Thursday, October 22, 2015

Blog on Blogging

#ThrowbackThursday to back in the day, when I had leftover brain cells at the end of each day to put together a sentence or two and throw 'em at the internet. It's been awhile, yes? A quick gander at my homepage indicates that "awhile" is euphemistic code for FIVE YEARS, which is half a decade, longer than it took for me to obtain a college degree, and almost exactly the amount of time it took me to conceive, carry, birth, and raise my now-four-year-old son and his little brot--

OH. Now it's all coming into focus. Babies and kids, that's where I've been. As I'm sure you've heard from anyone who has a kid or two or nine*, children are the number one destroyer of normal lives, sleep habits, bank accounts, household upholstery, and hobbies, especially hobbies that involve forming coherent sentences or the use of power tools. Some of my former hobbies, like cookie-baking and day-drinking, have stuck around, but really only out of necessity, because what else are you supposed to do when it's only 2:00 on a rainy Saturday afternoon in February and your three-year-old has already watched "Frozen" six times since dawn?

Due to a variety of factors, including "the first one is pretty awesome" and "our former lives are dead anyway," Lawyer Boy and I decided to have a second baby three years after the first was born, and the resulting baby boy rounded out my personal Tiny Army of Dudes, for whom I am more than happy to be Resident Girl and Queen Supreme.

So in the last five years, I've had a baby who's now a preschooler, and had a second baby who's now six months old. While that's been going on, the cat has gotten old enough that his legs have started making noises not unlike the popping of corn when he walks. Thanks to all of this, "Sunrise, Sunset" is on a pretty constant loop in my head, interrupted by the occasional Taylor Swift dance party or hard-won nap.

All of that said, I swear on a stack of baby sleep manuals that I will not turn this ridiculous corner of the internet into a Mommy Blog. I'm not slamming all the Mommy Blogs out there; I'm just saying that even people who love Mommy Blogs love to hate Mommy Blogs. Also, I think pretty much every one out there already sums up my feelings on parenthood: My children are the best; I would slap a puppy in exchange for one good night's sleep; and I hate Pinterest for making me feel inadequate even though I know that literally zero children are born expecting that sandwiches should always be crafted in the shape of their favorite cartoon characters.

Low expectations: Maybe that's a good way for me to go into my return to blogging. That way I don't feel obligated to write every day, or to change the background theme or photos on my site. If it happens to happen I'll be as excited as I will be the day the baby happens to sleep through the night.

*Stop. Stop now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

And for Christmas, I Give You...Myself

Oh, hello there! Been awhile, eh? It's been alarmingly close to eleven months, to be exact, and I have thought a lot about all the mayhem I could have manhandled myself into in the last eleven months, and all without your knowledge! If I were going to disappear for eleven months, I think I could have at least done you the courtesy of getting into some kind of media-worthy public shenanigans, possibly involving outrageous nudity and/or familial estrangement, so you could keep up with my antics in the tabloids. It seems to work well for Heidi Montag and her personal on-board shrine to silicone, at least.

In eleven months, I could have conceived, carried, birthed, named, and likely become at least somewhat attached to an entire human being. But I didn't.

In eleven months, I could have become a notorious pearl-wearing, cookie-baking, Richmond-area drug kingpin with legions of quivering, loyal addicts fueling my nefarious empire. Well, that's only really feasible if the drugs were chocolate-chip cookies. But I didn't.

In eleven months, I could have convinced Lawyer Boy to help me sell all our possessions, buy a ranch in Utah, convert to The Church of the Engorged Family Unit, and take a flock of sister-wives to sew my requisite ankle-length dresses and be my personal bitches. But I didn't.

(Just to make sure we're clear, Lawyer Boy and I did purchase a flock of sister-wives online to help with the laundry, but they haven't arrived yet. Product review forthcoming upon arrival.)

So, all tomfoolery and polygamagic aside, what was I up to during those excruciating eleven months in which you wept over my absence and swore angrily and vehemently never to love again? On the professional, practical end, I left my old job and started a new one. A new one that I'd been waiting to open up for the last few years, one that greatly decreases the amount of time I spend crying in my office and greatly increases the amount of time I spend smiling at people. I still work in immigration, but I'm still not telling you where, because I know that if I did, the boxes of chocolates and hand-tied bouquets of flowers you'd send constantly would just make my new coworkers jealous. And I soooooo want to be popular.

On the less reasonable, ragingly irresponsible end, Lawyer Boy and I have spent the last eleven months goofing off with our friends and generally acting like we didn't get the message that we're rapidly approaching adulthood. Or actively wallowing in it. Or desperately fleeing it. Either way, we've been having a blast going out on weeknights, throwing late-night dinner parties, and speaking in sillier and sillier voices when we imitate our cat.

