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I fought the lawn… and the lawn won

The Right to Remain Silent in Bathroom Fixtures, Aisle 7

Filed under: Columns,So Cal Living on Saturday, May 26, 2007

My old hand-held showerhead was a champ. It outlasted one dishwasher, two refrigerators, three cooktops and four kitchen faucets. Hubby and I weren’t the only ones using it, either: for several years it was the power tool I used to scrub the boys squeaky-clean — until the sad day they realized they could outrun me.

Now they’re lots stinkier than they were back when I was in charge of hosing them down. I think my old showerhead died of despair.

I needed a new one, but the Home Depot guy was getting kind of personal about it.

“Before I can recommend a hand-held model, I need to know something,” he said. “What do you DO in your shower?”

“Hunh? I, uh … I … shower… in the shower.”


It was just such a weird question. What do people do with hand-held showerheads in showers besides shower? Before I knew it, I was blushing.

“I, uh … I … wash the dog! Really!”

“Umm hmmm?”

He wanted more?

“I … I use the hand-held to wash the shower walls down!”

“Ummm hmmmm?”

“And, I, um, shower?”

He looked at me carefully. “Do you shave your legs?”

I didn’t know this guy from Adam, and here he was quizzing me about my hygiene. I crossed my arms in front of my chest. Just then the store air conditioners went off — the heat radiating off my face probably tripped the thermostat.

“Um, yeah, well, yeah. I do that, too.”

Satisfied, he turned. “Okay. Then I recommend these models over here.” He waved at a small selection in the corner of the display. “Anything else I can help you with?”

I shook my head, even though I was also supposed to get a new toilet seat. There’s only so much grilling a woman can take at the hardware store.

My Chicharones

Filed under: Columns,So Cal Living on Monday, May 21, 2007

I was sweating like the proverbial porker. Crammed into a tiny dressing room with a 75-watt bulb set on stun, I attempted to stuff my hams into a casing the locals call a wetsuit.

“It’s supposed to fit tight,” Witt called out from behind the door. “Like a second skin.”

Second skin my chicharones. This baby was tighter than my first skin, twenty pounds ago. The truth is, wetsuits are nothing but full-body pantyhose on steroids.

I cracked open the dressing room door. “Where are my kids?”

“See for yourself!” Witt said proudly, indicating two neoprene-clad figures bouncing alongside the rash guards. Not only did the boys squeak into their wetsuits at Warp 8, they could move freely in them.

My wetsuit wasn’t past my knees yet but I could already tell I wouldn’t do much more than waddle once I got it on.

“Uh,” I told Witt, “I need more time.”

He understood. “No problem,” he said. “Hey, boys, want some free stickers for your boards?”

I liked that guy. In fact, I was trying on his wetsuits because of his friendly and knowledgeable attitude. (Translation: he was the first surf shop salesman I met older than the used wetsuits he was selling.)

Ten minutes later I was slick with perspiration, but the wetsuit refused to budge past my hips. Defeat was imminent.

I cracked the door open again. “Witt, I’m just too big to boogie board.”

You would’ve thought I uttered a foul heresy. “No,” Witt said grimly. “I won’t believe it. Mind if I take a look?”

I guess I didn’t. The lower part of me was squished into the world’s largest girdle. The upper was still modestly covered by my swimsuit. And Witt is a pretty decent guy, like a friendly big brother surfer, if you happen to have one.

I opened the door and he examined my semi-metamorphosed state: half-woman, half-wetsuit.

“Not bad!” he crowed. “You got farther than most first-timers.”

“Really?” I felt better immediately.

“Sure! Now pull that flap up over your left knee.”

I pulled. He pointed out another flap and I jerked on that one. I sweated, pulled and jerked with his step-by-step coaching until I wrenched into the arms.

Unfortunately, I was stuck in a crouched position, unable to straighten up.

“It’s hopeless,” I insisted.

“There’s only one way to do this,” he answered, and I knew what he meant. Swallowing my modesty, I grabbed the doorpost with both hands.

