Friday, August 19, 2011

The Not-So-Funny Side

…or, Welcome to My Train Wreck.

I suppose every humorous story needs to have a serious side, or maybe it’s just a need to vent my frustration in writing and this is my preferred outlet for such things. Because I value my readers, I will promise to keep this as light as possible, despite the fact that it weighs heavily on my heart.

Train wrecks. The theory is you can’t stop it, and you can’t look away. I have a train wreck in my life. Past, present, and future; it’s a big-assed mother-fucker and my head spins whenever I think about it. I can see what it did to my organizational skills and my ability to prioritize certain tasks.

Hoarders. I hear there’s a show about them on television. They probably all have their stories of why they are the way they are, and it all sounds so logical, at least it does to them. I can’t watch that show. My heart stops every time I see a commercial for it and I have to fight the urge to hide my eyes. Only problem with hiding my eyes is that I can never remember where the fuck I put them.

But that’s not the point; the point for me is how much that show scares me. My mother is a hoarder. Her hoarding is the reason we sleep in a tent trailer when we go visit. Her hoarding is the reason she has two houses (small houses, but houses nonetheless) and they are both filled with stuff.

Newspapers that have information or articles that she wants to keep (she does not have a computer, so there is no way she can check it out online). Books, books, and more books. Enough clothes to outfit a legion of elderly women, costume jewelry (not the good stuff, the tacky, gross stuff) that would fill a large steamer trunk, and shoes, purses, hats…

Food. Oh dear Goddess…my mother hoards food, but not the fresh stuff, oh no, she hoards stuff that has a “best used by” date that is not of this century. I cleaned her kitchen last year, hauling out six garbage bags of refuse; bulging cans of food, moldy…stuff, broken things, and who knows what else. Six bags, and folks, her kitchen is tiny. I finally managed to get it so the oven door closed (there was a black widow spider living in there because the oven doesn’t work). This allowed my father to actually get to the bathroom without too much trouble. Her food collection and kitchen condition are two reasons Tam and I did the cooking for the evening meals (and made sure there was enough food for lunch the next day).

There is a bedroom that is no longer fully accessible because there is too much stuff piled inside.

There is a beautiful “new” house complete with air conditioning, fully functioning doors and windows and a nice view of the valley, but they can’t use it because it is filled with stuff and there’s no room for my father’s chair.

She has a large mish-mash collection of antiques that she refuses to part with because she wants me to have them. While I wouldn’t mind having some of the items, you can be sure that I do not want, nor have space for, every damn thing. Tam loves to go “treasure hunting” in my mother’s house, although this last time, something exploded on her feet in the kitchen and she was completely grossed out. Couldn’t go poking around for a good two hours after that.

They spend most of their time in what they call the retreat, a one-bedroom house that my grandfather built. The bathroom is unsafe, the foundation questionable, and there is no air conditioning. But that’s where the stove is, with its one working burner, and the frightening fridge.

I understand why she is that way. As a child of the depression, you didn’t just toss used items away if they broke, you saved them and either fixed them, or used them to fix other things. They had no guarantee of food, and the only shelter they had was a tiny house with a wood stove and a pump for water in the kitchen. When my grandfather finally got around to installing indoor plumbing, my grandmother was delighted. That meant the house would actually get larger with the installation of a bathroom.

Or so she thought, instead he converted the second bedroom into the bathroom. He had issues…one of them being too many girlfriends (he and my grandmother had divorced when my mother was two) and they were making demands of their own on his time and handy-man skills.

I get it, I really do. She never liked to clean house, and when I was growing up, her first priority on weekends did NOT involve chores. They involved things like garage sales, second hand stores, antique stores, exploring the countryside, and whatever she could think of that would take her away from the mess at home. It kind of did a number on me as well, which is why my house has always had that “extremely well lived in” look. It looks like it is lived in by ogres. Messy, messy, ogres. Fortunately, Tam is not of that mind and has learned the fine art of keeping me on task when it comes to certain things… like cleaning.

But you can’t mention that kind of thing to my mother or she will totally freak the hell out. She becomes defensive and if you even hint that all you want to do is help her out, she will get her back up and accuse you of implying that she is not capable of taking care of her own house and insulting her intelligence.

It has nothing to do with smarts, it has everything to do with mental illness.

