Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hi, my name is Scat and I'm a Turf Wars addict...

  I'm *this* far from referring to my family members by their Turf Wars username, too.

  It started like this...Mystery (SIL) started playing back in March. She got Attrition (the brother formerly known as Booger) stuck on it soon thereafter. Two-and-a-half weeks ago in an effort to create another player to add to their mob and their area, Attrition started an account for me on my iPhone. Turf Wars is an iPhone/iPod/iPad game only. And it is **slightly** addictive.

  In a matter of two weeks, I have maxed out my turf and grown my mob to over 1300 players (4,650 August 1st!!). The game involves missions, fights against other mobsters, vendettas, and attempts to capture their turf. Outside the game proper, there are alliances between players in certain areas/states and all sorts of politics worked out on-the-side. And there are also a fair amount of whiners. I mean, really, it's Turf Wars--you're supposed to fight each other. So, why gripe!

  To gain one mob member, you have to type in their invite by now you can imagine that I have typed in over 1300 invite codes. And there are more to come. It is, of course, easier to get ahead if you have $$$ to buy Don points and purchase your way through the game, but to me that is a little bit like cheating. I get my mob fair-and-square and not by purchasing henchmen. And once you have all those mob members, you have to use the income from your turfs to arm them so that you actually win the fights you start.

  I haven't played so hard at a game since I went through all the Zorks many years ago. I haven't found a game so stimulating since, kudos to Turf Wars.

  But my hands are cramping!!!! Code punching is tedious. But, in a

Gotta fly...a war is on.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Just to say I have posted every day of June, here is my feeble excuse for a post. Am currently experiencing one heck of a migraine and can think of nothing the least bit useful, funny, rewarding, or worthwhile to say other than that this reeks.

My mother would love that.


Monday, June 28, 2010

OFFICE TAKEOVER: Step Two and Ten Powers I'd Like to Have

Office Takeover Update: Night one went well. Yesterday's post was probably confusing. We have an office outside the house. It is a separate building. We all used it actively for two years and in January of this year everyone (but me) just stopped going out there. They resumed working in the "indoor office" which is really our house. The "indoor office" consists of the dining room and living room and study. The living room is also doubling as my bedroom until we figure out what to do with me. The most obvious choice (since the outdoor office doubles as guest quarters) is move me out there because there is just something odd about waking up to deafening discussions of 2D seismic analysis and/or gas chimneys (yes!) at 6:30am every morning. In your jammies.

Fatal Flaw In Plan: The outdoor office is still an office--at least to some folks. So, here I was, decent and all, but in my jammies (crazy hair and day-old make-up), nonetheless, studying and listening to some quiet music when there was a bold knock at the door. No one, and I mean NO ONE, ever shows up out here ('cause it's just WAY OUT HERE) until today. But, show up they did and here I was discussing their desire to bid on the 3D seismic survey job we **may or may not** have in **a state of the Union**. Say what? They were "in the neighborhood?" Right. And they obviously ignored the makeshift "The doctor is OUT" sign (a la Peanuts by Charles Schulz--you know, Lucy would sit and give advice when the doctor was "IN") that is clearly posted on the door. I am the doctor--it's a very long story.

Let me tell you right now that even though I keep my location mostly secret for the purposes of safety I could tell you where I am right now and you still probably wouldn't find me. The roads on all the maps aren't actually there and some are, but parts of the actual road in the middle are missing. It's delightful. I give people instructions on how to get here repeatedly and they still have trouble finding it--especially if they're using GPS. OK, not so delightful if I actually need that laptop coming via UPS. So....not in the neighborhood. And they WORKED on finding us. And parked a seismic crew in my driveway. They are doing surveys in the area. Nevertheless, I had **the conversation** and answered their questions without saying anything at all. It is a gift. I inherited it. It also works better since I'm female. Men naturally assume I know less (sorry guys, but it's true). It is one of my best qualities as an employee. I was once referred to as the protocol droid (someone said I should mention that is a reference to Star Wars, but then I thought you knew that).

Step Two: Reorganization and infiltration of book collection. This place is positively teeming with maps. Most of them can be archived (read: stored in garage). We've finished those projects and have no plans of going back, so no need for them to be piled up willy-nilly, right. Then there's the issue of my book collection that has been travelling about with me in the rear end of my Mountaineer. I use it all the time and have been running back and forth on a daily basis for years now. they go. I have created space just for them by removing unneeded (and unwanted) detritus from projects past. Carefully stored in their plastic containers they will be safe for many years. AND...we can actually use the outdoor office for meetings and such now should the need arise....again.

New subject!

Ten Powers I Would Like To Have In Random Order:

I was thinking today about what I would like to be able to do if I could have ten totally random powers. Here they are without any explanation whatsoever (well, some explanation):

1. I would like the power to make it snow.

2. I would like the power to make a person comfortable with who they are.

3. I would like the power to give everyone an imagination. There are many who lack one, you know.

4. I would like the power to bring personal peace. Not like world peace, ending wars, etc. Personal peace. From anxiety, fear, mourning etc. I wouldn't end those feelings because they tell us important things, but once they are recognized, it would be nice to be able to resolve them at times.

5. I would like the power to clean the toilet mentally. No physical effort expended. This one's personal. Just for me, really, though I'd be glad to think your toilet clean if you like. Of course, I could potentially be sitting here all day thinking people's toilets clean. Not what I had in mind. OK, 10 toilet limit. First ten callers only.

6. I would like the power to fall asleep within three minutes of laying my head on the pillow. Again, a personal one.

7. I would like my eidetic memory to be "full strength" so-to-speak. The numbers thing is a bit annoying. I really don't need all those SSN's, phone numbers, and addresses. I'd like to remember other stuff, too--like I remember music. I'd like to remember my anatomy texts that way. It'd save time. Just saying. Being my father's personal Rolodex is, well, weird. If I could, say, access any page of the NSM Pediatrics manual, now, THAT would be helpful!

8. I would like to be more patient. Anyone who knows me knows that this would require abnormal powers on my part. Not the most patient woman in the world. Though I've had to be--and the wait is not over.

9. I would like the power to reveal my true heart to other people in a way they would see as truthful. Or at least unfettered by their preconceived notions.

10. I would like the power to find humidity pleasant. This requires POWER. And I am stuck in Texas.

Thus endeth this looooong entry.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I did make this threat, after all, so I am making good. Things being what they are, Clanpaw has moved his base of working operations back into the house thus vacating the drafting table (which I use) and the large conference table. With Clanpaw back in the house, Buddy relocated back to the house as well. So, Baba lost turf in the dining room--ok, the entire dining room--and half the living room. Again. Not to mention the indoor office that she had hoped to regain in the building of the outdoor office. So, when we built the outdoor office, we all moved out here and she had a brief two years of joy during which the house looked like a house. No longer.

Suddenly, after I exited Squib's room (he finally got too old to be sharing a room with his female parent) and found myself sleeping nights on the sofa, I woke up one morning in the office so-to-speak (read: living room) with a real live meeting going on. That was the day that I made the threat to move into the office (the real one) and use it as my own apartment. Not just so I could sleep, but also so I could work and study without all the hollering. You see, not everyone likes to wear their hearing aids in the morning. I couldn't tell you why. Opinions differ. You can ask, but the answers vary. Long and short of it is ear device wearers just don't like to wear their devices and so, well, they don't. So...hollering. "One" could potentially go nuts if "one" was trying to figure things out and remember them at the same time. Or if they were sleeping at oh dog thirty.

So I unpacked my bed stuff from when I had my previous house eons ago and started moving in :). Not a word from anyone. Yet. Had a nap. A blessed uninterrupted period of--yes, count it--four hours!!! I had no intention of sleeping that long and I even had music and lights on, but I have NOT been sleeping and was very much almost in a coma and took a dirt nap. It was glorious. No one woke me for computer errors or "features", trouble setting the air conditioner (it too is, apparently, overly "computerized"), lost socks, lemonade, or other earth-shattering emergencies. The boys are at their dads' so all was quiet on those fronts as well. And, aside from the whole blogging thing, I've had several hours of unadulterated studying. And now for a couple hours of unadulterated Doctor Who watching...I missed a few from the first season.

