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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Better With Butter

My wife and I are trying to cut back on expenses. Who isn’t, right?

We have tried everything from buying canned goods in bulk and creating a food storage in our basement to using the bathroom more than once before we flush. Well, that’s just my kids.

My news page on the Internet gave us 10 easy things to do to be frugal in these hard pressed times. They suggested things like leaving you nice car at home and buying an economy vehicle to use for running your errands, using a second smaller refrigerator in your bathroom for your expensive creams and lotions, and doing your own laundry.

Doing your own laundry? Who are these people? And just who exactly has been doing their laundry?

These are not helpful hints. They are neither helpful or hint-y. Helpful hints have practical application for everyday people. If I, the normalcy poster child, was creating a list for example, number one would be “Do not let your kids near the refrigerator at any time without a chaperon". Or here’s another handy how-to, and a close number two - "No matter how hard up you are, always wear deodorant". I will keep the antidote that supports this last one to myself for now.

My favorite money saver thus far I discovered quite by accident. My local GigantoMart, being out of dog food, put the cat food on a terrific special and our dog seemed not to notice the difference. Of course, after three days of my not remembering to buy dog food our dog was looking at me like I look at a three-cheese lasagna after four hours at church.

And then just last week, Myelda informed me that a good dad would spring for the treats for her “I’m a teenager, so don’t tell me what to do but please feel free to still buy me stuff” party to which she was planning on inviting sixty or so of her closest friends all named either Amber or Justin or Jordan.

So, its was back to the store for supplies and as luck would have it, this week Dog Crunches are on sale. Well, you don't have to hit me with a bone-shaped light bulb. I bought a forty pound-er, plus some butter, cheese and some garlic salt. I swear, a pinch of oregano and a pound of salted butter and I am the Julia baking Child of Cherry Lane. They were the hit of the party to which I was not invited, and by not invited, I mean asked to leave. After Myelda demanded that my wife and I vacate the premises for the rest of the evening I must admit, I felt way less guilty about feeding them spicy dog chow.

Big picture - the only real problem so far has been that my dog has been chasing mice and is strangely aloof and Myeldas friends are using the backyard instead of the bathroom, but whats new?

Of course, I could just get a better credit card to get a loan to pay for gong back to school to get a better job so I can buy better food and not have to depend on Purina for our four square. Okay, a little hyperbole. But sometime it feels like our pets have it better. I guess I’m just feeling pressure to make it all meet in the end.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to set the table for a lovely evening with my wife. We are having seafood medley with sauteed salmon prepackaged in nice plastic microwaveable containers - at this weeks sale price.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Say Hi To Flipper For Me

My son is clueless. Not in a bad - he watches cartoons until the crack of noon - way, but in a good - he’s so charming that nobody says anything about his not bathing for a week - way. Except that he does watch cartoons until he is pealed away from the TV so that whoever lost the bout of rock/paper/scissors can take him outside and hose him down.

He has many girls text messaging him. I have counted at least ten. And when I ask him what these girls could possibly want from him at 9:30pm on a Sunday night he states, without missing the winning shot that annihilates the entire Zirathing-ian race on his x-box, that all they want is to know is what time the game is.

It is at 8:oo pm every Thursday. The time never changes. Eight. On Thursday.

Next message is from a Melisa. She’s number eleven and one I have not heard from before who is apparently a friend to number 4 texter, Amber. Guess what? She forgot to write down when the game is. Could my son please text her back with the info? Thx!

They greet him at the corner convenience store and bat their eyes and flip their hair. The closest he comes to being friendly is asking one of the hair flippers if she plays volleyball.

Why, hello there Mr. Cheney’s son! You come to this convenience store, too? How cool. You like Slurpee's! I do too. Gigglegigglegiggle more giggle. They smile and flip there hair. And Giggle. And touch his arm and flip their hair again. And then text him when he gets back in the car like they hadn’t just smelled him seconds ago.

Makes me sick.

In my day there was none of this texting on the cell phone that every single child in America has in his pocket for “Safety” reasons. We had one phone per house, and we knew right where is was at all times because it never moved from the kitchen. It couldn’t. It was screwed to the wall. If you were cool, there was an extension in the basement hall so your parents would not hear you but the possibility that someone was listening in kept us from doing anything we shouldn‘t like exchange recipes, compare voting records, or plan to take over Zirathingy-ia. None of all this mobility stuff.

