Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thank You, Bosnia...Herzegovina...or...whatever...

 Several times now, I've gotten these ominous warnings from the folks at Gmail that someone in Bosnia has been attempting to access my Gmail account. The first time, I thought, "Whatever..." What on earth could possibly be so darn interesting about me and my contacts? Then I thought about attrition and the burning wrath from on high that is my brother when any suspect piece of Internet tripe makes its way into his inbox and changed my mind. So, now I have to sign in using the two-step verification. It's very appropriately name, IMO. Password, phone verification. So far, this is really only impacting me.

  Well, and the poor, poor Bosnian that apparently need my address so badly that the nine gazillion times I've tried to go back to one step verification I've gotten a nasty little note again and finally quit trying. Now, Gmail could be making this up. Possible. Especially if they have offices in Bosnia. Then, this cockamamie thing would be true. Or not. Then there is someone(s) in Bosnia with a rather weird hacking hobby. So I started to look around the map at Bosnia.

  Only not a "real" map. Of course, being a gamer PERSON (not a geek) I used my trusty Turf Wars map. Lately it's been more accurate than many others. And I was rather surprised to see the drastic changes in naming in portions of Asia and Europe. Everything is ____ saxony. Upper saxony. Lower saxony. Right saxony. Left saxony. It was pretty doggone hard to find my way around because all I really wanted to find was a country that used to be there and believe me, they have gone back to some names that I thought died with feudalism. Or not. I wasn't there. And for history I had a boyfriend with great notes and photographic memory. I was memorizing other stuff, ok? Like the six texts I had in my Biophysics I class. You know, that class where collaborating, open books, open friends, no time limit, food, etc. were all allowed on the tests. Oy vey. Thank God I memorized every obscure unit conversion known to man and several known only to Dr. Gray.

  The poor Bosnian struggling for my address is just probably trying to find his way out of a country and can't read his map to save his life. Literally.

  In other news and definitely on the miraculous side of things, I actually made two dinosaur hoodies!!! I'm awaiting a visit from the Pope's emissaries any time now. This is definitely something they are going to want to investigate because it's nothing short of a statue of Mary weeping in the town square. I promise to show you, but it merits it's own entry and I'd like some other folks to see it, too. And I need pictures of Squib and Beanstalk crushing the earth with their dinopaws.

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And For My Next Number...

Nine hundred fifty-six!

No, seriously. Seriously, though I'm pre-posting blogs so it's becoming obvious on occasion that I'm talking about Christmas, for example, and it's already past or isn't even over yet. I am aware, yes, but apparently unable to stop.

This year I'm making dinosaur hoodies for the boys. That's right, I said "make" as in "to take fabric and affix it thereto and with use of sewing machine encourage to appear as thought it were a series of stegosaur's spikes."

I could much sooner pull a hat out of a rabbit.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We Have Come A Long Way

Yesterday, Baba hopped in the shower with her brand spanking new "Power Port" and soaked to the skin before the forty-eight hour mark had passed. So, I found myself digging through that drawer. The one filled to the brim with medical detritus that would make your head spin. We could probably perform minor surgery with all that junk. Yes, we could. I picked up a suture kit and under it, I found:
One of Beanstalk's Favorite Things
Yes, a sucker. Since he was tube fed from four-and-a-half weeks until somewhere around six-to-seven years of age (it was a gradual process not an instant thing), the sucker was actually encouraged in hopes that his swallowing patterns would be as natural as possible. So little Beanstalk had a sucker with him everywhere he went. Even I carried no less than a jillion everywhere I went with him. And he had the power to suck them into oblivion.

He was also picky. At first he would only use these suckers that were gel-filled. Then, finally, he would use the kind you see above. Probably because his little brother liked them and he was an easy target.
Sucker Thief. Guilty as charged,
See? Little brothers are easy pickin's. Oh, and the proper use of the sucker is to suck it upside down. Who knew?

Now, though, he stomps around and talks--mostly in Klingon and occasionally in English--and the sucker is ne'er to be found amongst his "uniform." If you want to call it that. He eats and drinks by mouth entirely which is still unfathomable. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it so many times. Same with the walking on those bazillion dollar feet. They actually work! He's actually able to almost run!

So when I found that sucker, I couldn't just leave it in the drawer any longer. I couldn't get rid of it, either. I had to bring it out to the house and I thought I'd put a hook on it and hang it on the tree to remind me of how far he's come. And that wonderful Christmas two years ago when he said, "Merry Christmas" for the first time. Called me "Mama" for the first time. Said, "I love you." for the first time.

Last time I sat there and figured it (based on all the lovely odds the doctors kept giving us), there's less that a ten-thousandth of a percent chance that he should even be here alive anymore. But, here he is.

That ought to be enough Christmas for anyone for a lifetime.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hamsters Live Here

Or maybe it's an infestation of large ferrets. Meerkats, perhaps? In the process of remodeling a house that essentially is made up of only two rooms it's difficult to keep up with the ensuing disaster. Add children and things go downhill at a rate that is immeasurable. Add several days of migraines, more paperwork than is absolutely necessary, and actual work that earns money and you very quickly loose your hold on reality. I'm certain that chicken (that we don't have) is living in cleaner quarters. No matter what I do each day, the same mess returns within an hour of work on this blessed bathroom. And the smell, well I'm not going to complain, but I suspect it is a rather migrainous trigger. The tile man (Buddy) is having enough troubles of his own. Tiles not sticking and whatnot. I think we're within a day or two of hearing an actual classified curse word issue forth from his lips. The last time I heard that was maybe 2003 or so. It's been, "Come on, I can't believe this." or "Dad gum it." so far, but I believe the edge of his so-called verbal precipice is growing nigh. Squib had a bit of a tough weekend, so I allowed him to express his creative self with watercolors--his new favorite medium--and there were several unsupervised hours due to a Christmas production I was in. I say unsupervised loosely. Buddy was there. However, we have long since proven that he is of the school that children should be turned loose with the world as their canvas. And his canvas was my office and the front room of the house. Water. Watercolors. Paper. Some Styrofoam pieces made it in there. In short, disaster.

I'd burn it down and start over, but we're so close to having a tub...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Only In The Woods

Buddy texted me (texted??!? is that even a word?) the other night to let me know that he had picked up a prescription for me at the pharmacy. So I waltzed out the door to go to the Big Red House to get it from him. At five paces I realized I had a problem.

It. Was. Pitch. Black.

The cars were not in their usual places and we had a station set up not far from my front door to cut tile and cement board, so my mental map was discombobulated in the extreme. I knew the general layout of things but not all the disgarded bits of cement board, etc. And, stupidly, I was barefoot. That's usually not and issue unless these particular circumstances are in effect.

I didn't have a flashlight or my phone, so I was stuck waving my hands around like a lunatic. Even the lights in the Big Red House's kitchen were out. I could see squat. I swear it took ten minutes of hand-waving and patting around to find the porch and perhaps even ten more to find the door.

Yes, I need a flashlight. I have an LED one, but come on--the LED flashlights are crap. A maglite with a real bulb is the way to go. And after battering myself on cars, railings, etc. I thing everone is in agreement with me. Maybe Santa will gift me with one.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

What a Disappointment

We're all still here.

Frankly, I was hoping all this hoo haa with the Mayan calendar and those nimrods on YouTube forecasting the end of all existence yesterday had a teensy bit of truth to it. I mean really, I know where I'm going. My family, too. So, for us, there is a palpable knowledge that we do not belong here.

That being said, it certainly would make balancing our books and juggling chemo and doctor appointments and all that jazz much easier if we just didn't have to do it anymore. Right? And when it gets right down to it, I'm done dealing with my frizzy hair and that suspect toenail and really and truly I want to know what's been going on in Beanstalk's mind for the last 10.5 years. I want to talk to him! I want to hear what he's thinking, what he likes, what he wants to do, what it was like for him those long years. I'm not suicidal, I'm simply human. And "tryyyy mooooore" doesn't always do it for me, you know? He told me he loved me and called me mom Christmas of 2010. That was it. Aside for cookies, music, and chips, I don't have more clues into his verbal mind. And I want to see him run free of orthotics and braces and really break free.

I want to pick the mind of my relatives and ask what they were thinking when they were doing certain things. I want to see my grandfather again. He'll probably be mowing. Who cares. I'll mow with him.

I want to see my friend Mel's baby Tal whole and alive again. Not enough words to describe that.

I want to put down all this meaningless crap and lay in the sun until I am simply ready to do something else. Sit in trees. Wade in streams. Swim in oceans. Take my kids skiing. Hike, run, cycle, dance until we can't stand up. Sing until we have no voices left.

I want to see my mother whole again. Not stranded in her bed a victim to Lupus and depression. I want to know her as she was before I met her. The girl who achieved so much in high school and college. I want to see her when her spirit was really alive.

I want to run over landscapes of gold and green just for running's sake. Canoe. Paint. Sculpt. Smell flowers that I've never seen before.

I know all these things are coming in time. I can be patient and allow time to reach its fullness. I can endure the time necessary for all this to come to fruition.

But how awesome if it had occurred on Friday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Five Nuggets!!!

