Pathetic Last Minute Halloween Costume Choices

Clearly, NOT my house.

You know how people get all into the various holidays – themed sweaters, decorated houses, wreaths on the car, fun foods to match the occasion?  I lack the gene that enables people to immerse themselves in the holidays like that. Likewise, I’ve never been able to muster any school spirit or get all crazy with enthusiasm for a sports team.

Every now and then, this works in my favor. When we went to see my son at college and watch him on the field with the marching band during halftime, he later told me he looked up and could pick me out of the crowd of thousands. Why? Because in a sea of  NC State University red, I was wearing a turquoise sweater.

But, today is Halloween. If you are a grown woman, not employed as a preschool teacher, and you are wearing a sweater adorned with jack-o-lanterns, you should know that I will secretly roll my eyes at you today (my apologies – I know I shouldn’t judge). I will also secretly roll my eyes at you during the Christmas season if you are wearing a sweater with dancing snowmen, Christmas trees, snowflakes, or similar decorations. Again, my apologies.

We do have one lonely pumpkin sitting on our front porch, but as is usually the case, it has not been carved or painted and it still retains every one of its seeds. I briefly considered what sort of costume I could dream up if a sudden urge to trick-or-treat overcame me. Usually, I have a great imagination, but the only two pathetic ideas I came up were: June Cleaver – A-line skirt, sweater set, pumps, pearls, apron. Aside from the fact that I don’t own an A-line skirt or an apron, I feel sure that I couldn’t pull off the sunny disposition, so I had to reject June. My other idea is much more practical: a raccoon – gray sweatpants and sweatshirt, no under-eye concealer. Done.

Happy Halloween.

Trying to Have a Head

Years ago, pre-kids, I spent several years playing lawyer at a big law firm. I had a nice office in a brand new office building that overlooked a scenic riverfront area. I had a secretary. I had a good paycheck. I had towering piles of mind numbingly boring and technical work to do.

The big kahunas at the firm liked to think of their kingdom as a collegial place to work. In fact, “collegial” was their favorite adjective. Of course, if you scratched just a little, you might get a whiff of the good ole boyness that was just beneath the surface.

One of the perks of our new office building was that the lobby area and the outdoor space along the river were often used to exhibit art, to make us all feel cultured and stuff. One day, another female lawyer and I strolled outside to have our lunch. The latest art exhibit featured larger than life nude statues of women. They were tasteful, of course. We were not in the least offended by their nudity, but we were disturbed by the fact that all of them were headless.

“Hey, they have no heads.”

“Huh. How about that.”

“Look, that one looks like it’s trying to have a head.”

“Huh. How about that.”

In the end, I was disturbed that their heads didn’t matter, that whoever okayed the exhibit probably didn’t even notice that there were no heads, and that the collegiality was somehow failing to seep into my psyche and motivate me to want to work a life-draining 2,500 billable hours a year doing work that did not allow for any creativity. In the end, Fate intervened and my husband was transferred to another state.

Thank you, Fate, for providing me a graceful exit excuse before my head detached from my body and rolled out the door and into the river, never to be seen again.

P.S. My exit interview went something like this:

“I certainly hope you enjoyed your time here at the firm.”

“Well, I learned a lot.”

“I hope you enjoyed it too.”

“Well, I learned a lot.”

Warning: Today There Will be Weather

Way back when, we’d only get dire weather warnings if a blizzard, hurricane or other violent weather condition was imminent. As weather technology progressed, we began to get warnings of severe thunderstorms or possible tornadoes. I’m good with that.

Have you noticed that we now get weather and related warnings about absolutely everything?  This morning, for example, is a lovely crisp autumn morning here in North Carolina, but we’re under a “frost advisory.” I guess if you’re a farmer and you’re concerned about your crops, this may be helpful information, but for the non-farmers among us, it’s pretty useless. I’m confident that if I walk outside and it’s a little bit cold, I am capable of making that determination and putting on a jacket.

