Thursday, January 31, 2008
I feel as if I’ve been given a ticket to a show I don’t want to see. I can’t stand to watch Britney Spears disintegrate before my eyes. It is painful to watch. There is nothing funny about it, and it’s time everyone stepped away and stopped peering into her illness. Those of us who watch from our recliners are just as guilty, in my opinion, as the people taking pictures of her. After all, the paparazzi wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a market for their work. Anyone who has nurtured a friend or loved one through serious mental illness can see that Britney is likely knocking on death’s door and toying with the idea of walking across the threshold. It is beyond sad, and I just don’t want to be a part of the rubbernecking anymore. Somebody tell me when it’s safe to turn my TV back on.
We knew Mama J. was going to be alright immediately after her surgery Monday. Almost as soon as she arrived in the recovery room she said to Hubby and Sissy, “I wonder if they have a beauty shop in this hospital.” She was already plotting her next wash and set. The doctor didn’t realize that was a far better indicator of her status than the output in her catheter.
Our niece and her husband adopted a little girl from China a couple of years ago. She is three years old and so stinkin’ cute it makes your teeth hurt. Miss Sophie is well aware of her charms and has everyone in the room wrapped around her finger within minutes of her grand entrance. Her parents have talked to her many times about her adoption and her native country. It seems she understands. The other day someone asked her where she was from and she said, “I was made in China”. See what I mean? Stinkin’ cute.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
He’s the quiet one in my family. The only quiet one. He’s a man of few words, probably because the vocabulary genes were all sucked up by the time he arrived in this family. Or maybe he just couldn’t get a word in edgewise and finally gave up. Whatever the reason, he doesn’t speak unless he really has something to say, and he doesn’t get in a hurry even though he came into the world that way. Mama went into labor with him so fast that daddy had to drop off me and Super Cop at grandma’s house without a phone call or a knock on the door. He barely slowed down enough for us to jump out of the car. I don’t even remember putting on shoes, but surely we did. It was October. The thirty minute drive to the hospital was almost too long. Mama came close to giving birth in the hallway of the hospital. That was the first and last time, Handy Man would be rushed. I was ten years old that autumn and thought he was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. By then I was pretty much over the “jealously over having another sibling” thing that reared its ugly head when Super Cop was born. I had adjusted to the fact that I was not to be an only child worshipped and spoiled by my parents and all others who stepped inside my circle of sunshine. I didn’t mind another brother. He was a pretty fun toy except when I had to change his poopy pants. When he got big enough to play games with me and Super Cop, we could make him do just about anything we wanted because he didn’t know he could say no. We could assign him any villain role we wanted in our Batman and Robin games, and he made a great Poncho to Super Cop’s Cisco Kid. He was great at hide and seek, too. See.
It didn’t take long for us to realize he was a little different than the rest of us. This boy loved dirt. The rest of us liked getting dirty and playing in the yard. He adored it. He rolled in it. He lived in it. See these boots?
He started wearing those when he was three and didn’t take them off until he was big enough for waders. He liked clothes in which he could trudge around in the mud. He generated 45% of the dirty laundry in our house until mama figured out it was best just to make him put on coveralls when he walked out of the house. He still managed to get filthy. One time she even stripped him to his underwear at the back door and washed off the first three layers with the garden hose. From the beginning he was happiest in his outdoor gear and boots. We don’t have many pictures of him in dress clothes. Here is his kindergarten picture.
See how uncomfortable he looks in that outfit. Of course, I’d be uncomfortable in those ugly pants, too. And what's with those yellow shoes?
He was an outdoors guy from the time he learned to walk. He took to fishing like a dog takes to bacon. He loved cars and trucks. He wore out three Big Wheels. Remember those? He was fascinated by the way things worked. He took apart his toys and put them together again in different combinations. One time when he was very young, a friend of mama’s asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he wanted to be a mech-nic (mechanic) and live with his mom. Nearly twenty years later, he was working in an auto body shop and still living at home. It took him a looong time to move into his own house. He knew a good gig when he saw it. He didn’t take advantage of it though. He paid his own way.
He does very well today, managing an auto body shop. He can fix just about anything that’s broken, and he is still the hunter and gatherer in this family. He’d rather fish than eat, and his yard is full of toys like boats and four wheeler’s. He hasn’t married. He hasn’t found a woman yet who likes to live in a house with deer heads hanging from the walls. He likes his privacy and his solitude…and he doesn’t like to talk much. That’s okay. I’ve been speaking over him….I mean for him…for years.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Here's how the Intelligent MeMe works:
1) Link to the person who tagged you and notify him/her that your MeMe post is up and running.
2) Once you create your Multiple Intelligent MeMe, tag any number of people who won't reach through your computer screen and choke you because you tagged them.
4) Alert them to the fact they have been tagged by any means possible.
5) Threaten them with Mitt Romney political ads and more tags f they don't post the Intelligent MeMe within one week.
5) Post the rules.
A. List the 8 Multiple Intelligences:
B. Post "something" that corresponds with each of the above. "Something" can be a quote, a picture, a drawing, a story, a song, a book, an anecdote... whatever corresponds with each intelligence.
Here are the examples Swampy used:
1. Visual-Spatial: "The only real world is the world seen by children."
2. Verbal-Linguistic: "Words are a wonderful form of communication, but they will never replace kisses and punches."
3. Musical-Rhythmical: "I march to a different drummer whose location, identity, and musical training have yet to be established."
4. Bodily-Kinesthetic: I knew something was wrong the minute you bit my nose.
5. Interpersonal: "There's no room in this argument for both of us, unless you move over just a little."
6. Intrapersonal: "Would you rather be in my mood or have me come into yours?"
7. Naturalist: "At what point in my war with the tumbleweeds will the tumbleweeds finally give up."
8. Logical-Mathematical: "If I die before doing everything on my list, to whom should I leave my list?"
Some of the folks who have already been tagged are working toward posting on Friday, Feb. 1st. I’m working on a tropical theme and will post mine this Friday. Be there or be square dude. Here are the folks I’m tagging (drum roll please):
Monday, January 28, 2008
I will admit the hospital cafeteria has come a long way in the last few years, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. I think it’s the smell of meatloaf mingling with antiseptic floor cleaner that troubles me. It just doesn’t smell very appetizing. Also, I tend to compare it to my earliest cafeteria experience, the school cafeteria, and it falls woefully short of that benchmark. The kitchen at my grade school set the standard for me early on for cafeteria food, and none of the public cafeterias I have visited since have measured up. That’s right. You heard correctly. I had great school food (until I got to high school). Oh, occasionally there was something repulsive slapped down on my tray (kraut and wieners-blech), but usually it was pretty darn good. I did not fear the lunch ladies. I loved the lunch ladies.
