flightless hag

A chronicle of the adventures of birdwoman: a lonely, talentless freak who wanders the internet in search of entertainment.

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Location: Philly

I'm a 40-something married white female, survivor of weight watchers, avid reader of pulp. Dogs (not cats), extreme right (handed, not politics), ENTJ, alto, wanna-be knitter.

March 28, 2014

Environmental waste

So, we have a guest speaker coming in today. She's going to talk to the kids about environmental conservation and her research in Antarctica.

I find this dichotomy disturbing. If you truly wish to perform environmental conservation, stay the heck away from the last pristine biome in the world.

But there's recently been a tendency among us middle class ed-u-ma-cated folk to worship the "environmental" solutions, when common sense tells you: that's worse than what we were doing!

case 1:  my "green" dishwasher. If I use the "saver" cycle, I must completely wash my dishes first, and they don't go through a sanitization cycle. Then, they don't dry, so water just stands in the dishwasher. Talk about a "green" cycle. In order to actually get clean dishes, we have to use the "high heat" setting. Which is no longer green. :(

case 2: the stupid CFL lightbulbs. Talk about a scam. GE and the rest couldn't compete with the Chinese when it came to making incandescent lightbulbs. Since their profit margin was dying, they decided to do what any honest American entrepreneur would do: legislate their problem away! They got congress to pass a law that all of us Yanks have to use CFL lightbulbs. You know them, the spiral bulbs that are supposed to last something like 5 years (NOT) and are full of TOXIC MERCURY SALTS. Nice. A bulb breaks, you need an EPA clean up kit. Additionally, they take for freaking EVER to warm up. God bless you if you put one of these crappy things outside. By the time the thing warms up enough to create light, it's morning. We've started buying LED lightbulbs, which are supposed to last 10 years (Right. Have they even had one for 10 years to test this?) but at least they're not toxic. And darn are they bright. I feel like the gestapo is questioning me when I turn one on in the morning.

I'm sure there are more. But thinking about the silliness and hypocrisy makes my teeth itch. Like that "Into the Wild" book. Just the idea of reading about some suburban kid who decided to "live off the land" and proceed to starve to death seems like an exercise in futility. I can't believe they made a movie out of that crap. I thought I was alone in this thinking, but apparently I am not. Perhaps all is not lost. Perhaps there are more voices in the not-wilderness who respect the wilderness enough to leave it be.

But meanwhile, I'm sitting in an assembly, encouraging my kids to think about visiting Antarctica. Whatever.


March 15, 2014

Stages of juvenality

Juvenality. Is that even a word? It is now, suckas.

Down here in bird land, we're all suffering through different states of juvenality.

I believe that John and I are firmly entrenched in our stage - potty humor and, in my case, a sailor's mouth that increases exponentially as the school year goes on.

It'll be interesting to see where our children land.

The Moth is still in the land of "if you hear something you don't quite understand, make it make sense." This is quite humorous when it comes to song lyrics (the song "some nights" by fun., last spring's hit for Mothman, had the strange lyrics: "some nights I stay up crashing in my bathtub..." Actual words? "some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck..."). So the other day, he was playing with his various lego/plastic/whatever dudes, and one of them got fatally shot. As he died, Tim mimicked him falling over and plassing flatus. I said, "yo, tim, what just happened to that guy?"

"Mom, that was his last gas."

I believe I remember reading that corpses are actually full of foul air as they decompose, so if you roll them, they do pass some horrendous gas. I do not, however, believe this was Tim's meaning. I think he heard/read the phrase "last gasp" and this is what he decided it was.

Stinky has finally taken up reading. I always knew he would, but he's been too impatient for it so far. He's into what you'd expect: Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Tess Tosterone, you get my drift. He's also gone back to drawing, though all his stuff is stick figures. They've come a long way. If they weren't all depicting battle (usually gruesome), I'd almost admire his cartooning ability.

It wasn't something to admire when he drew them on the back of the pew insert for the season's mass music, though. Oops. If only I had my eraser. But Stinks doesn't like my eraser anymore. Why not? Well, he brings it to me the other morning and says quietly, "Mom, why is this eraser covered with Trojans?"

Somehow, perhaps from the horrified look in his eye, I know he's moved on to the non-bellicose version of the Trojan in his mind. There's no gift horse here... just a teenaged boy's embarrassment. My answer was, "Well, you know in England they call erasers rubbers, right? Maybe that's the same in Germany."

I don't believe that helped him and his distaste for this eraser. He had, when I first purchased said rubber, looked upon it with avarice. No longer.

I had to prove to my employers that these children are mine, again, this year. Our budget crunch has lead to the completely logical step of hiring expen$ive consultants to check every recipient of school district insurance. If only those consultants would take one look at the Rogers boys? No question. From the crap hair to the crap attitude, they're mine.

