Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Here's one of my favorite Dalai Lama quotes to ponder while I'm off cleaning:
"If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever." --Dalai Lama
Isn't that grand? Hmmm.....so true.
Have a worry-free day, my friends.
Monday, March 30, 2009
But, he hates that pink poodle. HATES it. Beats the bajeepers out of it at every chance he gets. He grabs it by the neck and drags it under Em's bed to his secret lair. I'm not quite sure what he does with that poor thing under her bed, and I don't think I want to know--I just know it ends up there.
Every so often he can be seen biting the pink poodle by the neck, rabbit-kicking the hell out of it. He makes leaping attacks from across the room and angrily pounces on the helpless stuffed toy. I don't know why he hates this thing so bad, he just does.
I'm kinda like that with Monday's. So the sun may be shining and the week is starting off fresh--I just have attititude on Monday. I don't want to get up early. I don't want to answer to my clock alarm. I don't want to dress up nice for work or drive anyone anywhere. I don't want to work. I don't want to pick up Em. I don't want to make supper or do laundry. Monday just stinks.
You'd think the beginning of the week would be bright and full of promise. Starting the week off fresh and having a positive outlook and all that jazz. Nope. Not me. I don't like Mondays, as my fav tune goes. But I'm not shooootting the .... whole.... day...... down--I'm not that hateful. I just am grumpy for most of the day, that's all.
I'm not up for this Monday either. It snowed--big snow, heavy snow yesterday. My newspaper sat IN the curb, full of soggy wet snow, and I had to put on boots to go get it in my jammies. Ugh. It was cold and I actually had to put on my winter coat again to go shopping. I was discouraged, needless to say--Spring had peeked in for a few days and now? Gone. Ugh.
Now I face Monday, grumpy from the weekend, tired of the cold, and there is something wrong with my car that prohibits the heater from heating the beast up. Great. Now that I'm working there is no time to get it fixed and I'll be freezing all the way to work....all week. Sigh.
Grump. Grump. Grump. I have come to the conclusion that Mondays are the Pink Poodles of the week. I don't care how "cute" they are, how they just sit there doing nothing harmless to anyone--it is that they are just there. And I hate them for that.
If I could, I would rabbit-kick it all the way to Tuesday.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
We stayed at Jack's house when I was in Florida and the little guy was in his glory, snuggling with all the girls, sucking up the love. He'd pop from one lap into another, schmoozing us with cuddles and sweet little conversations. I made him some burnt pancakes, Fain made him grits, and Tammy cut up his fruit. He had 6 moms there--all who competed for his attention.
Time came, though, when we were off for the day, heading out for adventures. Poor Jack was stuck to his daily routine, Cheri thinking it best that he go to daycare while we ran about town. Yeah, what we were doing was no place for a little guy and it was best that he stayed in his routine, but he wanted no part of that plan. He looked so sad at the news that he was not going with us that day.
As he sat eating his scorched pancakes, we all tried to encourage him and make it seem like whatever we were doing was not going to be fun. He pushed his fruit around the plate, trying his best to schmooze Mom into taking him with us. She was steadfast in her insistence--Jack was going to school.
"Will you take me to school, Uncle Fain?" Jack asks Fain sweetly. "Pleeeassse?" he was trying to drag those last minutes out with us.
Of course she will. Fain gets out her napkin map to the daycare that Cheri drew the day before.
And then he turns to me.
"Lin, will you take me to school too?" Aw, who could resist such sweetness? I fill my coffee mug, grab my coat, and get ready.
So, Uncle Fain pops into the driver's seat, I put Jack in his carseat, and I plop down next to Jack in the back. He requested a pally in the backseat, so he and I look like we are being chauffeured to the daycare center. We chat the whole way, Fain gets lost once and we have to turn around at Jack's insistence. We talk of the day before, what we are going to do after school, and about his friends at school. He was so sad going that day and I felt like a traitor driving him to school while we were going out for fun.
Jack's school was one of this ultra-elite, super cool, kids-love-it, kinda preschool centers. A huge building, brand new, colorful, and sparkling clean--it was impressive to say the least. Since I stayed home with my kids, I had never experienced this sort of daycare facility. It was incredibly nice--teachers talking gently to one guy taking his coat off, another reading a book to her class, and the kitchen staff cutting fruit for the morning snack. It was quiet and not at all what I expected a daycare place to be. If Jack didn't want to stay, I did--it looked like fun.
We get buzzed in, and Jack, Fain, and I are greeted by the front desk lady.
"Good morning, Jack" she says to us. "Put your carseat in the closet" and she hands him a post-it with his name on it.
He knows the drill--put the post-it on your carseat, put the carseat in the closet by the door, hang up your coat, go to your classroom. I stood there watching this little guy with my mouth wide open. If someone handed my 17 year-old a post-it with his name on it, I think he'd stand there wondering what to do with it. To watch this little guy take responsibility for his things was something, I was in awe. He was like a little man going to work--all business, doing the drill.
Before Jack grabs the post-it, the smiling lady says to him "Well, Jack, who do you have with you today?" She knew Fain from visits before, but she wasn't sure who I was. Jack didn't answer as he was a little busy taking care of things and was a bit grumpy at the prospect of us leaving.
He didn't answer so I did. "Oh, I'm Aunt Lin, " I say pointing to me, "and this is Uncle Fain" and I point to Fain.
So, the woman kinda looked at us weird, the smiled dropped from her face and confusion replaced it at the thought that we were two women, one named "Aunt" and the other "Uncle". She didn't want to ask, but she was clearly freaked out.
"Uh, Jack, honey....why don't you show them your classroom" was all she could get out of her mouth.
I'm cracking up and Fain is walking through like it's everyday that somebody refers to her as their uncle. She cracks me up. Jack was oblivious and was leading us through the maze of Lysol-ed classrooms. Me--I was dying. Cracking up that we totally mortified that poor woman at the desk. I'll bet she's still wondering what was up with us.
