Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rainman

The Big Daddy has some odd habits.  I don't ask why anymore.  He does strange things that I have to ignore or I'll go crazy.

For years he has waged a one-man war on squirrels.  Chasing them out of the yard, throwing things at them, cussing at them in the backyard when they were in his garden.  Sometimes he'd jump up in the middle of dinner yelling, "Sonofabitch" and I knew he was about to go Squirrel Chasing. 

A rodent.  Outdoors.

At a party we were at he was telling someone that he doesn't have to worry about the squirrels anymore which was news to me.  The population has been decimated, he said with a smirk.  Decimated.

He had been talking with a neighbor who was doing yard work when the entrails of a squirrel were falling out of a tree onto his picnic table.

Ermahgawd.

The Mighty Hawk has moved into Mayberry and found a village of food.  

What will The Big Daddy do with his time if he doesn't have squirrels to chase?

Besides the bags and buckets of tomatoes currently in the dining room, there are buckets of pond water in the basement.

Buckets. Of. Pond. Water.  Indoors.



I am Charlie Babbitt.

He is Rainman.


He's a good driver.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Holy Spirits

For a couple of years, I was a 4th grade teacher of religious ed.  Classes would meet on Monday afternoons at 4:00 for one hour once a week.

It was Religion 101 for those of us who were raising our kids Catholic but sending them to public school.

The absolute worst time to try to teach a kid anything would have to be on a late Monday afternoon after a full weekend and seven hours of sitting at school.  While I started out with the highest hopes, it soon became my goal that while these kids were in my care nobody got hurt, fell asleep, were bullied or bored out of their mind.

On a lesson about the presence of the Holy Spirit, I went over some of the gifts we receive from him/her, such as wisdom, understanding, knowledge.  My little explanation went over like every other one - blankety blank stares.  When I opened it up for a discussion..........and please kids don't ask me anything hard because I'm not exactly gifted in this area..........I got more blank stares.

Until one kid equated it to ghosts.  Ghosts that lived in his house and that's when the whole class perked up and wanted to tell a story about their own encounters with the Spirit......holy or otherwise.  It went on for awhile and ended when the kid with Asperger's explained the inner workings of your basic lawn mower motor.

You could say that I lost control, but within my own low achiever parameters it was a success and everybody left ready to share the gift of wisdom with their parents.  As off the rails as they happened to be.

In the Spirit of some spirited nine year olds............


Always look in the closets and under your bed because they like dark places.

They're scary but their mouths don't work and they have no arms so they can't bite you or grab you.

Your parents can't see them but usually act like they can.

Jesus made the holy ones to send when you're fighting with your siblings.

And..............

For optimal engine performance while mulching your fall leaves, it is important to maintain recommended fluid levels at all times.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Voice

I come from a long line of bad singers.  We cannot carry a tune, can't identify a tune, are unable to snap along with the tune.

But it does not stop us from belting out a little Motown as if we are the offspring of Aretha.

We have other skills.  We can cook.  We're sensible.  We smile and nod a lot.  But, oh, to be able to sing.

On Saturday night, The Big Daddy and I went to church and when I cracked open the hymnal for the very first song, Mr. Smartass leaned over and said, "Bring it on home, Kath."

And I lost it........like I was on the verge of snorting.

We went out for pizza afterwards and met some friends later for a date night.  He was cranked up the whole night for if you really, really think he's funny he will continue to perform.

The evening ended at 11:00 when I found him in the garden of our friend's yard, excitedly helping him pick tomatoes by flashlight like he had done in his own garden earlier so they wouldn't freeze overnight, and I was entertained yet again by my boyfriend of the last thirty five years.

It makes up for this..............

And this...............

And especially this........



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hey........You're Welcome

The Big Daddy worked for several years with a guy from Canada.  Eh.  He had many observations about Americans including the fact that whenever somebody says "thank you" to one of us we respond with..........

No problem.

Sure thing.

You bet.

No worries.

Got you covered.

Absolutely.

..............but we rarely, if ever, say "you're welcome."  And he was right.


I have found that I start most conversations with "hey."


Hey, how's it going?

Hey, it's been a long time.

Hey, I've been meaning to call you.

Hey, are you getting hungry yet?

Hey, where's my glasses?



