Trick or Treat

It’s October 1972 and I’m having my umpteenth fitting for the clown costume that I’ll be wearing for the annual neighborhood candy grubbing err…I mean Halloween.  My mom is down on her hands and knees with pins in her mouth marking here, tacking there, adding rick rack, pom poms, bell cuffs and doing the cone-shaped hat out of fusible webbing–the whole enchilada.  2 costumes: one for me and the other for my older brother.  McCall’s and Simplicity pattern paper rained down on the dining room table…devil, pirate, bunny, gypsy.  She did this every year.  The end result being for one single night’s enjoyment and dibs on a few of our mini Snickers.  She put more work into these costumes than I can even imagine, were I to do a ridiculous thing like blow what remains of my serenity by piecing together pant legs and sleeves.  And how did we repay her?  By whining that we wanted the “store bought” costumes with the Botox masks.  Cinderella with her face frozen in that horror/smile and fabric that had no shape, no embellishment, no hand-stitched zipper for crying out loud.

It’s October 2002 and I’m trying to stuff my 5-year-old son’s face through the too small opening (that I’ve cut with pinking shears to avoid having to sew an edge) in the twin sized flat sheet that I probably hemmed with duct tape.  He’s supposed to be a ghost but the squished face brings to mind Edvard Munch’s painting, the Scream.   Which is more frightening anyway and adds a touch of sophistication.  Not a bad job for 19 minutes’ work.

It’s October 2012 and I don’t have any plans to make or buy a costume for my kids who are nearly too old to trick-or-treat.  Their style now is to scare the bejeesus out of other kids and horde enough of our passing out candy to satisfy their sweet teeth.  I think back on all the hump-busting my mom did to make something special for us–extraordinary things, things that required sequins, seed beads and bias binding.


I’ve always had a thing for facial boils and rotten teeth.

Were we grateful for the time she spent?  Probably not.  I was 5 and if you wanted my thanks you’d better be lifting the ban on Barbie (I’m done with therapy and can actually talk about it calmly).  It’s my belief now, as the Mom, that you’re gonna wait a helluva long time to hear some of the thanks that you think you might be owed so you’d better just be doing it for the love of it.

And the occasional mini Snickers.

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Eat, Drink and Be

Labor Day is just a bean bag toss away–Summer’s end.  Sigh. Three-day-weekends in late August/early September can mean only one thing–the state fair is coming.

My salivary glands start producing at this time of year because the pronto pups are everywhere, and they don’t go unaccompanied.  They generally require a side of fried cheese curds and bacon-wrapped-things-on-a-stick, a strawberry shake or funnel cake with whipped cream and some kind of bicarbonate. It’s not for wimps.

After taking serious inventory I’ve decided I’m gonna have to pass on the fair this year.  I got back on ye olde yoga mat today after a long hiatus.  It was hot yoga so there was profuse sweating–the kind where I’m sure I smelled Riesling and schnitzel leaching out of my pores and my schwarzwaldkirschtorte-filled center was more than slightly a-jiggle.

Portions of this summer were spent at an undisclosed beach where a few of the men bathers were sporting the tiniest of speedos, slingshots really.  And the women bathers all wore bikinis, regardless of their size and shape. And there I was, in what could only be considered a swim-burqa, relatively speaking.  The other bathers probably wondered what freakish abnormality I was hiding.  I love that there are places in the world where the general attitude is: Who cares?  Nobody.  Places where mere scraps of fabric are accepted on any body type–not just the American Beach Volleyball Team.

Summer may be coming to an end, but the farmer’s markets are just at their peak.  The ones around here are giving up tomatoes to die for, especially when sliced and paired with basil and fresh mozz, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a crank of pepper.  Give me a caprese salad, a cob of sweet corn with a chaser of sun tea and I’m a happy woman.  Add to that a little sweet melon wrapped with a paper thin slice of prosciutto and a sip of sangria garnished with raspberries that were just picked.