Wondering if I could get away with paint?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Victorius Car Repair

So much for being confounded by the $300 estimate for fixing/replacing the van's jerry-rigged wiring harness. We sat down and put our heads together and decided that if some yahoos who repair cars cheap and on-the-fly can put this fourth-rate wad of wires in and actually get the vehicle to run for who knows how long, then two scientifically educated college grads with umpteen circuits classes can do at least the same. Or better.

Answer is: BETTER. Yay us. Buddy and myself, that is.

As the gofer, the automotive and hardware folks know what to expect when they see me coming. I know my science, theoretically speaking, but I often have to use the word "doohickey" when I mean "crimping tool" or something like that. I know what things look like, but if we're not talking wire, alligator clips, fuses, or electrodes, I have to take one with me and say "I need one of these." At first they would quiz me about what I was doing, suggest other things, blah blah blah, but now they know I know what I'm doing electrically or automotively speaking...I'm just not always up on my terminology unless I've needed it to calculate a physics problem or read a diagram. I understand what the parts do and how they need to work...thank goodness for that. Today took only one trip to the hardware store (wire, splicing clips, and a crimping tool) and one to the automotive store (fuses). This is a record. Still, they DO look at me like I'm going to walk in and request a live pygmy goat one day.

After digging about under the hood and turning the car on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off, and then getting stung by a wasp (a freebie!) we finally finished. Wasp notwithstanding, we all collapsed and relaxed after working through the heat of the afternoon.

In other news, Squib had his first face-plant incident today. He was walking around in his pillow case (yes, he was supervised). He was actually standing stock-still and saying "Where's Squib?" I was playing along. Then, in a move only he could pull off, he face-planted with arms slack at his side. He busted his bottom lip something good and bruised his nose and cheekbones. It was a right bloody mess and he was all wound up in his Dora the Explorer pillow case. By the time I got him undone he looked like a red monster and he'd already decided I was NOT the one to console him. So, he wadded himself up in Buddy's lap and howled like a wounded monkey even past the point when he wanted to--he forced it. He even visited all the other family members to show off his boo-boos and reproduce the howling. Melodrama much? Then, he fell asleep in my lap again--early. What's up with that?

Full day.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yes, Tonight We Have Gutterbrain

Some things speak for themselves. Tonight, Squib absolutely could not go to sleep until I had taken dictation of this note. He did not finish his late snack of peanuts and, fearing that these were the last peanuts on the face of the earth, he wanted to make sure no one ate them or threw them out. This is a legitimate concern in this household for any object--even if you put it where it belongs in your very own room. So, perhaps his fears are well-founded. These are his words. I tried as hard as I could to copy them down with a straight face.

When he solemnly peaked out from the bed covers and suggested that we include this note in our prayers so that it would really work, I lost it. Weeping, I prayed for his nuts because that's what good, faithful moms do. When he asked, "What's so funny about my nuts?" I had to leave the room.

Nay, the house.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bad Juju

Bad Universal Omen: When mechanic calls in a panic and says, "You gotta come see this right now. I mean, like, now now."

So, off to the shop...

Mechanic: You're not going to believe this.
Scat: Try me (this week I might believe pigs can fly, but he would be hard pressed to believe me).
Mechanic: This is your wiring harness. Well, sort of...

He opens the hood of the van where he has exposed the radiator which has little pieces of wire and fuses and odds'n'ends soldered to it. Wires are piled everywhere inside. Many are broken. Most only have bare, metal ends twisted together with no insulating caps and are frayed or rusted. It looks like its been assembled by seven-year-olds with their daddy's spare cast-off wire clippings and the odd switch or fuse welded wherever it seemed to fit. Not control boxes, nothing. A virtual spaghetti pile of disaster. One's first thought is, "How did this vehicle ever run?" One's second thought is, "Calling this a wiring harness is an insult to wiring harnesses."

Mechanic: Do you have any idea who did this to your vehicle?
Scat: (stunned silence)
Mechanic: Guess not. Well, to tell you the truth, I really can't even work on this car. Not at all. They don't sell the entire wiring harness and this one has obviously been yanked out and very, very, very poorly replaced. It's like every wire and every fuse and it seems to bypass the cooling fans so I'm not sure where they're plugged into the system at all. Not even really sure how long it would take me to figure it out so its sort of cost-prohibitive to even try to figure it out. (Translation: It's time to let it go and at best euthanize it for parts).

Scat: (drool)
Mechanic: Yeah...see, I'm gonna see if I can get it to run well enough to get it off my lot, but I just wanted you to know I had nothing to do with this, uh...
Scat:...sabotage. You had nothing to do with this sabotage. Isn't there a version of that by the Beastie Boys? Very appropriate background track.
Mechanic: (He smiles. He is relieved). Yes. Phew.

He meets the wild-eyed Scat stare and stops looking quite so relieved and more like he's at a funeral. This is appropriate because it is fact that this car was "born" with the correct wiring harness. It is also fact that one of his brothers-in-arms did this to our van.

Or that a pack of evil tinker fairies descended on it in the night after be-spelling us all and they did it. Yeah. The lasting effects of the spell would account for the fact that Buddy's mouth has been slack and his head tilted at an odd angle ever since the return from the shop. Dang fairies.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Funny Little Day

I took Clanpaw and Baba Scat to radiation today. Well, Clanpaw was having a radiation treatment. Baba believes it is her bound duty to drag her tired self around with us. We all know not to argue, so we don't and after only three days, she is already getting too tired for things like manners and tact toward even perfect strangers. Usually they benefit more from manners than we do so you can only imagine the fun and antics at home.

For whatever reason, they have decided the only reasonable place to eat is the hospital cafeteria (two enthusiastic thumbs down except for the gummy bears which are exquisite). The hospital cafeteria at lunch time is interesting because most of the tables are round or long and seat six or more and if there are only three of you, you end up sitting with people you don't know. Fostering community interaction or some such rot, perhaps. I think this secretly horrifies Baba and we try to insulate her from "the others" by sitting her between us and keeping the conversation between us as much as possible but I foiled that by commenting on someone else's back pack. Yes, yes I did. To be sure, the pack was a Swiss Army pack identical to mine with no distinguishing marks (like mine) and a white iPhone in the cell phone pouch (like mine). I did almost feel the compunction to pick up said pack and walk away. I continued conversing with the owner of said pack, Ira. Ira was a nice man waiting for his physical therapy appointment. After a brief chat, I finished my lunch and we got up to leave. Very minor interaction amongst humans.

We were still within reach (and definitely earshot) of Ira when Baba shouted, "Scat, I think he's in love!" Just dig a hole and bury me. She's gonna ride that horse into her grave.

Reminds me of when we had a 60th birthday party for her and she started every conversation with "Oh my God, how fat you are!!!"

After an eternity of waiting and driving about in circles, I had finally collected everyone from the far reaches of Spring proper and we were once again lake-bound. Baba decided to teach Squib how to play white-car-black-car. It went something like this.

Clanpaw: I see one black car!

Baba: One white car. One for us!

Squib: We have one!

Baba: Two, three, four...

Clanpaw: Two, three...

Squib: Clanpaw is losing.

Baba: Yes, he is.

Clanpaw: Four! We're tied!!!

Squib: Tied to what?
(he doesn't even know he's so funny)

And it went spiraling downhill from there...

Clanpaw is the only human alive who with play "tell me what else I did yesterday" with Squib. Yes, that's the name of the game and the rules all in one. Squib says, "tell me what I did yesterday!" You tell him one thing. He says, "tell me what else I did yesterday!" You tell him another thing (of course, you might be guessing or being obscure--like using breathing or respirating as an answer). He repeats ad nauseum as long as you humor him. Clanpaw has the heart of a 4-yr-old and thinks this game is fun and funny. They played this game for 45 minutes straight. Thankfully, we pulled into the Post Office about the time I was going to call the game in the interest of sanity.

