Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day is a very happy one! I love this holiday. I know there are some of you out there who think this is the worst holiday ever invented. Not me. I’ve always loved it, even when my husband wasn’t in the picture. I’ve loved it so long, I even remember the boy I liked in Kindergarten giving me the heart sticker from the middle of his paper plate BEFORE we had our Valentine’s treats, just so I could have it while it was still nice and hadn’t gotten all messed up from the frosting. Yep, I’m a sap. I know it.

But ANYWAY, that’s not really why I’m posting today. Maybe I’ll get all ooey gooey, lovey dovey about it tomorrow, after Sweetpea has brought all her Valentines home from daycare, and after I’ve given my hubby his gift. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. Though I will show you the flowers I got from my husband. They arrived yesterday, and are perfectly gorgeous. Here’s a pic:
Ahh, roses, my fav. (Red is actually my very favorite, it’s the romantic in me, but I love all roses. My favorite Ansel Adams is called “Rose on Driftwood”.) I know the pic isn’t that great, but it was taken with my cell phone, as the flowers are at work and I did not think to grab my camera as I left in such a rush this morning. Why is it I’m always twice as busy on holidays?

So, onward. I have quite a few stories about stupid people I’ve encountered recently, and actually a really funny pic I took with my cell entitled “Idiots in SLC”, but I really am in too good a mood today to be irritated. So I will save those for another day. Instead, I think I’ll talk about the cake I finished last week. Here are a few pics of it (blurry, I know, I was shaking quite a bit by this point):

This party was a surprise party for a friend of a friend, so making the decisions on the cake style/flavor/decorations, and then making the arrangements to get it delivered/picked up, proved almost as difficult as making the cake itself! So here’s the rundown. It’s obviously a two-tiered cake. The bottom tier was made of chocolate cherry cake and filled with ganache. The top tier was white cake filled with cherry icing. The guy loved chocolate and cherries, what can I say? I hear it turned out pretty yummy, but sometimes I suspect people of lying to me just to spare my feelings. The entire cake was covered in fondant and the decorations were all also fondant, making everything on the cake edible. And a giant pain in the @#$. I ended up re-covering the bottom tier twice, and the top tier three times. I kept running into the problem that as soon as I started to smooth the fondant on, it would stretch and then tear. When I would try to fix the tears, either by smoothing or squeezing it back together, the icing underneath would squeeze through the cracks. I ended up using all the fondant I had in the house, except ½ of one box of white. That’s 5 ½ boxes of fondant. My husband also decided during this whole ordeal that I will not be doing cakes any more, since I have a tendency to cry when they don’t go right (i.e. every time I decorate one) and to stay up until all hours getting them done. (This one took me until 3:30 a.m. the morning it was to be picked up to complete.) I just nodded and said “yes dear”. :-)

Once I got past the covering/re-covering, most everything else went very smoothly. I only had to do each of the rest of the decorations once, and was totally 100% correct when I said a light box would be the ultimate tool for cutting out those skulls. Thanks to my sister, I didn’t have to spring for the $50 to buy one. Unfortunately the borders didn’t go as planned, and I had to go with Plan B, but I think they turned out ok. Despite a few cuts to the fingers. And no, once again I don’t like the cake. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I will never like any cake I ever do, and I should just accept that fact and get on with it. So, on that note, here’s my list of newly learned cake decorating tips:

1. Unless you’re using it for a very small amount of decorating, pre-colored fondant is not worth the cost of the ingredients it’s made of.

2. Pearl dust, on the other hand, is the most wonderful decorating accessory ever invented. So awesome! In addition, black cake sparkles do actually exist in real life, and are not just a figment of my twisted imagination.

3. I am in desperate need of an Exacto knife if I intend to continue to cut figures out of fondant.

4. The rolling fondant cutter available in craft stores does not do well around curves, but is fantastic for straight lines.

5. Nothing will go right with the decorating until you have just used the very last ingredient in your possession, with no hope of being able to buy more due to the lateness of the hour.

6. There are exactly two tablespoons in each small bottle of extract flavors. This is important to know BEFORE attempting to double a recipe that already calls for 1 ½ tablespoons of extract.

7. A normal, plain-jane cake leveler does not cut well through whole cherries, or through frozen cake. A Ginsu knife, on the other hand, does.

