Saturday, May 29, 2010


I have been working alongside my father in one form or another since I was about fourteen. At first, I was merely transcribing his scribbles into typed manuscript. As I became more confident, I began to correct the glaring spelling and grammatical errors. Later, I would flag him down to correct errors that were further outside my knowledge base and then I was well on my way to being his personal scribe and writer-of-all-things-written. Later he figured out that I was a rememberer of names-and-faces, phone numbers, ettiquette, and other useful tricks and we became a fast pair.

I took a little time off to go to college and graduate from same. I volunteered in a lab or two to gain some valuable expertise and then began teaching. Then two things happened. First, I needed to earn more money. Second, my father stared in a low-budget Wiltel Advanced Technology Group film entitled "Fundamentally."

Evidently he had gotten into a bit of a speech and presentation-writing rut. He started to ignore my first and most basic rule: never say the same thing the same way twice. He got so lazy about it that he began to overuse the word "fundamentally." So, the AV guys took copies of all the videos they had (we're talking years of video from 1989 through 1999) and took out every clip that included the word "fundamentally." They then spliced them all together and what resulted was the most hysterical twenty-three minutes of film you have ever seen. Dad must have said "fundamentally" every day, in every suit, in every state of the Union, in every sales convention, and even once while he scratched his nose rather thoroughly--they looped the nose one several times and it looked like he was drilling for gold.

So, viola! I was hired. And I have been ever since. Sometimes as a contractor. Sometimes as an employee. Sometimes as unpaid lackey. But always hired to keep him out of his "fundamental" vocabulary rut. I have other responsibilities as well given my scientific and computing background. A lot of technical design and analysis has come my way and I have had to learn it to earn my keep at times, but when it comes right down to it, I'm here to make us sound good and look good on paper...and if we open our mouths.

This can be a challenge. I have trained Dad. Clanpaw is a whole other story. His writing technique is, well, hideous. He switches ideas mid-sentence, spells phonetically, writes using sentence fragments, and frequently skips a step in step-wise explanations. Usually, he omits things when explaining some things I know nothing about. I know its missing, but I couldn't fill in the missing information to save my life. He starts sentences with "and" and "but." He concludes them with prepositions. He uses italics and quotations indiscriminately and has a penchant for rhetorical questions. Last but not least, he's a drama king. An interesting feature becomes a "diamond in the rough." Geologic areas that have yet to be explored aren't "yet to be explored," they've been "historically shunned!!!" Like lepers I guess? And he takes every opportunity to use the phrase "tested with the drill"--usually several times in each paper. Today, one of our exhibits, a map to be exact, was providing "taunting evidence!!" And, no, I did not add the exclamation points...he did. Both of them. It almost defies correction or taming into modern language. What is the modern equivalent of "taunting evidence?" It almost requires dramatic musical interludes and overtones for proper interpretation. I could easier turn it into a comic strip:

Radio Voice: "Exhibit 2 rises up not as significant evidence of structural trapping, but of stratigraphic trapping it provides taunting evidence!!" (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUHHHHHHHH.....)

And for all I know, that may be how he would present things if he were left up to his own devices. As it is, he's unhappy with the fact that he doesn't get to talk as much as he wants to. That is a whole other story.

So, for now, we are in the writing, selling, drumming-up-of-investors stage of our business. The part I, personally, find the most distasteful. Begging for money has never been my strong suit, though I can do it with the best of them. There's just something distasteful about it as part of the whole process. Research, investigation, conducting surveys, processing, interpretation, and even leasing are interesting parts of this business. Finding investors to fund it all is not always the hard part, but it's definitely the most precarious.

No matter what the stage of the business, though, there is always a load of writing to do. Articles, booklets, proposals, releases, speeches, presentations, prospect reports, teasers, confidentiality agreements, nondisclosures, etc. etc. A person could go blind on the paperwork that's require with any technical job these days. Not to mention just the notes I have to keep that remind me what I've done in a single day and my results, progress, etc. Then, of course, there are the notes I keep for Dad and Pawpaw....hours, projects worked on, blah blah blah.

