Friday, March 24, 2006


Mr. Bush,
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


Sweet Hubby is HOME! He's been in New Zealand for the past 10 days which I've tried not to whine about a lot. What's to whine about afterall? There he is, stuck in one of the most beautiful places on the planet (not that I know about NZ's beauty firsthand because even though the VERY FIRST conversation SH and I ever had was about how much we both were dying to go to NZ, I've been there zero times to his three) and missing out on all the fun at home what with all the vomiting and diarrhea. I know he has been very homesick. Very homesick. So homesick that I'm sure he was just kidding about wanting to stay there an extra week.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Feast Or Famine And All That

I'm 'paying forward' with the blog posts again because

  1. I'm trying to avoid doing laundry. (Blogging is ever so much more fun.)
  2. I'm relishing my quiet studio. (I think my dog gave himself laryngitis)
  3. I'm leaving for a pilgrimage (of sorts) to Monterey and San Fran on Friday. (I have no idea if I'll be able to post or not while I'm gone.)

So y'all be good or be good at it while I'm gone. Peace.

Random Connectivity

I already posted about my recent brush with fame but I have an older, more surreal story to tell.
Back in '94 when I was pregnant with Mayhem, we lived in a cute little condo that was one of a set of six on a fairly busy road. Chaos was two. My husband worked crazy shifts at the hospital. One night as he was leaving us to go to work, a HUGE shadow lumbered toward him. Our neighborhood was a little funky and mostly safe (although there was that one time my father was held up at gun point in our driveway.) My husband said he freaked out because he didn't know what to do: get in the car and try to run over whoever was coming up on him or run back in and try to protect his pregnant wife and child. Before he could decide, an enormous man walked up and said, "Hey man, I'm your neighbor and I just wanted to let you know that I see you leaving sometimes. I want you to know that I'll make sure your place is ok. I sit out here a bunch and I just wanted you to know I'm watching out for you." I'm sure my husband said something like, "U-u-uh-uh th-th-th-thanksssss."

I met our neighbor for myself the next evening. (*Sidenote is that we never saw these people in the light of day. They had ivy growing over their windows and a sign on the door forbidding anyone to knock on the door before noon. The irony is that on the other side of them was a preschool with screaming children that ran around outside for most of the mornings!) Our neighbor turned out to be a super nice guy along the lines of 'he may look like a big meanie but he's really a teddy bear'. But not quite, because even when you KNEW he was a nice guy he was still mostly terrifying to look at. He was beefy in a mutant kind of way with a 'weathered' face (to be nice about it.) And he was big. Did I mention that? As in GII-NORMOUS. To this day, he is still the scariest person I have ever seen upclose, but he was taken with my toddler and quite protective of me. I'd never had anyone menacing watching out for me before. I'd always dated the tall, stringy, brainiac types. I hate like heck to admit how comforting it was to know he was out there scaring off all the bad guys.

One night (rather more like 1 or 2 am) we were startled awake by a horrible bleating noise. We had both teleported into Chaos' room before we were truly awake. We looked at our peacefully sleeping toddler. We looked at each other and then around the room. Then from behind us came the noise again - a staccato, LOUD, bleating. Like a rhythmically dying cow. We hurriedly left the room and shut the door so Chaos would stay asleep and we ran to the window. No cow that we could see. <--And that was good because it would have been really weird to have livestock wandering around getting dead in the middle of the city. I made my husband go outside and see if he could figure out what that noise was. He came back in and said, "It's our neighbor." "Our neighbor is dying?!" "No, he's laughing. There are a couple of people all sitting around on the hoods of their cars in the driveway in front of his place." "What's making that noise then?" I asked. "I told you. It's Tex. That's what he sounds like when he laughs." (I did mention that he is the scariest human ever, right?)

Sometime later (again at night), I saw Tex hobbling around his driveway with his leg in a cast. "Hey man, what happened? You get run over by a mac truck?"
"Naw. Actually it was a beer truck. In Canada." (<-I think it was Canada.)
"Really? You got hit by a beer truck?! And you lived?"
"Shoot. I walked away. It's the truck they had to haul off."
No lie. The man got hit by a fully loaded beer truck and walked away. The truck they towed. They told him they'd send him the grille. I totally didn't believe him until a couple of days later when he showed me an article in a paper that a friend of his had sent down. I skimmed the article and it was all about how Tex had gotten run over while filming on location. Filming? "Hey! You're in a movie? Wow." He looked at me funny.
"I've been in a couple."
"Really? Like what?"
"Like 'Raising Arizona' and.."
"No shit! You don't just look like the scary motorcycle guy, but you ARE the motorcycle guy!"

(Can you believe I said that outloud?) Luckily for me (but not for my eardrums), he thought that was hilarious and laughed his dying moose of a laugh. I made him laugh even more when I told him my husband had momentarily debated whether or not to run him over with our tiny Hyundai the first time they met. He wheezed out, "! Hawwwwwwww! Hawwwww!"

He showed me some of his movie posters once, but what I remember is how daaaarrrrrkkk their house was and jumbled up with that is the memory of an eight-foot tall, stuffed animal cheetah. Possibly the cheetah is something that the guy who had the house after them found in the attic - so it might not be connected to Tex Cobb at all but that's how my mind works - it just dumps everything associated into one file.

I failed to find a publicity photo of Tex from 'Raising Arizona' to post here (so if someone with better research skills than I finds one send it my way!) But I did find this on a guy named Brian's site. (Thanks Brian! He looks better in this picture than I've ever seen him!)

Our story could have ended with that, except I was talking to my grandfather at one point after Tex moved somewhere else. Somehow my grandpa and I got talking about meeting celebrities and I told him I had had Tex Cobb as a neighbor.
"Oh the boxer. Bit o' trouble he's in with the IRS. I hear he's an all right guy though."
"No gramps. I lived next to the actor." Shows how much I knew. Turns out gramps was right and Tex was a hugely famous boxer. (Like I follow boxing. Eeeewwww. But it sure does explain the way he looks, eh?) And I wish gramps had been wrong about something, somewhere because the next thing my grandfather said was, "We're kin to him, you know."
"To whom? Tex Cobb?? No way!"
"Let's see, his grandmother was Katie's sister." Katie being my grandfather's mother. I knew she was from a huge family - one of eleven or twelve. My grandfather was born in Deming, New Mexico but I don't know where my great-grandmother grew up. "He and Patty would be second cousins." Patty is my mom. My petite, beautiful, red-headed mother. Cousin to the scariest human ever.
"No way Grandpa! You are making that up." My grandfather gave me the hairy eyeball. And with good reason, I don't think the man told a lie in his whole life.

So there you have it. Not only did I live next to a guy who looks like this on a good day, but we swim at the same end of the gene pool. I think I am glad not to have known about all that when I was pregnant. I'm just sayin'.


My Kind Of Sport

I very much want to do this!

Philosophy and Hair Removal

The Pessimist: What's this? Dang! I forgot to shave my right leg.
The Optimist: Hey, but the left one is verrrrry smooth.
The Theorist: Hmmm, maybe I shaved the left one twice?
The Realist: Holy Crap! I was supposed to be at school five minutes ago!
Peace (if there is such to be had in this legs-are-half-shaved kind of world)


I forgot to brag on myself. This past Saturday I ran my first 10K EVER! VBGF was in town to work on her National Teacher Certification and train with me. And we did it. In fact we did a total of 6.5 miles. It was slow (as in your granny could walk faster than I can run) but I. don't. care. I did it! I ran a 10K. I have only five weeks to tack on the rest of the mileage for the half marathon. (eeeeek) I refuse to worry about that part though. I'm going to save all my worry energy and use it to run. (riiiiiight) That's my plan. More running news later.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet

Shhhhhh. He fell asleep. He fell asleep almost mid-bark. The barks had been starting to dribble off when I heard a weird, growly yawn. I tiptoed out of my studio and saw him splayed out on the tile. Asleep.
Who knew dogs could snore like that?? Not that I'm complaining. Snoring is sooooo much better than barkety, bark, bark, barking!
Peace (oh, and blissful quiet, at long, long last!)

Barking Spree

My dog has been happily, joyfully barking for THREE SOLID HOURS.
Do you hear me? Not three minutes.
Three hours! 3 hrs! 180 minutes!
I have hushed and shushed and scolded and fussed. I have put him in doggy time out in his crate.
Guess what? He can still bark from there!
I have put him out in the courtyard.
Guess what? He can still bark from there, too!
No matter where I put him, he can still bark and I can still hear him. In fact, it's WORSE when I lock him up because he barks and whines at the same time. I have given him a new bone but he barks at the bone. Nonstop. He barks at the bone without chewing on it. I tried playing with him, running around the house. He just runs around and barks at me. Nonstop.

