Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Simpler Times

Scratch the last post about EDD. I was all happy when I wrote that. Carefree. I can’t even look at it now.

The holdup to my unemployment turned out not to be about Congress or a glitch or anything other than a stupid, stupid law that doesn’t make sense. Did I mention how stupid it is? What I would like to say to the person(s) who wrote that law or even thought of it: it’s all on you, you asshole! (Thank you, Tabitha! That line just isn’t getting old.)

So what I discovered this weekend was my last unemployment check was held up due to a new claim recently filed on my behalf. As the EDD representative explained on the phone yesterday, “People usually appreciate it when EDD automatically files claims on their behalf.” I’m sure they do but I don’t think they’re in my situation, smartass. My benefits have been reduced from $450 a week (less any wages) to $61 a week. This is because a new claim has been filed for a very part-tome job.

I took this very part-time job while looking for more work. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to live on the money I made there without unemployment. It also made my unemployment last longer because the lump sum for each stage of unemployment remained the same, even though my unemployment checks were reduced according to my earnings.

When you fill out the unemployment claim form, you confirm that you are looking for work and accepting all work that comes your way. This pt job was in that category, and I’ve been doing it for a couple years. About six months ago, I was put on a W4.

I was on my third extension of unemployment and had a six-week fourth extension. But EDD abruptly ended that claim and started the new ridiculous one without warning. If I had known that was coming, at least I would have been able to plan for a couple ultra lean months. I can’t even accept the $61 a week because it would likely damage my standing with my most stable pt employer. The part that really doesn’t make sense to me is why should an employer be responsible for my benefits while they are still offering me the same part-time hours they always have?

As I was arguing with the EDD rep and his manager on the phone yesterday, I summed it up this way . . . so you’re telling me that because I accepted work as instructed, I totally screwed myself. I should have walked when they asked me to fill out the W4 and lied about it to protect my benefits. The answer was yes.

I’m tremendously lucky to have a partner who is fully employed and outrageously generous extended family. But these next two months will be dicey. We’re spread thin with needing to finish up certain parts of the remodeling. The kids who are growing like weeds will be going back to school (don’t even get me started on the feet that won’t be contained to any one shoe size for long). There are doctors' appointments that must happen.

My husband brought home Simpler Times Lager ($3.99 a six-pack) last night. If you knew him, you’d understand the gravity of the situation.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofsims/2886932061/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Pictures

I'm enjoying seeing what the kids do with their unstructured summer time. Daisy's been absorbed with legos, art projects, and building a playmobile castle that is under attack. Violet's been cycling through hot tubbing, new looks, and gymnastics. They keep me entertained, but there can be too much of even the sweetest things. I cried mercy to my husband a few minutes ago and am hiding out for a little break right now.

I received this letter in the mailbox yesterday. These are tough times when even your kids might try to scam you. I asked Daisy what "spech" was. Her response was "I don't know what you call your work!" But you think it might be spech?

Violet's been tagging her room. Lucky for her she wrote mom, or I might be a little ticked off about now. I think it's pretty good for just turned four. Not that I'm bragging . . . or posting a picture of it on the blog.

Violet's materials here were blue finger paint, red nail polish, and pink lip gloss. What mother in her right mind would let a little kid have those things in her room? Not me! I found her stash and we had a little talk. Oh and there were scissors. She's been cutting off her curls because she wants straight hair like her big sister. She's a couple snips away from a mullet.

Daisy's recent inspiration was to vampire up her piggy bank.

The kids asked me to make them a fruit salad for a snack today. I told them they could have some sliced oranges. Fruit salad? What do you think this is . . . McDonald's?

They told me to just bring them the oranges and they would take care of the rest. They prettied the plate up with grapes from the fridge then plums and mint from the yard. Was Martha's mom really lame in the kitchen? I gave them high marks for presentation.

