August 31, 2009

Familiarity Breeds Contempt, Episode 2

It was one of those mornings when my husband was lying in bed trying to go back to sleep while I was getting ready to go. The laundry was piled up and I was having trouble finding a shirt I liked because all my favorites were dirty and the ones that were left were either not comfy or Rob hates them. He frequently hates my clothes. I'm the worst dressed person in the universe. And, honestly, I'm not saying that because I have poor self-esteem. I really do dress dress badly. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you the same thing.

So I remark to him as he's lying there with his eyes closed pretending to be asleep, "Well, I'm sorry honey, but I'm going to wear this shirt you hate because I don't have anything else to wear."

He opens one eye and looks at the baggy orange shirt I'm waving around and mumbles, "Oh, how bout you just go au naturale?"

"Oh yeah, that'll be great for business. They'll be lined up out the door to see that.  Good for the AMBULANCE business when everyone dies of fright and they have to come get them."

"Aw, sweetie, that's not true at all..."

Doesn't he do it just right? He understands how it works... the woman makes a disparaging remark about herself, then the man heaps compliments on her illustrating just how wrong she is and enumerating all the ways she is fabulous, wonderful and the only woman in the world worth having (for him).

I beamed. "Okay, well, you're right. I'm too hard on myself. They wouldn't die, but maybe just fall into a coma."

He nestled himself further under the covers, snuggling his fluffy pillow. "No, I meant, it wouldn't be busy because we have such a crappy ambulance service they would never get here."

"Oh, that's what you meant??"

He rubbed his face around in the pillow beaming with snuggle-satisfaction and emitted a muffled, "mmhmmmf."

"Thanks a lot."

"You're welcome," he said as he drifted off to sleep.

So, tomorrow the re-training begins!

August 30, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #24

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! Be sure to use the code snippet on your own page so people can just hop from page to page doing their "small town tour". If you can't get yours done exactly on Sunday, you can always backdate it! (Sometimes I'm late myself!)

Also, I'm making a change to the cutoff for the size of the small town. I was in a town the other day that I always think of as a small town and it was about 6,500 people. So, I think we'll try out 10,000 as our limit and see how that works out. The real rule of thumb is... does it FEEL like a small town? If so, don't feel weird about the number. Just join up!

This weekend our local Rotary club put on a fund-raiser PBR Discovery Tour bullride. In our area bullrides and rodeos are always well-received. People love them. Many times they dress up in their cowboy and cowgirl finery and whoop it up around the arena. It's good times!

The arena was all dressed up in many flags around the chutes and also in long banners over the arena. It was a warm night with a cool breeze. Very pleasant! The cowboys wait for the bullride to start.

Tristan watches and waits. He kept trying to climb the gate and I was terrified he'd come crashing to the ground.

Nearby, in contrast, was a tidy little man with his cowboy duds!

A lady with her festive crocheted cowgirl hat!

This lovely cowgirl rides the arena during the Star Spangled Banner sung by a local girl with an awesome voice.

One of the clowns is chased by an angry bull.

The head clown passes out rocks to little children. He was weird and fun.

The best part of the bullride are the long rides.

This was the angriest bull of the night. The few times he was out he chased everyone in the arena and even tried to gore people outside the arena. Here he is trying to face off one of the clowns.

A cowboy is dumped off and the mad bull tries to hit him when he's down. The clowns rush in to save him!

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

MckLinky Blog Hop

August 28, 2009

An Evolution of Values

It was the day we went back to the plastic surgeon to have my mom's stitches removed. I was supposed to leave the house around 7:15AM and pick Mom up at my office and drive her down to The Big City.

At 7:17AM I heard my phone ringing. I leaped out of bed, heart pounding. "Oh s@#t!" I rarely use curse words, a habit we broke ourselves of several years ago when we started our family. And yet, when the pressure is on and I realize I was supposed to leave to pick up MY MOTHER two minutes ago it's hard not to slip up. Also, it's hard not to want to slam your head in the freezer door about eight times because it will hopefully deaden you for what's coming up when she finally gets you to answer the phone.

"Hello," I said cheerfully as if I'd been up for hours and just hoping she'd call.

"Are you up?" I can hear the doubt in her voice. The motors and gears are winding up for her to call me by both my first and middle names.

"Pshaw, of course I am. I'm just running a little behind. I'm about to walk out of the house." In my pajamas, without brushing my hair or teeth.

"Okay, see you in a few. I'm already at the office."

I drop the phone onto the counter and run through the house yelling for Rob. "I'm LAAAAAATE. I overSLEPT. HELP MEEEEEEEEE!" He sits straight up in a panic, assuming the house is on fire or that I've whacked my hand off with the butcher knife.

"What? What is it? What?"

"I was supposed to be on the road. I have to go! You have to deal with the kids. I have to go! I have to take a shower and go!"

"What are you saying? That you're going?"

I dashed out of the room and into the shower where I took an amazing 2-minute shower then threw on my clothes without drying off. (Not recommended.) I ran a brush through my still dripping hair, slipped on some shoes and ran out the door, slamming it. Then I realized I had just run past Julius who was sitting on the couch rubbing his eyes. I opened the door a crack and said, "Bye, honey, sorry. I love you. Sorry."

At 7:31 I pulled into the office parking lot. My mom got into the car.

"Sorry I'm running a little bit behind."

She got into the car and said, "You look like a drowned rat."

"I know. It's okay, my hair will be dry by the time we get there."

Then she looked at horror down at my legs. "You're wearing SHORTS? Why are you wearing SHORTS?"