So, as we tell the "Uncle Fain and Aunt Lin Go to Daycare" story, everyone thinks it's funny, except for Cheri.
"Great. Now my kid is going to need therapy" she's half laughing, half not. "And I've got to show my face in there next week?!"
And Jack? He had no idea how wacky that was. Nope. He was just excited that Aunt Lin and Uncle Fain took him to school.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Five years ago, we dug the original pond which was really a glorified spittoon. It was only 3 x 6 or something puny like that and we quickly decided that it needed to be bigger and more maintenance free. So, I think it was three years ago that we enlarged the thing to 8 X 8 and added a waterfall and skimmer for ease of care. Yeah, ease of CARE--not ease of installation. That nearly killed us.
The digging of the pond isn't the problem--it is the hauling of the heavy liner and the tons of flagstone and boulders that form the ledge and the waterfall that nearly did us in. I think I walked hunched over for over 3 weeks later. Oh, man, that was nasty. And the thought of revisiting that job makes me want to run for the hills.
Everytime I go to the garden center and I hear some fool telling the pond guy "Oh, we'd love to have a pond....." I want to smack them upside the head. "Don't do it!" I want to scream. Not because it isn't lovely or that it isn't the best thing we've ever done to the house--nope. It's just that you will constantly want it larger. Even if you dig it to be bigger than you ever imagined, it still isn't large enough and you'll be out there in a few years, making it bigger and better.
I like the size of our pond (for now) it is just that the waterfall and all the twabillion heavy boulders that support it's ledges have shifted and needs to be re-stacked. I keep blaming the mild earthquake we had last spring for the tumbling rocks, but I think it had settled a bit over the years as well. So, our beautiful 3 ledged waterfall looks all crookety and stupid. It also causes the water to fall in the wrong direction and leak out the back and sides, which is not so lovely to watch.
So, as much as we dread it, Joe and I have agreed that we have to rebuild the darned thing. I haven't told Colin yet, but he's in too. Oh, and I haven't told my back we're doing this yet either. Somehow, between Colin and my back, I think I'll have the most problems convincing my back to cooperate. But I have a doctor's note to be careful and not to participate too much--I had hernia surgery in January and I don't think it in my best interest to haul rocks like a pack mule just yet.
It's not the moving of the rocks that kill, it's the adjusting, turning, and re-adjusting of this rock and that rock to get it "just right". Joe will be permanently stuck in the "number 7" position moving this one and that one, while I stand there pointing, going "No! Not there....there!" He loves that part.
He wants to drain the pond to accomplish this demo, but I thought of the poor frogs who will freak out, and bought him some waders instead. So, Joe will be looking like a complete dork while he is doing his "number 7" imitation and lifting 8 tons of heavy rocks over and over again. He's thrilled.
I'm like the frog, hunkering down and settling in to get lots of things done both at work and home. It doesn't look like he's busy, but this frog is swamped (pardon the pun) doing what frogs do on a busy day--sunbathing and waiting for a helpless bug or bird to stop by for a drink. He looks calm, cool, collected, but deep inside he's ready for action. Me too.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I finally gave in to his "follow up" request and went in the other day. His office is located in a few towns over and I begrudgingly made the trek. Thank goodness this doctor is cute as pie or I would have completely blown him off--post-op checkup or no post-op checkup. I feel fine, the scar looks fine--I mean, what are we going to talk about? Time is money, dude, and I don't feel like wasting either by another doctor's appointment.
As I walk in, I see there is already a line that resembles the one at The Walmart phamacy--which translates to mean that there are some weird-looking folks standing there, and lots of 'em. I'm not going into too much detail because I know I'm gonna offend someone with my descriptions--let's just say you don't usually see these kinda folks with their teeth in and clothes other than pajamas on in public. I suck it up, sigh, and stand in line behind a few odd folks.
This medical center has a ton of doctors of every specialty that work here, so everyone has to go to the initial front desk to get your paperwork. There are two windows available and one line in which to stand. The idea is to stand in a single line and approach one of the two windows as one opens up. It is a tiny vestibule, and the line sort of takes over the place and you have a lot of "excuse me's" and peeps moving to get out of the way of those trying to pass by. It's not a good system if you have , say, more than 5 people in line.
So, I'm slowly (emphasis on "slowly") moving up in this snail's pace of a line, when some granny comes walking in. We all stand there with our mouths hanging open as Granny goes doopty-dooing right past the line and walks right up to one of the windows. Okay, she actually goes and lines up behind one of the peeps talking at the window, like "Okay, I'm #2" and "I don't know what the hell that line is for, but I'm not standing there."
Completely oblivious to my I-don't-even-believe-you glare to her shriveled up back, Granny is serious about cutting in front of about 10 of us waiting in line!
"Uh, are we not standing here in line?" I'm asking the girl in front of me, kinda loudly so Granny gets a clue.
And she doesn't say a thing. Nope. Not a peep. And neither does any of the mutants behind me. Apparently the dentist must be overbooked today, because everyone in my line apparently cannot open their mouths if their lives depended on it. They all stood there just looking at Balls Galore Granny.
Well, I was having none of this. No way. Granny was going down. There is no way in hell I was going to stand there and let some old bag cut in front of all of us just because it was 3:07 and she had dinner plans in 15 minutes.
So, I huffed and puffed and I wanted to blow her Granny house down, but she was not getting the subtle hints. No amount of "ahems" and "excuse me's" were working on this old broad--she was a gutsy one alright. And these sheeple were standing there, nobody backing me up, nobody saying a thing.
I finally lost my cool and I said politely (and loudly) "M'am, there is a line back here."
And she did one of these "Who? Me?" kinda gestures with her hand. Like I was gonna let her get away with it.
"Yes, m'am. We are ALL standing in line."
Now Granny gets her undies in a bunch and gets attitude. "Well, why isn't anyone standing behind these people at the windows?" She's all huffy.