My father, is not a hoarder. He’s rather tidy, as tidy as he can be. He nests in his recliner, everything he needs during the day is within arm’s reach. He can’t get around the houses very well, and he tends to fall a lot, so he figures it’s just best if he stays put and watches television or works his crossword puzzles. In a ninety-degree house (unless it’s winter, then he has his space heater near by).

But he’s of the miserly mindset when it comes to some things regarding household maintenance (he calls it being careful, but considering someone bilked him out of nine-thousand dollars, I’m not so sure). He firmly believes that if you don’t flush toilet paper, you don’t have to pump the septic tank. Ever. If you even mention it to him, he starts sputtering and fuming and telling stories of how people come out, pump the tanks, then steal everything in sight.

Did I mention that both of my parents are a little on the paranoid side?

They are so afraid that someone is going to come in and rob them blind, they will not allow anyone to come in and help them. The piles of rusting farm equipment continue to grow and rot, and no amount of advice from me will be listened to or heeded.

While it breaks my heart to see this, it scares the hell out of me, because I know there will come a time that I’ll have to deal with it because either my parents will have crossed over or they will no longer be able to live out in the country where they can get away with this kind of behavior.

See that light up ahead? It’s not the end of the tunnel, it’s an oncoming train and I’m tied to the tracks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Late Night Hijinks

…and other ways to annoy your offspring.

Our first couple of nights at the folks’ place were pretty quiet, despite my constant seething about Tam being profiled at the big W (see previous post). Once the folks toddled off to bed, Tam and I were on our own, sitting in our tent trailer, puttering around, talking about stuff we needed to do to get the place in shape. The sky was killer blue at twilight and if the bugs hadn’t been so obnoxious, we would have been out there, but they were, so we weren’t.

Then Spawn arrived and her first night was boring for us. She headed off to her spot in the air-conditioned-yet-bathroom-less basement way too early, claiming she was wiped from her busy weekend. Middle Minion also went to bed early, but we weren’t sure exactly where he had been offered space, so we couldn’t do much about that.

However, Spawn was a prime target. The night deepened and Tam and I were in, um, high spirits and decided to pay her a visit. Ok, first of all, I just want to say this was all Tam’s idea. She started it, I just went along with it. Because it sounded like fun.

My mother has these little LED solar powered lights all over the place. Most of them are in buckets; big bouquets of lights illuminating plastic 5-gallon buckets. Not romantic, but my mother insists it is practical. If she wants to move them around, all she needs to do is grab one from the bucket (or pick up the whole kit and caboodle) and take them to wherever she needs them. Personally, I think she should just stake them into the ground, because she can still pull them up and use them wherever she wants, but I am an THE idiot-child and cannot be heard.

That night, Tam and I each grabbed a light from a bucket and headed down the stairs to the windows near Spawn’s room. Ducking down, we waved the lights near the windows and made “oooooh” noises.

Because we’re that awesome!

However, we were not awesome enough to be heard over her computer’s music program, so I attempted to gain her attention by tossing small pebbles at the window. That did not work, because I throw like a girl. Actually, I throw like a blind girl. A blind girl with no hands or sense of direction. Ok, I missed. Every. Damn. Time.

Tam was giggling like a small child and I was being eaten by mosquitoes, so I figured, “Fuck this,” and I stepped onto the porch and rattled the door knob. While I was rattling around, Tam said, “Oh, no! Your light isn’t working!” Sure enough, it had gone out. Right about then, Spawn opened the door.
“Boo!” I said, “My light stopped working. Did we scare you?”
“What? No, not really. What are you doing?”
“Ooooh!” Tam said, standing up and waving her light, which flickered off and on. “Oh, look,” she said, “my light isn’t working either.”
“You two need to go to bed.”
“Yeah, I suppose. We were going to go scare your brother, but now that our lights aren’t working, what’s the point?” I had placed my light on my shoulder as I talked to her.
Tam piped up, “Hey! You’re light’s working now!”
I brought the light forward just in time to watch it blink out. Nuts. We bid Spawn good night and headed back to the trailer. As we passed another window, we realized the lights were working just fine again. Spawn had gone to the other door and was securing it (suspicious child that she is), so we waved our lights and made the spooky noises and wandered into night. It was while we were heading to the stairs that Tam grabbed my arm and started laughing like a deranged hyena.
“The lights!” she said with a gasp, “they’re working again.”
“Yes, I know, but I don’t find it nearly as amusing as you do.”
“It’s because they’re solar powered! We were standing under the porch light! They don’t need to work in the light.”

