July 31, 2009


This makes me really, really HAPPY.

What a great way to celebrate a new life. Awesome!

July 29, 2009

Anatomy 101

The other day the kids and I were over at mom's cabin. I was fussing with her new water filter pitcher because she doesn't have the patience to read the directions. Fortunately for all the members in my family, I LOVE reading directions. It's one of those perverse things about me.

So I'm standing at the counter figuring out all the nuances of this water filtration system that I know she will hate. Tristan is sitting on the floor nearby with Brutus Blogger the cat. I hear Tristan say, "Wass dat?"

My mom said, "Well, that's the cat's private parts."

I glance over to see Tristan bent down with his face very close to the back end of the cat.

"Mom, you can tell him those are testicles. It's fine. We like to use the regular names for everything." Boy do we ever. Penis penis penis penis.

She says, "Oh, okay," then adds, "Tristan, those are his testicles."

I helpfully added, for context, "You have some of those, Tristan, all boys have them." To which I appended in my head, "Well, MOST boys have them, although I've met a few who act like they DON'T have them..." I figured that was a more abstract and complicated conversation than he could handle at his age.

Julius cannot resist a conversation about body parts and immediately saw his chance to jump in. "Yeah, Tristan, you have them, I have them, Dad has them. All boys have them. Here... come into the bathroom and I will show you."

To which my mom and I in unison shouted, "No!"

"Jules, he can figure it out for himself," I said.

Mom added, "Yeah, Tristan, when you go home you can look at yourself in the mirror."

"Oh, good. Thanks, Mom, now he's gonna be getting naked and staring at himself in the mirror." I finished soaking the filter and washing all the filter parts. Julius fell to the floor laughing.

"Well, he can you know."

Tristan pointed to the back end of the cat again, "Dat Bwootus tentacles."

Still laughing hysterically, Julius says, "Mom, he said tentacles!"

I grinned and nodded. Euphemistically accurate if you think about it.

July 27, 2009

Win Dinner with Wendy! (UPDATED)

[The deadline for this contest has passed and I've put the correct answers in red italics. Thanks for everyone who played!]

I have to pause a moment in my life to talk about YOU instead of about me. I am grateful to all of you who check in routinely as well as those of you who check in merely as often as you can. I understand the demands of a busy lifestyle and am grateful for even one tiny minute of your time.

And so, because of my unflagging gratitude I would like to host a gladatorial game of sorts and the unlucky winner can quake with fear and trepidation at the prospect of the prize which is .... DINNER WITH WENDY!

Yes, it's true.

Okay, here is what you have to do. Below I will post "25 Things about Wendy". In those 25 things there will be THREE that are not true. To enter you must list in the comments the three things you think are not true about me AND for your tie breaker / bonus round write 1-2 sentences about why YOU should win dinner with Wendy and what your ideal dinner with Wendy would be. The winner will be the one who has the most correct answers. In the event of a tie I'll either pick randomly or possibly not really randomly at all. Or maybe let the kids throw darts at the blog to choose. This is not a scientific contest and possibly not even done legally in some states. (However, there is no purchase necessary to win and I will refund all the money you've paid me if you are not completely satisfied.)

And what exactly will the prize entail? It depends on the winner. Seriously. Unless you live five miles from my house I will not be there in body, but it will definitely be "dinner with Wendy". AND... the final, but very important rule is that if you win you must take a picture of yourself (and a friend or friends) having dinner with Wendy and send it to me. If you don't, I will make you babysit the kids. And possibly my husband.

Also, this is NOT a sponsored post, although if someone out there WOULD like to sponsor a giveaway for my lovely, charming and deserving visitors, please do. But make it something really cool so they will love me forever. And also possibly name a kid after me.

And now... on with the contest:

25 Things about Wendy
  1. Doesn't wear shoes at work
  2. Has never been upside down on a roller coaster
  3. Doesn't have her appendix
  4. Had a boyfriend who stomped a snail to make a point
  5. Loves long walks on the beach
  6. Ate a thousand year old egg
  7. Loves black jelly beans
  8. Doesn't drink coffee
  9. Hates celery
  10. Favorite movie line of all time: "All I wanted me was a little cornbread!"
  11. Can roll her tongue
  12. Has red hair
  13. Wore braces in her 20's
  14. Lived in a house with a Van Gogh mural on the ceiling
  15. Drove a getaway car
  16. Once represented herself in court and lost
  17. Almost joined the Navy
  18. Once hallucinated a dog food ad talking to her
  19. Has been bitten by a snake
  20. Has been bitten by a dog
  21. Has been thrown off a horse
  22. Once had a boyfriend with two different colored eyes
  23. Loves salamanders
  24. Doesn't have a favorite color
  25. Cracks her knuckles
That's all folks! Now go live dangerously and start guessing! This contest will close on August 15th at 11:59PM central U.S. time and the winner will be announced the following Monday. Please put your email on your comment entry if you don't have it on your profile!

(Anyone who has known me more than 2 years is not eligible to win, so you friends of mine who want free food will have to look elsewhere. Check my pantry.)

