Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bones in the Ether

Plans have gone awry. I was going to tell you all about it. In fact I did tell you all about it, but you didn't hear. You didn't hear because the power went out. Again. My post was either scattered in the ether or buried in my computer or possibly spontaneously combusted. I am unsure of what happens in that instant when the juice stops flowing. But the final result is that my plan for telling you how awry my plans have gone has gone awry.
You were going to hear all about the quilting retreat I had planned (that didn't happen), about the lovely little Inn we discovered (by accident), about all the major house renovations that we launched yesterday without any prior notice, about the hair I'm fixing not to have, and finally you were to hear about my feelings on the passing of a family matriarch.
Alas, now you are going to hear only that I don't have time to go into all that again. And also that I'll be unplugged for perhaps two weeks. Maybe I can send 'post' cards from another e-access point along the way. (The juice situation being what it is though, I can hardly promise!) What I can promise is loads of pictures of all the fun doings when I get back.
Peace and Health and Prosperity to you all in the coming year!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Spam Worthy

Am I the only one who thinks this sign is errr.... unfortunate? Maybe I've been around the Troll Boys too much but c'mon, it's not a big drop to the gutter. Can't you just imagine this slogan appearing in the subject line of one of 'those' emails?
I will admit, though, that my vulgar-o-meter might need to be recalibrated. I've been reading lots of Jane Austen (again). Having re-read four of her six novels since seeing the movie, Pride and Prejudice, I'm in the middle of Mansfield Park. For the first time, the names are giving me trouble - the heroine is named Fanny (yikes) and her aunt is named Mrs. Norris, which I hate to admit now reminds me inevitably of the red-eyed, skanky cat from Harry Potter. But aside from that, I've had to work my way back into an understanding of the manners of the time. Elizabeth Bennett (of P&P), who is spunky and acerbic and ultimately discerning, is my favorite Austen heroine. Fanny Price...not so much. Not that sympathizing with Fanny is impossible, just difficult. It takes work to see her reticence, deep-felt obligation and self-effacing manners as commendable. It takes some immersion into her context to feel (instead of wonder at) her struggle between duty and desire, which is why I always wait to read Mansfield Park towards the end of my Austen jag. When I saw this sign at BK, I got the all over giggles imagining Fanny Price falling out in a dead faint. (The girl blushes when someone says the word 'limb' for heaven's sake!) I love immersing myself in the world that Jane Austen chronicled. The specificity and richness of the language, the blushes, the gallantries - all wonderful! But the re-entry to the here and now....Pfew. That's a bitch.

On Vexer, and Hexer, and Klonker and Spittin'

I am spitting mad.
I want to klonk my sister-in-law over the head with a creche.
I feel hexed and vexed.
And as I lay in bed all agitated and rehashing the Christmas crap that was my day yesterday, the list of my grievances began to sound like psycho names for Santa's reindeer. I could just picture his sleigh being dragged inexorably through the sky towards my house by Vexer and Hexer and Klonker and Spittin'. It made me giggle. And that's a good sign (except that sweet hubby was trying to sleep - it being 3 am and all.)

When I am most aggrieved and can find even a tiny moment of laughter - it loosens something up inside of me and I can begin to let go. A moment of peace or emptiness can signal the turning point too. But laughter is the most powerful predictor of the ebb tide. The first time I noticed this about myself was when I was fourteen. I was awful, and cranky, and unloved, and misunderstood, and achingly lonely ALL THE TIME even though I was surrounded by good friends who appreciated me, a family who loved me, teachers who encouraged me, and a youth minister who opened the doors of faith to me. I was dramatic and hateful, particularly with my mother. Smack in the middle of some HUGE fight with sobbing and ultimatums and more sobbing and apologizing and a renewal of hatefulness (probably because my dramatic apology hadn't changed my mother's mind about whatever it is I wanted to do that she wouldn't allow) and even more sobbing - I wailed to my mom, "I hate you. I hate crying. My head is bursting with pain. My pillow is soaked with tears. My cat is soaked with tears. My blanket is soaked with tears. And it's all your fault!" My mother looked at me and said kindly and solemnly, "I will share with you something that a good friend of mine once said to me ." Through a teary and snot filled silence my mother's friend's wisdom came to me. Mom said, "The more you cry, the less you pee." Completely and utterly against my will, I laughed. I couldn't help it and I couldn't stop. And after that quieted down, I just couldn't muster the spin and churn and spite required to keep the fight going. It didn't 'fix' everything - or anything really. The disagreement was still there: I entrenched in my position and she in hers. It was just the searing rancor in my heart that bled away after the laughter punctured my misery.

