…the best way out is always through

“…the best way out is always through.” Robert Frost, A Servant to Servants.

Long time ago we used to have a dwarf rabbit named Bugs, the first pet our family had that wasn’t a fish. When Bugs died, Spanky cried and asked me, “Will I ever get over this?”

She would get over this, I knew she would. She was only about eight years-old at the time, would she remember she’d had a pet rabbit at all? I didn’t tell her she might completely forget Bugs. Or forget this entire conversation when she learned about mortality.

Mortality, I’ll tell you when you worry most about that.

When a child is born, parents start a countdown. I’d like to think most of us, at the very least, want to live to see our child reach adulthood.

So on Spanky’s eighteenth birthday, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. She grew up with both parents, was never orphaned. I’m pointing out Spanky because she is the youngest. I felt the same about the other two but I still had the finish line on the entire parenting thing to think about.

What crept up on me the entire time I was raising my children was the flip-side of this countdown. They’re going to leave. Go to college. Get married. They have to. This is life.

And this is where things are right now and it has my mind in a complete state of fuckery and it hurts and this was a long time coming and I know I’m being selfish…

BUT

Will I ever get over this?

Discovered this Frost quote on a bathroom wall in a bookstore near the campus where Spank is going to college when I took her to orientation this summer

This too, same stall. Walls do talk.

When did this happen?

Years ago, on a Christmas day, I was snorkeling in a little country in Central America. The captain of the boat was a local, about 25 years old. He said he had never gone anywhere and had no desire to leave his tropical paradise except for one thing. Snow. I liked the way his face lit up and his eyes smiled when he said that word. My face probably mirrored his, being from the South, I haven’t seen it too often.

Never as much as last Thursday, a foot of snow in 24 hours.

Snow brings out the little kid in me. I scream and giggle and look out all the windows. I yank out the cameras, the video cam, and I’m out there, even if it’s the middle of the night. I’ve got to capture this stuff that makes the world look so different in just under an hour.

So Thursday morning I go wake the kids early to see the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen down south. They don’t get mad at me because they have never ever seen them this huge. Then they go back to sleep because they are sure they will see this again. I keep watching as if it is the very first and last time I have seen snow. It does this to me every time.


Look at the snow on the RV!

They didn’t cancel the schools on the day it snowed. People tell me it’s because the superintendent is from Wisconsin and he’s a hardass about that. It bothers me because while Wisconsin might be able to handle icy roads with their salt and scraper trucks, we don’t have that stuff down here. People also don’t know how to drive in snow and ice and there are a lot of pickup trucks with rear wheel drives. They don’t stay on the road.

After school we only had an hour of daylight to find something to do in the snow. Spank and I went to the park and one of her friends met us there. I wandered around taking photos while she built this miniature snow family.


They are about eight inches tall. Cute!

I was quite surprised she made a family because earlier she said we should make a snowman firing squad aimed at another snowman with a bandana over his eyes.

Later that evening, Blane (the husb.) who had been trying to get a flight back home from a work trip called to say he had finally made it to the airport here. While he was fighting icy roads and traffic to get home, I tried to get the kids to come out with me to make that firing squad in the driveway. I told them when their dad got out the car to check it out, we’d spring from behind the van and pelt him with a thousand snowballs.

But nobody wanted to go back out. I gave them a pass because they had been sick a couple of days earlier. Then I went outside and made a three snowman firing squad. Put the charcoal eyes and carrot noses on them and when I went to the front yard to get some branches, two of them fell over.

So I was down to one snowman, which I just called an assassin. I grabbed the first hat I could find, a beret, and put that on him.

When Spanky saw him she laughed. She was mostly looking at his beret.

Spanky: He’s French?

Me: Not just any French, that’s Jean Reno, The Professional!

She was impressed, as she should be, I put this thing together in less than an hour. Still, she didn’t want to join in the ambush.

Spanky: You really going to slam Dad with snowballs after he’s been traveling?

Me: Yup. And if that was me I’d want y’all to do the same.

She went back inside and I hid in my spot with some snowballs.

Right in front of the van.

Blane drove up and parked when he saw the assassin snowman. I didn’t have the heart to ambush him for real, I just pelted his windshield enough to make him laugh.

The next day school was cancelled and I kept begging the kids to come out so we could go sledding or make snow angels or have a snowball war or something. I don’t know when exactly it was that they grew up, I’d hoped that would never happen, that they’d always want to play out in the snow. I know when I realized it. The moment they turned me down.

So I whistled for the dogs and let them run like wild wolves in the snow. They will always be pups.

999 Pieces of Success

Last week I bought a 1000 piece puzzle and dumped all of the pieces on the table.

puzzle

I got it for several reasons. First, I think it is good for relieving stress. It feels good to spot a piece and just know where it belongs. Snap it in, and it fits perfectly. Each tiny piece a success. Second, I thought it would get people to congregate at the table and talk more instead of everyone going off into their own little space to watch tv or hang out on the world wide web. Something about faces glowing in front of a screen is extremely depressing to me, and yes, I know my own eyes spend too much time bathed in that light.