And I couldn't be any happier about that.


February 08, 2014

John, Don't Read This Until 2/9

So, Mothman and I just went to buy "big beers" for daddy for his birthday.

(I, once again, forgot it was his birthday until I got on the puter and saw it was 2/8. I am a Very Bad Wife.)

Anyhow, we didn't go to any old distributor, we went to the uber-classy Beer Shoppe. You know it's classy, because shop is spelled with the extra "pe".

If you've never lived in Pennsyltucky, you don't know about our bizarro alcohol laws. Wine and liquor are sold in "state stores" which are limited in licensing. Beer is sold at "distributors". Distributors can only sell by the (unopened) case, which can lead to beer-sasters. I mean, picture me buying into the pretty pictures on the box (cause I don't like beers, meself, so I usually go by the artwork) and getting an entire case of Coors Ice for John. An entire case. He'd drink it, because I spent money on it, and it was there. And he'd be more bitter than a double IPA.

(OK so I lie. I do know SOMETHING about beer, and I'd never buy him Coors, because he'd divorce me.)

So, how can you buy a mixed case of beers?

The Beer Shoppe has a little bar/fry food area in the back, with a big-screen TV. Now, to get back there, you have to walk through an aisle of incredi-beers. Thing is? Loophole? Bars can sell six-packs.

Because you want people who have been drinking to buy another six to drink on the way home.

So, little stores like this get a bar license, and though they do sell food, their primary income is selling microbrews and imports.

Mothy and I picked up 6 4-packs. 3 domestics from small breweries, 3 imports from famous British/Irish breweries. (which, oddly, they now sell in cans. Strange.)

I go to check out, and I'm told that the clerk cannot sell me this much beer. It's 2 4-packs more than the maximum number of carry-out ounces a bar can sell.


So, I had to get in line twice to buy two separate batches.

Then, they wouldn't let me leave the store with both of my purchases.

I had to take one set out, return and get the other set.

Is this goofy, or what?

Ahh, pennsylvania, I do love you so. Goofiness and all.


Let it snow, let it snow, let it... BANG Shot that singer dead.

This has not been a bad snow year.

Three years ago, we had such massive snowstorms that we shoveled almost 5 feet in less than a week. That's a bad snow year. That will get even the lazy Rogers family to take action.

John bought a discount electric "snow shovel". Not a blower, but enough to "take the top off".

Hence, two winters without snow.

This year, though, the warranty is off on the shovel, so old man winter or mother nature or some other celestial anal sphincter decided to get us.

We've had lots of stupid, just enough snow to make you shovel, storms. The shovel works pretty well with the powder, and does make shoveling faster. Which would be great if we got snow. Problem, though, when you get ice. And it's as annoying as that old "ice ice baby" song.

This week, we got the mother of all ice storms, two days after we got almost a foot of wet, heavy snow (that likes to stick to trees and power lines...). And the temps never went above 33 until after the ice, then we got rain. Into the ice-snow fiesta. Whoever wrote that winter wonderland song needs to be shot, too.

Wednesday morning, as all the schools were closing and the federal, state, and local workers were told to stay home, I sat, sipping my fresh coffee, and thought, "I can't believe we still have power!"

The lights went out within five minutes.

Now, I say the schools all closed, but my school district had a scheduled teacher-torture professional development day. There was no delay, much less a cancellation. Worse, they scheduled us to travel to schools in remote locations of the city. I rode with a friend who lives a few blocks away from me. She picked me up an hour late, at my request, since we had no power. I wanted to make sure someone would be here to bail the sump pump and watch the kids.

Even John's huge chemical company closed on Wednesday!

We started the drive in. Of course, there were no traffic lights. But there was barely any traffic because MOST EMPLOYERS ARE SANE AND HAVE A MODICUM OF CARE FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES. (mostly because they know replacing a workforce is rather tedious)

There were trees down everywhere. There were trees FALLING everywhere. She joked that she felt like she was driving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Crap kept falling on us, and she had to do many creative maneuvers to get us there alive and in one piece.

We made the joke that our relationship with the school district is kind of like a battered spouse. Every time they sock you in the face you think, "I thought he changed! I really thought he cared about me!" But who cares what a teacher thinks? We are society's ultimate chew-toy.

The whole time, though, I wasn't too depressed. At least I was in heated buildings! Not so much my family.

