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I Saw the Sign!

Today's post is about signs. Not road signs, mind you, but SIGNS, as is metaphysical, or spiritual, or from the universe or courtesy of M. Night Shyamalan. You know . . . signs.

But first, I think I need to clarify something about my last post. It was not meant to be any sort of slam or put down of Bonnie, Sandy or their rich and wonderful non-TV-centric lives. My blog posts are about me. ME, ME, ME, ME, ME! I was making fun of myself and my scary-obsessive addiction to TV. I cannot even have a conversation with two friends without quoting something from television, and I cannot even illustrate my point (sadly) without yet another television reference.

Courtesy of The Big Bang Theory:

LESLIE: I'm Leslie Winkle, the answer to "Who made Sheldon Cooper cry like a little girl?"

SHELDON: Yes, well I'm polymerized tree sap, and you are an inorganic adhesive, so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me and returns on its original trajectory and adheres to you!

LESLIE: Oh, ouch!

So call me Sheldon. He lives in his world of physics, genius IQ's and Batman cookie jars to the point that it skews even his ability to say "I'm rubber and you're glue . . ." He speaks "smart-ese" in the same way that I speak "TV-ese" and his friends generally despise him for it.

Let me say it another way:

SANDY: I read that coffee grounds are good for your nasturtiums.

BONNIE: Really? I'll have to try that. How was that hike you took last weekend?

SANDY: Excellent. I got some great shots of wild geese flying low over the lake.

BONNIE: I'd love to see them. I need you to show me those settings again on my camera. Say, did you ever finish that book I lent you?

SANDY: Did I! I couldn't put it down. Did you ever read her first novel?

BONNIE: I started it, but my volunteer work at Tyler's school keeps me so busy.

ME: And feline AIDS is the #1 killer of cats! Whaa whaaa.

BONNIE & SANDY: (polite stares)

ME: Mensa called - they want their conversation back! Ba-da-bing!

BONNIE: (ignoring me) I found the best training guide for new puppies. It's working great on Bella.

SANDY: I'd love to know the name of it. Did you try that puppy shampoo I recommended? It's . . .


Desperation ain't just a river in Egypt, yo!

When those two start talking about all the awesome stuff they do while I'm watching TV, I'm completely lost. (Oooh, speaking of Lost - did anyone else freak when that dude shot Ben's daughter?)

So to Bonnie and Sandy - I apologize. If you felt made fun of, please know that I think you're completely awesome and my intent was only to pale in comparison. Don't ever change.

And now to the real subject of my post - signs.

When I was in St. Louis earlier this month I saw a hilarious commercial. A man was walking through a cell phone superstore with the saleslady and the convo went something like this:

CUSTOMER: Wow. It looks like you have every cell phone ever made. It's really overwhelming!

SALESLADY: Yes, sir, we pretty much carry them all.

CUSTOMER: I just wish I could get some sort of sign. Something to help me know which phone I should buy.

And right then a cell phone plinked off of one of those little platforms and fell into his open hand! He looked down at the cell phone for a second while the saleslady just gaped with a fish mouth. Then he carefully returned the cell phone to the little platform and said:

CUSTOMER: I mean, just anything - some sort of sign . . .

I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.

It was the next morning that I discovered the gray hairs on my head. I knew that I wanted to blog about my shocking discovery, but I needed more substance. I was mentally going over the possible angles as I left the hotel and got into my rental car. "This is really the perfect time to tell the mouse story," I thought, "because I could do something like 'they don't come in ones'. But then, I'm just not sure if I want to admit to the whole vermin thing. Hmmm, what to do? If only I could get some sort of sign that I should blog about it. . . "

And right then, I kid you not, I had to swerve around some roadkill and it was . . . A GRAY RABBIT!

I told the story to John and he said "OK, so? It wasn't a mouse - what's your point?"

To which I replied "IT WAS A GRAY HARE!"

He just laughed at me, but it was a sign, people, a SIGN!

I don't ignore the signs.

