Author Archives: mugwumpsworld

About mugwumpsworld

I am a 50-something wife and mother of three grown kids. I figure I'm in my third act of life right now, one for which I failed to make a plan. So I'm living every day kind of by the seat of my pants, which can be exciting, but also a little disturbing. The dubious cast of characters who inhabit my world consist of: Mugwump (that's me); my sweet long-suffering redheaded husband, D-squared; my older daughter, Sissy (sometimes known as "The Queen"; my younger daughter, Sassy (aka "the Hypochondriac" or "Magellan", for reasons which you'll learn soon enough); and my stepson, Big JD. My two grandcats, Jasper & Donovan, also put in an occasional appearance, mainly for cuteness' sake.

Seasonal Decorating

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I’ve never been much of a seasonal decorator. In fact, I sometimes joke that I am a Scrooge. If I can get out of dragging the Christmas Tree out of the basement and erecting it, untangling the gosh-darn strings of lights, and decorating said tree, plus putting out all the other little red and green Chotzki’s, I’ll do it! My poor daughter, Sissy, who is like a miniature Martha Stewart on Steroids, loves to decorate, in fact, she went shopping for her tree the day after Thanksgiving, and it’s gorgeous…sissys-treeSo she pretty much just sighs and offers to host Christmas every year, and I use it as an excuse to get out of putting up MY tree.

In my defense, our house is only 700 square feet, and there isn’t a lot of room for a tree, plus navigating our basement is like picking your way around landmines.

But what really doesn’t make sense, is that I’m always drawn to the post-season rock bottom clearance prices on seasonal decorating items…For instance, last year, I bought a bunch of harvesty items, then because I didn’t want to display them, I packed them up and sent them off to Sassy in Chattanooga, so that she would have some Holiday spirit.

Last week, the day before Thanksgiving, I ran to Dollar General strictly to buy paper plates and possibly really cheap plastic relish dishes, since DsquareD wanted to have a “relish tray” for our Family Thanksgiving, at which we were hosting HIS family. This brings to mind the SWEET pickle debacle from early in our marriage, but that’s a story for another day.

At any rate, we usually go up north to HIS parents for Thanksgiving, so that’s just another excuse not to decorate. But because Sissy had to work overnight on Thanksgiving eve, and really couldn’t leave town, and because Timm the enchanter (her beau) always hunts all day on Thanksgiving, and I didn’t want her to be alone, I offered to host Thanksgiving, and no one talked me out of it…

So here I was at Dollar General, and they had Harvesty/Autumnal/Thanksgiving decorations for 90% OFF!!!!! I mean, how can you NOT? I bought some stuff, including a little net bag of fake gourds for .90. I thought it would be so cute spilling out of a cornucopia as a table centerpiece for dinner. Now, mind you, I don’t have a cornucopia, and I know I’ve seen wicker ones at Goodwill, but I figured, two days before Thanksgiving, there wouldn’t be any left, but I remembered seeing a crochet pattern for one on the Lion Brand yarn website. Unfortunately, the only yarn I had on hand that was the right color was super bulky yarn, so I got out a BIG crochet hook, and made up the cornucopia, and it looks like the tin man’s hat, only floppier, and it definitely doesn’t look much like a cornucopia, but what the heck? cornucopiaAnd when I filled it with the fake gourds and pinecones and leaves, I discovered that all the gourds in the bag were round ones, none were the eggplant shaped ones, with the curvy neck, so I went BACK to Dollar General, and this time I pretty much wiped them out of the Harvesty decorations, picturing myself buying a bin to store all this stuff in for all the Thanksgivings to come, and labelling it nicely and putting it neatly on a shelf in the basement where I could actually find it next year and all the years to come…then I remembered that this was MY house we were dealing with, not Sissy’s house, where all the plastic bins are labelled and neatly lined up in a row on the basement shelves, with the fronts all at the edge of the shelf…

