Friday, December 9, 2011

A Little Bling

A Little Bling

By Allison Adams 11-25-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 11-25-11

Thanks to a shorter list, a smaller budget, and a shift in priorities – I am almost finished with my Christmas shopping.

I’ve done most of it online, from the comfort of my broken-in desk chair.

I’ve also purchased some wonderful treasures from a few local artisans.

I’ve even threatened to create some handcrafted Christmas gifts for each of my family members, much to their chagrin.

Needless-to-say my plans for Black Friday most certainly did not include shopping.

Truthfully, I hadn’t even planned on leaving my neighborhood … until I noticed we were running a little low on toothpaste.

Before I dashed out to buy another tube of Crest I figured it couldn’t hurt to look through the stack of sales flyers that consumed the morning newspaper.

Never hurts to look.

Within a couple of moments I spied an ad for a sale priced gift I still needed to pick up, and before you could say “attention K-Mart Shoppers” I was jockeying my car into a parking spot.

In no time I nabbed a few deeply discounted doohickeys when I caught a glimpse of something sparkly out of the corner of my eye.

It was beautiful.

It was shiny.

It shimmered beneath the store’s lights so brightly I was temporarily blinded by the glare!

It was pristine!

I was instinctively drawn to it.

I decided it couldn’t hurt to check it out.

Never hurts to look.

As I moved in for a closer inspection I reminded myself that I was there to shop for gifts for other people.

Buying gifts for one’s self is a big Christmas shopping no-no.

But the closer I got to it, the more I knew I wanted it for my very own … and heaven knows I could certainly use a new cookie sheet.

Oh, sure, I already owned a cookie sheet.

Actually, I own three: three pitiful, cookie sheets.

My cookie sheets look like relics that were exhumed from some Civil War battlefield, lightly rinsed off, and sent back into action.

Am I alone?

My cookie sheets look as if they’ve spent time underneath my car catching dripping oil even though they’re routinely scrubbed within an inch of their lives with steel wool.

They look like they’ve served as the laboratory for a couple of unsuccessful science experiments, even though they’ve seen the business end of an SOS pad on a regular basis.

One of them looks like its been used as a parking place for my hot glue gun.

(Oh, wait – it has.)

In polite social circles I would describe the condition of my cookie sheets as “seasoned, with an Old World patina” – which, of course, is code for “warped and discolored beyond recognition.”

The bottom line is this: neither me, nor my cookie sheets have aged well.

I am so ashamed of them that I keep them secretly concealed in my kitchen.

(I could tell you where they’re hidden, but then I’d have to kill you.)

Despite their cruddy condition I’ve continued to use them, but I do so privately.

(I don’t want any witnesses as I chisel my baked goods from their nearly permanent resting spot on The Blackened Tray Of Torture.)

So … there I stood in the store aisle, staring at the display, green with envy at the sight of perfectly polished, super sturdy, non-stick, cookie sheets.

I wept at the baking possibilities.

Well. You’d better believe I left that store with a brand spanking-new cookie sheet in my shopping bag!

I couldn’t be any more excited about my purchase if it was hanging around my neck like an aluminum-clad pendant dangling from a stainless steel chain!

I just love a little bling!

Yeah, I know. I need a little bakeware therapy.

I also still need toothpaste.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy 2sday

By Allison Adams 11-13-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 11-14-11

“Happy Tuesday, honey!”

“happy 2sday mom”

“What’s up?”

“head n 2 class”

“Great! How’s the weather?”

“windy”

“Its lovely at home. I miss you.”

“miss u 2”

“Let me tell you a story.”

“no time”

“It’s a short story. Once upon a time, in a quaint, small town, there was a prematurely gray-haired momma.”

“mom”

“She was married to a handsome, hard-working daddy-bird, and they lived in an empty nest.”

“r u really gonna do this now”

“Yes, I am.”

“o boy”

“Anyway – their last baby bird had recently left the nest for college, far, far away.”

“did they let him take a car”

“No.”

“i can relate”

“They missed their baby bird very much, but they pledged to give him some space so he could spread his wings.”

“dfine space”

“I mean they didn’t constantly call their baby bird on his cell phone, or pester him with trivial text or email messages.”

