Monday, December 28, 2009

Beanstalk's Moment

I find I write less about Beanstalk not because less is going on with him, but because he is a seemingly low-key household member if you were to look at him in comparison. He is only learning to talk, so he still exists, amongst all us talkers, in his own thought world and only recently has been punctuating our conversations with "Hey!" or "Hi!" followed at a measured interval by "How are you?" or "I'm fine!" followed at a planned interval by "How are you?" They're almost sung like music at a perfect tone and interval, but always slightly askew because they aren't fit into a neat little interval of conversation that he perceived by all the messages of glances, inhales, exhales and pauses that you and I are so very attuned to. They are a song he's memorized the words to and is only now beginning to understand the way his music fits into the music of the world around him. You see, he's autistic among other things. It's like there's a whole other layer of being that he exists in. A way he's found to exist among non-autistic beings and still enjoy their culture.

Simple activities become major experiences and moments of learning such as this party favor:
And lest you think his actions are random and he isn't really thinking about much, here's what happened when I gave him camera lessons. He
figured out how to use it in two shots. I told him to pick something interesting and snap a picture.
This was the picture:

The neighbor girl's butt. Hmmm. I thought it was just the first thing he saw when he looked around. Nope. I turned him around 180 degrees and let him go. Here's the shot:

Much better, I must add, but note that in a room full
of people he found the same girl. Well, her butt. What's so funny is that he picks where we sit and we always sit near her. She's real nice and likes to play with him and she'll even watch a movie on occasion (by movie, I mean an Andre Rieu video on Strauss or an Andrea Bocelli concert, so this is a major thing for her to do)...he does talk to her, which is funny 'cause he doesn't talk much to anyone. He's 7, so I refuse to give any import to the butt shot, but I'm not writing it off completely. He would NEVER go around to her front side to take the pic, though.

He got five musicals for Christmas...he was in seventh heaven!

But he didn't want to see the devil in the red suit (Santa). Here is the Seventh Geneva Talks on Santa held yearly on this very spot. Results? Honey Bear can attend as Beanstalk's defense and no actual contact with the man in the red suit must be made. Beanstalk was as adamant as an autistic seven-year-old could be. I guaranteed the upholding of all the rules.

So, here we are "NEAR" Santa. I think Santa touched him, but it was out of my control!

Finally, untouched, he could hibernate with first High School Musical, then High School Musical II. Next are the Sound of Music and Singing in the Rain!

Beanstalk's World!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WalMart's One Redeeming Value

Really bouncy balls.

There's just something about a really bouncy ball that appeals to both Beanstalk and Squib. Every year, their doting mother (that would be me for those of you who think I can't dote) makes a Christmas pilgrimage to hell on earth, excuse me, WalMart to retrieve two very bouncy balls for her little ones.

As a true shopping hermit, most of my shopping is done online as it should be. But bouncy balls must be tested and not very many online stores offer them. Especially not the really bouncy ones filled with glitter. Who knew the boys would like those this year?

And for this unearthly pilgrimage, I get a fabulous grin like this:

Totally worth it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Stiff Upper Lip

 I have no idea what the origin of that phrase is: "Keep a stiff upper lip." I know what it means to do it, though. Anymore, it seems we need a red cross hanging on the front door to our house. Baba and Clanpaw are both fighting their cancers admirably. Mimi is undergoing infusion therapy for Lupus. Buddy is soon to have a major hernia surgery. Squib is being put through the mill by the genetics department of Texas Children's Hospital. Beanstalk is maintaining the status quo, but that includes PT, OT, Speech, and auditory impairment therapy.

That leaves me.

I seem to be OK regardless of my Crohn's diagnosis. And I thank God for that!!!

I do wonder, sometimes, about what the heck is going on with the rest of the family. I also have some very frank conversations with the man upstairs about how much is too much for one family to handle.

But we keep on going.

And when it comes right down to it, it's that stiff upper lip. The resolve and determination that you never knew you had until you just HAD to have it.

And I always try to give myself something to look forward to, like...

...the plans and preparations I'm making for our garden this year
...the classes I'm taking in the spring
...the time I spend with Squib and Beanstalk 20th High School reunion in June (hard to believe)!!
...the hiking trips Dad and La Fae and I are going to take after he's recovered from surgery.
...teaching Squib about the Moon (his latest fascination)
...working with Buddy and Clanpaw
...doing a little moonlighting with Attrition

Always, it seems like there are hurdles, but they are merely to be jumped over and then you just keep running the race you were meant to run. Strange and bizarre things do happen, but they no longer have the element of surprise...I merely push on and do what comes next.

I never tire of reading, catching up with people, writing, or listening to new things and am always adding to my libraries of books, movies, music, and written works. I don't think this will ever stop. Every so often I have to purge my shelves and send things to storage to make room for the new, so I dream of one day owning a library area in my home where I can keep all my saved tomes at the ready--especially if I wish to walk down memory lane. I like to see where I've been and where the journey is taking me.

I am always glad that the journey involves learning, meeting new people, and going to new places. I am not the sort of person that can stay in a single rut with the same folks, nothing new, and nothing learned. If I had my way, I'd always be in school. But, in the end, someone has to make money around here eventually. And this year, that someone is it or not...

So I shall, come hell or high water. I'll keep my stiff upper lip and keep running.

On a Melancholy Wednesday,

Friday, December 4, 2009


After urban hike number two today, I finally met with a little bit of success!

I was smarter and dressed better for the elements...that much I got right. The weather was decidedly against me. It wasn't bad or anything, but something happens to Houstonians when snow flurries begin to fall from the sky. It was like every person with a car decided to get out and drive! So, the going was slow (very slow).

But I got all the official paperwork transferred to all the right places and am registered for the Spring semester...

Mind over Matter,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Urban Hiking

The Purple Slug wouldn't start.

That's really an understatement. Actually, it behaved as if I had the wrong key. I couldn't even turn the key. I tried turning the steering wheel and all the other permutations of buttons, wheels, gears, etc. No dice. It was the end of the line. The Purple Slug was in all out rebellion. Apparently 49 degrees, light rain, and a north wind constitute the end of the line.

So, I had to drive Whitey.

Whitey is a white, 1998, Mercury Mountaineer. With 178, 568 miles on him. He's seen some action to say the least. There's nothing wrong with Whitey except for the bouncy ride and the fact that my feet, no matter how I position the seat, never really touch the floor. But I can reach the pedals safely and usually rest my left foot on a low pocket in the driver side door. Still, it's a more active drive than the Slug where my feet touch and the seat feels like a recliner. Driving Whitey can feel like galloping on a horse sometimes. And it can kinda wear on you.

Hindsight being what it is and all that--20/20, you know--I should have worn my hiking boots.

I'm not kidding.

I dressed for a trip to the grocery store. Our local grocery's furthest spot is no more than 20 feet from the front door, so even if you have to park in the last spot, there's no way you'd have to be exposed to the elements very long. Switch gears to the modern college campus and you're looking at a half-mile hike minimum unless you're one of those football players with a little red handicapped tag.

Yes, yours truly is going back to school.

Apparently, some time back in 2000 (four years after I graduated) I was assigned a user ID and password at one of the local campuses when they introduced a new student records management system. Since I didn't know the ID and PSWD and since my last name had changed, I had to make a physical appearance in the admissions office to talk to the resident sys admin person.

