Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Good Foundation

In this summer of extreme heat and drought, there was a news story about protecting your foundation.  For some time and a little bit of money now, you can make sure that you don't have major foundation repairs at a later date.

We're usually later date people.

I mentioned this to The Big Daddy and he said he was on it.  He always answers really fast when he's not going to do something.  Tonight, he said, while you're gone I'll do it.

The next day I asked him how it went and damn if it didn't slip his mind.  Tonight, he said, I will do it.  I also told him that they suggested you put more dirt around the foundation.  Not top soil, but a good clay dirt that holds moisture.  On it, he said.

The next day I asked him how it went and geez, oh man, tonight's the night.  For sure, but first he had a better plan.

If holding in moisture around the foundation is the idea, he said, instead of getting dirt I'm going to put kitty litter there. BA. DA. BING. BA. DA. BOOM.  Helloooooooo, people, moisture holding.  Am I a genius or what?
 
What.

I thought about going down Argument Road with him, but since we both know that there will be no watering of the foundation, no moisture holding dirt, no proactive steps taken to protect that upon which our house sits, I nodded dumbly.

Just like the Tidy Cat idea.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Living The Dream

The Boy Child has not exactly had the summer he planned.  Last year he went to London and that put him on a high for months to follow.

This year he was hoping to get an internship but those were mighty hard to come by, and so for the fifth summer in a row he was back at the bagel shop.  It is one thing to go back after you've had an awesome overseas adventure, it's another when it's your only option.  Most days he's there before the sun comes up  to wait on customers, put bagels in the oven, wash dishes and mop the floors for an eight hour shift.

The other day, a guy came in and said, "HEY YOU GUYS!!!  HOW'S IT GOIN?  WORKING HARD?  LIVING THE DREAM???

When you are wearing a ball cap and tshirt that says, "Ask me about the poppers", and standing all day smelling like bagels, you are not living the dream.   That is impossible at $7.50 an hour.  They got his bagels and and when he couldn't decide on a drink he said, "HEY YOU GUYS???  WHAT GETS YOU GOING IN THE MORNING???"  Vodka and cigarettes.

For the 2nd time in a few short minutes they looked at him like the gigantic ass that he was, and as much as this summer has sucked, at least The A.M. Bagel Crew doesn't have to go through life in that guy's skin.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting Orientated

Mallie Bee and I went to orientation bright and early Friday morning.  It was an all day affair with sessions for parents, sessions for students, sessions for both.  It was information overload, but most of our questions were answered and she is ready for her new adventure.

The third time's a charm without any of the anxiety of a first-timer as I told a teary-eyed mom who looked just like me seven years ago.  You're going to be o.k.  She's going to be o.k.  I promise.  This is what we have to do.  Let them go.  Watch them fly.

Sitting at a table near us after lunch was a girl majoring in Slut 101.  The only thing the top of her sundress covered were her nipples leaving nothing to the imagination and she had "easy" written all over her.

Prior to leaving the room, her mother suggested she clean up her lunch remains.  The new coed let out a heavy, dramatic sigh with the obligatory eye roll, ignored her mom and walked away.  Isn't cleaning up after themselves the sort of thing you instill in your kid when they're three and not an adult? 

Thankfully, the majority of these kids will fly into a bright future with interests that make their heart skip a beat, but you can already predict that the wings of others will be burdened by their own garbage.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Steve The Neighbor: Part Two

On a lovely fall afternoon, three cop cars pulled up in front of the house.  Each of the cops had their hand on their holster and slowly made their way down the street to Steve The Neighbor's house.

They knocked on his door and talked to him on his front porch.  They left awhile later and he remained behind with no handcuffs, no walk of shame, no booking at the station.

A few days later I heard the story of the Popo's visit.

Steve the neighbor had been getting repeated telemarketer calls.  One day he said to one of them............. "You......people.....make.....me........so......crazy........with......all........this.........calling I.......could....kill  ....myself."

Steve, that's a little dramatic.