But now, as 2010 draws to a close, I've recommitted to flinging my mental detritus at the interwebz and to doing laundry more than just once a month. I know, I know. Quite the Christmas present for both the interwebz in general, and Lawyer Boy in particular!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1,2,3: Britney, Lawyer Boy, and Me

I have begun the new year with a startling realization: Britney Spears is following me. If I knew what I had done to merit this fantastic honor, trust me, I'd share. Perhaps she's drawn to my stellar cookie-baking abilities. Or perhaps it's my alluring natural musk that's got her hooked.

My money's on the musk. I am pretty damn irresistibly musky, if I do say so myself.

Whatever the bait, Britney is waiting for Lawyer Boy and I every single time we get in the car together. She's lurking on the local pop/trash station, Q94, ready to wail her latest chart-raper, "Three," from the select speakers that still work in my ten-year-old Jeep. This has happened so many times and with such unfailing consistency that even LB has noticed it, and he's normally pretty hell-bent on ignoring whatever Auto-Tuned tart I've chosen to aurally assault us that day.

Since I've been hearing this song all the time, I started paying attention to the lyrics, and I was half shocked off my rocker, and half not even remotely surprised, to discover that the song is about threesomes. No, Mom, not a golf threesome. A three-people sex-fiesta* threesome. I wanted to be surprised, but then I remembered that Britney willingly and repeatedly had sex with Kevin "C Is For Condoms, And Condoms Aren't For Me" Federline, so absolutely nothing is off the table. I accepted the fact that American radio stations were habitually playing a song about group sex, and naturally, I immediately tried to learn all the words.

And those words are a funny thing. I am notoriously awful at deciphering song lyrics, to the point that listening to me sing, you'd wonder if English was my second language (and also, how to make me stop singing). My most epic failure, and one for which I am still mercilessly mocked, is TLC's "Waterfalls," which contains the refrain: Don't go chasin' waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.

When I was at summer camp when I was twelve, this song was really popular, and a friend of mine who I shan't name, but whose name contains the letters Anne, told everyone in our cabin that I consummately believed the lyrics to be don't go, Jason Waterfalls, etc. What? Why could the guy she loved NOT be named Jason Waterfalls? I still fail to see the problem with this interpretation.

In fifteen years my skills haven't advanced much, and the reason is simple: I believe that singers and songwriters must, by their very nature, be crazier than I am.

Stop laughing at me.

When I hear song lyrics that don't make any sense as I understand them, I just assume that the lyrics don't make sense because the writer was either high or insane when she wrote them, and I have to just accept them for what they are. Seriously, would you try to argue with me that Britney Spears isn't high most of the time? Or that she is just naturally rational and reasonable? Thank you.

So after I'd heard "Three" a few times, I thought I had the lyrics down. The words I was rocking out to went something like this:

1, 2, 3, I don’t mean you and me,
Got one lady agreed,
And I’m caught in between.

Count 'em 1, 2, 3,
Need an automatic three,
Getting down with three-peat
Everybody loves UUUHHHH.

Okay, so maybe they're not the most reasonable lyrics in the world. But again, we're talking about Britney, who again, had sex with Kevin Federline repeatedly. And on purpose.

As it turns out, the lyrics are more along the lines of:

1, 2, 3
Not only you and me
Got one eighty degrees
And I'm caught in between
1, 2, 3
Peter, Paul & Mary
Gettin' down with 3P
Everybody loves ***

"Got one eighty degrees"? I don't even know what that means! To be fair, I also don't know what an "automatic three" or a "three-peat" are, but this is her song, not mine! It's her job to make sense, not mine!

As always, it is apparently not ever my job to make sense. However, it is also apparent that despite this shortcoming, Britney really wants to serenade LB and I until she convinces us to be part of her personal three-peat.

Confidential to Britney: We live in Richmond.

Confidential to LB: Both HELLZ and NO.

*I would like to go on the record as being the first person to ever use the term "sex-fiesta," and as such, I will allow you to make up your own definition for it. Make it good, because seriously? Sex-fiesta?!!??