July 26, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #19

It's Small Town Snapshot Sunday! Read the rules and get the banners here. Be sure you include the link to your post at the bottom of this entry and also, tag your post "stss" or "small town snapshot sunday" so people can search for it and find you! THE LINKING MECHANISM IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST. PLEASE LINK TO YOUR ENTRY TODAY, NOT YOUR MAIN PAGE! Also, please be sure to link back to me so people can go check out all the other people who are playing. That's part of the fun, the small-town-hopping! If you can't get yours done exactly on Sunday, you can always backdate it!

This week Julius and I went out to do our Small Town Snapshot Sunday together! He took some of his own shots with our backup camera which I will post for him on his blog (which he rarely updates even though I bug him about it all the time and which will result in him needing a lot of therapy eventually).

I had to drive through this land for work. It's a managed timber area that has been harvested and replanted.

All along the sides of the road were blackberry bushes which are very hard to find these days but were plentiful along the roadsides when I was a kid. Too plentiful, in my opinion. In the summer I stayed with my grandmother while my mom worked and she was always giving me an old plastic ice cream bucket or a gallon milk jug with a hole cut in the side (handle intact) and would say, "Go pick blackberries so I can make Grandpa some cobbler!"

Back then nobody told you to wear sunscreen and I'd burn to a crisp and then have to endure her putting vinegar compresses on me later when she realized I was lobster red.

And I don't even LIKE blackberries. Or blackberry cobbler.

Did you know that chiggers love hanging out in the blackberry bushes? Also, being scratched up by blackberries is one of the more painful types of skin abrasions I've ever had. Also, snakes like to hang out in blackberry bushes because rodents like to hang out in there. So I guess the chiggers like the rats and the snakes like the rats (and birds). Blackberry bushes are an ecological extravaganza.

Strangely, Julius doesn't really care for blackberries that much either. I think because we've not had much success hunting for them. I have a client who has a beautiful thornless blackberry bush and we've grazed there before. One of the better batches I've had. I took a cutting home with me and killed it within a week. I wanted to plant them as a border between me and the fourplex next door to cut down my view of the transients while I'm Rob is washing dishes.

Julius was an enthusiastic photography buddy!

I, however, am sometimes lazy. I'd been in and out of the car so many times by this point I just tried to be creative from my seat inside the car.

And I actually took this one without looking. I leaned over the passenger's seat across Julius while he was shooting one way and I shot backwards the other way. Not bad, considering.

This was an old gas station that's no longer in service. It was surrounded by piles of firewood and old tractors. Someone had piled a few watermelons here with an "honesty pay" bucket. I love honesty pay vendors. There is one I pass frequently that sells honey and pecans. I always wonder how it works out for them. Well, I hope. I'd like to have continued optimism about the world in that way.

We didn't buy any melons because... melons can't.

While I was out taking pictures I turned to see Julius taking a brief... respite. Just in time to see the big arc fly by the window. It was impressive. When I showed the picture to his dad he didn't think it was as funny. Maybe because Julius peed on his door. I don't know why he has to be so uptight about a little thing like that. I mean really!

I hope you're having an awesome Sunday no matter where you are!

July 24, 2009

Mrs. Doolittle

My mom's cat Brutus Blogger has been missing for a week. Mom was over for dinner during which she discussed with us several theories that might explain his absence.
Me: He's probably just out exploring the woods or maybe he got hurt a little bit. He'll wander back, I'm sure.

Mom: No, he's too devoted to me. He's by my side every minute of every day. Nothing can keep him from me. He's dead. I know he is.

Julius: Brutus is dead??

Me: We don't know that, honey. Grandma is just concerned because he hasn't come home.

Mom: I'm sure something got him.

Rob: What could get him out there? A bobcat or what?

Mom: Well, a fox could get him. He's probably too small to pick him up completely in his mouth, but he'd pounce on him and grab him and then drag him across the ground between his legs into the woods.

Rob: Let's not go into such graphic detail in front of Julius.

Mom: He's a big boy, he can take it. It could have been a hawk.

Rob: A hawk could not pick that cat up.

Mom: We have some pretty big hawks out there. And sometimes they work in tandem. Three of them working as a team could probably get him.

Rob: Hawks working as a team?

Mom: They do that you know.
I think that was about the time Rob probably wandered off because it was getting a little bit weird.

The next day I was on the phone with Mom who mentioned the cat had wandered back home about 10:15PM. He came from the north, she said, as if that was somehow significant. He wasn't hurt, in fact he was quite fat and seemed happy she said.

We speculated on the following scenarios:
  • He was vacationing at a neighbor's house, the big user.
  • Someone found him and thought he was lost and kept him in their house. "People do that, you know, when they are trying to acclimate a cat to stay with them. It's recommended."
  • He accidentally got locked in a shed or garage. "He's nosey. Of course, if that happened he'd probably be skinny. Unless there were a lot of mice in there."
  • Someone locked him into their shed on purpose BECAUSE there were a lot of mice in there. "And then they could have let him out when he'd gotten them all."
  • Julius suspected the cat has a new girlfriend and perhaps they went on vacation. He thinks they walked to New York City or perhaps Hollywood.
I could see we were getting pretty far afield, so I reined her in by telling her I was glad he was back. She seemed a little miffed that he might possibly be disloyal by vacationing with a neighbor.

