Oh, Yes He Did!

That silly plumber. Yep, he said it. (To get caught up, read this.)

“Mrs. Engledow, we have another problem.”

As he was blathering on and on and drawing pictures in an effort to get me to grasp the situation, my mind began to wonder and a demonic grin appeared on my face. I grabbed the wrench that he placed dangerously close to my hand, conked him on the head with it, and then chased him out of the house screaming profanities like a drunken sailor. Then, I . . . . . I snapped out of it and politely asked him what he proposed to do about this new “situation”.

Apparently, the manufacturer of our tub and it’s plumbing parts has been out of business for long time and we are one of a very few households in our area that still has this outdated plumbing. Yay, us! We feel so special. So, according to our plumber, the solution is to order yet another special part from a supplier located somewhere in Pennsylvania. And, that means that we get another visit from the plumber!

The same plumber has been in and out of our house for over an entire month, so I think that implies that he’s become part of the family. What do you give someone on your one month anniversary? A house key and a drawer? I can’t remember. If you know, send me a note.

I also followed up with our easy-going tile guy to find out when he will be installing our shower shelves and towel rack, and I have yet to hear back from him. I guess it’s a good thing that we still owe him money. I’m assuming that he’ll want the rest of his money, right?

The one good outcome from this last plumber visit is that we can now use our shower! We can’t take baths, but I can’t remember the last time I took a bath so we’re good. Assuming that his proposed solution of ordering special parts from Pennsylvania actually works, we will be able to take baths by next Thursday if we choose to do so. And. . . . maybe I will.

Oh, and we may also be finished with this episode of “House of Horrors”. Keep your fingers crossed.

Leaky Faucets and Red Wine

Can I just say, “Fricka, fracka, fudgesicle!”

Homeownership is both a blessing and a curse. At the moment, we are in the curse stage. This tale started innocently on July 2nd with a leaky bathtub faucet. This innocent leak has turned into a $1,000 nightmare. Here we are on August 9th and we still can’t use the shower in the master bath.

Thirty-year old houses can be tricky, but come on! We have a tile guy that I think used be a surfer in his previous life because time seems more like a guideline than a rule and we have a plumber that can’t figure out our thirty year old tub. To borrow a phrase from one of my husband’s cousins, “You only have to be 10% smarter than the tool.” I can see what he means now. (Thanks, Mark!).

If I hear, “Mrs. Engledow, we have another problem” ONE MORE TIME, you may see me on the evening news in handcuffs being dragged from my house while my bewildered children are seen in the background sobbing on the front porch.

Of course, this is all happening as I am going through my radiation treatments. I just want my own shower back. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so, right?!

Right! Let’s relax and have a glass of red wine. Shall, we?

Red Wine

Three Strikes and . . . You’re Rejected

IMG_8742During the past year, I was invited to join a writing group. At first, I was resistant because I didn’t consider myself a real writer. All of the others in the group are either working on their MFAs, have an MFA, working on novels, or have been published.

My claim to fame? This blog. That’s it. But, my friend countered every one of my concerns, claimed that I was a writer and encouraged me attend one of the meetings. So, I did.

It was a little intimidating at first because they had the advantage of knowing each other already. But, of course, I was being silly because they were great! Over the past year, I have really enjoyed getting to know them.

At the last meeting, I read a short piece. Everyone seemed to love it and encouraged me to submit it for publication. There are, it seems, a bazillion online magazines available to those that desire to be published. You just have to convince the magazine that your piece is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Apparently, that is really, really hard to do.

However, I thought, “What the hell?” After receiving some online magazine recommendations, I did it. I submitted my piece to three lucky ducks. And. . . . . . . . I waited.

One by one the declinations came in (as expected). I mean, come on! It was my first time trying. It would have been a complete fluke to receive an acceptance on my first submission. Just so you know, these wonderfully smart, witty, clever writers in my group receive rejections once in a while too. And, that’s hard for me to believe because they are really talented.

So, I’m back to self-publishing. Here is the piece that I wrote for the group and I hope you enjoy it.

Bad Boys and Bad Books

“Who could ever really be attracted to a character like that? He’s really despicable. And, the plot? The plot is horrible and that’s being kind,” my friend exclaimed in an extremely irritated voice.

“Then, stop reading the book! You can’t get that time back,” I and the others at the tabled responded.

“I know. You’re right, but I can’t stop.”

With all of our most powerful best friend mojo, she still could not be persuaded. She had to finish it, and possibly read the two sequels. It was a national phenomenon and she wanted to know what it was all about.

Why would my friend put herself through this? Why couldn’t she dump this book? Why didn’t our mojo work?

I’ve experienced the sensation of making that one emotional and undeniably intense connection with a story where it grips me in its unrelenting embrace for hours and hours. Then, reality slaps me in the face with “Mom, I’m hungry. Mom, I need clean clothes.” My response? “MOMMY’S READING!”

