Friday, July 14, 2017

Some People...

Like to make life a little tougher than it is. Thus declares one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, Cake. With a name like Cake, it has to be good.

The lyrics continue:
The more you try to shake the cat
The more the thing will bite and scratch.
It's best I think to leave it's fur
And to listen to it's silky purr...

Have you ever met that person? The one who spots trouble and offences quicker than an abandoned penny. The one who "hates drama" but seems to always be in the midst of a turbulent sea. Lambadocious they are exhausting.

Language is constantly changing and words that once meant one thing are misused, abused and often completely twisted until they hardly resemble their original meaning. For example, the word bully.
When I was a youth, a bully was a person who was physically and/or mentally abusive to another person. The kids who lived across the road from us when my brothers and I were kids were bullies. They threw rocks at us, they'd shove us off the bus at our stop, and threatened to beat us up. I know what it means to be bullied, but today the word bully has been hopelessly diluted. Nowadays, it seems that word has been distorted to mean things like, I wasn't invited to a party, I'm being bullied. I wasn't picked to participate in an activity, I'm being bullied. My name wasn't picked from the hat, bullied, bullied, bullied.

When my child says, "mom, it hurts when I stick my finger in my eye," my first response is always, "then stop poking yourself in the eye!" It makes perfect sense to me. However, I would be hard pressed to say that to someone else's child because my actions could be seen as lacking compassion by the person known in the newly minted term as a helicopter parent.

Maybe I don't call bully because I'm too thick to recognize when my children are being poorly done to. If my child isn't invited to an activity "everyone else was invited" to, I don't air my grievances across Facebook and tell the offenders they mustn't post pictures or make comments about activities my children weren't part of. My kids are home schooled. If I took that route my whole day would be spent squawking about all the things they aren't a part of and then there would be no time for the actual schooling part of home schooling.

There will always be parties, activities, concerts, dates, etc that my children won't be invited to. That's life. They can't (and shouldn't) be part of everything all the time. In fact, the only time I might be inclined to raise a ruckus is if my children are told by some ignorant ass that being home schooled will permanently ruin their lives because they'll have no social skills and can't function in society. If you've ever met my children you would know how completely inaccurate those statements are. Yet, I've heard it more than once.

However, unless the comment is made to me, I try to stay out of it. As a woman attempting to grow competent adults I require my children to handle such matters themselves because grown-ups can't have their mommies fight their battles.

At least, not yet.

Is It True? It It kind? Is It...

Necessary?

I have been accused many times of saying everything that crosses my mind. Well that is absolutely incorrect because if I really said everything I think people would be clutching the pearls and fanning themselves through a raging case of the vapors.

Thus, I have been told to consider certain criterion before speaking my mind.

Is it true...
Probably, absolutely, yes. Sometimes one's head is so firmly lodged up one's own butt one is unable to read the memo stating how awful one is behaving. I know my head sometimes gets stuck up my butt, and I need to be informed of that fact. For example: a few weeks ago, I asked Mr. D to cut a few pieces of wood for me, which he willingly did. Minutes later he came outside, where I was building a garden bed, to ask if I would help him finish up his haircut (he shaves his head). I didn't even think before I started barking back at him for interrupting my yard work. He turned around and went back inside, but as soon as the door was I closed, I realized what I jerk I was being and immediately went to correct the situation. As I was trimming up his buzz I mentioned that this incident was a perfect example of when I need to be called out, but he explained I am unreasonable when I'm out of line. He said it much more kindly, but the gist is the same. He also said "you seemed to pick that one up pretty quickly. So..."

Is it kind...
Well that depends. The longer I sit on it, the uglier it gets. There was a time I was actively suppressing some serious boundary issues I was having with my father-in-law. I was really trying to exercise my understanding of Christlike attributes, but it became more and more uncomfortable the longer I kept my lip zipped. See, sometimes when one holds one's tongue, the other person sees the silence as an invitation to continue with the behavior that usually would get their head bitten off. This was one of those times. I held my tongue until he pushed me past the point of no return and I lost my friggin' mind. At church. Where everyone could hear it. I've never seen that man move so fast as  he did when he scurried from the church building. Apparently, Angry D.P. resembles a possessed lunatic which also rips my knickers because the fool who pushes my buttons then behaves as if they have no idea why I exploded. I don't like being angry because I go all out. My head throbs, my heart throbs, my ears throb, I feel like I'm gonna vomit. I'm pretty sure my blood pressure would worry a cardiologist.

Is it necessary...
I struggle with that one because I know I'm an idiot at times, and I'm ever on a quest to change negative behaviors and attitudes, but I can't fix it if I can't see it. I regularly ask Mr. D to help me with my personal evaluations and he's pretty much worthless because he refuses to acknowledge I have flaws. Which is great for my ego, but useless for my personal progress.

I know not everyone feels the same push to betterment that I do. I remember one particularly gruesome companionship inventory with one of my mission companions where she mercilessly told me all the ways I sucked, while simultaneously declaring there was nothing she needed to work on. As it happens, if she hadn't stopped jacking her jaw when she did she was gonna have to figure out how to cover up the black eye I was planning to give her. Her hubris was almost as appalling as the way she tore me down.

I'm not saying we should all be strutting around calling people out for things we deem inappropriate, however if I see a four year old running with a knife I'm not going to pretend I don't see it as I hope the child's mother sees it before the child falls on it. If I am a leader of the young women in my church and one of those young women decides to cross from one side of the room to the other through the middle of a performance, I'm going to call her out for not going around them. So I ask you, does that make me a terrible person?

No really, I have no idea. I'm asking you.

Things My Mother Taught Me...

On accident.

Just to be clear my mom is human and prone to make mistakes. Some of those mistakes still cause her great distress and I know she wishes she could take them back, but I verily believe no woman can consider herself a mother unless and until she has one or two mistakes under her maternal belt that haunt her in her sleep.

However it goes her career as my mother good, bad or indifferent has shaped who I am as a woman, a wife and a mother myself and I think I'm pretty awesome. Even if it's only me who believes it.

I was talking to my mother the other day and she agreed that she must have done something right; she kept me alive, fed me, clothed me, and she didn't leave me on the side of the road...for very long.

Her words and true story. I watched the tail lights of the van disappear many times as a kid. So much so that it didn't even phase me. I always wore shoes and developed an amazing sense of direction. I could find my way home without breadcrumbs or a map.

Actually, the four kids all wore shoes at all times because in our indigent state we ran out of gas a lot. Well, we were poor and my mom really hated stopping for gas.

So I wanted to share a few things I learned as a result of my mother mothering me.

I never under any circumstances ever leave water in the sink after I've washed the dishes. In fact, as soon as the dishes are washed, I wring out the sponge, pull the plunge, rinse out the sink and wipe it down. That is, I did those things before my children took over dish duty, and it is the gold standard because the first time I found cold water in the sink I raised such a stink they've never forgotten it.

Now you may be thinking, "of course you do the dishes that way, it's common sense." Yes. Common sense, but the reason I make sure it's done that way is because my mother was a serial leave-water-in-the-sink-er. Did you know that water left in the kitchen sink for days on end will always develop an orange film? Always. Even if you haven't had a tomato based product in months.

That, in itself, is unappealing, but my mom had a habit of leaving the water in the sink, and then after four or five days demanding that I pull the plug. By the time I hit twelve I was beginning to find my voice and one day REFUSED to stick my hand in the cold orange water. So she relented and, in a huff, went and pulled the plug herself. I am so thankful to this day I stuck to my guns because she found herself in possession of one very dead mouse. She screamed, I laughed and resolved to always drain the sink.

My mom, well, she hasn't found another mouse.

Another absolute I decided as a youth was to always move wet laundry to the dryer immediately after the washing machine stopped. Why? Because two day wet laundry tends to smell with a funk that never really goes away. Eau de Mildew was my childhood perfume. "Why not just do your own laundry?" you ask. That's another story for another time, and stop being so judgy, man!

Another thing we don't do - nothing is ever allowed "to soak." Soaking is Mom-ese for "hope it cleans and puts itself away." If it didn't clean and put itself away she would hide it in the oven and forget about it until we had to bake something. As a consequence I always check the oven before I turn it on. It was a superfluous habit until Mr. D started his cheesecake baking career and would occasionally forget to remove the water filled cookie sheets (water baths).

I won't eat rice in milk with cinnamon and sugar every again. I ate more than my share as a kid. We kept the rice industry in business through the 80's.

I never leave my sewing notion laying around or stabbed into the furniture because "next time I need it I'll know where to find it." She never found them, but I did. I can't tell you how many sewing needles I stepped on. The plus? There was always thread hanging from the eye, so I had a way to pull it out.

Tupperware were the only dishes we could count on. My mom had a rough time in the 90's and took it out on the dinnerware. We were color coded. My set was pink. Now, I've never used dish-breaking to quell my frustration, but even dishes broken on accident are a pill to clean up so I tend to own dishes that are impossible to break.

Then there was the leaving me on the side of the road.