Meanwhile, after leaving the house at 5:30am, Buddy and Mimi made it to Palladium hospital for some outpatient surgery only to have the van overheat on the way home. Buddy had to half-carry/half-drag a still slightly-shnockered Mimi into a Whataburger and get her "situated" while he tried to fix the vehicle in the parking lot. No joy. The cooling fans would not come on. Soooo....they let it cool down and made a run for the freeway. What a pleasant trip.

So, in short, every day this week we have taken a trip to radiation treatment and a car to the shop. E. Gads.

Dollars. Dollars. Dollars. Dollars. Dollars.
Dollars that we just don't have.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Black Noise?

I think white noise is more or less ambient. The sound the dishwasher, the air conditioning circulation fan, and the dryer make. They are all running right now. Lots of white. Green noise, I guess, might be the happy sounds of kids giggling and talking in whispers and imaginary voices with splashes of yellow and orange when cars crash and buildings tumble as they so inevitably do. My mother is an endless fount of red noise--criticism of Baba, she's on a tear about how we maintain the septic, she doesn't approve of using food after it's been frozen, and other low-but-not-so-low-I-can't-hear-them-three-rooms-away comments that I wish I didn't have to hear. Some of that is a swirling, churning multi-colored mass that creeps along the floor. Add the blood-red sound of gun shots erupting from the study behind me where Baba is watching a movie on her computer (no one has cottoned to the idea of headphones yet) and combine it with the dirt brown of added made-for-movie drama I hear leaking out with the sound of voices and music. Shades of blue drone full, rich, and mesmerizing from the master suite where Clanpaw listens to FoxNews online.

In my head, where I am trying to review obscure pieces of geometry and laws of exponents and rare vocabulary, the whole thing is quite a cacophony of color and sound and it's making me quite buggy.

So, I study when they are silent, which is never--or--when they are asleep.

This is not working out.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Finding My Voice

  I think a lot about finding my voice which, in simpler terms, refers to what I want to focus on when I write. The problem is two-fold. First, I am interested and involved in a lot of things. Second, a lot of special interest areas overlap my life and I have a heart for all of them. I just don't seem to have the nerve to turn off all interest in some of those areas to write about one or a few of the others. This blog was formed primarily as an outlet for my writing as I made a very major life change. I moved into my grandparents' household with my two young sons and my parents. That's five adults and two children (then 1.5 and 4.5 yrs) in a single household. Everyone was getting older. My father, grandfather, and I were working together. I was getting divorced. We were expanding to create a company. It was the thing to do. It was (and, believe me, IS) crazy-making. Nevertheless, it was the best decision I've ever made. Being able to write about it here has been a great relief.

  Like I said, though, there are other things that spark my interest. Here they are in no particular order (I'm big on no particular order):

1. Being a mother.

2. Chromosomal disorders and/or special needs children (I have two. Emphasis on special. One is probably a musical savant. The other is, well, probably best characterized here except for the fact that he is wildly compassionate and artistic--not autistic).

3. Hiking. Though, lately I have become interested in an old idea my father had to take a month and canoe the  Boundary Waters. I don't really have a month and neither does he, but we can dream. Anything is possible after that first oil well, right?

4. Caring for family members with cancer (breast and prostate/bone). Baba is in remission at the moment but continuing hormone treatment and getting her new pair a week from tomorrow. Clanpaw started radiation for a lesion on his pelvis today and is taking high-dose ketaconazole for the prostate cancer. It has been a rocky roller coaster ride that continues to this day. I'd love to say we've had a wonderful experience, but frankly, we've had to fight tooth and nail every day for treatment that's simply humane. Ridiculous.

5.  I'm a divorcee. That is a topic no one ever really blogs about which is a pity because it's somewhat of a social, emotional, and spiritual abyss for many.

6.  I have health problems of my own if we're just listing things to brainstorm, but I really don't care about those as long as I'm alive. Seizures and Crohn's disease. Pain in the rear, mostly.

7.  Music. Love it.

8.  Outdoors. Love that, too, but my work and educational lifestyle virtually cancels that out unless you include the walk to the garden and back to harvest and move the sprinklers (which I don't).

(pause to consider other writing prompt-related interests)

9. Faith/religion?

10. Medicine. Current area of study, future area of work.

  See. In list form, it all gets very, very, very, very antiseptic and dry. I could add techno stuff, but it's like Sominex to go any further. The only thing that is good about my blog is me, I think. That, and the weird things that happen to me.

And the laundrettes. So, normal stuff tomorrow. No more soul searching.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Camper Number One

  This is the face of 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Just a wee touch hot, that one. It's all I can do to get him to relax much less respond to the presence of Motrin or Tylenol. Often, Buddy and I are taking turns wiping him down with cold (not cool) washrags. He's one of those kids that gets more active when he runs fever until all-of-a-sudden he's absolutely immobile somewhere around 104.5 or so. It's scary. So in the dead of summer heat, this is my sweaty little bed partner. Sweet thang...


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Telltale Signs That I Am Here

  An undisclosed (because if I disclosed even her fake name she'd think I thought she was nuts which I don't but you know how that goes) member of the family walked into the living room (aka my bedroom when I'm at the lake) today around three and said in a shocked voice, "I had no idea you were here!"

  She does this quite a lot and I am truly at a loss for how to respond. I literally haven't left the grounds since last Wednesday, so I haven't had reason to announce my departure or arrival and announcing "I'm still here!" seems sort of odd. Still, though, I have a tendency to go quiet and I think she interprets that to mean I've left and she is therefore shocked at my return? Don't really know. This has happened enough times that I have had opportunity to test drive several responses to her exclamation and none has hit her quite right, so I'm feeling a bit off.

  I started to wonder why it looks like I'm not here (never mind my physical presence). And, in truth, there are only a few signs that I am actually in residence as opposed to being in residence elsewhere.

  This is my bed. It doesn't look like much, but you'll usually see it over the end of the sofa when I'm here versus over the foot of Squib's bed.

  You'd have to check the closet for this, but there's just no way on God's green earth the black flip flops would ever, I mean EVER, not be in the same house with me. Purple, yeah. Black, nope. (Oh, and there are my toes in the bottom right-hand corner. Those generally come with me, too, but it's already been proven that my physical presence is not a significant enough indicator on its own).

  This one is the dead give away. I never ever ever never ever leave the house without my essential oils. Just never. You'll just have to forgive my Ziploc chic, 'cause I'm into the see-through plastic action. Still, those babies travel on the seat next to me or in my backpack within reach. If they're in the house, so am I.

  And last, but not least, this can is open. Not a single soul in the house would touch a D.P. but me.

  Sadly, with the exception of my pack, that is it. Everything else stays as is. Not a sign to let you know whether I'm coming, going, or somewhere in between. One day I suppose I shall settle down. Sprout my own bedroom. Buy "stuff" and have a closet.

Just not today.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Where did I put my brain?

  I swear it was around here somewhere. I see the telltale signs of it having been here like the remaining stem and basal structures that seem to keep my heart beating and lungs inhaling. But the rest...those "higher brain functions"...what the heck happened? I am still reviewing for the GRE and it seems that, while I am accomplishing much, I am merely reminding myself of how much has been forgotten. Maybe not forgotten, but permanently locked away in some deep, dark hole never to be accessed again without serious poking and prodding. So, poke, poke, poke...I am working my fingers to the proverbial nub trying to make sure I expose my unweildy nut to things long lost.