She finished off her story by telling me about how they went down by the creek to work and found two baby deer there. She said they sat very still and watched the deer who didn't seem to mind being watched since they were babies and didn't know any better. She said another older deer came up and was eating nearby. The birds kept chattering at her as if to tell her there were humans nearby. Everytime the birds chattered the deer would look over in mom's direction. Finally they all ran off.

She said, "They have a communication system among themselves, these animals. It's a secret language where they warn each other about danger."

The fun thing about my mom is that she has an interesting perspective on the world around her. Although, it DOES concern me about how far these ideas and theories could eventually go. Today it's secret communication between birds and deer... what will it be tomorrow?

Maybe how Vicks Vaporub can cure cancer? (Oops, been there.) How zinc cures gray hair? (Covered it.) That the answer for every childhood disciplinary problem is the flyswatter? (Possibly covered more than once.) She has opinions on aliens, medicine, law, cooking, animals, child rearing, how to save money, and how the world is going to end.

What scares me more than some of her outlandish theories is that sometimes she's actually RIGHT.

July 22, 2009

When Food Attacks

I had a couple of requests for the story about the butter in the tea. Unfortunately there's really not much of a story to it. And this is why, out of a fit of blogging desperation, I will also be writing about ketchup.

I know you are on the edge of your seats.

This post is also inspired in part by my family who has gone on a blogging boycott. Apparently. They have refused to do anything remotely interesting or funny. I'm certain they are trying to punish me, but I'm not sure for what. Probably because I haven't made the strawberry shortcake that they keep expecting me to make. I'd make it... if only they'd do something funny.

In fact, I whined about it today to Rob:
Me: I'm pretty disappointed in you people. You've not done or said anything bloggable all week.

Him: And your point is...?

Me: That's my point. You need to do something funny. Or say something.

Him: How about bull penis?

Me: I've already done bull penis. (He snickers.) Well, you know what I mean.

Him: Penis penis penis penis.

Me: Okay, now it's getting more interesting. What else?

Him: Nothing. That's about all I've got.

Me: Penis?

Him: Yeah.

Me: Well, that's pretty good, I guess.
So, because of all that, I have to tell you three really lame stories about food.

* * *
Similar to the mayonnaise buying incident, I recently went crazy buying butter because it was on sale. I love real butter and it's expensive. We keep our butter in the door of our fridge and currently where we keep it is packed with five boxes of butter. We also keep pitchers of tea in the fridge. I recently found an entire stick of butter bobbing, wrapper and all, in a fresh batch of tea.

I was puzzled, thinking it strange that perhaps one of the kids had put butter in the tea. They sometimes do weird things, but that didn't seem like their style. After a bit of investigation I finally figured it out. It was a serendipitous reenactment of Newton's First and Second Laws of Motion. Someone yanked on the door of the refrigerator creating a force which compelled one stick of butter in a state of rest to gain enough acceleration and velocity that it flew through the air landing in the tea where it floated around a while until I noticed it in there.

I've had this same fridge for years and years and I've stored the butter in the same place all this time and suddenly now the butter is coming to life and pirouhetting around the refrigerator like it's auditioning for the Nutcracker Suite. Well, what my family is lacking in pizazz these days, I'm making up for in butter. Go dairy!

* * *

You should learn something from my mistake.

Once I was taking a client to lunch. We went to a nice casual place where we ordered burgers and sandwiches, fries, drinks, talked about the houses we were looking at and other local topics. I grabbed the ketchup bottle and vigorously shook it up at which point the lid that was not actually screwed on went flying toward the client followed by an eruption of ketchup. Fortunately and miraculously I was the only one who ended up covered in processed tomato.

The moral of this story is make sure the lid is screwed on before you start shaking the bottle.

* * *

I got fixed up on a date with someone. I was in my 20's and in college and a professor of mine in one department asked me out on behalf of another professor in another department. (I thought that stuff stopped after you were in junior high but apparently it can extend way out to tenured college professors with PhD's.) I declined at first since I was actually in the classes of both professors, but finally accepted as the semester wound to a close and we had finished up all our classwork.

The date was pretty much a disaster from start to finish. Nobody's fault except that I am a complete dating disaster. I'm not good at it. I'm not socially graceful. He was a sweet and intelligent man, but if it's even possible he was more awkward than me. Doomed from the start.

We decided to meet for brunch at this great little local place. They had awesome food and a harpist or some other live orchestral instruments playing while everyone ate brunch. Somehow I managed to oversleep. A lot. Like nearly an hour. I called the restaurant right away and thought surely he wouldn't still be there. He was. He was still waiting! I was mortified and kept saying, "Tell him I'm sorry, tell him I'm so, so sorry and I'll be right there..."

He was gracious and I was overly apologetic. We tried to make small talk. No chemistry for me, but he gave it an excellent effort that made me wish there were chemistry. He said all the right things, was complimentary and picked interesting topics. After a while I'm sure he got that it wasn't going anywhere.

We finished our breakfast and stood. He reached to hug me, sweeping a glass bottle of ketchup off the table. I watched it flip end-over-end in slo-mo and crash down on the flagstone floor, exploding in a blast radius of red tomato. It was on me, on him, on about four people that were sitting near us, all across the floor, on the pedestals of several tables. There was glass everywhere and there he and I stood in the middle of the blast pattern, him with his arms open and leaning toward me but frozen with a look of awkward embarrassment on his face, me with my hands over my mouth, eyes wide in a horrified stare. My eyes darted back and forth at all the people who stared at us like we were rampaging Neanderthals who had invaded their upscale Sunday brunch.

