There but for the Grace of God...

June 10, 2010

You Gotta Spend Money to Save Money

The Captain is often exasperated by my insistance that you have to spend money to save money.  This little bit of wisdom usually comes up when I've come across a really great sale and purchased a ridiculous amount of stuff that I probably don't really need.  I walk in the door, triumphant about my shopping prowess, and call out to him:

You won't believe how much money I saved!!

He inevitably cocks his head at me and asks what kind of logic spells savings when I just spent $200.  Of course, I excuse his inability to understand the basic math of shopping.  He is, after all, a Man.  The intricacies of the shopping transactions are clearly beyond his ken.  I actually feel kind of bad for him, knowing he'll never fully experience the exultant feelings generated by  a 50% off rack with an additional discount for red dot items.  I try my best to share the jubilation with him, but, again, his shopping math deficiencies hold back his enthusiasm.  Poor man.

I wonder how he'd react if I started buying coupons on eBay.  Did you know you could do that?  I had no idea, but when I stumbled (and by stumbled, I mean actually meandered my way there as opposed to being led there by across the ads today, I was at first perplexed.  It never occurred to me that people would actually buy coupons in an online auction.  How do they authenticate them?  Is that even legal?  It must be.  It still seemed a little wrong to me, until I remembered shopping math.  You gotta spend money to save money, and apparently, sometimes that means buying coupons.  Now, I just have to figure out how to explain it to the Captain.

April 30, 2010


I love winter.  I do.  The muffled atmosphere created by snow piled waist high and the silent descent of big fluffy flakes has a magical quality.

 But come spring, I start to remember how amazing the sounds of nature are.  The birds singing, the tree frogs calling.

And then we have a thunderstorm, with that electric feeling in the air.  The sound of fat drops of rain falling against the roof, the ground.  It's magic in its own way. 

 And I'm loving it. 

I fully recognize that the Beast has nothing really to do with this post, but isn't she cute?!?!

April 21, 2010


Spring has come to the Great White North.  I know it's a little unbelievable the snow is gone and it's only
April, but there it is.  I'm not sure what we did to deserve this gracious turn of weather, but I'm not complaining.  Unless this is the result of the whole climate change fiasco.  Then I just feel a little guilty for enjoying it so much.  But lacking positive proof of that circumstance, I'm going to continue on with my reveling.

Spring is an odd time of year.  The cozy comfort of winter spent swaddled is over, while the crisp green growth of new beginnings are blooming.  It's a wistful season.  A season of uncertainty and possibility.  Planning for summer, but not yet done with the obligations of winter.  Sunshine and wilderness calling to an inner child while the weekly responsibilities of job or school or church hold you back.

This spring is especially fraught with all of that and more for the Captain and me.  We recently found out that we'll be leaving the Great White North, heading east, in the fall.  Such is the Army life, but knowing we have but one more spring and summer here makes the days seem a little more poignant.  Our summer plans are evolving to encompass family we'll see much less often, special getaways to our favorite local haunts and hiking trails, and relishing the moments we have together.  There's a year long deployment waiting on the other side of that move.  It'll be our third.  But for now, today, it's spring, and we're cherishing the possibility of the season.

March 19, 2010


You're so beautiful, you don't have to worry about your figure.

When she said these words to me, what I heard was:

You're fat.

This hit a little hard, because I have been working hard to lose weight and get in shape.  Going to the gym 4-5 days a week.  Working out at home on the off days.  Watching my fat intake.  Counting my calories.  I'm making progress, slowly but surely.  Those ten pound weights are feeling a little lighter.  I'm overcoming my hatred of the elliptical machine.  I'm down two pant sizes.  I'm getting there.  But still, what I heard was:

You're not good enough.

Now, the thing is, she really does think I'm beautiful.  She comes from the Philippines.  A culture that admires fair skin and European features.  She hates that her skin is brown.  That her hair is black.  That she's short.  She referred to her pregnancy as her "ugly time", as her mother before her did, because her skin darkened and her belly enlarged.  The first time we met, she showered me with compliments extolling my light skin, my blue eyes, my red hair.  She has considered cosmetic surgery, skin whitening treatments and hair dye to look more like me.  Not me specifically, but the standard I represent.

In her culture, the women greatly out number the men.  The men are not faithful.  Women there are obsessed with staying thin and looking young, because they fear that any imperfection will send their men scurrying to someone else's bed.  It's not uncommon for men to divorce their wives because they gain too much weight, and once divorced, their chances of finding another partner are slim, because men there won't consider marrying a woman who has children.