The Telemarketer feared he really was going to kill himself and called the local cops to check on him.  When the intervention was over and all was fine, Steve The Neighbor had a unique opportunity to take advantage of a limited-time offer for a time-share in the Ozarks if he acted now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Steve The Neighbor: Part One

Across the street, lived a lovely, elderly couple for years.  Dorothy suffered numerous health problems that resulted in her going into a nursing home.  Her husband, Steve, got cancer and died a year later.  With both parents gone from the house, Steve the Son moved in.

Steve will wave when he drives by, but mostly keeps to himself.  He's a slow talker and when he actually does have a conversation, he will say that the goddamn taxes on the house are killing him and he's putting the place up for sale.  He has been saying that for eight years.

One day when there wasn't anyone else around, I needed to enlist Steve the Son's help.

Our street was getting sealed and all the cars had to be off by the time the crew came.  The job had been postponed due to weather four different times and so I'd forgotten about it.  On that day, I noticed that there weren't any cars on the street except The Big Daddy's with the stickshift that I don't know how to drive so I knocked on Steve's door to see if he could move it for me.

Oh, and one other thing...........The Big Daddy's car had a back tire with a slow leak that he would inflate with his bicycle pump on the rare occasion that he drove it.  I kid you not.

"Well......I......can't.......move......it......with.......a.......flat."   

Oh, but it's o.k.  Here, Steve, watch.  Just go up and down with the bike pump.  See?  If you keep doing that, Steve, it will inflate and then you can move it.  Steve.

And he looked at me like I was crazy. 

"I.......think........you........better......call...........Mark........for............this."

Well, I've been trying but he's in a meeting and I can't get a hold of him.

"Call........his......secretary."

His what?

"Tell......her.......you've.......got.......a......9.......1........1.......emergency."

Sheesh, Steve, it's a car that needs to be moved not a dead body.

"Then........tell......the.....secretary........it's.........urgent."

He doesn't even have a secretary.

"He......should.........get.........one.......for.......when.......there's......an.......emergency."

We went back and forth like that for awhile until I sent him home because he was yanking on my last nerve.  Since that day he keeps even more to himself when I'm around and avoids me like I'm the the tax collector.

All because I asked for a little favor.


Source: picpinhd.com via Brenda on Pinterest

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

IKEA

I have a long post to write about the first friend I made when we moved to Maryland, but that is for another time.  The short version is that we were both far from family with newborns and husbands that worked a whole lot.  One day, Carla asked me if I wanted to make a trek with her and our babies to some store called Ikea.  It was an all day affair, and it was the first of many, many trips we would take to the Land of Swedish Meatballs, including a midnight one for the Solstice Sale.  We were serious Ikea shoppers.

When we moved to Kansas my Ikea days came to an end.  A few years after we arrived here, a new job candidate was being wined and dined for a possible position with The Big Daddy's department.  Over the course of the dinner, the guy mentioned that he "loathes Ikea and that cheap shit they sell."

Pssst..........somebody needs to inform Donald Trump that the job he's after is working for the state. 

I'm not saying he didn't get the job because some of the spouses who happen to love Ikea thought he was a flaming douche, but we may have mentioned our thoughts about him a time or thirty.

On our trip home last week, we went to the new Ikea that is only twenty minutes from my mom's house.  Thank ya Jeezus.   Another generation has fallen under the spell of the Swedes as the New Mr. & Mrs. stocked up, and looking at the receipts on the way home we admired how much we got for so little, except we had no idea what any of it meant.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Time Out

I've got nothing in my reserve tank this week as we just came home from five days with the family to celebrate my nephew's wedding.  He and his honey threw a great party and oh, what a family I have.  Stories to come soon...............

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What They Said

We have an independent bookstore in town that packs a wallop in literary circles.  Over the years, they have been able to get every major author to come to Kansas City and do a book signing.  For the cost of a hardback book, you get two tickets to see the author and I've been to a few.

Here's some snippets...........

