Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch the Sequel

Hi World,

It's me, Chicken, humble advocate of the fashion perplexed.

Fall Fashion Trends keeping you awake at night?  Me neither!  But tough because I've researched it anyway and I'm sharing it here. This is my sharing time.  And 3....2....1....we're on..

Friends, if there's one buzz word in fashion circles this year, it's "Style".  These aren't your Grandma's clothes.  Actually, they might be, but more on that later.

Let me be clear. The days of "planning an  outfit" are gone forever.  We will now and from this day forward, "Style" ourselves.  Bring out your inner Rachel Zoe, and if you don't have an inner Rachel Zoe, at least try to suppress your inner whoever it is that allowed you to wear those baggy sweatpants and that cat meme t-shirt.  You know who you are.  

In materials, this fall, there's a rustic but luxurious vibe in the air.  Think suede in jewel tones and soft, supple leather in surprising shapes.  Watch for fabrics with texture.  Still confused?  Here's a tip to carry you through the fall season looking like a Tim Gunn protege: If it looks like something your grandma knitted, crocheted,  or quilted, with materials purchased from the bargain bin, buy it at once and style it with a hat. If she might have used it to upholster something,  even better.  If it's ombre, Girl, you win!  

For those of us who fear that the ombre couch lace doily look might be too youthful, there's still hope.  Menswear is huge  for fall, so find yourself some suede oxfords, a vest, and a crisp white shirt and join the Katherine Hepburn movement. Don't forget florals, though.  They are still on trend for fall and you can wear them with your suede oxfords.  How economical is that?  You'll still want to invest in some booties to wear with your (wall paper inspired) flower dresses, however, because that fad just won't fade.  

Thinking about denim for fall? Capri length skinnies are super hot and quite becoming on 1% of the female population (and 3% of the male population).  Boyfriend jeans never go out of style but I must clarify here:  Do not actually take your boyfriend's jeans. Go to the store and buy them or you'll just look like a hot mess.  Which is also totally in right now.

Not sure what to wear with your denim?  How about more denim?  I thought you'd like that. It just really bloody confuses things, doesn't it?  Remember how eggs were good for you?  And then they weren't?  But then they were?  And then they weren't again?  Denim on Denim is  one of those trends that I'd like to punch in the face.  Because it's not like you can wear just any denim with your denim.  There's a complicated algorithm involved in this look that only people under twenty-six years of age, Vogue editors, and the idiot savants of fashion can pull off.  Us regular women don't stand a chance of nailing this look. Embrace this trend at your own risk, Girlies, and if you end up a centerfold on The People  of Walmart, don't come crying to me.  

To re-cap today's lesson, this fall remember to channel your inner stylist.  Ask yourself, "What would  Rachel do?" If Rachel replies that she would dress you in a long voluminous dress or like Skylar, yell "Hell No" and run to the light.  Skinny jeans are in.  Will they ever go away? Please, God, make them go away.  If you are among the 99% of the female population for whom skinny jeans are not a good look, may I suggest a cute denim skirt or menswear trousers?  You have Chicken's permission to just skip jeans this fall. Moving on, feminine laces, florals, quilting, and knit fabrics borrowed from "That 70's Show" are super hot for fall, and yet it's all about menswear, too.  If you must experiment with the ombre blanket knit potholder look, we suggest you also treat yourself to a classic Burberry trench.  And finally, in case I wasn't clear, stay away from Denim on Denim.  Pretend it's M.C. Hammer and don't touch it.  

Just because Rachel and Skylar can pull it off doesn't mean we can

Tune  in next Friday when we'll be discussing bags.  And  I don't mean the ones under our eyes.

Chicken out

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm About to Glamour You....

Hi World,

I've been keeping a list of supernatural skills I would like to have.

Time Travel is right up there on my list.  If I could just find one of those multi-dimensional portals, I would go to the past and fix some things. I would go to the future and learn something new to bring back to the present.  I am pretty sure that Steve Jobs found a portal back when he did all that LSD (allegedly). I'm  willing to bet it had something to do with an apple falling on his head.  Or was that a different guy?  If you see any portals floating around,  could you tweet me?

Traveling at the speed of light would be handy.  For one thing, it would be super fun to play ping pong all by yourself.  I think the most practical use of this skill would  be annoying people you do not like under the guise of assisting them.  You could constantly get to the door a half second before they do and open it for them. Then you could bow, tip your pretend hat, and say, "After you".  How disconcerting would that be after the tenth time? Sure, they might threaten to call the police, but what are they going to say?  "This person keeps opening doors for me and I don't like it!"? Bwa ha ha ha ha.

Today, there was a young twit with big black sunglasses beeping her horn behind me at an intersection.  I assume she was annoyed because I wasn't pulling out into traffic quickly enough for her.  If I could  travel at the speed of light,  I would  have gotten out of my car, drawn a mustache on her face with a black sharpie marker, dumped her no fat, espresso shot, extra-sugar, vanilla extra extra ice coffee in her lap, and left her sitting in her car wondering what just happened.