Do you see the emerging mullet?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Exciting EDD Moment

Oh my goodness. You know how I was waiting for an unemployment check and thought it was being delayed because of those naughty senators? Well, today I got a notice in the mail that I was bounced out of the unemployment system again for no reason. I was cut off because I claimed my very part-time earnings from my summer school job. There’s some glitch in the system that sometimes ends your unemployment if you claim earnings in the second week on the claim form.

I immediately imagined having to wait months for a phone appointment like I did last summer – the issue wasn’t resolved until October. I half-heartedly dialed the 1-800 number printed on the notice. GUESS WHAT? The automated system answered the call instead of rejecting it due to a high volume. I was so excited, I lost track of the appropriate number to press. I pressed 0, hoping to talk to a person. An automated voice warned that I needed to press a valid option or my call would be ended. Oh no . . . I pressed 4. It was something about appealing your case. That’s not right. I pressed three random numbers in a row and a miracle occurred. I WAS TRANSFERRED TO A LIVE PERSON IN FOUR MINUTES. No joke.

It was almost a religious experience. It’s been more than two years since I was able to get info from the EDD on the spot. A very professional person answered promptly, took my info, told me to hold, then explained the error had been caught and corrected, and I was to ignore the notice.


picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10918289@N07/4225667948/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Hello Star Wars Kitty

Still no unemployment check, but I did get paid for the last couple weeks of summer school. That will do until next week, when umemployment checks should resume.

On a lighter note, look at this reinterpreted collection of Hello Kitty by Joseph Senior. More here

Hello Rebel Pilot

Hello Boba Kitty

Hello CP3O

Hello Darth Kitty

Hello Storm Kitty

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Am Your Father, Luke

The other day, I was thinking about seeing The Empire Strikes Back when I was a kid. I can clearly remember sitting in the theater when Darth Vader tells Luke, “I am your father.” Yeah, right. Clearly, he’s trying to manipulate him. On the walk back to the car after the movie, my brother said something about Darth being Luke’s father, and I corrected him . . . he was just saying that. He’s not really his father. My parents shook their heads . . . no, he is really supposed to be his father. No he’s not! I had to eventually admit I was wrong. But I was CONVINCED I was right. That’s how I am . . . I can be discerning about things that are not always evident to others, but I can miss some of the most obvious freaking things.

Yesterday was rough. I was already stressed about money, and I received an envelope from EDD. I was expecting a check for the final week of my third extension. All the paperwork in the envelope was identical to what I normally receive from EDD but there was no check. Oh no . . . I was depending on that money. I went online to figure it out – and it looks like it has to do with that fight in Congress we've been hearing so much about. Then another obvious truth hit me . . . the one I hadn’t fully understood though the information was there all along. I might have only six weeks left on unemployment. There is a possibility of what they call a FED ED extension, but it’s unclear as to whether I will qualify.

I never planned to be on unemployment this long. I hope I don’t need anything after six weeks BUT WHAT IF I DO? Of course, I’m job searching. Yesterday, I called the office manager of a local restaurant about a bookkeeping job. I know their chef, who gave me the tip. As we were talking, I told her about the bookkeeping I used to do for another local business. She sounded interested and took my name down. I was feeling hopeful when I got off the phone and the punch line is . . . the $12 an hour job has already been filled but the person might not stay, so the office manager is interested in me as a backup. At best, this could be a fourth part-time job because I certainly couldn’t afford to cut any other jobs at that pay rate.

I also learned of the possibility of my kids being exposed to Whooping Cough through my mom’s hospital job. My kids do have mild coughs, but to my frantic perspective yesterday . . . those coughs were totally whooping. I started to look for symptoms online but instead got lost in an article about the filibustering Republican senators. I felt like one of those old people who you think might just have a heart attack if they watch the news one more time.