My sweet date shrugged helplessly then kissed me on both cheeks, bent down and started mopping ketchup off my sandaled feet while the whole restaurant continued to stare. I've never wanted to disappear so badly in my life.

Do you have a story about when food attacks?

July 20, 2009

More Open Letters

Rachel, for inspiring me.

I was reading Rachel's post recently. She was writing about some lackluster parenting she'd seen at the pool and it reminded me of some open letters of my own that I wanted to write...

Dear Lady with the Cute Dog,

I think it's great that you don't keep your little dog cooped up in the house all day long. It seems like you take your responsibility as a pet owner very seriously.

However, I'd like to recommend that you rethink WHERE you take your dog when you want to have an outing in public places considering that when my son came toward your dog you mentioned that it likes to bite small children. Perhaps a better choice would be someplace other than the children's play area of the creek.

Or at the least you could stay with your dog instead of leaving him tied to a rock when he's only about ten feet from where my 2-year-old is playing and periodically yelling, "Mommy, me go see doggy!"

Sure, I could move my son out to the deep end where the rapids are even though he's a little shorty toddler who can't swim, but it seems more sensible to me that maybe you could take your carnivorous baby-eating canine somewhere that doesn't endanger the next generation of presidents, scientists, homemakers and manual laborers.

Thanks for your understanding.
* * *
Dear Cool Single Guy with Dog,

I know that a lot of personal ads say that women like to take long walks on the beach. Probably because of this you dress all spiffy and take your dog down to the beach when he's all duded up with a cute red kerchief around his neck. I'm certain this catches the eye of many women who think it's adorable.

Under other circumstances I might have thought it was adorable, too, until your crazed maniac dog bit my hand because I was holding a tennis ball for my OWN dog. Yes, I know he wasn't actually trying to bite my hand on purpose and that he only wanted the ball meant for my dog, but it's hard for me to listen to your explanation of that when my blood is pouring out onto the sand and your dog is smelling it excitedly.

I hope you do better with the next girl.

* * *

Dear Frail Old Lady,

Please accept my most humble apologies for my dog knocking you down flat on your back in the sand. He's a very kind and silly dog, full of life and madly in love with the tennis ball. When we throw it he doesn't take his eyes off the ball, but runs full out at about 90 miles per hour in the direction he thinks the ball will land.

Unfortunately, this particular day you were standing between him and where the ball was supposed to land. While not overly bright in many areas, my dog is a master at the physics of trajectories. Also, unfortunately, while he only weighs about 60 pounds it's more like 260 when he's running full speed. And considering you look like you weigh about 45 pounds you really were no match for him.

I'm really happy, though, that you were on the beach when this happened and not on the sidewalk or in the parking lot or I'd probably still be paying lawyer fees what with osteoporosis being so common in women your age.

Again, my apologies.

* * *
Dear Mother Who Probably Hates Me,

I'm really, really sorry that my dog plowed over your 26-pound daughter in her cute little ruffled swimsuit that was probably not meant to get dirty and wet. Also for knocking her into a small wave that happened to be coming into shore right at that moment. I was really happy, though, that there were no riptides.

In the past this hasn't been that much of an issue (except that one time with an old lady, but she turned out to be fine) but it seems like as he is getting older he is a little less careful than he used to be. Doggie dementia, I'm thinking. Please be assured that we have learned from this experience and will be more cautious in the future about where we throw the ball.

Thanks for not calling the police (although just to be sure we left the beach right away so we would have been gone before they got there anyway).

* * *
Dear Rob,

Please stop throwing the ball over my head so the dog doesn't knock me on my ass. It's not freaking funny. At all.

Love, Wendy

July 19, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #18

It's Small Town Snapshot Sunday! Read the rules and get the banners here. Be sure you include the link to your post at the bottom of this entry and also, tag your post "stss" or "small town snapshot sunday" so people can search for it and find you! THE LINKING MECHANISM IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST. PLEASE LINK TO YOUR ENTRY TODAY, NOT YOUR MAIN PAGE! Also, please be sure to link back to me so people can go check out all the other people who are playing. That's part of the fun, the small-town-hopping!

It's farmer's market day! Our town just started a fledgling farmer's and flea market and it's becoming very popular. It's only been going for about a month or so. It takes place on alternating weekends. The small town to the north of ours has their farmer's market on the opposing weekends, so within about 20 miles you can catch a market every weekend of the month.

I hope you have a great Sunday no matter where you are!

(If you have trouble linking, let me know in the comments and I'll try to fix it for you. We still seem to have a basic lack of stability with both linky providers.)

July 17, 2009

Let's Work This Out

[Thanks, Jane, for thinking my blog is "f-ing fabulous"!]

I don't really understand the relationship between my sons (aged 6 and 2). There are things they do that make me come completely unglued and my husband claims that I have to just "let it go" because "that's how boys are" or it's some kind of thing between brothers.

