Saturday, December 25, 2010

CSI: Christmas Scene Investigator

We had a peaceful Christmas morning, with a nut roll for breakfast, and our simple gifts to one another. EG gave me a copy of The Big Sleep, as I had mentioned I had never seen it and I love film noir. My cousins Ida and Sara gave Rocky The Book of Gross Stuff. Kiki gave Nita the exact Barbie doll she wanted. Kiki got the digital camera she asked for. And Rocky gave me a gift which made me laugh--bunny slippers.

For those of you who know me and our situation, you know that I have told Rocky from the gitgo that, if I had to go to the school for any disciplinary reasons, I was going in hair curlers, my bathrobe, and bunny slippers. Whenever Rocky starts acting goofy, his social studies teacher has mentioned to him, "I am looking forward to seeing your mom's bunny slippers." For Rocky to see the humor in the situation and give me bunny slippers as a gift tells me just how far he has come in his healing.

On a different note, we have been finding blood spatter on the hall and kitchen walls all week. Initially, I found myself thinking we had some kind of Amityville horror thing going on, as I was scrubbing the walls three or four times a day. I spent two days studying the direction of the blood spatter, the quantity, and the frequency, as well as what was going on during the time we found the spatter. We keep Nash tied in that area, so we next suspected that he was the culprit. So after the gift-giving this morning, I gave Nash a thorough vet exam, starting with cavity swabs, checking his ears, and checking his teeth. Nothing, except the realization that he needs a dental cleaning and Nash's dismay at this turn of events on a family holiday--can't blame the guy for that. As EG held on to his collar, Nash flipped over on his back, and EG rubbed his tummy. It was then that I realized that there was a wound on the very tip of his tail (I am, of course, referring to Nash and not EG), so when he wagged, he whacked the tail on the walls.

So I shaved the area, medicated the wound, and then taped the last three inches of the tail. Kiki said, "Nashie looks like "scorpion dog." And he does.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Peace on Earth

For years, Christmas was a time of desperation and despair. Rocky came to us at two, a product of the foster care system, with issues which are difficult for "normal" families to contemplate. The time between Halloween and New Year's eve were always stressful and chaotic for him, and consequently for us, apparently an anniversary time for him. His acting out included urination throughout the house, manic behavior, manipulation, constant battles for control, breaking all his own gifts within hours of unwrapping them, stealing other family members' gifts, including breaking some of them, too, and knee-jerk lying. We tried what we could to help him through it, eventually, though, giving up in despair and suffering it out as best we could. Since his memories of the time before us were pre-verbal, we may never know for sure what happened to him to cause that reaction every year during the holidays. I talked to him earlier this week about the previous years, and he gave me some insight about his thoughts and feelings during those earlier times, a pretty tough job for a kid who could earn a scholarship to the Gary Cooper School of Communication.

This year, a year in which he has shot up tremendously in height and has broadened through the shoulders, a year in which his voiced deepened, apparently overnight, he has grown into peace, too. He focused on others as he planned and bought Christmas gifts for the whole family, me included for the first time this year, and is now waiting excitedly for Wednesday's family "wrap party" to wrap them all.

What he doesn't realize is that he gave me my gift early this year--creating little chaos, gaining perspective, and even teasing me back about his dirty socks. He gave me peace in the house and hope that he will be able to experience joy every holiday season.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All I Want For Christmas

I have finally decided what I want for Christmas this year, something which I will find useful, something that will give me pleasure, and something which I can use for home and work.

No chia pets this year. No thanks to a clapper. Never mind crockpots, foot massagers, facial steamers, or convection ovens. This year, I want a taser.

First, I am getting to be an age where my children can outrun me. Imagine someone smarting off and then darting toward the door. I can let them run outside, then pull the taser, and "Whaugghk!" Stopping power at a distance. Not only is the little booger immobilized, he or she is compliant. At least until next time. And since I will be needing time to familiarize myself with my gift, misbehavior won't bother me as much: if the kids comply, I get peace. If they don't, I get target practice.

Second, just having this device will persuade others to give me what I want. I'm sorry? You can't remember to in your weekly report on time? Maybe I can persuade you (waving the device). No? Fine. (BzzzZZZZZZzzzt.) What's that? Why, certainly you may turn everything in early for the rest of your life. No problem. But only if you really want to. . . . No, I don't have a receipt, but the store's website says you will give me a gift card if I don't have a receipt. Oh, I see...THIS store's policy is that no one gets a refund ever. Perhaps you can make an exception? Hmmmm???? No? (BzzzZZZZZZAARRttt.) Ah, I thought so. Thanks so much. No, cash is fine. While I can't understand you right now, I'll assume that is an apology for your snotty attitude with me previously. Now, just let me pull these little prong thingies out of your tattoo there and I'll be on my way.

I have been looking online, comparison shopping if you will. Here's an interesting fact: tasers come in designer colors, and one site is having a special holiday inventory reduction sale.

So, for those of you who have that hard-to-buy-for person on your shopping list, there you go. Tasers for everyone. It might be the first step toward world peace.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Friday morning, we got up to find that the phone lines were down. It was apparently the jack in the basement that was defective, causing the lines to cut out. Then we had no internet. Then the dryer door would not shut--I called EG on his way to work to enlighten him as to the chaos and share the joy.

Unfortunately for poor Rocky, he got in the car in the midst of my stress and asked, "Why is my window open?" I blew a gasket, thinking it was one more thing which was going wrong.

After most of the morning was spent fussing with the phone, talking to our phone company (at least our phone company's computer), checking various things, and listening to EG swear at the dryer, we ran out to the store for a new phone jack. I was in an old hoodie and jeans, my hair clean but air dryed and not styled, and the only concession to make-up a swipe of mascara.

As we were racing through the store, I saw the new wife of someone I know, someone who is a professional and financially well off. His wife's hair was long and sleek, the ends waved perfectly, her make-up magazine perfect; she was wearing a lovely suede coat, perfect fitting jeans, and Ugg boots. She was pushing her cart, the contents neatly arranged, gracefully through the store. We weaved around her and dashed through the cash register, then back out to the parking lot.

I was musing about this woman, who stayed home to take care of her new husband and her children, a woman who apparently had time while they were at work and school to dress nicely and do her hair and make-up before running out to do a little Christmas shopping; she cared for her new husband, living in their gorgeous house, making a home for him. I told EG how her husband told me he had introduced her to the opera and classical music. I asked EG, as I mushed my cluttery mini-van back home to install a new phone jack, if he would be interested in having a wife whose focus would be to make a lovely and serene home for him, someone for whom he could be a Henry Higgins, someone whom he could tutor in the finer things in life. He said, "No. What could I talk to her about?"

I guess listening to him cuss at an appliance is a small price to pay for that attitude.

We'll Blame Danny

Kiki came home from school one day to report that two of her classmates were talking on the back of the bus, plotting some kind of mischief. One said to the other, "Remember, no matter what happens, we blame Danny."

Unfortunately, Danny has now moved into my house. When something happens, someone says, "Danny did it"; no matter how hard I try, I have yet to catch the little miscreant. Danny stashed a half-eaten granola bar behind the basement freezer, Danny dirtied the back door, Danny ate the leftover chicken and rice casserole I had earmarked for supper the other night.

I wish he'd move out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yeehah Holiday

This year, for the first time in years, I cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving. We had decided to have a bird, and EG gave the go ahead to take out a second mortgage on the house and purchase an all natural, free-range bird.

The turkey, when done, was gorgeous, perfectly golden brown, a triumph of poultry preparation. Martha Stewart would have been impressed--Kiki even took a picture. It looked just like turkey in the the Normal, um, Norman Rockwell painting.

My nephew and his delightful girlfriend joined us, and my two cousins called after the meal, asking to stop by, and of course we welcomed them, as we don't see them often enough. We played catch up about all the relatives, including the cousin who had moved in with his girlfriend--and her husband. And then there was the other cousin whose girlfriend violated parole and spent the holiday incarcerated, but she wasn't alone, as her sister-in-law and her friend were also there. When another family member took the girlfriend's children to their biological father's house for their family's meal, the father was waiting for them in the driveway so he could take them on a run to the drive-thru with his brothers. The unthinkable had happened: they had run out of beer.

Nephew's girlfriend impressed me. She did not leap out of her chair and run screaming out of the house, nor did she become any less gracious as the visit progressed. I guess later, though, my nephew clarified the whole thing for her. "That branch of the family," he told her, "has their own two hour special episode of Cops."

Well, let's just say they aren't very Norman Rockwell.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is it just me?

Or does anyone else have days like this?

This morning I got up at 6:45, which is sleeping in to the point of decadence. We let the dogs out, made coffee, and got up my son, who is 13. He hasn't been doing his math homework this week, so we parked him at the kitchen table wtih his algebra book and told him he had to do 12 problems before breakfast. He stared at his reflection in the window for 20 minutes, apparently having discussions with girls in his head, judging by his side glances and smiles. Kiki, who is 14, got up and staggered to the table, making herself a bowl of cereal. Rocky whizzed through the math problems and asked, "Can I eat now?" I looked at the problems. All were incorrect--apparently, he wrote just anything so he could be done. I sent him back to the book. He stared at his reflection some more.

Kiki brought the squirt bottle which we use to chase the cats off the counter to me and said, "It has a leak." I said, "Empty it into the sink and throw it away." She put it on the counter, where is oozed all over the newspapers stacked there, sticking them to the countertop. Rocky brought the book to me. He had retraced all the original incorrect answers. I threw the paper out, gave him a fresh sheet, and sent him back to the table, where he dug his pencil into the cover of his math book.