You can only imagine how many times I've cracked myself up since I started working with a woman named Jude.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Guns and Angels

Last year when I went to the flea market, I bought some deer antlers.  They were 3/$12.00 and hot diggety.....I was right on trend with the antler decor theme.  This year I had cash in my pocket to buy some more, but alas no sellers.  I talked to another dealer and he said that everybody wants them which is making them harder and harder to come by.  Ebay had thousands of pages of antlers and I was overwhelmed by the time I got to the teens.  And the mounted set for $18,000.00

Some tourists came into the store, and in the course of conversation the husband mentioned being a hunter so I asked him about antlers.  The kind you want are called sheds, he said.  The deer do it every year and you need to look for them in the woods in the spring.  Alrighty then, but I was kind of thinking sooner than that for a wintery Christmas antler plan I'm hatching.

The next day I told a coworker about the conversation and said, "I thought that was kind of weird.  I'd have thought that fall would be when they'd shed them."  Kind of like me and The Big Daddy shedding weight before the holiday buffets start.

"No, no," she said.  "Not fall.  You wouldn't want to go trekking in the woods in the fall for that."

Why not?

"Because if you're out in the woods in the fall looking for deer antlers you'd probably get shot by the hunters looking for the whole deer."

Oh.  Yeah.  Right.  Of course.

Sometimes God puts guardian angels right next to you at the workplace for the times when you're extra dumb.

Source: google.com via Vintage on Pinterest

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Publish

I met with my writers group today and the subject of publishing came up.  It always does.  A local Kansas City writer who had just filed for bankruptcy, landed a three book deal and publishers were falling all over themselves to meet her and get her signed.  She hit the writing lottery.

Please, God, tell me how that happens?

Or a writer does a piece on how the mom is never in the picture and it explodes across the internet, makes the national news and everybody is talking about it.

I have boxes of photos that verify my children came from storks because I'm nowhere to be found.

Whenever the subject of this blog comes up, I am very self deprecating.  It's just a little thing I do for fun, I'll say.  And if someone asks what I write about or have I been published my voice gets even smaller and I say, "No, never.  And I kinda just write observations of life."  Wow.  What a ringing endorsement of my own work.

I have trouble tooting my own horn.  I'm more than happy to have somebody do it for me, but me selling the goods?  Not so much.

Yet next to Mark and the kids, it is the most important thing to me.  I often wake up during the night and think of things to write.  Whenever I'm driving I think of writing.  I compose sentences in my head all day at work.  I read other people's stuff and sigh that heavy breath of deep respect and wish that I could write that well.

A few years ago I met a woman at a Christmas party and instantly liked her.  Every year I'd see her at that same party and we'd chat like we'd known each other since our kids were in preschool.  I often thought of calling her for coffee but I heard she was a writer and I was too intimidated.  Now she's moved across the country and we message back and forth on Facebook and a kindred spirit was right in my backyard. 

This morning when we met I was nursing a crappy night's sleep hangover.  My head was pounding.  We were on our last clean towel and every bra I owned was in the washing machine.  I had nothing to offer as far as written work.  It is my life these days........phoning everything in.   In the midst of my Pity Party of One, Martha said to me, "I've loved what you've been writing lately.  You're on fire."

You do?  Really???  Oh.  Oh.  Thank you.   Thank you for saying that cuz I don't know lately.  

Or ever.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  As off kilter as the day started, joy definitely came into play.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The File

My first job was at the Dairy Queen.  I was sixteen years old and ready to work.  And The Queen Mum wasn't paying for anything fun.  The first week on the job was to learn cone-making with the fancy shmancy DQ swirl at the top.

Once that was perfected, it was on to Dilly Bars.  The same swirl was used but in the form of an ice cream bar.  You'd make several bars on top of a stainless tray, insert a wooden stick into each and carry them into the walk-in freezer.  The next day they would be dipped in chocolate.

I was proudly carrying my first tray of Dilly Bars into the freezer when the end one slid right off and onto the floor of the freezer..........where it instantly stuck.  In a first-job-sixteen-year-old-panic, I tried everything to get it off the floor.  Did I ask for help?  Did I fess up to what happened?

No.

I got a wet dishrag from the sink and tried using that to get the Dilly Bar off the floor.  And then the rag stuck to the floor.  I yanked and yanked on that thing and it did not budge so I closed the door and pretended nothing happened.  It would soon become clear that The New Girl made one big mess in the freezer.