On Thanksgiving day, things kind of got off track when the 13 guests piled into our little “open concept” living/dining/kitchen area and DsquareD was having a minor meltdown over the two 16 pound turkeys he was roasting which got done two hours earlier than he had planned and he couldn’t find any real flour for the gravy, since I’ve gone all Paleo/Gluten Free/Low FODMAP and cleaned out the pantry, and there was no room for the “Cornucopia of wonders” on either of the tables…so all that got used was the tablecloth (90% off), some strategically scattered potpourri scented pinecones, and a “Give Thanks” sign.give-thanks-sign

Now I have all these clearance decoration items, and no bin to put them in, and a seriously messy basement, and I’m wondering “what was I thinking…” By next Thanksgiving, I’m bound to forget that I have this stuff, or I won’t feel like digging them out, or putting them up, or maybe we’ll be living on a sailboat and won’t have room…

I’ve spent the last week debating whether to buy a bin and keep them, or bless some of my more decoratingly inspired friends with them, in which case I sort of wasted the money, but not really…only don’t tell DsquareD, because he hates it when I: a) spend money, and b) bring home more “stuff”.

Life sure gets in the way of living!

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I’m just sayin’, is all…I recently came out of my life-induced coma and decided to post something! Being of a certain age, and due to my sister perishing from colon cancer at a much-too-early age, I am supposed to get regular Colonoscopies. I had one about a month ago, after whining and procrastinating forever…and DsquareD took the day off to be my designated driver and caretaker. After I checked in at the Gastroenterology clinic, we were escorted to an examining type room where a 20-something nurse took my vitals and started an IV. She rolled in a small machine, which prompted DsquareD to squeal with delight: “Look! It’s the machine that goes Bing!”… For those of you who slept through the 80’s, this is a Monty Python “Meaning of Life” reference, (as in “Here comes the hospital administrator. Quick! Get the machine that goes “Bing”!).

Well, this went completely over the head of our child nurse, which disappointed DsquareD no end (he hates it when his jokes are wasted), so of course he then felt compelled to explain it, so that he wouldn’t look like a complete lunatic. A little while later, another nurse came in to check up on the youngish nurse and this second nurse was about our age. She looked at the screen of the machine (that goes Bing) and tilted her head and said to the younger nurse “This screen is crooked…did your mother drop you on your head when you were little?” and we knew then and there that we had met a gal who would get our humor! She knew all about the machine that goes Bing and she also regaled us with a humorous story from her early nursing days about a doctor whose last name is Fuchs (it’s pronounced Few-cks, but of course she didn’t know that when she was new and…well, you can probably guess the rest).

The remainder of my colonoscopy went uneventfully and suffice it to say that I am not going to die of colon-related diseases anytime soon. But then Dsquared, never one to be outdone, decided that since our health insurance deductible was now met (thanks to my colonoscopy) and since he is newly 50 years old, he ought to try out the whole colonoscopy thing to see if he could one-up me. The job of setting this whole thing up, of course, fell to me, so I just picked the same doctor and clinic.

The day of DsquareD’s colonoscopy dawned and it was now MY turn to be HIS designated driver and caretaker. We knew we were in for a fun time when in walked our hilarious nurse friend from before…She was full of one-liners right up until they wheeled DsquareD away from me and gave me a pager to carry into the waiting area. This is only the second time that I have personally witnessed DsquareD coming out from under the effects of general anesthesia and the first time was many years ago, but I vaguely remembered that his speech upon waking up was peppered with inappropriate comments (I think he may have proposed to one of the nurses or something like that).

Well, I tell you what! I wish I had had a voice recorder handy for what happened after they paged me back to recovery. Dsquared was sleeping soundly, curled on his side and wrapped in a blanket. He looked so sweet and vulnerable! I sat there for awhile and pretty soon a nurse came over to wake him by telling him that he was all done and it was time to wake up. He initially had the reaction that most people have, stating that he couldn’t possibly be done…they hadn’t even started yet. So I said to him “It’s true, honey, you’re all done”.  He then mumbled  ” Done already? No wonder my butt itches!”. I tried not to laugh as I said “Would you like me to scratch it?”, to which he replied “No, that’s okay. You would use a toilet brush”, and promptly fell back to sleep. Well, for the next half hour or so, I was typing on my iPhone so fast and furiously, trying not to lose a single comment, that the staff probably thought I didn’t care about my husband. You can’t make up material this good!

