this you are two things guaranteed: A good friend and very fortunate.

So for future reference to all the ladies out there, remember to always know your best friend’s ring size and the number of a good jeweler….you just might help to change her life one day.

The Baby Boomer Defused

It seems to me that the Baby Boomers get a lot of flack in this day and age, and while I understand that in some ways they totally have it coming, I feel that the Boomers are truly misunderstood on an enormous level.  Being the child of a pair from this notorious generation, I’ve had many years of intense exposure to the habits and responses of this creature and can tell you that the answer to most of the questions surrounding their infamous bizarre behavior can be found in the curious customs of their upbringing.

First of all, the people that raised the Baby Boomers were exceptional people on a level that makes me want to slay the next generation out of shame.  Hard working, honest and humble, these people represented everything that was good and right about America.  They meant what they said and a handshake could close a deal.  But it was a different time, the Surgeon General    recommended cigarettes,

Mmmmm! Rich Tobacco!

bacon was part of a nutritious breakfast and if someone took the time to write something down it had to be true.  The parents of the  baby boomers were innocent and reserved to the point that it strains the very bonds of logic to figure out how the hell they had kids in the first place.  Ozzy and Harriet beds were standard master suite fair,

So Intimate

camping out in a pair of single beds that were six feet apart every night, wearing eight pounds of pajamas it’s a miracle the Baby Boomers got here at all!  But like a division of panzers, they arrived in record numbers!  To parents that had no idea how to actually talk to their kids about the facts and perils of life…but it was an era of newsreels and ads endorsed by political figures and movie stars alike, and in their unflagging ingenuity they came up with a solution that would both misinform and scare the living shit out of their kids, while leaving their own puritan morality in tact…The Educational Film Strip!

Having had the misfortune to actually see several of these confusing pieces of cinematic memoribilia, all I can say is that I’m truly impressed that the Baby Boomers are as emotionally stable as they are.  There are several themes that are blatantly apparant in all of them, first of all, the topic, whether its drinking or sex, is never really clearly explained but silhouetted in a series of shaded and dim images or faded out all together.  For example, a film warning against the perils of unwed sex, Tommy comes over to Tammy’s house, they sit on her bed, for some reason there’s a Coke machine in her closet, and after cracking open two bottles of the soda that started it all,

Refreshing!

they turn on her tinny transister radio and the shot fades to black….. WHAM!!!  Tammy is pregnant, no one comes to her mother’s bridge games anymore, her father has been fired, and her brother Bill is kicked off the basketball team so they send her off to some farm for unwed mothers where she will never be seen or heard from again.

Now I'll Never Be Homecoming Queen!

The moral of this film?  If you drink Coke in your room with a boy, you will get pregnant and ruin the lives of everyone you care about!!!  I’m surprised Coca-Cola didn’t go bankrupt after that one, after all it would appear to be the catalyst if you believe this film.  An interesting post script to this film, Tommy was never mentioned again and he suffered no ill consequences of his cola-driven encounter in Tammy’s bedroom.

Gee Whiz! I get off scott free cause I'm a fella, that's neato!

The other theme that is prevalent in all of these films is the completely horrifying and hyperbolic consequences of any mistake, highlighted beautifully in another favorite of mine which centers around the evils of drinking, even though the five o’clock cocktail was an institution and the drinking lunch a lynch-pin of industry, that didn’t mean it was alright for the kids to even consider such a thing.  So it’s prom night, oh boy!  Carl and Bobby Sue are going out on a double date with Nick and Rita, but Nick and Rita are bad kids, you can tell, because Nick has his hair slicked back and Rita’s wearing red lipstick and a low cut dress…tsk tsk…where was her mother when she left the house?

Double Dates are Super!

But stereotypes aside, off these four kids go into the night.  After dinner, they head to lover’s lane to (gasp) park!  But Carl and Bobby Sue just sit in the front and talk while pushing the evelope of propriety by holding hands, and Rita and Nick who are sparring in the back aren’t worried in the least since there’s not a Coke machine for miles.  Before they leave, Nick pulls a hogleg of whiskey out of his coat and suggests that they all have a drink before going to the dance…Carl and Bobby Sue protest strongly, but are won over by Nick and Rita’s slimy reasoning and the fact that the bottle alone couldn’t sauce a kitten.  But down the hatch with the hootch and it’s off to the high school to dance it all off…..but something is amiss, the lighting turns reddish, and the car turns into a smoking, lurching death machine, careening out of control, the four plastered kids laugh and swerve their way to the prom, unable to stop his dad’s Buick in time,

Somebody Order the Whiskey?

