The Hellhole

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hopefully my patience meter has refilled after wrangling with Yosemite last evening.

The Saturday after the Atlanta Cheese Festival was niece Brooke's 8th birthday so into a gaggle of giggling, shrieking children we descended.  We got her the American Girl Doll of The Year and a real  Pandora charm for her bracelet, Elsa's dress from Frozen.  The charm came from Jared and I think she was quite pleased to have the Jared bag,  Jared tissue and Jared gift-wrap - quite the grownup present.

Sunday was errands, as Saturday is the usual errand day at The Hellhole but we'd been busy elsewhere.  There were extra errands to handle because the next weekend, Brooke's mom/one of my besties, Tammy, had a milestone birthday and I was helping her husband Matt throw the party.  I did a cheese board - I have this great cheese serving board that looks like the top of a wine cask - assorted cracker basket with these cute, tiny cracker tongs I bought for Alan's birthday party last year, crudite and dip, two different hot cheese-based Mexican dips with an assortment of chips, since the main attraction was a taco bar, a large bowl of assorted fresh-cut fruit and of course little smokies.  Like Matt's Uncle Lyle remarked, "It's not really a Southern party without the little smokies!" seems like I did more things than that, but that's all I recall.  I ordered the cake, which Matt picked up, and a big floral arrangement featuring lavender colored roses.  Oh!  I had a bunch of dishes of candy sitting around and made a lollipop tree out of purple lollipops with hot pink 'T's on them.

This was her cake:

Someone asked if I'd made it.

Yes, of course I did.  

I'm a pretty good cook and make a mean red velvet cake, but really, all that fondant artistry would be beyond me even after a year's worth of lessons.

I don't need fondant artistry lessons, though, because I know the way to Rhodes.  They did the cakes for our wedding and Alan's big birthday cake last year.

So I was pretty busy shopping and prepping, then with the party itself and recovery therefrom.  The party was on Sunday and I took the following Monday off work.  While we'd been at Michael's getting florist foam for me to make the lollipop tree, Alan bought me these great adult coloring books

and a large box of colored pencils.  I was looking forward to relaxing and doing a picture or two, which I did, and it was fun, but check this out.

He bought me a box of 48 Staedtler pencils and I unearthed a box of 48 Prang pencils from a project some years ago, so I had 96 colored pencils from which to choose, and used many different ones.

But looking at this, doesn't it look like I own something like 5 different crayons?

The color palette wasn't as vibrant as I'd hoped.  It doesn't matter, I suppose - it's not like the thing's going to be hanging in the Guggenheim once I'm done, and I'm having fun which is the entire point - but still, with 96 different pencils, I'd hoped for more variety/contrast.

< - - - more than 5 crayons

I also put fall gel-clings on our garage door.  We don't decorate for the holidays, exactly, but the last few winters, I've put blue and white snowflake gels on the windows of the garage door.  This year Alan bought me some for autumn.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

This month has been so busy - I just want a moment to catch my breath, but I have no moments.  It's not been bad, just...a lot.  Things started with the Atlanta Cheese Festival, which was a lovely, wonderful evening but which does not lend itself to interesting narrative.  'Ate a great cheese sample, moved two feet to the left, sampled another great cheese, took two steps further, ate some delicious lovely cheese' is what happened, but isn't scintillating reading.

I was preparing for the 40th birthday of one of my besties, which consumed a lot of time what with the making of lists, the shopping for items, the cooking of foods, the doing of things, and the incessant re-checking of lists which I must do if I'm planning anything.  In the course of this, her husband and I decided to buy a large fresh flower arrangement to use as a centerpiece and in researching which one, I found this bargain on ProFlowers that I bought for myself - all these Peruvian lilies for $19!

This is what they looked like when they arrived.

This is what they looked like a week after that.

And another week after that.  

And just a few minutes ago - they've stayed lush and lovely for so long!  It's been wonderful.

This is the arrangement Matt and I chose for Tammy's birthday:  french country

Sigh...I dunno...I was so happy when I sat down to blog, full of fun things to share, stories and pictures, anecdotes, but my computer (or more precisely, its OS which I fervently wish I'd never even heard of, much less downloaded) has me so frustrated and defeated - it's taken so damn long to write two paragraphs and upload four pictures thanks to motherfucking Yosemite, you can't imagine.  I wanted to share much more and a timely book recommendation but I think I'm just giving up.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The book I'm currently reading is called Black Mass, which is about criminal Whitey Bulger and the FBI.  It put me in mind of an anecdote I didn't think I'd ever told Alan, so I asked him, "Have I ever told you about the time the FBI came to my office?"

"No - what did you do?"

Seriously???  This is my husband of nearly a decade, who's been with me even longer than that, and when he hears that the FBI visited my office, the first question he has is, "What did you do?"?!?!?!?

Hmpf.  I'm not sure if I'm flattered or insulted.  [Over my shoulder, Alan reads what I've just written and remarks in an irritatingly logical tone, "In my defense, you've got to admit it's a totally legitimate question to ask."  Again, not sure if flattered or insulted.]

