Friday, January 30, 2009

Fauna at Casa Flamingo

Here at Casa Flamingo the wildlife flourishes. We have deer (sorry, no pic). We have coyotes (sorry, no pic -- I was so freaked out when I saw it I couldn't move). We have osprey (see my second post in November). We have water moccasins (sorry, no pic, but Chance, who's been bitten and lived to tell can vouch for me on this one). We have fruit rats (trust me, you don't want to see a picture). We have squirrels (do you really need a pic?). We have coral snakes (again, no pic and I understand if you're starting to doubt my depiction of Casa Flamingo as some vast nature preserve). We have alligators (I ought to be able to get a pic of that for you, but we live in Florida, so why would you doubt me on this one? People living in subdivisions here wake up with alligators on their lanais all the time). We have otters (my favorite, and I keep trying to get pics of these guys, but they aren't cooperating). And of course we have all the other usual birds you see in Florida.

But we've had some new arrivals and for the past month I've been wanting to share pictures of them with you because they're so pretty. You've seen my pictures, so you won't be surprised that this is the best I could do:

M R Ducks.

M R Not.

O S M R.

M R Hooded Mergansers. See the long thin bill and the wacky axe-shaped head? See how fast they're swimming away? Dang ducks won't sit still long enough for me to get a decent picture.

About 6 weeks ago, those two showed up and I had a hard time figuring out what they were. Up close (that is, looking out the kitchen window so they can't see me watching them), they look like this:

(Heavens no, I didn't take that picture) I'd never seen this particular species of duck in our creek before, so I needed to look them up. Those two were joined a few weeks later by two more who were much prettier, but who also wouldn't let me close enough to get a good picture, so I had to find a picture of them somewhere else:

That's one good looking duck. That's what he looks like with his crest lowered. Here he is in all his "I'm looking for a hoochie-duckie-mama" glory:

Apparently, female ducks find big foreheads attractive. That's what I learned in my research about hooded mergansers -- the females are the ugly plain ones and the males are the gorgeous ones with the big foreheads. Figures.

It also appears that word has gotten around in the hooded merganser community that Casa Flamingo is the great new singles bar for mergansers because in the last week or so, we've had a regular merganser meat market going on here:

It's a shame they won't let me get any closer before they swim off in a panic. I'm not a nature photographer, that's for certain. It requires two things I don't have a lot of: stealth and patience. I suppose I could sit really still on the bank and wait forever and ever for them to glide past me, but I'd probably fall asleep while I was waiting or get bitten by a water moccasin. The shameful truth is that I couldn't hold still that long unless I was sleeping, so I guess I would need a duck blind. I think that's what duck blinds are for, right? Sleeping while the ducks glide by? Though I was watching My Great Big Redneck Wedding last weekend and there was a couple on there that thought duck blinds existed for something else entirely. It wasn't sleeping. And it wasn't for shooting ducks.

It makes me laugh to think that people surfing the internet looking for information on hooded mergansers are going to find this post.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice Cream Dance

Just thought you all might want to see the ice cream dance. Have I told you about the Flamingos and ice cream? The Flamingos (meaning, those individuals in my immediate and extended family whose genetic material comes from Joe's side, not mine) have this thing about ice cream. They love it. They must have it. Every night. And do you see that little bowl Joe is holding? That's the baby-sized bowl. When the other Flamingos eat ice cream, it's in bowls big enough to fit three or four large scoops. Joe is still on the P90X diet and exercise program (sorry honey, I meant "lifestyle change"), so he is trying his best not to partake in the nightly Flamingo ice cream ritual. You'll note, however, that he has control of Mace's bowl so he can sneak a few bites when no one is looking. The disadvantage to passing on a genetic predisposition for ice cream addiction to your children is that they expect ice cream every night after dinner and this tends to counteract any positive physical benefits said children would have received by spending three hours earlier in the day running around like banshees at Rolly Pollies. But the upside to ice cream addiction in young children is this:

You can get your table cleared in seconds if no gets any ice cream until the table's clean.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Very Trashy Post

First, I know you've been waiting and waiting and asking your friends, "When do you think she'll post it? For the love of pete, WHEN?"