Carl rams the thing into the side of the gym, at which point all the mistakes these four youngsters made culminate in EVERYONE DYING

The Prom King & Queen

that’s right, not just our misguided couples, but the innocent students in the gym, everyone is dead…because they drank less than two shots of whiskey each….seriously.

So that right there explains a lot, misinformed by film strips and terrified to talk to their folks, who were just as mortified to be asked, the Baby Boomers got it over with and grew up, avoiding Coke and alcohol at all costs, but the world was not through with these people yet, not by a long shot.

How would you feel if you were told by someone half your age that all the things you learned growing up were wrong, outdated or useless?  And here you are, upper management of a corporation that was founded on a martini and a handshake, watching a bunch of flip flop wearing, YouTube watching, vegan heathens fill up the cubicals that were once bursting with gum chewing secretaries at your beck and call, listening to these mouthy kids tell you that your database is outdated, your hardware obsolete and your human resources department is gunning for a lawsuit due to it’s mid-evil hiring & firing practices….wouldn’t that just irritate the hell out of you?  Might one resist the change just a little bit?  Could it stand to reason that this person, this titan of industry, hard work and elbow grease is just a little fed up with the wave of the future and might just want to sit on the beach and enjoy things for a minute?

I shudder to think what the world will be like when I’m 55, and if there’s any justice in this world I just won’t have to deal with any of it.  Unfortunately for the Baby Boomers it was change or be changed and in the tradition of their parents and the pioneers of this country, they manned up and got it done, they learned DOS, bought huge fax machines, switched over to PC, got cell phones, started texting, e-mailing and Facebooking, learned yoga, cut out red meat and alcohol, got colonoscopies and while all that was going on they stayed in the ring, raised their kids, sent us to college and put up with our crap.

So the next time your looking around that big office, and the Boomer behind the desk, just remember where he’s coming from, shut the hell up and listen for once, you just might learn something from that guy, he’s forgotten more than you’ll ever know.

Mid-Winter Malaise

Christmas is over, the New Year has come and gone, and our resolutions are little burnt cinders of the shining good intentions we made them from.  Valentines Day’s left overs are in the fridge and here comes the frightening question: Now what?

The Magic is Over

This is probably the bleakest time of the year, and I keep hearing that the holidays are the most difficult, whoever published that study can shove it, I almost killed every living thing in my house this morning because we were out of milk.

However, instead of complaining about how everything is harder this time of year, the cold, the boredom, the dry skin and dull hair….Beulah has put together a plan to survive, in style!

A good plan today is better than the perfect plan tomorrow!

Sisters are Essential!  I know that all the greeting card companies would have us believe that our spouses are all we need to get through this life, and in a lot of ways that is probably true, but there are things I’m interested in, that I couldn’t pay my husband to do with me.

Case in point:  A package just for us girls, The Brown Palace Spa offers The Girls Getaway priced at $180.00 offers tea for two featuring house-made scones, pastries and tea sandwiches followed with a classic pedicure for you and your sister…split this bad boy in half and thats $90.00 each plus tip, not terrible for a day of pampering and high tea!  I don’t know about you, but just thinking about my husband taking high tea makes me more than a little ill.

Perfect

Or, if you find that price tag, even at half to be too rich for your blood, and in this day and age it’s not surprising, The Indian Hot Springs has a budget friendly alternative with their Club Mud do it yourself Mud Bath!  A bargain at $12.00 a person it’s totally worth piling the girls into the car and heading for the hills to slather yourself in mud in the name of beauty, serenity and things that men just do not understand.

Club Mud - Join Now

Stressed out?  Worry not, A New Spirit Wellness Center has got you covered with a trip in the float tank that will literally give you a break from gravity, noise, light and life in general….having tried this myself I can recommend it highly, these high tech tanks filled with heavy salt water leave the human body in a bouyant state that means zero gravity floating with a silent environment to take a break from it all, at $40.00 for an hour, this is a budget friendly way to tame your demons that doesn’t include therapy!  A New Spirit is a full service spa, with amazing prices on massages, body treatments and they also feature the infrared sauna, so if your looking to add to the bliss, they’ll happily accomidate!

Serenity Awaits

Don’t Forget the Fellas!

All right, we’ve had our fun, but what about those dashing men we left behind?  They’ve got to be just as bored and anxious as we are, finding things to do together can be a bit of a trick, however totally worth it since time together is just as important as time apart.  If you live in our house, it just doesn’t get any better than a beer tour, the smell of hops, and barley, the anxious wait for the tour guide to shut up so we can get to the tasting room already!  Luckily we live in the Napa Valley of beer here in Colorado, and you can’t swing a cat in this state without hitting a craft brewery, the best of the best in beer are here and ready to give you a free taste!