A few days later, we were going to head out early and Spawn had yet to make an appearance. I went down and began pounding on her door.
BAM! BAM! BAM! Pause. BAM! BAM! BAM! Pause. BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! Finally, she opened the door, her hair a wild mess, sleep still tugging at both eyes, and that strange grunting sleepy breathing sound she’s made all her life.
“Grunt,” she said.
“Oh, good, you’re up. I thought you might still be asleep. We’re going to town in a few minutes and wondered if you wanted to go.” I could hear sleepy laser vision powering up.
“Not really,” she muttered.
“We’ll get Dutch Brother’s coffee,” I said, dangling her favorite beverage in front of her.
“I don’t care. I’m going back to bed.”
“Ok. I’ll tell Grandma that you’re staying here. She’ll probably be down to check on you in a little while.”
“Fuuuuuuck,” said my dulcet darling daughter as I closed the door before I could hear her say, “youuuuu.”

But Spawn was not the only offspring to get grief from a parent. My parents did their best to remind me that I’m their daughter. My dad, of course, was particularly vocal in the car, but my mother liked to say things… the wrong things at the worst possible times…

Due to my physical size and the size of my budget, I do not own a lot of clothes, so I tend to take good care of the ones I have so they last me a long time. When we were sitting around the tall grass after dinner at the trailer, I stood up and a sharp piece of metal on my chair tore a large hole in the seat of my shorts. I had two pair of shorts with me, and the one pair that went with every shirt I brought were now unwearable.

I was annoyed, and stomped off to the trailer to change. As I was stomping, my mother attempted to stop me by saying, “Oh, stop. Don’t do that.”
Tam was shocked at what she heard and shot my mother a look, which I missed as I was in the trailer attempting to find something clean to wear and my mother missed because she was ignoring everyone.

When I was once again presentable, I went outside and removed the chair from where I’d been sitting. Mind you, I removed it into the tall grass. Way into the tall grass. At least I folded it first and didn’t hit anyone with it, not that I wasn’t tempted…My mother was appalled at my behavior and decided to leave the party. I was pretty much ok with that by then. It was late and I was down a pair of pants.

The next one was when we finally grew weary of being mosquito-food every evening, so Tam went out and bought some citronella candles. She placed them on plates and set them on the ground, then… THEN?!? SHE LIT THEM! ON FIRE! When my mother saw that, you would have thought Tam had just poured gasoline over the entire area and was standing there playing with matches. She fussed and fumed and carried on, but Tam was cool and calm. Then my mother said, “Don’t catch your clothes on fire.”
At that point, I couldn’t hold my tongue and said, “Hi, I’m five years old!”

That’s when my mother told me to shut up.

Next: A Serious Side of Vacation…

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Profiled at Walmart

I’m not a big fan of Walmart. My experiences in most Walmart stores are usually nerve wracking and tend to make me break out in hives. Tam is of the same mind. We have one super version in our fair city and we managed to get through it once. By the time we were done, someone, and I won’t mention any names, but IT WAS ME, was foaming at the mouth.

Unfortunately, we had to make a stop at the Walmart in the city near my parents’ place. We had neglected to bring a couple of very important items so that was where we went. I opted to stay in the car and keep an eye on the luggage while Tam headed inside. She’s usually unflappable and better suited to strike-force shopping in the bowels of hell. The day she went in, she was wearing regular clothes, although she had donned her favorite summer hat.

She was also adorned with all of her earrings. She has eight in each ear, with the dangling ones being small pentacles. Nothing terribly obvious, but there they were. When she entered the store, the greeter didn’t say a word to her, but that was not a problem in her eyes. She did her shopping, made her purchases and headed for the door.

Immediately after leaving the checkout stand, she headed for the door, carrying the two large boxes (boxes that were too large to fit in bags). As she approached the “greeter” she was stopped and asked for her receipt. This meant, she had to put the boxes down, dig through her purse and hand it over. Not a huge problem, just a bit inconvenient. As she handed over the requested piece of paper, the “greeter” said something like, “you can’t be too careful,” then…the final insult, “smile for that security camera up there.”