If we decide to throw caution to the wind and join the mass of humanity at the state fair, I promise to enjoy the fried Twinkie and pork chop-on-a-stick responsibly by opting for the Def Leppard concert t-shirt and leaving my swimsuit at home.

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Fifty Shades of Green

Summer vacation is in full tilt around here. I’ve made it halfway through the summer with my sanity nearly intact, there has been no potato salad induced botulism and all our fingers are still secured after the 4th of July Pyro Fest.

I say that my sanity is “nearly intact” because I was accused of coming across as “a little unhinged” from my last post. This statement from a dear friend who I know to have sound hinges and it gave me pause. Have I come unhinged? Do I blog as though my hardware and wiring could use some attention? MarthaUnhinged? Dunno. I wasn’t going to blog at all this summer in order to give full attention to my hinges. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my hinges are what they are and if I could change them–you know, screw them on tighter–I probably wouldn’t because I’ve grown accustomed. I guess you could say I’m comfortable with my dysfunctional inner goddess.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest…let’s turn to the real reason you tuned into this post at all–the reference to the title: 50 Shades of Green. You randy lot of pervs!

You’ll be terribly disappointed when I tell you that it is innocently and only about the painting job we did this weekend at my husband’s parent’s house. For the past 40 years their little rambler has been a shade of green you’d only want to see on a popsicle and never a house exterior. We laid out several chips for them to consider–a dizzying challenge compared with the choices from 1973. Additionally, my in-laws are in their 80’s which makes them dubious about anything that smacks of nouveau palette. They are comfortable with their sherbet green house and any suggestion that they update with a more subtle earthtone, like Ryegrass or Tansy Green was met with a raised eyebrow and a head shake.

After much cajoling, a decision was made with minimal comment from their daughter-in-law (though I bit my lip a lot)…Lime Rickey. A shade of green somewhere between ectoplasm and retina-burning chartreuse. Well, it was certainly a departure from sherbet, but still not a go-to house color unless you really don’t like your neighbors much. While my husband power washed I was given the job of fetching the 5 gallon pail of Lime Rickey (insert booze joke here). When I gave the man at Sherwin Williams our swatch of intention,  his eyes bugged out cartoonily, then he drew my attention to the small symbol which indicates that Lime Rickey is an “interior only shade”.

Now, believe it or not, I had come to terms with their choice because I’ve been doing a considerable amount of soul-searching with regard to my earlier mentioned hinges. The realization that I came to while coming back from the store for the paint was that they are 87-year-old people, this is the last time that they will make paint choices for the outside of their house. My happiness doesn’t hang in the balance of this one choice. Their independence, and ability to choose freely, does.

It was a beautiful day–their loved ones assembled to do the work, all of us laughing, mopping sweaty faces, singing badly with the radio and working to help them achieve this small victory. It shouldn’t have mattered if they chose to paint their place purple with orange polka-dots. So when the Sherwin Williams guy said to me “No Lime Rickey”, I was a bit sad. I was even sadder when I called to relay the news that they had to pick a new color. There may be 50 shades of any given color, but they had chosen one that they loved for 40 years once and you don’t mess with that kind of math. Sherbet it is.

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Are We There Yet?

Today is the last day of school for my kids.  We are on the threshold of unstructured afternoons, lazy beach days, amazing feats of sibling nattering and vacation road trips.  Which means it’s time to for uber-mom to put on her game face.

R. Lee doing surprise inspection for enlarged gamer thumbs.

There’s no shortage of gaming going on here in my little corner of the world and I know I’m not alone when I say that my head is about to explode every time I hear the words ‘Just a minute, lemme finish this level’.

I’ll be damned if the summer is going to go down in a blaze of zombie/plants/minecraft/cod glory.  I do a thumb check on my kids some nights after a particularly lengthy gaming session to see if they have grown abnormally disproportionate to their other digits.  So far they should still be able to get prom dates.