8. Ginsu knives are most definitely as sharp as they advertise.

8a. When in need, there will be no other band-aides in the house except Ratatouille Tattoo band-aides. (I think this may be one of Murphy's.)

8b. Ratatouille Tattoo band-aides are waterproof, and do work well in a pinch. They also draw quite a few compliments in Court.

9. A frozen 10-inch round, 2-inch thick cake takes approximately 6 hours to thaw completely, as does an 8-inch round, 3-inch thick cake. Removal from the freezer well ahead of time to begin assembling the layers is optimal.

10. I will never be a full time cake decorator. (Not new, just re-learned.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Psychotic Animals

Why is it that when pets enter my household they somehow develop a personality disorder? I’m sure I have absolutely nothing to do with this phenomenon. *ahem* It cannot possibly have anything to do with me. *ahem* Well, whatever the cause is, I haven’t figured it out yet. But it seems to be a pattern.

I have two cats. Of course they both have names. The oldest, who will be 12 years old next month, is named Alex. The youngest, who just turned 11 in December, is named Jordan. Here is a pic of them taken a little over 10 years ago, when they were both just kittens:

Even though we gave them names, neither of them know their names. From day one, Alex has been called Yellow Kitty, and Jordan has been referred to as Little One. I don’t really know how this came about. But I suppose identity crisis could be part of their problem.

Yellow Kitty is, kind of, yellowish in color I guess. I would say more on the very light tan side, but she does have a beautiful coat, and gets compliments from everyone who sees her. She is a pure bred Scottish Fold. If you’ve never heard of this type of cat before, they are named such because their ears are normally folded forward and then downward on their head, and because the first known Scottish Fold was spotted on a farm in Scotland in 1961. This type of cat was awarded championship status by the CFA in 1978, and has been cross bred with several American and British breeds. Scottish Folds come in two types: the folded ear and the straight ear. The also have widely spaced eyes and short noses. All Scottish Folds are born with straight ears, and then at about three to four weeks of age, their ears either fold or they don’t. In my cat’s case, hers did not fold. She was the only one of the litter who did not, and the only one, as my husband said, that didn’t look like it had run head-first, full-speed into a brick wall. Only cats with folded ears and direct Scottish lineage are allowed in the show ring. (Cats with straight ears are designated as breeders or pets.) This little tidbit amuses me, since the folded ears are produced by an incomplete dominant gene and are the result of a spontaneous mutation. Here is a good picture of a typical Fold:

Little One, unfortunately, does not have the bloodlines and prestigious history that Yellow Kitty has. She is just a tabby. She did come from an interesting mixed litter, however. Her mother was a black cat with green eyes. There were four kittens in the litter, three tabbies that were dark charcoal grey with white stripes and green eyes, and one white siamese with blue eyes. I really don’t get that mix at all. As Little One has gotten older, her color has darkened up quite a bit so that she is nearly all black along her tail and back, and onto her head. She still has the stripes on her sides, but she has somehow developed orange-colored fur mixed in around her face and on her stomach. So, it’s difficult to say what her mix is. She got her name because when I brought her home she was itty bitty. And I do mean tiny. When I saw her I wasn’t sure she was old enough to leave her mother. (The picture above was taken several months after I brought her home.) To give you and idea of her size, when I first brought her home she used to sleep with her whole body draped over my neck. From the tip of her nose to her hind legs she only wrapped about half way around my neck. So you see how little she was. Not so anymore. One of her personality disorders seems to be an eating disorder. Of course, we’re not talking about anorexia or bulimia here. Try the opposite. She’s a pig! Any time the bowl of food empties, and you go to refill it, she acts as if she’s been deprived of food for weeks. She runs full speed from wherever she’s been hiding/lounging, crying at the top of her lungs, and hovers around your legs until you’ve finished filling the bowl. And then she’ll stand there and chow down as if she were getting her very last meal.

