Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When Bears Attack Furniture

Simply hideous:

No, Baby Bear did not do this by chewing on it, or otherwise ripping it apart with his bare paws. This damage was caused by his constant rocking, one of autism’s many self-stimulatory behaviors.

With the prolonged rocking came heavy sweating, which is why I am so not into leather. He’d sit in the middle of this love seat in our family room and endlessly rock back and forth—think of a single player “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” The kid must have abs that Harry Houdini might never have died for. But as he got older and bigger and stronger, the rocking became more rollicking, sometimes lifting the furniture off its stubby feet and sending the back of his head into the drywall.

I suppose if we pulled the leather over the back of the sofa, we could tack it back into place, but only if we use steel rivets like the kind they use to construct battleships.

There used to be a matching sofa. He did the same thing to the family room sofa (as well as the one in the living room, pictured below with Bear in Rare Repose), until the springs sprang and the wooden framework splintered.

When we had all three children, we had a curved sectional sofa that served very well and we loved it (despite the pile of toys and junk that accumulated in the space behind the curve), but that was over ten years ago and we’re not sure a new one would be “rocking proof.”

I have told Mr. Lucky that we are fated to be a house of armchairs, and that’s just the way it is. He frets over how weird it looks to not have a sofa in either the living room or family room. But who’s going to know and be offended—the Sofa Police? We only have one child living at home now. We don’t entertain, and we have to be practical.

Oh, and as if Baby Bear hasn’t committed enough atrocities lately—this morning I went into his room to find he’d ripped the tag off his new Toy Story 3 comforter.

If anyone from Homeland Security is reading this, then we’re doomed—unless the Sofa Police get here first. But if they want something to haul away in the dead of night, they’re welcome to take the loveseat.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Giving Thanks for Bigger Pies

Someone out there listens to me. And it’s dear old Mrs. Smith of frozen pie fame, who’s gone back to bigger pies. I’m so happy I’ll forgive her for not labeling the new package with the words, “Bigger size back by Karen Lingefelt’s demand. She spoke and we heard. Now maybe she’ll shut up.”

Two years ago I ranted
here about how her pies were shrinking into something closer to tarts, and that simply would not do for this family of pumpkin pie connoisseurs. To be fair, she wasn’t the only manufacturer jumping on the let’s-make-the-product-smaller-for-the-same-price-and-maybe-consumers-won’t-notice bandwagon, but we notice what’s important to us, and at Schloss Lingefelt, that’s pie.

But as much as I appreciate the intentions of Mesdames Smith, Crocker, Callendar, Butterworth, et al to keep us from overindulging and overspending, and while Goodman and Goodwife Lingefelt are certainly grateful for what they do have, the fact remains that on the last Thursday of every November, like their pilgrim forebears they prefer to give thanks for all the bounty, not the rations.

We give thanks for the prosperity and exceptionalism of America—and really, what says “prosperous” and “exceptional” and “American” more deliciously than a large, thick pie topped with towering dollops of whipped cream?

Thank you for bigger pies.

Friday, November 12, 2010

P.O.'d at the P.O.

Last December we received what appeared to be a Christmas card. The house number and town matched ours, but the addressee’s name and street were completely different. For all we knew, it might have included family photos, baby pictures for someone’s grandparents, or a check from a generous friend or relative to make the addressee’s holiday a little merrier. We took it back to the Post Office, only to have it show up in our mailbox again the very next day. Fortunately, Mr. Lucky knew where the street was, and because he’s such a nice guy, he ended up delivering it to the folks in person.

The following March, I found in my mailbox several post cards from the Census Bureau, all reminding me to fill out my Census form and mail it back by April 1st. Only one of the cards was correctly addressed to me. The others were for residences scattered to the four corners of the town. I trust THEY remembered to fill out their Census forms, even without the reminder.

Then last week it happened again—we received a regular business sized envelope so thick, that the sender (whose return address was a P.O. Box) had to stand in line at the post office to pay for the extra postage. I don’t know why she didn’t just slap on an extra stamp.

Notwithstanding, whatever it was, it was addressed to my house number, my street, my town, state and ZIP code—but the addressee was not the name of anyone who lives here. Neither the first nor last name was even close to that of anyone who lives around here.

I looked for both the sender and addressee in the White Pages, but neither was listed.

The sender went to a lot of trouble to pay for extra postage on this thick, stiff envelope. There may have been photos enclosed. It was certainly important to the parties concerned. So I took it to the Post Office.

I waited in line. And waited and waited. I don’t know why they have three windows, when only two are ever open. Finally it was my turn—and I made a point of informing the clerk that while that was my address on the envelope, I was not that person, nor did any person by that name live at my address. Could he please return it to the sender?

He made some weird mark on it and declared he would take care of it. I thanked him and went on my way.