Oh, yes she did!

When this was reported to me, I was tired, cranky, and ready to go in there and raise all kinds of hell, but we needed to get to my folks’ place so off we went, the incident behind us.

Or so we thought.

A couple days later, we had to return one of the items because we found we didn’t need it after all. We hadn’t even taken it from the box; hell, we hadn’t even opened the damn box. Since she had used her card, she was the one who needed to go back inside. The woman at the returns counter was… well, calling her “rude” would be putting it nicely.

She wanted to know why the item was being returned, which is a fair question. When Tam explained that we didn’t need it and hadn’t even opened the box, the woman ripped the box open and pulled the contents out. Ok, whatever, I realize they have to be careful, but they don’t have to be rude about it. I have to wonder if they would have been so ugly if Tam had not been wearing her pentacle earrings again.

However, the story is not done yet. A few days later, Spawn arrived in town and needed to do a little shopping and headed for Walmart. Spawn also wears a pentacle.

Can you tell where this is going?

After she made her purchase and had PASSED THROUGH THE ALARM THINGY and was on her way out, she was stopped by the greeter. Her items were in a bag, the receipt handy, and no sounds coming from the anti-theft alarm system at the door, yet she was stopped and asked to show her receipt.


My mother tried to defend the store by explaining that they had been hit pretty hard by shoplifters. I understand they have a theft problem, and I really hate thieves. But the way they were going about stopping this drain on their inventory was wrong. They stopped certain people as they were leaving, yet there were several people leaving the store without being stopped. Mind you, none of them were wearing pentacle jewelry.

It took every ounce of willpower for me to not go in there and tell them how much they suck… oh, hell, no it didn’t, Tam simply refused to let me go there without my mother in tow. Why? Because she knows I won’t pitch a big hairy-assed fit in front of her, since my mother would stand there and tell me to behave myself. It is counter-productive to berate a major corporation when one’s mother is in the process of berating you.

Yes she will do that, then can’t understand why I’m annoyed with her. There’s more to that part of the vacation than I’m going to put in this post, but it will show up here, I promise.

Right after, “Late Night Hjinks and Other Ways to Annoy Your Offspring”



I'm currently hating Blogger. I am unable to sign in and stay signed in, which means I cannot do what I intended the way I had planned, so the next post will be up after a short delay.

I hope.


Now, it says I cannot post comments on other blogs because I do not have access to those accounts. WHAAAAAAT????



It seems the only way I'm going to get anywhere on Blogger is if I'm signed in on Google Chrome. Have I mentioned that I really hate google chrome? No? Well, there's a blog post for another time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Driving With Crazy

After we got the trailer situation under control, we were “free” to go places and do things. One of the things my folks really enjoy is going out to dinner. They don’t go very often now, because my dad has a very difficult time getting around. He uses a walker because unlike almost every other person who has had knee replacement surgery (twice on the same knee), it did not help him move better, it made things worse.

According to him, anyway. His main goal in life was to be a pathetic little old man, and he started defining that role when he was still in his 60’s. He’s had about 20 years to perfect it and he’s getting it down quite well.

So, my parents tend to stick around the homestead… well, my dad does, but my mother is very busy with her church work and is away a few days every week. This does not displease either of them, because after 60 years together, they can stand as much apart time as possible.

But when we come to town, they love to show us around and we end up going out to dinner every few nights. When my parents lived up in Washington, they knew good food, especially Chinese food, as we have access to some of the best. Their taste has slipped a few degrees and the place they hauled us off to that first Sunday was… dismal. They, of course, loved it.

One of the nice things about my car is that it’s quite comfortable for four adults. My mother drives a mini van, but it’s not that comfortable, because she has filled it with… stuff. Lots of stuff, so it takes her a while to make enough space for passengers. It’s easier to take my car. Besides, her driving makes me wet myself.

In my car, my father is a good passenger. I think he’s afraid he’ll accidently push a button and something terrible will happen. Like triggering the ejector seat… So he sits quietly and minds his manners.