I looked down. "Um... because it's summer and I can?" I wasn't sure what she was getting at. Were my legs that horrifically bad?

"You're wearing SHORTS? To LITTLE ROCK?"

I still didn't really get what she was saying. "Mom, I'm taking the day off. Why wouldn't I wear shorts?"


I couldn't stand it anymore. "WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU! It's a doctor's office. I'm not going there to try to get a date, I'm driving you to the doctor. What is your deal?"

"Oh for heaven's sake. You're wearing SHORTS. That's like going to the doctor in your BATHING SUIT!"

"What? Oh, it's is so NOT like going to the doctor in my bathing suit. Going to the doctor in my bathing suit is like going to the doctor in my bathing suit. These shorts go down to my KNEES."

She still looked disgusted by the whole thing. "Well, I just can't believe it. I really can't. I'm just going to tell them I don't know you." (And she would, honestly.)

"Yeah, let's just tell them I picked you up hitchhiking. Never mind that we look exactly like one another."

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. When we got to the doc's building we sat quietly waiting for our turn. She didn't deny knowing me to the receptionist, but then the receptionist couldn't see the bottom half of me from where she was sitting. I looked around to see if anyone else was in shorts. Nobody. Later a man came in wearing shorts. I will admit I did feel slightly underdressed in the fancy plastic surgeon's office. My mother has a knack of making me spastic. It comes from many years of practice.

Turns out we didn't even see the doctor so she didn't have to deny knowing me. The stitches were removed by the nurse who seemed great at her job. They discussed a second surgery and how that would be scheduled. I sat looking at my mother talking cheerfully about a second surgery. She hadn't yet seen her face and when the nurse said she looked good I know she meant "you're healing great" not that she looked perfectly normal. Far from it.

She looked at me for my reaction and I put on my poker face. I told her I thought he did a good job, but I was sad. He DID do a good job, but his good job wasn't nearly good enough and I just sat there hoping that somehow in the weeks to come it would look better because my mom deserves better than what she had at that moment.

And oddly, she was calm and pleasant, not her typical fighting Irish. She told me a few weeks ago she'd given it over to God. Indeed she did seem serene more often than not and I was glad for it.

In three weeks they will revisit the situation to see how her skin graft is healing and then talk about a new surgery. The nurse said he would reshape her nose and basically give her a new one. The nurse pointed at me and said, "How about hers? She has a great nose."

And we laughed and Mom said that's what she brought me here for as the "sample nose". We laughed and as we laughed the nurse handed her the mirror and I stopped laughing because I was afraid of what would happen when she looked.

And then she looked, and looked hard, turning this way and that, casting a critical eye, totally void of emotion, then nodded and handed back the mirror. "Looks good," she said and turned her eyes to me. I nodded and said, "Yep, looks good."

And out we marched, stopping at the front desk to leave the paperwork. As we trudged back to the car she wanted to know what we should do for lunch. I recommended a Japanese steakhouse. She launched into all the reasons that was a horrible idea and then suggested Denny's because she had a 2-for-1 coupon. I then agreed with her.

Her nose may change, but so many other things are always the same.

August 26, 2009

The Years are Passing By. Do something, quick!

I love people's creativity. Check this out...!

Found via Daisy Janie.

about the video:
"A beautiful stop-motion ad celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Olympus PEN camera series. 60,000 pictures shot, 9,600 prints developed, and more than 1,800 pictures shot again. No post production!"

What are you doing to celebrate life today?

August 24, 2009

Seven Days Makes One Weak

It was a long week.

As if the red biohazard incident were not enough fun, I also caught a summer cold or some sort of respiratory difficulty that may or may not be H1N1 that could possibly kill me.

The peak of said respiratory difficulty coincided with my monthly city council meeting (and I mean that literally... not as a euphemism for something else) during which I had a coughing episode that had people: 1) getting me water, 2) giving me cough drops, 3) giving me gum, 4) asking if I were going to be okay and 5) made me wonder if I was going to have to ask for them to stop the meeting for five minutes while I ran to the hospital and asked for a little green oxygen bottle.

Fortunately, the gum an old guy gave me was what did the trick. I'm sure the Clerk is going to have a nightmare time trying to type up the minutes of that meeting since I was sitting only one chair down from the tape recorder.

I also didn't eat for five days. Not eating is highly underrated. About Day Three or Four the euphoria sets in and for a couple of days the world looks like a whole new light and airy kind of place. Then the pizza cravings start. Can't. Resist. Pizza.

* * *

During the week of poor health my mother had surgery to remove some skin cancer. So extensive was the event that she also had to have reconstructive surgery on her face including a skin graft and a strange moving around of parts that I didn't even think was possible. Remarkably she looks great. The surgeon was brilliant, skilled and looked really good in scrubs. All good vibes for her speedy healing will be graciously accepted. I dare not tell her I spilled the cancer beans or she will be angry with me for talking about her personal business.

But when has that ever stopped me, right?

* * *

My mother informed me this week that my brother will no longer eat food prepared by other people. If it hasn't been cooked in his house or by him personally he will not eat it. Apparently, his many years of working in the food service industry has finally pushed him over the edge. He insists that if any of us eat in a restaurant we have a death wish and it's only a matter of time before something horrible happens to us.

* * *

My oldest son came running up to me yelling, "Mom, there are men attacking our trees!" He was alarmed and nearly in a panic.

I ran to the window and, indeed, there were quite a few men in our yard attacking our trees. They were from the electric company and they were here for the periodic butchering of the foliage. We have four trees in our front yard, three of which are "volunteer" (meaning a bird pooped out a seed and a tree grew where it landed) and not particularly attractive. Especially the way the electric company keeps hacking away at it. The fourth is a very pretty Rose of Sharon.