So here I am urging 'On Vexer and Hexer and Klonker and Spittin' "with one slight giggle to puncture my latest misery. I'm despeartely counting on it to turn the tide.
  • Because today I am going to the bank with crossed fingers and a child support check. I will feel relieved (in the extreme) if it goes through. If it doesn't go through, I will endeavor to feel unsurprised and cynical and I will try not to feel ridiculous for hoping THIS Christmas might be different from the last two. His efforts at trying to take my children away from me have fallen into a pattern. He doesn't pay at Christmas. He attacks my fitness as a mother in January and tries to prove he's 'SuperDad'. In the spring, he makes a legal move of some sort which causes me tremendous anxiety and lots of $$$ to counter. Sometime in early summer he loses either his interest or his ability to pursue the matter. I spend all fall enjoying the temporary civility and waiting for signs of the other shoe to appear. If the check goes through this year, does it mean the rest of the curse is broken? (Or does it mean that even men who use tapioca instead of a brain are capable of realizing judges seldom award custody to deadbeat dads?)
  • Because today after I go to the bank I have to go to the mall. The Man in Red got my daughter the PERFECT present (WEEKS AND WEEKS AGO) - which is good because he only brings ONE to each of my five. Sweet Hubby and I get the children little things - always a book or two, usually something necessary (like gloves or a pair of jeans), and a tiny fun thing (like a card game or puzzle.) The Man in Red gets one shot - a big shot - a fun, way cool, it-was-the-number-one-thing-on-their-list kind of shot. And yesterday my step-daughter came home from her aunt's house with her eyes aglow and in raptures, "Look what Aunt Jaci got us kids!!!!! Isn't it great? Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it perfect?" Perfect. Of course if Aunt Jaci had thought for HALF OF A NANOSECOND she might, just possibly have realized that giving my daughter the PERFECT present two days before Christmas without bothering to check with anyone first - might not have been such a thoughtful thing to do!!
  • Because today after the bank and after the mall - I have to figure out what to do with the OTHER thing Aunt Jaci gave the Ninja Princessa. The Ninja Princessa is my step-daughter as I've said. Sparing you all the gory details of abandonment, custody battles with the mentally ill, and waxings poetical on what a devoted, stable, and fantastic father Sweet Hubby is - I will explain that the most recent chapter in our history includes Princessa's mother unexpectedly moving out of state (abandoning her daughter again) last Christmas. Even so, SH has been patient and supportive of the importance of his daughter's relationship with her mother. The Ninja Princessa has been across the country by herself to visit her mom several times (once or twice at a grandfather's expense and once at Sweet Hubby's expense). She was supposed to go again this Christmas. But North Korea couldn't "afford it". (You know, North Korea - that country that makes wild accusations, threatens nuclear war, can't feed itself, lies about that fact, makes and breaks international treaties, and in general, wears everyone's ass out?? Yeah, that's her.) Nevermind that NK has known for a year that she would have to pay for the flight - and nevermind that she didn't tell her daughter until the day before she was supposed to leave - nevermind all that. We have been concentrating on how it's important to acknowledge real feelings (like disappointment, sadness, hurt) but ALSO on how important it is to find comfort and positive aspects to the changed situation. Ninja Princessa gets more time with her oldest brother (whom she adores and doesn't get to see but a few times a year). She gets to enjoy the first Christmas in the new house with all of us. She gets to spend more time with her cousin. And her aunt! Her aunt who yesterday dug up this MONSTROSITY of a creche that Sweet Hubby and North Korea bought ON THEIR ANNIVERSARY trip to Ireland. This creche has not been some sentimental, cherished thing. It was brought back and put into the family 'oranament' exchange. Sweet Hubby is from a LARGE Cajun Catholic family - and their exchange is wild and far ranging and uses the word 'ornament' very loosely (and competitively)! The person who got stuck with the creche died a year or so ago and somehow it ended up in Aunt Jaci's garage. The Ninja Princessa knew nothing of it - until her aunt unearthed it - and for some INSANE reason thought it would be a good thing to give her. Right. Just exactly what we want in our house this holiday season and now for all holiday seasons to come: a large (and unsightly) reminder of both a mother who can't get it together for her daughter AND an anniversary trip commemorating a marriage that caused horrible pain when it came to an ugly end. Thank you OH SO MUCH Aunt Jaci!
  • And because today I also have to make up with my Very Best Girlfriend. After weeks of waiting for her to come in town, I somehow managed to get in a wad and get my feelings hurt - and THEN I wasn't even capable of explaining it in words even though VBGF wanted to understand and pushed and pushed at me to find a way to explain.

As the sun comes up, is the tide turned? Was the laugh big enough? Am I big enough to hold on to the lesson but not the hurt? Or are there just more fucking reindeer lurking around to be named?


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

She gets sleep. She gets sleep not. She ge.....

When the vet said, "Oh he'll probably just sleep all night and maybe most of the next two days." I believed her. Why did I do that? Wasabi did not sleep. Neither did I. Bless his heart, he's wearing one of those awful funnels around his neck. He keeps bumping into walls and doors. Apparently backing up is not a natural motion for dogs, so he keeps getting stuck in places. He whined all night and tried to chew at his bandages and his stitches. Did I mention that he WHINED the ENTIRE night?
But who needs sleep? Not mothers of five. Not shop owners the week before Christmas. No, no, silly thing, sleep. Totally beside the point, really. I'll be fine. <---in the Southern sense of the word meaning "suffering, but y'all don't worry your heads about lil ole me"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Monopoly It's Not

GAME means different things to different folks - but here at Dwelling, it involves phrases like "Pimp My Elf" and "I'm attacking the Darkness" and chants of "Meat! Meat! Meat!". We do play board games (like Killer Bunnies, San Juan, Catan, and Star Munchkin) but that's playing games, not GAME. GAME is all about the mind, man! (Well, the mind and a few props - like this strange orb/claw thing on a staff that is in the corner of my library. The Troll Boys have not offered an explanation and it's likely better not to know <---voice of experience speaking.)

More than one RPG (=Role Playing Game) is played at this house. The kids (our five plus a few of their geekier friends) play a d20 Star Wars RPG most Wednesday nights. Sweet Hubby has been involved in Feng Shui and Shadowrun games before, but currently The Troll Boys are back to the tried and true, hack and slash: Dungeons and Dragons (version 3.5). If you know even a teensy, tiny, little bit about D&D then you should check out the online comic The Order of the Stick. It totally cracks me up.
On the serious side, there are all kinds of valuable lessons to be learned from RPG's and other assorted geeky pursuits. My kids have learned teamwork, attention to detail, index/research skills, how to solve logic puzzles, several versions of the Badger Song and the lyrics to "I Like the Moon". They have also heard the cautionary tale told by my friend E. One of the fellows in E's husband's gaming group moved to California. This is no impediment to participating in GAME. Not with cell phones and conference call technology. He is a mobile gamer. So mobile in fact, that he went to the grocery to pick up a few things right in the middle of a battle with Ogres. Naturally the gaming group defeated all the Evil Ogres and this is what the nice folks at the grocery store heard:
"Is he dead? Well, make sure before you loot the body. Nah, I don't think we need to waste time moving the corpses around. No one will find them in that cave."
Yep - nothing that a ride downtown with some nice men in blue and several MORE phone calls couldn't clear up in a few hours.
Ahhh GAME. What's not to love?