My favorite supernatural power to possess would be glamouring.  If I could glamour people, I would start with my husband.  "BigB", I'd say, "Listen very carefully.  You love doing laundry and you are a fabulous cook, but even more than cooking, you enjoy tidying your home and playing Stratego with littleb."  And then I'd  move on to TWLITB and littleb:  "Boys", I'd tell them,  "Listen to me.  When you wake up, you will never again question your mother.  You will keep each other amused and occupied at all times.  You will play Stratego with BigB."

Once I've freed up my schedule, I'll start glamouring people for the good of all mankind.   I'll glamour us right into world peace.  And then I'll make everyone share their possessions and help each other.  I'll suggest we all grow things without pesticides and learn how to can and preserve.  I'll put together a committee of people to deal with global warming and other environmental issues.  We'll all ride bikes and walk everywhere.  At night, we'll sit around fires all over the world and famous people will play their guitars or their sitars or what have you and everyone  will roast home made marshmallows over the fire as they sing along. It will be the biggest freaking hippy commune ever.  And no one will ever honk their horn impatiently ever again.  But sometimes we will still draw mustaches on people with black sharpie markers because, hey,  that's just good, clean fun.

What supernatural power would you like to have?

pretty sure Andy Cohen just glamoured this housewife.

Chicken out

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chicken...The Hobo of the Internet

Hi World,

I checked in with an old internet friend's blog recently and she wrote to me, "Chicken, where the hell have you been for the last 15 months?"

She has never been one to mince words. It was a fair question.

I wrote back and filled her in on all the real life stuff happening here at the Chicken coop.  We commiserated on how hard it can be to maintain a blog while balancing work, family, and the unexpected challenges life throws in our path. She said something that sounded like advice and felt like forgiveness:  It helps to remind yourself that you aren't blogging for anyone but you. Sometimes life intervenes and that's ok.

We all get into blogging for different reasons.  In my case, it was a creative outlet where I could -hopefully-improve my writing skills, as well as a space where I could be silly in a way my children would never understand.  Making friends and becoming part of an online community were unexpected blessings.

When blogging is your hobby but it starts to feel like a job, you might feel like quitting.  You might take a break until blogging feels like playing again. That's what I did.  That's what I do.

If I offended anyone by disappearing without warning, I apologize.  If you thought maybe I died,  I apologize.  I didn't.  I'm right here.  I still suck at good-byes, mostly because it never really occurs to me that I might not be back. I know I will be back when the spirit moves me.  It took a really long time, this time around, for the words to start flowing again.

Consider me the hobo of the internet. You never know when I might catch a ride on a train passing through your blog. Please know that when I spot your blog, I'll  hop off that train and check out what you're doing. I'll leave you ridiculous and flattering comments because, despite my prolonged absence, I do care.

Do not feed me, though.  That's how you end up with hobo chickens living in your back yard.

Mrs. P, thanks for the words of encouragement.

Blog like there's no one reading

Chicken out

I've been  one poor correspondent and I've been too, too hard to find, but it doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind. 

-Sister Golden Hair Surprise/America

Monday, August 12, 2013

Every Fucking Day with Bernie

Hi  World,

When Teenager-who-lives-in-the-basement (TWLITB) was much younger, he begged me for a pet lizard. Many times over, I said no.  I was consistent about it.  I didn't say "maybe", I didn't say "When you are older", I didn't say "If you promise to take care of it".  I just said no. Reptiles creep me out.  I sure didn't want one living in my house.

One weekend, TWLITB went to visit his Dad.  He called me from the pet store.  "Guess what, Mom!  Dad said he'd buy me a lizard if you say it's ok and I found one I like, he's so cute, Mom.  Can I? CanIcanIcanIcanI?  Can I?"

Oy.  I  didn't see that one coming.  What do you DO in a situation like that?  Be the bad, mean Mom who never lets anyone do anything or have anything that makes them happy? Unlike Fun Dad (FD)? Or do I become the unfairly bamboozled and therefore bitter Mom who knows without a doubt she'll be taking care of this dumb lizard for the next however many years while FD plays golf in another state?

How long do lizards live, anyway?  Like two years?  Five years?  Oh.  Twenty years.

TWLITB  brought his new pets home and 30 seconds were spent admiring the tiny alligators in their new place of residence on top of TWLITB's bureau.  FD forgot to mention that he splurged on two lizards. Apparently, lizards need companions.  I was thinking the lizards could eat apples and table scraps.  I was not anticipating the bi-weekly purchase of live crickets.  I took TWLITB to the pet store to get some "food" for his new pets.  I was extra nice to the people in the pet store because I figured we'd be getting to know each other pretty well over the next twenty years.