Anna Quindlen (I've seen her twice.)
She spoke of giving a commencement address and told her audience that they wouldn't remember anything she talked about as her speaker when she graduated was Margaret Mead, and all she wanted to do was get the ceremony over with and onto the parties afterwards.  While sitting on stage as graduates came up to receive their diplomas, a girl passed her a note written in lipstick that said, "I'll remember everything you said."

Kathryn Stockett
After 60 rejections for "The Help", her publisher called to say they had a problem with the title.  She had titled it "Help" and well, they really thought "The Help" sounded better.  After a long pause she said, "I don't give a shit what you call it just get it in a bookstore."  She is hilariously funny.

Calvin Trillin
He is a Kansas City native, author of many books and columnist for the New Yorker.  He wrote often of his wife and when she died published a book called "About Alice."  A young woman wrote to him thanking him for all the times he wrote about the wife he so clearly loved and said, "When my boyfriend asked me to marry him I asked him if he would love me like you loved Alice."

John McCain
The senator came to promote and sell his book "Faith Of My Fathers."  It was packed and at the Q & A an elderly black man shuffled his way to the microphone and told him that he served in the Navy with his father.  When the war was over he didn't have anywhere to go and so his father brought him to his home.  "Your mother taught me how to read and helped me obtain my college degree.  Since they're no longer alive, I've come here tonight to thank you.  They were the finest people I've ever known."  Everyone was rather stunned and then started applauding.  John McCain began to cry, came off the stage and hugged him for a very long time. 

Anne Lamott (I've seen her twice, too.)
She decided that she would wing it and not read from her book.  After arriving at a mediocre turnout in New York for her latest book, she read a chapter to the audience and stumbled so much it was as if she had never seen the words before in her life.  She went back to her hotel room and ate an entire cake that was sent to her from her publicist for her birthday and vowed not to read her words aloud for the rest of the tour.

Dave Eggers
He wrote "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" which is one of my favorite books.  It is the true story of  the sudden deaths of both his parents in a very short time leaving him to raise his younger brother at the age of 19.  He made it up as he went.  He came to town shortly before an election and noted that we may be polite in Kansas City but we know how to fight when it came to the size of the political signs posted in our yards.

Jon Krakauer
I loved "Into Thin Air" and remember throwing more blankets on me because the way he writes of the bitter cold the climbers endured trying to get to the top of Everest felt so real.   He did a power point presentation that was really good, plus he's a very smart guy.

There were a couple of talks that were bad enough to wish I'd stayed in that night..........

Gretchen Rubin
She wrote "The Happiness Project" and is native to Kansas City.  She spoke to a packed audience and gave out tidbits for happiness such as.......make your bed every day, pick up after yourself, look out the window.  It was one of the shortest talks I'd ever been to and when it was over the woman next to me said, "That's it?  That's what I came here for?  That was bizarre."  Agreed.  It took me longer to find a parking space and I never read the book.

Greg Mortenson
The author of "Stones Into Schools" presented a power point presentation that was nearly identical to the one he did for "Three Cups of Tea."  Every person that entered the talk was given an envelope to contribute to the Central Asia Institute and plenty of checks were being written for this charismatic man.  A year later, it had become very questionable whether most of it actually happened, courtesy of some digging by Jon Krakauer.

If you ever have a chance to go to one of these DO NOT turn it down.  I've gone when a friend has had an extra ticket and sometimes don't even know who the author is or what the book is about, but I always learn something.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

All They Do Is Sleep

My walking has been curtailed this summer due to the heat and my walking partner being on the disabled list.  He is suffering the affliction of big dogs with bad hips causing his back legs to give out from under him often.  This is what he does most of the day.


I know where this is going.  :(

When we adopted him from the shelter he was on his way to being a full-grown 40# sheltie.  In reality, he was on his way to being an 85# chow/retriever mix.  I felt more than a little duped, when in the confines of my small house, he kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  Over his nearly thirteen years, I have come to accept his girth.  And he mine.  These days we spend a lot of time together and when I ask him what I should write about, he looks like he's giving it some thought.