And then for fun I write a blog. Huh.

Squib finally fell asleep last night after several hours of "I neeeeed you, mama!" Buddy and I consoled him off and on to no avail. Eventually, he just passes out with exhaustion and the torment is over. If I knew what to do to get him back to his happy bedtime self, I would do it!

Beanstalk is safely ensconced in his cast. His entire left leg from ankle to thigh is casted as a result of his broken femur. Fortunately, the swelling was such that he could be casted which marks the beginning of the true healing. Twelve more weeks to go on that front. Yay! Let the countdown begin! We are, apparently square with the school again regarding what "safety precautions" actually means. They have all now witnessed a breakdown in protocol of epic proportions followed by the wrath of Beanstalk's Dad, so they are toeing the proverbial line and all is "Yes, ma'am...Yes, sir." As it should be, I suppose. What incredible stupidity, I must say. Take his braces off and let him run about on a concrete floor until his femur fractures...yeah, that sounds like fun...then hide behind a permission slip. Poor child is now NOT permitted to go on any field trips until such a time as we can be sure he will not be broken on purpose due to gross negligence. Not my words.

We shall have the last of our squash and zuchini shortly! We put in a huge plot of it where we lost that huge stand of pine trees earlier this year. Now they are finally nearing harvest. If we can keep mom from plucking them off the plant before they are ready, then we'll have some tasty veggies soon! A little later on we'll have still more okra! It seems to be growing slowly, though we can't really figure out why. We planted it in series just as we did last year, but this last planting is growing much more slowly for some reason.

Last, but not least we have a cracked pipe going down into our water well. Bah, humbug. We are puzzling over a method to fix this ourselves, though I am crying "Hire a repairman!!!!!" (THOSE exclamation marks are MINE!) Until it is fixed, we risk contamination of our well through the crack in the pipe. drinking from the faucet or using it for food prep, teeth brushing, or ice cubes. What an enormous pain in the keester. It's times like these that my dreams of owning a Big Berkey surface. We have occasion to need such a filtration device at least three times a year. Sad, but true. Welcome to the sticks and to my grandfather's preference for only kinda fixing things and then only with parts we have on hand that have been used before. Ugh.

IF my grandfather ran KFC, his motto would be "We do chicken right...most of the time." He'd want to put a disclaimer on every add saying: "We like to keep reusing our oil 'cause it's cheaper and 9 out of 11 herbs and spices is ok 'cause that's cheaper, too. We'll end up making more money that way." But he'd never admit that he'd lose money 'cause people like fresh fried chicken with the original recipe. Dad would have to come along and browbeat him for an hour into doing things the right way. OR he'd have to lose money for at least a year before he fixed the problem. After all, this is the man who though $700 electric bills (for a 2000 sq. ft. house) were normal and refused to have the AC looked at cause he'd "never had a lower bill while he'd been in this house."

We frequently (and jokingly) use the phrase "If it's broke, don't fix it."

Dear Lord, please help me outlive my grandfather...

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Neeeeeeed You, Momma

  We made a pilgrimage to Oklahoma recently to visit my mother's relatives. The trip entailed meeting a slough of new people and three dogs. This scared the bejeezus out of Squib. He began freaking out every time the door was opened and every time a dog approached him. Naptime and bedtime became these torturous events during which he would scream "I need you, I need you, I need you" incessantly at the top of his lungs.

  Before our trip, he always trooped off to bed as though happy to go there. Not a worry. Not a single qualm. I was hoping that upon our return to our nice, safe, dogless house he would go back to his normal routine, but is not to be...

  I did not want to go to Oklahoma. I knew what his reaction would be because he said he did not want to go. It takes time for him to warm up to people. I had no idea it would be this bad, but I knew it wouldn't be pretty, but there was the issue of trying to please my mother by taking her second grandchild and presenting him to his great-grandmother (who already doesn't remember him :). And NOW, he's a candidate for anti-psychotics. Yes, drugs.

  I am officially through with any and all delusional efforts to please my mother. This one was disastrous.

