Thursday, June 29, 2006

Picked A Peck Of Purple Perfection

We've gone two Saturday's in a row up to a farm about 30 minutes from our house to pick blueberries. This farm offers organic, pesticide free berries for 2 bucks a pound. Anyone who buys blueberries at the grocery store knows what a huge savings that is. As an added bonus, they happen to be the most succulent sweet blueberries I've ever eaten; even without sugar.

The first week, we took Miss Biotech Goddess along for the adventure. We had one hour before torrential rainstorms completely engulfed our area, and we rose to the challenge nicely. Here's the final equation:
1 Smiling Infidel + 1 Bulgarian Chick + 6 Infidel Spawn + One Hour Of Picking=14 1/2 pounds of blueberries!
Holy cow, we rock!

So, last Saturday, thinking that we would duplicate our former plucking glory, we returned to the farm. The equation looked much different:
1 Pissy Mom + 6 Whiny Kids + 2 Hornet Stings + 1 Blazing Hot Sun + 3 Hours Of Picking= 13 pounds of hard won blueberries.
Maybe, adding one Bulgarian Chick is the secret ingredient?

Day after day, I tell my kids, "Stop picking at your food", "Quit picking at your brothers and sisters", "Can you please stop picking your nose?", "Don't pick at that; you'll get a scar". They rarely listen, and usually continue picking anyway. Finally, they were able to put all those picking skills to work for a good cause. I AM impressed at their diligence, but after all, practice does make perfect.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Damn You Cruel Irony!

Our Church sponsors Enrichment meeting nights for the Sisterhood of the traveling flowered dresses, every few months. There they learn valuable skills, gossip, fun crafts, wretched scrapbooking , and lessons in home economics, gorging on food samples. The brethren apparently felt left out to see their women congregating in such a joyous fashion, so now they too have their own Enrichment meetings, lovingly dubbed , "MANrichment". I'm secretly wondering if they're going to encourage macho activities, because I'd certainly hate to walk in on them fixing each other's hair, pillow fighting, or discussing the latest Danielle Steele novel.

Between holding down two jobs, completing studies as a Senior at Sam Houston University, and tending six kids, Papi doesn't usually have the time for such frivolities. Last week though, he came to me with nearly a pleading tone in his eyes and he very meekly asked me, "Girlie, would you allow me to go to the MANrichment meeting on Tuesday. Please"? The fact that he used the word "allow", as though I'm his Master (not in the daylight hours, anyway), cracked me up, so of course, I allowed him to go. What a good wife am I.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I Was A Ballet Academy Dropout

Tis true, tis true. My Mom signed me up for ballet lessons in the hopes that it would teach me grace, and enough coordination to scratch my butt and walk at the same time while chewing gum. So, there I am, 10 years old, second tallest kid in the school, in a beginner's ballet class, when in walks Holly, the tallest kid in our school. Apparently, her Mom had high hopes for her "Pretty Little Princess" too. Thankful to have a fellow outcast to lessen the pain of being surrounded by tiny, perfectly pink tu-tued dancers, Holly and I clung to each other, and goofed off in a corner every chance we got. Mostly mocking the other girls. We also started skipping out of class early to go and buy Snickers bars at the convenience store next door. It wasn't long before the instructor and owner of the school haughtily informed my Mom that I should probably be removed from lessons and that I might be better suited for learning to play the bassoon. I'm not positive but I think this may have been intended as a slam against me, because nothing says gawky oaf quite like a bassoon. Holly got kicked out too. No word if she took up the bassoon though.