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Of Chicken Breasts and Gynecology

BIENVENIDOS!!! After a long and painful separation, I have returned like the Persian cat of the Internet, to shed hair upon your literary couch and make you wish you hadn't fed me the six Flirtinis and chicken livers that I just recreated upon your new rug. I missed you, amigos. It was a long month of redoing our kitchen, during which I nearly came apart at the seams, and Thanksgiving, after which my pants nearly followed suit. I know I promised photo updates of the kitchen as both a work in progress and a finished triumph, and I know you've come to look to me as a bastion of reliability, but would you believe me if I said the kitchen is still not done? It's definitely functional, after a solid two weeks of having no running water, no counters, and no dignity as we scarfed frozen pizza and paper-bagged cheeseburgers every night. But it's still not cosmetically done, in the sense that I could unveil a finished product to you with a flourish of my hand, fantastic mouth-trumpet noises, and intense profanity as I tried to upload the pictures.

Lawyer Boy is in there painting as we speak. Before you try to peg me as the lazy one, turn your eyes to the fact that not only did I cook and clean up dinner, but that my painting skills produce a finish similar to dropping a pigeon into a bucket of paint and letting it flap and freak around the room until its wings are clean again. Also, someone has to keep the dog and cat company in here.

What finally pulled me out of my intense writer's block was a paltry poultry adventure just now, wherein I got to third base with a chicken against my better judgment. Guys, I didn't even know her name! Here is the story. Don't judge.

Sunday I had bought an entire raw chicken, which is strangely cheaper than a venti caramel latte, to cook this week. I decided to brine it, which is when you make a cracked-out marinade that you soak your fowl friend in overnight. So I made the brine and pulled the chicken out of the fridge to drop it into the deep end, but before we could get on with the skinny-dipping, I had to undress the chicken. We didn't know each other very well, but I grabbed a knife and popped its plastic off in no time. I require no flirting. I require action. And here is where it gets graphic.

We all know that I cook all the time, but everyone has things they don't like to touch, and mine is raw chicken. If you want to call me weird, I'd like you to know that LB's is velvet and fleece. Yes, my husband won't touch velvet. Marinate on that for a bit. At least my fear would give me salmonella if things went south--his would just make him unwillingly plush and snuggly.

So as I prepare to get intimate with this chicken, I'm bracing myself for sticking my hand in its carcass to seek out the baggie of giblets, which as far as I can tell, are alien life forms sent from another planet to study our food. The brand of chicken I normally buy leaves the giblets intact, in a sealed plastic bag inside the chicken, just as God made them. Apparently this time I bought a different brand of chicken.

I thrust my unwilling hand into either the neck end or the ass end, whichever is bigger, and I would like you to know that if you can tell which is which, I'm concerned on your behalf. I wiggled my fingers around trying to find the baggie, and came out holding something that looked like a naked snail. Oh God. There's no baggie.

OH GOD. I realized at this point that I had two problems: First, that I had to stick my hand back up the chicken's muffler, and second, that I had no idea what I was looking for. Beyond the alien life form and the snail, do you have any idea what-all is meant to be retrieved from a chicken's rear? I don't. The baggie was missing, so there went my only guess. Elvis could be in there. This was, after all, a very plump chicken.

I pulled myself together and plunged my hand back into the chicken. I was rooting around in there like a truffle pig after the prize, fully engaged in my mission, probing squeemy bit after jumbly lump after funky chunk, when the most horrifying thought that could have possibly intruded into my consciousness popped in for a visit. As soon as I had finished thinking, while practically convulsing from repulsion, "Omigosh omigosh what what what ISSSS THAAAAAAAAAAAAAT??????" what came into my head but,


Quicker than you can say stirrup, my hand was out of that chicken and my mouth was running seventeen miles a minute in a chorus of "ew ew ew ew ew ew ew what the hell ew ew ew ew" as I flailed my salmonella-coated hands around helplessly and tried to figure out how to retrieve the rest of the aliens from the chicken's rear. Neck. Rear?

Ultimately, I turned the chicken neck-end up (I think) and shook it like a violent can of hairspray to dislodge the rest of the giblets. I got chicken jumblies all over my new granite counter tops, but I was able to spare LB's brand-new paint job from any harm. I can't say the same for the chicken's dignity, though. I think it'll be awhile before she's back in the saddle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Year Of Public Fumbling

It's official. Midnight marks the first anniversary of this here ridiculous corner of the Interwebz, with all its glorious insanity and beloved fart jokery. When I first started writing this blog, it was mostly because I had too many words to spew and not enough people to catch them, and after reading month after month of my elaborate, long-winded email epics, my girlfriends suggested that I find a space for rent on the 'webz.

