June 26, 2010

One Clue That Nagging is the Norm

Two recent conversations with my three year old:

One night he's looking through the bookcase to find just the right bedtime story. I sit on the floor behind him waiting patiently (for once) because I had some knitting handy.

He's looking, looking, looking, then finally said, "Tell me to hurry up."

Happy to oblige, I say, "Hurry up, Tristan."

"Say it again," he commands.

"Hurry up."

In a very annoyed voice he snapped, "I am hurrying!"

* * *

Today after the fishing derby I tried to pull the same kid out of the car and he starts screaming, "MY SHOES, MY SHOES!"

"Okay, sorry, put your shoes on then."

I stand in the heat and the blazing sun not saying a word, just waiting for an agonizing long time while he struggles to get his shoes on. I stare out across the yard in a small zen-mommy moment which is so unlike me because I'm more like the "go go go commando go" kind of barking drill sargent mom. And not in a cool attractive way, either.

While he's still bent over struggling with his shoes I hear him say, "Tell me hurry up, Mommy."

"Hurry up, Tristan."

"Say it again."

"Hurry up, Tristan."

"Say it again."

We did this about ten times until finally he said, "Why do you keep saying hurry up to me?"

"Because you told me to."

"But why do you keep saying hurry up to me?"

We went through two or three more rounds of that until I finally just gave up and come to the conclusion that 1) I totally don't understand children and 2) obviously I'm such a nag that my children freak out when I'm quiet.

And finally, you can see the results of the fishing derby at: Observations from an Ozark Life

June 21, 2010

My Evening with Liev Schreiber

I have awesome dreams. They are vivid, life-like, almost always pleasant as if, upon sleeping, I've teleported to a slightly more strange reality than the one I currently live in. It's nearly like my current life, but leans slightly to one side like a carnival funhouse (except without the creepy clowns).

One of the peculiarities of my dream life is that I frequently dream of celebrities. I am not enamored with Celebrityhood. I'm not a big follower of pop-culture. For more than a decade I didn't even own a television. And yet, my subconscious makes good use of these convenient icons to entertain me and process the days events all in one amusing little package.

My husband refers to these dreams as "Celebrities on Parade."  My brain doesn't have a preference about what celebrity it picks and there's no pattern to its themes. I've dreamed of celebs I knew by face, but not name. I've dreamed about has-beens, oldies, currently popular icons. I still remember a really weird dream I had about Chuck Norris and my friend Ginny back in the 90's. (Chuck didn't like me in that dream.)

Two nights ago I was surprised to find myself in a pasture with Liev Schreiber. He was working on a house. In fact, I think he had MOVED an old house to a lovely rolling plain with a big hillside. Up on this hill sat a very shabby plantation-style home with peeling paint. The house was painted red, white and blue in the pattern of an American flag. As I faced the house the blue field of white stars was on the upstairs floor to the far left with the rest of the house in a faded red and white stripe. To most people it would sound hideous, but in the dream it was an inspirational beacon symbolizing freedom of expression.

We strode up the hill with purpose. I'm not sure for what purpose, but something. When we got to the top of the hill, Liev indicated that in order to enter the home we had to do so from the second floor. The only way to get to the second floor was to shimmy up a pole and scramble over a dilapidated and none-too-sturdy deck railing.

In real life, I couldn't shimmy to save my life, but in my dream I wasn't too bad. Not graceful, but at least I could defy gravity enough to get my ample caboose up off the ground. About nine feet off the ground I was winded and called down to Liev.

"You know, I don't know how you're going to do this with groceries."

"It'll be okay. It's not that bad."

"Really?" I said doubtfully and kept shimmying.

At about 12 feet off the ground I shouted down, "Now what?" Liev indicated I should throw one leg over the balcony railing and then go down the balcony toward the stars and find the door to get inside. As I threw my leg over the balcony railing I noticed the balcony wasn't there -- just the railing. So, I just held on to the fragile railing and tip-toed over to the end where there was a gap between the end of the railing and the place where the door was supposed to be. In fact, I'm not sure there was even a door there. And when I looked back, Liev was gone.

In real life I would have been totally freaked out by the entire scenario. But in my dream I was a very matter-of-fact girl and took it all in stride -- the house, the shimmying, the danger, my disappearing friend, as if these were things that happen in every day life.

It's just as well anyway, cause I still swear Liev Strieber could totally not get groceries into that house.

June 1, 2010


For the last year I have been planning various posts about some frogs in the ditches in front of my office.  The biggest, fattest alpha frog (and frog progenitor, I assume) was named Whiskey by my oldest son. I have no idea where the name came from since we don't drink in our household and if we did it certainly wouldn't be whiskey. Maybe a nice tequila shooter or a fancy umbrella drink.

So, I have been toying with various posts at the back of my mind like, "I Love Whiskey" (because it's such a provocative title) and in the winter when the frogs were hibernating it would be "I Miss Whiskey".

