Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hey, Wasn't That Us?

I received the following email today.  It took me for a nice little trip down memory lane and thought it would take you there, too.

An Ode To The Ungirdled Woman's Childhood:

A little house with three bedrooms and one car on the street

A mower that you had to push to make the grass look neat. 

In the kitchen on the wall we only had one phone, 

And no need for recording things, someone was always home. 

We only had a living room where we would congregate, 

Unless it was at mealtime in the kitchen where we ate. 

We had no need for family rooms or extra rooms to dine, 

When meeting as a family those two rooms would work out fine. 

We only had one TV set, and channels maybe two, 

But always there was one of them with something worth the view. 

For snacks we had potato chips that tasted like a chip, 

And if you wanted flavor there was Lipton's onion dip. 

Store-bought snacks were rare because my mother liked to cook, 

And nothing can compare to snacks in Betty Crocker's book. 

Weekends were for family trips or staying home to play, 

We all did things together -- even go to church to pray. 

When we did our weekend trips depending on the weather, 

No one stayed at home because we liked to be together. 

Sometimes we would separate to do things on our own, 

But we knew where the others were without our own cell phone. 

Then there were the movies with your favorite movie star, 

And nothing can compare to watching movies in your car. 

Of course there were the picnics at the peak of summer season, 

Pack a lunch and find some trees and never need a reason. 

Get a baseball game together with all the friends you know, 

Have real action playing ball -- and no game video. 

Remember when the doctor used to be the family friend, 

And didn't need insurance or a lawyer to defend? 


The way that he took care of you or what he had to do, 

Because he took an oath and strived to do the best for you. 

Remember going to the store and shopping casually, 

And when you went to pay for it you used your own money? 

Nothing that you had to swipe or punch in some amount, 

Remember when the cashier person had to really count? 

The milkman used to go from door to door, 

And it was just a few cents more than going to the store. 

There was a time when mailed letters came right to your door, 

Without a lot of junk mail ads sent out by every store. 

The mailman knew each house by name and knew where it was sent; 

There were not loads of mail addressed to "present occupant." 

There was a time when just one glance was all that it would take, 

And you would know the kind of car, the model and the make. 


They didn't look like turtles trying to squeeze out every mile; 

They were streamlined, white walls, fins, and really had some  style. 


One time the music that you played whenever you would jive, 

Was from a vinyl, big-holed record called a forty-five. 

The record player had a post to keep them all in line, 

And then the records would drop down and play one at a time. 

Oh sure, we had our problems then, just like we do today, 

And always we were striving, trying for a better way. 

Oh, the simple life we lived still seems like so much fun, 

How can you explain a game, just kick the can and run?   

And why would boys put baseball cards between bicycle spokes,   

And for a nickel red machines had little bottled Cokes? 

This life seemed so much easier and slower in some ways, 

I love the new technology but I sure miss those days. 

So time moves on and so do we, and nothing stays the same, 

But I sure love to reminisce and walk down memory lane. 

I would add:

When it came to bathrooms we had but one

You had to get in and out to get the job done!

At football games,we had cheer leaders who LED CHEERS

Instead of dancing girls made up beyond their years!

We rode to get ice cream in the back of an open pick up truck,

When finding a garden hose to drink from, we were in luck!

We played outside all day until called for our evening meal

Getting to go out to eat was quite a big deal!

It was OK for any adult - teacher, coach, neighbor - to tell you when you were out of line,

To your parents, having that support was more than fine.

We rode our bikes without helmets on our heads

We said our prayers before climbing into our beds

I long for the days of Beaver, Samantha, Ellie Mae and Andy

To me, those times were most dandy!



My recommendation:  go to BJs, Sam's Club or Costco, buy a big ol' plain one and get some fresh strawberries, blueberries, pineapple ice cream topping, crushed up Reese's cups, chocolate syrup, caramel topping, whipped cream and anything else you fancy and have a cheesecake buffet FOR DINNER!!!  (With the fruit and the CHEESE you got a couple food groups represented right there!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jesus Loves Me. The DMV? Not So Much.

Just one in a series of Ungirdled rants.

I’ll admit it.  I was not expecting a smooth, short or carefree experience going in.  But, I was determined for Thing One to get his learner’s permit.  Thing Two had gotten his a few months earlier with his dad.  Thing One was not too interested in driving as he was happy having a chauffeur on retainer.  (I obviously work for an continuouis stream of insults, derogatory nicknames and eye rolls.) 