“dfine trivial”

“They refrained from initiating contact with him unless they needed to pass along important info.”

“dfine important”

“They sent occasional emails or txt messages about life altering details.”

“we had lasagna for supper is NOT life altering dtail”

“They really tried.”

“neither is – i found ur missing shoestring under ur bed”

“The momma bird had a harder time with this arrangement than the daddy bird.”

“u got that rite”

“After a while, the momma bird began to crave communication from her baby bird.”

“so she stepped up the txting”

“Yes, she did. And she coveted any response she received from her baby bird, no matter how brief the reply.”

“baby bird is vry vry busy”

“The momma bird knew her little bird was very, very, busy, but it was hard for her to think he was too busy to share his life with her.”

“calculus & german r killing baby bird”

“There was no depth to their conversations. Their contact became nothing but a series of short messages.”

“txt msgs r supposed 2 b short”

“She knows that.”

“then why is she txting complete sentences”

“She can’t help herself.”

“she needs 2 get wit da program”

“Anyway, momma and daddy bird scheduled weekly Skype calls with their baby bird. That way they could converse, and see his sweet face, and pretend they were sitting across the table from him.”

“skype is good”

“Not really. The connection was horrible and the Skype sessions were more frustrating than fulfilling.”

“2 bad”

“So the momma bird began to make notes.”

“huh”

“She began to make notes about things she wanted to talk to her baby bird about so she would remember to include those things when the day came that they could have a REAL conversation.”

“ur joking”

“No joke. You see - text messaging and emails are NOT substitutes for face-time.”

“i no”

“The momma bird started to count the days until her little bird would come back to the nest for a visit.”

“r u serious”

“Eleven. She realized that while there are benefits to text messages and email, there is no greater treasure than good, old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation.”

“my battry is dying rap it up”

“Ok. So, the momma bird is patiently waiting for the day when she can perch next to her baby bird, and they can tweet about the things happening in their lives.”

“wait - r u on twitter”

“No, son. Pay attention. This is a story about birds.”

“o right”

“Wait. If I was on Twitter, would you follow me?”

“no”

“Just checking.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity

By Allison Adams 10-28-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 10-28-11

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad Halloween is finally over.

A very unusual thing began happening at our house right after I brought home the first bag of Halloween candy, just after Labor Day.

I like to buy early, you know, when there’s still a nice selection.

I’m trying to make up for the great Trick-Or-Treat debacle of 2010, when I stocked up on a closeout special of Root Beer Barrels and snack-size boxes of raisins. As a result we were labeled “one of those houses”, so this year I decided to spring for the really good stuff – my favorites: everything chocolate, and Smarties.

Well - almost immediately my supply of really good stuff began to steadily disappear!

I am not making this up.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed it – my husband noticed it, too.

Naturally since there’s just the two of us now– and we’re mature, health conscious, adults – there was no need to stash the stock out of the kids’ reach, as we have had to do in years past.

As a matter of fact since there was no need to tuck away the treats I artfully arranged our high quality candy in a fancy crystal bowl, which I displayed in plain sight – right in the middle of the coffee table.

Soon after, I couldn’t help but notice that the level of candy in the bowl seemed to be dropping.

It was as if my fancy crystal bowl had sprung a leak.

Eventually I realized that the contents had simply “settled”, and I added more goodies to bring it back up to an acceptable level.

Nonetheless the settling continued; and I had to add even more.

Oh – I almost forgot to mention that I also started coming across empty candy wrappers … in my pockets, at the bottom of my purse, and tucked up my sleeve.

Strange.

Anyway, eventually I had to go to the store and restock!

That started a vicious cycle: Add. Settle. Add. Settle. Go out and buy more.

One day while I was hardly at work at my computer I glanced over gasped when I spied a couple of empty, crumpled Smartie cellophanes next to my keyboard.

They appeared there out of nowhere.

There was also pile of fun-sized chocolate candy wrappers at the bottom of the little trashcan next to my desk.

Spooky.

My husband reported similar findings on his person and in spots he frequented around the house.

We were stumped.

We discussed the matter further and after great deliberation we agreed on a plan, which I executed the next day.

In a drastic attempt to thwart whatever force was behind our disappearing candy, I moved the crystal candy bowl from the center of the coffee table to the side table at the end of the couch.