It’s a good mind exercise, puzzle building. It trains the eye to be more perceptive and is helpful for spatial relationships. If the original is a painting, you can actually learn something about brush strokes.

It’s also pretty cool for slipping on a song by Tool, “Schism”, where the refrain is, “I know the pieces FIT!” and watch to see how long it takes for the others to notice the lyrics. Then sit back and listen for them to hum the song later because the song is completely lodged into their brains!

Revelations in convos such as this one:

Spanky: I’m going to name my band “Bitch Please.”

Me: Why?

Spanky: Wanna make sure my songs don’t get played on Radio Disney.

Me: Ah, Disney. AM620. I’ll never forget the day y’all got in the car and turned the station from pure FM to AM. I wanted to know who the hell told y’all AM radio existed so I could pinch their head off.

Spanky: You serious?

Me: No baby, I signed up for all that, every minute of parenting torture you kids could throw at me.

Spanky: Torture?! I had no idea.
——–
After a couple of days of puzzling, our eyes began to play tricks on us. While driving into a beautiful sunset yesterday, Spanky said, “Ugh, puzzle sky.”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. Everything picturesque had this puzzle stamp superimposed on it. I want to take down every painting in this house because they all remind me of puzzles. Blane said it too, “Everything looks sectioned off.”

He was the main one at the table. He couldn’t even walk by it without making a stop. “Just five minutes,” he’d say. An hour later, he was still there fighting to get his corner done before I got mine finished out. It’s sort of funny how we got all territorial with our spots, unspoken, of course.

photo

Here is the finished work. The image we’ve been staring at for almost a week.

You ever get that feeling while building a puzzle that one of the pieces is missing only to come back to the thing later and find the piece you were looking for? That kept happening to us the entire time because we knew early on one of them was missing. An edge piece with some writing on it.

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It might have fallen off the table and gotten eaten by the dogs, I don’t know, we’ve combed the house on our hands and knees looking for that damn thing. We never found it.

Who the hell cares? We have 999 pieces of success and I like the way my family ganged up to solve something. Even if it was a stupid puzzle we never want to see again as long as we live. I don’t care about that one missing piece, either.

But if it ever shows up, I’m gonna frame it and hang it up on the wall and call it “Solved.”

Not in our town

My kids show me some pretty rotten stuff on the internet.

Like this one via Spanky:

All dis candy

comic by K Beaton.

And this via Blane Jr:

Motivation4

I don’t know who to give credit to for that one, thought maybe Despair, inc., but I couldn’t find it on that site. Must be a DIY poster.

So all this from kids who claim I made them hyper-paranoid about being stolen when they were little.

I was paranoid about that, abduction. Now let’s get serious. What’s coming is a true story, every word. It is hard to believe, I’ve been called a flat out liar about it, so I don’t tell it too often.

Just know that, for me, it is a difficult story to tell.

When I was about ten, I was walking home from school in the rain. Alone. A man in a VW Beetle pulled over and asked me if I knew where a certain girl lived. He used her full name, so obviously he knew her, and I knew the girl, she was a friend of mine. Since he wasn’t offering candy, I figured it was okay to talk to him.

I didn’t know street names at the time, so all I could do was point out the directions. I didn’t get too close to his car and he didn’t try to get me to get in it.

By the end of the conversation, he told me he was looking for my friend for a modeling job, that he was a photographer. He asked if I’d be interested.

He said he’d like to talk to my mother about it. That is when I did a really stupid thing. I gave him my address.

I didn’t see any harm there, this man wasn’t offering candy and he wasn’t offering me a ride home in the rain. He wanted to talk to my mother. Surely he was legit? I was way too young to understand that this creep had calculated no one was probably home, otherwise, they would have picked me up from school on a rainy day.

About a half hour later, the man showed up in his Beetle, parked it in our driveway. We lived in a secluded area, our house to the back of a dead end gravel road. I watched him through the screen door as he sat in his car, as if he was waiting for someone to come out.

I had already changed my mind about the modeling thing. In fact, I was too embarrassed to tell my mom about it. She worked nights back then and was sleeping. I didn’t even wake her. I really just wanted this man to go away.

Finally, the guy got out the car and I met him outside, him in the yard, me on the porch. He was a classic pedo looking guy: Thick black plastic-rimmed glasses, middle aged, chunky, slicked back hair with a side part.

At first he kept his distance, about ten feet from me. He explained his job, who he worked for, and even produced a business card. Then he told me he wanted me to change out into a bathing suit. I told him I wouldn’t do that. So he asked me to go get a bath robe. This was when I realized the man was probably going to try to hurt me.

It hit me that I hadn’t waken my mother, but I should have. He hadn’t asked if anyone was home. He was certain no one was. He crept closer to me. A step at a time. One step toward me, and I’d take a step back, until I was against the wall of the porch.

By now, he was about two feet from me, still talking, and just as he reached for my private parts, a voice from the other side of the screen door asked, “Kitty, who are you talking to?”

