Saturday, July 25, 2009

Yard Sale!

Since moving to The 'Burgh three twentieths of a century ago, I've always been oddly mystified by the fact that no one here knows what a Tag Sale is. Growing up in CT, everyone had tag sales. In Pittsburgh it's called a Yard Sale or Garage Sale. No one here has ever heard the term Tag Sale out here. And for some reason this bugs me. Yet I don't know exactly why. As a kid I never went to a tag sale that I can recall. And my parents certainly never held a tag sale. so why it bugs me, I don't know. But it does. And it's my cross to bear.

So that's a fine lead-in to my report on the events of last weekend, our sale.

Since we've been married, my wife and I have held two yard sales. The first was just before moved out of our apartment after buying our house. We lived in a row house on a busy street and, as a result, cashed in. We had hundreds of people drop by and buy some of the most useless crap you could imagine. However I believe we also had a hex put on us by an ultra-religious crazy lady who bought a box of old cassettes so she could record her bible stories onto them, and also bought a giant papasan chair but didn't come to actually pick it up until late that night. We didn't think she was coming back, so we sold it to someone else. At that point flames shot from her eyes, she raised her hands to the heavens, and declared that we were going to burn in hell for our transgressions. My eyebrows never quite recovered from that incident.

Perhaps that's also why our second yard sale, a year or two after we moved into our house, was such a miserable failure. Despite the nice weather, and despite the fact that a church around the corner was holding a yard sale as well and would hopefully drive traffic our way, we had perhaps a dozen customers and made about forty bucks. At that point we swore never to have another one.

But then the crap pile took over.

You know that drawer everyone has in their kitchen that they refer to as the junk drawer? That's our basement. Two or three times each year I get a burr in my saddle about the disastrous mess and decide to clean it up, but within a week of doing so, magically, the entire space becomes so compacted with new crap that navigating from one end of the space to the other involves a block & tackle and assistance from three professional trapeze artists. Well, being at home so much lately, I of course got the purging bug. I actually started in the attic, and worked my way down through the house. Before I knew it, the attic was clean, all the main rooms of the house were clean, and even the basement was spotless. I honestly had forgotten we'd laid carpet down there. As a result, however, one bay of the garage was crammed to the ceiling with stuff that we either didn't use any more, never used in the first place, or simply wanted to get the heck out of our house. I strategically piled it all in my WIFE'S garage slot, therefore guaranteeing assistance in the final purging effort.

We considered renting a semi-trailer to get it all to Goodwill, but given my current employment status we decided having some extra cash might be a good thing. So the ads went out to Craigslist and the Pennysaver, the signs went up, and away we went on a trip to that crazy world of people who love to collect other people's crap.

The statute of limitations must have been up on the old hex, because the yard sale gods were smiling on us for a change. The weather held out despite a huge rainstorm the night before. The traffic was substantial, and people actually bought stuff. The volume of wierdos was at a minimum as well, other than the lady who spoke no English but kept asking for TWO of something, and the old guy dressed like Jimmy Buffet who had no idea who James Taylor was. I mean, really, if you've over 55 and wearing a straw hat and flowered shirt, aren't you REQUIRED to know who James Taylor is?

Despite our overall success, we still finished the day with way more crap than we wanted remaining. I'd made a vow to not allow ANY of it back into the house, but unfortunately I was only about 50% successful with that effort. We separated the remaining crap into a Goodwill pile and an eBay/Craigslist pile, and the latter still resides in our basement awaiting attention. So, while the upstairs and attic are still clean, we STILL have a 500-square-foot junk drawer. But overall I feel I've made progress. Now if I could just find someone interested in buying 58 puke-stained onesies, a Polaroid camera, and a Desperate Housewives Dirty Laundry Board Game still in it's original wrapping (seriously), I'd feel even better.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mr. Clean Pays a Visit

There's been an incident.

Several years ago, when Natalie was but a wee lass and our younger Jessica was still in her infancy, Natalie thought it might be a fine idea to hone her artistic abilities by creating a masterpiece in the living room wall. Of course even back then she realized it would be wise to blame her younger sister for the graffiti so as to stay out of trouble. However she made the mistake of signing her name to the artwork and yet blaming a younger child who not only wasn't able to write the word "Natalie" but could barely even stand up by herself at the time. Thus her plot was foiled, and she was introduced to the wonders of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser as punishment.

In our house, each child is allowed the opportunity to write on the walls and avoid death once. ONCE. Last night, it was Jessica's turn.

During the day, Jessica announced she was going up to her room "to do something", gave us a mysterious "you don't need to know" look, and disappeared. Later that afternoon we discovered what she was up to. She thought it might be a nice idea to put her own personal brand on each of the surfaces of her room by labeling each with a Sharpie. Above her headboard was written "Mi Bed". On her closet door was "Mi Clost". And on the bedroom door was "Jessica's Room" with a little heart on it. My favorite, frankly, was the drawer in which she keeps her My Little Pony collection. There's a pic of that below.

As soon as Mommy discovered this, Jessica was devastated. She knew she'd done wrong. Despite smiling and laughing and telling her the story of how her evil older sister attempted to foist blame upon her for a similar incident years back, Jessica was very traumatized for having done so wrong. Well, in some cases trauma is a good thing, cuz we know she ain't doing it again. At least, not until we get a dog and she can blame stuff on it instead.