  So here we are. He has been in the bed for two hours. For an hour he was silent, then he remembered that he "needed me." The ENTIRE next hour was filled with his repeated statement "I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama. I need you, mama..."

  Yes, I have attempted to console him. I've gone through his bedtime ritual at least twice in full and in part several more times. I've tried rational discussions and irrational approaches. In the end, all I can say is "I know you need me. I need you, too. It is time to go to sleep. I love you." AND WALK AWAY. Staying with him actually makes it WORSE.

  I desperately want my Squib back. My calm little happy bedbug that loves being under the covers and doesn't sweat it. Something bent and maybe broke during our time away. If it's permanent, I shall be chapped. VERY CHAPPED. Not at Squib.

  Nevertheless, it is safe to say that we are not going back. At least we are not going back until he starts to love dogs or until the idea to go back is his, and not mine. There's just something the matter with "family" vacations that end up warping your kid so badly that they can't sleep. 'nough said.

  What's really squirrelly is that he's around dogs ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!! Just not these dogs.

And if baby ain't sleepin'....nobody's sleepin'.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ooooooooooooklahoma where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain...

  Yes, we are coming to you live from Oklahoma this week! Previously, we've made several plans for this pilgrimage, but all our previous plans were foiled by my mother's various bouts with various illnesses. I refrain to comment on that because I respect my elders, love my mother, and despise being in a bad mood.

  The trip up was pretty eventful. South of Dallas, we encountered a tornado. I am not speculating. I am dead serious. We saw the wall cloud with a rotating tail descend and touch the ground. It crossed I-45 just as we did. I haven't ever felt wind like that. It came complete with marble sized hail and we had to take shelter with all the other cars under a woven nest of overpasses until it passed.

  Feeling very relieved, we eventually got back on the road only to find that the air conditioning system had gone out. Burnt out would be the verdict later. As it was in the high 80's and we couldn't roll down the windows (they are electric and that mechanism failed as well) we were driving in a toaster oven. I haven't been that hot and sweaty in years. We used water and baby wipes to cool down, but I thought mom was going to have a heat stroke. Squib wasn't far behind, but at least he would drink the water. He slipped off to sleep and I wiped him down every so often to keep him cool. Buddy and I are a lot more conditioned to the heat because of all the outdoor work and activities we do...good thing, too. Needless to say, here we are on vacation and our car is in the shop.

  Being stuck here isn't all bad, though. My uncle has about ten acres that are his plus we're free to wander on neighboring land until we hit the fences on the north, east, and west sides. There are three ponds absolutely stuffed to the gills with fish, an elaborate jungle gym, and more wildlife that you could possibly imagine. This morning, Squib and I hiked down to the large pond. Squib found a giant turtle--almost stepped right on it. He got a little freaked when I picked it up to look at and showed it to him. He's, uh, skeptical. Yeah, that's it...skeptical. About everything. (Read: TERRIFIED)

  He's even skeptical about the new locale. Skittish would be a better term, maybe. Seriously freaked out at times, too. How a child like that came from a family like this I will never know. But somewhere in that vivid imagination there is no sense of adventure or exploration. He seems to keep it all within some very rigid and known boundaries. Definitely inside the box. Granted, it's his box, but he is firmly entrenched within it.

  Beanstalk, however, doesn't even seem to find even a broken femur limiting. He's the head pirate, the first conquistador, test pilot, sub driver, and director of a symphony orchestra. Squib's opposite in every way. But it's like their bodies were switched. Granted, Beanstalk's temperament came in handy especially in the early years when we lived at Texas Childrens' but really, the adventurer should have the rugged body and the timid box-dweller maybe should have been the one with fragile bones. Obviously why I am not God.

Point taken.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

Fiddling about in his crib...

It just seems like forever ago, but it really was only about eight years or so...that I looked like this and Beanstalk was a wee thing! I found these in my stash of backup CD's as I was looking for old software, etc. this evening and couldn't help but pass on some of Beanstalk's first moments on the scene.
Grabbing a bath after a swim at Grammy's

The kid could SLEEP!