The bastard jumped back about ten feet again, “I’m late for my appointment.”

And he was gone.

My mom was only half awake and not dressed, she didn’t come out. I told her he was a photographer for a department store in town and I’d just turned down a modeling job. She didn’t really ask any more questions and I didn’t tell her he tried to touch me. I was too embarrassed.

I regret not calling the police, not then, a couple of years later, when I had the maturity to realize that although the guy did not successfully hurt me, he was going to hurt someone else. I did tell everyone at school to watch out for this guy. Not a single person believed my story. Not one.

Shit like that didn’t happen in our town.

At night, when I was going to sleep, I didn’t worry about him coming back like he was the boogie man. What I thought about was how I would kill him if he did.

And you know what? He did come back. It was many years later, when I was about seventeen years old. This time, I was home alone. I can’t tell you how numb my legs went when I opened that door and saw that man there.

He didn’t recognize me, I don’t think, because he asked me, “Is Kitty home?”

I told him she did not live here anymore and shut the door. I watched through one of the windows as he sat in the car and just waited.

In that little bit of time, I thought he must have hurt someone and got sent to prison for many years. I did not call the police. Never crossed my mind.

I went to the closet and grabbed my dad’s shotgun. Loaded it, and waited by the door for him to return. That was what I had planned out in my mind over the years since I’d first seen him. Kill this man if he ever comes back.

For the first five minutes, I was shaking as I stood behind the door with a loaded shotgun. I broke out in a heavy sweat until I could barely hold the gun. I expected him to kick down the door any minute, this is how the scene played out in mind, that the next time he came, he’d come in like a monster.

Thirty minutes later, he drove off.

After my mom came home, we called the police. He must have been from out of town because the cops weren’t familiar with the car he drove (an orange Nova the second time around) or his description. I’m not even sure they believed me.

Cause shit like that didn’t happen in our town.

That’s Her!

It looked more like a college than a high school graduation. The floor of the arena had over 1400 chairs lined up for the graduates who poured in from four different entrances.

From way up there in the nose bleed section, they all looked like marching ants, identically dressed in maroon caps and gowns. There was a Jumbotron showing random angles, but we really didn’t think we’d know which one was Kara until they called her name right before handing her the diploma.

sea of grads

I was determined to know where she was amongst this sea of newborn adults for the entire ceremony, not just at the end. I wanted to hang on to every single moment of her childhood, young adulthood, to her.

I quickly developed a method to find her. First, I placed an imaginary alphabetically ordered grid over the seats and predicted the section she would sit.

Next, I kept an eye on the entrance that fed kids into that area. I ruled out the tall kids, or any of them who didn’t have long, straight blonde hair. That might seem easy enough, but they all looked the same height from my perspective, and almost all the girls have long blonde hair. This is Texas.

I had to yank out the secret weapon.

I ran those kids’ “walk” though my “mamma-knows-her-kid” filter.

Kara has always had this walk like a ballerina. She tip toes with these light, brisk steps while her upper body tilts a little forward. Like she can’t wait to get somewhere (she can’t). Her head glides smoothly with each step. Reminds me also of a hummingbird.

When she’s nervous, throw in a dramatic arm swing.

That swing is what I noticed first.

“That’s her!” I yelped, and finished to myself, That’s my girl.

It was. And she will always be my Sweetpea, my girl.

grad

Yay Kara!!!

Still Here

Lately I’ve almost forgotten I’ve got a blog. I’ve been doing a lot of writing elsewhere, rewriting my spec script for contests, a visual writing class, and then other busy things.

It’s been rough as I haven’t had the energy left over to do much blogging or take photos or get out in the sunshine. Now that my submission is in and the writing class is winding down, I should have more time to get back to The Show.

I’m still exercising like a maniac, that’s six months of good solid habit. I feel great and continue to push a little harder with each workout.

Got some exciting news, my son Blane and his wife are expecting their first baby at the end of October! Of course you know I will completely take over and spoil that to the bone. I haven’t thought of a grandmother name yet. I really don’t care for those names and would actually like to be called by my real name, “Kitty.”

I know this is odd. I don’t care. When I talked to my mom about it, she kept saying “ahahhaaha you are going to be a granny.”

I know twenty-five year olds who are “grannies.” I will never be one of them. I cuss and go to rock concerts and don’t even own a rocking chair. I need to get one of those.

I was at Blane Jr.’s house a couple of nights ago helping him paint a room. We were up at 2AM and I asked him if this was usual for him to be up so late on a work night. He said he was both a night owl and an early bird.

Now I’m not much of an advice giver unless someone asks, but I told him he might want to use the upcoming months to get ahead on his sleep. Once the kids come in the picture, there’s not a good night’s sleep coming for at least the next 21 years.

Then I told him about the first morning I woke up with him after we got out of the hospital. Kids, even when adults never outgrow hearing baby stories about themselves.

I was worried I wouldn’t hear him cry during the night because he sounded like a newborn kitten when he cried. I was just a teenager and had never been around babies. I was clueless and I knew it.

