Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Red Dirt Cave: An office parable

Once upon a time, a pile of tiny ants struggling to make their way in the world, found a giant morsel of food in a soft and beautiful gray field.
They called their friends from near and far to join the party.
And so they set to work gobbling the food, licking their ant lips as they enjoyed what they thought was saucy protein.

What they didn’t realize was that this was a trap.

Imagine their surprise when a powerful blue ammonia cleanser rained down on their picnic.
They stumbled in all directions trying to be free of the damp pool of stinging fluid.
As they made their way to the far reaches of the cold mountain at the edge of the beautiful gray field the ants breathed a collective sigh of relief,
As they joyfully celebrated making their escape they heard a distant rumbling.
“Huh?” thought the ants, just as they were violently sucked into a dusty tunnel.
They landed with a thud.
Stunned from the force of their journey, the ants looked around and asked “Where are we?”
Amidst the crumbled bodies of their sisters and brothers they saw paper clips, bits of tissue, and packing peanuts.
It was then that the ants then knew they had been forced to make the journey to the red dirt cave.  
The red dirt cave was a place of legend. Not one member of their tribe had ever returned after being forced to make the trip to the red dirt cave.
They were doomed.

Save an ant’s life. Please try to be extra mindful of dropped food in the “kitchen.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

How to spend a windfall (or yet another way my childhood shaped my life)

My best friend and next door neighbor from childhood, Cindy Scott, and I practically shared a birthday. Mine is June 4 and hers is June 6. We also shared friends, so it was natural that we'd share birthday celebrations.

What we didn't share was socioeconomic status. I was raised by a practical and powerful, single mother. My father was the prototypical deadbeat dad, and our financial situation fluctuated wildly. By contrast, Cindy's parents remained married until her mom's death in 2005, and they were solidly middle class. Her family had Oreos, and bought cold cuts from the deli counter, which was proof to me that Cindy's family was in fact, rich.

Which leads me to my story.

One year, right after Cindy and I turned eight, we were going through our birthday loot. Me? I got $5 in a card from my Gramma. And Cindy? More like $20. In the spirit of continuing our shared birthday celebration, Cindy's mom offered to take us both to the local K-Mart to spend our birthday money. My mom agreed and told me to buy socks. Little did she know that Cindy had generously agreed to share her money with me. So, in 1978, with $25 and our eight year old desires, we headed to the Big K. And we came home with Sean Cassidy posters (dreamy), giant DIY color by number posters with lux markers, and handfuls of other impulsive and age-appropriate shwag. I remember feeling unfettered pleasure and the sense of having everything I could ever want.

But the feeling did not last long. Because I got into trouble for squandering my windfall on something I wanted rather than something I needed. (My mom would say she was trying to teach me responsibility rather than introducing me to self-denial and guilt, which, nearly 35 years later, continues to dominate my financial life.)

And now my current dilemma.

I recently won a $50 gift card to my favorite store in the universe, Wegmans.

So what do I do with it? Spend it on a treat, or save it for something I need?

What would be a treat? Take out from one of their on-site restaurants for me and my friends, a fancy cake and fixings for a nice dinner for my upcoming birthday, or a flower arrangement for myself.

What are more practical uses? Snacks and supplies for my next family gathering in upstate NY, supplies for baking and wrapping Christmas cookies this year, birthday and other cards to have in hand for sending to loved ones, or supplies for the house after the renovations at completed.

What would you do?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Top ten list of my least favorite things about my home

What are the features you wish you could change in your home?

We're getting ready to gut The Tiny Bungalow in a very expensive dwelling do over. Here is my top ten list of the qualities of our seaside suburban home I won't miss:
10. The wood that is rotting off the back of the house
9. The entry room that serves no functional purpose but takes up a LOT of space
8. The permanent rot under the bathroom floor
7. The grease stains on the kitchen ceiling
6. The baseboards that start and stop in random places
5. The "pantry" (aka closet in the kitchen) with three foot deep shelves
4. The fireplace island coated with creosote on the inside of the three sided glass insert
3. The slider under the eave that has no gutter and, coincidentally, an enormous amount of mold
2. The stove that has only one functional burner

And the #1 thing about The Tiny Bungalow I won't miss?
1. The laundry that is accessible only by walking outside and around the side of the house.

What would be on your wish list of things to get rid of if you could do your home over?