The day we "handled" the bills and filing of overdue paperwork. Beanstalk was enamored with paper...thank God. Crinkly paper sounds were the first things he laughed at.

Gleeful and triumphant after peeing on Gumby's side of the bed. Always on Gumby's side of the bed.

He is coming up on eight years of age now and reaches my shoulder in height. Not my little baby any more.

At least I have the pics!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spooky Goings On

There are days when I truly believe that I am the center of some kind of spooky, cosmic weirdness. Take, for instance, today's power outage. The lights flickered on and off several times a second for fifteen minutes straight. You could hear the appliances making that "pock" sound each time they came on. I was waiting for something to explode like a bad horror film. After the UPS in the inside office blew a circuit, I realized we were dealing with a bit of an extraordinary situation. I can't even count all the UPS's we have...I started counting the price tag...and then I started unplugging. Fast. It took me almost fifteen minutes to get everything turned off and by the time I was done all their circuit breaker reset switches needed resetting. I really haven't seen a power failure like that since the seventies. I didn't think it was possible anymore. Actually, it shouldn't be possible anymore, but I guess our power co-op is not exactly up to current regs. Fabulous. I sat in the kitchen listening to the refrigerator "pocking" on and off and wondering if it would survive. No surge protector or UPS on the refrig. I can't move it myself to unplug it. I'm rethinking that. I don't know anyone who puts an UPS on their fridge, but geesh... Because the thermostat is electronic, I couldn't turn that off either, but at least I could take out the battery. Eek.

Our electric co-op insures us for a lump sum of monetary damages should we lose any equipment/appliances due to an electrical mishap. Sitting there--in the dark, storming rain--I starting toting up the replacement price of our computing equipment and appliances and realized the lump would fall a tad short if everything died. Yes, I know the chances of everything getting fried is slim. But this is me.

I guess I know the answer to "Are our power facilities hardened for an EMP laydown scenario?" Probably not. Centerpoint is. Entergy is...mostly. Sam Houston Electric Co-op? Well, we can't even keep the power on through a rain storm of any kind. Three days. Three thunderstorms. Three power outages.

So, we are investing in a few more precautionary say the least. A new battery UPS for the inside office and two additional ones for the peripherals and net server in the outside office. And our usual hurricane survival kit (OK, box and shelves) is getting a few more crank devices. I have officially lost faith in the ability of the power co-op to restore power in any situation. At all.  After an isolated thunder-boomer we were without power all afternoon...four hours!!! Booger and I have been squirreling away all sorts of things for a prolonged no-power situation. THAT needs some attention. Healthy paranoia is, well, exhausting at times. But it is, perhaps, indicative of our situation that my four-year-old won't go to bed without his flashlight lately.

Sometimes I miss the days of blissful ignorance and absolute uninchargedness...

Friday, May 14, 2010

OH yeah, I blog...

  Oy vey. Finals week sucked the life out of me. But I came out of it with four A's. YESSSSS....all those hours in that stinking anatomy lab finally paid off. I still smell it, but I don't really think anyone else does. It may very well be a figment of my olfactory bulbs. After all, there is an entire cranial nerve dedicated just to detecting scents in our environment (that would be cranial nerve one). I'm far more interested in the hotly debated cranial nerve zero, or terminal nerve, which may (or may not) enable the detection of pheremones. If, in fact, that is even what it is there for. It was originally discovered in sharks in the late 1800's and then found in the human brain around 1913, but it is traditionally not recognized as one of the cranial nerves. At least, it doesn't rate the traditional list. It made my list 'cause stuff like that just...does. Will it, in fact, allow me to be a better medical professional. No, probably not. But it will make me a more interesting one!

