Friday, January 30, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Ains: Snow Daze Edition

Being home for a week with your kid, unable to even get out of your driveway for two of those days? Eh.

I love being with my child. I do. But being snowed in with a child is something completely different, and after about 12 hours it loses its charm.

On Monday night, with the storm arriving within hours, Ains and I made a run to the store. Not for milk, bread, and eggs like the rest of the tri-state area when the White Death approaches, but for real necessities: Ainsley's asthma prescriptions, beer, and entertainment.

If I don't already have a book I'm working on, I always pick up a book pre-snowstorm. I let Ainsley pick a book, too, and usually a coloring or activity book (or 10) so that an hour after the first flake falls I don't hear, "Mommy, I'm bored."

This time Ainsley picked out a High School Musical activity book. While we were waiting for one of her medicines to be refilled, she started taking a little quiz inside the book.

She held it up, grinning ear to ear.

"Mommy, I'm 30% ready to fall in love!"


It was a little Cosmo-style quiz to gauge how close you are to being ready for a boyfriend. "30% Ready To Fall In Love!" was the lowest level available, and Ainsley learned after marking all A's on the quiz that that was her level.

I told her that she was 0% ready to fall in love and that that was something that would just have to wait until she was older. I explained that Troy and Gabriella, the HSM wonder couple, were juniors in high school when they first made ga-ga eyes at each other.

She actually looked relieved.

"So, I won't be 100% ready to fall in love until I'm a lot older. Probably 10 or 11."


Ainsley became obsessed with our power going out. All of our local newscasters warned us in the non-stop storm coverage that we were going to have widespread power outages. I also made the mistake of telling her one night during tuck-in that if the power went out overnight I'd come get her and put her in bed with us; she has the coldest bedroom in the house even when the heat works fine. Thus I found myself reassuring Ains every time she started freaking out.

"Mommy, will our power go out?"

"Probably not."

Five minutes later...

"What do we do if the power goes out?"

"It probably won't."

Then on Wednesday morning the lights flickered and the TV went dark. Things got quiet as I held my breath and waited, hoping it was just a momentary loss. Alas, no luck.

I looked over at Ains. She shot me a look, and then looked down at her Barbies and continued playing. But as she looked down she mumbled under her breath,

"I told you the power was going to go out. I knew it was going to go out, and you just wouldn't listen."

Well. Consider me told.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And Then, Two and a Half Hours Later...

Oh, life is funny.

I kid you not--five minutes after that last post about "Just how Norman Rockwell pretty is this snowstorm, anyway?", my power went out. And stayed out for two and a half hours.

The snow isn't that pretty when the temperature in your house drops down to just shy of being able to see your breath.

So I take it all back. Snow and ice suck.


Oh, it's terribly dangerous out there right now. But it is so, so gorgeous.

Our period of freezing rain and sleet lasted about 2 hours longer here in northern Kentucky than it was supposed to this morning, so we got about an inch of ice. Then the heaviest snow I've seen in years started, and the result is a picture of winter scenic beauty I haven't seen in these parts in a long time. When I woke up the trees were glazed and weighted with crystalline ice; now the snow has frosted them with a fluffy layer of white.

But we're paying a price for the beauty. The inch of ice fell over top of around 4 inches of snow, and now we have 3 inches of fresh snow on top of that. Power isn't out here, but it's out in many neighborhoods. The road crews have been trying to keep up, but our major interstates are shut down on the hillier spots and the news crews are telling us to stay the hell off the roads.

It sucks for those (like my husband, bless his hard-working heart) who had to get out and drag it in this morning. It's going to suck worse this afternoon since the temperatures are plummeting and all the road slush is expected to freeze back up for the evening rush hour (I told the hubby to work from home today, but this is no time for I-told-you-so). And yet for Ainsley and me...we just can't quit looking out the window.

We may eventually get back to school. I am guessing perhaps in February.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Remember a while back when I wished for snow?

What the hell was I thinking?

I can hear this weird sound right now, as I sit here at 11:30pm on's the sound of ice pellets hitting my back windows.

It's been doing this since noon. And sometimes it gets quiet, so I look outside, wondering if the weathermen have screwed up again and the precipitation has stopped. But everytime I've done that I've seen that it's only quiet because the sleet has changed to freezing rain, so it's really not good news.

We had about 4 inches of snow on the ground here in northern Kentucky before it changed over to sleet and freezing rain, and we are expected to get 4--6 more inches when this changes back over to snow sometime tomorrow morning. It's beautiful, but dangerous; we are being told that power outages are almost a certainty for those of us in northern Kentucky as the ice accumulates overnight. So this may or may not be my last blog for a while; only Mother Nature knows for sure.

We didn't have school Monday or today, and won't have it tomorrow. We are in a state of emergency, literally. Ainsley and I got outside to play (well, she played; I shoveled, and my bum shoulder is throbbing for my efforts) before it switched to sleet, so she was thrilled. And though the snow-lover in me loves to look out the window, the heat- and electricity-lover in me is panicking ever so slightly.

So if you are also in the path of this storm (and I believe those of you who dwell in Oklahoma have already seen this thing's wrath), take cover.

Cranky out...for the time being, anyway.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Worst Movies We've Paid To See

While I was treadmilling at the gym yesterday, I watched a news story about both the Oscar nominations and the Razzies. I love that the Razzies people announce their nominees and hold their ceremony one day ahead of their Oscar counterparts; it's a great juxtaposition of cinema art and cinema crap.

I've seen a lot of crappy films. Between living in a family hopelessly devoted to horror movies and living in a house that had HBO, these eyes have probably seen more bad than good. As an adult with not a lot of free time on my hands, I do a much better job now of not spending precious time and money on the worst Hollywood has to offer.

So here's what I want to know today: what are the worst movies you have ever paid to see? We all know that awfulness is available as part of a basic cable or satellite TV package, so don't include something that aired on your TV. No, I want to know about the movie that you actually shelled out some coins to see, either in the theater or from a video store. And the movie can't have intentionally been bad. I mean, I paid to watch a screening of the Bruce Campbell flick (with Bruce introducing the film in person!), The Man With the Screaming Brain several years ago, and it was campy and overdone and awful, but it was supposed to be campy, overdone, and awful. Plus, Bruce can do no wrong. So I am not counting that.

