Monday, December 13, 2010 | By: Slacker Mom

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

After some encouragement from friends, I've decided to add a new feature to my blog. I thought I would share little slices of life that may have occurred recently or even anytime in the last say 20 or so years. While I consider myself an average, normal person, I seem to be a magnet for slightly disastrous events. For some reason, my friends find them amusing. I find them mildly annoying at the very least and for the most part just life as I know it.

One thing I can't seem to get away from is a flooding house. My first house was in TX and it had a tendency to flood when the spring flash floods would hit (but that's a story for a different day). Here in WA it rains.a.lot. And I'm lucky enough to live in a house with a basement. Not every basement floods but mine does. If it's just the typical drizzly rain that soaks everything but never collects, we're fine. But I happen to live in a neighborhood that has worthless drainage systems that somehow find a way to empty into my pipes when they get too full. Just outside my back door, there is a drain that is supposed to funnel all excess water out to the ditches. Instead it acts as a faucet that pours all the water in the neighborhood right to my door and into my basement. After 5 years of living here, you would think I would be on alert whenever it rains but no. We usually discover the flooding when we head downstairs and find ourselves ankle deep in ice cold water.

The last time it flooded (before last weekend anyway) Hubby was away on his monthly trip to TX. I came downstairs to check on the kids and stepped right into water. I hollered at the kids, "Why didn't you TELL me it was flooding!?" They had no idea what I was talking about as they were lost in video game land and oblivious to the real world. So I pulled on my rubber boots (I keep them close to the back door for just such an occasion) and went to work--after I called Hubby to complain about his being away, leaving me to mop up by myself.

Unfortunately, we've been getting ready to move and that means serious purging. Being the smart, efficient woman that I am, I'd been piling all the garage sale stuff by the back door, as well as some of the boxes I packed for moving. So the first order of business was to move all those boxes out of the way before anything else got ruined. Sloshing back and forth through the water, I moved everything away from the door and into my craft room--scraping my finger in the process hard enough that 2 months later I still have a scar.

In order to get all the water out, I have to hook up a pump and run a hose around to my bathroom shower for drainage. Great--except the shower was full with even more garage sale stuff--had to empty that out next. As I'm rushing back and forth with arms full of junk that I just don't have the heart to see ruined (hey, that game might bring in a whole dollar at a garage sale!) water is still pouring in and making it's way under the stair case and into my closet. I kick it into high gear when I see this. Reaching into the shower stall for another armload, I accidentally hit the faucet and TURN THE SHOWER ON. I scrambled to get it off but still managed to now get my top half, as well as an odd collection of paper dividers and throw pillows, wet. Because that's what I need when dealing with a flood is more water.

In spite of myself I got the shower emptied, got the pump and hose in place, and started rerouting the water. Eventually that kept anymore from coming in but I still had the water in the house to deal with.

During Hubby's previous TX trip, I'd finally gotten around to laying out the 10x10 carpet piece we had, even going so far as to make sure it was laid out underneath our freezer and bookshelves that were downstairs. Now this rug was a sopping mess that had to be taken out before it started to mold and stink up my house. Let me just tell you that a rug that has been doused in about 75 gallons of water is VERY HEAVY. But I drew on my inner Wonder Woman and managed to not only pull the darn thing out from under the furniture but to drag it into the bathroom where I shoved it into the shower stall so it could dry out (well, as much as it could dry out with all the water coming in from the pump). The rest of the day was spent literally sweeping water out the door, mopping up the floors, drying out what I could and spraying everything with Lysol in an only mildly successful attempt to kill the mildew smell.

Eventually I got it all done and things went back to normal. Until it rained again.

Movie Review: Prince of Persia

A period action movie that has an interesting plot and a hunky guy with chiseled abs? What's not to like?