For the last 3 days, we have had no power. And, as John said, we went through all the Kubler-Ross stages of grief and loss:
  1. Denial and Isolation: It's not true. The power is not really off in the middle of the freaking winter. When I get home, it'll be on. I'm certain of it! This attitude was reinforced when it came on at midnight and warmed our 55 degree house back up to 67... before it cut off again at 4am... to not come back
  2. Anger: Oh yes, there was a great deal of anger. I mean, it's 20 degrees outside. It's 48 degrees inside. My kids are cold. MY DOG IS COLD. GRRRRR.
  3. Bargaining: Ok, we are wasters of power. When the power comes back on, we promise we'll be more conscientious about how we use it. And we'll be grateful. And PLEASE WE'LL DO ANYTHING...
  4. Depression: This was a big one for me yesterday morning. I woke up, mostly warm under the covers, though my face was pretty numb. And I knew I had to take a shower. (our water heater is gas). I swear, if I had been more comfortable in bed, I would have just rolled over and forgotten the world.
  5. Acceptance: At work, I was thinking that at least the stuff in the fridge didn't go bad. The house was too cold for that. I was planning where to take the kids since the library shut at 5 on Friday (9 the other two nights- thank goodnesss). My big question was how long it would be until our pipes froze, but I was working contingencies on that, too.
And just as I reached acceptance, the power came back on.

THANK YOU PECO!! This was a real mess, and you have been working like crazy people fixing it. We do not blame you. We thank you for fixing the problems the wrath of Winter Storm Maximus (side note, when the hades did they start naming winter storms?) hath wrought.

Please keep the thousands of other folks in the area who ARE STILL WITHOUT POWER as I type this in your thoughts. If anyone reads this, that is.

(side note: anyone know the best kind of portable generator? I think that's our next purchase.)


December 27, 2013

So now we've come to the end of the road

{{But I can't let go
It's unnatural (you!) you belong to me (me!) I belong to you... Come... to the end of the road... }}

what? What! Oh, sorry. The title got me singing that old song by those Philly heroes: Boys II Men. I don't know how heroic they are, but they've got some smooth sounds.

At any rate, we are at the end of the old Chronicles! 2010 was published online, as was 2011

So, though you haven't asked for it, here are the Chronicles for 2013. May they help you understand you own blessings in a way you never truly could. Well, unless you watch one of those television disasters like Hoarders or Jersey Shore or that HoneyBooBoo train wreck...

Just when you thought it was safe to go on the internets…
The Rogers Chronicles
Triskaidekaphobic Edition!

(now with internets links!)

You thought we were done? Wishful thinking! We “adults” are firmly in our forties, so this means we are content with not acknowledging the passing of time with crap like “annual” Christmas cards.

Besides, we do so little of interest, we could probably skip 5 years, and no one would notice, or care! But we also have little to do with our time, so here you have it.

2012 was the year of the apocalypse. The End Of The World. John and Betsy are firm believers in anything the Mayans came up with. After all, their society has been so successful through the ages… So we decided to throw away our life savings. One of our flagrant expenses was vacations.

Of course, John couldn’t be a complete profligate. John’s endlessly generous parents offered to take the kids on a cruise. John said: only if one of us (me! me!) gets to go, too. He saw “free vacation” and just jumped at the offer. Understanding that getting to see their grandchildren was conditional upon seeing the parents, the elder Rogers hesitantly agreed, and the deal was struck. Tickets were bought. Swim suits ironed. (No, not really. Can you see Betsy ironing anything? Seriously!)

Betsy bowed out, because she is a grim person who shies away from the idea of sunshine and beaches. She chose, instead, to go to that bastion of tourism: Newfoundland.  That’s somewhere between Maine and Greenland.

Because it is so shunned by tourist dollars, it’s a rather pricey destination. But the forecast was worth it. Betsy was promised cold, showery days in July. She got sunshine instead. This, surprisingly, did not improve her stellar mood. Her friend, Lisa, deserves an award for putting up with her. (Indeed, John “tried” to pay her, but the check bounced.)

Meanwhile, on the cruise, Tim rapidly found the friend of lifetime: Jayden. The dynamic duo was inseparable for the cruise. Dad may not have known or cared where Tim was, but some passengers did. Talk about a captive audience! ;) The Rogers sure were a popular bunch on that boat!

Perhaps Jayden’s father felt the Moth was a bad influence, as this “friend of a lifetime” has been strangely silent since.

Sean got to scuba on the cruise, and he turned out to be better at it than his dad - who doesn’t like pressure of any kind. The Stinky One also found the endless soda fountain on the big boat, as our dentist bill seems to have confirmed.

The last of the Mayan splurge was spent on the house. We spent a bundle of money on a new roof and siding. They still look crappy, but at least they aren’t moldy like the old stuff. Side bennie: Sean’s not sneezing all the time any more, so he doesn’t interrupt John’s naps!! Betsy still does, though, with her incessant harping.

This past summer, we did not vacation. We did indulge a bit with our Fresh Air Fund child – trying to
Ghost Tour - tolerable with the aid of ethanol
fool someone into thinking that we have a “normal” suburban life. We went to this place called the Great Wolf Lodge. It’s like a cross between that hotel from the Shining and a water park. The kids enjoyed it, and John ignored that crazy butler dude who kept telling him that his kids needed… correcting. 