Not Blogging about Laundry

Really I'm not blogging about laundry, because everyone has laundry. Right? No need to talk about it. A great percentage of everyone surely has at least two loads of laundry a day, every day, rain or shine. Rain, ha ha. Of course on rainy days there's that extra load of wet towels from drying the dog and muddy socks because how on earth can children be expected to abstain from puddle jumping. The entire world does laundry day in day out. In sickness and in health. In sickness, of course, there are the extra two loads of icky sheets and towels which require interesting chemical compounds known as laundry additives to remove all traces of ummm, ickiness. No need to dwell on stenches and stains though. Not during this lovely holiday season. Seasons, ha ha. It's not just me. Everyone contends with seasonal items in their laundry baskets, right? Like unworn, short-sleeve Hawaiin shirts in December when it's 21 degrees. And Gummi eyeballs left over from Halloween (which were gross enough before being washed with heavy agitation and hot water). No, it's far better at this time of year to think of peace and goodwill towards men. GOODWILL! I could give most of our clothes to the GOODWILL! Of course, I would have to wash them first, but still it would be just ONCE more. Those clothes wouldn't come back over and over and over and over. Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Laundry is such a common, everyday, un-blogworthy topic. I'm sure at this moment most of my neighbors are doing laundry too. Ha ha or maybe not since it turns out that many of the shirts I couldn't identify belong to Rachel-across-the-street. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, someone tell me why I didn't think of that trick before! Ha ha - have the neighbors do your laundry for you! Is THIS the secret? Is this the reason that we're not supposed to blog about laundry? Becuase Lilymane might figure out she's doing not just her huge family's laundry but EVERYONE ON THE PLANET'S laundry?? Well the cat is out of the laundry bag! I figured it out! And I'm telling you right now - don't complain to me if I drop an extra bucket of starch in the load of undies! Hmpfh.

Oh hey, I ran yesterday

My daughter (the Ninja Princessa) and I found ourselves quite on our own yesterday. I woke up from my two day nap; she pulled her head out of a book and lo and behold there were no boys about! This happens so rarely that it took us a moment to figure out why it was so quiet. It is especially rare on Sunday because that is usually the day the Troll Boys gather for GAME.

Digression - GAME is a whole CATEGORY of posts but for today I will just say a) it was canceled because even Troll Boys have to shop and 2) the game in question isn't Monopoly - or Football (that's my gig) - it's D& D - and
Digression #2 - Football! Sweet Hubby might watch football with me 1) if GAME is canceled and b) if there's a chance for some half time nookie. Ours is probably NOT the typical Amurcan household. The last time GAME was canceled, VBGF and I watched the Colts game together (=on the phone, long distance) while drinking beer (<--Bud Light for me, some shi-shi $3/bottle lager for her) and when I called out to see what SH was doing, he called back from the other room, "I'm watching 'Runaway Bride' on cable." <--I swear. Very secure in his masculinity is my Sweet Hubby. Hey, it works for us.
Digression #2b - Football! I'm sooooo bummed that the Colts lost to the Chargers! And don't get me started on Pacman Jones of the Titans. Am I allowed to curse on Blogger? I mean really, really curse - like I did in the Navy? I probably shouldn't even think about Pacman Jones until I find out the answer to that question. Next.

Finding ourselves in posession of the house, the Ninja Princessa and I did what all good girls should do - we gorged ourselves on baked macaroni & cheese, tomato soup, and half a package of oreo cookies <---double-stuffed - because what's the point if they're not double stuffed? THEN we noticed what a beautiful day it was - sunny and mid 50's. So of course we put on our running gear and headed out the door.

Memo to all Zany Running Girls in the Dwelling:

  • 'Warm' is relative and ears still get cold and achy in December winds. Remember to wear a head muffin. (You know, head muffin, that fleecy band thingy that covers your ears and not your whole head? Yeah. Dig it out of the bottom drawer.)
  • The correct procedural order is Run then Eat (not the other way around.)

Jointly posted by the Ear and Tummy Departments


Holiday Discoveries

Hey - did you know there are Everlasting Gobstopper Candy Canes??!!
Christmas music makes me want to hurt someone - but Christmas candy soooo works for me. It connects me to everything KID and FUN and disconnects me from everything STRESSFUL and GROWN UPPY about the holidays.
I used to cut a hole in one of the fresh florida oranges my aunt would send and then stick in a "straw" made out of one of those Leo peppermint sticks that my dad got a tin of every year from some office party. It took a minute and at first you'd have to almost suck your cheeks inside out but then... the orange juice would carve out a path through the peppermint and there was nothing else like it. The smell of the fresh tart orange juice and the sweet minty candy; the taste of the two blended together; the stickiness; the way your teeth and gums hurt afterwards - all of that means Christmas to me. And those Lifesaver "books" we got in our stockings! Did anyone else get those? There were, like, thirty rolls of Lifesavers folded up in a "book". I'm sure I ate every one of them ON Christmas day.

You'd think Halloween would be the candy event of the year, but for me it's Christmas. Maybe it's because you can make your own candy at Christmas. Pralines and peanut brittle! Maybe it's that at Christmas, it's candy without anything scary like axe murderers or spiders. Maybe it's because you don't have to go back to school the very next day. You can suffer from the sugar hangover in peace. I don't know, but as a kid, Christmas meant GOODNESS and PEACE ON EARTH and CANDY to me. There was candy on the tree, candy in bowls around the house, sugarplum candy that danced in your head, candy in the pictures of the North Pole, candy in the stockings, candy, candy, candy!
I mean sure, I remember baking cookies and decorating them, yada, yada, yada. But the CANDY is what did it for me. And now there are Gobstopper Candy Canes! On my Christmas tree, on my desk, on my breakfast plate.
It's beginning to look (and taste) a lot like Christmas. La, da, dee, da, da. (Crunch, crunch)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nausea and Fever and Random Quotations

...there is something new about my hands, a certain way of
picking up my pipe or fork. Or else it's the fork which now has a certain way of having itself picked up. I don't know.
Jean Paul Sartre, Nausea

No sleep. Work. No sleep. Shopping. No sleep. Feverish children and husband. More no sleep. Laundry. And dog. Still no sleep. At some point everything starts to slide around and look strange. Who needs acid when you can just go for a week without sleep? Much cheaper. Not even illegal. Probably not safer.
At last. Saturday slides away without being noticed. And she dreams in French.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Chaotic Thinking

My son, Chaos, has lost his mind. Maybe not the whole thing - just the part that thinks - or maybe just the part that thinks as I define thinking. Two recent conversations to illustrate my point:
Conversation #1:
Chaos: Mom, you missed the parent meeting.
Me: What parent meeting?
C: The one they just had about the game tomorrow, you know, times and where to meet and all that.
Me: They just now had a parent meeting? And it's over? But I'm here at the exact same time I always pick you up! Practice isn't even supposed to be over for another 10 minutes! When did they schedule the meeting? Did they send a note? How did the other parents know?
C: They told us yesterday. I was going to tell you.
Me: (grrrr) Ok - so what did they say at the meeting? What did coach say about where to meet and when?
C: (looking positively aghast) I don't know! I didn't listen in on it or anything. It was for parents!