We also get warnings of wind, fog, rain, possible local flooding, the air quality, the UV index and the pollen count. Are we really that pathetic?  Call me old-fashioned, but if I wake up and my eyes itch like crazy, I know the pollen count is high. If I sit outside and my skin feels hot, the UV index is up there. When I look outside and it’s foggy and raining, I know that it’s, well, foggy and rainy.

Sadly, there’s no turning back the clock to simpler days. In fact, I predict the warning situation will continue to escalate. No doubt we will soon be getting falling leaves warnings to rate the chances of being struck by autumn leaves making their descent to the ground. Mud warnings may also be coming, to inform us of the likelihood of ruining our shoes and tracking up the house following any wet weather event. There will be glare alerts to let you know if sunglasses are critical or merely optional. Summertime would be a great time for mosquito density ratings too – how many mosquito bites are you likely to get in five minutes should you foolishly leave your home unprotected by bug spray.

I don’t know how today’s weather is where you live, but I’m going to brave the frost advisory, the falling leaves and the sunshine and spend some time outside today. Wish me luck.

Spam Recycling

There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a useful purpose for otherwise useless stuff. If you’re a blogger, you’re familiar with the spam comments that are left on your posts. They’re useless, random and usually completely irrelevant. Here are two verbatim examples from our Ripe Report website (note that the article was about the Painted Bra Project, which is a fundraiser for breast cancer research):

“We are going to make these today! The boys and I are going to try a cookie spritzer to see how well that will work!”

“It is little doubt that this is the best singer in the country! What makes a singer isn’t their vibe, it’s their voice! I don’t like when people judge singers on things that just aren’t that vital. Remember, they are entertainers, not congressmen! Let them do their thing and enjoy the melodies!”

Now, I’m as mystified as anyone about how and why these comments were left on the site, but I felt compelled to come up with some way to use them. Please feel free to borrow them to respond to unwanted questions, requests and other intrusions. Let’s say you’re about to sit down to dinner after a long day at work when the phone rings and a telemarketer begins his or her scripted monologue:

Telemarketer: “Good evening, Mrs. Clark! When was the last time you and your family vacationed in Myrtle Beach?”

Spam Recycling Response: “It is little doubt that this is the best singer in the country! What makes a singer isn’t their vibe, it’s their voice!”

Telemarketer: “Um, we want to reward you for being a valued cardholder with a free 3 day 2 night stay at…”

Spam Recycling Response: “I don’t like when people judge singers on things that just aren’t that vital. Remember, they are entertainers, not congressmen!”


Suppose you’re newly married and your in-laws have begun a not-so-subtle campaign for grandchildren:

Mother-in-law: “The wedding was so lovely. You and Jim are going to have beautiful children someday. Someday soon. Right?”

Spam Recycling Response: “We are going to make these today!”

Mother-in-law: “Today?! Well, uh, wow!”

Spam Recycling Response: “The boys and I are going to try a cookie spritzer to see how well that will work!”

Mother-in-law: “Boys? What boys? Cookie spritzer? Dear, you do know how babies are made, right?”

Spam Recycling Response: “Let them do their thing and enjoy the melodies!”

Mother-in-law: “Jim! Jim, honey, it’s not too late for an annulment…”

Please, feel free to share your spam recycling ideas. Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle, respam.


BEWARE: Pushers in Nice Shoes

“C’mon man, try it. Everybody’s got one.”

“It’s how we do things.”

“What are you afraid of? Just try it.”

“Really, man, if you wanna hang with us, you gotta do it.”

“”Fraid we can’t let you go until you do it…”

When you send your child off to college, you know there’s going to be a certain amount of alcohol, drugs and promiscuity going on and you hope that your kid will make responsible choices. You expect that he or she will face some peer pressure, you know, from their peers.