  Yesterday (Friday the 14th) was NOT a good day at the Scat household. Beanstalk...long of limb and tetrasomy of the 18th chromosome is, well, fragile bone-wise. We just almost made it an entire school year without breaking a bone. Notice I said almost. Yesterday, his class was taking a trip to "Pump It Up" which is one of those indoor inflatable bounce-house type places. Great fun can be had there. Great fun and one fractured left femur--yep, the big leg bone. So, just to keep the tally marks straight, that's five years of school with at least one broken bone AT SCHOOL per year. Not counting the freebies garnered during summers. One year there were three...breaks, that is. Mostly arms. He spent the night with his Dad at Texas Orthopedic Hospital and got to see his favorite orthopedic surgeon today. Yippee. If all else was equal--which it is not--we'd school the boy at home, but special kids need special attention and not being qualified in special education (and occupational, physical, speech, and auditory therapy and possessing all the cool toys), while it is beginning to be a real downside to my higher education, is still a fact. I'm not qualified. So...I have to be in a position to pay for it. I'm going to be in school forever...and working for longer than that.

  Squib has announced that he is "not sure he wants to go to high school." Fortunately, I think, he doesn't really mean high school. He means after high school. I was sooooo hoping that he would think my going back to school would be interesting and find it at least a little fun. He loves looking at the pictures of dissections and practising with the sim software with me. He's just not a fan of studying or all the reading. Even if I do most of it when he is napping or sleeping, he seems to get the idea that I'm pouring hours into these books and he's right. Unfortunately, it's only going to get worse before it gets better. And the four-year-old mind sees months and years as eternity. He'll start his own school in the fall. I'm not sure whether that will make matters better or worse. I hope better. Lots better. He's been very fortunate thus far to be able to toddle about my office his whole life rather than stay in a day care facility or preschool center. Even this last semester he always stayed with my father if I was unable to be here, but somewhere in his little mind the change is palpable. Unlike Beanstalk, Squib is averse to change in the extreme. He has a meter in his brain and I think it must be on tilt already.

  On a good note...RAIN!!!! Finally! Rain! Toting the dratted hoses around has been getting laborious and I'm not sure the remaining squash and okra are worth it. We waved off on the melons and are trying to save a few small trees that need the extra help, but NOTHING works like rain and it's about time we got some! I love rain. I love the sound of the water pouring down on the decks, the thunder rumbling low around the house and the flash of lightning. I could watch it for hours. It makes me sleep like a baby. I'd run around in it, but it's dark and I'm sorta in for the night. Besides...I do have neighbors...not that they'd find it out of the ordinary or anything. Surely they're used to weird by now, right? It isn't like I'm gonna streak while I'm doing the raindance or anything. This time. I have no desire to see the inside of the jail.

  Uh oh...BIG thunder. The king of thunder terror may still be awake. I may not get away with this much longer. Dear God, please let him be asleep. I'm not sure I can follow one sleepless night with another night of sleep with the four-year-old mixmaster on my sofa. He's coughing...I shall hold my breath. Yes, I am sitting here on my sofa holding my breath like a real loser of a mother hoping my little one does not need me to sleep under his wet-diaper-laden body all night. Apparently his "buddy" (my dad) has already checked on him. He told Buddy to "go away" because he was "sleeping!" He is also apparently sweating bullets, but is hunkered down underneath that blanket like it's a thunder shield. Now I am definitely feeling heelish. I go to do my job.

...and I'm back. What a funny kid!! He's TERRIFIED. But he says "I'm dealing with it." He's sweating bullets and his eyes are big as dinner plates. He's bound himself up in the quilt, so I offered him a big sheet so he might not sweat so much. He accepted graciously and immediately wound his whole body up in it--head included. Pillow over head, he requested that all the doors be closed so he couldn't hear the thunder. So, closet, bathroom, and bedroom door are now shut. I couldn't hear him if I wanted to over the movie the grands are watching. I hope he passes out quickly 'cause he has one vivid imagination.

  Everything is alive to him. We were printing out pictures today and I found him talking into the printer slot today saying "tum on out, picture, it's otay!" When he loses something, he calls you would a dog or a person. I can't convince him that some things don't hear him. Nor can I dissuade him from trying to actively engage characters on the television in conversation. He's always yelling at them telling them not to go somewhere or do something or "look over here!" And to tell you the truth, I sort of like the fairy tale world he lives in and hope he gets to stay there as long as possible. But combine that imagination with a fear of thunder...I wonder what he thinks thunder really is? I have explained the phenomenon, but who knows how he's put it all together...who knows, I may have scared the pants off him further.