I assured Julius not to be alarmed... that it was all perfectly normal. I realize later that the puzzled look on his face was him wondering what kind of world he lived in that it was perfectly fine that a whole bunch of men with orange hard hats would swarm over our front yard and start grinding our trees up in a big, noisy machine.

Three days later the three volunteers were hacked down by my husband because we could no longer stand to see the evidence of the massacre. The yard looks naked, but nicer.

Strangely, a house I have listed has a tree growing up through the floor of the porch. It's a gorgeous country farmhouse that's listed around $500K and yet the owner will not pay to have someone cut the tree out of the middle of his porch.

I keep trying to turn all this tree babble into some metaphor on life, but I'm just not smart enough. Feel free to take up my slack and offer your own philosophical musings.

* * *

We own two guinea pigs now. I think this might have been a big mistake.

* * *

Driving to day care the other day, Tristan sat very quietly in the back sipping a yogurt smoothie. When he finishes a drink, he has lately formed the habit of chucking it with all his might across the room, usually AT someone. That day was no exception and I felt something hit me in the back of the head, bounce off and fly end over end flinging yogurt around in the car, bounce off the steering wheel and land somewhere at Julius's feet.

My hair, my face and my shirt were spattered with yogurt smoothie. My first thought was it looked like something else completely inappropriate. My second thought was all this might be good for my complexion if it weren't so embarrassing.

My third thought was "Welcome to Motherhood."

How was your last seven days?

August 23, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #23

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! Be sure to use the code snippet on your own page so people can just hop from page to page doing their "small town tour". If you can't get yours done exactly on Sunday, you can always backdate it! (Sometimes I'm late myself!)

My post this week has no pictures. Due to time constraints and other various hubbubs in my life I wasn't able to get out and shoot anything. So, I'm getting creative and making a "word snapshot" instead.

This is life on a street in my 'hood.

Imagine a hill in town, a large bump in a valley landscape. It's carved on one side by a river that winds beneath craggy bluffs and is frequently overgrown by privet and other native growth.

At the base of the hill is a tiny little town, struggling to survive. The last industries gone a year ago, swept away by a tornado (literally), an ailing economy, outsourcing to Mexico. And yet it still maintains a gentle repose in the shadow of the hill where we now travel.

Up the hill we walk. On the right a historic house with a red tin roof. An Englishman lives there. He likes to take afternoon tea. He also lost his house to the tornado and moved to this one and refurbished it. The children of the neighborhood use trash can lids to slide down his hill when it snows.

Behind the Englishman's house used to be a big garden owned by an old woman who owned the house before she died. Now it's an ugly brick fourplex. This is change, this is progress.

Down the street a little house that used to be blue, but now it's yellow and looks much better. Ten years ago the house was overgrown by the landscaping and slowly it's reclaimed. And today as we walk by, indeed, there's a man on a red riding mower driving in circles with a determined look on his face. He will defeat this nature that never rests. And so he never rests. On the screen porch a woman sits typing on her laptop. She looks at us thoughtfully as we walk past.

And then there is The Whorehouse. Not really one, but that's what all the fellas down at the fire department call it because it's a two story building with porches all along the front, upstairs and down. Young women sit on the railing or stand leaning looking down as we go by. It reminds the guys at the firehouse of those Saturday afternoon Westerns they watched as a kid. It looks like a saloon adorned by Women of Ill-Repute.

Eventually we pass a school looking quiet and lazy on a Sunday. Forgotten yesterday, dreaded today as Monday looms just around the corner. Off to the right is a side street that has a lush flower garden where birds love to sit in the trees and sing. We turn there because we can't resist.

And as we walk we look in the ditch for frogs and find instead a used pregnancy test that's negative. We speculate on whether this is good news or bad news for those concerned.

Around the corner are two churches and a museum, all with ample parking but nobody is there. Church is long over and they've all gone home to stuff themselves on roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and flaky buttermilk biscuits. We imagine them loosening their belts or even their pants and exclaiming to Maw or Grandmaw how good the meal was. And then on to Sunday afternoon movies brought to you by people who want to sell you storm windows or aluminum siding. Clint Eastwood or John Wayne a Sunday fixture in the post-lunch drowsiness in front of the TV.

All along the streets are houses old and new, quiet and happy homes for the most part. At least they look like it from the outside. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors.

But as we walk we speculate and daydream and invent stories to amuse ourselves until we come full circle, back down the hill, past the man who is finished mowing and covers his mower lovingly with a blue plastic tarp, past the laptop lady who closes the lid and moves inside to start dinner for her children. Or something.

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

MckLinky Blog Hop

August 21, 2009

How I Lost My Mother-of-the-Year Nomination

From Sunday to Sunday it was a very bad week.

It started out exciting. On Saturday I decided I would make a bold move and take Julius with me to do the weekly grocery shopping on Sunday. We'd have a great time just the two of us and he could help me with the coupons. I envisioned fun scavenger hunts for grocery items and races to get things in the basket. Sugar plum faeries. Shooting stars. Swelling music montages and the two of us linking arms and skipping down the aisles like Dorothy and her sidekicks off to see The Wizard.

You know, the usual stuff that makes up my daily life.

It didn't really end up the way I had it all planned.

I thought a treat really must be in order so we went out to lunch. Over the menu Julius said he didn't really feel like eating and he just wanted some tea.

"Don't be silly," I said. "You have to eat something."

"I'm not hungry," he insisted.

I insisted back. "You MUST be hungry. You ate hardly any breakfast."

