Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Blast from the Past: December 2014

This Altoid tin project was the first I tried in the 'expanded form'. It was displayed with my Splitcoast Dirty Dozen DT projects. It's funny how I can look back on this work and see how much I've learned. Enjoy!

Earlier, I uploaded 8 pics of 2 projects. Each had a story that I slogged away at for over an hour. Something told me I should always save what I write, just in case. Well, I didn't listen. To say I'm so mad right now that I could cuss a blue streak is the understatement of the century. So...I'll give the deets and attach the story before I get myself into trouble.

Removed the top from the altoid can and glued the bottom into it. Covered it with greenery and flowers. Cut Alice and the Chessie cat from a collage sheet and used IO tree die for background. Table is chipboard with 2 chipboard supports under linen napkins. The cool, calm and collected is what an English tea is all about. Made this for a friend who loves Alice.

Boy...can't tell I'm still fuming, huh????

This article was previously printed in Carousel magazine, in an article series I wrote named "Diary of a Desperate Housewife"

I grunted and tried to ignore the Kid in hopes he’d go back to bed.
“Mommy!” He was insistent.
I made a sound somewhere between a growl and a whimper.
“Mommy, I need breakfast!”
“Go see if your Grandmother can make it.”
“They left yesterday, Mommy. Don’t you remember?”
I leapt out of bed filled with joy. I’d forgotten I’d made parole almost a week early with my in laws.

The Holidays almost did me in this year. It was the first Christmas I’d experienced without the warm embrace of long term employment. Budgets, sacrifice and discovering the true meaning of the Holidays may have worked for Scrooge, but I was finding that Christmas day with no Beef Wellington or David Yurman just didn’t feel like Christmas at all.
I’d spent the last half of December wandering around in a stupor. The man I’d wed, obviously having read a bit too much Machiavelli, had thought it a good idea to invite his parents to spend the Holidays with us. My mother in law spent the entire time attempting to ‘enhance’ my experience as a stay at home mom.

“Now dear,” she said as she washed out a Ziploc bag for the third time, “Losing your job was hard but you’ll find that economizing isn’t difficult. You have to look at it in a creative way. For example, do you really need these plastic bags?”
“Yes. I use them for a lot of things.”
“Like what?”
“Well, like loose screws, crayons that I can’t find the box for and leftovers.” I said, secretly wondering if I could take a nip of the vodka I’d hidden away for emergencies without her noticing.
She gave me a half pitying smile. “That’s what I’m talking about, dear. You can buy little plastic boxes that are reuseable. Here, let’s take a trip to Wal Mart.”
I obediently slipped on my new Louis Vuitton purse.
“That’s an awfully convincing knock off.” she said, eyeing my evidence that Christmas Joy could most certainly be bought.
“Uh, yeah! It’s a good one.” I said, laughing nervously.
She pursed her lips and gave me a knowing glance. “Well, let’s be on our way.”
I made it a point to make sure she was buckled into the car before I, under the pretense of having forgotten something, ran back into the kitchen for a much deserved hit from the liquor.

Hey, Santa’s not the only one who needs ‘helpers’ to get him through the Holidays.

A trip to Wal Mart is an experience, no matter what. But combining Wal Mart with an elderly person on a mission, brings a new meaning to the word ‘entertainment’.
When I tried to buy the name brand plastic containers, she almost spat on the floor in contempt. She drug me a couple of inches down the shelf to the store brand and proceeded to pick up the most damaged package available.
“See?” she crowed. “This is called the deal within the deal! They’ll give you extra off for damage. Works for food, too. What time is it?”
“Ten thirty.”
“Time for lunch.” she said, grabbing me by the arm and leading me to the other side of the store.
“The car’s out this way.” I protested.
She ignored me.
“See?” she finally said, pointing to a man in a green hat who was busy poking halves of Vienna Sausages onto toothpicks. “Here’s what you do. You go first and take two. Say it’s for you and your mother. Then, I’ll go and do the same thing. That way, we get two each!”
“But I don’t like Vienna Sausages.” I whined.
“Fine. More for me.” she said, shoving me toward the line that was beginning to form.

After our lunch of granola bars, chocolate pudding, frozen lasagna and honey roasted nuts, we headed home.
“I’ve got to take a nap, now. When I get up, you and I will start rearranging the cabinets.” She said, going to her bedroom.
I curled up in bed too…with the vodka. I figured if I played my cards right, I could at least maintain a good buzz for the rest of their stay.