One she'll be able to look back and laugh. I know I do.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Everyone Has A Mexican Gramma...


This is my Mexican gramma. She was a BABE. I mean, she's still a babe, she's just older now. My gramma is an amazing woman.

She came to the U.S. as a bride of eighteen, married to a man who was over twenty years older than her. Her mother had been a socialite, but was cast out of polite society when she found herself in a family way. My gramma grew up poor and when a wealthy older American took a fancy, Gramma's mother pretty much sold her off. 

My gramma only spoke Spanish when she came here and soon found herself pregnant with my Aunt Blanc. It was about this time that her husband told his son if he liked his new step-mother, he could have her. So Gramma found herself in a new country, unable to speak the language, pregnant and alone. She worked as a seamstress and did laundry at a retirement home where she learned English playing cards with the old people.

After my aunt was born, my gramma sent her to live with her sister Gloria while she continued working and sending money home. At some point she met my mother's father. I heard once that she learned to polka while married to my mother's father. I haven't been able to suss out any more information about how, where or when that relationship came about.

It's a wonder when we hear stories because when asked any questions she claims she can't remember. However, if one is very quiet and keeps ones lips tightly closed she will let little bits of her past slip out. When this happens I tuck it away and if I'm lucky I can get a few more details, but only if she's in the mood. 

Once, not too long ago, I expressed how frustrating it can be when I ask her a history question and she says she can't remember it was so long ago. As soon as the words, "I can't remember that was so long ago," came out of her mouth she suddenly remembered she had two uncles who were train conductors. I snapped, "Gramma!" and she pursed her lips and said, "what?" with all the petulance of a five year old.

Then again she was telling me about how she didn't want to travel to Mexico because of all the crime. She said she wanted to die peacefully in her sleep like her grandfather...not screaming in terror like his passengers. I thought she was telling a true story until she said the second half and I laughed out loud. Then she tells me her paternal grandfather really did die in his sleep when he was 104.

Moving on...

My mother and a son came from that marriage, but it didn't last long, and she sent them both to Aunt Gloria as well. My mother used to say it was a shame she never learned to speak Spanish, but when I relayed that thought to Gramma she said, "what does she mean? Your mother didn't speak English until she was five." 

Another marriage produce a second aunt and uncle. She married a fourth time before I was born and they were married until he dies. He is the man who was my grampa. Best. Grampa. Ever.

My gramma can tell a joke like nobody's business, and if she can stifle her laughter, we can even understand what she's saying.

She raised kids like a pro having raised the five she birthed, a few that came with marriage and a couple of stragglers in her parenting her career. 

She is the consummate hotelier as almost every one of the children, grandchildren and other relations have nested in her home at least once in the last thirty years. Some of them have never left and will probably die there, but every family has one (or two or three) oddball, right? Laws, I hope so otherwise that's messed up.

She is also the great resource stretcher. She has used the same can of Tang orange drink for the last two decades. We call it "orange water" because she only uses enough powder to change the color. One Thanksgiving, many years ago, my uncle Billy wanted to go fishing and came over to ask if she had any turkey left over from the year before. She said she did and he could find it in the freezer behind the paintbrushes. Which is exactly where he found it. In the freezer. Behind the paintbrushes. Which explains why pretty much everything that comes out of that freezer tastes and smells like paint.

She is a master quilter. She hand sews everything and even quilts the top by hand. One of her quilts traveled across Texas as part of an expo and is now in a museum in San Antonio. She made me a quilt for my sixteenth birthday and I have learned the skill from her. I remember being at her house as a kid, watching her sew as she watched t.v. while my grampa snoozed in his chair. When it was time for bed she'd put the quilt aside, and turn off the t.v. As soon as the noise disappeared my grampa's head would jerk up and he'd grunt, "hey, I was watching that!" I miss that guy.

My gramma's one flaw is in the one area where other Mexican gramma's excel. She can't cook. When people hear about my Mexican gramma they are instantly envious of all the wonderful home cooking I must have grown up on.

Nope.

Everything she cooks has an orange tint and we call Thanksgiving's entree "Gramma's Mojave turkey." One year my cousin asked which of the mounds of gray stuffing was the boneless mound. Gramma told her it was the one without bones. There wasn't one without bones.

We've tried to take over the meal making responsibilities, but we end up having to sneak food in because she won't let us help. She massacres the desserts with her little dessert knife and even though she decided to start using foam plates and cup (for easy cleanup) some years ago, she still washes the foam plates and cups. 

She believes men should be revered and women belong in the kitchen, which my dad loved, but I had to nip in the bud after Mr. D and I got married. "He was capable before we got married and he still functions quite well," I told her when she told me to go fix my husband a plate the first Thanksgiving we spent there. The old ways were steadfastly ignored by the daughters but have been moderately re-applied by the granddaughters. We aren't our husband's servants, but we aren't above serving them either. If Mr.D asks for a bowl of ice cream while I'm up, I will gladly oblige him. If he sits in his chair and mimes a bowl at me, I'll probably break his arms. Moderation in all things, people.

My grandma is a spitfire, though, and she's made hard choices and lived under difficult circumstances, but her sacrifices are the reason I am a second generation American. 

Everyone's tree sprang from another orchard. Keep that in mind.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Learning New Words With D.P...

I like words.

I like words so much I've even been accused of making them up, but why would I do that when there are a plethora of words already at my disposal? Knowing such an abundance of appropriate verbiage is available to the common man makes the excessive use of the few more base words a crying shame. My stepfather used to say that cursing was the sign of a feeble mind. I guess he wold know as his vocabulary consisted mainly of four letter words announced at varying volumes.

To be fair, I find words to be difficult to come by too, at times, and if accused of using sentence enhancers too liberally would be found guilty. Just ask my kids. They will happily toss me under that bus and giggle as it runs me over. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite words. Feel free to share any of your favorites.

Pedantic: adj. Excessively concerned with details or rules.

For example: Our church often rents basements or apartments from members for the missionaries. Thus, if the church rents the space for the missionaries, it is the living space of the missionaries and, as with any rental contract, the owner is no longer free to come and go from the rental space as they choose. Because that's rude.

It's even more rude to willy-nilly enter said living space and rearrange the furniture.

My companions and I lived in a basement we called the "bowling alley," and the little old lady who owned the house would regularly come downstairs and rearrange the furniture. It was kind of unnerving to come back to our private space to find everything moved around on the whim of the nutcase living upstairs. So we decided it was time to remind her of the specifics of the contract when she came down one day to rearrange unaware that we were still there. We sat her down and kindly asked her to leave the sitting tools where we put them and to stop moving our beds around. When we said the word "couch" to describe the sitting tools, she lost her mind.

Her: "It's a settee!"
My companion: "Please stop moving the settee and the couch."
Her: "That's a loveseat."
Me gritting my teeth and calling on all of my patience: "The point is, stop moving the furniture!"
Her: "It's my house!"
Me: "Shall I call the Mission President then?"
Her: *mumble mumble mumble* as she walks away.

Another word that fits well in this situation is deflecting. For example:

Me: "Stop hitting your sister with that shoe."
Deflector: "It's a sandal."
Me out loud: "Seriously?!" You know what I mean! Stop it!"
My brain: "Then by all means, carry on."

Or:

Me, calling name of wrong child: "Eenie, stop screaming!"
Meenie, the child who is screaming: "I'm Meenie."
Me: "You know who you are! Shut-up!"

This one literally just happened: (Literally as in "just this minute" literally, not figuratively as in "my head literally exploded.)

Meenie:"I'm gonna punch you in your stupid face."
Me: "Don't tell your sister you're going to punch her in her dumb face."
Meenie: "I said I was gonna punch her in her stupid face."
Me: "My mistake. Punch away, I guess?"

My favorite is when dealing with a gaggle of children who don't belong to me, though I am responsible for them, as in a Sunday school class. It gets tricky here because I can't just smack them on the back of the head when they give me lip.

Example:

Me: "Don't wipe your nose on your dress."
Child I can't smack: "It's a skirt."

Sigh.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Girl's Best Friend...

Way back almost twenty years ago, I served a mission for my church in Spokane Washington. There was a serial killer at large at that point and my first glimpse upon leaving the airport was a giant billboard asking for any information one might have concerning the murders. They did not catch him while I was there. Also, a volcano had erupted on the other side of the mountain (i.e. other volcanoes in the chain) barely fifteen years before. "That was long before you got there," you might say. "There's nothing to worry about." Yeah, don't care. It was in my lifetime, thus not long enough ago, but I digress.

One of the areas I served in was Post Falls, ID. Yes, I know that's not Washington, but it's only half an hour away. It's a Mormon thing.

Anyway, I met a family there whom I still love to this day. They had a dog named Shasta. Up until my mission, Shasta was a brand of soda. While in Washington I met a Shasta (girl), a Shasta (dog) and learned about a Shasta (mountain). So much Shasta.

So Shasta, the dog, was pretty chill. She had been with Steve and Jodi before there was a Steve. Shasta was a constant source of comfort to Jodi during troubled times. Shortly after I went home, Shasta went to "the farm" and Jodi swore there would be no more dogs for the Nelson family.