Okay, so that's not really a review. Let me start again. Jake Gyllenhaal takes a break from brooding, independent films to try his hand at the action genre and he does a decent job. He's Dastan,the adopted son of the Persian king. Raised on the streets until being noticed by the king, he grows up continuing that street tough persona--fighting dirty, lax in his responsibilities, smirking at everyone he looks at. When he helps his brothers invade a holy city (against his better judgment), he comes into possession of a mystical dagger that holds within it the sands of time and can be used to turn back time. Gemma Arteton (from "Lost in Austen" and "Clash of the Titans") plays Tamina, guardian of the dagger.

After being framed for his father's murder, Dastan must go on the run--with Tamina and the dagger, of course--until he can figure out who set him up and who is after the dagger. Is it his brother who inherited their father's crown? Is it their uncle who is a trusted advisor to them all? Along the way, they run into plenty of action in the way of ancient assassins, desert thugs and even ostrich races. Alfred Molina appears to be having a great time with some comic relief and Ben Kingsley looks suitably questionable with his black eyeliner-rimmed eyes.

There's a lot of action, a lot of killing of bad guys (but surprisingly little blood). If you really try hard, I'm sure you can come up with a lesson here. Something along the lines of trust your heart and trust your family, I suppose. But really, the movie is just junk food for your brain, why spoil the fun? (***)

Movie Review: When In Rome

Another predictable chick flick, but what can I say? I'm addicted. This one stars Kristen Bell as Beth, an art curator who, with a father who's been married multiple times and a boyfriend who recently dumped her, isn't sure she even believes in love. When her sister's wedding takes her to Rome, she meets Nick, played by Josh Duhamel, and they hit it off. Unfortunately, it looks like he's already taken and was just playing her. Beth gets a little drunk and wades in the Fountain of Love. Local lore states that if you drop a coin in the fountain, you will find love. While in the midst of her drunken rant, Beth decides to save a few of the coins from their miserable fate and in doing so she puts a spell on the original owners of the coins so that they fall in love with her.

Back home in NY, Beth starts being stalked by a weird mix of crazies and losers (played by Dax Shepherd, Danny DeVito, Jon Heder and Will Arnett) as well as Nick. Again she really hits it off with Nick until she discovers that all these men are under a spell due to the coins...and one of the coins may belong to Nick. Of course she doesn't want the loonies chasing after her but can she live with herself if Nick is only with her because of a spell? Cue inner soul searching and a mad dash across town to release Nick from the spell, thereby setting him free.

Do we know how everything will end in the first 5 minutes of the movie? Yes. Are we supposed to care that the coins she grabbed all happened to belong to men? No. (Seriously, do that many men really toss coins in a fountain hoping for love? And especially THESE men?) Are we supposed to care that all these men just HAPPEN to live in NY (with the exception of the artist who moved there just for her)? No. But that's the thing about rom coms--you need to keep an eye on the big picture and not fret the details or you lose the fun.

I enjoyed the movie and would watch it again but it won't make it next to my worn out copies of "Ever After" or "You've Got Mail". (***)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | By: Slacker Mom

The Mystery Box

Going over my checkbook the other day, I noticed a charge that I didn't recognize. It was from a company called The Green Group--pretty generic, right? I asked Hubby and he didn't know what it was from either. Now here is how vigilant we are about credit card or identity theft--instead of reporting it, we just assumed we had bought something while we were at our show in Spokane even though neither of us remembered purchasing anything. (I can see my mother shaking her head at this.)

Honestly, we both forgot about it until I got back from Portland. I received a notice from the post office saying I had missed a package while I was gone. It was from "The Green Group." Before I could remember that charge on my account, my first thought was I was being sent some kind of collection notice or something. Then I noticed that I had missed a "parcel". Well, that's definitely bigger than an envelope and bill collectors wouldn't spend the money to send something bigger (would they?). I checked the box for redelivery and then Hubby and I brainstormed some more on what it could be. Still couldn't come up with anything.