Trashy Pirate speaks for herself. But. I must point out a couple of things so that those of you (Joe) still defending this plastic woman's virtue can no longer pretend that you don't know she's the trashiest thing chaining herself to flagpoles these days: 1) lace gloves, and 2) fishnet stockings. Surely everyone agrees with me now -- if not on the trashy point, then on the fact that this is the strangest apartment marketing scheme you've ever heard of. Times are tight and all that, but wouldn't a sign that said "One month free rent" be a better sales hook than a mannequin chained to the flagpole at the front of the complex?

Let's move on. Joe came home Friday afternoon -- yay!! There were hugs and kisses and much wallowing all over him! (And the kids were glad he was home, too.)

Joe asked me to do only one thing for him while he was gone -- take the trash out to the street. The trash truck comes on Mondays and Thursdays. So I had two Mondays and two Thursdays -- four opportunities -- when I could have driven the trash out to the street and avoided this embarrassment when Joe and I drove up to the house after I picked him up from the airport:

That's all of our trash for two weeks. In my defense -- it's difficult to get myself ready for work and a kid ready for school and out the door by 7:00 and also find time to drive the truck out to the gate, unlock it, and haul the trash across the street bag by bag in the dark. It's not difficult so much as it is impossible. Friday morning, the day Joe was coming home, Grandma Elsie offered to drive the trash to the dump so that Joe wouldn't have to know I had so completely failed him. I told her she absolutely couldn't do that because then not only would I have not done the one thing Joe had asked me to do, I would have allowed his elderly mother to drive the trash to the dump to cover up for me. How low is that? But she insisted she didn't mind and that she was sure when she got there, some man would hop up into the back of the truck and throw the bags in the dumpster so she wouldn't have to. In the end, she couldn't get the truck started, so I had to face the music (in case you're wondering, it sounded like Oscar the Grouch singing "I looooove trash!").

Let's move on. After dinner Friday night, Joe and Mace bonded over laundry. Joe doesn't actually do the laundry (usually -- there are some exceptions). He pretty much thinks he's doing you a favor if he brings all the laundry to the washing machine and makes three or four large piles right where you need to walk to and from the back door. This is not something that really bothers me because I just kick it all to one side and continue to ignore it until I'm ready to actually wash it. On Friday night, though, it was harder to kick out of the way:

(And no, I never wipe my kids' mouths after a meal. I just let the food wear off or stay on there until bath time.) Joe is laying there thinking, "I can't believe she couldn't take the trash out even once while I was gone!"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's That Button?

Oh my lands it was cold this morning! There was ice on the windshield when Casey and I were leaving for school. We were running a smidge late, so when I saw the ice I had to run around the outside of the house looking for something to scrape it off with. I found a pack of little lightbulbs in a plastic package and scraped furiously at the ice for two or three minutes until I'd made a hole large enough to look through. We were still a hazard to other drivers for at least 8 minutes, however, due to poor visibility. Then, on the way from school to work, I saw this button:

We've had this car since early 2003 and I have not once pushed that button. Ever. I had forgotten that such a button existed in my car. I love Florida.

[If you were hoping to see a picture of Trashy Pirate's wardrobe change today, I'm sorry you're disappointed. Two days ago, she had added an actual eye patch to her ensemble and a racy little black jacket complete with lace. Today she was back to just regular old Trashy Pirate clothes. I missed my window of opportunity and worse, failed you. I feel terrible. I'll make it up to you. Not sure how, but I'll think of something.]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thinking Inside the Box

Understandably, you have a lot of questions about this picture. I can't answer them. Just don't call DCF -- there was plenty of air in there.

This day has just been eye-opening for me. My laptop is officially unfixable, but The Computer Guy is making me a new one and it will be ready on Thursday. I didn't realize that there are people who make a living by building computers for other people. Is that naive? I thought all computers were mass-produced somewhere in a very clean factory and then shipped to the Best Buys of the world and you just had to pick one of those. But you don't have to be one of the huddled masses when it comes to computers, apparently. You can pay someone to make you your own computer and it costs the same (or less, if you can sell your old computer's components on E-bay -- did you know you could do that??).