The dog saw the cat, chased him under the sofa, got her shoulders wedged behind a sofa leg, and yapped stupidly. Nita took the now empty squirt bottle, refilled it, squirted the cat so he went upstairs, untangled the dog, and set the bottle in the middle of the kitchen table, where it leaked all over the wood top, soaked my cell phone, and dripped onto the floor. Rocky sat there and clinically watched the water soak his math paper, never saying a word. He then carved some answers into the soggy paper. The dog lapped the water off the floor. I told Rocky, "Get me a towel." He ran around until he found a roll of paper towels which the dog had shredded sometime during the night, gathered up the little pieces, and flung them all over the table. "A towel," I repeated. "A TOWEL!" He handed me my phone. "Your cell phone????"

"Go in the bathroom and get a towel," I said slowly, through clenched teeth. Rocky opened the door. The dog ran in and drank out of the toilet. "Yuk," so said, and chased the dog back out, shutting the door, so grossed out that he, of course, didn't bring a towel. Kiki said, "You forgot the towel."

"What?" Rocky asked. Nita interjected, "You forgot the towel. Are you a dummy?"

"Don't call each other 'dummy'," I said.

Rocky said, "Mind your own business."

Nita started sobbing. "Leave me alone. Everyone hates me; I want a new family."

"Oh, for crying out loud," Kiki said. "I don't see why you're talking about this now. We haven't liked you for a long time." Nita wailed dramatically. I sent both girls to sit at the table.

I found a towel on my own, mopped up the mess and sat back down to cold coffee. Rocky handed me the math paper and said, "I got them all right this time, but the paper is wet, so you can't tell."

"Nice try," I told him. I took a huge gulp of the cold coffee. Nita watched me. I had a second gulp.

Nita said, "The dog drank out of your cup when you were cleaning up the table." Ack. I turned around to find Penny standing at my shoulder, wagging happily, apparently thinking the next step would be a trip to Starbucks. "Take her out and tie her so I don't kill her, please," I said to Kiki.

"Why me," she hollered. "I didn't ask to be the oldest. You just had me to take care of the younger two. And you got the dog to torture me. It's not fair. Slavery is illegal, you know."

I said, "That's right. Once we had the other two, we went back and had you so you could take care of them." She missed the sarcasm and dragged the dog out the door, sniffing about the injustice of our employment system here, muttering about socialism and Lenin. Once outside, the dog changed her mind and raced to come back in, knocking Kiki into the wall of the porch. "Penny, you idiot," Kiki shrieked.

By then, I had been up for 45 minutes. Is it just me? Do the rest of you have nice serene lives like I imagine and somehow my coping skills are horribly limited? In the crapshoot of life, did I get the more challenging children and pets? Anybody?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Grief revisited

The anniversary of the 9/11 incident has brought up a lot of thoughts in my mind and forced me to reflect once again on grief. This historical incident happened well before our personal issues of Alzheimer's, dementia, and cancer, a time when the kids were healing and settling in to a routine, when we had friends and support in place. Then the proverbial rug was yanked out from under us.

Despite the stressors we had, I know that our situation was not as bad as some people have experienced. I am constantly humbled by those who deal with what would apparently be insurmountable grief: for example, the accident which caused this family to lose two children, and the life of a third teenager to be affected forever.

The mother of these two lost children has exhibited a tremendous amount of grace during this crisis. What she experienced is practically incomprehensible to me. Pick any day, any school morning, with its stresses, its chaos, and its assumption of normalcy, and then throw in a world-shattering event of huge loss and add in having to make decisions with great immediacy, such as donating your child's organs. How does anyone recover from something like this?

My children are getting to the age where I will let them play outside unsupervised, where I will leave them at the bus stop without obsessing if they will be safe. This perception of safety is simply that--a perception, an illusion. At any time things can change forever.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Just two beers, officer

I have a kid who lies. The joke here (if you care to call it a joke) is that the way to tell if he is lying is to check to see if his lips are moving.

No offense to the men out there, but 13 year old boys are a world unto themselves, full of illogic, preoccupation, and basic stupidity, as well as twice the grocery bill of any other member of the family. Add to that the knee-jerk lying, the lack of thought processing, and general dopiness, and I find it hard to cope. However, the lying is the worst thing--I don't know if it is related to the attachment disorder, a residual effect left over from the trauma, or general teenage defiance.

I mean, last week Kiki asked if she and her friend could go to the library after school. The high school, rec center, library, and middle school, along with the two athletic fields and performing arts center, are all in a complex, so I gave her permission to walk to the library after school to do her homework, talk to her friends, or check out the boys. Twenty minutes after she arrived at the library, Kiki called and told me she was going over to visit at the junior high school. Since she had told me she was going, I gave her permission; I had suspected that was part of the plan since the beginning. Plus, I figured lugging her textbooks, violin case, and gym bag a quarter mile to the junior high and back to the library (I wasn't about to change the pickup point, after all) in ninety-two degree heat would be an outcome which might provide a better lesson than calling her out on her plot.

It was. However, I did point out that I didn't appreciate subterfuge.

The subterfuge is normal teenage stuff. What I don't get is the situation where I will look over because I hear slurping, see the dog licking Rocky's hand, and say, "Stop letting the dog lick you. How many times do I have to tell you to not let the dog lick you!"

Rocky yanks his hand away and says, "I'm not letting the dog lick me."

So, is it splitting hairs, as he at that very second is no longer letting the dog lick him? I say, "You were." Then we have the "No, I wasn't." At which point, I will look at him and say, "I had just two beers, officer." He gets it. Yet he still denies everything.

Then I have a choice--I need to decide if he is lying to get out of trouble (and incidentally thinking that THIS TIME I will be stupid enough to believe him) or is he lying because he honestly was skating around the rings of Saturn and didn't know the dog was licking him. Usually, I will have him tell me, working through which would be the lesser of the two evils, as each will have its own consequences.

Someday, someday he will tell me the truth. And the sad part is, I probably won't believe him.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I love autumn. As much as I like summer, I enjoy fall more. Summer is great: lots of places to go, swimming, picnics, parties, grilled food, lack of school constraints. However, fall gives me a sense of relief, getting cozy and preparing for the winter, burrowing in if you will.

Today it feels like fall--cool temperature, cloudy skies, breezes. Today I feel the urge to make chili, to watch high school football, and shop for pumpkins.

Friday, September 3, 2010


This morning, about 5:45, I opened my email to find that I had passed the doctoral competency exam. Hallelujah. Now on to the dissertation.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tamale on the Steps

Yesterday, I went to work, did a new student orientation, went to a three-hour meeting, did a new employee orientation, ran home, got Nita, dropped her off at drum lessons with an admonishment to wait for her dad after the lesson, and then ran to Kiki's two high school open house.

Then I came home, ran the dishwasher, threw a load of clothes in the dryer, packed lunches, signed homework and assignment books, put the three kids to bed, and fed the dogs while EG fed the cats. He said to me, coming down from the upstairs where the girls and cats live, "Why is there a tamale on the steps?"

Of course, I assumed I was tired and had heard him wrong. But, there in his hand, was a corn-husked wrapped tamale.

Do I really want to know?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fresh from drowning

I have been working since early July on my comprehensive exams for my Ph.D. This test consisted of three written papers, each on a multi-tiered topic related to my area of interest. I turned in fifty-nine pages this week, and now I wait.

I have to say, I wish to never go through this again. Imagine being in college, and having one research paper determine whether you will be permitted to go on for the diploma. And having three kids and all their activities, a full time job, and a house to run. I spent the last six weeks pretty much glued to this computer, researching, writing, and editing. I made choices as to what I could and should address, and other things went to the side for later. I researched while cooking supper, and I proofread while waiting in the car to pick up a kid. I ran interference between fighting kids and misbehaving dogs, and kept having to redirect my attention back to what I was doing.

But it is done, and I feel as if I have my life back. I know that things were bad before, like when my mother was dying and I was working and taking classes, but somehow this was even more intense, maybe because it was designed to be that way.

So now I wait. And if I have to rewrite a part of this project, then this time the kids will be in school and I will be off work for a week.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Speaking of sports

I am married to the Howard Cosell of lawn care.

Our neighbor can take a simple mow/trim of a little less than an acre and stretch it over three or four days. EG usually does the entire yard in a morning, even when you factor in the screeching at Rocky, who chronically stares off into space instead of applying the clippers to the grass edging.

However, much like the Superbowl, every mow is accompanied by the hyped build-up and debriefing afterward. About two days before, EG will start obsessing about the weather--what's the weather going to be the next couple of days? "I need to mow. You know I only mow once a week, not like SOME PEOPLE. And I need to fit it in between rainstorms." And so on. As his chosen D-day approaches, he will tell me three or four times, "I am going to mow tomorrow. I mow only once a week, and this will have to be the day. It might rain" (or be hot or be cold or perhaps a monsoon is in the future) "so I'd better do it tomorrow." This repeats, much like the commercials for SB, every twenty minutes to an hour for the twelve hours preceding the big event.