Conversation #2:
Me: So what exams do you have tomorrow?
Chaos: Ummm. Either Science or English. No wait. It's NOT Social Studies. It might be Math. But maybe it's Computer. We don't have an exam in PE.
Me: (you will just have to imagine the completely dumbstruck look on my face) You don't KNOW what exams you have tomorrow? Let me see your assignment book.
Chaos: Uh. I think I left it at school.
Me: (sternly) Well, I guess you'll just have to study for ALL of them tonight just in case. Better pull out your books.
Chaos: (rolling his eyes) Mom, we don't have to use the books. We've been making study guides in class. That's what we've been doing all week.
Me: Then let me see your study guides.
Chaos: I think I left them in my locker.
Me: WHAT???? You don't know what exams you have and you left all of your study materials in your locker? What are you thinking?
Chaos: Mom, I was late for PE. I couldn't go back to my locker or I would've gotten written up and the bus leaves right after PE. I couldn't miss the bus.

Conversation#2b (the next day)
Me: So what exams did you have?
Chaos: Social Studies. (Note that is the only one he was sure he wasn't having that day!)
Chaos: Oh and Math. I got a 96 on the Math. (He's always been smart - which is why this is driving me CRAZY!)
Me: So what exams do you have tomorrow?
Chaos: Probably either Science or Computer. Or maybe English.
Chaos: Chill, Mom. I brought home the study guides.
Me: Let me see them.
Chaos: Here. Ummm - where's my computer one? Wait, here's my math. (Note that he brought home the study guide for an exam he'd already taken!) Ok - this is spelling. Oh wait, that's not a study guide. Hey, could you sign this? I think I was supposed to turn it in last week.
Me: (grrrrr)

My response options seem to consist of growls and questions I can't believe I have to ask.

His teachers tell me he is respectful and participates in class. He's getting decent grades at a "good" school! I have no idea how his this can be so when his organizational skills have clearly relocated to Siberia. All those parenting articles I read about 'object lessons' and 'natural consequences' lied to me! His coaches and karate instructors say that he has good focus and persistence. I just don't get it. I used to work with teenagers and I remember parents saying that to me all the time. Their teenager was driving them crazy and they just didn't get it. I told myself to remember it. And I do. I remember it all the time! But you know, I always thought that remembering it meant I would be able to do something about it. (grrrrrr)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stomping in a Winter Wonderland

My fifth graders had their Christmas program last night. Yeah - and it was all Christmas all the time. Not that I'm going to get into how insane I think the right-wingers are for fighting the non-existent 'War on Christmas'. I'll save the political rant for another time and merely say that there was slim to no chance that anyone in the audience (other than myself) was offended by (or likely even noticed) the lack of holiday inclusivity last night.

Instead of ranting, I'm going to say that I love Christmas carols - especially when sung by my children. And I'm also going to say that there is great mystery involved in this because my children and obviously the entire fifth grade at our neighborhood elementary school are completely and absolutely lacking in musical ability. Mr. H (the music teacher - who is utterly cool and plays Led Zepplin on his guitar for the kids) cannot be blamed. He is dedicated and quite gifted and should get immense credit for even creating a program where the carols could be recognized as carols, given the raw lack of talent he had to work with. The children, untroubled by their non-musicality, were clearly having a great time. The program was a half hour of perky, modern Christmas medleys followed by three or four traditional hymns - all choreographed with arm motions, head bobs, claps, and sways.

The claps were the most painful. You could tell that a clapping part was coming up because there were a few foreshadowing claps. Then there was a stacato burst of almost on-beat clapping which trailed off into random clapping punctuaion over the next few verses of the song. But the only reason that the clapping was the most painful is because there was more of it. Otherwise the "What the hell was Mr. H thinking?!" award would have to go to the foot 'tapping' of 102 fifth graders on metal bleachers during "Winter Wonderland". Fortunately the children have even less rhythm in their feet than they do in their hands and so the parents/grandparents/assorted siblings were not deafened, merely startled. And only two fifth graders (neither one mine) fell off the bleachers - one slowly tipping backwards and the other with arms spiraling, making a theatric leap off and then back on. If either of them cried out, the sound was lost in the uninterrupted stomping and humming. Did I mention the humming? I'm not sure Mr. H had planned the humming. It only came from one side of the bleachers and evaporated under what may have been a quelling glance. Come to think of it though, that may also have been a concerned glance since that was the side with the tumbling angels. Hard to tell when, as parents, we only see the back of Mr. H's head. What we could tell was that Mr. H must have exhausted his repertoire of hand/feet motions because after "Winter Wonderland" the children mostly stared dramatically out into the lights with their hands clasped in front of them as the program wound down.

The finale was the off-key (and yet no less angelic) rendition of "Silent Night". I got misty-eyed. In spite of having to sit next to the Tapioca Head (= the ex whom I refuse to blog about even though he sooo deserves it after the last few days) and in spite of having a feverish Sweet Hubby miss the program entirely to stay home with an equally feverish (and also throwing up) seven-year old - I thoroughly enjoyed the school program. One of those Christmas miracles. It got me in the holiday spirit (although I'd personally like to rearrange the phrase and say I am now in the spirit of the holidays.) So....