I showed up at daycare like I always do. It was still there parked on the corner like it always has been. However, it looked like people were actually going into the building on purpose. I know, right? It's the Friday before Christmas, but nobody would actually exit the vehicle, walk in, and stay. That can't be right.

There's maybe one small alarm bell going of somewhere in the region of Namibia. Which is futher than my left toe so we're not talking about anything really serious. Yet. So I park and realize I'm in the last available space. I take a very stealthy glance to the right and the left and notice two couples getting out of their cars and going into the building.

Couples. Wearing Christmas stuff. Um.

Well, turns out not only are the kids having a Christmas party, but they also have three songs that they have been practising in order to perform for their parents and are dressed up and on the last song already which gets totally interrupted when I open the door and get attacked Kato-style somewhere around center stage. The show does go on, however:

1. No one needs to go to the bathroom. Until they do which was out in the parking lot. So we go back in and go.

2. No one remembers how to drive their car without hitting people. No one remembers not to stand in front of moving cars. Everyon inside of and outside of cars is PO'd but mostly because they have to hold my hand. They launch a protest by yanking my arms out of their sockets and dropping crap everywhere.

3. Squib got a "girl book" by accident and decides he really wants a boy book because he's a boy. His whole like is full of Barbie Dream Castle this and Dora the Explorer bed set that. But hell no we won't go reading girl books.

4. T-minus twenty minutes and everyone is in their seat and a cry rises from the back seat. "I can't find my sucker!" They were shaped like Xmas trees. Every kid got one. My kid lost one. No we never found his.

So, the weather in the car is frigid with a dash of death eater. I was planning on hitting McDonald's as a way to break up the trip since Fridays before holidays are back traffic-wise. So I asked, "Do you want four or six chicken nuggets in your Happy Meal?"

"Five!" Wha...?

"Five. Yup, five." In the cutest smiley happiest I am the voice of the 90th Geneva Convention of McNuggets voice.

Dumbest thing ever to say ever never ever: "Well honey you know they come in four or six, so I'll get you six and take one out."

It was like kicking a skunk. You just don't ever do that. Every person on the face of the earth knows why! Believe me. All twelve members of the group conscience slapped me on the back of the head saying, "What the hell is wrong with you!" Then R. Lee Ermey (I know! He's in the group conscience...go figure) takes me by the shoulder and stares me in the eyes and says, "

The State of Things

Person: Would you--

Me: No!

Person: I didn't even--

Me: No.

Person: But I--

Me: The answer is still no.

Person: Then I'll just leave this w--

Me: OH NO! No. No no no.

Person: You don't even know what I--

Me: Yes I do. You want me to do something that you want to have done..done and you want to leave something with me that has to do with that something and I'm telling you I'm not taking extra orders at this time. So, again, I have to decline your considerate offer to do something you could do for yourself.

Person: But I really--

Me: No. Your best bet is to see my secretary. (I point to Squib)

*person looks at Squib awkwardly and Squib smiles his wide, jack-o-lantern smile*

Person: But he's seven.

Me: And you are observant. Everyone starts somewhere. Really, he's a go getter. Though he tends toward the arts. I mean really, isn't all paperwork better if it looks like Picasso took it in hand? Or if it can also fly across the room?

*person shuffles feet*

Person: I think I'll make a go at this myself.

Me: *sigh* There is just no creativity left in the world.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Houston, We Have a Problem...ish...type...thing

Preface: Beanstalk is one of the happiest people in the world. He has his moments when his Xi is disturbed, but honestly those are few and far between and a nice romp in the leaves or some fun waving a stick around like Obi-wan Kenobi really does it for him. Instantly back to his happy self. And when I say he loves people, he genuinely loves people. To death.

If you are one of "his people" he will hug you with all his strength which also includes all his protective arm braces and those suckers are a force to be reckoned with. He's gotten gradually stronger as he's grown, so the relative increase in his crushing strength is noticeable but I've learned to adapt. I love those hugs. As do the rest of the adults in the inner circle. Squib, however, being a more recent addition and half his size may actually die as a result of all these attentive hugs. Beanstalk isn't trying to hurt him at all. But if one thing is true, it's this...

Beanstalk LUVVVVSSSSS Squib.

It's rather humorous, really. You can tell when the hug attack is coming by the way Beanstalk calls Squib's name. I have to break their anonymity to explain this because it is hilarious.

"Oh Myyyyy-tooooeee! Hu? Hu?" He starts surveying the room and searching out every nook and cranny calling out "Miiii-toeee!" with glee and anticipation as he goes because he is darn tootin' going to get a hug out of Mytoe if it kills him. Or Mytoe.

The first few times this took place, Squib would gasp, "Can't...breathe" and I would pry Beanstalk off of Squib like he was an octopus eating his prey. But then Beanstalk wanted more hugs. It was cute and endearing, but speaking of deer, Squib looked like one in the headlights. I am not even kidding.

I try to limit the hugging to a more reasonable amount and try to be present for all the Squib hugging to put my arms in between Beanstalk and Squib and I'm telling you, he will crush that child if left to his own devices. I try to talk to Beanstalk about being gentle with his baby brother. However, the point is that, in the end, he loves that kid so darn much that he squeezes him more than anybody else. He doesn't even hug me that way.

And, speaking from Squib's angle, Squib feels the same way. He just doesn't want to die. He plans things for them to do. He picks out movies he thinks Beanstalk will like. He doesn't complain about all the opera and symphony DVDs which is saying a lot for a seven-year-old. And he's alloted Beanstalk a two hug limit for the day. I thought that was quite reasonable considering the force he has to deal with.

As for me, ever since Squib was born, I hoped that Beanstalk would have a brother that not only loved him, but cared about how life looked like from Beanstalk's point of view. You know I'm not going to live forever. Neither will Beanstalk's dad. We have no outright prognosis and every limit we've been given, Beanstalk has exceeded. Some day he may need his brother to help take care of him. And here Squib is already doing just that. He knows how to establish his own limits and that's smart. But he loves Beanstalk very much. He puts a calendar of when we visit with Beanstalk on the refrigerator and counts the days. He hops out of the bed saying, "This is a Beanstalk day!" And he's only seven.

So assuming he lives past the hugging phase, they have already exceeded my expectations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Out There

I realize it's now in the sixties out there. However, earlier this morning, it most definitely was NOT. Since the theft of my electric blanket (by Buddy) I have been using my six blankets and a heating pad to keep me warm during the night. My thermostat isn't an instrument that I would call "calibrated." Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Uncalibrated things bother me. Deeply. Especially these new electronic thingamajiggers that are supposed to be better and more accurate. So when I tested it against my thermometer (that I verified as being accurate because with a thermometer and various phases of water you can do that) my thermometer did, in fact, tell me that the thermostat was reading several degrees high. Sixty-eight was not sixty-eight. It was a chilly sixty-five.

And I chortled with joy. Mainly because I had been telling the other constituents of Green Acres that something had to be wrong with the thermostat because we were huddling together in the Mud Hut like ten bears in the bed just for warmth. It was redonkulous. I was going to smother a child to death if this kept up.

The general response was, "Well, I'll be!" (read nonsensical countrified phraseology that serves no purpose whatsoever).

Has anything changed? No. And to top it off, the heating pad has an automatic shut off after an undetermined (give me time) period of time. So I fall asleep and then the heating pad shuts off and then I wake up and turn it back on. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Do we fix these things out here? No, we do not, because there's already a solution, namely me getting up to turn it back on. There ya go. It's an entirely different mentality.

Sometimes I feel like I need a day (and night) in the city.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Exorcising Demons

Actually demon, singular,

It all started when I kicked a power supply early this summer (Not intentionally, mind you. I like my power supplies.) and my big toenail separated from my toe. I know, gross. And it hurt like a fracking monkey fuggler. After some time passed, it never healed and attached to my toe again. So I wondered what to do.

Being here in the East Texas pine forest, I did what everyone would do. Well, I didn't use a knife. I trimmed it down to the point where it was attached and hoped it would grow normally. Needless to say, that did not work.

In the mean time, I've tried to clean it obsessively, drip my essential oils down in there, etc. but to no avail. It finally started to put up a ruckus so loud that if I'm sleeping lightly I'd rather chop the darn thing off than live another moment. Plus it turned a funny color. I know, there's a fungus amungus. Whatever.

Yes, I could go to the local quack shack (she's not a quack by far, but that's what I call it). And have Dr. Perkins (And she is every bit as perky as her name...I mean, Carly Perkins...holy cow she's a bundle of energy and probably a former cheerleader...or not, but I'd put her in front of a crowd.) perform the exorcism. But why when I have all the tools I need right here?

So I woke up to an aching toe about thirty minutes ago and took matters into my own hands. Toenail removed....again. Ugly funky-colored spot gone. Everything clean, but a slightly awkward-looking half-toenail remaining. Thank goodness it's boot season pretty much 24-7 around here.