And of course, I will start it off. I'll go in reverse order to save the best, er, worse, for last. And because these are fairly obscure, I will attach applicable links. If you've actually seen any of these...well, I am sorry for those hours you will never get back.

3. Inner Sanctum. This is what happens when high-school students get Blockbuster cards and you send someone to the Blockbuster at 10pm on a Friday night and say, "Just get a new release." I am guessing the liner notes said this was a "psychological thriller" and in the post-Silence of the Lambs era, this probably seemed like a safe bet. Or maybe the person we sent to the store was just feeling kinda randy that night and recognized soft-core when she saw it. Whatever the reason, I don't buy her argument that "there wasn't anything better left." It was pretty unwatchable, though in its ridiculousness it has lived on; one of my friends still quotes the most "memorable" moment in the whole movie.

2. The Phantom of the Opera (the 1989 non-musical version). I had just started dating this guy and he let me pick the movie I wanted to see, and being a choir girl, I chose Phantom. Never mind that it wasn't the Andrew Lloyd Weber version my friends and I were so ga-ga over. In my defense, my date had wanted me to choose Next of Kin because it was a movie about "my people." Because we hillbillies are all about revenge! I actually was too smitten at the time to be offended, but I feel I got my revenge by forcing the guy to sit through Freddy playing The Phantom.

1. Phantasm II. And let me just say that it gets a much higher ranking on IMDB than I remember it deserving. Huh. Maybe it was the circumstances of seeing this movie more than the movie itself that make it a bad memory. A friend of mine wanted me to go with her and her boyfriend to see this movie, and I was smart enough to know at the time that this was most likely so she could fool her parents into thinking she was going to the movies just with me but then could make out with her guy in the back of the theater. But I loved scary movies, so I agreed. I had no idea that I was being set up on a sorta blind date until I got to the theater and my friend's boyfriend had brough his best friend. So I'm watching this God-awful gory and not-scary horror movie sitting next to this guy that I kinda know from school but who I am completely not attracted to and who is completely not attracted to me and our friends start making out. I was seriously ticked about the whole uncomfortable situation and didn't even give the guy the time of day. And the movie SUCKED. And then years later I learned that this guy I was being kinda fixed up with played for a while in the NFL. So maybe I should have given him a chance.

Your turn!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Honor Roll

Can I brag on my kid?

She got her first report card last week that listed her grades in an actual A-B-C-D-F format. At her school, they start with the tried and true "S" for "satisfactory" and "U" for "unsatisfactory" thing. And when a kid does really well, they throw in an S+, for Super Plus Good! On this first real report card, I am thrilled to report that she got all A's! (I actually had to look up how to pluralize letters, and yes, that is one instance where you pluralize with an apostrophe. But doesn't it just look wrong?)

But you know what I am proudest of? She got perfect attendance for second quarter! Huzzah!

Last year she struggled with strep and with her asthma and missed 9 days total. So this is a big deal for me. I was a really sickly kid and never, ever had even one quarter with perfect attendance. Go, Ains! (Though she is already doomed for third quarter, having stayed home one day last week with a cold that made her run a fever.)

She was thrilled to see her name listed on the school's bulletin under "All-A Honor Roll" and we rewarded her with letting her pick where she wanted to go eat. Being our weird little child, she chose Indian food (never underestimate the power of rice pudding, I guess.) She is also thrilled that she has been chosen to be in something called the "challenge reading group", where she tells me she's learning "really hard words".

With the good news came a little bad, though. She did get a mark under the conduct portion for "Talking At Inappropriate Times."

This is not terribly surprising, though. She is half Jason, after all. (Oh, snap!)

Since I really do not want to be one of those parents who gets all bent out of shape when their kids are less than perfect, and since I really only ask of her that she work hard and try her best, I am working really hard today to just enjoy this moment and not take this as some sign that I should push her to get straight A's on every single report card from here on out. I am telling myself that if she gets a B next quarter (and if she does, my guess will be that it comes in math because, like her momma, crunching numbers is not her forte) I will still be proud and tell her she's doing great and blah blah blah.

And then I'll go have a good cry all by myself, because we all know that a B in first grade would completely doom her chances of getting into a good college.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Little Motorcade Story

Okay, I promise this isn't really and truly about politics. But watching yesterday's pomp and circumstance triggered a memory, and that memory has gotten stuck in my head as a story, and it's a story I have a hankering to write out today. Those of you closest to me may have heard me tell this one before; if so, feel free to enjoy the rest of your day and I guess I'll bore you again tomorrow.

As I was watching the inaugural parade, and watching the Obamas step into and out of the limo and walk as part of the always-impressive presidential motorcade (is it just me, or are secret service agents kinda sexy?), I found myself thinking,

"Wow. It would be really cool to see a presidential motorcade and a waving president someday."

And then it occurred to me: Duh, Cranky! You DID see a motorcade and a waving president once! How can you not remember that?!

As I grow older, I find that many of my childhood memories, even the most cherished ones, have taken on a dream-like quality. Like dreams, they are easily forgotten until something stirs up the memory, like someone taking a long stick and churning up a quiet creek until it grows murky. It had been years since I really thought about Reagan's motorcade; I didn't even write about it a while back when I did a blog post about close encounters with famous folk. How could I have forgotten such a cool event from my childhood?

Let me set the scene for you. As you could guess from what I've written about my dad, he was not so much an admirer of our 40th president. He used to be a registered Republican until around, oh, 1981 or so. The way Reagan handled the air traffic controllers' strike struck my UAW dad as a personal affront almost, and that as they say was that.

The interesting thing, though, was that my dad was still very respectful of Reagan. If he was home during a state of the union address, or a press conference, I wasn't allowed to talk if I was in the same room as the TV. If I wanted to be snarky or whip out a very amateurish Reagan impression after he was finished speaking, I was allowed and sometimes even encouraged. But when the President speaks, in my dad's world, you shut up and you listen. I always thought it a little odd that a man that drew so much ire in our house (though my mother always liked him as a person and thought he and Nancy brought class and elegance to the White House) wasn't always fair game and still had to be respected.

Now, I have researched Reagan visits to Cincinnati to try to get the date of this monumental moment from my childhood right and I have learned that Reagan visited the tri-state more than I thought during his tenure. I am pretty sure though that the following events took place on August 20, 1984. It fits with what I remember; I remember it being hot and sunny and I was not in school and we were picking up a nightstand and small chest of drawers.