In the meantime, I have The Turd Brothers to keep me company.

Turd Two has taken a liking to napping here..............



............and even when I yell at him to get his furry ass off my table, he takes no offense.

Or no action to leave.

And what I write about?  He looks at me like I'm dragging him into my drama.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Barfing Dogs

When The Boy Child was a wee one, he slept in a cozy little built-in bed that he would climb into and go off to La-La Land.  It was on numerous occasions that he barfed in his cozy, little bed.  There was a gap of about an inch between his bed and the wall and that kid always managed to barf in that direction, so you would have to get a wet rag wrapped around a yardstick to try to get in there and clean it up.

Make that The Big Daddy since I get the dry heaves when I'm anywhere near barf.

When The Boy Child was about eight, he said he didn't feel good and I had him run into the bathroom to get sick.  Our teeny, little bathroom that was made for The Seven Dwarfs and that kid stood in the middle of the room and barfed everywhere.

It. Did. Me. In.

I went Mommy Dearest on him and instead of asking him if his poor tummy was upset said, "FOR CHRISSAKES, IF YOU'D HAVE LEANED IN ANY DIRECTION, YOU WOULD HAVE HIT A SINK, A TUB OR A TOILET!!!"

He got the message and we never had to clean up barf from that kid again.

This..................

.............needs to go away.  The idea that people compete in cramming hot dogs down their throat (that are first dipped in a glass of water for easy sliding) is disgusting and I've never met a single person who wondered out loud who won the Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.

This calls for an intervention, and since I've proven that I'm good at the bat-shit-mom-gone-crazy stuff, I elect myself.  And I'm a result getter.

Except for that time when The Big Daddy and I went to a party.  When we got home I crawled into bed but when I let go of the headboard cuz the room was spinning so bad, I puked everywhere.  That time the result wasn't so good. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lest Ye Be Judged

It has been my experience that we women can be a pretty cut-throat bunch.  We judge everything all the time, and, for better or worse, there is little that escapes our scrutiny.  Maybe it is inherent in our DNA, causing us to be suspicious in nature and punishing in practice.

In the report on Penn State and the serial child rapist they employed for decades, it wasn't much of a secret when even the janitors related stories of unspeakable things they witnessed with this coach and young boys in the locker room.   

Like the church I've belonged to all my life, there was an informed network of educated men who made decisions to enable the crime and the criminal in order to save the institution, and doing nothing became an acceptable solution lamb after sacrificial lamb. 

From the defensive and head coach to the parish priest and bishop, the inept and immoral leaders in power thought they had it figured out until it began unraveling, for they didn't count on the mother who sensed that something was horribly wrong with this man who befriended her and then her child.   They didn't count on the mother pleading with her child to tell her what happened while praying that it wasn't what she suspected it might be.  They didn't count on the mother, though trembling with fear, who refused to back down from the institution or the intimidation or the payoff.  They didn't count on the mother who wasn't about to let any of them get away with abusing the child she loved before she even knew the color of his eyes. 

They didn't count on the mother picking up the phone and calling the police to report a crime, thus deciding that Judgement Day would be coming with or without God.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Beautiful Mind.......The Verdict

I'm here to tell you that you can score 50% on an interview math quiz and still be considered for employment.  Not only considered, but dated.  A few days after my interview, I got asked to come into the office to see if we were marriage material.

It might have been one-sided as they were a little more in love than me.  They were nice people.  Really, really nice people, but the job seemed so boring I wondered if it came with cyanide pills for when you couldn't take another minute of entering insurance authorization codes.

I couldn't pull the trigger.

I was telling Mallie Bee about it on the way home from driving school and she said, "So, it was one of those soul-sucking jobs?"

Yes..........that's the perfect way to describe it.

"Yeah, Mom, I can't see you doing something like that."

I would be miserable eight hours a day.

"Well, it's too bad because the pay was so decent."

I know.  While my soul was being sucked my bank balance would go up.

"You could buy a lot of shoes with that kind of a paycheck.  That might make your soul suck less."