Demon begone. *Imperial wave*

Monday, December 17, 2012


Have you ever been in a chemotherapy infusion lab when someone graduates? They sit through their last chemo treatment and the nurse hollers at the top of her lungs, “Everybody come on!” Everything stops. The doctor stops seeing patients, the patients in the waiting room, in the examination rooms, in the infusion lab, and all of the staff run screaming and flood the lab. Then the nurse says, “This is so-and-so and today she has graduated!” And everyone claps and screams until they can’t clap or scream any more. There are hugs all around. Phone numbers are exchanged because these are people we’ve sat here with for several days a week for many months. A bond has formed. And eventually, she skips and jumps out the door into the bright, crisp day knowing she no longer has to come through these doors as a chemo patient. Just check-ups.

We won’t be doing that. Graduating, that is. We’ll be doing this until Baba dies of some other cause. Hopefully in her sleep...peacefully. It’s hard to get a handle on. Perpetual chemotherapy. No remission. Just keeping it at bay until she passes from old age or “natural causes.” It’s like traveling in a constant loop. There is no if-then option. You just trudge in a circle because that seems to be the path you’re supposed to be following.

The problem with me is that I look at the monotony of it all and ask, “isn’t there some way to revive this?” There has to be a way! We have to bring some life, some celebration into this or we’re going to fall into a rut of our own making and never get out! We need pink in here! And green and yellow and marshmallows and snow cones and unicorns and snow in the middle of our seventy degree winter! Streamers from the ceiling, lights, the good china, parties every Friday, and never-ending amounts of ice cream in the freezer. Whimsy, wonder, joy, love, curiosity, happiness, bubbliness (I swear it's a word, y'all), laughter, practical jokes, art made by 7-yr-olds with a dinosaur fetish, opera sung by 10-year-olds in Klingon. All of that and more. And WINGS! We all need wings! And we need to go outside and twirl in circles until we all fall over and remember the most important thing.

That you are never too old, young or sick to feel alive.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Einstein Made a Very Good Point

E = mc^2. It's essentially the "what goes around, comes around" of physics. The sum total of mass-energy in the universe is constant. I happen to know this is true. Absolutely true. It was proven today when I found my favorite prescription glasses. On another lady. Well, at least they were the same frames and had bifocals. They were my best fit ever and I lost them and have yet to find them. Not for lack of trying. Massive searches have been mounted in order to find those glasses and I feel so passionate on this issue that I darn near plucked them off her face to see if they were, in fact, my prescription. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to do just that. Fortunately, another cashier stepped in front of me to say she would check me out so, disaster averted. For now. But if I run into Tina again at Brookshire Brothers chaos could ensue--more physics there.

All physics aside, there are so many things going on at Green Acres. Well, physics plays a part as does Chemistry (much to my dismay). We're remodeling the bathroom and I'll have you know that drywall stinks to high heaven. I left the doors open despite the collective household fear of monsters, stink bugs, and bad things that might come in at night. I tried to look up the contents of the drywall we used because my Chemist's nose recognized the smell. We're smellers, we Chemists, but I couldn't put a name to the smell. It was on the tip of my tongue and my brain said things like "ventilation" and "aeration." And definitely NOT sleep in a small, closed space with it for several days while we were putting it up.

Other than fiddling with odds and ends of scientific household warfare, I dealt mostly with rain today. I did my usual Sunday things. I sang. I'm back to the Madonna microphone (no comment) so I'm rather bereft as to what to do with my hands. If I just have one hand free, not a problem. Two hands free? Problem. Awkwardness.

There was also the issue of rain. Now, I'm sorry. If it's pouring down rain I am not going to spend twenty minutes doing all kinds of work on my hair. No way. Now how. So I just put it up in a scrunchie. In keeping with the scrunchie I kept the makeup at a minimum. For some reason I was broken out like a teenager, so I really felt like it was no use and people should just get used to the new me.

I'll have you know that no less that five people commented me on my hair. !!!!!! What the holy hamburgers were they looking at? Some even said it made me look younger (maybe the acne helped out there, I dunno). But it's apparently time to revive the scrunchie collection from my dance bag that I've kept from way, way, way back when. I got one complement on my makeup. That person had to be delusional. I have eyes. I can see a zit from forty paces. Big. Red. Fuming. Acne. Perhaps they were trying to encourage me in my moment of adolescent angst. Bless their hearts. Whatever. Could also be that their glasses are lost in the space-time continuum as well and they couldn't see a zit to save their lives. Women don't usually complement other women unless it's for real. Men? They have all kinds of ulterior motives (sorry, but you do).

Apparently no attention was paid to the fact that I wore my batman shirt, leggings, black slouch boots, and my eternally favorite drape sweater. Lord knows it's not the fashion for the average forty-year-old. I'm without generation when it comes to clothes. If I ever have to stop shopping the juniors section for funny t-shirts then I'm going to lose my hold on life itself. And leggings. I love them. So, a misfit I am for my age. When the age of overwhelming saggage hits I'm going to become a hermit and wear t-shirts only and maybe sweatpants. If someone says, "How about a nice pant suit?" to me again, I shall erf on the spot. Perhaps on their polished Cole Haans. The people on What Not To Wear would have a field day with me.

Clinton: So with this nice slimming cut, how do you like these jeans?

Me: I don't.

Clinton: What is it that you don't like about them?

Me: They're jeans. They're denim. I despise denim.

Clinton: What about the same jean in black?

Me: They would still be jeans.

Clinton: Ok, ok. I see here. Well, let's go on and find some pants you do like. What about these trouser pants.

Me: I have a pair for interviews and stuff, but I really never wear them.

Clinton: Why not?

Me: Because they aren't as comfy as leggings and I don't go out on interviews very much.

Clinton: So, for a special occasion, what do you wear?

Me: I have dresses and some outfits with pants that I wear for special occasions, but quite frankly that doesn't come up that often in Green Acres.

Clinton: Well, tell me about the last special occasion you had.

Me: Dad and I put a new compressor and parts in the Civic by ourselves.

Clinton: Commercial! Commercial! Cut!

And I would come home with $5000 of exquisite leggings, sweaters, t-shirts and drape jackets. Shoes, too. Don't forget the shoes!

And tomorrow....more chemo...yay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cold And Stuff

So it got below freezing last night. I'm not complaining about the weather out-of-doors. I am, however, launching several complaints about the in-of-doors because there is no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that it was sixty-eight degrees in here. NO way.

I drug out two quilts, my son's Dora the Explorer blanket (yes, he's a fan...or he was), a knitted blanket, and this gigantimous (and ugly) comforter and piled them all on the bed at once and it took me forever to get it all warmed up. Then, once I got things bearable in the bed it took an act of Congress to convince the powers that be (that whole group conscience I have going in my head) to get out of bed to do things like brush my teeth and use the facilities. I am a bit short of asking Buddy where our zero degree bags are stored so I can just use one of those.

The main problem is that the people in the Big Red House (who have a reasonable thermostat and no holes in their house) took my electric blanket. That's how I kept warm last winter. Apparently the cost of another one has been deemed 'too expensive.' So nyah. And usually I steal Squib from his resting place and park him in my bed for to keep it roasty in there. (He thinks it's a special treat to sleep with mommy, so I let him wallow in his misconception). However, he's been at his dad's.

I'm one step away from sleeping in my fuzzy bathrobe. I'm already dressed in a long sleeved t-shirt, yoga pants, and two pair of socks. What's one bathrobe more or less? But, I'm starting to get that Michelin Man feeling you have when you bundle up to play in the snow and your arms and legs sprawl out a little bit and if you fall over chances are you can't get up without help.

I did check with a regular outdoor thermometer to see if the thermostat was reading correctly. It wasn't. The 'sixty-eight' it was advertising was somewhat south of sixty-six at which point I turned the heat up because I was laying tile in the bathroom and was somewhat wet from carrying the tile from where it was cut into the bath area. Wet and sixty-six degrees is icky. So add to my chilliness a wet sweater and undershirt and wet yoga pants and socks. I'm messy. Nothing to be done about that but to clean it up later.

And I do admit to some dread due to the fact that I have to meet Squib and his dad for a doctor's appointment at 8:30 in the morning which means I'll be up and around while it's still in the mid-to-low thirties. Aaaaah! But if Squid says the boy is sick, he must be near death. He seems to never want to take Squib to the doc. So to the doc we go. At eight flipping thirty in the a.m. The reasoning there? Wouldn't want him to miss too much school.

Yeah. I had to ponder that too. Sick kid. Send him to school. Infect the general populace.

An epidemiologist I am not, but when I keep the kids home it's primarily for the health of the other children unless mine are running hideous fevers. That's about the only time they ever act sick. Beanstalk gets clingy, but meh, who doesn't when they're coughing up a lung.

So tomorrow will be the third day I've rocketed my self out of the bed to go to the doctor's office. The tally is two infusion treatments and, after tomorrow, two doctor's appointments. If you count Buddy taking Baba for her junk that will add a dentist's and surgeon's appointment. Together with the remodeling it's enough to make you want to lay on the floor and scream, "Enough already!!" It's not even truly Wednesday yet--the day I spend an hour dancing and singing with first through sixth grade kids.