Great Divide

There are so many breweries in this town, it’s a subject all of it’s own, but some notable favorites around here include, the Great Divide Brewery, in the Denver/Metro area, The Left Hand Brewery in Boulder, Tommyknocker Brewery sits up in the mountains past Idaho Springs, New Belgium sits on it’s throne in Fort Collins, and the old reliable Coors Brewery can always be counted on in Golden, stop by Woody’s for some wood fired pizza and you’ve got one happy camper on your hands!

Your the Best Honey!

Seeing all those suds will probably inspire your man to become one of those t-shirt wearing entrepreneurs who made it big in beer brewing in his own basement…and why not?  There are several places that not only sell the needed equipment and ingredients, they’ll also teach you how to do it!  Stomp Them Grapes and Hop to it At Home Brewing teach everyday people like us how to make beer, wine and even mead for those honey drippers out there…regardless of the motive, it’s a fun thing to do together and a great way to chase away the mid-winter malaise that plagues us all from time to time. Plus, you get to keep what you make, have a tasting party and be the toast of the town! Another interesting note for Stomp Them Grapes, their storefront is a dog friendly establishment, which means if you are anything like Beulah’s family, the four legged ones outnumber the two legged ones, and any time I can take the woofies with is a rare and special treat!

Need a Change of Scenery?

We’ve all been there, if you have to sit on the couch and stare at each other for one more second, chances are good a psychotic break is not far behind.

I Dunno, What do You Wanna Watch?

The good news is that in our neck of the woods, luxurious accomidations with beautiful scenery are a stone’s throw away from your front door!  And while it all depends on what your willing to spend, for my money, it just doesn’t get any better than the Highland Haven Creekside Inn near Evergreen.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon this charming bed and breakfast which is a family run business that has earned my loyality with outstanding customer service and unparalleled accommidations.  Check out their website for weekday specials and an a la carte menu of romantic extras like champagne and roses delivered right to your door!  Breakfast at this inn can still be a private affair, realizing that eating with strangers may not be on everyone’s menu, guests are welcome to load up a tray of delectable homemade goodies and hightail it back to bed!

Bliss awaits you across the bridge.

However you do it, take a swing at the winter blues and remember to keep your head up and your hair curled, cause we’re going to get through this together!

The Valentine’s Day Massacre of 2009

Every year around this time, when the stores are filled with crimson boxes of heart shaped candy, pastel cut out cupids float chubbily in windows along the street and television is riddled with commercials of men with wind tunnel tested hair, gifting their wives with heart shaped necklaces and diamond encrusted bracelets just because it’s Valentines Day much to their better half’s chest clutching, panty dropping delight, I’m sorely reminded of how this completely stupid holiday almost derailed my marriage and ended in a bloody massacre of two innocent children, three dogs, a cat and my husband.

Ain't Love Grand?

This all started when my husband proposed to me a year prior, on Valentines Day, thus posturing the holiday into an annual reminder of how much he loved me, and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. It was a natural assumption, that after such a life altering Valentines Day, that every Valentines Day after would be exceeded in romance and excitement….this may have been one of the dumbest ideas that I have ever had in the history of my life.

With a flair for the dramatic, I enjoy planning events and parties with a fiendish glee that might frighten and disturb ordinary people, however the results of this fetish cannot be denied since invitations to my parties as well as the treats and adventures which I lavish on my husband are a coveted item among our circle of friends. It was with great joy and meticulous detail that I put together the perfect day, since his teenaged children were staying with us for the weekend, I happily planned a fun family day at the aquarium, with gifts for my husband and his son and daughter, thinking that he would have been so undoubtedly focused on my Valentines gift, that his love and adoration of me completely phazed out the fact that his children would be left to look on dolefully as he showered me with flowers and diamonds and chocolates and hand written poems pledging his undying love….I was at this time completely dillusional, I see that now.

The ill fated weekend arrived and began without any indication of what was to come. The kids happily buzzed around the house, eyeing the gift bags in the dining room, asking coy little questions about what we were doing the next day, my husband, craftily ignored the dining room table completely, not even raising an eyebrow at the large red-wrapped box with his name written on the tag, I kept thinking how lucky I was to have married such a clever man, he was going to keep me guessing until the very last second! I honestly couldn’t wait…

May I Take Your Coat, Sir?

The day had finally arrived, and at breakfast we announced that we were going to the aquarium along with everyone else in a three hundred mile radius that had the same stupid idea. The kids were completely elated, and as we trudged through a throng of mouth breathing morons with screaming kids and pushy camera jockies, I barely even minded since my little family was having such a great time while I carried all of their crap and coats like a burro in Uggs.

