Monday, December 23, 2013

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Hiiiiiiiiii!  How are you?  How was your Thanksgiving?  How is the missus, and the elves and the reindeer.  Did Rudolf get that glowing nose problem cleared up?

Question:  How good is good?  I mean, could you clarify?  Because I am confused, and here it is almost Christmas.  Are we talking Mother Theresa good?  Or Brangelina good?  There's a sizeable gap there, wouldn't you agree?  This is my dilemma, Santa:  I really want to be on your good side, but I don't want to over do it because then you'll think I am sucking up, and Chicken doesn't suck up.  Even for you, Santa, and you're one of my favorites.

So just let me know, when you get a chance, exactly how good I have to be.  Do I need to adopt orphans and rescue stray kittens? Or could I just stop killing spiders?  If they are in the house, can I still step on them?  In self-defense?  Should I go to church more?  Or can I just stop calling my boss a dickhead?  Should I stop flirting with strange men, or should I sit on your lap at the office Christmas party?  I mean, there are just so many nuances to that one little word.  It really is quite subjective, Santa.

You know what might help, Santa?  A quiz!  I took the liberty of putting together this online questionnaire which, I think, will help all of us to better understand where we lie on the Good/Naughty spectrum.

The Pole Test

1.  How many people did you maim or kill outright in the last year?
a.  none
b.  None, but I sure did consider it a few times.
c.  It was an accident!
d. a lot and they all deserved it
e. all of the above

2.  How often did you steal in the last year?
a.  I never steal
b.  Okay, I stole, but then I gave it to someone in need
c.  I only borrowed it.
d.  a lot. Stealing is a total rush.
e.  None of the above

3.  How often did you lie in in the last year?
a.  I never lie
b.  I only tell white lies
c.  Whenever it seemed necessary
d.  I always lie just for fun
e.  Sometimes I lie, but on the whole, I'm very active


Grading:  People who answer mostly A get all of their holiday wishes.  People that answer mostly B. get 50% and people who answer primarily C. will get 25%.  People who mostly circle D. get coal.  Those answering mostly E. get everything on their list plus a relaxing vacation in an extra special care facility in Vermont.  You can tell them it's the vacation cruise they asked for.  They won't know the difference.

Okay, Santa Baby, gotta go and finish my list, and I'm sure you'll want to take another look at yours, keeping all of this helpful material in mind. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Friday, December 20, 2013

The Six Stages of Cable/Internet Service Disruption Adjustment

Warning:  This post is for mature audiences only.  And when I say mature, I do not necessarily mean mature in age. I mean mature.  As in the opposite of, "You are SO immature".  If no one has said this to you in the past five years, then you are probably mature enough to read this post without experiencing nightmares.

Otherwise.  Hmmm.  Hey you!  Hey!!  Have you heard that "Anchorman II" is out this weekend?  Okay, yeah, see ya later!

OMG lol.

Anyway, sometimes, maybe this has happened to you, your cable and internet service disappears for NO GOOD REASON.  I know. It's scary, right?  Imagine it happening for multiple days.

This is the tale I lived to tell.  Proceed at your own mental health risk.

The first stage is Denial/Delusion

1. Denial/Delusion:
    a.) The 7-year-old says:  "Mommy!  Haunted Hathaways is new tonight.  Fix it!  Fix it, Mommy.            fixxxxxitttttttt (insert high pitched squeal here.  Imagine crystal shattering).
    b.)  The 18-year-old says:  No way.  This cannot be happening to me.  Mom.  What's happening to me?  Mommy?
    c.)  CC:  I'm sure it's nothing boys.  I'll just reboot!! (this is the Delusion portion of our evening).

2. Anger:
    a.)  7YO:  Mommy. Spongebob.  Now.  I'm going to scream again.  (crystal shatters.  You know the drill)
    b.)  18YO:  MOM!  Just stop!  You can't fix it.  Call TECH SUPPORT!!!! OMG Why is this happening TO ME????
    c.)  Why isn't the reboot working???? X%^&*$##

3.  Bargaining:
     a.)  7 YO:   Mommy, pleeeeaasssse get Spongebob on. I'll sleep in my own bed and never say Poop again.
     b.) 18 YO:  Mom, don't cry. I'll call tech support and you can have some wine, ok?
     c.)  CC:  Please, God/Santa/Tech Support Guy, please, just fix it or deliver me to Heaven, ok?

4.  Fear:
     a.) 7 YO:  Mommy.  I'm scared.  You look scary.  Daddy?
     b.) 18 YO:  I'll never be a Professional Gamer Olympian now.
     c.)  CC:  All my blog followers will unfollow me.  All my carefully cultivated internet friends will unfriend me.

5.)  Sadness:
      a.)  7 YO: Mommy?  Is Spongebob dead?  I miss TV Mommy.
      b.)  18 YO:  My life is over.
      c.)  CC:  Internet, oh why hast thou forsaken me? Et tu Bravo?

6.)  Acceptance:
      a.) 7 YO:  Mommy, want to hear me sing Rudolph again?
      b.) 18 YO:  Hey, how about we rent some movies?
      c.)  CC:  Ok. Let's go to RedBox. Everyone in the car.  Everyone sing.........

 Bonus stage:  Nonacceptance:  NO!  NO, I do not accept this!  I cannot accept this!  Verizon.  Get someone out here now.  I WILL SWITCH TO COX. I WILL.  I'M DIALING.......

One voice is conspicuously absent here, have you noticed?  Yes, this person's response to the entire service interruption debacle was "Oh well.  It's not the end of the world."

Oh really, Person Hiding in His Office while your wife tries to keep two increasingly hostile  internet/television deprived boys entertained?  Person who is possibly, quite probably, a sociopath and is definitely acting a little morally superior right now but who has not had to miss a single important sporting event?  As of yet? Oh yes, BigB, Sunday is coming...

Chicken out

PS  I tried to find an image that might adequately portray my frustration with Verizon Tech Support, but I couldn't find one.  So then I decided to find a funny meme about IT, and couldn't find one.  Then I thought, hey, I'll find something cute, turn this frown upside down, and I couldn't find anything cute.  Then I realized it's me.  So I'm posting this instead. This is for you, BigB.

Tim Hawkins: Things You Don't Say To Your Wife

Friday, December 6, 2013

Santa Maybe....

Santa maybe, get BigB to trim the tree
for me
Maybe even hang some lights, Santa Baby
Could you call him sometime maybe tonight?

Santa Maybe, could we talk about the little one too
It's true
He's bouncing off the walls around  here, Santa Maybe
Could we dose him with the whiskey this once?

Think of all the dishes I've rinsed
Think of all the Bravo television  I've missed
Next year I might be just as good
If you'll send me a personal chef
Santa really, there's one thing that you maybe could do
Could you
Send me thirteen elves on loan?  I will
Send them back to you next year

Santa Maybe, send Martha Stewart to my house
To bake
200 sugar cookies, no wait, that's scary
Just send them down the chimney instead

Santa would you, wrap these presents for me
and then
Send them next day fed ex for free I will
Forever be your biggest fan

You could even clean my garage if you like
Maybe hold a garage sale while I read this book
I really do believe in you
I know you can get rid of all this junk

Santa Maybe, just one more little thing
The ring
The one around my bathtub is gross could you
Send Magic Mike to clean it tonight

I know this isn't Magic Mike but "Matthew McConaughey dressed as a cowboy stripper"
didn't really flow well

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Leftover Stuffing?

