Sunday, December 05, 2004

My Mom’s Hands

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting in the front seat of the car when my mom drove or sitting next to my mom at church, and I would hold her hand. I wouldn’t just hold her hand, though, I remember studying her hand and tracing with my finger all the lines all over it. My mom’s hands were something that I found very interesting. I don’t know if my mom even knew how much I liked looking at her hands. Mom’s hands were so different from my own. Bigger, stronger and lots of bumps and wrinkles and lines, as well as some scars. Back then, mom didn’t worry overmuch about her fingernails, I guess, or at least I don’t remember much about her fingernails. I don’t remember that she used polish, so I guess she didn’t. Though now, in her 60’s, her fingernails are nearly always perfect – I don’t know how she does it. Anyway, I just loved getting to sit in the front seat when my mom drove and getting to hold her hand. Being the youngest of 5 kids, I didn’t often get the front, so it was a real treat.

My mom’s hands epitomized capable to me, even though at the time I didn’t know that. My mom could do anything, and she could make anything. You needed a toy part put back in where it belonged, and my mom could do it. You needed a new dress for school, and my mom could sew it. You wanted a shelf in your room, my mom could make it. You smarted off to my mom, and you learned your lesson with those hands. You hummed a tune and my mom would play it for you on the piano. Tools, machinery, craft projects, books, sewing, crocheting, gardening, cooking, baking, hanging laundry, canning foods, doing ceramics, macramé, embroidery, brushing your hair, checking your forehead when you felt bad... my mom’s hands could handle anything.

And they looked the part. Hands well used. They would never look skinny and soft and smooth and pampered, no way. To me, my mom’s hands were beautiful.

I was just driving my car this morning, and I noticed my own hands on the steering wheel. Ragged nails, bumps, bruises, scars, a cut, a scrape, wrinkles and lines galore. And then I realized, with warm pleasure, I’ve got my mom’s hands!

Winter’s Here For Sure Now

The snow we got on Wednesday is staying. It started out as that nice, thick, wet kind of snow that makes for excellent snowball fights... and snowmen... but then it got very cold and icy. Frozen. So it’s definitely winter now. (I ran over to my folks the other day, so I just put on a pair of flip-flops, which are a permanent fixture near the back door. Well, I didn't actually run there, I drove. It's 3 miles. Anyway, boy oh boy, did my toes get cold. Winter for sure.)

The Snow Day we had on Wednesday was awesome. First of all, it was so totally unexpected because it wasn’t really that bad out, or so it seemed. I did hear that side roads were very icy and vehicles were having trouble staying on them. We did get dumped on big time with that wet snow, but it wasn’t like too much to get the car out of the garage or anything... And by the afternoon, the sun was shining and it was B-E-A-utiful outside.

I stayed home with the kids, “working from home”, which went well until about 9 am or so when the power went out. Still, about 3 hours left on the laptop battery. OK. But then, our phone line went dead. Some telephone sub-station which relies upon electricity had a power outage as well. The recording on the power company phone line said that thousands were presently without power. I had to call back 2 hours later to get an expected time for power to be back up and running again, and the recording said 6 pm Thursday. Ugh.

So we hunkered down for a 2-day pioneer lifestyle.

We have a wood stove, so heat is no problem. Plenty of candles, oil lamps and flashlights, so light is no problem. The camp stove cooks up a mean Campbell’s soup, so food is no problem. We also have an old-fashioned coffee pot for use on the camp stove, so coffee is no problem. Essentials taken care of. Wait, what about water, you say?

Here’s the thing about our water. We live in the country, and thus we have a well which provides us with the most wonderful water. Our water tastes like water should taste. And it makes the most perfect coffee. Because we have a well, though, we need electrical power to pump the water. We do have a gas-powered generator, but setting it up for the water pump to run is a big pain in the ass. I’m not even sure I know how to do it anymore, since we moved into “the house” (about 10 years ago).

Folks who live in town don’t hesitate to pee when their power goes out, I’m sure. But we have to plan ahead – because we can’t flush our toilets when the power goes out.

So on Wednesday, I stayed home and let the kids sleep as long as they may. Sam was up first and was very happy with the Snow Day, but wasn’t happy with my making him go outside to take his first morning pee. That boy can pee longer than any adult male I’ve ever heard. And he does so every morning in my bathroom. For some reason, Sam likes to take his shower in my bathroom, not upstairs. He pees, won’t flush the toilet until after his shower (the shower is only really hot for about 2 minutes until the toilet is done using all the cold water, but Sam won’t believe me – he’s convinced he’ll be scorched and his burnt red flesh will peel from his bones if he flushes the toilet before his shower), so anyway, the second you walk in the bathroom you can smell that Sam has peed. That first morning piss is a stinky doozy!!! No way was that happening in the house with no power. Find a nice tree outside, buster.

And how do we handle the other thing, even smellier than Sam’s first morning pee, the No. 2?? Well, it depends. Seeing as how we could be without power for a couple of days, I decided no No. 2 in the house. Go out to the pole barn and use the scary, cold bathroom there. To flush, all one needs to do is dump a pail of water into the bowl, and the toilet takes over. (It appears to be a little known fact that electricity is not required to flush a toilet. It’s all gravity, baby. Well, technically in our house electricity is required... to supply the water source and get that gravity thing going... This is something my townie friends don’t even have to think about, apparently.) Where to obtain the pail of water, then? Trek on over to the pond and dip it out. Like I told my daughter, “You are so lucky to have this experience. When you’re older and your kids are whining about something, you can say, hey, quit your whining, you have it easy! Why, when I was your age, I had to dip a bucket into an ice cold pond to get water out to flush the toilet!”

I love a snow day!

And the power and the phone were both restored by 3 pm that day. It was so nice being home unexpectedly that I decided to cook and bake. Nothin’ fancy. Homemade baked mac-n-cheese, sloppy joes, potato salad, my special recipe corn (by request), and 2 pound cakes. Comfort food for sure. The best kind to celebrate a snow day.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I thought I was OK with this...

Joyce became an officially licensed driver yesterday, and this morning was her first ever solo drive to school.

Truly, I thought it would all be just fine. She’s smart and dependable, mature and competent and she’s nobody’s fool. She’s capable and observant. She’s a good driver. She’s driving a very dependable vehicle. Good in ice and snow, even. I mean, I really, really thought I was way ready for this. Not that big of a deal. A-OK.

But I’ve been freaking out all day.

I want my baby girl back.

Oh crap.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The First Snow Never Sticks

Yesterday's rain created a big ol' slushy for the ground, which drank it right up. The wind is blowing and the sun is intermittently shining. The sky is gray – several beautiful shades of gray.

Our football team lost at the Dome yesterday, but it was awesome anyway. I know they wanted to win. I wanted them to win, too. But they didn’t... but they played at the Dome! It was a helluva good ride. The newspaper article quoted one of the players as saying, "next year’s season starts tomorrow, and we’ll be working hard." Those boys are driven.

It was really awesome to see our marching band at the Dome. They went on the field and played the national anthem, and then shared half-time with the other school’s marching band. We were so much better! Our band rocks.

During the game, though, the only band I could hear well was the other team’s band. Our band was seated down and over to our left, while the other band was almost directly across from us. Acoustics being what they were... I couldn’t really hear our band well at all.

All in all, I enjoyed all the previous games more than the Dome. Even though the significance of getting to the point of playing at the Dome is great, it was just not as much fun. Too many people and too loud. Our fan camaraderie was diluted by sheer space. Sitting outside in the cold and the rain, packed in bleachers, cheering and screaming all together, singing with the band, being led in cheers by cheerleaders we could actually see and hear, watching the mud fly... now that's high school football.

Today is de-decorate Thanksgiving and go get the Christmas tree day. Yippee!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

It’s a Hot Day!

With snow!

Today we’re heading to the Dome to see our high school varsity football team play for the State title. This is a big deal, and I mean a BIG DEAL. Our school has never made it this far before. We’re a smaller school, so this is a huge accomplishment. (And the best part is that most of our key players are juniors, so next year will be great, too!)