“Pardon me,” said Witt, and grabbed the fold of neoprene hanging south of my derriere. He pulled hard — both my feet flew right off the floor.

Great Aunt Lottie
My Great Aunt Lottie probably would
not have approved of wetsuits.

My great Aunt Lottie performed a similar maneuver in order to lace her customers into corsets. As they sucked in their breath, they could read the crewel sampler hanging on her dress shop wall: “What the Lord hath forgotten, we shall fill out with cotton.”

In the case of my rear end, the Lord hath remembered too much.

I replanted my feet. “Ready!”

He jerked again and I was completely in the suit. Contrary to my expectations, I could move.

I made my way to the rash guards, where the boys stopped frolicking to look me over. All that rubber-coated activity, and they still looked as cool as cucumbers.

“Yeah! Mom!” said the oldest. My youngest took some time before he finally nodded. “Cool!”

High praise, coming from the Style Kings of Carlsbad.

“I’ll take it!” I said.

That afternoon the three of us boogied in the surf, me blessing Witt with every wave I caught. If you can package your bacon for the beach, you can do anything.

Slim Fast Rider

Filed under: So Cal Living on Friday, May 18, 2007

Don’t forget to check out April‘s Domingo Delicioso on Sunday!

Hot and smoggy and me stuck in L.A. traffic on the I-5. The exhaust fumes were so bad I had to roll up the windows. And since I couldn’t run the air conditioner without overheating the car, the air just got thicker.

I turned up the radio but after a few seconds it was drowned out by someone who pulled up beside me, someone with a loud, mufferless engine that made my ribs vibrate like our washing machine on the final spin cycle.

For a moment I wondered if I’d been squished by an 18-wheeler and deposited in a Hell staffed by demons on mufferless Harleys. If so, it looked a heck of a lot like the I-5 on a smoggy summer day in stop-and-go traffic.

But no, I wasn’t in Hell, just the I-5. And as I waited patiently for the chopper to pass so I could more fairly question the owner’s ancestry… I realized the chopper demon wasn’t a HE, but a SHE.

Picture of Woman Riding Harley

She finally pulled up ahead of me and I could breathe again without rattling ribs. The picture is blurry because I was moving and my windshield was dirty (the bees are swarming in Carlsbad) but you can still see what I saw: a woman who waits for nothing and no one.

Me, I’ve spent my life waiting to lose some more weight before I do stuff like go to a pool party and actually go swimming, but I’ll bet this gal goes swimming at ALL her pool parties, and wears the tiniest bikini she can find—maybe even a THONG.

Frankly, she appears to be the kind of woman who told the world the hell with it, I’m gonna get me some tattoos and a tube top and some low-rider jeans and the biggest, baddest Harley sold in America today, and while I’m at it, the hell with the damn muffler, too.

Nobody gets in front of her at in the “9 items or less” line with 32 items and a fistful of expired coupons, nobody whips into the parking space at the mall that she was waiting for, and nobody EVER dings her van when she’s sitting inside it waiting for kids to finish swim team.

And even though I was taking a picture because it would last longer, I knew she could easily poke my eye out with her little finger if she was so inclined—so I didn’t spend any time trying to get the perfect shot. I just put the camera back into the bag and continued my stopping and going on the I-5, all the while wondering how big my butt would look on a Harley.

Sin City needs to pump iron

Filed under: Hubby,So Cal Living on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reruns, shmee-runs!

When the kids went out yesterday afternoon, Hubby and I locked the doors, turned down the lights, and … put in the DVD of Sin City.

Yowza! I’d heard it was violent and it was, but nobody told me about the Jiggle Factor. Let’s just say Hubby was enthralled. Lots of lucious boobalas and bottoms all over the screen—enough to make a forty-something housewife sigh as she remembers her forgotten resolution to work out regularly.

My favorite lines came from Marv:

Wendy: You could’ve taken my gun away from me any time you wanted to…

Marv: I probably would’ve had to paste you one getting the gun and I don’t hurt dames.