As a sys admin person, you know this just irks me right down to my socks...having to make a 45 min drive to change a user ID and PSWD. I made it without rolling a single eyeball even once...even when she explained (painstakingly, I might add) how to use the web registration form. The reason was probably because her office was an oasis of warmth.

When I got to the University Center, I realized this was like the last week of classes before finals..which means everyone was actually there and probably even there studying. I had to circle with the other vultures for a parking spot in the last row of the last outlying lot. It wasn't even paved, just "surfaced" with a light gravel and a clay-like mud my grandfather always calls caliche. It was in the 40's, raining, and windy. I looked down at my non-windbreaking sweater and yoga pants and my Crocs and almost stayed in the car.

After waiting in the queue at the door and finally stating my case to the admissions folks twice, Lupe Gonsales' office looked and felt like home. To her credit, she got me fixed up quickly. I registered and went back out into the weather to hop in the queue. Again.

After reaching the admissions folks (again). I found out that in 2003, someone by the name of Anna Gustavo (who no longer works there and no one recalls) put a hold on my account pending an official transcript from another university. And...even though she no longer works there and that ruling has been one presently at the university supposedly has the power to reverse her hold.

(my aunt fanny)

So...I go home to request an official transcript. I hop on the Internet and cruise over to university #2's site. It proceeds to ask me for my "PeopleSoft" number.


So...I get on the phone. And my first question is "What in the heck is a PeopleSoft number?" I already's a number I don't have assigned to me when I wasn't there. And I was right.

So...I get in the car.

I got a little smarter. I exchanged my shoulder bag for a little backpack and grabbed a windbreaker and a scarf and some gloves. But didn't put on my boots. Big dummy. Or pack water. Bigger dummy.

I really thought parking at university #2 would be better because I could park in the visitor parking. Visitor parking used to be free. Emphasis on "used to be." When I arrived, I was totally disoriented because the university has sucked five more city blocks up into it's domain and what used to be parking is now a Welcome Center with parking on top (not for visitors) and two huge buildings are under construction with several others already open. After feeling old for a few seconds, then jealous about the fast food venues that are now open there (for only a few seconds), I realized the "visitor" parking was eight metered spots. I lucked out and got one. Paying for it was something else. Fortunately, I have a four-year-old. I just dug around in the cracks of his car seat and on the floor and found three quarters and I was set.

The walk was a little hike, not nearly like the morning's, but enough to make me seek out a fountain. They were giving away free plastic cups, so I helped myself to one and took a traveler to the front desk. The remainder of the hike constituted the entirety of the building. It was wild. I checked in at the front desk (SE corner of building) walked through a hallway to the NE corner and another to the NW corner where my name was on a screen next to the desk where they would wait on me. After about five minutes, they got my request processed (seriously, they could have done that over the phone) and it was a stair-climb up a couple flights then to the SW corner to pay the cashier (who mentioned that there was a hold on my account from a 2007 audit...apparently I forgot to pay a lab fee...ugh). Then down, around, and back out to my car (by way of the water fountain again).

I sat in the car and thought about the drive and wracked my brain for anything else I could do at 5pm in the downtown Houston area, but just couldn't come up with anything other than to get more gas (ugh). So...I voluntarily joined the masses heading north at a snail's pace...

...and made it home in time for my 4yo to tell me "I really miss you when you're not home, Mommy."

Man, I love that kid,

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Strangely Content

Someone somewhere pointed out to me that peace was no big deal unless you could find it and hold on to it in the midst of chaos. Today, I would have to agree. Whole heartedly agree. People derive their peace from many places, but as a religious (perhaps faithful is a better word?) person I find my peace in God.

There are so many things that are happening around me that I don't understand. I may understand the forensics or the pathology, if you will, but the

I have so many "Why?" questions that burn through my soul and so far no answers to those. Why cancer? Why both grandparents at once? Why are we having trouble keeping our company afloat? Why does another one of my children need to have an incurable genetic disease? Why am I left virtually untouched? Why can my mother not get out of bed? Why can we not find an investor for prospects as good as these?

Many other things seem to be a matter of "When?" or "How long?" How long will my grandparents be with us? When do we give up on this company? How long until Squib really begins to feel the symptoms of his NF1? How long until it's just me and Dad and the kids kicking around in this house? Will both the kids be kicking around the house? How will I get through that? How will I get through that if its still just me on my own?

Those all seem to be depressing questions.

OK, they are depressing questions. But very real. A weaker person would not be able to admit to those questions. I don't dwell on them because they have no known answers until the situations actually present themselves. And I have a general knowledge of have I have made it so far...

If you have no faith or system of belief, then I can't imagine how you deal with them. As for me, they are merely a portion of the conversations I have with God. I ask Him honestly what is on my mind and heart and sometimes He answers and sometimes it seems that he doesn't. A lot of the time He says "What difference does it make?" That's just as good an answer as any other, but the human being in me rolls my eyes and yearns for a concrete number or specific answer. Perhaps there is none.

To this He usually adds, "Will the answers to those questions really change what you are doing right now or tomorrow or the next day?"

No, they won't.

Then, it always strikes me as bizarre that God operates on a need-to-know basis. The truth is, though, that the answers to all those questions, if I knew them, would drive me nuts. There's a reason we aren't able to know the future. I, for one, would be spending my days trying to prevent all those things from happening and eventually would drive myself into the ground in more ways than one. My gut-level knowledge is quite enough I think, thank you.

Instead, I can go about my life in the best way I know how and rest in the fact that God knows what is going on and is way more equipped to deal with my life than I am. There's where the peace comes. Granted, it's like being in the eye of the storm, but it is, nevertheless, peaceful there and I do not need to be moved from it. Occasionally, I step into the chaos of my own volition and learn this lesson AGAIN and have to drag my sopping wet, battered spirit into the eye to recover.

But it is remarkable that I find myself so strangely content. Even happy.

Enjoying the little things... taking Squib to the town Christmas lighting last night. Simple and beautiful. Mingling with friends everywhere and counting down until the lights flickered on and the square around the courthouse and the courthouse itself glowed with the beautiful clear lights of Christmas....

...or the way I feel when Beanstalk wraps his whole body--arms and legs--around me when he gives me a hug...

...even the way both boys like to sleep with one of my sweaters after I've worn it because it smells like Mommy and it comforts them...

...or the way Beanstalk waves his arms in the air and cheers, "Yay! Yay! Yay!" when he's heard a song he likes...

...or how Squib HAS to give me three kisses before he naps, sleeps, or leaves...

In the face of these supposedly "little" things, how could you doubt the care of a loving God who gives unexpected gifts like peace and contentment--regardless of any chaos you may see swirling about you?

Living off the "little" things,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Building Things and Growing Up

Building Things...
Scats are builders by nature. Clanpaw built this house we all live in as well as the house they lived in previously. When Attrition was little, Mom and Dad used to scavenge the dumpster behind Wal-Mart for broken electronics. They'd give them to Attrition and he'd fix them. Attrition always had cherry electronics (not jealous). When Squib got his first tool set, the first thing he did was disassemble the door knob (every Scat disassembles before they assemble--ugh).