Betsy’s Subaru finally “retired” - it practically caught fire when she was driving the kids – PLUS the fresh air fund kid – home from the movies. After much swearing on Betsy’s part (and giggling and note-taking on the boys’), they made it home. She tried five different charities before one agreed to take it for $500.  She thought they would give her $500. They thought otherwise.

On the job front, things are continually exciting. Which is never good.

John got a promotion – kind of like that deal where you “volunteer” because everyone else backed up
Can You Say Outsiders?
when they asked for a volunteer to step forward. He’s not about to let that honor go to his head, though. He’s decided that he’s lonely working the night and Saturday shift – even though it gets him away from that Harpy he married, he now has no one to grumble and gripe at. So he gets to “ask” others to come in on those shifts with him a la “Office Space.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjJCdCXFslY

Betsy continues to harangue the young, defenseless children in her school, while getting paid to do so. What a deal!

Speaking of school, the boys haven’t been as successful as they had wished. Their game-boys (hey, those things are cheap now!) have been confiscated since they each brought home a bad grade in the last year or so. Sean’s was in science (science!) and Tim’s was in Math. Sigh. We figure there might have been a mistake, since both boys got “acceptable” or “above acceptable” for handwriting. And we’ve seen that chicken scratch. Ergo: mistake. Still not giving back the game-boys, though!

Tim continues to participate in anything that will get him away from us. He’s a soccer player – for the Bryn Mawr equivalent of the Bad News Bears. But it lets him get out his drama (“where’s my yellow card?!”). He also plays piano, mostly to annoy his brother. The keyboard is in their shared room.
Mom STILL can't make me dress up for pictures
Whenever Stinks wants his “privacy”, Mothman decides to practice.

The piano teacher tolerates Tim rather well, but her dog, Chumley, just loves Tim. Physically, if he can. Tim finds it strange that Chumley tries to “hug his leg” all of the time. We’ve tried to covertly pass on the pamphlet “benefits of neutering your dog” but alas, the “hugging” continues. And it freaks Loki out! Loki would love to give his boys hugs, if only the plumbing were there.

Tim continues to be a literal thinker (and lazy listener). For example, he was completely grossed out by the hand-churned milk shake, since the people put their hands in it. He also was afraid to go the back way to the Dunkin Donuts. He heard me call the facility back there the “Bryn Mawr Terrorist.” After asking me what kind of weapons said terrorist is known for, I had to spell out terrace. This word drew a blank look from our little Geography Bee contender.

Sean is now taller than mom and proud of it. Not that that's an accomplishment. He’s also eating anything that doesn't move. This has lead to him being quite the budding fry-cook and/or sous chef. Mom has used this training as an excuse to pawn off one of her jobs (feeding the kids when Dad’s working evening shift) to him. Stinks is ok with that if he gets to choose the menu. No coffee flower or ‘cado will pass his lips voluntarily.

He continues to be a boy scout, but only for the camping opportunities. Actually, any excuse to get away from his strange family appeals to this seventh grader. He’s become a champion dog walker, lawn mower, and sidewalk shoveler.  Through it all, he remains Grumpy McStormcloud, thus proving he is his mother’s son.

We’ll end the first draft of this tome with our annual pilgrimage to worship the birth of That Most Famous Mother’s Son – the big J.C.!  Both boys are acolyting at the Christmas Eve service this year. Should be interesting. Look for stories of a pretty little church in PA burning to the ground: our boys like fire!! Whoo Hoo! 

Clan Rogers

Jeez, that was so boring even Santa went to sleep

Ah, the goodness of sharing.

Timothy. My lovely moth man. He's so generous.

See, he had this cold thing.

And we all knew to avoid him - who wants to be sick on break? But the little creep has been drinking from my water bottle. I knew that. I KNEW THAT. but I didn't think about it. He's sick on Tuesday last week. By Friday, I'm sick. Now, we're all sick. Because Timmy had to share.

Have I ever said what a little creep he is?

While I go blow my nose... AGAIN... I leave you with the year 2009. In which we did nothing, and still managed to write two pages about it.