"Now TWLITB", I said, "Feeding these lizards is going to be your responsibility.  And you'll need to change their water regularly, too.  You know that, right?"

"I love these  lizards, Mom. I'm going to take great care of them. Don't worry"

TWLITB fed them once, and after watching the lizards attack and gobble all the live crickets as they desperately looked for a place to hide, he immediately lost interest in  them. As foreseen in  the deck of Mother Tarot I carry in my head, lizard care was transferred into my incapable hands.

The first lizard died a couple months later.  We  saved the second lizard with an IV.  He barely made it. To say I was upset is an understatement.  My whole argument against having pets was that I had too many kids and plants that I was barely keeping alive.  The last thing I needed, in those years, was two more lives on my hands.  I resolved to take better care of the remaining lizard.  I also decided to give him  a new name because I could  not remember what TWLITB had originally named him.  I renamed him "Wizard".
Wizard the (Pinball) Lizard.  Catchy, right?

The (Pinball) Wizard and I meandered along for another few years.  I managed to keep him fed and watered and alive. He still existed in a tank in TWLITB's room.  I cringed when I thought about what his life must be like, but he kept growing, and shedding his skin, and growing.  I had to assume that I wasn't totally sucking, but I continued to put feelers out to the lizard adoption community to see if I could find him a new home.  In the meantime, I got chummy with the pet store folks.  We bonded over American Idol and cat memes.  Then littleb was born.

Littleb truly loves animals-both imaginary and real.  By the time littleb was three,  we had a menagerie of assorted pets, mostly invisible. As soon as he could talk, he re-named The Wizard, "Bernie", and the name stuck. Littleb enthusiastically participated in trips to the pet store, where he was soon offered a part-time position as a pet petter.  He helped feed Bernie and change his water.  He enjoyed watching Bernie consume his meals, which was, in truth, a little worrisome.  Eventually, littleb earned a goldfish he promptly named Goldie, and he found himself dividing his time between Bernie and Goldie. It was a lot for a four-year-old, and Bernie suffered for it.

In 2012, two things happened.  Goldie the Goldfish passed away and I took up yoga.  Littleb had more time and I developed a heightened gratefulness for all living things, not to mention increased flexibility.  Bernie's sad existence in TWLITB's room, long since abandoned by TWLITB in favor of the basement, began to weigh on my (enlightened) conscience.  I worried that Bernie was too isolated and, as a result, depressed.  We decided to make Bernie's senior years more enjoyable by moving him to a sunny new condo in our pantry.  Bernie's new digs had amazing views of our driveway, not to mention our smoking hot new Camry, and in the first several months he shed and grew three times.  Bernie developed a new lease on life.

Every day, when I got  home from work, Bernie was there to greet me and talk about my day.  Unlike BigB, who couldn't stop interjecting with a whiny,  "Let me tell you about MY day", Bernie was an excellent listener.  Also, Bernie provided moral support as I went about my daily chores.  He was there for me during the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry folding, etc.  It was more support than I typically got from the other males in the house.

It wasn't all fun and games with Bernie and I.  Bernie could be a little boring, for one thing.  He was so quiet, there were times when I wondered whether he was really listening.  Also, watching  him eat was painful.   And the skin shedding drove me up the wall.  Who needs a new skin every three months, puhleeze?  But Bernie was there for me and I was there for him.

Bernie passed away in March, 2013.

Bernie,  wherever you are (I suspect the ocean), I am sorry you never got to feel another warm spring sun.  I'm sorry your diet consisted of gross things but I hope you enjoyed them. Thank you for teaching me that reptiles are also God's creatures and thank you for your company all those lonely nights when my boys were off doing stupid boy things.  I'll always remember you fondly. And the next time FD offers to buy one of my kids a pet, I'll say, "YES!  What a marvelous idea.  As long as he lives at Dad's house."  That  wisdom is the legacy you left me, Bernie.  You will be missed.

Chicken out

R.I.P. Bernie  2002-2012

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fear and Loathing in my Shower

Hi World,

You know how sometimes your life falls into a simple, uncomplicated rhythm?  Go to work, come home, have dinner, etc?  And how sometimes that gets old and you wish something unexpected would happen?

If you are anything like me, when you send that thought out into the Universe, what you mean by "unexpected" is that you would be excited to win the lottery.  Even a small one, shared with a dozen other people.  Or that you would be gobsmacked to find yourself the first heir in line to the throne of Slovenia.  Or that it would rock your world if your kid brought home straight As and the good citizen award.

What you do not mean, and you assume this is obvious, is that the Universe is welcome to smack you up side the head with, say, a terminal illness, a tax audit, or a creepy unwelcome visitor in your home. 