Consequently, to this day, I'm so uncoordinated that I even hopelessly lose my balance and flail around in flat soled shoes. This dashed any hope I may have had to join the stable of dancers at The Lusty Lady Cabaret. So, you all have seen my magnificent, resplendent bronze shoes, right? That's what I wore yesterday to Church. I'm teaching my Primary class and I walk over to the door. Inexplicably, my ankle twisted and I nearly fell. Instinctively, I knew that the beady, scrutinizing eyes of 7 year old children were upon me and that I'd never live this down if I didn't handle it properly. As an authority figure, you must show no weakness, or the terrorists will win. Slowly, I turned to face them and their big jeering smiles and casually shrugged my shoulders while sticking out one hand and putting the other on my hip, and I told them, "Eh. I was just practicing for the I'm a Little Teapot Dance Competition, coming up next week". It worked. They laughed, and nothing more was said about it. Hey, I may be stout, but I'm certainly not short. Please don't tip me over. Thank You.

Friday, June 23, 2006

It's A Dog Eat Dog World Out There

My kids and I noticed the brightly colored display at Kroger's immediately upon walking into the store. A gargantuan mountain of dog food bags, stacked up 7 feet high, with signs proclaiming its new product status and the advertised special of the week. We just watched, "Old Yeller", together as a family a few months ago, and so they recognized the beloved yellow dog featured on the bag. While moving past the display, I couldn't help but comment to my kids using my very best radio announcer voice, "Try new Old Yeller dog food today, with 100% genuine chunks and bits of Old Yeller in every bite! Your pet will love it". My boys laughed, the girls looked at me with sour expressions of "EEEEEEWWWWWW, Mom. That's so gross".

It got me thinking though,why in the World would the manufacturers choose Old Yeller as their icon and product name? As I recall, the movie took a tragic twist upon Old Yeller contracting rabies, and then his foaming mad self is shot down in self-defense by his Master. Yeah. "Let your dogs grow up to be strong and healthy, just like Old Yeller, by feeding them Old Yeller dog food. Now available at fine retail outlets everywhere".

They should have chosen Beethoven as their mascot because Lord knows, nobody wants to sit through another one of those awful sequels. Just how many Beethoven movies does the World need? Apparently, film producers are determined to see. Plus, I recently learned that not all dog meat is created equal. The Japanese regard Saint Bernard meat as a highly prized culinary delight. Perhaps, Americans get the Old Yeller brand, but they've marketed it in Japan as Beethoven dog food. Reportedly, Spuds Mackenzie was a contender too. However, during product testing, the dogs kept falling over drunk.

Whatever, as a nod to my first blogging buddy, Mormon Family Man, who broached a similar subject, I have to say that we only buy the very best for our dog, Reagan. After all, he IS our fresh meat food storage plan.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm Laughing On The Outside

And crying like a baby on the inside.

Broad Smile Of The Day: (Courtesy of Beach Boy daughter and singer, Carnie Wilson)

"I like, struggle everyday with my weight, because morbid obesity is a disease that I will always have".

Lucky for you, Carnie, that a cure for your "disease" has already been discovered. It's a regimented and prolonged treatment, but it's also highly successful. Put your fork down. As one fat chick to another, I know that when I take my daily dose of the cure, good things do happen and it combats my "disease".

Curled Lip Moment Of The Day: Former superstars, E.L.O, licensing their massive hit, "Evil Woman", to no-talent strippers, The Pussycat Dolls.

I seriously about swallowed my tongue when I heard their new song, "BLEEP". Not only is it nasty and insipid (typical Pussycat Doll material), but they sample, "Evil Woman".

I used to hold you in the highest regard E.L.O. I even forgave you for the horrifying "Xanadu" debacle. (Providing a soundtrack for a movie about muses on roller skates. Really?) You've pushed my patience too far with this one, though, E.L.O. I may have to use my E.L.O's greatest hits CD as a coaster now.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Little Caterpillar Is Morphing Into A Beyootiful Butterfly

Today is the grand celebration of Caterpillar's 7th birthday! We call her Caterpillar due to her caterpillaresque furry little eyebrows. Yes, we've produced another future depilatory consumer. Like Mother like daughter. *sigh*