I managed to keep the job for six months until winter came and the hours disappeared, but I'm pretty sure they never forgot me.

That kind of information and skill set gets preserved.

Somewhere.




Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Hiding

Mallie Bee came home this weekend with a lowdown of recent events in her dorm.  Her floor is coed.  Boys on one side - girls on the other.  The boys happened to come upon a cat hanging around the dorm.  Since it is an urban campus in the middle of an established neighborhood, this isn't all that unusual.  She was a friendly cat and used to people, but the boys decided she needed some protection and so they brought her inside and hid her in their wing of the dorm.

That is how she came to be called Anne Frank.

As eighteen year old boys go, they quickly grew tired of feeding Anne Frank and keeping her under wraps and so she was passed off to the girls.  Specifically, Anne was being hidden in the room of one Mallie Bee Fisher and her roommate.

Mallie Bee has grown up with cats and fashioned a litter box, shared her to-go lunches from the cafeteria and true to her nature, took very good care of Anne Frank.

It didn't take long for the authorities to come knocking and Mal was called into her RA's office.  "What do you know about Anne Frank," they inquired.  Anne?  Anne who?  You know who they said.

The gig was up.  Anne Frank was being deported.

Anne Frank The Kitten's story has a happier ending than the real Anne Frank.  She was saved from the shelter (at least temporarily) and has a new home with a friend's boyfriend.

And Anne Frank is really Frank Frank.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Two Of These Things Are Not Like The Other

Yesterday at the store we had a customer come in who I knew from the lighting shop I used to work at a few years ago.  At that job I often helped decorators and designers who were shopping for their clients and Dottie used us often.  I asked her how business was going and she said, "I'm 83 years old.  It goes as fast or slow as I want it to."  Then I asked her how she got into doing that.  "Well, it would take me two hours to tell you my story."

It was a slow day.  I egged her on.

She is a recovering alcoholic.  Forty years sober.  She was a nanny to her grandkids then they moved to Hong Kong.  She always liked to decorate.  Her birth sister told her she needed to make a job of it.  The sister she found in adulthood after living in an orphanage.  She moved from one side of the state line to the other to be in a neighborhood with young families that needed help with their houses.  She made flyers and passed them around.  She thinks you should use what you have to decorate before you run out to Pottery Barn.  Her son started a company that went public and the shares weren't worth much until a few years ago.  All these years of scraping by and now life is easier.  That's why she can come in once in awhile and buy herself something nice.

The writer in me urged Dottie to get this story written down for her grandkids.  She laughed, said skip the bag I'm trying to conserve and her and her dog left.

Today I waited on somebody who bought several things - one being a heavy winter coat.  Too heavy to carry to the parking garage and so we said we'd hold onto her things and wait for her to pull up in front of the store.  I waited and waited and waited.   Finally, I left everything in front and finished something else up at the register.

That's when I heard the honking.

Is that woman honking for her clothes?

Yes she was.

She popped the trunk of her car but I was already putting her bags in the back seat.  As revenge goes it wasn't much..........unlike the disgruntled employee who put rat poison in the salsa at a local Mexican restaurant...........but at least I made her get off her behind to shut her trunk.

She should write that down.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Good, The Bad & The Birth

Will was born three weeks after my dad died.  Maggie and I had spent the early part of the summer at Mom and Dad's house and returned to Maryland in July.  By the end of that month, Dad decided to stop his treatments.

We were insured by Kaiser Permanente and the protocol when you were expecting was to alternate seeing a nurse one appointment, an OB/GYN the next.  I was seven months pregnant before I ever saw a doctor.

Things at home were going downhill quickly and Mom said we should think about coming home to see Dad one more time, but a woman as pregnant as I was couldn't get on a plane without a note from their doctor.  I was going every other week for checkups and every time I asked the answer was "no."  No you can't go, no it's too stressful, no we won't write you a note.  No.  No.  No.

On an appointment when I saw an actual doctor and explained the situation again, he said of course you have to go and I'll write the note right now.  He handed it to me and on his way out the door said, "But don't deliver that baby in Illinois because Kaiser won't pay for it."

Mark, Maggie and I flew home with the intent of staying over Labor Day weekend.  Mom was under enormous stress trying to take care of Dad and since Mark had plenty of vacation time we ended up staying nearly two weeks to help out.