So that first morning I woke up after a full night’s sleep. And my baby was gone. I went into my parent’s room and found my mom wiping him down with a washrag.

Me: What ya doin’?
Mom: Giving him a sponge bath.
Me: Where is the sponge and why don’t we put him in the tub instead?
Mom: You can’t get their belly buttons wet!

There were tons of people around me for the following weeks giving out massive amounts of advice. That got old pretty quickly and you know, you look at these people and look at their kids and think, I really don’t want this person’s advice.

So I went to the library and checked out every parenting book I could get my hands on. When people would dish out advice, my mom would say (with sarcasm), “She won’t do it, that’s not what the books says.”

She and the old hens would cackle about this, but you know me, I’m fine with people getting a good laugh on me. In the end, I’ve raised (am still raising) a good batch of kids.

When is food too old to eat?

I cooked a gumbo about eight days ago. Normally, if it doesn’t get eaten in about 3-5 days, it gets pitched. Gumbos are big so I usually portion some to go in the fridge for leftovers and some for the freezer.

So, for lunch yesterday I was digging around for some grub and noticed the one I made for the freezer was still in the fridge. I felt rotten and irresponsible for not putting it away, what a dumb assed thing.

It smelled okay. It was seasoned up pretty well too, I mean, what could grow in that?

So I put it in the micro and ate it.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a stomach like a dog. I have never had food poisoning in my life. Not once. 

Yogurt? I have eaten yogurt three weeks past expiration. 

Cheese? That stuff doesn’t go bad until the furry stuff grows on it. And I have cut that off and eaten what’s inside. 

I wouldn’t feed that to my kids though. I have a whole different set of rules for them.

So here’s what I want to know. When are leftovers too old to eat?

Chicken?

Beef?

Pork?

Spaghetti?

Fish?

Rice? (I recently had a cousin insist  10 day old rice in the fridge was still good)

Yes, I know I can look it up on the internet, but I want to know what y’all think, because see, yogurt? That expiry date is too conservative.

Finally, what’s the craziest outdated food you’ve ever eaten?

The Pink Tide

I never imagined I would live in a girl controlled house. It seemed when my baby brother was born, the fourth boy, the last one, I was forever doomed to male dominance. We had a democratic household when I was growing up, but the guys always overturned any ideas of fun I had.

Play princess? Forget it. Cowboys and indians or cops and robbers.

Play dolls? Are you kidding? We’re going fishing. 

My entire neighborhood was also nothing but boys. There were no other girls in walking distance until I was about 13. Almost grown up by then.

I never got even until we played barber and I had the scissors. Boy, did I cut some hair. 

My first child was a boy and I had to put in another eight years of being overruled on anything girly. We weren’t even sure if we could have any more children for a while. Then Kara came along. First time in my life, we were tied. It felt strange just to have an equal say in how things would go. When Spanky came along, that was it. The tide had turned, and it turned pink.

Girls rule. FOREVER!

First Christmas, we threw out the wooden train stuff and plaids and got the pink tree. 

conch-tree1

Which was a gift, really, from whatever had made my life so male dominate for my first twenty-nine years of life.

I was only looking for a tree with a blue tint. I spotted the one I wanted and asked the store manager to get me a fresh one still in the box. They were 70% off. 

All they had left was the floor model and the manager said if I bought it, he’d give me all the lights, ribbons, and ornaments on that tree for free.

I got about $500 worth of stuff for $30. Best deal I ever got, depending on who you talk to, of course. Everything was pink, the ten light sets, the ribbons, the bulbs, everything except for the miniature birdbaths.

img_0530

(I let ‘em off easy this year and used the white lights.)

We were consumed with power. We got flowery wallpaper and drapes, ballet pink carpet (not kidding, it looked like cotton candy) and skunked the house up with perfume every chance we got.

We got control over the remote. Now that’s real power. I can’t tell you how many cage fights and wrestling matches I’ve had to endure. Now it’s a parade or E! Any time we want.

“Oh, you want go deep sea fishing this year? Screw that, we’re going to Paris. You can come along if you want.”

“You want a big dog? No way Dude, I want something I can hold in my arms and dress up like a baby. Girl dogs! Two.”

And now that Blane Jr. is out the house, that leaves us three femmes to one homme (plus two bitches).

But seriously, we only went overboard with the decorating in the other house.

And we never really got control over the remote. Come on, do you really think a guy would ever give that up? 

Remember that “Want to Play a Game?” post from Wednesday? Here is a great place to slip in a fair and square game in which the winner will receive season two of Ice Road Truckers.

You have to guess Scrappy’s birthdate, the month and day only.

cute-scrappy

I have never mentioned her birthdate on this blog or elsewhere, so everyone has a fair shot at this. I’ll give you one hint. She was born in the summer (that is June 21st to September 20th for you guys Down Under).

Put your answer in the comments and I’ll announce the winner on Christmas Day. You can enter one guess only and the person who comes closest to her birthday wins.

I’ll mail the DVD to you or to a person of your choice. Good luck!