And heart attacks were no joke to me because of a mix-up in my blood pressure meds. A couple years ago, I was having heart palpitations. I went to the doctor and got an EKG. Everything looked fine but the doctor wanted to continue testing. I came across an article in Prevention, one of those mags my mom sends me, and learned that my generic blood pressure med caused heart palpitations in 1% of patients. Furthermore, this symptom could be part of actual heart disease being caused by the med. I switched to the non-generic form and my symptoms disappeared. The doctor continued to refill my prescription for a couple years without another appointment. His office finally insisted I make an appointment last week. They phoned in one last refill because I had run out of meds and had gone off them abruptly, which can cause a stroke. But I didn’t get my meds right away. First, the prescription was faxed to the wrong pharmacy. Then, it was the wrong med . . . the heart palpitation one. I took it anyway because my blood pressure was high, and I planned to get it all straightened out yesterday at my appointment. Once I got to the office, I was told my insurance has assigned me to a new doctor in another office and my old doctor couldn’t see me. I got a little intense with the receptionist, and she found a passing health aide in the busy office to fax in the right prescription.

I drove to the store and checked my bank balance. I had $4.60. I could just afford that $3.99 apple juice, a household staple. I had hate for the Republican senators – and one Democrat – who have made unemployment extensions the battleground for addressing the national debt. Do they have any idea what it’s like to wonder if you can afford apple juice for your kids? The co-payment for my blood pressure meds was obviously going to have to go on the credit card.

When I got home, I decided to make lasagna for dinner. I had all the ingredients and was not feeling like myself. Cooking sounded good. Daisy helped me and we made a beautiful lasagna. I used meat that had been frozen a little too long. I had questions about it, but after checking online, thought it was probably OK. Violet refused to eat it. Daisy and I were not so smart. We both had food poisoning by the end of the night. You see how some of the most obvious things escape me?

I’m in a much better place today – well rested, past the food poisoning, on the right meds, and ready to move forward. But one more thing . . . you really should check this article, which explains from a statistical standpoint why there should be another unemployment extension, not just an extension of the filing deadlines. If you have never heard of the 99ers, you might want to learn about this rapidly growing segment of the population.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/starwarsblog/793008715/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Countering Stress

I have to warn you this post might be a bit rambling. But I’ve had a recent issue with my blood pressure meds that I should have straightened out by tomorrow, and I find writing to be an effective counter to stress. So work with me here.

This morning was aMAzing. I slept in to late morning – my husband covered the kids. The kids played and watched movies in their pajamas past noon. OK, I’m not going to lie . . . we did pretty much the same thing yesterday, so it was our SECOND amazing summer morning. The stack of newspapers piled next to the couch is finally read and recycled. I continue to get my news the retro way because of the dog. She lives for that moment when she prances back through the open door, paper held firmly in her jaws, maybe a celebratory toss or two for maximum effect. If for some reason there’s no paper, no problem . . . she knows where to find one (don’t make me explain that I give it back if I can figure out where it came from).

Aside from reading newspapers, I didn’t accomplish everything I planned to yesterday. Added about three vertical feet of folded clothes to the laundry table. Cleaned the kitchen. Searched for jobs. Put away six hundred toys. Gave the kids time-outs and lectures and bribes to get their help. Shopped for food. But it’s not enough . . . you saw the pictures. This is serious. Two factors that make housework especially pointless are children and remodeling. A drywall dust storm hit my bedroom yesterday and left a high concentration of tools. And there’s MACHINERY. I’m not even going to describe the dog hair.

I was motivated this morning but unsure of where to start. I HAVE to have a garage sale soon. You can’t even walk through most of the garage because of the tubs of leftover eBay merchandise as well as sacks and sacks of clothes and outgrown baby equipment and random household stuff that I’ve collected from my home and others for the ever elusive garage sale. But what keeps holding me back – besides obligations on the weekends – is there’s SO MUCH JUNK still distributed throughout the rest of the house that it only makes sense to get the house thinned out first. It’s going to be tricky to carve out a weekend this summer for the sale, and once summer is over, it’s back to teaching on the weekends. So I’ve got to make more progress.

With today’s first cup of coffee in hand, I stared at the laundry table, food-smeared kitchen, and cluttered stairs. I wondered out loud where I should start. Daisy answered quickly, “Take a shower.” Good idea. I made the mistake of buying deodorant at Whole Foods. Plus, I was hoping to get energized. I’m feeling rundown, and the uncertainty of my financial situation is getting to me again in a relentlessly stressed out way.