When he woke again a little later, he commented “It feels like someone shoved a bowling ball up my ass!” and then asked “So how did it go? Did they find the Black Forest of polyps up there?”.  When the nurse asked him if he wanted something to drink, he answered “Three fingers of Jack Daniels, or better yet, Vodka”, which is hilarious because he doesn’t drink. The nurse was trying not to laugh also as she told him “Sorry, the last guy got all the Jack Daniels”.  As I was holding the straw and helping him drink some Pepsi, he again marveled that he didn’t remember going under. I asked him”Did they have you count ceiling tiles to fall asleep?”, which is what they had done with me the month prior. But he said “No. They made me shovel gravel. I had to go up and down the street and fill in all the potholes.” Then he said “Why did they keep talking about embalming fluid when I was in there?”  He then acted like he was being murdered when they pulled some hair off his arm removing the tape from the IV.

When the doctor came in to talk to him and release him, DsquareD said to him…”Let’s do this again, doc…only next time let’s go fishing. I’ll bring the beer!”. The poor doctor (who I don’t think has a sense of humor) sidled out of the room as if he was afraid for his life.

When I showed all my iPhone text of his diatribe to DsquareD, he didn’t remember saying any of it, but he laughed pretty good.

Well, next time I will get back on track with home remodeling posting and pics!

Where’ve I Been?

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I think I was kidnapped by the remodeling fairies. I’ve been over at the tiny house most days, working. It’s backbreaking work, but also very rewarding. Some days I’m amazed at how much we’ve accomplished and other days I despair that we will ever finish. Yesterday I tried to update my blog and I wanted to share pictures of our progress with you, but after multiple tries, I became very frustrated and had to give up. I can add ONE picture to the blog,  but every time I tried to add additional photos, my narrative would disappear! So, I will have to select my one picture with care. I’ll share it a little later.

Last week I bought myself a hammer, my first ever real tool that I bought just for me! I was pretty excited. On Sunday, we were working on the house together, and I told DsquareD that I had to keep pinching myself to make sure that it was true that I had my very own hammer!

We are nearly through with the demolition phase of our project and soon we will start the rebuilding! Once that begins, I think we will really see progress! Sassy has been helping us on the weekends and I expect the neighbors to start complaining soon. She plugs her iPod into her ears and sings herself hoarse!

I’m actually taking a break from the work for a couple/few days because my Carpal Tunnel is acting up from all the work pulling nails and staples out of the floor.

The other thing I’m procrastinating about (other than blogging, that is) is picking out flooring for the new bathroom. DsquareD wants me to go and pick out the ceramic tile, but I have a major problem with decision making. He has me making regular visits to the Habitat For Humanity Restore to look for “repurposed” fixtures, materials, etc… The only thing I’ve found at the Restore of any value (other than light fixtures with pink corduroy shades over the bulbs) is this lovely piece of furniture: DsquareD thinks it would look great in the basement with chains or handcuffs above it, but I think perhaps the living room…it would make a great icebreaker/conversation starter…

Gynecologist's examining table...with stirrups.

Lord help us all! DsquareD has discovered IKEA!

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Last night I had orchestra rehearsal. When I got home, fairly late, DsquareD was on the internet, which is pretty usual, while “The Office” reruns played in the background. What wasn’t usual, was that he was all excited about something.

I had spent part of the afternoon perusing Craigslist for  construction materials for sale that we might be able to use at the new house, such as bathroom sinks, front room windows, corner shower stalls, that type of thing. When DsquareD got home from work, I showed him what little I had found, then I had to leave, so he was starting to take it from there.

