#maineprobs

There are few things I want more right now than a haircut. I haven’t had a haircut since August. That was 6 months ago. My hair is forming it’s own cult. It’s starting a band. It’s pouf-central-station.

I was going to make an appointment for last Tuesday after work. It snowed. I was going to make an appointment for Friday afternoon instead. It freezing-rained. I was going to make an appointment for Saturday. It snowed. I was going to make an appointment for today. It’s snowing. #snowdaysareoverrated

snowyAnother thing that I’d really like to do is make a budget. We set up an account with a heating oil company for automatic delivery to make sure that our pipes didn’t freeze. It got a bit chilly around here and they’ve delivered three times since January 6th. No one in their right mind budgets three oil payments in one month. There goes that organization. #bankruptcy

I wore the cutest outfit to work last week. There were leggings. There was a gray sweater dress. There was a sparkly collar. There were fluffy, salt-stained, North Face snowboots in a definitely-doesn’t-match tan color. #outfitfails

I went to the grocery store last night to get in some vittles for the upcoming doom known as Linus. I practically wrestled the last bag of tortilla chips from a woman in an L. L. Bean floor-length, down-filled coat and uggs. My cart was covered in snow. Have you ever tried pushing a full grocery cart over a parking lot made of re-frozen, tire-tracked, solid slush? I have. I have also done it while carrying a 24-pack of bottled water in one hand and a carton of anti-freeze car stuff in the other. #hardcoregrocerystore

deckI think I ruined my window-wipers. When I drove home in the freezing rain on Friday I must have left them switched on when I got out of the car. When we started my car yesterday they innocently attempted to start wiping again. Little did they know that an inch of ice and a foot of snow were gluing them to the window. #ripwipers

carsAn ever-present danger that results from living in Maine is the likelihood of getting pierced through the skull with an icicle every time you exit your front door, or walk under a power line, or walk under an awning, or go outside ever, at all. This is not a joke, people, this is a real problem. A little girl in my school arrived with a red, swollen bump on her head and a practically pierced lip due to a near-miss with an icicle. #icekills

iceAnd, that reminds me, you know that part in “A Christmas Story” when the kid sticks his tongue to the ice-cold pole? Well. If you come visit me at work I’ll show you three kids that have had similar problems in the past month. Did you know that school bus windows got that cold? Well – now you do. #savethetongues

It would be really awesome if there was somewhere in Rural Maine that delivered food in snowstorms. Like, if there was a truck with a plow attached that would plow your driveway and deliver your sweet’n’sour chicken and teriyaki beef-on-a-stick. Sorry Tim, it’s sandwiches again tonight. Who cooks on a snow day?

Except if it’s baking. Snow days are excellent days for baking cookies. And for watching tv. And for catching up on your facebook stalking and pinterest pinning. And for finally deciding what color you’re going to paint your bedroom. And for putting items in online shopping carts. And for making a dent in that pile of laundry. And for inventing new outfits. And for trying to do that cool cat’s-eye eyeliner trick you saw on the internet. And for texting your brothers funny gifs at 6:45am.

On a good snow day that stuff will get you up to about 11:00am. After that you’ll stare out the window, wrapped in your Avengers fleece blanket, with two cookies in your mouth, and wonder if winter is ever going to be over. Then you’ll start planning that trip to Florida. #springbreak #funinthesun #getmeouttahere #imgonnamakecocoa

snowy2

I Own This

After you’ve finished buying a house you will collapse into your new-to-you couch. You’ll likely sleep for three days straight.

You will then take a deep breath [trying not to inhale the gas that is leaking from your gas cook-stove] and sit on your [slightly dusty] couch and look around at the empty walls and stained carpets and you’ll say to yourself, “I own this.”

Then you will get your phone to call the furnace guy to come and make your baseboard heaters work upstairs. The furnace guy will return 4 times before your heating will work. You will pay him a large sum of money. Then you will sit in your nice and warm upstairs room and say: “I own this.”

After the first snowfall you will remember that you were supposed to call someone to come and plow your driveway. As your husband is outside shoveling in 1* Farenheit you will stand by the window with a glass of wine and look out at the lovely land around you and you will say to yourself – “I own this.”