I got married, had kids and came back to visit a couple of times. While I was adding children, the Nelsons changed their minds and added a black and white pup they called Oreo to their family. Oreo Cookie Nelson, so dubbed by their daughter Emily was one of the first dogs my children had ever really encountered. They were terrified, but Jodi told them it was Oreo's house, and after a day to adjust they calmed down. It's kind of Jodi's fault we've had the doggy debacle repeat in our home for so many years. It's a long, nonsensical story which, if I told you'd be inclined to tell me I'm wrong. Thus I'm not telling the story.

Years passed, as they are wont to do, and Oreo went to "the farm", too. They have since welcomed a new four legged friend, Adelaide Pantalones. The Nelsons aren't dog people, they are a dog people. There seems to be only two camps of people, those who hate dogs and those who love them, so it is interesting to find a happy medium in our all-or-nothing world. I really like that.

Lastly, and here is my point, their daughter Emily was six when I met them and but for a sprinkling of years there was always a dog at her side. Now that she's grown, she has continued the tradition. Her dog Jax has been a constant, comforting presence to Emily through some exceedingly troubled times as well. I am told he is an awesome dog.

It's almost like Shasta never went away.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Rains In Spain...

Fall mostly on the day we finally get the chemicals balanced in the pool.

Once upon a time, the Davidson clan embarked on one of our yearly "build a fence for a friend" projects. Since the girls had already earned all the monies they needed for girl's camp, we decided some of the fence building proceeds would be used for Moe's cub scout camp. This left us with enough for one big, family sized toy or six small that-was-a lot-of-work-for-nothing toys.

Don't get me wrong, it was a chunk of change, but split six ways, not so much. Thus when Mr. D and I found ourselves of the same mind, it was settled. We decided to purchase an above ground pool. We found one at Costco that fit the bill, but here's the thing - the cost of having a pool is way more than just the cost of the pool. There are chemicals and various accouterments, plus water and electricity because the pool doesn't fill itself and the filter doesn't run on air. These were all things we considered and we decided we had sufficiently counted the cost.

We most definitely undershot the cost.

The first gut punch came when Mr.D insisted we level the ground where we planned to put the pool. As I've mentioned before, he's a "read the directions" kinda guy while I'm a "throw it together, it can't be that hard" kinda woman. But this was a big investment so I didn't make a lot of noise until he rented a ground scalper from Home Depot. My heart dropped to my feet, not so much because of the rental fee (though it was comparatively substantial), but because of what he did to my yard. My beautiful, green-grassed, minimal weed lawn.

After slicing a swath of greenery from my yard, Mr. D was pretty pleased, but I was beginning to think we'd made a mistake. However, it was too late to change my mind, so we put down the tarp and set up the pool. It was about this time we realized, the scalping was just a hair (ha!) too narrow so we ended up taking a shovel to the outside edges.

So where does displaced sod go, you ask? Because it doesn't just disappear. Well, our displaced sod rested on the side of the pool for a week until we decided we should use it to fill some bald (Ha! again!) patches in the yard, but just so you know, that mess is heavy.

Cost unaccounted for:
One sod cutter rental
One massive swath of grass removed
One afternoon of moving said grass

After finally getting the pool situated, we began to fill it with water. I was sure our water bill would double the next month, but it wasn't bad until the second gut punch landed. That's not completely accurate. Gut punch insinuates a quick jab. This has been a long, slow, noggin rub because even though the pool came with a filter, skimmer and hose, the filter has either had to work harder than the manufacturer ever intended or it's a pitiful filter. I can't decide which.

Maybe it's because, even though we placed the water hole of aggravation right next to the patio, the children still manage to haul in buckets of dirt every time they get in the water, and they are in an out of that thing like something people would go in an out of excessively. I can't think of anything right now.

Anyway, the first week of pool ownership found the water clear and beautiful, the chemicals were perfectly balanced, the children spent most of the day outside, and all was right with the world. Then it rained...and rained...and just to mix things up, rained some more and my crystal clear water was but a murky memory.

We added a little of this, and a little of that, then a little more of this because that knocked the other out of balance. It was madness. We shocked that thing so often it was verging on obscene. One should not go through an entire bottle of shock in three days, but it wasn't enough. So we added water, we back washed the filter, we made offerings to the pool gods, but nothing worked.

About that time I realized there was a veritable mudhole lingering at the bottom of the pool so my grey matter thinks, "maybe getting some of that crap out will make a difference." So I hooked up the vacuum attachment. Oh the humanity.

The vacuum will not suck unless every single air bubble is expunged. Every. Single. Bubble. So after half an hour of bleeding that thing like a medieval surgeon, I attempt the clean up the muck. That vacuum sucks, and not the way it was intended.

It seemed like it was working until I realized all it was doing was stirring everything up like Nightmare Kool-Aid, so I left it alone to settle. Actually I threw the hose into the pool and stomped away in disgust. The next day the water was clear, but the bottom was gross again, so I ran the vacuum...again. Again there was dirt Kool-Aid enough to hydrate the neighborhood, but no indication of actual dirt removal.

Cost Unaccounted for:
Extreme aggravation
Loss of two hours of life to futility

As a last ditch effort, I asked the man to purchase a pool vacuum that works independent of the filter. I would like to say it was a different experience. I'd like to say it was a miracle, and everything has come together in a magical swirl of wonder. I'd like to say those things but I can't...

Because it's raining.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Impossible Dream...

Renee Palmer wants to know how to fight with your teenager...and win.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

That is not a thing humanly possible because teen brains are under-developed which is why they think they know everything. Sadly, this is also true of some adults, but the adults can't claim the same affliction. These people are known as "annoying" and the only cure for them is to steadfastly ignore them (still talking about adults here).

I have a sister who is fourteen years younger than me, thus I was married with four children before she graduated high school. I told her many many times (much to her chagrin) that she wouldn't even be a human being, much less an adult, until she was at least twenty. She bristled every time it came up and she would come back with the fact that Texas considered her an adult when she turned 18. Then I would remind her that Texas didn't know her, because if he did he'd totally change his mind. Texas just wants more eligible voters, which is really all being eighteen means.

She's twenty six now, and has embraced my wisdom, and in weaker moments will even say so out loud.

To be fair there are teenagers who can be more level headed, but they are still teenagers and prone to basic stupidity on occasion. One can use subliminal messages when communicating with teen aged offspring. I haven't mastered that, but my mom was a pro. For example, let's say you are at a graduation party for a sibling when your mom says, "now, you're the only one who need a degree to be like your siblings." It is most effective when said with a great big, oblivious smile.

Reverse psychology can be an effective technique because the average teenager will always do the opposite of what you want. For example: Timmy is running with a large knife. Why? Because Timmy is sixteen and has limited understanding of cause and effect. You, as his parent, see the various and sundry end to his beginning and yell (with a sense of urgency), "Timmy don't run with that knife," which is a guaranteed trip to the E.R.

However, and this takes an immense amount of control on your part because it has to seem like you don't care, you purse your lips and declare, "if you cut your fool self, I'ma make you sew yourself up," he will most likely cease and desist. It's still a crap shoot.

Arguing with a teenager is exactly like arguing with a two year old. Yes, teenagers have a larger vocabulary and can slam a door like a pro, but they have about as much sense and grasp of logic as your run-of-the-mill toddler, so meaningful debate is just as pointless. You would get more satisfaction arguing with the wall because at least the wall doesn't talk back. The super beauty in wall-talking is that you don't have to hear phrases such as "on fleek," or "you're so basic," or my personal favorite,  being "lit." What? Why? Just stop it.

When did I get old?

So here's what you have to ask yourself. Do you want to be right or do you want to have peace, because you'll never be right, even when you are. Teenagers will hold to their view like a grenade without a pin. It may seem like your teen is trying to spite you, but he is really just trying to assert the independence and individuality you are trying to teach them. They just aren't mature enough to express those thoughts intelligently. Cause they're dumb, see?

So it's kind of our fault. If we'd stop teaching them to think for themselves the struggle would be over, but then they'd never move out, so there's that.

I'm sorry, Renee. You will never be able to argue with your teenager and win, but you can take comfort in the knowledge that one day he will also argue with a contrary teenager. You may even be so lucky as to be the parent who gets an apology when he recognizes he was a butthead (over the phone because its two in the morning).

It's the circle of life.

Bless Their Heart...

Carrie Lacey asked a hard hitting question about politics and trying to be friends with someone that has opposing views.

Deep breaths...

Well Carrie, politics is a touchy subject that when touched upon often leads to more painful touching. So where to start? Firstly, there is only one person in the entire world you (and any other person in the entire world) can control. That person is you. Even if one has children, one cannot control them. Oh, one can control the child's actions to some extent, but even that control is an illusion. Think of siblings who have had the very same upbringing yet grow into completely opposite adults and their parents wondering, "what the hell!? I know we taught him better than that!"