When I got home, he was still at it, and my driving-home dreams of him having possibly cleaned up the kitchen were dashed. Everything was still exactly as I had left it, with the exception of him having helped himself to a bowl or two of the crockpot beans I had made, but God forbid that he even rinse his bowl…much less package up the leftovers and clean up…heavy sigh!

Anyway, DsquareD has been thinking about starting a “Little House Big Ideas” blog to detail our progress on the new house. He initially wanted me to include things about it in MY blog, but I told him “get your own blog”. He’s taken tons of pictures, just hasn’t started the blog yet. But what I didn’t know, until yesterday, that part of the reason he wants the blog is that he’s hoping his thoughts about his ideas for the house will generate tips and comments from people that we can use.

He has this group of guys from all over the world that he’s in a forum with and he has been sharing our house plans with them and apparently last night they came through in a big way, sending him links, and pictures and other ideas, many of which apparently came from Ikea.

I don’t know why we didn’t think of it earlier. We went to the closest Ikea store once a couple of years ago, mostly just for the experience, because at the time we weren’t anywhere close to owning a home or doing any remodeling of any sort. Anyway, it looks like there is a wide scope of possibility at Ikea for our house and, in particular, DsquareD found this double sink vanity:

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which we instantly fell in love with and HAVE TO HAVE!  Here’s the problem. It says it’s not available to order online. It also says it’s not available at the three stores closest to us. AND, it says it cannot tell us WHEN it will be available. AAAAAARGH! I will clearly have to make some phone calls. And I suspect that a trip to the Ikea in Schaumburg, Illinois may be in our future.

On a lighter note, my first orchestra concert will be held a week from this Saturday. I am very excited! We are playing some very pretty, melodic music, including a Schubert symphony that goes on so long you will want to rip your ears off! And we have even shortened it from its original length by removing almost all the repeats. Last night our conductor read us some information about the Symphony, which was apparently discovered after Schubert’s death by his friend, Robert Schumann, who wrote in a letter to his wife, Clara Schumann: “…I have found a symphony of heavenly length…” I’m thinking hellacious would have been a better descriptor. It’s an exercise in stamina for the performers, that’s for sure.

The concert is being sponsored by the area Humane Society, and they have announced that the audience should be prepared for “a special surprise”. I’m thinking they’re giving away free kittens to all attendees!!!

Just an old, washed-up has-been

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That’s how I’m feeling this week after suffering another (emotional) setback. This one originated in the job search realm (again). Three-and-a-half weeks ago I applied for a job that I met every qualification for, had experience doing, and was very passionate about. In addition, I knew two contact people at the organization who assured me that I stood an excellent chance. I wrote and submitted a killer cover letter with my resume, sent it to one of my contacts (who happened to be the HR director), with a little note making sure she remembered me and she assured me that she did, told me it might be two to three weeks before they interviewed, and promised to “keep me in the loop”.

I waited patiently and after three weeks had gone by, I emailed this person again and was dismissively told “oh, we hired somebody already”. I didn’t even get an interview, which totally flummoxed me, as I have aways been considered very hirable and I know that my written materials are always excellent and that I interview well.

This is the second job in as many months that I didn’t get and don’t know why. So of course I attribute it to my age and go into full-on “nobody loves me, everybody hates me…” mode. In many respects, I’m okay with not working, and yet there is something about being rejected that nobody enjoys. I am finding more and more that the workplace has changed drastically and that I am being left behind…and yet I’m not sure I’m ready to retire.

I wish I could think of creative ways to make money but sometimes I don’t think I have a very highly-developed creativity gene. I LOVE writing, this blog for instance. Once I start writing, I could go on and on forever. My readers praise my blog and tell me they miss it if I don’t update regularly. But I don’t have the patience to market my writing. Even the activities required in figuring out how to add links and pictures to my blog are beyond my level of patience most days. I know that I will figure it out soon, but so far I have successfully pushed it to the bottom of the list.