I went to a grade school that housed kindergarten through eighth grades. It was tucked away in the country and filled with roughly the same children from year to year. Not much changed at Franklin Elementary. The teachers stayed the same, the building stayed the same and the menu stayed the same. Every Friday we received a mimeographed copy of the next week’s menu. After taking a long whiff of that ink, I scanned the offerings, and rarely did I find something on there that I didn’t want to eat. I can count on both hands the number of times I took a lunch during my time at Franklin. Few kids brought their lunch, except Jeff M.. He always brought a sandwich and a bag of dried cereal in his metal lunchbox. He kept the lid closed, too, so we couldn’t see what was in there and be tempted to ask him to share. Stingy butt. It always made me want to steal his cereal.
We didn’t have a cafeteria. The cooks prepared the food in the kitchen and rolled it to our classrooms on steam carts. We filed past the carts, received our food and took our beige and yellow trays back to our classrooms where we ate lunch. As the lunch hour approached it was hard to practice your fractions when you could smell that food outside your classroom door and hear the younger kids getting their trays.
It was not uncommon to have homemade yeast rolls with many of our meals. They were served with a cold square of butter that melted and oozed when shoved inside the roll. I remember a lot of chocolate and vanilla pudding. In fact, I missed a recess in second grade for stealing a bite of Richard C.’s pudding. I couldn’t help myself. I thought he was cute. And it was chocolate pudding. Need I say more? There were lots of vegetables, including homemade mashed potatoes. My favorite was the homemade pizza that was cut in rectangles and was always served on a Friday. And it was always served with corn. My other favorite item was the yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I have a soft spot in my heart now for that kind of cake, probably because I ate so much of it as a kid. I tried to eat it carefully so that I got a taste of icing with every bite of cake. I didn’t care for the meat loaf, and I hated the stewed tomatoes. I gave mine to Felicia L., but I always found plenty to eat on that tray. We were well fed, and well hydrated…with milk. Besides the milk we got with lunch, we had two milk breaks during the day, right before recess. I rarely drank mine. I’ve never been much of a milk drinker. I got a little better when chocolate milk became available around third or fourth grade, but I rarely finished my milk.
Those were the days before school breakfasts, but a kid who showed up at school with an empty stomach was sent down to the kitchen for crackers and milk. I had one such trip. I remember eating those crackers perched on a stool, watching the industrial mixer slap vanilla pudding around in a huge bowl as the cooks prepared lunch. It was way more fun than that stinkin’ math I would have been working on instead in Mrs. V.’s classroom.
To hear other people talk, I had a rare, pleasant experience with my grade school kitchen. There are often days when I wish I could step away from my desk at lunchtime for a walk down the hallway to a cafeteria with homemade rolls and yellow cake. It probably wouldn’t taste as good as my memories, though. The food at the hospital this week won’t taste as good either. And they won’t have any homemade pizza with corn. Sigh. Meatloaf and Jello anyone?
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
I weaned the Hula-gens (thanks janjanmom for that moniker. It’s totally appropriate.) from whole milk. Over the course of about six months we went to 2%, then 1% and finally skim. Now the only time we have whole milk in our house in when I make homemade ice cream, and Teen Angel laps up the leftover drops in the jug like a wino slugging back Mogen David. My bunch is content with the stuff under the pink cap and doesn’t whine (anymore) about watery milk. I quit frying everything. I bake and grill. I threw away the lard and shortening and cook with light touches of olive oil and canola oil. I found sneaky ways to pass off meat free meals, and I don’t keep snack cakes and high calorie drinks around the house. We don’t eat out during the week, saving the junk food and fatty stuff for the weekends. I can’t get Hubby to use the flaxseed on his oatmeal yet but he loved the low calorie, high protein smoothie I made with soy protein powder that tasted like a banana milkshake. While we haven’t given up the occasional chili cheese dog at our favorite bar and grill, we’ve made some big changes over the last seventeen years. I hope we’re not done. I hope we continue to evolve into life long healthy eaters. However, I have decided there are a few foods that I simply cannot give up. There are a handful of things I refuse to eliminate from my diet. I love them and cannot let them go. They are dear friends that enrich my life, make my heart sing, generate world peace and save the whales. Okay, maybe not those last two.
1. Fried potatoes: Not French fries. I’m talkin’ slivers of potato fried in a thin layer of oil in a skillet with lots of black pepper and maybe some green onion until they’re soft in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outer edges. The kind that have to be drained before you slide a big old wad of them onto your plate. These can stand alone as a meal for me. If you give me a choice between ice cream and fried potatoes, I will choose the potatoes any time. Hand to God. Because they’re so bad for me, I make them only about three times a year, when I just can’t stand going without them any longer. Fried potatoes and biscuits al a mode makes me want to sing Yankee Doodle Dandy from the rooftop.
2. Italian cream cake-I like ALL cake. To me there is no bad cake. Only cake and better cake, but Italian cream is my favorite. I can resist a big piece of German chocolate or red velvet, but I cannot pass up a piece of Italian cream cake when it is within a four mile radius of my eyeballs. One of my favorite local restaurants sells this, and I thank the good Lord they do every time I belly up to their serving line. I then ask the Lord to forgive me for the sin of gluttony that is soon to follow.
3. Iced tea-The nectar of the south. The beverage that has sustained my people through depressions, recessions, wars and potato famines (as in going without fried potatoes). The genetic makeup of anyone living below the Mason Dixon line is mutated by the mass quantities of sweet tea ingested over generations. I’m told it is possible to determine during autopsy which state you hail from by assessing the levels of sweet tea in your DNA samples. We go through a gallon of tea every 24 hours at my house. I’m personally responsible for drinking about half of it. I’m a little different from most folks in these parts in that I don’t like my tea very sweet. I like it a little on the stout side. That’s probably because I grew up in a neighboring state just north of here and transplanted to Kentucky. If I had been born here, I would require six packets of sugar per eight ounce serving.