I have thought about calling the vet. No, seriously. It sounds like my dog's barking button got stuck in the on position. It's not like he's staring furiously out the window barking at squirrels or intruders. If only. Then I could go chase the intruders and squirrels away! I am about to lose (what little there is left of) my mind!

There are so many things I didn't know about dogs!
Who knew dogs could get poopy, thow-uppy stomach viruses too??
Who knew dogs could bark for (now more than) three hours straight??
Who knew dogs could cause binge drinking in their humans??
VBGF - if you want your goddog to survive the day - you might need to come back and play with him the way you did this weekend. It is the only thing I can think of (that the ASPCA wouldn't object to) that might shut him up.

Peace (and quiet - oh please, please, please I'm begging for some peace and quiet.)

Paragon of Motherhood

This from St. Ann (since the Lilymania Locals are not yet back up to snuff) -
A license plate on a shiny, new SUV in the city traffic says "MODLMOM". Cindy Crawford? Brooke Shields? St. Ann pulls up alongside. No, clearly this mom has never been on the runway or in Glamour magazine. Perhaps her license plate indicates that this mother thinks that we should all drive oversized, gas-guzzling vehicles to run errands while talking on our cell phones and ignoring, I mean entertaining, our two children in the back with the pull-down dvd player? The only thing more grotesquely American that I can think of to add to this scenario would be if this car had been in a fast food drive-thru lane!

I never claimed that what I do to the best of my ability as a mom is what other mothers should do, so I'm not exactly casting stones here. I'm merely picking up the ones that were thrown my direction and hurling them back from whence they came. (Gosh I wish I could ding her paint job from here!)

Peace (well to everyone except that righeous bitch "MODLMOM" in Philly traffic - to her I'm not feeling so charitable.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Make That Zero!

Zero Healthy Children!

Bubonic Mnemonic

Sounds like....SICK
Looks like...ICK

Guess how many of my middle schoolers were in school today?
Guess how many of my elementary schoolers had to be picked up in the middle of the day for throwing up at school?
Guess how many healthy children that leaves me?
(One, I hope! That's the answer I'm going with until I get a THIRD call today.)

I'm thinking about stocking up on some (more) Lysol and also about buying some stock IN Lysol. 'Cause seriously? I think I'm keeping the ole Lysol Corp. in business single-handedly this week. I've done everything except hose the actual children off. (That's not allowed, right? Not even a light dusting, right?)


Wonder Dog

My dog makes me wonder.
Q: Why does my dog spend an inordinate amount of time digging a hole, dropping a bone in, and covering it up only to dig it back up 30 seconds later?
A: Because he's a dog.
Q: Why does my dog bring me the ball to throw and then not let go of it so I can throw it?
A: Because he's a dog.
Q: Why does my dog chew on bricks?
A: Because he's a dog.
Q: Why does my dog growl at the bone he's chewing on?
A: Because he's a dog.
Q: Why does my dog's uber-dogness perplex me?
A: Because I'm a cat person.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dinner With a Thirteen-Year Old

Just when I want to pinch his head off

  • *for talking back to me when I ask him to leave his mp3 player in the car
  • *for glaring at me when I ask him to stop reading his book at the table during family time
  • *for thinking I'm unreasonable that I make him stop stabbing his food with a mangled paper clip


  • *says a genuine and unprompted thank you for dinner
  • *gives me a hug
  • *rushes ahead of all of us to open the door for a man with a cane

Roller coasters ain't got nuthin' on us!!!


Chronicles of the Religiously Challenged

Thinking about Havoc's Career Day last year reminded me I had sent my father (=provider of all mythology books) a recap of that day. I wasn't blogging then so I searched through all that old-fashioned stuff (email and gasp, paper!) and found this to share with you (with names changed to protect the innocent or um, yeah, more to fit in with the way I write my blog today) :

Today is career dress up day – and Havoc is dressed up as a Mythology Teacher. He’s wearing jeans, penny loafers, a white oxford, tie, blue blazer and he has a pen in his pocket and four books in his hands: Read Along Celtic Myths and Legends, Greek Myths, Norse Myths, and the King James Bible. (I have to figure out how gently and stealthily to keep the Bible at home. Nothing like begging to be called in for a parent-teacher conference!) Havoc has proclaimed about ten times that he looks REALLY handsome. The whole family has agreed. He is VERY excited to go to school. His career choice sparked an interesting breakfast discussion:

Havoc asked what other gods there were in Christian mythology besides God.
I said,”Well Jesus and the Holy Spirit – but they’re all part of God – so there’s just one.”
“Only one?” he asked incredulously. “But all the other mythologies have lots and lots.”
I said, “Yes and that’s the thing. Not only is there only one God in Christian mythology (around here we should call that Christianity by the way) – but Christians believe that their God is the only one anywhere.”
Havoc said, “But he’s not. There’s Loki, and Zeus, and Odin, and Ra. How can they believe there’s only one?”
I tried to explain that Christians don’t think those were/are gods. Havoc said that that was ridiculous (his word) because some people can’t just say that other people’s gods aren’t gods. Then he demanded to know if we were Christians. (Ummm - this from a boy who goes to a Church of Christ with his father and the Episcopal Church with his mother?) I said that not all Christians were that exclusive – and so that I thought of myself as sort of Christian even though I respected others' gods. Sweet Hubby said he wasn’t Christian.
And Havoc said, “You’re Martian, right?” SH loved it. He gave Havoc a big hug and kiss and said, “Yes, I am a Martian.” *Side note to my lovely internets - the Martian thing is a long running family joke and is NOT to be confused with any earlier-in-the-week references to aliens of the putrid, pulsing scum variety.*
I told Havoc that whether he was a Christian was up to him and that I thought it was really important for him to decide and not to let other people tell him what to believe. It was up to him to decide what he was. He said that today he was really handsome. And then he went upstairs to play video games.

And THAT reminded me of an article I wrote four years ago (when Mayhem was the age that Havoc is now and Havoc was just a baby). I contributed articles from a Christian perspective for a friend's pagan newsletter. This is what I wrote (again, edited slightly with updates and such):

This article is being brought to you LIVE from the National Christian Educator’s Conference which is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana. You may be (laughing and) asking yourself why a very sincere group of women (whose average age is officially “older than dirt”) thought that New Orleans (a city known for booze, breast-baring, and ahem, “alternative spiritual practices”) would be a good place to meet and discuss better ways to raise children to the Christian faith. I have yet to find the answer to that question. In fact, I have a whole slew of questions that I don’t think are going to be answered by workshops on “Professional Development for Christian Educators” or “Working with Liturgical Committees”. Looks like I picked the wrong conference. Rats.

What I am looking for is some guidance on the spiritual formation of young people. Specifically, I need advice on how to raise my children to be Christians. And as much as I love the Pagan community – they are not much help on this topic. Most Pagan parents in America face the huge challenge of raising their children not to be Christian. Especially in the South, some Pagan parents quietly wonder if Christianity isn’t in the water (like fluoride) because someone along the way decided it was good for everyone. Osmosis and peer pressure often sink Christian tendrils into even the earthiest of Pagan children. As Murphy would have it, my children apparently are immune to both spiritual osmosis and religious peer pressure. And this is a problem.

You see, we are a blended family. Very blended. Our exes (one of whom is an ex-Pagan, now Catholic and the other of whom is an ex-Catholic, now atheist (*<--update: this one was a Catholic, an atheist, then a Church of Christer and NOW is a Catholic again) both feel very strongly about raising the children as Christians. And we all feel strongly about raising our children to be thoughtful and tolerant. The plan seemed simple. America provides all the Christianity a body could need, we simply add a dash of our world view, and voila – loving, spiritual children (somewhat Christian but not rabidly so) and happy exes. A year into this delightful experiment and the plan is unraveling!

At first, I think my six-year old stepdaughter (*aka Ninja Princessa) will be the easy one. She is sweet, smart, listens respectfully, and (bonus) already considers herself to be a Christian. No problem. Just keep up the good work, eh? She is the only child I trust to say an appropriate blessing at the table when company is over. “Let us pray,” she says in her most reverent voice. After an elbow in the ribs to her brother who forgot to put his hands together, she continues solemnly, “Buddha, Buddha. Thanks for the food-a.” Later she informs me that no one should have laughed. She explains that she is a Christian Buddhist Native American and that everyone was disrespectful.