I will miss driving Miss Daisy.  Immensely.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Beautiful Mind

With time off for wedding planning, I am back to my job search.  I have decided that working in a doctor's office would be a good fit for me.  The pay and hours are better than retail and you can sit.  Winning!

Specifically, I thought an eye doctor's office would suit me because I love picking out glasses for myself and others, and I'd likely not be called upon to save somebody's life in the waiting room.  Three hours after I responded to a Craigslist ad, I got a call to come in the following day.  It was as if the universe agreed that I was on the right path.

It wasn't an easy interview by any means, but I felt like I was holding my own until the doctor mentioned the math test. 

I am sort of a whiz at math.  If I'm at Macy's and shorts are $39.00 less 30% plus a 20% off coupon, I can figure out exactly what I owe with tax.  All in my head.  I'm especially gifted when it comes to the clearance rack.

I was presented with four problems.  Four. Word. Problems.

Help me Jesus.

If Patient X has an eye exam that costs $92.00 and there is a co-pay of $20.00 and $40.00 of that is a contact lens exam that insurance does not cover but allows a 15% discount less an annual deductible of $50.00, how much does Patient X owe at checkout?

No worries.  Add this column, carry the one.  No, no, carry two.  Or should I double that and subtract four?  82.........82.......82..........246.

I read the problems over and over and over which didn't result in any answers, but more of a pre-diarrhea feeling settling in.  I scored a below average 50% on my employment quiz.

The doctor asked me to explain how I arrived at my answers.

My what?

Your answers, she said.  Explain your logic.

Here's my logic.  I  kept throwing shit against a wall and waited for something to stick, and lookie, here, half of it did.  You should hire me for your relief pitcher.

She's going to do a background check on me and will be in touch in a few days.  There's a 50% chance that it will reveal to her that I am deficient in logic.  Math and otherwise.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Driving School

After some freedom in her schedule and consistent nagging of her parents, Mallie Bee is finally enrolled in a driving school.  If you've done this before...........twice but who's counting...........you know that it costs an arm and a leg to get somebody else to agree to teach your kid what the pioneers did long ago with the horse and buggy.

Day One's lesson ended in the Scare The Shit Out Of The Kids movie which parents were invited to. I only saw the last few minutes of it as I scare the shit out of myself all the time.  I can do without the reenactment.

The 2nd day, we arrived a few minutes early so I got to see all the soon-to-be drivers getting dropped off by Mom or Dad.  In walked a prepubescent kid, just over the five foot mark, working a whole lot of swag with his driver's ed folder of pertinent information.

The age in which you can get a permit in Kansas is fourteen.  Yep, fourteen.  That Bad Ass likely just finished the 8th grade and is anxiously awaiting the deets of his high school locker and combination, some pubic hair and a driver's permit.

Oh, Lordy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Lotto

Sometimes when The Big Daddy and I are sitting on the porch with our adult beverages, we discuss what we'd do if we won the lotto.  That we never play until the odds are ridiculously stacked against us.  Without exception, we first decide who we would help out.  That's not because we're stellar citizens, but because we can't help but notice the number of people affected by a shitty economy or ongoing health problems.  With a lump sum payout in the millions, we could make things easier for them.

After that, we decide what to bank, what to use to blow out the back of the house, what to set aside for a dream vacation for everybody we like/love/just met.

It's pretty much a pipe dream, but we do it often.

When Maggie and Nathan married, we had the perfect day as parents.  This hard, hard work of raising people all came together, and a dozen times that day I looked at this guy I married 29 years ago and thought..............Look what we did.  Look at our family who traveled from all over to be with us.  Look at the friends we've made over the years who were so happy to share this celebration with us.  Look at these kids of ours who love and laugh and dance and make us oh so proud.  Look.

If I ever come into a pile of money I'd share it with everyone I know who needs help, but I am very aware these days that I have already won the Lotto.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pool Days

For at least ten years, I spent nearly every summer afternoon at the community pool with the kids.  It was the cheapest entertainment in town with an annual pass for the entire family a whopping $120.00.  The kids loved to go and while they played shark and Marco Polo, I'd have some desperately needed adult conversation with other moms.