Little One isn’t the only one with an eating disorder. Yellow Kitty seems to have one too. Hers is a little more on the strange side. See, she refuses to eat the food straight out of the bowl. In order to eat it, she must first scoop it out of the bowl with her paw and down onto the floor. Only then will she eat it. She does this one piece of food at a time. So you can imagine it takes her quite a while to eat. And no crumbs for her. No siree. Whole pieces only. The crumbs she just leaves on the floor for either Little One or us to clean up after her. She also won’t eat treats out of your hand, (if she eats them at all). You have to put them on the floor in front of her and then draw her attention to them somehow, or else she won’t eat them. She also has a similar situation that goes on with drinking her water. She takes probably a full minute, sometimes more, to properly position her body at the exact necessary angle to enable her to drink from the farthest corner of the bowl away from her without having to lower her head too far or having to turn it either direction in the slightest. Well, she’s old, you might say. Yeah, she’s old. But she has had no problem so far with mobility. Plus, she’s done this for as long as we’ve had her. The problem with this is that normally in her efforts to perfectly position herself, she has a tendency to spill the water. I am forever and a year walking through puddles of water from the cat dish in my sock feet.

In addition, both cats like to drink out of the faucet in the bathroom sink. Our current house has a pedestal sink, and we leave the water just barely dripping for them. However, due to her age or her laziness, I can’t decide which, Little One insists on using the toilet as a landing spot to jump up. After all, the toilet is only a mere foot and a half jump as opposed to that monster three foot jump from the floor to the sink. She’ll jump up on the toilet and then turn and jump into the sink. This causes a couple of issues. First, she has been known to not look before she leaps. This is unfortunate when we’ve had guests that don’t know or have forgotten the “toilet lid down” rule. Additionally, whenever the toilet lid cover is in the laundry, instead of attempting to make the jump onto the bare toilet lid, she stands at the door to the bathroom and cries for hours. You must understand how annoying this is, because this cat does not meow. She either squeaks in a conversational sort of way (sometimes as she’s preparing to jump, which I interpret to mean “I think I can, I think I can….”) or she makes sounds that resemble strangulated screams. These are usually done at the very loudest that she can muster. Now, why, you ask, will she not jump onto the toilet lid without the cover on it? Though I’ve never witnessed the occurrence, I suspect that she attempted it once, and, unable to gain any traction whatsoever, slid across the lid and head first into the wall next to the toilet. Ouch. Reminds me of Hammy in Over the Hedge once they’ve made it into Gladys’s kitchen.

As for Yellow Kitty, her disorder when it comes to the sink is that she doesn’t drink directly out of the faucet. Instead, she settles herself comfortably in the sink and does one of two things. She either sticks her paw in the water and then licks the water off of her paw, or she settles with her tail, back or some other body part under the running water, and proceeds to “clean” the water out of her fur.

As if all of this isn’t enough, both cats are kleptos. The good news is that they have their preferences and don’t usually stray. Little One steals pens or pencils and cross stitch floss, and Yellow Kitty rubber bands. They may vary their tastes a little: Little One sometimes will steal highlighters, crayons or anything that resembles a writing tool, and yarn; Yellow Kitty will also take twisty ties and scrunchies. (In fact, her favorite toy is a scrunchie I found on the floor in a classroom at the U about 10 or so years ago. I brought it home, washed it thoroughly and then wore it. She promptly jumped up on the couch behind me and took the thing right out of my hair with her mouth. From then on it was hers.) Recently Yellow Kitty has also developed a penchant for wooden beads and teeny tiny pieces of princess ensembles, some of which are about the size across of a grain of rice. I’m sure when we finally move we will be finding these items strewn everywhere under furniture and in closets where they have been batted until they couldn’t be retrieved. And, speaking of which, the only time Yellow Kitty ever makes any noise is when she’s playing with one of these items. The rest of the time she makes the movement with her mouth as if she’s meowing, but no sound comes out. (I just recently discovered that this may be a trait of her breed, so maybe she’s not really psychotic – at least on that account.)

Oh, of course, let’s not forget that Yellow Kitty has to stand on her hind legs and rub her front paws (in a movement that looks like she’s clawing, though she has no front claws) on any new box, bag, suitcase, grocery bag, etc. that comes into the house; and that Little One attempts to eat plastic grocery and shopping bags on a regular basis. Recently Yellow Kitty has taken to following us around the house any time there’s a sign of movement (such as 2:30 this morning when I was up with Sweetpea) and rubbing her body around our legs, or jumping in our laps THE SECOND we sit down. I know this sounds like normal cat behavior, but it is ALL the time. We can’t move a muscle without her being right there. And Little One will appear out of nowhere anytime she hears the clink of a spoon in a bowl because she thinks she will be getting tastes of ice cream. I swear, personality disorders.