My mother, on the other hand, takes backseat driving to a whole new level, and while I appreciate getting directions on where we’re going, I end up reminding her several times that I do not want a thousand directions at once because a) I’m in a strange city, b) hello! traffic! and c) I cannot remember that much while I’m trying to find my way AROUND pedestrians and not OVER them. She is also the type to say, “sure, you can go this way,” and as you are heading in the direction she insists will get you where you want to go, she’ll pipe up with, “or you could have gone the other way and gone past that other place that we like so much, you know where my friend Gert and I go every so often, blah, blah, blah nothing germane to the final destination, drivel.”


I will give her credit for continuity, she does the same thing when I’m driving her van.

My dad, on the other hand, becomes a raving lunatic when he’s riding shotgun in the van. According to my mother, he does similar things when she’s driving, but not quite as bad. For instance, the car ahead of me went through the green light, but was stopped by traffic just past the cross walk. I decided to forgo blocking the intersection and stayed back where it was legal. The next thing I know, there is a lot of flapping and hand waving, mixed with grunting and other strange noises coming from the front passenger seat.
“What?” I asked him.
“Why aren’t you going?”
“Because I don’t want a ticket. When the intersection is clear, I’ll move forward.” Just then the car ahead of me made room, and away we went. He was… satisfied.

Before I continue, just let me say that my father has dentures. New dentures. New, ill-fitting dentures. He’s always had sloppy speech which made him difficult to understand, but now that he has sloppy teeth, it’s almost impossible. He sounds like the love child of Sylvester the cat and Donald Duck. Just toss in a nasal whine and you’ve got my dad’s voice.

Yes, it’s that lovely. He used to sing really well in a marvelous baritone, but evidently, little old men don’t sing baritone, they mumble through their nostrils.

We made it through town and headed toward the final stoplight before the hitting the highway. There were several cars ahead of us and the light was green a few seconds before anyone moved. Suddenly, he started shouting, “Come on, you gol’dang Irishmen! That light’s not gonna get any greener!” Of course, it sounded more like, “Kem en ya gol deng Irshmen! Nat lighsh’s no’ gonna geh a-e geener.” If he hadn’t been saying that same damn thing at every green light for the last 40 years (or more), I probably wouldn’t have understood a word of it.

Despite knowing what was coming, it was still startling and I told him there would be no more shouting in the car, or he’d have to walk home, and I wouldn’t let him use his walker. He shut up, but that was my mother’s cue to start yammering on about how he does that all the time while she’s driving too. Yay, it’s another pissing contest with my mother! How awesome. I declined to play.

After dinner, even though the sun was still high in the sky, I was implored by the D.O.T. to turn my headlights on for safety. So I did. I asked where the switch was and turned them on. Just like that. Five minutes later, my dad said, “Turn your headlights on.”
“I did.”
“No you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did.”
“I can’t see them.”
“Well, no, it’s still daylight.”
Tam piped up from the back, “You have your sunglasses on, Pop.”
He fussed and fumed, and for the next forty miles, he tried to convince me I had not turned on the fucking lights. When we got home, however, I forgot to turn them off and the warning bell started dinging the minute I opened the driver door.
“Whass’at?” He demanded.
“Ah, that would be the van letting me know I FORGOT TO TURN OFF THE GODDAMN HEADLIGHTS.”
“Huh. How ‘bout ‘at?”

Yeah, how about that?

Next: Profiled…at Walmart!

Monday, August 8, 2011

And By Vacation, I Mean…

... Just Another Trip to Hell and Back.

Tam and I packed our bags, loaded up the car, and headed to Southern Oregon to visit my parents. We were looking forward to a nice, restful time working on the tent trailer, soaking up some sunshine, and catching up with the doings and goings on of my folks.

That was the plan, anyway, but as usual, that wasn’t too close to what actually happened. We were hoping to get work done on an old tent trailer that my ex and I had purchased many years ago. It’s a nice shelter that is well outfitted with all the accommodations one would need for roughing it: bathroom (with tiny shower), kitchen (with fridge, propane stove AND oven in case you want to bake pies while camping), a dining nook with table that collapses down to make a twin bed, and two king beds (one on each end). It expands out to 23 feet in length (and seven feet in width), so we were quite comfortable.

Except for the bathroom, but I’ll go into that a little more later.

The Ex and I had stored it on my parents’ property with the intention of either selling it, or maybe someday using it again. But we split up, the kids grew up, and we cannot tow such a load with the rigs we owned, so there it sat. Finally, after having it sit for several years, I decided to check out the inside.