The Kid, on the other hand, was having one of the best Christmas’ ever.

“Guess what, Mommy!” He burst into my bedroom later that afternoon. “I got some cards in the mail and they all had money in them! Grandpa gave me twenty dollars, too!”
“Wow.” I said, trying not to slur. “That’s great!”
“Yeah. Grandpa said I should save it for an emergency. He said the way you spend money that we might need it for food. What does that mean?” his brow furrowed in consternation.
“It means your grandparents are overly cautious. Not to mention a little deranged. Listen, go out there and ask them to tell you stories from when they were kids. Ask them what things cost and what they got for Christmas. It’s really cool!” I said, not feeling sorry in the least that I was setting the Kid up for one of the most miserable experiences in his life.
My husband poked his head in the bedroom. “Are you okay?”
“No. I’m sick and by my calculations, I won’t be well for another six days.”
“Interesting how that coincides with my parents leaving.” he said, smugly as he closed the door.
Taking a deep breath, I capped the vodka and sat up in bed. I knew I couldn’t stand anymore of my in laws and had to take drastic measures. If I didn’t, I’d be loading up the dishwasher with aluminum foil and in rehab, to boot.

I called my stepdaughter, Meredith.

Meredith was my husband’s teenage daughter from his first marriage. Meredith was currently being controlled by her raging pituitary and oil glands and was making an excellent case for adoption during puberty or, at least, boarding school.
We haggled for a while over proper payment for her services but finally reached an agreement. I didn’t have to worry about her mother’s approval…she’d been in her bed recovering from a biannual face lift and was on enough pain medication to assure she’d stay comatose for at least a week.

Later that evening, we were eating dinner that consisted of fried Spam and generic, instant mashed potatoes.
“I’m not eating this.” the Kid said, firmly.
My father in law gave him a stern look. “Back in my day…” he began.
“Okay.” the Kid said, sounding panicked. “I’ll eat it.”
The front door opened and slammed shut. An icy wind blew through the house. Everyone froze. Meredith came ambling into the kitchen. “I’m hungry. I’m not eating this crap.” she announced.
My husband and in laws paled.
“Honey! How did you get here?” my husband said.
“I took the bus. I was bored so I came here. What? That’s not okay? You don’t want me here or something?”
“Baby! No! I just…” my husband began.
“Hey grandma and grandpa. What’s happening?”
My in laws took in their granddaughter. She was dressed in black and had on enough eye liner to shame Marilyn Manson. “Hi honey…how are you?”
“Daddy, I want Chinese. This stuff is gross. Mom would freak if she knew you were feeding us Spam.” she said, picking at her nails.
“Your grandma made dinner.” he said, throwing his mother under the bus. “I’ll get Chinese, of course!”
“We didn’t have take out when I was your age…” her grandfather began.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But Grandpa, a nickel doesn’t buy a candy bar and a hamburger isn’t fifteen cents anymore. Besides, who wants a hamburger when you can have Thai? Did you get me a present?” Meredith said in a bored voice.
“Uh…we did but we left it at home…we were going to mail it…” my mother in law began but became silent under Meredith’s cold stare.
“Here, honey.” my father in law said, digging into his pocket.
“Forty bucks? Thanks grandpa. That only leaves two hundred for the ipod I wanted for Christmas. Hopefully I’ll get one anyway but I haven’t had Christmas yet because mom’s still in the bed from surgery. Did you have a good Christmas here?” she said, wide eyed.

I silently admired her technique. She was truly a master of her craft.

My in laws left the next day, several hundred dollars poorer. They claimed that since Meredith was here, that we should treasure this special family time and they didn’t want to intrude.
With her Grandparents gone, Meredith turned immediately to her father. “I guess I’ll stay for the rest of the week. I’d love to go home early and buy my ipod but I don’t have all the money yet. That’s cool, though. I like hanging here.”
My husband couldn’t get to the ATM fast enough.
“Thanks, daddy.” Meredith said, tucking the cash into her purse.
“Look at that. You two have the same purse.” my husband said.
We managed to look surprised.
“Wow. Great powers of observation, Daddy. See you later!” Meredith said as she left with the last scrap of happiness I’d managed to salvage from the Holidays, swinging from her shoulder.
It could have been worse, though. I could’ve been still scrubbing out Ziploc bags and searching out ways to sneak liquor around a woman who smelled of camphor and Jean Nate’.

I think I got the better end of the deal.

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