Ice Road

We had some freezing rain cover everything yesterday evening, so when it came time for Kara’s boyfriend to leave I offered to bring him home. These icy roads are tricky. They look normal, you can’t see the ice, but it’s there and it’s dangerous.

I lived in Michigan for a year, so I know how to drive on ice. But this is Texas and this is a rare situation for most drivers and you have to watch out for them. We were lucky, we pretty much had the streets to ourselves.

ice-road-truckers-desktop

(You can make your own Ice Road Trucker background by going :::here:::)

It took 45 minutes to get to his house. I had to drive 20 mph because any faster and the car would slide all over the road. Kara kept saying I was being overly cautious and that it didn’t feel like we were moving.

I was. I totally enjoyed driving like a slug and wanted it to be excruciating for both Kara and her boyfriend. I had advised that he not come over because of the storm, but she insisted that he come.

So in the car she kept turning the radio station every twenty seconds, something that drives me crazy, but it didn’t break my concentration (what is it with this generation that they can’t listen to even half a song?).

I thought maybe we’d have a chance to talk once I dropped him off, but they kept texting each other on the drive home.

At least I had the radio to myself.

Just as we were rounding the corner to come home, she looked up at the road which looked normal and said, again, that I was being ridiculously over cautious. I told her I was a skilled driver, that I made it look easy, and we were in an extremely treacherous situation, but she wouldn’t know that because she was so distracted with her texting.

Then I hit the brakes and let the car slide down the road to show her how slippery it was. She laughed when I told her I could be an Ice Road Trucker if I wanted to.

Santa on and off the Hook

Blane had this really cool camera, the Canon 5D Mark II on order for me. It is yet to start shipping and Blane is getting nervous that the thing will come in while (if) we’re out of town. Don’t want to leave that one on the porch.

I told him to cancel it. I felt bad about asking for something like that when I am pretty fresh in regard to handling a DSLR. I still don’t know much about artificial lighting, in fact, maybe I should get a fill flash and some of those shiny umbrellas before upgrading.

I go back and forth, maybe I’ll get the thing. I don’t know. For right now, it’s been cancelled.

I’d like to get out of town for the holidays. Look for some cheap tickets to anywhere and haul it.

Thing is, Kara (AKA Sweetpea-that is a name I call all my kids, btw, so it confuses the hell out of family who read)… Kara has a friend from out-of-state coming over while the kids are out for  the holidays. I’m a bit pissed about it, that this kid’s parents bought her a plane ticket here without calling me. We almost always head out for the holidays. Kara had asked a while back if we were going anywhere and I told her not that I knew of. I always say that because we make last minute plans.

She does have other friends she could stay with, so we are not grounded because the kid must stay at my house, but she is coming mainly to see Kara.

So Kara doesn’t want to go on any trips. She thinks since she is 18 she doesn’t have to come with us anywhere anymore.

Not to Paris.

Not to Italy.

Not to England.

Not to the Carribean.

Not home to Louisiana.

I guess she’s right. She doesn’t. But I don’t feel good leaving town without her. I could leave her with her older brother, but I don’t feel good about dumping my kid on another one of my kids.

I hate being grounded like this. It takes conversations in this house to the soap opera level.

The kid who’s coming, she used to live here and can’t quite get over her relocation. This is her second or third time back and they have no family here. If this was my kid? I’d tell her to suck it up and road trip it when she is college age. I bet when she has to buy her own tickets back here we’ll never see her again.

And Kara? I don’t know if she realizes I won’t be buying her tickets to fun places once she’s all grown up. All grown up in my book is college grad so she’s got a few more years of fun times. Time off from work, however, that doesn’t come so easy. Not as easy as getting off for school vacation and holidays.

And I won’t even say I told her so.

Secondhand Payback and a Hundred Thousand Years of Life

So Blane’s cousin and his eight year-old daughter left and now I can speak freely of the torture we have been through over the last 48 hours.

Maybe I’ll think of a nickname for this kid by the end of this post. Right now all I can think of is Clifford.

v03360swnhc

She’s been here before and I’d heard all sorts of grievances from Blane and kids, but around me, she’s an angel. She draws pictures for me, gives out free hugs, tells me I’m her favorite “aunt.”

The thing is, she has ADHD and by the time I wake up, the kid’s meds are working.

Before that, she goes to every room but mine and wakes everyone up. How she does that is the nefarious part.
She jumps on the bed and yells, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
Shakes a tin box full of coins while standing just out of arms reach.
Yesterday morning was a pretty good one, she dragged Spanky’s floor lamp right over her head and shined it right in her face. Spanky told her, “Get out or I will punt you, Kid.”

Why doesn’t she come in my room? I think it’s because the dogs are in there and they growl if anyone comes near the door. Brave guard dogs, yay!

So yesterday afternoon we decided to take the light rail into Dallas to see the King Tut exhibit.

For about twenty minutes I had to watch the kid while her dad and Blane were fighting with the bandit kiosk for tickets.