4. Circus peanuts, Sweet-Tarts and a variety of other small candies that are perfect for nibbling on while reading a good book in the comfort of my recliner and wallowing with my lap dog. I have to be careful though. If I leave the candy on the end table when I get up to go to the bathroom, the dog will eat it. Have you every seen a miniature schnauzer eat banana Laffy Taffy? I’m not big on truffles or chocolate bon bons, but I cannot kick the circus peanut, Sweet-Tart habit. And I make the most of January and February when the Brach’s Conversation Hearts (large please-no knock offs) are in season. This is the biggest flaw in my diet; a big black gaping hole that swallows me up and coats me in sugar. I have learned to cut back, but I can’t eliminate this crap completely. If I didn’t log 60 gazillion miles on my running shoes each week my backside would be the size of the Hindenburg solely because of candy.
With a little effort I could give up meat. I like pizza but could do away with it. I could even say goodbye to ice cream. Heck, I could give up hamburgers if I tried. I am disciplined in many ways when it comes to food, but my Achilles heel is the stuff listed above. However, I have decided these are the vices I’m keeping around. I don’t smoke. I rarely drink. I don't do drugs. Jeepers! A girl’s got to have something bad in her life. And Johnny Depp is taken.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Sure, parenting is hard. It’s the hardest job you can have. If we all knew how hard it was before we had children, we wouldn’t procreate. We’d die out like the Shakers. Fortunately, most of us go into it with rose colored glasses, so the world’s population keeps growing. It’s tough, and it takes determination (and a little self medication), but I’m amazed at the people who just throw their hands up in the air and let their kids run wild. Kids today seem more rude and out of control than the kids of previous generations. One of the young kids on that show last night smacked his dad. That certainly wouldn’t have been accepted in my parents’ house. If I had tried something like that I would have been spanked so hard I would have worn my butt for a hat. As kids we were expected to show respect for adults, and we were never allowed to run around a restaurant or a store. And we knew who was boss. My parents always had the upper hand, even when I got older. Hubby’s did too, even though he towered over his folks. When he was about sixteen years old, he got a little too big for his britches one day and smarted off to Mama J. with some pretty ugly language. She swung at him with her fly swatter (or fly flipper as she calls it), and he danced around and smarted off some more. He ran away from her and told her she was too old to keep up with him. She looked him dead in the eye and said, “I may not catch you today, but I WILL catch you.” And she did, about a week later. He had forgotten all about her threat and was getting ready for a date. He thought he was home alone when he jumped in the shower. He wasn’t alone. When he finished, he mosied out of the bathroom naked and down the hallway toward his bedroom. Mama J. was waiting behind a door and jumped out, swinging a leather belt at his naked hind end. She used the element of surprise to her advantage and wore out his backside all the way across the house. From that day on, he kept his mouth in check.
When I was growing up you were expected to mind any adult that was in the room. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and family friends never hesitated to call you out on bad behavior, and your parents didn’t mind. They expected it. If you were playing with a group of kids, and trouble erupted, it was quite possible everybody would end up punished without any questions being asked. Like Big Mama said in Madea’s Family Reunion, “I’m old school honey. I’ll beat the h**l out of you first and ask questions later.” I never got beaten, but I got my share of spankings and time spent in silence on the couch. Mama was one of those who liked to promise you a spanking “when your daddy gets home”, which was generally hours after the infraction. You had to worry and wait all stinkin’ day for that whoopin”, which was usually worse than the actual spanking. She was also fond of swinging blindly into the back seat of the car with her right hand while she was driving with her left. I used to think she was crazy. Then I grew up and became a mom. Now I marvel at how she survived raising the three of us.
I don’t think spankings are the answer to every discipline problem, and I believe they should be used sparingly and without brute force. I believe there is a difference between spanking and beating your child. There are certainly other forms of discipline that are effective. If I take Teen Angel’s cell phone and computer away from her, she lapses into fits of despair and drags around with a faded lilly on her chest until her sentence is up. If she starts acting like a horse’s butt in public places, her dad and I usually start holding hands, dancing or playing smooch face. That straightens her right up. We certainly aren’t perfect parents. We have stumbled and failed miserably at different times over the years, but we keep plugging away. I never thought we had a choice. I don’t understand why some parents think they do. It makes me want to jump out from behind a door and wail on their backside with a leather belt.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I was tooling along a two lane road, headed to a small store way out in the country. This store is apparently the only place in this area that still has in stock the item I need for a work project. Thank goodness for the little man who manages to hold his own against the big boxes. He always has what you need when the retail giants don’t. Despite the bitter temperatures, I was enjoying a break from the office and a drive in the country. The sun was bright, and the radio tunes were peppy. I was smiling at the wide array of garden statues in one yard and thinking perhaps zoning isn’t always such a bad thing when I saw something just ahead. Two “somethings” actually. Two crosses sitting next to each other in the middle of a front yard. A tall flagpole stood behind them, and while I went by them too fast to get a good look at them, I sensed they had a somber purpose. They didn’t seem to be like those crosses you see along the road where someone died in a car wreck. They seemed different. I made a mental note to slow down on the return trip and take a closer look.
Both were the same size and bore separate names; names of soldiers. One was a sergeant, the other was a private. One cross was lettered in red paint, the other in black. They were surrounded by small flags and flanked by a large white star on a nearby wall of the house. The flagpole held a large American flag and a state flag. There was a lot of red, white and blue in that yard. I’m guessing those crosses represent soldiers serving in the war in Iraq or possibly Afghanistan…somewhere in harm’s way. Perhaps they even represent a soldier killed or wounded. Even though the radio was blaring Kelly Clarkson, it suddenly seemed very quiet. Those four sticks of wood had my full attention..for longer than I realized because it eventually dawned on me I was stopped in the road and just staring at those two crosses. I felt compelled to stay but knew I had to keep moving. I drove off wanting to know more.