Me? I build, too. Mostly lab equipment at first, but I just recently built this:

His name is Ren (and yes, there is a Stimpy for those of you who were still MTV devotees in the late eighties/early nineties). This is Ren's 1000 Watt power supply. Overkill, but the powers that be wanted higher wattage, so they got it. Here are more of Ren's guts:

He's "smart" so-to-speak and has LOTS of storage in his two 1T RAID drives (which are arrayed--THANK GOD FOR THAT! I'm tired of watching my workstation collapse and drag my data down with it! Despite the odd, tangled mess that are his insides, he's slick and my current fave of the two workstations. I was pretty proud after I finally got him together. Every single solitary piece was ordered separately and had to be installed and configured. Took me an entire day, but I LEARNED! Yay!
Not all our building/repair projects are so successful. The first collaboration between Attrition and myself was rather disastrous if you want to know the truth. He was driving an Isuzu trooper at the time and it needed a brake job. Soooo...we decided we were smart and could just get our hands on the book at the local O-Reilly's and fix them ourselves. And that is precisely what we did. The job
required bleeding the brake lines and though I cannot be sure, I think something went wrong during the process of replacing the brake fluid.

About twenty minutes after he left my driveway, he called to say that both rear wheels caught fire on the way to his house. Fortunately, he had a fire extinguisher in the car (it was a wedding gift) and was able to put out the fires. He limped it home (around the block) and had it towed and repaired, if I remember correctly.

I'd love to tell you that deterred us from repairing our own cars, but, well, no it hasn't. I think the next attempt will be tie-rods on my van. Wish us luck. Here's hoping the front wheels don't fall off after we try this...

Beanstalk is not much of a builder, but he's a definite appreciator of great architecture. And, like his mother he has a fascination with fountains. Who could blame him for that?

Squib is always building something. Yesterday it was an apartment complex:

He came up with it on his own. Then I asked where I was going to live and he came up with this:
This is my "retirement condo." Just don't ask me where he got that phrase. I certainly never taught him that. However, if he wants to build me a condo when I reach retirement age (which is probably when they bury me) I'll be glad to take it!
Growing Up

Watching your kids grow up can be awesome, hysterically funny, frustrating, and sometimes downright annihilating. Beanstalk lost his first tooth on Thanksgiving Day and I was reminded of all the pain that dang tooth caused him in the first place and almost cried. I'm sorta attached to those teeth. But the real hoot today goes, as usual, to SqB.

We only have showers, no bathtubs. So, I usually drag him in the shower with me 'cause he's too big for the sink and trying to bathe him from the sidelines is pointless. This morning, he looks at me very seriously and says: "Mommy? You don't got a wee-wee. But you gots TWO of THOSE (he points)!!" I'm thinking it's time for him to shower with his grandpa.

Who are these kids and where did they come from?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

They're On the Loose!!!

...running the proverbial streets! Deciding to "hang it all" and "be themselves" and their motto is: "Screw it!"

This has to have been one of the most stressful and hysterical set of three days in my experience. Dealing with cancer in the family is bad enough. Dealing with cancer in TWO members of the family seems really over the top.

But they're Scats. So...

Scat number one has decided on a "quiet" protest. It works like this. If he has to endure chemo, then he's not wearing his hearing aids. This means he's stone, cold deaf. So, if he wants to start a conversation, he does...right in the middle of the one you're already having. If he wants to watch a movie, he does, and turns the volume up all the way making the whole house unbearable even when I wear my hearing protection from the shooting range. It's only natural for a deaf person to speak at a level they can hear, so when he speaks, it's like E.F. Hutton...people listen...because they have to. If you've been sitting quietly and he sneaks up closely behind you (he's not one for personal space--another deaf characteristic) and begins speaking, you'll most likely levitate three feet before you can help yourself. He's always been ornery. It's been increasing with age. This is bringing it out in him in subtle, but distinct ways.

Scat number two made her turn to the cantankerous side by proclamation. I was seated with her in their private seating area when she announced that she had decided to "pout and gripe and moan." Anyone who knows her knows this is totally against her nature and, truly, she hasn't pouted, griped, or moaned by definition but she has made a definite turn to the cantankerous side. Her surgery came off without a hitch this Monday and it was my pleasure (and a hoot to boot) to sit with her on Tuesday. I was there with her for twenty minutes after her surgery during which she proclaimed the nasal oxygen canula "unnecessary" (it was replaced within the hour and accompanied by a pulse oximeter linked to her PCA pump. Not enough O2 and she got locked out of her little self-controlled pain medicine pump. Talk about putting a bug under her rug. I decided that was a good time to leave.
Day two: She announced that she "rather enjoyed having her meals brought to her on a regular basis without having to do any work." Uh oh. Rhythm (my aunt) and I were admonished to note this announcement. Great. Her surgeon came to see her and her first words were "Where have you been?!" I would think the answer obvious, but nevertheless she had no recollection of seeing him since her pre-op visit and there was no convincing her otherwise. He explained the effects of anesthesia and she very stubbornly informed him that THAT would NEVER happen to HER! He tucked in a very wide grin as he stared at his shoes. A sign had been placed on her door that said "Fall Hazard" and it came with a bracelet. She's a spry old lady and this was just an out-and-out insult. "These people!" "Uf!" So she announced she was ready to go home Wednesday morning. Doc said early Wednesday afternoon.
Day Three: She apparently didn't hear the doc 'cause she was rarin' to go, dressed and ready THIS MORNING. She even forced the nurse to go over all her release instructions. Well, all the ones she had. Called me and made me go to the pharmacy and get her medicine 'cause she'd be home SOON. So I went. And I came back. Then she called and informed me she wasn't going to wear her seat belt on the way home. Under any circumstances. I very politely told her to find another ride. They released her at 3 pm, much to her chagrin, she found her ride, came home, and after a thirty minute nap she has spent the entire evening ordering Scat One around the house like a slave. And THANK GOD SHE HAS!!!! They are currently "enjoying" the most deafening screening of Patch Adams ever shown. After which, yours truly will empty and measure her drains so she can go to sleep (with the peanut gallery telling me how to do it all along the way).

Tomorrow, Turkey Day and I, for one am thankful both GrandScats are still with us...but they sure are funny.

Never a Dull Moment!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

E-gads, What a Mop! And other stuff 'n' nonsense...

This is your hair on drugs....ha! No, seriously, this is just my hair on any normal day. Wild, weird, frizzy, and full-of-it. I liken it to an old witch wig I used to have when I played as a little girl. Admittedly the witch wig had quite a bit more grey at one point ( I could give that wig a run for it's money now). The wig also looked considerably less like it had been crammed in an electrical socket. Right now the hair defies my baseball cap and that is almost unbearable...dunno what we're gonna do about that unless I can get a bigger cap...

The hair is becoming famous around the house for it's tendency to grow out v. down. I have to endure this "little" stage before it gets really long and more manageable. Why anyone around here should be surprised by my shaggy lion hair (that's what SqB calls it) I really don't know...they ALL have the traditional Scat hair.
Afros in the 70's,
explosive bangs in the 80's, and, well, difficulties in the nineties. Believe me, I go through a lot of hair spray around here! I guess it should minimally concern me that my 4yo frequently says "Mommy, I really like your lion hair!" Great.

Grown long enough it eventually becomes somewhat tame and can even look nice v. scary. The

last time it looked nicer as opposed to scary, this pic was taken. And that's the length I'm shooting for....minus the bangs and with the natural curliness. I guess you could say I'm a third of the way to my
goal length. Yay!

So far, the chittlins have escaped the crazy hair, though they (ok, we) keep it cut close and theirs does have a mind of its own. Both boys have no less than two cowlicks and hair as thick as brush bristles. Should they ever go through a long-haired phase, their poor "do's" are going to levitate until they garner enough mass to weigh them down.

Speakin' of the chittlins, they are doin' rare form this week as they get ready for Thanksgiving.