The team we’re playing against has gone often and won often. It’ll be a fight, that’s for sure. But like our brand new t-shirts say, “The road to success... is heart!”

And we get to see our daughter, and nephew, in the marching band at the Dome. Wow. Got the camcorder batteries all charged up!

p.s. The snow is disappearing with rain this morning :-(

Sam’s basketball team was in the Turkey Classic tournament yesterday, held at our high school. It was supposed to be held on Saturday, but since we’re goin’ to the Dome, they switched the schedule around to play Friday. Since we had made plans to have Thanksgiving with friends on Friday, it caused a potential dilemma. Sam so wanted to go to that, but he also wanted to play ball with his team. The team commitment had to win out. So... I had thought of a plan to call the mom of a boy that Sam really likes (teammate) and see if they could take care of Sam during the tournament. And Wednesday evening just after I got home, she called me! They were inviting Sam to go home with them after the last game on Friday, spend the night and ride down to the football game with them. Of course, Sam was totally thrilled. The mom was A-OK with taking Sam all day, too, and it worked out perfectly! And we got to see Sam play in the last game for his team yesterday evening.

Thanksgiving with our friends was with Nathan and his mom & dad, Mary Anne and Jesse. Nathan’s older brother and his fiancé were there, too. Dinner was excellent, and I’m not just talking about the food. Mary Anne has a way of making you feel totally comfortable and welcome. Their home is beautiful and very large, but it’s warm and inviting, and somehow cozy. Calling such a big home cozy would be strange, but that’s Mary Anne’s doing. We really enjoyed the time with them. I’m real happy that Joycie and Nathan connected in that drivers training class...

Nathan gave Joyce a beautiful bracelet with her name engraved on it for her birthday. He wrapped it in this huge box in gold wrapping paper. Then there was a medium box in blue wrapping paper, and then a smaller box in pink paper, and then the black velvet box with the bracelet in it. It was quite an event. We haven’t seen the ol’ box-in-a-box-in-a-box routine in years, so it was unexpected and pretty darn fun. I know Joycie was wondering what in the heck was in that big box, as was I! Too cool.

Well, Joyce is making way too much noise with her new PS2 and DDR, so that’s it for me.

We’re goin’ to the Dome!!!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Happy Birthday, Joycie!

Today our daughter turns into a 16-year-old. A milestone birthday if ever there was one. She Can Now Obtain a Driver's License.

I'm ready for it, really. And I know she is.

It's just that last weekend in our town a 16-year-old girl driving a car with her 15-year-old boyfriend made a 2-second fatal mistake -- she drove through a blinking red light on a busy road at about 10 pm. A large truck had a blinking yellow and, appropriately not stopping, hit them at the intersection. The boy died and she survived with little physical damage. Psychological damage is a whole 'nother story, I'm certain.

That's what is occasionally freaking me out. Just a couple of seconds of inattention and a life can be lost and those left will hurt deeply. And it's not just that I worry that Joyce, or Nathan, will be the inattentive ones, but ANYONE driving where they, or we, are driving... I mean, defensive driving only goes so far.

And then with the snowfall on Wednesday... it was coming down fast, and it was slushy and icy, and driving was a bitch. Around town, traffic was backed up all over the place, and I saw the aftermath of 2 fenderbenders. Driving home on the highway was ok, but it was slick. Other drivers were driving too fast for the conditions, and I hate that. So I think of Joyce driving in that and I hate that, too. Her dad declared that when it's nasty conditions for driving she wouldn't be driving to school that day. Yeah, that's fine, except when you wake up to a beautiful, sunny, clear day and then by the time you are driving home, it's a minor blizzard. That always happens in winter here. So she just has to know how to handle it. And how to be prepared for all the idiots that risk life and limb to prove their truck (or SUV) can handle anything at any speed. Ugh.

ANYWAY, today my baby girl is 16. Where'd the time go??! She's around 5' 10" and so tops me by about 8". I look up to her in more ways than one. She's awesome. I'm so proud of her. She's so smart and has a wonderful sense of humor. She's so creative and talented in so many areas. Sports, guitar, writing (she had me read an assignment project she put together on Huck Finn, and it blew me away, it was so good, so unique and wonderful, I mean really good). She's so capable and dependable. I can see the fine woman she's becoming. She'll be way better than me. I love my girl so much.

Happy Birthday, Joycie girl, my pumpkin-pie-o!

It's Thanksgiving in Winter!

On Tuesday I was going out and about with just a sweater. On Wednesday it started snowing. The heavy, thick wet snow that really sticks and makes a great snowman. We got hit! YES! I love snow.

We wake up Thanksgiving morning to being blanketed with snow. Every twig and branch and last stubborn leaf is coated. It was a beautiful morning. And since one of my sisters made the turkey for today, I got up in the daylight. YES! The view out of our bathroom windows faces East and our pond, and with the sun coming up with all the snow framing the pond, and the pond looking so dark in contrast to the snow... well, it was just too dang beautiful.

All I had to make this year for Thanksgiving dinner was mashed potatoes and corn. I have a potato peeler thing, but you still have to do a lot of "clean up" on the 'taters. I think I peeled and cooked more potatoes yesterday than I have in the past year. But, man were they good. I also use a "secret recipe" for corn.

Corn is important in my family. Growing up and well into adulthood, we used to grow tons of it in my folks' garden, then we'd pick it, husk it, clean it, blanche it, cool it in ice water, cut the corn off the cob with an electric knife, scrape all the good juicy stuff off the cob into the corn, pack it and freeze it. Pull it out on a winter's day and it's summer in your mouth. So, here we are in the 21st century and no one has time to grow a garden lately, and my mom and dad are old enough now not to care too much about it. It's kinda sad, actually.

Anyway, can't be canned corn. Has to be frozen. But... regular bagged frozen corn is kinda cardboard-tasting-like. My secret recipe, where henceforth ain't so secret, is 1 large bag of frozen corn (any variety), 2 boxes of Green Giant white shoepeg corn in butter sauce, and 2 -- yes, 2 -- sticks of Real Butter. Dash or 2 of salt. Mic it til it's done, but not over. And viola! Corn. Worthy of eating.

Thanksgiving dinner yesterday was 19 at the table. Well, 2 tables, actually. We were missing 1 person only (my adult niece who is now doing "every-other-year" with her boyfriend/fiance). It was so nice. I'm thankful for my wonderful family.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I Still Love My Car

but I just noticed it smells funny...

This past May, on an absolutely beautiful sunny day, I decided to go out on my lunch hour. Normally, I work through lunch, because I’m a sucker, that’s why. Driving along in my LeSabre, window down, it was just perfect to get a dose of fresh air and sunshine. Beats the heck outta my cramped and crowded cubicle. So, as I was at a dead stop in the street, about 5th in a line of vehicles waiting for the 1st car to make a left-hand turn, a Big GMC pickup with big ol’ dualies in the back and a Gigantic front grill failed to notice all of us there waiting until the very last minute, when it was, of course, Too Late.

I watched him driving up behind me, and he was definitely enjoying the beautiful Spring day, looking all around. To his left, mostly. I screamed at him to LOOK UP, but alas, he didn’t hear me.

Since I always make a habit of stopping well behind the vehicle in front of me (I stop so that I can clearly see all of their tires on the pavement and then a little some), the damage to the front of my lovely LeSabre was minimal. Its ass-end, however, took a beating.

The pickup truck driver was very nice and apologetic. Just a moment of inattention. Hey, we’ve all been there. I was nice back. The older gal driving the Lincoln in front of me was quite nice, as well. Turns out, she and the pickup truck driver’s mother were acquaintances (everyone knows everyone in my town, or knows someone close to everyone, it’s like only 2 degrees of separation, max). So the 3 of us chatted until the cops showed up. And, yep, the cops were real nice, too. Of course, it helped that no one was seriously injured. (I’m sure my reaction would have been much different should my kids have been in my car.)