It. Did. Not. Work.

I bought another bag of Butterfingers, Almond Joys, and Smarties.

And some miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Add. Settle. Add. Settle. Go out and buy more.

I continued to find empty candy wrappers in my bathrobe pockets, and also between the seat cushions of the couch.

Eerie.

By the time October 31st rolled around my husband and I had each gained nearly 6 pounds just from the stress caused by the whole disappearing candy ordeal.

Needless to say we eagerly responded to the doorbell last night, and generously filled the Trick-Or-Treat-ers’ bags and buckets with fun-sized chocolates and Smarties!

Now that the candy is gone I expect the paranormal activity will cease as well and we can resume a normal life – albeit slightly heavier.

Weird.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Questionable Behavior

By Allison Adams 10-16-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 10-16-11

Woe is me.

Whether I like it or not, I believe I have turned yet another page in the Book of Life.

Gone are the days when I used to sit and consider the explanations to profound questions like: “What is the meaning of life?” and “Why me, Lord?”

For me, now, those issues are no longer ponderable.

You won’t hear me asking, “Is there life on other planets?” because whatever the possibility is, it is of no concern to me.

Neither is learning how much wood a woodchuck could chuck, or who shot J.R.

And even though I still don’t know the answer, I no longer really wonder if fish sleep or why British people don’t sound British when they sing.

I have a more important mystery to solve.

These days the burning question I ask myself repeatedly is this: “Why did I come in here?”

I don’t care about the answers to thought provoking queries like “At a movie theatre, which arm rest is mine?” or “What was the best thing before sliced bread?”

The answers to those questions don’t matter to me when I can’t even remember why … I’m standing in my living room holding a pencil.

Am I alone?

All I really want to know is why I picked a specific moment to deliberately march to a particular place?

Is that asking too much?

I’ve learned, actually, that most of the time it is.

In these instances, which now happen regularly, I try to apply deductive reasoning in order to come up with an answer as to why, for instance, I find myself … in the garage carrying a tomato.

It’s never the obvious.

Nonetheless, I do try to unravel the riddle.

I quiz myself, asking: “What was I doing just before I ended up here?”

But most of the time I haven’t the foggiest idea.

As a general rule, when I realize I don’t know why I’ve turned up someplace, I’ve also forgotten what I was doing beforehand.

I’ve recognized that there is a very small window of opportunity for success when retracing one’s steps, and usually by the time I think to resort to self-cross-examination, that window has already slammed shut.

That was the case yesterday when I discovered myself … standing in the driveway with a light bulb in my hand.

Woe is me.

Did I already say that?

I would love to be consumed with wondering how one size can possibly fit all instead of trying to figure out why … I am camped out at my desk staring at a blank computer screen.

Was I going to Google something?

If so, what? “Why Am I Sitting Here?”

Anybody?

Oh, well.

At least while I sat at my computer waiting to discover why in the world I came to be perched there in the first place, I made use of the opportunity to write my column.

Whoa. Hang on.

You don’t think I meant to…?

Nahhhhhhhhh.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Empty Nesters - Part I

The Empty Nesters – Part I

By Allison Adams 09-19-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 09-20-11

One thing that became immediately apparent in our recently emptied nest was the lack of need to provide an endless supply of worms.

Now that there are only two beaks to feed, it’s no long mandatory to maintain a packed pantry and a full refrigerator.

But it’s hard to teach an old bird new tricks.

For me, it has become instinctive to wander through the grocery aisles filling my cart with bread, meat, potatoes, sugary treats, and bags of salty things that are immediately plucked from the shopping bag and ripped open by enthusiastic eaters who have never bothered to learn how to properly operate a chip clip.

The problem of what and how to prepare for supper – for two – instead of a tribe, has proven to more difficult than I had imagined.

For a while my husband and I agreed that we could do with just a “snack supper”. Even so I took care to offer some variety from one night to the next:

Night 1 – Cheddar cheese and crackers

Night 2 – Gouda cheese and crackers

Night 3 – Peanut butter and crackers

Night 4 – Salsa and chips

Night 5 – Cheerios

(It turns out I can only master culinary creativity for 4 nights in a row. Who knew?)