I know my friend has experienced this same feeling with a book to the point where her family is wandering around in dirty clothes dumpster-diving for food. So, for God’s sake, why?

Then, it came to me. Bad books are like bad relationships. Hear me out.

The first encounter: You walk into the bookstore with a purpose. You’re looking for latest cerebral recommendation by the Fresh Air book reviewer, Maureen Corrigan. But, wait. Your eyes lock on to something. It’s a picture of a seductively styled monochromatic necktie. Something in your brain is triggered. You recognize this cover and then you remember that everyone wants one. Well, shouldn’t you want it too? Then, your heart starts pumping violently when you realize that it’s calling to you. It wants you too! So you flirt with the book by cradling it gently in your arms, flipping through its pages, and smiling coquettishly as you read the jacket cover. Then, you think, “Screw the so-called ‘good’ book. I want this one!”

The rose-colored glasses are cracking: It’s a cold and windy January afternoon and you have nothing to do. You grab your cup of coffee and sit in your favorite worn leather chair so you can have some alone time with your current book.  After the last time together, you were a bit disappointed. Expectations are high that it will be better this time and you will have a meaningful connection. You inhale sharply, your heart races, and you open the book anxiously. After a few pages, you realize something. “This son-of-a-bitch hasn’t changed one freakin’ bit!”  You slam the book shut, throw it on the floor and storm out of the room.

Best friends have gone by the wayside:  Pretty soon this novel is coming between you and your besties. You start declining offers to do things with your friends so you can eagerly get back to your book. Then, they eventually stop inviting you out afraid that you will talk about or bring along your annoyingly bad book. When you do attempt to whine to your friends, they beg you to dump this irritating novel and find one that treats you better. This is the last straw, they’re tired of being ignored and exhausted by the constant droning on and on about how awful it treats you, how unbearable it is, blah, blah, blah. You’re now this close to being one of those girls in high school that dumps their friends for the boyfriend.

The voice in your head is getting louder: Every minute you spend reading this sad, horrible book is a minute wasted. Pull yourself together, chica! You could be spending your precious time reading a novel that makes you smile, feel warm inside, long for your next encounter, that leaves you breathless and that welcomes you with a warm embrace the next time you caress its pages.  

The end is near: You are not a quitter, damn it. But, then, you finally have an epiphany and it forces you to see the relationship for what it is: an emotional tar pit. It must come to an end. You tell yourself that it’s better for everyone – you, your gal pals, your family, and your friends on Goodreads. You sadly place the book in the donation pile and sulk. It’s the weekend so you hole up in your house in your favorite reading chair and wallow in self-pity, red wine and a container of mocha chip ice cream. You begin to ruminate. “Why did I fall for that obvious and seductive cover? Why couldn’t I see the book for what it really was? Why didn’t I listen to my friends and end it early? What if I never find another good book that treats me right?”

I used to be like my friend. I would put up with a crappy book to its horrible conclusion due to my pathological need to finish things. Then, one day, as I was forcing myself to read a particular mystery novel that came highly recommended, I had an epiphany.  Books are for enjoyment and this book was NOT enjoyable. That’s when I said to myself, “You have to schedule appointments to go to the bathroom, get little sleep at night and you’re wasting time reading this twaddle?! What the hell is wrong with you!?”  At that moment, I made the decision that this horrendous, unreadable book was no longer my master. I tossed it into the donation pile unfinished.

That, my friend, is freedom.

What do you think?

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

Can I Imagine a Life Without . . .?

With Caller ID, I’m not sure why robo-callers bother anymore. If we don’t recognize the number, we don’t answer. Simple as that. Even the kids know that. Duh. [Do people still answer their phones in a devil-may-care way?]

However, tonight something changed. Gallup was calling. This is the second time in the last couple of days that I noticed them on the Caller ID. What did they want?

Did they want my thoughts on the last Presidential debate? Did they want to know if I was one of the mysterious women listed in the infamous “Romney Binder”? What was it? What did they want to know?!?

Well, Gallup wanted to know  . . . .  actually, my bank wanted to know if my last contact with them was pleasant. Gallup was acting as the nosy best friend. Gallup wanted to know if I liked Such&Such Bank and if I wanted to “go steady”.  B-o-o-r-i-n-g. Ho-hum.

Yes, curiosity killed the cat. I know. No need to gloat. I definitely won’t take the bait next time.

However, since I answered the phone, I decided to act happy that someone gave a shit that what I thought about anything was worth noting. I happily answered poor Randall’s questions. I mean, Randall was just doing his job. It’s not his fault that the majority of the questions were ridiculous. The one that made me laugh out loud (really loud) was, “Can you imagine a world without Such&Such Bank?”. I lost it. I wasn’t sure how to answer that one. He giggled too. I told him I wasn’t sure how to answer that so he took care of it. Do they have  a “giggle” option?