She kept running up and down the ramps, tightroping the edge of the train platform, climbing the rails like a monkey…

Now I have a really healthy set of nerves, my little brother was ten times worse. But Blane and Spanky never had younger siblings. They aren’t used to this. Blane himself probably has ADHD, I’ve heard some stories from every single relative about how he was a hammerheaded nerveen.

So Blane at least deserves it. But me? No way, man. When the kid kept unzipping my purse I told her there was a badazz snake in there. Nipped that shit in the bud.
Kid: What does it look like?
Me: It’s poisonous, you want me show it to you?

Telling her that story made her only want to “hang out” with me more. After about ten minutes into the forty-five minute train ride I asked her dad if he gave her a speedball or something.

That’s when he told me he forgot to give her her meds. Oh. Boy.

I felt sorry for all the people around us. Most of them would just get up and move. So the seat in front of us was empty when the gangsta-looking dude with the scowl and doo-rag strutted onto the train and plopped himself right there.

I was fine until that moment, I swear, I was like Mother freaking Theresa of feral children, but I knew this wasn’t good. I begged the kid to go sit with her dad. Offered to let her dig in my purse and play Old Maid with my credit cards, anything to get her away from that dude.

Of course she constantly kicked the back of his seat. What I can’t believe is that he didn’t put a cap in my ass when she elbowed him in the back of the head. Twice.

That was the train ride there.

The Tut exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art was better than expected. There was gold, gold GOLD everywhere. And you know how I dig shiny stuff.

I was surprised with the level of detail in all the pieces, exquisite inlays of ivory, wood, and stone. Almost everything had hieroglyphs on the backside of them. I was especially impressed with the one spell wishing Tut a “hundred thousand years of life.”

And got all existential in there. His spell is better than ours, it ends in about 97,000 years. We get eternity. I mean, what are we going to do in the afterlife in all that time?

The train ride back wasn’t so bad. The kid expended a load of energy fingering up all the glass in the museum. (she tried to pry open one of the glass encasements!)

What kept her busy was she found the pole that you can hold onto if you don’t want a seat. She’d climb it and slide down. Spin around it. I looked at her dad and said, “Watch out dude, payback is hell.”

Got to the car and the kid refused to sit down unless she was sitting with her feet under her. Shoes all over the seats of Spanky’s new car.

Why did she want to sit like that? Oh you will die when you read this. She rolls up her underwear to make them look like she has thong like her mom and apparently it hurts to sit with them all bunched up like that.

Children…

While I was growing up, my next-door neighbor had this poem on a poster in the kids’ room. By the time I was a teenager, I was their babysitter. One time, while putting them to bed (after the lights were out) I asked them if they knew the words to the poem on the wall. It was so cute, all three of them reciting this thing in the dark. 

I don’t know them anymore but often wonder if those kids had kids and whether they thought about this thing while raising them. 

For me, these are probably the most important things I know about parenting. 

Children Learn What They Live

BY DOROTHY LAW NOLTE

If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
He learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.

Bright Idea

I got this amazing idea to make a video with the kids. Most of the time when I have the urge to do something creative, I get started on it immediately and if it involves others, round them up quickly. I told everyone about it on Friday and planned to shoot the thing on Sunday.

I wrote the script, made the costumes, got the props ready… I won’t spoil anything for you by telling you what it’s about, but I will say this. Every single person who was supposed to be in it skipped out on me yesterday. Every last one of them.

So I thought about doing the entire thing by myself. Produced, directed, written by and starring Kitty.

I realized it wouldn’t work when I just couldn’t teach myself how to ride a unicycle.

And I ran out of light. It’s an outside project.

We rescheduled the shoot for Tuesday and although it is not a halloween video, I’d like to have it all done before then. I have a lot of other things I’m working on and I want this thing out of the way.

It kinda sucks when your kids get older. They aren’t readily available or spontaneous like they used to be.

In other matters, here’s my scary new avatar just for this halloween season:

I just have to check out the new polling feature on WordPress so here’s my first poll:

Simple Halloween Costumes

I’ve been looking through the photo albums for some halloween costumes and have these two so far. Many more to come… I love making costumes and these were simple to make with things I had around the house.

Here’s Blane Jr. when he was just a tot.

That’s just a sheet and some makeup.

And Blane Sr. as Edward Scissorhands.

I wish I had a shot of the scissor hands. I took some black plastic sheets from those school binders and cut them to look like those long shears. We had just watched the movie and Blane had the act down to a “t”. Everyone at the party wanted to just hug him. He won a trophy that night, but I can’t remember the category.

I find the best costumes I’ve made were the simple ones when I was in a time crunch and had to come up with something for that night. My mom is like that too. She is the absolute best costume designer, ever.
I’ll put some more photos up here in the coming days before halloween.

Hit the Lights

It’s been a rough two days as the girls have had their wisdom teeth removed on Monday. Both are doing well now.

They don’t pull them under general anesthesia, but use what is called waking anesthesia. Intravenous Demerol (opiate based pain medicine) and Versed (tranquilizer) along with a local anesthetic such as Novocaine. They’re awake during the entire proceedure, eliminating the need for intubation and a breathing machine.