  I'll tell you, though, the actual testing conditions will be positively blissful! Like a vacation! I look so forward to it that I may take the test twice just to enjoy the time to myself. I can't even imagine the silence! Really, I can't. Squib is, well, very four. Much hollering and crashing and constantly "needing" (I am hoping this self-insufficient phase will PASS). The two octogenarians are dearly loved, but are quite frankly a constant source of humor. They spend most of their time wandering about and forgetting (not their fault). But they are always having to get "things" straight again--like how to "work stuff" (email, gtalk, the Internet--darn thing just doesn't ever work, the VCR and DVD players and how to switch between them and the washing machine--which has decided to take a walk now and then). Then they are scheduling this, that, and the other without regard to much of anything else so it all must be done several times and sometimes all over again when they realize the two drivers (of which I am one) also have other committments. Of course there is the endless question of where did Squib put this or that??!!?? He didn't actually put anything anywhere, but they have lost it and, "How dare he!" (and the like) Add communications between the deaf and quasi-deaf population (there are one and two-halves of those)(deaf people, that is). Side note: these deaf people are LOUD but don't actually know it. Combine this "normal" family mess with the day-to-day family "work" (laundry, dishes, chores) and then with the actual work going on (yes, there is an office, but no one is really using it despite my threat to turn it in to my personal apartment--I will be moving in on Monday) and this place quickly becomes a CIRCUS with at least four overlapping rings in which the only way to hear yourself think is to scream your thoughts at yourself (hence all the capitalization--it's like I'm from Jersey).


  Insanity!! I give up on a regular basis. At least five times an hour, but usually I recommit myself to my goals a little more often than that, so I'm ok. Poor Squib does bear the brunt of things. I did almost try to tear his head off, but his sheer cuteness saved him and then when I crawl in bed every night and see him passed out and curled up in sleep each evening, the slate seems to wipe itself clean.

  I did, however, make an interesting and shocking discovery today. I was talking to Mimi about a friend whose son developed cancer and Squib, with his usual lack of aplomb, came up to interrupt us with something soooooo important that his tail end was just almost literally on fire. I asked him to wait. He errupted and lost his mind. I said "Fine. Wait for me in the chair....we are going to have a time out."

  Like, the first one EVER. We use other things. A variety, really, because I think time out chairs are pointless. At least, they always were for me and my sibling and for Beanstalk, so....they are new to Squib.

  You would have thought I had skinned him alive, strapped him naked to the hood of my car and left him to bake in the sun from all the screaming!!! REALLY!! All I asked was for one minute (literally 60 seconds) of silence in the air conditioned cool of the living room in the padded safety of the recliner in which he had no less than SIX TOYS!!!!! And he was screaming like I had bashed his teeth in. I thought he had hurt himself. Really, I did. And when I ascertained he had not, I started thinking about school and the impending doom of time-outs to come (cause they seem to use that a lot at least in Beanstalk's school environment) and thought, "Oh, crap." Lucky teacher. So, perhaps we shall have to practice this time-out thing so's he don't slip a psychological gasket from actually having to take like a real "two-minute, hard-surface chair time out" or whatever the hard core time-outers do. God forbid they stick him in a corner or write his name on a board. His heart may stop. And that was one expensive heart. Would he actually make the entire walk to the principal's office? Without screaming?

  Maybe I should tell them he had a heart defect. And that a little pop on the rear doesn't seem to alter his psyche, but the chair....oh, GOD....NOT the CHAIR!!!!!!

  I even sat in it afterward and checked it for tacks, nails, electrification, snakes, spiders, and anything else that might be creepy, crawly, biting, stinging, or otherwise painful. Nope, nuthin'. Still..."No, mommy, don't make me sit here I'll be quiet if I get down I promise I'll be a good boy really I won't say anything I can be quiet I can be quiet I can be quiet I can be quiet I can be quiet I can be quiet I can be quiet I can be quiet really I promise don't make me sit herreeerreerrereerererrrreee....etc." Me: (in my head) "What is the MATTER with him?"

  Ok, now I'm starting to clue in as to what happened to my brain.

  Still, DISCLAIMER: Despite today's events, children are amazing and totally worth having. Usually, they are pretty creative and interesting, but ALWAYS they are masters at pressing your buttons. This particular one (Squib) was born to drive me nuts, but he is also my baby. The cutest, most lovable human alive. Mostly. We spent a large part of the day working "together." He worked on his train book that he is illustrating and writing with help from me and I did some work and studied (by turns). It is very easy for a single episode of non-silence to eclipse the entire day--especially when it is accompanied by a ground zero freak-out. Those are a sight to behold, but I have to admit that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I have my moments. Hopefully, he learns to adapt quicker and better than I did. Hopefully. Hopefully tomorrow is better than today. Hopefully.

At least he wasn't prancing around the house screaming "Dang it, butthead!" (Please see the "Dang it, butthead entry here for context.)



Thursday, June 17, 2010

The "Dang it, Butthead!" Episode

  Every once in a while I take my children out in public. Quite a lot, actually, but lately they are actually using those minds of their own and it can be wonderful, funny, creative, and then altogether terrifying. Lately, mostly terrifying.

  I took Squib to Kroger after going to the doc for his last round of shots and they are **still** remodeling. For the safety of their patrons, they are using cones to direct traffic and alert those of us not sure of our footing to various hazards along the way, but to tell the truth, it really does look like a race track for four-year-olds. So, we enter Kroger and Squib gets glassy-eyed and says, "Mommy, it's like Cars!!!! Vroom-vroom!!!" And he's off...No matter how many times we go in there he reacts the same every time and I keep discussing it with him and we lock eyes and I say "repeat after running away in the store" and he repeats and swears and crosses his heart and everything except an actual exchange of blood (which is coming next).

  Needless to say, he zoomed off and I had to firmly buckle him into that plastic truck-cart-thing again. I think he actually mumbled something to the effect of, "Mommy is never going to trust me again." And I said, "You are right about that, sir."

  On to the deli section where they are creating what can only be described as a cavernous void where the ceiling once was. It is the same size with regard to square footage, but works far better as an echo chamber (chamber...chamber.......chamber.............chamber). Am I annoying you yet? Good, because as we pulled into the produce section behind the deli, Squib began his cavernous void testing protocol which includes a range of varying frequency beeps, blips, and eeps designed to test resonance, echo, reverberation, and general maximum effect. Meanwhile, little did I know, he was pondering what thought to throw into the cavernous void because, after all, cavernous voids must be filled. So...there I was picking through the romaine to the tune of happy chirping and tweeting and wondering how soon I could get through the spelunking part of my shopping trip when Squib erupted with his profound thought--the profound thought to be cast into the cavernous void.

  And it was:

  "Dang it, Butthead!!!!!"

  Only he gave it more depth, breadth and syllables than it was ever meant to have and I turned into a pillar of salt and blew under the cantaloupe mound so no one could see this heathen's mother. When I emerged, my first question was "That was all you could think of? Very eloquent. You have these fantabulous acoustics and all you can come up with is dang it, butthead--which I don't approve of you saying at all for any reason you-are-grounded-from-television-until-the-cows-come-home, by the way--for your personal three-word statement. Not "I am the king!" or "Let the wild rumpus start!" or "Behold Prince M****** G****** M******* (name withheld) the Prince of the East Texas Pine Forest!" but "Dang it, butthead!" ???  ?   ?

  He actually did think about it, but all he could come up with as an alternate was, "I lost my baseball?" Yes, he said it with the question mark. And then timidly, "What would you say, Mommy?" I replied, "I am Mommy, the destroyer of worlds...get back in your plastic truck."

  Profound silence reigned for at least three whole minutes (this is an eternity...well, three of them) until the timid voice asked again, "Are the cows coming home before or after Dr. Who?"

So cute I could squeeze him...and squeeze him...and squeeze him :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NOW for some random "A" words...

I am reviewing for the GRE general test. No, I never took it. I'm not sure how I got out of it, but I managed to. Well, no longer. Here it comes...

  So, at the advice of my sister-in-law, I have purchased some review materials and am reviewing my verbal and quantitative skills. One of said materials is this fabulous box of words--500 of them--that are touted to be the "500 hardest GRE words and their synonyms." Oh, joy! I'm being serious. This is like a box of candy. I go through about four words before I hit one that I recognize but cannot outright define or synonimize (is that a word, synonimize?). "Abeyance" was the first word: "temporary suppression or suspension" meaning the same as "deferral, delay, dormancy, postponement, or remission." "Abstemious" was next followed by "Acidulous" which brought up "acetous" (which isn't in the box, but is equally wonderful). "Accretion," "Aggrandize" I knew but it's synonyms included "apotheosize" which is delightful.