Florence Henderson was the original tv uber-mom. Oh wait, she had a maid…
Anne B. Davis was the original uber.

I have a parenting style that falls somewhere between Carol Brady and R. Lee Ermey.  I bake brownies and give reassuring hugs combined with well thought out praise/admonishment in the appropriate teachable moments.  I want our family to have the lets-sing-show-tunes/station wagon/Grand Canyon family-style vacation.

But don’t f*** with me by bringing that laptop/hand-held gaming whatchamajigger on our trip, ignoring all the scenic beauty.  Or I will take you down.  I’m old-school and prefer good ol‘ backseat bickering, invisible lines and threats to pull over or turn this car around or whatever happens when I count to three.

Station wagon is from Flickr (I believe)

Last weekend we did a dry run road trip to Mojo Monkey Donut Shop.   This place makes artisan sweets and is a nirvana of glazed goodness–definitely a must-have/see/smell.  They do a bacon wrapped maple glazed long john that you’d knock your grandmother down for if it were the last one in the box.  We don’t have a donut shop in our town, or any town within decent range and I flat-out refuse to get my fix at the gas station convenience store.

Miracle of miracles, we actually made it to Mojo Monkey and back (approximately 30 miles) without a Fruit Ninja or Office Jerk sighting and only trace amounts of bickering.  The sunroof was open, leaving the aroma of maple and bacon in our wake, and all was right with the world.  There were no singalongs, but we have plenty of time to work up to that over the next 90 days.

Feel free to join in on the chorus:  Sweet Car-o-line (wo, wo, wo)…

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Before we outsource to India, MarthaUnplugged is having a tag sale!

Where I come from this is actually referred to as a “garage sale”.  If you’re looking for Fiestaware gravy boats or chic and rusty garden tools, you won’t find any here.  However, while going through some of our intellectual property we noticed quite a few unused ideas and dusty brainstorms that were taking up just too much room in the old noggin.  So it’s time to de-clutter the cupboard.

The following post ideas are gently used and would be new to you so why not take a look to see if there’s something here that fits.  Please, no early birds–everything is considered as-is condition and there are no returns or exchanges.

Mother’s Day Hangover. As in: Mom, I want to make you breakfast in bed but would you mind cleaning up the egg-crusted pans and sticky substances on nearly every kitchen surface when we’re finished showering you with affection?  There will be plenty of bickering all the livelong day, just to keep it real.  This post idea is a steal and yours for the low, low MarthaUnplugged price of…well, make an offer.

Here’s one you might need…If You’re Reading This, Get Off My Ass.  As in: Some of my favorite bumper stickers.  This post comes with several bumper sticker ideas.  i.e. The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things or Have You Hugged Your Llama Today? or Pat Paulsen for President.  Just think, with a nip here, a metaphor there–you’ve got yourself a lovely made-to-read blog post!

Cinco De Mayo’garitas: This post was conceived a few weeks ago and was meant to be  a taste test of all the muy delicioso margarita recipes I’d planned on compiling (sampling) for 5/5. One thing lead to another (over-sampling) and now it’s gone to the curb. Highly recommend the Golden Margarita or Margarita Cupcakes…

And what tag sale would be complete without a “free” box?  So here for the taking are a few post ideas that only a mother would love.  Please, no shoving–there’s something for everyone.  If you see my hook rug of the Last Supper, please leave it because I’ve just found the yarn for John the Baptist’s hair and I might finish after all…

Ode to rhubarb: A consideration of this lowly plant and all it’s tasty potential–add 8 cups of sugar and voila! a delicious dessert.

Vintage crochet:  Antimacassars–what are these for?  Did folks in the early part of the last century have so much body oil that they had to protect their furniture?

Thanks for coming to the sale! It feels so good to purge the old ideas once in a while, now I’ve got plenty of extra room to generate some really important ideas like…like…huh, I got nothin’.

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