Eventually even I realized that eating every evening meal off of an hors d’oeuvre platter was too good to be true, so I pulled out my apron and went back to the business end of the kitchen and spent half a day hunkered over open flame, homemaking a hearty, healthy stew for my honey.

Alas, I struggled with proportions.

In my birdbrain I’m still cooking for a flock, and since I hate wasting food I had to be resourceful as I attempted served the same thing every night for a week:

Night 1 – Stew and cornbread

Night 2 – Stew over cornbread

Night 3 – Stew, cornbread, and a salad

Night 4 – Beefy vegetable soup (aka, stew mixed with salad), and cornbread crumbles

Night 5 – Cheerios

The following week we ate every evening meal out of a bowl:

Night 1 – Caesar salad

Night 2 – Chef salad

Night 3 – Tuna fish salad

Night 4 – Campbell’s chicken noodle soup

Night 5 – Cheerios

That week we lost a couple of pounds but longed for something just a little more substantial that could be served on a plate.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and I decided the answer to my problem might be found my grocer’s frozen foods section.

When our nest was full I typically bypassed the frozen dinner selections, opting instead for a supply of staples such as tater tots, pizza, ice cream, and anything with a Sister Schubert’s label.

On this grocery visit, I opened the glass freezer door and wept at the amazing possibilities for pre-cooked, portion-controlled meals.

For weeks my husband had inquired what was for supper with cautious anticipation, feigning excitement upon hearing my response – but last night I couldn’t wait to see his reaction when I announced the menu.

“So … uh … what’s for supper?”

“Tonight I’ll be serving braised tips of beef tenderloin au jus over a nutty, long-grained, wild rice. Tender, sweet, baby carrots with a brown sugar glaze. Crisp green beans topped with oven-roasted slivered almonds.”

“In other words”, he replied, “we’re having a TV dinner.”

“It’s a gourmet frozen entrĂ©e”, I corrected, politely.

“If it walks like a TV dinner, and talks like a TV dinner, it’s a TV dinner.”

For the rest of the week we are having Cheerios.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Fast Pitch

The Fast Pitch

By Allison Adams 09-18-11, Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 09-19-11

Our cat is a hunter-gatherer.

She preys on moles, squirrels, frogs, locusts, and even tweety birds.

She plays a cruel game with her vulnerable, unwitting, opponent, which eventually ends in its death. Game over, she gathers whatever remains of her victim and lays her offering at our back door.

You know the type.

I knew with the first cold snap in the air she’d begin to add mice carcasses to the altar.

This morning my husband declared that the season was upon us.

“Your cat left us a dead mouse on back porch”, he announced.

“Eeeeeeeeewwwwwwweeeeeee!”

“I hope you don’t mind, but I went ahead and disposed of it before you had a chance to admire her work.”

“Eeeeeeeeewwwwwwweeeeeee!”

“I thought you’d feel that way. Just be sure to praise your cat next time you see her. You don’t want to hurt her feelings.”

“I promise to react appropriately”, I replied.

I added mousetraps to my shopping list.

A couple of hours later I stopped just inches short of stepping on a deceased mouse lying near our backdoor, but this time it was INSIDE.

Eeeeeeewwwwwwweeeeeee!

I hollered to my husband who was firmly planted in his recliner, clutching the clicker, and staring at the football game on TV.

“How did you say you disposed of that dead mouse earlier?” I asked.

“I picked it up and hurled it into the backyard. It was a great throw, if I say so myself”, he replied.

“Why didn’t you throw it in the garbage can?”

“Unnecessary. I hurled it with great velocity! Its waaaaay out there!”

“Well, your cat must have found it and brought it back. There’s a dead mouse right here by the back door – INSIDE!”

“Impossible”, he replied. “Can’t be the same one.”

“What did your mouse look like?” I inquired. “Was is brown with little bitty ears and a little nose?” I inquired.

“Yes, it was” he replied. “Does that one you’re looking at have a tail?”

“Yes, but it’s not a long tail. I’d say its tail is in proportion to its body.”

“Hmmm. Sounds about like my mouse”, said my husband.

“Did your mouse look like this when you found it?” I did my best dead rodent impression, but my husband never took his eyes off the TV.

“Yes”, he said without looking my way. “My mouse looked a lot like that, except its belly was white.”