  But you'll have to help me out and explain why/how "conviviality" is a synonym for "amortize." That I don't quite get. Yet. And I thought I knew what both those words meant. Ah, what a "conundrum." And just under "A" there are two words for "pain relief" (analgesia and anodyne)--that's a bit odd if you think about it. Where do they get these words?

Oh, yeah, the dictionary...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Now the fun starts...

Not really.

I mentioned yesterday my two biggest problems/fears/concerns. Let us just say that it bears consideration that on the list of stressors, Clanpaw's radiation (45 days starting next Monday) and our continued efforts to get our company sold and off the ground are only coming in at two and three. The final arrival of grandma's new pair (the 28th after all that stretching and an agreement to accept B's rather than C's) is barely a blip with mom's radio ablation of a cervical nerve as a brief interlude next week.

I have had a migraine every day this week. Gee, I wonder why?

I did get registered for fall, though and made a teeny baby step toward getting things settled for Squib with his Dad's help.

Looking very much forward to picking him up at oh-God-thirty tomorrow and heading to points north. We have a book on trains to write and much running about in our PJ's to do. Important stuff.

I shall think of something wonderful to write about, but on occasion the truth shall have to do...

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's time to put my money where my mouth is...

  There are two situations (not only two, but two that are in the forefront of my mind) that are really trying the extent of my faith in--well--God, the universe, and everything in it. The first has to do with my youngest son and getting circumstances arranged for his schooling in the fall and the second has to do with my own schooling in the upcoming year.

  The changes that will occur are enough to invoke stark, raving terror. Usually, I deal with this via avoidance, but I have been dealing with this via head-on confrontation as I should, but I am still getting nowhere. This is when my father would say "perhaps God is trying to tell you something." And I would reply, "and what if I am just not doing what I am supposed to be doing?" And then Dad is all, "Well you still have to try every possible thing you can think of and beat your head over a rock like it's what you need to do to get things accomplished, but in the end you trust God to carry you through it." And then I'm all, "Well, on occasion I'd like not to have to hold my brains in after the rock-bashing and get to enjoy the carry-me-through-it part just a little more."

'Cause, like, my brains are hanging out and leaking a bit on the floor here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Now that's a toilet...

Have I told you about the bed sheet? Probably, but it came up again tonight...the bed sheet I flushed down a toilet while in jail. Totally true story. No, I am not proud of having spent time in jail. I have a past. Who doesn't? It is a long story, but I was there and it was a part of my life and I am, quite frankly, **tired** of all the dancing around the subject. Even years later. So, now you know. I was in jail. County jail. Very, very briefly.

But this is really about toilets and bed sheets and totally has to do with my toilet frustration. I am a frustrated toilet user. Outdoor latrines are unseemly and a real pain to dig, but in the end (see how I made a joke, there?) the issue of flushing is moot. When flushing is required, my personal preference is that massive amounts of water be available through a large pipe at high pressure. Now you can start laughing. I mean, you saw our last plumbing job with the water well.

With the advent of water conservation, "we" (in the royal sense) decided that using less water per flush would be a great idea. Academically, I whole-heartedly agree. Unfortunately, when I notified the persons in my household that they would have to consequently increase their urine output and decrease their fecal output--or decrease the consistency of their fecal output--they have been, well, less than cooperative. Buggers.

And plungers? Well, those aren't getting any better now that they have plastic handles, either.

And I swear the plumbing is shrinking...

And (here you should forgo any thoughts of me ever being ladylike about this) all I really want to be able to do is make a deposit and flush it and move on with my life. And the same for the rest of these yahoos 'cause I really hate having to plunge someone else's drift before I can use the facilities. Rule #4376 seems to be: NO, it NEVER goes down with the next flush. Meh...

Being the hyper-conscious and (believe-it-or-not) embarrassed sort, I tend to hover and see if all goes down the hole and even see if detritus remains and flush that before exiting the toilette. Not everyone has been raised this way. In fact, no one in generations contemporaneous or previous with/to mine in my household seems to have learned this in any permanent fashion. Or they are forgetting. Squib has been duly instructed and as a maniacal flusher he is quick to tell me the status of the flush whether successful or not.

The great thing about jail was the flushing. In fact, it was the only good or even remotely redeeming thing. I stood stock still in amazement when my cellmate said, "watch this!" She dipped a corner of a twin bed sheet in the toilet and flushed it in its entirety. It proceeded to suck the entire bed sheet down the stool in one furious, sucking roar magnificent to behold. My only response to that was, "I've got to try that!" I proceeded to flush my bed sheet down the stool. Two bed sheets (four bed sheets come to think of it) later, that toilet never sneezed or batted an eyelash. It was a beautiful thing to behold. Fantabulous. THAT's plumbing. And very little water involved in the process. None, in fact, in the bowl until you actually flushed--using, in part, the grey water from the sink and fountain above the stool.

These wishy-washy little three teaspoon flushers we have are really starting to irk me in a real and meaningful way. So far, no one thinks a sink/fountain/stool combo in a handsome stainless steel would quite keep up with the decor. I can't think why's very SubZero...

I suppose you no longer want me as either your plumber or interior decorator...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Now, with feeling!!

Ten "Little" Things That Absolutely Keep Me Alive:
(in no order of usual)

1. Cold Dr.Pepper over crushed ice with a bendy straw. Bendy straws are an important part of that equation.

2. "Three Kisses." No matter what, coming or going, morning or night, happy or sad, I always get three kisses from Squib. Three for him (one on the right cheek, one on the forehead, one on the left cheek), three for me, and three for Blue (the dog). They often come with a hug.

3. Slobbery, open-mouth kisses from Beanstalk that come with hugs so tight I have to ask him to quit so I can breathe. They are actually becoming painful, but I don't have the heart to make him stop, so I won't.

4. Waltzing with Beanstalk. This begins normally and increases in tempo until you crash in a heap on the ground. Good technique, a little maniacal with the pace. Done with a big grin and much shrieking. He has great promise as a dancer. Warms the cockles of my heart. (cockles?--spelling?)

5. My iPod/iPhone and my cool earplug headphones.

6. Sweaty boys cuddling in bed at night because they are "stared." When they learn to pronounce their "k" sounds I shall miss their mangled pronounciations.

7. Making music and watching shows with Attrition. Best brother in the world. We just started "Lie to Me."

8. Reading stuff. Anything, everything, lots, and often.

9. Water. In lakes, rivers, pools, bathtubs, showers, and water hoses.

10. Thunder storms. Big, rollicking, rip-roaring, ground-shaking boomers. They "stare" Squib to death, but they make me feel really peaceful and sort of in awe of nature.

Only ten things this time...there are so many more!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Now what's he up to??!? Ah, BOYS!!

Sometimes you just never know what he's up to.
Come to find out...neither does he. Fortunately, Pampers thought of him when making the grippers for those diapies. I grabbed the diaper as he started to go over...lo and behold they held...thank you, Pampers!
Yes, that's a perfectly thrown spiral (I taught him that)...directed right at Baba's car (I didn't teach him that).
What was he thinking? I don't know.
What was I thinking? Well, believe it or not, the throw started out with him facing me...then there was this split-second ballet turn thing. Yeah...

And that one, there. Through the geraniums in our potting area...yeah...well, we need to work on that.
That I managed to teach him to throw was a miracle.
Direction seems to me a lot much to ask right now.

And these...these are amazing...(they really boys at their best and most beautiful, but oh how the mighty can fall...)

The innocence. Those limpid blue pools you could just dive into. Such sweetness and light. How do they DO that??! It is more natural from Beanstalk. He really does exude happiness and light most of the time. Well, OK, he has his moments (the exclamations in Klingon with the protrusion of the bottom lip). But that second one...boy is he full of it. What you can't get a picture of are his LUNGS!!!!! And do you get a picture of persistence.....maybe this:

Repeat fifty times every day times God-only-knows how many 20-lb bags of sand and you'll only begin to grasp a scintilla of the problem we are having with the sandbar in the side yard. As they say in Meet Joe Black, "Multiply that by infinity and take it to the depths of forever" and you will just begin to grasp my problem.

