Sunday, October 5, 2008

Becoming a Bag Lady

I recently learned that most recycling facilities refuse to accept plastic grocery bags. I decided to do a quick research on the reasoning behind this apparently nonsensical idea.

Well, it turns out the problem is two-fold.

First, most bags are NOT made of material that is readily recyclable. I believe that the Walmart bags that inevitably scurry along the the sides of the road in my area ARE recyclable as they have a big old "2" in the recycle triangle. My small-town recycler is very limited and only accept plastic marked 1 and 2, so it sounds like we should be good to go to getting these things out of the landfill and into the recycling program, right?

Wrong. The other reason that nearly all recyclers refuse the bags is because they are so thin and filmy, they get tangled in the machinery. The handles catch on the conveyer belts and they just cause so many problems that there are virtually no programs that accept them. (There are, however, specialty places that take them and remake them into a fake lumber which is beneficial.)

So, of course, the logical step is to follow in San Francisco's ecological footsteps and stop using the bags altogether. During my web prowl for ideas, I came upon a blog called with a couple of great ideas.

Most folks mentioned how great canvas bags are. Yeah. They're good. But I grew up in the era where the only "bigger is better" thing involves television screens. When it comes to toting around stuff, I want thin, small, and lightweight. My mom solved that problem nearly 20 years ago.

She decided to make grocery bags out of "rip-stop nylon" (also known as "parachute material") which is incredibly strong and also, obviously, extremely lightweight. She made them just a smidge larger than a standard plastic Walmart bag, and when they aren't being used, they fold up so that six of them take up as much room (and even less weight) than a standard paperback book.

See all these yummy things? The next picture shows where I stuffed the bag to the brim with all that stuff from my cupboard. And hey, no teasing about the Poptarts. I have teenagers and they have their dietary requirements.

Ironically, the Walmart bag could only fit about half of the stuff that my bag held yet they were nearly the same size. Hmm.

Now, "rip-stop nylon" isn't cheap (about $8 a yard), but considering that places are selling thick, heavy, bulky canvas bags for nearly $10 apiece and mom can sell these for half that price, it's a pretty cool deal. And remember, these bags have been used and abused for nearly 20 years. Canvas can't hold a candle to that.

She's only made them for us, but heck, I think she should sell these suckers. They're better than anything else on the market.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Happy Hippie Homecoming

After the drama of Beth's homecoming preparations, I was a little frustrated that I had to leave home while Beth was in the middle of a First-Class Teenage Emotional Catastrophe, but it was still pretty awesome to have a little bit of "Mommy and Heather" time. I can't believe that my two teenage daughters are foolish enough to still enjoy spending time with their old mum. Yay.

We decided to go out to eat before I took her to Paul's house. We went to IHOP for some good old "Breakfast for Dinner" meals. Bacon IS one fo the four basic food groups, right? I know I felt like oinking on my way outta there, that's for sure. I guess it's true, you are what you eat. Oink.

As has become tradition at IHOP, while waiting for our meals, Heather has to do her duty as the Official Taste Tester of all the flavored syrups sitting on the table. Boysenberry is her pick. (I, of course, would like it a hell of a lot better if it was called girlsenberry, but I digress.)

After that, we had to walk over to Sam's Club where my recently disabled van was having a new battery installed. I had to pick up a few things, so Heather decided to get her dress and put it on in the store's restroom. Sure, she could have done it somewhere else, but heck, if you had an excuse to put on a party dress and be seen by a store full of customers, wouldn't you do it?

Heather looked amazing. She found a dress that looked like it was custom-made for her body. For some reason, all of my pictures made the dress look like it was raspberry colored, but it was really a maroon like in the photo from a couple of weeks ago (i.e. no make-up) above. While I wasn't thrilled about Heather's hair (the color is perfect for a Twilight Premiere Party, it wasn't exactly Cinderella-esque), but her make-up was pretty and she looked great.