I love stuffing.  I love it so much  I made extra this year.  A lot extra.  Turns out that I am the one person in my house who really loves stuffing.  I had no idea.  I now find myself with an abundance of stuffing.

Oh stuffing, our familiarity has bred much contempt.  Be gone from my home!

Perhaps you find yourself in the same situation?  After much brain mapping plus a bottle of Kendall Jackson, I've come up with this handy list of recycling ideas for our leftover stuffing.

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."  That's what I always say.  Well, not me, but people have said that.  It seems reasonable.

Chicken's list of things to do with leftover stuffing:
  • Modern sculpture.   I am picturing a replica of the first Thanksgiving constructed entirely out of leftover stuffing
  • Poultice.  I'm not sure how this would work, but it seems like a fit
  • Gesso replacement for the painters out there.  Picture an angry stuffing sea. What?  You can paint over it, dudes.
  • Homemade paper!
  • Insulation?  You'd need a lot of stuffing.  Perhaps if we took up a collection, we could insulate some poor soul's Hampton cottage
  • Facial mask (it's all organic!)
  • Fuel. I'm pretty sure dried out stuffing pellets would light the night and give off a pleasant aroma to boot.  In fact, why not grill some salmon on  a stuffing plank?  Why not?
  • Jewelry.  I'm picturing feathers and stuffing shaped into little turkeys.  So ironic.  The hipsters will totally dig them.
  • Dog treats.  My dog doesn't want any but dogs that don't get stuffing might like a stuffing cookie for Christmas.  A stuffing filled chew toy, perhaps
  • Do you think we could make a fabric out of leftover stuffing?  I'm thinking super warm socks
  • Thanksgiving scented Candles!!!
  • Again, we'd have to take up a collection, sort of like a scrap metal yard, but maybe we could use stuffing to fill potholes here in the Northeast?
  • Stuffing drywall seems doable
What will you make with your leftover stuffing?

Chicken out

Taxidermy irony anyone?

Paper or Shoes

In the town where I was raised there were two main industries, paper and shoes.  In most families one or both parents worked in either the paper mills or the shoe factories.  Kids grew up and often followed in their parents footsteps; paper or shoes.

Our family was a shoe family.  My father was an engineer for Bass shoe, founded by George Bass in 1876.  He started out on the factory floor and worked his way up. His job was to analyze the labor required to make a shoe, and then determine how much, per piece, a worker should be paid for their particular contribution. This kind of work was called "piece work", and allowed better, more experienced workers to earn more because they had harder jobs and/or were more productive. It was a non-unionized system that paid workers according to their productivity and skill.

Bass Shoe was sold to Chesebrough-Ponds in 1978.  They were famous for Vaseline, Ponds Cold Creams and other beauty products.  Why they wanted a shoe factory I couldn't say, but things continued to roll along fairly smoothly.  In 1981, President Reagan lifted the quotas on imported shoes and cheaper shoes from overseas became available.  American shoe companies, in order to compete, began moving their production overseas.  The companies that maintained factories in the US cut jobs and payroll.  My father lost his job in 1987 after Philips-Van Heusen purchased the company and again slashed jobs and payroll.  Bass closed their last Maine factory in 1998, letting go of its final 350 workers.  Over the course of 18 years, about 1,200 people employed by this one company lost their jobs. You can still buy Bass shoes, but they are not made in the US.

The paper mills have fared better but there have been union strikes, cuts and closings.  In short, my old hometown is not the insulated community it used to be.  We are not special.  The same thing has happened all across the country.

I bring these things up because it is a big shopping weekend and today is Shop Local Saturday. While it might not be practical to purchase only American-made products, it is possible to shop locally for one day and benefit your local community. Go on.  Get out there. Buy something already.

Chicken out

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dear Target:

Dear Target:

I will be shopping in your store on Black Friday from 2 PM to approximately 4 PM.  Thank you for limiting store occupancy during this period to 50 occupants or less.  While I normally prefer far fewer people sharing my shopping experience, I am aware that you have a business to run.  I am willing to compromise.  I will, however, require a dedicated register and register attendant at all times.  Also, if your people could do a quick clean-up of all the aisles before I arrive, I would be most appreciative.  This will most likely require closing an hour before my scheduled arrival, but I think you'll find that the time spent organizing will much enhance my shopping experience.   Don't forget the bathrooms!  Finally, I will require an additional 20% discount off your already low prices as your prices are not that low.  It goes without saying,  I assume, that you'll have an able-bodied, background-checked, attendant to valet my Hyundai.

Thank you for your attention to these matters.  I look forward to shopping with you this Black Friday.

Warm regards,


Monday, November 18, 2013

Nothing Left Undone

A couple of weeks ago I lent my Mother-in-law a book. It was A Paris Wife, by Paula McLain; a novel based on the first marriage of Ernest Hemingway to Hadley Richardson.  I had bought it  for myself and had already started  reading it but noticed when we saw her that she didn't have a book,  which was unusual. I thought she might like it and passed it on.  The timing seemed to be right.  She mentioned she had just finished a book.

She passed away yesterday.  It's funny, the small things that stick in your mind when a loved one passes. I'm thinking of that book sitting in her bag, maybe, or on her bedside table, waiting for her to come back and finish turning its pages.

The unread book led me to think of other things she might not have gotten to finish. Was there a card she wanted to send, a person she wanted to connect with, a song she would have liked to have heard one last time?  Was her last thought about something left undone?

I don't think so.  She took  her last breath bathed in love and surrounded by the family she nurtured. I think it was all she would have wanted.  Nothing was left undone.

Safe journey, E.  Thank you for being the mother you were, which allowed me to have the husband I have.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-an Irish prayer

Chicken out

Friday, November 15, 2013


Littleb and I were in the car again.  He was sitting in the back seat munching french-fries.  I was driving.

Yes, Nancy Drew, I was also munching french-fries.  I'm sort of a Francophile.  Littleb was telling me about a new game he learned called Mercy.  It is a game of strength over brains....

Littleb:  Dad could totally beat me at Mercy.

Chicken:  Are you saying I couldn't beat you?

Littleb:  Probably not.  I think I could beat you.  You're so skinny.

Chicken:  (raises eyebrows in surprise.  Sucks in stomach)  Well, that's true, you're probably right,  I am really skinny.

Littleb:  You're not THAT skinny.

Chicken:  Are you saying I'm fat.

Littleb:  (laughs)  No.  You're not fat.

Chicken:  That's right.  I'm skinny.

Littleb:  No women are fat.  That would be weird.

Chicken:  You are wise beyond  your years, Littleb

Littleb:  Dad's fat.

Chicken:  Strong, littleb.  Dad's strong and I'm skinny.

Littleb:  OK.  Did you remember to ask for barbecue sauce?

I think I could take John Stamos.  In a game of Mercy, I mean.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Warmest Coat Lands End Sells

This is a re-post from November 2011.  It flurried here today, which brought this post to mind, and I spent all day working on a new project, so didn't have time to post something new.  