Which is why, with apologies to a certain bank teller, I cannot ignore all the signs that are compelling me to tell this following story. And to you readers; yes, I know that this post is already getting long, so you may want to get a snack. Go ahead - I'll wait.

My nearest banking location is inside an Albertsons, which conveniently also houses a Starbucks, which inconveniently is manned (or rather "womanned") by one person, who must be both barista and cashier, rendering her too overworked to tell me my change in "hundreds of pennies" like the asshats at the Starbucks stores. And this has nothing to do with the bank other than if you're hoping to make a deposit AND score coffee, you must decide which line is likely to move faster and, if possible, order your latte and then make a deposit while waiting for the milk to froth. It's a carefully orchestrated dance, you see.

The morning we were leaving for Phoenix I needed to make a bank deposit and get coffee before picking up Bonnie. I got to Albertsons just before 9 am and was surprised to see the bank teller sitting in the dark behind the counter. There's no glass or anything - they just have to sit in the dark until 9 am, when they turn on the lights, which indicates that they are open for business. I'm assuming that the grocery-store banks are rather like the grocery-store Starbucks: farm teams for the brick-and-mortar stores. The minor leagues. A chance to prove yourself and hopefully get promoted to the majors, where you don't have to sit in the dark or make change with one hand while trying to put a hot cup into a cardboard sleeve with the other. Where you can gather at the water cooler and make fun of the Bankloser intently jumping on the automatic door pad before the bank opens. Where you can try to sell a customer some pumpkin spice bread and a Yanni CD while calling out "half-caf, double-shot, extra whip, vanilla skim macchiato!" to the buff blue-eyed barista who undresses you with his eyes and gives you a playful snap of his hand towel before tucking it back into the waist tie of his tight Starbucks apron and repeating the order with emphasis on "whip" in an uber-sexy way that makes you hope the next five customers think dieting is for pansies. Ah the buff blue-eyed barista. *sigh* HIS name should be Blaze.

But instead, that name belongs to the grocery store bank teller sitting in the dark at 8:58 am on a Wednesday morning, watching Debbie deftly make a mocha with her feet.

Blaze was very slow processing my deposit. Ironically slow, given his name.

Blaze is a thirty-something clean cut white guy, with a conservative haircut, no tats, a nice smile, and is one of the slowest bank tellers known to man. He gives "Blaze" a bad name.

And in the process of waiting for Blaze to sloth his way through my deposit, three more people got in line at Starbucks, which meant Debbie rushed my latte and I was late to pick up Bonnie.

I vented about it.

BONNIE: I think there's a blog post in there somewhere.

ME: Yeah, I know, but don't you think I should change his name? I mean, if he were to Google himself and "Albertsons" he may come across the post and then I'd have to change banks! Could I call him "Flame"? How about "Lightning"?

And then it promptly slipped my mind completely, because we were heading out on an adventure and Blaze was not invited.

I tried to ignore the first sign. We were in Phoenix at Target getting a few snacks for the booth and generally just goofing off like three friends away from their lives and TV's when I decided that I needed a book to read. None of the choices were grabbing me until I noticed an eye-catching cover on the bottom shelf. It was a Richard Bachman (aka Steven King) and although I've read a few Kings over years, I generally stay away from horror because it haunts me.

But signs have a way of interlacing, yo. The last book I read was Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, and I absolutely LOVED IT. It would be considered a horror book, I suppose, but I cried way more than jumped, and yes, it haunted me, but in a "someone's squeezing my heart" way, moreso than a "someone's eating my heart" way. Or whatever. You know what I mean.

And so I gave this Richard Bachman novel a second look and was taken aback by the title: BLAZE.

I bought the book, but still I resisted the blog post.

Until today. Signs have a way of clubbing you over the head, yo.

This time it was lunch, so there was no danger of Blaze sitting in the dark and I really didn't want coffee, so Debbie's line was irrelevant to me. But I *was* hungry and there *is* a Subway right next to Albertsons. I wanted to get in, get deposited, and get out.

