January 26, 2010

The Smell of Change

I love living in the country. I've lived out of the city most of my life except for a small stint in a big college town in my 20's and a longer stint in a big coastal California town where I could hang out anonymously and not know any of my neighbors until I learn later on the news that they all committed suicide because of a comet.

When you live in the country it's a lot easier to become in tune with the natural world around you. The smells are different, there is little light pollution, noise pollution, and general... pollution pollution.

The other night I stepped out onto the porch and on my first deep breath I thought, "Hmm, smells like snow is coming."

Seriously? On a conscious level I have no idea what it smells like when snow is coming, but apparently my highly evolved limbic system does because that's what it was telling me.

This coincides with an interesting conversation I had with my brother the other day.  I drove to where he works to give him a late birthday present I made for him. I dreaded handing it over to him because I was certain that he would hate it.  First of all, it's homemade and what guy likes homemade crap?  Second, you just have to know my brother -- he's half Farmer's Almanac, half UnaBomber. And what I made him was knitted cowl out of camo yarn to keep his neck warm while he is hunting or working in the woods. It's a gift that was doomed to fail on so many levels.

Turns out after an agonizing three minutes that felt more like ten minutes of him looking in the mirror and turning side to side and peering out at me with one eye he proclaimed, "You know... I like it."  At that point I had to sit down for a minute.

He then walked me outside and took a smoke break and complained that people were putting their cigarettes out in his pansy planters. My brother the UnaBomber Almanac loves to plant pansies in the winter. He describes them as "hardy as hell."  We went on to discuss the unseasonably warm weather we were having and how nice it was compared to the icy abuse that Mother Nature had heaved on us a couple of weeks ago.

"It will be like this a few more days. It's always like this until your birthday. Every year right after your birthday we get it again. It will be bad."

I stood there staring at his butt-filled pansy planters and didn't say much, wondering how in the world he remembers stuff like this that there is always a cold snap after my birthday. Who pays attention to that stuff year after year? We stood in silence for a while longer with just the sound of him blowing second-hand carcinogens out into the fresh air.

Soon I went off with not much thought about it again until I stepped out onto my porch the day after my birthday and realized that a cold snap was coming. And sure enough it's here with more to follow this weekend.

Who knows if we will get snow. We'll see. I'm no weather girl, but I do smell a change comin'!

January 25, 2010

Two Years Ago This Month

Just for the heck of it I wanted to see what I was doing two years ago this month.  So much has happened for all of us in the last two years with storms, a horrible economy, fabulous milestones, cataclysmic Earth events and sad, unexpected losses.

I thought I was due for a short trip down memory lane.  Here's what I was doing in January, two years ago:







What were YOU doing two years ago?

January 15, 2010

Attack of the Gingerbread Zombies

Last Sunday my husband was going through Julius's backpack in order to get him ready for back-to-school after a two week holiday vacation plus one week of being snowed in and school being canceled.

After some digging around in the backpack he pulls out what, at first glance, appeared to be a very adorable Gingerbread Man that the teacher had made for the kids to decorate. At second glance my husband realized that our son had turned the potentially cute gingerbread guy into a crazed gingerbread zombie with a black screaming maw and blood streaming from the corners of his mouth and down his chest.

Rob gasped, "Oh, JOOOLIUUSSSS...." This was followed by a long conversation about how a guy in first grade needs to stick with the expected holiday agenda and on Christmas draw joyful, carefree pictures of gift-giving abundance, well-endowed gingerbread houses and fresh, plump holly berries and mistletoe.

My son's response was to grin maniacally as if what he'd done was the funniest thing in the universe. (As if we hadn't already had conversations about inappropriate artwork such as swastikas and landscapes that make it appear as if his mother must beat him and lock him in the closet sometimes.)

I think we might be safe so far.  We've not gotten any calls from the school just yet, although, maybe they are afraid to call me considering already I've yelled at them once about my kid getting beat up on the bus and also about Jesus.

Secretly, though, the real problem is I think the picture is cool.  I mean, really... bloody crazed Gingerbread Man?  That's some good Hollywood horror material.  I'm thinking about scanning this guy and using it as our family Christmas card next year.  Rob says no, and adds he understands now why our son is like he is.

I'm not sure, but I think he means me.

January 13, 2010

The Curse of the Crazed Toilet Ghost

I've done something very bad.  I have no idea what it is or who I did it to, but I'm really sorry and truly would like to apologize and take everything back. Just please, please, please Gods Who Regulate Karma, please leave my plumbing alone.

I was in the kitchen at my office tidying up after lunch and I saw something black zip past the kitchen door. It looked like a person, so I opened the door and ran out into the side driveway to see who was going into the backyard of our building.

It was a young man in pajama bottoms, no shoes and a sleeveless black T-shirt. He walked in a sloping gait, limping with one arm drawn up to himself kind of like a chicken wing.  At the time I only registered the troublesome walk and the pajama bottoms and wasn't thinking too swiftly because I was wondering why someone in his pajamas was walking through our yard. I ran to the other room to look out the window and that's when the rest sunk in... that he was barefoot in 20 degree weather.

I ran back out to try to catch him. I thought maybe he was perhaps a special needs person who had gotten away from his caregiver. I ran into the backyard and he was gone. Our backyard is part chain link and part barbed wire. He wasn't in our yard, wasn't in any of the neighbor's yards (there is a subdivision behind our office). It was like he vanished into thin air.

Walking back I noticed the immediate area behind our building is flooded. I could hear water running and followed it back to the source -- the source being a gigantic fountain of water erupting from the side of our building, creating a swamp in our backyard and over onto the property next door. Had I not been chasing this oddity, we would have not discovered the leak until our next meter reading.

We hastily shut the water off and I called the water company with the meter reading to see how bad it was. Thirty-eight thousand gallons of water! Just to put that into perspective -- an average family of four (in our area) uses about 5,000 gallons in one month. So, that's almost 8 months worth of water for a family of four. That's also about 23,750 toilet flushes.  Or about 7-8 fills of a 15 foot round swimming pool. And, finally, the amount of money I will have to pay for thirty-eight thousand gallons of water would pay for nine Africans to have drinking water for 20 years.

I'd like to send thirty-eight thousand gallons of water to Haiti right about now, but instead it's swamping up in my backyard like a big useless waste of Earth's resources. (Our planet is 70% water. And 97.5% of that is saltwater which means only 2.5% of all the water on Earth is available for the 6 billion people that inhabit the planet. Makes me thirsty just writing about it.)

Apparently, I did not learn my lessons of appropriate gratitude the last time I had no toilet, so instead of doing it at my home we're now learning the same lesson at my office where the water is currently shut off and we can't reach the plumber (again). And I'm blogging about it (again) because apparently I'm (still) a slow learner who won't stop whining about her plumbing (still and again).

If anyone knows some kind of exorcism mantra / banishment / remedy for toilet ghosts, please let me know. In the meantime, I'm getting us back on our regularly scheduled program which consists of me mocking my family and people I work with.


I just got off the phone with someone in town who called to ask me if I really did see a barefoot angel walking through my yard.

Hmm, maybe so.