I cleaned for more than three hours then took Daisy to aikido. I was looking forward to going because there’s something special about that studio. It’s on one of the busiest corners of town, but inside, it’s a sanctuary. I find the teacher’s talks with the kids to be relaxing, and the parents are invited to practice the art of being attentive observers. I have never felt so refreshed at the end of one of my kids’ classes. Our marriage counselor actually recommended this place for the whole family, but I don’t do activities that require outfits.

You may recall that Daisy was in karate a few months back. We stopped going after schedule conflicts for several weeks, and I saw the opportunity to switch to aikido. Daisy was not completely sold. After the first class, she complained, “Mom, I just want to fight someone or break something. I want to do karate!” I talked her into giving aikido and harmony a chance. It’s been six weeks now, and she’s signed up for a week of aikido summer camp with brush calligraphy, Japanese weapons practice, and sushi. I’m thrilled.

But aikido didn’t do it for me today, mainly because I had to take squirmy little Violet. I normally trade little sister care with another parent. Violet was jealous when she saw the aiki games and spent some time logging her most common complaint: “It’s not fai-ya!” Ssshh! You’re harshing my attentive observation time.

We stopped by the post office on the way home. I was mailing something to a friend and wondered if I should grab the quick note I had written out of the flat rate envelope, which seemed a little junior high. Oh whatever. I sealed the envelope awkwardly into a misshapen rectangle. I tried to fix it, ripping the envelope. I found a roll of packing tape at the front of the line and stood off to the side to seal it, but the tape wasn’t the type you can rip off. I attempted to get a piece of tape off the roll several times, stabbing it with my keys and repeatedly getting it twisted and crumpled before I could use it. Finally, I got some tape on the package, but it wasn’t enough. There was some violent key stabbing before the envelope was mostly sealed. It wasn’t pretty but it would do. Sweat pouring down my face, I turned around to smiles and chuckles from the people waiting in line. They had no idea they were looking at an experienced eBay shipper.

The short story is I’m tired from a busy month but have an increasing need to get organized without neglecting assorted duties. Maybe I’m not so smooth but I’m determined to get the job done.


picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/migrainechick/4653476618/in/photostream/

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Anniversary Trip to Calistoga

My husband gave me a trip to Calistoga last weekend for our ninth wedding anniversary. He already went over what he wouldn't like me to discuss in the blog. I assured him that I would be limiting my comments mostly to the businesses we frequented. I'm pretty sure cougars were not on the forbidden list. And besides, I forgot my camera, so there is no actual documentation.

Grandma and Grandpa were quiet when we dropped off the kids, including our dog, who collided with their puppy in a barking frenzy. I felt a sliver of guilt when we left my parents surveying the chaos at their feet. But I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the break . . . if there was a time I needed a break more than now, I can’t remember. But that’s probably due to stress-induced memory loss.

We stopped at Pyramid Brewery in Berkeley to watch World Cup on the way to Calistoga. It was a good stop. The restaurant is bright and spacious with lots of parking. There’s wireless. I was as comfortable working as my husband was watching the game (I like World Cup but don't have the attention span for soccer on TV – actually, for TV in general these days). Our lunch was fine but forgettable. I had grilled salmon tacos and a side salad. The “handmade” tortillas obviously came from a bag with “handmade” on the label. My husband went with the Smoked Tri Tip Sandwich. The habanero barbecue sauce was a little too spicy for me, but the thinly sliced tri-tip was nice and tender. I also had a blonde ale. I’m sure my husband had an IPA, and I don’t know what he thought of it. I’m careful to avoid conversations about beer with the homebrewer in this household, known to launch into lengthy beer seminars without warning. It’s really best not to ask.