Well, I don't like it. And by "it" I mean the barbaric savagery like little Lord of the Flies vignettes involving hitting, knocking each other down and general sadistic funny-business.

Last night I was doing dishes and heard an enraged scream coming from the toddler. Apparently Julius had walked by where he was playing on the floor with some of his cars and kicked one of them away for no reason and it skittered across the kitchen. Tristan has a terrible, ugly, hugely monstrous temper -- the kind you see frequently displayed on shows like Super Nanny and Nanny 9-1-1. It's like I live in a reality show, only without hair and makeup and really nice sponsorships. Or really crummy sponsorships for that matter.

While Tristan was flopping around on the linoleum like a break-dancing fish out of water, Julius was being sent to a time out. Afterward, apparently feeling remorseful Julius came back into the kitchen and announced that he was resolved to be kinder to his brother and went to hug Tristan who had finally calmed down.

The hugging incident sent him off into a paroxysm of wailing. He came running to me, shrieking indignantly, "Julius HUG me!" He hates being hugged by Julius.

Julius, however, is a thinker and has persistence. Recently reformed by his time out, he still felt the need to show how much he's learned from the experience. He pulls two kitchen chairs out and turns them to face each other. "Sometimes," he says, "two people have to talk out their problems. Tristan, let's sit down here and talk about our problems."

Much to my surprise, Tristan agreed saying, "Okay." He climbed into the chair and sat facing Julius.

Julius said, "Okay, I know I was mean to you earlier and I just want to say I'm sorry about that and I will try to do better."

Tristan sat and stared at him for a moment and Julius prompted him. "Now you say something, Tristan."

Tristan looked over at the table where there was a very life-like miniature Brahma bull my mother had bought him. He picked it up and pointed to its underside and said, "Dat bull penis!"

Julius laughed so hard he rolled out of the chair.

Conversation over!

July 15, 2009


Life is one big fruit cocktail of good and bad things. Sometimes it's the cherries, sometimes you get the funny brown grape. (I know... I am quite the philosopher. In fact, I even dated a philosophy professor in college once. But that's a strange tale for another day.)

All wrapped up in a lovely life is some love and some hate.

Things I Hate...
  • When I can't get the smallest person in our house to eat anything
  • When the smallest person in our house runs away in the Exxon station and I have to grab the back of his collar because that's as close as I can get to him and it clotheslines him, knocking him to the ground and everyone in the store stares at me
  • Watching the smallest person in our house throw a tantrum in public
  • Strangers coming up to tell me I didn't hear the waitress call my number because I'm too busy yelling at one of my kids in public
  • Finding a whole stick of expensive real butter floating in a freshly made batch of tea
  • The hot glaring sun beating down on me in the summertime
  • Chiggers, mosquitos, ticks and being itchy for days and days and days and days and... well, you get the idea
  • And then there's celery
Things I Love...
  • The kids laughing as water balloons explode
  • Ice cream in the winter
  • A really good book
  • A breeze that lifts the stifling, heavy air of summer
  • Sitting in the hot sun with the kids at the park even though I hate it because it means I'm being a good mom
  • Floating on my back in the water
  • Snorkeling in a clear, blue ocean (oh, will I ever get to do that again??)
  • Long, cool showers
  • Quiet time
  • Getting a letter in the mail
  • Going barefoot
  • A cold glass of sweet tea
  • The smell of rain on the hot pavement
  • Hearing my kids say "please" and "thank you" to strangers
  • Throwing an entire package of celery in the trash when there is absolutely nothing wrong with it except that it's vile and disgusting
  • Ice, lots and lots of ice
  • Buy one get one free
  • Grocery coupons
  • The police scanner
  • Magic markers
  • When I can blog about the things I love and hate
  • When the Love List is longer than the Hate List
  • Being here with you
What do you love and hate?

July 13, 2009

One Up

Part of the problem with being an OLD parent (or as I prefer to call it, a "late bloomer") is that you're sometimes a tired, fuddy duddy parent.

The other day Rob and I were both worn to a frazzle and we had to go do something with the kids that required actual physical energy. Rob was sitting on the edge of the bed watching me get ready.

"My back is really bothering me today for some reason," I said idly. I was softly prepping him to be the one to lift Tristan into the car seat.

He suspected as much, I think, and said, "My back hurts, too."

Me: My back hurt first.

Him: No, I don't think so. I'm older than you, so my back has been hurting a lot longer.

Me: Seriously, my back hurt before we even had kids. In fact, my back hurt when *I* was a kid.

Him: Well, I hurt my back before I was even born. In the womb my back was hurting.

Me: My back hurt in my last life.

Him: My back hurt in the life before my last life.

Me: Well, when I created God who created the Universe, my back was already hurting.

Him: You know the Big Bang? That sound was my back going out.

I laughed and said, "Okay, you win."

July 12, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #17

It's Small Town Snapshot Sunday! Read the rules and get the banners here. Be sure you include the link to your post at the bottom of this entry and also, tag your post "stss" or "small town snapshot sunday" so people can search for it and find you! THE LINKING MECHANISM IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST. PLEASE LINK TO YOUR ENTRY TODAY, NOT YOUR MAIN PAGE! Also, please be sure to link back to me so people can go check out all the other people who are playing. That's part of the fun, the small-town-hopping!