My oldest child (*aka Chaos) may or may not be Christian. I do not know. He refuses to talk about it. He will sit in contemplative prayer silently with my mother for up to an hour (which, since he’s nine, qualifies as a miracle). But he says very little about what matters spiritually to him. When taken to church, he trembles before God. Literally. He shakes. I do not know why this is so. I have been next to him for every minute he has ever been in a church – and I will swear that nothing outwardly traumatic has happened to him. Well, there was that time at the communion rail where not only did he not want the priest to give him communion, but he didn’t even want the priest to see him. So he ran behind me, lifted up my skirt, and hid underneath my dress (exposing my backside to the entire congregation in the process.) However, I’m pretty sure that that was more traumatic for me than for him.

My middle son (*aka Havoc) loves church. He loves communion. “Mom, look! I have GOD in my mouth!” And later, “Can I have seconds?” This child is sad when Sunday school is over. He shows me the prayer card he has made; he sings the new hymn he learned; he tells me he wants to be a priest. Then on the way home he asks, “Hey mom. Is it okay if I believe in Zeus instead of God?” “What do you mean?” I ask, wondering if he has asked his Sunday school teacher this same question. “Well, you know how God is Jesus’ father?” “Yes,” I answer carefully. “You see, Zeus is Hercules’ father,” he explains “And Hercules is WAY cooler than Jesus – so I just thought I’d believe in Zeus instead.” “I thought you wanted to be a priest.” I remind him. “Can’t I be a priest of Zeus? They used to do that you know. Are we Greek? Maybe my great-great-great-great-GREAT grandfather was Greek and then it would be ok. Or maybe we could MOVE to Greek. How ‘bout that, Mom? Except I really want to live in China. Think Zeus would mind if I was a Greek priest in China?” You can see that theological discussions at our house are rather circuitous. Getting back on track a little I try telling him that Zeus was a god of the ancient Greeks and that it wasn’t quite the way the cartoon movies portray life back then. “Mom, I just want to believe in Zeus anyway. Not God.” “Why is that exactly?” I press him. “Hercules had a sword, Mom, and Jesus didn’t. And I like swords. I really like swords.” I talk to him about the miracles Jesus performed without a sword. He’s not impressed. In fact, he’s not listening. He wants to know what’s for lunch. At bedtime, he prays “Dear God… I mean, Zeus….”

My last little guy (*aka Mayhem) is only three. And he, too, likes Sunday school, but it doesn’t count because all they do is play with toys while “Christian Children’s Music” plays in the background. He also loves to take his turn saying the blessing (when we don’t have company.) He looks angelic. “Hold hands, please,” he instructs with a smile. He bows his little blond head. “Lettuce, grapes, amen” he chants rather mysteriously. My mother offers her theory. “He’s probably heard everyone say ‘Let us pray’ and ‘Grace’ and he’s mimicking that.” This explanation worked for me until he began to add “forks” to the list.

The more I think about it, the more I really don’t want my children to be “saved”. I think they are doing fine. They know that there is a good and loving force out there that is bigger than they can imagine – and yet they seem determined to make a personal connection with that divine force in their own unique ways. God is mysterious and religion is strange. I’ve found some peace about all this, here in New Orleans even without attending any of the optional focus groups. I think maybe I’ll send my ex to next year’s conference – it’s in Kansas.

And that, my dear internets, is a little (ok, more than a little - a lot, probably even whole gobs too much) back story on that crazy little thing called religion in our household. I think we've been holding pretty steady for a while. Of course that all may change soon. My ex called last night and said he's signed the older boys up for their first communion in the Catholic church next month. I'll let you know how THAT goes. If it happens. If my ex doesn't convert to Islam before then.

My Favorite Question Ever

"Mom, if Polyphemus is the most famous cyclops then who is the second most famous?"

This is the question my (then) Kindergartener asked last spring as he was getting dressed for Career Day at his school. I was reminded of it this morning when I asked him what he was doing. "Drawing a map of Hades," he said. Not that I'm biased or anything, but I have to tell you his map was way better than this one. "Hey, Havoc, do you still want to be a Mythology Teacher when you grow up?" I asked him. "Well duh," he said to me.
Ask a silly question, get a silly answer...

*Oh, and we decided that although there wasn't really a scientific way to determine the exact popularity of any given cyclops, the second most famous was probably Telemus. I know you were wondering.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

As Seen on Fox News, Oprah, and ESPN2

You know that spot on NPR, "This I Believe"? I am starting my own bloggery version which shall be called "This Disturbs Me". I could have an entire blog dedicated solely to this theme, but I don't and I won't. I'm waaaay too easily distracted to stick to one theme. Instead, I'll just give you today's entry here, on this plain ole, hodge podge blog. (<--And by today's I actually mean last week's. Chronologically challenged=me.)

This Disturbs Me:
At the pediatrician's office, with my asthmatic and now anemic 11-year old, I was given a sample of this product. I was firstly and foremostly disturbed to be handed a cure for DIAPER RASH considering we have been a diaper free household for over five years**! I pointed this out to the nurse. "Oh it's not just for diaper rash anymore," she said. She pointed to the poster. Sure enough "It's not just for diaper rash anymore" the poster proclaimed. And in an even bigger font the poster said, "AS SEEN ON FOX NEWS, OPRAH, AND ESPN2!" I see. Well, if OPRAH is giving air time to butt paste then... Well, I'm not sure what then, really. But I tucked the sample into my purse. (And promptly forgot about it until today when I was spilling the contents of my purse onto the ledge in front of the bank teller in search of my checkbook. She saw it and gave me a funny look. She gave me a funnier look when (before I could stop myself) I said, "It's not just for diaper rash anymore." Oh well, there are other banks even in this dinky little town.)

**And for any of you 'do the math' folks out there this statement does NOT mean that my 11- year old wasn't potty trained until age 6. It means that our youngest child is 7. He just didn't happen to be at the pediatrician's with me.**

I was going to post a photo of my actual sample package but unless we want to get into yet another discussion of my sad, sad lack of mad, mad photo skillz (and we don't), I think we should proceed right on to the part where I mention what disturbs me EVEN MORE. And that is when I went to find a picture of this product online to show you, I found a butt paste gift set with a bobble-head doll! A butt paste bobble head? Perhaps that's marketing genius. Perhaps it's just that Boudreaux's target audience is the type of audience that does have to deal with diaper rash (never mind the poster slogan) and also severe sleep deprivation. Perhaps they will buy anything - even butt paste bobble head dolls. Especially butt paste bobble head dolls that have been on ESPN2. And in People magazine.

I don't know. I'm married to a Cajun, remember? These are the folks who get around the 'open container' law by taping a plastic lid onto (and inserting a straw into) a styrofoam cup filled with 32 oz of frozen Vodka Voodoo from the local Cajun Blender drive thru (an establishment, by the way, which posts a hand-lettered sign saying "For more than a gallon, CALL AHEAD". These folks are creative! And on the sauce! And love to fuck with outsiders! No, I don't suppose it bothers me so much that the Boudreaux folks came up with the idea of a butt paste bobble head. I just don't want to meet anyone sleep deprived enough to have purchased one. And I sure as heck don't want to meet a non-sleep-deprived person who bought one. And lordy, stop me before I find the right words to describe the butt paste bib. Booze or no booze, the person who came up with that should be fired.
I'm just saying.


Monday, March 13, 2006

When The Kitchen Cabinets Need A Shave

Should we call it home improvement? I'm not sure.
'Member when our fridge 'just died'? (Digression: I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't have a whole page over there in my side bar to track the machines in my orbit that have 'just died'. It sometimes feels like there's an epidemic of machine death in my world!)
'Member how we had to wait a whole WEEK to get the new one? Saturday seemed like it would never get here! Then the delivery guy called and gave us an early delivery time. Yes! The Fridgerator Gods see that we have done our penance and smile upon us.
Or not. You see, back when we were looking online, reading consumer reports, and comparison shopping for such a ridiculously expensive purchase, we measured the niche where the new fridge would fit. The verdict was that our space was bigger than any of the refrigerators (except the sub zero, commercial deals). We found the perfect fridge online, double checked the measurements and then went to see it in person at Sears. To make sure it really was the one we wanted. It was. Until we saw one down the aisle a bit. One that was better. And on sale. And had more cubic storage. You know why it had more cubic storage? BECAUSE IT WAS BIGGER! But that little factoid didn't ring any alarm bells for us. Oh no. In fact, we congratulated ourselves. A bigger fridge, for less money, with more room for food, for our big family. Yay us! Woo Hoo! Until the fridge was delivered. And it didn't fit. The delivery guy chuckled a bit and assured us that this happens all the time.
"Well, what do other people do?" we asked.
"I don't know," said the delivery guy. "Whatever they do, they do it after we leave."
Helpful, eh? I think we did what any normal people would do. (No, no, no. We did NOT punch the delivery guy in the face.) After the delivery guy left, we pushed the fridge really, really hard into the niche.
That didn't work. But it was funny. (It was quite possibly the last funny thing of the day.)
Now what? Our options were limited: send it back or make it fit. We chose door number two. And by 'we', I mean Sweet Hubby all by his lonesome, because me? I was a pissy wad. My plan for the day had included snuggling on the couch, watching a movie and helping SH pack for his two-week, business trip to New Zealand. It did not include a spur-of-the-moment, home improvement project. I'm learning that I'm not so good at changing plans on the fly. Especially when the change is from fun to chore. You want to know what I did? I shut down. I was NO HELP WHATSOEVER. I did not go with him to buy an $80 planing tool. I offered no ideas about the best way to shave the kitchen cabinets. I did help vacuum up about one one-hundredth of the 400 pounds of sawdust generated. (Oh, and I wore my cute, denim, short overalls to do it! That should count for something, no?) I was kind enough to 'help' him look for a chisel by stating categorically that I had never had one and that I couldn't imagine where one would be if we, for some bizarre reason, had one. And I gritched (not a lot but definitely some) about having to deal with this whole mess the day before he left. Like he needed that. Aren't you wishing that you were lucky enough to be married to me?? Oh and I documented. See:

Here he is. Optimistic man. See the ice cream sitting out on the counter? Like the project would be done quick as quick can be and then we'd just pop the sherbert into the new freezer and all would be good?

Um yeah. Didn't happen like that.

But isn't he cute? He's like the Home Improvement Bandit.
He did a fantastic job too. (And I'll keep saying that right up to the moment the cabinets fall down.) Here's how it looks now:

The boys had been away and hadn't seen the fridge until this morning. At first, they were impressed and then,
Mayhem said, "Wow it's bigger than I thought it would be."
Chaos said, "Hey, let's go see if they got a bigger TV too!"
Havoc said, "Nope. They didn't. Look."

In unison they said, "Aw maaaaaan."

The fact that we have a really, really great ice maker didn't help. All in all they decided they would rather have video games than cold food. I'll try to keep that in mind next time.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Warning - High Tapioca Content

About six years ago, one of my best friends (who was also on the eve of her own impending divorce) asked me,"What does that man use to think with? Tapioca?! Because it's clearly not a brain!" Yeah. It stuck. And I'll apologize to anyone who actually LIKES tapioca. (I, personally, am off the stuff for life.) I'm sure it's nice and all when properly used or consumed but for thinking with? Not so great.

From then on, my friend and I have kept each other up-to-date on our respective tapioca forecasts and reports. Sometimes the tapioca reports are funny and sometimes they are scary. (And often, they're both at the same time). A memorable one is when she wrote me to tell me her TH (=tapioca head) had decreed that the best thing to do for the children would be to each get their own apartment - but keep the house they'd had during the marriage. That way instead of the kids moving back and forth between mom's and dad's, it would be the parents who moved back and forth. He'd be in the house with the kids one week and she would be the next. In their 'off' time they'd live in their own apartments. He said all of that seriously. With a straight face. Like it was the most brilliant and workable solution. Ever. I think she almost peed her pants laughing at him. Laughing at him to his face. And then again while laughing at him as she typed it all to me. And then she cried, wondering how she'd ever been married to someone so imbecilic.

Yes, someday, when our children are all over 18 and out of the tapioca flood zone, we'll be able to laugh without crying in the next moment. Right now - with just under 11 years to go for both of us - we share these reports with each other (and now with you, lovely internets) so that we can laugh and have someone right there to help us climb back down out of the fear tree.

Back here I think I described my own TH's cycle. We've been in the phase where he plays stupid games (with the kids in the middle) in order to prove he's a good parent and I'm a bad one. I've been civil and used every de-escalation technique I know.

(You want an example? He sends me an email about the children looking like trash because they have holes in their jeans and what a bad parent I am. The problem with this assertion is that the jeans with holes in them came from his house. Not mine. My seven year old, when first asked about his jeans, said, "Oh Dad had me wear these to get you to replace them." I said, "Well we better replace them then. Where are the two pairs your grandmother got you last month?" Later my seven year old came back to me and said, "Mom, you know those jeans with holes? I just remembered. I must have ripped them at recess. It's my fault, not Dad's." Now, I was out of town, but I had already heard from people who saw him at school as well as from my Sweet Hubby that Havoc did NOT have on jeans with holes in them when he went to Dad's. Look at my poor kid who would rather take the blame for himself than have his parents angry with each other! I told Havoc not to worry about it anymore: it was time for everyone to have an update. We made an outing of it. I bought the boys each two pairs of pants (jeans and khakis), a polo shirt, socks, underwear, and a new pair of shoes to take to Dad's and leave there! We also bought Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and had a family movie night. Was I required to do this? No. I would have been 'justified' in writing a nasty letter back asking where all the nice clothes that I send end up. I could have dressed the kids in the rattiest things they have and sent them back to him the way he sent them to me. But why on earth would ANYONE do stupid things like that? No one benefits. Least of all my kids. Did I have the money for this shopping spree to purchase clothes the kids don't actually 'need' and which I'll never see again? Heck no! Especially when I'm racking up the legal fees answering his petition for custody and making counter-petitions! Maybe my 'caving in' and sending a whole bag of nice clothes plays out in his mind as him 'winning' a round - but it's so STUPID. I wish I had a better word. Pointless? Silly and mean? Small and petty? If he had asked me for some clothes for the boys I would have sent some! I've offered before. I've sent some before. Of course, he didn't do that because it wasn't about clothes. It was about the court case. He lies and plays games and thinks his children aren't going to notice? Or tell? Or be affected? I. Don't. Get. It.)

Last night? Maybe because Mercury went retrograde (<--I don't actually know what that means but all my astrology-inclined friends are talking about it) or maybe just to get a jump start on full moon craziness - my Tapioca Head's ex-wife called me. Out of the blue. To offer me support. To say that she will willingly 'testify' in court on my behalf.
Warning. Warning. Danger Will Robinson.

*Backstory: She's a nut case. Their whole, two-year marriage was bizarre and drama-filled. I mean, cops called to their house in the wee sma's because of fights. Him taking off with the children (my babies!) and swearing never to return and then returning and pretending like nothing ever happened. I spent the entire time trying to shield my children from their emotional roller coaster. My mother spent the entire time asking me if the surgery he had six weeks before he left me hadn't perhaps damaged his brain permanently. She was serious. And she has a point. He was a VERY different person after that surgery. More than one person remarked on the personality shift and asked me if I had searched long and hard for the pod.

Almost twelve years we were married. Maybe four fights the whole time. No drama. Lots of hard work, good times, and there at the end? Illness. And surgery. And just when everything seemed like it would be better than ever before - he decided he was done. He wasn't 'happy'. He began to date women who were drama factories. Twelve years and I had no idea that his idea of 'happy' involved booze and car wrecks and changing jobs six times in four years and trumping up court cases. What a boring wife I was. But lucky him, after only a few years of 'fun' on his own, he found a woman who made him all kinds of crazy, I mean, happy! And after two years too many of so much happiness, I was MUCH relieved when he left her last summer. He moved 40 miles away from her and lives closer physically to his children (and unfortunately also to me) than he's lived since our divorce. I had foolishly hoped that would end his ridiculous, perennial attempt to take my children away from me. After all, it had started when he met her. Maybe it would end when he left her. But no. Even without her, he has continued, apparently now addicted to drama in his own right. But wait, the ex-Mrs. Happiness is on the line! *

She says I must be very upset about what happened Friday night.
"What happened Friday night?" I ask, warily.
She said that he said... wait! Do you see how quickly this shit devolves to the level of middle school muddle? Let's start again.

The story he (supposedly) told her:
He came to pick up the boys from my house and they were hysterical and refused to go with him. Chaos called him a liar and he slapped Chaos in the face. I allowed Chaos to stay with me but let Mayhem and Havoc be forced into going with him. In fact, I stood with my arms crossed, smirking as they drove away.

What really happened:
My ex arrived at 6:15. I helped load the boys into the car with their bags from Target, their bag of school work/report cards, and their medicine. I gave the boys kisses - except Chaos who prefers a wave. I walked back inside. Sweet Hubby and the Ninja Princessa and I all left two minutes later to grab a quick bite for supper and made it to the 7 o'clock movie. No drama. Anywhere. That I saw.

I told this woman that somewhere someone was telling big whoppers. In addition, I told her I couldn't imagine what kind of mother she thought I was, but that it would have taken an Act of God and a SWAT team to get my children away from me if I'd seen my ex slap one of my children and/or they were hysterical not to leave me.