On the big morning, I get, "At eight o'clock, I am going to mow. I need to get it done." Again, repeated at irritating intervals. Then he marshalls his troops, poor scatterbrained and distractable Rocky, and off they go, EG running his tractor and yelling at Rocky to "get that stick" over the din. "Over there. No, not that one. Now, why did you drop it again? You will have to pick that one up anyway. Yes, that one. Now put it in the pile. NO, NOT THAT PILE!" Some commentary is Spanish follows, with Rocky running a zig zag pattern in the yard, not quite sure what to do, as he doesn't interpret a lot of the words. Luckily. However, he has most likely discovered they may be useful in the future away from Mom's ears.

Let me add at this point that I hate the sound of the mower. It is loud and distracting and drones on and on, especially for three days a week next door. Add to that the yelling and periodic clunk as the mower hits a dirt clod, and the anticipation of what might happen, and my nerves are fried.

With the big mow, we have third time, not half time. EG will come in and report the status of the front yard as it is finished and then the near back and then the far back. If there is little to report, he will reinforce the fact that he mows only once a week, perhaps bringing in a color commentator in the form of Rocky, who is usually a bit wild-eyed at this point. Him, too.

Then, of course, we have the debriefing after the event. EG will come in and report on the status of the field--what was wet, dry, bumpy, debris on the field, the fumbles made by Rocky, and the overall outcome of this particular event. And we get to do it all over again, but only once a week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

I went to the beauty school not too long ago to get a pedicure. The woman who was next to me was nicely dressed, and when the students left the two of us alone to soak, the lady said, "Hi."

"Hi," I replied.

"How are you?" she asked.

"Fine, and how are you?"

"I'm fine," she said. "I'm getting a pedicure."

"Oh," I said, not just a little confused. Why else would she be soaking her feet? "So am I."

"What did you say?" she replied. "The lady next to me keeps talking and I can't hear you."

It was then that I realized that she was on her Bluetooth. I don't know which one of us should feel stupid.


After spending the day at grief camp yesterday, I have been thinking about grief. Last Friday was the anniversary of my brother-in-law's death, and the kids were acting out all day. I took them to the movies, I took them to the craft store, and finally I suggested taking them to the grave. We watered his flowers and talked a bit about him, and then came home. The kids were sad, but they had faced that grief.

Grief camp gives a safe place for kids to acknowledge, discuss, and confront their losses. I sat yesterday and watched their faces, some sad, some calm. I watched one boy who had cut up a bit sit down with the rabbit, run his fingers through Bob's fur, and go to a far away place in his head. At times my losses seem too huge for me, and I am an adult--the losses I experienced are expected. These kids have been blindsided by grief.

Kiki has talked to the school counselor about her losses, and she feels at ease about the deaths most days. Nita is younger and developmentally on target, and we aren't sure where Rocky is developmentally, so it is like playing Whack-a-mole to deal with his emotions.

I have been thinking about previous generations, people who lost children or siblings much more regularly than we did, back when losses were expected. I don't know if it was because death was so much more a part of life, that it wasn't sanitized, that they didn't invest so much in their relationships, or that society dealt with it differently. I find that people ask me at work "what is wrong with you" because I am not functioning up to my previous performance level, and I am told that I need to "snap out of it." Could it be, because our grandparents had smaller, closer communities, that people understood better?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Camping We Will Go

This week, Bob and I are going to grief camp. For those of you who have just joined us, Bob is my pet partner--he is certifed by Delta Society to do pet visits in a variety of facilities, but the bulk of our volunteer work is done through hospice. This week, hospice is sponsoring a grief camp for kids, and Bob and I were invited.

I doubt that we will be doing many of the activities with the kids, like hiking, crafts, or art therapy, but I will transport Bob to the camp, and he will do his thing, and I once again will sit by and marvel at his wonderful ability to do what he does best.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Home Arsenal

Recently, in the Cleveland paper, there was a report of a woman whose house was invaded by a robber in the middle of the night. This sixty-eight year old lady was not intimidated by the robber, who apparently decided to teach her some respect and slapped her. This caused her son to then take offense at the robber's own lack of respect for his mother, so first he and then his sons jumped the robber, then took his shotgun, and shot him to death with his own weapon.

If this is the true story, I find it difficult to feel too sorry for the robber.

I was impressed that, given what must have been chaotic circumstances, the man and his boys could use an unfamiliar weapon. I do understand that guns are important to those of the testosterone gender. The neighbor boys have BB guns and Airsoft rifles and handguns, but EG, who served in Central America in the Marines, refuses to have toy guns in the house, as guns are not toys. I know how to shoot, figuring out a long time ago that, while it is not something which I choose to do on a regular basis, I should know how to handle a weapon.

When I was single, my two roommates and I lived in a neighborhood where the big claim to fame was that the area had its own rapist--that and the guy who walked around in the middle of the streets with a guitar, convinced he was Elvis Presley. My one roommate, who had been raised around guns, and I discussed having a shotgun in the house, but we determined that our other roommate, who was jumpy, might possibly shoot herself in the foot or worse yet, one of us, in an attempt at protecting herself, so we invested in good locks and lighting instead. (Eventually the rapist was caught--by then I was married and lived on another street, and he turned out to be my neighbor. Only me.)

Anyway, with three large dogs in the house, I don't think too much about the need for firepower, unless it is to use on the dogs themselves. Nash wants to eat the bunnies and cats who are masquerading as pets in the house, and Penny and Harry are more interested in the trash or Kleenex boxes. We have found that the "home and garden sprayer" (i.e., "squirt bottle") works on Nash and Harry when it comes to discipline, whereas Penny views this as a drink dispenser, delightedly lapping the the same stream of water which sends the boys scurrying to another room, tails tucked between their legs.

Penny, on the other hand, requires a remote trainer, which emits a loud, eardrum piercing shriek that derails her actions--and incidentally, the actions of anyone within a 500 yard radius. Despite repeated requests, no one gives a verbal correction before activating the remote trainer, causing me to stop whatever I am doing as well, up to and including having a regular heartrate.

So, thinking back over the past few weeks, I guess I get the feisty attitude of the lady homeowner. I sure do pity whoever breaks into this house. All we would have to do would be continue business as usual, and the poor soul would be running, screaming, into the woods after less than an hour.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Tiring of the Screw

It has been a humdinger of a week and a half. First, I had two projects due last weekend, so I was focused on those at the end of last week. Then, Monday, summer break began. We had signed the kids up for summer school, but the enrollment wasn't adequate, so there was no diversion in their future. I assigned extra chores and called the kids that evening from work and warned them that I was on my way home, and the house had darn well better be picked up.

Later, I realized I needed to be clearer what "picked up" means.

Tuesday, I called from work to redefine "picked up" to three children, only to interrupt the Tuesday version of the Friday Night Fights. Nita couldn't wait to tell me that Kiki had pinched her, her pompous little report accompanied by Kiki's shrieking diatribe about Nita's inadequacies as a sister and as a human being.

When I got home, we had a family meeting. I outlined who was in charge, what the expectations were, and what the consequences were for infractions, a summer break procedures manual, if you will. EG came home from work and announced that he, or rather his car, had a low tire. He discovered a screw in the tire, and so after a lengthy debate about Wednesday's scheduling, off we went to the tire store. We came home, picked up the house to our standards, and fell into bed. I woke up in the night, twice, with panic attacks.

Wednesday morning about six thirty, we finally got around to opening the mail, which included a letter from the school system. It turned out that there were enough kids for summer school. After a couple of minutes, EG said to me, "What's the date?"

"The ninth?"

"Uh, summer school starts TODAY."

What followed was a child's worst nightmare, and I am embarrassed to admit, something which gave me a great deal of pleasure. EG stood up, threw open the kids' bedroom doors, and barked, "Get up! You've got summer school and IT STARTS TODAY!" The wails which followed did my heart good, and I smiled as the little darlings complained as they stumbled out the door.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Prescription for Insanity

Take three kids, two of whom are hormonal females and one with severe attentional issues.
Add two working parents.
Add three labs, two cats, and two bunnies; throw in a house which is never quite clean and a quick-growing lawn.
Mix liberally with various stages of laundry cycles.
Sprinkle with music lessons, track, and girl scouts.
Top off with a dissertation and let ferment.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dogs in cars

Friday I took the kids to an upscale food market to buy some of the natural and organic foods we have been serving. It was in the eighties and sunny, about two thirty in the afternoon.

When we were walking into the store, the kids noticed a little dog. In a car. A black car. In the sun. With the windows rolled up tight. Another lady stopped, aghast at the sight. I wrote down the license number, and then I called the police. The other lady went into the store to have the owners paged.

After about ten minutes, the owners came out, and immediately the one guy started in on me. He was flamboyantly effeminate, which just added to how ludicrous the situation became. "Oh, my god. You have got to be kidding me. The dog is fine, his breed was bred in the desert, and he can handle the heat while we are in the store." (Actually, that breed originated in the mountains, bonehead.) "We'll be in there no more than a half an hour, and he will be just fine." He got more and more aggressive, screaming that "you people" (which, incidentally, is one of my trigger expressions) needed to get a life, that we were up his a**, and so on. The kids were frightened and went to the car. Nita, who wants to be a judge, said, "I took my shoe off, so if he went after you, I could have hit him."

Mr. Dog Owner went on to tell me in a nearly hysterical tone of voice that the poor dog (who was at this point not anywhere in sight in the car) needed attention, and that is why they took him to the store.

During his diatribe, I just stared at him with a blank expression on my face, as wasn't about to argue with him, nor was I going to back down, as that is apparently what he wanted. Then he said to me, "Are you going to say anything, or are you going to stand there like some kind of retard?" At this point, his friend tittered.