A lady got in line in front of me and chose the other teller, not Blaze. Obviously his reputation is legendary. I started towards Blaze when I noticed that he had a sign in front of his spot that said "next teller please". Blaze and the other teller were chatting happily with the customer, who hauled out an enormous stack of checks to deposit. I tapped my foot. They talked about her grandchildren. I TAPPED MY FOOT! They ignored me.

Finally with a pointed look of exasperation at Blaze, who obviously had nothing better to do and could have helped me, albeit very slowly, I walked huffily to the ATM to make my deposit. I probably should have just done that on Phoenix day, too, but the ATM's volume is set to deafening and when it returns your card it emits these super-loud beeps that, set to words, would cry; "SHE HAS MONEY!! SHE HAS MONEY!!!!!!" I mean, really?!

And so it is with great satisfaction that I finally set Blaze on fire with a snarky blog post. See what I did there?

You need another snack? Potty break? Go ahead. I'll wait.

I don't need a snack because my belly is still full of yummy Subway.

SUBWAY EMPLOYEE: Welcome to Subway. What would you like?

ME: Yes, can I get a 6" teriyaki chicken on Parmesan oregano, please?

SE: Sure. What kind of cheese?

ME: Umm . . . cheddar.

SE: (starts to reach and then stops) Oh, I'm sorry - we're out of cheddar.

ME: Provolone would be lovely!

SE: Oh thank you for being so nice about it!

And this, as you can imagine, cracked me up completely. Because what other choice did I have but to be "nice about it"? Did they expect something more like this:

ME: What do you mean "we're out of cheddar"?! Are you a freaking IDIOT?! Wisconsin called - they're NOT running out of cheddar! Now get your head out of your ass and find me some CHEDDAR or so help me I will CUT YOU!

Obviously Blaze orders from Subway a lot. Can I get an "Oh snap!"?

RKQOTD (Me: Emma, you need to get your note cards ready for your speech. Now I want you to turn off that TV and work on it. Emma: Yes, Mom. Me: And don't turn that TV back on until all your cards are finished. Emma: OK. Hey Mom? Me: Yes? Emma: Why do you always have to be so "mom-ish"?)

He had me at "Hello"

I am certain that I am not the first person to use that reference in regards to David Cook on American Idol, but it's just so perfect, so I'm saying it anyway. He had me at "Hello".

Prior to that I was undecided. I rather liked Jason Castro, and I thought Brooke White was a breath of fresh air, and I did like David Cook, especially after he proclaimed himself a 'Word Nerd", since I do the crossword every morning, but I wasn't yet thinking cougar-thoughts, if you know what I'm saying. (wink wink nudge nudge knowwhatimean)

But then he came out and sang "Hello" and suddenly my ovaries were all paisley and painted on the front of my dress and I was an unabashed and unwavering Cook fan.

I've downloaded all his studio-length songs and they comprise the soundtrack of my workday. Yesterday I mixed him into an Elliott playlist, but that was too much contrast, so today he's mixed in with DAUGHTRY. Nice!

Speaking of Elliott, he has not been replaced. A cougar can have two cubs, yo! He looked a bit rough on Idol last week, but he'd just lost his mom, so I give him a pass. He sounded good. Great, even!

And in regards to my new cub David, it's kind of nice to root for the person that everyone else is rooting for, too. I lost years off my life during Season 5, fretting about my Elliott and how he would fare against JC Super-bald, but this year my David seems destined for the final two, if not the crown, (upsized for his melon). How very refreshing!

I was a little shocked that Carly got booted last night. I thought she took it well, though. I was convinced that America would not forgive Brooke for the restart. Heck, when it happened I jumped up off the couch, threw my hands over my eyes, paced around and said "No! No! No!" I could only sit down again after she'd restarted and seemed to know the words. "I can't take it!" I muttered to John. "Imagine if you were HER!" he replied, all grounded and "the world doesn't revolve around your irrelevant sympathetic embarrassment"-ish.

What EVER!

Which is a nice lead-in to the real topic of my post today: FWDGMR. (Friends Who Don't Get My References)

As in Bonnie and Sandy. Two dear friends who do not own DVR's, or TiVo. (gasp) Two friends who watch very little TV, and all of it live. (GASP!)