"Because they need privacy at the windows. You have to stand back until someone is finished, THEN you step up." I'm trying to be nice, but her little "Oh, I must be confused" thing ain't working on me. I've got a mom who pulls this Granny crap all the time and I'm full aware of the game. Oh no, sister. You are BUSTED. Back of the line, old lady. You got nothin' but time, so wait like the rest of us.
But I didn't say that. Nope. I was "nice".
She was miffed, I tell you. Miffed! She mumbled and grumbled back behind the last peep in line. I didn't really listen because she was just making a scene because she couldn't be first --like a kindergartner. Sucks to wait, doesn't it?
And at no time did I ever receive back-up from the crowd. Nope. No siree. They would have stood there mute, losing their place in line to some ballsy dame, like a bunch of sheep with no brains. Nobody said "thank you" or "Yeah!" or "Move it, lady!" or anything fun like that. They all just stared ahead with that vacant "We're all gonna be Soilent Green" looks on their faces.
After some tense moments, one of the Window Ladies popped her head through after hearing the commotion, and yelled "It's one line. When the window is vacant, you may step up!" It was all very communist sounding, but I felt some reprieve. Thank you, Window Lady for the back-up. Finally.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Em's always up for a challenge and she usually delivers. She's willing to try new things for the sheer fun of it, making comments, and cracking up the whole time. Unlike her peers, Em is willing to put herself out there, trying to help out the band wherever needed, and possibly make a fool of herself. Last year, even though she has first chair in flutes, she filled in last minute on the cymbals. AND won a special recognition from the judges for the effort.
I love that kid's spunk, her willingness to jump in wherever needed, and to try something new. I admire her spirit and her sense of humor through it all--I wish I was so put together in middle school. I'm anxious to see her in high school and beyond, to see what she can accomplish.
So, we sat in the stands, Joe and I doing the "wave" with just the two of us, cracking up at Em standing in front of the bass drum. She killed it--the band scored a "Superior"--whatever that means. I couldn't have been more proud of my goof-ball.
On another note: For all of you Illinois bloggers--if you get the opportunity, watch for the 144th Illinois Army National Guard Showband to visit your area, probably at a local high school. We saw them tonight and they are incredible!!! A fun evening of rockin' jazz tunes and a fabulous show that will make you clap, sing, laugh, and want to dance. I would highly recommend you watching for them (I think they were heading for Sullivan, IL tonight and Addison, IL soon), as it was completely free and FABULOUS!!! It is a "do not miss"!!! Not the uniformed concert you'd expect it to be. Let me know if you go.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Joe drives me over to LaundryLand and helps me stuff those comforters into the machines. We load up on soap and fabric softener, stuff a cazillion quarters into the machines, and he heads home to start. I settle in on the uncomfortable plastic chair mounted to the wall and try to read the book I brought. I settle in for the long haul, because you never know how long your visit to the laundromat is going to take.
I'm initially disappointed that the place is empty, but I'm soon wondering why on earth a laundromat would be deserted on a Saturday morning. I'm thinking that would be the busiest time of all--but no, this place is empty except for me and Laundromat Janitor Guy.
The place is trashed, lint all over the floor by the dryers, soap spilled on the tops of machines, and the folding area is overcome by dryer sheets. Janitor Guy is walking around, picking up wayward used dryer sheets and scooting the laundry carts back to their respective homes over by the wall. He's slamming washing machine and dryer doors, making a lame attempt at sweeping, and proceeds to mop.
"Looks like we missed a party in here last night, " I say, making conversation with Janitor Guy "it sure is a mess!"
He looks at me like "Why are you talking to me, lady" and keeps mopping the floor.
"Was this place hopping on a Friday night?" I ask again. "Who would do laundry on a Friday night?" I must be desperate for conversation being that this guy seems more excited about soaking the lint on the floor than talking to me.
Finally, he replies "I don't know. I'm just glad to have a job." Yeah, I can see he's putting his all into making a bigger mess out of that floor than it originally was. I was going to suggest that perhaps he do a better job sweeping and then the mopping wouldn't be as big a deal, but somehow I don't think he was up for my suggestions. I move my feet so he can continue making wet lint balls on the floor and open my book.
Now Janitor Guy leaves me and I'm left to trying to read the book I brought. I'm having a hard time concentrating for the tunes are CRANKED in this place, and I notice that it is "flashback" program that is featuring 1982. What luck! I LOVE the 80's. My personal fav is years 1983-1985 when the dance beat was a priority.
So, there I sit, tapping me feet and singing (there's nobody there to care anyway) to the likes of XTC, Culture Club, Grant Parker, Flock of Seagulls, and The Police. I look up at the grimy sign that reads "Welcome to LaundryLand" and my brains drifting back to the 80's when I was in college.
Those were the days--big shoulder pads, even bigger hair, punk rock, REM when you couldn't understand them, dancing in bars, and Frankie telling us all to "Relax". Ah, such memories. Spring Break was in Ft. Lauderdale and so were we. Life was carefree and I was young and having the time of my life.
I sat there, watching the dryer spin to Boy George singing "I'll tumble 4 ya" while my mind was flooded with fun memories of college and wild friends from "back in the day". It's ironic that I noticed that the dryers were spinning counter-clockwise while my brain did the same. I was transported to a time and a place where things were simpler--I just needed to pass my classes and party--within reason. I had no real schedule and answered to no one. College days are a fine memory while you sit in the laundromat watching your comforter get clean.
How far I have come in all those years, I would never have imagined that this would be my life--raising children, being a stay-at-home-mom, writing stories about frogs and cats. No way, I would have ended it all then, thinking that I'm going to be a huge loser. I wanted a cool job with lots of money. I wanted the big house and the fancy car. I wanted the glitz and glamour, the traveling, and the fast life. Funny how it all turns out.
Who would have thought that I would come to love this life? That working part-time would be enough of the work place that I could tolerate so that I can be here for the kids? That finding joy in a new kitten or that a snail had babies could be so rewarding? When did I lower those standards of happiness? In what year did I change my opinion of what successful was or is?