"Come along, children," I said. We started down through the parking lot, where I was met by a man who said, "Are you okay?" I told him the guys (who at this point were standing in front of the store staring to make sure I didn't bust out his car window, I guess--don't think it didn't occur to me) did not intimdate me. "Well," the other guy said, "I didn't like the way he was treating you."

I said, "It takes a big man to assault a woman with kids, you know?" What I didn't realize was that my hero had also called the police and used his cell phone to videotape the whole incident while standing by in case I needed help. I got in the car after thanking the man and drove to the other end of the parking lot, where I called the police again and told them the owner had been called to the car and refused to do anything about the dog and in fact had been confrontational. About a minute later, an officer showed up, and I directed him to the car. By the time he arrived, the dog had been shut in the car for at least twenty-five minutes.

I called EG and described the situation to him. He laughed hysterically, imagining the Seinfeld episode with the armoire, so he was no help.

On the way home, the kids and I shut the windows and turned off the air at a traffic light. One minute after we started, they were uncomfortable; three minutes, and they were complaining. Nita, my pragmatist, was the most annoyed, but suggested a practical solution. "Since the dog needed attention," she said, "maybe one of the guys should have stayed in the car with him with the windows all rolled up."

Kiki replied, "But it would be too hot."

"Exactly," Nita said in a satisfied manner. Maybe she should become a judge.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I have a suds return washing machine, one of a dying breed, which saves suds into a laundry tub and then returns them for use again. I do a variation on the cycle, letting the sudsy wash water drain out and then plugging the tub and saving the rinse water for the next cycle's wash.

This, of course, requires some monitoring, but with the ancient septic system we have and the cost of water, I find it to be a minor inconvenience.

Tonight I worked on schoolwork and then did some chores, filling the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, and then going off to the basement to do a load of laundry. EG came downstairs to discover me folding a load of clothes from the dryer while the washer was spinning. "What are you doing?" he asked.

Okay, this was one of those "duh" moments, but I refrained from making a smart remark and replied, "Laundry."

But it went on. "Why?" he asked. Hmm, let's see . . . getting a foot massage from some really attractive guy who is hiding under the washer? Preparing to exit for a date with George Clooney, using the secret exit which the dogs have always suspected I had down here, judging by their reaction when I go downstairs?

So I replied, "We need clean clothes."

"We do?" he asked.

At that time, I decided to forget it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I have 55 mile an hour hair. Every morning I wash my hair, comb it, and let it dry on the way to work, usually in warmer weather being tousled by the wind in the open windows.

Then I forget it for the rest of the day, usually not even combing it unless I think about it.

Nita's got a coarse hair, quite kinky, and we have relaxed it for four or five years now, first having it done professionally by my friend Lisa, and then by me or another friend. Let's just say that Nita's hair has been a real learning experience for me--I find the work required to be irritating, plus she is tender-headed, so she shrieks whenever I try to do anything. We managed to keep it longer, but it broke off at the place where Lisa stopped and I started working on it, and it required an inordinate amount of work to maintain, which was complicated by Nita's delusion that she had straight, fine, blonde hair which didn't require special attention. Last night, I cut the dead ends off, and after some discussion with Nita, trimmed off ends so it was even with the breakage point.

It looked really awful, so today I took her to the beauty shop. An hour with the clippers later, Nita now has a short, natural Afro, about an inch and a half long. Of course, since she is slender and leggy, people think she is a boy--never mind the budding body, floral tee shirt, and pink head bands I got her.

So now Nita announced that she is bald and is not going to school until her hair grows out in four or five years.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Web Search

Rocky's media teacher gave him a worksheet to do in class; it contained some questions of not-so-general knowledge: Where was the first atom bomb dropped? What jazz musician was nicknamed "Bird?" Who was the first African-American woman astronaut?

Apparently, Rocky was looping around the rings of Saturn on the day the search engine directions were covered. He would type in the terms, then read the brief blurb for the first result to pop up, and then answer the question as quickly as possible.

Consequently, today I found out that Hair Strumm was the U. S. president who ordered the atom bomb to be dropped on Nag's Head, Hiawatha was a Mohawk chef, and Rudyard Kipling wrote the famous poem about him, and Freddie Hendrickson was the famous jazz musician who was known as Birp.

Somehow, I think the objectives were not reached on this assignment.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I go through spells where it seems like I climb out of bed, drink a cup of coffee, and then the day hits me full force, and next thing I know, I am taking my pills and flopping back into bed, only to start the whole thing all over again fifteen minutes later.

Things have been so hectic with my own courses, work, graduation, and the kids' activities (what is it with the schools: suddenly they go, HEY! we didn't give these kids enough activities all year, so let's hit them with every concert, meeting, or evening event we can think of!) Last week was one of those: come home from work, conduct an inquisition to find out who tore the curtain rod out of the wall, cook supper, drop Nita off at the church for the crowning of Mary, drive ten miles to drop Rocky off at the school for his band concert, meanwhile EG picked up Kiki and took her to choir, then back for Nita, then a quick dash to the grocery store, then back for Rocky. I would have gone to his concert, but he didn't bring home the paper (the thoughtless band teacher put it on pink paper and offended his masculine sensibilities) and informed me of the concert the day of the event. All this after working eight hours and commuting an additional two.

Sometimes I feel like I am going to pass myself driving down the road.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mapping out my life

This morning, I sat down and synchronized household, personal, and work calendars through the end of June. I realized I have a week off of work and school at the same time. One whole week, I thought, so I started listing all the things which need to be done.

It won't be enough time.

So, I scheduled a nap in every day and left the rest blank for now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Persuasive Learner

I had Nita to the doctor the other night in an effort to head off the inevitable allergies leading to a sinus infection, and something must have come up with another patient. Even though we were the last appointment of the day, we didn't expect the doctor to be over an hour late; as a result of the delay, I was stuck in a room with Nita and nothing for her to do. We went through her addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts, spelling words, and various other games I could think of.

During the course of our conversation, Nita, who by then was up past her bedtime, announced to me, "I have to count on my fingers--I'm a persuasive learner." I, of course, hooted at her rather pompous delivery, not to mention the malapropism. "Well, I am," she said. "I don't learn by seeing, and I don't learn by hearing. I learn by doing. So, I'm a persuasive learner."

I filled her in on how she was a kinesthetic learner, like I was, but when I actually thought about it, I realized she probably is a persuasive learner.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Come on now, ladies

What I don't understand is some women. Last night, we were at Kiki's confirmation. It was supposed to be a holy celebration, but the two women behind me YAPPED incessantly through the whole thing about the most mundane and idiotic things, which I was forced to overhear. I wanted to turn around and ask, "Why do you think anyone cares about this, and why can't you JUST SHUT UP?"

However, I didn't. What bothers me is that these are the same women who are raising children who will be our future adults and leaders. Will they think it is okay to discuss the new flavor of tic tacs in a loud tone of voice during the presidential inauguration? Or that it is not only acceptable, but expected, to debate the pros and cons of light and dark corn syrup during a funeral?

Then, of course, these same women are walking out of the church and instead of pausing to allow people to take pictures, they shove their children to proceed into the photo shoot, despite it being off to the side--maybe because they are still talking and not paying attention, but come on now. Then, instead of apologizing, they reward the other individuals with a superior, tight smile as they sweep by. Or through--while the people who are taking the picture wait patiently. And these are the same women who go through a doorway and then immediately stop dead to have a conversation, causing those behind them to have to go on either side of the meet and greet session, as no one is moving out of the way.

So, what causes this? Are they self-involved? Thoughtless? So pampered that they are in the mindset that they can do no wrong? Or are they just plain stupid? I understand wanting to have social contact--with school and work and the kids, I don't have much time for friends, and I get lonely, too.

What embarrasses me for my gender is that my children are more socially aware and better behaved than these so-called adults. So, ladies, here is your wake up call. I won't confront you in public, as Emily Post would say that pointing out your lack of manners demonstrates my own poor social graces. You need to pay attention: a discreetly cleared throat while you are babbling about the shower stall liner or a pointed stare after you did a five-minute monologue about grocery shopping without inhaling more than once means you need to pay attention--there are other people around you. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll just mail you a copy of Emily Post's book. Or present it in person when I whack you over the head with it instead.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thar she blows--NOT

It has been hectic here--Rocky suspended from school and playing catch up. Nita being outed as the school cafeteria's best customer, buying breakfast and snacks with money she'd swiped from my purse and her savings, work being a little nuts, resulting in something hurtful happening, and now Nita is in her spring allergy season. For several years, I spent every Mother's Day in the emergency room with her.

The big problem I have with her now is she hates to blow her nose, so she ends up with a sinus infection, invariably, which then leads to a trip to the doctor. I have had to leverage her into nose blowing by threatening to keep her home from school. So, tonight, after a long day at work and longer afternoon and evening at home, I am taking her to the doctor again, this time in a proactive approach to the annual celebration.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Top Chef, my eye

I have decided that I want to stop cooking.

It all started about a year ago when I started buying more and more "natural" and organic products, finally arriving at our current state of about 90 percent organic eating. I no longer eat wheat or rye, and I am trying to go low glycemic, which cuts out anything much in the way of carbs: bread, grains, snacks, and fruits. I also try to eat very little meat and am weaning the rest of the family off of that as well.

Which leaves us rather limited.