We ordered. He had Jello and part of a sandwich and off we went to the stores.

After a couple of stops he started misbehaving. First he started complaining his legs were hurting and he couldn't walk. "I need a wheelchair," he moaned.

I rolled my eyes. At Walgreen's they have little tiny baskets that kids can't sit in, so periodically he'd fall to the ground and exclaim how he couldn't go on anymore.

Filled with compassion (not), I hissed, "What is WITH you? GET UP!" Finally we made it out with one stop left to go... the big grocery store.

I helped him heave his ginormous body into the basket (at 6 he's over 60 pounds and only a foot and a half shorter than me) and he complained he was cold. Not realizing that my mother-of-the-year nomination was in dire peril I simply dismissed his complaint as low stamina for shopping and proceeded to bury him in cereal, canned goods, bread, corn on the cob and toilet paper.

A woman wheeled past me and glanced at Julius neck deep in groceries, lying his head on a big 30 pack of Charmin looking miserable and said, "Oh my, your child is certainly surrounded by groceries!" I wanted to say, "Lady, don't even start on me about it because this is better than the alternative where he falls to the ground like he's posing for an Andrew Wyeth painting..." But instead I smiled and said, "Isn't he, though?"

About every minute and a half he said, "Mom, I really want to go home. Are we done yet?"

"I'm trying to hurry, Jules, I really, really am."

At the checkout I unearthed the child and told him to go sit on the bench by customer service while I paid for all the groceries. After an agonizing wait for all the grocery scanning and coupon scanning I wheeled the basket toward the exit and saw a lady pointing over at Julius. She had a strange look on her face.

And there he was... my lonely-looking youngster surrounded by a big explosion of red Jello and sandwich spew. And when I say "big", I mean it spread out for about two feet around him and the customer service bench. And everyone was staring at him. And when they were done staring at him they turned to stare at me.

Imagine, if you will, how crummy I felt about giving him a hard time, how insensitive I felt for making him eat when he didn't want to, how inept I felt that I didn't realize he really WAS sick and I should have skipped shopping. So much for mother's intuition, right?

And then along came a fellow with a large box on a dolly. He pulled on some rubber gloves. I started to bend down to clean up barf with a big wad of paper towels someone had brought over. The guy says, "No, no... let me get that." I kept saying, "I'm so sorry, so sorry... so sorry about this... blah blah blah sorry blah blah babble babble..."

He smiled, "No, it's fine. It happens. Check this out!" He scoops a big cup of powder out of the magical box and dumps it onto the red biohazard covering the floor and it somehow mysteriously changes its physical properties and turns into something that can be swept up with a push broom. I wanted to buy that box of stuff from him, whatever it was. I've never seen a guy so happy to clean up gross stuff.

Turns out that was the beginning of our adventures in biohazard for the week. Julius was Patient Zero followed by me, then by Rob. Then it swept through the family a second time. The only one who didn't get sick was Tristan who frequently builds up his immune system by doing bicep curls with earthworms and pectoral flexing by cricket catching. Oh, and eating stuff off the ground.

Okay, maybe there's actually more than one reason I lost my nomination.

August 19, 2009

Watch Out for Women Who Like Snakes

Recently Julius was given a small book from the Game and Fish Commission that shows all the snakes that are native to our area. He loves that thing. We look through it frequently and talk about all the different kind of snakes, which ones are poisonous, which ones I've seen, etc.

My mom was in the office the other day just sitting around with us and chatting. I told Julius to show her the book and have her point out the snakes she's seen because she's been roaming the woods for close to a hundred thousand years.

And she didn't disappoint with the stories. She told him of the time she had a big showdown with a black racer that chased her. She was out with a client and stepped over a log and the client said, "Isn't that a snake?" And she said, "Where?" And he said, "On that log between your legs..."

She looked down and sure enough there was the racer and, as she described it, she leaped about four feet straight up into the air. I picture this like in those cartoons where the characters jump straight up and their legs are moving like they're running for a few seconds before they get any forward motion.

The snake, obviously perturbed, began chasing her and she ran at top speed away from it until she couldn't run anymore. Finally she turned, breathless, and said, "I can't go on... if you're gonna get me, just bring it on, snake!" Apparently calling his bluff she scared the snake back and he turned and fled the other direction to find a new log without some crazy redheaded lady jumping around on it.

Rob asked, "Racers aren't poisonous, though, are they?"

She admitted they were not. He asked, "Then why were you running from it?"

"Because it was chasing me."

I thought that sounded completely logical.

* * *

She also told of the time when she and I were living in a temporary home after the place we lived in had burned. It was an old, charming home, and had been long-empty and now was full of tiny little mice -- "popcorn mice" as my mom refers to them. They were so very small, smaller than half my thumb and they'd wander around in scurrying packs. You'd open drawers and they'd be hanging out in there having little parties in the soup ladles and dish towels. At night when we'd watch TV we had to keep our feet up on the coffee table so they didn't run up our pajama legs.

Invariably in the country where there are mice there are also snakes. One day I was walking through the kitchen and heard some kind of strange sputtering noise and was sure my mom had left something in the toaster oven. I glanced into the glass door and didn't see anything and the noise stopped. I walked by again later and heard it again and couldn't get over that there had to be some sort of short in the cord and it was sparking or something. So, I decided to unplug it. I pulled the toaster oven forward on the counter and started to follow the cord back to where the plug was. It was then I saw the noise was was not an electrical short but the biggest black snake I'd ever seen in my life. It was stretched across the back of the counter behind the toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker and cannisters I couldn't see its head or tail, but could see in between the stuff on counter that it stretched a long, long, long way.