  Come to think of it, I told him Beanstalk broke his leg on a field trip. Do the math Squib-style and we'll never get him to go on a field trip at this rate. Ever. Ah, the truth. Must be careful how and when we share that.

***Enter Power Outage.**

***Exit Power Outage***

  Just in case you've been wondering why I haven't been writing, well...power outages, massive hard drive failures, broken legs, and other random conspiracies of circumstance. Simply unbelievable stuff that seems only to happen to me in the normal course of my life as though I'm training for some strange perpetual terminal electronic, basic services, and medical crisis. Really. That I can fix most things is actually becoming exasperating. I would rather enjoy the peace and quiet of a finally dead hard drive

  So a day or two has passed...Beanstalk is safely ensconced at home where he is now king of the sofa and packing away the groceries while watching Andre Rieu performances on video. School...well, school may have to wait because we are now aware of some extenuating circumstances. I hate that. I really have hoped and prayed that he would be protected and that everyone would follow the safety precautions we've asked them to follow. Admittedly, it is easy to relax, but you just...can' completely. Yes, he has to live in the real world, but the real world can never forget that he is ultimately fragile. Not osteogenesis imperfecta, but something unique to tetrasomy 18p kids. With only 150 currently active cases, it's pretty much play-it-by-ear, but experimentation and chance are NOT big favorites of mine.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Two Weeks, Two Laptops

Who knew that lurking beneath the blue screen of death was a white screen of abyssmal apocalyptic ruin? I should, perhaps, have known that death was merely the beginning of the pain and suffering I could experience at the hands of a device so integrated into my everyday existence. When all went white and the poorly-resolved red error message flashed up, though, I laughed! I took a picture! I showed Attrition. He informed me that I had officially stepped off the reservation. I was in territory he'd never plumbed the depths of. On my own. Fabulous. The tech support guys at ASUS are gonna love me. Glad I took that pic. And so much for studying with the thing. Finals schminals. Tomorrow I shall schedule a UPS pickup and consign it to the deep--I mean tech support--who have committed to replacing it given that I have only just moved into it.
Seems like yesterday I was saying something about computers and sledge hammers. Yeah...

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ah...the Weather!!

  Today's weather was/is delightful! Cool, dry, green (yes, in my world weather can be green), sunny, fresh, I am actually glad for the overcast, glowering sky because I can finally focus on the task at hand which is not writing in my blog even though that is really what I'm doing...

  Finals week starts Monday. So here in this gorgeous landscape I am sitting next to a pile of notebooks and texts. Erg. NOT hiking. NOT playing in the water. NOT sitting by the lake or in it. NOT, not, not, doing anything outdoorsy unless you consider sitting in a chair "outdoorsy." This is an exchange I knew I would be making at all the best times of the year for the next...well, however-many years. Higher education starts and ends during the best times of year in Texas. You get breaks during the worst times of year. I have never figured that out. Well, if you imagine the people who do the planning as anemic, pale indoor types who would rather sit in front of a computer for "fun," then I get it in under a second with no thought required. I don't believe for a second that they're all like that (whoever "they" are), but sometimes it helps.

  As for finals, mine stack up like this: one Monday night and THREE on Tuesday. Then I get to enjoy my two-day summer break. I am already booked up during those two, dentist, doctors, laundry, paperwork, packing and unpacking, and all the spring cleaning I can cram in. Oh, and one workstation that needs to be re-brained.