This week on Monday we had spaghetti with marinara sauce, Tuesday sandwiches, Wednesday veggie hot dogs, Thursday vegetarian chili, and Friday macaroni and cheese with soy bacon bits on top. Saturday night, I didn't care what we ate, not to mention IF we ate, and neither did EG.

Rocky commented, "I thought we were going to stop eating meat. We still have meat all the time." Huh?

I had taken the dog to the vet, and we were discussing how it was simple to do weight control by increasing or decreasing the amount of food which we fed our pets. He said, "I have always said there should be 'husband chow.'" I laughed at the time, but now that I think about it, this is a valid point.

I think what is happening with us here is that our bodies are finally regulating themselves, as we aren't indulging in the refined sugars and flours. Or it could be that we are just getting older, in that dreaded age range when it doesn't really matter if we eat or not.

I was at a funeral meal last weekend, and a cousin, who is diabetic, had two overflowing huge plates of dessert--one would have been sufficient for all five of us here, with leftovers, and we are big fans of dessert. Anyway, the cousin said, "A friend of mine said you can have a cheat day once a week." Uh, I think this may have gotten lost in translation, as I half ate a lemon tart, which is my favorite, and considered it a cheat. I refuse to get sanctimonious about this, though, as I could stand to lose weight myself. And if I continue not cooking, I will certainly do so.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Global Positioning

I will be driving to Chicago this coming week, so I bought a GPS. We had used my sister's the other week when she and I and my cousin drove out to see my aunt. We were amused by the GPS's pronunciation of landmarks and road names, which are rather unusual out there: Vermilion, Berlin (pronounced BURR-lin), and Gore Orphanage Road. "Turn right," the administrative assistant-type GPS voice told us, "at Gororororororphange Road." We laughed outselves silly.

The next week, after my niece played with the GPS, we had Mary Poppins guiding us to the national cemetery. I was half afraid she'd start singing about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

It is not any secret to anyone who knows me that have the absolute worst sense of direction when it comes to north, south, east, or west. Sometimes I can do street names, but in the county seat, these get me a bit cornfuzzled, with Broadway and Bradway, routes which jog north-east-north-west, and the worst, overlapping street names. One evening, I found myself at the corner of North East Street and East North Street. Of course I couldn't tell what street was which, so I didn't know which way to turn. I would have asked for directions, but the thought of someone telling me to go west on North East Street gave me an eye twitch.

EG will give me directions, saying things like, "You'll go north," omitting the street, and my eyes will roll up into my head and my ears will ring.

However, I can drive by landmarks--tell me to go left at the Dairy Queen and right at the house with the blue shutters, and I am there. My uncle's wife was notorious for giving really abstract directions, telling people to turn at the herd of cows, or drive until the person saw the farmer standing in his driveway with a broom in his hand. For what it's worth, no one ever got lost when she gave directions. As an adult, I now suspect it was because they used a map or asked someone else.

Anyway, last week we drove to my aunt's funeral, and I printed directions off mapquest. They were fine, except the route addresses counted up, then went from five digits suddenly to three digits as we hit a small town, decreasing as we continued. "This isn't right," I said to EG. "Well," he told me, "we're going west." I called my sister on her cell. "Did you pass Gororororphanage Road?" she asked. Not yet. "Then keep going," she said. Not bad advice in any number of situations.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cell phone

I had to be dragged, pretty much kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. While I love my computer, and my laptop is used pretty much all day at work and much of the evening, what with school and connecting with people with special needs kids and my yahoo group, I couldn't see any possible reason for a cell phone. My kids were little, so they were with me or their dad when they weren't at school. I was either at work or on my way home to them if I wasn't with them.

So, when EG proposed we get him a cell phone for work, I agreed, but I saw absolutely no sense in having one of them for my own use. I didn't want to be that accessible. However, he pointed out the convenience of being available in case anything happened to my mom or dad when I was at PTO meetings, lessons, or sports events, especially since my father was in the nursing home, so I agreed. I had a rather "pinched between the thumb and forefinger and held out away from the body" approach to the thing, carrying it with me but always a bit leery when it rang. When my mother went into the assisted living facility, my sister and I got free mobile to mobile long distance, and it was then I learned how wonderful the cell phone could be. I wasn't spending money on long distance calls, but keeping in touch with her daily, a luxury which became a necessity when her husband was ill and when my mother finally made the decision to move on from this earthly life.

So, while I have a phone with internet capabilities, the ability to text, I do not use any of those function. My cell phone calls out and receives calls, and that is enough. For now. However, I can see where things are headed, as Kiki is pushing to have a cell phone so she can text her friends. When I pointed out to her that a) we don't have texting and b) she never calls people, so who would she text, she called me mean. Not mean--just still dragging my feet with this technology stuff.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Start me up

I got home last night, and when I went down the hall, I smelled something which I couldn't identify right away.

I let the dogs out, and then I checked Nita, who had run a fever all day. She spent most of the afternoon on the sofa, sleeping with her cat.

When EG was helping me bring the dogs in, he opened Rocky's door and said, "What do I smell? What is that?" Rocky said, "I had the window open."

I went in and said, "Why is it smoky in here?"

"My window was open."

"But it isn't smoky outside." Rocky then started to get stressed. We moved his dresser to find the remnants of a small fire, which had fortunately burned itself out before catching the house on fire. He finally admitted to the fire when we found matches and burned newspaper in there, too.

So now he's back on blackout. It never ends with the bad choices, does it? Tomorrow I will talk to him about using words to express anger.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Yesterday we buried my mother's sister; she was the youngest, and the last of her generation. My sister is the youngest of our generation, with me a close second. A cousin of ours told my sister yesterday, "Well, that's the last of the generation. Now it's our turn. You're the youngest, so you'll watch all of us die off."

Hey, nothing like giving us something to look forward to there, Miss Mary Sunshine.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again--I do not like Easter. I guess it is just a church holiday, and it should be celebrated with grace. Somehow, it seems to me, we have lost the meaning in all the cellophane wrapped baskets, jelly beans, marshmallow peeps, spring clothes, and ham dinners. EG likes Easter, sees it as a special day, but it just depresses me; so I try to make an effort at making it nice.

Luckily, today was unseasonably warm and sunny, too, so we went for a ride. We ended up at Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, the burial place of famous Ohioans, and a horticultural wonder, including a hillside full of naturalized daffodils. Tucked in near the Cleveland Clinic, the art museum, and Case Western Reserve University, this cemetery is a wonder of nature, lovely in its respect for the natural, acorns littering the graves, wildflowers sprouting up, and trees blooming around the graves. We walked and looked at the old and new tombstones and the flowering trees and plants, and felt at peace in this lovely place.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I am thinking about the poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in which the sailor is forced to wear the albatross around his neck because the seaman killed the bird of good omen and then the ship was becalmed.

Rocky was not expelled from school, but I believe it was mostly because the school would have to provide an alternate education for him because he has an IEP (Individual Education Plan).

However, his punishment has quickly become OUR punishment, the albatross about our necks, as his dad and I now have "the boy" around all the time, a bored boy who "forgets" he is on restriction. Keeping him occupied is exhausting, and it is limiting to not do fun things, like go out to lunch together, as he will have to participate as well. Plus, this continues all next week and into the week after.

In the poem, Coleridge said, "There passed a weary time." You got that right, Sam.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Today is Rocky's hearing. We were talking to him this morning about what to expect, and what he should say, and he came up with yet another explanation about what happened.

Finally, I had him make up a cheat sheet about what he told each person involved, so he could keep track of that was said. It turns out he lied to us up until this morning, even when we told him we wanted the truth.

I asked him if he really wanted my support. He said yes. I asked him if he thought the best way to get it was to lie and keep pushing me away. He started to cry.

Three minutes later, I asked him a question, and again he lied.

I give up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lull before the storm

I have been reading back through the posts for the month, and I discovered that we had a nice, peaceful period of time right before the knife incident. Things were ragingly middle class normal, the lull before the storm.

Which makes me wonder--why is it I was given this brief period of serenity, one where I could breathe without feeling the knot in my diaphragm? Was it to give me hope? To tease me? To show me how things should be? Well, all it did was make things harder still. I deeply resent Rocky's absolute stupidity in taking that knife to school. I find that I am feeling pretty uncompassionate about his situation--I'd like him to suffer more. This morning, he was sitting at the kitchen table, staring at the floor and smiling to himself. It made me think of one of those creepy kids in the horror movies.

Today it is raining, and we will be in the house together all this dark day. I am thinking of sleeping it away.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Patty Hearst

I was thinking about Patty Hearst just now, trying to get a handle on how she became indoctrinated by her captors and bought in to their agenda, something which is called Stockholm Syndrome.

You would think, after ten years of living here, that Rocky might have bought into something. Yes, yes, I know--the first two years of his life were trauma and neglect, and then when he should have been bonding to us, he was terrified and fighting for what he thought was his survival. Plus, the prenatal exposures, coupled with the trauma, have affected his ability to use cause and effect thinking. No matter how much effort we make, how much work with do, how much therapy we provide, he still lies and steals and makes really really stupid choices.

We have a life which no one wants and few understand. My house has become like a prison or boot camp, and I have become the warden, drilling and supervising and sounding like Tommy Lee Jones with PMS. No offense to Mr. Jones--he is a fine actor, and I enjoy his work. But I am tired. Tired of chaos, tired of never believing what I am told. Tired of the fight, fight, fight, of not ever getting anywhere.

