Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I know, I know . . . it 's a subject that's been on every one's mind right now. Love it or hate it, we all have to deal with it. 
I hate to drive in the snow. Let me state that again.
I. Hate. To. Drive. In. The. Snow. 
Winter was so much easier when I was a kid, even though it always seemed like there was a foot of snow on the ground and I was always shovelling it. My dad deemed it my job to shovel the walk, but I really didn't mind. In my memory bank the sky was always blue and the snow would sparkle where the sun hit it. I could get it done in an hour while singing my favorite Beatles songs at the top of my lungs, then go inside and have hot chocolate. 
I don't remember very many school snow days. My sister and I lived a block away. Principal Neudecker would never close the school because he said that he knew that at least we'd be there. Mom would make us wear 24 layers of clothes for that trek of one block. 
Now back in the day, girls couldn't wear pants to school unless there was a blizzard of avalanche-like proportions. Therefore, dressing for school in the winter involved 2 pairs of tights, wool socks, boots, a wool skirt and a sweater or two. Kept you warm, but you really had to plan ahead if you had to pee.
I was in first grade and recess was about 10 minutes away when I realized that I had to go. Now.
I don't remember the teacher's name. She was one of the younger ones and slightly overwhelmed, so when I raised my hand and asked politely to be excused, she gave me a whithering look and said (and this is something that most right-thinking adults would never say to a 6-year-old), "Can't you wait? It's almost recess."
I thought about it for a minute, decided that I just couldn't, and let it fly. The pee ran down the sides of my chair and puddled on the floor underneath. One by one my classmates started noticing, resulting in a lot of pointing and giggling. I just sat there serenely with my hands folded, looking everywhere else - the ceiling, the portrait of Abe on the wall, the window - until the teacher finally grabbed me by the arm and hauled me out the door. 
After a hurried conference with Mr. Neudecker, it was decided that since it was a sunny day the only way to sufficiently dry me off was to stand me in the hallway with my skirt flipped up and my butt facing the window. It was a sound idea in theory and I was all for it, until the recess bell rang. The entire school began filing out the door on either side of me and the sound of their laughter rang off the linoleum floor. 
I dried during recess and went back to my seat. Things were fine until I got home and Mom said, "How was your day?" When I told her her head exploded. We put on our coats, she grabbed my arm and we marched right back up to the school. I wasn't allowed inside Mr. Neudecker's office during their little talk, but the yelling was impressive. Mom stormed out the office, grabbed my arm and said, "Come on."
She must have scared the living crap out of everyone because the rest of the year was pure hell. The teacher would ask me in class every 5 minutes if I had to go, Mr. Neudecker would stop me in the hall and ask if I had to go, the other kids would ask me if I had to go while backing up slowly. It was enough to make a kid seize up.
There really is no point to this story, except that it makes me cringe when I read a news story that states the only way to stay warm in the winter is to dress in layers. 
It really works. Absolutely.
Just be sure to plan ahead.  

Sunday, January 18, 2009

stink pretty

I've never really been a fragrance person and hate the smell of most perfumes. 
There are a few exceptions. When I worked in retail and got a discount, I would occasionally spring for Clinique's Aromatics Elixir. My mom's worn it for years - it's more of a sandalwoody sort of scent rather than flowery. And lately I've fallen in love with a company called Demeter. They make fragrances that mimic real life smells, with names like "Dirt" and "Thunderstorm". 
David's son Dylan once told me that I only like smells that most people think smell bad, and I guess that's true. The smells I really love are things like gasoline and hot tar. Maybe they remind me of my childhood, when my dad would come home from his job at the railroad smelling like creosote. All I know is I always try to get a little gasoline on my glove filling up my car in the wintertime so I can sniff it all day.
Yesterday I was at Schnuck's when one of those little glass jars of chopped garlic slipped out of my hand and broke all over the floor. There was a tall kid with an Amish beard working in the produce department, so I walked up to him, told him what I had done and that I was sorry. "Don't worry about it," he said conspiratorially, "I broke one myself this morning." 
The side effect was that suddenly the produce department was flooded with the heavenly scent of garlic. A lady standing next to me said, "That smells great! What is that?" While I was explaining to her about how much easier it was to buy garlic pre-chopped in these little jars rather than chopping up a clove, another man walked up sniffing the air and declared "I'm staying right here." It did smell like the best Italian restaurant you've ever been to. I hated to leave.
Now that I have a job I can buy Demeter fragrance again. 
I wonder if they make "Garlic"?

Monday, January 5, 2009


I am not sentimental about the holidays. If it were up to me, I'd take down the tree the minute the last present is unwrapped.
We did have a great tree this year - I almost hated to take it down.  After being horrified by the price of tiny little $40 trees at Ted Drewes', we went up Watson to be horrified by the price of tiny little $65 trees at a Boy Scout stand. We ended up at Lowe's (who woulda thunk?) right before closing and went home with a decent, although slightly dry, $18 tree. It smelled great right up until the day David donated it to Carondelet park.
But, I digress .  .  .
I'm a warm weather girl - the warmer, the better. I hate being cold and dread the approach of winter. I hate being cooped up inside. I look stupid in turtlenecks. I look even stupider in hats. 
The holidays are over, yippeeeee!!! Now I can start looking for spring!
In my imagination the days are already longer, the air smells different. Some days I might not even have to wear gloves - what a treat! Groundhog's day, Valentine's day, frozen Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's day all lead to Easter - that's a lot of holidays to cram into one 4-month period. I'm sure it was designed that way to keep our spirits up until we could go outside again. Robin freezin' his ass off in March with a look on his face that says, "I do this every year. When will I learn?"
Only with the utterance of the 4 most important words of spring - "Pitchers and catchers report" - will I truly know that winter is almost over.
Yikes! It's 22 degrees. Guess I'll go see if I have any clean turtlenecks.