Anyway, over $6,000 damage to the ol’ LeSabre. Took 3 weeks to get it fixed, and insurance covered all of the cost. The car looked great when we got it back. Though, of course, it’s just not the same. There are a few little squeaks and whistles where none previously existed. Since May, we’ve not only learned to live with them, we’ve forgotten about them.

But... this past Wednesday, I suddenly realized that my car stinks and that it has been stinking for about 4 months. It has a faintly musty odor. In the past 4 months, on occasion, I’ve searched my car for left-over odor causing items. Initially, I did find a food item under the passenger seat, and I thought it was the source. Though, now I think about it, the food was dry as a board. Dried up food doesn’t generally smell, it’s the juicy, molding stuff that stinks. Another time, my son left clothes in there from football, all sweaty and stinky. So, anyway, I just realized, hey, my car STINKS and it’s been stinking steadily for several weeks. Then I took a box out of my trunk. This cardboard box was sitting on top of a blanket that was thrown into my trunk in a careless manner, not folded up all nice and neat. The blanket and the bottom of the box were both damp. My whole trunk is damp. And smelly. I don’t know how I didn’t notice this before. I must always be in a helluva hurry when using my trunk. I truly wish I had noticed this earlier. Actually, I wish I would have tested the trunk out for leaks when I picked it up. Doncha just love hindsight.

So now I have an appointment to take my car back to the body shop. But I don’t have much hope for a complete recovery. I’ll probably have to drive a stinking car around now for years. Albeit a very comfortable stinky car.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

UPS, aka UP yourS

We’re giving Joyce a new computer for her upcoming birthday – that is, we’re buying all the parts... her extremely talented boyfriend is building it for us. Everything’s been ordered, so yesterday began the first of many expected deliveries.

Yesterday’s 2 boxes were delivered by USPS, and our regular postman, Dan, must have been off for the day. Both boxes were left on the cement in front of our garage entrance door, & Dan would never do that. And, yes, it rained. Just a little. Like, Box No. 3 from USPS today, Dan always gives our boxes to my folks, because he knows all of us and he knows we’re not home, my folks are & that we go there everyday to pick up the kiddos. Dan the postman is great!

So last night I typed up this beautiful note and put it in a plastic sheet protector and actually taped it to my garage entry door. It reads, “Please place all packages on the front porch, out of weather. Thanks!” Since it’s a big, white sign on a dark brown door, you can’t miss it. And since it’s an attached garage, the front porch is, uh... right there next to the garage.

Obviously, the FedEx delivery person is a professional, because he or she left today’s box from FedEx on the front porch.

We also got a 2nd box delivered to us by UPS... so why was that box not on my porch??? Hmm... Because the UPS person can’t read? Because the UPS person was in such a hurry, he or she didn’t have the extra 14.7 seconds it would take to walk to and from the front porch? Because the UPS person was afraid of my cat on the porch? Hmm... Why, oh why?

I’m guessing the UPS person is a jerk, that’s why. Because only a jerk would leave a box on the damp cement on the ground with all the bugs on such a rainy day as today, sitting it directly under that sign posted on my door. It was the monitor, as it clearly showed on the box, and the dumbass UPS person didn’t even leave the box right side up, but rather on its side on the damp cement with all the bugs.

Apparently, that’s the UPS delivery equivalent of giving me, and my sign, the finger.

Well, well.

On a happier note, the 5 boxes now sitting on our dining room table look so... exciting and fun! Can't wait to see all the boxes together and then to open 'em all up!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Buck Naked

I remember when I was a kid, the state highway into town was one lane heading East and one lane heading West. That was it, 2 lanes. Now, it’s 2 lanes in each direction plus a turn lane in the middle. Construction to enlarge this road started about 20 years ago or so, I guess. I also remember that when I was a kid there were no billboards on that road, so now, of course, there are several. I guess it doesn’t really matter to me. It’s not like these billboards are blocking any nice view or anything. And sometimes the billboards are very entertaining.

For the past year or so, this local communications company has been putting up signs with this great marketing spiel. They find local people who have the same names as celebrities, put their photo up on the billboard with them holding a cell phone with the slogan, e.g., “Jennifer Lopez and Baycom Nextel” & “Stephen King and Baycom Nextel” & even “Harry Potter and Baycom Nextel”. I tell you, it’s truly a stroke of marketing genius. Everyone I’ve talked with about those billboards gets a big kick out of them.

I have to explain a little bit about something before I tell you my about my favorite Baycom billboard. In our neck of the woods, Nov. 15th is a Big Day. It’s the opening day of whitetail rifle hunting season. Deer hunting is not only a huge tradition ’round here, it’s Big Business. Our school district even takes that day off, and it’s assuredly a wise financial decision – they’d have to pay too many subs to cover teachers, staff and even bus drivers, all to keep school open on a day when half the student body would be absent.

So the newest Baycom billboard, and my favorite thus far, is a photo of a nice, big buck, probably a 12-point at least. Shoulders up, not a whole body shot. Beautiful. With the words, “Buck Naked and Baycom Nextel”.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Where To Buy a Really Good Bottle of Wine

We live in a good sized town, probably about 40,000 people in the city, and double that for the whole county. The thing about our town is that it's pretty normal, but we do have probably more than our fair share of well-to-do folks. We have people in our town that have come from all over the globe, so there's quite a variety of people. There's a lot of lamenting about the lack of certain entertainment and dining options (oh, boo hoo hoo, bye the way), but I've not heard any complaints about not being able to find a really good bottle of wine... Where to go in our town? The best place to purchase your high end wines is Eastman Party Store. Sounds like a name for a joint where you'd pick up Fritos and a bottle of Boone's Farm, and for years, it kind of looked that way from the outside, too. (But they've had a very nice facelift recently.) Actually, I think it used to just be a normal party store, but then the owner, or maybe it was the new owner, had a thing for wines. And the rest is history. You can keep your Chambers Street Wine and your Gotham Wines & Liquors and your Madison Avenue Liquors Inc... we'll keep our Eastman Party Store.


First Piano Lesson Day

Today my son had his first piano lesson. We’ve been trying to find a teacher for him for almost 3 years. Everyone we contacted was either a kook or really good and thus booked solid. That combined with our desire to have the weekly lesson on a day and time that was remotely convenient left us with no piano lessons for Sam. My nephew’s teacher, who is, I’m guessing, an excellent teacher (because my nephew plays so well), could possibly have fit Sam into his schedule, but the guy has such a strong British accent… and it’s strange, it’s so strong that his side of the conversation is mostly unintelligible. (And he’s lived in the States for years and years… and he ain’t all that old.) Sam just couldn’t deal with that. Last weekend, we got a phone call from Jim, the person we’ve been wanting Sam to take lessons from for almost 3 years. Jim’s Saturday 2 pm student has quit piano. YIPPEE! 2 pm on Saturdays is perfect.

Jim teaches piano and percussion, and it’s what he does for a living. His music studio is the upper floor of a store on our town’s main street. It’s a really old building, but one of those buildings that was well built. Lots of character. Beautiful woodwork, beautiful big wooden interior doors, the kind with the transoms above the door, and with brass hardware and ivory porcelain door handles. Gorgeous. A really cool place to go and have a piano lesson. Sam is so happy. He’s downstairs now practicing. I’m loving this.

Changeling Clouds

Earlier today on the way home from town from Sam’s basketball game, the air was crisp and cold and the sky was blue, blue, blue. The sun was faintly surrounded by clouds, those wispy strips of clouds, but like a big sheet of it, so it filtered the sunlight. There was only one other cloud in the sky, and it was a small cloud. Sam & I determined it looked most like a dragon flying with its mouth open, going after something… because there was a tiny piece of that cloud kind of hanging beneath it, almost not attached. Then right away, the tiny cloud started to get bigger and bigger, like it was eating the cloud above it. That original cloud was gone, leaving only the newer, now-big cloud. And then it looked like a horse with a rider on it. And then there was a little tiny small tail that developed beneath the new cloud. And… it started to grow and grow, while the horse and rider disappeared. It was strange and awesome. Then after the 2nd cloud was gone, the new 3rd cloud grew a little tail beneath it, and… it ate the bigger cloud! Then, yep!, it grew a tail…. This happened over and over, and actually each transition was very quick, and then we drove too far away from it to see it.