And now the trend continues. For Easter last year, Sweetpea got a goldfish named Goldie. Unfortunately Goldie has made the trip to goldfish heaven. But when Goldie passed, we replaced him with a blue Beta fish. If I had known that the fish had a death wish, I would’ve looked for a Goldie replica and been done with it. When we first brought him home, Mr. Fish seemed normal enough. But it wasn’t too long before I noticed him lying on the bottom of the tank in a corner. I was first worried that I was going to have to tell Sweetpea that another fish had gone to heaven. I was then BENT because he is a Crown Tail Beta and cost me twice as much as a normal Beta, and three times as much as a goldfish would have. As it turned out, he was not dead. I still don’t know what was wrong with him, but I get the impression he was depressed. Silly, huh? I get that impression because he wouldn’t even come to the surface to eat, and the surface is generally where they hang out. In fact, he would just lie on the bottom and wait for the food to float down to him, and then only eat food within his reach instead of swimming to catch it. Not too long after that, he started hanging out at the surface again, which I took to be a good sign. However, he has taken an abnormal floating position that makes him look like he’s dead. He’s not floating upside down, but laying on his side on the surface and not moving at all. To get him to move you have to actually move the whole tank. Truly, I don’t know if he’s just lazy, or if he’s lying there thinking, “I wish I was dead. Somebody just kill me. I’d rather be dead than eat freeze-dried flakes of stuff that isn’t even found in nature. Just kill me now.” So far there have been no suicide attempts, even though we’ve had the lid off of the tank to clean it several times. But I’m just waiting for him to do something stupid, like throw himself into the filter when no one’s watching.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Creepy Crawlies

Warning: if you are squeamish about spiders, or even about any kind of bugs for that matter, you may not want to read this post! Just skip right over it!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I am an arachnophobe. Spiders FREAK ME OUT!! And that’s really not an understatement. So, when I got an email the other day entitled “What Would You Do?”, and it included this pic:

I, of course, was a little unnerved. My answer to that question? FLIP OUT and then MOVE OUT!! (Thanks very much to Jen for sending it, who’s just as freaked out by these things as I am!) Once I forwarded it on, I got an email back from my mom asking how you could ever let something like that going on in your house get that far. Good question. I don’t ever plan to find out.

I also got an email back from a friend who mentioned that she had gone to see Arachnophobia when it came out in the theater. She said that while everyone was watching the movie, someone put black string up in the exit doorways, so that when the patrons came out they would feel the “spider webs” on their faces. I said, what kind of sicko does this?!? And then I remembered my own experience with that movie, and realized that I know EXACTLY what kind of sicko does this.

That movie came out the summer of 1990. This was before my own phobia was completely developed, though I’m wondering now if this may have contributed to it. My friend Kelly and I decided to go see the movie in the theater. Had I known what kind of movie it really was, I never would have gone, but the way it was advertised it appeared to be a comedy. For those of you who have never seen it, it’s not. As we were getting ready to leave for the movie, my then next-door neighbor sort of invited himself along. Neither Kelly nor I protested much. The more the merrier. Being that it was summer, all three of us had shorts on. We sat in the theater with our feet up on the seats in front of us. Obviously the theater was not terribly full. My neighbor insisted on sitting in between Kelly and I, and we didn’t really think much of it. As the movie progressed, of course, we became more and more jumpy. After all, it’s not bad enough that this movie has all these spiders, but they are spiders that KILL people almost instantly. During one particularly tense scene, Jeff Daniels is in his bathroom trying to escape the spider-filled house, and as he’s trying to climb out the window, all these spiders start coming down from the ceiling over the top of his head. He is actually at one point nearly bent over backward looking up at them coming down on him. *shudder* (I tried to find a pic of this scene on the internet, but I only got about three pages into my search of Google images before I just couldn’t stand to look at any more spiders!) Anyway, my neighbor chose this particular moment to drag a chewed up and flattened drinking straw up the back of Kelly’s bare leg. She, of course, screamed bloody murder and jumped about three feet off the seat, which made me jump too! Uh, my skin is crawling! To this day I am convinced that he had the whole thing planned from the beginning, and we walked right into the trap. See? Sicko.

Unfortunately that night I had my own run-in with a real spider. As I lay in bed in the dark in my basement bedroom, I thought I felt something crawling on my arm. I at first thought I just had the creepy crawlies. But when the feeling continued I frantically hit at my arm and then turned on my lamp. Sure enough, I had launched a little house spider across the bed that had happened to crawl up on my bed after I’d turned out the lights. I slept upstairs that night.