We arrived at Paul's houe. Her boyfriend had on his suit and was just putting on cuff links as we arrived. Of course, since Paul is the consummate hippie, he had on a tie-dyed headband. His mom said, "Paul, you're not going to wear that thing on your head to the dance, are you?" Well, heck, how would anybody recognize him if he didn't have it on his head?

At Paul's school, just about everybody loves him for his quirkiness. He's just...Paul.

So, the Goth Princess and the Tie-Dyed Hippie headed off to dance the night away. I think Heather is STILL smiling from getting to spend that time with her beau.

By the end of the evening, he had shed his jacket and Heather stole his tie. The headband, of course, stayed firmly in place.

Friday, October 3, 2008

From "Handkerchief" to "Tissues"

Homecoming - the epitome of every high school girl's dreams.

The big homecoming dance was last weekend. The biggest fear, of course, is that you won't be asked to the dance and you'll either have to go stag, or worse, not go at all. Fortunately, Beth and Heather have been dating their respective boyfriends for the past year. So, the issue of "Will I get a date?" was never a concern. That meant that Homecoming was gonna go off without a hitch.

Beth eagerly showed Corey her sparkly blue homecoming dress. He liked it, but he made the comment that "you might get in trouble for wearing it." Why? Because it had a bare back. After seeing the skimpy dresses that the other girls have worn, trust me, it wasn't going to be a problem. Corey wasn't convinced.

And once you put a fear in Beth's head, she obsesses. Compulsively. (Get it? An OCD pun!). She fretted about this dress for a week. Finally, she decided to get her friend's opinion. Sam liked the dress, but decided to offer Beth the dress that she had worn to homecoming last year. After their youth group activities on Friday, Beth and Sam came over and Beth showed me Sam's dress.

Beth looked like Cinderella. It was a baby blue satiny material with a "handkerchief hem." When she called her other friend, Elizabeth, to tell her about it, her mom offered her the use of some silver shoes that would just be perfect. Then, I remembered I have a tanzanite ring which I bought on my cruise that was just the perfect color to match the dress. Finally, we got out a blue aquamarine necklace that has been "Beth's favorite" bauble in my jewelry box since she was a little kid. Beth actually had tears in her eyes as she said, "This is like so perfect. It's like it was just meant to be. Everything has worked out exactly right. It's like fate intervened and made everything just the way it was supposed to be. I'm so happy!"

We took a picture with Beth's cell phone and sent it to Corey so he could see her new dress.

The next day was moderately chaotic as tends to happen with teenage girls, as they got ready for the dance.

All of a sudden, Beth slammed shut her cell phone and burst into tears.

It turns out that Corey finally saw the picture and texted her the message, "Why not wear the dress you wore last year? I think this new dress is kinda ugly."

What moron would possibly say something like that to the love of his life?

When Beth texted back that she was really upset about what he had said, Corey texted back "what the fuck ever." Yeah. He did. Ain't he just the sweetest?

That's when the tears started to gush. She was crushed. She was hurt. She was devastated.

And I was pissed.

She sat at the computer desk for two hours bawling her eyes out. See that mess of tissues up there? That's what was left AFTER she filled up the trash can with tissues.

A couple of hours (and the better part of a box of Kleenex) later, Beth was still undecided as to whether to even go. Thanks to Corey's apparent inability to act human, her night was ruined. It would no longer be this dream of showing up at her high school looking like a princess and having all of her former classmates ogle and stare and wonder why they hadn't noticed her before.

Finally, she decided she would still go to the dance.

Since I had to take Heather up to her boyfriend's house an hour away, I left Beth in my mom's capable hands in order to transform my little tomboy into Cinderella. Her hair was curled. Her fingers were jeweled. And her dress was shimmering. She looked awesome. She couldn't wait until Corey would walk through the door so he could see how nice she looked.

As soon as he entered the houe, Beth said, "See??"

He responded, "well, it's not as ugly as in the cell phone picture."

Yeah. He really said that.

So, she might have been Cinderella, but that boy is no Prince Charming, that's for sure.