Boys can be a challenge. They take words like shriek, shred, disintegrate, and pulverize to heart. They like to run around in various states of undress (which I think is cute). And, NO he is not toilet trained yet--another story for another time. Gentility is not their strong suit but they really do try to be careful in their way. And, at the end of the day, when they curl up in your bed and put their sweaty foreheads in your lap and their slobbery mouths on your neck and whisper things like "did you lock the doors so the dogs can't push them open and get me in my sleep?" and they look at you with those big, drowning, blue eyes and they trust you completely to save them from a dog the size of a green pea, well, then somehow it's all worth it.

Except maybe that football dent in Baba's car. I'm gonna hear about that every day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Now bleep it.



Some days, people, plans, feelings, etc. are just like that.

Time to go to bed early so I can wake up with a head full of new thoughts 'cause the ones I have right now are darn sure not working out for me. I'm pretty sure an armload of happy pills couldn't improve my outlook right now, but the Publisher's Clearinghouse van showing up at my door would make a pretty good start.

Squib asks, "What are you thinking, mama?"

I think I shall not tell him. He is four and doesn't need words like these in his limited vocabulary. Especially since "butthead" exited his mouth in my direction and echoed from the walls of Kroger today. What was I thinking? They had cones up due to construction. It was for four-year-olds to do time trials through, right? Obviously! Any butthead could see that. He set me straight. Then I buckled him back into that plastic truck-cart and told him to zip it. He was properly offended.

Squib persists, "Are you thinking like I am thinking?"

Gosh I hope not!!!! I mean, yes to the thinking, but no to the thinking what he's thinking. Or, I should say no to the thinking what I'm thinking?

Squib continues undaunted, "Aren't you happy we are going to bed together?" He forgot to add (and you are not able to study because I threw such a wall-eyed fit with company here that you volunteered to fail an exam to make me happy?)

Truth is, life is pretty sad when a stupid test makes you wish you didn't have to lay down with your youngest until he falls asleep (while you still have the chance) to allay his fears and snuggle a little in the process. The truth is also that I can be a real creep on occasion.

Good night. May your tomorrow be better than today and any of your yesterdays and most of of your right nows.

(And let's just keep the toddler pee on the couch between us, OK? Yes, I cleaned it, but..gah.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

And now, a little about Attrition...

  Booger is really not the best name for him (hence the reason I changed it to his chosen name and replaced it everywhere else, but I left it here because this post is about him). It is truly not a name worthy of such an individual. It was just the only thing I could think of at the time that wasn't his actual name. He might approve more of something like "Tesla" or "Boyd" though there are issues with Boyd that aren't the case with Booger, but I think they are on par with one another genius-wise. He deserves a name hard-won and distinguished yet youthful and slightly sarcastic--maybe a little devious. Wouldn't want to be too serious. I shall leave it up to him. If Booger wants a new name, he shall have a new name of his choosing and I shall call him by it in my blog from this day forward. It is the least I can do. (NOTE: As of the remodeling of my entries on August 1st Booger is hereby going by his otherwise Internet presence, Attrition.)

  Attrition, for those of you who don't know and don't wish to backtrack, is my younger brother. He is in most ways my equal and, in many ways, my superior, but in every way he is my friend. For me, there is no "friend that is closer than a brother." I have a brother that will always be closer than any friend. I have met many people in my life, but few have loved with the fierce tenacity of this one and we have stood together through trials that would turn any ordinary folk to a quivering mass of protoplasm. He has had my back (literally) for years even when I didn't know it, often when he didn't realize it, sometimes when I didn't ask for it, and even before he was old enough to really pull it off.

  Today is his birthday and he is an undisclosed number of years old. I think thirty-four...I think. Yes, I could count and all that, but I write in this blog for fun and I've been "spreadsheeting" and editing presentations all day and do not wish to be anything but my true self. Thirty-four is close enough--a sufficient number of spankings, I think, and definitely enough candles on the cake. I would love to tell you that if I were a millionaire we would be dining out at some expensive restaurant, taking in a play or concert, and maybe a vacation. No...if anything I would be taking him an extra large Caprise from Russo's Pizzeria and some beer. We'd spend the evening watching Dr. Who or WWII movies. But I am here sitting with mom after her surgery and he is there sitting with his wife who is also ill. So, rain check brother. Big, fat rain check.

  Thirty-four years ago today I was taken in to see him and my first words were "what's the matter with his face?" Labor and delivery in 45 minutes after being head-down for six weeks had left him a little creased and he was a little odd-looking. But, he outgrew that. In fact, he outgrew everything. Despite the four year difference, we were thought to be twins within 5-7 years of his birth. Our family moved often and we were frequently the only kids we knew, so we were each other's playmates and fellow explorers. When mom got sick, my role shifted a little and I took care of him. Later, during times I needed him, he took care of me. It is still that way. We make music together. We play together, laugh together, plot together, kill pigs together (really long story but I just couldn't let that go since the story of Cosmo the pig came up in casual conversation about town today). We hang out together. Talk about stuff. Encourage each other. He teaches me things. I try to learn them the first time. He tries to have patience with me.

  My life is good today in part because I know that no matter what, if I needed him, I could call him at any time of the day or night and he'd pick up the phone and, more than likely, show up. At the worst times I can make it because I know he's out there if I need him. He believes in me. He loves me. I don't deserve it, but he doesn't really care about that. At all. What more can you ask? Not very darn much. Compassion and love do NOT grow on trees and are to be valued more than gold or silver.

  I was upset about something several months ago. I had a very difficult decision to make. Yes, I was crying. Very infuriating that crying business. We talked about the decision. He was honest about his thoughts and agreed with my approach (though, believe me, he would have said if he disagreed--I like that about him). But then there I was...simply upset with life in general. I explained that it is just my female plight that I cry about things until such time as I do not cry about things and he should go to bed. He understood that, but said something I will always treasure in both my head and my heart: "I do not like the idea that you cry and no one knows or that you fear and no one sees." I'm not sure he'll even remember saying that. But in a single sentence he summed up the hardest thing about being a single person (who is also a parent and a woman). So much of what upsets me or I fear--even what makes me happiest for that matter!--no one sees or knows. Not being known by another human being is hard and on some level, Attrition always gets that about me. It's what I appreciate about him the most. He's such an intuitive/perceptive person that I doubt he's thought of it that way, but that is the gift he's given me.

And I hope some day in some way to be able to return it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And now I feel "this" big...

  Squib has many favorite things to do, but one of his most favorite things to do is to make the trek to the mail box with Buddy. He likes to do this because he gets mail. He doesn't really get any mail addressed to him, but we give him all the junk mail. Now that he is more proficient at opening envelopes, he has started examining the contents and the subject of return envelopes came up and the conversation went something like this:

SQ: Momma? What's this?

Me: That is a return envelope.

SQ: What is it for?

Me: Well, if you decide to apply for that company's credit card you put your application in that envelope and it is already addressed and the postage is already paid. All you have to do is put it in the mail box.

SQ: All my mail has these envelopes.

Me: Yes, most of the mail we give you asks for a membership in a club or an application for a card or a donation to a charity. We don't choose to do that, so we give the mail to you so that you can have fun opening it.

SQ: But they never get any mail back from us. Won't they be sad?

Me: Honey, to tell you the truth, I'm pretty sure they never notice.

(mystified silence from the wee one)

SQ: They send us a letter and ask for a letter back, but they don't even notice if we send it back or not?

Me: That's probably right.

SQ: Is it someone's job to open the mail?

Me: Yes, I'm sure each of those companies has someone whose job it is to open the mail.

SQ: And they won't miss our letter?

Me: I don't think so, no.

SQ: That's sad.

Me: (silence)

SQ: What if they got a happy letter from us?

Me: What do you mean? Mommy really doesn't want to sign up for every card, club, and charity that sends her an application.

SQ: (after some eye-rolling) What do you think would happen if I sent them a happy letter? (He nods like "You know a happy letter.")