She's married to an American man now.  A military man.  He adores her.  He loves her for her differences.  Her dark almond eyes.  Her gentle nature.  But still, she clings to the fears of her culture.  She wears a size 3, but longs for the days she wore a 0.  She has lustrous long black hair, but believes that blonde hair would be beautiful, once she gets her skin light enough, that is.

Her notion of beauty is so far removed from the reality of herself that she'll never attain it.  My heart breaks for her a little, because she is truly beautiful and can't see it.  But I wonder at times:

Am I any different? 

To her my red hair and fair skin define my beauty.  My weight has no meaning in the beauty equation.  Fat or thin or somewhere in between, I will always be beautiful.  To me, weight is the deciding factor in the equation.  I berate myself because I'm not a size 3, let alone a 0.  I see women in advertisements and magazines who are thin and sexy and think:

I'll never be beautiful like that. 

We make quite the pair, she and I.  Neither of us able to fully recognize the beauty in ourselves, but instead spending too much time thinking of ways to change ourselves to match our idea of beauty.

Here's the part that I keep getting hung up on, though.  I know, as in believe with my whole heart, that she sees me and sees beauty, even if I can't see it.  I know that when I look at her, I see beauty, even though she doesn't recognize it in herself.  So here's my new plan.  I'm going to trust my friend.  I'm going to believe her when she tells me I'm beautiful.  I'm going to embrace the things that make me beautiful in her eyes, and it's going to be good enough.  Because the next time she says:

You're so beautiful, you don't have to worry about your figure.

I only want to hear:

You're beautiful. 

March 15, 2010

The Works

When I was in the 6th grade or so there were two boys I spent part of a summer playing with.  We were friends when they weren't accusing me of stuffing my bra or snapping said bra strap.  Their names were John and Eric.  John was just a little guy.  Small and wiry.  In fact, in later years we called him Little John, in direct comparison to Jon, who was not little.  Eric was an average kid.  A bit on the thin side, also wiry.

The thing about John and Eric was that they were just fun to hang out with.  A more mischievous combination I've rarely encountered.  We did boy things, like throw a football around and tell fart jokes.  Now don't take this to mean I was a tomboy, because I just wasn't.  What I was was aware of the fact that girlie girls were not respected by the boys.  So, in an effort to avoid that disrespect, I set aside my inherent dislike for dirt and grime.  I stepped out of my comfort zone because playing with the boys was more intriguing than sitting around talking about the boys with my girl friends.  Plus, it was like a reconnaissance mission, which appealed greatly to my curious nature.

On occasion, either John or Eric and I would pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend.  Now by pretend, I mean practice going the motions of forming that kind of attachment.

John:  You wanna go out?

Me:  Uhm, I don't know.

John:  Why not?

Me:  Well, what would we do?

John:  Uhm, hang out and stuff.  Go to the movies.  Maybe I'd get you flowers on Valentine's Day.

Me:  Okay.

These relationships rarely lasted past the end of the week, if that long, but it seemed to work for us, and didn't disrupt our friendships much.  I realize that would come as a surprise to some kids today who take themselves way too seriously at way too young of an age.  Sixth graders today are having sex, but in my day, we weren't interested in those kinds of things.  We were more likely to spend our time thinking up ways to make homemade incendiary devices.  In fact, one of my funnest childhood memories is an afternoon spent making Works bombs in the empty lot next to Eric's house.  I'm not going to describe how to make them, but suffice it to say it was so easy a grade schooler could do it.  Successfully.  While avoiding injury.  We must have blown up a dozen of those things.  And it was awesome!  Until one went a little awry and broke a window in an old garage.

Some neighbor must have heard the crash and come to investigate, unbeknown to us.  Shortly there after a police cruiser came tooling down the street, which sent us running for home.  Now Eric didn't have far to go, but John and I lived on the other side of town, he further than me, so we booked it through back yards all the way to my house, where we crashed under the willow tree in my back yard.  Then we laughed like there was no tomorrow.

John:  You should have seen your face!!

Me:  You should have seen yours!

John:  Do you think Eric made it home before they saw him?

Me:  I hope so.

As it turns out, Eric did make it home.  Unfortunately for him, the neighborhood nark knew who he was and the police made it to his home as well.  Eric was so grounded.  So was John for that matter, once Eric's mom called John's.  I was never found out, though.  My folks were beyond strict and both boys knew that if my mom and dad found out, their month long groundings would likely seem like a slap on the wrist.  The boys shielded me from that.