Okay, so the FBI came to my office and I wound up in our conference room with them interviewing me.  NO, I didn't do anything.  The company for which I worked at the time, not my current employer, was fairly small, less than 30 people probably, one of whom was our resident CPA, Dan Whitfield [totally fake name].  One day, a typical office day was unfolding when my extension rings and the receptionist, Samantha [another TFN] says, "Helly!  The FBI is here and they want to talk to Dan Whitfield's boss!"

Of course I assumed, as any normal person would, that Samantha was pranking me, so I replied, "Tell them to piss off!  We don't want no truck with the Gub Mint!" - and hung up.  Immediately my phone rings again and Samantha hisses, "Helly!  The FBI is here in the lobby and they want to talk to Dan Whitfield's boss!"

Still sure I was being pranked, I suggested she call Dan's boss then, and hung up.  I was in no way Dan's superior.  We worked in the same department but he outranked me in terms of seniority,  tenure, responsibility, etc.

My phone rang again.  Samantha, becoming agitated, said, "Helly!  The FBI is totally for reals standing in our lobby, they insist on talking to Dan Whitfield's boss and you have to come up here!  Think about it!  There's no one else I can call!  [steely tone] Get. Up. Here."  I did think about it, and most of the higher-ups were at an industry trade show while our office manager, who suffered from migraines, was that day at home suffering, and when that happened, she quite understandably turned the ringer off on her phones.  Really, the most senior employee on site at the moment was Dan himself, which is how I found myself in our conference room with two agents of the FBI - who by the way looked almost exactly as stereotyped in films - by virtue of the fact that I was one of the only people (besides Dan) who was (a) management, and (b) physically present.

They asked a lot of questions about Dan - how long he'd worked there, what were his birthdate and Social Security number, had we (and how had we) verified those things before employing him, what were his responsibilities, had we met any family members, etc.  It was nerve-wracking; even though I hadn't done anything wrong and they weren't even there about me, I still felt edgy and like I might be in serious trouble if I didn't answer correctly.  Most of the questions I couldn't answer anyway, because I wasn't in charge of hiring or personnel files; that would be our migraine-suffering office manager.   However, she and I were friends and I knew where she kept the key to the personnel-file cabinet, so even though it was breaking lots of office rules, I figured I had FBI dispensation and liberated Dan's file.  They wanted copies of many things, which I made them, and after some more questions they departed.

One might think the story would end there, and we'd have been forever left wondering WTF that was all about, but believe it or not, the FBI followed up with us fairly quickly, and it turned out that what had happened was this:  one evening the television show America's Most Wanted aired a story about a CPA who had brutally murdered his wife and disappeared.  Generally, the age and physical description matched Dan Whitfield and somebody, I guess one of our employees, had called the show and dropped a dime on Dan.  As it turned out, it was a dead end:  Dan hadn't murdered anybody - several of us had seen both his ex-wife and current wife walking around totally alive - and he'd moved to our town and been working at our company a couple of years before Bad Guy CPA killed his wife out in the Midwest (I think it was the Midwest).  But someone thought it looked and sounded enough like Dan that they'd called the show, and I thought it was pretty cool to know for sure that those tips got investigated and sorted.

I would love to find a link to the story/profile of the actual Bad Guy CPA for whom Dan was mistaken, but there's another guy, John List, that's a much more famous criminal.  He was an accountant who killed his entire family - wife, mother, three children - and disappeared for quite a long time before apprehension.  He was much older than Dan and not physically similar; it was another case entirely that drew the FBI's attention to Dan, but because List was infamous, any Google search terms I could use to find Dan's Bad Guy CPA yield tens of thousands of search results about List, and I don't have enough lifetime to sift through all of them.

But that's the story of when the FBI came to my office and interviewed me.

Friday, September 18, 2015

In Which I Fail At Parenting

A couple of weeks ago, our niece little Miss Brooke wanted to come over and spend the night on Saturday.  When she gets here, it seems she has a loose tooth, understandable as she turns eight next month.  The entire afternoon and evening, she is messing with that tooth; when she's not wiggling it back and forth with her fingers, she's flapping it with her tongue.

As the tooth-messing continues, I am growing increasingly anxious and paranoid about her losing the tooth on my watch, because I have no idea what the Tooth Fairy's going rate is, and I'm afraid that if I leave an amount significantly higher or lower than her mom, the Tooth Fairy jig will be up!  I mean, do I even have any ones?  If not, would the Tooth Fairy drop a Hamilton for an eyetooth, or does it take a molar?  I totally don't know!  Mom is at an all-day band competition with Brooke's older brother so I can't call and ask.  Much to my relief, she does not lose the tooth that night so I, and the Tooth Fairy, are spared.  Later Sunday afternoon, however, I hear her pipe up, "Aunt Helly!  Look!" so I look and she presents me with a palmful of blood and saliva, in the midst of which rests a tiny white tooth.

Unbelievable as it might seem, I do not freak out at the blood and spittle (which is in my hand!  IN.  MY.  HAND!).  No, I calmly get a paper towel and deposit the tooth for safe-keeping.  I turn on the hot water tap because I'm pretty sure I remember from my own Tooth Fairy days that she needs to rinse with warm salt water.