And did you know (you probably did) that even if you apologize to someone, say what you did was inexcusably rude, own up to your rash and inconsiderate behavior, etc., -- that the victim really won't feel better until they bless you out for it? You still have to sit there and take it and apologize some more and tell them they are absolutely right some more, etc., etc., until they are done. Because you were wrong and you deserve it and now you get to experience some of those consequences that you are always droning on and on to your kids about. Life lesson for you. Good to know.

And one more thing just to give you something to look forward to -- trashy pirate had a costume change today -- but I didn't have time to take her picture as I was racing up and down Hillsborough Avenue trying to balance my work life and personal life today (from work to the school, school to Rolly Pollies, Rolly Pollies to downtown, downtown to Rolly Pollies, you get the idea). I did a better job of it today than I usually do -- I actually arrived everywhere on time and didn't leave my son on a curb anywhere waiting for me. Anyway -- I'll try to post TP's picture tomorrow for you.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Unfunny House

I know, I know. It's been, like, three whole days already and I haven't posted. I'm starting to twitch, too. But I can explain.

See -- Joe is out of town, so Grandma and I are holding down the fort. Holding down the fort looks alot like this:

Cute, but a little boring. Sigh.

For some reason, when Joe's gone, the fun is just sucked right out of the house with him. This is counterintuitive, I know -- I'm the fun one, right? Why should Joe being gone matter? But it does. It matters.

When Joe's not around, we hang Star Wars characters from fishing poles . . .

and tease the dog . . .

. . . and the toddler.

But it's still not as fun as it would have been if Joe were home.

It's not really that Joe has a higher standard for humor -- on our second date we went to see Wayne's World and Joe laughed so hard he cried ("Good to know" I thought). But it took me years and years to figure out how to make him laugh -- see, in the seven years we were married before Casey was born, he never laughed at my jokes. Really. Never. We would have conversations like this:

FF: Why don't you laugh at my jokes?

Joe: I do.

FF: No you don't.

(Who needs therapy when you can work your own problems out with this type of heartfelt dialogue?)

But once Casey was born and started with the disgusting sounds in his diaper, Joe started laughing. It's not that Joe is really into potty humor (he's still going to leave a comment about how insulted he is that I implied to all the world that the only things he laughs at are flatulence and burping), he just thinks the kids do and say funny things (though he does laugh really hard at flatulence) (not mine, though, cause I never do that, no matter what he says in the comments. I'm a lady). So I know whenever I want to hear Joe laugh, all I have to do is repeat some crazy thing Casey said in the car on the way home from school and he'll crack up. Just a funny look on Mace's face will get Joe going. And if Joe's laughing, all is right with the world.

Casey is six now, so I've been listening to Joe laugh for six years. When he's not home and laughing at the kids with me, our house is cute, but a little boring. Other people's basic needs are food and shelter. Mine are food, shelter and giggling. This does not bode well for our retirement years, I know.

Wait. I forgot there would be grandchildren. I hear that grandchildren are even funnier than children.

So I'll be fine.

We'll be fine.

So I'm sorry, our house is not going to be funny again until this time next week. I will try not to bring you to tears in the meantime.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Flamingo Flu and Thomas the Tank Engine

You'll be glad to hear that the Flamingos are feeling better, but have some apologies to issue to everyone we infected along the way: the four Bunco players here Sunday night when Mace yakked into Dez' hands, everyone at Church at the Bay who came into contact with Mace and squeezed his cute little face or patted his sweet little head Sunday morning, and anyone on the Northwest Airlines 5:00 flight from Tampa to Memphis Sunday night. If you're not puking yet, you will be. The Flamingo Flu is vicious and no respecter of rank or those who regularly take vitamins. For this, I sincerely apologize. I'm still waiting for an apology from the person who passed it to Casey (you know who you are).

In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out why my computer isn't working (I'm having to borrow Grandma's to write this). I suspect the answer lies here:

Sure, he looks innocent enough -- just watching some train videos on YouTube that his Pop-Pop got him hooked on.

When he gets to the prone position, though, you gotta watch out. Something about those videos gets him all crazy eventually and he starts pounding the keys. Maybe the trains aren't moving fast enough. Maybe he can't figure out why real trains don't have faces like Thomas.