I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are.

For Christmas, I gave Teenager-who-lives-in-the-Basement (TWLITB) a new parka. And not just any parka, no. For TWLITB, because I love him so much, I sought out the warmest coat that Lands End claims to sell, and I bought it. This is what it looks like.

Nice, right?

But because his father and I are not the world's most effective communicators, he also received a coat from his Dad. Now, Dad's coat was nice-it was. I'll concede that. Sort of a fleece lined canvas army-inspired job. It was sharp. It wasn't the Warmest Coat Lands End Sells.

You can probably guess where this is going. He loved the coat his Dad gave him and refused to wear The Warmest Coat Lands End Sells. The hell? This was distressing to me. I need to know that my kids are warm. It is a deep-seated need. And this fashion over function bull, I'm just not buying it.

The coat sat around through a snow storm or two and I hoped that freezing temps would drive him to wear it. Well, that and repeatedly being sent out to shovel the driveway. But that did not happen.

It was time to return the coat.

First, just for kicks, I tried the coat on. And it fit. And it was the warmest. coat. ever.

I began to covet the coat. Like many Moms, I am reluctant to spend money on warm outerwear for myself. I admired the coat from afar, but still fully intended to return it. The coat and I exchanged meaningful glances over the next few days, but nothing happened.

Enter R, my youngest daughter. A couple days a week, R takes the public bus to her classes. To get there, she has to catch one bus from our neighborhood to downtown, where she waits outside for 20 minutes, and then catches another bus from there, back past our neighborhood, and to her school. The whole trip takes about an hour and half of that is spent outside. R is always cold. She complains non-stop about how cold she is. An idea began to take root. Maybe I couldn't keep TWLITB warm, but R clearly was in need of The Warmest Coat Lands End Sells.

She wouldn't wear it either.

That's when I said to myself, "Screw you ungrateful ingrates, I'm wearing the warm coat. That's right. I'm keeping it, I'm wearing it, and I'm going to be warm. I'm in love with this coat.  I want to marry this coat and have warm coat babies.".

I enjoyed a few super cozy days with my new coat. We were inseparable. In an email exchange with my best friend, GG, during which I expressed my dismay that my children would rather freeze than wear the Warm Coat, and my delight in my new smoking hot relationship with the Warm Coat, GG suggested a song and dance routine I could use to taunt my children the next time they complained about winter and all its frosty coldness.

Sing it with me: (to the tune of Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me)

Dontcha wish your body was warm like mine?
Dontcha? Dontcha?
Dontcha wish you had a nice coat like mine?
Dontcha? Dontcha?

Can't you just picture the video?

So anyway, along about 10 pm a couple of nights later, I went to pick R up from her evening class. I was wearing my new coat. She climbed into the car and said, "Brrr. I'm freezing. I should have worn the coat. You were right."

Wait. Could you repeat that? I was right?

Cue the music.

Oh yes, I did. Right then and there, in my new coat, I did my best Beyonce' imitation. It was hot. And not just because of the coat.

Fast forward a week. Suddenly, whenever I go to the closet to grab MY Warm Coat, it is not there. We seem to have a loosely formed Society of the Warm Coat situation going on. I did not authorize this community of sharingness! I oppose this regime.  However, like Mubarek, I've been outnumbered. The Youth have revolted.

R decided that being warm trumps looking hot. Her interest in the coat caused TWLITB to see the Warm Coat in a new light. A cooler light. "Wait", I imagine TWLITB thinking, "maybe an expedition-style, fur lined hood IS cool...maybe it is just as cool as the Russian-style fur hat I ordered over the internet and spent all my Christmas money on and lost within two weeks." "Maybe", thinks TWLITB, "I'd like to wear that Warm Coat".

And just like that, I'm sharing my warm coat with my fickle children. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Other than cold.

Chicken out (in the cold)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: Dresses. Who's to blame?

Every once  in awhile I like to play a game called "Creative History".  Would you like to try your hand?

Here's what you do:  You ask yourself a question.  Not an easy question.  A question  you don't know the answer to. A question that has skimmed the surface of your mind here and again without ever rooting far enough down to fire neurons.

Next, you let the question seep down through your brain's nooks and lobes and crannies and all those other places your brain has.  Maybe it settles down all the way to your medulla.  Wait.  Do brains have medullas?  I'm  pretty sure they do.  I believe I read that word in a brain book one fine day.

Hey, there you go, excellent question, right there, perfect example.  What the hell is a medulla,  where is it, and how many do I  have?  But I digress.  The second part of the game, after you've let your question settle down to your medullah and marinate awhile,  is to answer the question. There's only one rule.You can't look up anything.  Not even a word spelling.  You just write out your answer as it comes to you.

When you are done, you can look it all up and see how you did. That's the glory of the internet. You wouldn't be able to play fun games like this without the internet.  If you play this game, you will learn something and if you don't learn anything, you didn't ask yourself the right question.


What? Did you say something?  Oh.  Fashion.  YES, thank you.  Here's where I was going with that.

The question that popped into my head today, just in time for F=2FB Friday AND, as it turns out, Creative History Game day, is why do women wear dresses?

Who thought that would be a good idea?

I've been stewing on it for a couple of hours and this is what I think:

Would you like a glass of wine?  Beer?  No?  Okay...
How about tea? Would you like some  tea?

Touchy touchy.  Alright already.  Here we go.

It was all about sex and having babies in the beginning. The women had to wear dresses to keep their lady bits accessible, while pants were introduced for men to protect their manly bits from sharp teeth and claws and tree branches and other potentially emasculating devices.

So the women were accessible, the men were protected,  fire had been invented and evolution continued. But then what happened? Why did the women continue to wear dresses?  And why did they complicate them even further with multiple petticoats and corsets and hoops and bloomers and stockings....

Accessibility was getting to be a bit of a pain in the ass, I'd guess.  And the church wasn't very fond of it either. So they threw some road blocks in the way to keep things seemly.  And evolution continued.

Then, I think there was a period where things got kind of loosey-goosey and flowy accessible garments had another moment. There was a population boom, an industrial revolution, a war, a particularly raucous prohibition, if  The Great Gatsby is to be believed, a great depression, another war, and finally it occurred to some riveters that if there were no hose available, they might as well wear pants.  So they did.  And then the war ended and the men came home, there was much celebrating and dress wearing, another population boom, a baby boomer rebellion, and finally, finally, despite the reign of free love, pants on women became sort of mainstream.  At least in America.  It was probably different everywhere else.

So women started wearing pants, people who like women appreciated the streamlined view, and pants were here to stay. A shift began, and it was a good one.

Or maybe it had something to do with peeing.

The end.

This is the fun part.  Now you research your question and find out just how well you did.

I did poorly. Very poorly. This is not surprising to me. But at least I am not the only one to have pondered the question.  Here's an interesting chat thread I found on the very same subject.

Yeast infections?  Really? And so we all learned something today.  Isn't that great?  Happy F=2FB Friday.