And thus, here we are, a year older and perhaps none the wiser. Over dinner this summer, my friend Jess looked at me and said, "so, what's your ultimate goal for your blog?" and I swear, she may as well have asked me to explain the origin of the universe as it relates to modern animal husbandry. Really? I just like to write. Over the last year I've had some people I don't know in person find this blog, which I think is fantastic, and I had the editor of a magazine approach me about writing a humor column for her rag, which I think is super-fantastic. If people find me, I get excited, but if they don't, I'm okay with that too. Although I feel I must say, just so we're all clear:


That said, I thought that for my first anniversary, I'd answer the questions that I'm asked most frequently about my exploits here at the Fumbling. So, in no particular order...

Dear Grace: Why do you write under a pseudonym?
Okay, I apologize if I've wrecked anyone's life here, but my name is not actually Grace. And, hold the phone, Lawyer Boy's name is not in fact Lawyer Boy. I know, I know, pick your jaw off the floor and try to move on, mostly because all kinds of nasty feet have been on that floor, and you do not want your jaw all up in someone's foot junks. I write under a pseudonym, and assigned one to LB as well, because we both work in professions where creativity is not exactly rewarded, per se. I don't think that the clients we work with need to know all of the insane things we do in our free time, and I really didn't want clients who got a little drunk and Google-happy discovering things about us that have nothing to do with the work they pay our firms for. I think that, at least in my life, the line between personal and professional needs to exist.

Dear Grace: Why don't you ever write about work? Funny stuff happens there, doesn't it?
I don't write about work because I'm not careful enough to prevent the people I'd write about from finding out about it. Funny, outrageous, and borderline unbelievable things happen at my office, but I don't want to embarrass anyone publicly, nor do I want to worry that they heard about this ridiculousness through the grapevine, and now they and their posse have a bone to pick with me in the parking lot after quitting time. Many of my coworkers read The Fumbling, or at least, they did until our asshole Interwebz blocker shut down sites hosted by Blogger, and I can't handle worrying that someone found me and is OMG SUPER PISSED. My rule of thumb is usually, if my boss found this and read it, would he want to fire me?

Dear Grace: What's up with all the fart jokes?
I grew up with a dad who is big into poot humor, and a younger brother who followed in the family biz. I've noticed that my friends who grew up with discreet parents and/or a houseful of sisters tend to have a much more refined sense of humor, but not me. My sense of humor is so outrageously lowbrow that guys are often amazed at the things that come out of my mouth. This is partly because I'm a girl, but partly because I'm a girl who tends to wear pearls, show up bearing meticulously-decorated cupcakes...and then drop the f-bomb in the first ten minutes of a party. I'm just very up front about the way I am, is all.

Dear Grace: Do you do anything other than write and cook?
I do, in fact, have many hobbies, most of which I don't have enough time for. LB and I have been restoring our old house for the last 13 months, and that takes a lot of time and even more energy (and, if I may, a heck of a lot of our disposable income). My friends know me for having dinner parties, making jewelry, knitting, and of course, making fart jokes. I wish I had more time to write, but it takes a couple of hours and the write frame of mind to churn out something respectable, so I'm really at the whim of my creative side, which is a fickle, fickle princess.

Dear Grace: Who's your favorite author?
Alright fine, no one really asks me that. But I just thought I'd share. It's Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dave Barry, and of course, Henry David Thoreau.

Anything else you want to know, please feel free to shoot me an email at Again, thanks for reading and making the last year so much fun!

Who pooted?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Semi-Epic Do-Over, Part 2: The Staredown

Okay, in order of importance:

1) It needs to stop raining. Three days of rain. When it's italicized as Three Days Of Rain and is a play that Julia Roberts (whom I deeply, puffy, puffy heart) starred in on Broadway, it's lovely. When it's all up in my house, and it's punctuated with "ugh three days of rain ugh," it starts to eat at my soul a bit. The ground is giving way like warm Jell-o salad and the Labradozer is tracking progressively more and more foul things into the house. Waterlogged beetles, anyone?

ii) I've been feeling all week like I'm teetering on the edge of getting sick, and I am chomping at the bit to either topple over the edge into a pit of misery, or spring back victorious and bound off to do important things. Part of me thinks it's from all the sheetrock dust, plywood dust, cementboard dust, stardust, mold, mildew, and assorted bullhockey floating around my house. My less reasonable side thinks it's definitely and incurably ebola with a side of the clap. Because, you know, why not? Seriously, trying to talk down my more, shall we say, excitable side is like trying to fight off a pitbull with a toothbrush. Oral-B engaged!