It's an unspoken law of femininity that whenever you get to know a woman, she will always, without exception, eventually tell you one of her birthing stories. Caterpillar is our first homebirth. We found ourselves lacking health insurance and decided to seek out an affordable birth alternative and found an amazing mother/daughter midwife team. They provided all of the prenatal care and things went smoothly. Early in the morning, I felt intense labor pain, but sent Papi off to work anyway. Meanwhile, I frantically cleaned the house. Too bad I can't bottle that maternal nesting instinct to spray on when I need cleaning motivation now, because I sure don't have it like I do while pregnant. I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself and have the midwives staring at me for hours of labor, so I waited to call them. Well, I delivered her all by my lonesome, in the tub, with three sleeping kids close by. As you can see, everything turned out fine despite the initial freakout at what happened.

When we went to Church the next week, members kept telling me that I was like a "pioneer" woman. That's laughable. I never once saw a picture of them traveling through the dusty wilderness with a garden tub perched inside a rickety ox-driven wagon, bringing forth the fruit of their loins while listening to soothing smooth jazz classics. Whatever, I still enjoy having a reputation as a tough old bird.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Conversation From A Gas Station

I feel as though this post should be accompanied with a caveat. I'm currently sick. I mean, really, really sick. Fever, sore throat, runny nose, headache, ear infection, dizziness, the whole enchilada. It's also entering the fourth day of nonstop rain in Houston. Luckily, our end of town hasn't flooded yet, but Harris County and all surrounding areas are under flash flood watch. Keep this in mind, because under the influence of Theraflu, the following interaction might not be as funny as I perceived it in the wee hours of the morning.

Per tradition, as a "lady of the night", I often make a foray to the corner Exxon store for bottled water and such. I've gotten to know the attendant, Barbara, pretty well and we always have a few laughs when I stop in. Nearly every morning this short, skinny guy of about 40 stops at Exxon the same time I do. He's always clad in head to toe black and buys cigarettes and coffee. Personally, I think that's what stunted his growth. Anyway, at 3:30 A.M., he walks in, turns to me, smiles, and says, "Hey, you're in here all the time too. We must work in the same profession". To that, I laughed and said, "WOW! You're a caged go-go dancer too? What a coincidence." Barbara cracked up, and so did I. The man in black didn't. What a pity, I might've given him a fistful of dollar bills to shake it. Talk about missed opportunities.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Chronicles Of Appalling Parenting: Chapter Five

This moment in classic INFIDEL gardening history brought to you in part by a grant from The Mommy Dearest Society Of America. "May all your hangers be padded".
Three of my kids harbor an extreme aversion to getting wet outside of a shower or the pool. Even if it's just a few droplets, they completely freak out about it and throw a pouty little leprechaun tantrum. I say leprechaun because they stomp their feet like they're performing an Irish jig.

So, my Melody thought she escaped from my evil clutches by running into the presumed safety of our house. There she stood in the window taunting me and sticking out her tongue. Unfortunately for her, she neglected to notice that the window was wide open to catch a rare cross breeze blowing through. Taking full advantage of this, I made my move. The blast of the water hose on "JET" setting, easily hit its mark. The force of gushing water startled Melody so bad that she just froze in a pose of disbelief. Finally, she started screaming at the top of her lungs and ran to get Papi so that she could tattle on me. Melody kept telling Papi, "Mommy's bad girl. You need to spank her". As though that's even a punishment for me.

In summary, yeah, I had to wipe up all the water inside the house. Yeah, it was a mean thing to do. Yeah, I did laugh myself silly about it. There goes my "Mother Of The Year" nomination.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Ties That Bind

I thought that I'd attempt a little something special today, by telling three different stories, both past and present, and tying them all together with a common thread.

Pictured above are my new shoes purchased at the grand Memorial Day sale held at Kohl's. At a size 10, my feet are large enough to cause panic in the streets of China, and probably Pain! At The Disco, as well. I'm no junior petite, and my feet reflect that; oh, so very well. They appear to have a golden tinge to them but they're actually bronze. Papi teases me endlessly about my "goldplated" shoes. To which, I tell him that they're not gold, because I'm not a first place champion, I'm only a third place loser. So, now he's started calling me "Hercules", every time I wear them.