That being said, wouldn't the world be very boring if we all thought the same way about everything? It would be very sad, truly because in all things there are different perspectives. One person could not possibly conceive of all the ins, outs and intricacies of life.

I have a dear friend whose only area of commonality was that our children were in kindergarten together, but I wanted to be her friend. We don't share religious views, we have different lifestyles and we couldn't be more different, but I love her. Not her religious views, not her lifestyle, not her politics, her. And because she didn't see things exactly the way I did, my views expanded. It didn't change the way I believed, but I saw her value.

The problem with politics, I think, is two fold. The first being is it is difficult to understand where another person is coming from when we don't have the same life experiences. If one person grows up in a two parent household, it is difficult for the person who's parents are still together to really understand certain concerns.

For example: Mr. D's parents have been married for over forty years. To each other. My parents separated when I was 11 and divorced when I was 13. Even my mother's second marriage was a debacle. So when Mr. D and I hit fourteen years some time back, I was a mess the entire year. Even though we were no where near the dire straits of my parents (remember they were separated for two years before) it still was the place where my parents fell apart. This is the conversation I had with Mr. D as that anniversary rolled around.

Me: "Babe, I want you to know that even though we are not my parents, I may be a little sensitive for a bit. It has nothing to do with you, it's all in my head, but I thought you should know."

Him: "But we're nothing like your parents."

Me: "I'm pretty sure I just said that."

Him: "Well just don't think that way."

Me: "Well gosh, why didn't I think of that?"

Him: "What can I do to help?"

Me: "Just be who you are. It's something I have to work through."

Him: "I don't understand."

Me: "I gathered."

The point is from where we stand things seem pretty straight forward and logical, but the other person feels the same way about their point of view. We don't hand out questionnaires when we embark on friendships. We generally strike up with people with similar (read not exact) interests, but it's our differences that keep things interesting.

The second problem lies in how we deal with those differences. It is the lions share of the problem because we as a people have forgotten how to discuss our differences like adults. Instead we start calling names and questioning intelligence like we never left high school. I can promise you, no one who has been told they are dumber than a sack of hammers has EVER stopped and said, "you know what? You're right, I am dumber than a sack of hammers. I see things in a whole new light. Thank you, thank you, for saving me from my incredible incompetence and clearly misguided notions."

Never happens.

For example, I was once asked out by a boy who I worked with. We talked a bit and generally enjoyed these conversations. So imagine my disgust when he, having just asked me out, turned and walked away when he learned I was Mormon. I'm Mormon, not a Nazi war criminal, but his entire view changed. Everything he liked about me disappeared and all he could see was what he felt was an unacceptable (religious) belief. We didn't have to get married, but to go from friends to strangers in a matter of minutes was kinda rude. The best way to be friends with persons whose political views are different than yours is to remember the things you love about them.

If two opposing views can be respectfully discussed, by all means, proceed. If one of you decides to roll in the mud, bless their heart and change the subject because when you roll with pigs you get dirty too. For example:

Bless his (ignorant heart), he couldn't find his way out of a wet paper bag with a map and a compass.

Bless her (melodramatic) heart. It's so hard when she isn't the center of attention.

Bless his (downer) heart. He got peanut butter and jelly in his lunch again.

Bless her (willfully stupid) heart. She still thinks the world is flat.

One invokes blessing of hearts when one has encountered a confounding situation. It can be used when dealing with the ignorant, the drama queen (a gender-less behavior), the downer and yes, the willfully stupid.

The Bless your/his/her/their heart works like this: the Blesser presses her lips together as she remembers her commitment to stay out of the aforementioned mud and verbally or mentally blesses the blessee.

Here's where it gets tricky. If the person who's heart you are blessing is from the south, do not, I repeat DO NOT bless their heart out loud. And whatever you do, remember allowing yourself to be pulled into pointless debates only ruins your day. Some people can't understand, some people don't understand and some people won't understand.

If you (the reader) are the bringer of contention, shame on you. I thought I taught you better than that.

So when we are friends with people who have different political views (or any opposing views, really) than our own, does it mean we have to agree with those views? Not remotely, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. Novel concept, I know, but it's amazing when put into practice. And all arguments absolutely require a minimum of two people.

One more point: blanket statements are my pet peeve. They are completely inaccurate, but are constantly draped over anyone the blanketer disagrees with. STOP IT! Nobody ever "always" or "nevers".

Hope this helps.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Husbands Girlfriend...s

I believe I've covered the subject of my husbands other significant other before. Her name is Zelda and they were together long before he and I were a couple so I've done my best to ignore her continued intrusions into my life. He's introduced the harlot to my son and they often will spend time with her together. Her most recent arrival was in Breath of the Wild.

My boys love it/her, so I bide my time until they remember they should eat and shower sometimes and they come up for air.

Now there is a new woman in our home. Her name is Alexa and she is the bane of my existence.

It started innocently enough. Mr. D commented a few days before Father's Day, his desire to get a device called a Dot. The Dot is a ridiculous device conceived by some ultra lazy individual who found google too taxing and took it to the next level. So instead of taking your phone from your pocket or even, heaven forbid, turning your head slightly to the left to find the time on the microwave, stovetop or wall clock, you can say, "Alexa, what is the time?" And she will tell you what time it is.

When my man brought her home (apparently he was serious) she was asked various and sundry questions. She tells jokes, she sings songs, she spoils movies. She does all the things unless I'm the one asking the question...and all of a sudden, she's dumb as dirt.

I heard her name bellowed through the house no less than a hundred times a day for the first few days. When she gave a wrong answer a second bellow would ring through the air. "Alexa stop!" They yelled more at her than they did the idiot twins and that's saying something.

The shine has gone off the penny however. She and her all encompassing knowledge have fallen silent and now she more just collects dust as she takes up space.

Like the idiot twins.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Dog Bluto...

My brothers and I had a dog when we were kids. He was a black lab mix of some kind. My dad said he was a Heinz 57. If anyone understands that reference, please send me an email because I don't get it. Anyway, my dad used to say that Bluto was a dumb dog, but looking back he was a lot smarter than we gave him credit.

For example: We lived in trailer in the backwoods of Nemo Texas for a bit when I was really young. The trailer was down a country road off a rural highway, if that paints the picture any clearer. So we had what one could call a circular driveway which really meant if we were coming in from town, we pulled in on the left, and if we were coming up from Gramma's house, down the hill at the end of the road, we pulled in on the right. There was a group of three trees that separated the two paths so we could pull all the way around and never have to reverse. Yay!

Bluto's whole life revolved around us kids, I assume, because whenever we went into town he was always waiting for us at the beginning of the gravel road. Always. When he saw our rust colored van turn onto the gravel road, he'd race us home. My parents would actually endanger our lives on the unsteady gravel path to try and beat this dog back to the house. Now, if we passed the first entry, he knew we were headed to Gramma's, and he'd hit the gas and give it all he had to make it down the hill before us.

One day my mom noticed Bluto slowing down as we neared the driveway, and she punched the gas pedal. Bluto sped up, and then she hit the breaks and abruptly swerved into the second driveway. He was halfway down the road when he saw us stop, so he dropped to his butt to the ground and slid along the sharp, pebbly gravel to a painful butt burning stop. We had a good laugh, poor dog, but after that he made sure we'd passed both turn ins before he'd give it his all. That doesn't seem like a dumb dog to me.

We took him with us when we moved to The Farm and he followed us kids through all of our shenanigans. He was the only adult who knew where we were at any given time. One time the four of us were running through the woods when Bluto caught sight of a squirrel and quickly chased it up a tree. The squirrel weaved around the trunk like it was drunk then abruptly dropped dead. It fell to the ground where the boys and I crouched over to study it, awed that it had just died like that, when it jumped up and latched on to Jerry's thumb! Jerry started screaming and waving his arm around in an effort to removed the squirrel and Bluto was jumping around trying to grab the squirrel from the air.

Jerry decided to move the circus closer to home and started running back to the hogan screaming as he waved his arm around with Bluto close behind jumping and chomping while the rest of us fell in and followed behind.

By the time Jerry reached the hogan, I guess the squirrel had truly hit it's limit and dropped dead, for real. I can't remember which parent came out to see what all the screaming was about, but I do remember my dad taking a pocket knife to the squirrel's face and finding white foam in it's cheek. They sent the carcass to a lab to test for rabies. Jerry dodged that bullet, but his thumb was swollen for what seemed like forever.

Bluto was a good dog. We left him on The Farm when my mom packed us up and moved us out. I wonder what happened to him. He was always friendly with the other dogs in the neighborhood, sometimes too friendly if you catch my drift. I know he took a bullet for it on one occasion. I wish we'd taken him with us, but he was happy on The Farm so I guess it made more sense that he live out the rest of his days in a place where he could run free and impregnate with reckless abandon. I mean, why not, the cats did.

Monday, February 27, 2017

That Time I Got Stitches...

I have several siblings, but of the three I grew up with, all four of us required stitches at one time in our childhood and every time it could be trace back to the doings of one brother. Every. Single. Time.