Squib and I have been building killer train tracks!! Now that he has acquired more railroad track than any self respecting island (Thomas the Tank Engine is on the Island of Sodor) could possibly support

we have developed a new game which is, of course, to attempt to build a railway that consumes all the pieces. Here's my latest try at left. Not bad...two suspension bridges, one rotating bridge for boats to pass under, a vehicle crossing, "night night" sheds for the engines, and plenty of towers. For those of you not familiar with "towers," they are what the engines knock over. It's Squib's little addition to the world of Thomas the Tank Engine.

After a little scrap with the coffee table and three staples later, Beanstalk's noggin is now pronounced healed and he's rarin' to go. Surely you remember that thing I said about my kids bouncing...well...

Tomorrow is the big day for grandma's double mastectomy and we are all a little bit tense about that to say the least. She seems completely relaxed, but then she's, well, herself. The strongest woman I know. If she's scared, I know she's confided it totally in God and my Grandfather and completely made peace with whatever happens tomorrow. Plus, she still sleeps like a rock. The rest of us will all be taking a couple Benedryl, I guess.

My grandfather won't be able to go wait at the hospital because of his low immunity from chemo, so he'll wait here at the house with our pastor until word of the surgery reaches the house.

I will spend the day with the infected one. Oh, yes, Squib has the piggy flu and is at his Dad's house under quarantine. I'm going down to watch him ad get some cuddle time tomorrow while his Dad is at work. I miss the little snot-filled stinker.

Later Gators

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Best Things In Life

Yup, they're free!

OK, well, mostly free...

For starters, that little sliver of a crescent moon we had last night was gorgeous. Squib has become very interested in the moon lately and I seem to have caught his wonder and awe that there's a ball of rock orbiting our lovely planet. I'm starting to really enjoy looking at the moon again and even though it was just a sliver last night, you could still see varying colors in the reflected light.

I love the way Beanstalk sings along with all the music he hears! When the song ends, he throws his hands in the air and cries "Yay, yay, yay!" His grin breaks wide across his face and his extra-long stick-like arms wave around like crazy. He has no reservations. If he's happy about the music he'll respond whether he's in church, at playgroup, or at home watching a DVD. Total abandon.

Nothing beats that feeling I get when Squib totes his blanket over to where I'm sitting and says, "Momma, I want to sit in you lap." And he crawls up in my lap and nestles in and pulls his blanket up over the both of us and smooths it out and we sit and talk, read, or watch a DVD and talk about the movie. He can't just sit through a movie. He has to discuss whatever Thomas the Tank Engine or Handy Manny or Bob the Builder is doing and WHY??

Beanstalk loves to be a part of the game when any sport is being played. His varying disabilities keep him from actually playing, but he absolutely loves sitting on the sidelines cheering (for both teams) even though he'd rather be laying flat on his back on the fifty yard line watching the ball being passed over've never enjoyed watching a live game until you've watched one with Beanstalk.

Every night, Squib has a little ritual we have to go through at bedtime. I have to give kisses to all his little animals, etc. I sing to him, we say a little prayer, and then the most sacred part of all: three kisses. Not for him, but for me. He HAS to kiss me on the cheek, then my forehead, and then on my other cheek. If, for whatever reason, we don't do the kisses a very teary-eyed boy will come find me after a few minutes. I didn't teach him to do it. It was totally his idea. And I hope he keeps it up for years and years. Baby kisses keep me going (and yes, he will always be my baby!).

Exploring. Squib has the exploring bug that, I guess, comes with being a Scat. We all love to explore. Little towns, big towns, trails, hotels, churches, hospitals, caves you name it. The world, come to think of it. If there are three ways to get somewhere, we know about it. Wandering off in no particular direction is oddly alluring and in many ways comforting. It makes the world seem approachable and familiar. Now that I have children I can't believe how very far my parents used to let me wander the hills and valleys where we lived!! But I'm glad they did it. I felt free. I feel free. And tackling the world is just that much less disconcerting.

Last, and probably least, are the creature comforts....things that seem to make my days enjoyable and put a smile on my face...

...cherry Dr. Pepper (over ice w/straw). fave pair of blue jeans.
...Sunday lunch at the Hop with my brother, Attrition.
...listening to loud music via my iPhone/headphones while I work.
...rockin' out with Attrition drums and me singing my head off on Sunday a.m.'s Heck I even like it when we "try somethin'" and the wheels come off... fall weather that makes outdoor activities pleasant.
...watching movies.
...reading books (which I like to do WAY more than watch movies).
...and last, but not least, writing.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And Away We Go...

I seems these days we are always in the throes of some medical disaster: Hernias, Tetrasomy18p, Failure to Thrive, Fragile Bones, Profound Deafness (from birth), abnormally shaped Kidneys, bilateral Club Foot, Crohns Disease, Fibromyalgia, Migraines, Seisure, Diastolic Heart Disease, deafness (both Clanpaw's cancer, Baba's cancer, my mother's mixed "whatever", my Crohns disease, oldest son's Tetrasomy 18p, and now: Neurofibromatosis I in my younger son.

You may be asking what radioisotope I swallowed as a youngster, but as my chromosomes are normal in count(46 xx), (Beanstalk's are 47 xy, though) it's more likely I have damaged egg cells which originate from my mother (very long genetic discussion), but nevertheless, there's obviously something wrong and we are right back in the thick of it. Now, we'll be looking at everyone's Chromosome 17 for a few genes that seem to be giving my youngest a bit of trouble.

Yet another (possibly) de novo genetic disorder has struck the Scat family. Unbelievable.

So far, though, all Texas Childrens' Hospital is getting is an earful and an eyeful of Squib! And boy, is he full of it! We've been to the dermatology clinic (all over the clinic)...he met the criteria for NF I and we now have a bevy of tests ahead of us. And, boy, did he have a bevy of tests for them! NF2 and Schwannomitosis would not be good things, either, but we've got to test for everything.

Squib made it very clear from the start: "We came to play!!!" And there you have the resilient attitude of my little guy. This little inset of SqB shows him smiling and playing in his crib two days after open heart surgery (at three month). So, if you're gonna talk about your bouncer-backers Squib needs to be at the top of your list! We started off in our little exam room sitting by each other. Sqb in his gown me in my street clothes. Then the inspection began. The light nauseum. He messed with the blood pressure cuff, but turned a little pale when I offered to take his blood pressure (bad memories I guess).

Then the shredding began...yes...paper everywhere...which led to an exploration of the trash can. That whole trash-can thing went over REAL well with SqB's dad (my ex). He's a little, ummm, particular when it comes to trash.

He did NOT like the gown. I explained that it was to protect his privacy and he gave me one long "to heck with that!" look and tore it off. So by the time the dermatologist came around (with her flashing duck) to count spots and look at freckles he was streaking about and having a gay old time.

Me? I was not so carefree, because I was drowned in phone numbers and extensions of doctors that I needed to make secondary appointments with etc, etc, etc. I felt buried and overwhelmed at first but now it's just like doing a job with my son at stake. Minor detail...ha ha ha. Only NOT so ha ha.

Then the day became beautiful. We decided to forego all the traffic for a little play time. We ate spaghetti and meatballs and pizza in the Clinical Care Center with Andy (my ex) and played on the sky bridge between the CCC and Texas Children's Hospital West Building. Hide and go seek in a large temporarily abandoned medical building can be fun!!! We toured the fish tanks and played all over the equipment on the varying waiting areas of the CCC. And, in general explored the place as much as we could.