Dress Up, Part 2

Joyce and Nathan are at Nathan’s school’s Fall Formal Dance tonight. Joycie got an up-do earlier, and with her very intricate up-do and her lovely cranberry wispy dress, with 3 beaded and sequined oh-so-subtle butterflies on it, she just looked so very beautiful. She’s so tall and slender, and she carries herself so well. We bought clip-on “pearl” earrings for her (she still doesn’t want her ears pierced!), and she wore those with her pearl necklace – real pearls, and when you put those next to the costume jewelry, you can really tell the difference. They glow. She looked so elegant. So very beautiful. And Nathan looked wonderfully handsome in his black suit. He was wearing a tie of Kev’s that I bought for Kev years ago – it’s a pattern of oak leaves, but the background is cranberry like Joycie’s dress color, so I had asked him if he wanted to wear it. He really liked the tie. This tie is my most favorite tie ever. The leaves are all different colors, and it’s gorgeous. It’s a great tie. Probably 12 years ago or so, I saw it in a local men’s store and totally wanted it for Kev, but then I saw the price. It took me 3 or 4 days, and then I caved and went and bought it. I think it’s so cool that Nathan liked it and that he’s got it on tonight. They sure made a beautiful couple.

End of One Season...

Our daughter had her last basketball game of the season Thursday evening. Her dad observed often throughout the game that it could very likely be the last game of high school basketball that we were to see her play. Since she’s been playing for quite a few years, on one hand it seemed rather a sad thought. But actually, if it was her last game, I am mostly glad. This year, I watched as basketball changed for Joyce – I don't think she has had fun with it for a while now, not like earlier in the season. In my opinion, it's because of the JV and the Varsity coaches – I feel like they've changed, and not, as I see it, for the better. Maybe they haven't, but it seems to me like they have. Basically, I think they are concentrating so much on winning, that they are not regarding the players as actual people with real feelings, particularly actual teenage girls with all that entails. I think they’re often too mean*. Frankly, I am hoping Joycie doesn't want to play basketball next year. I'm trying not to let her know that's how I feel, because I do want her to decide for herself. But I think it's just too much. The 2 coaches want only players who Live And Breathe Basketball, and I don't want that for Joyce. Maybe that's what it takes to play any HS sport, I don't know. Regardless, Joyce just isn't that overwhelmingly passionate about basketball. She really enjoys it and she’s a good, strong player, but apparently that's not enough.

It’ll be interesting to see how many girls try out for basketball next year. This year the word was that they had trouble getting enough girls… I was so surprised. Now, I’m not.

Instead of basketball, Joyce has told me she is considering playing indoor soccer with 2 of her friends – I would love that. She’d still get tons of exercise, the fun of playing with a team, and – here’s the clincher – I think it would do a hell of lot more for her self-esteem than playing in the basketball program we currently have.

Anyway, volleyball is next. Yay!

*Here’s an example of what I would call mean coaching behavior – one of the sophomores on the Varsity team, who was always one of the best players and who was on the JV team as a Freshman (which is a biggish deal because most of the Freshmen were on the Freshman team), and who was called up to the Varsity team mid-way through the year (also kind of a big deal), and who was on the Varsity since the beginning of this season, for whatever reason, didn’t get a lot of playing time. She’s still an excellent player, but the Varsity coach announced at practice, with no warning, that this player was going back down the JV and that one of the Freshmen currently on the JV team was being moved up to Varsity. This was at the beginning of a Saturday practice. The Freshman girl had warning, because she was there to practice with the Varsity team. The coach then told the girl being moved down that she didn’t need to practice with them that day (only Varsity practices over the weekend). Only thing was, since this girl is too young to drive, her dad had dropped her off and she had to wait until the end of practice time to be picked up by her mom, so she spent the time alone in the locker room, basically crying. She was publicly humiliated, and the coach didn’t even get it. He is such an ass.

Further, this girl has already been experiencing some self-esteem problems, I believe, because she wasn’t getting what she thought was enough playing time last year and this year. At least I suspect that's part of it, probably a lot more to the story. Anyway, I heard not getting to play was really bothering her (she’s one of those girls that live and breathe basketball, playing year-round, traveling teams, etc). Turns out, she’s bulimic. The general feeling is that this last hit by the Varsity coach really was a low blow for this girl and basically sent her over the edge. To her credit, she really played hard on the few JV games she was at, but “due to health reasons” she had to quit before the end of the season. With just a bit more caring & consideration by that coach, I believe this poor girl may have behaved differently. She put way too much stock into the opinion of one very large asshole.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Well, Maybe

Thursday afternoon Kev and I met at the school and picked up Sam and 6 of his friends to go to Sam's much-looked-forward-to Bowling Birthday Party. Kev took Sam & Cody and 1 of the girls, and I took the other 4 girls in my car. They are all 4th graders and all 10 years old or around 10. Halfway to the bowling alley, I think the girls actually forgot I was in the car.

The conversation was all about who liked who, who was nice, who wasn't, who didn't like who, who liked who last year.

"You like MATT!" ...followed by laughing/screaming/screeching

"Oh My Goodness, NO I DON'T! I wouldn't touch him if he was the last one on God's Green Planet, not if he were the last one alive in carnation. Well, maybe I'd touch him if I had on plastic gloves. Those really thick ones." ...more laughing/screaming/screeching

Hey, I know the boy they were talking about, and I wouldn't touch him either.

And then on to talking about other girls:

"She is SO annoying. Any little thing happens and she cries. Yesterday she forgot her SHOES and she CRIED. What a baby."

"Oh, but she's new. She doesn't know anybody. It must be hard for her. I feel bad for her when she cries."

Guess which little girl in that conversation that I like the most??!! But, guess which one I can relate to the most??!!

It was very enlightening. And the bowling birthday party was So Much Fun.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Another Cat

Looks like we have another cat. This one has been hanging around for the past couple of months. Very elusive. I tried to get close to it several times, but he wouldn't let me... until last Saturday evening. It was dark and I was very patient, calling and calling to him and he finally let me pick him up. It was like flipping a switch. One second, wild cat; next, my cat. He's a dark tiger coat, and definitely a he. (We'll have to get those 2 little things taken care of soon...) Turns out, he's very affectionate. And he has really big feet. I can't even guess his age, but I wouldn't call him a kitten... maybe he has yet to grow into his feet. Actually, he is about the same size as N.C., our orange cat that showed up this past May. N.C. and Henry, as we've named him, have similar markings, just different colors. It has made me wonder if they're related... possibly dropped off at the same time, just that N.C. adopted us more quickly than Henry decided to do.

He's Henry because we love that Herman’s Hermits song – it’s a favorite to belt out when we’re in the car on the road. Because these are the cats I’ve had:
1. Taffy – a wonderful Siamese mix, best cat ever, and I still miss her
2. Sabertooth, aka Sabbie – a small orange and white sweetie, one of 2 barn cats that loved to lay on top of my horses, all warm and comfy, and sleep, and I still miss her, too (& I miss my 2 horses, too)
3. Elfie – the other barn cat, a light-gray Persian mix who was like an ethereal being, long, long hair, strange eyes, and such an intelligent look, another cat I miss,
4. Nasty Maine Coon Cat – whose name I can’t recall, who drove off Sabbie for a time and picked on Elfie no end, definitely a cat that should live with no other cats, so I gave her to a friend of my sister’s, and good riddance
5. Cornelia, aka Corny – a small beautiful kitty that we should have named Cybil, what a psycho… attack-cat and my 4-year-old daughter just didn’t mix, so….
6. Francine, aka Frankie – our gray cat, getting on in age, one of the least affectionate cats ever, but still a sweetheart (and a good mouser in her younger years), and
7. N.C., or as Sam likes to spell it, Ensie, but it stands for New Cat, and he’s a doll, and one of the best mousers, chipmunk/mole hunters ever,
which brings me to:
8. Henry, because he’s Henry the 8th he is! Henry the 8th, he is, he is!!!!!