My brothers are Jerry, Jay and Wayne. These are not the names my mother gave them, but are monikers they applied to each other. It is a long and sordid path that takes us to the origins of these names and is thus a post for another day.

Anyhoo, one day whilst living on The Farm, my brothers and I were playing that classic game called "drop big rocks to splash each other with puddle water." The goal was simple, see how muddy you could make your opponent before the puddle ran out of water. So much wholesome fun.

So, I had tossed my rock into the puddle and was reaching out to pick it back up when Jerry dropped his rock right on top of it. Unfortunately, my hand was sandwiched between the two. To be more accurate, it was smashed.

Now I remember jerking my hand from the rocks and being fairly appalled at the shape of my ring finger. I also remember being hoarse having just had a bout with a cold. My cries were more of a raspy "ahhh" than a robust shriek. I clutched my hand to my chest and ran back to the hogan (what we called the main house. Not nearly as cool or functional as a legit hogan.) where my Mom met us at the door. I showed her my mess of a finger and she kinda turned white. She quickly bandaged my hand and wrapped it around a jack o'lantern shaped bean bag she'd made. She used to be super crafty so it was a handy tool.

Once more we headed into town to the doctor. This time his office was on the other side of the highway. The wait wasn't nearly as long and my mom stayed with me the whole time. (One point for mom!) I got three stitches in my ring finger. It took months and months for the swelling to go down. My mom said several times that she wondered if I was ever going to be able to get married because it would be so hard to put a ring on that finger. (Minus one point from mom!)

Jerry had caused stitches in the other two siblings years before, so I guess it was my turn. Thankfully, he ran out of siblings...for a time.

He never caused stitches in the three siblings that followed, (many moons later) but one day when our sister was about two, he was playing with a purple Barney Rubble figure he'd found in a box of Fruity Pebbles. He'd tied a string around Barney's neck and was swinging it around his head when my sister's dad said, "you better stop that or someones gonna get hurt." Jerry barely got, "nothing's gonna happen," out of his mouth when the string slipped from his hand and Barney sailed across the room where he bounced off of Baby's noggin. Step dad watched the trajectory of the the toy and Jerry had disappeared before he could look back.

And in spite of it all I still managed to get married. Thank heavens for different ring sizes. Allowing the fat fingered woman the chance to marry since rings became a thing!

Friday, February 24, 2017

That Time I Broke My Foot...

As I mentioned before, when I was a kid we lived on a ten acre piece of property in Granbury. Maybe I didn't mention the Granbury part, but there it is. We called this place The Farm. It was a diverse piece of property to be sure. My dad cleared out a nice portion of field where my brothers and I could play with out getting lost in the woods and long grass of the rest of the property. We mostly avoided that portion. Except this one time.

The boys and I were playing soccer in the field one day. It was a intense game and when I saw my chance to kick that ball right over my brothers' heads I took it! I kicked that ball so hard it didn't move. Because it was a stump. The ball had been next to the only tree stump in the field and I kicked it as hard as I could.

My foot hurt for a few days, but my parents insisted that if it were broken, I wouldn't be able to walk. This would later be proven to be incorrect. Also, my mom went on for days about my inability to differentiate between a ball and a stump. It was a tense game, Mom!

I finally whinged enough that my mom relented and asked the one doctor at our church to look it over on Sunday almost a week later. He poked my foot and asked if it hurt several times and I wanted to smack him, but I was only eight so I meekly replied yes. Then he wrenched my foot back and forth a few times. I must have turned green because he told my parents to bring me in for an x-ray the next day.

I limped through school and then had to wait until my dad got home from work to take me in to town. Granbury is hardly a thriving metropolis now, so it was po-dunk back then. The doc's office was off the highway in a business park that had maybe two more office buildings (and I use the term loosely) and then nothing.

I don't know if we didn't have an appointment and they were just going to squeeze us in or they just felt that a doctor's office was a fine place to grow up, but we sat in that waiting room for FOR-EV-ER. Like it was light when we went in and dark after we left. Anyway, after what seemed like an hour  of waiting (remember, I was eight) my dad started pacing the room like a caged animal, one end to the other, one end to the other until he abruptly stopped mid-pace and yelled, "that foot better be broken!" and then he left. HE LEFT! That man got in his truck and drove away.

I was so freaked out, I was tempted to kick the wall just to make sure the job was done. My foot was x-rayed, found to be broken in three places, wrapped in a cast and had just finished drying when he finally came back. He never said a word about where he'd been, didn't apologize for leaving me and didn't say one word about my cast.

Flash forward twenty years.

My dad and I were at one of the few points of my life where we were communicating and I brought that night up. My dad has an amazing laugh. I have always loved it. His laugh is one of the only positive memories I have. Anyway, I asked him where he'd gone that night. He laughed as he told me he'd recently gotten a speeding ticket and to avoid paying the fine he had to attend a defensive driving class that apparently my visit to the doctor was encroaching upon. He left the me with the doc so he could take that class and keep the ticket off his record and the fine in his pocket. He thought it was funny as hell.

I, however, am still not amused.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Who's Your Daddy...The Conclusion

James Bond was feeling defeated. After months of networking, following leads to dead ends and numerous sophmoric pranks he was no closer to cracking the C.O.B. code. He was ready to give up when M called to tell him they had a solid lead. "Meet me in my office in half an hour," she instructed.

James hung up the phone and trudged out of his apartment to the street below where he slid behind the wheel of a beat up Volkswagen bug, the only vehicle available to him now. After every other car had malfunctioned in some inconceivable way, M had decided the bug was more cost efficient to the agency.

The bug coughed and sputtered in protest as James started the engine before it finally relented and reluctantly came to life. The alignment on the vehicle was pitiful and James had to keep a firm hold on the wheel to keep the car from drifting to the right. He cursed his luck as he jerked the wheel to the left to make a turn when another car came barreling down the street coming straight for him.

He was knocked unconscious in the collision and when he awoke he found himself bound to a chair in a dark theater. "Good of you to join us," a smooth feminine voice declared from the shadows. James lifted his head from his chest and looked around.

"Where am I," he demanded though his head throbbed in pain. He heard a light laugh and soft footfalls as she approached from the left.

"You may call me Serena," the woman declared. The theater was abruptly bathed in light and James blinked rapidly as his eyes adjusted. He looked to the place where he'd last heard the voice and was astonished at the ravishing young woman standing there. Her bright eyes shone beneath the longest eyelashes he had ever seen and her full lipped smile took his breath away.

"Is there no end to your lasciviousness, you filthy dog," she asked when she saw the way he looked at her.

"What am I doing here?" he demanded mustering up the last bits of bravado left to him. Serena's smile widened.

"I've heard you were looking for us," she replied. She walked to the front of the theater and took a seat in a familiar worn recliner. "Do you like it?" she asked as he eyed the chair.

"It looks like a chair I used to own," he replied. Serena chuckled lightly.

"That's because it is the chair you once owned," she said. "I rescued it from the dump." She leaned back in the chair and and the foot rest popped up. She placed her feet on the rest and crossed her ankles. "It really is quite comfortable," she admitted with a sigh.

"Why am I here?" James repeated impatiently. Serena sighed again and pushed the chair back to the upright position."

"You are here, Mr. Bond, because we grew tired of waiting," she replied as she got to her feet. "We have been waiting a long time to meet you." The room was suddenly alive with footfalls and James was surrounded by more than forty men, each clad in a familiar suit.

"They're wearing my clothes," he angrily erupted and Serena was clearly amused.

"That they are," she agreed. "They fit my brothers nicely don't you think?" Jame struggled furiously against the ropes keeping him tied to the chair.

"What kind of sick game are you playing here," James demanded. The men's faces broke into Cheshire cat smiles and James felt a surge of unease. His attention returned to Serena who held a familiar notebook in her hands. "Where did you get that?" he barked as she glanced at the pages.

"Did you ever think about them again," she asked as she turned the page.

"Who?" James asked and for the first time Serena's smile broke.

"The women in these pages!" she snapped. "Did you ever think about Solitaire or Jinx or Ann?" James frowned uncertainly.

"I don't recall an Ann," he replied with a puzzled look.

"She changed her name to something more dignified," Serena replied. "Her last name was Galore." James snickered as he remembered the woman's first name and Serena frowned. "I'll take that as a no," she decided. She handed the notebook to one of the men standing closest. "We thought about these woman every day of our lives," she declared as she strolled around the room. "We knew them well. We called them 'mother'." James' jaw dropped in awe.

"You are all children of my former lovers?" James sounded incredulous as Serena nodded. "They are lost," he continued. "My mission is to find them." Serena laughed out loud.

"They are not lost to us, Mr. Bond," she explained. "They never were."

"But M...." James fell silent as M passed through the group of men and stood beside Serena. He looked from one woman to the other in astonishment. "You knew?" he choked.

"I helped," M admitted.

"But why?" James asked feeling hurt. M took the notebook from the man holding it and flipped to a certain page.

"Woman tending hotel desk," she read. "Also known as my daughter." James eyes almost popped from his head.

"I had no idea!" he sputtered and M pursed her lips.