C) If I'm not going to get to be the office Typhoid Mary (which is, admit it, a vague position of power), then I would really like to fast-forward to Saturday morning, when we can get on with this do-over project. Did you ever think you would see me so excited to work with a tool that could snap my fingers off if it wanted to? I have told LB that I want to learn to "do tile" this weekend, so he has gamely agreed to teach me how to work the tile saw and lay tile. I really just want to move along with this project, which I am sure will inevitably bore me after 30 minutes of tedium and loud noises, so that we can have our kitchen back. I also want our special backsplash tile to come in already, so I can love it down. Don't really care if it makes it onto the walls. Just want to stroke it and share my deepest thoughts with it.

Quattro) Watching the Labradozer half-bark and chase imaginary things in her sleep is one of the cutest things in the world.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Semi-Epic Do-Over, Part 1

Normally when I sit down to talk to you about important, wordly topics (like exactly how I made a pizza out of five croissants, a can of tomatoes, and seven minutes of intense prayer), I have a rule that I follow fairly strictly: I have to be telling a story. Beginning, middle, end. Writing with a purpose, and a point. I try to avoid writing what I often characterize as an "and for breakfast this morning, I had Cheerios"-style blog, because for the most part, that style bores me. Some people can write it, and write it well, and somehow, their Cheerios are hilarious. I do eat Cheerios every morning, but they're not funny. Just delicious.

However, henceforth and forthwith, I am abandoning that rule for the next week. For the first time in recorded history, though, there is a reason for my madness: HGTV's own Lawyer Boy and I are tearing out and redoing most of our kitchen, and since many of our friends are deeply intrigued by the fact that we tore out our countertops on purpose and by ourselves, they have demanded pictures of this superhuman feat. Also, I noticed that y'all tend to enjoy those rare spans of time when I actually rub two brain cells together hard enough to post more than one record of my exploits per week, so I decided that I will chronicle our kitchen do-over with photos and commentary. And also a deep misunderstanding of the functions and basic operating procedures for most power tools.

Let's begin with the reason why we felt the need to destroy our kitchen: Exhibit A, the kitchen that was last redone in 1963, at which point it was a high-end kitchen remodel.
Okay, so in this picture, it doesn't look too bad. There's a friendly sunbeam come to visit, and the cabinets are actual wood, and nice-looking wood, at that. What you can't see here is that the four doors in this room are all painted teal, as are the three windows over the sink. The coup de grace is the counters: They're laminate from 1963, and aside from being a breeding ground for all breeds of mold, they're hideous. They're white with teal daisies drawn all over them. And because laminate is the king of all construction materials cheap and shitty, these have not passed the test of time, and have warped, particularly around the sink in the face of invading water demons. So in the categories of beauty and function, we have a fail and a fail.

For an extra touch of fail, the laminate defacing the counters is also plastered to the walls, from the surface of the counter to the bottoms of the cabinets. The previous owners of our house apparently felt the same overpowering love for daisy-speckled laminate that they did for teal paint, ghastly wallpaper, and mildew. So the acres of laminate, while borderline visually offensive, are not wholly surprising. I have no doubt that the previous owners were all buried in laminate caskets lined in teal velvet.

In case you don't believe me, here's what hell they had wrought upon the dining room:
Remember, when words aren't enough...there's always vomit. And yes, we've repainted.

Now that you've seen what we're working with, here's the plan for the Semi-Epic Do-Over:

Keep: Cherry cabinets as they are; appliances, since we just bought them last year when we moved in; floor, because OMFG we are not taking up the floor. Just no. Dear Lord, no.

Kill: Countertops; laminate backsplash; ugly faux-bronze cabinet hardware; peeling wallpaper; sink, faucet, and violent sprayer that sprays whenever the faucet is on; and drywall soffets above the cabinets. The de-soffetization of the walls wasn't part of the original plan, but when we peeled off the wallpaper, it wrecked that section of drywall, and LB said it would be easier just to pop the drywall out and put in new drywall, than to patch what was there. Fine by me. I'm just the minion here.

We began The Semi-Epic Do-Over last weekend by tearing out the short section of countertop that doesn't have cabinets underneath, to give us an understanding of what this was going to entail. What we learned is that it was going to entail significant manpower, metal tools reminiscent of Civil War-era medicine, and loud explosions of otherworldly profanity. So over the course of the weekend, LB tore out the less-essential half of the counters, the backsplash behind them, and the soffets.

LB working on the soffets in his trusty work-moccasins, which LL Bean sells under the name slippers. The soffets are the parts that are no longer there above the cabinets. Did you think I was kidding about the windows being teal? Because no.

Mango approves of our progress thus far. What a relief.

LB removing the beflowered backsplash from behind where the stove normally lives. You didn't believe me when I said this stuff was everywhere, did you? We have learned some interesting things about the construction of our house during this project. For example, there used to be a window right where LB's head is (on the wall, not on his neck), and there was a sink under it.