Maybe I'm the one getting Stockholm Syndrome.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nest Box

My friend Maeve has directed me toward this web site, where a camera is in a nest box of a mother owl hatching owlets. I am fast becoming addicted to her activities.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ten Days

For some stupid reason, Rocky took a steak knife to school. Of course, since he is a candidate for the dumb criminals hall of fame, the flap of his backpack, where the steak knife was stashed, got caught in his locker door, and the knife fell out.

And, being Rocky, he denied it up one side and down the other, horribly sincere. I told him, "I want the truth. I do not want to be blindsided when I go into the principal's office tomorrow morning. Our knives are unusual, and I will know right away if they are ours, so let me know now what to expect."

Nope. No way was it our knife. Wide eyes, sincere expression. I swear, Mom. Okay. Glad to hear it. I will defend you.

When I went in to the principal's office the next morning, I was of course blindsided. I told the principal, "It's one of ours. The little squirt's been lying to me. Where do we go from here."

I think he was a bit dumfounded at my reaction. However, why would I deny it? Obviously it was ours, and unless aliens beamed it out of my kitchen drawer and into the locker, Rocky was involved.

So we have ten days of suspension, which I am attempting to make as close to Hell on Earth as I possibly can. If I had my way, he would have been suspended in school, in a public area, where everyone could see him. However, this at-home thing is a punishment for me, too, as I have to come up with activities and labor to fill his time. I gave him a stack of worksheets and had him clean the linen closet, and it is now nine a.m.

This is going to be a long long long suspension. For both of us.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Little Dog

Yesterday I did a hospice vigil. In the room with me and the patient was a charming little dog, who was no larger than a cat with stubby legs, and a small, almost cat-like face. Actually, she looked more like a bat than a cat, with her little snub nose and teeny fangs and pointed little ears.

I was quite taken with this dog, who quietly sat there with us, snuggled down in the bed, giving comfort by her warm little presence. I am partial to dogs anyway, and I am periodically reminded of how they have learned to live in our world. They understand our language, and we sometimes learn theirs. My old dog, who is now gone, understood over 100 words and read my moods better than any human I have ever met. My Harry has learned to open the refrigerator and has his own schedule which dovetails with ours. Penny, my wild child, sits on the sofa and watches television after a hard day of playing ball with us. And Nash, well Nash is just dumb, but he wants to be loved by me or Rocky, little realizing that incessant yapping isn't helping that.

Just now I scolded Harry for licking the walls, so now I wonder how much he really has mastered living in our world after all. However, despite the wall licking, I think I'll keep him. He makes me smile.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We have become them . . .

Yesterday I went with my sister and cousin to see my only surviving aunt, the baby of the family, who is in hospice care. My sister commented that this was the last of that generation, and that the next wave of deaths will be the older cousins; they are not much younger than my aunt is.

Kiki is at girl scout camp for the weekend, and Nita asked a friend over to play. The girls are jumping around upstairs, over my head, giggling and playing, tweedling on the recorders which I force Nita to keep in her room and not play anywhere else in the house. I am sorting coupons and reading the paper. EG is watching a war movie on television, much like my father would watch John Wayne on Saturday afternoon, and Rocky is in the room with him, half watching and half devouring a new book he got today.

I realized that we have begun to settle in our "real" life, the one without the nursing home and the dreading of phone calls in the middle of the night. Kids are playing in the house, the dog is sleeping on his bed, and the war is on TV again for this generation. So, for a few years, we will this way of life, one which Nita called "boring" this afternoon when she asked to call her friend. And, frankly, a few years of boring is what we need.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Letter to the teacher

I sent this letter to Rocky's homeroom teacher this morning:

Rocky has not been availing himself of all his educational opportunities and has not be completing his classwork. Since he does his homework, I am assuming that there are other factors at school which are, ahem, interfering with his education.

After a long and confusing conversation with Rocky in which he finally revealed the reasons for his less-than-stellar performance in his classes (along with numerous other facts which were apparently intended as red herrings to distract me), I have the following concerns (and this is just the list about school).

I do not have an email address for many of his teachers (and I like you), so would you please forward this email to his subject teachers?

Language Arts: Rocky has been showing a poor performance on POD's, which are given at the end of class. He said (after careful cross examination and considerable head banging on my part) that he is in a hurry to get these done so he can read quietly. While I am thrilled that Rocky is enthusiastic about reading and impressed and a bit amazed he wants to do anything quietly, I emphasized to him the importance of prioritizing work. He and I came up with three options, which I told him he needed to discuss with his teacher. First, he could be moved to the front of the class for class so he won't lose focus for the POD (fewest popular votes and a wide-eyed "yikes" expression). Second, he could be given extra time to complete the POD by not being permitted to read quietly but could sit quietly until class was over and/or he completed the work correctly and had it checked (needless to say, that wasn't a favorite, either). Or he could do the work correctly the first time and then read. I will be tracking to see if he does any better.

Keyboarding: Rocky is taking this during the last period of the day. Unfortunately, the timing on his meds is sketchy there, and he might be lacking focus during this time. We see that he did poorly on the Internet safety assignment, and we would like to give him ample opportunity to learn this essential information, so could we please have access to the assignment, either online or on paper? If this does not change the grade, that is fine; as you know, I am a firm believer that education is its own reward, and if the paper is blank and he needs to start over, it will be an excellent chance for a review.

And, saving the best for last: Rocky is at a table with Bobby for science labs. He and Bobby are great friends. They goof around. He reports they are not showing off for the girls at the table, as he doesn't like them that way, but since he is not always an accurate reporter in his own affairs d'amour, then who knows. I told him that, if he and Bobby didn't work together and his grades didn't come up, then I would request that a third girl be exchanged for Bobby, leaving him the only rooster in the henhouse, so to speak. Or, after living with his sisters, it might be a capon in the henhouse.

Anyway, Rocky's dad just accused me of composing War and Peace (little did he realize the irony of THAT), so I will stop.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Last night I had a dream

I have been walking around with what feels like a knot in my solar plexus, a twisting up of nerves, anxious to the point of taking Xanax so I can sleep. Since anxiety is symptom of menopause, I have been trying to see what works in helping me cope. My doctor told me, "You have a lot going on" when he wrote the prescription, but really, who doesn't?

This past weekend was my mother's birthday. She would have been 85. Since she was a children's librarian at our neighborhood elementary school, and since she loved the quirky humor of Shel Silverstein (one of the books which our beloved hospice volunteers read over and over and over again to her), I bought the anniversary edition of one of his collections to donate to the library in her honor. Her youngest sister is now in hospice care as well, and this week I am going to see her and say goodbye.

Nita had a friend come over for her birthday. We took the girls to the Lake Erie Nature Center and then out to eat. Rocky had a friend come over yesterday, and while we were out with them, I noticed that a local horticultural center had removed its fence for the widening of the highway. This place always has a lovely display of ornamental cabbages long into the fall, and since they are on my side of the car, I enjoy them when we are at the stop light near the church.

It has been sunny for five days now. Last night I had a dream in which Harry the dog was old, and he went to sleep in the sunshine out by the end of the driveway, lying on his side, totally relaxed and warm, and he gently and peacefully died there in his sleep, just becoming more and more relaxed until he was gone. In the dream I was in the living room, and when I looked out the window, I saw that my father, who loved flowers, had planted rows of ornamental grasses and cabbages at the end of the driveway there, and then had erected this huge and really ornate and very implausible bird house condominium contraption as well. In the dream, EG said to me, "He knew about Harry, and didn't want you to be sad every time you looked out there."

I woke up crying. No, he wouldn't want me to be sad. But I am. So much loss, so much sadness, and none of it peaceful and gentle, but painful and terror-producing for those who lived it personally, and frightening and frustrating for those of us who were on the journey with them. Yes, I am sad, but I have been dancing around the grief, ignoring it or pushing it back until it seeped out and bubbled up around the edges as anxiety, finally nesting in a big knot inside me, just waiting to be unleashed.

Today I am still crying off and on, but the knot inside me is gone for now. My father's favorite hymn, because it had been my grandmother's favorite, was In the Garden, and this year I will create a garden. It will be one which I can see and know that he wouldn't want me to be sad anymore. He is at peace, and I need to remember that and be there as well.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lamp dance

The other night, Nita called downstairs from her room. "The lights went out up here."

Her father, who doesn't do well with chaos, asked, "What did you do?"

"I moved my bed." Silence, as no one could follow that.

I asked, "Did a light bulb burn out?"

"No, all the lights are out." EG went downstairs and threw every circuit breaker until he found the right one, which of course, was the last one he tried.

The next day, at bedtime, Kiki informed Nita that the house was going to burn down and we were all going to die in our beds, and it was going to be All Her Fault. Nita got hysterical, and then I attempted the maddening chore of finding out exactly what happened the night before to determine if death was imminent, her fault not withstanding.

"Wellllll," Nita drawled, carefully choosing her words, which made me realize that this was going to be an irritatingly long operation. "I moved my bed, and then the circuit breaker went off."

"Okay, and how did your bed make the lights go off?"

"The lights didn't go off until the circuit breaker went off." I glared at her and made a go on movement with my hand. "Wellll, I moved the bed and my lamp was there, and the circuit breaker made it dark. "

"And how did your lamp get involved?"

"It was plugged in."

"To the bed?"

"Nooo, to the wall." She gave me a look like she never realized how darn dumb I really was, and me a Ph.D. candidate, too. "And I moved my bed, and then the lights went out."

"Oh-kay. So the bed touched the lamp?"


"So what type of relationship did the lamp have with the bed?" Honestly.