My ex's ex turns out not to be so ex. Yet. Even though he told me he was filing for divorce months and months ago. He didn't. In fact, they've been seeing each other again. Dating. According to her, they have been planning to move back in together. And she called me because as of that moment, she was done with him. She was done with him. He told her that the children hated her and also that when he told them he was moving back in with her - they became hysterical and didn't want to leave ME (hence the driveway scene). He told her that he was having to choose between her and them and he was choosing them. So she was done with him. And called me. To offer her 'testimony' for my case.

Riiiiight. Because that's just what I need. Testimony from a crazy woman. A mad, scorned, crazy woman. That will help my 'case'.

But I listened. And wrote down everything for my lawyer, including the part where her teenage daughter threatened to kill herself if he moved back in. Nice, eh? What are these people (tapioca heads both!) doing?? She told me about her cocaine use (OH MY GOD!!!!!!) and she told me about the court-mandated things he has not done or kept up with. She also told me that he was already going to drop the custody case - but each of the three times she told me this in the hour that she talked, she gave a different reason: he was dropping it because they were back together; he was dropping it because he was interviewing for a job out of state; he was dropping it because he couldn't pay his lawyer. Who knows what the truth is with crazy people??

I was shaking and ill, but I was civil and calm with her.
I thanked her for letting me know about things that affect my children. I let her know firmly, in no uncertain terms that I would NOT be needing her to appear in court. Thanks anyway. My lawyer and I have it under control. My mother, a therapist, who has said from the beginning this woman was boderline said, "Two will get you ten that she's at this minute calling him to tell him how badly she just screwed him."

Sure enough, an hour later my ex calls. Says he's 'dropping' the custody case 'for now'. Says he knows I talked to his wife and he feels betrayed. Admits he lied to her. Admits he made up the whole 'scene' in my driveway. Get this. He says he told her this story "to spare her feelings". He says he used the children as an excuse because he couldn't think of another way out of the relationship. There is so much wrong here that it's like someone dropped a wrongness bomb. He had already gotten out. He got himself back IN to a relationship with her and then couldn't find a way out that didn't involve ridiculous, crazy lies - and MY CHILDREN?? He's dropping the case FOR NOW? My lawyer has told me to keep writing it all down, but that she can't imagine we need any more ammunition in court. I keep waiting for that to make me feel better. On any level. But it doesn't.

It's not just tapioca. It's rancid tapioca. Perhaps my friends are right and instead of a brain there is pulsing, putrid scum from another world in my ex's head. Something so vile and ludicrous is happening in there that earth languages just aren't up to the task of describing it. I think my lawyer is doing a great job but I worry she's out of her league. After all, she's used to dealing with humans! What do you think it would take to get Will Smith to help her? He's great with aliens!

Peace. Peace. Peace.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Four Horsemen of the...Hypocalypse?

I think we're going to need an extra large Rehearsal Dinner Box for Chaos. I am trying (and I mean really, really trying) not to worry about the way he processes information. He does well in school (Honor Roll!) and he scores ridiculously high on standardized tests (99th percentile!). For the life of me, I cannot see how.
Yesterday on the way to school, Chaos and I had a little chat about how long his seventh grade math class has been studying 'triangles'. Every day for over three weeks that's all it says in his planner under Math: 'triangles'. This is the picture I get in my mind. So:

Me: What's up with the triangles? Can't you learn everything there is to know about triangles in just a couple of days?
Chaos: Mom, there's more to it. You know, there's A squared equals C squared and all that.
Me: You mean, A squared PLUS B SQUARED equals C squared?
Chaos: Yeah. That's it. We're studying Pilates and all that.
Me: Pilates?!
Chaos: The theory - you know, the A squared stuff.
Me: The Pythagorean Theorem?! Chaos, It's the PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM!! It's important to get it straight! You have to know the right words and you have to understand it. Do you even understand that what you're doing is squaring the sides of the triangle and adding them together and that equals..
Chaos (interrupting me because we were at school): the square of the hypocalypse. I know, I know! Mom, I gotta go! Bye.
Me: the hypocalypse? the HYPOCALYPSE??

I really don't know whether to laugh or cry sometimes. Aside from writing speeches for Dan Quayle or GW I can't think of many career options for this boy! Can you?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We Are Family (Get Up Everybody, SING!)

I love one on one time with my children. Even if it is spent going to the pediatrician's. I learn soooooo many things.
Like (from the doctor who loves to write prescriptions) that Mayhem is anemic as well as asthmatic. Eckerd's. Cha-ching.
Like (from Mayhem who loves to sing) that Smashmouth is the best band in the whole world. "You're a rock star. Get the show on. All that glitters is go-o-old. Only shooting sta-ars break the mo-o-old."
Like (from Mayhem who loves to talk) that Mayhem is the kind of little brother that makes me glad I never had a little brother. Even though I didn't witness it, I have it from a reliable source (and May-hem is his name-o) that this is what happened yesterday:
Mayhem (singing at the top of his lungs): WE ARE FAMILY. I GOT ALL MY BRUDDAS WITH ME.
Chaos: Mayhem be quiet.
Chaos: Shut up!
Chaos: I mean it. I'm going to hurt you.
Chaos (chasing his little brother): Arggghh!
Mayhem (outpacing his big brother): WE ARE FAMILY. EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE SLOWER THAN ME!

Feel the love?

What's in Your Rehearsal Dinner Box?

I'm sure there is a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cure for what's going on with my children this week, but unfortunately she's not online for me to solicit advice from, so we're winging it.
We're having language issues. Not potty mouth (although come to think of it, the middle schooler did get busted on Sunday for typing a funny yet oh-so-inappropriate four letter word into a video game.) Mainly it's a question, though, of language specificity.

Example 1:
Mayhem hasn't been feeling well all week. He's been toughing it out at school but we keep checking his temperature because he looks pasty, has a slight tummy ache and headache. Yesterday before school his temp was 99.3. That was a wee bit up - but maybe just a normal amount up because the kids are usually a bit warmer in the morning when they first start moving around. Ok. So he got oatmeal and advil for breakfast. I get a call from school at 2 pm.
"Mom, the teacher says you need to come get me right now. I have a fever of a hundred and four."
I was there in under five minutes and due to a not-so-safe bit of multitasking while driving a speeding car, had wangled an urgent appointment with the pediatrician who said he might need to go straight to the hospital.
I ran in to the office and there Mayhem was, sitting on the couch. Looking fine. (<--Fine meaning still pasty and not his usual self but CERTAINLY not lethargic and glassy eyed the way you'd expect in an 11-year old with a 104 degree fever.) This would be because he didn't have a 104 degree fever. He had a one hundred POINT four degree fever. How is that for an exciting teacher-kid-parent game of telephone? After rescheduling with the pediatrician for this morning and after leaving a message for the ex to belay that last (and after an internal pep talk to myself where I tried to convince myself I had not over reacted by calling him so quickly in the first place, that I had done what I would have wanted him to do if the situation had been reversed, yada, yada, yada), Mayhem and I had a little chat. He thought it was ridiculously funny. "How fast were you driving?! You've never gotten to school so fast." Ahem. I did not answer that question. I distracted him with talk about decimal points and boys who cry wolf.