In the late afternoon, we arrived at the The Euro Spa Inn. For $200 a night, it seemed overpriced but welcome to Calistoga. The room was clean and comfortable. I heard no one else the entire time, and though my husband is one of those people whose volume is always jacked up to high, we received no complaints . . . not even a rapid knock from our neighbors on the other side of the wall. I didn’t open the pamphlet of spa services because I was too busy taking in the rarefied air of order and no children. There was a pool and hot tub, but what I did for relaxation was lay on the bed with a stack of magazines and announce we were having quiet time. My next favorite part was the complimentary breakfast . . . I NEVER HAD SCRAMBLED EGG AND CHEESE STRUDEL BEFORE and hope I don’t come across it again anytime soon because I liked it. My husband gave his compliments to the proprietor during checkout and received vouchers for an $89 rate during the cooler months.

We had a couple hours before the wineries closed. Clos Pegase was our first stop. The winery was designed by Michael Graves in 1987 with the purpose of displaying the owners’ modern art collection, such as a large metal thumb sculpture near grapevines. The owner made his money by importing technical books in English to Japan while living there. I liked the concept and story, but my overall impression of the place was that it needed fresh energy. The employees in the tasting room, though pleasant, spoke around us – seeming more interested in their conversations about candy or people rushing home to meth labs, than in speaking to the few customers milling about. We paid $10 each to taste the whites – I have an almost allergic reaction to red – and nothing stood out except the high bottle price. We asked about wineries with good whites and heard about Rombauer and its so-called “Cougar Chardonnay.” I didn’t really get it.

But I figured it out when we got to Rombauer. It was packed. We walked into a booming tasting room. Most of the wine counter was blocked by small groups of women - 40ish to 50ish - in a sparkling sea of highlights, jewelry, lip gloss, white teeth and good shoes. It was refreshing to see women on the prowl and owning the place. I enjoyed watching my husband awkwardly approach the counter to refill the glass we were sharing. One woman asked if she could help him and when he declined, she asked him if he was sure. Let me clarify that she was not an employee of the tasting room. I don’t think he minded, and he finished the tasting in the Cougar Room while I enjoyed the pretty grounds from the veranda. There was only one white wine being poured, so we shared the $10 tasting. I didn’t notice what the cougars were drinking but that Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay is my new very favorite. We decided against the $32 bottle – it’s apparently available where I live for less and service in the tasting room was lackluster for us - though they obviously had their hands full with the ladies so no worries.

Cuvaison was our last winery stop and the only one we left with wine in hand. The customer service was above and beyond. An employee from the tasting room saw us walking up from the parking lot and was welcoming, even holding the door. They were about as busy as Close Pegase, and she never left our side. She gave a little presentation using a map of Napa Valley. When she found out what I liked, she changed the tasting menu so that it was all stuff I wanted to try and even gave an extra taste of red to my husband. The tasting was $15. I found a chardonnay I liked, and my husband bought a couple bottles for around $20 a piece.

When we got back to the room, my husband told me about Hydro, a bar his buddy recommended for having a good beer selection, in downtown Calistoga – a mere block away. I said sure, let’s go . . . but first I will read about 10 magazines. Please don’t talk to me. Can you open that chardonnay? You’re free to watch TV. Good times. A couple hours later, we walked to Hydro Bar and Grill. We got beers - blonde for me and IPA for him - and split one of their $5 hot dogs (there was an entire hot dog menu). The hot dog was wrapped in bacon and came with fries, though we subbed coleslaw. It was cheap and tasty. The beers were the best of the trip. If it wasn’t our anniversary, we would have probably called that dinner.

We walked around downtown, considering our options for dinner. Going out to dinner is a rarity for me these days, and without children, it’s a miracle. Environment is as important as food. I chose The Calistoga Inn, which has outdoor seating and music. We ate brunch here before with the kids, and all I remember is telling my kids over and over again not to play with their flatware and continuously walking back and forth between the table and restroom for staggered spills and pees, while hipsters drinking Bloody Marys at the next table over cringed at the sight of us. This time, I thoroughly enjoyed sitting outside among the flowers and candlelight. We shared oysters, flatiron steak with mashed potatoes, and chocolate mousse. It was all good . . . not amazing but relaxing and fun and entertaining. I had a glass of wine with dinner but noticed a table of cougars taking advantage of no corkage fees, the restaurant providing standing ice buckets around their table. Those cougars are so smart.