That August was a pretty good one. Dad was working pretty steadily for a change, and Mom and I had moved back home from a few months spent in Barbourville with her mom where she and Dad toyed with the idea of calling it quits. I was happy to soon be starting 5th grade back with my friends. And since it looked like we were back in Erlanger for good, my mom had painted my married-and-moved-out older sister's room my favorite color, lavender, and pulled up the carpet to give me a sort-of remodelled room. On August 20, my dad took a vacation day to take us all to Mom's cousin's house to pick up some hand-me-down furniture to go into my new room.

To top it all off, my sister had just bought me a Luv Pet. We had spied these things at a mall kiosk shortly after Mom and I moved back home. They were these largish puppets with long arms and legs and velcro at the paws and feet. You put your hand into the puppet and it was big enough to cover that whole arm; then you wrapped the legs around your waist and arms around your neck and fastened the velcro and, if you cradled the thing just so with your free arm, it really looked like you were holding some sort of living creature from the ape family. Well, with most it did. The salesguy at the kiosk had practiced his puppeteering skills and gathered a large crowd. Most of the Pets were brownish and had something resembling ears and in the right hands were pretty convincing. The one I chose, which my sister told me later was the ugliest of the whole bunch, was made of wiggish gray and white "fur" with no ears and looked like a cross between Grover and and the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Oh, but I loved him. I named him "Monkey", which was really just wishful thinking on my part.

On that fateful Monday that we set out to get the furniture from mom's cousin on the north side of Cincinnati, I decided to take Monkey. When I took him on road trips, I could hide the worst of his ugliness and in my 10-year-old mind, make it look like I was caring for an exotic animal in the backseat of the car. People used to honk and wave, and well...I used to crave attention. (Thank goodness those days are over, right?)

Dad knew Reagan was coming downtown to speak and planned the trip accordingly. He decided we would take 275, which is the interstate loop around the city, to avoid traffic and road closures. He left at a time that he believed gave us the best chance to beating the worst of the brouhaha.

We weren't on 275 long before we noticed that things seemed, well, weird. As we got close to the exits for the airport, we saw that we pretty much had the busy interstate to ourselves.

"I wonder if they're shutting down the highway for when Air Force One leaves, and we somehow snuck through just at the right time," I remember Dad saying. Whatever the reason, it was downright eerie out there. It was a gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky, the sunlight so bright and clear that it hurt even with sunglasses. And yet we hadn't passed a car in what seemed like ages; it was almost apocalyptic. Like the world had ended and we were all that was left. Monkey wasn't getting much love that day.

Then we started seeing cars pulled off to the side of the road. Whole families were out, some with signs.

"Well, I guess the motorcade is coming through here to get back to the airport," Dad said. And we just kept on driving.

Because it was such a clear day, I can remember how it looked when we first saw it almost like holding a picture in my hand. In the distance, on the other side of the highway coming toward us, was a long black line. At first the line looked unbroken; as it got closer, we could see the individual cars and motorcycles. As quiet and undisturbed as the empty highway was at that point, we started to be able to hear the flutter of flags on the vehicles. And they were coming so, so fast.

The next seconds were chaos. No words were spoken. Dad pulled our car over to the gravel emergency lane and before the car was fully stopped we were scrambling to get out of the car. The three of us stood in a line out by the car; me with my monkey-thing still wrapped around my body, my Mom with her hands above her eyes to block out some of the blinding sun, and my dad...

My dad's appearance stopped me in my tracks. As the motorcycles advanced ahead of the presidential limo, and the secret service vehicles came into view, my dad took a posture I had never seen before and never saw after. Dad was 6 feet tall when he stood up straight, but he was not a confident man and always stood or walked a little stooped. When that black line advanced, my father stood up to his full height with his shoulders back and his heels clicked together, his face suddenly serious and distant. He was my father, and yet not my father.

And then, as the thick black limo that seemed to be the center of the other vehicles' attention crossed our path, we saw a shadow lift up from the back seat. They were burning some serious rubber, but time seemed to slow just then. The signature silhouette of well-coiffed hair momentarily came into view, and the figure waved. I waved back in the rabid way of excited 10-year-olds, but Monkey was still covering my right arm so it probably looked like something was attacking me. My mom waved, too. And we looked at Dad, still ramrod straight, who gave the most sincere, beautiful salute I have ever seen.

"Huh," my mom said as we got back in the car, digging through her purse for tissues to wipe unexpected tears from her eyes.

"Huh," I said, but my attention wasn't on the passing president anymore. It was on my dad.

I had seen pictures of him in the military, including the formal portrait of him in his full dress uniform. But he had left the army long before I was born, and I had never known that side of him.

"Why did you salute him, Dad?" I remember asking. "You can't stand him. I really thought you would make a different hand gesture."

He smiled his crooked smile. "He's my commander-in-chief. He's my superior. I just did what I was trained to do."

Years later he would tell me that he surprised himself with that salute. He had not had reason to salute someone in over 15 years, but his knee-jerk reaction, ingrained from his years of service, was to acknowledge that an officer was on deck.

I've been thinking about my dad a lot lately, wondering if he were alive today which of his characteristics would have won out this year: his loyal support of the Democratic party, or that little bit of Archie Bunker-like prejudice that may have made it hard for him to push a button for Barack Obama. Dad often surprised me; my mom, sister, and I think we know the answer to what he would have done on election day, but like with his salute, I don't know if any of us could have predicted him.

One thing I do know: he certainly would have stood straight and raised his hand in a respectful salute had he been lucky enough to see that motorcade yesterday. Even if he didn't agree with a commander-in-chief, he did believe in respect.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Pattern of Unusual Behavior

Salon haircut: $30
Two tracksuits and a pair of trousers from the clearance rack at a women's clothing store: $52
Tank of gas: Priceless, apparently, because my credit card got denied

You know how credit card companies use software to pick up patterns in your spending and to try to detect fraud? Well, sometimes they just don't work so hot.

I am one of those people who pays for everything with a credit card. I hate carrying cash, and I don't like writing checks or using a checking account debit card. Oh, don't worry. We don't live above our means; we pay my one credit card off every month. But I use that card for everything: food, gas, medicine, upkeep on the house, clothes, books (yes, books are essential for living as far as I am concerned.)