This week some cool pictures I took have come up missing, mysteriously. It's like they never existed at all. Maybe it was a dream I had. In any case, below is my Plan B in which I illustrate how much more relaxed as I've become as a Mom over the last couple of years. What you are about to see would never have happened back when I was a mom with only one kid.

Although, I have to be honest and tell you this probably never would have happened had I been alone with the kids. My mom was with me and she was supposed to be watching the boys. We don't have the same method of watching children.

We went to our small town park when it had rained that day and the day before. There are two or three low spots in the park that turn into mud puddles when the ground is saturated. Julius was walking on the edge of one of these and ended up slipping. I looked up just in time to see his feet fly out from under him and he landed flat on his back in the mud. Oh, how I wished I had been faster with the camera.

Tristan then went in to to "help" and ended up falling in as well.

Across the small creek from the park is a pavillion with picnic tables and there was a couple having lunch there. By the look of horror on their faces I'm sure they thought we had completely lost our minds or perhaps just couldn't control the unruly mud-covered heathens. (Honestly, both of those are probably true.)

Finally we got them out of the puddle and walked to the car, Tristan complaining all the way about how wet he was. The couple stared at us all the way past. We got to the car and stripped the kids down to their underwear and we drove them back to the house mostly-nekkid where I insisted my mother deal with giving them a bath since it was her fault they were muddy anyway. That was pretty satisfying.

When you live in a small town you have to get your entertainment where you can find it. And if you've not tried dunking your kids in the mud, you should. It turns out to be entertaining and pretty darn liberating!

Sorry about the Linky fiasco. Apparently there are still some bugs getting worked out with the McLinky, so I'm going back to Mr. Linky til it stabilizes. Big apologies!!

July 10, 2009

I Can't Make You Love Me, But I CAN Bend You to My Will

I can't make you love me if you don't
You can't make your heart feel something it wont...

Bonnie Raitt

My mother has the worst neighbors. Okay, maybe "worst" is a slight exaggeration. Maybe a more accurate description would be to say she has really horrible, unfriendly, gossipmongering neighbors. Oh yeah, and then there is crazy trashbags-on-the-fence lady whose saga is getting more intense by the day. She can take up a whole post on her own (and I'm sure she will when I have the chance to write it all down).

My mom lives at the end of a dead-end road in a very small, rural lake area. There are only three people on her road and one of them lives right next to her (crazy trash bag lady) and the other lives down at the corner.

For months I have been driving past the Corner Lady's house and frequently she will be outside sitting on her lawn furniture just hanging out. I always wave and smile and she just stares at me, never waving back.

A couple of weeks ago she and another neighbor were walking down the road with about five tiny dogs which were all running amok around the wheels of my car. Crazy Drunk Neighbor picked up two of the dogs and managed to shoo all but one out from around my vehicle. I rolled forward at a 1/2 a mile an hour creep and as I pass by Corner Lady starts squawking, "Go SLOW now, go SLOW..."

I wanted to say, "Lady, if I were going any slower, I'd be traveling backward through time." Instead I just smiled and waved through the window and kept on going. She sniffed dismissively and turned away, walking down the driveway.

Lately I have been driving down there almost daily, taking Mom groceries and doing errands for her. The other day Corner Lady was sitting outside with a couple I didn't recognize. I drove past her place really slowly and she stared at me the whole way past. I smiled and waved vigorously like I was trying to win first place in a Miss Congeniality contest. In response she gave me the usual cold stare.

It really aggravated me. It aggravates me all the time, really, but for some reason that day it REALLY aggravated me. Maybe having to drive past all those crazy trashbags flapping in the breeze next to my mom's house made me insane. Maybe it was the summer heat and me not drinking as much water as I should.

I slowed down even more and waved again in case she had looked sideways as I was rolling past. Nope, she was looking right at me. More waving, more grinning like a pageant contestant.

There was the corner and I rolled slowly through it and turned, still driving past her house. I waved again and smiled. Still no response. I pressed on the brakes and stopped the car and just stared at her for a second. And then I waved again.

And I kept waving. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity just waving to her. She sat there for as long just staring at me waving to her. The hair on the back of my neck started to prickle. I decided I didn't care how long I had to sit there. I wasn't leaving until she waved at me.

Finally, with a pained expression on her face she lifted her arm and gave a half-wave similar to how you shoo off a particularly persistent fly. I grinned and stepped on the gas. Off we went, me and my small, petty victory. It was a start anyway.

I used to dread driving by her house all the time, but now I must admit I'm really looking forward to it!

July 8, 2009

A Particular Man

One of my greatest pleasures in life is sitting in a public place and watching things go on around me. At a glance the world seems relatively normal, but in reality it's often strange and surreal if you'll just pause for a moment and become very aware of what's happening nearby.

It also helps to be invisible as I frequently seem to be.

Recently I was at a lunch meeting and one of the first to arrive. I picked a spot at the very end of the table so I could see everyone down both sides. I was also the only person not eating. I end up at several lunch meetings during the month and after a while you can only take so much of that self-indulgence.

Mr. Jefferson was two seats down to my right and was dressed in slacks, a white shirt and a nice tie. Just back from the buffet, he sat down with a bowl of steamed cauliflower. Just cauliflower.