Girls didn’t just call a guy either. First they baked something and put it on his door step and decorated his room with balloons to let him know they were interested. And then they asked him to a barn dance. Well, it was Idaho.

I remember popping packing bubbles on a first date. When I was twenty seven. Nothing satisfies like an evening of popping packing bubbles.

Now girls just text away and away and no matter how many times you ask, your boy child won’t tell you who is texting or what it’s about or why he cant just turn off the dang ringer-thing. And then you have to grab his phone when he is sleeping and run it to the IT department at your work so that a guy there- the one that owes you a favor because you didn’t report him for spitting tobacco on the corporate logo in the lobby can help you decipher what your son has been up to.

And what he’s been up to ends up being at least eleven young women who want to know when the game is.

The game is at eight, girls. On Thursday.

Ask her if she likes packing bubbles.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Love My I Love Lucy Cup

My wife introduced us to an intriguing new concept at a family meeting we recently held. The family meeting, by the way, is something my mother read about in a Spock book or in the National Enquire which was quite a feat because she claimed never to have read a National Enquire in her life and had no idea how my brother got all those scantily clad cutouts to pin on his closet door.

I shared the "family meeting" concept with my wife while I was in some histrionic stupor from adjusting my Prozac level from large to extra large. She took it to mean that it had some importance in my emotional development as an impressionable young man and later took my screaming “Family Meeting!…fami..Meet..oh help me heaven!” as a sign that she should continue the practice. She has now taken to calling family meetings on every essential holiday such as "International Spam Day" and "Parents and Friends of Diet Coke Drinkers Founding Day", family gatherings, or mostly whenever she feels like it.

Here is the strange new concept as I understand it to be from information I gleaned from that recent family meeting while pretending to be dozing on the couch; my self-defenceive posture. If laying down can be considered a posture.

My wife believes that if we were to take the ice cube tray out of the plastic, fill it up with water and put it in the freezer, we would have ice when company came over. Pick my jaw up off the floor!

Well, she is a college grad.

If that wasn’t enough, just now I looked in the freezer and we had ice! And get this. She says if I fill it up with water after I remove the ice to fill my 128 oz. I love Lucy Diet Coke Mug and return it to the freezer, it will start the process all over again!

I must admit, this latest success story does lend a bit of credence to last weeks family meeting where she explained that unplugging the curling irons, both the flattening-ers, straightening-ers, crimpers and dryers after using them could keep the house from burning down. And I’m looking at the notes from last month when she spoke on the proper use of bathroom tissue and Q tips safty - though that meeting was an aggreed disaster. We both had to leave the kids home for the weekend before the din died down and things got back to normal.

Though sometimes my wife, who has graciously consented to allow me to call her "My Wife" for general purposes of this column, is off the mark buy insisting that the soy sauce go in the fridge and that sour cream just "gets more sour" if you leave it out all night, she might have some knowledge that we had not anticipated her having.

Therefore I am having the kids take notes in family meetings and I will try to weed out the good ideas from the outright insanity. Not at the actual meeting of cource. I will be sleeping then.

Or at least I will be pretending to be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Small Bills Please

My lovely daughter, the one that every body thinks is so adorable, is blackmailing me. The church-going, horse-riding, people-pleasing little freak-ella calls her mother whenever I do anything questionable. Now, if I stopped doing questionable things I would be in charge of my own destiny, but that is to hard. So the one I’m blaming is my daughter.

Yes it’s true that I have been getting up later and later but it is because I don’t have to be in work until 11 am. So I sleep-in a little! Yeah! So?

My wife believes that I get up early to write. Early is relative. If I don’t have to be up until 10:30 then 10:00 is early, right?

Now that my darling daughter is vacationing from school she watches my every move. She can see just about everything from her perch on the couch where she watches eighty hours of daytime TV a day. Even at night she can find Daytime TV to watch. She thinks I wont say anything about it because then she would just find something in her arsenal to tattle on me for.

She is mostly right. As long as I say “Hi” to her in the morning and something polite but non-committal like “How is Oprah doing this fine morning?”, then we get along famously. If, however, I say anything like “when you are through watching TV today, please fill the permanent impression in the couch with seven or eight of the decorative pillows so no one else falls through” she goes ballistic and works both her cell phone and the house phone simultaneously to report that I threw out her mothers shoes yesterday.