(I have hideous, ant bitten, ugly-toed, feet. Refrain from examining too close, as it will be to your ocular peril)

As a kid, I had a friend with a yellowish mutt dog, also named, Hercules. One day, Hercules escaped from the yard and I assisted her in trying to locate and retrieve him. We walked up and down the street, yelling his name at the top of our lungs. Finally, we caught the attention of an old lady at the corner house who wrinkled her nose and asked, "What did you say"? We told her that we were calling for Hercules. Then she smiled and said,"Oh mercy me! I thought you two were screaming HERPES, all this time". We didn't know what that meant, but my Mom had a big laugh about it.

My Mom is an oft married and betrothed woman. My last stepfather came into the picture around my twelfth birthday. Looking back, I suppose that subconsciously, I wanted to sabotage their relationship. When the romance was still in it's infancy, I cut out a magazine ad that had amused me. It featured two people, walking hand in hand on the beach, looking at each other with eyes of love. The caption above read, "The hardest thing she ever had to face, was telling Roger about having HERPES". I don't know what possessed me, or why I thought it would be funny, but I pasted that ad right onto a piece of construction paper, and made a makeshift card out of it. Then, I signed my Mom's name on the inside and left it out for her new beau to find. I still didn't really know what herpes was, only that it must be something very shameful to have such a dramatic, full page ad. My Mom was pissed, to say the least. My future stepdad, Don, looked a bit concerned, and I got a spanking that I still remember to this day.

Thank you Mom...................for letting me live.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Birds Of A Feather

I have perfectly altruistic motives for wanting to win the neighborhood, "Yard Of The Month", contest. You see, the grand prize winner receives a princely sum to a local plant nursery, in the form of a gift certificate. I have that money earmarked for something special.

You can witness for yourself, from the rather exploitive photo, that our pink flamingos befell an unspeakable tragedy that spared life but took limb. My charity to raise funds for them, came up woefully short. They're increasingly hypersensitive about it too. Whenever the pantyhose commercial plays, with the tag line, "Nothing Beats A Great Pair Of L'EGGS", they whimper. We can't even enjoy our EGGO waffles for breakfast anymore because they grow petulant when we proclaim, "LEGgo my EGGO"! They tried to use their miniscule bird brains to argue with me about this, but alas, they just don't have a leg to stand on.

If I'm less than victorious in my plight for a gift certificate for my flamingos, then perhaps I could count on your sponsorship. With your generous gift, I can purchase at least one leg for my fine feathered friends. Then, they'll have a decent shot at marrying into the lap of luxury with an aging rock star. Please, won't you think of the flamingos???

Monday, June 12, 2006

What Atrocity Have You Unleashed On An Unsuspecting World, Simon Cowell?

Jaw dropping, brake squealing, abject disbelief moment of the day.

I like listening to my XM Satellite Radio while working in the morning. One of my favorites is the Euro Trash station, UK POP. Initially, the song playing sounded vaguely familiar, then I realized ,with wide eyed disgust, that it indeed was a pitchy lounge lizard, cabaret version of Outkast's, "Hey Ya". Isn't it a little bit early to release a remake of such an already execrable ditty? It gets even better. The singer, Will Young, happens to have the distinguished honor of winning the very first Pop Idol contest (American Idol's counterpart) in England. Please, be a responsible citizen. Just say NO to cheeseball remakes of cheeseball songs.

If you want a sample of some of England's finest, I highly recommend The Delays. Their new single, Valentine, is superb, and making the rounds as the official BBC background music for World Cup soccer coverage. I'm linking their blog here. Your assignment is to scroll down and watch the video for Valentine. Highly entertaining, and catchy. Don't blame me if the song causes you to suddenly start dancing wildly and shaking your moneymaker all around. Just one of it's pleasant side effects.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Pride And Prejudice (The Smiling Infidel Version)

These pictures reveal the culprit as to my erratic blogging ways this past week. I've been mowing, digging, weeding, planting, watering, fertilizing, and waging a fight to the death against predatory fire ants. All accomplished while working directly under the scorching sun, and in temperatures reaching the mid 90's.