  Re-braining things is tedious, but I have a knack for it and this particular workstation needs it desperately. Come to think of it, so does the other one. Our little company is getting new seismic interpretation software here in a couple of weeks. Yay. One very unenthusiastic yay. They all basically do the same things in terms of the batch processing, interpretation, and computations they perform, but they do NOT do it all the same way. And usually, even though they all say they use .segy files, they still require a pretty tedious process of exporting your surveys from package one and importing them into package two. This is my job. I do find it interesting from the standpoint of it being a puzzle to solve or like some sick sort of quest game, but past that when you start adding deadlines, customer satisfaction, personal preferences, and (my personal fave) "what we WANT the software to do (but it actually never will do)" I often find myself fantasizing about throwing computers off the dressing rooms into the swimming pool after beating them with a sledge hammer. That thought alone thrills my very soul to the point where a very stupid-happy grin breaks out on my face like an 8th grader with her first crush. Of course, in my mind, somehow the computer parts are still carrying some sort of current that arcs when they hit the water like a bad sci-fi movie. Not possible, but a great mental image.

  Back to the weather...we could really use some rain around here. I've been thinking it all day, but not saying much because when we talk rain, Squib gets spooky. He has a disturbing phobia of thunder. Nevertheless, the measures we're taking to keep everything watered are really starting to wear Buddy and I thin. I've had to start setting my alarm to remind me to move the sprinklers/hoses/etc. That's what happens when you plant stuff everywhere. If it's this dry already, we're in for it later in the summer. By then all will be dead, dry, and crusty including those of us trying to keep things wet. Of course, neither Buddy nor Clanpaw can be convinced to give the grass a break. They mow it to the dirt like a bad buzz cut sometimes more than once a week no matter what and wonder why it browns so easily and the ground cracks. I've given up that part of the grounds-keeping because mowing for them is a fetish and there's no stopping it. The flowers, veggies, spices, trees...those are my major concern. I'd kinda like to eat 'em!!!

  On the slate for summer's hard to tell from the pic above, but the area within this stand of trees is being cleared (I had to get help with the dang trumpet vine). Just to the left of that branch that makes the "Y" there is a little pass-through and then it opens up into a dirt-floored open space where, well, boys can be boys. There are a lot of folks around here who like flat, grassy areas versus tree-filled landscapes, so saving this stand of trees was a miracle. Fortunately, it blocks the view of the swimming pool. It also gives the kids a place to play in the "woods" that I can see from the front of the house and am able to thoroughly check out for critters. A little more work and it will be ready. Every boy needs a little hidey-hole...a place to hang their "No Girls Allowed" sign...wait, I'm a girl...

...this could get complicated.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Treading Water

  Everywhere I go I am shedding papers. Some are being turned in. Some are being left in my wake as I have assimilated them, quoted them, referenced them, and subsequently discarded them in the process of writing. Thank goodness for those big black metal clips because they are all that separates anatomy from nutrition from leprosy from telemedicine from...from...well, I forget. I have just finished the last paper, turned it in and "all" I have left to do this week is an anatomy exam tomorrow and a practical the following day. Then finals next week. Three days to breathe and the mania starts all over again for summer semester.

  I told Buddy today that I used to have more stamina for this kind of academic pursuit. He posited that I now have more wisdom. I concurred, but my wits are still not as quick as they once were. My exam this evening was almost baffling at turns, but that was also true for the majority of my fellow classmates, so I am not too concerned. By my calculations at worst I got a B. That will suffice. Admittedly, I like A's and am not accustomed to much else.

  I far preferred the parts of today spent on the phone with Squib discussing his new baseball which he named "Screwy." He is now very jazzed about baseball. As the parental unit responsible for sports, I am at last dealing with a sport I know. Soccer was, fortunately, a temporary thing and not much more than kicking the ball around. I am totally out of my element there, but baseball...yes, I can do baseball. Knocking the whey out of a little ball is very therapeutic and I have been known in the distant past to frequent a little go-cart/batting cage joint between my two locales to expend my frustrations. I find both absolutely entertaining. Go-carts more than batting cages...and you won't find me on the putt-putt course at all.

  Yeah, I've been waiting for one of the boys to begin enjoying something a little more active. Alas, Beanstalk's opera fetish is admittedly maddening. I find myself yawning and sometimes stifling a laugh...classical music concerts not so much, but opera..see-yikes. And Lawrence Welk??!! Dear God, save me from the musical proclivities of my seven-year-old or teach me music appreciation. WAIT. I took that in college. It didn't take. Well, not ALL of it.