"Perhaps a minute of conversation would have cleared that up," M growled. Serena placed a calming hand on M's shoulder.

"It's okay, Grandmother," she soothed as James eyes grew impossibly larger.

"Grandmother," he repeated as his face paled. M moved closer and leaned into his face.

"Every one of these women, my daughter," she began. "Her name is Janine, by the way. You used them and threw them away."

"Do you expect me to apologize?" James sneered suddenly remembering who he was. M shook her head as she reached into the purse hanging at her side.

"No, Mr Bond," she replied placing a thick folded document on his lap. "I expect you to pay child support." James was speechless.

"Child support," he repeated.

"Yes," Serena shouted. "For we are C.O.B.! Children of Bond!!!" The men erupted in maniacal laughter as M shoved a pen into James hand cinched at his side.



Conclusion

James Bond sits in the recliner reclaimed by Serena that fateful day. His retirement fund was depleted after paying back child support to his fifty one baby mamas. With no place to stay Serena agreed to let him live, rent free, in her basement. James glanced at the toys strewn about the family room with a look of pride and sadness as four rambunctious children spilled through the door. "Grampa!" they squealed in delight. James knelt on the floor as they threw themselves into his arms and the five of them fell back into a pile of stuffed animals. James sighed as he looked to the ceiling. This was James Bonds life.


Friday, February 17, 2017

It's the Little Things...

Babe has been telling me for years that his dentist keeps telling him he needs an electric toothbrush and I've always answered, "your hands work just fine. They grip and everything. Also, opposable thumbs. You ain't got to have no 'lectric toothbrush." I'm a bumpkin, 'member.

He purchased a "cheap" one for himself a few years back, but only used it for a short time because "it rattled his brain too much." I could see that being a problem, but my thought is a more expensive one would still rattle your brain, it would just cost more to do it.

I'm also in touch with my cheap gene. Got it from my dad. All my brothers have it, too, but I digress.

Babe got a bonus last week and asked if I'd be willing to halfsies on a set of electric toothbrushes. I made a face and had my scoff locked and loaded when I abruptly changed my mind. It was a surprise to me, too. So, he runs out to Costco to get those toothbrushes before I can change my mind, which I do on occasion.

He plugged them in to charge, but then had to leave for a Scout camp trip. So, he didn't even get to use his new toy. That night as I was preparing for bed, I approached my electric toothbrush with caution. Babe had left the directions for me on our bed. If a toothbrush needs directions that's a bad sign. I turned it on and quickly off again. The speed of this thing was worrisome. What if it slipped and hit my cheek? Would the bristles destroy the tender flesh before I could react? I took a calming breath as I placed toothpaste on the end and turned it on again.

My toothpaste disappeared! Had it eaten it? I found it on the back wall after a minute of searching and decided next time to wait until the brush was in my mouth before I turned it on.

After a second application of toothpaste, the brush went into my mouth and I turned it on. There was a rattling sensation in my brain, but after a moment it wasn't too bad. I actually kinda liked it. I moved the brush from side to side, up and down without over taxing my thumbs and when the brush turned off two minutes later (yes, it turns itself off) my mouth felt so clean. I smiled in the mirror and was blinded by the brilliant shine of my chompers. I heard a choir of angels sing "sparkle, sparkle" from the heavens. My eyes have been opened to a world I never knew existed. I have seen the bright light of shiny enamel. I will never go back to the hand powered toothbrush ever again.

When Babe got home after noon the next day, I asked him, after an hour of being home, if he'd used his toothbrush yet. His reply, "I just got home." I was practically dancing from foot to foot in anticipation of his first glorious tooth-brushing experience. I've been married to this man for almost eighteen years. You'd think I would know better than to expect any kind of emoting from him. Yet, there I was again crushed to my soul when, after I asked what he thought, he replied, "it works good."

I wonder how he would react during a tornado.

P.S. Does anyone else find it appalling how much oil and other yuck collects on the screen of your cellphone? I'm constantly taking Windex to that thing and yet...Ew, just ew.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Who's Your Daddy...Pt. 3

One night James Bond returned home after a long day of secret agent-ing to find his apartment had been broken into. His living room was a shambles and there was a strange smell in the air. All of his Al Green records had been broken in half, the kitchen floor was littered with empty liquor bottles. Someone had poured his precious spirits down the drain! He spied (pun intended) a trail of muddy footprints leading to his room.

He followed the path and gasped in horror to find his silken sheets covered in mud and suspicious yellow spots. He dashed to his closet. It was empty! Every one of his tailor made suits had disappeared. He glanced down at his shoe rack and sighed in relief. At least he still had his high end shoes. He frowned in curiosity at the single pair of worn out sneakers at the end of the row. James Bond doesn't wear sneakers, he thought.

His eyes were red and swollen as he mournfully sniffed each empty liquor bottle before placing it in a garbage bag, and cleaned up the remnants of his Songs to Get Busy By collection. He decided to let the housekeeper clean up the mud and opted to sleep on the couch. When he went to put on his silken pajamas all he could find was a pair of plaid boxer shorts. He shrugged unhappily and laid down on the couch which suspiciously smelled like cat urine. James Bond doesn't have a cat, he thought as he closed his weary eyes.

The next morning James stepped into the shower hoping to wash away yesterday's cares. As he washed his hair, he realized his scalp was tingling! Too late he realized his toiletries had been tampered with. He did his best to wash out the substance, but as he looked in the mirror, after he'd toweled off, all he could do was stare in disbelief at the bald patches scattered atop his head. He searched through every drawer for something clean to wear, but all he could find were two pairs of worn jeans and a holey Van Halen T-shirt. "C.O.B. will feel my wrath," he vowed as he quickly dressed and then shoved his feet into a pair of black dress shoes only to abruptly withdraw them again. He had found the source of the smell. "C.OOOOO.BBBB!!" he yelled to the heavens as he dropped the shoe, filled with dog poo, to the floor.

To Be Continued...Again

The Timothy Tree...

Once upon a time, I was a kid. My childhood had some interesting twists and turns which make me an onion, apparently. My friend told me the other day that I was an onion after I told her that our house had a parachute roof. True story.

As I was saying, I was a kid. I have three sisters in law (amazing women all three) who have heard the tales of our youth and one of them declared that we were a breed known as bumpkins. I truly had no idea. I knew other peoples houses had solid walls and they pooped indoors, and we didn't, but it never occurred to me that I was a bumpkin. It made perfect sense after she said it.

Anyway, we lived for a time on a ten acre piece of property we called The Farm. We raised cats. To put a finer point on it, we had two male cats and one female cat who had never been to the vet. Our girl cat, Patches, was constantly pregnant and was, at the first, a wonderful mother. Until about the tenth litter when she'd finally grown so weary she'd just drop the litter and walk away. It was very sad.

In every litter there was at least one white kitten and one orange one. My middle brother always claimed the white one and ALWAYS named it Timothy. Every. Single. Time. Unfortunately Timothy always died. Every. Single. Time. There was a tree on the property where he would bury his Timothys (Timothies?). All around the circumference of the tree were little popsicle stick crosses.

By the time my mom took us away from the Farm, Patches and Bartholomew, had disappeared. Bartholomew had always been somewhat feral. The other cat, Nameless, probably died of old age. They were left to run wild at the Farm. I think back to those days and I'm saddened by the lack of care given to those animals. Now, as an adult with pets, I make sure we take care of our four-legged friends. Sometimes they give me a rash, especially the Idiot Twins, but my aim is to do better than the ones who came before.

Which is why my children live in a house with real walls and indoor plumbing. Nothing is too good for my babies!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Who's Your Daddy...Pt. 2

After three days of labor intensive writing, James Bond finally completed his list of former flames and handed the Comprehensive Guide of James Bond Conquests over to M who immediately sent a passel of agents into the field to track down every woman from the multitudinous list.

After several unsuccessful days M called 007 back into her office. "James," she began as she paced the floor behind her desk, "we have been absolutely unable to find even one woman from your list. It's like they've all disappeared from the planet. We are at a loss."

James was intensely studying his fingernails with a dark frown. "I'm sorry M," he finally replied. "Were you speaking to me?" M pursed her lips as she planted her hands on her desk.

"It troubles me that you seem so uninterested in this mission," M scolded. "I do wish you would show more concern. These women are being targeted and you are to blame!" James placed his hands on his knees and shot M a petulant look.

"What would you like me to do?" he sniffed. "I never bothered to get half of their names."

"Yes," M nodded. "I can see that." She took the guide from her desk and flipped to a random page. "Stewardess on flight from England," she read. "The woman from the theater...Really James," she snapped as she dropped the book on her desk. "Must Q create a lock for your trouser's zipper?" James chuckled lightly and M shook her head as she took a file from the credenza behind her desk.

"They call themselves C.O.B," she read as she sat lightly in her chair. James frowned.

"That is a terrible name," he quipped. "What does it mean?" M shook her head.