That's a lot of thinking for one hour at The LaundryLand, isn't it? It's funny where your mind takes you based on what music you are listening to.
Joe came to pick me up and starts cracking up.
"What's with you?" he asks. I must have looked confused because he says "You look so peaceful."
So, I start telling him of the music, the memories, the dryers spinning counter-clockwise, and how nice my visit to The LaundryLand was.
"Who would have thought you could find Zen in The LaundryLand" he says.
Yeah. Who would have thought?
-- On another note, today I celebrate my 300th post and I'll be marking my one year anniversary with Duck and Wheel With String on April 14. It's hard to believe where I came from, what I have accomplished, and how much I have changed in my year of writing. On that very first day I had no idea that I could ever write 300 semi-interesting things for myself, more or less anyone else. It has been an interesting journey. Thanks for sharing it with me.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Hobbes made a break for it today. Yep, scaled the fence and went into Crazy Lady's yard. Okay, so Crazy Lady moved (HOORAY!) last fall, but she blocked our gate with her own piece of fencing so we cannot get the knucklehead back into safe territory. Great. Drama already and it isn't even noon yet.
Crazy Lady was convinced that we were going into her yard regularly--for what, I don't know. Hence the name we gave her. We have a lovely wooden fence that was installed years before she moved in, and she was convinced A) it was her fence and B) it was on her property. Neither of which were true, but she made the 3 years that she lived here sheer hell over that fence. She flipped out when we went on her side (on the easement, I might add) to stain the fence and called the police routinely from that day forward. Okay, we didn't have to stain her side--it was to make it look nice for her. She was an idiot.
Anywho, Crazy Lady kept telling the police that we go into her yard, and I'm still trying to figure out why she would think we would do that. The police would then confer with the idiot cop on the other side of me (South side), who hates us for I don't know why, and he would tell them (for kicks) that we do indeed go over there. So, the cops would come over and yell at us to get along with our neighbors (?!) and try to ticket us for trespassing. You'd have to see my yard and hers to see how absolutely ridiculous this scenario was. Uh--mine has the pond and about a zillion gardens and lovely plants, hers has nothing--well, maybe some weeds. It's too weird for words.
Whatever. Crazy Lady installed a piece of fencing directly in front of our gate so that we couldn't "go into her yard" anymore. Okay, so it worked, we don't go into her yard anymore. WE NEVER DID ANYWAY!!! But she felt better knowing that we couldn't. Hey, I don't call this town Weirdville for nothing.
So, Mister I'm-following-my-nose-where-it-takes-me hops onto the wood fence and jumps over to the enemy's side. Great. The good news is that we all saw him do it, so he didn't just go missing AND Crazy Lady doesn't live there anymore. There is a god.
Well, I start freaking out because I don't want to lose him. Em's yelling for Hobbes to "Come home!" and Colin is calling his name. Joe is just standing there drinking his coffee. There's the four of us, in our jammies, all with our undies in a bunch because the cat made a break for it, and he is completely oblivious to the excitement.
After a few minutes, we spy him through the fence slats, doopty-dooing through her yard, smelling this, smelling that. He's lifting his nose in the air to catch whatever smells fill the breeze, and runs even further into the yard, past the garage and shed. Ugh.
"Go after him!" I'm yelling at Joe. "Hop the little fence and grab him!"
To which he replies "He'll come back".
That's typical Joe. I'm all freaking out and wanting action, Joe is taking the wait-and-see approach. I call it the Public vs. Private School way of thinking. I'm getting the hammer out to fix whatever is broken, Joe is standing there praying that the Fix-It Fairy will come zooming in to save the day. So, here we are again--I'm wanting to go get the cat, Joe is just praying that the cat will find its own way home.
Finally, after seeing that Hobbes isn't coming home, or even in our direction, the boys run to put jeans and gym shoes on to save the cat. Joe hops over a couple of fences to get the jailbird, Col is there for the hand-off over the fence. They grab him, throw him into the house, and give him a good scolding for escaping. All is well.
Whew. And all of this before lunch.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Good-bye dust bunnies hiding under my bed. Good-bye kitty toys stuck under chairs and tables. Good-bye yucky stale air and hello to fresh breezes and clean smells.
"Does anybody else do this anymore?" That's what Joe asks every March when I start mapping out the rooms we are going to start with.
"No. But WE do." I answer. "And you like it."
So, I'm off--off to open the windows and clean the comforters. Off to scrub this musty old place of dust and a year's worth of grime. Off my rocker, Joe says.
Friday, March 20, 2009
It reminds me of the infamous Burt Reynolds poster that was popular when we were kids in the 70's. Burt was lying on a fur of some sort in his altogether. My neighbors next door had this up in their bar area in the basement, and I'm sure my mother would be mortified knowing that it was there and we would giggle at it. I think his package was obscured by something because I don't remember seeing that, but to this day, I remember that poster in vivid detail. And yes, Hobbes makes a good reinactment of said poster.
Look at his little kitty face--he even has this "come hither" kinda look too.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I received news that my unemployed-for-like-forever brother got a job this week--his salary matched from his former employer, included a company vehicle and benefits to boot. A victim of technology field layoffs, he was unemployed for months, which equals years in the minds and wallets of those in such circumstances. It's depressing to not go somewhere each day, more or less watch the savings disappear. His wife earns a pretty penny, so I don't think they were going to be homeless or starving by any means, but it still wrecks havoc on one's self-esteem and lifestyle.
So, good news on that front. Wasn't that nice to hear of someone getting a job instead of losing one?! See? Positive Polly.
I hadn't see the minnows for a few days out in the pond and the frogs were looking a little extra chubby, so I was concerned. Minnows bought from the pet store rarely make it home from the store alive, more or less live through the summer in the pond. They are "feeder" fish--those that are purely bred for the consumption of much larger beings like frogs, turtles, and fish-eating fish. I buy like a billion of them for the pond each summer, just because I like how they look all swimming around together--gives it that "realistic" look to the pond. Okay, so they are usually orange in color--who cares? They are minnows either way.