The view of the opposite end of the kitchen from where LB was excavating behind the stove. Because I just really, really need for you to appreciate the sheer bum-fugliness of this kitchen. Our appliances don't normally congregate in the middle of the room like this. We have a strict no-loitering policy in effect.

We saved the rest of the counters for Saturday morning, since they were going to make off with our sink upon their exit, and we were trying to preserve a semblance of functionality for as long as possible. Last week I moved things out of the kitchen to make way for the hurricane, hit the grocery store repeatedly to stock up on MSG-licious frozen meals, and stared the weekend down with great trepidation.

Saturday morning, LB and I had a plan: Hit the tile store to pick out tile for the area behind the stove, hit Lowe's to pick up the drywall and plywood we still needed, and then return home to invade the kitchen and BLOW. IT. UP. The tile store adventure was simple enough: We enter, I fall in love with the most expensive item in the store, we debate, we consider, I elope with the most expensive item in the store, and we decide to take it home. Fortunately we didn't need much of the accent tile I picked, because if we had, I'd be selling one of my kidneys on eBay right now, rather than talking to you.

We left the tile store triumphant and headed to Lowe's. In record time, we had built a raft of drywall atop a flatbed cart, and steered it to the checkout line. Special thanks to
Douchecannon Randomhag, for making it a point to get in my way while I attempted to pilot the 4-by-8-foot drywall raft around the store. The part later, where I pulled up close enough behind your bologna-colored minivan so as to render it unfathomably difficult to load your purchases? It was on purpose, and it was childish, BUT IT WAS AWESOME.

After a debacle at Lowe's that kept us there for an hour and a half, leaving me certain that
everyone at Lowe's is in love with me and thus conspires to keep me there as long as humanly possible, we finally headed for home, where LB started to rip out the final counters and the sink.

That sprayer has been around or about that same position for the last freaking year, and it has plucked my last nerve for the last time. SO I KILLED IT DEAD. The moral? Don't cross me. Clearly.

LB with the sink. If you can't read lips, what he's saying is, "OMYGOD Grace, stop taking pictures and open the damn door!!" Smile, sweetheart!

Finally, after the sink left the building, LB ripped the rest of the counters out with the help of our friend Brian, who is so getting a gold star on his next report card for all his volunteer work. Brian and his wife Melissa, who I have been friends with for approximately ever, had us over for dinner that night, since, as you may have noticed, there was no magic to be made in our current kitchen. I'm good, but not that good.

The next morning Brian, intent on earning another gold star, showed up early to help LB build the counters, which are a layer of plywood topped with a layer of cementboard, which will ultimately be topped with a layer of granite tile. (Don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about? I've learned to fake it.)

The plywood base of the counters. Once they had covered this in cementboard, we cut the hole for the sink, which goes right above the cabinets to the left of the dishwasher, in a space that is currently occupied by an electrical outlet. Yup. Safety first! The missing drawer is currently in our dining room. I have no idea why. No one tells me these things.

LB and Brian laying the cementboard over the plywood base, on the opposite side of the kitchen. Where the counters used to be one section above cabinets, and then a lower section above nothing, we made one long section. The midget counter really drove me crazy, and this way, I can set up lots of food for parties in the kitchen. Like I needed an excuse to have a party.

With the cementboard in place and ready for tiling, we closed up shop for the weekend. All that was left was to clean up, and for that, we had another volunteer:

The Labradozer is really quite the clean freak. She can work that ShopVac like a pro!

The kitchen is currently full of drywall, dust, and appliances gathered together like they're on a smoke break. This weekend, the plan is to tile the counters, put in the sink, and get the essential stuff done so we can use the kitchen again. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Life and Times of a Halloweenie

I love Halloween. I love the fall weather, I love the midgetine candy bars, and I love the way Halloween gets everyone outside and talking to their neighbors. However, just like my forbidden love for Taco Bell, there's a very good reason why I shouldn't love Halloween: I hate being scared, and just about everything inherent to the celebration of Halloween scares me. I'm very easily startled, and I would say that I tend to blur the line between reality and fantasy when I'm frightened, except that I do not know of a single point in my life at which I have ever actually recognized any line between reality and fantasy. If I watch a horror movie, the characters follow me to bed and stare at me all night. If I encounter someone in a seasonally scary mask, they may as well snuggle up to me as I lay me down to sleep, because that mask is burned into my brain, terrifying me into sleeping with my eyes open all night long.