Based on prior, lengthy tours of duty at the DMV, I knew what I might be up against.  Despite hell the DMV having a policy against bringing in food and drink, I packed bottled waters, snacks, pain reliever, several books, and I made sure to notify our next of kin of our whereabouts, as I knew we were likely to be MIA for quite some time.  I also took tweezers, as at my age, I knew unwanted hair would surely sprout during the time it typically takes to conduct a DMV transaction.  (Why don’t they have out-of-work people employed there to give you mani-pedis or massages while you wait?  You could have your income taxes done, your teeth whitened, liposuction – all kinds of things during the time it takes for you to be called for your turn.)  While I knew the battle would be long and hard, I was confident we would complete our mission.  I was as wrong as the DMV lines are long.

We entered the modern, new DMV at approximately 0930.  It was brightly lit with 15 service windows all manned my soulless dolts DMV employees at state-of-the-art computers.  This was very different from the DMV of my youth!  Surely, with the new technology and so many service windows, this would go much quicker and easier than I imagined!

First, we needed to wait in a rather lengthy line to see a curt woman who would give us the form we needed to fill out and a number to be called when it was our turn to go up to the designated service window.  As we waited 15 minutes to see the first woman, I began to notice the dozens of customers sitting in the chairs in front of those windows.  Some filling out their forms.  Some knitting.  Some dozing off.  Some staring into space with vacant expressions.  I noticed no one was reading and I soon learned why. 

After you fill out your form, you must W…A…I…T for your number to be called over a speaker system and displayed on an electronic marquee.  The “numbers” are a combination of letters and numbers and they are not called sequentially or in any discernable pattern.  They might run like this:


would be followed by


followed by


There was no way you could read a book as you waited, as you had to be alert for your number and the window you were to report to.  After almost an hour, our number, SCKER42 was called to report to window 4.  The representative asked how she could make our lives a living hell help. We reported we were there for a learner’s permit.  “Oh,” she said completely stunned as she looked around.  “Well.  We’ll have to find someone who can take a picture.”  It was as though I had asked my optometrist to remove my ingrown toenail.  We seemed to have really  stumped the DMV with this request.  I was kinda thinking this was THEIR specialty.  I mean what else do they do besides permits, driver’s licenses and vehicle registration?  Is there something I don’t know about?  Based on my observations, it surely wasn’t setting fashion trends. 

Anyhooo…the woman typed some things in her computer screen and then told us to meet her at the opposite end of the counter that ran the length of the building.  There, she and another colleague had a lengthy pow-wow about who they could possibly get to operate the camera.  After much discussion, the first woman disappeared to the back for several minutes and produced a third woman who had to take Thing One’s photo SIX TIMES before she got one she deemed adequate. 

The second woman then told us to wait while she got the “test set up.” This took about 10 minutes.  Thing One took the test and passed.  Then we did more waiting for the second woman who was busily typing into a computer.  Thing One reported the spelling of his name had appeared incorrectly on the computer he took the test on, to which the woman relied, “Well, that’s no good.  You’re going to have to go back down to window 4 to have that fixed.”

We explained the error to the first woman at window 4.  “Oh, well that’s going to take a few minutes to fix.”  She began punching away at her computer while we waited some more and then said I needed to write a check for $19. As I handed her the check, she looked up from her computer and said, “Oh, we won’t be able to do this today, because the NDR is down.”  I paused, smiled and looked around, as I was sure we were being punked. 

“What’s that?” I asked. 

“The NDR is down.  We can’t do this today,” she said. 

“He doesn’t get his learner’s permit today?” I asked. 

“No.  The NDR is down.” 

“So today has been a waste of time?” I asked. 

“No,” she said.  He passed the test.” 

“Oh, so his permit gets mailed to us?” I asked, hopefully. 

“Oh, no,” she replied.  “You have to come back and go through the line again, and fill out the form and have your photo taken,” she said.  

“So we do the entire thing again?” I asked a bit miffed. 

 “Yes, but he passed the test.” 

“Can I get some kind of receipt saying he passed,” I asked, determined to have something to show for my time there besides the symptoms of inevitable post-traumatic stress disorder.  “And can you tell me WHAT THE NDR IS?” 

“It’s the National Data Registry.  We have to make sure he has no prior convictions,” she said matter-of-factly. 

“He can’t even muster up the energy to shut the refrigerator!  He has no priors!” I wanted to say. 

Totally defeated, we left the battlefield at approximately 1200 with our receipt which came in handy to wave as a white flag. 

Forget “Survivor.”  They need to drop a group at the DMV and film a reality show based on their experiences there.  I'm thinking I'd pretty much rather eat bugs or sleep outside than go there again.

Cartoon by Mark Parisi,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Today Is National Fried Chicken Day!