Ho ho ho, y'all. <------Actual line from the last night's program. (In fact, they said it twice.)
Merry Christmas. <----Which they also said twice.
And Happy Holidays! Happy Yule! Happy Kwanza! Happy Hanukah! <----None of which they said, but which I say.
And Peace.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Breakfast of Champions

Coke and Cheetos.
Before you get too worried, I have to explain that these are NATURAL Cheetos. No preservatives, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no orange crud on my keyboard - VERY healthy. Although I have to digress and say I am forevermore plagued by the words 'no preservatives'. I cannot see those words without remembering my little babushka Russian teachers tittering and then cackling and elbowing each other. You see, in Russia (or the Soviet Union as it was called when I learned Russian) 'preservative' means condom.
Yes, I am eating a condom free breakfast.
And you?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cardinal Rules

I will not blog about my ex. I will not blog about my ex. I will not blog about my ex. (If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all, right? And no one wants to hear what a tapioca head he is anyway. But grrrrr.)
I will not blog about laundry. Joshilyn Jackson says that one mustn't unless one has something terribly exciting to say about laundry. I believe her example had something to do with finding an entire herd of possums inhabiting one's washer (eeek). I have had lots of laundry and not a single possum (thank heavens!!!) .
I will not blog about car problems or various sick people (other than to say that I'm happy that both car and kids are not worse than they are. I am grateful for the good prognosises (prognosi? prognoses? sheesh someday I'm going to get the hang of those plurals) ).
I will not blog about cold, gray, blah, blah, and very blaaaaah weather. (Really I won't.)
I will not blog about work. Or about how much Christmas stresses me out.
I will not blog about how much I didn't get to write (especially when I didn't get to write because I was so tied up with all of the things I just promised not to blog about.)
Hmmmmm - the blog fodder larder is getting low.
Taking a page from DebR's book (um, or really, her blog) - I will instead make a mini BLISS list.
So far, a few of the things that are making me feel Blissful in December are -
I've gotten to spend a (long, wonderful) weekend with my Very Best Girlfriend (VBGF). Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk!
Sweet Hubby - brilliant man - gave me the book I've been wanting AND some time to read it!
The Colts are still undefeated and at least the Titans beat the Texans.
The very things I've wanted to get Sweet Hubby for so long were on clearance (75% off!) for Christmas.
I saw the movie Pride and Prejudice with SH and VBGF and, oh the language! I was drenched in beautiful language.
This will be the first Christmas in the new house. What fun!
Many of my friends will be home (=back in town) for the holidays and I'll get to spend time with them.
I've reconncected with a friend from 25 years ago and we're writing a book together!
The fabric in my stash makes me giddy and joyful.
I was teaching my seven year old about singing in rounds - and the only one I could think of was from my youth group days with the words "Father I adore thee, lay my life down before thee, how I lo-ve thee" - and my son sang back to me "Mama I adore thee, you gave me life and I love thee, how I lo-ve you". I cried and gave him a big hug and laughed with him about how much fun it is to have such a wonderful loving family (because he wanted to make up verses for his brothers and sister and step-father and oh - just everyone else he loves too.) In fact, I have to say - that was my most blissed out moment. Love, just pouring out in laughter and song, connecting us to each other and to everyone we love.
Is it possible to have a cardinal guideline? I'm not so fond of RULES - but I am tempted to post a note to myself here "Blog more about the Bliss and less about the Piss."
Just a getle reminder (because what I really, really wanted to do was vent about my least favorite tapioca head!)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Blame it on the Crate Training

Did I mention that I've never had my own dog until now?
Here are some things I never ever knew about having a puppy before:
-Puppy teeth fall out. On the carpet. Where you can step on them. Ewww. And ouch!
-Puppies do not understand that 'day off from the shop' is supposed to mean 'uninterrupted time to write'.
-It is cute and fun when your puppy buries his little rawhide 'bone' in the courtyard garden. It is not NEARLY as cute when your puppy digs up and brings back to you his slimy, dirty, now well-seasoned treasure.
-Puppies will try to chew on anything. ANYTHING. Like the toilet.
-Puppies do not all naturally take to 'crate training'. SOME puppies spend the ENTIRE first night exploring the crate: banging into the corners, ramming their heads into the top of the crate, slamming into the metal grate door, turning somersaults, thumping and bumping and whining, chewing and grumbling, yipping and growling.
-Some new puppy moms - especially the ones who need more sleep than the average bear - feel postal at about 1 a.m. on the first night of crate training. Some new puppy moms try to alleviate their postal-ness by thininking of all the reasons why she loves her puppy and why she wanted a puppy in the first place. Some new puppy moms run out of reasons at 1:03 a.m.
-Some new puppy dads - especially the ones who have prior experience both with dogs and with wives who don't get enough sleep - should be nominated for saint hood because they (finally!) take the not-cute-anymore, noisy, little beast to the other end of the house and leave the quiet bedroom all to the new puppy mom.
-Some new puppy moms - even the ones who because of their dear and nearly sainted husbands finally got three hours of sleep - drive their 13 year old sons to middle school in their pajamas completely forgetting that their hair is in a curly, red pony tail on the very tip top of their head which makes them look like Dr. Seuss had a thing or two to do with their appearance.
-Puppies - even the ones who have been subjected to crate training - give kisses and jump for joy and scamper like mad things and do the happy puppy dance when their puppy mom returns from the drive to the middle school and back that took a whole ten minutes.

Maybe I should be the one to sleep in the crate tonight.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thanksgiving without the Turkey

Today I am feeling tired, wrung, lifeless. 'Plumb wore out' as the phrase goes. I don't even have enough energy to have another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. No, today is the kind of gray, wet, cold, day where everything that is bad and difficult and logistically frustrating is just that - bad, difficult, frustrating.
On days like today something happens inside my head and my heart when I begin to ennumerate for myself all of the obstacles and irritations facing me. My brain gets stuck on the problems and can find no solutions and my heart can offer only consolation, no actual 'help'. My mind wails and worries about how six people are going to get where they need to be with no functioning cars and my heart says, "Thank heavens it's not sleeting." My head frets about the best way to help my mother take care of her desperately ill brother and my heart says, "Oh I am so glad I had that Southwest rapid rewards ticket to give her". On and on through my list. At every point of hardship, I am spurred to gratitude. And at some point the gratitude starts to outpace the hardship. It happens every time.
My blessings outweigh my cursings. It's one more thing to be grateful for on a day looming with ickiness. For whatever reason, the spirit of Thanksgiving stays with me long after the leftover turkey has grown green feathery stuff in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My Reading Maniac's Paradise

See this lovely chair? Right here by the window where there's all kinds of lovely light? There is another one of these chairs (only slanted the other way) on the other side of the table.
See this comfy couch? It's big enough to lie down and stretch out on. Especially if you're 10 years old. And there's even a way cool light that you can bendy bend to just the right angle.