It wasn't long after that event the Eric's mom transferred him to a private Christian school.  We rarely saw him for the remainder of our school days.  John and I stayed in each others' lives to an extent, as we went to the same church and were involved in youth group and band together, but we weren't close like we had been that summer.  Such is the way of children, who drift in and out of each others' lives.

I'll always remember both of them with a great deal of fondness, though.  Their mischief and fun gave me the opportunity to shake off my naturally reserved nature for a while.  I took life too seriously as a child, always watchful, always preoccupied with looking silly.  I failed to join in the play too many times to count.  But those boys were exhilarating with their sense of freedom and adventure.  They were unfettered in a way I hadn't encountered before, and it made me realize that I wanted to be more like that.  I wanted to let go of my control for a while and see where impulse would lead me.

It's been a lifelong effort to emulate the spirit of those boys.  To learn to live fully in the moment.  I can't say I've always been successful in that effort, but I am getting closer.  Every day a little closer.

February 21, 2010

No Time Like Tomorrow

I have been incredibly remiss in posting new content the past couple of weeks.  I've got a few different things I'm working on, but have been lacking time to polish them up before posting.  What's frustrating is that I would rather be writing than say working.  Or cleaning.  Or doing homework.  But all of these things have been taking precedent.  On the upside, my spring cleaning is about done, save the basement.  Look for new stuff coming in the next few days.  I will finish something this week.

February 5, 2010

Tales of The Captain

Groggily rolling over in my sleep, trying to hold onto the dregs of my latest dream I wake up  to a yelp with my knee in The Captain's butt.

The Captain, voice filled with dismay:  You kneed me!  Why did you knee me?

Me:  Whaaa?

The Captain:  Jess, you just kneed me in the ass, full force!  It hurt like hell!

Me:  I did what?

The Captain:  You slammed.  Your knee.  Into my ass.

Me:  *coming awake and registering what he's actually saying*  Long pause, then....  Bwuuahhhahahahaha!

The Captain, huffily:  Stop laughing.  It's not funny.

Me:  Oooooh hohohohoho!  EEeehehehehe!

The Captain, testily:  Shut up.  It's not funny.  It hurts.

Me:  Okay, I'm sorry.  *snort, giggle, giggle*  I'll stop.  *face in pillow, deep breaths*

The Captain:  Thank God I wasn't facing the other way.

Long pause...

Me:  Bwuuahhahahahaa!

February 2, 2010

How Are You Sleeping? Or How to ruin yourself for Olympic competition for life.

Well, I've done it this time.  In one careless moment, I managed to ruin any plans I had for the foreseeable future.  How did I do this, you ask?  Well, let me tell you, but first you should meet the object of my demise.

Oh, sure, she looks all sweet and innocent, but don't let that fool you.  This child, this imp, my niece, holds the power to fell you in one foul swoop.

It started innocently enough with a:
Aunt Jess, I have to go potty.
Okay, Bug, can you wait just a minute?
No, Auntie, I have to go NOW.

So, there I was, looking up and down the row of seat, filled with people relaxing, enjoying the intermission (did I mention we were at a play?).  The people to my left included my brother and sister-in-law holding a sleeping baby.  Plus whole lot of people on the other side of them.  It looked something like this:

Only with more people in the seats.  I looked to my right and there I saw three small children and one haggard looking grandmother.  Now, I don't want to disparage this grandmother, but as we tried to progress down the row and to the aisle, she would not move out of the way.  I'm serious.  I asked her to move, she was sitting on the end, but she just smiled and shook her head.  There she sat with a big ole purse on the floor in front of her and a kid in her lap, just smiling.  In hind sight, I'm thinking that perhaps the shake was to signal that she didn't hear me, because her hands were full of bratty 3 year old.  But at the time, I called her a b*tch in my head and looked for other options.  There was no one in the seats behind us, so I figured I'd just pick the Bug up and lift her over our seats to the row behind, then climb over myself.  So, I grabbed her under the arms and swung, and when I went to set her down POP!!!

Eeeeeeek!  Did I just break my back?

Pain.  Sharp stabbing pain.  Across my back and down my legs.  I dropped the Bug who whacked her elbow and started to tear up.  That was alright, because I was starting to tear up too.  Holy crap!  Who knew pain like that was possible.  I saw stars.  I saw red.  I saw myself falling to floor and crying like that bratty 3 year old.  Okay, I didn't actually fall to the floor.  I have more self control than that, but I wanted to.

