We all have them: morning rituals. You know, shower, brush teeth, pack lunches, breakfast...coffee.
Most mornings I will brew myself some hot tea--Earl Grey or English Breakfast. But, on Mondays and Fridays I always have a Starbucks grande skinny vanilla latte; whether I am working or on my summer hall pass. Except this week it has taken me till today, Wednesday, to have my Monday coffee.
Regardless my sway from ritual, there are some things I can always expect to be the same. Same friendly cashiers taking my order, asking me if I want a little bite to eat. I always reply, "no thank you." Same friendly barista making my coffee, asking me when school is out or when it begins again ("my" Starbucks exudes "The Fred Factor"). Same woman sitting on the couch, blanket draped across legs, reading. Same stay-at-home dad with his toddler dressed in pink pajamas and pink cowboy boots. Same men's prayer group. And. Same couple meeting at Starbucks for a morning of cup love...coffee optional.
Romeo is usually the one waiting for his Juliette to arrive, sitting at the same table, coffee waiting. The moment they unite at around 6:40am they are affixed like puzzle pieces, snuggled close next to one another, his arm draped over her shoulder resting just above her left breast. They google and oogle into one another's eyes, passion dripping like honey from a pot dipper.
When I told my girls about them I suggested it was a secret love affair. One of the girls said "look for wedding rings." I did. No rings. While the other proclaimed "secret love affairs at a South County Starbucks, where everyone knows someone who walks through the door is near impossible". Still it is an odd ritual for people in their 50's...not the coffee, but the public meeting spot.
Then this morning, my timing off by thirty minutes, I took to my parking spot as my eyes caught Romeo and Juliette standing at an open car door. No one was slithering in the car. Instead they stood there making out, Juliette stroking Romoe's face with both her hands, gazing into his eyes, smiling. It was a moment when I wanted to scream out, "GET A ROOM" I did not, choosing to glance in disbelief. I did however notice an older couple sitting at the outdoor cafe' tables staring. Because it was hard not too. Older couple and I engaged in conversation as I stepped up from the curb onto the patio. (Princess A said "OMG Mom, gossiping with the Starbucks people?!") We commented on their regular early morning rendezvous and wondered if they were having a secret love affair. I then commented they were like teenagers and the older woman said, "no, worse than teenagers."
Now I will finish my coffee and try to erase the lewd behavior of grown people from my mind.
One never forgets their first trip into the bowels of hell...mine came in the form of a college house, that regretfully King Ralph and I had to pay one year of rent on. The "Hidden Temple."
The. Hidden. Effing. Temple.
Yes, the "Hidden Temple", as affectionately named by the frat boys that occupied the house prior to the girls, for eight years. Eight years of being the biggest party house on campus. That one day, while at one of those legendary parties, the girls heard the temple [of doom] would be up for rent. Four girls. Four bedrooms. Rented!
The day we moved M into that house...no the day we pulled up to the house I started on a steady daily regiment of Kaopectate to ease my upset stomach, knowing my child was inside the house of hell. Week one of that hellish house was me bitching by phone at the rental company that they were raping my pocket book for prime rent for a shit house--that couldn't pass an inspection if it had too. The shit hole had so many safety and city code violations (a good investigator consults the city's on-line handbook)...leaving King Ralph and I questioning why we trusted our child to make sound decisions. The look of that front yard view of that derelict house had visions of Walter White cooking up a batch of blue meth dancing through our heads. I cried for three days. Literally!
Saturday: the day we took a last walk down those steps of shit and said, hasta la vista "Hidden Temple." Goodbye shitty 2 x 4 pantry. Farewell American flag of beer boxes in that
nasty barn garage. So long out of plum, walking at a slant dwelling. Smell you later condemned Walter White apartment house. PEACE OUT HOUSE OF HELL!! I will not miss you. Not ever!! Promise!!!
And. So. We moved M into a decent apartment across the street from the back side of the college campus. Easy walk to and from classes. Except. It had it headaches.