As if that isn’t enough, years later my fear was compounded when my parents suddenly had a large infiltration of spiders into their basement, and I experienced several spider attacks on my person. This was the summer of 2000. I was already married and living in Salt Lake, but had come home for a week to help with my sister’s wedding. My mom gave me no warning about the spiders. (I think she was afraid I wouldn’t come home if I knew about them.) One afternoon, as I was in the basement vacuuming the hallway carpet next to the door to the laundry room, the suction from the vacuum slightly moved a piece of lint sitting on the linoleum floor of the laundry room. Suddenly, a big brown spider, about as big around (with legs) as a fifty-cent piece, came racing out from under the door that leads to the hot water heater (which is right there in the laundry room.) From the angle it was running, it looked like it was running right at me. Of course, I screamed and backed myself into the opposite wall, and my mom, who was doing laundry, came running. As it turned out, we believe the spider thought the lint was prey, since it had moved apparently of its own free will. By the time my mom got there, the spider was standing by the lint, “examining” it with its front legs. My mom scooped him up in a jar, and flushed him down the toilet. We experience five more sightings during that week, all of which my mom killed for me, and all of which were about the same size.

During the week I was there, I also received a call that I had been accepted to law school at the University of Wyoming. This presented a problem, since school was scheduled to begin in only three weeks, and we had no where to live in Laramie. So, the following weekend we returned to my parents’ house on our way through to spend the weekend in Laramie looking for a place to live. My parents had left for Arizona with a U-Haul to take the rest of my sister’s belongings to her, and to help her and her husband move into their apartment. My husband and I were going to spend the night at their house on Friday night, travel to Laramie on Saturday and stay, and then travel straight through back to Salt Lake on Sunday. Regrettably, our housing search went so badly that we returned to my parents’ house on Saturday night instead.

As we walked into the bedroom and flipped on the light, I noticed another spider on the wall, close to the floor. I less-than-calmly pointed it out to my husband who asked “what do you want me to do about it?” Not wanting to waste time arguing with him and give the spider the chance to get away, I told him to watch it to make sure I could still find it when I got back. I then left him alone in the room, in search of a cup to scoop it up with so I could flush it down the toilet, as my mom had done the week before. When I returned with the clear plastic cup, there sat my brave, manly husband, up on the bed with his feet pulled up off of the floor. After laughing and calling him a coward, I went about trying to “scoop” up the spider in the cup. Why I didn’t just smash the thing, I’ll never know.

Unfortunately, the spider was half on the wall and half on the base board, meaning I could not place the cup over him flat against the wall. As I tried to scoop him up, he escaped out of the created space and – I kid you not – ran straight at me. He wasn’t after lint this time. I screamed bloody murder and leaped up onto the bed next to my husband, after which the spider changed direction and ran into a pile of clothes on the floor. Well, now what? I wasn’t about to get off of that bed, since I couldn’t tell exactly where he was at. So, I lay down on my stomach, stretched just far enough off the bed that I could reach the clothes, but could still retreat in a big hurry if necessary. I began to pick up the pieces of clothing, one by one, with two fingertips, and shake them out, then toss them aside when I felt confident that they contained no creepy crawlies. Finally, I found the one Creepy was hiding under. As soon as I picked it up, he ran toward me again. I screamed again, but managed to keep my wits about me and put the cup down over the top of him. So now, picture this: my husband, sitting next to me on this bed indian-style, doing absolutely nothing to help me, and me, stretched half-way off of the bed trying not to fall off while holding a plastic cup so hard down over a spider that it’s a wonder there wasn’t a permanent circle-shaped indentation in the burber carpet.

Finally, I got brave enough to get off the bed, feeling confident that the spider was efficiently confined. Creepy, meanwhile, was running at the sides of the cup, throwing his body savagely against them, in an effort either to just get out or to get out and eat me, I never could decide which. I didn’t know what to do. I must have held that cup for 20 minutes. By the time I finally did let go of the cup, my fingers were so stiff from gripping it so hard, I could barely move them. After much discussion, we decided that Creepy just had to die here, instead of in a watery grave. I readied myself with a shoe, and took the next five minutes mustering up the nerve to move the cup. At long last, I took a deep breath, and simultaneously moved the cup and smashed the spider with the shoe. Three times. Yep, he was dead.