My life passed before my eyes and I ran screaming out the back door, "MAAAAAAAAHHHMM!"

Valiant warrior that she is, she ran in, brandished a large kitchen knife and waved it menacingly at the snake who decided to take cover inside the cabinet. Except for its head which it poked up through a crack in the cabinet and eyeballed my maniacal, knife-wielding mother. I'm not sure if that was self-preservation or if he was trying to decide if he could take her.

I stood on the arm of the couch in the next room being completely cowardly. But, to my credit, I was 12 or so and hadn't yet inherited the whole knife-brandishing thing yet. That would come later.

At this point, Julius interjects into the story, "Did you chop his head off, Grandma?" I cringed. He sounded way too excited about the head-chopping. She admitted that was what her intention was but he kept going back down into the cabinet and eventually we lost track of where he was.

He said, "Did you know that if you chop a snake's head off his body keeps moving? Alex told me that and it's true you know."

She said, "Yes, it is true. Dead snakes keep moving. Even if you cut them up into little pieces all the pieces keep moving around for a whole day afterward. You really need to cut them into small pieces."

I glanced over at her. "Mom..."

She looked at me and shrugged. "Women hate snakes. They hate them because of the story of Adam and Eve. Eve was deceived by a snake and that's why women hate them."

I froze in the middle of typing and looked over at Julius who was looking at me for some indication of whether or not this was the truth. I rolled my eyes. He looked at Grandma and then back at me. I started typing again.

My mom continued, "In fact, there's something wrong with a woman who likes snakes. Watch out for those women."

I scrunched down in my seat, getting closer and far more interested in what I was typing. I'm wondering what kind of strange ideas my oldest son will have about women and families by the time he is old enough to start dating.

At least I hope he doesn't fall in love with a snake lover, because if he does he'll have a lot of explaining to do with his grandmother.

August 17, 2009

The Epiphany of Materialism

My youngest son, who is two, has very strong ideas about the way things should be and when they don't go exactly the way they are supposed to go in his orderly little universe, his train derails and the whole world comes crashing in.

Once when I passed one of the roads we turn down to get to our house he started screaming, "WRONG WAY! WRONG WAY! WRONG WAY!"

I said, "Tristan, I just want to go look at something real quick and then we'll go home."


"Look, it's right here... this is where the fishing derby will be. I wanted to see how the new pond is coming along. See it there? With the big tractors?" Divert, divert, divert!

"Uh huh..." He sounded calmer. My brilliant plan was working. I am a master Toddler Whisperer. I could have my own TV show! I can rule the world!

"Okay, we'll go home now..." I drove on to take the next road that would loop around to take us to our house. No sense in backtracking, right?


"Tristan, we're going to the house right now. We can go to the house this way."

He starts pointing back to the road we passed that we have always taken pretty much every day for his entire life. "DAT WAY! ME GO HOME NOW! WRONG WAY WRONG WAY!"

He screamed the entire way home and when we pulled into the driveway he started crying because he realized I wasn't going back to the other road to drive home the "correct" way.

So, this morning when I was standing in the driveway buckling him into his carseat and he said, "Daddy not in car" I was certain we were headed for another episode.

"You're riding with me today. Daddy's going in his car."


I sighed. "Daddy's going to work."

"Why come?"

"Daddy has to go to work and make some money. If we don't work then we don't get money and we can't buy food and toys." This is bound to bring him around to his senses. The sheer logic of it was stunning. How could he not immediately improve his attitude if he just thinks it through? (By now it should be obvious why I'm parent of the year.)

"Daddy get money buy toys?!"

He's brilliant like his mother. We're connecting. He completely understands me! "Yes, so Daddy must go to work."

"Daddy get money! Buy me toys?"

Doubt sets in. "Um, well, yeah, that's overly simplistic, but kind of, yeah." I shut the door hoping that would end the conversation. I walked around to my side, opened the door.

Tristan yelled from the back, "We need buy more stuff!"

Julius pipes up. "YEAH! Let's go to Wal-Mart and look for toys!"

I growl under my breath, "Don't get him started!"

From the back, "Toys, Wahmaht, buy toys!"

I looked over at Julius, irritated. He shrugged and muttered an apology.

We pulled out of the driveway and did our best to change the subject. Periodically when it sounded like we said something remotely related to Daddy working, toys or making money Tristan would yell, "WE NEED BUY MORE STUFF!"

Sometimes randomly when we weren't talking about anything at all we'd hear him remark, "We need buy more STUFF!"

In a ten minute drive to daycare he suggested buying more stuff at least twelve times. I dread when he starts getting an allowance.

[For those who are environmentally inclined, you might want to check out The Story of Stuff.]

August 16, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #22

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!

I'm trying something new this week... instead of the traditional linking thingy, I thought I would try this as a "blog hop". Try it out and let me know what you think. Be sure to use the code snippet on your own page so people can just hop from page to page doing their "small town tour". If you can't get yours done exactly on Sunday, you can always backdate it!

This week in my small town it's THE LAST DAYS OF SWIMMING before school starts. Recently Tristan has gotten brave enough to jump from the top step of the ladder. I can't believe how big he is getting. It's amazing!

Not quite as brave when it looks like his brother might be about to leap onto his head, though.

CANNON BAAAAALLLL! (And some booty crack, oops!)

My normally camera shy son suddenly decides to model for me. He started out with his regular smile then he spontaneously starts doing some GQ poses for me!

Not to be outdone, Tristan gives me his best Hollywood smile...

And then Julius is back to his normal self.

Hop on over to some other small towns. I hope you're having a great Sunday no matter where you are!