“Snow white, or more ecru?” I asked.

“Can’t really say. Do you see any signs of a struggle?”

“Well, the lamps haven’t been knocked over, nothing’s broken, and there’s no sign of forced entry”, I reported.

“No - I mean, is there any indication of trauma on the body of the deceased?”

“No, not really. It just sort of looks like its been played with to death.”

“Same with the one I tossed into the backyard earlier this morning. Probably the same mouse. Maybe we should start tagging them for identification purposes. I’ll bet your cat retrieved it and brought it back.”

“I thought you hurled it with great velocity?”

“I did!” he said, “I used my fast pitch!”

“Well, can you come and get rid of it again, please?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t hear you.”

“Fine. I’ll do it myself. Only this time I’ll dispose of it outside in the garbage can.”

“That’s a great idea.”

“Honestly, I can’t believe you picked up a dead mouse with your bare hands, and hurled it into the backyard – with great velocity”, I said.

“Oh – that reminds me, don’t use the blue plaid oven mitt.”

I added oven mitts to my shopping list.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Car Pool

The Car Pool

By Allison Adams 09-04-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 09-05-11

For many years we have owned a fleet of five vehicles. (Believe me, I’m not bragging – I’m complaining.)

The cars in our fleet are perpetually rotated among the licensed drivers in our family with some regard to the family hierarchy.

The car that has been in commission the longest and has been circulated the most is our old, beloved, Buick Rega (the “L” fell off in March of 2009).

Beginning with my husband, who bought the Buick new in 1998, we’ve all had a turn behind her wheel.

She’s been the ritual “first” car for each of our children as they earned their license and also our blessing to independently operate a weapon-on-wheels.

Each of us have “demoed” and thoroughly test driven it for the next driver in-line.

Each of us has put our mark on her.

Some of us have put more marks on her than others. Ahem.

In addition to relying on her as the primary mode of transportation the designated Buick driver has also used her as an extension of their purse or backpack, their filing cabinet, closet, school locker, gym bag, lunchbox, sporting goods store, and of course, a garbage can.

One of us thought it would be a perfectly okay to leave a partially eaten quiche (remnants of a French class project) in the trunk … for about 6 weeks. Long after it was discovered and carefully extracted the pungent waft of that French project continued to smack you upside the head if the Buick was left in the hot sun for any length of time.

Our son was our last-to-be-licensed and had waited forever, it seemed, for his turn as the primary driver of the Buick. The day we passed him the Buick key to hang on his lanyard he didn’t just take her to drive – no, sir.

He staked a claim on her.

He set out to make her special.

He applied a series of very realistic-looking bullet hole stickers along the driver’s side of the car.

He installed a CB radio inside the car and wired it to a loudspeaker tucked in the hood so he could drive around town and “holla atcha brutha”, etc.

When duct tape no longer served to mend the shredded Corinthian leather seats, he spent his hard-earned money for some stylin’ seat covers.

He stopped short of hanging a pair of fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror, but last December he purchased an artificial Christmas wreath with a plastic red bow and attached it to the Buick’s grill.

It was shortly thereafter that we noticed that the small, slimy, puddle of black goop on the garage floor where the Buick parked had grown to the size of a swimming pool.

And we began noticing a few other things about her, too – bad things.

Sad things.

This past January my husband and I secretly nicknamed the Buick – “Please-Hang-On-Until-September”. We knew better than to think the she would be able to carry our son to college at the end of the summer, but we really needed her to stay in commission to keep him mobile until then.

In August, just three weeks before our son was to leave for college, he drove the Buick to the gas station, and filled her up with unleaded.

She died instantly right there at the pump. She could not be resuscitated.

Before she was towed away my son filled 2 garbage bags with personal affects from inside the car. He disconnected the CB and the loudspeaker, and ceremoniously detached the now-faded Christmas wreath from her grill.

A week later we held a proper memorial service, which was well attended.

The Christmas wreath and a framed photo of the Buick taken as she boarded the tow truck for her last ride hang prominently in our garage, near the slimy pool of black goop, which has begun to form a light crust.

And as I write this I am fighting back tears … because I just realized she was laid to rest with $35 of perfectly good gasoline in her tank.

R.I.P. Buick Rega.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

One Less.