I have tried to find her notebook where she writes down her notes as she watches my every move, but the little darling doesn’t use notes. She has it all memorized. The same girl who can't remember how to spell cantaloupe remembers that two Thursdays ago I called in to my work ten minutes late and I used a towel that was not assigned to me. If I could harness that evil power of hers I COULD RULE THE WORLD!

At least she has graduated from the mindless tattle to going for personal gain. She used to just spurt out everything at days end to her mom for free. We’would be sitting down to eat, you know, happy family time and she would just start spurting uncontrollably “Dad watered your plants with skim milk, used all your work socks to stain the cabinets and bought a watering hose and benedryl with the ATM card he told you he couldn‘t find.” Wide eyed pregnant pause “Oh, and the registration on his truck is expired and he said the P word.”

I tried a glueing a few sequins on a shock collar and passing it off as a stylish and fashionable truth sensing assessory, but her random spurting stopped when she realized that this information had both intrinsic and monetary value. Now she just asks if she can have an extra hour on her curfew and raised her maniacal little eyebrows at me daring me to say no.

Of course you can, Honey. And how was Oprah today?

I’ve just asked her to stop the enterprising while in front of the other children. Its not a good example.

That, and I only have tens and twenties.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pocatello, Here I Come!

The 2010 Shopping Cart Chasing Championships are being held in Pocatello, Idaho this year and I have begun to prepare.

The top positions are wide open this year due to the dethroning of the current champion Marty Consuelo De Martinez who ended up being a girl. And a Canadian. The mustache, however, appears to have been real from everything I have heard. Apparently no one thought to ask. Not that she was uncrowned because of her gender, or because of the bad mustache. She was dethroned because she wasn’t really from Alabama, and that was the state that sponsored him. Her. They don’t take kindly to outsiders, especially outsiders with better health plans.

Because of last years "problems" this year all contestants are having to supply three forms of ID - our drivers license, a credit card or check card and our membership card to "The Association of Propane Providers of North America".

I think I’m ready for the competition. I have been spending all the time I would be drinking diet coke preparing for the contest. I don’t really have an idea as to how I’d place being as how I am a novice this year. This is a concern because if I do end up winning in any of the divisions I would become eligible to go to internationals and that could put a strain on our family budget in an expensive way. Fortunately, the international competition is being held in Pocatello, Idaho also. What a break.

I know I am a little long in the one tooth I have left to be even considered for the completion, but our store manager is a gambling man and is ready to take the risk. The closest we have come to placing was when Big Momma Lovell placed second in shopping cart decoration the Fresno year - Senior Division 1998. That just wet our store managers appetite for that blue ribbon hardware and he’s been gug-ho ever since.

Besides there is something about chasing carts that really appeals to me. And then, an top of it all, there’s Pocatello. The Gate City! I hear they have a Shoneys now.

The categories this year are; Manipulation and Mobility, Problem Solving & Creativity, Style (which was where we did so well in 1998 in the raisin capital), and General Speed, which is the main event and image one generally associates with a competition of this caliber.

My main competition locally comes from a Samoan kid at the GigantoMart situated west of the high school. His name is George Mauatafungafunga, and he was eligible to go to nationals last year but was hitchhiking and ended up in Kentucky - which fortunately was where the contest was being held, but he forgot the address and Kentucky is not the place to stop and ask for directions. He’s back with a vengeance this year and I hear he’s got a ride already.

I do have an advantage over him in one area. He frequently uses the D.Cart Zamboni 900 to help him push the carts along giving him greater strength during the middle stretch. I don’t have that luxury, so I may be in better shape. My real strength is in the mobility dept, where I do well due to my talent to steer cart lines of over ten carts. I may also be ahead in the game because some of our shopping carts at my store may or may not have functioning wheels, so I have to overcome gravity, inertia and friction.

Unfortunately, there is little prize money offered. My wife tells me that if I could find a way to get paid for what I do best then I would have it made, because what I do well, I do really well. People just don't want to pay for the things I do well. Oh well.

Until I find a way to earn money, I am going to have to branch out extracurricularly. I'm thinking positively and I'm making room on my shelf for a trophy that will sit right next to my "Best in Writing" award from college.

Pocatello, here I come.