We need more movies that use the term “dames.”

Hubby’s Greatest Moment:

(Carla Gugino makes her appearance as the lesbian probation officer/pharmacist, wearing nothing but a thong and a concerned expression)

Hubby: Hmmm. That girl needs to do some squats.

Warning: I brake for reveries

Filed under: So Cal Living,Wren's Eye View on Saturday, May 12, 2007

Don’t forget that tomorrow April Redmon is doing her own version of Super Sabado: Domingo Delicioso!

High school marquee sign that says, Katie, will u go to the prom with me? Eric

It’s a safe bet Eric and Katie were already dating when he put up this sign, and his asking was just a formality.

But sometimes when I drive by I imagine Eric is the bravest, most romantic soul on campus, that he liked Katie from afar and decided to put himself out there for all the world to see.

This is a scary scenario, even for a middle-aged suburban mom light-years away from prom and driving home to a mountain of dirty laundry. What if Katie turned him down?

But then I remind myself that Eric is confident and brave, and this romantic gesture endears him in the hearts of all the other girls, who then ask him to the prom. And so he goes (with at least five girls) and they all have a blast.

And sometimes I imagine Eric was a cad who dumped Katie and broke her heart, and when her best friend heard he was going to ask a girl who wasn’t as nice as Katie, she put this sign up to make the new girl mad at Eric.

And sometimes I think I need to take a different carpool route.

Pink bra bandit bagged

Filed under: Columns,So Cal Living on Friday, May 11, 2007

I’m running a few of my older posts as I finish up some projects I let slide in the last year.

Oh, I do so love alliteration.

Remember the Pink Bra Bank Robber?

SAN DIEGO Detectives Thursday arrested a man suspected of carrying out three recent mid-city bank heists while sporting women’s clothing and makeup.

Members of a regional bank robbery task force took 37-year-old Robnay Hosaka into custody, according to the FBI.

Investigators believe Hosaka is the so-called “Cat-Eye Bandit,” who passed demand notes at Union Bank branch offices on Oct. 14, Oct. 19 and Monday.

During the crimes, the robber wore women’s clothing, including a pink bra, and sported lip gloss, pancake makeup and French-manicured fingernails.

After seeing a report on the crimes on a newscast Thursday, a citizen called police to say that Hosaka resembled the suspect, FBI public information officer April Langwell said.

Police arrest cross-dressing robbery suspect,” SignonSanDiego News Services, Nov. 17, 2005.

I looked long and hard for a photo of this guy Hosaka, with no luck. I did find this, though:

Picture of Cillian Murphy in 'Breakfast on Pluto'
How ever he looked in his pink bra and lip gloss, the bank robber Robnay Hosaka (Hey! Get it? “Bank ROB-ber”? “ROB-nay”?) probably had nothing on actor Cillian Murphy, shown here dressed as a woman but not robbing any banks.

Heck, I don’t look as good as Cillian Murphy does here. And what a makeover! The last time I saw Murphy was in Batman Begins, where he played a man whose momma never saw fit to buy him a proper Halloween mask. All she would let him use was this nasty burlap thing, and it ruined his whole life.

Pic of Cillian Murphy as Burlap Boy
Cillian Murphy as Burlap Boy in Batman Begins.

His character ended up consorting with an evil, secretive sect of vigilantes who believed the path to enlightenment was listening to Liam Neeson’s psychological musings as he beat the stuffing out of them. Lots of fun in that Evil, Vigilante Ashram, sure. Bruce Wayne ate it up, but I’d rather find my elightenment at La Costa Resort and Spa, thank you very much.

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Things to do in La Jolla

Filed under: So Cal Living on Friday, February 23, 2007

Mojo at Del Mar's Dog Beach

Glitterati asked what she might do when visiting La Jolla, and I started answering in the comment section, but I’m so verbose I thought I’d just post it up here, instead.