When family comes to stay and you realize the night before that your carpet looks like a muddy dog just rolled in it you will roll up your sleeves, get down on your hands and knees with a bucket of warm soapy water, and you will scrub the carpet. You will scrub the carpet so hard that you will get dizzy. On second thought, the dizziness might stem from the fact that there is still bleach in your water from that shock-treatment you had to get done on your well to get rid of that pesky bacteria. But, you’ll gesture dramatically to your family about the carpet and you’ll say, “I own this.”

The next morning, despite your scrubbing, your carpet will look pretty much the same. You’ll move a rug over to cover the worst spots.

As time passes you’ll become used to the smell of gas oozing out of your stove every time you cook. You will be reminded of this problem when a fiery “whoof” explodes from your stove while you have the church youth group over for a party. You will pretend that this does not freak you out and, well, fires happen all the time, yo.

A few days later you will make pork chops and fire will shoot out from behind your stove and engulf your favorite sweater in flames for a second and you will resolve to call someone to come and fix it on Monday. Until then you can eat Subway. Sandwiches are delicious, right? You’ll look at your sub and you’ll say, “I own this.”

You’ll measure rooms and do math and realize that to put that lovely tile flooring down in your bathrooms and kitchen will cost an entire month’s salary [that’s you AND your husband’s salaries]. And you will begin to think that linoleum, really, you know, isn’t all THAT bad, sometimes it even looks like tile [if it’s in the right light].

But, despite all the hardships caused by the fact that you can’t find your husband because your house is too big, and you have to search two bathrooms and a bedroom and a closet before you know if you’ve found all the laundry, and despite your discovery that floor lamps are typically ugly and always expensive, you’ll take down your Christmas tree, carry it outside, and throw it in your woods. And you’ll celebrate that fact.

[Last year you had to saw your Christmas tree in half, squeeze it in the back of your sedan, and drive it to the dump in two trips].

You’ll throw your Christmas tree into the clump of trees that you think will disguise it best and you’ll say to yourself: “I own this.”

Buying a House 101

This blog post is a step-by-step guide on how to buy a house. If you imagine this will be a ten-step guide, guess again. It turns out that buying a house is the most complicated and stressful thing that I have ever done. It was more stressful than getting married [because the bankers and realtors were not as cute as my husband] and more stressful than public speaking [because at least the audience can give you some idea of it you’re doing it right].

The first thing you must do if you want to buy a house is math. I did this on paper, on a calculator, in my head on the way home from work, and out loud to my husband. You must add up your income [a quick sum] and your outgoing expenses [a long subtraction]. You will never stop doing math. Not ever. We have finished buying our house now and I am still doing math. Usually subtraction.

The next thing you must do if you want to buy a house is take several days off work. In order to find out if we would qualify for our mortgage, and to find out approximately how much money the bank would give us to finance the purchase of our house, we had to go to the bank. We had to go during regular office hours. Office hours at banks end are from 9-5. My husband and I have jobs. We cannot both make it to the bank between 9 and 5. So. In order to make a large, expensive purchase, we began by taking days off work.

After the bank tells you how much money you can spend on a house you may do the fun part – going to look at houses. We were lucky and found our house only a few weeks after we started looking. Some people look for months. We did, however, see our fair share of cat-pee, mouse-guts, renters, faulty wiring, questionable paint-jobs, and sloped floors. We knew our house was “the one” because it was not next to a creepy grave-yard, nor did it have a make-shift toilet.

[In all seriousness, we choose our house because it was totes adorbs, was within our budget, had the right bedroom to bathroom ratio, and was right smack-dab between our two workplaces.]

After you look at houses the next thing you must do is make an offer. During the week leading up to making the offer you will google things such as, “what to do before you make an offer on a house” and “10 things to look at when you are preparing to put an offer on a house” or “how do you know if you’re ready to buy a house.” You will also dream about houses.

During the process of making a formal offer and negotiating the final agreement with the seller you will hear phrases you don’t understand, such as “kick-out clause,” and you will sign papers without reading the fine-print because it’s too small to read and you’re really hungry and the pile of papers is really big and Gilmore Girls is now on Netflix.

When your offer is accepted and you are under contract your husband will take a video of you dancing around the house in your pajamas. You will forbid him to share this video with anyone on pain of death and dismemberment. You will remind him that if he is dead and dismembered that he will not get to live in the new house.