We panned for gold, touched the sea-rays and took at least five thousand pictures, one thousand, eight hundred and sixty three of which were blocked out by my 13 year old son’s thumb. A liesurely lunch was had after a cruise through the gift shop where stuffed sharks and blindingly annoying light up key-chains shaped like dolphins were purchased. Upon our arrival at home we watched movies and ate pop-corn, I made a fried chicken dinner from scratch with death by chocolate cake for dessert.

As we sat looking on the disaster that was our dinner table, the kids and my husband tore into their gifts happily, my husband was besotted with the Nerf Semi-Automatic Gattling Gun I had given him, my son elated by his Nerf Pistols and candy, and my daughter tickled pink by the handbag she unwrapped. They all said, “Thank you” and quickly vacated the area…leaving me to clean up the remains of dinner and the tattered shreds of pink wrapping paper with hearts on it.

As I began to clear the table and put the house to rights, I waited patiently for him to walk into the kitchen surprise me with a gift, or thinking he might be sneaky, just wait until I wasn’t looking and put a dozen red roses on the table with a card, I waited, and waited….if I wanted to wait any longer in the kitchen while still looking busily unaware, I was going to have to start scrubbing the walls…..still unable to even fathom that he had forgotten, OR WORSE, that he didn’t care….I hypothesized that maybe his gift for me was not appropriate for everyone in the house, and it was waiting up in our bedroom. Thinking I had it figured out, I bounded up the stairs two at a time and pounced into our room, only to find the overweight cat lounging as contenedly as a Roman statesman might in the middle of the bed…….

Grape?

It was in that moment, staring into her green glittering eyes surrounded by her velevety fatness, reality hit me like an overweight cat, he didn’t do ANYTHING for Valentines Day…..he didn’t buy me flowers, he didn’t bring me a card….he didn’t even pick up a crappy box of candy…NOTHING, and here I was, exhausted, broke, with one thousand, eight hundred and sixty three pictures to delete from our camera, reeking of fried chicken with a bag of torn wrapping paper with hearts on it waiting by the door to be taken out…..I hated everyone in that moment, and sensing the imminent peril, my cat slunk pudgily from the bed and headed for higher ground.

As I stalked downstairs I kept telling myself I was not going to be that woman, I was not going to trasform into that soul-eating harpie shrieking at her husband in front of the kids, demanding to know if he loves her or not.

Where's My CANDY???

I stood in the door of our family room taking in the cheery scene, my husband sprawled across one end of the sofa, eyes glazed from fried chicken and chocolate staring at the television as our son played a video game while he sat on the floor, the dogs curled around him happily…our daughter nodding off in the corner of the sofa under my quilt from college, I almost hated to ruin it.

Sensing the rage, the dogs became restless, and shifted from their places on the floor to a tactically more safe spot behind the coffee table, my husband looked at me and smiled, why wouldn’t he? His wife just bent over backward to show them all how much she loved them and what did they have to do? NOTHING, not a fucking thing, not even the dishes…lovely…I stared at him while raw hatred roiled through my veins…the room went dark and all I saw was HIM, the man that asked me to marry him a year ago is just going to lay there like nothing is wrong… he raised an inquisitive brow at me, probably because his skin was starting to scortch and I realized that he actually had no idea that he had completely crushed my soul and ripped my heart out of my ass, he was oblivious to it, after everything I had done, the signifigance of the day was a complete mystery to him, last year was done, this was now and he was full and tired….

I weighed my options carefully, I could unleash hell upon this idyllic family moment, emotionally scar my children, scare the hell out of the dogs and ensure that my husband would NEVER forget the signifigance of this day ever again…but any gifts or kindness he gave me would be motivated out of fear of another tantrum and his desire to just get through the day with as little trouble as possible, and who wants attention like that?

OR

I could take a page from the late and great Sug, my grandmother, who had the stones to do forty nine years with the most frightening bastard the Scottish race had produced since Rob Roy.  I recalled her favorite phrase to use in such situations, and it seems for lack of a better term, I was in love with it.

He must have been getting worried by now, I don’t know how long I was standing there considering my options but he asked, “Is something wrong?”  to which I replied, “Yes” looking concerned he quickly sat up and asked, “What?” and in a moment I will be proud of until the day I die, I smartly replied, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.”  and with that I marched upstairs, drew a bubble bath and grabbed a bottle of wine. It was a quiet Sunday morning before he drove the kids home, alone…but when he came back, he had flowers, a card and said that he loved me, which I guess is all I really wanted anyway.

Now every year, he makes it a point to ask me what I want to do for Valentines Day, and what I would like…and while it may not be in keeping with the nauseating bilge the jewelry companys throw at us or as exciting as that first Valentines Day was, I know that he loves me, that he cares and exactly what I’ll be receiving…it’s not terribly romantic, but it’s real, and that’s all any girl could ask for.

Happy Valentines Day