MckLinky Blog Hop

August 14, 2009

Companionable Silence

All summer Julius has been coming to work with me. Some days it has been awesome. Some days it has been an endless nightmare of "is it time to go yet" punctuated by episodes of using too much Scotch tape and cutting little confetti-like bits of paper from the recycle bin that are then strewn liberally around on the dark carpet.

Once he laid a sheet of bubble wrap across the floor and jumped on it. Had I been still living near LA I would have dived under the desk screaming, "It's a DRIVE-BY!" Fortunately those days are behind us. Where I live now what constitutes as a drive-by is a pickup with no muffler, a carton of eggs and two guys name Ray and Joe Bob. (Ray always drives because Joe Bob has a better throwing arm.)

One of the great things about my job is that I have to drive around and look at stuff. Sometimes it's to take a picture of a house for a bank, sometimes I have to find a piece of land for someone, sometimes I list a cabin or some land or show a client something nice they might buy.

Living in the very relaxed South, people generally tolerate me having my kid with me. In my formerly childless life I would have held the opinion that this was unprofessional behavior and would have poo-pooed the whole scenario as distasteful were I a client. Now that my maternal pendulum has swung over to the other extreme I say... screw 'em if they can't handle a six year old tagging along with me now and again. At least it's not Tristan.

Julius is fairly well-behaved when I'm with clients with a few exceptions -- one involving his psychotic break in which he had an emotional collapse over a very large spider in the woods. Another in which he demonstrated possible sociopathic behavior by repeatedly chasing a terrified baby rabbit around someone's yard until I screamed under my breath for him to stop. It came out sort of like "Jhhs!" Out of some form of self-preservation he knew the translation for that was, "Come back and stop chasing that rabbit and embarrassing me in front of these people or you'll be grounded until you're 35 and also possibly I will give you a wedgie."

The other day we took a drive to photograph a house. It was a less-humid morning than usual and the heat hadn't become oppressive yet. We drove with the windows partly down and Julius leaned over to play some Credence Clearwater Revival which is his favorite CD and my most-hated.

Not only that he cranked it up REALLY LOUD so he could hear over the whooshing of the air coming into the windows. We drove along in silence and even though I enjoy CCR about as much as I enjoy listening to crows fight over rancid roadkill I began to get into it. I glanced over to Julius sitting next to me. He gazed out the window watching the world speed past and I wondered what he was thinking.

When my mom talks about his emotional states she always says, "Still waters run deep with that one." She is right. It is so hard to know what he's thinking and feeling. On this day he seems content and contemplative. As we drive through the harsh sounds squalling from the speakers I wonder if he likes CCR because he has a voice that is sometimes rough and harsh. I wonder if it gives him hope that not all successful singers are beautiful singers. Does he even think in those ways? Sometimes I think he does.

I reached my hand over and patted his leg then put both hands back on the wheel. He glanced at me, then back out the window, nodding. Occasionally he leaned forward and pressed the button on the stereo to skip a song or play the same song again: 12, 3, 14, 14, 7, 6, 7...

We drove on in companionable silence, each of us lost in our own fabulous world of dreams and speculation.

August 12, 2009

We Deserve Each Other

Recently Julius and I were at the doctor's office with my mom, this time a specialist in the big city. We rode up the elevator much to Julius's delight, all the way to the 8th floor. In our little town there is only one building that has an elevator and that's the hospital -- only two floors. Not a thrill ride by any means.

He decided while we were in the waiting room that he really wanted to take the stairs going down. After some serious negotiating and a handshake we decided we would take the stairs and the "last man standing" would win. He was certain he would win and by the looks of it, with her eyeballing my formerly-girlish-now-gone-beachball figure, my mom was pretty certain he would, too. Frankly, this made me fed up with both of them.

When we finished with my mom's appointment, she left down the elevator and Julius and I headed for the stairs. We stepped into the coffin-like stairwell and the door slammed shut behind us. I jumped and glanced behind me to see a small sign:

Doors will lock behind you.
Exit only on 1st floor.

The only problem is that you can only see the sign when the door is closed.

Now fully committed we proceeded down the stairs. Between floors 8 and 7 we paused to look down the middle of the stairwell, a tiny little gap, presumably for safety. I wallered up a big wad of spit and sent it down eight flights, a perfect straight drop all the way to the bottom.

Julius said, "Wow... how'd you DO that?"

For a moment, I basked in the adulation of my son. All it takes is a little bit of spit and I can impress a 6-year-old boy. I figured I should enjoy it now since I've got so little time of this left before we ease into the adolescent disdain and embarrassment.

He tried to muster some spit and send it on down the chute and it spattered on the steps of the floor below us. "Ar," he stated with disgust. "I can't do it and I'm out of spit now!"

I shrugged and said, "See you at the bottom!"

And thus the race began. Behind me he yelled, "Let me in front of you!"

I cackled and yelled, "No way, Jose!" On floor 5 I rounded the corner to see the most humongous cockroach I've ever seen in my life. Fortunately, dead and upside down. I yelled up, "COCKROACH!" and kept on skipping down the stairs.

Behind me Julius rounded the corner and stopped to look at it. Suckerrrrrr! I gained half a floor more before I heard him yell, "Maaahhhhhmmmm! Wait for me!" I paused slightly out of motherly guilt and then remembered how smug they were about my abilities to go DOWN eight flights of stairs. DOWN, for heaven's sake.

"Nice try!" I yelled as I continued down to floor 4. Behind me I heard him admonish himself, "Argh, I stopped too long to look at that bug!" I snickered quietly, pausing to make sure I could still hear him behind me.