"The bed didn't touch the lamp."

"Then what did the bed touch?"

"The lamp's cord."

"So, the lamp was plugged in, and the bed touched the cord, and the circuit breaker went off."

"The lamp wasn't plugged all the way in."

"But it was turned on?"


"Okay, so the lamp was plugged in, and when you moved the bed, the lamp jiggled and the lights went out."


"So you can plug the lamp in again and use it again."

"No, because the lamp is plugged in, and every time I try to use it, the circuit breaker goes off."

"Is it plugged partway in? Then just plug it the rest of the way in."

"But what do I do about the burn marks on the outlet?"

At this point I had developed an eye twitch, much like Inspector Dreyfus, Peter Sellers' superior officer in the Pink Panther movies.

"Burn marks?"

"Yes, my brushes must have gotten tangled in the bed and made the burn marks on the wall."

"Brushes?" My voice was now scaled three or four octaves above normal.

"Yes," she sighed, obviously exasperated at how dense I could be. "My drum brushes."

I put the heel of my hand over my right eye and pressed and took a moment. "So your metal drum brushes must have touched the prongs on the plug when they fell off the bed, and since the lamp was plugged in, it threw the circuit breaker?"

"Of course. That's what I've been saying. So am I going to die?"

Well, not in a fire.

So her so tacky that it is wonderful gilt and leopard print lamp is on the kitchen table, making the kitchen look like a seedy bordello until I can replace the plug. EG has gone out and gotten another outlet and will replace the burnt one this afternoon. And Nita has opted to move her bed away from the wall. And the brushes are now downstairs with the drum set.

If I survive this child's teenage years, it will be a miracle.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


The school called me Tuesday. When I saw the readout on my cell was the junior high school, I said, "Uh, oh." My office partner, who knows what "uh-oh" means, then said, "Oh?"

It turns out that I have to go in to update Rocky's paperwork, as he is doing fabulously in school and was officially mainstreamed in his last class this past Monday. However, as the mom of a kid who is healing from attachment disorder, I was reluctant to be delighted by this turn of events. With Rocky, you just never know.

Later that day I went to Nita's conference. Apparently, she has not been doing her homework, and she has been telling her teachers that Harry the dog has been eating her papers, even embellishing how ill poor Harry has been from the fiber. This is not to say that Harry cannot or will not eat anything which piques his interest even slightly. However, I was a bit perplexed that a child with as much savvy and attitude as she has would use the oldest and lamest excuse ever. Unless, of course, she figured that something so cliche would have to be true.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A whole decade

Yesterday was the last day of Nita's ninth year--today she turned ten.

Last night, we were driving Kiki to her girl scout leader's house because the troop was having a lock-in overnight at the mall. I had given Kiki some gift cards for her birthday, so she was shopping until one a.m. with her friends. The roads were bad (uh, so what else is new this week), and as EG propelled the car back to the house after dropping off Kiki, Nita became philosphical.

"I can't believe I'm going to be ten already," she mused.

"These last ten years have gone by too fast. Next thing you know, I'll be eleven, then twelve, then in college, and then I'll be fifty."

"Waughk," her father replied. By then, I was hooting with laughter. Not only was she uncharacteristically thoughtful, she was so dumfounded at how fast her life was passing her by.

So happy birthday, Nita, and may it take you a while to get to eleven.

Love, Mom

Friday, February 19, 2010

Running on empty

I felt rather blah all day yesterday, unable to stayed focused on one thing, having outstanding coursework and being unwilling to do it. This was really unlike me. EG said, "You are the most motivated person I know." Poor guy--what a limited world he has.

I don't know why--perhaps it was because I was going to do a hospice training last night and was revisiting some grief, perhaps I was just tired, perhaps just burned out. Today's not much better--I just don't care.

And it has been sunny here for two days, too.

I will have a yearly funk in April, kind of a reverse seasonal affective disorder, if you will. However, it is a bit early for that, too.

So, today I blunder along, listening in on teleconferences because I am not required to participate, and thinking maybe a nap is in order.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kitchen Table Dissertation

I've been gone for three weeks, thereabouts, which is a record for me. Part of the time I was traveling to Milwaukee for business, part of it I was freaked out about an abnormal mammogram (which after a series of films and an ultrasound turned out to be "probably benign", whatever that means, but the Cleveland Clinic thoughtfully got me an appointment within a week of getting the news), part of it was dealing with schoolwork (no wonder professors are nutty--surviving the dissertation takes a certain amount of insanity).

My big complaint right now is that I am trying to write a dissertation online. Yes, I can get questions answered, but communication is done in the courseroom via email, so there is a delay in responses, much like a transatlantic call to Mars might be. Then, it never helps to have the response be, "I normally refer people to the textbook." Uh, do you think it might be something I already did? Now we have one more delay while I point that out.

Anyway, this whole process is rather like trying to build an airplane on a short deadline with a list of requirements and no illustrations, plus having to find your own supplies by foraging within your own neighborhood. And those directions are something like, "Find a metal morganzerizer." So, you consult the textbook, which does not give you a picture of the thing, but defines it as "a metal item used in building an airplane; used for morganzering." So, off goes an email to the instructor who says, "I usually refer people to the textbook because it gives a definition of the item." Eventually, you find a powerpoint slide show which shows what the item looks like, and you find after much aggravation that it is a simple table fork.

That thwacking sound you've been hearing is me banging my head on the table.

Add to that three kids with cabin fever who perversely want a snow day so they can stay indoors even more and share that with each other by screaming and fighting and finding out while in Milwaukee that I had been signed up at the beginning of the school year to do my daughter's class's Valentine's day party (not the romantic surprise I was dreaming of), and you have a person with little energy to blog, for crying out loud.

But, I'm back. And I'll keep coming back. But I wonder how many people wrote their dissertation at the kitchen table.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I broke the boy after five days.

Friday, I had to work, so Rocky decided this would be the day. He, ahem, forgot his lunch at home, taking the chance that his dad wouldn't notice and I wouldn't have time to take the lunch to the school, thus giving himself the opportunity to avail himself of a hot lunch.

He underestimated me. I called the school immediately and informed them that I didn't want him to miss out on a nutritious meal, so I was bringing him the lunch, and only charging 44 cents a mile. I took the lunch into the office, and the one woman who works there gets him. I told her, "I normally would be coming in my bunny slippers and bathrobe, but I am on my way to work, so I won't get to embarrass him this time."

"Oh, that's okay," she said. "I have no problem embarrassing him."

She did. She told him sweetly, "Tell your mom I love her slippers."

Rocky is now working on earning back his privileges. And there is soup in the freezer just in case we need it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Rocky has finally gone too far. Much like the dog who wants to sit on the sofa--gradually, stealthily, sneaking into the room, eventually landing on the cushions, remaining so still that no one notices--Rocky has stealthily, carefully been phasing out all responsibilities.

First, he has been "forgetting" to take out the trash. I will eventually take the can out of the cupboard and stand guard over it while he blunders around for shoes and a coat, which of course he cannot find, as they are wherever he has dropped them. I have actually dragged him out of bed at 11:59 p.m. to complete the chore, but that is extra aggravation for me, as Nash, who gets hysterical at just about everything, thinks it is morning and time to EAT and barks for a good two hours or so until EG goes in and bellows at him. Nash then subsides to a deep "errrrrr, errrrrrr, errrrrrrrrr" for another thirty minutes until he gives up. By then it is 2:30, and inevitably someone has to go to the bathroom, which sets Nash's dysfunctional alarm off again.

No wonder I go to sleep at traffic lights.

Second, Rocky's other job is to clean up after the dogs in the yard. Over the last month or two, he has been slowly neglecting first one, then two, then all the messes, last Sunday going out in the yard and staring off into space rather like Stevie Wonder, completely ignoring his job. Nita went out and--ahem--helpfully told him that he needed to address this job, and he said, "I have no place to put them." What? Like the garbage is suddenly not accessible?

Then the continuing saga of "find church clothes." Saturday EG told Rocky to find church clothes. Were they appropriate for the weather? Yes. Were they in good shape? Yes. Were they free of holes and stains? Yes. Did they fit? Oh, yes.

Sunday afternoon I told Rocky to get church clothes. He said he had them and that his dad had him get things together the day before. I revisited all the above questions and added two more: Did you pick something which I have designated as a church shirt for winter? Yes. And will I be happy at your choice? Oh, yes.


Thirty minutes before Mass, after ten minutes of blundering about in his room, he comes out in a school shirt from two years ago, one which is stained and torn. I scolded him and sent him back for something APPROPRIATE. He returns in an old white dress shirt, one missing buttons and which is at least two sizes too small. "What happened to the four shirts I bought you to wear to church?" I shriek.

"Oh, they're in there," he replied, "right in my closet."

"Then. Get. One." I said through clenched teeth, causing the dog look at me in alarm and decamp to the kitchen.

"Yes, mom," he went into his room and blundered around for five more minutes. I finally said, "If you don't come out here dressed in fifteen seconds, I will dress you."

Fourteen and a half seconds later, he came out of his room, finally appropriately dressed. Off to Mass, which is likely a good thing, Rocky going out the door into the fifteen degree weather without a coat. We followed and locked the door. "Oh," he says, halfway up the road. "I need my coat."

"Too late," EG snapped.

"And my gloves." We ignore him. He sighs and proceeds to verbalize his teeth chattering, much like a cartoon character. We ignore him. He sighs louder. We ignore him. He gives up.