And that's a reference from "The New Adventures of Old Christine", which Sandy and Bonnie would not know, just as they did not know any of my other pop culture references during our 5-day trip to the Mesa convention last week.

Why, even in the first half of this post I had references to Jerry Maguire, How I Met Your Mother, Monty Python and AI Seasons 7 and 5. If I didn't have TV . . . how could I be funny? And if you don't watch TV . .. how can you think I'm funny?

I tried to convince them that their lives were incomplete without DVR's. I started with Bonnie:

BONNIE: Do you think we'll finish setting up the booth in time to watch Survivor?

ME: Unlikely, but notice how calm I am. That's because right now, back in Colorado, my trusty DVR is set to record Survivor, just like it recorded American Idol last night so I didn't have to lose sleep fretting about missing Elliott or David Cook singing to me.

BONNIE: I'm really just not that into TV.

ME: Blasphemy! My ears! My ears!

I used my persuasive skills on Sandy next:

ME: Sandy, do you remember life before you got that fancy GPS? Remember "Mapquest"?!

SANDY: (shuddering) Oh yes. That was AWFUL!

ME: Well in terms of TV-viewing, you're navigating with paper print-outs, babe! A DVR will change your life, rendering you never pop-culturally-ignorant, just like your GPS has made you never lost. You will have water-cooler topics, you will never watch commercials, and you will GET MY REFERENCES!!!

SANDY: But that would mean I'd have to get, you know, cable!

ME: Oy.

On our flight to Phoenix last Wednesday we were not seated together. My Premier Executive status (oh stop clapping - I know I'm Ashton Kutcher) (He's awesome!) would only allow me to pull one other person to the front seats, and Sandy won the coin toss. Bonnie was stuck in a middle seat mid-way back.

BONNIE: Oh my gosh! I'm so glad that flight is over! The lady next to me kept nodding off and her head kept bobbing over and landing on my shoulder! I didn't know what to do!

ME: Oh how very "Elaine"! And meanwhile Jerry and the supermodel were sipping champagne in the front. Can I be the supermodel, Sandy?

BONNIE and SANDY: (blank stares)

ME: You know . . . from Seinfeld . . . when Jerry sits in first class and . . . oh never mind.

I didn't even bother singing when we passed the "Duty-Free Shop".

On the flight home we DID get to sit together - in Row #1, actually. When the flight attendant came on and said "Your flight today is under the command of Steve Smith" I leaned over to Bonnie and said "Oh he's good!" which prompted her to say, incredulously, "You fly enough to know the pilots' names?!!"

Do you see what I'm up against here? Do you?

I was wearing a pair of cargo capri pants one day, and they have pockets on the legs. Bonnie commented that I had room to store scrapbook supplies in my pants, which was actually very snarky  (Well played, Bonnie!), but of course when I answered "No, that's where I keep my tots!" she didn't laugh.

If a reference falls in a TV-less wood, and nobody's there to understand it . . . is it still funny?

But here's the worst one. The kicker, if you will. On Sunday we had a few hours to kill before our flight home, so we went to a nice lunch and then hit the mall. Bonnie was looking for souvenirs for her boys and was interested in a Webkinz for her youngest. I was explaining how they worked, warning her that it could become an obsession (Emma has 13 Webkinz, yo!), and showed her the Tiger Snake, which I got for Karl on my last trip. It's super cute - all fuzzy and long, and you can wrap it around your neck quite nicely. She was sold, and promptly bought the Tiger Snake for Tyler.

In the rental car on the way to the airport, Bonnie was playing with the snake, and then got distracted by the scenery and the snake dropped to the floor. She was looking around for it, but couldn't see it.

BONNIE: Where'd that Webkinz go?

ME: (glancing over) It's right there between your feet. Can't you see it?

BONNIE: (groping around near her feet) I'm not finding it. Oh! There it is.

ME: Geez. If it was a snake it would have bit you! BOO-YA! (holding up my hand for the required high five)

BONNIE: (cheerily looking at the window, petting the snake, and NOT high-fiving me)

ME: Ahem? Perhaps you didn't HEAR me? I said 'If it was a snake it would have bit you'! Do you realize how perfect that is?