The Rogers Chronicles 2009
Many people have asked how this thing is written. It’s simple: 1) John writes a bunch of offensive crap. 2) Betsy edits out all the stuff he can't say (which is all of it), so then 3) she just says what she wants.
In this way, she gets her precious Christmas letters out, while keeping John from looking like a complete jerk.
First Misdemeanor
Don’t look for John’s exploits on Twitter (Johnny don’t tweet) and don’t ever expect a Christmas letter from him. He still has 20 cent stamps he hasn’t used.
John and Betsy have now been married for fourteen years. The traditional gift is ivory, so John got Betsy a cake of soap. So romantic! Can you believe it? Fourteen years. That’s a lifetime for a dog, and it seems like lifetime for both of them too.
The year has been one of subtle change and not-so-subtle stagnation.
Titus the Dog started spending his days impersonating a shaggy Ottoman. Missing the chaos of a whacky animal, the Rogers opted for Border Collie Version 2.5. For two college-educated people, they sure can be dumb sometimes.
Loki is named after the mythological god who heads the Nordic Department of Pranks and Mischief. He is well named. He barks randomly, runs around like a rabid racoon (see Rogers Chronicles, 2003), and chews everything. As Timmy has been sporting some strange gnaw-marks, it seems Loki doesn’t limit himself to things that don’t move.
Our numerous psychoses haven’t changed. Betsy still washes her hands a lot, and John still pulls down the
what's sunscreen?
window shades like he’s Boo Radley. The psychiatrists have questioned him about his obsessive need for privacy, but this summer he got proof that there really are people watching.
A few one-eyed cats show up and suddenly, everyone in Coopertown gets nosy.
One night, a super sleuth neighbor spied John in the backyard, giggling and shooting a BB gun at milk jugs on the back fence. Yes, he was drinking a Pabst (but contrary to early reports, there was never a can of Skoal and John was mullet-free all summer). Betsy was merciless with the jokes: “Get-R-Done, Hillbilly!” was her favorite.  Ha. Ha.
Of course, then the Rogers boys appeared, decked out in full military camo, digging mud holes and firing imaginary machine guns indiscriminately. Being the macho boys that they are, they can often be spotted practicing maneuvers at their fort - a sacrosanct bastion of boyness.
In late spring, a “girl” began infiltrating Sean and Tim’s “Dragon’s Lair” compound, desecrating the fort with pictures of the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana. The boys proclaimed to the neighborhood: the fort is a serious command, control and training facility used by the “Kid’s Creek” Army (whatever…) who protect Lee Circle (from the menace of Rodney Circle?). Girls should take note - the sign says “No Grls Ulowd”, and this is, according to the heir, a serious rule. Sean went around interrogating all the neighborhood girls until they shrieked and ran at the sight of him. 
bastion of boyness
The story would (should!) have ended there, with John laughing his butt off.   But Betsy slipped up when she was tipsy at a party (a half a glass of wine): she told Sean that Dad, not a girl, was responsible.
The therapists are still trying to gauge how much damage  John’s prank did to his sons. While they are at it, they might examine Betsy’s policy of labeling wayward boys “Slave for a Day” and forcing them into uncompensated toil.
Both the boys played baseball with mediocrity this year, but they are enthusiastic cub scouts. Scouting is going well. The boys get to spend time with their father learning useful, manly things, like how to grunt properly. John helped his den prepare skits. The typical scout skits were boring, about values and stuff. John’s potty humor skits had the boys rolling, but their parents were less amused.
What do you expect from a man who would let his sons watch “Cujo?” (John’s comment: I did not let them
watch “Cujo.” I thought it was one of those crappy Beethoven movies - for the thousandth time…Besides,
Like my Camp Crystal Lake
Commemorative T-shirt?
Betsy is warping Timmy. The boy likes music, but she has him listening to Neil Diamond, and some chick who sounds like Ethel Mermen. Betsy’s comment: it’s Kate Smith, not Ethel Mermen. What’s the problem?).
Timmy does love to sing, though. He can be heard practicing anything from “God Bless America” to “Whistle While You Work” while he’s going to the bathroom. It’s also a good gauge as to when the room will be free: at t-20 seconds to flush, you usually can hear the Star Wars theme. What a kid!!
The boys are both enjoying school this year, though they do miss the freedoms of summer. Well the freedoms when Betsy isn’t forcing them on their morning “long march” or their daily “homework” (she has to keep her few teaching skills honed). They have both achieved third-grade humor, and if they are like their parents, that’s where they’ll stop. 
Speaking of stopping - time to stop this fun-fest. Hope you have had a happy year and have an even better one coming up!!
The Rogers! (John, Betsy, Sean, Tim, Titus and Loki)

December 26, 2013

Do you ever find....

When you're used to having many, many things to do, and suddenly all the pressure is gone, that you get really, really nervous?

Yeah, me neither. I've forgotten to post this today because I was out shopping, reading, or playing Candy Crush (I will beat that level, I swear!!)

So, time warp to 2008? No prob, bob... Here you go! Back to Candy Crush for me!

The Rogers Chronicles – 2008
Because You Asked Us Not To!

This year. Where to start? Sean and Timothy are now ages eight and five, and they still don't have jobs.

John could join them any day.

Betsy has a job no sane person would want. But at least she has job security: just as long as her students have been disarmed and can only threaten her with the sharpness of their wit, she has nothing to fear.