My secret hope is to finally win the long coveted prize of, "Yard Of The Month", but competition around here is cut-throat. Most of our neighbors hire professional landscaping services to put in their planters and keep up their weekly yard maintenance. We're probably the poorest folks in the whole neighborhood. Consequently, I take care of our yard by myself, with occasional assistance from my own amateur crew of six kids, who handle minimal gardening, mosquito swatting, and lemonade fetching duties.

Papi takes great delight in telling people that he's a Mexican man that has a white lady taking care of his yard. Then he smiles and mentions how he's an integral part in obliterating stereotypes one at a time. Whatever.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Death Of A Saleswoman

Numerous times over the past few years I've had friends tell me that I should give up my lucrative newspaper career (as if!) and work from home selling catalog merchandise, like Pampered Chef, or Creative Memories. I'm a little disappointed that nobody has ever asked me to host a sex toy party, though. Maybe I just strike people as too virginal and pure of thought for such carnal things. Number one, I'm not all that sociable, and the thought of opening up my home for hostess parties makes my stomach lurch. Number two, I'd rather work consistent manual labor than attempt to make a living by selling things because the truth is, as a sales person, I absolutely SUCK. My heart palpitates just thinking about the dreaded duty of collecting money. That's the key reason to why I refuse to organize any more homeschool field trips or have any part of an activity that involves monetary transaction because it makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable to harangue deadbeats to pay up.

My peddlerphobia started back in my high school days. As a sophomore with one open elective, I decided to get in touch with the natural Infidel within and take a Wildlife Management course with the F.F.A (Future Farmers Of America) program. Mainly because we got to cut school sometimes to go fishing as part of the 'rigorous' curriculum. As a preppie wannabe complete with Girbaud jeans and Polo shirts, I distinctly stood out among all the Bubba rednecks and cowboys in the class. I didn't own a pair of boots, hated NASCAR, and I coudln't even line dance or sing "Achy Breaky Heart". It was the ultimate slacker class for me and the only thing I clearly remember from that year in AG involved more chewing tobacco techniques than you could shake a shiny spittoon at.

Every single school organization holds fundraisers and F.F.A proved to be no exception. However, they did things a little bit differently. While the Choir, Band, and Drill Team sold candy, gift wrap, and overpriced cheap novelty crap directly imported from China, for their Fall Fundraiser, we sold sausage. Yes, sausage. Swallowing my pride and extreme embarrassment, I took that glossy colored sausage brochure up and down our block. Often, I tailed right behind the more successful candy selling students who were unloading their chocolate at a clipped pace. At first, I felt encouraged, and cheerfully chirped out, "Hi! Would you like to buy some sausage to support F.F.A?" To which, people either laughed or gave a wrinkly nosed, emphatic, "NO!", really quickly, and shut the door. What??!!?? They acted like nobody's ever sold them sausage at their house before. I tried another sales maneuver by using my very best Oliver face and voice. With sad, hollowed eyes, I hit the next potential customer by saying, "Please sir, would you care to buy a bit o sausage?". Still no luck. I finally gave up at the end of our very long street when a guy asked me if the sausage was any good. I told him that the brochure described the product as "farm fresh and delicious". Still doubtful, he asked again, "Yeah, but have you actually tried it?" Feeling irritated, I sighed heavily, and not a little snarkily told him, "Well sir, If I had the product available to me, I would have toured the neighborhood with my Mom's electric skillet strung around my neck dispensing free, hot samples. Just like the sample lady at Kroger's. Then would you deign to honor me and revel joyfully in my sausage"? The man mumbled something about me being a "smart ass teenager", and slammed the door. Don't despair, all was not lost. My Mom bought a bunch of sausage out of pity, and it really did taste good. At Christmastime, while the other groups sold poinsettias and pecan logs, we peddled cases of fruit. Another wildly UNsuccessful venture.