One Less.

By Allison Adams 08-22-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 08-22-11

In the past five years I’ve successfully sent two children off to college.

I must admit that I thought I might need to be institutionalized after I let my firstborn baby girl go.

Beginning with her high school graduation ceremony, I wept incessantly through the summer.

I didn’t even enjoy shopping for her dorm room. (Well, maybe just a little.)

I got her settled in her new room on campus without too much of a fuss. And as I turned to leave her on her own, I was certain that I was too dehydrated to be able to make much of a scene.

But I completely underestimated me.

Eventually, after about a year, my weeping waned, and I adjusted to the shift in our family dynamics.

I became comfortable with the New Normal.

When I sent my second baby girl to college I was better prepared for the event because I was a college move-in survivor.

I actually enjoyed getting ready for her new adventure.

I shopped really well.

When it came time to move her in to her dorm I managed to do it efficiently, and without an emotional breakdown … until I drove off, leaving her on campus alongside a sweet roommate, in a cutely decorated room with color coordinated bedding.

I broke down again when I got home and realized I was now the only girl in my house.

In the time it took me to reach for a box of tissue, I lost all control of everything electronic to my husband and my son.

I haven’t seen the clicker since.

Eventually, after about a year, I forgave my daughters for abandoning me, and I became tolerant of the New Normal.

Well. The time has come to push my last baby bird out of the nest.

I believe he is ready to spread his wings.

Since I survived the first two birdies flying away, I called upon those memorable experiences to brace myself for this one.

In recent weeks, among the other momma birds wrestling with their emotions at the thought of letting go of their first or second babe, I’ve been the voice of reason and reassurance.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I took my know-it-all, righteous, emotionally-void self to the grocery to pick up a few things.

I browsed coolly through the produce department and then headed down the first aisle, stopping in front of the Moon Pie display.

I instinctively reached for a carton of double-decker, chocolate, Moon Pies, and that’s when it hit me: in 24 hours my house would be minus its only remaining double-decker, chocolate Moon Pie eater.

I choked on a whimper, and put the carton back on the shelf.

When I passed the gigantic boxes of Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I stifled a sob.

I erratically maneuvered my buggy down the chip & snack aisle, barely blocking a big, ugly cry when I rounded the corner and came face-to-face with a freezer full of DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza, which were on special.

I melodramatically melted in front of the Mayfield’s Moose Tracks, and threw a carton in my buggy. (I’m not an idiot.)

By the time I left the store I was a blubbering basket case.

Forget what I said before. The third time is NOT the charm.

My baby boy bird is leaving me with an empty nest!

WOE IS I!

I am NOT braced and ready!

Mop the floor with me!

Leave me alone with my carton of Moose Tracks and my beloved Fifth Dimension cd, ‘cause Marilyn McCoo is singing my song:

“One less bell to answer.

“One less egg to fry.

“One less man to pick up after.

“I should be happy…

“But all I do is cry ….”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Birthright

Birthright

By Allison Adams 07-10-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 07-11-11

My firstborn child left the hospital in the arms of a mother who was petrified, but perky. We wore matching outfits home.

My “baby fat” fell off of me and I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight by the next day.

I was prudent and resolved to raise my daughter by the expert-authored, dog-eared, how-to-raise-a-perfect-child books, which were kept at my fingertips at all times.

Everything my firstborn did was an event – carefully chronicled in calligraphy on the linen pages of a leather bound Baby Book.

The camera was always ready to point and shoot, and photo albums were stuffed with candid prints.

Expensive studio portraits of my firstborn were displayed in expensive picture frames that sat upon every surface inside a house that was childproofed like Fort Knox and sanitized like a hospital operating room.

My small world came to a screeching halt when her naptime rolled around, which was at precisely the same time everyday. No. Matter. What.

My firstborn slept in a new crib, rocked in a new chair, started school in a new dress, and learned to ride on a new bike.

Her outfits were always clean and pressed and perfect, and a matching bow-that-ate-Tokyo was always affixed upon her head.

At one time or another she took lessons in ballet, tap, karate, gymnastics, piano, guitar, pottery, and I even bought her a harmonica … because it was important that she be well rounded.

My second born child left the hospital in the arms of a mother who panic-struck and begged to anyone who would listen to be allowed to stay for a few more days.