After Mass, I sit Rocky down and ask him what is going on. "I don't like doing chores," he says.

"Oh, I like doing laundry and cooking and cleaning?"

"Maybe not, but you have to do those things."

I ask, "Why do I have to do those things and you don't have to do any chores?"

"Because I don't want to."

Well, neither do I. So I made a big pot of chicken soup with vegetables and black-eyed peas on Monday morning before work and informed Rocky that was what he was going to be eating three meals a day, as I didn't WANT to be cooking for him. Rocky apparently thought that, the faster he ate the soup, the faster this would be over, so he devoured most of the pot that day.

No problem. After I served the soup for breakfast, I came home with ten pounds of chicken on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday I asked him, "How is this going? Are you ready to talk about chores?"


"Well, I don't want to right now, so maybe Thursday we can talk."

In the meantime, he can enjoy the soup. Or not.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

People of WalMart

I was out running errands, and I had several odd, unrelated things to get: plastic native Americans for a diorama, construction paper, coffee creamer, caulk, a cucumber, and toothpaste, so I decided to go into Super WalMart.

I normally don't like shopping in Supercenters, which is odd for a person who managed one of the first superstores, a Kmart with groceries on one side and the regular discount offerings on the other. However, I was not in the mood to mess around with stopping at three or four stores, so in I went.

At the checkout, I had a panic attack. Panic attacks are not something new to me, and I know that I can ride them out and am not having a heart attack after all, and this is not the first time I had a panic attack at the registers. Kind of ironic, considering I am spending money.

What intrigues me is that I am not the only woman my age who is having these episodes in stores. I wonder what it is--the number of choices, the lighting, the noise and stimulation, or even those carousels for bagging? Dear God, am I getting so old that I can't process?

One of my male co-workers recently referred me to the website, and when I told him I was aware of it (and a bit frightened by it), he accused me of holding out on him. Fortunately, I do not suspect I will end up on there (a very good reason for those panic attacks, I'm sure you'd agree, as my company on the site would be a bit odd).

Now that I think about it, maybe it's the company in the store which causes me issues. Website notwithstanding, I won't be going back in there again too soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

History repeats itself

Tonight I am going to sit at the bedside of a dying person, providing support for his family as they wait for the inevitable.

I am always so honored to be asked to do this, to be permitted to be present during this most private of times.

What is interesting is that I many times will read the obituary of the person, getting to know a little about them after the fact, and I will think, "Oh, I wish I had known this person before."

Last time I drove to a vigil, it was late at night, snowing lightly, with a large, nearly full moon shining through the clouds. The car was quiet and peaceful, and I remembered my great grandmother on my father's side. She was a midwife, and she cured many illnesses with herbs and home remedies, many times going out in the night to assist with the sick and dying. I am sure it was a calling for her, as well, a mission if you will, and I felt a connection to her as a traveled in the silvery light.

And I wished that I had been able to know her then.

Everybody just go away

I spent years living alone, marrying in my middle thirties after having finally getting tired of too much peace and quiet.

I can be at home when the kids are here, or when they are gone because I have flexible hours at work, and I work one day from home. But that means that there is not much of a separation between the two at times.

Plus, the children were at home all break, and EG took time off to be home, and I was not alone for one minute except when I bailed water from the laundry tub to the washer, and even then people would follow me down and stand at the other end of the room and attempt to talk to me.

Exasperated, I would yell over the water sounds, "I can't HEAR you. Can it wait until I get back upstairs?" Of course, the speaker would simply increase the volume, usually enough for me to hear something like, "I'm nogig to ughbehnk, hen then too-erk."

I would nod and go back to bailing. Whatever. The speaker wasn't waving his arms, and I didn't see blood or hear bodies falling, so I wasn't going to worry that much.

Of course, the stress of the week, including going back to work for one day and frantically meeting two deadlines, delayed because others were involved in parts of the projects, caused me a lot of stress, which I ignored but eventually acknowledged by having a panic attack in the hardware department of a superstore, and then to come home with a migraine.

When my father fell and broke his ankle, in an open fracture with exposed bones, he was asked to describe, on a scale of one to ten, the level of pain he was experiencing. "A four?" he said. "A five?" The doctor just blinked at me.

"He has a high tolerance for pain," I explained. "When he had appendicitis, he drove himself to the hospital."

"It's a four," Dad said, nodding.

"Evidently," the doctor replied, shaking his head.

What I am discovering is that I, too, tolerate pain well. I suffered "not feeling well" for all of Thursday and most of Friday, with the kids home for a snow day. When I don't feel well, I withdraw, which causes everyone to push and pull at me. Finally, Friday afternoon, I realized I had a migraine, and took medication. Within an hour, I felt so much better. Duh.

So today, EG, bless his heart, took the older two to early church, leaving Nita home with me. Nita and I relaxed her hair, which is never a pleasant experience, and then she talked to me for over an hour. She finally went upstairs, where it sounds like she is tap dancing on the hardwood floor over my head. I'm sure EG meant well, but I need peace and quiet, and I am not getting it that way.

Maybe next time he can stay home and relax Nita's hair, and I will go to church.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tough Audience

I have been thinking about the people who settled this part of the United States, coming here and spending the winters in small cabins, fighting the cold and snow, and most likely being hungry.

Today is the last day of my break, and I have to mush out of here to buy groceries. I will not have to delve into the stockpile of food which we put away in August, hoping we have enough for the winter and eat what I find. I will not have to wait for EG to go out and hunt something, killing some small woodland creature so we can eat. I will not have to send Rocky out to cut wood (and most likely cut his leg off in the process) so we will be warm.

Instead, I will take my heated Honda minivan to the supermarket, driving on plowed roads, choose things which appeal to me, and pay for them with the swipe of a credit card.

Here in northeast Ohio, we have two types, okay, three types of weather people. We have the one who should have retired years ago but is a weather icon here, who tells us warm and fuzzy stories related to the weather, a human interest addition to the weather. We have those who are like, "Okay, here is what the weather is doing, but you live in the snowbelt, so what do you expect." And then we have the "we're gonna die" contingent, those who frantically describe the two inches of snow we got overnight, forecasting another inch like it is the end of civilization as we know it, a frozen Pompeii if you will. These are the same people who interrupt the regular programming to tell us about the tornado warning in Pennsylvania, zooming in the radar to tell us which areas, down to which streets, are affected. What I don't get are why these people are watching television if the tornado is that close--if things are that dangerous, shouldn't they be in the basement, huddling together in case the storm takes them out?

We have one meteorologist who is quite handsome, but even the kids can't take him seriously. First, he hosts a program called Academic Challenge. The program pits teams from local high schools against one another with questions about math, literature, art, and science. The kids like to watch it because they know the answers to many of the questions. However, the new hobby here is detecting how many words the host will mispronounce. Last week, we found three words which he butchered, Methuselah being one of them, and terrestrial being another. Granted, these are not easy words like cat, but still...

However, this meteorologist lost his credibility with my kids after they viewed him on Academic Challenge. They figure he isn't so smart, which carries over to his weather forecasts. It can be January in Ohio, and the meteorologist will predict snow, and my kids snort skeptically, as if he had predicted a hurricane. Even when he's right, the kids view it as a fluke.

And maybe that is why people are watching the weather instead of heading to shelter.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to the grind

This morning we got up to a large amount of snow, with more coming. EG went out and dug out the driveway, while Kiki got up and got ready for school.

Rocky got up second, wandered around the living room, and then went into the bathroom to get ready for school. While we have an issue with a temperamental septic system, and I admire frugality with water, I simply do not understand how a boy can wash up for school without soap, water, or a washcloth and towel. Therefore, he and I had a lesson on how to wash your body for school, aka The Use of Soap and Water--Together.

Which leads me to wonder--just when do boys make that transition to men? Do they? Or is the teenage or pre-teenage boy hygiene he has now the same as he will have when he is older? Or will it change when he meets a girl--or an entire school filled with them? Either way, I guess there is an up side. If he discovers girls, he will clean up, but if he stays stinky, the girls won't want to be with him, which prevents worrying about all that entails: dating, pregnancy, and general hormone driven goofiness.

Maybe I'll hide his deodorant.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Burning out the old

One thing which I neglected to mention was that, on December 31, I took the calendar out on the back stoop and took a match to it, a symbolic ridding myself of this past year.

I told my sister about it, and she said she just might do the same thing herself.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year

I have watched at least five minutes of New Year's Rockin' Eve for the last $& years or so. Every year, I know fewer and fewer of the musical guests, a sure sign that I am getting older. And so are the musical guests I would know.

Last night, EG turned from PBS to ABC at about 11:55. Kiki had gone to bed with a headache whose other symptoms were whining about it, and Nita had fallen asleep sitting up on the sofa. Jennifer Lopez was on the show--I knew her, but Rocky didn't. She was jumping up and down for some reason, wearing what was apparently a fur coat, which caused some discussion in our living room. Then Dick Clark appeared to count down the end of the year.

It made me sad to see Dick Clark--I burst into tears as he did the 10-9-8, especially since he got a little mixed up on the numbers, something which I can't blame him for doing. Somehow Dick was a catalyst as I remembered how difficult this year was for so many I knew, and I sobbed my way into 2010, holding on to EG in the middle of the living room.

Sometimes it is better to end traditions, to start new ones before the old ones wear out. Next new year's eve, I think I'll try for something fresh and different, something which gives me joy.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this new year--I wish something good for each of us