(silence while I imagine this--I'm starting to feel a little unobservant and a lot callous)

SQ: It would go to the right person, right? It has the address and the postage, right?

Me: Yeah, it would go to the person who opens the mail.

SQ: So? Can I send happy letters?

  Now, think with me for a second. Go back to that altruistic happy-and-light part of you that just wants to give peace a chance and have-a-Coke-and-a-smile or whatever and really think about this. You're a no-doubt down-trodden minimum wager sitting in a cube opening return mail and probably filing it. You probably get mostly replies that you expect. I bet you even get a few hateful ones from people who want you to stop flooding their mailbox with dead tree parts or something along those lines. But really, if you are that letter-opener and you open the next envelope and you see a hand-drawn picture of a rainbow with a scrawled note at the bottom saying "Love, Squib." Wouldn't your world get just a little bit better? Even if it was for just a second? You might even be tempted to show someone else and pass it on or put it on the wall of your cubicle.
  We write letters to the editor, have letters sent from our lawyers, write notes to the teacher, and all sorts of other correspondence, but quite frankly I rarely set pen to paper unless something has gone awry. I just don't sit down and think "can I send happy letters?" More's the pity.
  The postage is already paid. The envelope is already addressed. What's the harm?

Who am I to say no? Thus beginneth the "Happy Letter Project."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Now that's talent!

  Yes, we've been bulldozing through every male developmental milestone we can come up with. Today, we crashed through two: licking his own toes was first. The second milestone was figuring out how to get the bathroom lights on by himself. You see, Squib is too short to reach them even while standing on his stool, but he told me he figured out how to do it. I let it go and didn't investigate. Until today. So, without further adieu...

  How does he reach the switch?

  He uses Mommy's toothbrush.

Time to get a new toothbrush...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Now I'm Confused

  I really hate the phone...and the cell phone. I've learned to tolerate them, but I have a new and special place in my heart for "live chat" help sessions. They are either really helpful or really, really NOT helpful. The main problem seems to be that they require the participants to be able to read written English. Holy cow. That's a bigger issue than I ever realized.

  The conversation will start out like this: "Hi, my name is Timothy, how can I help you?" To this I reply "Hello, I placed an order on Thursday. My order number is 87654, I would like to know why the order has not shipped yet." Timothy replies "I can help you with that. What is your order number?" Silence from me and a little bit of wonder. Definite awe. I reply clearly and slowly, "87654." From Timothy: "Thank You. I see that your order has not shipped yet." Oh, God help me (to myself). To Timothy: "Yes, I you know why?"

  We have now had this conversation twice. I'm beginning to accept this as normal in live Internet chat help world. The next part is my favorite. From Timothy: "I see the order is being processed, during this time we could be processing your credit card information or preparing your order. This takes 24-48 hours. Contact us in 24-48 hours and we will have more information." To which I reply: "It has already been four days. I was previously told to contact you today after another 24-48 hours." From Timothy: "We will know more in 24-48 hours." I call this the 24-48 hour information wall of silence. I have yet to get past it. It is tall, dark, and mysterious and hiding behind it are any number of electronic devices I am waiting to receive. So I reply: "OK." It's not actually OK, I just am still in that shock and awe stage and OK seems safe to say. To which Timothy replies "Have I been able to answer all your questions this evening?" To which I reply "No." To which Timothy has the nerve to offer into the void: "HOW MAY I BE OF HELP?"


  Isn't that like starting all over again?

  I call it the new Internet Helpless Desk. I'm not honestly too sure who is the helpless party. Me or them. I realize they're working from a script. They're too accurate to doing anything else. occasional use of brains would help. Even if it's to admit that there's something a little off and they can't quite tell what. It would be a great relief if the service person would just lapse into their native language...whatever that may be. Oy vey. Any indication of humanity would work.

A well typed "huh?" would suffice.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I'm tired now...

  This morning was Beanstalk's play group. Normally, he's very active and runs about playing ball and dancing and singing. I usually have trouble keeping up with him. This time, though, he was unable to supply the action. The broken femur has seriously slowed him down and on top of being bored, he is about to jump out of his skin. Surrounded by so many kids running about, he was ready to levitate, so what was I to do? Apparently, I was to buckle him into his wheelchair tight and become the movement he so desperately wanted.

  So we ran...

  We chased bubbles and popped them. We ran around the basketball court. We chased a butterfly. We ran with Squib...then we ran after Squib. That turned into some fun! And I pushed that chair the whole way. Squib is faaaaaasssssst. But mommy is faster...ha ha ha haaaaa!

  Mommy is older!!!!! Egads, am I older. Creakier, too.

  Geez...let me posit that if you truly desire to get in shape you should spend your mornings chasing a four-year old while pushing a seven-year-old in a wheelchair. If you truly want to bulk up, though, you'd have to add a little weight to the chair. Beanstalk is nothing but a feather-weight--even with the toe-to-hip cast.

  We had fun, though. And upon arriving back at our humble abode, we all promptly collapsed in a large pile and took a three hour nap like a bunch of dead people. Dead people naps are felt like a whole day had passed. Phew.

One great day...

P.S. The "NOW" theme is the the monthly theme for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month)...which is why I'm using it. Do you really think I came up with this on my own?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Now And Then

  I distinctly remember the first time I learned that my father was fallible. That maybe, just maybe, he had chinks in his armor. I was in my bathroom trying to get myself together. My mother was in the hospital dying (no, she's not dead, but not for lack of trying) and I had put my little brother to bed and was going about my nightly routine of packing for the next day before I left to stay the night at the hospital. I was sixteen and a junior in high school. My father had returned from work and his evening stop at the hospital and we had fought. I don't remember what the fight was over. I just remember trying to hold him up to my perfect ideal and he finally explained his humanity in a way that hit home.

  My earth shifted a little on its axis. If he wasn't perfect, then no one was perfect. If he couldn't help me then I was alone in this. I didn't understand yet. My world had been built on his perfection. He would always take care of me. I could always depend on him. He would always be there. He would always be strong enough--or so I thought until that moment. If he wasn't perfect, then mom could really die and I could be stuck in this rut of raising a young boy before I'd even graduated high school. Don't get me wrong. I loved (and still love) that boy more than life, but it was no life for a teenager.

  I didn't understand that the chinks in one persons armor were like the teeth in a zipper. They meshed perfectly with another person's chinks so that together they we were stronger. Life is just a process of finding the people that have the pieces that fit in your empty spots and who have empty spots that you can fill. Yes, I believe in God. I believe He can fill the empty spots all by himself, but I really don't think that's what He does. He leaves us vulnerable on purpose. He leaves us open with our wounded parts hanging out for other people to come along and make well. In doing so, we learn love. It's why we're here.

  If God was just going to swoop down and solve all our problems all the time without asking us to learn anything or grow, what would be the point? If we weren't meant to need one another, why create more than one person?

I get that.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thank You, Texas

  Well, color me befuddled. I made the mistake of opening my mail today to discover yet another of those random acts of unkindness our lovely state has blessed me with. An official driver license suspension reminder. A reminder, mind you. No warning. No initial notice. No ticket. No offense. Nothing. Just a reminder that my license was suspended in November of last year and oh-by-the-way would I please pay the $260? I thought reminders came after other things, but apparently you now need to be prepared for them to come first. And very, very, very, very late. I abhor lateness.


  Come to find out Texas Department of Public Safety doesn't actually do their own work any more (which is laughable, but I swear I laughed at no one). They hire a private company to do it for them. The private company has the power to suspend or reinstate my license (they say), but doesn't have access to any records to tell me why this blessed event has occurred. So, if I would just pay the money, in about eight days this would all go away and that would be the easiest thing to do. I was assured of this by a polite young gentleman who could probably be my son. When I asked him why I should pay it if I had done nothing he said "so you can get your license back." Excellent point, that.

  I said OK and hung up.

  I called back.