Once back home I bathed irregularly, dressed only in soft, elastic-laced clothing (accented with a burp rag) and lived in my house shoes.

I had misplaced my how-to-be-a-perfect-mother books, so I winged it.

Everything my second-born baby did was met with a smile and a clap of my hands. I occasionally wrote stuff down on the back of a grocery receipt, or a napkin, with the intentions of transferring it into a baby book that I’d buy next time I went out.

I took a few candid photos of her whenever I could find my camera, but we rarely visited the expensive portrait studio.

My house was still childproofed, but more like a 7-Eleven. And it was still clean … but more like a 7-Eleven.

My second-born baby slept in a hand-me-down crib in a shared room. She wore hand-me-down clothes, played with hand-me-down toys, and learned to ride on a hand-me-down bike.

When my naptime rolled around I closed us all up in the same room and we played the “Quiet Game”.

Her play clothes were clean but never saw a hanger.

Her precious, but unruly hair stuck straight up or hung in her face, and it always smelled like fresh flowers or peanut butter and jelly.

She went to playgroup and learned to swim at an early age … because it was important that she be well rounded.

My third baby was born 45 minutes after I arrived at the hospital. I dressed him in a Onesie and carried him home 23 hours later because I had things to do.

I've never lost another pound.

He doesn’t have a baby book, but I think I have his shot records.

I taught his older sisters how to use disposable cameras to take his picture, and if I ever put my hands on those I’m going to get them developed.

Truth be told, I occasionally dressed him in his sister’s primary colored hand-me-downs. Nothing he wore remotely resembled a matching outfit. Footwear was optional.

The floor of my house was a minefield of matchbox cars and Legos.

He napped sometimes.

He played in the dirt, ate paste, taught himself how to ride the next-door neighbor’s bicycle, and I made sure he had his own house key by the time he was in the first grade … because it was important that he be well rounded.

Well. This explains so much.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hurrah! Hurrah!

Hurrah! Hurrah!

By Allison Adams 06-26-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 06-26-11

I was raised in Texas where people (ALL people) live shoulder-to-shoulder with la cucaracha.

High society people call it a Palmetto bug.

You can sugarcoat it any way you want to, but the fact of the matter is if it walks like a cockroach, and talks like a cockroach – it’s a cockroach.

They say if somebody dropped an A-bomb on the State of Texas, there would be only one survivor: the cockroach.

Of that – and also death and taxes – you can be certain.

The cockroaches in Texas are so big (“How big are they?”) they rearrange your furniture at night while you sleep.

In Texas the cockroaches travel in herds and that’s one of the reasons the household pest exterminator is considered the modern day cowboy.

He is revered regardless of whether he wears a 10-gallon hat or a baseball cap.

As was the case with most “bug men” and their clients, mine was so important to me that his phone number occupied the top spot on my speed dial, and his name was on my Christmas card list.

All Texas bug men had job security. Against la cucaracha, they occasionally won the battle, but never the war.

I’m telling you all of this just to let you know that I am no stranger in the world of household pests and the extermination thereof … but I had no idea what I would be up against last Monday, when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one little black ant on my kitchen floor.

I watched it closely.

It appeared to be on a reconnaissance mission.

I continued to keep my eye on it and casually crept my clodhopper in its direction.

I don’t think it ever saw my cowboy boot comin’.

I rocked my foot back and forth just to be sure the deed was done. (Unlike the underfoot eradication of the cockroach, which is signaled by a distinctive crunch, the itty-bitty black ant squashes silently.)

Shortly thereafter I realized that when that ant didn’t return back to its platoon to report its findings they would send out a search party.

I had barely completed that thought when I spied a thin black line emerging from the cabinet below the kitchen sink.

Good grief, they work quickly … but so do I, my friends – so do I!

I wiped-out the whole brigade with one swift step of my size-9 squisher!

Victory was short-lived, however, and they kept coming.

They marched two-by-two, and the little one stopped to tie its shoe.

Then there were more; shutting the door, picking up sticks, closing the gate, etc., etc. Hurrah! Hurrah!

It turned out they were being nourished by my teenaged son and his buddies, who inadvertently littered the kitchen counter with morsels of their sugar-and-preservative diet, despite my orders to the contrary.