DsquareD would like to blog about our new little house project, which is turning out to be really fun and rewarding, but most of the technical aspects of what we are doing there escape me, and I’m not sure my readers would tolerate too much of that. Suffice it to say for now that on Saturday we had a real fun time there. Sassy joined us (an hour-and-a-half later than she had promised to get there) to put in her “Service Time”, and I was in one room grinding old glue off the hardwood floors while she ground glue in the next room. She had her iPod in her ears and was singing at the top of her lungs while the two grinder motors whirred and DsquareD hammered as he knocked down walls. It’s a good thing it was wintertime, because if the windows had been open, I’m sure the neighbors would have complained and wondered if any cats were being tortured.

DsquareD is taking tons of “before” pictures  (we won’t be getting to any “after” stages for awhile yet). He found a man’s wedding ring after tearing out an old built-in cupboard, so we contacted the realtor who put us in touch with one of the former owner’s eight kids. DsquareD met “Danny” at the little house Monday night to give him the ring and show him our planned remodeling. They had a nice time swapping stories. “Danny” said he remembered his Dad losing the ring about 40 years ago, and hiring a plumber to tear apart the bathroom sink, but never finding the ring and never replacing it. I hope he’s up in heaven smiling down to see that it’s been found. “Danny” also told DsquareD lots of stories about growing up in the tiny house with seven brothers and sisters. Pretty amazing. I have to go wake DsquareD now so that we can go over there and do some work. Over and out!

DsquareD tricked me!

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Last night DsquareD said we should take a ride over to the new house to set a jackpost in the basement (for shoring up the slightly inadequate floor joists) and also to check out the Menard’s that is closing to see if we could get any deals on shower stall(s) or sinks or vanities. I grudgingly agreed to do this because it sounded fairly nonobjectionable. We quickly discovered that Menard’s had already been picked over and everything we liked had a big “Sold” sign on it, but still he lingered there…Luckily I found a recliner for sale that I could sit in while I waited him out.

Then we did go over to the house and after setting the jackpost in the basement, he tried out his idea for using a wire wheel on an electric drill to see if it would get the old glue off the hardwood floors. It worked pretty slick, so he decided it was something that he could actually trust me to do. So after I patiently put up with his detailed instructions and lecturing, including him giving me the earth shattering news that some electrical plugs have one prong that is larger than the other and they have to go into the outlet a certain way (I nearly smacked his head off his shoulders at that one…but instead I just bit my tongue, because things go faster and smoother that way), I set to work in one bedroom while he worked tearing down walls in another room.

The floor work is fairly labor intensive and backbreaking, but it gives a certain sense of satisfaction when you see the  bare floorboards without glue. After working for awhile, we decided to go home (we like to watch “The Office” reruns that start at 9:00). I was coated in sawdust and my hands continued to vibrate for a good 30 minutes after stopping. Only we didn’t go right home…BECAUSE…DsquareD realized that Home Depot was still open for another half an hour! Like I said, he tricked me! All I could think about was Twizzler’s Pull & Peels, but instead I had to tolerate another trip to Home Depot, after I said I’d never set foot in there again. Thank God I had brought a book to read, because when we got there, I announced that I would wait in the car and could he please buy some Twizzler’s while he was in the store.

Instead he came out with tools and NO Twizzler’s. He did buy me a Shop Vac in an attempt to appease me, and I nearly wet myself from excitement. We DID buy Twizzler’s on the way home, mainly because I whined about it the whole way, which we enjoyed while watching what was left of “The Office”. Today, while DsquareD was at work, I went over to the house by myself, put together my new Shop Vac, vacuumed up a great deal of sawdust, and wire wheeled the floor some more. I’m actually getting kind of excited about the results of our labors, although I still hold out hope that we’ll win the lottery and can PAY someone else to do the work! Maybe I’m not as remodeling-impaired as I thought!

Home Depot is the world’s most BORING store!

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One of DsquareD’s coworkers gave us a welcome mat as a housewarming gift. I sent her a little note thanking her for the “room-sized area rug”.  That, my friends, is how small our new house is. Well, I may be exaggerating ever so slightly, but it IS small. The gangway/wheelchair ramp that the former owners left is probably half the size of the house! DsquareD had fun sliding down it on Saturday morning after we shoveled the snow, but once we finish remodeling and moving in, it’s going to have to go.