See this love seat? It's cozy. Plenty of room to curl up in. It's right across from the cool chairs and quite close to the long couch and all of the seating is conveniently located in the library, next to the books, with thick, lovely rugs cushioning the cold, hard wood floors. And there's great light everywhere. That is, everywhere except there where the Ninja Princessa chooses to read. See her?

Look more closely. Here, I'll give you a close up.

She is sitting wedged into the darkest corner (next to an unlit candle!) on the cold, hardwood floor. She is, however, as close to the books as it is possible to be without actually, physically crawling ONTO the bookshelf. She opens a book and the rest of the world matters not.

If I ever can't find her, this is where I'm looking next.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Scaring the Neighbors

You know the old Kool-Aid commercials where the neighborhood kids came running from all over - and it looked like they really came from all over? I mean, that was the most integrated, diverse neighborhood ever! My neighborhood is not like that. I wish it were. But it's a little uptight and a lot the color that rhymes with that.

We haven't met many of our new neighbors. I once lived in DC in the same apartment building for years and never even met one of my neighbors until there was a small fire forcing us all outside at the same time. Naturally the fire occured the week before I was moving back down South and I left all of my newfound friends behind. But that was an apartment and it was DC. I assumed when you were a real grown up, moving into a real house, in a real (if homogenous) neighborhood in your hometown - that meeting the neighbors was a cinch. Oh silly girl!

The trouble is, I think we scared 'em the day we moved in. Sweet Hubby is handsome and normal looking and wears glasses and a geek. And when I say geek, I mean it. I score a 42.80079% on the Inner Geek Test which qualifies me as a Major Geek but Sweet Hubby ranks well above Geek Godhood. He works in IT, he is the DM for an RPG every week, he's been in the SCA, he beta tests software (for fun in his spare time - not just for work), etc. His (our) friends are a lot like him (us) - except that for the most part they are, how should I say it...overwhelming in the looks department.
Especially when they're all together. In one place. Like our driveway.
Especially when they're in motion and moving big, heavy objects with the assistance of several "engineered" contraptions or without assistance (like Grant who can (and did) carry our living room couch under one arm).
Especially when they all bring their children to play with our children "to keep them entertained". (I think at one point there were 14 who were 14 or younger.)
I'm only guessing, but I would have to say that the number of tattoos and piercings present in our neighborhood the day we moved hit an all time record high.

Don't get me wrong, individually, each of us navigates the mainstream quite well, thank you very much. But even I have to admit, that it probably looked as if the circus were moving in next door. The few tenative waves we got on Moving Day were reflexive and we haven't actually seen those folks again. I am a pretty big chicken when it comes to walking up to a total stranger and saying hi. I figured though, that it might be my best approach. I gave the neighbors a week or so to notice that all of the folks who helped us move in weren't actually staying around. Then I gathered up my courage and went door to door to the houses closest to us. No one was home. I tried going at different times of day. Still no joy. I actually saw my very next door neighbors (on one side) twice, but they went inside and then didn't answer the door. That was it for my bravery.

Even so, we have finally managed to meet a few folks. The neighbors directly next door (on the other side) are delightful and have children in school and scouts with ours. It's amazing what natural icebreakers children (and new puppies) are. The other neighbors we have gotten to know, we've met entirely because of puppies or children (ours or theirs) who scamper across boundaries. And you know what? Even though the neighborhood looked to be relatively tame and uninteresting, the people we've met are real and imperfect and pleasant to chat with - and one even tells very funny stories.

I've been thinking about all this 'how-to-meet-the-neighbors' stuff because last week I moved into the blogosphere (if I've got the terminology right.) It was a quiet little move. It's probably possible to scare the neighbors in the blogging world but I have no idea how one would do that so I'm pretty sure I haven't done it this time around. I've been lurking and I have to tell you that this new neighborhood is fascinating!!! Filled with quilters and writers and musicians and parents and activists and...
It's terrific.

But I don't know how to meet people. Everyone already seems to know each other (which sounds exactly like one of my children whining on the first day in the new school.) In this new world, I don't have the equivalent of dogs or children, so what's a gal to do?
What I did was...nothing. That's what I did. I did nothing. Well - I lurked. And I fixed up my spot to look like the ones I admire (as best I could figure out how). And THEN out of the blue, rudecactus (whose site I admire bery, bery much - in fact I'd like my blog to be just like his when it grows up) he posted a comment on my blog. I was thrilled - and um, a teeny bit scared because I had no idea how he even knew about my little spot. (After giving the matter some thought, I'm guessing real bloggers know how to use all the functions of their blogging tools - and somewhere there's a statistic that showed him I listed his site in my sidebar as one of my faves.)

His comment gave me great courage. (An interesting stranger said hi just 'cause. How cool is that?!) I went right out and posted a comment of my own somewhere else. Yay!
And then I took a step further out into the neighborhood and actually emailed instead of posting because a) she had a 'contact me' line and 2) I didn't really have a relevant comment but I very much wanted to say hi. And guess what? She dropped by and said hi back!
Thank you DebR and rudecactus for having such lovely sites to begin with and for welcoming me to the neighborhood. I think I'll stay.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Ice Habit

As an addendum to Thrasher and the Land of Cow Poo I would like to say that I think it is exceedingly odd that ice is a 'seasonal item' in Vermont. Not ice outside all frozen, glisteny, and hanging off of trees. (I am in favor of making that a 'seasonal item' whose season lasts, say, for the entire day of December 25th.) No, I'm talking about ice inside all cubey, clinky, and in my glass of coke. But in Vermont (ok, ok - perhaps it's not ALL of Vermont - just in the quaint little village in which my sister lives) you cannot go out and buy a bag of ice. They stop selling it at the market on Labor Day weekend. And you can't buy a fountain drink in her village at any time of the year! Tidget assures me that if you go to the movies (an hour's drive away) they sell fountain drinks but 1) I think that's actually in New Hampshire and b) she says you have to tell them you want extra, extra, extra ice or you only get two cubes. What are they, European?
I asked my sister how she could stand it. Her freezer is tiny! There's not nearly room enough for the number of trays required to keep up with our ice habit. She said it turns out it's just not as much of a problem as she thought it would be. After Labor Day, her entire (uninsulated) pantry starts staying cold enough to freeze trays and trays and trays of ice. Her biggest problem is keeping her new Vermonter friends out of her pantry when she has people over to visit. She says they just wouldn't understand.