Two days later a box is brought to us. Hubby calls me in to the kitchen. "Should we experience this together?" Uh, yeah. So he cuts through the tape and is about to open it when a thought occurs to me. I stop him from revealing the contents and ask, "What if it's a present for one of us?" It's not unheard of for us to buy each other Christmas gifts at the craft shows to surprise the other with later. We both looked at each other, then looked at the box, temporarily at a loss as to what to do. If one of us did buy the other a gift, we didn't want to ruin the surprise. But we didn't really want to haul the box to a third party just to have them tell us what was inside. So we agreed that if it was a gift, the recipient would just be happy, even if we did spoil the surprise. So Hubby pulled back the flaps and there it was...craft supplies we had ordered from eBay.

Yeah, I know. Totally anticlimactic. But I've still got Christmas to look forward to!

Movie Review: The Book of Eli

Thanks to my friends at Netflix, Hubby and I watched this one last night. Before I get to the review I think I should note that any DVD that doesn't include extras should get an automatic star deduction. Extras are almost as fun as the movie itself--if they're done right.

The Book of Eli is an apocolyptic drama starring Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis and Gary Oldman. Denzel plays Eli, a man who has been wandering the country for 30 years carrying a prized book--which are rare to begin with in these post-war days and even rarer is that it's the lone copy of the Bible. His sole purpose is to literally wander. He figures some day he'll know when he can stop but in 30 years it hasn't happened yet. Along the way he picks up Mila, who tags along initially to escape her life and then because it's the only way she'll survive in such a brutal world. Gary Oldman is a baddy who wants to keep the Bible from being discovered as it might undermine his plans for local (if not farther reaching) control.

Like all post-WWIII movies, this one is filled with stark landscapes, abandoned vehicles, and rag tag survivors dressed in layer upon layer of muted clothing, despite the fact that they all look like they are living in desert conditions. (Think Mad Max, The Road, or even Waterworld.)

In an attempt to distract you from the barely there plot that takes its time revealing itself, the director throws out plenty of gory scenes of violence where appendages are lost while Denzel slices his way through crowds of bad guys, without injury to himself of course. And if that isn't enough to keep your attention, it's a beautifully shot movie. Yes, the colors are muted in that now familiar way that suggests poverty and tragedy, but the shots are impressive.

Even as a big Denzel Washington fan, I wasn't bowled over by this one. It was just too slow for me, nothing much to invest in. For all the good reviews I read about it, I was disappointed. (**)
Sunday, December 5, 2010 | By: Slacker Mom

Happy Birthday to Me!

With my birthday coming up in 4 days, I know you all have been stressing over what to get me. I thought I would make things easier on you and just present you with a short list for you to choose from. That's just the kind of considerate person I am!

1. You can never go wrong with chocolate.
Ok, technically that's not true but it's a good start. Just be sure to avoid dark chocolate, white chocolate or any of those ones with the weird cream fillings. If I get the creams I may eat a few but for the most part I will be left with a box filled with broken-in-half chocolates that no one will eat because they've now been mangled in my attempt to figure out what was in them. You're best to stick with nuts and caramels. That's the good stuff.

2. I could never have too many books.
Forget the worm analogy, I'm more of a book fiend. Especially if it's a tragic memoir, a love story that will leave me sobbing on Hubby's shoulder, anything involving mythological creatures or just trashy romance. And used works just as well as new. I could spend many hours and many more dollars in Half Price Books.

3. Everyone loves a good chick flick.
Maybe not everyone, but they work for me. Especially anything Jane Austen, or something that would play for 6 hours on BBC. If it's a period romance, there's a good chance I'll be hooked.

4. If all else fails, give the gift of peace.

If I had to choose one gift over everything else? It would be time to sit and write. Time to tap away at the keys while purging my brain of all that the voices have been plotting while I've been doing my daily chores. I would ask to be cloistered away somewhere with only my laptop, some peanut M&Ms (my drug of choice) and a hot cup of peppermint tea with no interruptions of all--NO GUILT. I would ask for the freedom to sit and write to my heart's content. No obligations, no cooking (well, no feeding anyone since we all know I never cook), no phone calls and no running errands. THAT would be a gift to remember.

Is this enough to get you started? If not, let me know and I'll send you my categorized and alphabetized Wish List. I just finished color coding it so it's all ready to go! Happy shopping!