After Dad died and the funeral plans had been set, we booked our flight back to Maryland with US Air.  We went to the church, the cemetery and the luncheon afterwards then packed our stuff and headed to the airport so this baby would be born where we were insured.

I gave my note to the flight attendant and we boarded a very empty plane.  After the flight had taken off and I was using the bathroom, Mark told her of the circumstances of the past few weeks.  When I came back to my seat she said to me, "Honey, why don't you rest and I'll let you know when we're about to land."  Then she led me to an empty row of seats that she'd put pillows and blankets on so I could nap.

I was cried out by then but I remember how compassionate she was to a fragile pregnant woman who was on a flight into the unknown, and that the crappy doctor's office I'd been dealing with all year could learn something from her.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Will-Da-Beast

Today The Boy Child has completed another spin around the sun and turns twenty two.

How did that happen?

He was the child that wore me out.  He climbed on the back of the recliner, stood on the very top of its back and tried to rock back and forth.  He would climb onto the kitchen table and swing the chandelier back and forth.  He would pull a chair up to the electric stove and turn all the knobs on until one day he burnt every one of his fingertips.  He'd wake us up in the morning by standing in his crib and banging it back and forth against the wall.  He helped himself into a neighbor's house while they were playing outside, all the while we were frantically looking for him.  If a storm produced enough water in the gutters he'd be out all afternoon with a boat.  His kindergarten teacher was sure he had ADD.  Reading was a complete mystery to him and so we'd spend most nights working on homework and flashcards.

Then he calmed down.

Don't ask me how.  He just did.

Last year, he and I were talking about an acquaintance who was rolling her eyes at the career path her kid was choosing.  Mark my words, the mom said, she's going to hate it. 

"You know what, Mom," Will said later.  "There was never anything I ever said I wanted to be that you didn't think I would be good at."

Well..........despite your best efforts to break me, I always believed you were born with an imagination destined to take you wherever you wanted to go.  

Happy birthday my wild child.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Two Things

While I was at work today, my friend, Carla, left a message.  I miss you.  I've been thinking about you.  Give me a call.

Sigh.

Carla was the first mom friend I made when we moved to Maryland.  She and Jim were fellow transplanted Midwesterners who lived a few doors down from us.  While we were moving in her mom kept an eye on the activity and later that day met Mark at the dumpster.  Do you have a baby, she asked.  Yes, six weeks old, he said.  My daughter lives there.  Her baby is three weeks old and tomorrow her and your wife need to meet each other.

The Big Daddy went along with Betty's plan and that is how a twenty five year friendship began.

Since those years we have never lived near each other and long stretches of time go by when we don't talk, but when we do it is just like the old days when we'd meet each other on the sidewalk with crying babies.

She had seen the photos from Maggie and Nate's wedding and wanted to know the deets.  I filled her in about that lovely day and then we talked about everything from yoga to kids to us both turning into retail girls.

Whenever anyone asks me about the wedding and if I was emotional, I tell them about two things.  One was when everyone had come up the aisle and we were waiting for the bride.  I stuck my head out of the pew and looked at the back of the church and saw Mark and Maggie.

Oh Lordy, will you look at those two?   She's so happy.  He's so proud.

The other time I wanted to cry was when my hairdresser came to the house.  Nearly ten years of her taming my wild curls, hearing about my decorating projects, my dog, the garden, the kitchen I want to gut, my husband...........my husband!  There she was with all of her magic, and I still can't talk about how much it meant to me to have her here that day without getting choked up.

With all that Carla and I talked about I never got around to that part but I didn't need to.  If anybody would know about a full heart spilling over it would be the friend who was there from the start.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hangry

The other day I was helping a woman buy a skirt.  "This," she said pointing to her stomach, "this is making me crazy."  I hear ya oh menopausal sister.  It's that.  It's the chin.  The flag waving upper arms.  The butt.

It's. Everything.

Today in the mail I got a catalog called Blair.  I believe it was supposed to be sent to my mother.  It had comfy shoes, pumpkin sweaters and there were plenty of models that looked like this.............



I also got Anthropologie.

The same model was on every page looking like this....................




The Anthro model looks hangry...........as if she'd rip the head off the photographer who asked her to turn her chin one more time. 

The Blair models are rocking their mom jeans and they know that if they go out for lunch they have no worries for you do not put Spanx on under a mom jean.

You put on seconds.