No yeast infections here

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Butter Files: The Christians and The Pagans of Macomber Hill

M was the Catholic kid next door.  Our families have been neighbors for as long as I can remember.  M was raised in a structured, consistent environment, the kind Dr. Spock would have prescribed, with a Dad who worked shifts at the paper mill and a Mom who stayed home with the kids, managing their time and driving them to various activities.  They went to the Catholic Church in Jay on weekends and, when the time came, to CCD during the week.

I had no such restrictions on my time.  As long as I was at the dinner table by 5, I was good.

All of this extra instruction  going on next door, however, tipped the scales, giving M a worldly edge.  She became my main resource for information related to things going on outside of my own imagination.

On school mornings the kids in the neighborhood walked to the bus stop at the end of Fuller Road.  I learned a lot  waiting for the bus.  I learned about the birds and the bees, for one, complete with a visual aid drawn on a frosty wind shield by Timmy G.

One morning at the bus stop, compliments of M, I learned that I was doomed. M. had recently heard, through her various affiliations, that the Devil would be taking over the earth in the year 2000.  Luckily for her, she was Catholic, and God would be sending his kid to pick up all the Catholics before the destruction began.  Or maybe they would just ascend on their own. She wasn't sure how that part was going to go down.  But she did know for sure that I was screwed.

This information rocked my world.  What the bloody hell did I ever do to deserve eternal damnation? If I had had this information when I was a newly fertilized baby egg, I would have picked different parents, now, wouldn't I have?  I was upset that apocalypse knowledge was not built into my DNA, allowing me to make better parental choices.  Now, the end was near and I was stuck with my pagan family, destined to a fiery eternity. I had visions of a big, beautiful white bus emerging from the clouds, with Jesus at the wheel, picking up all the Catholics in the neighborhood, while I cried in vain, the devil blowing his searing hot breath down my neck, yelling at me to get back to work digging the coal to feed his inferno.

After a couple nights of not sleeping well, and staring up at the sky, worrying that the apocalypse might show up early, my Step Mom's radar went off, and she asked what was wrong.  I explained the bus stop religious instruction.

And she said it wasn't true.

She explained that M. must have gotten mixed up a little, but it wouldn't be polite to tell her, so I should just keep it to myself but I shouldn't worry.  This explanation allowed me to get back to sleep.

A couple days later at the bus stop  I learned that M had indeed been mistaken about the year 2000.  Jesus wasn't coming to pick up anyone and we were all screwed.

Because.  Aliens.

Chicken out

All Aboard the Jesus Bus.  Next Stop Pearly Gates.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Littleb's To Do List

BigB and I are both list makers.  I'm a daily list keeper and BigB has one continuous list that he adds to and re-prioritizes as necessary.  If I do something that is not on my list, it gets added to the list and then crossed off.  BigB will never reach the bottom of his list.

It didn't come as any surprise to us when littleb turned out to be a list maker, as well.

This weekend, BigB told littleb that they could spend Saturday doing whatever he wanted.   Littleb promptly set about making a list of things for them to do.

Here it is:

littleb's list

Just in case you can't read his baby chicken scratch, here it is:

What to do with dad today
1. Golf
2. Free Birds (movie)
3. Target (window shopping)
4. Bike without training wheels
5. Play at the park
6. Go to battleground z (indoor play center)
7. Drive around the neighborhood
8. Go home
9. Eat while watching new t.v. shows
10. Play Trouble
11. Go to bed
12. Get up in the morning
13.  Make a new list for tomorrow

I can't be sure, but I believe he might take after me-a daily list maker.  Dad didn't get much crossed off his own list on Saturday.  Then again, what else are Saturdays for if not eating while watching new t.v. shows and driving around the neighborhood.

Happy Monday, Kids.  Feels like we were just here.

Chicken out

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hitting Repeat

We were at our friends' house for a weekend visit.  It was late.  A lot of wine and craft beers had been consumed.  Our girls were bedded down for the night-their three and our two.  We had finished playing a rousing game of Risk in which Phil, my husband's college room mate, and I, battled for final victory, our spouses having long since thrown in the towel, and our competitive spirits showing themselves, unsurprisingly for Phil, a lawyer, surprisingly for me, a housewife.

We moved into the living room and Phil put on a mix tape.  In the middle of it there was this one song. You know the song.  It might be a different song for you, but it is the song that makes you stop what you are doing and ask, "Who is this?".

They finally decided that it must be Barbara Keith singing Detroit or Buffalo.  Long story short, Phil gifted us the mix tape, which also included several favorite Van Morrison songs.

We listened to that tape on the drive home, through the pouring rain, and then I appropriated it for the yellow Plymouth I drove most often. I hit reverse on the one song over and over again.

What I didn't realize at the time was that my marriage was on a decline, heading toward a canyon, and perhaps this song resonated with me for that reason.

When you divorce someone you  break your childrens' hearts and split all your possessions.  It's never pleasant, regardless of how civil you both try to be, but you prepare yourself for it.  What hits you by surprise sometimes is the splitting of friendships. They were his friends first. Naturally, he got them in the divorce.  I wouldn't have expected any less, but I missed them. I missed her, with her tree-hugging goodness and nurturing spirit.  I missed him, with his killer wit and sharp mind. I missed them together and I missed us together, with our girls, just hanging out over a weekend, living large in a small frame.  When one of my girls told me they had divorced years later, I was sad.  I, maybe you, have those couples that stand for marriage in my mind. They are the ones you know will never break the bond; you don't even think of that happening with them.  In my life, I've had two. One couple is still together, one is not.  Fifty percent of my role models stayed together.

Tonight, when I typed in Barbara Keith on YouTube, I wasn't really expecting anything to come up, but there it was.  The magic of music is amazing to me. It will take you back in an instant. I'm listening and hitting repeat.  I'm missing those friends of mine.

I won't insist you listen, but if you are interested, here it is:

Who do you miss?

Chicken out

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: I got nothing....

Yesterday being Halloween, I had no time to shop for this Friday's F=2FB post inspiration.  Like any quick-thinking, under-prepared professor, today I will make you do all the work.

Ready?  Notebooks on the floor.

Jump suits:  Good fashion idea or bad fashion idea and why?

Next question:  This is an opinion piece.  You'll be graded on the originality of your reasoning.

Hot or not hot?

And finally, what was your favorite all-time ensemble?  What did you wear to death and hate to give up? What fashion trend did you mourn the death of?  I'll tell you mine if you'll tell me yours.

Have a happy and productive Friday, friends!  

Chicken out

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Skip this House....

If, while out tricking or treating this evening, you come across a house that looks like this...

Yikes!  Creepy! Is that a ghost?

You might want to skip it.
It's a documented fact that this house is haunted.
You really should think twice before ringing that doorbell.....

Sort of like Hotel California....just sayin'

Because if you do ring that doorbell, you might be greeted by THIS fearsome character...

The Tattooed Boy
He's even scarier than he looks!
Don't believe me?  Well just look at what happened to the last guy who stopped by unnanounced!

He's saying, "Man, I wish I hadn't run into that Tattooed Boy!" 

Happy  Halloween ghouls and ghosts. Stay safe out there!

Chicken out

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Vi Chronicles: Peggy-Lou Was NOT a Very Good Baby-Sitter

One night my mother went out and left Peggy-Lou in charge.  Peggy was our big sister, third oldest out of seven.  She was ten years older than me and seven years older than my brother, Victor.  That night, Peggy had an excellent idea.