Sweetpea had hers removed first since she had four of them. It took less than thirty minutes for her. Spanky went next and it took less than ten minutes since hers were just two uppers.

By the time they let me go back there to help wake them up, Sweetpea was bouncing off the walls. I promised not to tell anyone whether or not she had been crying for me. She also got the new nickname of Amy Winehouse:

Sweetpea: Mom. My entire face is numb. After we leave here, you have to take me to get my lip pierced.

Me: You’re not getting your lip pierced.

Sweetpea: What? This is the best time, I can’t feel anything. Let’s go.

Me: Sit down. You’re not getting your lip pierced.

Sweetpea: (rapid fire speech) I have a friend who has all the stuff. I’m going to call him to come over tonight and do it. If you let me get my lip pierced, I ~swear~ when I get my tattoos they won’t show.

Me: Tattoos?! No. Hush all that nonsense.

Sweetpea: F*%k that. I’ve been wanting my lip pierced since I’m 12 years old. Gotdamn. This f*%king sucks.

Me: Sweetpea, you’re embarrassing me, the nurses can hear you. Where did you learn how to talk like that?

Sweetpea: You.

Blane’s there too and he’s about to lose his mind hearing all this. I go see about Spanky, coming out just now.

—–

They drag Spanky down the hallway toward her little recovery room. Her feet aren’t touching the ground and her eyes slowly crawl the the outer limits of the sockets. She looks like she’s been lobotomized and I have a hard time holding back an explosion of tears. But I do. It’s hard, my breathing skips as if I’d been crying.

I guess Sweetpea must have been like that at first too, but they didn’t let me see her until a lot of what she had wore off. Sweetpea, (aka Amy Winehouse) is able to walk now. She bursts into Spanky’s room:

Sweetpea: Mah, Dad says he’s moving us to Europe for two years and I won’t have a cell phone or a computer.

Me: Blane!

Poor Spanky keeps crying and doesn’t want to wake up:

Me: Spanky, wake up so we can go home.

It takes her a full minute to complete just one sentence.

Spanky: I. Want. My. Thinking… Back.

Me: Wake up and you’ll be able to think.

Spanky: I don’t like this.

Winehouse, sprawled out in the chair has advice.

Sweetpea: (Slurred) You better never smoke pot, Spanky.

Me: (to Sweetpea) Okay, Amy Winehouse.

Sweetpea: Why you call me that?

Spanky: I. Can’t. Think. (crying like a little girl)

It seemed as if she was falling even deeper into netherland as the time went by. I think she might have been a little shocky. The doctor passed by, and when he saw how pale she was, he lowered her head and looked panicked. I told him she is normally really pale, but suggested a little blood pressure check (duh). 

Then came vomitus eruptus. I had the trash can to catch it as soon as she sprung up. 

Spanky: How’d you know I was gonna hurl?

Me: Mammas know everything.

Sweetpea: They do?

Me: Hell yeah.

Sweetpea: (whisper) Got-damn.

——

Whatever was in Spank’s stomach must have been what was making her so lethargic. She was wide awake after that and we got to go home. That quick.

The next two days was pretty much me slaving over the two girls. Administering a million pills, filling ice paks, gettting them this and that… They wouldn’t sleep and just in case, I’d bought them some Magic Marker posters to color.

They kept saying “I forgot how fun it was to color…”

Sweetpea worked on her sketch of Cobain.

Spanky worked on her plushies for an anime festival she’s going to at the end of this month.

After about the second day, Spanky admitted, “I love playing the invalid.”

The Cart Before the Horse

Some stories and movies begin at the ending. I tend to like these stories but only if done well. The middle of the story must be exceptional since what is usually the best part is given up front.

So you read, see, or hear this spectacular part of the story and just wonder how this character got to this point. A good example would be the movie American Beauty in which the lead character says (in narration) that he will be dead in less than a year.

I used to think authors used this cart before the horse technique to lessen the blow if a well liked character was going to die. We would get to choose how much emotion to invest in the doomed character and not get all pissed at the author for killing them off.

But that’s not it. I don’t think. It is to get the audience to focus more on the journey and maybe for the author to flaunt his/her skills at story structure.

Now that I’ve told you all that, I will begin this post at the end. Not to flaunt skills, but I just don’t want anyone to worry about me for a second.

I do not have cancer and I am not dying.

It started last week with a routine x-ray. A couple of days later I got a voicemail telling me I have to go back in to have some additional views. I knew what that meant. They saw something. I didn’t check my voicemail until the place was closed, so I had to sleep on that.

Next day I call and get that person’s voice mail. No one else will discuss the matter with me. So I Left a message. Waited all day and finally got a call back just before the place closed. I wanted to be in the place already having the additional films.

I get the next available appointment which is another couple of days out. So for a few days I’m thinking I could be dying. I don’t tell anyone as it is useless to worry someone about something that could be a false alarm.