The rest of the afternoon is kind of a blur from there.  I somehow managed to get the Bug to the bathroom and back again.  We watched the rest of the show, went to lunch, and then I gingerly crawled back into my car amidst much wincing and inhaling sharply through my teeth and drove myself home, where the Captain, forewarned, was waiting to help my into the house.  

Upon my arrival I deduced two things.  1.  Riding in a car for two hours after pulling a number on you back will only serve to cause great stiffness and an inability to walk with more than shuffling baby steps, and 2.  Motrin is a useless drug that does nothing to alleviate serious back pain.

I spent that rest of the weekend flat on my back trying to ignore the pain by reading romance novels with graphic sex scenes.  Consequently, there are some activities you should not partake in with an injured back.  It just makes it worse.  If you take nothing else from this post, please remember that.  It's just not worth the pain.

The Captain, bless his heart, was great all weekend.  He made me breakfast and fetched things for me.  He refilled my water glass whenever it went dry.  He was patient and kind.  Until I'd send him running for something and then remember another thing I needed/wanted immediately upon his return.  That looked something like this.

I just love this picture.  It has so much to say.  It says, Come on!  and How much longer am I going to have to do this?  I could tell he was getting slightly irritated, but felt he couldn't really express those feelings with me all laid up on the couch and all.  I tried not to take advantage of it, but sometimes it's fun just to mess with him.  It's good for him.  Seriously.  A side note:  Doesn't it look like he's missing half a finger?

I should be nicer, I know.  Especially considering he was even kind enough to provide entertainment by wrestling with the dog where I could watch.

So, I made it through the weekend and went to see my doctor bright and early on Monday morning, and by bright and early, I mean 1PM.  I was still in a considerable amount of pain, and it showed.  After a thorough examination, (read my doctor always makes me get naked) he determined that I had ruptured a disc in my back.  This was deduced after trying to make me move in all kinds of funky ways and asking a lot of questions.  I say trying to make me move, because there wasn't much moving going on with out almost unbearable pain.  The questions were less painful.  For me at least.  Thinking back on it, I think the doc must have been shaking his head and sighing on the inside, because my mind was so focused on the pain and how to make it stop, all my answers were, well, uhm, maybe it's better if I illustrate.

Doc:  How are you sleeping?

Me:  Well, I try to stay on my back, cuz' that hurts less, but I roll in my sleep.

Doc: Are you sleeping all night?

Me:  Well, I've been staying up late because it hurts so much I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep, and I've been getting up early because I can only lay there for so long before it becomes unbearable.

Doc:  Are you sleeping through the night?

Me:  (Trying not to giggle, because I've just realized what a dunce I am) No.

So, I'm off of work for the next week at least, and am pretty much confined to home.  I'm still in a lot of pain, but the muscle relaxers and pain medication help.  I have learned some valuable lessons though.  I feel compelled to share them with you.

1.  Sympathetic strangers will wince with you with every shuffling pain filled step.

2.  It is possible to put on a pair of socks without bending at the waist.

3.  Your spouse will avoid elbowing you in the side to get you to stop snoring if he/she knows you're in serious pain.  They just move to the couch.

4.  Dogs try to devise sneaky ways of tripping you up when they sense that doing so may actually cripple you for life.

5.  The sciatic nerve is a mean little bugger and should be taken behind the woodshed.

6.  Swinging around 45 pounds of dead weight without training is never a good idea.  Bending over while doing so is an even worse one.  (Thanks for pointing that one out, Bro.  You can't buy sympathy like that.)

On that note, I'm headed back to the couch.

January 20, 2010

Order in the Court

I was walking through my kitchen last night when a song popped into my head.  Well, not a song really.  More like a ditty.  It's been stuck there ever since.  I can't sing it for you, obviously, but it goes like this:

Order in the court.
The judge wants to speak.
The first one to talk is the monkey of the week.

Now my question is, where the hell did that come from?  I mean, I recognize it.  It's a little song that my fourth grade teacher used to sing when she wanted us to quiet down.  How's that for sudden and serious clarity of memory?  But the point is, it's not been a part of my waking consciousness for the past 21 years.  So why now?  Why that moment as I passed the fridge heading for the sink?  Seriously.  It makes me wonder what else is lurking around in there. 