And BOY, do we ever like exploring! That loosened me up a lot and there are a lot of artistic things (cows on parade--who da thunk it), trains, playgrounds fountains, and beautiful gardens to see. If you happen to be there for any amount of time, such things bring hope and believe me (having lived there off and on for a few years) there are people there who need lots and lots of hope.

 Squib and I both like fountains, so I'm thinking of a riding/hiking route to take us past a lot of the gardens and fountains in the Texas Medical Center area for our next prolonged trip with a ride on the Metro rail so that SqB could get his jollies for having ridden on a "real" train.

The wee one was so wiped out that he never made it to Minute Maid park from 288 and MacGregor before he was seriously crashed out in his car seat and snoring to boot!

Thus begins our weekly pilgrimage to the Texas Medical Center. Ugh....but at least there are cool things to look at!

Gaining Some Perspective

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Something is going bump in the night around here! Actually, it's going bump and snorting a little. So far, not a night has passed in my traipsing back and forth from the office to the house that I haven't heard the large, snuffling noise behind the garage proper.

And like so many other noises--knocks and bangs of cars, etc.--I thought this would be just another thing I could never prove. I thought it would be a snuffling snort noise that would stop each time I brought someone out to hear it.

This time, though, it isn't.

Twice now, Attrition and Buddy have told me about the sounds coming from behind the garage and in what was our corn field. Sounds like those of a large animal.

I'm hoping it's the mate of Cosmo the pig (LOOOONG story) but we've been generating other scenarios. I have yet to go out and look for tracks or any other evidence of animal activity...I'll save that information for tomorrow.

Never a dull moment,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Day Just Stinks...

And it stinks big time.

Squib and I got home from the week in Houston proper at about ten this morning to a very quiet house. He strode through the door with his usual bravado and paused in the doorway with his chest puffed out and declared "I'm here!" "Here" had at least four syllables in it. I get the biggest kick out of that. It's like he's Tarzan or something and is about five seconds away from pounding his chest and letting loose a primordial yell. All male, that one.

Just Buddy and Mimi were here. Hogging the recliners, I might add.

I am all conferenced out, sick and tired of working with the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission's database, and the spreadsheet that ate New York City (this thing is huge) has been giving me fits. Most of the week I've been in mourning for the days when I really feel like I'm doing something like pouring, mixing, weighing, distilling, titrating, etc. Number crunching IS important but I don't exactly find it satisfying. RocketDog (my laptop) has been giving himself his own things to do and really seems to think that my iTunes needs to be opened every five minutes, so he obviously has some sort of problem I have to track down.

But, so far the day had not TRULY reeked. Yet

Papa and Baba returned from Sadler Clinic and we all sat down to lunch (spaghetti with Buddy's homemade sauce and green beans--yummy). Over lunch, the real suckage began.

Both grands had been to their respective docs. Both grands have now been diagnosed with cancer. Papa has prostate cancer which has metastasized to the pelvic bone (NOT bone cancer he says despite the word "bone" that follows the word "pelvic"). Baba has breast cancer.

This sucks. No two ways about it. And, unlike most Scats, I have not inherited the ability to make jokes about it or appreciate the jokes they make about it. They're alert, articulate, agile people who could pass for mid-sixties/early seventies though they're in their early eighties and still capable of enjoying life with no hindrances. The one exception is that my grandfather is rather hard-of-hearing. Big deal.

He still does all the yard work because he likes it--DO NOT get in his way. The geophysical work he does with Dad and I is a hobby. She still runs all the errands and goes to the gym because she likes it--and don't you dare try stopping her, either. They read incessantly, teach, visit with their friends, take lots of walks, love to watch movies, and generally enjoy life. So, no, I am not ready to joke about their death (which I don't exactly see coming yet regardless of the news). It seems off-color and premature.

But listen to their grisly jokes is exactly what I had to do as they fielded the calls this afternoon. I couldn't even work because I was getting data in the wrong fields and was just generally unable to pay attention--and getting downright weepy (odd for me).

So I played with my new toy from one of my favorite places: It's a Quadrilla (you have GOT to try one of these!). Kudos to them for making an awesome, creative, wooden toy for all ages. It's for Beanstalk, but I had to "test" it :) Just to be safe. Now I "need" some of the add-on sets. And I'm using the word "need" here! Not just your average marble track-building set. It's a remarkable testament to the Quadrilla that it was sufficiently distracting on this particular day.

Squib woke from an awesome nap and we tried to play chutes and ladders, but we never landed on any ladders and kept hitting all the chutes. That sucked, too, and I lost interest almost before he did. I asked him if he wanted to try a different game and he said "I really don't think so, Mom." 'nuff said.

So here we are...being vegetables and watching Bob the Builder. We WOULD be in the kitchen eating dinner, but there's thunder outside. That's four-yr.-old logic for you. He asked if this was a hurricane because he "donna wunna tate a baff wike dat." He's referring to the well-water bucket bath I gave him before the propane stove was fixed during IKE. To be fair, I took one, too, but I agree that it belongs in the fifth circle of hell. Dang, that was cold. It's been a year and he still mentions it at least every other week. So, we're both obviously thinking happy thoughts right now.

He also wants to know if I can make the thunder go away...yeah...Mommy, goddess of thunder. Riiiight.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The List

This idea is totally stolen from Chris at Notes from the Trenches, but I thought it was a cool idea and a very thought-provoking exercise. Forty things I'd like to accomplish before I turn forty. Two-and-a-half years is sounding like five minutes right now.

My 40 before 40 list:

1. Go on a date with a decent man.
2. Toilet train all my kids (Half way there...8/10/2010. Cha-ching! Done.0).
3. Get another dog. I believe firmly in liberating what I call "pound dogs." Got a chicken, instead. Her name is Houdini McNugget
4. Lose forty pounds for good (15 to go 8/10/2010).
5. Improve my credit score. Hmmmm....
6. Visit/tour Hoover dam with the boys.
7. Get all my teeth fixed for the LAST time. Yeah, bad teeth are in the family.
8. See all my relatives (this is a mammoth undertaking and probably overrated).
9. Hear Alex call me Momma again.
10. Find a way to keep my house clean without the gnashing of teeth.
11. Consistently grow the gardens from season to season.
12. Add herbs/spices to the gardens.
13. Write a book.
14. Ride the Roaring Tornado again.
15. Go to New Braunfels and float like a river rat for days.
16. Own a King-Sized bed and sleep diagonally.
17. Take the boys on their first camp-out (probably on our land).
18. Take the boys on their second camp-out (not on our land).
19. Simplify.
20. Expand my library. (mwahahaha)
21. Start taking pictures again.
22. Hike the Lone Star Trail (yes, all of it, and for no particular reason other than it's there).
23. Revisit Enchanted Rock.
24. Go on a cruise, OK two. One where I am a total lazy bum and another aboard one of the scientific research vessels that cater to us geek-head tourists.
25. Get out of debt. This is gonna be a miracle given the medical expenses of my kids, but a very healthy goal (and it's actually happening! Yay!).
26. Learn how to make soap (I'm leaving this one b/c it's random and weird and even I am wondering WTH I was thinking when I wrote it).
27. Integrate essential oils into my health regimen (mostly done 8/10/2010).
28. Write more consistently.
29. Love without fear. Live without fear (that's really two).
30. Have confidence in myself and my abilities.
31. Learn how to make my own candles (again with the earth momma crafty stuff that I really don't find appealing).
32. Visit Tokyo again...for about two weeks alone. Go again sometime and take my boys with me.
33. Stay in better contact with friends and acquaintances.
34. Relax and enjoy each day without care or worry for tomorrow.
35. Teach something (again).
36. Build something.
37. Review my genealogy with my grandfather so I can continue the work when he is gone.
38. Pay more attention to the world I live in and contribute (I think the clinic idea fits in here).
39. Attend my high school and college reunions (strike one and strike two for the 20 and 15 year marks due to circumstances beyond my control).
40. Ride in a hot air balloon.