I have honestly been with the same bank since I was sixteen years old. Okay, not exactly the same bank ~ my bank keeps getting bought out. Maybe my new bank should be worried – I may be bad luck. They could be the next target of a huge acquisition and become something that is “too big to fail”. [Large intake of breath.]

But, on the bright side of things, unless you really, really piss me off, I’m pretty loyal. Let’s see . . . . 16 and I’m now 47. Uh, wow, 31 years! That’s pretty loyal, right?

BTW,  I can imagine a world without my bank because I’ve lived in a world without my current bank and have been perfectly happy. What a weird question.

Good question: “Can I imagine a world without Mocha Chip ice cream?”

The answer, “NO!”

Good question:  “Can I imagine a world without wine?”

The answer, “NO!”

Now, those are good questions.

Maybe Gallup can’t advise their clients that their questions are asinine, but they really should. Help a brother out, Gallup. Really.

One Flew out of the Engledow’s Nest

Well, we did it. We pushed Birdie #1 out of the nest. Yay, for us! We rock!

Oh, all right. It wasn’t really a push. She pretty much flew out by herself – she was ready.

That’s good, right? I mean, if she wasn’t ready then we would probably be wondering what the hell happened, reviewing where we went astray, and then coming to the conclusion that it was my husband’s fault some how (kidding).

I’m just not ready for her to be ready, you know what I mean? As parents, we spend eighteen years preparing our children to leave the house. It’s our job. Cliche alert ~ Boy, those eighteen years went by in a blink.

After hashing it out with my one of my besties, I’ve determined that I’m not actually worried about my daughter managing on her own. She’s smart, strong and amazing. It’s the fact that this is the beginning of the next chapter in our family. We add the kids, the kids leave and then it’s back to just me and the hubs (unless the kids move back in because they can’t find a job). It’s the arc of life.

It has been a slow adjustment to our family dinner table of four instead of five (It hasn’t even been a month yet. Give us a break, people!), but you know what has helped us? Technology. Love, love, love technology! Since instantaneous communication is so abundant, our daughter has been connecting with us regularly and she’s only asked for money twice!

In addition to the frequent texting, stalking her on Facebook has allowed me to see that she is making friends, having fun and adjusting to her new life. Seeing her embracing her new adventure had improved my state of mind since we left her standing in the dorm parking lot all alone (stifling a sob). Now, when people ask me how Rachel’s doing, I can answer without completely breaking down. Just don’t ask me how I’m doing. I can’t get through that one yet.

Click here to watch a short film by one of her new friends who happens to be a film major. My girl is in the striped sweater. Fun, right?

The Family That Paints Together Stays Together

The original saying, “The family that prays together stays together,” was a slogan invented Al Scalpone (not to be confused with Al Capone) and was first uttered on March 6, 1947 as an ad during the radio program, Family Theater of the Air (click here for more info).

You’ve probably just learned something new.

You’re welcome.

The two-story blank wall in our entry way has always been the bane of my husband’s existence. Blank walls really get on my husband’s last nerve. He’s an architect. I think that sums it up.

After ten and half years in this house with this blank wall, my husband finally decided that he had had enough. It was time to do something about it. He’s a professional on deliberation especially when the decision is important (it took nine years of dating before he decided that I was the one). During Christmas break of 2011, Mike and the kids brainstormed and the solution was the Family Art Wall (FAW).

This solution was presented to the Family Manager (moi) and was approved with reservations.

It’s a two-story blank wall, people.

However, I really wanted to be viewed as encouraging whimsy in our house since I’m usually dubbed, “the funsucker”. (Say it carefully.)

The FAW was to be done by December 31, 2011, but due to multiple delays (we all got hit with a long-term mokus) it did not get done until this summer (around the 11th anniversary of living in this house).

It turned out really well and we all love it. When we tried describing it to our friends and family, some were like, “cool” and some were like, “huh?”. Those in the “huh?” category were probably worried we were turning our household into some weird liberal-art colony-free love-free thinking hippie commune. Maybe we did and maybe we didn’t (wink, wink).

Without further ado, I present to you, my loyal followers, the Family Art Wall:

In order from Top to Bottom:

Jack’s creation: He combined his love of making a mess with his love of Origami.

Rachel’s Creation: Her piece is a thinking person’s piece. The phrase is in contrast with the background – very artsy.

Mike’s creation: His piece is a compilation of the people in his life. Not to be too cliché, but family is important to him. He really could give Ward Cleaver a run for his money.

My creation: If you have been a long-time follower of this blog, you know that artsy stuff is an extreme challenge for me so please don’t judge too harshly. One of my friends said it looked like a gay foodie poster which wasn’t my original intention, but she does have a point!

Maddie’s creation: The girl LOVES to bake so this is a perfect representation of one of her many interests.

As you can see, the kids have taken after their father in the creativity/art department! Aren’t they talented?

Next project? The other blank wall in our house. It’s located our fancy living room that we never use (and only one-story). Look for an update in the summer of 2013.