Arrowroot = Recliners, Maybe

olddefault In two previous blogs, I wrote about Carenen family shopping experiences; specifically, mine. There was the 7-minute suit and the nails and oven entries. Today, I'd like to expand the source of these blogs and include my long-suffering wife, Lisa, in this series, which will temporarily retire with this offering.

Recently, very recently, we went shopping together on a fine Saturday morning. Our plan was to go to Trader Joe's to pick up some specialty items on the list, one of which was arrowroot. I had no idea what that was. At first I thought it was a reference to an old rock band from the 60's, but I was quickly disabused of that notion. Anyway, we picked up a few items at TJ's and headed home without any arrowroot.

The next thing I knew, we had stopped by the La-Z-Boy store and purchased two leather recliners which were not on the grocery list. Fortunately, they were on sale. It's not as if I didn't know she was thinking about reclilners - I did know. It's just that, well, I didn't realize that arrowroot translated to recliners. Sometimes I miss things.

In any case, I am not the only member of the family with quirky shopping skills. I'm just glad we didn't have to drive by a car dealer on the way home.

Nailed it!

nails The response to my male shopping blog last week was so overwhelming, I have decided to do a short series of blogs about shopping habits of myself and my long-suffering wife, Lisa. A few decades ago, we purchased an abandoned stone house in the country in western North Carolina, and set about transforming the place. One thing it needed was nails so we could proceed with some basic carpentry, so I took the truck and drove into Morganton to the Lowe's. I bought the nails, and also a stove, which we also needed.

Imagine Lisa's surprised when I came home with a stove instead of just nails! Talk about a smart shopper. I don't think she expected me to return with nails AND a stove, but, hey, we needed one, and I'm pretty sure they were on sale. It was beautiful. White. And it worked right away.

I think that was the first of our Carenen family shopping saga, and a story that refuses to go away, appearing and reappearing in small gatherings of family and friends. And, heck, why should it go away? I'm proud of it.

Anyway, I hope you, dear reader, are impressed with my shopping acumen and overall wisdom when it comes to participating in our capitalistic, consumeristic society in which we live so comfortably.

Next blog? Well, I want to surprise you, but it has something to do with arrowroot. Stay tuned.

Cozy Consolidation

We are now living full time in our country cottage up against the mountain, woods all around, a lovely meadow out the front door, and nice neighbors halfway up Paris Mountain who fire weapons on Saturday afternoons. In other words, bliss. The condo we're about to put on the market has about 1,800 square feet. The cottage has 1,030. In other words, for you math majors out there, we have 770 less square feet, which makes us truly appreciate the 30 in our 1,030. We have learned a great deal about efficiency, and these truths have set us free, in a sense.

We have learned to be efficient with space. My long suffering wife, Lisa, is an expert when it comes to making good use of space. She amazes me how she can create useful storage out of nothing. Take closets, for example. We have three, the largest just big enough to hold two cats at once. However, I have learned that one clothes hanger can support three pair of slacks, four shirts, five neckties, and a belt. Who knew?

And a tiny utility room that housed one shelf and the electric control panel has been transformed into an efficient little pantry that contains enough food to last through the end of the year, two bins of pet food (one feline, one canine, interchangeable), a trampoline, a life-sized stuffed American Bison, and a wine cellar.

I suspect we will learn more about consolidation of available space. For example, Lisa looked at me the other day and asked, "Dear, do you think you could learn to sleep standing up?"

Just think how much room that would save.

Sleep Standing up

A warped rascal makes his introduction

I was born in Clinton, Iowa in July a long, long time ago when there were still a few of the smaller dinosaurs  (Procompsognathus, anyone?) scurrying about in the cornfields. I grew up weird, being told by a science teacher in 9th grade that I was "warped," which delighted my classmates, thus securing, on a scientific basis, future behaviors. In that same pivotal freshman year, I was also shown to the principal's office five times for what I would call "being a rascal" but he called it "being an incorrigible." The last visit provoked anger when, threatened to be sent to the State Training School for Boys in Eldora, I asked, innocently, "Do they have a basketball team?" My question went unanswered. In high school, my interest in college was discouraged by guidance counselors, who told me that, if I somehow got into a college, I would have to be a P.E. major. But I liked stories, which I was encouraged to write by Mr. Olson in Creative Writing class my senior year in high school. It all worked out. Also, in high school, I hit myself in the head with a baseball bat. (Don't think about that too much, please.) I earned some college degrees, served in the USAF in the Philippines and Massachusetts, and spent one year hitching around Europe and ending up on a kibbutz in Israel. I am thankful to the USAF for, through them, I met my long-suffering wife, Lisa, who is beautiful, brilliant, and gifted as a teacher. I mean, how would you like to teach 9th graders English all year long? Yet, she loves it and is successful as well, being a National Board Certified educator.

I have traveled in 43 states and 23 countries, fleeing sordid criminal records checks.

We have two grown daughters: Caitlin, a published history professor in New England; and Rowe, a published poet here in South Carolina. So, writing runs deep in our family. As for me, so do rejections. I've had dozens upon dozens, but I've also had the occasional published piece and a check in the mail from time to time. My work has appeared several times in Reader's Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall's, THE SIGN, Dynamic Years, Today's Health, Newberry Magazine and a couple of literary magazines: The Reedy River Review and The Mountain Laurel. I wrote a novel as part of a three-book monograph series for The National Institute of Mental Health (oh, the irony, for someone designated "warped" as a child!), entitled Son-up, Son-down. I also had the privilege of being a featured columnist in the Morganton (N.C.) News Herald and the Clinton (S.C.) Chronicle. Most of my stuff involves making fun of myself. There's just so much material.

I have to admit I'm excited about my forthcoming commercial fiction novel, Signs of Struggle, due out this coming autumn (autumn is a better word than "fall"). When it's ready for purchase, believe me, I'll let you know, and I'll post details along with a synopsis. The greatest influences on my writing, and my favorite authors? Mark Twain, Joseph Heller, Robert B. Parker, Ron Rash, Sherri Reynolds, and Marilyn Robinson pretty much tell the story.

Now, a word about the title of my blog, "Curly, Larry, and me." I love The Three Stooges. That should tell you something. Although I'm an English professor, I am not an intellectual, a scholar, or a grammarian. I just love stories and I love to write, and the college encourages me in that self-destructive behavior. And my tag line, "Don't ask the question if you can't stand the answer" comes to me from a former Green Beret and SWAT Team member who said that to me once and it stuck.

Enough for this post. I promise to write regularly, faithfully, and on occasion, warpedly. (I told you I am not a grammarian.) Tell your friends if you like my blog. I hope you will. More later.