Who were these soldiers? Were they siblings? Who erected the crosses? A mother? A father? A friend? Within the walls of that house was there a mother waiting on a son or daughter to come home from a strange land? Does she jump when the phone rings or stop often throughout the day to say a quick prayer for her child’s safety? Does she turn the TV on out of curiosity and then turn it off because of fear? Does her heart break for the other mothers in her same position? Who raises the flag in that front yard? Is it a father whose heart bursts with pride but aches with fear? Is he sad that war did not skip his child’s generation? Do debates over the war make him angry or just tired?
The debates make me angry AND tired. I’ve been mad about the war for so long, I had to quit following much news coverage of it. Every time I started talking about it I got mad..and loud…and started annoying everyone around me, so I tried not to think about it much. And I didn’t. For months I managed to push it out of my mind….until my drive past that house. But instead of getting mad, I simply felt…hmm…what’s the word I’m looking for? Small? Irresponsible? Yes, that’s it. Irresponsible for forgetting that I should always care because the folks affected by war are my neighbors and friends. Sprinkled throughout my community are people whose yards, doors and cars bear ribbons and other visual reminders to me and everyone else that this war affects real people. It’s not a faceless news story from which I can detach myself. The crosses by the road put me at a cross road. I will see them when I go to sleep tonight. I will probably see them a few months from now. I wish they didn't have to be there.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
It’s me again, Hula. Forgive me for what I am about to do. Now that your big birthday bash is over, and I have nothing to look forward to until the Girl Scout cookies arrive, I am ready to begin my annual whine fest about winter. I know, I know. I just can’t help it. I hate being cold. What was with the temperatures in the teens this past weekend? Is someone in my part of the country not living right because I froze my patookus off. In fact, I’ve been chilled to the bone for two weeks. My blood has gotten awfully thin in recent months, so I’m hoping you could bless me with a teeny, tiny little warm spell. Say, something in the 50’s? Thank you for not dumping that snow and ice on us like the weatherman predicted. Um, forgive me for throwing my Glamour magazine at the TV screen and swearing last night when I heard the forecast. And thank you for inspiring the Glamour editors to put Matthew McConaughey on the cover this month. I’m trying to recognize those small blessings, you know.
Let’s see. Give Hubby patience as he carts Mama J. to her appointments this week, and give us all patience when she starts to drink that Go Lightly in preparation for her surgery. In fact, you may want to grant her some speed in those old legs while you’re at it. I’m not sure they can keep up with the Go Lightly without us erecting a tent for her in the bathroom. Lay your healing hand on that blister I rubbed on my toe because I’ve been too lazy to shop for new running shoes. Give Teen Angel the gift of silence before I thump her up the side of the head for her smart mouth. And grant me the wisdom to know when to shut up when Hubby is reaching for a donut. Okay, that’s about it for today. Bless all the starving children, because you know I can’t stand to see a hungry child. Bless all those old folks who are struggling with their health, because you know I can’t stand to see old folks in pain. Oh, heck bless everybody I know because they could all use it in one way or another. Thanks for everything. Forever and ever. Amen.
P.S. Forgive me if this all sounded a little selfish. I'm a little delirious from the cold.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
In my little hometown we had very few restaurants when I was young. In fact, eating out was a treat. People ate at home mostly. We had a Dairy Queen which shut down for the winter. I remember driving by that place in December and thinking it would be forever before I'd get another Mr. Misty or a Dilly Bar. We had a locally owned drive-in that closed before I got my driver's license, but I remember getting a few hamburgers there when I was young. They were called Crown Burgers. I don't remember the burgers being anything special, but I loved pushing the button on the intercom. We had a diner or two, and we sometimes went to those places after church on Sundays. Not often, though. My favorite place was a BBQ joint near the edge of town. I loved going in there with dad. It was a tiny place that held maybe fifteen people. The pit and grill were behind the counter, and you could watch your food being prepared by the man who owned the place. As you walked into the door, you grabbed a bottled Pepsi out of the drink machine, popped the top with the bottle opener and plopped yourself on a spinning stool in the midst of the loud lunch crowd. The jokes and laughter of old men serenaded your ears while your eyes feasted on the Hostess fruit pies and cakes in the rack by the cash register. And the smells. Oh, the smells. Burning hickory, smoked pork and sizzling beef and onions on the grill. Mmmm. BBQ or hamburger? BBQ or hamburger? Hmm. Hamburger please with pickle and onion.
Another one of my favorite eating places wasn't a restaurant at all. Around here, general stores used to dot the countryside before Wal-Mart moved to town and super sized our lives. Farmers would gather at these places at lunchtime for a sandwich or for a game of cards on rainy days. Daddy and I would drive to one of these stores every now and then. He would shoot the bull and play cards while I watched and ate a fruit pie. (There are a lot of Hostess cherry pies in my youth.) It was the kind of place that sold ring bologna and crackers at the counter and kerosene out front. The kind of place where you pumped your own gas, regular or ethyl, and the kind of place where the men around the table swapped stories about the war and the big flood of '37. That store has been closed for a long time. I drove by there on my way to a cemetery a few months ago and longed to stop and sit on the porch for a while, just to reminisce.
I hate that there isn't a country store for Teen Angel to loiter in and to soak up the character of the community. A place to eat ring bologna and crackers for lunch while sitting on the porch next to some old dog. Those places are gone now, but some of the little hometown restaurants are still hanging in there, doing their best to keep the pace slow and easy and the service warm and friendly. I'm glad our local BBQ place reopened this week. I guess it's not just the BBQ we've been craving.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
1. Have you found joy in your life?
2. Has your life brought joy to others?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
"Mom? Hey, I need you to pick me up a black three ring binder on your way home. I have to have it for choir tomorrow." "You HAVE to have it for tomorrow?" "Yes." "And when did you find out about this?" "Today." Holy treble clef Batman.
Would someone please hand me a rag and some soap so I can wash this ATM sign off of my forehead? I can’t see it, but it must be there. Almost on a daily basis my child walks up to me, asks for money for some kind of school or club related issue and walks off with at least a ten dollar bill. She rapes and pillages my pockets with the skill of a pirate. I knew when I gave birth parenthood would be fraught with expenses like college, food and Wiis. I just didn’t expect all of these nickel and dime costs that leave me with nothing in my pockets but chap stick and fuzz. Some parents look forward to the day when their children move away, and they get a bedroom they can turn into an office or workout room. I look forward to the day when I open my billfold for my lunch money and find a $20 bill. Or a $10 bill. Heck, I’d take a $5.