Example 2:
This little language confusion vignette stars the middle schooler. At dinner we find out that apparently every day, Chaos rushes out of school to the bus waving his hands wailing "The world is ending!" His friends think this is HILARIOUS. (I mentioned this is middle school, right?) And then he flings himself onto the bus and with a dramatic sigh declares, "Sanction!"
Ummm. Sanction?
Sweet Hubby said, "I think he means 'sanctuary'." Ah.
We explained the difference between 'permission' and 'sacred place, haven.'
"Whatever." says Chaos.
Whatever? Sweet Hubby and I give each other the eye. Good parents that we are, we reserve the one-two punch of humor followed by the threat of future embarassment for special, lesson-teaching occasions. But words and their meanings are important, darn it. So out comes the parenting equivalent of the Play Station triangle-square-square-circle super move: the Rehearsal Dinner Box.
SH: I think this is another story we should write down for 'the box'.
Kids: The box?
Me: I agree. Definitely.
Kids: What box?
Me: You know, the box of stuff we're saving to bring out at the party on the night before your weddings. The Rehearsal Dinner Box.
Chaos: Gork. (<--That is as close as I can get to the sound he made.)
Chaos: What do you mean, stuff you're saving?
SH: You know, like The Rubberband.
Chaos: Gork!
Other Kids: What rubberband?
*The Rubberband says "I love Hannah" on it but Sweet Hubby didn't know that when he pried it off of Chaos' wrist last year. Once he saw the words, SH knew why Chaos had stealthily and steadfastly refused to take it off even though his hand was turning blue. It is definitely going in the box. What future wife wouldn't want to know that her groom was once so infatuated that he was willing to cut off his circulation for love? Anyway, The Rubberband, it is a secret for now. Sweet Hubby has promised not to let anyone else know what it says. Anyone, of course, in our household means 'any of the other kids or any of my friends'. Moms are not just anyone.
Me: I think 'Sanction!' should go right next to 'Seep!' (This distracted the Other Kids from The Rubberband. See how good I am?)
Kids: Seep?
SH: Remember Chaos' vocabulary paper? The one where he defined 'seep' as 'to leak' and then for his example sentence wrote, "I seeped my pants."? That's in the box.
Kids, including Chaos, crack up for a surprisingly long time over "I seeped my pants." They are, in fact, howling with laughter.
Me: We have a box for each of you.
Immediate silence.
Ninja Princessa: Even me?
Chuckle, chuckle. Snicker, snicker. (See how much fun parenting can be? This is why the experts say you should sit down and have dinner with your children every, single night!)
Me: Oh yeah. Personally, my favorite thing in your Rehearsal Dinner Box is a page covered with "Mrs. Ninja Princessa Potter. Mrs. Ninja Potter. Mrs. Ninja Princessa Radcliffe...." And hearts. And swirlies. And butterflies. And lightning bolts.
NP: rolls on the floor claiming she'll never, ever, in a million, quadrillion, bazillion years get married (not even to Daniel Radcliffe!)
All this time Mayhem, who is one of those fiddle-y kinds of kids, has been sticking the tines of his fork anywhere except in his asian salad. He has levered up his plate. He has tapped on his milk glass. He has threaded his napkin in and out of the slots between the tines. He is poking his leg. With the fork.
Me: Mayhem! Stop it! The fork is for eating your salad with. Not for poking yourself in the thigh with!
SH: Yeah, what she said. And besides, it looks like you're stabbing your privates. If you don't stop, we'll have to take away your fork privileges. We'll hang a sign around your neck when you go to school that says "Not allowed to use forks. Spoons only!"
Kids, including Mayhem, lose it. Absolutely lose it. I'm not sure if it's the word 'privates' or 'fork privileges' but they freakin' lose their minds. Forks get dropped on the floor. Milk gets snorted out of noses. Heels kick the legs of chairs. Our youngest, who is seven and probably thinks marriage is as far away as retirement, recovers first - but only manages to set everyone off again.
Havoc: Yeah, and we'll keep the sign and put it in your Reversal Dinner Box!
Chaos: "Spoons Only!"
SH: If y'all keep laughing so hard, you'll seep your pants.
NP: Daniel and I are going to elope.

Don't you want to come have dinner with us? Don't you want to tell us all about your day? So we can make fun of you and record it for all time in your very own Rehearsal Dinner Box?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Ran AND Can Pass 8th Grade Science

Woo Hoo!
You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!

Have Cute Socks, Will Run

Whatever it takes to get me out the door for my first run in THREE weeks, right?

They are cute though, aren't they? I get to about mile three and I start thinking about how cute my feet are (darling socks, skinny shoes). It's like the only thing that keeps me going to mile five sometimes. And, today? I don't know if it's enough to get me to the stop sign (.4 mi). We'll see.

The half marathon is on April 29th. Seven weeks. But no, we shouldn't think about that. Let's get back to the cute socks so we can get our butts out the door, eh?

More on Chaos

Sweet Hubby found the perfect bumper sticker for our 13-year old (whom we call Chaos at home, not just in the blog). The bumper sticker:

Chaos: It's not just a theory. It's a way of life.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shake It Off (aka More Studio Pix)

In order to distract myself from my earlier abject humiliation, I'm going to show you the new things I've done to my studio.
Remember this?
The desk was so not working for me. Now, it looks like this:

I still have to build a cutting table and sewing surface like DebR's (to go to the left and sort of around the corner into open space you can't quite see in this picture). I won't keep my fabric stash in the baskets. It'll just be on the open shelves. I like to SEE my fabric. It is so sad to have all my lovely fabrics in boxes in the dark at this moment. The baskets, though, are going to be great for yarn. (I mean, I like to see yarn too, but honestly? The knit shop wore me out. I could use a break from having to look at yarn for a while.) The baskets will also be great for stuff like knitting needles, looseleaf patterns, spray adhesives, scissors and specialty quilting rulers. And unsightly UFO's. (Not that I have any of those. Ha!) The white fan is already in place. (Thank you Sweet Hubby!) Today I was lying on my floor daydreaming a bit thinking about how much fun it would be to learn how to do some beading and to make a clunky, chunky, jeweled fan pull for it. (But my brain, which is in charge of the checkbook, said, "STOP NOW - NO NEW HOBBIES ALLOWED!") And I really will someday soon figure out how to replace those old, icky, painted green plugs for shiny, new, white, grounded plugs - with cover plates, even!
Oh, and this is not where my computer is going to be permanently. It's just that I can't cope with another three week black hole of no computer access so I stuck it on the fabric shelf for now. I have another white shelf exactly like the one above that I'm going to put over here for my computer:

This corner is going to be my writing space. There is a closet on the back side of the wall and Sweet Hubby is going to put all the unlovely, but necessary stuff like wireless routers and printers and the computer box itself in the closet and feed just the cables through the wall. I don't print a lot. It won't be a big deal to walk out into the hall to pull stuff off the printer. I think it well worth it to have such a tidy little corner!

I tried to take a picture of my view into the courtyard but the light is so bright outside that it made the room look pitch black (and we've already talked about what a whiz I am with mechanical things so need I 'splain you that I don't know how to adjust the light meter on my digital camera to take all that into account?) Here it is anyway to give you an idea:

Same corner, same time of day. Wow, that ivy needs to be trimmed. Ahem. Also, the arbor has wisteria all over it and right outside the courtyard wall is a huge magnolia tree. When I open my window in the spring I think it's going to smell heavenly! (Errr, except that the dog's favorite poop spot is right under my screen. Can't think about that now!) Thus ends the latest round of "Show Me Your Studio and I'll Show You Mine" but ummm, I went first. And I don't get tired of playing. So show me more!! I LOVE to see the spaces people create to create in.


Too Stupid To Live

Yep. That's me. I have an acute case of TSTL syndrome.
I'm not talking about embarassing myself in front of strangers, either.
(If only!) No, if this post were about that it would be titled "Everything's Normal Around Here". This is worse. Way worse.
You wanna guess what I just did?
Ever hit the 'reply' button when you thought you'd hit the 'forward' button? Don't you just hate email (or yourself) when you do that?
You wanna guess who I just sent an email to by mistake?
Go on. (Hint: It's not my boss - but that would be a good guess if I had a boss - ESPECIALLY if I had a boss that I routinely (and in email print) wished would permanently relocate to Mars.)
No. Today - instead of forwarding an email (with my added comments) on to my husband, I sent said email (with my added comments) back to my ex-husband. The ex-husband who is making my life (and my children's lives) miserable with a court case to take custody of one of our three children together away from me. The exchange went something like this. I sent:

"Honey, this is the email thread from (insert name of ex-husband here). Well – actually he sent me like six different emails today and I kind of combined them. Just thought you might want to keep up to date with what’s making my stomach hurt today. Love, Lilymane"

I got back:
"I suspect you wanted to send this to your husband, not me.
Sorry to hear about your stomach. I hope it gets better soon."

Do you like the part where he hopes my stomach feels better soon?? Oh, how humiliating! NOT ONLY did I prove that I should have my license to drive a keyboard revoked, but I let him know how much his crap still affects me! If only wailing and whining about it after the fact could make me feel any better. I suppose someone up above is watching out for me though. I think this is the only email I've sent about him in five years that didn't contain the word 'dickhead'.
Small favors and all that.