What I didn’t expect, however, was for a gang of bank tellers to surround my son and try to pressure him into getting a debit card that we had previously considered and decided against, but that’s what happened to him today. He went into the was-Wachovia-and-is-now-Wells-Fargo branch near school to get some cash out of his checking account. The teller insisted that a debit card is the “preferred form of identification” and pushed him to get one. When unsuccessful, Teller #1 was joined by Teller #2 and Teller#3 and Teller #4. When the gang of 4 failed, random Bank Executive joined in too. While maintaining a pleasant veneer, they continued to push, pressure, cajole and threaten not to cash his check for a full 20 minutes. Overkill? I’d say so.

So, after talking to my son, my husband followed up with a friendly little phone call to the bank manager. She assured him that the helpful bank staff was only trying to explain that the debit card was the preferred form of identification. I’m quite sure that my son, whose IQ probably exceeds that of all 4 tellers put together, understood EXACTLY what they were trying to coerce convey. After further conversation, the bank manager apologized and said she’d have a chat with the staff, that she’d personally apologize to our son next time he came in, and that a driver’s license and student ID would be sufficient identification.

I’ve drawn the following conclusions. They may or may not be accurate, but this is what I think:

1. Sometimes, bullies wear nice shoes and work in banks.

2. Wells Fargo is planning to make all of its customers get a debit card and it will then impose exorbitant fees on all debit card holders, i.e., everyone.

3. To make the evil debit card plan work, Wells Fargo is either paying large bonuses to tellers for signing customers up for debit cards or it’s subjecting its tellers to some sort of painful retribution for failing to sign customers up for a debit card.

4.  Wells Fargo doesn’t care about the wants or needs of its customers.

5. My son is awesomely fabulous for standing his ground against this gang of banker bullies.

Are you wondering what will happen next time he goes to the bank? Will they shove him into the vault and twist his arm or will they honor the bank manager’s word and back off? Will he go in accompanied by some large football players or, more likely, by the entire saxophone section of the marching band? Will he switch banks, taking the promising potential of his future banking business with him?  I’ll let you know.

As for you, Wells Fargo, SHAME ON YOU!

We Interrupt this Program

You may have come to expect a certain degree of sarcasm here at The Big Sheep Blog, but there is a kinder, gentler side. I’m not ALL darkness and grouchiness (mostly, but not all). For just a brief moment, I’ll let the other side speak.

So, I’m on the carpool line waiting for my daughter after school today. In my side mirror, I spot two little boys in a car several spots back. They have their heads and torsos out the car window and are giving peace signs to cars passing by on the street. When they’re ignored, they’re visibly crestfallen but quickly regroup and try again on to the next car. When someone passing by gives them a peace sign in return or waves at them, they are absolutely triumphant and exuberant, grinning from ear to ear.

Thanks to those two little guys for reminding everyone that joy can be found just about anywhere and that you have to put yourself out there to get something back.

We now return you to our usual sarcasm.

Haven’t We Hit Rock Bottom Yet?

I plead guilty a thousand times over to watching some genuine reality TV crap. Whether it’s a moral failing on my part or just innocent entertainment, I don’t really know. Yes, I watch Millionaire Matchmaker, some of the Real Housewives, the Duggar family and their bajillion kids, and I’m newly addicted to Sister Wives.

There’s another flavor of reality TV that I don’t watch involving shows with critters, like the Louisiana exterminator guy, Hillbilly Handfishing (which I didn’t believe was a real show until I accidently caught a minute of it while flipping channels), and episodes of Hoarders featuring people who hoard animals. For me, those shows are just one big EEEWWWW.

However, I assume there is a pretty substantial audience for critter reality, since there’s yet another incarnation of  it coming soon. In case you haven’t heard, the newest critter reality series is called American Hoggers. I kid you not. Based on the preview, it’s about a family who hunts feral pigs. Yup, that’s it.

Are we done yet? Have we hit rock bottom? SNORT, SNORT, EEEWWW.