  Squib is a Van Halen and Laurie Berkner (little) man. Sand, dirt, outdoors, ball-kicking, mess-making, (now) baseball-loving man. This I can do with some degree of knowledge. I won't have to keep asking dumb questions like "You're listening to Andrea Bo-whosits??" and exposing my uncouthness. Crashing and wrestling and chasing and other very unladylike behavior is very acceptable.

  DISCLAIMER: Beanstalk is also very much a boy. He likes the outdoors and leaf-wrestling, water sports, and the like. He's just a lot more concerned about, well, clothes and music and dancing (I'm with him on the dancing) and culture (I'm into the culture thing, too, but out of my element when it comes to opera). It's my favorite thing about him. I do SO have to work at it at times, though. I mean real research and concentration. I'm hoping we can agree on some middle Sting.

  On the other hand, Beanstalk is so...easy. Scared of nothing. Happy as a clam. Straightforward. Squib is complicated. Scared of thunder, darkness, and above all his own shadow. Clingy. Emotional. The questions he asks can never be taken at face value. He is always really asking about something else and you have to ferret that out. Like the phone number written on the front porch...

  They're such...people. How did they ever get to be like that without me screwing them up completely? Do you ever wonder that about your kids? I do. And no matter what I'm doing they always have a hug for me a joyful shriek when they see me and say "I wub ewe, mawma!"

And that's way better than an "A"...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Annual Leper Fest

No, actually, it isn't, but it sounds freaky, right? Actually, I am in the midst of writing a paper on leprosy (a new version--M.lepromatosis was discovered as recently as 2009 and is the primary culprit behind the form of leprosy that affects those in Mexico and the Carribeans...not so far away) and so the day has been full of it.

Tomorrow I shall craft a website on Telemedicine and thereafter curing cancer should be a relatively minor thing. Writing the webpage would be relatively minor if I were allowed to use my "native" languages, but, alas, I am not. Grr. So in addition to writing a paper on Telemedicine, this will be like writing it in English and then translating it (poorly I might add) into, say, Farsi...I shall pass and that will have to do because I have spent the weekend with a particular 4yo who is going through another clingy phase. When he gives me the doe-eyed Bambi look and says "I lub you, Mawma," I am at a loss for any reason to spend my time with him doing MORE work. I do study a lot more than I'd rather...but this is for him as well, yes?

That being said...a few random thoughts a words to live by...not all mine. Some of the authors will be obvious, but nonetheless authoritative.

1. Don't throw your car in the ocean, because you'll never get it back.

2. No matter what you do, eventually most pairs of socks get separated. I have it on good authority that the odd ones end up at SplashTown. Trust me.

3. If we were really honest about it, all my undergrad (and most graduate) research papers are/were for the most part plagiaristic if I was limited to the number of sources I could cite in my paper (yes, I am actually limited to two citations today in a ten page paper--but plagiarism is strictly verboten--as a rule). Only so much summarization can be done without repetition of someone else's words and, unless you are doing original research (physical or theoretical), your words come from someone else's whether you are taught them orally or read them. Then there's this nasty eidetic memory thing that I have. Honestly, how many original thoughts do YOU have about leprosy? Really! Unscientific science burns my hide.

4. Sometimes you need a bigger cup.

5. Life would be better if peanut M&Ms and iced animal crackers were actually good for you.

6. Bras are stupid. (I swear this did not come from me, but from my four-year-old who has been viewing the contraptions from afar...and anear given his age. We no longer shower together given his interest in "things", but he is still fascinated by bras and exclaimed yesterday that "Those are just STUPID!" to which I replied "YOU are a GENIUS!"

7. Life in the country really is just that much better sometimes and well worth the drive.

8. Bumpers are called bumpers because they bump things.

9. Fire ants are a universal constant like the speed of light or the relative acceleration due to gravity.

10. If you spray water at the bathroom ceiling, it will fall on your head like rain. (And who gave him the water??!!)