Jurassic Avenger
This year began in January, as years usually do. John was promoted to grand-poobah-grade-two of the Cub Scout den. As a result, he’s taken to spending all sorts of “free time” playing with the kids (read, getting away from his harpy wife.) John and Sean built a car to compete in the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. They had high hopes for the intimidating Jurassic Avenger, a green dinosaur car with a demonic grin and sometimes-glowing red eyes. 

Unfortunately, the competition sent the Avenger back into prehistory.

Once again, the Rogers were lucky to have Grandma Harvey come and deal with Timothy for the winter. All was going swimmingly until we had a minor flood in the basement. Grandma Harvey was doing pull-ups on the old copper water lines. She should have known better.

Gram also taught Timmy two of his favorite words: "actually" and "nonsense," which he uses endlessly, alternately correcting or criticizing Sean. So it was good to have her here.

Plus, John and Betsy enjoyed the babysitting, freeing them to return to all their favorite culinary establishments. Ah, to be a couple again! People just look at you differently when you have kids. Especially in seedy bars.

John continues his "don't tell a therapist" brand of parenting. His new windbag maxim? "Injustice applied equally is better than justice applied occasionally." No attempt is made to find out which trial-size human is at fault. He is too lazy for that: he just punishes both kids. 
Larry, Moe, and Curly

Even vacations are traumatic. Tim was worried about crabs biting his feet in the water at the beach.  Thoughtful Dad gave him a stick to hit the crabs, telling Tim to wait until they clamped on hard before striking. And while Sean and Dad enjoyed the waves, Tim cowered at the pool with Mommy. It’ll be a story to tell Mothman when he comes of age. He’ll laugh then, John is sure.

Dad couldn't even take them to an amusement park without messing with them. John scared the crap out of them for weeks, telling them he was going  to “broaden their horizons” by taking them to the "Flower and Dance Festival."  They would learn to foxtrot and waltz! He kept this up all the way to the park.

They only stopped crying when they saw the games and rides.  It was a real hoot!

You would have thought John would have learned that dance wasn’t funny a long time ago when, as a camp counselor, he sent his boy campers to dance lessons as punishment. The dance instructor was furious and tried to beat etiquette into John. John, well, he’s proud of saying he’s ten hairs short of being a baboon.

Home life has become so bizarre that Sean often takes long bike rides to get "time to think." Yes, he is riding a bike now; the idea of getting away from home fast appealed to him. He says he likes the "outdoors." Watching abundant TV specials on nature turned Sean into an insufferable eco-scold for a brief time: the boy haughtily criticized the family cars, Mom's indoor lighting fixation, and Dad's backyard car tire fires.  Any un-granola thing caught his eye. One day, early in the summer, Betsy took the boys to the zoo (note: the zoo made her take them back.) "We should just walk everywhere," the boy lectured as they motored home.

Betsy took him up on it. 

A steamy five-mile-walk though the Valley Forge Park in the July sun caused Sean to re-think his passions: he now only favors environmental zealotry when it causes inconvenience to others.

No, he hasn't considered a political career yet, but the boy has promise. 

Not content with the Dragon’s Lair,
The boys make a Fort in their Room
Unlike Sean, Timmy likes cars. Too much. He can always be found in some corner crashing them together. He even provides the cries of the maimed and dying, so everyone can enjoy the carnage (And it sounds disturbingly like "Oh no, Mr. Bill!!!!!!"). He is also really good at getting hurt. His face reads like a timeline of scars and scabs. His major hobby is getting under Sean's skin until his older brother hits him.

So the scars keep coming. 

Timmy is completely baffled about tense: he remembers how tomorrow was, and looks forward to all the fun things he'll be doing yesterday. His parents encourage this, as they think it is funny, and they enjoy laughing at their children.

After a summer of practicing her pedagogic skills on her children (who have stated they want to “go away” next summer), Betsy returned to teaching in our city of Brotherly Love. The general despair of her surroundings suits her personality. Betsy fritters away weekends playing endless games of Minesweeper or Sudoku, pausing only to shout at the kids or upbraid John whenever his self esteem approaches normal. Or perhaps she's working on her "lesson plans," which always look suspiciously like fan fiction from TV shows that were cancelled a decade ago.  As long as she’s not ranting, everyone is happy.

John likes to cook food that kids don't eat and make his kids eat it. Betsy, who will eat anything that doesn’t move, encourages this torture. As a reward for eating, John lets the boys watch "Bizarre Foods" and tells them they should thank their lucky stars they aren't eating banana slugs with a bunch of Samoans. Is it any wonder they hoarded their Halloween candy like squirrels with a long winter coming? Of course, this was after Betsy and John applied the parent tax, so it didn’t last as long as the boys might have wished.

