March 6, 2000

So I'm home from work this week. All this week and next Monday to be precise. I have this new theory on taking time off: never return to work on a Monday. I mean, Monday's are odious enough all on their very own, so why sully a perfectly good few days off with a return to the office on a Monday.

So, Beth, why are you taking this time off? I can hear you all asking me that. Well, it's Zoe's birthday on Saturday and there's lots to do around here. OK, that, and my mother is coming for a visit.

My mother doesn't actually get here until Wednesday and I was going to start my time off then, but then realized I'd need a few days before her arrival to collect myself. OK, I'm going to need a few days after her departure too, but I'm only taking one.

(I'm saving this entry every two sentences now because I wrote about 8 paragraphs before, went to save it, and the whole thing vanished. Feel my pain please.)

Here's the thing with my mother...from the time I moved out of her house when I was 16, until Chuck and I got engaged when I was 34, I didn't really have a relationship with her. She was mad at me for leaving home. I didn't like her for a variety of reasons. So we didn't talk. We didn't have anything positive or constructive to say to each other.

Then Chuck and I got engaged. I called my mother. At the urging of my father, of all people. I shared my good news with her. We didn't talk again until about a week before the wedding. She came to the wedding. She was tres dramtique and acted very "mother of the bride," and I pretty well figured I wouldn't talk to her again for another 15 years.

Best laid plans and all that, about two weeks after the wedding we learned we were going to have a little bundle of joy. So I called my mother again to share my news.

Well, ever since Zoe's arrival I've seen my mother at least once a year. We talk on the phone on the average of 3 times a month. She comes out to spend Zoe's birthday with her. It's fine really. Zoe's crazy about her. She's crazy about Zoe. It's nice that Zoe has a grandma (or bubbe as she prefers to be called), and I'm working on having some sort of relationship with my mother. It's sort of superficial but it's more than we've had for a long time.

And in anticipation of the arrival of my mother, and 20-something small people, and a passle of adults there are some major household items that must be attended to. Not the least of which is de-slicking the back patio.

We have this patio you see. It's a big brick patio. It's well shaded so it's delightful, even in the heat of summer. But it's well shaded and not exactly level so the water doesn't run off nicely. The water doesn't run off nicely so pools ofslimy bricks moss and algae (or something green and slippery) forms on the bricks. It's a slow process resulting from watering my plants. It's a slow process speeded up to the speed of light when you've had nothing but rain for a month solid.

So, my nice brick patio has feels as slick as the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. Nonskid soles--HA! Doesn't make a damned bit of difference. Slide slide slide slide slide.

While this is damned inconvenient for us, and daily life which includes going into the backyard, the thought of a bunch of guests sliding through there sent shivers down my spine. All I could see were claims to our homeowner's insurance.

We've both known for a while we'd have to deal with this before the party.

Last year Chuck did it as directed by the previous owners: just pour some muriatic acid on it and scrub it with a broom; it'll come right off. Well he had this to say about that: HA! It hardly came right off, but it did come off. And after last year's experience he vowed there had to be a better way.

Chuck's revised plan for removing the slime from the bricks this time was to use a polisher. You know the kind that you use to on hardwood floors. He figured he'd get some sort of scouring thing and attach it to the sander. Poof, voila, clean bricks.

Well this morning I decided it was now or never. The rain stopped momentarily. I rounded him up and we drove to the rental yard. We consulted with the guy behind the counter. We explained our project and the plan of attack. The three guys went to the side, spoke amongst themselves and looked at us like we were crazy. You can't polish goo off bricks.

But you can pressure wash them.

Ooooh. Pressure wash. That sounds cool.

Ooooh.  A pressure washer!Well, I'm here to tell you, it was profoundly cool. And profoundly easy. You hook this thing, basically a gas engine which powers a compressor that's attached to a long hose with a gun looking thing at the end, up to your garden hose. You aim it at the slime. The slime goes bye bye. WOW. It was fabulous!

We took turns using the thing and besides getting a bit wet and specked with goo it was a job well, and I might point out easily, done. Now the patio is a thing of beauty (and no longer a hostess nightmare)!

  water sports anyone? hose man!

We even managed to get the pressure washer back to the rental yard within four hours. This cut $30 off the rental price. You gotta love that!

So, to celebrate the fact that the patio was now less likely to be the source of any party injuries we decided to have Subway for lunch.

You may recall that I'm on Weight Watchers. Yeah. Well, you can get a ham and turkey sandwich for something like 5 points. That's quite manageable for lunch. And to really celebrate I thought I'd have some chips. I could eat half a bag of regular Lays (as if!) for 3 points, or get a bag of the baked ones and eat the whole bag for the same 3 points. I've tried those baked ones. I'm here to tell you, they're not so brilliant. And as far as I'm concerned they don't really satisfy that salt/grease/starch craving. I was perusing the chips choices as Chuck was making his sandwich selection. Hey, wait a second, they have those WOW chips. You know. The ones made with Olestra.

For those of you who have had your head who knows where, Olestra is this miracle fat that's not a fat, or something. Apparently you can fry stuff in Olestra but your body does not absorb it. It's a miracle. Or it would be a miracle if Olestra did not come with substantial health warnings. These warnings include: anal leakage (gotta love that one) and/or intestinal discomfort.

Well, I wanted chips. I wanted chips badly. I knew I couldn't eat half a bag of the good ones. The baked ones were not going to cut it. I was going to be home. What the hell. I told the guy to give me a bag of those WOW chips.

I was a bit anxious about the whole thing, but nothing ventured, nothing gained is my motto. They looked OK. They didn't look quite like the good fried ones, but they looked better than the yucky baked ones. I tried one. My professional potato chip tasting opinion is that flavor-wise they fall somewhere between the good fried ones and the yucky baked ones. I ate about two-thirds of the bag and adopted a wait and see attitude.

Well...while I'm happy, no thrilled, to report that I was spared the most dreaded of side effects--anal leakage, I did experience some moderate intestinal discomfort--about three hours later. I figure that's about how long it took those little critters to make it through my digestive tract.

Life is great sometimes.

sparking!  clean! inviting!

Until next time...