The worst part of buying a house is applying for the mortgage. You will cry. You will sit on the floor by the coffee table with every piece of mail and every document that you have ever signed and you will cry. Your phone will die because you used your calculator too much. You will lose paycheck stubs from 3 years ago. You will discover a mistake in your jointly-filed taxes. You will become afraid of your phone’s email notification sound in case it is the mortgage officer asking you for another document that you will have to find. You will make three copies of your green card. You will write letters to explain that no, you will not in fact be continuing that non-profit work you did for 3 months in 2011. And you will cry.

The next step in the home-buying experience is the waking up late and night and thinking that you can’t possibly earn as much as that document you just signed said you did and you will begin to do more math. You will go to your husband at work at 6am and lecture him about how the bank must have made a mistake on the math and maybe we should call and let them know. Your husband will remind you that the bank does not open for 3 more hours and that really you should just leave well enough alone.

Later, on the way to work on his cell-phone, your dad will remind you that sometimes you need to stop being a controlling know-it-all and that the bank is pretty good at doing math.

At some point during the home-buying process you will realize that you cannot spend any more money. You will begin to eat the reserves of dry goods that you have stored up in your pantry over the years. It will not be frowned upon to eat cheap, sodium-free, canned tomato soup. You will go out of your way to car-pool and avoid spending money.

The next thing that you will do while buying a house is get an inspection. You will have a house inspection and a septic inspection. You will pay lots of money for them. You will follow the inspector around with a notebook and when he tells you to put some more insulation over the basement door you will write it down studiously. When he notices that there is an outlet not working correctly in the bathroom you will nervously ask him, “so, is that a bad thing?”

Once all these things are finished and the bank tells you that it’s ok – you can buy a house. To buy a house you must leave work early and go to the bank. You bring a special check that is $600 less than was quoted in the Good-Faith estimate. While at the closing you will write a check for $600 to the seller to pay for the heating oil and propane. While buying a house you will not save money.

When you google, “typical length of a house closing” the internet will tell you to expect anything from 1 to 2 hours. Our closing took 25 minutes. You will sign papers while listening to the lawyer tell you what you just signed. There will be at least 6 or 7 other people watching you sign. You will get really good at signing your married name really fast and illegibly. When you are done signing you will get keys. Then it is over. You own a house.

The first thing you do when you own a house is run home and jump up and down. Then you buy your Christmas tree and bring it to the your new house. Your husband will curse while trying to get it to stand up straight in your new house. You will bring your I-home so you can play Christmas music while you decorate your tree in your new house. You will explore all the closets and try to make the ice-maker work in your new house. You will stand around and say to yourself, “this is my new house.”

House

The Cinderella Blues

Recently I had a great disappointment while going on a field trip with my second grade class to see the musical “Cinderella.” I was very excited to use this trip as fodder for my next slightly-angsty, hopefully comedic, blog post.

Alas. It was not to be. Everything went according to plan. All the students and teachers and parent volunteers were present and accounted for at the appropriate time. I did not forget to bring the medication for one student. I even brought a water bottle in case she needed it to swallow the pill.

Each student returned their permission slip on time – even our new student who had only received the letter the day before. One student, who had loudly proclaimed that he would under no circumstances be attending such a girly affair, showed up [despite claims that he would be “home sick” that day] and did not even berate the other boys as they excitedly discussed who they would sit next to on the bus.

The bus had enough seats and arrived on time. We left school at 8:30am. The children were chatty, but no one screamed or punched on the bus.

When we arrived at the performance the class formed a line. The line was neither straight, nor silent. But they’re in second grade – if the line had been straight and silent I would have quarantined the class in order to identify what horrifying illness had brought their childhoods to untimely ends.

We were seated in the front 6 rows. The. Front. Rows. Everyone had a wonderful view. No one had an excuse to stand up on his chair or complain that the person in front of them had hair that was too voluminous.

The classroom teacher and I were able to strategically organize the seating arrangement [“boy, girl; boy, girl; isn’t this nice?”] so that no one would be sitting next to their partner in crime. No one cried when we moved them.

During the performance children did not talk. Or laugh inappropriately. Or sing along. Or boo. Or swing their tip-uppy chairs. Or catcall the actors. No children shouted “Ewwww” during the kissing scenes.

When it came time to leave our students stood up and formed a line. They followed the teachers towards the busses. They climbed on the busses. No one was missing. They did not sit quietly. They are 8 years old. They are physically incapable of sitting quietly.