I fully expected to find tons of gross things, like bugs, mold, spider webs, rodents, etc, but the place was almost spotless! There were a few signs that mud-dauber wasps had gotten inside and built small nests, but that was all. It became a perfect place for me to stay that didn’t involve me living in my parents’ basement, no matter how temporary because there is no bathroom. Not only is there no bathroom in the basement, when my grandfather built the house, he neglected to install an interior stairway, so to get to the bathroom, one must vacate the building, walk UPHILL, IN THE DARK, ALONE, before entering the house to piss.

It…is not a joyous thing when one has an old bladder that likes to wait until the very last minute to wake me up.

At least in the trailer, there was a toilet. It is not the kind you hook up to existing sewer, rather you fill a “cartridge” with water and the chemical solution that helps break stuff down and mask the smell, and when it’s full, you pull the cartridge (carefully), and dump it in the nearest toilet. Simple.

Unless you are my parents. They are odd people with odd ideas and there is no changing their minds no matter what evidence you can show them that prove they are wrong. If it weren’t learn’t in school, it be wrong. Ok, they’re not quite THAT backward, but close. Modern things frighten them and they have a deep distrust of anything that goes against the way they learned it. Progress, according to my parents, is a lie. They are on septic and you don’t put strange chemicals into the septic tank. Even chemicals designed to assist in the breakdown of, um, you know… toilety things.

Life would have been lovely if we’d been able to use the facilities in the trailer, but since it had been stored in one place for so long, the ground had shifted, and my mother had planted things around it. Things that grow tall. Then she decided she didn’t want to weed the tall things, so the things that grow tall invited friends that grow burrs to join them and they took over the side of the trailer where the access panel opened for the potty cartridge. Getting through that mess would have required a machete, pith helmet, three guides and some guy in a loin cloth shrieking as he swung from tree to tree.

My father refused to play the part of Tarzan. I was not disappointed in his decision.

I was, however, disappointed in the fact that we’d still have to travel a short distance on foot in order to pee. Unfortunately, peeing in the field is not an option when your balance is as bad as mine. Besides the place is rife with wild critters and stickery plants all over the place; there are parts of my body that do not need burrs any more than they need to be inspected by deer, feral cats, or the millions of ants that live near by.

Tam is a good sport and did her best to fix our meals on a card table that sat at a rather steep angle, which made chopping onions and other round foods quite a challenge. After the first night of juggling knives and potatoes, she decided one of the first orders of business would be to figure out how to make a few things more level.

Did I mention that the trailer was also no longer on level ground? No? Well, it was just off enough so we couldn’t quite secure the door, which meant any and all flying insects (and there were a LOT of them) could, and did, come in every evening. This included the beast that became known as Bug-zilla.

We had intended to get things leveled and situated in the first few days we were there, but the heat took its toll and rendered the web-footed Seattleites helpless. My mother was less than helpful as she over-did her attempts at being helpful. She began hovering when all we needed was a little breathing room. Her forgetfulness was troubling, and when I got impatient with her, things got ugly. It would have been nice if we’d been able to stay in their air-conditioned house, but… well, that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, we had no real plans for our time down there, except to settle on a more suitable location for the trailer (one with easy access to all external panels), and figure out how to move it. The rest of our time would be spent attempting to get it as level as possible in its current location and keep cool without spending a ton of money.

Then Spawn and Middle Minion showed up and things got totally out of hand. Middle Minion hadn’t been down there in several years and there were places I wanted to show him that I thought he would enjoy. My mother also had plans for her young, strong grandson, plans that included mowing the long grass out by the road, setting some fence posts, and other similarly fun activities. My mother sure knows how to throw a good time… right out the window.

Middle Minion left before we could take our share of his muscles to make our little home-on-wheels a nicer place to live, so that meant we three girls; Tam, Spawn, and I, were left to do the work on our own. Oh, my mother offered to help, but I refused her offer because I knew EXACTLY what would happen.

As it was, no one died, and we managed to wedge enough stuff under the wheel to shim it up just enough to call it good. Then I stuffed some bricks under the table legs and made Tam’s life as camp cook a lot easier (but much less entertaining for the rest of us). When my mother saw our handy work, I could tell she was struggling to not criticize our work or cast dire predictions of imminent failure.

I, on the other hand, wore my smugness openly and with much pride.

Next: Driving With Crazy.