"We have not, as yet been able to learn the meaning behind the acronym," she admitted, "but they've already burned down the Astin Martin dealership where Q purchases your replacement automobiles, and every case of gin and vermouth in the country has been found to be contaminated." James face was suddenly ashen and he leaped from his chair.

"Those monsters!" he roared. "I will bring them down!"

"These attacks seem to have been personalized for you James," M continued ignoring his outburst. "but the rest of the country is being affected. C.O.B. must be stopped!" A childish giggle escaped James' lips. "How very unseemly," M scolded as he gathered his composure and straitened his suit.

"I apologize for my lapse in behavior," Jame declared as he straightened his jacket. "I will see Q directly to pick up the tools he has prepared."

"James," M snapped. "There are no gadgets! Q has been kidnapped and the lab destroyed. I'm afraid your wits are all that are available to you now." James squared his shoulders and resolutely walked to the door.

"No worries M," he declared as he pulled the door open. "I haven't used even half of my wit."

"Yes, I know," M muttered under her breath as he closed the door behind him.


To Be Continued...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Names are a funny thing. We don't get to choose them ourselves (normally) thus we are stuck with whatever nonsense our parents pin on us and then we turn around and do it to our own offspring. There are so many things to consider when choosing a name. Do you want traditional or unique? How about spelling? Do you want Tiffany, Tiffani or Tiffanee?  Is the name you are considering one that will grow with the child? Will KiKi work not only for your four year old but also when she eighty? Or should she be saddled with Ethel from birth? Will the name you give her today compliment a married name or will she end up a Stormy Weather or a Golden Graham?

Or what if you marry a man named Joshua and you have a brother named Joshua? I did that, and after I married my Josh I started calling my brother by his first and middle name. To differentiate, see? One afternoon, ten years into this arrangement my brother and I were having a lively discussion when, after using his old/new moniker he tells me, "I hate it when you call me that!? Why do you call me that?"

Uh, cause I sleep with  Joshua.

What if your mother's name is Dianne and you marry a Diana? My husband did that. It has always been mildly annoying when people call me Diane, but after I married Babe, it was downright conflicting.

"I am Diana Davidson."

"Dianne Davidson?"

"No, Diana. Dianne is my mother in law."

"So, Dianne with two n's?"

"No, Diana with two a's."

"Dianne."

"Di-an-ahhhh. Diana."

Little did I realize, when I named my oldest, what a debacle I was creating for her. It wasn't until she was four months old that I realized there might be a problem. Her name is Jacey. My cousin asked if she could hold my baby, P.J. Oh snap! I didn't see that one coming.

Nor did I realize how hard it would be to spell. I've seen:

Jacie (almost right)

Jaycee (not quite right)

J.C. (wrong)

Then there's the difficulty people have when saying it.

"Jay-cee."

"Jacey. Like Stacey."

"J...C..."

"Like Stacey."

"Jay-cee."

One of her friends helped clear up the confusion when she told her mother, "you don't say Dar-by, you say Darby." That cleared it up better than I anything I'd tried.

Here's another. My youngest daughter is names after a song. My mother in law asked me no less than ten times how her name was said. Ten. Times. Her middle name is Merai. This child told me a few years ago that she thought I just didn't know how to spell Marie.

I should have named all of them Ann.

007: Who's Your Daddy...

When last we heard from our illustrious spy, he was mourning the one who got away. After some years, his bottom has melded to the leather of his recliner and he hasn't seen the inside of a shower for over a month when M calls him directly.

"We have a job," M declares. "A new organization has appeared on our radar and it is more deadly than both Spectre and Blofeld combined. We need you James Bond." Remembering there was more to his job than just chasing skirts, he pries himself from his chair and a training montage begins. He tosses his soap opera magazines in the trash, and spends quality time at the gym. Within five minutes, clean shaven and smartly dressed, we find him standing in M's office armed with his trademark smarmy self-assurance.

"So, M," he begins. "Tell me about this new organization." M holds a file folder in her (or his, its up to you) hands and refers to it frequently as she gives Bond the general rundown.

"The organization," she explains. "Is targeting your former lovers." James' slick smile fades ever so slightly. "We need a detailed list of every woman, still living, with whom you have had a relationship." James stares at the bottom of his empty glass.

"It's a long list," he admits. M purses her lips.

"I am aware," she replies, "but these woman are all in danger. You owe it to them. Give us the names and we will protect them until you are able to close down this villainous group." James gives a decisive nod.

"Get me some paper," he instructs as he sits in a chair in front of M's desk. M hands him a sheet of college ruled notebook paper. "I'll need more than that," he says as he takes the paper and begins to write.

"How much more?" M asks.

"Better make it a notebook," he replies as he scribbles across the page at a furious pace.



To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I Adore Being A Girl...

Babe is one of three boys, born to a woman who is very reserved and private. He takes after her in that way. He rarely, if ever raises his voice and even the most exciting news warrants minimal reaction. For instance, shortly after we were married he came home from work one night and told me about a situation that had caused him frustration. "I'm so mad," he said in the most even and unaffected tone I had ever heard. His lack of even a hint of true ire left me to wonder if he even knew what "mad" was because he certainly didn't know what it looked like. He was doing it entirely all wrong.

At any rate, I am the opposite of my mother-in-law in every way except for our names. She's Dianne and I am Diana (when I'm not gallivanting around town as D.P.). She is even tempered, thoughtful and composed. I am emotional, loud and tend to speak before I think, though contrary to popular belief, I don't say everything I'm thinking. If ya'll only knew what I didn't say...

So when Babe and I were married, there were many things he was not aware of because his mother is a woman of dignity. It has been an eye-opening eighteen years for that poor man, and I'm sure he thought he'd seen it all...until we had daughters.

There are three. Eenie, Meenie and Minney. Moe is the only boy child. My daughters are amazing young women. They are feisty, independent, loving and kind. They are also forging through that phase in life known as puberty. It has been hard, at times, for Babe to understand the various and sundry daily, sometimes hourly, changes in our daughters' moods. One day in particular Ennie was upset and he couldn't understand why. All he could do was shake his head and moan like Lurch from the Addams Family as he tried to stay out of her way. It's even harder for him, I think, because they are three different creatures and he really has to think on his feet.

I was certain my oldest would be like the sad drunk, but she is the mad drunk, and the daughter I thought would be the mad drunk is the sad drunk. The third daughter is still an enigma, even to me. You think she's going right, but then she jogs to the left and you end up wondering what happened.

And all the while, Moe is hiding in the corner with wide eyes wondering when the madness will end. It will never end. His young soul has only begun to experience the inner machinations of womanhood and he will never escape unless he hides himself in the mountains for the rest of his life.

Babe thinks life will calm down once the girls have moved out. Boy, have I got news for him. Headline - Menopause!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Obsessed Much...

My favorite movie in the whole entire world forever and ever is Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal. It has been my favorite since it came to the theater when I was but a mere slip of a girl. I watched it in the actual honest to goodness theater and everything. I remember jumping in surprise when Fizzgig jumped out the first time, and how Kira was the most beautiful puppet I had ever seen. I cried when Jen held her close amid the chaos of their world falling apart after the crystal was healed. Aughra's removable eye gave me nightmares and the Chamberlains whimper is forever burned in my memory. I was enamored with the extremes between the deaths of the Mystics who peacefully faded away and the Skeksis who crumbled to dust and then scattered in the wind (in the middle of the castle, but so what). The Dark Crystal was my childhood.

I have other favorites to be sure, but none have held so long as this one. We had a viewing party last month with friends who had actually made it to adulthood without ever having seen this movie. Or Labyrinth. I almost choked on my Diet D.P. when they admitted this erroneous gap in their existence which I endeavored immediately to correct. If there are more of you out there, please don't tell me. My life is far too busy to re-educate all of you.

Anyway, there is a company that makes these figures called POP! They are bobbleheads whose heads don't actually bobble. Which is fine because most of them will never see the outside of the boxes they came in. Babe got me a Glen from the Walking Dead on a business trip. He stood alone on our dresser for many years until he was joined by The Predator, from Alien vs. Predator (another favorite). Babe has Donkey, from Shrek, and Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy, at work. They excel in keeping him entertained. He has another one there, too, but I can't remember who it is. I swear this is relevant, just bear with me.

Christmas this year will forever be known as "The Year of the Bobblehead" because our collection increased exponentially. Glen and the Predator were joined by Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman from, what movie was that, oh, Batman vs. Superman with a sprinkling of Wonder Woman. Wakko and Yakko joined the crew because even though Babe wasn't a super fan of Animaniacs, it kind of got away from him in high school. No joke, the man had several Animaniacs t-shirts when we got married. It was out of control, ya'll.

And then I opened my gifts.


Why yes, that is the entire cast of the Dark Crystal!


My birthday was less than two weeks later and I got this.


I didn't know this was a thing.

Have I reached my limit of Dark Crystal memorabilia? Nay! I have not yet begun to collect!

Which brings me to a story I find quite humorous. There was woman in our church who collected frogs. When one entered her home, they would find any and all forms of frog paraphernalia from dishes and towels to figurines in different dance poses. One of my brothers brought a coin pouch made from a frog's head back with him when he came home from the Philippines, especially for  her.