When we arrived back from the field trip we went straight to the lunchroom and we ate lunch.

I shouldn’t have written this. I’m going to jinx it.

Snow-pants, Bossy-storm

“2 inches of snow may fall on Saturday night”

That’s what the man on tv said when I was at the gym on Thursday morning. I took note of this forecast and promptly forgot.

On Friday my husband and I left one of our cars at my parents’ house so that we wouldn’t have to drive them both home. We planned to pick up the second car [the one with winter-ready tires and four-wheel drive] on Sunday after church. We also forgot my rich, moist, ganache-covered chocolate birthday cake at my parents’ house.

When I said “we planned” what I really mean is that I said [in my whinest voice, most likely] “But I don’t want to drive home tonight” and Tim reluctantly agreed to let me leave my car behind.

I think a few of you may be able to sense where this story is going.

On Sunday morning we awoke [bright and early, because of the time change] and had breakfast. Then we got an email saying that church was cancelled because of snow. It wasn’t snowing at our house yet.

We decided to set out at 9:30 to go and pick up our other car before the snow got too bad.

I should note at this point that I made this decision against my father’s warnings and with much dissension from my husband. But [as all those who know me may attest] I am a control-freak, bossy-pants. And, if we didn’t go and get the car, then I wouldn’t have been able to get to work on Monday.

Like I said, we left for my parents’ house at 9:30.

We drove off the road three times before winding up on the side of a hill about 3 miles from our destination. The snow was about 4 inches deep and falling fast. Our tires spun. Tim pushed and I revved. Nothing. A man stopped to help us. He pushed too. Nothing. We tried going backwards. Nope. We tried going forwards. Nope. We tried beating on the steering wheel. Nope.

We called AAA. They told us someone would be there in 45 minutes.

They called back 45 minutes later to tell us someone would be there in 45 minutes.

The nice thing about being trapped in a car for 3 hours is that you have time to be mad at each other, time to give each other the silent treatment, and time to make up again before you even get picked up.

Four hours and ten minutes after we left our house we were towed into my parents’ driveway. We thanked the [rather grumpy] man who had picked us up and left our car exactly where he dropped it. The bald tires wouldn’t move anyway. We prayed that no trees would fall on it.

An unfortunate side-effect of an early snow-storm is that the leaves have not finished falling off the trees yet. This makes the [already dense, wet] snow weigh the branches down heavily. When this happens, trees fall. When trees fall they sometimes fall on power lines. When this happens the power goes out. When this happens you have to cook your Sunday pork roast on the charcoal grill [while standing in the barn, hoping that the 2 cords of wood next to you don’t catch ablaze]. You will also make coffee on the woodstove. You will also light all the scented candles you can find. Your house will smell like a Yankee Candle.

At about 5:00 the power came back on for about 10 seconds. Just enough to get our hopes up.

My family was lucky, our power came back on at about 7:00pm. Others in the area still do not have power.

Due to the fact that I am a control-freak, bossy-pants Tim and I still had the problem of having 2 cars at the parents’ house and one car that was completely unsafe to drive on the roads. At about 8:00pm Tim drove our 4-wheel-drive back home. It took him over an hour. I had to sleep at my parents’ house so as to drive to work in the morning with Mom.

In the end, however, school was cancelled. For two days. There was no power at school. Instead, on Monday, I got the snow tires put on the car and Dad and I went to Wal-Mart and nearly got eaten alive in the candle department.

On the way home on Monday afternoon I dodged fallen trees and power-lines.

I will never be a bossy-pants again. Promise.

PumpkinFest

If you are [as I like to imagine] an avid reader of my blog, then you will know that [in addition to buying touristy sweaters and doing random vacation activities] I live in Tourist-Town.

Damariscotta, ME

At the end of each summer season Maine does this thing where it attempts to grasp all the tourists by the seat of their pants and hold them in the state for another few weeks. It does this by turning into shades of red and orange and gold. My particular town takes this desperation a step or two further. It hosts a pumpkin festival.

Pumpkins

At the height of PumpkinFest each local establishment has a large pumpkin placed outside its entrance. They paint and carve their pumpkins into crazy, silly, artistic masterpieces. One was a puffin. One was a lumber delivery truck. One was a toilet with a plunger in it.