La Jolla is like Beverly Hills, only much prettier and (Read the rest of “Things to do in La Jolla”)

6:35 am Monday morning

Filed under: So Cal Living on Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wet, wet pool area

Our newspaper weather forecast always has clever little pictures of the weather right next to the day in question—just in case you can’t grasp the concept of “Partly Cloudy” without an illustration.

rain cloud with rainSo for three days out of our four-day swim meet, the little weather picture looked like this:

It was warm and pleasant and our snack bar sold plenty of snow cones. Getting my feet wet while timing was actually a refreshing experience.

rain cloud with rainAnd then on Monday—the day I was supposed to be working our swim meet’s snack bar—the clever little weather icon turned into this:

So you can’t say I wasn’t warned. I got up at 5:30 am, pulled my California rain coat out of the Hefty trash bag box, and drove to the pool, where I found our outdoor snack bar kitchen in this state:

Wet, wet kitchen area

It was only light sprinkles while we set up under our tarp, but by the time we buttered the first skillet the heavens let loose again. And while we parent chefs argued about whether rainwater was sterile or not, the Ark took off without us.

Wet, wet scrambled eggs

And yes, I know that if I was in New York, we would’ve been scrambling these eggs underneath a tarp weighed down by one hundred feet of snow.

All I can say to that is that you east coasters build INDOOR pools. We west coasters believe all that PR bull-puckey about it never raining in southern California and for the most part build outdoor pools.

Heck, sometimes we don’t even build concession areas with our pools, so we end up operating snack bar kitchens under tarps with a gazillion extension cords plugged into two or three electrical outlets. Turn on that crock pot over there and the microwave and coffee pot go off—and you might blow out the pool lights, too.

Yup. Our pool planners may be shortsighted, but hey—they’ve got better tans than those east coast pool planners, so there.

Betrayed by my sinuses in the worst possible way

Filed under: So Cal Living on Friday, February 9, 2007

The Grossan Hydro Pulse SystemNormally when I get a cold, I hold off what used to be chronic sinus infections by using this, and lordy, is it ever a trip.

You fill the container with saline solution, stick that nozzle into your nose, turn it on and basically hose out your sinus cavities. And then you dribble saline solution out of your nose for about an hour afterward, which makes you really unpopular with everybody except adolescent boys, but hey! Your sinuses don’t DARE act up after that.

But this time my sinuses said SCREW THE NASAL IRRIGATOR HA HA HA. The traitors. Somehow I got a sinus infection anyway—despite frequent and repeated hosings. And last night was Back to School Night, too. Couldn’t get out of Back to School Night.

So there I was, trying to focus on what Tiger’s art teacher was telling us about grade point averages and what Salvador Dali did with wax, but in my medicated and stuffed-up state I couldn’t take my eyes off the table we parents had to sit at:

Picture of art desk in Tiger's painting class

I mean, I was too young to participate in the hallucinogenic aspects of the 60s, but somehow I had a flashback of sorts and oh, yeah, I was THERE. It was like an alien tractor beam, pulling me in, and I didn’t even realize it until my forehead hit that blue patch near the bottom, which looked oh so soft but turned out to be pretty damn hard.

I clunked it good, too. All the other parents looked up at me with wide eyes and I tried to reassure them with a big smile, but the effect was spoiled by the saline solution that chose that moment to dribble out of my nose.

At least, I hope it was saline.

Teenager Thought for the Day: We’ll take that as a “no”

Filed under: Meet the Family,So Cal Living on Wednesday, January 10, 2007


So Rachel tries to convince me to do ballroom dancing after school. I was like, “Hey, Sam! What do you do after school?” and Sam’s like, “I’m in Robotics Club.”

Robotics Club. Robotics Club is cool. Robotics Club is manly.

And what do I do after school? I swim. Swimming is cool. Swimming is most manly.

But ballroom dancing? Not manly. Not manly at all.


Yeah. You can’t get away with ballroom dancing unless you’re Zorro and you’ve got a Spanish accent.

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