There’s a fee for every club, a fee for books, a charge for classroom supplies and a collection for club T-shirts. This morning was a choir T-shirt. Bam! $10.25. “And you need this when? Today? Did you just find out about this or have you been forgetting to tell me about it for the last week? Oh, you just found out yesterday. Hmm. Let me grab my billfold. Hmm. Can I write a check?” My favorite fee so far this year was the $12 we had to pay for materials so Teen Angel could make a pair of boxer shorts in Life Skills class. Since August we’ve forked over tens and twenties to the school system like a senior citizen feeding the nickel slots.
Then there’s lunch money. It’s amazing how much money that child can spend on food she claims she doesn’t eat because it’s so horrible. Actually, a school lunch is pretty cheap, but it sure seems like she runs out of money in her lunch account only on days when I’m broke. She once asked me for lunch money on a particularly stressful morning when I didn’t have a dime. It was at this point I asked her if the grade school cafeteria accepted credit cards. Rather huffily, I said the lunch lady would just have to wait ‘til pay day. The lunch lady told me later that when my little second grader rolled through the cafeteria line and was asked if she had brought any money to add to her account, she told them rather righteously that her momma said they’d just have to wait ‘til pay day. Sweet.
All of this isn’t her fault. It’s the cost of sending a child to school these days. I guess I should be glad that I live a country where public education is so accessible and in most places is pretty darn good. It’s hard to remember though when I’m forking over my last few dollars to the high school student behind the counter at McDonalds and he can’t make change. Doesn’t he know I need that change? Teen Angel has a club meeting tomorrow night and it’s going to cost me $10.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I made a new year’s resolution to buy some pretty underwear this year. None of that ho wear that’s meant to be worn with stilettos, mind you. Just something pretty and flattering that doesn’t come in a six pack on a shelf at Wal-Mart. It needs to be comfortable, too. I don’t want to have to worry with it all day while I’m busy. I don’t have time to tuck and pull. As usual, I can’t find anything suitable for a 40-something woman. There seems to be nothing in between teensy weensy thongs and granny panties. I realize there are a whole lot of young women out there who love thongs. If I were 20 years old, I might, too. But I’m at the age where a string between the cheeks of my backside just won’t cut it. Without going into detail, let’s just say I need more coverage. If you don’t wear a thong, you have to decide between low rise, ultra low rise and high cut briefs. Low rise and ultra low rise are just too low for someone who has gone through childbirth. No matter how many crunches you do, you’re always going to need something to hold in those lower abs once they’ve been stretched by pregnancy. (Get ready J. Lo. It ain’t ever goin’ back the way it was, girl.) High rise briefs hit you somewhere just below your armpits while the leg holes stretch to your hip bones. Yeah, that’s comfortable. And don’t get me started on bras. Never mind that the sizes aren’t consistent. The itch factor alone is enough to drive you crazy. And who thought shoving a hard wire underneath the girls would be comfortable? There has to be a better way to create support that doesn’t make you feel as if you’ve been lassoed by a slingshot.
In light of all of these issues, I’ve drafted a resolution on behalf of all women my age in search of better underwear. We are the purse strings of this nation’s economy. We make the purchasing decisions in most of the homes around the country, and we have a voice. If you approve of the resolution, please sign below. Stand up and be counted, ladies. We deserve better. Let freedom from discomfort ring today! (Cue God Bless America.)
We the women of the United States, in order to form a more perfect panty, establish support, insure waistband elasticity, provide for jiggle defense, promote generous coverage and secure the blessings of creep free lycra for ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this resolution for the United States of America.
If this doesn’t work I suggest we throw all of our old, ill fitting underwear into the harbor and see what happens.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
To get a good visual of our family, watch an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond..any episode. I would swear the writers of that show based every third episode on an incident at our house. It’s like they were spying on us. Mama J. is a lot like Raymond Barone’s mom, Marie. Same hairdo, same manicured nails, same obsession with cleanliness. Just like Marie, she meddles, manipulates and controls with the cunningness of a CIA operative. And just like Marie, she is usually motivated by her love for her family, me included. I’m just like Ray’s wife, Debra; stubborn, resistant to advice and frustrated over things that don’t go my way. Now Hubby is smarter than Ray and has always been better than Ray at supporting me and standing up for me in front of his mother. However, he often gets stuck trying to make me and Mama J. happy at the same time, which is like trying to balance a BB on your nose. Even Papa T. is like Raymond’s father in that he tends to worry about very little except what he’s having for dinner. I’m telling you, we ARE the Barone’s. To me the most interesting relationship on that show has always been the one between Marie and Debra because I can relate to it. While we’ve often been at odds over the years like Marie and Debra, we’ve gradually grown into a relationship that’s more of a partnership than a competition. It was a little ugly at times, though.
When Hubby and I first started dating, I found Mama J. nosey and intrusive. She was frustrated because I didn’t give up much personal information, and I didn’t wear lipstick. I didn’t share her love of makeup or purses, and I didn’t like that she let the men eat first at family get togethers. I hated that she was never satisfied with services such as dry cleaning and tailoring. On the evening before our wedding she made me drive her to the home of the shop owner who sold her a dress for the wedding to complain about the way it was hemmed. When Teen Angel was born, she hammered me with child rearing advice that I really didn’t want to hear. She bought more baby clothes than Teen Angel could ever wear but kept all of the nice ones at her house, only sharing the older, worn ones. I suffered many backhanded comments about my laundry and housekeeping skills.
When Teen Angel was a little over a year old, we bought the house next door to Mama J. and Papa T. because it was in the neighborhood we loved, it was a steal and we knew Hubby would be responsible for the bulk of his parents’ care when they got old. Also, Mama J. babysat Teen Angel while we were at work, and it was handy for her to be next door. I knew it would be tough, but I told myself I would get used to it. It took a long time.