BONNIE: Oh yeah. Remind me to laugh at that later.

ME: Dude! This is a "jerk store" moment. That was the PERFECT thing to say and I thought of it right then, not later. Not late at night, waiting to fall asleep, lamenting that I didn't think to say that very perfect thing at that very perfect time. I didn't have to re-create the moment. I didn't have to throw that snake on the floor. I didn't have to shovel shrimp in my mouth. Dash it all, you're not properly impressed!

SANDY: What's wrong with shrimp?

Actually Sandy didn't say that. I don't remember what was said, but it wasn't hysterical laughter, that's for sure. And that's just wrong, yo!

I'm going to keep chipping away at their wholesome TV-less, hobby and family-friendly lifestyles. Oh yes, I will. Heh, heh, heh! (She laughs manaically, like a scary woman who wants to make a fur coat out of their puppies)

I think that was really the perfect final reference for this post, because both Sandy and Bonnie have new puppies, and it is very unlikely that they saw "The Big Bang Theory" this week, although I do have a bit of faith that they have, at some point, seen "101 Dalmations". In any case, this illustrates the necessity of them getting DVR's, pronto, because without context for that "fur coat" comment they might be unnecessarily wary about leaving me alone with their dogs.

And I love puppies! Heh heh heh.

RKQOTD (Me: Emma, please explain to me why you were fighting with your brother. Emma: Well HE was- Karl: What happened was- Me: No, Karl. I'm asking Emma. Go ahead, Emma. Emma: It started when- Karl: SHE was trying- Me: Karl, I asked you to let your sister speak. Karl: But, but, I'm just trying to be INVOLVED here!)

CKC Mesa, Arizona

I will be running the Dollar Scrapbooking booth at the CK Mesa show in a couple of weeks and can use a few workers. I need one person for each of these shifts on Friday April 18th, and Saturday April 19th:




Pay is $10 an hour in cash, or $20 worth of product per hour. Admission to the show is included, and if you work all day, we'll provide lunch.

The late shift on Friday includes one hour of re-stocking the booth after the show closes at 6 pm. The late shift on Saturday includes two hours of breaking down the booth and packing it into storage containers after the show closes at 5 pm.

Dress is casual, with comfy shoes a must. The booth is always packed, and there's always work to do, but it's surprisingly enjoyable and never boring!

To get an idea of the fabulous products you can choose in lieu of cash, visit the website: Dollar Scrapbooking

If you want to work, post a comment here or e-mail me with the link on the left. Thanks!

Gray Anatomy

So about a year and a half ago we had a little battle waging at Chez Burniston that I chose not to share on my blog. It was simply too embarrassing.

We had a mouse.

I grew up in a very old house, rented old homes in college, lived in apartments, houses, condos in 3 states, and in all that time I've never had a mouse in my house.

And technically that's still true.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This epic battle took place prior to the kitchen re-model. In the old kitchen we had a lazy susan in the bottom corner cabinet where we stored canned foods and kid foods. The kids could reach everything they needed for lunch - bread, peanut butter, honey, snacks, etc. One day John mentioned that late at night as he watched TV he thought he heard noises in the kitchen and wondered if we had a mouse. I clutched my heart (no really, I seem to remember doing that very thing) and said "Oh no! We can't have a mouse! We'll have to MOVE!" or something equally melodramatic.

About a day or two later John reached in for the bread, and hauled out what can only be described as a "bread cave". The entire center portion of the loaf was missing and a hole was chewed through the side of the bag.

"I think we can safely say that we have a mouse," he said, showing me the evidence.

I threw my hand up dramatically to my forehead and said "Moan!"

After calming my nerves with something that can only be described as "vodka", I went to work on all the cabinets, washing every single pot, pan, dish, etc. and discovering mouse droppings all over the place. Of course in the bottom of the cabinet and pantry I also discovered a smorgasbord of bread crumbs, cracker bits and enough pretzel portions to feed a small country, so it wasn't really surprising that we'd attracted this unwelcome guest. John surmised that the mouse got in through a small hole in the garage, so he plugged it up and then we sat down to figure out how to catch a predator.