The good news is that the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is a wonderful product. Check out the end results of only a minute or two of scrubbing:





And yes, I will be the first to admit that I'm overly anal retentive about these things. But I left the stuff she wrote on the walls, since we'll be repainting the room sooner or later anyways. However I'd like to avoid having to some day sand down and restain a door. And yes, I am looking oh so forward to the flurry of comments that include "oh, how cute" and "geez, you're such a mean dad for making her clean it up."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How to make your kids NOT eat fast food

I'm not quite sure of the point of this, but it looks like fun. Fancy Fast Food demonstrates extreme makeovers of actual fast food items purchased at popular fast food restaurants. No additional ingredients have been added except for an occasional simple garnish.

For example, there's the Tacobelllini, made entirely from the parts of Taco Bell Burrito Supremes. That's good eatin'.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Munks and the Restless - There's been a Murder

Wow. Apparently I had no idea just what kind of soap opera I was getting into with yesterday's post. Apparently the fight between Roger and Darren took a murderous turn. I just discovered Darren lying belly up under next to the woodpile.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Munks and the Restless

I was cleaning up in the garage this morning with the garage doors both open. Every five seconds or so, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a chipmunk trotting out in front of the garage door, only to notice me and dart back behind the garage. This continued for several minutes until at one point I got curious enough to take a further look at things. Slowly and quietly I stepped outside the garage and found a strategic position on the grass to watch what turned out to be a scene fit for the cover of this week's Soap Opera Digest.

Two chipmunks, whom I shall name Flo and Roger, had found themselves a quiet and romantic spot behind the trash bins, right next to an old gasoline jerry can. Apparently is was time for some lovin'. Flo had the look of a horny coed during spring break. She looked positively radiant, lying there next to the gas can in a "check out my tail" pose. She was ready to get down to business, her cheeks puffed up as if ready to take in Roger's um...nuts.

Come on, this whole post was an excuse to use that pun, so feel free to chuckle politely.

Roger was pumped and ready, standing up on his hind legs, flexing his little chipmunk muscles, and keeping a close eye out for Darren, a third and obviously less dominant rodent currently hiding under a woodpile about twenty yards away. It was clear Roger was the alpha male, and it was time to get it things moving.

Roger saw me, but after a minute or so of making sure I wasn't a threat to his morning plans, he turned his attention to Flo. Roger took Flo in his tiny grip, threw her up against the gas can, and had his way with her. Five times. In approximately seventeen seconds. Chipmunks do it really, really fast. I had considered running to the computer and downloading a copy of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing Barry White's "Let's Get It On", but they were done before I even got the thought out. After the final time, Flo had decided she'd had enough, and turned what little energy she had left on getting Roger quite literally off her back. Flo turned to face Roger (oh yeah, you know which way they're doin' it) and gave him a left cross right on the forehead. Roger went flying. Once he regained his composure, he relaxed in a corner and lit a tiny little cigarette. Which, by the way, is something I would have recommended against given their proximity to the gas can, but who am I to judge?

Meanwhile back at the woodpile, Darren had decided his time was due. He'd spent enough time in Roger's shadow, watching Roger get all the chipmunk tail while he was left to spend each night with a cold shower from the lawn sprinkler. No, this time things would be different. With a freshly sharpened shiv carved from a wood chip in his hand, Darren headed from the woodpile, under the back door, past the planter and the bag of fertilizer, to Roger's lair. They battled. They fought. They rolled about with anger in their eyes. Flo looked on, completely disinterested in the result. Soon, the two competitors disappeared around the corner, and only one returned. Roger was victorious. I could tell it was him by the familiar way in which he then munk-handled Flo and had is way with her six more times. In about four seconds. Man, they're quick.

At that point, the evening was apparently complete. Flo waddled off, looking for some quiet time to start re-reading her worn copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting. Roger flipped on the TV and watched a show about acorn collecting. Off at the woodpile, Darren quietly licked his wounds and surrendered to another evening alone with nothing but his own paws.

And yet, despite the drama that unfolded this morning, with all the damage these little varmints have done to my landscaping this summer, once Flo pops out a few pups I can't help but think I'm going to be the one getting screwed.

Editor's note: Yes I know that's a squirrel in the picture. But c'mon...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Boop and Booop!!

Jessica asked me today if she could label her bunny slippers. It seemed to be a reasonable question, as she was having trouble telling them apart. Not the left from the right...she's got that down. No, she keeps forgetting their names. After all, their names are so similar:

Right bunny slipper's name: Boop.

Left bunny slipper's name: Boooop!

Now, I don't believe just writing the names above quite explain the nuances of this specific bunny slipper naming convention. I will need to break it down further. First, say the word "Boop". Just say it, they way you'd drop the word "Boop" into normal conversation. That's the name of the right bunny slipper. Now, say the word again, but this time have someone sneak up behind you and pinch you in the ass just as you say it. Have you done that? Great. See how the word lasts a little longer, and reaches sort of an excited, high pitch at the end? Yeah, that's the left bunny slipper.

You can see why Jessica is having trouble. I mean, saying things like, "Dad, have you seen Boop and Booop!?" is easy enough. Sure honey, they're under the coffee table. However let's imagine she can only find ONE slipper. She's certainly going to need help knowing which to ask for. So how could I not help her out?

You think I'm kidding with this, don't you. I'm afraid not.