She was full of good ideas, Peggy Lou was. She decided we would all walk to town.  It was late-too late for a seven-year-old to be awake-but in this branch of the family only pussies went to bed at bedtime.  I might be a chicken but I've never been a pussy.  I put on my sneakers.

It was a warm summer night.  We set out walking; myself, my brother, Victor, our older brother Michael, and Peggy-Lou.  Town was about a 1/2 mile from our house.  We walked past the lake, past the bridge, past the shoe shop and past the Western Auto.

Then Peggy-Lou whispered, "That church up ahead is where the devil lives."

"Nuh-uh", we said.

"It's true.  His workshop is in the basement."

We approached the church.  Some of us faster than others.

Home of the devil's workshop according to Peggy-Lou in 1970

There did appear to be a light on in the basement....

Peggy-Lou said,  "I'm going in."

"No don't!  Don't do it, Peggy-Lou!", I whispered.  

"Yup, I'm gonna find that devil and kick his ass", said Peggy-Lou.

Mike said, "I'll watch the door."

Me and Victor didn't say anything.  I had just wanted a bag of chips from Amato's, for Christ's sake.  I had zero bones to pick with Lucifer.

"Ok", Peggy-Lou said, "When he sees me, there's going to be trouble, so get ready to run or he'll steal your soul."

Peggy-Lou eased open the side door and started down the stairwell into the basement. We could see a lone light bulb at the bottom of the stairs. The door closed behind her.  We waited.  I'm not sure why.

We didn't have to wait long.  About two minutes later she shot out the door and started running down the sidewalk. "He's coming and he's pissed!", she yelled. "Run for your lives!"

"Hey, wait for me", I yelled.  I couldn't wait for my mother to get home.  I was so telling on these morons.  

We made it home, our souls intact, and Peggy-Lou made some cocoa, then we watched Dark Shadows. I didn't sleep again for the next  seven years.

Which was right around the time that Peggy-Lou got married in that very same Church.  She had promised me that I could be the flower girl, but then took it back and said I had to be in charge of the address book instead, because I was too old to be the flower girl.  

I wasn't walking around with a dumb address book. There was a Devil's workshop in the basement of that church, and several bored, gullible children (including one flower girl) wandering around looking for something to do.  

Chicken out

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Decorating

It was late. BigB and littlb had gone to bed.  Teenager Who Lives in the Basement (TWLITB) was shuffling around in the basement, as usual, and I was sitting in this very same spot just minding my own business.

TWLITB popped his head in the office door.  "Mom?"


"What are you doing?"

"Nothing much.  What are you doing?"

"Nothing much."


TWLITB said, "Remember a couple days ago when I told you I thought there was a skunk in the window well?"


"I think it's still there."

"Oh.  Wow.  O.k. we'll take a look in the morning."

Except I couldn't just leave the poor skunk there for another night, now, could I? Because it had already been a couple days since the first time TWLITB mentioned that he thought a skunk was trapped, and if it was the same skunk, then the poor thing had been down there without water or food for far too long.  I felt guilty for forgetting J.D.'s mention of the skunk when he first noticed it.

For those of you who might live someplace where foundations are not the norm, window wells are constructed when you have windows in your basement.  Ours are about three feet deep.  When an animal goes exploring and finds his way into one, it usually requires some help getting back out.

"Why are skunks so stupid?" my grumpy, guilty Chicken heart asked?  "Because they just are.  That's why God gave them such odorific super powers; to make up for their tiny brains.", my (equally tiny) Chicken brain answered.

I put on my coat, my gloves and my baseball hat (to protect against skunk odor and low-flying bats).  I hunted down a working flashlight and tore the garage apart looking for a long enough piece of wood to form a ramp.  Then I trudged out to the front of the house and flashed the beam into the well.

The good news was that there was no skunk in the well.

The bad news was that there was one very sorry looking possum down there.  He looked up at me and  I saw he was close to done.  He probably thought my flashlight beam was his ticket to the other side.  I slid the old shutter I had found into the window well to form a ramp.  This had worked quite well the last time a skunk had been stuck there.  The possum didn't look healthy enough to make the climb, however.

I went back inside and looked up possums on the internet. Finally, something useful to look up.  Not that the fang length of a baby vampire, or the relative amount of time it would take to walk to California aren't useful things to know, it is just that the need to know these things was not as immediate as the need to find out how sharp the teeth might be of the animal stuck in our window well.  Pretty sharp, as it turns out.  Also, I learned that possums like fruit.

By this time, TWLITB, alerted to my nocturnal ramblings, had emerged once again from the basement.  We discussed the situation and made a plan.  We gathered a bowl, a bottle of water, a banana and some strawberries and then we went back out to visit our new pet, Pat. We weren't sure whether we had a girl or boy possum but we are fond of alliteration and old SNL skits.

Our plan was to restore Pat's strength so that he/she would be able to climb out of the well.  First, we tossed in the bowl and then we poured water into it. Pat fell upon the bowl and shortly peered up at us as if to say, "May I 'ave some more, please"?  We laughed.  Then we noticed the neighbors were out on their porch watching us, so we  lowered our voices.  We filled the bowl again, then tossed down the strawberries and banana in case Pat wanted to make a smoothie later.  Then we went to bed.  I'm assuming the neighbors did, too.

Pat was still there in the morning.  I worried that the shutter was too short, making the angle too steep for Pat to climb.  I had to leave for work, but I left TWLITB with instructions to keep Pat watered throughout the day and scout out a longer length of wood.

When I returned from work I put off checking on Pat.  I had a glass of wine and waited for it to get dark. Mostly, I didn't want BigB to catch on to our possum problem because BigB is not a fan of urban wildlife.  I was afraid he would insist on calling animal control to remove Pat from the well and I didn't spend the previous night restoring Pat just to see him exterminated.  I also was a little worried that Pat didn't make it through the night, in which case my problem would have become one of removing a dead possum from a window well, and then dealing with my guilt.  I decided that if we had a dead possum,  I would consult BigB immediately.

Live adorable possums, my jurisdiction.  Gross dead possums, BigB's jurisdiction.  New rule.

I always get creative when  I drink wine and so it wasn't long before I had hatched another plan to free Pat (Get it?  Hatched?).  After dark I found a large basket with a handle, and some rope. I was trying to be very quiet so that BigB wouldn't ask questions.  I sneaked out through the front door with the basket, the rope and the flashlight.  TWLITB heard me rustling around outside the window and came to help. We were arguing over what kind of knot to tie on the basket handle when BigB suddenly appeared around the side of the house.

"What are you two doing?" he asked?

TWLITB and I looked at each other.

"Decorating for Halloween?",  I replied.

TWLITB snorted, BigB stared at me, and Littleb showed up in the doorway.

The neighbors were back on the porch.

"Decorating with Possums.  They are very Halloweeny, don't you think?"

"There's a possum in the window well, is that it?"


"And you're trying to get it out?"

"Well.  You wouldn't want to have to drag a dead possum out of the window well, would you?  That's kind of the alternative."

LittleB said, "I want to see the possum!"

TWLITB shined the flashlight into the well.