My sister lives in an older house, so I called her first. It seems that at one point their neighbor did something to attract mice - left dog food out, or cut down some brush, or something. (The details are a little fuzzy) She put me on the phone with Randy, my brother-in-law.

ME: Randy, we have a mouse! I need your advice on how to catch it!

RANDY: You don't have a mouse.

ME: What do you mean? I've found droppings. There's a cave in my loaf of bread. It's got to be a mouse!

RANDY: You have MICE. They don't come in ones.

ME: Shut your mouth, Stupid McStupidpants!

As it turned out, my neighbors, friends, an exterminator and the Internet were all of the opinion that mice didn't come in ones, so I had to "play along" even though I was convinced that *I* only had one mouse. One very hungry, poopy mouse. (I mean, excuse me? Why exists the word "mouse" then? Huh? Answer me that!)

RANDY: Hello?

ME: OK. I have "mice". (I smile knowingly) Tell me how to catch "them", please.

RANDY: Well first you need some traps. Get the good old fashioned snap traps. Mice love peanut butter, but you don't want them to just lick it off, so you need a big morsel of something on the peanut butter. Dog food, a chunk of bread, cracker, cheese - some little irresistable tidbit.

ME: Oh no! I don't want to use those horrific snap traps! It might decapitate the mouse and leave blood and gore everywhere!

RANDY: Well I've caught several mice with them and it just kills them instantly - no gore.

But what did he know? He still thought we had "mice" after all! I went to the store and bought sticky traps instead.

Note to everyone: DON'T BUY STICKY TRAPS!

That night I put out two sticky traps - one in the center of the kitchen and one in the center of the pantry. Both had a dollop of peanut butter on them with a crouton stuck in the middle. I went downstairs to work and it was very late when I came up.

There was our mouse stuck to the sticky trap in the center of the kitchen!

The mouse was crying.

And squeaking.

And crying.

And breaking my damn heart!

I got the dustpan and scooped up the trap with the mouse on it, but didn't know what to do with it! I put it outside on the back patio and then checked the trap in the pantry. It was still intact, of course, because I'd caught the mouse on the other trap! ("Mice" indeed! What does Randy know?)

That night I had a terrible time sleeping. I kept dreaming of the neighbor's cat coming over and discovering a tasty crying treat on our back patio. I envisioned the sticky trap on the cat's paw as it ran crazily around the yard trying to free itself.

The next morning I ran downstairs and braced myself for the cat/mouse mayhem but there was no cat. The mouse was still alive and still crying. John said to just put it in the trash, but I couldn't imagine letting the mouse die slowly like that.

I put the trap in several layers of trash bags and beat it several times with a shovel.

And yes, I'm still traumatized.

Coming back in from my distasteful chore I found John at the pantry saying "Uh-oh". The pantry trap had been moved all the way across the floor!

Mice don't come in ones.

Over the next week we caught the entire family. It was a total of 2 adults and 5 babies. We switched to the snap traps and no, there was never any gore. I guess Randy knows a thing or two.

Mice don't come in ones.

Luckily we've never had any more mice, and even when they tore out the kitchen, we didn't find new droppings. I learned a valuable lesson about denial.

It ain't just a river in Egypt!

Mice don't come in ones.

And neither, it pains me to admit, do gray hairs. Because now that I've gone brunette, my roots are growing in lighter than my hair color. And much to my horror, one of them is gray!

Only gray hairs don't come in ones, so upon further examination, it's more like ten. Or maybe fifteen.

So upon discovering this shocking sign of approaching elderliness, I did what any rational thirty-something married mother-of-two would do.

I called my hairdresser and said I needed an emergency appointment. EMERGENCY!

And I'm wearing a hat.

RKQOTD (John: Karl, you need to get off the computer and gather your things for school. Your bus will be here any minute. Karl: Get ready for mad-ness . . . and mayhem!)