Maybe one of these days all that Spanish I learned in high school will come rushing back.  Perhaps I'll suddenly recall why I dyed my hair orange in the 10th grade.  Hmmm.  Actually, maybe I'd rather not know.  And that's the thing about these suddenly reclaimed memories.  It's a crap shoot.  Can I remember the names of grammar school class mates when I run into them at the local Wal-Mart during my annual trips to visit my folks?  Nope.  And these are people that I saw and interacted with on a daily basis for years.  Where's my super memory then?  There are years of useful information floating around up there, just waiting for the appropriate trigger to activate the pathways to memory and I end up with Order in the Court?  I'm certain this says something important about my early childhood development.  I just can't remember what.       

January 13, 2010


The Captain informed me tonight that I would make a great Madame.  As in:

Line up girls.  There's a customer waiting to buy your favors.  Don't forget to smile.  Josie, get that chew out of your mouth!  Clementine, show a little more leg!

At first, I wasn't sure how to take this observation.  He says I have the personality and temperament for it.  I have to wonder how he came to that conclusion.  Was it from studying successful madames from centuries past to discern their common personality traits?  Or was it from watching me interact with the world at large for the past 10 years and just one day realizing I may have missed my calling?

After giving it some thought, I've decided not to be offended.  I am choosing to believe that a.) What he meant was my natural leadership and management capabilities combine with a strong sense of self confidence to create a force of personality that would keep both the doves and the dudes in line, and b.) He thinks I'd look good in a corset.  Yeah.  I'm going with that.

January 9, 2010

They're Out There?

One balmy night this past August I was letting the dog out one last time before heading to bed.  It was late-ish, probably 11:30p or so.  Weather permitting, I always go outside with her after the sun sets.  I'm a worrywart puppy mamma, and there are wolves and coyotes and bears out there.  Seriously, there are.  It's one of the perks of living in the Great North Woods.  My usual routine is to step out on the deck with the spotlight to shine the field around the house before letting the dog out.  Usually, all I see are deer.  The occasional skunk.  Perhaps a raccoon.  On this particular night I saw nothing.  So, I let the dog come out and she scampered down the steps to do her business.  (Note to self: find out why the act of excreting bodily waste is referred to as doing business.)

So, while she searched for a prime piece of real estate, I turned my eyes to the heavens.  I was blithely looking for a constellation or two, pleased with myself for remembering them from the half of an astronomy class I took ten years ago, when I noticed flashing lights in the sky.  I was surprised, but not alarmed.  I stepped further down the deck to see if I could get a better look.  As I changed positions, I realized the lights were not moving, just flashing.  They were in a cluster and appeared to be hovering above the tree line north east of the house.  I say appeared, because I couldn't really see the tree line.  If you've ever experienced a summer night in the country, with no ambient light from houses or street lamps, you'll appreciate just how dark it was.  The porch light and mercury light in the yard only illuminate about a 50 ft circle.

I stared at those lights for a good minute or two before it occurred to me what they probably were.  The awareness came to me slowly, as I stared and tried to reason it out in my mind.  The little hairs on the back of my neck came to attention.  That hot needle, prickly feeling swept up my chest and over my face as I came to the conclusion that there, hovering above my field, was...... Eeeeeeeek!  A UFO!!!!!!  An honest to God UFO, right there in my field!  Given that I was reared on Unsolved Mysteries, I am ashamed that it took me so long to come to this conclusion, but once I did, my mind went immediately to alien abduction, which is, of course, the most logical conclusion.  Why else would they be there?  I mean, I am the perfect candidate.  I have what my granny referred to as birthing hips, obviously made to withstand the rigors of an alien/human hybrid birth.  My thoughts started racing...

Will it hurt?

How long will they keep me?

Will I remember the procedure or just think I'm getting fat and one day pop out a little alien baby?

No one will believe it.  I'll be one of those crazies we make fun of on the Sci-Fi network.  I owe them an apology.

All these thoughts and more went through my head, but my major concern was: Could I actually love an alien baby?  Could The Captain? 

Something in my heart twisted at the thought.  I think it was a mini stroke.

I briefly considered getting The Captain, but I was trying to stay reasonably calm and rational.  He was sleeping and I was hesitant to wake him if the UFO posed no actual threat.  He values sleep more than I do, and in some corner of my mind I knew I may be slipping off the Unsolved Mysteries deep end.  Mostly, I was afraid they'd make a move when I wasn't looking.  So, I stood there watching the UFO, waiting to see what would happen next.  As I watched, I edged back closer to the door, called the dog in and prepared to make a lunge for it, incase they did indeed have abduction in mind.  My anxiety driven thoughts were all over the place. 

Could that really be an alien air craft?

Is there really life on other planets?

If God could do it here, He could do it anywhere.