We made a couple stops on our way out of town the next morning. First, we went by the Wine Garage. It opened in 2001 after the owners noticed a lack of affordable wine in the area. All the bottles are $25 and under. We were looking for something that might ease the grandparents’ nerves after a rowdy sleepover. We went with the Wine Garage burgundy blend, sold by the half-gallon jug and filled with a gas station-like nozzle. There was a 20% sale on all the Wine Garage labels, so jugs were about $25.

Finally, we stopped at the Silverado Brewing Company to watch the World Cup Final on the way home. This was recommended as the best place to watch the game in the area, but it wasn’t as comfortable as Pyramid. There were fewer TVs and it was a little cramped in the bar. However, the food was much better. We split a cheeseburger, side salad and salmon chowder. It was everything you want pub food to be – fresh, simple and cooked well. One reviewer on Yelp described the burgers as the best in California. I’m not sure about that, but . . . very good. Despite being slammed, the sweaty server made an effort to talk beer with my husband when he could. We stuck to the usual blonde and IPA. The beer was not the best. I got some more work done in the midst of the crowd - I was certainly sucking a few fun vibes out of the room - and took a walk around the neighboring winery during the game that wouldn’t quit. Then it was time to head back to the monkey children.

picture 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smcdevitt/3561011312/
picture 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginevra/26217131/
picture 3: http://www.flickr.com/photos/72213316@N00/4737103388/
picture 4: http://www.flickr.com/photos/macjewell/3172043100/sizes/l/in/photostream/
picture 5: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/1339591758/sizes/l/in/photostream/
picture 6: http://www.flickr.com/photos/macjewell/3171228293/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tour of Chaos

I finally replaced my camera. I found a refurbished Canon Powershot that is identical to my broken one for less than it would have cost to repair the shutter. But enough about the camera. I've got to get back to my domestic duties. Our summer has been so busy. I've recently had a long list of tasks related to potential/current jobs,which has priority over housework. I haven't even unpacked from last weekend and have another trip this weekend. I'm tired. My kids are really messy. I'm sure I can come up with more excuses, but I need to deal with this now.

The kitchen is pretty standard. What I must overcome is the laundry table. I haven't won the laundry game since Easter. Winning means all the hampers are empty and all the clothes are put away. I do so much laundry and I'm always putting laundry away, but it never, never stops. When I was a teenager, my mom told me she thought she had a laundry fetish. I really thought she needed to relax about it. Now, I understand . . . you cannot let it win.

There are tools and construction materials scattered everywhere, and some of the rooms are still tore up from nine months of remodeling. It brings a certain rawness to the decor, and sometimes, I don't even feel bad about leaving the laundry on the table.

You know you're jealous of my office. This is one of the rooms we had to tear up to cut through the walls. Since then, the kids have ransacked my office and craft supplies.

The whole family sharing one full bathroom is really working out.

I don't want you thinking I never clean. I cleaned for at least two hours yesterday. The kids' rooms aren't bad.

You can see Daisy's hippie-fairy fort in the last picture. You can also see something she made out of construction scraps and nailed to her wall. I keep reminding my husband to put away his tools. I don't think he really heard me until he saw her handiwork yesterday. Here's a peak inside the fort. Daisy plays and reads in there almost every day. After seeing the rest of the house, you can see why.

Oh and I wanted to show you the gopher grave in our front yard. The kids sometimes leave bouquets there, and Daisy left a picture of our gopher buddy in better days. She was careful to weatherproof her picture with supplies pillaged from my office.

You have to understand that I'm a neat person, and in the past, I wouldn't even sit down to work unless my environment was clean and organized. Some day, my kids will be older. Some day, there will be no more remodeling. Some day, I might make enough money to hire a housecleaner . . . I like to fantasize about how often I'd get the service . . . once a month would make a huge difference, but every two weeks would probably be perfect. I can't even DREAM of weekly. What would I do with all that extra time? I could read books again and throw dinner parties.