And no doubt tomorrow will end like today. Buddy will survey the lovely addition to the tile job in addition to the disaster that lies outside the bathroom and glance at me and say, "Well, I'll leave you to clean up. I know you like things done a particular way." Which is tacitly incorrect and he knows it. My mother and sister-in-law are picky. Perhaps he took, "please don't store the pieces of insulation with my towels." as a bit of pickiness rather than common sense. If anyone else 3were to cart off the dregs of remodeling I'd be overcome with joy. And as is I can't always tell trash from 'tools' so there has been a bit of digging through the trash bag. Oops.

But the days are not without their extremely humorous moments. In the process of seeing my rheumatologist today, we were discussing symptoms I have of secondary Sjogren's. Dry eyes, dry nose (nose bleeds), and an extremely dry mouth. As a result I ended up with thrush in my mouth, so he prescribed diflucan, etc. etc. Then he began describing what he saw in my mouth, nose, eyes and hemmed and hawed for a moment and finally said, "Well I also have to ask you if you've had any vaginal dryness." Not being a sexually active person (for quite a while now) and other things being what they are, I simply replied, "Aaaaaaand I would know" I'm here to tell you that doctors are not impervious to embarrassment at all because he turned a livid shade of red and closed his eyes and shook his head. I was completely comfortable, but I had absolutely no info on that. Finally he said, "You know what? Let's just forget that question." So we did. Until I got in the car and laughed my head off.

I have yet to meet a person that can get a firm grasp on what we deal with on a daily basis in this family. And by all counts, they expect us to be total lunatics once they put it together. One grandparent deceased due to cancer. The surviving grandparent fighting her fourth cancer (that's f-o-u-r and, no, I am not joking). A mother virtually incapacitated due to lupus and pulmonary hypertension. One son with tetrasomy 18p (translation: he's 47 XY, but not the 'normal' extra chromosome). Second son with neurofibromatosis and resolved major congenital heart malformations (read: big stinking surgery that scared the pants off anyone involved). The normal, functioning people "just" have Crohn's disease and we consider that healthy. Yes, yes we do.

I was schmoozing with one of the chemo patients in the infusion lab yesterday and she asked if the boys played baseball or soccer and after an, "Oh heavens no." She asked why not. I hemmed and hawed a bit. Fragile bones. Heart and major arteries not being where they should. It took her a minute to put it all together, but finally she made that face. The "you must be cursed by God himself" face. Which is just not true. Not true at all.

Yes, we have more on our plates that any normal human can handle. I'm running around in two shirts, leggings under my yoga pants and two pair of socks. Here in a few minutes I'll be packing myself into the truck to go to Care Share, which is the local food pantry, and pick up the regular allotment of fruits and veggies that they give periodically. For reasons we don't know or understand, sometimes money just arrives in envelopes when we really need it. It may not sound like a lot, but we can take $100 dollars and stretch it pretty far. All of our remodeling has been done with materials we've had left over from building the two previous houses and from things people (great people) have given us that they've had stored for months or years.

Do I have a cell phone? Yes. But only because another friend was upgrading and basically gave me his. Same with the iPad that the kids play with. Heck, the sheets on my bed and one of the blankets (that matches) was given to me after a friend couldn't sell it in a garage sale. She even gave me the decorative items that matched. And people in this community continue to give and give and give because it's just that sort of community.

Am I cold? You bet your bottom. But I have clothes given to me by someone to keep me warm and Christmas is coming. There's nothing like a cold Christmas. I may not have much to give my kids on Christmas, but guess what? There are even friends of mine that want to make sure that my kids have presents on Christmas morning. What they don't know is that my kids really don't even notice the amount of things under the tree. If I'd just make Squib a dragon sock puppet and put dinosaur spikes on his hoodie, he'd be over the moon. Beanstalk would simply kill for an uninterrupted day of opera. It isn't that they're easily pleased. Well, ok, from my perspective, they are. Case in point, just give Squib a roll of scotch tape. They just know what makes them happy without fizzling out five minutes later. They aren't buried in video games or tuned into the TV so far that we can't have conversations and our favorite thing is to cuddle altogether in my bed and just talk or read until we're tired and ready to go to sleep.

So, we may be dealing with an overwhelming amount of unbelievable stress, but when we're all together the place is definitely warm.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Evil In A Can

We do actually have a grocery store in town. It hasn't changed much in the thirty-seven years I've been in and out of this town. Same size. Same products. It did switch locations. It was a Boles, then a Food Basket, and is now a Brookshire Brothers. Needless to say, if you want to do some real shopping with reasonable prices you have to drive out of town to do it. When there's talk of Lion's Head and Chankonabe around here the folks at Brookshire's go glassy-eyed. They don't do bok choy. And puh-leeze don't get me started on the sake at Frank's.

Every time we take someone in to "town" for chemo or an infusion of something-or-other (Mimi is on remicade) we do our shopping then. Usually Buddy sticks with the regular list as instructed. Sometimes he tries to branch out since we have to work at putting pounds on the wee ones and Baba. But this? THIS??!? This is pure evil:

Evil in a can. Chocolate covered evil in a can.
He made sure to hand-deliver it to me right here at my desk which means it's in plain sight every time I sit down here (and that's often). It seems to be rooted to the spot. I really could take it and move it elsewhere--I tried, really I did--but it inevitably finds its way right back to my desk. He argued that it was "mostly nuts," I beg to differ. In point of fact, I absolutely hate almonds. It's well known fact around here. I'd never eat them unless they're bathed in chocolate. This stuff? Oh yeah, I'll eat it. Here's why:
All the things that don't look like almonds are chocolate. Seriously.
My only hope is that the snowflakes on the can mean that this is a sporadic, seasonal thing and after Christmas or so I'll no longer be in danger of random cans of chocolaty goodness wandering in my door.

Until then I'll have to run thirty laps around the universe to work this off.

P.S. I'm now thoroughly disgusted with this so-called dictionary. Yesterday it was pinky/pinkie. Now it's chocolatey/chocolaty. Chocolaty just looks weird to me. Soon u r gonna c me writin lik dis cuz i jus cant do dis any moar.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Comfortably Numb

Mimi fell. Couldn't get up.

Baba called. Flustered.

Buddy and I were in a whole other town getting drywall.

Mimi had to stay on the floor with Baba staring at her until we got home.

Things were eventually set to rights.

(Mimi still feels like she was dropped from space).

Buddy decided to use a mallet to hammer the drywall into place.

My pinkie was still between the drywall and the stud.


I'm now sitting here in disbelief that you spell pinkie with an "ie." Whatever.

This is just to say that some days would just be better spent laying on the floor of one's office listening to Pink Floyd in one's pajamas.

Wishing my pinkie was comfortably numb.

P.S. I still think it's "pinky" but several dictionaries are arguing both. At the same time!! I can't take it when the dictionary doesn't have the cojones to make up its mind!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Inner Diva

I have a lucky sweater. I wear it all the time. People say they do something "all the time" and they just mean "often." I mean that I wear it every day. Perhaps not when I leave Green Acres, but I wear it at least part of the day every day. It's thin and tight knit and black and grey striped and goes with just about everything. It had a teeny tiny little hole in it that I sewed up because I absolutely cannot part with this sweater nor can I replace it.
It really is an awesome sweater. Ignore the face and the disaster. We're remodeling. It does strange things to a person.

I'm not exactly saying I'm more partial to the sweater than, say, my children. Obviously if it came down to a choice between the sweater and Beanstalk I would choose Beanstalk... But that's a very academic decision right there. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind a chunk of my psyche is standing there in her red-bottomed Louboutin pumps screaming:


She's not my favorite member of my mental group conscience. In fact, the other eleven members frequently have to toss her out on her rear end for wreaking havoc at least once a month. So, when I drove the truck to the dump today wearing my favorite sweater and there wasn't an attendant there to help me and I found that the trash had been chewed into by an animal and there were maggots--well--she lost her mind. Maggots on the sweater, y'all. Maggots.
Because this just wouldn't be my blog without something remotely gross and scientific.
Oh my holy ham biscuits!!

There are, in fact, members of the mental group conscience capable of handling maggots, rain water, and holes in trash bags. I used to determine time of death for roadkill using maggots in college (it was a post doc study for a prof. Ick, emkay? Just ick). However, I think they're the ones who dislike anything that occurs before noon. Imelda (that's her name) tapped into some sort of override and there was some screaming and yelling and flapping of arms and legs and shuddering.
It was horrid, I tell you. HORRID! (How those Chinese folk got in there I do not know).
And that woman has a mouth on her because I cursed Buddy up and down the entire way home for telling me that I wouldn't even need to get out of the car "now that they have attendants to help with things." Not.

I came home and straightaway got in the shower to clean up. I tossed the favorite sweater in the wash as advised from the eleven other conscience members who had been rocketed out of bed by all the screaming. They advised I take Imelda to a closet to make her feel more at home, but that didn't work so I got on Pinterest for a while. She likes that and is mostly in charge of my Pinterest boards. I got sidetracked looking at Tumbleweed Tiny House Company so she wrote me this Haiku:

No no no no no
No no no no no no no
No no no no no

It could be a very long day.