So Saturday found me doing a little upkeep on myself. I got my hair cut and was lured into the clothing store next door by a big red banner advertising 70% off winter items. I needed to buy gas next. But lo and behold, my trusty old credit card got denied. Loudly and embarrassingly denied as I had to forego "pay at the pump" convenience when a message popped up telling me to go see the cashier.

I panicked. I called home and was reassured by my incredibly financially responsible hubby that he had just checked our account the day before and there were no unusual charges and we were well below our limit. Plus, I had just used the darn thing twice without event. He determined the problem was with the gas station.

So I turned around and hit a station on the other side of the road. Where my card was denied again (albeit quietly this time, as the pay-at-the-pump machine just spelled out that the transaction was cancelled.)


I called the customer service number with my heart in my throat. I was convinced that despite Jason's reassurances, I was a victim of fraud.

And here's where it gets interesting. According to my credit card company, I don't buy gas very often. This comes as a big surprise to me. I buy gas every 7-10 days; how much more often do "normal" people buy it? And also according to them, my biggest expenses are for groceries and clothes (this last one made me laugh out loud; after all, I mourned the loss of a 10-year-old pair of jeans a short while ago.) When I decided to go nuts Saturday and buy (oh, my!) a tank of gas after spending less than $100 on myself, it triggered the fraud protection software because it was "an unusual pattern of behavior."

In a way, it was. I don't spend much money on myself. I don't do the regular manicure or pedicure or massage thing and while $30 is a little ridiculous for a haircut I only do that every 6-8 weeks. I buy clothes for myself in two spurts a year: the month after Christmas when all the winter stuff is at least half off and again before school starts. It's rare for me to spend over $100 in either of these spurts (which I why I had to crack up when the customer service person told me it's my second-highest category; I hope my Christmas gift purchases is what has made that a little skewed.) I may be emotionally high-maintenance, but in a fiscal sense I don't require huge amounts of money to get buy. A true shopping spree would be unusual for me. I get that.

But why oh why did it deny my gas?

It was a question the super-nice customer service rep had a hard time answering. All I heard that made sense was that she would try to change the formula to reflect my American need for gas for my car. I also learned something quite scary at the end of the call.

"So will I be able to get gas today and to go grocery shopping? That's my next stop and I don't want to get denied there."

"Yes, ma'am. We're showing that you go to Kroger a lot so that will never be blocked for you."

Oh, boy! Hear that, identity theives? You could steal my card and go spend $1000 at the grocery store on lobsters and frozen turkeys and beef tenderloins and cheap plastic patio furniture and whatever other "luxuries" exist there, and my company wouldn't even register that as a blip on the radar!

Just don't try to buy gas after your spree. Because that would be too much.

Have any of you ever triggered your fraud protection stuff? And just how often do normal people such as yourselves buy gas?


We all know that something historical happened today, right? That the peaceful transition of power we saw today is one of the things that makes our country great? That even if you don't agree with the new guy in charge, there's something awe-inspiring about the oath of office (even when it gets a little mangled)?

Good. That's all I'm gonna say about that. Since many of you, my beloved readers, don't agree with me politically, and since I think my political coming out of the closet wasn't well-received by some of you who have gone quiet since October, I am going to mostly shut up about politics.

That is all. Carry on with whatever you were doing on this inauguration day. Sneak a moment in your cubicle or office to watch the festivities, read some like-minded commentary on a blog that leans the way you lean, smile or frown as you see fit.

And to the new guy--best of luck.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This Just In...

Like the people at EW, I am not sure why this was news, but...

It's timely because just last night during her bath Ainsley asked,

"Mommy, you know how that one boy in that one movie we saw about the boy at Christmas stuck his tongue to the pole? Did that really happen?"

And now I can say, yes. Yes, it did.

So let me say this to all of you who might be reading:

Your tongue will stick to metal surfaces at freezing temperatures. Even before I saw A Christmas Story, even before I saw the above article, I knew this to be true. Because I myself, when I was a little children, stuck my tongue to the metal inside of a 1970s-era freezer. Until my mom defrosted said freezer a few months later, my taste buds were still in the frost. And this is apparently a popular experiment; when I went to the doctor for my raw, hideless tongue (rather than wait for the hot water everyone says works I just ripped my tongue out of the freezer) he told me he had done the same thing on a metal ice tray as a kid.

So, kids. Don't try this at home. Many of us who have walked this walk can assure you...your tongue will stick.

Learn To Fly

The Crankies are starting to talk about our summer vacation. Neither Jason nor I grew up in families that did the annual vacation thing; we went on vacation (to Florida, natch) only once in my entire childhood, and that's once more than Jason. After not taking anything remotely resembling a vacation the first 9 years of our marriage, we decided that we would go somewhere as a family every summer. We want to make it a priority to take Ainsley and ourselves to see some wide open spaces.

I have shockingly narrow travel horizons; I've never been out of the country, I've only been west of the Mississippi once, and the east coast of Florida is as far east as I've ever been. I've never visited our nation's capital nor have I seen a Great Lake. I am telling you, I am in serious need of some destinations.

There's one big obstacle in my way. As I've mentioned before in these pages, I am deathly afraid to fly.

This year we were talking about going on a cruise. Our first choice, to make it fun for the kid, was a Disney Cruise. But when we typed in our info and asked for a quote, and the quote said, "Arm, leg, and whatever gold you've got around the house," we changed our minds. Seriously, why does everything with The Mouse on it cost twice as much? Sometimes, I hate that corporation.

We'd heard good things about Carnival cruises with kids, too, so we investigated that next. This is no lie: on the same week in June, a Carnival eastern Caribbean cruise in their most expensive stateroom (the Penthouse, for crying out loud!) still costs less than the eastern Caribbean Disney cruise we were looking at in their second-to-cheapest stateroom. And even with airfare, a Carnival cruise vacation could cost a little less than the Disney World vacation we took 2 years ago. Don't let his cute little ears fool you; Mickey is an evil, evil fellow.

It also boded well that the very next day after I put in an inquiry, someone from Carnival called me to discuss further deals we could get. I don't know if y'all have heard, but apparently there's some sort of economic crisis going on and people aren't travelling as much and most cruise companies are all but luring people on board with wads of cash tied to fishing rods. I was just about to seal the deal when that plane went and crash-landed into the Hudson yesterday.