The next morning was a whole new experience. I went to take a shower in the basement bathroom, the door to which just happens to be right next to the door that leads to the water heater. As I got into the shower, I distinctly remember thinking “I hope there’re no spiders in the folds of this curtain.” There weren’t. Later, after getting out of the shower, I was standing bent over with my wet hair flipped upside down, using a pick to comb it out and avoid the knots later. The shower in this bathroom is right next to the door, so I was standing on the bath mat right in front of the door. Keep in mind, I had no contacts in and no glasses on. My vision is bad enough that I can see my hand in front of my face clearly at about six inches away. Anything further than that is a complete blur. Now any of you who have imperfect vision will probably understand this. When you can’t see clearly, you feel very vulnerable and defenseless. Add to that the fact that at this time, I had just gotten out of the shower and had no clothes on whatsoever…well, talk about defenseless!

Suddenly, through my blurry vision I see a brown object scurry into the bathroom under the door and just stop. I, of course, start screaming for my husband who was upstairs at the other end of the house, all the while frantically wrapping my hair in the towel and backing up into the furthest corner of the bathroom away from the spider that I could get to, which isn’t that far considering this bathroom is probably not 6 feet across at its widest point. If I could’ve climbed the wall, I’d have been on the ceiling. In my frantic retreat I also grabbed my glasses and put them on, in an attempt to be able to see in case the spider advanced on me. Unfortunately, they had been sitting in the bathroom the whole time I’d been in the shower and had steamed up. Every few seconds I would take them off again, and not having any sort of cloth to wipe them off with, would try desperately to clear the steam with my fingers. This didn’t make for very clear vision. But, it was enough for me to see that the spider was just standing there, as if he were staring at me, plotting his attack…

I don’t know how long I stood there, but I truly had no defenses. No shoes, no cups, nothing to smash the thing with. And with the previous night’s experience, I was terrified to move. Finally I hear my husband outside the door asking, “Did you call for me?” In a very high-pitched, obviously panicked voice, I told him there was another spider and to get something to kill it with. When he returned a moment later, I warned him to be careful opening the door, since the spider was right there under the door. He slowly opened the door, right over the top of the spider. As he did this, I actually jumped up onto the counter next to the sink and pulled my feet up off of the floor, (not an easy feat, considering the counter is probably not more than 3 or 4 inches wide on that side of the sink). I was sure the spider would go into attack mode. It didn’t move. There stood my husband with one of my shoes. Instead of bending down and hitting the thing, he actually dropped the shoe from shoulder height onto the spider. Luckily he had good aim and it was a heavy shoe. The spider did not survive.

After that encounter, I called my parents in Arizona to tell them they HAD to do something about this spider problem. I talked to my dad and told him the whole harrowing tale. He didn’t believe me! He absolutely did not believe that these spiders literally attacked me! Can you imagine? In between howls of laughter, he told me in so many words that he was sure I was exaggerating, and in my panicked state I just misinterpreted the spiders’ attempts at escape as an attack. I finally just told him that he could believe me or not, but the fact remained that they had a spider infestation. He agreed and said they would deal with it when they got home. The problem was, they didn’t know what kind of spider these were, and therefore, didn’t know how to get rid of them.

In the weeks that followed they managed to capture one of the spiders alive, and took it first to a Game and Fish Warden, who thought it might be a Hobo Spider. Which absolutely made me sick to my stomach. They then took the spider to the local field expert. These people are amazing. They are paid to be familiar with all things natural in the area, from the largest moose, to the tiniest parasite, the largest tree to the tiniest weed. The field expert identified the spider as a garden spider. Apparently these spiders are very aggressive, and when informed of my story, the field expert agreed that the spiders probably did attack me. (My dad was very contrite, and rightly so!) These types of spiders are also not poisonous, but have bites that do hurt. The field expert told my parents how to get rid of the infestation.

Now, years later, my family is having difficulty with Hobos, who have been positively identified as such by the experts at the University of Wyoming. I wonder now if that isn’t truly the type of spider I did battle with way back when. The new experts say the field expert probably misidentified the spider then because, at that time, there had been no documented incidences of Hobos in Wyoming. Well, there are now!