The possum was gone.  Operation Free Pat was a success.

A cheer went up throughout the neighborhood.

In my mind.

BigB sighed heavily and went back in to watch the game.  TWLITB retired to the basement.  Littleb got on the computer to look up possums.  The neighbors retreated, relieved that Chicken had saved the neighborhood from a dead possum outbreak.

I poured another glass of wine and basked in the glow of a job well done.

Chicken out
Cute, right?  And Halloweeny?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bi.........We Preempt this Regularly Scheduled Programming..........

Hello Global Fashionistas!

I apologize for Chicken's absence.  She is....on vacation.

In Kentucky.

This is your Guru, Gin Tumm!  I'll be guest posting this morning.

I'm here today representing all of the designers and stylists you know, love and trust, as well as future designers, stylists, and fashion icons you have yet to meet. And Hollywood.  And reality stars, too. What the hell.  They spend a lot of money.

The thing is, Global Fashionista audience, you have been misled.  You have been lied to.  We will not permit ourselves, and our small inclusive world, to be maligned by this dowdy, snarky, misinformed Chicken person.  Clothes don't talk, people.  They are not making fun of you.  Fashion loves you.  You and your money.

We've seized this blog today to deliver the Good News. The Truth! There is only one Queen and her name is Fashion.  Defy her rule at your own expense.  For in her house are many labels. If it were not so, we would  have told you.  We go there to find the perfect label for you.

But only if you stop reading this Chicken smut.

You should be angry, Dear Readers, that Chicken has led you down this dangerous path of defiance.  Did you learn nothing from the People of Wal-mart?  Do you not know what happens to the unfashionable among us? How they are ostracized and deemed irrelevant?  How their photos are taken anonymously only to be tweeted, blogged, emailed, you-tubed, instagrammed, and pinterested to infinity?

Sure, those sweat pants, the ones with the hole in the thigh, are super comfortable, and that stretched out hoodie is warm on a cold morning, but do you really want your backside to end up in a magazine in four color graphics under the DON'T column?  Well?  Do you?  Or worse yet, on some anonymous blog  that goes viral until you eventually get forwarded an unfortunate photo of yourself in pajamas, leaning over in the aisle comparing cat food brands?

What does the Fox say now, aye?

The Fox should be saying, "Shit.  I'm going to buy a Marc Jacobs suit pronto and lose this stupid Fox outfit.

And you, Dear Readers, should do what the Fox said.

Yipp Yippp yiupppppp yippppp!!!

Gin Tumm out

Far out.

This message brought to you by the ILGWU

Poor fashion choices, People.  Don't let this happen to you.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Another Pinterest Gem

Now I know what happened to all those barbies I recycled once my daughters outgrew them.
It's kind of creepalicious, but at least they all look happy!

Chicken out

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brotherly Love

One of the nice things that people often say about my husband, BigB, is that he is a humble man.

It's true.  He is.  It is one of the things I most like about him.

It seems that the trait is hereditary and has been passed down to littleb.

For fun, Teenager Who Lives in the Basement (TWLITB) often tries to get littleb to say complimentary things about himself.  It's a brother thing, I guess. For instance, the following conversation recently took place.

TWLITB:  Hi, littleb

Littleb:  Hi TWLITB

TWLITB:  What're you doing?

Littleb:  Drawing Spongebob

TWLITB:  Wow, that's really good.  You're a great artist.

Littleb:  Nooooo

TWLITB:  Yes you are.  Say it.  Say, "I'm an awesome artist."

Littleb:  blushes.  NOoooooo.

TWLITB:  C'mon, say it, littleb

Littleb:   Noooo.  I don't even know what that means..

A similar conversation takes place at least once a week; the one brother encouraging and teasing, the other brother bashful but pleased. It makes me smile.  I'm proud of my sons.

Little Brother Big Brother

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: Dress Down Friday

Casual Fridays got you down?  Are you tired of khakis, crisp white shirts and blazers, but not sure where that thin line lies between relaxed and professional?  Never fear, my lambs; Chicken is here to guide you with a carefully curated collection of relaxed Friday looks.

A helpful tip:  Ideally, your Friday look should say something about your personality, interests, and how you might be spending your upcoming weekend.

For example:

Vivienne Westwood:
This is a perfect Friday look for a stodgy, conservative environment like Wall Street or JP Morgan.  This look says, "Yes, I'm managing hedge funds right now, but later I will be hunting pheasant at my country manor or perhaps spanking a naughty Scottish banker."

Next up Philli Wood:
Who doesn't like a cozy cable knit in a cheery color?  This look says, "Later, I'll be playing the part of the large intestine in our local community theater group's production of  The Magic School Bus:  Digestion."

Gilles Mendel:
Do you work in a start-up environment?  Here's your Friday ensemble!  This look says, "Tonight I will drink absinthe, write a dark poem about League of Legends, troll neighborhood pubs, and consume an unsuspecting biology major."

Anna Sui:
This look says, "I love butterflies and trees and Orlando Bloom.  Later I'm going to sit on my couch with my five cats and watch all three Chronicles of Narnia movies. Again.  And then I'm going  to plant a tree and maybe paint a pentagram on my living room floor.  And, also, I love Johnny Depp.

Monclerre Gamme Bleu:
Here's one for you men in the audience. Striking the right balance in any work environment, this look says, "I live in France because I'm cool like that and I like plaid. You should like plaid, too. Because I like plaid.  Later, I'll get drunk and pontificate on a variety of subjects."

This fabulous Friday look says, "First, I'll take out Batman and his annoying little sidekick, then I'll make a video with Snoop Dog."

Kate Spade:
"Later I'll be attending a Stepford Wives reunion."

Marc Jacobs:
"Would you like to buy a Dalmatian? I have 101 of them in my trunk."

Have a great weekend, friends!

Chicken out

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ron Mueck

Are you familiar with the sculptor Ron Mueck?

I came across this article over the weekend and decided to share it here because someday, when I'm thinking to myself, "I'd really like to see that sculpture of the tiny naked woman with the sticks.", I willl know just where to find her. I won't have to spend half my day googling "naked lady with sticks" and sorting through all manner of questionable links.

Ron Mueck's sculptures are described as hyperrealistic.  They are realistic, but what I love about them even more than that is how he plays with scale.  My favorite sculpture is the lady with sticks, but my favorite photo in this series is the one of  the school girls all checking out the "Wild man".  I would have been checking him out, too, ladies, but I probably would have been giggling a lot more than you all appear to be.  In fact, my instructor would probably have had to separate me from the group until I could control myself.  Ah, good times.

Do you have a favorite?

Have a good day, out there!

Chicken out


Monday, October 14, 2013

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

During a beautiful fall weekend in 2001 the Chicken family hosted an open house.

Twenty minutes before the start of the open house, someone saw Algernon streak across the kitchen floor. Algernon was one of S's three pet mice.  The mice were okay, as pets go, except for Algernon, who should have been named Houdini because he was always escaping from his tank.

Chaos ensued as we all chased Algernon, who promptly hid, jeering at us in mouse speak from behind various pieces of furniture.  He was enjoying the action, having been confined for several  days since his last break out.  It was now quarter 'til mouse infestation accusation time.  I gathered the three kids together for an impromptu brainstorming session.  We decided that we needed a trap.  S found a shoe box and some string, J offered up Ccoa Puffs, and R found a stick.  I grabbed a section of newspaper.