Unfortunately I never got a chance to do either of those posts because the other day I found Whiskey floating bloated and dead in the ditch. And I haven't told my son, either.

All this is further complicated by the fact that Whiskey is now in our freezer (triple bagged) and I haven't told my husband, either, and I'm afraid pretty soon that he will ask me what's in that bag... or worse, open it to see for himself.

I don't know how I get myself into these things. Well, I do -- it's because I just can't mind my own damn business.

It all started about two years ago when I walked to my car and looked into the ditch to see it filled with bright red fluid. It looked like someone's throat had been cut and the blood was pooling right there in front of me. Freaking out, I called my mom to come out and look. More worldly wise than me, she realized immediately that it was transmission fluid from the repair shop just a few doors down from us -- slightly less sinister than a dead body in the ditch upstream.

I had to leave to pick up my youngest at daycare, but the report back from Mom informed me that a hazmat team had been called, the ditch had been cleaned up and the transmission shop promised never to have an accident like that again.

Every day I check the ditch when I leave the office to see if there's anything horrible down there. It happens that the ditch feeds a nearby creek which then flows into a nearby lake which flows through my bathroom tap and I brush my teeth with it. There's actually something that happens between the lake and my teeth, but I don't know what that is and don't really want to. I think it has something to do with removing the dirt and fish poop which could give me an intenstinal disorder and replacing those with chemicals that will give me cancer.

That summer a bright green frog appeared with gigantic bulbous eyes. He was strangely out of character in a place that is mostly inhabited by small brown toads and I was certain he was some kind of mutant life form fueled by transmission fluid and whatever other chemicals were flowing through that ditch.

Julius was madly in love with that frog and visited him whenever he could, gave him the name Whiskey and I checked on him on all the days that Julius couldn't be there to do it himself.

Pretty soon another googly-eyed frog appeared and it looked like they would be starting a green mutant frog family. Winter came and we missed them and couldn't wait for them to return in the spring. We hoped they would, but weren't sure.  And then in April they came again with more just like them.

Periodically we'd fish trash and styrofoam and other litter out of the dish. The frogs would hide in a panic. Sometimes the water had a sheen to it and I'd worry again, but eventually we relaxed since the frogs not only seemed to be surviving, but even thriving. In the ditch downstream were crawdads and we'd fish them out with bacon on a string, look at them for a while and then put them back in again.

We were nature farmers. We were cool.

I went from cool nature farmer to Erin Brockovich in about five minutes after finding Whiskey floating on the way to a meeting. I ran back into the office yelling that Whiskey was dead and how we must immediately get water samples because I was sure he was killed by toxic waste. My husband rolled his eyes and said, "We don't have time for things like this. Why don't you do some work instead?" He's very aware of how little it takes to send me off on a world-saving crusade that has pretty much no benefit to anyone including the world I'm supposedly saving.

I was not to be deterred, but for the sake of love and marriage I took my crusading underground. From the secrets of cell phones in cars and in bathrooms, on walks to mailboxes and between aisles 6 and 7 in Wal-Mart I called the Office of Emergency Management, a friend in the Department of Environmental Quality, the municipal water office, the Game and Fish Commission. I learned how they would grind up my dead frog in a blender to test him for toxins. I had someone else tell me that they really would also like to take a live frog and test it too. I asked if that involved killing the live frog. The answer didn't please me and I vowed to not let anymore amphibious carnage happen.

My next task was to get Whiskey out of the ditch. This involved putting an inside-out gallon zip-loc baggie onto my hand, grabbing the floating frog and then turning the bag right side out and the frog would end up inside the bag which I could then seal.

There were several problems with this scenario. One was simply that I'm short and I couldn't figure out a way to get the frog without falling into the steep-sided ditch full of tainted water. The second, and more critical, was that every time I thought of grabbing that bloated frog with my hand I felt like I was going to vomit.

On such a stealth mission I couldn't call my husband or he'd know about my world-saving antics. The next best thing was to call in a favor to my brother who wasn't afraid of anything at all and didn't even mind gross stuff. I mean, this was a sibling who once got a tick out of my belly button with a pair of tweezers. This is a guy you want on your side when grossness is coming down the pike.

Unfortunately, I couldn't reach him. His wife answered the phone. This is how much of a sport she is...  They've been married all of two months and she dropped what she was doing and raced down in her little white economy car to slide into the ditch and retrieve my dead frog. This is true love and compassion for your family.  That's probably about the limit she will go to, though. She was looking a little green as she drove off to do her shopping.

And so now in my freezer at work is a frog that, no lie, is about a foot long and weighs at least a pound. And I'm hoping the wildlife officer hurries over to my office ASAP before my husband gets curious about that yellow Dollar General bag in the freezer.  If he opens it, I hope he doesn't think its in there for frog legs.