Most of the minnows die within hours, perhaps days of coming here. Others meet their demise by frog or lack of the ability to fight off disease. I scoop those bad boys out of the skimmer almost daily, and so every month or two, I'm buying a whole new batch of minnow pallies for the pond.
This past fall, there were about six minnows that actually lived through the whole summer. I carefully caught three of them to bring in for the winter--it would have gone against me to let them die out in the frozen waters after all they went through. Three came in, three refused. I felt bad, but those renegade three would just have to survive the frigid waters of winter and face whatever frozen fish face under the ice.
To my surprise, when the pond thawed, so did the Renegade Three. Hooray! Come May, they can be reunited with the Snowbird Three who partied in the warm house all winter long.
The past few days, I was convinced that the gigantor frogs ate the poor things, as they were freakin' huge and the minnows were nowhere to be seen. I felt bad, especially after all that surviving they did for the past frozen months. All that hard work living to be eaten afterall. Sigh.
I went out last night with my flashlight and found all three munching happily on five months of lovely green algae! Oooh, they are quick! Scattering from the beam of light, I can see how they survived--pure teamwork on their part, scooting off in three directions at the mere threat of a consumer. I can see how they outwitted (and continue to do so) the beastly frogs.
Positive Polly, I tell you. The minnows survive, my brother gets a job, the temperature was 70 degrees the other day, and flower buds are popping up all over. If the birds would just fly around my head singing like Cinderella, the picture would be complete.
We have to find the good in all of the bad. Change isn't going to happen overnight, the financial picture will take time to rebound, and jobs will come back again. We have to be the minnows of life--learn to cut back on excess, survive on bare minimums, hunker down to avoid being eaten, and enjoy the algae when it appears again.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
"What is your quest?"
"What is your favorite color?"
--Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Big excitement at our house--a newly installed cat door. Yep, cats can go in......and cats can go out. Over and over again.
Hobbes, being the youngster that he is, has mastered the Evil Cat Door. He approaches tentatively, pokes at the little swingy door a couple of times, and finally pushes his head through to fresh air and freedom. When Yip Yap the Non-Stop Barking Dog rears his ugly head, the cat door is Hobbes best friend, offering respite from the obnoxious beast.
Grace, on the other hand, wants no part of the Evil Cat Door. Yes, it will grant her free access to the yard and space away from Hobbes--if only that terrible swingy door thingy wouldn't scare her so. She sits there staring at it, hoping it would just go away and someone would just open the darned door already. No amount of prodding, encouragement, bribery, or shoving will do--Grace is steadfast in her distaste for such menial matters. Humans are to open doors for her and no amount of pleading will convince her otherwise. Now if I leave the window open a crack, girlfriend will go in and out a hundred times in an hour--go figure.
Hobbes has spent the last three, very lovely spring-like days going in and out the little door. He went out in the yard, his stripey paws batting at a wind-blown leaf, his 10 lb frame pouncing on poor helpless blades of grass. No stick, piece of garbage, or bug was safe from his inspecting nose and he would come in, exhausted, and collapse in a heap. When he was frightened by a noise or low-flying bird, he would scoot inside the cat door to the safety of the family room.
At one point, Hobbes decided to camp out in the warm sunshine right by the door. Poor Grace, disgusted by the insistance of the people around her that she use the little door, just sat and stared at him, wishing he and that silly flappy door would both just disappear. With fresh air and freewill at a paw's length, I found it interesting that the mere presence of something new would stop her cold. Hobbes, on the other hand embraced the challenge.
Kinda like people, aren't they? The young guy willing to try something, anything new and fun. The old grumpy one, fighting change and new-fangled inventions. I think in the end, Grace will succomb to the temptations of freewill and use the door. It's when we choose to be safe in our usual ways and not embrace the new or the unknown that we become old. She isn't quite ready for the cat bed and window seat that is the shuffleboard and bingo of a cat's senior years. She's more the gambling boat kinda gal--I give her a week.
1) Age at my next birthday: Ugh.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Joe and I would kill each other if we participated on the Amazing Race. In fact, I don't think we'd get much further than the application--we'd be disagreeing on how to fill it out and wouldn't even make it to meeting Phil at the start of the race. And even if we made the finals, we'd be late and miss the whole start because we'd be fighting about what to pack and how to get there and such.
We can't agree on too much, Joe and I. But that's us and it's been working for over 20 years, so I guess it ain't broke, so to speak. It's not that we don't get along, we do--it's just more of a debating kinda relationship. I'm opinionated and dramatic, he's quiet and passive-aggressive. I yell and make a lot of noise about things, Joe just does things his own way quietly, smugly knowing the whole while he's irking the hell out of me.
Yesterday, Em was in a band contest at a middle school about a half hour away. It's not physically far from our house, it's just that in Chicago we don't judge a ride by miles, we always say how long it takes to get there. It's the traffic here that overrides any amount of mileage, so you may only work 20 miles away, but it may take you over an hour to get there.
We left a little late because Joe had a mole check--a little follow-up after having his barnacles removed last fall. So, we were behind the 8 ball right from the start and had to stop to grab something to eat on the way. All of this put a little pressure on us to haul butt out to the competition. Now add the traffic. Ugh.
Joe starts out going the way I would go, which is all fine and dandy. Things quickly go south when the Saturday traffic starts wrecking havoc with the travel route. Joe stays on Harlem, which is a nightmare--a core north/south thoroughfare loaded with strip malls and stoplights. Joe is driving like Miss Daisy and putt-putting his way and I look at the clock and start having a heart-attack.
"We're gonna miss it!" I'm yelling like Mrs. Potatohead.
"We'll be fine" he's insisting. He slows at yellow lights, when I would be gunning it and going through them. He's going the speed limit--I'd be flooring it big time. He's staying on crowded old Harlem Avenue, and I'd be zig-zagging through the hoods, trying to dodge the traffic. He's intimidated by the size of the minivan, I'm the Master of the Big Rig.