Wow, that's a lot! And you?

Yet ANOTHER run in with a plant...

Ya'll may or may not know that I sing. It's something I really enjoy doing and I have been immersed in music and music performance since I can remember breathing. Sometimes, though, the love affair has it's moments.

You see, there was supposed to be a nice calm break in the set today during which I sat on a stool minding my own business and looking professional. However, once all the other musicians were seated, I was left without a chair bringing a new and embarrassing meaning to musical chairs. One singer who shall remain nameless because, well...because...began wandering around the stage trying to give me his chair (which I wasn't going to take because then I'd have ended up on the wrong side). It took about three people to put him back in his chair and I made the executive decision to slip off to the side and sit behind the piano which is usually a clear shot.


So...I turn around to do just that and stare at the narrowest opening I've ever seen.

Not only that, the opening is between a decorative railing that I know from experience to be tipsy (another story for another time) and a fake potted plant. So...

I head through the opening like I was supposed to be going there. I discovered that there was an amorphous pile of crap just on the other side and end up perched precariously on the drum platform and crouched over like I'm not there.

The allotted time passes. Slowly.

I get up to return to the stage and find that the precarious railing is oscillating. So I make yet another executive decision and grasp the railing as I pass through the narrow gap on my way to my spot. The railing becomes still and out of the corner of my eye, I see that I caught ONE leaf of the fake plant with my right foot. ONE.

The fake plant, the decorative urn that contained it (notice the past tense) and the bark chips that disguised the imaginary root wad defy gravity or any other force for that matter and launch toward the front row like an exploding football.

The urn hits the ground with a ringing thung and the shower of bark chips spatters to the ground and the "plant" was left capsized right next to me as if to say "It's all her fault!"

Of course, at this point, I was wishing I was NOT part of anything at all. Over half the members of the sound booth had disappeared which indicated they'd collapsed in laughter. The one that remained standing is notorious for snapping pics with his iPhone, so I'm sure this whole thing will be immortalized on YouTube. Some kind soul returned the plant to the urn and put it right next to me (gee, thanks), but gave up retrieving bark chips once they discovered it was a lost cause.

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time putting bark chips back where I found them, and I started thinking about other little mishaps that have lined the hall of funnies along the way...

Here are just a few:

1. Earlier this year, I was holding a friend's newborn before a performance and he yakked up an entire 9 oz. bottle of formula all over the front of my t-shirt. I sang in the puke and now I always have an extra t-shirt in my bag.

2. One Christmas, I was wearing a loose-fitting stretchy dress and as I exited the stage, the girl behind me stepped on the hem and the entire thing stretched clean off my body.

3. Yet another Christmas, my cousin and I were doing a ballet number while a laser show was going on (sounds cornier than it really was, though I never had the privilege of watching it). We had to stopped exactly on our mark or we'd get zapped. Said laser zapped my skirt and burnt a hole clean through it. Twice.

4. I was directing a marching band once and was standing on a large box so that I could be seen. I sort of forgot where I was and backed completely off the box and discovered exactly why your rump is padded the way it is. I had been laughed off said box many times before...and I was always glad my backside was to the stands.

5. The orchestra PIT is so named because once you are off the stage the distance to the ground is unbelievably far and I am not even going to admit how I learned that.

6. Musically speaking, I've gotten lost, forgotten words, sung the wrong words, come in early, come in late, and every permutation thereof.

7. Prior to the plant wrestling experience of this morning, the best screw-up by far was a mistaken entrance. I just got up and walked on to the stage at the WRONG TIME!!!!! The girl I was singing with followed me (I'm pretty sure she doesn't trust me any more). When I realized I was wrong, I stopped. She didn't. She crashed into me full force and we did a Three Stooges thing there for what seemed like forever before we could get turned back around and exit.

Do these things happen to other people? Yeah, they do. Probably not as often, but yeah they do. It must have to do with the cosmic plan to keep me humble, I don't know. I keep thinking it'll get better with age and confidence, but no. I remain a magnet for the weird and bizarre no matter what I am doing. Nevertheless, I have fun. So what if I am remembered as that girl who kicked the plant into the audience?

Gotta run, I'm off to another rehearsal for a Christmas program and then later tonight I shall test my memory as I sing a song I haven't actually done in about a month (totally not a good idea, but circumstance has set me up on this one). Somewhere in all this I have to get Squib ready to go see his dad and dress him up as Bob the Builder for the fall festival thing I'm singing at. Not necessarily in that order. I may be all funned out already.

Fake it til you make it,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Exiting the Dating Scene...

With a big flop.

Or maybe a kerplunk.

A giant swan dive, perhaps. Into an olive that has had a little too much martini already.

Nevertheless, I am declaring yet another a time out. For an indefinite period of time.

I seem to ultimately attract one man. Sadly, I can count them all without completely using two hands.

First, they all claim to really know how to treat a woman. Truly I have no specific expectations in this department, but when someone feels the need to claim such a thing right off the bat, I do start to worry. "Real" dates (whatever that means)...dinner, dancing (dancing? really?). No movies cause you really can't get to know someone while sitting through a movie (I understand this, but inevitably we end up renting a movie parked on a sofa somewhere, so actually entering a theater to see one might be nice on rare occasion). Walks, etc. Flowers. I've seen the dinners, yes sort of. And once, one of them gave me flowers. My ex did give me flowers on Mothers' Day...a couple times? Two of them were good at gift-giving, though the gifts from the second one have since fallen apart. Hmmm. Clue: It really doesn't take all that much. Simple attentiveness. Being yourself. Having fun. Going places. Doing stuff. Getting a glimpse at each others' lives. Candy and flowers have their place, I suppose, but aren't really necessary. Quality time...that's priceless.

Second, the royal treatment (see above paragraph) lasted less than about two weeks during which time there was maybe one or two "real dates" and then we're on someone's sofa watching movies (see!!?!) that I not only didn't have any option/help to pick, but didn't want to see again and again (or, ok, ever)... I should say that "the royal treatment" is not something I really expect, but I'm a person that likes a smidgen of variety on occasion and going and doing...I DO like to watch movies. Very much. But exclusively? Especially certain movies. Um, no...

Let me make a caveat here....there is a place in this world for Ace Ventura, Hot Shots, Naked Gun, Pauly Shore movies, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Police Academy, Napoleon Dynamite and the like. I suppose. And I am being nice here. But, to watch these types of movies exclusively is a special kind of torture. One I have endured too long. I've lost seven YEARS worth of sci fi, mystery, and the like to fart-joke movies that, quite frankly, I seem to remember after the first time I saw them.

Now, Star Wars? I'll watch that repeatedly (some of them). Ditto for some of the Star Treks and many of other films you would think are definitely outside the chick flick arena. I'm not wishing any brand of special torture on anyone.

Third, not to put it so delicately, they seem to think that after about two dates or less I'm obligated to have sex with them. Usually after less time than that. I really don't think so and that causes a problem. So, uh, no. Enough said.