We put the newspaper on the floor in the general area of the last Algernon sighting.  Then we put a few Cocoa Puffs on the paper.  The shoe box was positioned at an angle over the cocoa puffs and propped up with the stick, to which we had tied the string.  Then we cleared out and waited for Algernon to go Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

It took about five minutes, but eventually Algernon stealthily approached the Cocoa Bait.  He sat on his haunches under the shady cabana and picked up a puff with his paws.  He took a tentative nibble, cocked his head to the side, and announced, "Not bad. Not bad at all!".  That's when I yanked the string and the box fell down, trapping the cocky little bastard underneath.

A raucous cheer went up inside the hen house and high fives were exchanged all around.  I wrapped the sides of the newspaper around the box and flipped it over.  S slammed the shoe box top over the newspaper.

The door bell rang.  It was Go Time.  I answered the door, with a welcoming smile on my face and a shoe box tucked snugly under one arm.

Chicken out

This mouse looks like Algernon but, apparently, favors cheese doodles.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: Clotheszillas

Late at night, after the stores all close shop for the evening, the merchandise stretches out, gets comfortable, and enjoys some downtime.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to that life-changing moment in every fashion piece's existence when they will be plucked from the shelves, purchased at the counter, and taken to a new home, their own home, to live happily ever after.

The mood softens, the voices fill with longing, and somewhere from the back corner of the store a whisper thin silk shirt in an impossible size waits on the final clearance rack and croons a torch song in a high clear voice, while the silk cocktail dress, recently arrived, sways dreamily on its hanger.  The pencil skirts describe their dream closets, while the pumps talk about the ones that walked away.

Like newly engaged couples, the clothes dream of a future that only exists, for 99% of them, in their fevered, lovesick imaginations; padded hangers, fashionable friends, svelte bodies, fancy restaurants, society pages, and Broadway shows.

The entitled 1% will indeed enjoy an existence of luxury and ease in their well maintained and spacious closets and will only be worn several times before being lovingly consigned to, filmed and fawned over by, the southern belles of Resale Royalty.  They will move on, after a retail refresh, to a second, and possibly more fulfilling, relationship with a young starlet obsessed with vintage.

Oh, of course, most of them are born into this privileged existence; the Birkens, the Coaches and the Lily Pulitzers, for starters.  And let's not get started on the World of Ralph Lauren.  Every once in awhile, however, an upstart from humble beginnings, an Alex and Ani bracelet, for instance, or a Tom's shoe, shows up on  the red carpet or a coveted foot, starts a new trend, and all of a sudden finds itself living large and taking names.  These success stories are the stuff of dreams for the "off the rack" fashion lines.

"But what about the remaining 99%?", you ask.  "What about them?"

Well, my Darlings, after an auspicious and hopeful beginning, they will, of course, be brought to terms with reality.

The most unlucky will pick an owner (typically based on body type), consummate their relationship in the dressing room, legitimize it at check-out, and travel to their new home with high expectations.  Upon arrival, they will be disappointed by a messy abode, a minuscule closet, and the negligence that accompanies over consumption. They'll notice signs of neglect; a missing button here, a dropped hem there, stains of every sort, and the smelly evidence of infrequent dry cleaning.  At night, they'll cry softly for the sale rack they left behind.  It was crowded, sure, but at least they were hung up and not thrown over a stationary bicycle with 25 other sweaty, misused garments.  The energy will be stilted and the air suffocating, as all the Clotheszillas come to terms with a future not filled with parties and lilting laughter, as expected, but debt collection calls, jello shot vomit stains, and yard sales.

The average experience is sure to be something more heartening, one must hope.  A cute dress is found by an average woman who chooses it among all the others on the rack and purchases it with hard earned cash. She will take it home, to a regular sized closet, and a small but carefully selected wardrobe.  It's a hard life, sure, being worn once, sometimes twice a week.  A dress slows down more quickly, shows some wear and tear, but at least it can count on being cleaned regularly, hung up nightly, and repaired as needed. It will develop affection, over time, for the woman, who will likewise come to rely on it when she doesn't know what else to wear.  It will have space in the closet to spread  its wings and it will become close friends with the accessories it is paired with on a rotating basis.   This dress will learn to accommodate and forgive the occasional stretch required of early or post pregnancy weight, date night at Texas Road House, and middle-age spread.  When it grows old and beyond repair, it will be recycled in a respectful manner, and find new life.

These clotheszillas are the lucky ones.  They get to fully live.

Chicken  out

And then, of course, there's eccentric fashion

Colin Hay Waiting for my real life to begin Live HQ 2010

I first heard this Colin Hay song in Yoga.  I listened while breathing into my back during Downward Dog.  I totally got the lyrics. Breathing into my back, not so much.

I'm going to see Colin Hay tomorrow night in Boston, at the Wilbur Theater, with my good friend, Deb.

Colin.  Hey.  Colin. Yeah,  up here, right side, balcony.  Hi!  I'm  Chicken.  I think you are very real.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Butter Files: Drug Lords

Note:  My father was born into a large farming family in central Maine. He grew up, married twice (consecutively, not at the same time), and had five kids.  Everyone called him "Butter".  Butter Files stories are about his side of the family (as opposed to the Vi Chronicles, starring my mom, Violet.)

I had two great uncles.  Uncle "Bob" is an uncle by marriage to my Dad's aunt, "Min".  Uncle Phil was a brother to Min.

Uncle Bob lived in Norridgewalk, and Uncle Phil lived down the road a ways from the family farm where Dad grew up.

One very hot summer day when I was 17, I found myself out Uncle Phil's way.  I had been picking blueberries with my friend, TS.  When the heat became intolerable, we drove to Uncle Phil's farm to take a breather.  Uncle Phil had been married to Josephine (Aunt Jo), who had passed away a couple years prior, and he now lived by himself in the big, old house.

After we had slaked our thirst and made some small talk, Uncle Phil said, "Do you like the marijuana?"

We looked at one another, TS and I, and I said, "Ummm. Why do you ask?"

"Because I have some.", he said.  Then he led us to the guest bedroom where, stacked under the bed, were multiple shoe boxes.  He pulled one out, removed the cover, and showed us his booty.

It was, indeed, stuffed with homegrown.  I said, "Uncle Phil!  What are you up to?"

He grinned and said, "Nothing.  Just wondered if I could grow it.  You can keep that box."

A couple of years after Uncle Phil died, I was at a family reunion, and Uncle Bob had my ear.  He asked about my job, my life and whatnot, and it occurred to me that  I didn't really  know what he had done for a living, so I said, "What about you, Uncle Bob?  Do you still work?"

"Yeah", he said.  "I work-part time for the government.  I'm part of that war against drugs thing."

"Oh really?", I asked, "What does that entail?"

"I'm a scout.  I look for pot farms, mostly.  I go up in planes and fly over different areas of Maine, or just drive around.  Sometimes, I'm just walking through the woods. If I find something, I report it."

"HOLY SHIT", I said to myself.