Since everyone got off safely, I can say this without too much guilt--I think it was a warning. For me. We had been planning to fly to the port, and get Ains on an airplane for the first time at a relatively young age and get that out of the way. But right now I feel like that would be tempting fate. It simply cannot be a coincidence that a flock of birds would take out a plane on the very day we got Carnival calling and asking me to sign on the dotted line. (And yes, it is all about me.)

A Cincinnati reporter commenting on this breaking news made a point of telling us all that air travel is still very safe, and that "There hasn't been a fatal crash on an American airline in over two years."

Way to go, man! Jinx us all, wouldja?

I could almost see Death himself, dressed in black cloak with scythe in hand, smoking a cigarette and telling me,

"Sure, this one turned out well with all 151 passengers exiting safely. You don't honestly think think I'll let the next one turn out so good, do ya? After all, I've got a quota and all."

Yesterday's near miss in the fatalities department played upon my second worst fear (my worst fear being the ever-popular crash and burn): being trapped in something filling up with water. My hands shake just thinking about it.

When Jason and I flew to Vegas for a long, childless weekend in 2006, I thought I had gotten over the worst of the flying thing. But if we fly for the cruise, there's a new element: I am not just putting my own life in the hands of flying fate, I am putting my kid on board, as well. If for some reason I had to get on a plane all by myself tomorrow, I think I would be alright. But putting Ainsley on, especially after yesterday's crash...I literally shudder at the thought.

"Hey, we haven't been to Gatlinburg since our honeymoon!" I said to Jason last night as we watched news coverage. "We could do that this year. You know, short drive, close to home..."

He rolled his eyes at me. Being holed up in a cabin in the Appalachian mountains was perfect for two young newlyweds, but I don't know if Ainsley would be terribly entertained by the occasional hike up the side of a mountain in the hopes of getting to see a deer eat grass.

And though we could drive to the port for the cruise, we would have to park the car there and pay for that and also I have sworn off ever again driving all the way through Georgia (my Georgia friends: I love you dearly, but I hate hate hate driving through your state. Why does it have to be so long?)

So clearly I am torn.

I've heard all the statistics about air travel. I know, deep down, that it's safe. Heck, my college roommate's (and above-mentioned Georgia dweller's) father served on the NTSB. And he let her fly! (On certain airlines.) But this isn't about rational facts; this is about fear, which isn't rational and doesn't have to follow any formula.

So, talk back to me here. Can any of you promise me that if we fly this summer, everything will be okay? Anyone? Anyone?

Of course you can't! Because there are no promises.

But at any rate, hit me with all your flying stories and all those statistics in your head about how I am more likely to die in a car crash 5 minutes from home and blah blah blah. And if you watch 30 Rock and know about Comanaprisil, please tell me how I can score some.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Flurry of Meteorological Inaccuracy

I would not want to be a Cincinnati-area meteorologist this winter.

Ours are taking a lot of heat (no pun intended) over the much-worse-than-usual accuracy of their forecasts. There have been many times this winter that they have gotten every school kid's hopes up by forecasting measurable snowfall only to have the precipitation come down as rain or a negligible scatter of flurries. Other times, they assure us temperatures will stay above freezing and people (like me!) get hurt on freezing-rain-covered roadways or walkways. One Saturday morning in December, I woke to find the roads I needed to travel on covered with snow and ice when the forecast the night before said nothing about precipitation of any form. The local weather men's missed calls are getting more talk around here than the fact that a new President is taking office next week.

I would judge, but I am among the guilty. I complain just as loudly as everyone else. I'm a teacher at a semi-rural school district; I like being able to predict our snow days. I also love winter snow. So sue me.

The other day, after complaining to my husband on a morning when I was supposed to wake up to 1-2 inches of snow on the ground and woke instead to a miserable drizzle of rain, it occurred to me that we're coming upon the ten-year-anniversary of our area's worst meteorological boo-boo (at least of my lifetime): the great "Overnight-flurries-oh-wait-make-that-12-inches" miscall of February, 1998.

It had been a mild winter. Jason and I were teaching at the same north-central-Kentucky rural high school and living in Falmouth. By the first full week in February we had not yet had a snow day, which we were told by our colleagues was eerily unusual. Wednesday of that week Jason was scheduled to take a handful of his best choir kids to Louisville for all-state choir. Tuesday night both the Lexington and Cincinnati channels were calling for some flurries overnight; we joked that our school district might have an hour delay on account of the flurries.

Shortly before the alarm went off that Wednesday, I heard the cars outside driving through what sounded like water. I figured it had rained overnight.

After the alarm went off, while the lights were still off, I peeked outside. I laughed and waited for Jason to step out of the bathroom.

"I'm pretty sure we don't have school today."

"Why? Did it snow a little?"

Not a little, exactly. It turned out I was right--no school that day. And pretty much every school district in the Lexington and Cincinnati viewing areas was out, too. We turned on WKYT to see a reporter giving a live report from New Circle Road, where snow was measuring 6 inches and really just getting started. The forecasted flurries ended up being a surprise winter snow storm with a final storm total in our area of 18 inches that fell in about 36 hours. The front side of the storm dropped a foot by late afternoon that Wednesday; on Thursday, when Jason saw that picking his kids up and driving them to Louisville in a school van for all-state was not going to happen, the back side dropped another 6 inches.

There were all kinds of reasons given why the meteorologists didn't see this thing coming until it was overtop of us. Basically an area of low pressure stalled over us and just let the storm keep growing and circulating. It was amusing to see them sheepishly admit it was a large forecasting error. It probably couldn't happen now with all the computerized models and such.

Or couldn't it?

Given how wrong they've been so far, I am holding out for a big surprise snow this winter. Even the March "blizzard" last year didn't have quite the snowfall totals we had in 1998. We haven't had a truly awe-inspiring winter storm since then. I miss the big snows we had the four years I was at Centre; my mom never let me play out in the snow as a kid because I was sick all the time, and I took full advantage of the big foot-or-more snows we got pretty much every winter in the mid-90s. (Some of you may remember a certain snowfall that inspired us to "erect" a snow statue modelled after the male genitalia.) I want some snow!

Or maybe just a snow day.