Question Of The Day: What's the weirdest thing you've ever been involved with selling? I defy you to top being a door to door sausage saleswoman.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Measure Of Success

To most people, this is an invaluable exercise device called a pedometer. It's used to calculate the total amounts of steps taken and give a digital read out of calories burned.

McDonald's had a promotion recently where they gave pedometers away with food purchase. Considering this unlikely source for fitness guidance, we all just laughed about it, but then something struck me. In Spanish, the word for "fart", or "flatulence", for you more genteel readers, is PEDO. Thus making a true PEDOmeter, a measure of one's farts. Constantly recording and accurately counting your every toot. How would you like to have a digital display of that? I wonder how many calories farting actually burns? My Dad says that the average American passes gas 14 times a day. I'm ready to strap on a pedometer and do the scientific research on this myself because I AM The Smiling Infidel, seeker of truth and knowledge in all things.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Revisionist History

Just a quick addition to this post made back at the end of March regarding hidden meanings, ulterior motives, and surprising facts about modern music and entertainers.

Add two more for the "self love" category:
1. Dancing With Myself- Billy Idol

2. Imaginary Lover- The Altlanta Rhythm Section

Truly, I never thought twice about either song until I heard the XM radio DJ snicker when he played both selections. I'm so pure of thought, mind, and deed!

Friday, June 02, 2006

What's The Difference?

Yesterday proved to hold a myriad of priceless blog gems supplied by the befuddled confusement of my eldest daughter, Sunbum.

So, as we traveled down the road towards yet another plant stop at Home Depot, something reminded me of Ozzy Osbourne and I began to tell her of all his frenzied exploits back in the day, including ruthlessly decapitating bats and doves before live concert audiences. Sunbum turned to me aghast and asked, "WHAT??!!?? He did all that? But I thought he was a sweet Mormon guy". Apparently, she thought of Donny Osmond, not Ozzy Osbourne. Well, after all, they ARE both family guys involved in music, but the comparison made me laugh.

There's a new store at the mall called, Forever XXI. From the outside it appears to be your one stop shop for underage streetwalker gear, not my kind of establishment at all. We've never been inside, but when we passed it yesterday Sunbum got all excited and begged me to go in. Sunbum is a pudgy 11 year old girl who comes from a family so obsessed with modest dress that she doesn't even wear sleeveless shirts. Naturally, I was curious as to why she would want to go into such a store. Then she said it, "But Mom! It's got a double XX in the name, that means it's for plus size women". (Scary sidenote:An 11 year old girl at Church talks about her clothing from this place all the time)

Finally, while swimming at the neighborhood pool last night, Sunbum and I discussed the lady water aerobics class that my Mom goes to at the YMCA. I likened them to "Old Mermaids". Sunbum got upset and said that old mermaids are slow swimmers and consequently they always get trapped in tuna nets and then processed into cans. I may never eat a tuna sandwich again.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lastic, You Got Some Splaining To Do


It has come to my attention that former blog readers and contributors here now think that I regularly peruse Internet porn due to an unfortunate link that I posted on another blog. Nothing could be further from the truth and I'd like to offer my own explanation of a convoluted situation.

During an intensely intellectual discussion of fart euphemisms, someone referenced her personal favorite, "Sitting on a duck". To which I informed her how grotesque that seemed to me after seeing the following picture circulating on the Internet. Then I posted the first link that I found by googling the key words, "Donald Duck ride-on toy picture". I once saw this on a message board and it perplexed me to think about how such a thing could be manufactured without someone contemplating a possibly negative interpretation. Well, I didn't investigate any further, but apparently the first link I found with that picture is a somewhat risque site. So naturally, everyone now thinks that I'm an Internet porn perv.

For the record, I AM, after all, an Infidel, but I'm a wholesome, porn free Infidel who will henceforth be much more careful when wielding links around here