One morning, awhile back, I got up at my usual time to shower. I was still partially asleep as I started  the water running, undressed,  and stepped  into the spray. I should mention now that the drain in this shower was very slow and in need of a good plumber. As a result of the slow drain, the floor had collected a two-inch deep pool of cold water.

I reached to the floor for the shampoo  bottle.  As I lifted it, I noticed a dark shape in the corner.  My very first thought was, "ARRGGHHHH SPIDER!", but I quickly dismissed that thought because my brain could not process my body being trapped in a small enclosed space with an over-sized spider.  My brain would have completely shut down, leaving me brain dead, if I forced it to compute something that traumatic.  Instead, my brain efficiently moved on to scenario number two:  A wash cloth? Beanie Baby? Something safely inanimate? My brain and I liked this scenario, but unfortunately this lump was moving.

Brain moved on to scenario number three:  "B-b...b...b...bat???  Batty-batty-batty-batty-bat?"  thought brain, wildly, disbelievingly.  Brain quickly decided we didn't need clean hair today and sent a message to my hands, arms and legs to calmly and slowly open the shower door, step outside, slam the shower door with Herculean force, and run, naked and wet, to the relative safety of the other side of the bathroom, where, Brain pragmatically decided, we should  hyperventilate for three minutes and try not to throw up.  I was completely with Brain up to that point.

But then Brain decided we should go back, open the shower door, and have another peek.

"Brain!  Are you fucking crazy?", I asked.  Nicely. 

"Chicken", Brain said, "BigB is sleeping and you know how he hates bats.  Do you really want to wake him up to come deal with this creepazoid?  Would you want him to wake you up with this delightful news?"

"Well. No.  I guess not, but it's really scary, Brain.  What are we gonna do?  What are we gonnadowhaddarewegonna..." 

Brain gave me a mental slap.  Bastard.

"Here's what we'll do.  The thing is practically drowned anyway. All we need is something to scoop him up and then we can dump him outside and BigB need never know."

"Ok.  Ok, Brain!  Let's do this."

We went downstairs where we located a dustpan and a plastic grocery bag. 

"Brain!", I said, "What if it tries to bite me or fly in my hair?"

"Good thinking" Brain said, "Let's get you some protection." 

I donned BigB's gloves, pulled on one of littleb's snow hats, and my parka.  I tip toed back up the stairs.

I eased open the shower stall door.  It was still there. It didn't look so good.

"Piece of cake", Brain declared.  "Now scoop it up and get rid of it!"

I lowered the dustpan to the bottom of the shower, maneuvering it slowly towards the bat lump.  Suddenly, the lump started swimming ferociously towards the dustpan.  Brain and Chicken quickly convened and decided to get the hell out of there.  "Save yourself", Brain screamed.  I ran.

I was crouched on the stair landing, breathing hard, half-dressed in a parka, snow mitts and littleb's snow hat, when BigB opened the bedroom door.

"What the hell are you doing?", he asked, reasonably enough.

"Um, there's a bat in the shower"

"What?  What did you say?  Did you say a bat?  Where? Awwwww shit... whatthefuck!"

BigB was suddenly very awake.  Did I mention he hates bats?  At least this time he didn't demand that I wake littleb and take him to a hotel until he had the premises secured.

With a heavy sigh, he went downstairs to find a weapon.  I sighed, too.  A sigh of relief.  I could now retire to the living room and be a girl.

BigB traipsed back up the stairs with a plastic container. I listened for his battle cry.  A scream of fear.  The agony of defeat?  I heard....nothing.  By this time, Teenager Who Lives in the Basement (TWLITB) was also awake.

"What's going on?", he asked, after noting my unusual morning attire.  Then, apparently thinking better of it, he said, "Never mind, I'm going to take a shower."

"Good idea", I said, "But you'll need to help BigB first."  And I quickly laid out the scenario.  "Are you fucking nuts?" TWLITB asked?  "I'm not going up there".

"Language, TWLITB!  It is your duty to help BigB take out that bat."

"What?  I'm a kid. That's abuse. You help him."

"No, TWLITB,  I am overseeing the situation, but from a distance, see?  My safety is paramount.  I'm the brains of this operation.  Plus I do all the cooking.  BigB is Chief of Security and you are his deputy.  Go be a man, TWLITB.  And then you can tell all the girls at school how you saved your mother from a bat.  A rabid bat".

"The bat is rabid???  I'm not going up there, Chicken!"

"TWLITB!  Get up stairs RIGHT  now. I mean it!" 

I checked on littleb who was, unusually, still sound asleep. By the time I came back, BigB had taken down the vicious intruder while TWLITB watched his back.  From the doorway. 

And that was how our morning started that day, with an unexpected buffet of shock, fear and loathing.  In my shower.  If that bat could blog, I'm sure his tale would be a story told to all little bats for years to come. The moral of that story would be stay the fuck out of Chicken's shower.

Chicken out