To Uncle Bob  I say, "Wow, that's so cool!  How long have you been doing that?"

"Oh, about 7 or 8 years."

Uncle Bob's scouting career definitely overlapped Uncle Phil's pot farming years.  Was Uncle Bob purposely not reporting Uncle Phil?  Were they in cahoots to become the home grown drug lords of Maine?  Sort of like Duck Dynasty with fewer ducks?  And less facial hair?  Or was Uncle Bob just not very good at his job? Was Uncle Phil growing pot to see if Uncle Bob could catch him?  Or did he suspect that Uncle Bob was making shit up again?  Or did he really just like growing pot?  And finally, how well do you ever really know your relatives?

Since that day, I've carried a mental image of Aunt Jo and Uncle Phil smoking a fatty out on the back porch of the farm, while Uncle Bob flies overhead, binoculars in hand, reporting, "Nope, nothing to see here.  Let's head back."

What were those two old coots up to? Are there any older relatives in your family you wish you had known better?

Chicken out

These aren't my uncles.  This is from "Bucket List".  The sentiment is sort of the same, however. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hi. I'm Chicken!

I pulled up to the crossroads of civilization in the late evening.  Not sure which road to turn down, I looked for a visitor's lodge or a guard booth and found neither.  I pulled over and got out to stretch my legs.  I walked about the area for ten minutes or so before almost sitting on a hobbit I had mistaken for a large rock.
I said, "Hi. I'm Chicken! You're not Satan are you?"

And the hobbit said, "Why do you ask?  Were you looking for Satan?  Maybe I am he, maybe he is me. Why do you ask?"

And then he did four back flips in a row down the middle of the road.

"Dude", I said, "I'm just here to make a delivery. I don't play fiddle and my Momma loved me. Just to be clear.  Hey, do you know which of these roads leads to the encampment of Alexandria?"

"All of them and none of them", he said.

"Ok, interesting.", I said.  "I have 50 kilos of Cotton Candy here, deliverable to one H.M. Stuart. Do you know which road might lead to him? Or the Alexandria Carnival?"

"Oh, the Good H.M. Stuart, you say?  He gets around.  You might find him anywhere.  You could try the yellow brick road straight ahead.  Ignore the monkeys along the way.  Don't smell the poppies.  Don't feed the animals.  You might want to telegraph ahead and make an appointment.  Chances are, he's not there."

"If he's not on the yellow brick road, then where do you think he might be?  I really want to drop this shipment. There's a storm blowing in and I'm meeting friends for drinks two towns over."

The hobbit's head spun around a few times on his neck.  The back of his head addressed me.

"He could be at the Firefly Lounge.  Head straight down the dirt road to your left.  You can't miss it; lots of big blinking lights. They're having a Halloween party tonight. Bobbing for apples, candy corn, pineapple ham pizza, the whole bit. You could go. That's probably where your cotton candy is going, anyway. I heard David Lynch will be there. There's a rumor the ghost of Robert Johnson will be performing"

"Thanks. I didn't bring a costume", I said.

"You'll figure something out. Of course, he could be hanging out at the Capitol Club tonight.  Down that highway to the right.  It's book club night."

"Oh yeah?  I like books.  What are they reading?"

"Rules for Radicals.  Have you read it?"

"No. I don't like politics", I understated.  "I like Stephen King. And Chelsea Handler."  I said.

"They are all very scary", said the hobbit.  He blinked and vomited green bile.

I looked over his shoulder, down the highway he had gestured toward.

"Nice road. How come they don't pave the road on the left?" I asked.

"I dunno.  I think they had every good intention of paving it, but once they got the first road done, they just forgot."

"You know, I'm kind of in a hurry." I said. "Where do you suppose he's most likely to be tonight?  Can I call him?  I really need his signature to release this load."

"Oh you don't call H.M Stuart, Good Chicken; he calls you.  But your best bet is the Firefly Lounge.  He enjoys a good costume party, and the Capitol loyalists are rumored to be crashing later, after book club. You'll know them by their togas. H.M. is sure to show up.

"Ok, thanks a lot.  Would you like a lift?"  I asked the hobbit.

"I would like a lift", said the hobbit, transporting himself instantly into the cab of my truck.  "I don't get many invitations. You must be incredibly naive?"

"I am incredibly naive.", I said, "But the Law of Karma protects me."

"Oh yeah", he said, "Deepak will be there.  In a toga."

"By the way, Chicken", he said, "Would you like to see our lions? Hang a right at the fork."

Chicken out

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: What My Accessories Say About Me

As I walked past my bedroom, I heard  voices.  I stepped into the room and found it empty, yet the voices persisted. They seemed to be coming from  the closet.

It was just my accessories; talking about me again.

Snakeskin  belt:  Oy, I feel like a bungee cord must feel at the end of a hard day.  If that woman keeps inhaling cookies,  I swear I'm just going to come flying apart one of these days. Guess what she had for lunch today?

Scarf, Summer bag, Baseball hat:  What?

Snakeskin belt:  Chipotle.  The bitch had Chipotle, and not even the burrito bowl, no.  She had the whole burrito with the carnitas, the cheese, sour cream...everything.  And she didn't hold back on the guacamole and chips,  either!

Scarf:  (laughs) Yeah,  she claims guacamole is a "health" food.  I heard her tell someone that. I wanted to scream,  "Avocados, Moron! Avocados are a health food. A cup of guacamole  stuffed into your face on fried tortilla chips, not so much!."

Baseball hat:  (snickers) What, no beer?  Was she sick?

Snakeskin belt:  She was working. I was spared the beer.

Baseball hat:  Aw, man, you're lucky.  Last time she wore me there was a lot of beer, and by a lot, I mean a bloody ocean of beer.  She left me hanging on the stall door hook in the restroom at Chili's.  Ewww.  I need a shower just thinking about it.  Then, when she finally comes back again, she sees me hanging there, and says, "Oh!  There you are."  Like I grew legs and walked off.

Necklace: (chiming in from the jewelry box)  So what did she have for dessert?

Snakeskin belt: What do you think?

Necklace:  Dairy Queen?  Peanut Buster Parfait?

Snakeskin belt: You got it, 'cause what's a little sugar rush when you've already consumed 5,000 carbohydrates anyway, am I right?

Scarf:  And plus, peanuts are GOOD for you, bwah ha ha ha...

Necklace:  Did she dribble it down the front of her shirt?

Snakeskin belt:  Of course!  Why should today be different from any other day?

Baseball hat:  (laughing) Were any of you guys there that time she went to Fenway?  Oh. My. God.  It was epic.  All her favorite things-hot dogs, peanuts, beer, fries and testosterone.  And still, it might have been okay, if it hadn't been for that fly ball.

Summer purse:  Oh my God,  I remember that!  She looks up, see's the ball coming right at her, stands up to catch it, gets a little dizzy, trips over me.....

Summer purse and Baseball hat:  (in unison) AND FALLS INTO THE NEXT ROW!  BEER EVERYWHERE!

(Insert screaming laughter here)

Scarf: Classic Chicken!  What a klutz.

I yanked open the door and glared into the darkness.

Complete silence.

They don't fool me.

Chicken out

Accessories for sale.  Dirt Cheap.