We’ve had some disagreements, a few arguments and a couple of knock down drag out fights. We’ve been mad, frustrated and exasperated with each other. Hubby and I have threatened to move just about every year, but never have. We’ve also had some laughs, some tears and some hugs. We have lived, loved and learned throughout these past fourteen years. Somewhere along the way, things started to change. Mama J. quit popping into our house and getting into our business every day. She grew older and mellower, and I grew up. I realized that she really did have some good advice when it came to child rearing…and cleaning, and that I was too stubborn to admit she might be right about some things. I figured out that a lot of her annoying habits stem from some deep rooted insecurities. She is shaped by the fact that she had to scrape and dig her way out of poverty and some less than ideal family situations. She has worked her backside off all her life, and she doesn’t want to lose what she finally earned. I have also realized that I’m not the easiest person to get along with and that..gasp!...I can be wrong…and impatient...and mouthy. And..this one is tough to admit…I know that she loves me despite all of that. How do I know that? Because she has always treated me like her own daughter, even when I’ve been a butt. I love her too, even when she's being a pain in my patookus.
Over the last few years, we’ve settled into a more laid back relationship. Teen Angel is old enough that we don’t have child rearing debates any more. In fact, Mama J. is getting too tired to fight about much of anything. The roles have shifted. She now needs us to take care of her. We pop into her house and are into her business every day…all day long..and she doesn’t say much about it. She is grateful for the help. Her manipulation is limited to scoring the front seat of the van when we go places and controlling Papa T.’s clothing choices. There are many days when I get frustrated by her complaints, but most of the time I bite my tongue because I know she’s scared. She is eighty years old and scared that time is running out for her. That cannot be an easy pill to swallow, so I don’t mind carrying her purse for her when she shops. Or straightening out her cell phone bill when she’s messed it up. Or toting her butt to the beauty shop. Years ago, I would have, but I don’t mind….anymore. Really.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Have you tried to peel the stickers off of produce lately? Those suckers are attached with supercallafragalistic expialadocious glue. I almost starved to death today before I got the label off of my mid-morning apple. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but now I have to go to the dentist to see about that tooth I chipped trying to gnaw the label off the apple in desperation. I bought a new hairbrush recently, and it was hermitically sealed in one of those plastic cases that refused to pull apart no matter how much I flung it onto the floor and stomped on it. I finally had to cut it open with the largest pair of scissors I could find, which made me nervous, because you know what kind of luck I’ve had with scissors. That plastic doesn’t cut easily, so you risk at least two fingers when you try to cut it open. It’s a task that requires safety glasses and a hardhat. Medicine bottles have been a challenge for years, ever since the big Tylenol scare. My vitamin C comes in a bottle with a vacuum seal Hoover would be proud of. It also has that tight little cellophane wrapper around the lid that can only be removed by handing it to the neighbor’s Rottweiler to chew on. The worst though is CD cases. Forget about listening to a new CD on the way home from the music store. You’ll never get it open in the car. You have to wait until you get home to your toolbox. Once you remove the packaging, IF you can remove the packaging, you have to get rid of that sticky seal that runs along the top of the case. I have yet to find anything that removes that seal in just one or two pieces. And the music companies wonder why we are downloading most of our music these days. Hello! Make me a CD that’s easier to open and I’ll think about buying a few of them.
I realize a lot of this is for my own protection, but I liked it better in the old days when you could open a bottle of aspirin without a plunger and an engineering degree. And frankly, the odds of me hurting myself with the assortment of knives, scissors and power tools needed to pry open packages are a lot higher than the chances of someone slipping some poison into my Motrin. Of course, if I were stronger this would not be an issue, but buffing up requires buying more exercise equipment, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to open the box.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Our Sunday school class weighed in this morning following our first official Biggest Loser week. A dozen people lost a total of 94 pounds. Woo hoo! Apparently, I got carried away with my cheerleading. When I gave a high five to one of our classmates, who suffers from cerebral palsey, she looked me dead in the eye and said, "Not so hard". Oops! We high fived again over her five pound loss, and I walked away a little sheepish. Hubby lost three pounds despite a mid week Milky Way and milk shake. Yea!
This week's Cracker Barrell count for Mama J. and Papa T: 3. Papa T. was out of sorts last night when we ate there. They didn't seat us at our usual table near the front, and those of you who have a loved one who suffers from dementia know how important routine can be to that loved one. He pouted for some time about it, fussed because he thought the waitress forgot his drink order, then declared he was ordering lima beans for a change but proceeded to order carrots. I guess we're learning to roll with the punches of this disease because we laughed the whole time.
Mama J. is two weeks away from surgery for her "massy hernia" as she calls it. The massive hernia is growing and must come out, despite her age (80-don't tell her I told you) and her sketchy health. She's really worried about it (as are we), so she's been making all kinds of "final arrangments" this month in case she doesn't make it through the surgery. At first we were a little disturbed about it, but now we've heard about it so much, it's become a little funny. Every day at random, she throws out some kind of funeral or will tidbit, which is greeted by a chorus of "we know, we know".
Teen Angel got her report card Friday. All A's and she's number one in her class right now. Can I get a big woo hoo for the honor student who might get some scholarships if she keeps this up and save her parents from hocking everything they own to send her to college?
And I ran seven miles for the first time yesterday. That's nothing to serious runners, but to me it was a big deal. Almost as big as when I ran into the yard this summer to show Hubby I could get into my old college jeans (Don't think I'm bragging. This only happens about once a decade.) In my excitement to show him they were buttoned, I threw up my shirt too high and flashed the neighbor. Good thing he doesn't see well. Anyhoo, yesterday's run gave me a glimmer of hope that I might be able to do that trail run in March. However, my thighs are screaming "NO!" right now.
And it's Girl Scout cookie time. This is the first year in a long time Teen Angel hasn't had to sell cookies. While we didn't mind selling cookies, and she loved Girl Scouts, it was very nice this week to sign someone else's order form and not worry about having to sell cookies. Sigh. A mighty fine way to end the week.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
In a shameless wave of self promotion I am urging you to head on over to Swampy's and vote for me in her wild west contest. It's what any good candidate would do, right? I wrote a little ditty you'll find in the comments section along with the funny entries of some other folks. But I'm really, really, really coveting the prize from that cool Aspen store, so if you like me, love me, tolerate me or just flat out don't want to hear me whine about losing then saddle up pardner, sashay on over there and rustle me up some votes. Oh, and Swampy's site is a good read, so you'll enjoy it.