Wait, are they like us, with the whole free will thing?

I bet they are.  I bet some idiot pisses them off by taking pot shots at their spaceships.

We're screwed.  No way we could withstand an alien invasion.  Superior strength, superior technology.

Maybe they won't actually want to eat us or exterminate us.  Maybe they'll make us slaves.  Or pets.

While thinking these profoundly rational thoughts, my attention never wavered from those flashing lights in the sky.  I must have stood watching them for a good 15 minutes.  There was a light breeze teasing the ends of my hair.  It felt good in the summer heat but did nothing to relax my jumping nerve endings.  I was about to turn tail and head inside, not sure if my pounding heart could withstand much more of just standing there.  Vulnerable.  But also not sure if I could just leave with them there, watching, not being able to see when they made their move.  I had almost convinced myself they were just sight seeing, when it happened.  The wind picked up and the UFO started moving.  Eeeeeeek!  I started to make a break for the door, my eyes still trained on it when a huge gust of wind came out of nowhere and the UFO was revealed in its entirety.  There, in the sky before me, suspended above the tree line, was...................... the moon.  I had only one thought:

Thank God! I am so not ready to decide what to do with an alien baby.

Yes.  I am that big of an idiot.  My whole UFO experience consisted of the moon hanging just below the tree line at the very corner of the trees, where the slight breeze rattled the leaves, making the light sparkle and twinkle through.

As relief flooded my system, calming my frazzled nerves, the coyotes started yipping and howling in the field, sending them bouncing and jiggling all over again.  I high tailed it inside, crawled into bed, snuggled up to The Captain and spent the rest of the night dreaming about The Borg.

January 8, 2010


I did some baking over the holiday season.  I say "holiday season" because I baked between Christmas and New Year's Eve.  As usually happens in my life, a general lack of planning and time management meant I didn't get to the baking before Christmas and felt compelled to complete it before New Year's.  It's my little way of making up for the monumental sense of failure I get to experience every Christmas when I realize that it's two days before and I haven't sent out cards or put up decorations.  And the thing is, I really would like to do those things.  Send out home made cards.  Decorate with clever objects in interesting ways.  In my mind, that's the kind of person I am.  In reality, I'm the woman who waits til the last minute and says F*ck It when I realize it would take a miracle or a night with no sleep to get it all done.  Yeah.  It's not pretty, but that's really what goes through my mind.  You can see how important sleep is to me.

So, I baked.  Between the holidays.  I made zucchini cookies (interesting, but I probably won't make them again), chocolate chip cookies (wonderful as always.  It's a little known fact that I have the best recipe in the known universe.), two batches of peanut brittle (Grandma F's recipe, which never goes wrong), and ruined two batched of chocolate fudge (it just wasn't my year).  I packaged all the goodies up to be delivered to various relatives, and during the packaging I stumbled across one of the mysteries of the universe.  The phenomenon of bread and cookies.

If you're not familiar with this particular phenomenon, let me explain.  One of the simplest ways to keep your cookies from drying out is to close them up in a container or bag with a slice of plain old, grocery store white bread.  You know the type.  Wonder Bread works great, although Sarah Lee Soft & Smooth Whole Grained White Bread worked perfectly as well.  Now here's what happens.  The cookies get nice and soft and the bread gets dry and hard as nails.  It goes from normal squishy goodness to petrified in no time.  I have no idea why this happens.  It's always the same.  Cookies get soft, bread gets hard.  Never the reverse.  It's a mystery, and I'm okay with that.  I enjoy a good mystery.

This phenomenon came to mind, though, while The Captain and I were doing our tour of the two families over the Christmas season.  I have realized that I know a lot of cookies.  Well, maybe not a lot, but certainly enough to leave me feeling petrified.  You know these people too.  They're the ones who suck the life right out of you, leaving you feeling used up and just plain tired.  They're high maintenance and demanding.  They are fans of imposing guilt trips and obligation.  And sometimes they are subtle.  You don't even realize how challenging they are to deal with until they're gone.  Drama queens fall into this catagory.  So do overly emotional people.  Overly sensitive people, as well.  And toddlers.

Yup.  I said it.  Toddlers.  Well, kids under the age of 7 in general.  Especially at Christmas.  They're high on sugar, over stimulated by new toys and new people.  They run around like little psych ward patients: screeching and fighting and laughing and whining and tattle telling, all competing for whatever attention they can attract.  Oh, how I love them.  But seriously.  They're cookies.  And me?  I'm bread for sure.