The next day it was back in our mailbox. That weird mark looked something like “ANK”—not “UNK” which might have made more sense to me. No one had bothered to pull out the “Return to Sender” stamp with that rude pointy finger. Hadn’t that clerk heard of Elvis?

Back to the Post Office I went, contemplating how to confront the clerk about this without—well, going postal. When I arrived, the same two clerks manned the same two windows, while the same third window remained closed. But the same old long line snaked all the way back to the door—each person with a stack of boxes probably going overseas, and of course no one will fill out a customs form while waiting, because they're hoping the clerk will forget to tell them they must have one. Alas, he may forget to use a "Return to Sender" stamp, but he never forgets to make YOU step aside and fill out a form.

Did I really want to stand in line for half an hour just to ask the clerk to please, for the love of God and Country, stamp RETURN TO SENDER on this bad penny of an envelope, only to have it boomerang back to my mailbox? No, I did not. Could I trust him to do his job this time? No, I could not. Would he even want to see me again, especially when I was in a foul mood? (All right, a fouler mood than usual.) Unless he was doing this to make me come back so he could get my phone number and ask me on a date, I think not. Besides, I'm already married.

So I went over to the table, pulled a pen out of my purse, and wrote RETURN TO SENDER, ADDRESSEE NOT AT THIS ADDRESS!!! in huge black letters, complete with those exclamation marks (though there should also be a double underline under NOT). Tempting as it was, I resisted the urge to add epithets and a raving manifesto on why the Post Office was losing money. There was only so much available space on the envelope anyway.

I slipped it into the mail slot just like I do with the bills, pulled the slot open again to make sure the letter dropped down like I always do (I felt validated when I saw Meg Ryan’s character doing the same O/C thing in When Harry Met Sally . . .), and for the second time that week, I went on my way—but didn’t thank anyone.

It’s been over a week now, and I haven’t seen that letter since. I hope—nay, trust—it went where it’s supposed to go.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boo, Humbug! I Am a Halloween Scrooge

We didn’t do Halloween this year. The Crown Prince wanted to come and hand out treats as always, but his group home, as well as his school, are nearly thirty miles away. It would’ve been too late to drive him back to the home afterward. In the morning I would’ve had to wait until Baby Bear was on the bus to take the Crown Prince to school/group home and yada yada yada the whole thing was just a logistical mess, especially since Mr. Lucky had to work Halloween night.

While I’m no fan of Halloween to begin with—maybe because I do enough dressing like a freak and scaring people and yelling for candy the other 364 days of the year—I still felt bad about all of this. The Crown Prince talked non-stop for months of coming to our house on “Sunday, October 31, 2010” (he knows which day of the week for every holiday each year), and wearing what he calls his “pumpkin shirt” (orange T-shirt with a jack o’lantern face on it) for the occasion. The group home even called on Friday afternoon wanting to know what time we were picking him up. He’d decided. But I had to overrule him, and got utterly no pleasure out of it.

After 6 pm Halloween night, I closed the living room blinds and curtains, and made sure all the outdoor lights were off. We didn’t have any jack o’lanterns or Halloween decorations of any kind; just a generic fall wreath made up of autumn leaves hanging on the front door (after Thanksgiving I’ll switch it out for the Christmas wreath).

Baby Bear and I repaired to the family room toward the back of the house to play Crash Bandicoot on the Sony Playstation.

Despite all my humbug precautions, there were still two separate incidents of trick-or-treaters at the door, sending the dogs into a frenzy of barking. The second group of trick-or-treaters was a little more persistent than the first—they rang and knocked and rang again. The house was dark but dogs were barking at the window, so surely there had to be humans with candy.

Are there new rules out there I didn’t hear about? Kiddies, you don’t go to homes with no lights. I remember years ago when we took our two older children trick-or-treating on MacDill Air Force Base, at one house the doofus resident kept opening the door to tell trick-or-treaters that he had no candy. He’d close the door, then another swarm of kids would come up to knock, and he’d open the door again to tell them there was no candy here, rinse and repeat.

Yet his porch light was on. All he had to do was turn it off and he could go back to his beer and Cheetos in peace. The rules in military housing are quite clear about that, and I could’ve sworn similar guidelines were in place in the civilian community.

I simply didn’t answer the door. There was no point when I had nothing to give, and the overexcited dogs might have escaped to wreak more havoc on the children, and besides, I do it with solicitors all the time. I love that peephole that lets me see not only who’s ringing my doorbell, but what they have clutched in their hands. And it’s never balloons and a video camera and an oversized check with my name on it.

The Crown Prince will definitely be coming over for Thanksgiving (I count on him to rattle off the complete menu for me and to harangue his father about putting up the Christmas tree the very next day).

But the creepiest thing of all about our non-Halloween Halloween? Mr. Lucky has yet to bring home bags and bags and bags of half-price candy.