Do you non-teachers out there love winter snow, or hate it because unlike me you actually have to go to work in it? What were you doing during the big snow mis-calculation of 1998?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Once and Future Caregiver

Yesterday was my annual skin cancer screening.

Since my cells don't have a good past history of healthy division, and since I had a largish portion of my upper body subjected to radiation, I have had to become good friends with a dermatologist. Oh, I needed one anyway. I have pretty awful skin and just last winter started my fifth round of intensive acne treatment since my sixteenth birthday. So I found a great doctor who generously subscribes Retin-A and has a hawk eye for abnormal growths.

It's a given that every year a suspicious mole will be found. And said mole will get sliced off and three days later the doctor will call and tell me the mole had "moderate dysplasia with clean margins," which means my fair skin and former love of sunbathing with baby oil have caught up with me but not quite yet in a fatal way.

Yesterday's atypical nevus (doctor speak for "ugly-ass mole") was the first suspicious mole to crop up completely from scratch in my radiation zone (all the others I've had removed I could remember making their debuts pre-radiation or in parts of my body far away from ground zero) so I am more nervous about the phone call I'll get than usual. I am also worried about how I am going to Polysporin and bandage the post-biopsy wound because it is in the dead center of my back in the no-man's-land most humans can't scratch.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jason will still be home when I get out of the shower and can do the honors. But on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, he's gone by the time I start the water. And for 7-10 days, that little punched-out bit of Cranky flesh has to be swabbed and covered lest I add skin infection to my long list of worries.

The solution I've come up with: Ainsley is going to have to play caregiver for her mom.

I asked her about it, and of course she said yes. She thinks it will be cool. We'll see tomorrow morning when she has to get up close and personal with a really gross and partially bloody boo-boo.

The minute after I asked her, I felt weird. Here I am already relying on my kid to take care of me in my hour of need. Today it's mere flesh wounds. Tomorrow, she'll be helping me choose the right hearing aid and making sure my Hoveround is charged.

Oh, I know. Those days are a long way off. But child-parent role reversal is the nature of things. We change our kids' diapers; unfortunately, a day may come where they have to change ours. It's the Circle of Life. It's not as pretty as portrayed in The Lion King (Simba never had to tell Mufasa to "Put your freakin' teeth in, Dad, for crying out loud!") but it is a fact of life on this earth. It's one of the reasons why ultimately we aren't meaner to our kids; we want them to choose the nice nursing home, not just ship us off to Elders R Us.

These thoughts were depressing me until Ainsley got off the bus today, face pale, throat sore, temperature a couple of degrees above normal. I comforted her with hugs and a cool bath and a popsicle and a promise to stay home with her tomorrow and see her off to the doctor for a strep test. As she got comfortable and dozed peacefully in front of the Backyardigans, I felt better about my place in the world. She might have to help me heal myself once in a blue moon now, but my place is still as her caregiver, her source of health and nourishment and comfort. For now, it's me who dries tears, doctors boo-boos, makes her favorite Goldfish soup, gives the medicine and the spoonful of sugar to go with it. Just like I remember my mom's hands on my back to rub away the ache of a fever and holding back my hair when I emptied the contents of my stomach, she'll remember the little things I do to help her feel better.

I just hope she doesn't remember that nasty thing on my back.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Cranky Awards

It's awards season. Many of you probably could not care less, but I am a wee bit of an awards show fan. In fact, I have been known to take a personal day the day after the Oscars just so I can stay up and take in the whole show in all its overblown glory without worrying about an alarm clock the next day.

It probably classifies as some sort of mental illness. Award Show Addiction Syndrome.

With the Golden Globes on Sunday, it occurred to me that I have not done a year-end awards list this year. So without further adieu, I give you my own awards for the best (and worst) in movies, books, television, and music. I am not rolling out the red carpet, nor am I able to have the entire cast of Lost in all its unnatural beauty come to my house to accept their award (but oh that I could.) But I am giving each winner a toast. With my morning Coke, of course.

The Cranky Awards for Excellence (or not) in Television

Best Drama
Lost. With a series end date now part of the network's and creators' plans, it got its mojo back.

Best Comedy
30 Rock. I've watched the Oprah episode 3 times now, and each time it gets funnier as I discover a small moment or line I hadn't caught before. If you're not watching this show, please start.

Worst Fall From Grace From a Formerly Great Show
What happened to you, Heroes? How did you go from must-see to deleted from my DVR?

Best Actor, Drama
He wasn't a lead actor, but I would have to give a Cranky statue to Michael Emerson for his portrayal of Ben on Lost. Never has a "villain" so tugged at my heart as Ben did when he lost Alex. Never have I been so unsure as to whether to hate or love a character. Well played, sir. Well played.

Best Actor, Comedy
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother. I love it when a character in a comedy steps up and has a human, dramatic moment. Last season's finale had a great moment like that for Barney, and Harris made it heart-wrenching. But in a real, not over-done way. I used to be in love with him when we was Doogie, and darnit if he didn't stir all that right back up.

Best Actress, Drama
Dana Delaney, Desperate Housewives. Yeah, DH is probably a comedy. But Delaney had the most dramatic role in the series as the season wound down last year. I have loved her since China Beach and she made me start watching DH again.

Best Actress, Comedy
Tina Fey. Not for 30 Rock. For being Sarah Palin on SNL. C'mon, even my beloved Republican readers have to admit she was funny.

Best Reality Show
David vs. David on American Idol. I really can't believe I just wrote that.

The Cranky Choice Awards for Film
Let me preface this category by saying I wasn't a big filmgoer this year. So these are pretty narrow choices.

Best Picture
Wall-E. Yes, it's a "cartoon". But I think, decades from now, critics will look back on Wall-E as a representative film of this era. Technical innovation and a sense of "look what we can do"? Check. A dark undertone that highlights the current pessimism of the American people? Check. A word of warning and sense of hope for our fragile, endangered planet? Check. An unconventional love story? Check. I almost gave this award to the stunning The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I can't get past the beauty and awe of the first half hour of Wall-E. I think, as far as Oscars go, this movie will be underrated; another film will win, but Wall-E will be the picture most of us remember from this year.

Best Actor
After we watched The Dark Knight on DVD, Heath Ledger's performance was all Jason and I could talk about. I don't think I think this just because we lost him too soon; I think it's one of the gutsiest, most original performances I have ever seen.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I really love her and think she can do no wrong. Could I be her for, like, a day?