And while we're on the subject of Thomas. We have watched no less than 28 hours' worth of Thomas and Friends videos over the last two days and I cannot watch one episode without getting bogged down in the absurd underpinnings of this show. I get that it's a show that's more boy-oriented and that it is supposed to teach little boys lessons about not teasing each other and not being "cheeky." But how did these engines with the faces get here? Were they born? Do they have parents? How do they propagate? If one of them falls off a high enough cliff (they are always falling off embankments and into ponds, so it could happen) and they get crushed to smithereens, would they actually die? Would there be a funeral? And why can some of the freight cars they run into get smashed to pieces, but we're not worried -- it stands to reason that if some of the freight cars have faces and feelings (though they are naughty pretty much all the time) wouldn't they all? And in the age of Pixar, why on earth is anyone filming plastic toys?

These questions bother me nearly as much as wondering where Max and Ruby's parents are?

Are they workaholics? Are they invisible? Did they leave one day for a vacation and "forget" to take their children with them? Who on earth would let their seven year old daughter be the full time caregiver for their two year old? And worse, let said seven year old daughter babysit little baby Huffington with no adult anywhere to be seen? Sure, there's a grandmother, but she has her own house across town; she can't be relied on to monitor the craziness at Max and Ruby's house! I have to admit, though, Ruby is much more patient with Max than I would be. I would not be nearly as calm with Max after he dumped juice into his bath for the third time and stained himself purple. Apparently those two are better off as orphans.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Stomach Flu Hiatus

This blog is taking a temporary hiatus while all of the Flamingos recuperate from the stomach flu. Kudos to Dez, however, who caught my kid's vomit in her hands tonight. She said her "cat-like mommie instincts" kicked in when she saw the heaving start. My mommie instinct is to run for a towel; hers is to put her hands under there . . . God made us all different, that's indisputable. See y'all in a day or two.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

She's Baaaaack!

There may be a few of you who have not been following this blog since November when I introduced you to Trashy Angel. And even those of you who actually made her acquaintance back in November sort of disappointed me in your complete and total lack of emotional response. Only Joe allowed himself to get all worked up, so to speak. He objected to my calling the poor chained girl "trashy" -- his opinion on when a woman really needs a bra is somewhat different than mine (and all other self-respecting southern women for that matter). So I feel a re-introduction is necessary for the old timers and an inital introduction is necessary for the newbies. Here is Trashy Angel as she appeared in November:

And you old frolickers will recall that she made a wardrobe change sometime in December and became Trashy Mrs. Claus. Please note the identical pose but flashy new "do":

Heidi, Dez and I have speculated about how Trashy Angel might reinvent herself -- would it be as the New Year's Baby? Cupid on Valentine's Day? The Easter Bunny?

Brace yourself now. Trashy Angel/Mrs. Claus has made another wardrobe change. For those of you who are not from around here, Tampa celebrates a pirate invasion every year around this time called Gasparilla. While there may be some marginal historic significance to this yearly drunkfest, Gasparilla ends with a large parade, where women raise their shirts to get the pirates on the floats to throw them beads. It's a pretty trashy spectacle.

But I just did not see this coming. And yet I should have -- why wouldn't Trashy Angel want to participate in the trashiest celebration around? I present to you -- Trashy Pirate:

I feel so stupid for not having predicted this. I'm not sure if she has figured out how to get down to Bayshore yet -- she's still chained to that pole, after all. But if any pirate floats get lost and end up on Hillsborough Ave, she's perfectly poised to lift her little midriff shirt and since we've already determined she's not wearing a bra, we know the beads will be a-flying!

Monday, January 5, 2009

P90X v. Chocolate Champagne Cake

For Christmas, Joe asked for the P90X exercise videos and a pull-up bar. So that's what I gave him (along with some socks and some underwear that he also asked for because he was so insulted by his birthday gift of an adorable pair of madras shorts and slip-on black clogs to wear around the house that he insisted he get something he'd actually wear, but that's another blog post entirely). For some reason, however, he keeps asking me to work out with him as if his gift was one of those gifts that you get for someone else but you really wanted for yourself. I have assured him that his exercise videos are for him to enjoy all by himself and he does not have to share. Yet he persists in inviting me to partake in abdominal workouts after the kids go to bed and he is not using "abdominal workout" euphemistically!