Now if he’ll just quit fighting with the other 2 cats all the time instead of just some of the time, life on the front porch would be oh so serene, as well as totally mouse-free.

p.s. People who drop off cats and dogs, including kittens and puppies, out on country roads just because they don't want them anymore really suck. Just once, I'd like to catch one of those assholes in the act, and when I catch them, I'd like to have with me a heavy stick of oak or other hardwood, such as a bat.

I Love My Car

I have a relatively new Le Sabre. It is one of the most comfortable cars I’ve ever owned, and in my 40+ years of life, I’ve actually owned several different vehicles. Also, I had a Le Sabre about 5 years ago, and I loved that car, too. Drove it for years to almost 200,000 miles. I was recently driving a small SUV which is a cute, red, sporty little thing that handles well in ice & snow… but it’s not comfortable. I bought the SUV from a friend of mine who buys and sells cars, so I asked her to look for a newish Le Sabre for me. I had given her a list of criteria, and lo and behold, the exact car I wanted was at one of the very next auctions she went to and she picked it up for a song. Just one of those lucky days. And I love this car.

After we got it, my kids started to notice more Le Sabres on the road than they had previously noticed. It’s always that way, y’know. Once you get a vehicle, you begin to notice the others like it... it isn’t as if there are suddenly more of them on the roads, just you notice them more. But the most interesting thing about all the Le Sabres we were now noticing is that most of them were being driven by people whose hair was one of 2 colors: gray or white. Seriously. We even began keeping a “Le Sabre Log” with a column for old drivers and a column for younger drivers. Many, many more checks on the old side. About 4:1. (And of the younger drivers, my guess is that many of them were borrowing their parent’s car.)

This only further reinforced my theory that the Le Sabre is one of the most dependable & comfortable of all the affordable cars. That’s why old people like ’em.

Apparently, handicapped folks like ’em, too. This morning after I dropped my birthday boy off at school, I went into the grocery store to pick up his birthday cake at the bakery. Since it was early, I parked in one of the closest parking spots near the entrance, one of the spots right next to the group of handicap parking spaces. My car was kind of alone in with a group of 5 handicap cars. Of those 5 cars, 4 of them were Le Sabres, & of those, 2 were the exact same color as mine.

Oh, yeah!

Happy Birthday, Sam!

Today is my son’s 10th Birthday!!!!!!!!!!

I drove Sam to school today, which is a special treat because he usually takes the bus & I’m usually at work while he’s riding it. Sam & his 48 cupcakes. He can’t take in a treat just for his class, he must also give cupcakes to the school secretary, principal, janitor, art teacher, gym teacher, bus driver, last year’s teacher, etc etc. He’s such a sweetie.

First, though, we dropped his sister off at the high school, and then we went into town for a bagel for breakfast. A chocolate chip bagel with chocolate chip cream cheese. A nice way to start a new-double-digit-age. Then on the way to school, I told Sam that at this time 10 years ago, I was in the hospital screaming, and then I stopped screaming & said, “ok, I’m ready for the drugs now,” and then the nurse said, “it’s too late, dear, the baby’s head is nearly crowning.” For some reason, Sam thought that was hilarious. And whoever said that a woman forgets the pain of childbirth never gave birth to a big-headed baby.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Not What You Wanna Hear From The Official

Overhead last night at the township hall: It was like half my brain took a vacation, then the other half went off to look for it, and then it took a while for them both to come back!

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Another Milestone in the G.D.L.

Joyce took her segment 1 training, has kept her driving log, took her segment 2 training, and as of yesterday, passed her driving test. Next up, once she's 16 (soon), get her 1st limited license in the Graduated Drivers License program.

She & I have been practicing for her test, and it wasn't going so well. I began getting more frustrated and she began getting more nervous with me. Joyce has a tendency to speed, creeping up and over the speed limit. It drives me crazy. Pun intended. I'm quite vocal when I'm crazy. So Tuesday evening, 'nough was 'nough. I transferred the whole bag over to dad. With his calming influence and natural teaching ability, Joyce passed her test, including parallel parking, with flying colors. The woman testing her said Joyce got one of the best scores she's given -- the lower number, the better, and one must get under 25 to pass -- Joyce got a 10. Way excellent.

I'm so proud of her.

I'm Over It, Really

Halloween is my 3rd favorite holiday. (Yes, I'm predictable, Christmas is 1st and Thanksgiving is 2nd.) Our kids have always, always, had home-invented & home-made costumes. Our daughter is 6 years older than our son, so once Sam was old enough to trick-or-treat, Joyce and Sam sometimes went as a pair of something. We've had an apple tree, a sunflower, a zebra, a jaguar, Fluffy the 3-headed dog (H.P. fans know it), Peter Pan and Tinkerbell... When Joyce was in 1st grade, with no small influence I'm sure from my favorite CD of the moment coupled with her new-found interest in guitars, she went as Patsy Cline. All the adults loved the costume, while none of her classmates got it. It was great. Sam's 2nd grade costume was a headless man carrying his head. I love the Salvation Army store -- I felt kind of bad using such a nice black suit, but hey, it only cost about ten bucks. Last year, Sam went as a "slam dunk" -- his head was a basketball (paper mache) and around his neck was a net. It was really cool to see all the sports dads get a kick out of his costume.

I even have a "Halloween bathroom" -- our half-bath decor is comprised of photos through the years of family in Halloween costumes, trick-or-treating shots and carving pumpkin shots. Folks sometimes spend more time than "necessary" in there just to take it in. I love it.

Anyway, Joyce began shooting up in height, so she already looks older than she is, and 'round about the 3rd grade, she began getting a few comments from the (rude) folks handing out candy... comments such as "isn't she a little old". One woman in particular I just had to walk back to her house and clarify that Joyce was 9 and she should keep her unkind comments to own short self. Grrr.

That Halloween was the turning point. Soon, of course, Joyce no longer had interest in trick-or-treating, or dressing up. Since we live in a very rural area, we usually take our bags of candy into town and do our gig around the grandparents' neighborhood, so Joyce would stay at the house and help pass our candy. It is fun to see all the kiddos come up to the door.

But, boy oh boy, I sure miss seeing my baby girl dressed up for Halloween.

And to top it off, it's starting, kind of, with Sam. He's not as into Halloween this year as in prior years. I began asking him about mid-September, our usual time-frame, what he wanted to be for Halloween. He had nothing, no ideas. Until, of course, about 4 days ago when he decided to be a mummy. A Really Cool Mummy. A mummy costume is actually more complex than one might think. Nix on that. I told him too late, have to save that idea for next year. So Sam and I hit the "dress up trunk."

In our basement, we have a really old (stinky) steamer trunk that my brother gave to me. And it is overflowing with all kinds of quirky stuff for dress up. Anytime I see something weird at garage sales or 2nd hand shops or even antique stores -- where I go specifically for the purpose of looking for dress-up-trunk-stuff -- I buy it. So Sam and I thought he'd be great as an old man. We find the old red-and-cream colored pin stripe suit (circa 1970), the cream colored shiny men's dress shoes, a cane, an old hat... but then.... Sam as an old woman seemed much more interesting. With a big booty and big ol' boobs. Drooping knee hi's, big jewelry and ill-applied red lipstick, with this huge purse perfect for candy. Oh, he's just too funny. We had a test run Thursday evening because his elementary school had a Halloween walk. Socks for boobs won't work, too unstable. So that's my task today -- make boobies for Sam. And 2 pillows instead of 1 for the big booty. Since most everything came out of the dress up trunk, he even smells like an old person.