Faster Than A Rolling "O"

There is hardly any flat, vertical surface in our house that is bare. Squib, or "the artist" as he is referred to on Facebook sometimes, creates so much art that we usually have several exhibits going on at the same time. Much like any museum, we have to rotate our collection in order to allow all our patrons to view them.

Beanstalk views the use of office and art supplies outside the hours of 8 am - 3pm Mon-Fri as being "school related" and has the ability to lean backwards at a ridiculous angle while his feet remain rooted to the floor so as not to touch said school supply. Therefore, no Beanstalk art. He has, however, perfected that face that I imagine all teenagers (even though he's not one yet) have that implies only one thing. "Musicians do not draw, Mom. Jeez. (You uncultured swine)." That last bit was mine, but I'm sure it's coming some day given my lack of enthusiasm for opera. When he learns to huff and roll his eyes my life will be complete.

To my left is the jungle exhibit complete with fox bats. Who knew they had bats in the jungle? The hall of science is on my bedroom door. It takes up both sides of my door. The refrigerator and the freezer are random art samples. I'm allowed some latitude there, so I pick my favorite things plus anything that Beanstalk will sit still for (not much). There is also a hall of dragons (and a few dinosaurs) in the Big Red House since we don't actually have a hall out here.

The refrigerator and freezer. A lesson in controlled chaos at best.
About a month ago, I was rather ill and told Squib I didn't care what he did as long as he didn't destroy anything. I pulled Netflix up along with all the music I could muster and crawled right back in the bed. I woke up to Dinosaur World! It was everywhere. Holy moly. I had no idea a kid could crank out that many dinosaurs in one day. It was almost terrifying. I was rather surprised I didn't have a dino taped to my forehead.

Putting things on the fridge and the freezer is becoming a problem, though, for two reasons. For one, the letter magnets are losing some of their sticktoitiveness. So, they fall off and sometimes the pictures come down with them. Secondly, when the "O" came down today and rolled away in front of me, the Letterman intro started going through my head. You know, from the Electric Company in the '70's?
The culprit.
Faster than a rolling 'O'!
Stronger than a silent 'E'!
Able to leap capital 'T' in a single bound!
It's a word, it's a plan,
It's Letterman!

I laughed 'til I hurt. Good thing I was alone. The kids would have died.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 sing?

As a matter of fact, I do. I don't have a band or anything, but I do sing with them on occasion. iPhones, iPads, and laptops being what they are these days I can usually bring enough band by myself to sing with. Some things never change, though. It's largely the same process it always was no matter where the music is coming from. Squib thinks this is interesting and one other laundrette asked so here goes.

The sound check. This particular time it occurred before the dawn of time. 8 am. If you sing, time "dawns" at or after 10 am. I arrived at 8 am. No sound. So I sat on the stage and watched this. Later it will look like a Hobby Lobby exploded in there:
This is Christmas by Candlelight. It's a local event put on yearly right after Thanksgiving to raise money for charity. Each table is hosted and decorated by a woman and she invites guests, etc. I never officially attended until last year. I'm almost certain it's because most people are afraid of my reaction to being in a crowded room. But last year they stuck me by the doors to the kitchen--quick exit. This year, they put me by those big double doors in the upper left of the photo. I guess they sense my innate tendency to escape. But I swear on a stack of Bibles I actually stayed for the entire thing without hiding in the wings or the kitchen.

I did confuse the woman sitting next to me with someone else and did NOT remember that I met her last week. However, she's Drea la fae's mother in law, so she's very used to the weirdness and *I think* we smoothed that over. So much for my mad social skills. Right?

So back to the sound call. There I was with not much to do. Waiting. Here's the view from under my hat:

I didn't bring a book and the ladies going in and out were chatting with me as I attempted to hide behind my headphones and learn lyrics. So we chatted until Ross the Sound Bandit arrived and off-loaded his truck full of equipment and we started playing with the cable spaghetti:
Ross, like me, is not a sound man first, but a bassist. If you play an instrument that requires any sort of amplification, then inevitably you eventually become your own sound person. Usually out of self defense. Ditto for vocalists. There isn't a sound gig that goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars for all those late nights in the University of Houston's Physics department's Circuits labs. 7 pm to 10:55 pm four days a week for a year. What am I doing with it? Not a whole heck of a lot, but I can chase feedback and run sound.

Well, it is nice to be able to replace bad outlets and other electrical junk around your house. No electrician, etc.

During this whole sound thing--once we know things are physically hooked up right--we have to check my mic for all levels which is a fancy way of saying Ross walks all over the room to make sure I'm heard and fiddles with the equalizing nobs to tailor the sound output and effects....blah... then we do that again with the speaker's mic (only we didn't test the speaker's mic enough this time because *someone* was in a hurry and there were some shenanigans later).

So the sound check took and hour and a half which wasn't long at all. I came back to the venue earlier than the event was supposed to start. Rule #1: There is always a snag (Snag Rule). Rule #2: Something weird always happens (Glitch Rule). The snag was the ridiculous feedback from the speaker's mic when we turned the volume up high enough to hear. So, I drove like a crazy woman and *borrowed* a mic stand. Briefly. The woman who loaned me her key to get said stand took no coersion whatsoever in my little plot. I said "I need..." and she said, "I don't care. Just. Fix. It." Then she slapped her key in my hand. She was also slinging around plates of food and flinging them out the door like a pro.

And yes. Leopards have Christmas, too. Every table was decorated differently. Southwest. Traditional. White, blue, red, green, teal, pink, black, zebra print, you name it.

The glitch for the evening was the embarrassing part. My iPhone was doubling as the DJ for the evening. All the festive mood music was playing through it and then, after the door prizes were raffled off, my accompaniment track was on it. When I was done, I stopped it and made sure the ringer was turned off. It was. The bell with the slash through it showed up and everything. However...during the rang anyway when my friend Sherry sent a text to me to ask what the song I sang was called. You remember that table way, way, way, way back in the corner? That's how far I had to come to shut the silly thing up. Meanwhile it played the opening credits to the X-files. Oy.
So, the speaker is speaking--and she's really good--and I'm back in my seat with my phone. And I really hate to say this, but half the reason I never really sit still and stare at the person speaking is because I can't. I listened, but I was also eating (I never eat before I sing, so they saved my food for me). Then, I had my phone and was goofing around. I'm not putting all those weird pics in here. You're welcome.

Never take a picture staring down at your camera like this. It makes your incoming wrinkles look wrinklier and your face look puffy. At this point I did not care. I was trying to keep from wiggling.

This particular dinner was to benefit Angels in Action which is a group that supports cancer victims and their families and it operates through several churches in Texas. They make blankets for patients, send cards, make meals monthly (at minimum) and more often if need be. Also, lately, they have been able to help patients monetarily if they need money to finish payment on a round of treatment or a down payment to begin treatment...those are just examples. They are extremely busy as a group and have worked with us (my family) for years now since we seem to be collecting cancer like baseball cards. The woman slinging hash in the kitchen--in addition to owning/operating her own (I don't know what to call it) bed and breakfast minus the breakfast and catering is the leader of the local AIA group. She asked me to sing. She also suggested the song. The song makes me cry when I'm done (if I'm lucky) which is why I'm not wearing any make-up. The two times I rehearsed it at the venue and the two I reviewed it in my office (while sheet rock was being beaten off the walls) were enough to do me in. The one time in front of a crowd was a great run through and I had time on my hike back to my table to shake off the emotions. Sometimes in cases like that, I'll run through it when I get home and let whatever happens...happen. Especially in cases like this when I'll have to sing the song again a week from tonight.

They gave me a nametag in case I forgot who I was. Happens more than you might think.
They could mill around like that for hours. Meanwhile, I'm going to make off with half of the sound equipment.

It's amazing what fits inside my Dooney & Bourke drawstring bag! This is just one handful...
I am probably 20% more likely to do something weird or just plain stupid after singing than any other time. I have no idea why. I have to wind down and that takes time. Might as well amuse myself...right?
I know, not as exciting as it sounds.

Monday, December 3, 2012


This may only make sense if you've seen The Sixth Sense. So go watch it. It's a great movie.

We work with a lot of maps from time to time. Moreso in the past than recently, but we have a fair amount of maps on the walls of the office in the Mud Hut and a couple United States maps in the bedroom that I've used for various and sundry purposes (yes, for gaming too). And when I say we have a ton of map pins, I'm talking on the order of several gallons in three different colors. Things only a geophysicist would ask for. And 'older' geophysicist.

One afternoon, I left Squib taking a nap and went out to mow. We don't exactly live on one of those .25 acre sort of lots. So in order to mow all the mowable spots I have to get busy and mow for a consistent four to five hours. Even then I'm not always done. Downed branches, etc. Sometimes the POA property needs trimming, blah blah blah. So, I was out there a while. When Squib is done napping, what he usually does is slip on his crocs and run out and chase the tractor.

*Country children do not get mowed. Seriously.*

This time, though, he never came out. So I started to get worried. Worried and a little annoyed because at the time, the tractor had a clutch issue (we thought) and after you started it you couldn't stop it or it wouldn't engage the blades again until it was cooled down. That would take another day. I finally got to the "fine, dammit" point in my thought process and went into the office and it was like that scene in The Sixth Sense when the cabinet doors were all suddenly just open.