Leeloo Dallas Multipass

Remember way back on Feb 13 , when I told you all about how the thinga ma jiggy that teleports my pictures from my camera to my computer 'just died'? Did I ever remember to tell you how awesome Sweet Hubby is for going out and getting me this cute little number? I'm fixing to post some new pictures of my studio (version 2.2) but as I was reconnecting Leeloo I realized that this is the only piece of technology in recent history that I have not had an initial aversion to! She's cuter than the thing she replaced. She's smarter and friendlier. What more could you ask for?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Pickles and Ice Cream for Lunch

No the rabbit didn't die. The refrigerator did. And we had to throw out everything except the hardy foods like pickles and mustard. And who wants to eat mustard all by itself? Ewww. The freezer is fine - hence the ice cream. Although if you want to be technical about it - it's not really ice cream, it's Luigi's Cherry Italian Ice. Yummy lunch! Healthy! Or not. But it doesn't matter because it's the only thing left in the house except the Oreo's (which I'm saving for dessert) and the beer (which I can't drink since I gave up alcohol for Lent.) And I KNOW it's all we have left, because prior to settling for the pickles and italian ice - I looked in the now-defunct fridge about a million and twelve times. My brain knows the fridge is dead but somehow my brain has not seen fit to forward the message to the rest of the body. Perhaps my brain can be forgiven this lapse as I am certain it is still in shock from having spent $1700 on a new fridge that won't be delivered for a week. A WEEK! Lord, someone tell me how people all over the globe feed huge families like mine without refrigeration. I know they do. They probably go to cute little markets every day and come home to whip up gourmet meals. Or, more likely, they eat beans and rice. I know I shouldn't whine. I am, in fact, very grateful to be getting a new fridge at all (especially one with an automatic icemaker because a never ending ice supply is significantly more fun than just plain ole refrigeration any day of the week and twice on Sundays!) But having said that, I am still feeling awfully whiny about having to be creative and/or having to go to the store - the grocery store which I love the way I love root canals - every day. If my refrigerator weren't already dead, I would kill it for putting me in this position.

Really, I'm not great at handling machine malfunction in general. I'm certainly not great at having to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a machine that I'm not going to like or trust anyway. For example, we still don't own a vacuum cleaner. We drive over and borrow the shop's vacuum every week or so because I hate to vacuum. I swiffer all the time but I hate to vacuum. And who wants to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a machine to help them do something they hate?! Really.

Refrigerators, however, help us eat well. While eating is not my favorite thing, it is, in fact, my children's reason for living. When I ask about school the first thing I ever hear is what they had for lunch, which morphs into a conversation about what they can have for snack and when is dinner going to be ready anyway. I promise you that the folks who created the Cheerio, M&M, and Oreo counting books are marketing geniuses. I don't watch tv, but since my kids like to I make them identify what marketers are trying to sell them. The categories are "Junk we can't afford and don't want anyway" and "Sugar" (aka 'Junk Toys' and 'Junk Food'). It's great to watch cartoons with my kids because they get into a contest with each other about who can shout out the right ad category. (Havoc's Hint: scream 'sugar' every time and you will be right 5 out of 6 times!) Mayhem is the one who told me in confidence that he knows they're just trying to get him to buy junk food - but "Mom, it works! I want to eat that food!" Yes siree I tell him - THAT'S what I want y'all to understand. It works. You have to be strong. Otherwise you will be like a lemming "lovin it" at McD's. Or you will be tricked into believing that you should "be the boss" and "choose your sauce" at ....eeep - some chicken restaurant? KFC? Even if you can't remember the ads, you will not be able to resist when you are tired. You will find yourself like a zombie pulling into the drive thru lane because you can't. figure. out. anything. else. to. eat.
I, myself, would not be sitting here eating the dregs left in the old refrigerator if it weren't for the fact that I absolutely don't want to leave my house! Out of strength or out of laziness, I'm resisting! My resistance movement may be short lived, however. I'm not sure there are enough pickles to go around for supper.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Traveling Composure

I may have mentioned that my sister does not live in a thriving metropolis. I may have even gone so far as to say she lives in a quaint little village off the beaten path. Well today I am here to tell you she lives on the backside of Mt. Nowhere. And it was covered with snow. And we had to drive over the tip top of it to slide down it to get to the highway which would eventually lead us to an actual (yet rather small) city that was nevertheless big enough to have a bus terminal so I could take a bus (leaving at 3:45 in the morning!) to get to a city big enough to have an airport so I could get the heck out of Dodge!

Having finally arrived at the airport (with very little sleep, and only stale cheetos and coke for breakfast), I was surprised to find the lines for security so long. You wouldn't think that there would be that many people trying to get out of New Hampshire at 6 am on a Saturday morning. Or maybe you would. After all, I was well nigh desperate to get out of New Hampshire at 6 am on a Saturday morning, so maybe all these other folks were feeling the same way. With the possible exception of the bloke at the front of my security line. From my position of about tenth in a line of sixty or so, I had a nice view of Mr. Clueless. He was obviously flying for the first time since 1992. He had money, as evidenced by his tailored, heavy, leather coat, his perfect briefcase, his expensive loafers, and his "Where's my caddy?" attitude. Mr. Clueless apparently believed that the instructions to take off shoes and coats and place them in the bins and to take laptops out of their cases etc, etc didn't apply to HIM. He suavely stood there with his coffee in hand waiting to walk through the metal detector. The security guy just stared at him. They had already started scanning his briefcase and then had to reverse the conveyor belt.
"Sir, is this your briefcase? Please remove the laptop and open it." (Can you hear the mild grumbling and rustling from the line of sixty?) Mr. Clueless backed out of the metal detector doorway (stepping on the gal behind him.)

If he had been a bumbler, he might have gotten more sympathy from the line. As it was the sympathy ran out immediately. He tried to walk back through the metal detector even though the security guard had told him to take off his jacket and shoes while he was getting out his laptop. The guard blocked the archway and turned the guy around again. This time he almost sloshed his coffee on the woman behind him. She had followed procedure and was trying to get around him but he took up too much room! He transferred his coffee from one hand to the other to take off his jacket and put it through the scanner. Same with his shoes. He sauntered through the metal detector for the third time. The security guard reached out for his boarding pass and Mr. Clueless handed him the coffee! The security guard took the coffee and without taking his eyes of Mr. Clueless, dropped it in the trash and asked for the boarding pass through gritted teeth. Guess where the boarding pass was? You got it. In the pocket of the leather jacket which was just then going through the scanner. They reversed the conveyor belt AGAIN and finally got Mr. Clueless through. The line was huffing and puffing - fuming even. One man snorted and mockingly called out, "Fly much?"

Mr. Clueless didn't deign to respond. He was too busy standing in the bottleneck behind the metal detector reclaiming and rearranging his paraphenalia thereby clotting the security process further. About a dozen people (myself included) pushed past him. We reassembled ourselves in the side area quaintly labeled "Composure Area." I wasn't bothered so much as amused, but I swanee, several of my fellow passengers were going to need a heck of a lot more than a chair off to the side to help them regain their composure.

I got to my gate and got on my plane and it was clearly way to early for most everyone, including the flight attendants. They were yawning. The passengers were fumbling around and talking loudly. The whole plane load seemed unsettled. The designated microphone guy got to the part where he was supposed to make sure everyone was on the right plane by saying it was flight so-and-so going to so-and-so. He managed the flight number and the destination but then added, "with continuing service to... oh, lots of places. Wait a minute. The list is around here somehwere." I was in the front of the plane and he admitted to the first few rows of us that he didn't usually work mornings. He said he wasn't quite in the groove yet. He did his spiel about all the safety procedures and at the end said, "I want to say thank you to those of you who were listening this morning. And to those of you who weren't, good luck!" I'm not sure if that was a sign of him finding his groove or not. Apparently someone found him the right list and he announced the flight schedule. Imagine my surprise when he mentioned Baltimore and then Cleveland and then home. Eep. Not that I'd had any choice, as this was the only way to get home - but I hadn't at all clued in to the fact that I would be in FIVE different states in one day. I had not planned on THREE sets of take off and landings to get home. That's when I began taking Dramamine.

I don't get freaked out about flying, but my tummy doesn't like the TO/L's so much. Especially when I'm tired. Or haven't eaten. I can't quite remember how much dramamine I had or how many pretzels or how much coke. I'm sure it was too much of all three though. I was a little (and by that I mean a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT) goofy by the time my best friend picked me up at the airport. Once home I managed to get started on the backlog of hugs and kisses from my kids, but I didn't stay coherent for long. I was napping on the loveseat in the library when my son Mayhem tried to tell me about his toothache. He had to go get help waking me up. Eventually VBGF managed to wake me enough that I was talking, but I wasn't talking sense. I told her to give him some antibiotics and that I was sorry she was upside down in the pit. Aren't you glad I wasn't blogging in that state?
I'm back to my normal (composed and dramamine-free) self today. I'll have more pictures of my studio to post soon! I am so close to having places to write AND sew that I can almost envision a time when my post will be about quilting!!! Oh the day!