Fourth, a handful of the handful seem to have real anger issues. Which means there are occasions when I definitely don't like how they treat me and there are definitely times when I don't like how they treat others. Two have been very proud of being "assholes" (yes, they said that verbatim out loud--this is the staggering part that I REALLY don't like) and really seem to enjoy their poor treatment of certain people in their lives.

Run away, run away!!!

Fifth, they just aren't that smart. This may sound derogatory, but I really have a need to be able to have a decent discussion on occasion. Not dumb down my language. Maybe even speak on occasion. Not looking for Einstein, here. Just a person who thinks or on occasion wants to put two and two together. Coming up with four would be a bonus. (That does sound harsh, doesn't it?)

I'm not saying all men are pigs. In fact, they aren't. Just the ones I seem to run into--and to be fair I've not been hanging around in a lot of places lately where I'm likely to run into anyone even remotely interesting. I know many who seem great and they are (mostly) married. I'm sure there are some out there who are even single. Just none that I know. And...none who seem interested in an intelligent, single mom who works hard and likes to enjoy life and not spend most of it sitting on the sofa watching B movies.

Yep, I'm a bit of a geek--both scientifically and "computerifically"--I do odd things like read and write and hike in no particular direction. I have quirks of my own. I have faith and strong beliefs. I love music and dancing and really get off my rear and do both. And, apparently, those are undesirable qualities to the average mid-thirties to mid-forties male. I said average, not every.

So, I officially give up. For a time, I guess. Not forever. Ugh. I am just weary of this.

Gonna go sleep in a tree,

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Nice End to the Day

Today, oops, yesterday really turned out to be a very nice day. It was not without its humorous moments, sarcasm, and sheer bizarre qualities, but all totaled, very nice.

I was so right about Squib and his sense of timing with regard to company. He has the child's knack for turning on the cute. He did a bang-up job of being not only cute, but fun, intelligent, and down-right endearing. [Gave everyone (and I mean everyone) a kiss and a hug before bed. I almost barfed. He'd make a great politician at this point.]

Our friends arrived from Oklahoma about 4:30 and by then Squib was so jacked up he was jumping up and down and screaming "Dhey Hewe!" and charging the door. He and Buddy made it to the door before SqB remembered that he really didn't know Sharon and Robert and his shyness kicked in. It was like a dog hitting the end of his chain. He jerked up short and played shy for a while. Clung to me like a piece of lint until we got to the Mexican restaurant.

We sat around talking for a bit before we headed out to the mystery restaurant. None of us had ever been there, but it "has bench seating" so it qualified as a "westauwant."

The restaurant was surprisingly good...which for this no-pizza town is amazing. SqB ordered a corn dog he never ate, belched during the blessing, but that was pretty normal. Little did I know they were also the purveyor of "Scooby Snacks" which for you deprived children is the fave of Scooby Doo. Michael saw Scooby Doo for the first time recently and by the door of the restaurant they had one of those candy machines that dispenses little handfuls of candy for a quarter. These were shaped like bones....hence, "Scooby Snacks." I thought he'd lost his mind when he started claiming that they sold them, but I should know better by now than to contradict him. Ever. So, he actually had a random quarter and made his very first purchase of anything. Scooby Snacks.

Apparently Robert had done something right during the evening because Robert got a Scooby Snack. Not me.

When we returned from the restaurant, some friends of my grandparents from out of town had stopped by and after moving in some chairs, we had quite a gathering.

Sharon brought in some cupcakes and we had a surprise, impromptu birthday party for Mom followed closely by a mind-numbing discussion of health care. Sometimes your mind is just not capable of discussing health care. Dad and I admittedly regressed into our chairs with our iPhones. He was playing Spider Solitaire and I was busy throwing my body off five-story buildings in Assassin's Creed. Seemed an appropriate commentary on health care at the time. SqB was busy with his new Black and Decker toy tool set. He took the door knob off the office door earlier today, so anything short of that must be an improvement, yes?

Health care discussion ran off the second set of guests and SqB went to bed, though not without calling me "Stupidhead" and reaping the consequences. Parenting can really reek at times. The rest of us drifted, discussed the best way to drive to Austin from here (which is probably not to drive there at all), and decided to break it up until breakfast....

...which is in another five hours. And you got it. Here I sit in the recliner.

This chair was purchased seven and a half years ago by myself and my first husband just prior to Beanstalk's birth. I was thinking of rocking babies and comfort in the last days of pregnancy and NOT that it might become my bunk when said babies took over my living quarters.

Would definitely have gone with the leather had I known that. And the massaging thingies.

But I thank God every night that the silly thing swivels or I'd have to stare at the glare from the safety light that is just sticking up in the middle of a piece of land I affectionately call the Grassy Knoll. It used to be a pond and that light had a purpose. Now? Well, let's just say I have prayed for it's demise during two hurricanes to no avail.

Such is life...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Various and Sundry

No one thing is leaping out at me today except for the singularly unique nature of my family and our current living situation.

This first segment is called "How to Build Confusing Houses."

For as long as I can remember, Papa (gpa) has been building his own houses. I'm not talking about extensive remodeling--that's child's play. I'm talking from the piers up. The last house was rather elaborate and, yes, took somewhere around eleven (so double that number) years to complete what with all the adding on.

Elaborate doesn't mean generally means as mathematically and physically difficult to construct as possible.

For example: A bridge was needed to cross a gully to the land he owned on the other side. Bridges can be rather simple, right? Right. But would a geophysicist really pick a simple design?

Not this one.

He built a suspension bridge. And for added difficulty, he built it alone. At the ripe old age of 78.

Fast forward to present day. The current design for the common areas is like a donut of sorts. A square one. The north arm of the loop is the entry-way with a desk no one uses, storage (mostly unused), and an area simply designed for the phone near as I can tell. The West arm of the loop is the living room, the South is the dining area, and the East is the kitchen.

There is NO HOLE in this donut. Instead, there is this multi-purpose structure that has two functions.'s the pantry (East), shelf (North), entertainment center (West), and china cabinet (South). is designed to keep us all chasing each other in circles around it because we can't see through it or over it. If we were the kind of people to hold still and agree on a meeting place this donut hole would be fine, but NO!!!! We're go-getters. Can't find anyone? Then you're just NOT GOING FAST ENOUGH!!!!! So far today, Buddy and Michael chased each other around in circles several times and Buddy and Papa did the same as well. It was all I could do to get Papa 0to stand still so Buddy could find him!!!!!!

And now "Little Snippets of Conversation."

Do you ever wonder what people might think if all they heard was one sentence taken out of context from your day?

Today's snippets?

"Put the knife on the table before you crawl up there!" (me to Squib)

"God, I need a screwdriver." (the tool, not the drink, though the drink might help)

"I'm gonna watch Mommy shower!" (Squib...what can I say, he's male.)

And, finally, "The Spreadsheet and Play-doh Update."

After four hours, Buddy is STILL trying to fix the mangled spreadsheet from yesterday's ordeal. Yes, even with all his help, it still came out, well, inoperable.

As for the lump (about the size of a baseball) of Play-doh, well, it's still AWOL.

"And now," cried Max, "Let the wild rumpus start!!!!!!"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Octogenarian v. OpenOffice 3.1

OK, so.....most of you know by now that I am a true computer geek. My Dad's a geek, my brother's a geek, and I'm a geek. With regard to the family corporations, Buddy (dad), Attrition (brother), and myself (Scat) are the ones that keep the technical wheels on the proverbial cart.