Toilet Plunger

I stepped out my front door this morning, in my new black flats, into a pile of leaves. The woman across the street was having a yard sale in order to take advantage of all the extra traffic in town. She tried to sell me a vintage wedding dress in dupioni silk with buttons to the wrist. Also cashmere sweaters.

New Shoes

I then walked through town to see all the sights. I first saw a gaggle of children in line for the pumpkin shaped bouncy house. There was face-painting. There was kettlecorn. Someone had carved several pumpkins into the shape of the snowman from Frozen.

Snowman

I then walked down main street and saw a pumpkin with a paisley print, a pumpkin with a beak, and a pumpkin currently being carved with a cluster of onlookers. It was very hard for me to push several of them out of the way to get through with my iPhone so I could record the craft for you.

Carving

Confession: I don’t own an iPhone. I borrowed my husband’s iPhone because I dropped my own smart phone too many times and now the camera has a constant fuzzy kind of filter. I’m going to put a new phone on my Christmas List. I have an upgrade.

My fave pumpkin

Also while downtown I bought organic, freshly-grilled, locally-raised, grass-fed cheeseburgers cooked by a gourmet chef on the side of the road. I wouldn’t taken a photo for you but my fingers were greasy and my mouth was full and I forgot.

Tree Pumpkin

On my way back home I paused to take a photo so that you too could appreciate Tourist-Town in the Fall.

Fall Colors

I think it cleans up nice.

What I learned on my trip to the Conservation Fair

What I learned on my trip to the Conservation Fair is that I have a very carrying whisper of “shhhh.”

Let me take a moment to offer some advice to you, just in case you ever decide to host a conservation fair for K-4th grade students. Please make all of the activities available to all of the students. If you are going to have cows available for petting please allow time for all students to pet the cows. If you follow this simple rule then children will not scare your cow by rushing over in a crowd to pet it when they are walking past to go count the number of rings in a slice of tree-trunk.

If there are any bleachers to sit on then 7-year-olds will want to sit on the top [and most unsafe] row. They will then prefer to put their bottoms where their feet are supposed to go so that they can swing their legs underneath the bleachers. This gives teachers heart attacks. Students will then realize that it is the most hilarious thing in the world to “accidentally” lose their shoes underneath the bleachers. They will then learn that under no circumstances will I allow them to climb under said bleachers to collect said shoes until the end of the presentation. Tears will not move me.

Another thing that I learned while leading 17 7-year-olds on a field trip to the conservation fair is that 7-year-olds will not stop talking during a presentation about injured birds. They will be especially talkative if the injured birds are there in person, flapping their wings, and pooping on the floor. They will also run up to the front to ask a question if their raised hand is ignored for too long.

[I heard a teacher from a different school mutter to her friend “Where’s that child’s teacher?” When the student ran up front. At first this comment made me feel embarrassed. Then I got to thinking – what did she want me to do? Tackle the child from 20 feet away before she got from the front row to the person speaking?]

If you are offering a Hay-Ride at your conservation fair then please be sure to allow all students the opportunity to ride in it. If it is simply impossible to allow each student a turn on the ride then please do not allow it to traipse past my class as they try to figure out if a seal is a land or sea animal. They will not appreciate this grandstanding. Do not allow the students on the ride to wave at the students not on the ride. They may cry.

When the 17 7-year-olds realize that there is a bee near them when they sit to eat lunch they will run and scream. They will not care if there are 435 other school children in the vicinity. Or easily-upset horses and injured birds.

An invaluable asset on a field trip, especially if your head-teacher is absent, is a parent volunteer. Volunteers will take care of their own children so you don’t have to. Theoretically. When this theory is tested it does not hold water. No offense. Kids like to show off to their parents all the things they can do at school. One of these things includes never listening to teacher instruction. Yay.

When you bring a class of 17 7-year-olds on a trip to the conservation fair it is very exciting to have a performance by a mime. However, if the mime promises one student in 500 a prize for answering one question at the end of the performance then you are going to have a war on your hands. Children will rush forward, push each-other out of the way, and scream the answer – whether they were listening to the question or not. They will not accept that the prize has been claimed until they are on the bus. Even if the prize was only a very tiny, blue marble.

Upon returning from the conservation fair it is very important for students to write in journals about all the things that they learned on the trip. It is best for teachers not to read many of these journals. At times they may question whether their pounding headaches and new sunburns were worth the trip.

Teachers are disappointed not to get to go on Hay Rides too.