"I should have drove!" I'm mumbling not-so-quietly.
And he ignores me. This is where he does his passive-aggressive thing. He starts slowing down, turning up the radio, and not responding. And this is where I start to want to kill him.
I can see us now, on the Amazing Race, fighting like the dickens. Well, not fighting--I'd be all yelling and arm-waving, Joe would be all cool-like moving slowly along doing the challenge. All the other competitors would be rolling their eyes, telling Joe quietly "How do you stand her?" and patting him on the back. It's his Good Cop/Bad Cop routine--he's the quiet button-pusher, I'm the screaming fool reacting to his quiet instigations. I fall for it every time.
And so, on the Race--we would be totally taking the wrong bus somewhere because Joe had his quiet mind set that way, and I'd be yelling that we should have taken the other bus. Phil would raise his eyebrow at us at the finish line, inform us that we were "the last team to arrive" and we would be kicked out of the race. And Phil would say to Joe "I see Lin was going nuts on you, poor Joe." and then I would want to do a smack down on both Phil and Joe. Nobody sees that Joe's decision was wrong all the time--they just see me going all Mrs. Potatohead on Joe.
Sigh. We made it--albeit with 2 minutes to spare. We took our seats to the band walking in and setting up. Whew. They played lovely. Em kicked butt playing the bass drum, even if her usual instrument is the flute and piccolo. I guess the bass drum kid had other plans, so Em filled in--that's what I went for, to see Em playing an instrument bigger than she. So, I ignored the fact that I nearly killed her father on the way, and cheered Em and her bandmates on.
We aren't applying for the Amazing Race anytime soon. In fact, we recognize our inability to get along in such stressful situations and say so out loud.
"I'd do the race with Judy," says Joe of our good friend, "we wouldn't fight."
"Yeah, but you'd be lost like two idiots." I say sarcastically back. And I pop in my "angry eyes".
Sherrie over at Boogers, Screams, Headaches, and Dreams has bestowed TWO (not just one) Major Awards on me. I'm thrilled as she is one of the great blogs that I visit each day. Thank you, Sherrie!!
The first is The Random Act of Kindness Award and I'm bestowing the kindness onto Casey. This award is to randomly acknowledge another blog for their hard work and effort they put into their blog. Casey is already popular amongst the bloggie crowd and her numbers are up there, but she is new to me and I want to let her know how much I like visiting each day.
Casey is at Half as Good as You--go over and check out her blog--it totally cracks me up. She writes about her adventures with dramatic flair. Never a dull moment over at her place, she tells it like it is, adding a little spice here and there to make you laugh. It's my new hangout each day, and she shouldn't be missed.
Congrats, Casey! Feel free to pass the award on to another deserving soul or just put it on the mantle for the family to admire.
This is the second award from Sherrie. Gees, it's like the Oscars or something over at her blog! Or an end of the season Little League picnic--you know, where they hand out a zillion trophies.
Thank you for commenting faithfully and making me feel like there is someone out there everyday!! You know the drill--pass it on if you so see fit....or not. Just enjoy the honor and all of the glory that goes with being a winner!
A warm congratulations goes to all the winners of today's blog. And for those of you who weren't mentioned today, here are some inspiring words from Em's school Asst. Superintendent:
(Imagine a bad polyester suit with Easy Spirit shoes.....)
" And for those who didn't win tonight.... remember, we are ALL winners."
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Last night was no exception. Whoohoo! Friday Night Fun over at The Walmart shopping for cottonballs and orange juice. I used to have a life. Really.
I'm off looking at something while Joe and Em head over to grab the orange juice. As I round the corner, this is the conversation I walk into:
"Oooh, Em--extra pulp!" Joe's egging her on.
"Pulp makes me sick" she replies.
"Are you kidding me?!" I'm sick of these quirky kid food requirements. I mean, she's almost 14, can we possibly eat food without picking it apart? I'm so done with this. "Are you still not drinking pulp? What is with that?"
"Pulp is gross! What is pulp anyway?" Em is an idiot.
"Pulp is AMAZING." Joe replies using his best teen lingo.
Yes, this is my life. And yes, these are my family conversations. We are idiots. And I think the other people at The Walmart are strange?
Friday, March 13, 2009
Apparently other humans don't think this is a very good lunch, because Office Attitude Lady decided to clean out the refrigerator at 9:00 AM on a Monday morning (Who the hell cleans out the fridge in the morning?!) and promptly emptied the contents of my brown bag directly into the garbage. When I asked her why she would throw out a perfectly good lunch, she replied that my apples looked brown. (Has she ever seen an apple 1/2 hour after it's been cut?) Whatever. But instead of apologizing, she had even more attitude that I would dare question her. She's an idiot. An angry idiot. I dug the little baggies out of the garbage, washed off everything and ate it all anyway. I think she silently freaked out. I smugly smiled and chomped on my germy lunch.
So, it's the same routine, day after day. At approximately 11:23, every single day, I get my lunch out and eat at my desk. Since the lunch rarely changes, I don't even look at what I'm eating. I just start with the cheese stick and move forward--moving onto the yogurt, and drag out the rest of the day loudly munching on the carrots and celery. I didn't realize I was "loudly" munching until Irene made some comment about it on her side of the cubicle wall. I ignored her because I think she is secretly jealous of my lunch.
Wednesday of this week turned my lunch life around. I was opening the cheese stick when I looked at the packaging.
"It's a commercial!" I'm saying out loud to nobody in particular.
"Hmmm?" Esra half-asks from Cube 4.
"My cheese stick has a freakin' commercial on it!" and I kinda hold it up for her to see.
On the top of my cheese stick is big giant letters reading "High School Musical 3"--which is a lot of words for a little cheese stick. And then it goes on to have a trivia question from the movie--like the whole cheese-stick-eating-world has all seen this movie?! Fortunately, I avoided seeing any of these movies, although I have heard some of the songs.