Enter the octogenarian genius geophysicist, Papa. I mean genius in every sense of the word. However, I am leaning more towards savant. Extremely gifted in a single area, but in all others, well, I can only scrunch my eyes shut and shake my head. I love him very much. He knows more about finding and drilling for oil than I know about everything else at all. Just DO NOT trust him with a spreadsheet. Well, any software come to think of it. Today it was a spreadsheet.

Not just any spreadsheet, either. One that has formulas and links to other pages of the spreadsheet already embedded in it so that the information that's calculated dovetails with our mapping and programming. Took Buddy God knows how long to get everything configured so that everything comes out right in the end. We're using it with one of our proprietary software programs. Which means....."cutting" is bad.

So...Buddy gives Papa the job of data entry. Without locking the editing of formulas. This is bad. Oh, and he does this right when I lay Squib down for a nap.

Squib DOES NOT nap with the door closed. He falls asleep and then I close the door. There's a procedure for EVERYTHING!!!!!!

Papa's office door is two feet from Squib's door.

Let the games begin.

Apparently, Papa begins entering data. Something becomes unclear to him and in order to preserve his data he cuts it out and pastes it elsewhere. Randomly. So, of course, all the formulas and other references get cut out and travel with the now very erroneous data which does paste just a split second before the hieroglyphics appear (if you've ever goofed up a spreadsheet you know the hiero's of which I speak--mostly ###REF and the like).

This is where a tad more explaining is due. Papa is on estrogen. It's part of his treatment for prostate cancer. I don't guess I need to explain what estrogen can do to a person. He gets hot flashes, you name it.

So, here comes an estrogen-powered octogenarian like a hot flash on wheels whose lost God knows how much data--the average survey can be upward of several hundreds of Gb--screeching forth from his office like a banshee...I don't even remember what he said. I saw the horror on Buddy's face and saw the absolute consternation on Papa's face and the yelling was loud enough to be heard clearly over my iPod which was blasting in my ears (I can better cope with the general mayhem that way).

Much discussion and explanation and demonstration was had over the "undo" feature and the "clear" v. "cut" features (It started with "they are NOT the same" and ended with a discussion of whether or not "oh that's just stupid" is a legitimate point or a pointless observation. Buddy got a new copy of the blank spreadsheet for Octo to start all over again, emphasized DATA ENTRY, and we settled down to our work. Again.

Then the screaming. Again. "Cut" v. "Clear" AGAIN. And again with the undo feature. Glad it wasn't me trying to explain it. I'd have duct-taped a certain person's screamer and made an "Undo and Clear ONLY" sign. Instead, with each error we waved him off and silenced him and Buddy carefully explained the problem.....again.

I can't believe it ever ended, but it did. After an hour, he gave up sort of. We were all exhausted. It probably sounded like a nut farm around here with all the shouts of "No cutting! No cutting!" was God's gift to me personally that Squib fell asleep and stayed that way. One basket case per day is enough.

I'm not even going to go into the missing lump of Play-doh,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can Ya Swallow It?

Crohn's disease is a disease of the bowel. It is most often severe cramping, abdominal pain, and all sorts of other gutteral unpleasantness. That is NOT what this short little blog is about.

I have Crohn's disease. Lately, it's been acting up and I've had to increase one of my medications. Azulfidine. Doesn't sound like such a big deal. Four pills in the morning and four at night was how it started. So innocent. But have you seen these things!!!!! Recently the flare up sent me to the doc and now I have to down 16 of these suckers a day......and here they are...

That's ONE DAY's dose! They're about the size of a dime (shown for size), but as thick as an M&M. Thank goodness the stuff works, I guess, but when you hear people talk about taking "horsepills," this is what they're talking about. Yowza. No friendly coating to slip down easy.

And after the first two, my throat decides "this is not right!" And I have to pause and talk it into swallowing again. Who can blame it? Good thing they seem to work, huh?

Efficiency Living When You Love Books, Work at Home, and Teach From Home

I have 12 foot ceilings...perhaps they're ten, but nevertheless, they are bare in my portion of our little dwelling. 10 foot ceilings and an irregularly seven-sided room. The seven walls are a trick, but easily adapted to. What I would NOT give, though, for the top three feet of all the wall space to be COVERED with bookshelves!!! I could easily put my things up there and then Squib wouldn't have to concern himself with what he can and cannot touch and/or play with. Instead, we use a recovered plywood bookshelf that's ugly as sin, but does the trick.

I'm really thankful for digital books, but there really is something about being buried in that paper-smell while your imagination zooms to other times, lives, realities, and wealths of information. I have pared my library down to the essentials that I MUST keep on hand because I have 12 foot ceilings...perhaps they're ten, but nevertheless, they are bare in my portion of our little dwelling. 10 foot ceilings and an irregularly seven-sided room. The seven walls are a trick, but easily adapted to. What I would NOT give, though, for the top three feet of all the wall space to be COVERED with bookshelves!!! I could easily put my things up there and then Squib wouldn't have to concern himself with what he can and cannot touch and/or play with. Instead, we use a recovered plywood bookshelf that's ugly as sin, but does the trick. Every one's library speaks for itself. I know, too, what my friends keep, and I try not to keep what they have if I can manage to turn loose of them. Pam, the librarian, is usually pretty good about keeping what I give her in circulation 'cause I tend to go non-linear when my books aren't there for the finding. I forgave her my "Genes V" text on general principle. I have managed to pare my books down to fit Michael's entire collection on the shelf and then mine are on the rest of the shelf and in key places around the room. Here's our measly shelf and the speakers for my iPhone so we have a little stereo and audiobook action going on in our little room.
Of course you see the briefcase(s) and the green chair...that's the office :) Nope, not personal office :) I have another large one, but this is where I go to not be bothered unless its' a rugrat...they have free rights to interrupt me at will. The beds are folded in like you would a bunk bed with the trundle sticking out from under the top twin at a 90 degree angle and Squib sleeps on the bottom short section and I sleep on the top full-length twin. It doesn't seem like it, but he has quite a bit of floor space to play in. All of his toys are stored on the shelf, in plastic storage boxes in our "hall closet," in his small wagon that parks under the bed or in the big wagon that lives in the hall.

Armoires are absolutely the most wonderful things if you buy the right kind...some shelves, some drawers, some hanging...aaaaahhhh I love my armoire and as a plus the only trinkets from my "big house" days are on top of the armoire where they can't be bothered by little fingers. It also gives you more covered storage for "stuff" that you need but can't seem to place.

And, yes, my piano is in the closet. Our photographs are on top and the clothes are in the side pocket areas of the closet. There was a rod that was supposed to stretch all the way across, but I vetoed that in lieu of musical pursuits. We carved a niche of a closet out of some wasted space in the hallway instead.

So here we are! Mom and kiddo living, working, learning, and having fun in a 12 x 12 space. Hard to keep everything straightened up? Absolutely! Need a shopping spree from the Container store? Yep!! Lacking in that simple, minimalist calm? Definitely! But we're happy!!! And we're close! Squib and I loooooove that. Well, ok, sometimes we don't.

We'd be right at home in New York in a tiny walk-up. Heck, if we can finish the floors in our little room here and maybe paint the walls some optimistic color, we may never leave.....OK, not really. So here I go to put up my messes from yesterday to keep this place habitable and hoping a 4yr old won't bring it all down in a single second.....riiiiiiiiight.