Speaking of childish behavior, DsquareD is just like a little kid in a candy store with this new house project. I haven’t seen him this fired up about anything in years. We signed the paper making the house ours, and received the keys, early Friday morning. Literally, the closing required ONE signature, and we were in and out of there in 10 minutes or less. I highly recommend buying a house with cash and skipping the mortgage, if you can do it. It is the most awesome feeling.

DsquareD had to go to work after the closing, and I decided to wait for him to come home before going over to check out our new purchase. I wanted us to do it together. It ended up being kind of late (and dark) by the time we got over there, so we took along a floor lamp and some folding chairs. Turns out we didn’t need any of it…the former owners had kindly left a rickety folding chair and a decrepit TV tray table and an extremely questionably reupholstered Queen Anne chair, which I have so far refused to sit in. Also, there is plenty of light, overhead lights in every room and a motion-detecting front porch light. They also left an interesting little clock on top of the refrigerator, which looks as if it wouldn’t work, but it ticks LOUDLY and keeps perfect time.

We ended up staying quite awhile. DsquareD had to go up in the attic to thump on rafters and down in the basement to do more of the same, and take copious measurements.  Then we sat down and he thought out loud for at least an hour, while my emotions alternately soared and dipped, as our options went from “we should just torch the place and start afresh” to “or we could just clean it up, slap on a coat of paint, and move right in”.  I’ve learned that DsquareD does his best thinking out loud and I generally try to reign in my despair because I’ve discovered that no matter what problems we’re up against in the physical realm, if they involve anything that requires “handyness”, be it auto mechanicry, electriciany things, plumbing, or building, DsquareD is up to the task. He does a lot of Peeing and Moaning, but I have yet to see him fail! I highly recommend marrying a handy guy, if you can. It makes life so much easier!

Anyway, when we got home to the apartment Friday night, he fired up his TurboCAD program, and was up till 2:00 in the morning designing our new layout. Saturday we sat up in bed till nearly noon refining and discussing our plans, then finally went over to the house where we entertained curious friends and family members all afternoon. Sassy stopped by for awhile and since she will be moving in with us (along with the grandcats), when the renovation is complete, she naturally has a vested interest in our plans. She is also going to have to help with the work, and she is all over the painting and drywalling, but insists she will do NO cleaning, as she is burned out on cleaning from her last job as a maintenance person at a low-income apartment complex in Minneapolis, where apparently defecating in the hallway was an everyday tenant occurrence.

It’s probably just as well, she’s not very good at cleaning anyway. DsquareD is planning on making the little bathroom a showpiece and he told me that Sassy is going to have to keep it looking that way. That’s going to be difficult, as every time she leaves a bathroom, it looks like there’s been an explosion of face powder, blush, and eyeshadow everywhere, and there are mascara streaks on all the towels.

All this remodeling planning has so far necessitated several trips to Menards and Home Depot, and I’ve just about had my fill of it. I can handle looking at showers, sinks and vanities a time or three, but I’ve decided that I don’t have the DIY “gene”. We went to Home Depot on Monday evening and we actually closed the place down. I was ready to leave after five minutes, but DsquareD had to look at tools. I can’t think of anything more excruciating. They had some big sale on and that necessitated him involving some young kid who works there and who is apparently very handy and actually likes using tools, and then a third man got into the mix and the “handy hormones” were flying, and I could barely stand it. I couldn’t go out to the Jeep to wait, because I hadn’t brought a book to read and the seats don’t recline, so I wandered around the front of the store, looking for magazines that didn’t have to do with Remodeling, or Decorating, or DIY. And there was no place to sit down. They need to have a little lounge area for wives. I wanted to just lay down on the floor and sleep. Thank God they announced they were closing and we had to leave. I’m NEVER going back there again. I’d rather have a root canal with a rusty butter knife and no anesthesia.