Okay. I'm up for the challenge.
"Hey, Irene!" I yell over to Cube 2, "Are you up for a little Cheese Stick Trivia?".
"Oh yeah." she says. Irene is a hoot--always up for some kind of fun.
So I read the question and it was something stupid like "What did Bobby (?) ask from Troy in his senior year?" I don't remember the exact question or names, but you get the idea--these are really lame questions and I think you'd have to be 9 and seen the movie like a zabillion times to answer these things. Me and the 20 and 30 somethings in the office don't stand a chance in hell to answer these things. But we try anyway.
Irene was all like "Can I borrow your cell phone" or "Do you have any drugs" and random stuff like that. She was guessing apparently. Esra was just looking baffled and didn't know what to make of all of this. I think she was still wondering if I was serious or not. (Esra is from Turkey and sometimes I confuse her with my terminology--no fault of hers--just mine, as I tend to be a little wacky.) But, she chimes in with a "Can I have your lunch?" just to play along.
So, there we sat, the back room basically shut down of any productive work while we labored on what the hell went on in High School Musical 3. Our answers were creative and stimulating to say the least. I finally figured out that nobody knew the answer, or saw the movie for that matter, so I read the answer ("his locker") and we all moved on to finance or HR or whatever we do there for all those hours. It was all very exciting.
Thursday comes, and yes, I was working again, and I brought my lunch--again. Yes! Another Cheese Stick Trivia question!
"Okay! It's Cheese Stick Trivia Time folks!" I'm yelling over the cubey walls. Irene yells that she's ready and Esra pulls out her chair so that she can see me reading the question. "Okay, Leen" , Esra's in. Great!
"What did Mikey (?) bring Susie (?) for dessert when they went on a picnic lunch?" Yeah, like we are going to know this one. And Irene starts shouting out answers like we are on Jeopardy--except she doesn't put them in question form. And she's not clicking in.
"Ice cream. No...that'll melt. Uh....Chocolate cake! Twinkies! Cookies! Uh...." Irene was really into this.
Esra is a little more subdued. "Strawberries. Hmmm....pie?" She's into this too.
I yell hints to them, like "Combine your answers!" and finally Esra gets the win with "Chocolate covered strawberries" and we were all very excited that we actually got the answer.
It doesn't take much to entertain us, but we are a fun group. Who would have thought a cheese stick could provide so much entertainment at lunch? Such small joy in everyday boredom. That's what life is about, Charlie Brown--finding fun in the mundane.
I'm off today, but I'm seriously thinking of emailing their trivia question to them.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Just a few not-so-incriminating photos from the weekend in Florida. Missing are the ones of Michell and I dancing on the tables at OPA!, Fain smooching some dude, and other sordid events.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
"I forgot my lunch today--I had nothing to eat!"
"Can you drive me to school today? I've got to bring my trumpet and a suitcase. Did I mention I have a late start?"
Oh, things they are a changin' over here at our house. After 17 years of taking care of the kids (18, if you count inutero), I have finally gotten a job. Yep. Face it family--I am no longer here to do things like I used to. No more driving your lunches to school when you forget them. No more carting you and your friends around because their parents "work". No more nice rides to school in leisure instead of taking the bus. Nope. Done. Over.
No matter what I say, or how much convincing I try to do, these people who live with me refuse to accept that I am not waiting here, alone in the house, for one of them to need me. I am gone when they are gone, coming home just in time to pick Em up from school. I am not here to vacuum the house, sweep up the kitty litter, do the laundry, clean the house, etc--all the things I used to do when I was a stay-at-home mom. And no, Hazel will not be replacing me.
Slowly, reality is hitting these peeps and they don't like it. There are weeks when I will not be home at all to do the housecleaning and it will need to be done on Saturday.....by all of us. Laundry may build up a bit, and yes, you may have to throw in a load or two on your own if you need something for tomorrow. The fish tanks are a little less clean, the kitty a little lonely, and the ironing is stacking up. So be it. It's time for the little people (who aren't so little anymore) to start stepping up and chipping in.
I'm letting go nicely and I've learned to use the excuse (and yes, it is an excuse) that all the other moms have been using for years. The years of not helping as classroom volunteers, being Treat Mom for soccer, or Room Mom for parties at school. All those PTA chairperson jobs, the driving of kids on days off of school, and going on field trips. And now I've learned to repeat the words that ensures guilt-free freedom of responsibility for one's own child and others in situations like those......."I WORK".
Gees, I wish I had know those two words so very long ago and how liberating they can be. I've just now realized that I can say "no" to my children's requests by uttering those words, and feel like it is a legitimate reason. For years I have done everything and anything for my kids and their classmates, friends, and peers--thinking that's what mom's do. But you know that isn't so--there are waaayyy too many parents out there who choose not to be party to this and they have their work excuse handy, whipping it out on any and every occasion like it is a "Get out of Jail Free" card.
So, now, ask me to drive you and your friends to the mall. Oh? The other moms are at "work" and cannot drive the other way? Too bad. No mall. I WORK too.
Can I give everyone a ride home because their parents work? Nope. I WORK too. And I have errands to run after school. And I'm tired.
I'm gonna see how far this excuse gets me. Laundry? Lawn mowing? Shoveling? Feeding the cats? Nope, nope, nope. I WORK.
Gees, now if I can only figure out how not to have to go to work to use this new fangled excuse. It would make it so much sweeter.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
We were playing cards with the kids and a couple of their pallies last weekend, when we had the usual battle--what radio station do we listen to? Em and Caroline are singing and dancing to their usual rap stuff, which Joe and I hate. We turn on the 70's and 80's stuff, which the kids hate. Colin and Becky don't really care--they just don't want Joe to sing.
Em and Caroline totally cracked up when Joe did his latest version of Beyonce singing "All the Single Ladies", which has been going for a solid week now. It is painful to hear and Caroline pegged it perfectly when she said it sounded like Stephen Hawking singing. Ouch. Truth hurts, pally. Of course, we all busted a gut with that one, but Joe didn't think it was so funny.