Did I mention where you can vote? I did? And that you can vote multiple times? Oh, okay. I'll just be ridin' along now. I have some cattle..um laundry...to rustle up.
Friday, January 11, 2008
My bucket is overflowing because I have a lot of things I want to do. Some of them are a little exotic. Some are simple. Most of them involve travel. And while some of them seem beyond my means, I figure what the heck. A lot of the stuff I’ve done to date has been things I never imagined doing. Life is surprising that way. Here we go:
1. Stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Hubby isn’t that interested in Europe. If he won’t go, I’d like to take Teen Angel as a high school graduation present.
2. Watch the sun go down at the Grand Canyon.
3. Take a trip on a train.
4. Take a safari in Africa. The only thing I’ll shoot is pictures. Hubby likes this idea.
5. See whales in their natural habitat…not an aquarium or Sea World.
6. Walk along a beach in Tahiti.
7. Stand in Times Square with a bunch of other crazy folks and watch the New Year’s eve ball drop.
8. Lie on my back and admire the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
9. Witness a total eclipse of the sun.
10. Have my picture taken next to the Pyramids of Giza.
11. Have a four karat diamond on my finger…for just a minute or two.
12. Watch the 4th of July fireworks in our nation’s capitol…live.
13. Own a convertible.
14. See Rio during Carnival.
15. See the following people in concert before THEY kick the bucket: Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Barbra Streisand and the Rolling Stones.
16. Own an English bulldog.
17. Have a house with bathrooms big enough to keep me from bumping my hind end on something every time I turn around in there.
18. Bake a cake with Paula Deen, although I will settle for eating at her restaurant in Savannah.
19. Write a book.
20. Enter a marathon….any marathon…and finish.
The marathon of life takes us to amazing places that we don’t necessarily dream of going. While I may never get to some of the things on this list, I hope to reach a few of them and hopefully, some I didn’t even imagine. What about you, my friend? What’s on your list?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
What I’m supposed to tell myself when adding an extra mile: “I think I can. I think I can.”
What I say: “You have freakin’ lost your mind if you think I can add one more mile. Besides high blood pressure can’t be that bad. Maybe I’ll just quit salting all of my vegetables.”
What I’m supposed to tell myself when I’m starting to lag: “Just focus on getting to the end of this block. Then keep going and focus on the end of the next block.”
What I say: “If I hang a left on the other side of this building, I can cut through their yard, dodge two pit bulls, hit that alley and be back to home base in no time.”
What is supposed to motivate me to get out there on days when I don’t feel like it: The good feeling I’ll get when I’m done.
What really works: Someone running backwards in front of me and dangling a donut on a stick.
What is supposed to be my reason for pounding the pavement: Keeping away heart attacks, stroke and diabetes.
What actually makes me do it: The fear of my backside becoming the size of my grandma’s.
What is supposed to be my reward for reaching a running milestone: A new jogging outfit or running shoes.
What I really get: A large chili cheese dog with fried mushrooms.
What I’m supposed to be tuned into while running: The rhythm of my heart and the pull on my muscles.
What I’m actually listening to: Dirty Prince songs from the 80’s.
What I’m supposed to be focusing on while moving down the street: One particular point in front of me.
What I’m really looking at: That hot construction worker in those tight Levis on the other side of the street.
Needless to say I’m easily distracted. Getting into the game mentally is going to take a while. I have a new tactic I’m going to try tomorrow though. I’ll run directly toward the donut store instead of to the park. And I’m going to buy a new jogging outfit now instead of later…something with pockets big enough to hold a jelly donut.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I know it’s hard being on a diet, but it’s no stinkin’ fun living with someone who is on a diet either. Hungry people are craaaanky, and Hubby is no exception. Sample conversation:
Hula Girl: “Did you stop at the convenience store this morning and see your coffee buddies?”
Hubby: “Yeees,” through gritted teeth.
Hula Girl: “Was it hard not having a sausage egg biscuit and diet coke?”
Hula Girl: “What did you have?”
Hubby: “Whole grain cereal, *%$# it!”
Then there’s the reaction I get every night when he asks what we’re having for dinner and I reveal the low fat, low cal, low taste selections. He gets all excited because he’s finally going to eat again and then disappointed that fried chicken hasn’t magically returned to the menu.
Hula Girl: “We’re having grilled chicken with green beans and corn.”
Hula Girl: “Is there something wrong with that?”
Hubby: “No.” Sigh. Pout. Sigh. Pout.
Or the accusations that come flying when I disappear into the kitchen for a while and don’t make any noise. You know how you holler at your kids to see what they’re up to if they get too quiet? That’s what he does to me.
Hubby: “What are you doing in there?”
Hula Girl: “Mmm. Nothing. Just counting the toothpicks.”
Hubby: “Are you eating something sweet?”
Hula Girl: “Mmmumm.”
Hubby: “It’s that leftover turtle cheesecake isn’t it? You’ve got some hidden.”
Hula Girl: “No. It’s all gone. I swear.” Swallow. “Now.”
This contest lasts four months. That’s four months of grilled chicken and salad greens. Four months of butt chewin’s when I ask if he’s walked today and four months of sneaking bites of circus peanuts and candy hearts behind his back. Four months of gobbling down
dessert and snack samples at Sam's while he's preoccupied with the DVD's. Woo hoo! Let the good times roll!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Or to stick my nose where it doesn't belong.
A sophisticated palate.
A knack for sleeping in and hogging the covers
Or to make an a$$ of myself and dare you to say something about it
To steal all of the attention. (I eventually chewed the cherries off of this dress.)
Or to put something silly on my head and party like it's 1999. Should it have been any surprise that 40 years later I was doing this:
Monday, January 7, 2008
Hubby to the clerk at Quiznos while ordering the Smokehouse sandwich-“I’ll take the outhouse beef sandwich”.
Baby Ruth while gazing at the hamsters on the front of a Hallmark card that plays the Hamster dance -“What are these? Butter beans"?
And the best laugh of the weekend….Teen Angel to me and Hubby while we were eating at our favorite hole in the wall and listening to Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever” on the jukebox-“Hey mom, remember when I thought this song was “Scratch, Scratch Peter”?