  I was actually hoping that the next customer service person would not be, well, different? I didn't want to argue, I just wanted to talk to someone who could help. They don't seem to know who that might be. But if I had a debit card, they'd be glad to handle this over the phone! I finally had to ask that they stop saying that. I explained very, very slowly and very, very sweetly that they weren't going to get any money. I needed help. I wanted to know why my license had been suspended. That was all. I just don't have $260 lying around every time they want to randomly suspend my license. I need to know that it was for a legitimate reason--which I have been wracking my brain for and cannot come up with.

  They hung up on me.


  All the information on the notice leads only to this private corporation whose name I am very nicely withholding from my post. And NO I don't want to pay a lawyer to figure this out. And talk about cramping my and I are THE drivers for all the people in our family. Now Dad is the chauffeur until I guess I just pay off TxDPS because they want the money?

  You see, to me this is roughly equivalent to some random guy that I don't know showing up at my door and saying "You HAVE to pay me $260 dollars or you're not allowed to leave your house except on foot--just because I want the money." My response would be "Let me get my shoes." (Little do they know the backpack is already packed, but that is a story for another time). I don't hand out random money. Do you? Apparently someone does. Actually, a lot of people must because this company seemed to think that no one would need a reason for paying them exorbitant amounts of cash (they actually did tell me I didn't have to pay MUCH compared to SOME PEOPLE). You mean people just pay out MORE than $260 without knowing why???!! I mean, really??!! Even if you knew you had done something, wouldn't you want to know what it was so you would know how NOT to do it again? I would.

  But then I am a strange creature that counts my money and balances my checkbook, etc. I know exactly how much I can spend and on what. Right down to the $10 data package on my iPhone. Yes, I even know the items on my cell-phone bill. I have to...

Welcome to my strange and bizarre life...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NOW I know how to make Red Earth Cake...Yum!

  Buddy's birthday is today! He is a ripe "young" 61. And I did not humiliate him this year by inviting 100 of his nearest and dearest friends to our house as a surprise. You're welcome, dad. Not bad for a dad/grandpa/son/business-owner/gardner/well-digger on-the-go. It is customary in our family for the birthday person to make their request for a meal of their choice and a cake of their choice and I, being the crafty baker and sometimes gourmet cook, will make whatever it is on demand.

  Over the last two years, we have come to know the Gingles family (yes that is their real name) and their family's traditional birthday cake is this wondrous creation called a Red Earth Cake. It is famous. It originated in Cleveland, Texas years ago and was passed on through a church cook book and the family picked it up there and brought it to our community where it has reached fame of untold proportions. So, naturally, last night at ten-thirty Dad decided he wanted a Red Earth cake for his birthday. Who am I to argue with such a tradition?
  Anything, and I do mean anything, with that much sugar, coffee (yes, coffee), cocoa, butter, buttermilk, and shortening just has to be good, right? Oh, yeah. It's like red velvet cake taken to a whole new level. I had no idea it was going to be this good. WOW. Here's the finished product....well, minus a little piece :) OK, minus a BIG piece.

  After a dinner of pan-fried veggies from our garden, this homemade cake really hit the spot with a little Blue Bell natural vanilla bean ice cream.

That is how we do THAT...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Now we have water!!!

  Yes, for a time we did not. That was ever-so-NOT-pleasant. It started as a slow leak and we couldn't use our well-water for drinking, cooking, tooth-brushing, etc. Then it got worse.

  It is, technically, my summer vacation. I am still working, but my work is done at home and no one really cares that I usually do it starting at about 10:00 a.m. until late, late, late at night. Then I read a little and go to sleep. So, you see, I had only been asleep for about three hours when the pounding started on the door at 7:45 a.m. All boys were with their Dads. I was snuggled away in a room that nobody needed to enter. I did this on purpose. On purpose, I say!!

  Again, with the pounding!!

  Then, my father's voice: "Get up and get dressed and meet me on the porch. I want to talk to you."

  Why is it that this sentence can still strike fear deep in my soul even when I have done nothing and am thirty-eight years old? Why, I ask you??!! He does this just about every other day and I've almost decided to start doing guilt-worthy things so that at least I can have enjoyed myself a little for the terror I feel.

  I dressed, bleary-eyed, and stumbled out onto the porch to find a giant trench dug from the pump house to the driveway and another all the way from the front of the pump house to the back of the pump house. And we had no water in the house. No one told me that part, I just flushed the toilet and watched the last of it go down. Lovely. The disaster looked like this:

  My whole day flashed before my eyes and my body spasmed in pain as if to predict how I would be feeling after this was all over. Dad and I are the only drivers, so I had been kicked out of bed to go to the hardware store and get all the PVC parts we needed to fix a cracked pipe in our water well system.

  The hardware store didn't open until 9:00 and he got me up at 7:45 and there was no water for a shower, so I'm not certain what the lead time was for, but nevertheless I was up and out of there and back by 11:00. The store is NOT close. Then there was one little, tiny, but crucial piece that I got wrong so I got to go back to the hardware store...yay.

  In my absence, Dad discovered this:

  Yes, that would be the main electrical wire coming into the pump house buried directly OVER the water pipe itself. Can you say "STOOPID?" Dad nicked it with a shovel and it blew him onto his butt a couple feet away. THEN Clanpaw remembered that he buried it there with no conduit. Geez. OH-and-by-the-way they share the SAME conduit underneath the driveway and down underneath the house. There, I have recorded it for posterity.

  By 3:00 p.m. we had cut out all the bad pipe and created a bypass with several valves:

 And saved ourselves who knows how many hundreds of dollars that the well services guy would no doubt have charged us on a holiday. Sheesh. And he wouldn't have done the bypass with the valves for easier repair next time around. They always figure there won't be a next time around, but there are at least two "next times" every year with a well buried in clay that experiences a drought. In fact, just about everyone in the terrace has been repairing their buried pipes within the last week. 'Course...none of them seem to have been buried straight. Then the ground dries and puts more strain on the pipe...eventually it breaks. Seems like you'd bury them straight, but they didn't/don't. I can't figure that one out at all. And perhaps it doesn't matter.
  The "little" electrocution event turned Mimi into a screaming lunatic for a bit. She invalid to sum it up nicely. She is also my mother, so I try to respect her authority.  Her greatest fear is being without my father--as though I would go hang her by her toenails from a tree?  I think her greatest fear is that no one would care for her if my father was no longer around. This is, well, a silly notion to say the least. Attrition and I would never think of not caring for her, but there you have is a mystery.
 I have no illusions about what it would be like to care for her without Dad, though.  I wish I knew where the joyful parts of her have gone and why she sometimes chooses sadness and depression. Her life consists of watching House episodes on DVD ad nauseum and sleeping. No music. No music for her is like no water for fish.

  We didn't rush right in and tell her that Dad had gotten shocked and she took that personally. However, whenever you enter her room she doesn't like it and takes that  personally. Catch 22, you see. Dad was fine, so I thought I'd let it go. Tell her later. Well, later was when she threw the fit. My bad. Dad wasn't going to tell her at all.  I wasn't either, but Clanpaw wanted to discuss scenarios for repairing the nicked power cable over lunch, so the truth outed itself right there. Ooops.

  I still ardently advocate living together as a family! I just don't know how to live through this season of aging we are in. It is new to me. I've lost members of my family, but it has been to freak accidents and one drug overdose--tragic, but not slow, progressive deaths. Life has been kind to us in the aging department as a whole. Not to my mother, but my grandparents are 83 and only this last year did they encounter their cancers. My grandmother is in remission (and the new pair is on its way, BTW--lots of skin-stretching to be done), my grandfather is losing ground. My mother is, perhaps, altered in a way  that is not recoverable. Admittedly, my father is 61. Not old, but older. My greatest fear, if I have any fear (which I really don't), is that I will lose them all in close proximity to one within ten years of each other.

  It is silly to fear. I always remember Dune when I think about fear. Yes, I am a geek. In Dune, Paul Atreides quotes a saying when he encounters things he fears: "Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration." That isn't the entire quote, but it is the part that I use to remind myself of what fear can do to me if I allow it to eat me up. I shall look that one up and quote it in full here at some point...

Good afternoon, good evening, and good night!