But back to reality. There is progress on the homefront. Look at how the master bathroom is coming along. When it's done, it will be the nicest room in the house. I might be having my dinner parties in there. At least the appetizers.

Now that I look at these pictures, I can see that I didn't use the right setting. Either that or my refurbished camera sucks. I need to experiment more. It's going on the third tier to-do list.

And if I made you feel better about the state of your living quarters, this post was all worth it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beetle Visit

This Fourth of July weekend, my family stayed with four of my best friends and their assorted family and friends in a lovely home on the Central Coast that belongs to Bindy’s family. One of the more memorable moments was pure hysteria (although I have to say that Quinn’s arrival was also memorable, when she announced with all the children surrounding her that she was sunburned from her “butt crack to her muffin top.” She caught my look and asked me to the side if “butt crack” was too much. I told her I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t gotten past “muffin top.” Apparently, she was talking about back fat. That was not the first image that came to my mind.)

On Saturday night, I was playing a peaceful game of scrabble with my friend Tabitha and her man Ren. We were sprawled out on their bed, and we had the nearby French doors open. We heard a weird sound, and Ren noticed there was a large beetle that had flown in and landed on a table. It was a good-sized beetle. I think it was green with stripes going down its fleshy bug body. Ren walked over and gestured to come take a look. The way it was moving, it looked to me like two beetles mating. But no, it was just one weird beetle.

I told Ren to wait because I was going to get my husband. He loves insects and reptiles and stuff like that. My husband led four kids back to the “beetle” room. My daughter Daisy also loves bugs and will handle them with her bare hands. So no one was frightened. Yet.

I didn’t think it was strange that Tabitha had stayed on the bed when I was taking a closer look. My friends tend to be a little loungey, and sometimes we prefer to stay where we are, instead of changing positions. I saw no indication of the rapidly gathering terror.

I’m a little unclear as to what exactly happened when the mayhem broke loose. I was sitting next to Tabitha on the bed again. My husband had the beetle and maybe it started to fly or maybe Tabitha demanded it be removed . . . what I do remember is the beetle was taken outside. For one second. Then, it flew back in the room through the door that had been left open. I don’t know if it’s even possible to describe the way Tabitha exploded into panicked terror. Everything went crazy. Violet jumped in my lap. The rest of the kids were shrieking. My dog cowered and tried to jump to safety on the bed, because we were obviously in mortal danger.

Tabitha unleashed on my husband, who was trying to catch the beetle. “GET IT OUT!!!!! GET IT OUT!!!!!! IT’S ALL ON YOU, YOU ASSHOLE!!!!! There are conflicting reports of whether she really said “asshole,” but if she didn’t say it . . . it came through in her tone. The kids continued to shriek while Violet sobbed quietly in my lap, Ren cheered my husband on, and I laughed so hard I could barely talk to reassure Violet. My husband stood on a chair, trying to get the beetle out of a light sconce. He was obviously pretty flustered and turned to Tabitha, “YOU HAVE GOT TO CHILL!” I might be getting the order confused, but Tabitha let him know: NOW THE BEETLE IS LOST IN THE ROOM . . . GET IT OUT!!! GET IT OUT!!! . . . AND IT’S GOING TO CRAWL IN MY HAIR WHEN I’M SLEEPING! GET IT OOOOOUT!!!! I don’t see how she would be sleeping at all if that beetle really got lost in her room.

My husband caught the beetle and took it outside, this time remembering to shut the door. And we laughed and laughed and laughed. I’m pretty sure the kids will not have post-traumatic stress. I explained that Tabitha was just really scared, but she’s OK now.

Ever since, shrieks of IT’S ALL ON YOU! keep echoing in my mind, and I’m walking around with an idiotic smile on my face half the time. Good weekend.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eflon/3259016243/sizes/l/in/photostream/