Soon, though, Satan… err… Santa will be sure to bring them more loot to hold them over until Grandma Harvey comes back, and dad is forced to cook normally again. So, here’s to Christmas and all the blessings it brings.

The Rogers family hopes that you are all as blessed as they are and that you have a wunderebar 2009.

The Rogers Posse:
Dir-T-Bird (John)
The Venomous Harridan (Betsy)
Stinky (Sean)
The Moth (Tim)
And Titus, the official Mascot of the Rogers

December 25, 2013

What's the hubub, bub?

The kids got quite a few... unique gifts this year. Pillows (that double as travel pillows). Headphones (travel headphones). Magazines. Snorkeling gear. Swim trunks. Towels. Sunscreen. And tickets to a nice place to vacation.

It was a good christmas, and the memories when we have this trip will be just as awesome as any that could be made.

But it was REALLY fun making them think they were getting all clothes for christmas (started with gloves and socks) and moving to a really strange mix that had them saying thank you with a big "have you guys lost it, finally?" look in their eyes.

They keep asking us if it's for real. Messing with minds is SO MUCH FUN!!

Anyhow. Back to 2007. A simpler time....

The Rogers Chronicles – what year is it? – oh, yeah, 2007

It was a busy year, 2007. Just as we were lighting our Kwanza unity candle and celebrating December’s sixteen awareness days, we remembered we had to write this stupid thing.  So, here goes.

We started the year once again torturing Betsy’s mother. The things some people will endure just to see their grandkids! Grandma Harvey somehow coaxed all of our dead plants back to life – our house plants die in the summer, and thrive in the winter. Maybe it’s because she waters them.

Sometime in January, Timmy became Scarface, and it was all the fault of his “fatht theuth”, which blasted the unwitting boy headfirst into the furniture. Dad got a sympathy-scar a few days later when he slipped on some ice that he hadn’t bothered to clean off the sidewalk. Betsy took great joy in pointing this out to Sean, who would love a Harry Potter scar, but ended the year with an unblemished face.

Otherwise, we made it through winter pretty well. For the great spring celebration, John decided a nice rabbit Easter dinner would be just right. For some reason, the boys disagreed. Hotdogs were cheaper, though, so it was an Oscar Meyer Easter! Only the prospect of egg hunts and Easter baskets made the holiday joyful for the boys – and then Mom and Dad went and enforced the “evil parent” tax on all loot. (Come to think of it, we did the same thing at Halloween.)

As usual, we lazed about Bryn Mawr for most of the summer, much to the annoyance of the rest of the people in Bryn Mawr. We did visit State College in August. We have a lot in common in with the Bytheways: Mary and Kim are pillars of the community, we have pillars on the end of our bed.  But they put up with us anyhow.

Titus continued his streak of unluckiest dog east of the Mississippi. The dog, who once got bit by a rabid skunk (see Chronicles, 2003), broke his leg (playing with Timmy in his fatht theuth). The tortured pooch spent six months unable to chase the tennis balls, swim, scratch himself, or properly lick his privates.  Oh, and he couldn’t be bathed, either. By December, his outside smelled almost as bad as his inside. Good thing we’re used to bad smells in this house.

Sean joined the Cub Scouts, but John’s dream that this would lead to future solitude ended quickly: John’s electric personality just screamed “Den Leader.” Sean and John built The Fort TM – a neighborhood eyesore so ugly that it became known as Sean’s Shanty. In a year or two, Dad will start apologetically telling (new) neighbors that Sean built the shanty all by himself. It’s pretty good carpentry for an eight-year old. A thirty-eight year old should have known better. John will tell you he learned a lot building the thing, but since it’s already built, what good is that knowledge now? It’s not like Betsy would allow John to do home fix-it projects!

Sean’s imagination is running wild. He has an imaginary army, his imaginary pets and of course, his imaginary friend – which is fine as long as his name is not Tommy and he does not live in the back of Sean’s throat (Sean is not here, Mrs. Torrance… ). Sean’s morbid fascination with road kill continues, but this year it has gotten a little funnier: Sean orders the car to stop whenever he sees a dead opossum. “Dad, he might be playing dead!” But any opossum that decorates the grizzly scene with his spilled guts and blood deserves an Oscar. Sean remains unconvinced in his patronizing, superior sort of way.

Timmy is a generally happy kid, and he even sings the “Thomas the Tank Engine” song while taking a poop. He can now respond to Sean’s bossiness with a withering assault of taunts, mangled childhood rhymes, and weird insults. We hate to brag about our kids, but Timmy – a four year old – recently tested at the Third Grade level for being a “little creep”.

Betsy quit her job, spending a lot of money and time training for a job that pays a lot less. But her old job just didn’t give her enough people to boss around, and she thrives on being a control freak the boss. John is hopeful that having a school of teenagers to badger will get it out of her system. John is optimistic, as ever.