Tonight will be fun. And I know there won't be any more nights like this. Tonight will likely be our last time trick-or-treating with our kids because next year, Sam wants to have a Halloween party -- where we turn our basement into a haunted house just like we did for Joycie when she was in the 5th grade. At least next year, I can make a mummy costume for my boy.

Sniff, sniff.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Lazy Lazy Lazy

Sundays are supposed to be lazy, right. Today I've spent most of the day trying to build up the inclination to actually get something done. All I've accomplished is baking some cookies. (The kind where the dough comes out of a bucket... from a school fund-raiser.) My plan was to go into the office this weekend and really kick some butt on the stacks and stacks on my desk. No dice. Once I get home, I just don't want to go back there... so I don't. However, I am so far behind and have so much work backed up that spending a weekend in the office would probably make me feel better. Instead, I feel like I always have this big heavy thing hanging over my head. Well, not always, but often enough. Remember those plate spinners that would do their trick on Johnny Carson or Ed Sullivan? Sometimes I feel like that! I have a ton of stuff that I need and want to get done at home, which doesn't really include drinking 2 pots of coffee, baking cookies or watching last week's NYPD Blue on video. Hey, wait, I've done some laundry today, so I'm not a total lazy bones.

Actually, both at work and at home, I've not been very productive lately. I have spent a lot of time rearranging stacks of work and writing and re-writing lists. I think that I have so much to do that it has become too intimidating, like I don't know where to start, thus I don't ever really get started, at least not on anything substantive.

But I wish I had the energy of my son, Sam. He's just gone downstairs to "mom's craft room" and found some paints and brushes, and he's now going out into the woods to paint "stuff" on a fallen oak tree. It's actually a twin oak that fell last year, and the trunk where he's painting is taller than he is. This is an idea he's got that stems from an art project in school where they made "rocks" by stuffing paper and painting glue with sand on them, then painting on them in petroglyphic fashion. They're all sitting on top of the lockers outside of the art room, and they actually look very cool. Sam wanted to go find some rocks to paint, but having none to speak of on our forested land, he's made do with a dead tree. That's my boy.

Kev is on his way out bowhunting, and won't come back in the house until after dark. It's a cool, almost cold, overcast day, and perfect for hunting. The success of past hunting is currently in the oven, where it's been most of the afternoon -- 2 large venison roasts with potatoes, carrots and onions. And our house smells soooo good.

Joycie went over to Nathan's yesterday to spend the weekend with them. She was pretty happy about the plans. I suppose it's only fair, since we've had Nathan for a couple of weekends recently, but I do miss my girl. Not having her here this morning kind of got me a little off kilter.

Last weekend was homecoming, and the dance was on Saturday. Joyce looked so beautiful in her dressy dress. She is amazing. Nathan looked beautiful as well in his new suit. Together, they were... well, beautiful. They both looked so happy. Joycie said that her favorite part was being driven by Nathan with just the 2 of them. She said she felt older. She is a very mature 15-almost-16-year-old, and Nathan is also mature for his age, just 16. I'm proud of the both of them.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

October 4th

Yesterday, October 4th, my Mom turned 68 years old. Happy Birthday to my Mom!

And since my Mom and Dad were married on my Mom's 16th birthday, Happy 52nd Anniversary to my Mom and Dad!

I want to grow up and be just like them.

This Godiva Wants Me

I'm sitting at my desk looking at a Godiva milk chocolate bar. It's calling my name, and my daughter is at her basketball game... so I'm trying real hard not to listen to it! It was in a thank you card from her boyfriend's mama -- what a classy thank you card to give to someone! -- and I promised Joyce she could have it. (She earned it big time by helping me to clean out and vacuum the motorhome.)

The weekend before last, my daughter's boyfriend, Nathan, turned 16 years old. A milestone birthday. He can now obtain a driver's license. We have a deal, however, that he must first drive me around before he can drive Joyce alone. Parents worrying about their teenagers driving is so cliché... because it's so true. I think it would be a rare parent, at least in my neck of the woods, that would have no worries about their freshly licensed teen.

We had a small birthday party for our birthday boy (thus the classy thank you card). I think it made him happy, and we were happy to make him happy. He's such a sweetheart. I think I've gone the gamut of emotions about my daughter having a steady boyfriend, but she sure has made an excellent choice. Yet another reason not to gobble up her promised Godiva. Ah.....

Fall Camping

This past weekend, my 9-year-old son and I went camping at Ludington State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan. It was awesome. The whole experience was so darn much fun. We borrowed my parents' 1986 Toyota Mirage motorhome, which especially made the trip feel like an adventure. The motorhome is small and compact, but there was plenty of room for the 2 of us. We stayed warm and cozy in our little motorhome. It was a beautiful, blue sky sunny weekend, and the nights were cold. The days on the shore were cold, too, and windy. Lake Michigan had white caps each time we saw it. The campground is situated in the midst of pines and hardwoods, and between the camp and the lake are sand dunes. Lots and lots of sand dunes, with all kinds of grasses and other strange looking plants on them. There is no more difficult walking that I have experienced than walking up those sand dunes. And then when you run down the other side, it's like going really fast in slow motion. You feel like you're going to go head over heels, but the sand drags at you and you remain upright (well, mostly). And your shoes get totally filled with sand.

At this park, there are a lot of trails, and some you can take will lead you to the Big Sable Lighthouse. It's the only way to get there -- on foot or bike... us common folks can't use motorized vehicles on the access road to the lighthouse. It's not a very long walk, and it's so well worth the mile and a half.

This camping trip was kinda sorta spur of the moment, if one can think of a couple of weeks as a moment -- anyway, the 2 weeks of planning flew by and we really just threw everything together the night before we left. Then we snagged groceries on our way through town. Just the 2 of us. We've never done anything like this before, and that, too, gave it the feel of an adventure. I think my husband was just slightly worried... but a cell phone and a Visa card denote a decided seal of security-thus-approval.

This was one of those times that, for the rest of my life, will make me feel happy inside every time I think about it, and I know it was a high point for my son. My beautiful, wonderful son.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Memberable Time

When I Lost My Fingernail
by Sam, Age 9

When I was in kindergarten and about 5 years old, something memberable happened to me. In the Summer my sister, Joyce had softball practice at Westown. When Joyce was practicing my dad and I practiced hitting baseballs. My dad pitched a slow pitch and I swung, and I was out too far and the ball hit my right hand. The ball losened my middle finger finger-nail. It hurt alot and I wanted to burst out crying, but I didn't because I didn't want to be embarrised in front of Joyce's softball team. My dad took me in the car and then I started crying in the car where nobody could see me. After Joyces practice was over we went home and my mom fixed it up so if I banged it it wouldn't get hurt. After about a week it was so loose that lift it practiclly all the way up. I told my grandma and she said it had to be taken off. She tried pulling it off with her hand but she couldn't get it. Finally she got a pair of pliars and yanked it off. Boy did that hurt! I screamed and cried and wouldn't let her touch my finger at all the rest of that day. My finger nail groosed my family, and all of my friends out. The fingernail grew back and for a little while was really stiff. I still can't believe that a baseball made me lose a finger nail.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Clean Dog = Happy Dog

Our dog, Reilly, has been a little mopey lately. Today I realized that it had been a while since he's had a bath, like about 2 weeks. We've just been so busy lately, I don't think any of us thought to give him a bath. Also, since he spent some time outside today, he was a bit dirty. And he got into some burrs and pickers, just a little, not like tons of them. So I got all of those off from him and gave him a nice, long bath. He never fights us about a bath, but he doesn't usually seem to enjoy it, more like he tolerates it with good manners -- but today he leaped into the tub. I could tell by the look on his face that he was actually looking forward to the bath.

I know how he feels -- after working outside on a hot day and getting all dirty and sweaty and yukky, a nice hot shower just feels soooooo good, and it's wonderful to be all nice and clean and fresh afterwards, and to put on nice, comfy clean clothes and sit on your butt on the sofa. Feeling clean and good and justified to do nothing but relax.