Friday, January 4, 2008
Thursday, January 3, 2008
1. We know how to throw a funeral. Each family has a fainter who passes out at the sight of the deceased. (Ours was Aunt Mabel.) Around here fainting is a sign of respect for the dear departed. In case you’re wondering, I’m not a fainter. Drivers pull over for an oncoming funeral procession. It’s an unwritten rule that you pull off the road and wait for a funeral procession to pass, whether you knew the deceased or not. It’s very moving for people to pull over for your loved one. Also, there is always a great meal after the funeral. It’s usually provided by your church family and includes ham and a variety of homemade dishes from the Feed the Bereaved committee. If you have no church family, one will be appointed for you.
2. We know our neighbors. In fact, we know their schedules, their relatives and their vices. I can tell you the last time Mr. R.’s electric meter was read, when the O.’s are going to be back from vacation and how many times last week that R.’s girlfriend spent the night. In turn, they know that my parents visit on Sunday afternoons, that Mama J. is going to have hernia surgery and that Hubby spends a half hour at Huck’s convenience store every morning drinking Diet Coke and shooting the bull. We don’t call this nosiness, we call it Neighborhood Watch. Someone asked me not too long ago if I had an alarm system at my house, and I said, “No. I have Marie”. She’s my neighbor and will call me at work if someone suspicious shows up in my driveway during the day. Heck, she even knows to call Hubby at Huck’s if the prowler shows up in the morning between 7:15 and 7:45.
3. We make friends wherever we go. We will strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere. We make friends in the line at Wal-Mart, in the bathroom at Outback and on the way to the operating room. We also share with strangers all kinds of personal information other folks might not divulge, like our constipation problems, our child’s rehab stint and the name of the dealer Uncle Lester uses to buy glaucoma marijuana. We may divulge too much, but we are friendly people. If you ask us for directions and you seem confused, we will tell you to jump in our pickup and we’ll just drive you there.
4. We make time for pie. We’re good at it. We’re almost always armed with pie and we know how to use it. We use it to feed your face and nourish your soul. Pie is a good and righteous thing. It keeps you from rushing through your meal It causes you to slow down and savor the moment. We think pie cures just about everything, especially coconut cream pie.
So if you’re wandering through the Bluegrass State anytime soon, be sure to wave and say hello. We’ll wave back. In fact, we’ll probably strike up a conversation with you, ask about your relatives and give you directions to a really good restaurant that serves dessert. And rest assured that if you croak while you’re in our fair state, we’ll also give you a great sendoff.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
First of all I would have to chase down my yappin’ miniature schnauzer that has more bark than sense. Then I would have to wrestle him into his crate while I shout, “Hang on, I’m coming,” at a volume that would make a champion hog caller proud. A mad search for a robe would follow because I find no reason to wear anything but pajamas when in the confines of my home. And while I would be mighty surprised by the balloon crew on the other side of my door, they would probably get a bigger shock out of my appearance. My “at home” look is stunning. Absolutely out of this world.
If it’s a good day, I’ll be in my newest pajamas…the ones with the flannel leopard print pants..circa 2003. The top has some kind of cake batter stain on the front, a badge from a spoon licking accident. I’ll probably be wearing gray socks that are supposed to be white. My feet get cold easily. I don’t like cold feet. Also, the socks make it easier to skate down the hallway on the hardwood floors. However, if the laundry is backed up and I’m having a sock shortage, I could be wearing those blue fuzzy footies we got from Mama J.’s last hospital stay. My robe will hide the fact that I chucked the Playtex Cross Your Heart the minute I got home. I have a beautiful new robe Teen Angel gave me for Christmas. It’s blue with yellow stars and moons and beats the heck out of the old purple one I buried last week. It clashes with the leopard print pants, though. An ensemble that special calls for a special hairdo. My typical upsweep consists of a white bandana twisted and tied around my head like a headband with my hair twisted into a wad and stuck to the back of my head with a giant barrette. I call it the cockatoo do. It’s a lovely look.
Over the years my neighbors have been kind enough to overlook my appearance when they’ve knocked on my door or stumbled upon me at 5:30am while I’m walking the dog. It’s one reason we haven’t moved to another neighborhood. I’m afraid I’d have to wear more clothes or better clothes to the mailbox. My current neighbors accept me, leopard pants and all. I’m afraid the Publisher’s Clearinghouse folks wouldn’t. So thanks, Ed, for the offer of lifelong riches, but I’ll have to pass. I might take some new pajamas though. Got any of those?
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
I have some general goals for the year like taking good care of myself and increasing my mileage when I run. It seems kind of silly to write those down. However, I do have a lot of little things I've been putting off that I should resolve to take care of this year. Those will require some diligence because they are all things I'd rather not do. Most of them involve cleaning. Blech. You know how I excel at that. (Insert insane laughter here.) I've put this stuff off long enough, so I suppose I should put on my big girl britches and get cracken' on it. I'm making a list, so I won't forget any of this stuff. Strap on your seatbelt, and here we go.
1. Clean out my sock drawer and throw away anything with holes, stains and lack of a mate. Anything bought before 1993 should go. The sixteen pair of tights in multiple colors should go. After all, winter walking shorts went out of style several years ago.
2. Figure out how to use the new vaccum cleaner.
3. Use the new vaccum cleaner.
4. Get rid of the colony of dust bunnies that have built condos under our bed.
5. Clean out my underwear drawer. Throw out anything that is ripped, stretched or faded. Anything bought before 1993 should go. Okay, 1992. That was the year I got the great deal on the Jockey three pack of briefs at J.C. Penney's.
6. Buy some pretty underwear, not the Hanes cotton value pack I've been married to for the last ten years.
7. Clean out the three junk drawers in the kitchen. REALLY clean them, not just shuffle the stuff around.
8. Wash the curtains in the bathroom since the dust is making them look mauve instead of red.
9. Clean out my shoe cubicle in the dressing room. Get rid of anything that pinches, squeezes, squeaks or slips. If they haven't been worn in two years they should go. This includes the twenty pair of flip-flops crammed in various corners.
10. On a day when I'm feeling very brave....clean out the drawer in the bathroom vanity. It will take me until October to work up the courage for that one.
I'll stop now. It's making me stressed just thinking about all of the cleaning on that list. I wouldn't want to wipe out the effects of my vacation. I'll go rest now and get started on that list tomorrow....Friday at the latest. Or maybe Monday.