He unwrapped his silverware from the napkin and put the fork to the left of the bowl and his spoon and knife to the right. He unfolded the napkin and placed it across his lap, then laid both his hands on the silverware to ensure the utensils were lined up just-so.

He pursed his lips and nodded with satisfaction, then picked up his fork and began eating his veggies. And when I say veggies I really mean cauliflower. Just cauliflower.

Mr. Jefferson is a tidy man, well put-together. There's something about him that is vaguely disturbing but after knowing him for about a year and occasionally being in meetings with him I still haven't been able to figure out just what it is. Perhaps because he is the anti-me. As far to the extreme as he is in quietude, appropriateness, tidiness and orderly demeanor, I balance him out at the other end of the scale. I swear he breaks out in a sweat every time I come near him.

I don't blame him. Sometimes I make my own self nervous.

With the meeting commencing we got down to business. Mr. Jefferson sat quietly with input when it was required of him. The waitress brought him a plate with a steak on it and an empty bowl for veggies. "I brought your bowl for you, but I see you already got it yourself," she said. He nodded, staring down at his used empty bowl.

Directly to my right, Mr. Dobbs drank from his glass, condensation dripping from the glass to the table. I resisted a powerful urge to fold up a napkin to put under his drink. I hardly know him.

Now who is being particular?

Partly through the meeting I felt a gargantuan sneeze coming on, so I grabbed a napkin from a stack in front of me and slapped it over my mouth and nose just in time to keep a germaceous hurricane of possibly-diseased air from swirling around a member of the local government on my left.

I do not sneeze very lady-like and with a vigorous AAACHOOOOOOOOO I interrupted the meeting. Mr. Jefferson turned toward me and looked at me with a napkin over my face. He nodded with approval and said, "That's right!" I just sat there and stared at him, unsure how to respond.

That's right?

I forgot to mention that Mr. Jefferson is in a health-related field so I guess he was affirming to me that I was doing the right thing making liberal use of the free restaurant napkins.

I noticed later when he coughed he put his own napkin up to his mouth, coughed into it, folded it and lined it up very carefully next to the fork at the left side of his plate, patting it down gently.

Mr. Jefferson is a particular man.

July 6, 2009

Messages from the Mothership

I was on the phone with my mom the other night bragging (again) about my husband's meat roast. It was a fabulous affair.

When it came time to do the dishes I, of course, feigned a dire bathroom emergency and excused myself. As karmic punishment, God smote me with a silver-white hair right in the middle of my head.

And when I say "silver-white", I cannot stress enough how white it really was. It was neon white, bright hollywood-smile-white, white like a glowing hot iron poker. It was white like a white sand beach in the sun, a pristine new china plate, white like teeth under a black light. It effervesced whiteness. I even turned off the light to see if I could see it and I swear it was glowing in the dim light of my tiny little bathroom.

When I turned the light back on it waved as if to get my attention. And as if it wasn't noticeable enough with all its white glowing-whiteness it also stood straight up and curled at the top like a big question mark as if asking, "How old are you exactly?"

My answer, of course, was to get out a tiny little pair of scissors and snip it down to nothingness. Except I think I cut out about ten other hairs accidentally before I finally got the major offender. I heard somewhere that if you pluck a gray hair three grow back in its place. I'm not sure what happens if you pluck a mutant, radioactive white hair. Maybe it instantly turns your whole head white. I didn't want to take the chance without looking it up on the Internet first.

I called my still-ailing mother to tell her we had made her a plate of food and would be delivering it to her and then told her about the fluorescent whiteness sprouting from my noggin. My mom is the one I get my full-bodied compassion from. In true form she laughed and said, "Oh ho!"

I described to her in full detail the very whiteness of this glowing beam of whiteness emanating my from follicles. In all her wisdom, she then revealed The Truth to me.

Mom: You need more zinc. You're zinc deficient. Are you taking a multivitamin?

Me: No. I have trouble swallowing them.

Mom: You should be taking a multivitamin. You should take liquid then. That's what your brother does. You need some B12.

Me: I took some of yours from the office. It made me too nervous.

Mom: That's not nerves, that's energy. You've been tired so long you don't even know what it feels like to have energy.

Me: If I take that B12 I'm going to have to take a Xanax to go with it.

Mom: Did you pluck that gray hair out?

Me: It was WHITE, not gray. Like really, really, REALLY WHITE. And it curled up like a weird mutant hair.

Mom: Like a pig bristle?

Me: Gross, no, not like a pig bristle. You're not spose to pluck them out because I heard a whole bunch grow back in. I don't know if that's true but I figured I shouldn't take the chance so I cut it off with the scissors.

Mom: You shouldn't have done that.

Me: Why not?

Mom: Because it was your Wisdom Hair.

Me: My Wisdom Hair?

Mom: Yes.

Me: And now I don't have one because I cut it off?

Mom: Yes.

Me: Great.

Mom: Actually, I think it was your antenna. It was there because you're supposed to be doing important things in this world, making it a better place. That was your antenna so you can get messages from the Mothership so you'll know what to do. And now you won't get the messages.

Me: I don't think it was working anyway.

Mom: Well, now you'll never know.