And as if spiders aren’t enough, earlier this week 5 confirmed, and 1 unconfirmed, cases of lice have been discovered at my daughter’s daycare in the preschool class. Fortunately none have been revealed in my daughter’s class, and the class with the outbreak is actually housed in a separate building from my daughter’s. The daycare has been sanitized from top to bottom, and the infected children instructed to stay home until they have gotten rid of the problem. The part that really upset me, though, is how they were discovered. A little girl came up to the teacher and told her that her head itched, but that when she scratched one side of her head it hurt. The teacher didn’t even have to lift up the little girl’s hair. She looked at the side of her head and literally SAW her hair MOVE!! My question was, how did her parents not know about this?? I brush Sweetpea’s hair sometimes twice a day, since it’s so long and gets so many knots. I couldn’t miss lice in her hair. How could that child’s parents let it get that bad?? My daughter’s teacher told me that she was forever and a day doing that child’s hair, since her mom apparently never combed, and seldom washed, it. If you ask me, that’s neglect. I feel so awful for that little girl. I do not know whether daycare contacted authorities, but I would have had I been them. In the meantime we are being extra cautious and checking Sweetpea regularly to make sure she does not have them as well. So far so good, but I guess I am destined to have the creepy crawlies at least for the next couple of weeks…

Friday, February 1, 2008

When Did I Become A Cynic?

I realized the other day that I am becoming very cynical in my “old” age. Let me give you a few examples. My favorite t-shirts (so far) read "Let me drop everything and work on your problem." and "Well La-De-Frickin'-Da". Yesterday I read a debtors' pleading which indicated that they had 'misunderstood' what amount of money they were to pay into their bankruptcy plan, and my first reaction was "Yeah, right".

Unfortunately these are not the only indications I have had of my sudden change in outlook. Last week a fax came across my desk from an attorney representing a creditor in a bankruptcy case. All I had to do was look at the attorney’s name, and I immediately began to snarl and think of any way possible that I could make the task he was attempting to accomplish more difficult for him…and I hadn’t even read what it was he wanted yet! This is because this “gentleman” and I had a run-in while I was working as debtor’s counsel. While I can’t go into the details of the situation, I can say that he has made my s@#$ list, and will probably remain there regardless of what he does in the future. What is so shocking about this situation? Well, it’s been about three years since our run-in, and I’ve had no dealings with the man since. How’s that for cynical?

Later that same day, as I was coming back into the office after Court, I walked into the lobby and witnessed a scene straight out of the ‘80’s. In fact, I stopped and looked around at the other people in the lobby and adjacent restaurant to make sure I had not stepped through some sort of time portal. Walking through the lobby toward the bank was a woman who looked like she had just landed from 1988. She was blonde, and sported a very 80’s she-mullet. She was wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, over which she wore a red tank shirt. I really don’t know what the proper name of these shirts are, but they were made like a very low-cut tank top on the top, and then were varying lengths and either went straight down, or had elastic in the waist to make them appear to be a dress with a gathered skirt. (I tried to find a picture of them, but to no avail.) They were meant to be worn over shirts, with big wide or tube belts, and sometimes, if short enough, over leggings or stirrup pants as well. This lady had one of the ones with the elastic waist, but wore no belt at all, and it was very short. It almost looked like a maternity shirt. But there was no way this woman was pregnant, as she was gauntly thin. She wore black leggings, red socks and black dress shoes – flats. She carried with her a silver purse. Now, I realize that leggings, and possibly even the tank shirts/dresses are coming back into style. But the things that really ruined it for this woman were the mullet, the flats and the purse. Later, when thinking about the encounter, I could hardly believe my own reaction. My first thought: “Oooo, she’s cute!” And the second: “At least she’s color-coordinated.” Yikes.

A recent call to our office from a debtor in bankruptcy gave some very keen insight into the ideas this person had about how much control the bankruptcy court really has over the lives of debtors. While it’s not necessarily a stupid question, it certainly does reinforce Heather’s point that common sense is not so common. And you really can’t help but laugh. The caller asked our receptionist “Do I need a Court Order to get married?” While she handled it very tactfully, my first thought was “I don’t know, do you? Is there something internally, mentally or physically, wrong with you that requires a judge to decide whether you are a danger to your fiancĂ© and/or the gene pool?” My second thought was, “Not in this state”, quickly followed up by “Why? How old is she?” See? Definitely getting cynical. Maybe I’ve been working in the bankruptcy field too long…