That turned the battle into an all-out war.

For the next several days the General of the itty-bitty black ants – whose Command Central appeared to be somewhere beneath my kitchen sink (or behind my refrigerator, or within the very wood grain of the baseboards along the bottom of my kitchen island) – deployed thousands teeny-tiny troops to terrorize me.

I drew from my experience and went into Full Exterminator Mode.

Determined to make their undersized existence unbearable I launched a comprehensive attack consisting of an arsenal of natural sprays and toxic traps.

It. Was. Epic.

I waited for the ants to retreat once they realized they were up against a formidable force.

But. They. Didn’t.

So naturally, I went on vacation.

(At least they’re not Palmetto bugs.)


Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Big Idea

The Big Idea

By Allison Adams 06-12-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 02-13-11

I had a garage sale once.

It was early in our marriage and my husband, The Minimalist, thought we had accumulated too much stuff.

On his way to and from work he passed by the occasional homemade “Garage Sale” sign posted in a yard and he decided if it was good enough for the Joneses (and the Smiths, and the Millers, and the Browns), then it was good enough for us, and he hatched a Big Idea.

“We need to have a garage sale, like the Jones, the Smiths, the Millers, and the Browns”, he declared one morning as I was feeling my way around the kitchen in search of a cup of coffee and a couple of diaper wipes.

And even though it was very early and all of my neurons weren’t firing I knew, of course, that by “we” need to have a garage sale, he really meant “me”.

“Think of all the money we’ll make!” he said as he grabbed his briefcase and headed out the door for work. (Now, that time he meant “we”.)

I rolled my eyes and followed him out the door with a baby on my hip, took her noodley little arm in my hand and waved it bye-bye while my enterprising husband backed his car out of our carport.

Then he stopped and hollered out of the driver’s side window, “We can use our garage sale profit to go on a vacation!”

Hold up. A vacation?

Nothing lights a fire beneath a stay-at-home mom with two children under the age of three, who has nowhere to go, and no reason to dress in anything nicer than sweatpants and an Enfamil-stained t-shirt accessorized with a burp rag permanently draped over one shoulder, than the promise of a vacation.

For two weeks in advance of the sale I worked diligently in between feedings, diaper changes, playtime, naptime, and even late into the night in order to sort through, select, and price our superfluous household items in time for the big day.

The promise of a vacation looming in my foggy brain even had me culling through our closet filled with We-Will-Never-Use-This-Thing wedding presents to add to the kitty.

I spent hours making eye-catching signs using poster board and Magic Markers. My lettering was big, bold, and perfectly centered.

I purchased an ad in the local newspaper.

I swept clean and hosed down the floor of our carport.

Under the cover of darkness on the night before the sale I carried our only card table to the carport and set it up.

Upon it I carefully displayed our trash-to-treasures, among them – a few out-of-fashion pocketbooks, a roll of red floral wallpaper, a set of 3 placemats (hand woven in Guatemala), a never-been-opened Este Lauder Bonus Gift, numerous coffee mugs advertizing anything from Penzoil to Piggly Wiggly, a healthy supply of bamboo chopsticks (still in their paper wrappers) from Wong’s House of Noodles, and the unusual candlestick holders (at least that’s what I think they were) that my mother-in-law’s bridge partner presented to us on the occasion of our wedding.

Sure that there would be a throng of shoppers that I couldn’t handle by myself I recruited a friend to help me control the cash and carry on the day of the sale.

I even hired a babysitter to watch my rug rats while I managed my event.

Cars began lining our street before sunrise on the morning of the sale.

When I could keep the buyers at bay no more, I pulled on my sweatpants and t-shirt over my pajamas and went to work.

By noon I realized I still hadn’t brushed my teeth, but I had sold the above mentioned items along with an arrangement of artificial flowers covered in a thin layer of dust, a broken boom box, a Richard Simmons exercise tape (which I paired with an exercise bike), a coil of clothesline, box full of cassette tapes, and a Christmas ornament that played “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”.

By 2PM I had pulled down my garage sale signs, folded-up my card table, dragged my worn-out body and bad breath inside and counted our profit: $68.90.

And THAT, Bill Adams, is why “we” will NEVER have another garage sale.