July 5, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #16

It's Small Town Snapshot Sunday! Read the rules and get the banners here. Be sure you include the link to your post at the bottom of this entry and also, tag your post "stss" or "small town snapshot sunday" so people can search for it and find you! THE LINKING MECHANISM IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST. (We're trying a new one this week.) PLEASE LINK TO YOUR ENTRY TODAY, NOT YOUR MAIN PAGE! Also, please be sure to link back to me so people can go check out all the other people who are playing. That's part of the fun, the small-town-hopping!

Happy day-after-4th of July! This week is my Part II of our Summer Festival... the fireworks! I don't have a tripod (but oh how I would love one) so I just did the best I could trying to hold still and shoot the show. Also, I don't know how to work my camera in the dark. It seems like the whole thing was doomed from the start, but I actually got some interesting shots. Not technically beautiful, but interesting if you squint your eyes. So... when you get to the pictures, please squint. We're on the honor system here.

July 4th also happens to be my father's birthday. He's passed on now, but I still always wish him a happy birthday anyway. Here is an interesting and odd fact: my dad's brother was also born on the 4th of July, but they aren't twins. They were born on the same day, but five years apart. For years they thought that all the fireworks and big parties were for their birthday. (This could explain a little bit about my dad's personality now that I think about it.)

I also wonder if my emotionally fragile grandmother just had the babies scared out of her because of all the banging and booming. I'll have to ask someone about that.

Anyway, enough about my eccentric family. On with the show!

I hope you're having a great Sunday no matter where you are!

July 3, 2009

What Boys Smell Like

After baseball on a hot summer night, Julius and I had the following conversation:

J: You know what that smell is, Mom?

Me: No, what is it?

J: It's my natural stink. I like my natural stink. I think it smells good.

Me: You do? Really?

J: Mmmhmm.

Me: What does your natural stink smell like?

J: It's what boys smell like.

Me: What do boys smell like?

J: Well, like frog pee.

I'm also writing over at Spread Change today, trying to help a family.

July 1, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different (UPDATED!!)

Today we're taking a break from our regularly scheduled program for an interlude from real life. There will be no regular blog post today because the family (sans Tristan) will be off at the hospital for Julius's 15th surgery.

I have never talked about it extensively on my blogs, but I thought perhaps it was time to shine a small light on the condition he has because it's pretty rare and there's not a lot of awareness about it. I think there should be more awareness so that the doctors and researchers will be able to get more money for the studies that will enable them to find a better treatment for the disease, something better than what we have to do now.

The condition is Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (RRP) and affects the airways. Growths recur in his airway that, left untreated, would block his airway so he wouldn't be able to breath. He was diagnosed at around age 1 after four months of misdiagnoses (allergies, asthma, etc) and went in for immediate surgery after the doctor who scoped him said he had about 98% airway blockage.

Currently there is no CURE for the disease, but it is treated periodically with a procedure where they take a laser and burn the growths off his vocal chords which is where he is primarily affected. So, in addition to it affecting his breathing, his speech is also impacted. The closer he gets to surgery the more hoarse he gets. Much of the time he can only speak in a whisper. As you can imagine this has the potential to cause some significant social issues for him with other children as well as adults.

As I said, this will be his 15th surgery in the 5 years since he has been diagnosed. (And his particular condition is moderate -- there are some children who have to go in for surgery every two weeks. And with pulmonary involvement this disease is fatal.) Fortunately, there is a new drug trial that has recently started and it looks very promising. I'm not sure it can be used to treat the RRP in the lungs, but it has been used for what Julius has. There was a recent segment on the news about it. It's positive and upbeat if you want to go watch it, although it did make my mother cry.

I've debated long and hard about whether or not to write this post. I share with you a lot of superficial minutia from our lives and try to make it funny and lighthearted. I am blessed to have a lot of great moments in my life. But no life, no matter how great or funny, is without its bumps in the road. This is one of our bumps. It is a part of me since I became a mother. It colors me and skews me. It doesn't DEFINE me, but it does influence our family in so many ways.

And so I thought it was fitting that I finally and officially share it with you. I've shared it on my family blog because on surgery day I try to do a real-time posting of the events of the day so I don't have to make a lot of calls to update different people with the same news multiple times per day. So, I invite you to follow along as friends and family today over at Observations from an Ozark Life where you will see the chaos of surgery day in sort-of-real-time.

To learn more about RRP, check out the RRP Foundation's web site.

We'll be back to the regularly scheduled programming on Friday. See you then!

Update: We're back home and Julius did great. The amount of papillomas that he has is small compared to what he's had in the past. So that is awesome news! The unfortunate thing is he's built up a significant amount of scar tissue which is causing some problems. The doctor cut through some of the tissue to try to separate the vocal chords and put on a topical solution that is supposed to help inhibit more tissue growth and hopefully keep the scar tissue from sticking back together again. He says it will, but this might slow it down. Eventually when he gets older we'll have to deal with some secondary issues that have come up from the scar tissue, but he says it's not time yet for that. So, we wait. but in the meantime -- no new tissue is infiltrated and there is no bronchial involvment. WOO! We declare ourselves victorious for this round and the doc says we might even be able to push him to six month intervals. Here's hoping we make it to January. Thanks for all your loving support, prayers and well wishes. We appreciate them IMMENSELY.