Biggest Disappointment
The X-Files. There. I said it. It's not that I thought it's just that I wanted it to be outstanding. Though it was nice to learn that Mulder and Scully have been knocking boots on a regular basis.

Best Surprise
I really liked High School Musical 3. It was a solid 90 minutes of escapist entertainment. For Ainsley, I mean.

Best Theater Experience
It wasn't even really a movie. But the night that I took Ainsley to see the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds concert in 3-D at the movies...magical. When Ainsley reached her hand out to try to catch the 3-D confetti, I could have died from cute overload.

Cranky's Best in Books (Plus Stephenie Meyer)

Not all of these were published in 2008. I just read them this year. So there.

Best Short Story
"The Things They Left Behind" by Stephen King from his new collection of stories, Just After Sunset. It's a tale of survivor guilt from a man who was not in one of the towers on September 11, but should have been. It's Uncle Stevie at his best.

Best Novel
No Country For Old Men. Having read The Road, and having given myself ample recovery time from it, I decided to pick up this grueling tale during award season last year when the film was getting so much buzz. It was perfect winter reading as it chilled me to the bone.

Best Nonfiction
The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy. It's an oldie but goodie, especially if you are a teacher. The perfect read while driving home from Conroy's native South Carolina.

Best Memoir
Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking. I knew Carrie was funny, but I had no idea she was that funny. It's that dark, bone-dry humor that I do so love. One of the few books I read this year where I got to the end and thought, "I wish this were about 100 pages longer."

Best Personal Essay
"The Youth" by David Sedaris from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. Most of you have probably already discovered David Sedaris; I just discovered him this year. That one essay in particular, which discusses the pets he's had in his lifetime first in a humorous way and then in a somber way as he describes putting his aged cat to sleep, made me both laugh and get teary. And as we all know, things that are simultaneously hilarious and moving are my favorite things.

Worst Book Of The Year
So disappointing. Breaking Dawn. I previously had found myself recommending Twilight to anyone who would listen. And I even enjoyed Breaking Dawn as a mindless summer read. Until I started really thinking about it. And grew angry that an author would end a beloved series on such a dank note.

Please Don't Stop The Music...Unless it's Rihanna

Best Album
I would love to be all hip and cool and tell you I think it's Weezer's red album. (Do you capitalize it when they don't give it a name, and people just refer to it by the color? Discuss.) But I think I have to go the road more travelled and say Coldplay's Viva La Vida. I know. I am so not cool.

Best Song--The One I Easily Admit To
"Violet Hill"--Coldplay.

Best Song--The One I Don't Like To Talk About
"If I Were a Boy"--Beyonce. I love to sing along to this one. In the car. When all by myself. Now my secret is out; I am a closet Beyonce fan.

The Song That Most Gets Stuck In Your Head And Eats Your Brain
"Disturbia" by Rihanna. This is the one I blogged about Ainsley really liking a few months ago. I don't really like it, but somehow or other it gets stuck in my head and likes to rattle around in there for days.

Most Overplayed Song of 2008
"Womanizer" by that Britney Spears person. Perhaps you've heard of her?

Most Played Album At Casa De Cranky
I bet you can predict it...the High School Musical 3 soundtrack.

Our Summer Soundtrack
The Barenaked Ladies--Snacktime. Never has kid music been so tolerable.

Best Concert
And only concert--the Barenaked Ladies playing at that casino in that one town in Indiana. You know the one.

The Song That Made Me Want To Bust My Own Eardrums
Actually, a tie. These were the two songs of 2008 that, without fail, made me scream and change the channel. The second of these might have been an okay song had I not heard it every time I turned on the radio this summer.

"No Air" by my least favorite American Idol winner ever and some guy; and
"Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis.

That's it. Feel free to agree or disagree and chime in with your own stuff.

I will check your responses between interesting awards on Golden Globes Sunday.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Legend of the Falls

I fell on ice. AGAIN. Has no one heard of salt?

The good news is that this time my amazing display of grace and form was softened by my upper body landing on the garbage bag full of used kitty litter I was hauling out to my mom's garbage can. Otherwise, I may have re-injured my shoulder. Though, let me just say...ewww.

The bad news is I ruined my favorite pair of decade-old Calvins. When I fell this time I fell forward on my left knee, blowing out the knee of my jeans. I slit that beloved denim straight across from seam to seam (and left most of the skin from that knee on the concrete.)

"They still look good," Jason said as I walked in the door. "If this were 1995."

And considering my favorite way to wear these jeans was with an old flannel shirt on weekend days when I felt like going on a Panera bagel run before getting showered and into real clothes, I guess they'll still do. But there's no disguising their 1990s-ness now.

My body has been meeting the asphalt far too much here lately. It's been a while since I actually skinned a body part, though, and I couldn't help, when my mother insisted on pouring peroxide on my wound before I left her house as though I am still seven, thinking of the Great Bike Wreck of 1989 when I essentially road-burned all the skin off of one knee, shoulder, and the upper-left side of my head.

Mom reached for the peroxide that day, took a second look at me, and sent my sorry ass to the emergency room for my first and only trip there.

The triage nurse looked at my bloody profile.

"What kind of bike was it? Motorcycle?"

My dad grinned his crooked, devlish grin. "Nope. Ten-speed!"

I won't lie. I hated him a little right then. He was amused that his brainy but coordination-challenged youngest daughter had done so much damage riding an ordinary bike up to (oh, the irony) volleyball tryouts.

Given my long and proud history of falling onto pavement, and the unfortunate fact that my daughter shows some skills in that area herself, I am a huge proponent of bicycle helmets.

In fact, I am considering wearing one (and knee pads!) every time I get out for the rest of the winter. At least, until people discover that sodium chloride melts winter ice.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Welcome Back, Scrubs. I've Missed You So.

I can hardly believe that one of my favorite TV comedies ever is down to what will most likely be its final episodes.

After a fashionably long hiatus (why do so many shows follow the Lost formula these days and make you wait from May to January without a new episode?) Scrubs launched its (probable) last season last night with two back-to-back episodes. The first was your typical Scrubs silliness (only made truly memorable by a rant Courtney Cox Arquette's character goes on about spiders and how they should be stomped rather than carried outside in paper cups "because they're sneaky"). The second had me doing what Scrubs has me doing quite a bit: laughing one minute, reaching for the tissues the next.