There were pins everywhere in everything. It was like they were sucked into the maps by some freakish poltergeist type of magnetism.

I swear he had a gallon of map pins stuck in all these places all over the maps and was standing at the head of my bed squinting at the map on the wall above it stabbing pins into spots as he chose them. I walked into the bedroom and stood there a minute and he turned around and smiled at me.

"Hi, Momma!"

"Hey." I looked at the map again. "Whatcha doin?"

"Oh! I'm deciding where I want to go and then when I go there I'll come home and pull the pin out!"

(Those are his !'s. He's an ! kind of kid).

" 'kay." I was wondering what Buddy would say about the holes, but you can't exactly go back on that one, so to heck with it, right? I did mention that his approach was 'interesting' because most people put pins in places they had already been to. His response was an immediate, "Why would you want to do that?"

No reason, I guess, not in this case.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Zombie Princess and the Tiger

Grandfather the Pushover decided to allow his youngest grandson to bring a car with him into church this morning. In an effort to maintain crowd control, I mustered all my brainses and said, "No rolling the car in church." More or less. I stared meaningfully at the Grandfather who gave me a "Well, duh" sort of face that I have since learned means "Be specific, Lady." Number two grandson responded by growling at me and I discovered he was a rather accomplished growler. Very menacing. Kinda rolled in the back of his throat. I knew he could hiss, but He proceeded to growl and gnash and swipe his dastardly claws throughout most of the service. After I did my thing, I went to sit down and a friend's daughter asked if she could sit with us and of course I said yes and so we sat in a happy little clump. A tiger, myself, and a zombie princess (that's my friend's daughter). Believe me, if she were suddenly a zombie princess she would be the happiest person on the face of the earth. Totally.

Which got me to thinking. Who in the heck am I in this little scheme? I sound like Mother Hubbard. "No rollin' yer car in church kiddies! And if ya set foot on mah lawn ahm gonna take a switch to yer hide and throw you all in hell mahself!" Right? And I'm sooooo not like that. In fact, I think if I saw myself I might beat me over the head sometimes and scream "Enhance your calm!!!!"

So I've figured out that I am really...


A ninja.

Can you tell? NO? It's my expert camouflage. I just look like someone's mother. It's the PERFECT disguise!

From henceforth you may address me as:
Madam Ninja

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Boys Stink

I'm a scientist. I have verifiably proven this to be fact. My house has become a petri dish of unholy stench. Now that the evidence has been gathered and repeated to verify my experimental findings (gee, thanks, I thought no one cared), I feel I am no longer compelled to endure the devastation.

Starting roughly a fortnight ago, Buddy decided to build a vanity sink out in the Mud Hut. I was ecstatic. So, he promptly turned off all our water. "All" being a loose term here because we really only had a toilet.

It's the country, y'all.
(We run over to the Big Red House for hygenic purposes. So, yes, there is a lot of running. A HECK of a LOT of running.)

So. The water gets turned off, so add toileting to the running. Which means that when it's cold outside at night and Squib crawls in my bed at 2 a.m. and whispers, "Mama! I can't hold it anymore!" That we are going to have to put on a heck of a lot of clothing for nightime and stumble through the darkness--which I quickly figured out doesn't work well unless you are, in fact, carrying the child--over to the Big Red House, do our thing, and then come back. He knows the way. He's not afraid of the dark at all. He goes over there in the dark all the time, but the doors do not shut themselves so I must go to shut all the doors and do the flushing. Thoroughly.

The door is, in fact, open right now, but Buddy left it open. See what I am up against here?

So. No water. No toilet. But, incoming sink. Yay!

Then Squib, in a fit of creative angst whilst sitting on my bed gets upset when the iPad crashes mid-writing exercise. It was a huge story, I tell you, and blast it all if it wasn't worth all his very life was built on. He bursts into tears, melts down completely, hops off the bed, lands on something Dr. Seuss must have placed there himself because Squib DID NOT do it, skids on the laminate flooring and totally demolishes the smaller of two tile tables on the far side of the bed. Everything flies everywhere.

He cries. Everybody cries. I almost cry because, apparently, the only way to put in a sink was to take everything I own and shift it all one space to the left after taking the refrigerator and the freezer into the other room and moving the chairs and sofa to a completely different spot. So I'm trying to clean up Squib's mess in the middle of what looks like something a tornado created. So I literally swept it all into a corner, bagged it, and we went to bed.

The smell woke me up. Oh my merciful pea-pickin' heart what a stench.

Simultaneous to this new smell we had discovered, Buddy decided it was a good time to remove the toilet and start working on tiling the bathroom floor. If you haven't ever removed a toilet that has been in use, then you have never lived. This is all captive in a building roughly twice the size of a two car garage. I started to wonder if I was going to keep my breakfast down while working to find the first smell.

That was when Buddy said something along the lines of "Oh crap." Only not.

And we discover that the wall of the Mud Hut wasn't really attached to the flooring and the flooding we'd experienced was due to the fact that you could see daylight between the two. So, he tore about two feet of sheetrock out of the bathroom. The wall behind it was covered with mold and mildew.

Enter the third smell.

Exit Scat for a few minutes. Because, really, I'd had about all I could take right then and not a single male in the family seemed to think anything was wrong back there at all. Not a bit. Except for Squib who had run out of Scotch tape. He was bothered by that.

So I opened the doors to, hopefully, get a breeze or something--anything--moving through the house and went back in to investigate the disaster near the bed and recover from Squibs side a pair of camouflage pants underneath the bed that had absorbed a cup of milk someone had so generously given Squib. He had spilled it during the app crash from hell and somehow in this rubble of personal crapola, I did not notice. Phew!

I can't possibly make this stuff up.

Friday, November 30, 2012

We Should Be Thankful

1. Elastic shoestrings. Lazy? Possibly. Avoiding yet another hair-pulling exercise with the boys? Definitely.

2. Squib’s creativity. His kind of creative has to be cleaned up with a rake. But I love the end product.

3. Squib’s heart (not the physical one, though I’m plenty glad we got that straightened out). That kid thinks of everyone. If I end up being half the person he is I’ll be proud of myself.

4. Beanstalk’s practical jokes. Especially Chair Stealing and Noodle Boy.

5. The retractable cord on the vacuum.

6. The sound of a giant tree hitting the ground. You must fell giant conifer. What a high.

7. An old dependable truck. Yes, I really do love Whitey. *sigh* Just don’t tell him. It would go to his head and he’d stop running long enough to require some $200 thing-a-ma-jig and he’s not getting it!

8. Friends that are stark-raving nutz for the same reasons I am. No names. Protecting the innocent here. (blahahahaha)

9. Thunderstorms.

10. Benedryl. Beware children and dogs who wend their way about these parts. We like our sleep. Kidding, really. Not about the dog part, though.

11. Tea. Everything gets a little better, easier, and/or calmer with tea. Chai tea latte? Even better. Chai tea latte with Drea la Fea? The best…mostly because we are the bats in our own belfry.

12. iDevices. I’d sooner not have my brain.

13. Music. It’s like breathing. If I don’t have it, then I start to die from the inside out.

14. Self-control. I have way more than you think. WAY more.

15. Boots. Almost any kind at all.

16. Quiet. I realize I just said I am a music-aholic. And I like it loud! But, music isn’t ‘noise.’ I do love quiet when I can get it,

17. People in general. They do make life interesting.

18. My bed.

19. Movies.

20. Lindt truffles.

21. Tokyo. Yes, I am being specific. I am thankful for the entire city. Inakaya being my favorite restaurant…I think.

22. Fountains. All fountains. I don’t know if anyone else has ever planned a trip around fountains before, but they should. I would totally go with them.

23. Water in general. Lakes, streams, creeks, rivers, but especially oceans. And, no, that warning to “just get your feet wet” never worked with me.

24. Strawberry Margarita’s at El Bosque. Great place to avoid on your birthday (note to self).

25. Now, I’m really serious about this. Seriously! So, no laughing at me. Laugh with me all you want. You know that thirty second bit of the Avengers when The Hulk beats the crap out of Loki bouncing him all over Stark tower? I call it the “puny god” bit. For whatever reason, I find that section hysterically funny. Squib does too. He’s the one who was so excited to show it to me. So we run it back a couple times giggling like idiots. Then we’re laughing too hard at each other to stop. We have no idea why. For the record, Beanstalk laughs there, too, but then he looks at us like, “What. Is. Wrong. With. You. Guys????” We already know we are the uncouth masses who generally do not prefer opera.

26. I’m very thankful for this weird little town I live in. Regardless of how many things I’m still adjusting to (like no Starbuck’s or Dunkin’s within a 45 min drive—eek!). Where else on the planet can you meet just about everyone you know at the Baptist church on a Sunday morning, do some serious dancing (that’s mostly me and all the grade school kids), talk to a friend in the parking lot and get interrupted by a woman running hell-bent with a giant oil painting while waiting for a former student to give you a chicken for your dad? And it’s not even 10 a.m. yet!