And now Reilly smells so good and looks so good, and he's in a really good mood.

Overheard at the Football Game This Morning

One of the dads was talking about his 9-year-old son pitching a fit this past Summer and threatening to run away from home. His son didn't even make it to the end of the driveway. It probably had something to do with what his dad told him, "don't let the door knob hit ya where the good Lord split ya."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Rose Merry

This morning the Eastern sky was so stupendously beautiful that I was truly glad to be driving into work facing it. (Even if that meant driving into work.) I live in a rural area, and most of my 30-minute drive into work is spent on a straight-shot state "highway" which is 2 lanes heading East and 2 lanes heading West with a turn lane in the middle, and homes and businesses all along it. It is usually a very busy, hectic road. This morning it was serene. It was breathtakingly glorious. And then this huge orange ball of a sun seemed to slowly come up right at the end of the road -- though it seemed slow, the sun actually rose (and became smaller) within a matter of minutes. How in the *world* does that happen?

I just love this time of year. Especially the mornings. For a relatively short time, I drive to work into the sunrise and I drive home into the sunset. It's often quite a show. Soon I will be driving to & fro in the dark, so I try to enjoy this while I can.

I don't know if it's just me and my own personal reaction, but when the sky is so beautiful, it seems like the usually-rude-and-nasty drivers on that hellish road are a more kind and gentle breed of drivers. Yeah, it's probably just me. Either way, it's definitely a more pleasant drive.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

We Have a Horse-Dog

We actually have 3 dogs. Our Border Collie, Reilly, stays in the house with us, but loves going outside. Our other 2 dogs stay outside all the time together, the female, Betty (short for Apple Brown Betty), is a chocolate labrador retriever, and the younger dog, a male named Barney (short for Barnabas), is a yellow lab. (The "Betty & Barney" thing wasn't planned, I had one of those "remember..." conversations with my sister, and Dark Shadows came up... thus Barnabas.)

Barney is a big dog, even for his breed. He's around 100 pounds, for one thing, and he has a huge head and feet. Strong as an ox. And very, very playful. This can sometimes be a tricky combo, since he loves to play and can easily knock you over. He's a slobber-puss, too. Oh so lovable.

Barney's most recent favorite thing to do is to pick an apple off from our winesap apple tree, carry it around in his big ol' mouth for a while and then eat it. I swear, he looks just like a horse when he's munching on his apple. He's got most of the lower hanging apples gone now, but that's not a problem for Barney.

What's so funny is that he looks almost smug about it, too, like he's showing the other 2 dogs that he has some treat they don't. Meanwhile, they seem to look at him like, why in the heck do you want to eat one of those things?

Witch Hazel Surprise

We built our house a little over 10 years ago. When we did so, we needed some sand for fill, so the excavators we hired took some from "out back" of the building site. Thus, we got the bonus of a small pond. (Which was, I think, the seed of the idea for my husband, years later, to have built a big pond near our house.) Our property is all wooded, and so we had a few spots cleared and put in some clover fields to feed the white tail. (I say "we" but, yeah, it was pretty much all Kev.) One of these fields is right near the small pond. Earlier this summer, we noticed this tree/shrub just growing to beat the band. I didn't recognize it. It developed green nuts/seeds; so many that the branches were leaning down with the weight. It's very pretty. And it smells good, too -- it smells "green," the only way I know to describe it.

Yesterday, my husband set up a hunting blind on the edge of that field, right next (and within) this as-yet-unidentified shrub/tree. And yesterday evening, we sat inside the blind (it's really like a small wood hut, just room enough for 2) and watched the deer come out and feed. It was a beautiful evening. It was awesome. In the sense that I really felt filled with awe at the beauty that's just a short walk from our house.

So, sitting there, with the branches all around us, it just started to bug me, amidst the awe, that I hadn't identified that plant yet. Seems like each time I went by it, I told myself to remember to look it up, but I'd forget. So last night, I plucked myself a branch. Took about 3 minutes on the 'net to find it. It's a witch hazel! So just to be sure, I checked with my dad. Dad confirmed it's a witch hazel, which he would classify as a shrub because it never gets very tall. The witch hazel will bloom yellow in, get this, the wintertime. I can't wait. Yet one more reason to love winter!!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Don't Like The Weather?

As any true Michigander would reply... Wait a Few Minutes!

I love this time of year. Summer's waning and here comes frost-on-the-pumpkin weather. Yes! This morning at 7 am it was so cold outside you could see your own breath in the air, but by the time 10 am rolled around, sitting in the sunshine in a lawnchair at my son's football game, it really warmed up. Folks were peeling off jackets and sweatshirts like crazy. It got so hot sitting there in the sun. At least I didn't have to worry about my vanilla hazelnut capuccino getting cold. And now here it is, nearly 6 pm and the sun is getting lower and lower in the sky, and all the windows are open in the house, and my feet are freezing!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Rathadamist No More...

Next up... Ginger!

That little mini hamster turned out to be one of the bitingest lil' critters we've ever had. So we returned him to the store from whence he came, and bought an adorable little gerbil.

Our daughter got her first gerbil about five years ago for a 6th grade science fair project. That gerbil was a pearl gray color and sweet as could be. "He" was called Earl, and he-later-identified-as-she lived a long, full life, with only a couple of unscheduled forays into the wilderness of carpeted areas. Actually, during the first such foray, our daughter acquired her 2nd gerbil, a cutie-pie with a white star on her forehead, appropriately named Star. As Earl was AWOL and the science fair project deadline was approaching, Star was the pinch hitter, so to speak. But Earl reappeared in time and ended up being the true star of the project. Earl and Star were happy together, and still very tame and sweet with our daughter.

Star didn't live all that long, though. And the little red one next, named Cinnamon, well... let's just say Earl didn't warm up to Cinnamon. It was a very traumatic 30 seconds. And Earl lived the rest of her life with no other gerbil companionship.

Then came Nutmeg. Turns out, Nutmeg was quite old when we bought her. Long in the tooth. So the elderly Nutmeg didn't reside with us very long.

And now we have the sweetheart of the bunch, Ginger. (We made sure this gerbil was a very small gerbil, so very young. She's almost a baby.)

Gerbils are wonderful little creatures, and they're easy to care for. Wonderful if you like rodents. And if you like little noises throughout the night, which our daughter now prefers, having gotten so used to it. She's declared that she will likely have gerbils throughout her life.

Monday, September 06, 2004


rathadamist (rŭ thăd' ă mĭst) n.
Any small, dark gray rodent; or the name of said rodent.

The Curse of the Toilet Paper Roll

Yesterday my entire family gathered at my folks' for a BBQ. My eldest brother-in-law Bob bought porterhouse and t-bone steaks for everyone. We grilled down by the river and had a wonderful time. Everyone had their 4-wheelers, and the kids tooled around all evening -- there are tons of trails. My folks have a golf cart, and my husband and I went for a drive along the river looking at all the many and various fungi. It's been so warm and humid, the fungi are lovin' it. There was one fungus in particular that was pretty spectacular. It's growing against an old stump right off the trail, and it's bright orange and almost 2 feet in diameter. We've dubbed it the Big Orange.

Anyway, back to the Curse. I'm at my Mom and Dad's on an almost daily basis for something or another. We live less than 3 miles from them, and they've cared for our kids, while my husand and I work, since both kids were infants. Most of the time, though, I'm only there for a short time, 10 or 20 minutes. Just dropping off or picking up kids, forgotten books, or borrowing ingredients, like mozzarella cheese or eggs. That kind of thing. So it turns out that I rarely use my parents' bathroom. On those few times that I do have to take a pee when I'm there, almost always there is enough toilet paper on the roll, just enough, for me to finish my business. Then I have to change the roll. This is no big deal. But it happens almost every single time I use my parents' bathroom. I mean, 99.9% of the time -- in fact, I cannot remember a time when I haven't had to change their toilet paper roll over to a new one. Isn't that just plain weird?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Internet Game Rooms

My 9-year-old son introduced me to an Internet game room -- it's one that's like Pictionary. I won't plug it here, because I think it's awful. Not the game. The game is great. It's the people that play it. And the language they use. And the name-calling. And the sheer, blatant stupidity. Anonymity can sometimes surely breed the baseness of character. There's so many mean-spirited, gutter-mouthed jerks in there, that, Of Course, my son is forevermore banned from the game.