What I Meant to Say... (Day 2)

Well - after asking VBGF for the score of the Stenglers game (because my brain apparently couldn't decide which to say first Bengals or Steelers) I realized that I'm still articulizing today. I've noticed that many writers I have heard speak in public actually suck at it. I've been writing like a mad thing for nearly a week which I think is wonderful but I'm beginning to worry about the long term side effects!
The weather here has been entirely too cold and wet to even think about running so I've been living in my cozy little office/quilt studio. I've been quilting (in my head) and writing (in real life.) For about a year those two were reversed. It is a refreshing change, but I realize that when I quilt, I talk to my project. (Oh please let other people do this too. Really it doesn't feel crazy when I do it!) I just chivvy this little corner there. I try different swatches of color on and ask my piece what it thinks. I have a long (and one-sided) conversation with my quilt in progress. When I write I am completely silent. My voice is crackly when my writing time's up. My brain is still locked into the form and picture of the words and my mouth doesn't move as quickly as my hands in delivering the words. This is the best explanation I can offer of my recent trend towards verbalating. In layman's terms - I think I've sprained my brain. Help!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Articulizing and Verbalating (Not So) Early in the Morning

I called my VBGF (=Very Best Girlfriend) this morning at the crack of brunch to catch up with her in general and to ask specifically how her back is. She has had horrendous back pain all week. Yesterday she told me she was going to focus on some relaxation techniques.
So today I asked her how her breathe deeping was going. She paused for a second and we both laughed. Errr, what I meant to say .... It seems I'm having trouble verbalating this morning.
I know there is a specific word linguists use to describe that little switcheroo. I can't think of it right now. I'm not so sure the language center in my brain came on shift when the rest of us did this morning. Considering that I woke up a good five hours later than usual and was promptly served a lovely bowl of cheese grits for breakfast in bed, my brain has absolutely no excuse for beginning the day understaffed. Note to brain: rine and shise! We have work to do today.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chaos, Ron and the Hair War

When I went to see Goblet of Fire, I knew I'd lost the Hair War. Not that my son, Chaos, wants to look like Ron Weasley or that he'll even admit that the rest of us are right when we say he does - but ...
Having fought my own skirmishes in the Hair War as a teen (with the teachers at my school, not with my parents who were surprisingly cool with the fact of my purple hair) I have to admit Chaos has a point. I don't buy into the "but everybody does it/has one" philosophy most of the time. But he's 13. He gets to have some say-so over his image and he is arguably correct that the image he is projecting to his peers is not that of the grungy thug that I think he looks like most of the time. The end of the battle went something like this.
Chaos: "Mom - you LIKE Ron. You think he's cute."
Me: "Yes, but he needs a hair cut too!"
Yeah, no chance at victory.
He has to keep it clean and out of his eyes though. Those are the terms of surrender.
I guess it could be worse. He could have gone for the Napoleon Dynamite look.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Our very own Mona Lisa

I think she's been practicing this look in the mirror. It is startlingly beautiful. Wisely childish, softly mature.

She has the sigh mastered. She's working on wistful. The pout was her very first accomplishment. She dabbled a bit with flouncing but it came off as indignant. She gave it up.

She doesn't want to act, she says. She wants to write. Being in front of people makes her nervous. Makes her throw up.

Writing is more dramatical.