One of my dad's favorite stories from the The Life & Times Of Grace is torn from the pages of Halloween 1991, when Yours Timidly dressed as Cleopatra and traipsed about the neighborhood with the other kids. The dad gang ambled behind us, preventing the boys from getting into trouble, and going to the doors of particularly "scary" houses to collect candy on my behalf, since I refused to cross the property lines of any yards decorated with otherworldly foam headstones and DayGlo skulls. As we walked between two particular houses, absolutely nothing was happening. No other kids were around. No stray dogs were barking. It was calm as calm could be. And then Dad ruined it.

From ten feet behind me, in a deadpan stolen from the throat of Ben Stein, Dad said -did not scream, yell, menace, or pant- he said, "Look. Grace. A. Real. Witch." AND I WAS GONE. Legend has it that I hiked my royal Cleopatra robes to my knees, ditched my bucket of midgetine candy bars, and fled for the street, wimpering the whole way. I don't know where I was going, since I don't know where I thought "the witch" was; for all I knew I was running straight into her loving caress. But wherever I was headed, I was getting there in record time, and with a smashing gold snake headdress.

In the last 18 years, absolutely nothing has changed. I mean, I can't fit into that Cleopatra outfit any more, but I still jump at my own shadow while celebrating Halloween in a decidedly nonfrightening costume. Why would I want to be something that scares me when I look in the mirror? For once, I am exercising common sense here, people. To demonstrate what I mean by "decidedly nonfrightening," let's take a short tour through the last few years of my costumes.

Freshman year of college, before I had any sense whatsoever, and when I lived within shouting distance of someone who could loan me a spangly pink bra. And a see-through button-down. And who could spray-paint a plaid skirt onto me. That's my bestifer Shelley next to me, and the Dutch exchange student behind me. Eight years later, I still have no freaking clue what the other girl was supposed to be. She looks like she wants to beat some serious ass. While holding an appletini.
This was Halloween 2008, when I dressed as a tennis mom. See how clever I was, with my punny tennis racket of petit fours? I was serving up a good time. Interestingly, our neighbors thought that my tennis dress was lingerie, and I was giving out candy to their children in lingerie. And tennis shoes? Hm. Apropos of nothing, please note the melodramatic teal walls.

Apparently when I said I had never gone as anything frightening for Halloween, I was unaware of the existence of this picture. Phoooooooo. Ooooooooo. Let's move on. MOVE ON!

And thus we arrive at Halloween 2009, when I dressed as The Goddess of Everything. I would call myself "Pandeia," pan for "everything" and deia for "goddess," but some other mythological bitch claimed that already. It's moments like these, where I explain the Latin origins of my made-up Halloween costume nerdery, that I think we can really appreciate what I mean when I say thank God I am not dating any more.
Do I look regal here? Do I look regal enough that you could forget that I tried to create a legitimate Latin name for myself? Let's not talk about me for a minute. Let's talk about how my regal robes coordinate with the paint job in the front hall, which is no longer the color of mildew.

After a couple hours of giving out candy in my robes, which I am sure the neighbors thought was me tumbling out the door in a bedsheet, Lawyer Boy and I went to the Halloween party that our friends Molly and Lee were throwing. Molly and Lee had turned their house into a full-blown haunted half-acre, complete with an animatronic skeleton, giant video screens, and a haunted maze out back. Strobe lights flickered over the fog-filled backyard as the screams of terrified trick-or-treaters erupted from within the maze, the occasional crying child careening out of the exit, damaged for life.

So of course, I went near none of it. I was perfectly content to stay in the house, sipping Firefly lemonades and socializing with my fellow deity, Lawyer Boy:

Lawyer Boy was the God of Animal House, or, as many of our friends have aptly surmised, the lazy one. I particularly like the axe in the back of this picture. We could have used it to cut up the mini quiches, had we started to run low. That's just about all the Halloween carnage I can handle.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Professional Attire At All Times

The part I love most about wearing a skirt to the office is that I don't have to worry all day long about making sure my fly is zipped. This is more of a chronic problem for me than it really should be for anyone over the age of, oh, I dunno, three. Although fortunately, I have long since dispensed with another habit I had when I was three, which was taking off all my clothes every time I went to the bathroom. Socks included. Hairbow optional.

I'm sure my coworkers are more than thrilled by this development.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Casa Del Grace, For Your Enjoyment

Alright, so true to my usual form of making a promise and then beating around the bush fulfilling it for longer than it takes a first-grader to sound out "antidisestablishmentarianism," I am here two weeks after I originally promised pictures of my refinished bedroom furniture, to provide pictures of my refinished bedroom furniure. And to rant, natch. What, you were here for sunshine and kittens?