At the time, there was a baby/toddler pool, the main pool, a diving pool and adult pool.  The baby pool sat up higher with steps that went down to the toddler pool.  Wet steps that water constantly ran down.  And what does a toddler like to do more than anything?  Climb steps.  And what happens when a wobbly toddler climbs up and down wet steps?  They smack their face.

For most of those years, I was with one toddler or another on those steps and even if you were mere inches away, if you took your eye off of them for a second, they'd do a face plant onto the concrete stairs.  Some face plants required lifeguard intervention when the screaming wee one was bleeding from a fat lip.

It. Was. A. Design. Cluster. Of. The. Greatest. Magnitude.

A fence separated that pool from the main pool, and I'd look through the chain link with such envy.  One time, I saw a kid go up to his mom who was laying on her chaise lounge smoking a cigarette and she yelled, "WHADDYA WANT????" when he was still ten feet away.  Snack bar, he said, and she threw some dollars his way and told him to leave her alone.

Sigh.

One more summer and I could join those lazy slackers who actually relaxed at the pool and left it up to God and the lifeguards to make sure their kid didn't drown.

That fall I got pregnant.  It would be four more years before I finally had my Shawshank Redemption.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Anderson

A few years ago, The Big Daddy and I were at a Christmas party and the subject of the news came up.  It was the year of Anna Nicole Smith's overdose and I wondered if journalism could get any lamer when that was the lead story of so many newscasts.  Then I said, "Even Anderson Cooper, who I happen to love, is spending too much time on that crap."

An acquaintance of ours said, "Well, that's because he's gay."

Whoa.  Back up.  What did you just say?

The Big Daddy has never been one to walk away or ignore an offensive comment, so he and the offender heatedly went back and forth for a few minutes, neither one willing to back down.  She finally said, "Lighten up, it was a joke."  He told her it lacked the essentials of a joke - humor.

This week Anderson Cooper did confirm that he is gay, and even though we've come a long way, it is a courageous leap of faith to tell the world that you love and share your life with another man.  It is also courageous to go to New Orleans and Mississippi after Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, Joplin, Virginia Tech, Ground Zero, Haiti, Indonesia and Japan...............and do the painful job of looking at survivors who have lost everything they value in life and ask them to describe what happened so that the rest of the world can stay informed.

Some people make a living telling humorless jokes about others, but the kind of guy with the guts to go where most of us would dare not venture is another thing.  

In the telling of the stories of our times, does it matter who he goes home to at night?


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Visitor

While Maggie and Nate went on their honeymoon, we were the guardians of Butters.......the Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disordered dog.

Butters has an affinity for underwear, garbage, toilet paper, cat food, and sleeping on my white sofa.  She barked at everything that walked by the front of the house and phantom sounds at 1:00 in the morning.  She harassed the cats, the dog and Mallie Bee.

I walked her twice a day and took her for play dates down the street.  You would think 100+ temps would do her in.  Instead it slowed her down until she got a second wind.

She wore on our nerves and wore us out, but in the end we prevailed.  On the last day of her visit, The Little Shit finally rested.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tomkat

Soooooo................Tom Cruise got kicked to the curb by Katie Holmes.

Wow.  Never saw that one coming.  Said no one ever.

When he yanked that young one off the street and decided she was his fresh, new "love interest", all I could think of were her parents........normal, low-key, average people who sent all their kids to Catholic schools.  Along comes Mr. Celebrity married twice before for all of five years each time and a Scientologist to boot.

The conversations those two must have had lying in bed and wondering how to come to terms with their daughter's new manfriend.  Before long, he was visiting Oprah and jumping up and down on her custom leather sofa declaring his love for this woman nearly twenty years his junior.

Oprah said she could tell this one was someone special.

Go figure.

Through the magic of television and hundreds of miles away in front of my Samsung in Kansas, I thought it all seemed bat-shit crazy.