Friday, March 03, 2006

And Now I Explain I'm Not Here

I'm not there either. I'm somewhere in between. Still hoping to see a moose at the very last second. Or maybe a dragon. But no more snow. (Note to VeryBestGirlfriend - I first typed 'no mow snow' by accident.)
I have really enjoyed my time with Thrasher and I've learned a lot about Life on Pluto (I mean in New England) but I am ready to be home! I'm ready to have a warm tushy while driving without having to have heated seats. I'm ready to finish nesting in my studio. (Hey DebR - feel free to send me advice about making an exact duplicate of your cutting table!) I'm ready to hug my family! Squeeze them silly in fact. It's not so much the journey that makes me anxious as the being in between. Think of me as I travel.
"From there to here and here to there, funny things are everywhere."
-One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

Thursday, March 02, 2006

In Which I Remember To Explain Why I'm Here

You may or may not recall back in November (the first time I came to visit Thrasher in the Land of Frozen Cow Poo) that there had not been enough money minted since the invention of money to tempt me to visit these arctic climes during snow season. Turns out that my price has nothing to do with money. All it took to get me up here was a sisterly plea and a chance to stay with my littlest buddy: seven month old Thrasher. My sister (Tidget) and her hubby (let's call him Green Man because he is ALL about the environment) are a)Thrasher's parents and b)in France for a week. To find a place to live. As in LIVE all the time - not like a second home or anything. My sister - by the way - took Spanish in high school. Not because she liked Spanish, but because a language was required and Spanish was supposed to be easier than French or Latin. She took her minimal two years (and if she got more than a C, I don't remember it.) My sister is plenty smart and a very hard worker - but languages weren't her thing. At all. And that's probably because my sister and I divided up the world evenly from the time we were kids. We are two years apart (I'm older) and we look somewhat alike (except she looks older which I used to hate and now love) and consequently, we did everything in our power to be as different from each other as possible. Languages were my thing. By the time I'd graduated from high school I'd taken five years of French, two years of Latin, and a year of Italian. Then I was a Russian linguist and ended up with a degree in French Language and Literature. And guess who is moving to France? (Hint: not me. But I definitely plan to visit.) Life is a little crazy sometimes, the way it works out, don't you think? Anyhoo, that's how I came to be here, in the coldest place I've ever been - while back at home it's been almost 70 degrees every day. But I'm not complaining (even though it sounds an awful lot like I am).

How could it not be worth it? I mean, in addition to learning what life is like on other planets, I get to snuggle with my nephew. This little dude is my buddy Thrasher. (That's not his real name - that's just my name for him. My seester would hate it so of course I can't resist.) Don't you just want to kiss him? Or drive him to playschool through snow drifts?

Yeah, well if you answered 'yes' to that last question, have I got a deal for you. Voila Saint Solida! While she looks like a hearse in this picture, she's really a fantastic car. (A Volvo! Hey, St. Ann Pan! I'm driving a blue Volvo kinda like yours.) With heated seats. Heated. Seats. I worship the person who invented heated seats! And even though my buddy in Atlanta has them in his cute, little, souped up Saturn Vue - it is SO not the same. Here having your tushy warm while driving is not disconcerting and odd, it's miraculous. (Side note: the snowy lump on the other side is a Subaru. I'm convinced you can't get Vermont citizenship without owning at least one Subaru with ski racks on top.)

Here is the BEFORE shot of the icicles. It is also before eight inches of snow fell in one night. If we wanted to be all chronological about it, I should have posted Saint Solida last but I have a feeling I'm pushing my luck with Blogger as it is.

And then the AFTER shot.

As I said yesterday the ARTY IN BETWEEN shot is missing. It would have been cool if I had snapped a pic as an icicle was plunging towards the lens, but umm...that didn't happen. (Snow on my butt as I fell backwards, that's what happened but I don't have a pic of that either.) I had wanted a better picture of the way the icicles looked in a row on the ground, but after this close up of the smashed ice shards, my camera froze. Literally. I thought it had run out of batteries. And I hate to tell you, but I'm not a dedicated enough photographer to drive 45 minutes to buy new batteries just so I can put more pictures on my blog! No siree. (But then the next day I forgot all about the dead battery issue and ran out to record the insane amount of snow fall and guess what? The batteries were fine. The ever helpful ladies at daycare were the ones to explain that I needed a warmer for my camera if I wanted to take more icicle pictures. I really don't know what to make of Vermonters.)

After all that advice and my icy near impalement experience, I think I'm going to stay inside, crank up the heat, and sketch out some quilt ideas until Saint Solida and I have to veture back to daycare to get Thrasher.

Peace y'all.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Blogging Woes and Icicles

Blogger is breaking my heart and pissing me off. I have blogged everyday (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday) and each time for some reason it doesn't post!
I am trying again. I have had some interesting experiences here close to the North Pole, but I am just not up to typing it all again for the fourth time!!!
Here is a slight recap -
Vermont is insane. The snow is on steroids. We had eight inches of snow in one night! But it's dry and powdery and sparkly like it has mica chips in it. It is exactly like department store snow (only colder.) I think Yankees are crazy as all get out for living up here, but I will say that the Yankee technology of heated seats in the Volvo has made me think nicely of them. Speaking of the Volvo, if cars can be sainted, this one needs to be. Saint Solida! No slidey slidey on the roads. Just crunch, stolid crunch all the way (three whopping miles) to Play School. I am trying to be a good sister and follow Tidget's instructions. I am dutifully taking 7- month old Thrasher to daycare everyday - but yesterday I had to PLUG the car in just to be able to start it so I could then warm it up enough to drive it. It was seven degrees. Seven. Degrees. And then someone at daycare said the wind chill was negative twenty. Negative. Twenty. (I'm not sure they weren't poking fun at me to see how gullible I am - but the seven I can attest to because that's what the house thermometer says.)
Crazy Things about life in Vermont-
-Spending twenty minutes to warm up a car to drive three miles. (Of course the alternative is to WALK those three miles.)
-Chiseling off the holiday decorations: lots of people still have their Christmas decorations (mostly wreaths but some house lights) up. My sister said she thought it was tacky until she tried to pry her wreath off the house and the paint came too. She said she's waiting for the next thaw! Yikes.
-Eating dairy products here: the butter and milk here are HEAVENLY. I knew they had a thing about cows but I had NO IDEA that there would be an actual difference in the butter and milk.
-Finding a church: I have to drive 45 minutes to get to a church for Ash Wednesday service! No lie. 45 minutes to get to a church! Back home, if I drive ANY direction from my house for 45 minutes, I promise you I would pass at least fifty churches (and at least five of them would offer some sort of Ash Wednesday service.)
-Putting "dry gas" in the car: the Volvo didn't start this morning (until a neighbor came over and helped me jump it) and at daycare there were several theories about why this should be. I got quizzed about how much gas I had, how long I'd left the car plugged in, how old the battery is and then someone asked me if I'd put 'dry gas' in it. Uh, don't think so. "Well, then," she said, "that's what you've gotta do. Just get over to the full serve and ask for some dry gas." She said, "There's probably too much moisture in the gas." Again, these Vermonters are very kind but they have a strange sense of humor. I really can't tell when they're poking fun and when they're being serious. The air is so dry that I spend half the day filling up the four humidifiers in the house and rubbing lotion into my hands. I realize there's snow and somehow that's moisture but even the snow feels dry! It's hard to believe that there could be moisture in the gas when there doesn't seem to be moisture anywhere else.
-Watching out for MOOSE: Moose are about as real to me as dragons. In fact, I've seen more pictures and read more about dragons and they are (supposedly) imaginary creatures! Still, I keep watching for moose. I'd love to see one. So far the moose are as elusive as dragons.
-Watching out for ICICLES: no one warned me about icicles! Beautiful. Alluring. Daggers of DEATH. These three foot ice spears hang off house edges waiting to crash down and impale people (who are innocently practicing the new sport of extreme photography by trying to get an 'arty' shot of them. I'll try to attach pictures below, but don't expect to see the arty shot. It was almost my undoing. Instead all I ended up with was a postcard gingerbread house shot and an 'after' shot of a pile of icicles on the ground at my feet.) The neighbor told me (too late!) that the icicles were less likely to come crashing down if the roof stayed cold. She asked if I had heated the upstairs room. Duh! It's freezing up there! Everyone else still has their icicles, and ours are garden spikes in a row in the front yard. Aparently in some macho Vermonter way this marks our house as the 'sissy house' on the block. Everyone has been very nice but I can tell that they think I'm not even close to being hearty enough to be a Vermonter. They cluck and start listing things even MORE dangerous and likely to happen than death by icicle. Still, I keep getting this mental picture of me in an Edward Gorey book: "L is for Lilymane surprised by ice. M is for Mortimer devoured by mice."

Blogger has disappeared my photos - grrrrrr. Sorry. I'll try later. For now I'm off to church - if the car will deign to start without dry gas. And if I can manage to avoid the Icicles of Doom.