Okay, fine. Kittens!
Well, singular kitten. Singular kitten totally digging his Santa outfit, whereby "totally digging his Santa outfit," I mean, "shit dude, I'm stoked he didn't kill me!"

Lawyer Boy and I discovered recently that our upstairs bathroom is an unholy disaster of Biblical proportions, and that renovating a bathroom is, coincidentally, a financial disaster of Biblical proportions. We have spent the last year of our lives slaving away on this house that we bought for approximately four dollars and a salami sandwich, which was formerly a disgusting mildew-ridden cricket cave, and which now is...not. I recognize that I've set the bar fairly low here: All I've said is that our house is no longer disgusting, mildew-ridden, or infested with cave crickets, who look to the uninitiated like craggy prostitutes with their ankles behind their heads. * It has been more work than herding a litter of kittens to get this house into shape, but finally, it's really coming together, and our house is no longer a big bucket of suck. We think the progress on the house is moving along well enough, in fact, that in order to get the bathroom done, we applied for a refinance. Yesterday.

This morning, like before-most-college-students-had-gotten-to-bed early this morning, the bank called LB (apparently they know who speaks their language around here). In order to figure out how generously they would like to reward our blood, sweat, and unspeakable profanity of the last year, they want to do a walk-through appraisal of our house on Wednesday morning. Tomorrow. TO-EFFING-MORROW, AMIGOS!!!

Commence extreme panic, frenzied cleaning, and fervent lighting of prayers candles in the Thoreau household. We had been hoping to avoid a walk-through appraisal, the real-life version of "My House Is Worth What?" with less of the profoundly obnoxious Kendra Todd, and more of the tangible real-life consequences. A walk-through appraisal with less than twenty-four hours' notice was, to say the least, as unwelcome as a Jehovah's Witness knocking on the door of a Sig Ep Kamoniwannaleia** tropical mixer. In preparation for the real estate apocalypse that is upon us, one of us finally had to wrangle our wardrobe back into the closet, dresser, nightstand, bookshelf, and everywhere else we use to contain the fabric of our lives when it's not smeared across our entire second floor.

So, my panic-stricken cleaning fest is your gain, and thus I finally bring you, at long last and with much fanfare***, photos of our freshly refinished bedroom furniture. In case you had forgotten, which is possible since I began this topic when Tara Reid had never enjoyed surgical enhancement, LB and I had some truly hideous oak bedroom furniture that I decided we should sand, repaint, and refinish to look "weathered," to fit in with our bedroom theme of "French country romantic."

Now, bear in mind that we're not there yet. The furniture is done but we haven't hung pictures or accessorized or figured out the most flattering pose for the cat to strike while lying on the bed. But, in its infant stages, here is our bedroom:
The view from the doorway. Yes, my bedtime reading is "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Some of us just think about food all the time. Some of us are going to be a threat to the world food supply when we're pregnant.

From the same end of the room, but really just to emphasize the fact that I have two chandeliers in my bedroom. This room used to be two bedrooms, one of which was roughly the size of a Lean Cuisine, so we have two light fixtures. They are both chandeliers because my husband is awesomesticks.****

In case you're wondering which fabric we picked out at Fondiqua's, this is it. We had to cover the cardboard back of the no-longer-oak bookshelf. Stage left showcases a picture that I haven't found a home for yet. Don't worry, we tuck it in each night and assure it of its personal worth.

Girlfriend just likes to be in her own pictures. Also, Grace-Based Trivia: I'm wearing the same shirt in this picture, that I'm wearing in the picture on the dresser. Play within a play, what what!

The aforementioned dresser, without the aforementioned assbaggery, tomfoolery, and cockamamery. Still with pictures of me, though, so my ego is assuaged. And thank God!

For those of you who are unnecessarily interested in the artistic aspects of this project, this is what the crackle finish looks like up close. It's a chocolate brown base coat with cream crackled over top. Chocolate plus cream. Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmmm....

Speaking of chocolate, I will leave you tonight with a shot of my favorite chunk of chocolate love, Breeze, our 100-lb Labradozer who has recently taken to sleeping on the sofa:
Can you imagine trying to move that so you can sit down?
No, I just can't imagine trying to make that face move. Who is a muffin? Who is a sweet, sweet chocolate muffin?

*A worthy skill, of course.
**Wherever you are, and I include in that an open cubicle or church, please say that out loud.
***Cue the fanfare! I said cue the trumpet fanfare NOW!!
****Thanks to Mr. Apron, who called my sense of humor "awesomesticks," which I can only assume is a compliment.