When a dying man comes into the hospital, with no family to be with him in his final hours, J.D. and Turk skip their annual Steak Night to share a beer and some comfort with the man. It was a sad situation, certainly, but one that's not unusual for that show. But here's the genius of Scrubs: you never see it coming. The sad moments aren't predictable. There's a terminal patient in almost every episode. So I wasn't planning on crying, especially since the banter between the doctors and patient was so comic. But then the old man admitted he was scared. And the two doctors, who previously had told the dying man that they didn't see death as something to fear, that they believed in heaven, admitted to being afraid themselves.

"Of course we're afraid," J.D. said (or something like this; I am going from memory here.) "We just don't want Death to know. Because once it knows, it has us."

Gah. If only real doctors were that candid.

The episode ended with J.D. telling the old man the only thing that he knows for sure about death: that if you can die with your last thought being a happy one, that that's the best exit you can hope for. So the dying man lets his head fall back and remembers how good his last beer tasted.

And that was his dying thought. And really, when I have to go, that wouldn't be such a bad note to leave on. Especially if my last beer is a Unibroue.

I cried quietly for a minute as the episode finished. Which is troubling; if the second episode of this (probable) final season does this to me, what in the world will I be like with the last episode? Because chances are, they will pull out all the tearjerker stops.

Any other Scrubs fans out there? If so, what were your fave episodes? And should the series go on even though Zach Braff and Bill Lawrence have said this is it for them? And if you don't like Scrubs...what is wrong with you??

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Ains: Home Edition

"Um, Mommy, I know everything that happens after you marry somebody."

Well, if that won't make you drop the body wash bottle into your kid's bathwater, I don't know what will.

I shuddered to ask.

"What do you think happens after you marry someone?"

"First you get married, then you buy a house, then you have some babies. Oh, yeah, and then you have to name all the babies. And that's pretty much it. You're done." And then she smacked and rubbed her hands together in that great way that signifies finality and washing your hands of a dirty situation.

See, kids? Marriage is a piece of cake.

And thank God she didn't mention any of the steps leading up to having some babies. Because I absolutely thought that was where she was headed. I am so not ready for that talk yet.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Can You Run Fast Enough, Jesus?

Let me start by saying I generally do not mishear lyrics.

I know a lot of people do. Enough that there are books listing all the various ways people have misheard song lyrics. I did, for a long time, think that Kiss was saying they wanted to rock and roll all night and part of every day, but that used to be the worst of my misheard sins. My husband is notorious for this; just last week, after we listened to the Dixie Chicks' "Sin Wagon" in order to improve our Rock Band score on that song, he broke out in song:

"Raise the roof
And pass the ammunition..."

He even did the raising the roof motion. Until I told him that it was actually:

"Praise the Lord
And pass the ammunition..."

Though you certainly could raise the roof with that barn burner of a country anthem.

Then days later I had a shocking realization.

You know that Depeche Mode song, "Personal Jesus"? It's a good song. Over the break I heard the Johnny Cash cover of that song. It was amazing; I could actually hear every word when the man in black was singing. But when he sang,

"Your own...personal...Jesus..."

my jaw dropped. Because what I had heard for years, what I would have bet money on being the lyrics to that song, were:

"Can you enough...Jesus?"

Yeah, I know.

And the part that really goes, "Reach out and touch faith"? I thought that was "Reach out and touch me."

How did I get that so wrong?

I mean, I knew the title of the song was "Personal Jesus." But I thought it was one of those songs where the title is the meaning of the song, not so much a part of the chorus. I thought the song was saying that everyone wants to twist Jesus's message to justify their often close-minded world views. And that, if Jesus were here on earth observing this gross misuse and misinterpreting of his teachings, he would run. Hopefully, fast enough.

And now I just don't know what the song is really about.

Am I the only idiot who hears that song this way? And have you ever listened to a cover of a song and gone, "Really? Really? THAT'S how that song goes?"

Please tell me I am not alone.

What Santa Brought

It was a good Christmas in the Cranky house. Maybe not so much health-wise, as one of the things Santa dropped in mine and Jason's stockings was a stomach virus that caused us to get to know our toilet better. But in terms of sheer gift haulage, it was pretty awesome.

Santa brought Ainsley Lucky the Wonder Pup (which pretty much kicks everything we ever got from Santa's ass) and that girly rite of passage and first-degree burns, the Easy Bake Oven. Ever heard of Lucky? It was one of those gift requests that left me a little cold at first; when I saw his commercial, I had a hard time believing he could do all the wonderful things they said he could do. But lo and behold, that little computerized dog is the cutest thing to ever come into our house. He responds to 16 vocal commands and does tricks. And the best part is, when Ainsley is through with him, she can tell him to go to sleep and he actually does! So as far as I am concerned, he's better than a real dog. Though when he's not "asleep" and no one is playing with him, he likes to fart to try to get attention.

I got a GPS from Jason, mostly because I can't navigate my way out of a wet paper bag. Seriously, I have no sense of direction. But now that I have some satellite-driven help, I should always be able to get home. I made the guiding voice in my GPS be a man's voice for those times my dear hubby can't be in the car with me to tell me impatiently that I should turn left.

I got Jason a very manly gift: a coffee grinder. Don't laugh. Boyfriend loves his coffee. And my sister got him the Mario Kart game, which Ainsley has pretty much taken as her own. Even with hours of play each day, I am not convinced she should ever be allowed to get a driver's license.

What cool things did you get this year? And is there anything out there that could possibly be more adorable for kids than Lucky the Wonder Pup?

And We're Back

Miss me?

Between the shoulder thing, and the stomach virus thing, and the "I don't really like Christmas" thing, I have lost my writing mojo. Being sick and being in pain and being surrounded by red and green while sick and in pain sapped my inspiration. Hopefully, now that the page on the calendar has flipped to a new year, you, my dear readers, are still with me despite my lapse.

I have a few entries that have been rattling around in my noggin for a few days, and I will work on posting those during lunch and after school today and get myself back on track.

In the meantime, I hope the new year finds you well and that Santa left you all that your heart desired.

Stay tuned; some random stuff will be going up later today. Enjoy, and welcome back. And forgive any cobwebs you see; my brain has been little used and is a little dusty.