Last night after dinner and Bunco (Dez won), Joe asked me if I wanted to do the abdominal workout with him after the kids were in bed -- I said no, that it takes me an entire day to mentally prepare for an abdominal workout and I couldn't possibly participate in one on such short notice.

This morning, he emails me at work, "Don't forget our abdominal workout tonight." I ignored him.

On his way home from work we were talking on the phone and he reminded me again about the workout, so I explained to him about how he was free to enjoy those exercise videos all on his own and was not obligated to invite me to join him. He has either forgotten that he told me that the p90X exercise videos are the "most intense workouts. Ever." Or he thinks I've forgotten. But more importantly, if you were a husband trying to convince your wife to workout with you, would you pick an abdominal workout from the "most intense workouts. Ever?" Of course not. You would pick the wrist and ankle workout or the earlobe workout or something else that wouldn't leave your wife unable to hoist herself to a sitting position in bed the following morning.

Joe thinks I've forgotten our dating and early married years when, in an effort to impress him with my youth and vitality, I would actually go with him to the gym. For the next three days, I couldn't walk and could barely breathe for the pain. Two or three years later, he would fool me into going again and I would be cursing him for a week. Well I've learned my lesson.

Tonight he actually tried to tell me that the reason he wanted me to do the abdominal workout was because he wanted me to see that it wasn't so bad (why would I think that the "most intense workouts -- ever" would be bad?). I guarantee you the next trick up his sleeve will be to tell me that he wants me to workout with him so that we can spend time together. I've fallen for that line before and ended up holding 12-foot sheets of drywall over my head for an afternoon. If he wants to spend time together, he can come to a quilting class with me, but we will not be bonding to the P90X "most extreme workouts." Ever.

Maybe he is beginning to understand that I'm a lost cause, because when he got home tonight from helping our friends, Winnie and Phil, get a mattress home from the store, he brought me this:

Winnie works at Neiman Marcus, so I'm thinking she must have sent them home with Joe. I love Winnie. Wouldn't you? I've eaten half of both of them. I like the chocolate one best. And don't you agree that it would be a betrayal to the chocolate champagne cake if I attempted to work it off by doing an abdominal workout? It was so good, it deserves to rest on my hips forever.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

High Class

I know you all have been wondering about our level of sophistication here at Casa Flamingo and I think this photo should dash all false hopes you may have had up to this point that those "finishing classes" I took out in that trailer on the Pearson Highway actually "took" --

And if me squeezing my own son out of the driver's seat so I could have a turn driving the mini-tractor wasn't enough to convince you, the upturned Home Depot bucket there in the background that hasn't moved in a year ought to remove all doubt you may have that debutante classes will not be held at Casa Flamingo come spring.

And to top it off, here's what we do for entertainment after dinner at our house:

I know. It's impossible to laugh without snorting when you watch that. We are soooo high class.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolutions That Should Have Been

Looking back on 2008, I realize that I actually accomplished, through no talent or real effort, several goals I would never have known to aspire to on January 1, 2008. I like to feel like I've accomplished something, so let's pretend this was the list I made one year ago and then I can check each item off:

1) See all 6 Star Wars Movies. Check.
2) Read each book in The Chronicles of Narnia, three times each. Check.
3) Sleep uninterrupted through the night only 25 times. Check.
4) Learn how to use a nebulizer. Check.
5) Find out exactly how many friends I have (104). Check (thank you, Facebook).
6) Find out exactly how many people I have completely forgotten existed (67). Check (thank you again, Facebook).
7) Figure out what happened to that guy I dated for so long in college. Check (and again, thank you, Facebook). (If you're curious, too, google "Dc Riggs.")
8) Accept the fact that I am now two sizes bigger than I was before the kids were born. Check.
9) Stop exercising altogether. Check.
10) Learn all the names of the engines in the Thomas the Tank Engine stories. Check.
11) Create a blog that four people read regularly but I pretend like the whole world reads. Check.

See what you can accomplish in a year if you really set your mind to it?