Another dead bug on four and one more on 3. I relayed the information up the stairs and heard him yell, "Mom, now I'm getting scared!"

I yelled back, "The only thing you should be scared of is me winning!" I skipped down through two, rounding down to the ground floor to see my mom standing at the door holding it open. She asked where Julius was. I told her he was about 2 flights behind me.

Finally there he was with a sheepish grin. We walked out to the parking lot, him splashing in the puddles with his brand new shoes. "Mom spit down the stairs," he told his grandmother. I looked around innocently, certain she would admonish me.

She glanced over. "You did?"

I nodded. "I think I impressed him."

She rolled her eyes and said, "I'm sure you did."

"Well, I am the mother of two boys you know," I reminded her.

"I know and you're starting to be just like them, spitting and burping. Just like all THREE of them."

I smiled happily and stomped a puddle next to her, splashing her, laughing, "We deserve each other."

She scooted farther away from me and yelled back at me, "You certainly do!"

August 10, 2009

Face Your Fears

Julius and I were discussing what we should do about our "summer trip". Summer is fading fast and soon school will start and we will be thrown into the day-in, day-out loss of freedom.

I have these fantasies that I could take him out of school whenever I want and run away to another town for a day and play hookey. Being self-employed, this is one of those things you can do -- except now I'm supposed to set a good example and NOT let him be truant. Damn this whole teaching of responsibility thing!

We began reminiscing about how much fun we had at the water park. One of Julius's more memorable experiences was going down a slide he refers to as the "toilet bowl". Probably I don't even need to describe it based on that nickname. But for a child of six, going down a long tube and into a gigantic bowl in which you spin around and around and then drop into a very deep pool when you've never been in a pool that is deep enough to go over you head ... it's pretty intense.

He was a trooper, though. Out he came from the bottom of the toilet bowl and dropped into the pool and promptly sank like a stone. I sat there for a few seconds and waited for him to pop back up and he didn't. He's not a buoyant child. Finally he struggled to the top and started to sink again but the lifeguard at the opening of the bowl grabbed him and swam him over to the side.

Of all the things at the park that day, this is the one he remembers most and he's very proud of it.

"I went on the toilet bowl, Mom. Even TORI wouldn't go on it." (Tori is the 16-year-old daughter of our daycare lady.)

I nodded. "I'm really proud of you. That's a big slide!"

He leaned back on the couch and nodded slowly in agreement. "I faced my fears. I like facing my fears."

* * *

My mother is claustrophobic. On a recent trip to the doctor she was forced to ride the elevator eight flights up. We even tried the stairs, but they were very narrow with no windows. She decided the elevator was the lesser of two evils.

There was a little trouble with the elevators. The light on the button to call the elevator was broken so we weren't sure we were calling the elevator or not. Then two of the four elevators were making strange noises, grinding and squeaking and occasionally a bang or two.

We went through several failed attempts to get her into an elevator that she was satisfied with. Julius couldn't understand why we weren't getting into any of the cars that arrived. She tried to explain it while setting a good example for him, but was not succeeding very well.

Finally I said, "Julius what do you think about facing your fears?"

He answered enthusiastically, "It's GOOD mom. Facing your fears is really good!"

The next time the elevator opened, my mom flung herself into the car with us racing after her to catch up.

August 9, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #21

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!

I took these pictures quite a while ago and then lost them. I finally found them again, here they are!

This was a little homestead that was across the road from a property I was photographing for work.

I didn't get a shot of the house because what fascinated me was their garden they had just planted. It was so tidy and perfect. And I loved the tin shed and the rows of martin houses.

Those buildings in the background are old chicken houses that are not used anymore. We have many old, unused chicken houses that are no longer maintained. Some years ago the processing plant forced growers to adhere to certain standards which was great for the community in some ways because it reduced the smell of farms. Back when I was a kid you could hardly drive around with the car windows down if you were close to a poultry farm. Especially if they were growing turkeys. Those were the worst.

They had a cute little John Deere mailbox next to a ditch filled with flowers. The gravel road had grass growing up through it and you could tell it wasn't used a lot. It curved around past their farm and the trees closed in over the top of it in a massive green canopy. So peaceful.

Below are a few of the flowers that were growing wild in the ditch... little flowery weeds, some roses, brown-eyed susan and more.

I hope you're having a fabulous Sunday, wherever you are!

August 7, 2009

Casper, the REALLY Friendly Ghost and Other Conversational Tidbits

I tucked Tristan into bed and he was fussy. He kept asking to hug me, but what he really wanted was for me to hug him. After hugging him about five times I finally got a stuffed toy for him to cuddle while he was falling asleep.

I just grabbed one, not really paying attention to what I was getting in the dim light. It was a stuffed ghost that Julius got from the anaesthesiologist once when he was having surgery around Halloween. Predictably his name is Casper.

So, I tucked Casper in with Tristan and he squeezed him tight and made that cute little "happy noise" that I love. Then he got a puzzled look on his face and said, "Casper have penis??"

I said, "Ummm... huh?"

He pulled Casper out from under the covers and showed me the part of Casper that was sticking out at the bottom. It's the trailing tail of the ghost.

He asked again, "Casper have penis??"

I said, "No, definitely not. Casper is a ghost." I realized moments later that was totally the wrong answer when he sits straight up in bed with a wild look in his eye.

"Casper ghost bad boy!"

"No, no," I reassured him. "Casper is a good boy ghost."

"Casper bad boy..." And then he poked him right in the eye. Because I guess that's what you do when you have a bad boy ghost in your bed.