27. Dr. Pepper.

28. Sunday afternoon naps.

29. Sashimi.

30. On the flipside of my “real” people contact, I’m really thankful for my internet friends (you know who you are, you “fake” people, you ;). I’ve met some genuinely interesting folks. Fun, witty, varied, all ages, all types of experience. Some have kids like mine. Some have interests like mine, and others are just plain crazy.


Thursday, November 29, 2012


Baba doesn't remember Crackers the deer. Nevermind that we used to talk about him around the breakfast table. Over a year ago he returned. She adamantly insists that she's never heard of such an animal or his proclivity for vending machine crackers. As memories go, that's a mid-term one. Honestly, I'd expect her still to remember it. But no. She doesn't even remember that he used to come in the back door as a faun and sit next to Beanstalk and watch TV. Swears we never told her.

Death I have no issue with. You leave this world for the next. Instantaneous. Dying, however, slowly robs you of all you ever were and leaves behind confusion, doubt, and even anger.Why doesn't she remember? Because, obviously, I never told her about it! Which isn't actually true, but it's her mind's most obvious conclusion. So, like a boat that's slipped its moorings she seems to be drifting slowly from shore. In a crazy wig.

Just today there was yet another debate (initiated by Baba) over whether it was time to just let her die or continue her treatments for multiple myeloma. She forgets that stopping treatments means she'll likely feel worst almost immediately and maybe for a long time. So, she revisits the topic. It's her decision, in the end, but of course we don't wish the worst on her and must explain.

Papa retained his sharp mind almost until his last day with us. Granted, at times, he was reminiscing about things scientific that we could not comprehend. However, he always had a grasp on the concept of palliative treatment and knew why he had to continue on the course he was on. All this Baba lacks. She was always the spontaneous one with ideas out of left field anyway. Heck, right now she's sitting there with double-sided sticky tape holding her wig in place. Ouch.

I'm not going to say it isn't fair or that this shoudn't happen to good people. Just that it really, and truly, stinks. And I do agree that once all things come to a close, the more at rest we'll all be--at least with regard to Baba's peace of mind. But what an interesting road this is turning out to be.

It is what it is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Barking Mad

We have a bit of a tense relationship with the of one of the streets we have to drive on to get out of the subdividision. They like the speed limit on their street to be 20 mph. They also like their speed bumps. They have a tendency to get, um, militant about it. A couple of months ago, the roads were all resurfaced so they are now all loose gravel instead of asphalt (I don't see the improvement there, either, but then again I don't give a flip what the POA reeeely does). Oh, if you are extremely wealthy and live on 'that' street you have a lovely asphalt road in front of your house as well as the contract to resurface it. Go figure. With the resurfacing, the speed bumps disappeared, so I felt like someone got their money's worth. Speed bumps were my only sticking point, really. With a civic that has an air dam four inches off the ground, speed bumps are from hell.

So, one night, Dad and I are returning from...somewhere, not important enough to remember, right? A posse had gotten together to meet us. To be quite frank, sometimes we speed and sometimes we don't. Usually we don't. If we speed, then we're talking a max of 25 because the civic has a decent idle there and we aren't riding the brakes (which annoys the hell out of me). In my truck, staying under 20 is no problem unless you're going down hills. That's not the case here. In the van, 20-25 is easy to maintain, but right at 20? It really depends on the day. None of these folks except one have kids--at least not the under eighteen sort--despite the children at play sign. And the ones that do aren't even really on that street and believe it or not...we can see kids and dogs and humans and have yet in our sordid history to hit one. Nevertheless, they were there on the side of the road talking, we thought, then this guy jumped out in front of us. Now that was scary. He and dad exchanged words. We drove on.

Then two things happened. The next day a Constable showed up to talk to us. He basically said he had to because the lady on the corner had called and that the whole street was paranoid and a bunch of stuff we already knew. He was nice and moved on about his day.

And....the lady on the corner lost her mind.

For five (almost six years) she's always walked her dog into the grass and smiled in a neighborly fashion when I drove past. I wave. She waves. We smile. I go on about my business. But now? Now she does this Vivienne Leigh thing with gasp of mortal dread she yanks the dog by the neck and it lands, barking, in the yard. Then, I kid you not, she starts a dog. For effect, she makes her free hand "bark" also and tosses her head from side to side and wiggles her hips a bit.

Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Thanksgiving has come and gone. Hallelujah! All I'm going to say about that is that in the grand scheme of things...we lived. However, as a non-stereotypical person in a non-stereotypical family I did almost unwind a few times in a few directions that would have ended badly.

Squib is not fond of dogs. Sooo not fond of dogs that he stayed--literally--nestled under my armpit for three days in the dead center of the sofa. They came in. He would try to go out. And vice versa. The true death knell to Squib's dog experience, though, was when one of the dog's picked up his shoe in her mouth and (supposedly) 'showed it to us.' Then, I had to chase her, and tug back and forth to get it back. His eyes were big and round and later he asked where to put his shoes so no dog ever got it and I suggested Venus. He gave me an appropriately quelling look and stalked off to hide them himself. The kid used to sleep in his shoes until not so long ago, so the shoes are a wee tad important to him. A little bit of fabric was torn and he was worried, etc. When you only have one pair of shoes you tend to guard them with your life, so he wasn't the only person staring at those shoes going, "Oh crap!!"

Same day, later on, I was pinned to the sofa with Squib 'helping' me (looking all the while like a moppet) play Tera when it was deemed that I "couldn't do this, it's a man's job." The remark was referring to some of the jacking up that the Mud Hut needed. First, I was extreeeeeemly tired. Last to sleep, first to wake and I don't work well that way. Second, the person commenting doesn't even know me. Third, well third thing is I was back on the sofa and dealing with us homeless garage monkeys who thought being in the Hut meant...being in the Hut.

A man's job??!?? Same man that has been helping to fell trees and cut them up and roll logs (big logs!!) onto really hot fires kind of man's job?? It isn't as though anyone is going to pick the house up with their bare hands. No. I did not say that out loud. Or anything about the pains of childbirth or crap like that. The birthing pains thing didn't even occur to me, though I don't know why not since Beanstalk took out a few ribs on his way into this world as the anesthesiologist mumbled something about not being able to block pain above a certain height. Gee, thanks. No. I sat there somewhat surprised that I even cared. Wondered a little what my ever-stinking problem was. If someone else wants to do it, then I'm fine with that!!

So, what do women do? And where can I go to do that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Short Version

The Office/Kitchen Part I are in the "garage" on the original slab. I like slabs. A lot. The Bedroom/Bathroom/Shower-Bath-To-Be are in the "shop" which is attached to the garage, but up on piers. Thus containeth the Mud Hut.


Only it's NOT attached. As in, I took a ruler and poked it out the back wall behind my bed tonight when I finally had it with all the fracking spiders and the sound of the air conditioner that sounded like it was right under my bed. Because it is. The walls are not attached to the floor. Say it twice. Roll it around in your mouth. Think about camping without a tent. Just two tarps that you can't connect to keep things out. FOR YEARS. Enjoy.

We already jacked up one small portion behind the toilet because...let's just say we saw daylight. That's where all the water was coming from when it rained. We think.

So, when I say I hear "something"....


As for the war on bugs, spiders, and other crawling, slitherty things. Come on in and eat me.

I officially hereby tender my resignation with regard to creature elimination responsibilities. I cannot exterminate the biosphere. Well, I could. I'd just end up in prison...where they have walls attached to the floor (that sounds...oh my...).


There will be vacuuming. On Mondays.


Friday, November 16, 2012

A Brisk Morning in Boise

That's where Amazon Local Deals thinks I am. Every time I log on to check my email there's a new Amazon Local Deal to be taken advantage of. In Boise. This morning it was a riding lesson for two. In Boise. Go figure.

Facebook thinks I'm in Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo. I had everything to do with that. That and my birthplace of Zurich, Switzerland. Believe me, it's no better telling them where I actually live because you only get so far down the state road until all satellites dump you off into the middle of nowhere.

I had to argue with a UPS driver once who was in full view of a well-mark road and swear on somebody's grave that the road actually did go somewhere. It wasn't on his GPS device, but it was there physically. So unless it appeared on his GPS he was NOT going down that road. Period.

All this is to say that I ordered something from Amazon a couple of days ago and UPS quickly shot me an email to say that the products are undeliverable as the address I possess is inaccessible.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

What A Wonderful Smell You've Discovered!

No, I've not landed in the garbage chute. But I'm not certain that would smell and worse.

We're finishing up the remodeling of the Mud Hut. Squib named it. Not me. In the course of doing so, we had to **of course** remove the toilet to put in the flooring. I was prepared for the, um, the stench. However, we discovered that the sewage pipe from the toilet wasn't vertical. It was running at more like forty-five degrees. Not only that, it didn't fully match up with the opening with the toilet. No wonder there's a "toil" in our toilet. I've been saying it for a while now, but this is unbelievable.


We've been rectifying matters. (Get it? Blahaaha. I'm sorry. Really. Only not.) And oh my goodness is it ever stinky in here. The force of a thousand wild cherry candles is nothing compared to this.