100 Things about Lilymane (and Tribe)

  1. I self-identify as Southern even though I was born in Queens, NYC and was raised by parents from Southern California (which is not to be confused with being raised in Southern California by queens from NYC - although that would have been waaaaaay more interesting.)
  2. I'm terrible at questionaires because either my answer isn't one of the offered options or I have two answers and only one blank.
  3. I am an and/both kinda gal.
  4. I love seafood.
  5. I always want to know the story behind the author or artist - but I could care less about the love lives of Hollywood stars.
  6. I went to an all-girls' school for seven years.
  7. Then I joined the Navy.
  8. That was a VERY big change.
  9. I am not bi-cola. When they ask what kind of Coke I want (which they do in the South), I say "Coke". Pepsi is not alright with me.
  10. I wore red glasses just like Buckaroo Bonzai's.
  11. I loved them.
  12. I didn't skip a class until I was a junior in college.
  13. I called my dad long distance to tell him I was skipping.
  14. He called me a nerd (ummm, or perhaps he used the word 'egghead') and hung up on me.
  15. I have five children - three by giving birth to them and two the "easy" way by getting divorced (i.e. having my soul shredded) and remarrying a fabulous single dad.
  16. I LOVE being a mama.
  17. My oldest (one of my obtained the 'easy' way ones) is Bug - he's 15. Egad! Driving soon.
  18. My next oldest (the one I birthed first) is Chaos - he's 13. 'Nuff said.
  19. Oh - here's a good place to mention that red hair was so prevalent in my family tree that it didn't skip for seven generations. Until my generation that is.
  20. Chaos has red hair.
  21. Mayhem (= birthed son #2) is blond and blue eyed and wants to grow up to be a dwarf.
  22. Mayhem is famous for (at age 4) saying that he liked swords, but he LOVED axes. (He's 11 now and is a natural fencer - we're discouraging the axe thing.)
  23. The Ninja Princessa (the second of the easily obtained ones) is my only girl. At 10, she loves Harry Potter (yay!) and shopping (eeek!) She is writery and dramatic. We like that about her. (Mostly.)
  24. Havoc (= birthed son #3) is also blond and blue eyed. We call him Mr. Enthusiastic - he's a doll. He's also freaking brilliant. We have no idea where that came from.
  25. I am not having any more children.
  26. I believe in the whole village concept though, so I certainly plan to help raise a few more.
  27. I fully intend to live to be 100+.
  28. I have known six out of eight of my great-grandparents and all of my grandparents - I'm grateful to have the long-life gene thing going for me.
  29. I completed my first triathlon (a decade after I started training for it).
  30. I didn't lose a single pound doing it. What's up with that??
  31. I completed my degree in French Literature (13 years after I started it.)
  32. I may have completion issues.
  33. I have a thing for rocks. Diamonds are ok - but I really prefer granite.
  34. I am a complete klutz - on land.
  35. I am exquisitely graceful - in water.
  36. I am an ardent feminist.
  37. I LOVE NFL football.
  38. Those last two are difficult for me to reconcile.
  39. I am allergic to most perfumes.
  40. I am a cat person.
  41. I have a dog. A cute dog. Who feels like a cat. Who acts like a dog . Who looks like a rug.
  42. I like LOTS of ice in my drinks. In fact, the ice is the point of the beverage for me.
  43. Um, except tequila. I don't put ice in that. Corralejo (Reposado - the one in the gorgeous tall blue bottle) - that's a tequila to sip - sans ice.
  44. Although - I suppose margaritas are tequila over ice - and I like those a LOT. So ignore 43 (but I'm not going to take it out because 100 is hard enough to get to even though I'm cheating by putting in things about the Sweet Hubby, my Very Best Girlfriend, and the kids and the dog for heaven's sake!)
  45. Sweet Hubby! Sweet Hubby= SH=Top Dog. I married a younger man. Ok - he's only one year younger. And half the time he forgets which one of us is older. Still. I'm just saying...
  46. S.H. has beautiful bluey green/brown eyes - like river water. With sunlight sparkling on it.
  47. S.H. is in I.T. (Hmmmmm.)
  48. Gads - I'm not even half way there yet! Who came up with the number 100 anyway?
  49. My Very Best Girlfriend=VBGF=The Love Piranha (don't ask me, she had that nick name before I knew her) is a younger woman. Ok - she's only six months younger, but she brings it up a LOT.
  50. VBGF has beautiful bluey blue/blue eyes - like crazy, freaking gorgeous blue water found in the Caribbean next to Islands of Paradise. We try not to hate her for this.
  51. VBGF is a 7th grade math teacher.
  52. Chaos is in 7th grade.
  53. VBGF lives in a whole 'nother state and therefore is NOT Chaos' math teacher - but we compare notes a LOT.
  54. Harry Potter and I have the same birthday.
  55. My cool points with the kids went WAY up when they found this out.
  56. I LOVE trees, real trees.
  57. Not Bradford pears. Bradford pears are the American cheese of trees.
  58. Speaking of cheese, I LOVE cheese. (But not American cheese because it's icky.)
  59. I used to have purple hair.
  60. It wasn't against my high school's rules. Until I did it. I got amnesty but they changed the handbook.
  61. I don't have purple hair anymore. Now it's red.
  62. I used to wear safety pins in the corner of my mouth (hey, it was the 80's).
  63. I don't do that anymore.
  64. Now I have a pierced lip.
  65. I guess I haven't evolved so much.
  66. Speaking of evolution - I'm all for it. Intelligent design is veeeeery interesting (if you define 'interesting' as 'dumb as a bag of hair'.)
  67. I'm also pro-choice.
  68. I'm also attached to the concepts of social justice, clean, healthy environments, and equality.
  69. I'm a 'blue' (not to be confused with either 'cold-to-the-point-of-near-death' or 'sad') girl living in a 'red' (easily confused with 'right-wing, oppressive, theocratic') state.
  70. I'm not political.
  71. I have a security blanket. Like Linus.
  72. I like books. I love books. I heart books. I want more books. I am not a good candidate for a library card. I am pathologically unable to return books to the library ever (forget on time.)
  73. I think all life changing moments should happen on the beach.
  74. I LOATHE, DESPISE, and HATE the Dallas Cowboys.
  75. I'm not terribly fond of the whole state of Texas.
  76. Except I like Mary Kay. She was a cool frood. (Even if the pink cadillac thing is odd.)
  77. I was on a plane to Tokyo when Emperor Hirohito's death was announced.
  78. I went to the Tobermory Highland games when I was 15.
  79. I learned (the embarassing way) that 'cider' in Scotland is not the same as the apple cider we have in the States. No wonder it tasted so good.
  80. I was in Rome on Epiphany in 1985 when it snowed.
  81. My classmates and I had a snowball fight with a bunch of Roman boys before our audience with Pope John Paul II. The snowball fight was pictured in an over head shot in Nat'l Geographic. I'm famous! That's me - the aqua dot right there.
  82. I'm not catholic.
  83. I went to catholic school for three years (before the all girls' school.)
  84. Did you know that they make the non-catholic kids scrub the bird poop off of the statue of the Virgin Mary's head the day before May Day so when the catholic kids process up with their little flower wreaths singing "Oh Mary we crown thee with blossoms today; Queen of the angels, queen of the May" they don't have to lay them upon a pile of guano? Ah, the things I learned at catholic school....
  85. My family belonged to the JCC (Jewish Community Center) when I was a kid.
  86. My family was never even close to being Jewish. My mother was raised Christian Scientist and became an Episcopalian. My father was raised Southern Baptist, so naturally, by the time I was around, he had become an atheist. No Jewish grandmothers or anything. Can't explain the JCC choice - but it was lovely and they had a great pool.
  87. Bowling with the Lutherans was fun.
  88. I picked up more mixed messages about religion than I did about sex.
  89. And that's saying something.
  90. My father told me when I was a teenager that he would obtain any drug I wanted to experiment with. And he would sit there and watch me try it. That way I'd know the difference between a fun drug and a party atmosphere. He also told me that if I did any experimenting with drugs in a party atmosphere instead of with him in a decidedly not-party atmosphere and I got caught and sent to jail, not to waste my one phone call calling him, because he'd leave my ass in jail.
  91. I didn't do any drugs whatsoever.
  92. I drank like a fish, but no drugs. No way. Nope. Way too scary. (My dad was waaaaayy too scary.)
  93. I don't watch tv shows. Only football.
  94. I am passionate about art quilting. I will bore the crap out of you if you let me get started talking about art quilts.
  95. I don't care which side of the bed I sleep on.
  96. I also don't care which way the toilet paper roll faces (as long as there is some tp, I'm cool.)
  97. I have a hard time believing people get worked up over that kind of thing.
  98. However, it drives me batshit when people (big or small people) touch the stuff on my desk.
  99. I love reading the dictionary (but I don't admit that often - I must be scraping the bottom of the barrel).
  100. I am unbelievably perky and insufferably awake at 5 am. I am usually exceedingly asleep after 9 pm. Don't know what's up with tonight.

There you have it. A century of enlightening and useless facts about the dwellers of Lilymania.