* * *

Julius was watching a plastic triceratops trudge slowly across the top of the coffee table.

"Mom, can you believe this thing still works? We haven't had to change the batteries even one time!"

I answer, "Amazing, yes."

Tristan slides off the couch and knocks the dinosaur off the table. It falls to the ground and its head pops off and rolls across the floor.

Julius bellows, "Tristan, stop! You're ruining it. That's an ANTIQUE! It's like two years old!"

I'd hate to hear what he calls his dad and I.

* * *

I refer to Julius as my "unpaid summer intern". Mostly what he does when he's staying at the office is go fetch stuff off the copier, check the mail and use up office supplies unnecessarily.

His favorite place to sit is behind me in my chair. Anyone who knows how big my butt is will not believe that this is possible, but it is. I generally sit far forward in the chair because I'm short and sometimes my feet don't go all the way to the ground. So he wedges himself in the gap between me and the back of the chair.

Many times it's inconvenient and sometimes annoying, but several times I've talked him into "fixing" my hair and scratching my back which is nice. Yesterday my grandfather came in and asked what that was behind me and I said, "A mole. I really need to get to the dermatologist and have it removed."

While I was hunched over working on a problem, Julius sat quietly back there and after a while said, "Mom, I have to ask you a question."

"Okay, go ahead."

"How do squirrels kiss?"

I wasn't sure I heard it right. "How do squirrels kiss?"


The sinking feeling started settling in, but I plowed ahead anyway saying, "Squirrels don't kiss..."

"Well, then how do they have babies?"

Just then the phone rang and, honestly, I have never been so happy to answer a phone call in my life.

August 5, 2009

How to Make an A$$ Out of Yourself at the Grocery Store

I have mentioned before about my weekly grocery shopping fiascoes during which I display impressive feats of frugality to get half-price groceries. (And anyone who wants to know more about how I do it, just email me.)

Unfortunately, I am too easily amused and also one of those people who has fuzzy boundary issues. This is a nice way of saying I stick my nose into other people's business.

I'm scared I'm going to be one of those people that's embarrassing to be around. I'll be the crazy old lady that talks to strangers in really personal ways. Oh, who am I kidding... I already do that without being an old lady. That's why I think I'm just screwed already. Should I fight it or just go with it? I'm still trying to decide.

Just in case you'd like to be obnoxious in the grocery store like me, here is a helpful primer on how to make an ass out of yourself:

1) When both lanes of a grocery aisle is full, run quickly toward someone with your basket shouting, "GROCERY CHICKEN!!!!"

2) Force coupons you're not using onto people who really don't want to use coupons.

3) Interrupt a husband and wife trying to decide what to have for dinner and make recommendations complete with recipe. (Bonus points if you manage to sell a product for the grocery store.)

4) Pick up an 8 pound pork butt on sale and dance around with it singing, "I like big butts and I cannot lie...!"

I'm sure I could invent some really embarrassing things to add to the list, but I thought it would be more awesome just to list the ways I've actually been authentically stupid.

Just keepin' it real!

Okay, don't leave me hanging out here alone. Pipe up and tell me how wild and crazy you get in the grocery store!

August 3, 2009

Precious Moment

Julius and I were driving in the car and had the following conversation:
J: I have an idea, Mom.

Me: Okay, what?

J: I think we should start saving up for our life dream. We need to put money away whenever we can to save up to go to Disney World because that's our life dream and we need to use our life savings to have our life dream.

Me: That's a great idea. We should wait until Tristan can enjoy it, though, like maybe in 2-3 years. He will be about 5 and you will be about 9.

J: Okay, that will be good. I will help save up some money, too. Also, I was thinking I would save up a hundred of my allowances for a laptop computer that I saw on TV. How long will it take me to save up for that?

Me: (after an agonizing moment of calculating in my head) About 2-3 years.

J: I'm gonna do that then. And that's about the time we'll be going to Florida to Disney World and so I will be able to take the laptop with me.

Me: It sounds like you have it all planned out. Sounds good to me!
We rode in silence for quite a while. He started talking again...
J: Mom, I have to ask you a question.

Me: Okay, go ahead.

J: Will my dad be dead by the time I have saved up for my laptop?

Me: (I laughed, but didn't mean to!) No! Three years isn't that far away. Your dad should still be here by then. I'd sure be sad if he wasn't.

J: I'd be sad, too. He's the best dad I've ever met.

August 2, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday #20

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!

Recently Julius and I did an excursion over to Heber Springs to get some pictures for work. While we were there we took a quick sidetrip to the Greers Ferry Lake dam. It's a beauty.

The park was dedicated by John F. Kennedy on October 3, 1963 and one of this last major public appearances before he was assassinated. Here is a picture of the dedication:

(You can read more about the dedication at the Corps of Engineers web site.)

This is the entrance of the small lookout where you can stand to view the dam. Without knowing it was built in the late 50's, early 60's you can tell just from the architecture.

Originally this was all river going through this valley. Now it's a beautiful lake with three world-class fishing records. It's 22 miles long and has 365 miles of shoreline. Downstream, below the dam the water is cold and deep and routinely stocked from the fish hatchery with several types of trout.

It's hard to see, but there's a man standing by the railing spraying something with a jet of water.

Julius took pictures with me. I was hoping we'd be able to post his own STSS entry on his blog, but I think I left the other camera at work. I'll try to get to it sometime this week! He loved it at the lookout. It's really stunning.

Across the way is a recreational park where people can swim, camp, picnic and launch their boats.

The birds use the updraft below the dam to circle and cruise around looking for dinner.

Have a great Sunday no matter where you are!