In the process of things we got a good look under the baseboards since we intend to lay tile and lo-and-behold the Mud Hut "ain't even 'tached to da flo" to put it in my best mild East Texan. That was exactly what a builder friend said when he came over to consult on what was snowballing into a major building effort. In other words, you could see daylight between the wall and the floor. And rain could just waltz into my bathroom from out-of-doors. And it has been for some time.

Please let's not discuss the sheetrock and wall board that have since exited the building.

So, in short, we had to dig a hole under the back of the Mud Hut--which is settling--and pour a huge concrete pad. Wait for it to dry and jack up that portion of the Hut. Good thing we bought those 12-ton jacks, no? I balked at the purchase, myself, but hey--I'm not the head jacker around here.

Now we can put the flooring down. And theeeennn....we have to take the wall apart even further down and deal with all the moldy junk. Yay.

Remodeling is not for sissies.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Once A Chemist...

It's no lie. True chemists LOVE to make things 'from scratch' as many are fond of saying. I can't adequately describe it to the non-chemist faction of Green Acres, but there is something inspiring about gathering ingredients and thermometers and watching pots and hovering over ovens. Ovens especially need hovering over--why that is escapes me, but usually if someone is going to ferret with your product it's during the time it's in the oven. Anyway, the process rejuvenates me. I feel that mad scientist vibe again and I love it.

It's fair to say that I haven't actually been in a "real" chemistry lab for a while. I assert, however, that every kitchen is a "real" chemistry lab if you know what you're doing (and sometimes even if you don't). And between kitchens and that thing we call a shop under the Big Red House I have been moderately happy. But...

Now I'm approaching seriously almost hopping up and down with glee. The inhabitants of Green Acres have acquiesced. They are going to let me use my mad skillz to produce much of what we have been spending (wasting) our dollars on around here. Because, let's face it, if you buy it and it has a label on it you can probably make it yourself with easily obtained chemicals. Dish washing soap, laundry soap, other soaps, ant traps (not kidding), candles, etc.

So I sent Buddy off with a different sort of shopping list today. He looked at me a little warily after reading some of the ingredients, but he took the list nonetheless. He probably agreed because I told him I could make laundry soap for a year for what we're paying monthly. Chemistry be damned. Who cares!

Color me chemically happy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's Electrifying!

No. We are not, in fact, staging a revival of Grease.

I am sitting here attempting to choreograph a version of Silent Night for the Hanging of the Green and the upcoming Nativity play as well as ferret out some other musical nonsense. Meanwhile, Buddy is attempting to right all the plumbing necessary to complete phase two of the remodeling of the Mud Hut's bathroom.

The Mud Hut. That's what we've decided to call our little apartment out here. It isn't really little, but who cares, right?

So...I was sitting here working on some PowerPoint junk and thinking choreography when I hear the fatal words.

"Oh, crap."

Then buddy emerges from that unfinished portion of the room we generously call the "shower" with blood dripping down his forehead and asks for a flashlight. I gently remind him that he's slowly been raiding my tool table and that no such device resides there any longer (I take almost all the strength I have and stifle the urge to mention the tape measure, multimeter, screwdrivers, and electrical tape that have also 'vacated the premises'). Then he divulges the fact that he thinks he's drilled through an electrical wire and severed it.


File that under "Things I Am Better Off Not Knowing After-The-Fact."

Generally, it is my job to hover about Buddy's shoulders and contribute to the construction discussion with helpful hints such as, "That looks like romex back in there." or "Hang on while I turn the breaker off to this part of the house." But that generally spoils the overall point of these exercises which is to accidentally die of unnatural causes.

However, this isn't really like when I was being yanked backwards by a tree that definitely did NOT want to fall in the direction it was cut to fall. In that case we made every effort to fell the tree in the direction we wanted it to. It just had other ideas in its head. Diametrically opposed to our thoughts, that sucker yanked me and my truck backwards like a yo-yo on a string instead of an SUV on a cable.

Drilling into a wire, though? You pretty much have to do that as close to on purpose as it gets without actually targeting it.

Squib ran through the Mud Hut last night screaming, "We are all going to dieeee!!!"

Maybe he's onto something.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Money is tight around here. So tight, in fact, that I've been stalking every store I could imagine for a huge set of markers at bargain-basement prices. Squib NEEDS them. Like air. I finally found a 24-piece set for $2. Now I shall hover over him like a deatheater threatening to suck the life out of him if the caps are not replaced before each marker touches the table and before another marker is opened. Each. And. Every. Time.

He also requested a journal. How can I possibly deny him that? Obviously I cannot. Thankfully they were on sale as well. He now has new theme book with a silver, glittery cover just like Lewis on Meet the Robinsons.

But I spent four whole dollars! EEK!

So I left them in the sack for a while so as not to feel like I was truly committed to the purchase or anything like that. I did skip lunch while I was out. That was my rationale at the time. Sorta.

It isn't so bad around here that we're starving or turning off the AC/heat or anything. We are counting our change out of the money jars on occasion. Well, one occasion. That particular occasion seemed to convince people that I was not necessarily keeping track of the money we had just for giggles, snorts, and boredom and that, perhaps, they should check to see if we actually had money in the bank before trying to spend it. After all, getting gas with quarters is a sight to behold these days. As is a trip to Walmart.

Not everyone here at Green Acres finds our bookkeeping and budgeting shall I say this...copacetic. Some don't want to have to consult with anyone (or anything) before spending money. At all. Color me baffled there. What if you don't have the money? What if you need it for something else you want food? Since I have been doing the books for a while and/or helping Papa Scat do them, I know he got around that by keeping a huge cushion in the checking account. I now officially understand why he started to panic when the balance started to approach the cushion amount.

Others are just panicking about whether or not their budget items are being considered. As though we're just not going to include them in our accounting? At all. Ever. Good-bye. Nice knowing you. (Seriously??!?) an effort to prevent terror from reigning across the earth we have to conduct most of the Green Acres Finance Committee business on the porch of the "Big Red House" or in hushed tones in the living room. Meetings are unannounced and conducted while standing. It works sort of like this:

Me: Um, we have $mffthpth.00 in the bank right now and we owe *&^*@#!!,  ^%&^##, and @$4%#!!!

Buddy: (Staring. His thinking face is mouth slightly slack and left eyebrow down and right eyebrow

Me: How do you want to pay for those? You wanted to pay for @$4%#!!! out of Mkmomk, but what about ^%&^##? It's kinda big, too.

This is the part where we stare at each other. It's been proven that staring at each other does NOT generate revenue.

Buddy: (Sighing) Pay for *&^*@#!! and ^%&^## out of Nghgnhg and @$4%#!!! out of Mkmomk. But, wow, we have to watch the balance on Mkmomk really, really closely.

Me: Oh, I'm watching it. (Go off the deep end.)

(There is some eye rolling here on our parts.)

Then, we observe a moment of silence. This is unofficial. We have nothing left to say, but when you know there are things coming down the pike that you have no idea how to handle or even discuss there is sometimes just a weight in the air. In your mind. When you're with someone who is also aware of it you sometimes stand there and inadvertently observe it for a few seconds before you realize you are doing all you can. Then you shake it off and move on. Thus endeth this meeting of the GAFC.

Beanstalk, unlike Squib, is harder to stalk for. His tastes run toward the musical and theatrical. He also breaks out in hives if you bring school (looking) supplies near him after 3:00pm. Just try and find some bargain basement opera. G'head. Go. Look. I did find some cheap-er Andrea Bocceli, but the Bean was not so thrilled with the concert in Tuscany. How was I to know that Andrea chose that particular night to get a little more modern with his sound??! The concert was barely started when Beanstalk was on his feet digging in my back pack (from whence cometh all DVDs, ya know) looking for something--anything--else. It was NOT a good day.

But, perhaps, all is not lost. Or maybe things have taken a turn for the worst. The opera purist has developed a new habit. That's right. The kid who won't listen to music unless it's sung with an earth-shattering vibrato in a language other than English has a new fave. You will never guess this one in a million years, so I'll just have to hit you over the head with it.

Eydie Gorme.

No. Not joking. Why would I even kid around about this? How did his tastes even get there from here? Easy listening muzak. Was it all those rides in hospital elevators? Possible. Very, very possible. Even I had a close encounter with The Girl From Ipanema.

I didn't exactly want to download Andrea Bocceli onto my iTunes because it wasn't my sort of music. I still felt like it was, more-or-less, worth the money but I did balk. Eydie Gorme, however is crossing some sort of line into the realm of ridiculous things to buy a ten year old. At least in my mind. The rational, mommying portion of my brain that knows he's incredibly special and a gifted musician and definitely not like other kids says to spring for the muzzz...yyyeeeahh I can't even type it.

And, Eydie, if by some quirk you read this--nothing personal--not my genre. I had a breif *thing* with Bert Kaempfert's music when I was somewhere around Squib's age and 8-tracks were king. However, my parents were deeply at fault there. And it passed. My son, however, luuuuvs ewe. But, in short, I can't see myself being his dealer for this particular habit.

At least she sings in English. Mostly.