M and I went to the leasing office on Saturday for our 10:15am appointment to obtain the keys and get a copy of the signed lease. Appointment? Yes, appointment Ms. Manager! Lease copy? Nope! White board clearly said "move in date, 6/14." Went to apartment for walk through with Ms. Manager. Walk through sheet? Naaaaa Ms. Manager doesn't need that! New carpet throughout, check. New linoleum, check. Clean apartment? NOT! Ms. Manager failed her white board check list. Ms. Manager was full of excuses. Ms.Manager called us back to say a cleaning crew would be there on Saturday, just couldn't give an exact time. Ms. Manager brought over a walk through sheet but didn't do the walk through. I turned the walk through sheet into a novella. I noted everything. I photo documented everything. By five in the evening it was clear to us no cleaning crew was coming. So we called the leasing office just wanting to leave a message noting the absence of the said cleaning crew. What we got was an answering service with a message delivered to a corporate employee...a not very happy with Ms. Manager corporate employee called back within in minutes. A locksmith was at the apartment in 20 minutes, changed the locks (because Ms. Manager gave M a master key that fit all the apartments. Smart? Not!). M informed the corporate employee that we were cleaning and wanted to be compensated that $170 x 3 girls restoration (aka cleaning) fee that they paid prior to move in. That will be resolved today. The apartment had been occupied for six years by college boys, never having been turned over for a thorough cleaning. There is no doubt that M, King Ralph and I cleaned the apartment better than any cleaning company. The bathroom was beyond disgusting, the refrigerator was the farthest thing from sanitary. The counters, we'll leave at the word use of--ick!
Small sample of our cleaning. Before and after...a bottle of Lime-A-Way and a tube of caulk.
I'll spare you the rest of the bathroom and the entire kitchen I scrubbed to a condition better than what the cleaning company would have done.
Final out come: after I told Ms. Manager that she was "getting testy and I'm trying to be nice." Trying to remain nice was a challenge, but I held it together. I held it together when she told me that a cleaning crew would be out to "clean was I didn't finish." "I DIDN'T FINISH" I said," because I shouldn't have had to clean anything" I told her. With her tail between her legs, we got a fare reimbursement to compensate having to spend Father's Day with our hands in someone else's shit.
Lesson to these college apartment and house rental companies--don't think you can mess with us, cause we won't take you screwing with our young adults!
While I am relishing my summer hall pass, I feel a bit like a stepford wife-- home all day, no car, cleaning. Last summer was so easy when M was working in New York, D had the "kid" car, which made life easy. This summer M has stayed at MSU going to summer school and working; which leaves us one car short and me carless. We are not ready just yet to have a fifth car on our insurance policy. So D gets my car to go to work and I stay home or hoof it around town.
This morning I woke early (by chance not choice), grabbed my keys (I feel like a teen getting the privilege to borrow the car) and headed up the street for my usual Friday Starbucks skinny vanilla latte. Not even my summer hall pass can break that routine! While standing in line I started to flip through the "notes" on my phone and found I had scribbled the beginnings of a blog post while on our Christmas vacation--a cruise. I remember now sitting on the deck, taking in the sun and jotting down my thoughts since I had no internet access to make a post.
So here you have it: Friday the 13th's Lucky Find.
It seems like just yesterday that I was bundled in my nanook with a snow shovel in my hand...transitioned into a new December world--the tropical kind.
Christmas was less than a week ago, gifts with brightly colored papers and big soft bows filled all around the base of the tree are but a memory. The tree adorned with white lights that stands in our great room between the living room and the dining room stands dim and silent. All around me is blue sea with doses of warm sunshine pouring down from the sky onto my skin. The egg nog spiked with Kahlua, vanilla vodka and Bailey's Irish Cream has been replaced with fruit punch laced with rum. My snowy white skin is lathered with thirty sunscreen and rejoicing in a break from seasonal affective disorder. The carols of Christmas I so love have also been replaced with calypso music and the beat of steel drums. Sweet potato soufflé crusted with finely ground pecans and brown sugar is traded for a caldron of jambalaya cooked poolside.
I'm feeling alive! I'm on a cruise ship!
Next Friday...my usual Starbucks and another "Friday Find" from my phone notes.