While you're playing the game, other users can "whisper" to you, so you can have this personal chat while you're playing. It took me a while to figure out that "asl" means age/sex/location. I had to finally ask a whisperer. It was a 15-year-old girl from Louisiana. Who knows? Maybe that's true. Maybe it is also true that she's as sexy as she says she is. I whispered back that she should find a better way to meet people. (My daughter is 15....) She told me to go f*** myself and called me a mf.... and that I was a f***ing a**hole and that I should f***ing die. .... Nice.

Hey, lesson learned. My family's gonna stick to the regular, actual, tangible board games. Name calling limit of "turd" or "ratfink".

Home Sick

Remember when staying home sick was pretty cool? Sure, you didn't feel great, but you didn't have to go to school, and that was great. (And I was one of those kids that loved school. But I loved a day off, too.) Now here I am, sick as a dog, so staying home from work. Well, technically, I could work from home, but since I feel awful, I'd probably just end up having to fix whatever I did. But it is definitely No Fun. All I can think about, between and around the waves of pain in my head from coughing, etc. (bet you can figure out what "etc." means), is the work that is piling up on my desk. Ugh. Yuk. Damn.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Straighten Up & Fly Right

My sister has often used this phrase to her kids, and I think my mom used to use it on us... and I've been known to use it occasionally myself. (Along with another of my sister's more creative instructions, "behave or I'll rip off your head and shit in your neck.") Anyway, I just today learned that this is from a 1943 Nat King Cole song. Cool!

Homesickness, aka Quietude Preferred

I'm in Huntington Beach, California, on a short trip to attend a user conference. My husband and son came with me, and since they are at Disneyland today and the conference ended early, here I am alone in the hotel room looking out at the Pacific Ocean and I kinda sorta remembered... didn't I start a blog or what.

Obviously, there are a LOT of people that find this part of the world to be an ideal place to live. I have very little, if not nothing, in common with these people. Though the ocean view is beautiful, the traffic and the dense population and the resulting noise is bit by bit driving me wacky. I'm uptight and can't wait to get home.

And I'm looking out at that beautiful beach feeling like I really should go take a walk on it or something, but a) it really smells bad down there, and b) there's a shitload of people down there, and c) I have to cross PCH to get there. Well, really c) ain't no big thing, but it just feels better to have 3 reasons to remain in my (lovely) room and play on the computer, taking advantage of the hotel amenity of high speed Internet access.

Also, our daughter opted to stay home (so as not to miss basketball practice and the first game of the season), and I'm missing her dreadfully.

Also, I'm getting my husband's cold and I feel like crap. And in my book, crap = nap. Which I think is next on my California agenda.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

How to Determine Shoe Size

Today I asked my daughter her boyfriend's shoe size, and she said, "9, because 8 1/2 are too small, and 9 1/2 are too big." Whew! So glad to get that cleared up!

Note to Self: Teenage daughter may occasionally resent, to an inordinate degree, laughter at her expense.

Monday, August 02, 2004


I... just... love... ellipses...

You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours

When I was a kid, I had to share a room with one of my sisters. Mostly we both thought it was awful. Especially when we were in our early teens. But when we were little, lots of times, after settling in, one of us would say, "If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." Those were the best times about sharing a room with my sister. (To this day, I absolutely love to have my back scratched. And I truly don't understand anyone who doesn't like it, though I've met a few - granted they're a rare breed - who profess to not like it. Yeah, right.) Anyway, we would scratch away each others itchy backs... and yes, sometimes try to skimp out the other one on time. And sometimes argue. But mostly it was wonderful. I loved being the second one, and falling off, or almost off, to sleep with a lovely, lovely back-scratching.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

That Pivotal Family Moment

Everyone pretty much knows family life can be defined by a particular moment or event. That certain thing that happens that henceforth marks time in your family. From then on, everything is "before the-certain-thing-happened" or "after the-certain-thing-happened"... For us, there have been a lot of those things. The usual marriage, and then children. Even major vacation trips mark time for us. Car accidents. Good things and bad things. The most recent has been my husband's acquisition of a new, bright orange tractor. We don't have a farm, mostly woods. And a big pond (that somehow requires much tractor work). Life for us is described by pre-Kubota or post-Kubota terms. Now, I mostly just hear him driving around the ol' homestead. At first, it kind of bothered me - the constant sound of the tractor. Now, I hardly notice it. Right now, tractoring is a passion for him. My mom calls the Kubota his new mistress. (Which rather implies he has an old mistress. Huh.) So anyway, we'll wait a while and let him go and do his thing without whining about it. He's having so much fun.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


A friend at work is struggling with a custody suit. She has 3 children. The oldest, a girl, is 16 and lives with her full-time. Her 2 youngest are both boys, ages 14 and 12 (or so). The boys must live with their dad something like every other week. When the dad recently was served with papers wherein their mother is suing for full custody, and the papers included letters from all 3 children to the judge asking to be able to live with their mom (the boys desperately want to live with their mom full-time), well... one can imagine the dad was not happy. My friend has talked about the whole situation quite a bit, and she told me that her sons' father has now forbid them to call him "dad"; instead they must address him as "sir" or "yes, sir". I know parents do awful things to their kids, but for some reason this just made me very, very sad.

Another friend has a beautiful little daughter, about 2 years old, who has cancer. I try to keep positive thoughts about this wonderful little girl's future, but unfortunately, the Internet provided a massive amount of information for me to read about this type of cancer... so mostly, I worry about her. I worry so much that Gabrielle won't be around much longer to call her mom, "mom" or her dad, "dad".

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Electric Guitars Are Really Loud, Too

But thankfully, it has a volume control. And I have control over that!

Today our daughter became the proud owner of a new-to-her black and white, shiny, beautiful electric guitar. Plus, of course, a new amp and a cable, plus a strap, and oh yeah, it came with a (free!) case. She had an opportunity to earn some money these past 3 days, and so was able to make her most-recent dream come true (with a little help). And I am truly glad. She plays beautifully. Thankfully no Smoke on the Water. She likes some songs that we also like, BoDeans, S&G, Led Z., Tom P., Lynyrd... Yes!

Aw, turn it up!

Treefrogs Are Really Loud

This evening I caught 2 Gray Treefrogs at the pool at my son's best friend Cody's house. One is bright green and the other is a yellowish-green. I did not know that they do more than trill LOUDLY -- they also bark. It sounds more like a puppy bark than a full-grown dog bark. It's very odd seeing/hearing that sound come out these little frogs. At Cody's home, they have what must be a very large population of treefrogs (judging from the chorus we heard). And the treefrogs seem to love their swimming pool. But not nearly as much as the boys do.

My plan was to release these 2 "volunteers" on our property because, though only a couple of miles away from their former home base, we seem to have no treefrogs. But now I am imagining an army of treefrogs serenading us nightly..... I think these 2 will just visit for the evening.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Sam and Reilly's Fort of Fun

Today my son made his very own fort. We can gain entrance, after filling out a Membership Registration Form (with such pertinent questions as "Favorite Kool-Aid Flavor" and "If you have a nickname, enter it here") and, after review, receiving a Sam and Reilly's Fort of Fun Official Membership Card.

It's actually quite a wonderful fort. And it's now very cozy and comfy with a sleeping bag, a bean bag chair and several pillows, plus 2 small battery-eating, I mean battery-operated, lanterns. Plenty of room for both boy and dog to sleep. Which I've heard is the plan for tonight.