He went to her house and gave her the gift. She looked at it and smiled. Then she said, "Can I tell you something?"  My brother nods and then she says, "I hate frogs! My husband started telling people I liked frogs as a joke." 

And that, folks, is how she came to have her home filled with frogs and my husband found himself with a collection of Animaniac t-shirts.



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together...

That's me and Babe. We compliment each other in our strengths and weaknesses. We are two oars in this canoe called life. One oar isn't more important than the other and if we both tried to be on the same side we'd only go in circles.We are pretty equally yoked, he and I.

Except in how we build and/or repair the various and sundry things that need building and repairing in the course of life. I think I have chronicled before that he is a "directions reader." He unfolds the paper instructions, counts each of the pieces of hardware and makes sure he has the necessary tools before he begins a project. I, however, am a "reckless abandon," kind of character. I don't think it's necessary to read the directions for putting together a bookshelf. It's pretty straight forward. However, not every project is a bookcase so my aversion to reading directions is sometimes a problem. Always. It's always a problem.

And that, dear friends, is why he only has to do something once while I problem solve along the way and end up building things twice, if I'm lucky. I like to think of my style as "half-assed." For those of you with weak constitutions, "half-a***d." It also works well as a verb, as in "if it weren't for my constant half-assery, I'd have only had to build this bookcase once." Wait a sec, Babe tells me my use of half-assery in the last sentence made it a noun. I guess I half-assed that one. Verb! HA!

Here is a perfect example: The water pump in our toilet cracked last Sunday eve leaving us with one toilet for four girls and two boys. Well that's not completely true, we just had to turn the water off after flushing to avoid Niagara Falls in the bathroom. Anyway, Babe decided to take Monday off so he could fix said toilet. I coulda done it, but let me illustrate why it was better that I stand a respectful distance from the work site.

Babe's first order of business was to remove the towels from the shelf behind the toilet. Then he moved everything else including the shelf itself. Already he was ahead of where I would be. My plan would have been leave everything on the shelf. Once the towels had fallen into the toilet, and I had channeled my inner sailor, I would remove everything, but the shelf. I would only move the shelf after I was thoroughly vexed and over my potty word budget for the year.

Babe removed the water from the tank with a sponge and gloves. My answer would have been to shove whatever towels hadn't landed in the toilet into the tank. Then, after what was left of the water flooded out onto the floor, I would dip into next years potty word budget and probably start throwing things.

Lastly, Babe attempted to remove the pump. Here's where things get kinda iffy. The plastic ring wouldn't budge so he went to the garage and brought back a hacksaw. "Ima cut it off," he tells me and my heart swelled with pride! He has finally begun to embrace the Bad Idea plan! Every Bad Idea comes with a trip to the CareNow as well as one to the Home Depot for supplies to repair the mistake that inevitably follows on the heels of the Bad Idea.

The Bad Idea plan is the number one go-to plan for anyone from my blood line. I think we learned our poorly thought out decision making paradigm from our father. I will call him G. Prickett or perhaps George P. He was (and still is, I guess) the master half-asser. My brothers have followed his plan so closely that one of my sister's in law no longer runs to the garage when she hears an explosion. No joke. Her exact words were, "if he's dead I don't want to see that. If he's alive he'll find his way inside." This same brother is the exact cause of the stitches each one of us has ever gotten.

My other brother confines his own version of creative building to making play things for his children. Much less dangerous, and that sister in law has never worried about an explosion in the garage, that I know of. My last brother was very young when our dad left so I think he just missed the window of tomfoolery.

Anyway, because he's Babe and not a Prickett, he managed to saw that pipe off without breaking the tank or cutting off his hand. He has out Pricketted the Pricketts by showing us it can be done without damage to ourselves or the project. Dang! He's never gonna let that one go.

Addendum:
Babe wants the record to show that he only spent $12 and that was for the actual part. Good job, Babe!

Wag the Dog...

...is used in politics. It's when an item of minor importance dominates a situation. For example let's say a country (any country, just pick one) is on the verge of war, but the news is focused on the leader of that country (any leader, no fingers) and his dalliances with some kind of intern. This is an instance of the tail wagging the dog. There happens to be a movie called Wag the Dog. The phrase came before the movie not after, just FYI, and I thought it was about a dog named Wag. It is not.

Anyway, let me just reassure you this entry isn't about politics. It is about tails and the dogs they are attached to. At least until this afternoon.

I have mentioned my pup, Gus, in previous posts. In a world where I can't stand dogs, I love this dog. I am stupid for this dog. I have spent more time and money on him than on every pet that has ever passed though my door. Admittedly that wasn't much, but it is a chunk of change for him.

I took him to a puppy training class where he graduated and I took a picture of him wearing a graduation cap. It is the home screen on my phone. I buy him lots of treats. They are in a big tin in my room. I let him sleep in my room (until his snoring made it impossible to sleep), and I even take him for walks.

One of my favorite parts of Gus is his tail. It had, until Friday, this darling white tip. However Gus has a raging case of Happy Tail Syndrome. He wags that tail with reckless abandon, slamming it against walls, corners, doors, even his own side. He doesn't seem to feel the damage he does because he won't stop swinging it. We thought it had been resolved before he was neutered last month, but that surgery started him right back up.

We tried everything. I bandaged his tail in medical tape. When he chewed that off, I wrapped it in duck tape. I covered the bandaged end in Bitter No Chew. He loved it! I have this nasty nail polish I use on my own nails to keep me from biting them. It didn't stop him. I gave him a taste of Tabasco sauce. He lapped it up like it was lemonade. In the end (boo) I had to have the sweet white tip and another inch amputated from his tail.

That was Friday.

Saturday morning, I come out of my room to a scene from a bloody murder. There was blood everywhere. Not a little blood, a LOT of blood. I was beside myself. I hustled my dog back to the vet and it was decided it was in Guster's best interest that his tail be completely removed. I reluctantly gave the okay and that is why he now has a nubbin. It looks okay. I miss his white tipped tail but it's nice that I no longer worry about my home looking like a mass murder.

Epilogue
I wrote this post two years ago, but never published it. I publish it now at the request of my friend Laurie.

My Kingdom For A Pencil Sharpener...

I like to take little breaks, when writing, to contemplate the story arc or resolve some conflict or just to get out of my head (it gets crowded in there). I have various and sundry activities I like to do during these breaks, crocheting, knitting, staring into space, etc. Right now my activity of choice is coloring.

Yes, I like to color. In coloring books.

My favorite are the color by number because I don't have to worry about what colors to use, because I'm lazy like that. Right now I'm really into mosaic coloring books because the picture magically appears as I color and I am easily amused. I was so excited the day I saw Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox on my paper! It also made me realize that I've neglected to teach my youngest about Tall Tales.

My coloring tool is the colored pencil. There are lots of reasons to love the colored pencil, but I'll spare you the details. Anyway, colored pencils require sharpening and when you're using them to death, they require frequent sharpening. This is where the pencil sharpener comes in.

We live in an age where pencils as a whole have become nearly extinct, thus pencils that require sharpening are almost wholly unheard of. As a consequence, pencil sharpeners come in two forms only: expensive or crappy.

Expensive sharpeners give the pencil a nice sharp tip with the appropriate ratio of wood to lead. One knows one's pencil sharpener has ceased to fulfill its purpose when one's pencils come out of the sharpener more wood than lead. It is a sad day indeed. My own pencil sharpener went the way of all the world just last week.

I can't color without my pencils and I can't use my pencils when they are dull, so I went in search of a replacement sharpener. I found myself at Wal-Mart. I know stopping there was asking for trouble but that was where I chose to start, so I only had myself to blame when I ended back in the same place the next day to return the sharpener that came out of the package doing the same craptastic job my dead sharpener did.

My sweet husband, recognizing my plight, purchased a box shaped manual sharpener to tide me over. Here's the thing with the manual sharpener. No matter the brand every manual sharpener more breaks the wood than shaves it. This leaves a chunk of unsupported lead that then breaks off leaving one with far less pencil. I could gnaw the wood off and get better results, but I appreciated his effort.

The next day, I had my chauffeur, I mean, daughter, drive me to Hobby Lobby. Why did I ask her to drive? Because I can and it is frowned upon to play on the phone when one is driving. That is called having your cake and eating it, too! I digress.

At the Lobby, I chose two pencil sharpeners because if I had to come back it would be for more than one thing, dangit! I chose a battery powered sharpener and a manual sharpener just to test the theory that every  manual sharpener breaks the wood. Theory proven. Also, battery powered sharpeners are ridiculous. Why are they even a thing?

Displeased with both of my choices I tried once more. I was wandering forlornly through the aisles of Target when a lovely white electric sharpener caught my eye. I wondered if I was making a mistake and adding another disappointing sharpener to my growing collection, but I took a leap of faith and brought it home. It. Is. Magnificent! My sharpener woes have come to an end and now I can focus on other more pressing matters, like what to color next.

Peace Out!!!