Well, today is Winter Weather Awareness Day (ice-blue ribbon, white snowflakes bordering the sides), so it must be the holidays. We have been informed by Timmy’s teachers that he is once again crushing the “compitition” and dominating every Dreidel contest he can join. He will be disappointed when he finds out we are not Jewish. But he sits in his cold corner, practicing his spin. Mom is grumbling at the computer, Dad is trying to get warm cooking. Sean is battling all the enemies and knocking over the yule tree, and Titus is cowering in the corner. Everything is happy here. Good bye.

December 24, 2013

The lovely sounds of christmas

Christmas has changed in the Rogers house... But not really. The boys are watching a movie - Christmas Vacation instead of Barney's Christmas. Annoying still, but in a whole new way.

What was it like back in 2006, you ask? Well... ask and ye shall receive... unfortunately, it's sans my macabre font choice of that year. Mood music, you know.

The Rogers Chronicles – 2006!

Well, once again its Christmas season again at the Rogers' Household. Both kids are complaining about the monotonous drone of the Christmas music, the sappy sentimental movies, and, most importantly, the insipid advertisements bursting from the TV in the middle of their shows. They don't understand why TiVO doesn't do all the work for them. Why, in our day, we had to wait for the commercials to end, or maybe GET UP and walk ALL THE WAY across the living room to change the channel. Kids today are just so spoiled!

But, strangely enough, one thing the Rogers Sprogs do like about the Christmas season is church, especially Sunday school. Perhaps it's because the teachers give them all sorts of cool snacks to shut them up keep the cherubs quiet while passing on the old, old stories. Whatever the reason, it's a full hour for the Rogers "adults" to be kid-free. WooHoo!

Most of the time, one can find the Rogers "adults" hiding in one manner or another from their tots. John goes into the kitchen and hides. And cooks, contributing significantly to spousal obesity. Betsy may never forgive him for using her and the kids as the sole test group for his experiments.

Since the kitchen is John's domain, he has sullied it to no end. Although the kitchen was updated in 1998 (something about the oven exploding every time it got to 250 degrees scared even John and Betsy), it decided to commit hari kari in 2006. Dishwashers melted, countertops warped, and sinks cracked. In all, it was a great excuse to spend what little savings the family had accumulated. John could have had a counter made of Corian - an interesting product made from that great global-warming resource, petroleum - but he preferred granite: Earth-flesh ripped from the planet's screeching hide by massive pollution-belching machines manned by Third World prison laborers. The kitchen gives us a warm and cuddly feeling now. And yes, Mother Gaia is quite happy with the Rogers clan.

Betsy, having no real hobbies, and certainly none that would prove to have a positive effect on her family, prefers to hide reading trashy romances, doing Sudoku, or, rarely, her homework. Since she's spending all the family's expendable income going back to school, she naturally figures she should put as little effort into passing her coursework as possible.

As for the monsters, well, they're your average, every day, run-of-the-mill hellions. Updates (first the heir, then the spare):

Sean has started kindergarten and is quite popular there. We're sure it's temporary: geek genes are just too strong. He is quite good at talking authoritatively - and at length - about subjects which he does not really understand (like his mom). He also has an affinity for climbing trees and scaring unsuspecting passers-by. Sean likes the normal stuff for a five-year-old: morbid tales of death, expired animals, decaying flesh, excavated relics and mass destruction. He draws pictures of volcanic explosions drowning people in flaming ash.  The therapists say that's normal. Typical stuff, really. For Christmas, he had two main requests: a life-size skeleton and a metal detector. Dad has dreams of throwing nickels in the front yard and telling Sean to look for treasure. Should make for a nice February.

Timmy doesn't share his brother's Wednesday Addams-like affection for all things dead and buried. Timmy's interests are wide ranging; he likes anything, really, as long as it is a car or a train. The differences between the boys are most apparent in the mornings: Sean rages against the dying of the night, while Timmy (left arm-a-pumpin') marches into the bright new day. With his gravelly voice, he constantly pleads, "Can I get up?!" until his parents relent and un-strap him from his bed.  John and Betsy cannot figure out if his gravelly voice is natural or a by-product of the constant colds he suffers. Whatever the source, his voice is quite charming, in a Fred Sanford kind of way. 

Overall it's been a great year. Betsy has failed in her objective of proving absolutely incompetent, so she's still employed. John was recently promoted from Blockhead II to Cabbagehead I – which is nice because Cabbageheads get their own chairs! Both parents excel at taunting their children in the never-ending quest of "toughening them up" and "taking their goats." John enjoys confusing the kids by saying things like "when I was your age I was ten." Betsy simply sings at them at all hours of the day, thus continuing her own mother's patented method of child-torture. She hasn't resorted to putting a box of clothes on Sean's feet yet, but she looks forward to the day with glee.