Today we celebrate fried chicken – a most wonderful and Ungirdled entrée.  In honor of this day, I am going to give you my aunt’s favorite method for preparing fried chicken for company (this recipe has never failed her):


  Enough flour to dust your kitchen counter plus a little for your apron

  Pan of oil on stovetop

  Warm oven

  Couple of buckets of your favorite carry-out chicken from your grocer (or restaurant)

Just before your guests arrive, you or your significant other pick up freshly-fried chicken from your favorite outlet.  Break off a few bits of the coating into your pan of oil on top of the stove, dump the warm chicken into an oven-proof serving dish and place in warm oven, loosely covered with foil.  Put on your apron and dust it and your counter with flour, and be very sure to dispose of the carry-out containers.  My aunt has even gone so far as to fry one of the pieces of chicken in the oil to get the house smelling like fresh fried chicken.  That’s one smart chick!

Fried chicken is a beautiful thing, as it is an easy, affordable way to feed a crowd at a family reunion, picnic, pool party or while tailgating.  It can be enjoyed hot or cold.  One of life’s best and most simple pleasures is taking a bucket to the beach to enjoy at sunset.  You can use the empty bucket to make sandcastles!  Why not prepare my aunt's recipe tonight?  Here are some ideas for side dishes you can use similar preparation methods for:



  Deviled eggs

  Potato salad

  Green beans


  Black-eyed peas

•  Tomato-cucumber salad


•  Mashed potatoes

  Banana pudding

  Peach cobbler

  Sweet potato pie

  Corn on the cob


Here is  the perfect little ditty to celebrate today and a great, fun summer read, Southern Fried Divorce. The above image of Southern Fried Chicken can be found on magnets, recipe cards and recipe journals designed by Ungirdled Passion's creator and illustrated by Vicki Bruner by clicking here.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Family Vacation: A Chance For Parents To Be Dissed In Exotic, New Locales!

We recently splurged on a family trip to Costa Rica over spring break.  We wanted to make some special family memories and show our boys the beautiful country my husband and I had visited when first married 20 years ago.  Also, we craved the opportunity to be berated and dissed in a foreign land by 16-year-olds who somehow know way more in their 16 years than my husband and I could possibly know in our combined 100 here on earth.  (That just blew what mind I have left to add up our ages and realize they equal exactly 100!)

Costa Rica afforded us the opportunity to hike the base of one of the world’s most-active volcanoes, go white-water rafting, trek through the rainforest and be insulted for something entirely new!  This time, the source of insults, eye rolls and heavy sighs was our command of the Spanish language, or rather the lack of it.  Our little darlings have been studying Spanish in middle school and high school for several years now and are very eager to pummel us help us along with their knowledge. 

To me, my husband has great command of the Spanish language.  The only things I know how to say in Spanish are, “Hi, thank you, two beers please, and where is the bathroom.”  I had many a good time during both a trip to Mexico and one to Costa Rica with my own personal command of the Spanish language.  Anyhoo…. to me, my husband speaks beautiful Spanish.  Perhaps it’s because I have no idea what he is saying, but I remember him getting me and four other non-Spanish speaking adults around wonderfully in Costa Rica 20 years ago.  During that trip, we had a really tense moment in a bar in Limon with a drunk and belligerent Nicaraguan who obviously did not like blue-eyed Americans.   He was in our faces spewing what I knew was hateful speech when one of the gentlemen in our party said in a language very dear to me (redneck), “What the f#@k you trying to say to me?!” My husband stepped in, spoke a lot of words I did not understand and with the help of a couple friendly Costa Ricans, quickly diffused the situation. 

But back to our family trip.  We were resting in our hotel room one evening, when our children where ragging on us gently pointing out there were areas for improvement in my husband’s Spanish, saying what he spoke was Spanglish, at best.  They took various phrases my husband had used with tour guides and cab drivers and slammed him suggested better ways to say those things.  My husband replied that he thought he knew more Spanish than they did, to which Thing Two, who seems the most comfortable of the two Things with his Spanish, seem to take great offense.  His tone became very insulted as he said, “Oh really?” and then began rapidly thinking up and spewing off challenges to my husband which I jotted in the notebook I was carrying.  Here is some of what he asked my husband  (I swear!) if he knew what to say en Español:

“I want to pour cologne on your jacket and feed it to my fish.”

“My uncle can kill a dinosaur with only a knife.” 

“I went to the bathroom in the neighborhood garden.”

“Yesterday, I ran over a turtle with a truck and I put it in a cardboard box and put it on the top of my friend’s car so the police would write him a ticket for not disposing of his roadkill.”

“I want to climb to the top of Mt. Everest with a rope made of my own hair.”

We had to give it to him.  These were indeed important things one needed to know how to say in the native tongue of the country they were visiting.  I was convinced the boy did not need a Spanish tutor.  I was now wondering, however, about the services of a mental health professional…