Caroline calls Em last night with something she found on Youtube. Okay, so I had to post it. It sure beats the ear piercing sound of Joe/Beyonce/Stephen Hawking in the kitchen. I think this video is almost as disturbing.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Five years ago, we put a family room addition to the back of our tiny house. It was then, with all that new space, that we decided to quit with the hamster phase and move into something that lives longer--another cat. Yeah, it was a great idea at the time--we had no idea what we were heading into.
So, with Muffin the Well-Hung Hamster (another story for another day) packing his cheeks full of whatevers and heading to the Rainbow Bridge, we called on my Cat Pimp to find us a kitten. We felt that this house had too many sunny windows to let another kitten sit at Animal Welfare another moment.
My Aunt Laurie works for Animal Welfare and is more than happy to fix you up with a homeless animal. With the mere whisper of "I think we might want a cat", she rallies the forces at the shelter, perusing and evaluating potential candidates for our family. Watching Aunt Laurie get ready for an animal adoption is like watching General Grant or Lee ready the troops for battle--every detail is analyzed, planned, and anticipated. Her goal is to find the perfect home for her little wards and is careful to screen each possible pet owner for their true motives. She already knows of the good life that any animal receives here, so she's more than willing to find us a little somebody to love.
We decided that Ruth, an adorable little calico, with a beastly personality would be the one for us. "Ruthless" she was so named, because she was just so rotten--attacking everything, anything, and anyone endlessly. There were surprise attacks from behind the sofa, from under the entertainment cabinet, and around corners. She would wait for you to come down the hall and as you approached the corner, she would jump out and bite you. Hard. It was funny for like the first 100 times, and then, not so funny anymore. When I would lean over and kiss her sweet nose, she would go to return the favor, but bite yours instead. She had spunk, that Ruth. And we loved her so.
When it came to our bed, Ruth didn't pay much attention to the growling, spitting, and evil glares that were the Private Property signs of Grace. Being a hefty gal, Ruth depended on a small wooden box at the end of our bed to gain momentum to make it up to the bed. All 18 pounds of her would come lumbering, jump on the box, leap in the air, and land with a thump on top of me, Joe, and of course, a not-so-happy Grace. The battle ensued from there, but Ruth didn't care. She did this night after night, happily plopping herself on the spot she was signaled she wasn't supposed to be. Grace usually gave up, unwillingly, and sat glaring at us all from the dresser across the room.
Grace hated Ruth. On her dying day, Ruth made one last final Corner Attack on Grace, and to this day, Grace is still weary of that corner. I guess I don't blame her.
Henry makes the scene a month or two later--again, the Cat Pimp finds us a winner. A white and orange guy with one green eye and one blue, Henry turned out to be our favorite cat of all time. Sweet as pie, submissive to Grace's self-proclaimed authority, and a gentle demeanor. If you kissed his nose, he would return the love with a sandpapery kiss back on yours. God, I loved that cat.
From the moment he walked in the door, he knew that the bed was off-limits. In fact, he would not cross the threshold to our bedroom for fear of what awaited him. I don't know when Grace set the rules down or how she did it, but she did--and the bed was HERS. She wasn't fooling around this time--she was alpha-cat and that bedroom was not to be entered.
Poor Hen had this terror in his eyes if he was forced to enter our room for any reason, and mortified should you set him on the bed. He flattened his ears and made a beeline for the door. It was like there was a silent alarm going off "WARNING! WARNING" and he would run for his life. Grace tolerated Henry, but frequently popped him on the head just in case he even thought of a secret attack.
In October, Henry packed his kitty bags and went to the Rainbow Bridge (so much for pets who supposedly have longer life spans than hamsters) and Hobbes enters the picture. Grace does not find all of this amusing, more or less tolerable. For the short week or two that Henry was gone and we were a one cat family, Grace all but danced and smiled a non-stop happy grin. I knew we had to bring a new kitten in quick or we would be no two-cat household again. When she saw Hobbes come in, I think I saw disgust on Grace's face once again.
Surprisingly, the bed is really not an issue this time around. Hobbes is such a love-whore that nothing stops him in his quest for hugs and kisses, and Grace doesn't seem to mind. Well, not too much. Sure there are still some growls, hisses, and evil glares, but she doesn't seem to have the pure hatred for Hobbes like she did the other cats. She will actually share the bed with Hobbes--IF he stays to his side.
He confidently approaches, jumps, and settles on the bed--not looking at Grace. It's like he wants to be there, aware of her authority, and somehow manages to convince her that he is not a threat. It is unbelievable. If he were on Survivor, Hobbes would make it to the end and win because he can manuever about and accomplish whatever he wants, AND still be friends with everyone. Gosh, I admire that ability.
Maybe we wore Grace down with all of these kittens. Maybe she has mellowed with age. Maybe Hobbes is the George Clooney of the house--smooth talking and wooing us all with his stripey good looks. Who knows? But like the fairy tale (tail?), all's well that ends well. I just hope Hobbes sticks around a lot longer than Ruth and Henry.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I'm taking a break tonight--no posting (yeah, right), no dropping EC, no reading the fav blogs (sorry, pallies). I just need a break. Joe's home from a business trip, we had deep dish pizza for dinner, and I'm working on my second beer. Turn the channel to Survivor, then Hell's Kitchen, and tehn wrap it up with Sober House--looks like an exciting brain-on-off evening. I think I deserve it.
Next task--finding translators. We have a huge Hispanic and Chinese population to bring the newsletter to. If anyone is willing to translate the Chinese portion, I'd be anxious to talk. It pays--but minimally--you know, look what they're paying (not) me! Veronica?!!! Girlfriend? Pally?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Okay, so maybe the idea of hitting the ball off a little post was good, but did he really have to go and make leagues and teams out of this concept? Do we really have to pretend that our kids are actually learning something out of that charade?