Last Thursday while camping we sat around the camp fire hoping to hear a symphony of cricket chirps...the sound of summer. Instead we were treated to a concert by a solo whipper will. The joyous singing bird of the forest, the nocturnal bird from hell!
All night long!
It made for an angry Princess A who sent this video.
And I blocked his singing by treating it like when the girls annoy the crap out of me, asking the same thing over and over in an attempt to break me down. I have a great talent to block out such that I do not to care to listen or hear. D not so much. She found herself sleeping on the camper couch (on the other end of the camper from her bed), farther from the sounds of whipper will's song.
All the while this movie scene popped into our heads
On Friday evening the Boy Scouts rolled into camp and just as the ole' whipper will started to sing, he stopped. We had visions of boys in khaki with BB guns target shooting at the nocturnal nuisance, earning a badge. Until Saturday night. Sigh. King Ralph's cousin chased whipper will's tunes and was tossing rocks at trees, any tree that seemed to hold the song of that damn bird. For a moment the singing stopped.
I hope I never have to hear another whipper will again in my life! But I'm certain I will...armed with ear plugs.
It's that time of year, the time when I have been handed my summer hall pass. Yippee yahoo! Although King Ralph likes to call my summer hall pass the "lean weeks of summer"...I like to rejoice in every non-paid day my summer hall pass gives to me. I need the time more than ever to regroup! Emerging teens and new teens have a distinct scent about them--body and attitude. When it's your own teen you can glare at them extra evil and wave a fist in the air showing you mean business, throw down the book, take away cell phones, car, allowance. When it's not your kid you just...well you just show them the way to the principal's office. And. That. Is. Taxing!
I love you summer hall pass. I love you very much!
So what have I done since I got my summer hall pass last Thursday? I went camping. We went camping, as a family, minus M, at Hawn State Park.
King Ralph and I (and Uli) got there ahead of Princess A and D, because they had to work late. How can a kid complain when they arrive to a set-up camp? Anyway I planned on King Ralph and I relaxing eating snacks for dinner and sipping cocktails under an umbrella of whispering pines. It happened to become one of the best laughs we had all weekend, and constantly all weekend. "Your mother fed me chips for dinner" became the cause of every rumble King Ralph's stomach made--for three days. Three days of [unacceptable] dinner catch up. Never mind there were hearty dips to accompany his pita chips and veggies. By his moaning you'd think he was in a refugee camp with nothing to eat.
He woke on Friday morning proclaiming his hunger and the cause..."your mother fed me chips for dinner." So I fed him.
After a carb filled breakfast of blueberry and sausage pancakes with a side of bacon, we set out for a six mile hike on the Whispering Pine Trail. The trail takes you up on the bluffs over looking Pickle Creek and then down along Pickle Creek. We took our time on the hike soaking in natures beauty, playing in the creek and eating lunch while resting on a boulder among the whispering pines. The weather was perfect!
When we returned from our hike we all showered and checked for ticks. King Ralph always wins the tick magnet trophy. Then we made a camp fire, played washers while sipping beers and sangria, listening to classic rock, and made s'mores. And not just any ole' s'more but these
We opted for the nutty buddy and salted caramel. The classic s'more was...so yesterday.
On Saturday we woke to a beautiful sky that later opened to a nice rain. Invitation to nap for some
and for me--start my first book of the summer. While other campers acted as if the sky was falling, packed up and headed out, leaving us a near empty campground as our playground. Those fools missed out on what turned into a gorgeous day and evening.
Once the rain stopped and the sky cleared we headed out to a winery. We have never been to the wineries in St. Genevieve, although the map the campground provided seemed simple enough, King Ralph said use of the GPS. WHY?! WHY THE DAMN GPS?! THE MAP WAS PERFECTLY CLEAR IN DIRECTION! GPSs can be your friend or your enemy. On Saturday it was clearly our ENEMY! Source of laugh number two for the weekend as shown in the picture
Yes, we ended up on a dirt country road surrounded by cattle while the GPS that led us to that place kept saying "rerouting." Really?! &%^*@^!