In a rush to get her mouth rinsed and the (really not very much) bleeding staunched, I don't take the time to dig through the cabinets in search of a mug with cute puppies or kitties, of which we own several, or even the Frozen mug which was a gift from her to me - instead I swipe the closest clean one off the drainboard, which happens to be Alan's favorite mug; he drinks a lot of hot tea.  I give her the salt water mixture and tell her to go rinse with it, and she dutifully trots to the bathroom.  She calls to me and asks if she only has to do it once, and I reply that she needs to keep doing the 'sip, swish and spit' until at least half the mug is used - so she does.

Then she trots through the den on the way back to the kitchen to put the mug in the sink, and I see that I have handed the child a mug which reads, in English country cottage-type script, "It's motherfucking tea time!"

Thankfully her parents have a sense of humor.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When next she is over, I have GOT to remember to ask Miss Betty why there are four (4) mops in our garage.  (The one that's handle-up is a broom.)  Believe me, our house is in no way large enough to require FOUR mops.

I asked Alan why we had four mops and he said, "Because Miss Betty.  One does not question Miss Betty."

But I must - not in a challenging back-sass way - Miss Betty don't play that - but because I must know:  why do we have FOUR MOPS?????

Friday, August 07, 2015


You're doing it wrong.

The first weekend of August, little Miss Brooke stayed with us overnight so her parents could go to a concert.  She wanted to play video games and we stayed up until 1:00AM doing so, and the next morning, after bacon and waffles, she wanted to swim.  The amount of fun generated was astronomical.  After a few minutes of observation, Alan opined, "We've had this pool for three years.  All you do is float around, and sometimes float around drinking wine.  You've been doing it wrong."  Case in point, there was a leaf at the bottom of the pool, which instinctively I wanted to remove and toss aside.  Instead, Brooke devised a whole game of tossing, diving, jumping and triumphantly waving about the leaf.

Then I got into the pool with her, and we played Sharkey.  I have a stuffed floating shark that usually just hangs around while I float about, but Brooke had other ideas.  Sharkey became the epicenter of a game that lasted nearly two hours.

The rules of Sharkey are many and complicated, and subject to change on a seven-year-old's whim.  New rules may be instituted based upon unforeseen contingencies which pop up from time to time during sessions of Sharkey.

Still, I tried my best.

The absolute very most wonderful thing about Sharkey was if you got caught out - like if you were in Time Out or had committed some transgression - you had to go to a certain area of the pool that Brooke had roped off with pool noodles, that she deemed "The Seafood Section" and wait 10 seconds.

Honestly, do you see the hilarity of this child's mind???  You misbehave and you are exiled to The Seafood Section!!!

'Don't make me stop this car' pales in comparison to 'don't make me put you in the seafood section'!

Here we see that of the game participants, Sharkey has transgressed.

He has been imprisoned upon the Barbie float by a green pool noodle, and is en route to The Seafood Section (see pink pool noodle and duckie, background).

This is not Brooke, because you can't see her, hiding under one of the floats to frighten me when I returned from inside the house.

She was very pleased when I snapped 'angrily' at Alan, "WHERE is Brooke?!?  Honestly, I leave you in charge for TEN MINUTES and you've lost an ENTIRE CHILD?!?"

Yeah, but pool - I've been doing it wrong.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's been a busy few days but in a fun, social way.  Last Wednesday I went to my friend Krissy's painting party where we were doing lawn art/decorations (and eating lots of snacks!).  I painted this pretty butterfly - at least I hope it's pretty - if you think otherwise, don't tell me.

The lady who runs the parties gave me a picture for reference but it wasn't a paint-by-numbers thing.  It was just me, trying.  She did the silver bow for me at the top.

In this photo it is hanging in my garage but we had it hanging out by the pool Sunday (more on this later).

The lawn-art-painting-lady also had pieces she'd done herself for sale and I bought one that said "POOL" where the P and L were letters but one O was the sun and another was a beach ball.  We had both of those hanging on the back of the house facing the pool when Nancy's family came over Sunday!

But in the meantime, on Saturday night we had dinner with friends Anne and Rick here.  The four of us had a favorite Italian restaurant which, much to our regret, closed a bit over a year ago.  We gripe about it, dine elsewhere and lament the loss of Chianti, but Saturday at Provino's, we had a great dinner (and a lovely time with lovely friends) and hope it can become a regular thing for us.  While it won't be the same, it still has potential.

Then on Sunday, as mentioned,  I was hosting a small pool party.  In the days leading up to the gathering, I had said to Alan probably a half-dozen times, and to myself at least 2.5 times that, that I wasn't going to overdo it.  Because I always overdo it when folk come over, I always do.  But Sunday, I totally didn't over do it! 


Um, yeah.  THREE people were coming over, and besides this, Alan was going to grill burgers and brats, and we had sides and chips.

Yeah, I overdo it.  It's my thing.  It's what I do.

BTW Nancy brought that tabouli which was lovely!

I've tried to think of a nice, neat conclusion for a few minutes but all I've been able to think of is, "I love my friends and I'm so glad I have them!"

And here's a puppy.