I fill these days with distraction. Go out to the cemetery and take photos. Get eaten up by bugs or poison ivy or oak or something really dreadful. I have thousands, yes, thousands of red whelps all over my body. They itch like nothing I’ve had before, and I’ve had measles and chickenpox. This is horrible.

That is “Death of Marat” by David. Marat had a skin condition so he was always in the tub. That’s where he was murdered.

Anyway, I go back for x-rays and I’m covered in these red bumps. Tell the woman she may want to wear gloves (I would). She shows me the previous x-ray and, fuck, it looks like I’m ate up with cancer. She tells me I will know the results of this day’s xrays within an hour. Great. I get to find out I have cancer while my husband is out of town.

Same thing shows up. She tells me to go wait down the long hall to the left because they might need to do a sonogram. Patients whose films look good get to go to the right, put their clothes back on and leave. I get to go to what I thought of as death row. Sit. Wait. Read women’s mags. Wait. Why don’t they hire a masseuse for this part, huh?

Another patient joins me. I’m thinking about cracking a Green Mile joke to lessen the tension but decide not to after she says something about people who sew their own clothes being idiots. “It all ends up costing more than if you bought the clothing.”

The tech finally comes get me and I chant to myself, “Walking the mile, walking the mile…dead man walking…”

Anyway it turned out to be scar tissue from a surgery I had as a child. No cancer. Deep sigh.

Not the end of the story. Hang in there.

I get a piece of paper from the radioligist saying “You do not have cancer.” Get home, put it up on the counter in the kitchen.

Later that night I ask Spanky to spray some Benadryl on my itchy back. When she sees all the whelps she is horrified and says, “There’s something really wrong with you. This can’t be bug bites, it looks really bad, Mom.”

I tell her it’s nothing, not to worry.

What happens next is pretty horrible. She finds the radiology report and through her worried little eyes reads it wrong. She thinks it says, “You have cancer.”

She doesn’t ask me anything. Thinks I’m hiding bad news. In the middle of the night, she’s sobbing uncontrollably and wakes her sister Sweetpea. Tells her the news. Sweetpea comes downstairs and reads the report correctly. Tells Spanky. But Spanky says she read it on another paper.

Today I find out all about this and am sickened that the girls had to go through that.

Sweetpea says, “Man, I thought I was going to lose my hair.”

“You? Or me?” I ask.

“I was going to shave my head to make you a wig,” she says.

“All the way off?”

“Well I was gonna do a mohawk thing. Almost all.” She says.

Spanky chimes in, “Well I was thinking mine would be better because it’s longer and healthier.”

Man, I wanted to cry. I explained to them I would never hide such a thing.

About these horrible bites or whatever, I spent almost the entire day soaking in the pool. It feels as if I’ve rolled around in an ant pile.

But I don’t have cancer and I’m not dying. Whew.

Everyone’s a Bad Driver

A family of five was killed in a car accident by my house on Sunday. Someone passed a red light at a high rate of speed and hit their minivan as they were crossing the intersection.

A couple of days ago, Spanky and I passed there on our way home and noticed a bunch of flowers and teddy bears people left at the accident site.

We observed a moment of silence and then Spanky asked me, “Can you teach me how to drive?”

“Right now?” I asked.

“Yeah, now.”

She’d been asking. I’d been putting it off.

So I detoured over to the elementary school parking lot. The same place I taught Blane and Sweetpea on their very first lesson. I explained the clutch, gears, breaking, etc. and told her the first time she hits the gas the car will hop and conk out. It happens to everyone. It’s tradition. Not to be embarrassed.

She gets behind the wheel and just as I predicted, the car hops and chokes. Her face turns beet red and she laughs, exactly as I thought. A man walking his dog pauses and watches for a while. He’s stuffing a smile, possibly revisiting a memory of when he learned how to drive or when he taught his kids or both.

Some skate board kids zing by and when they notice someone practicing driving, they sit down and watch the show.

Spanky finally makes it past the conk out stage and heads straight for one of the grassy islands in the parking lot.

Although I have my hand on the parking brake, I yell, “Stop! Press the gas!”

I can’t explain what it looked like the car was doing, but she stopped just in time to miss the curb. She was laughing so hard she could barely breathe.

“Woman! You’re going to get us killed! What do you mean, ‘Stop! Press the gas?!’”

My turn to blush, “I meant the brake…”

Before long she’s doing perfect circles in the lot in first gear. She tells me she thinks she will start using the sewing machine so she can develop better control of a foot pedal. I thought that was pretty smart.

And she did. She just finished sock monkey pajama pants (cute!).

Spanky officially begins driving school in August. I’m terrified. I’ll keep telling her as I told the others, assume everyone else on the road is a bad driver.

Strawberry Fields 4evr

Today is Spanky’s birthday. Fifteen years ago, when we brought her home from the hospital, we were buying strawberries by the crate. Don’t ask how I remember that but she loves to hear the story over and over.

So every year when her birthday rolls around we know it is strawberry season. No need to even check the bottom of the container for rotten ones. They’re all good.

While Spanky is a genetic improvement of Blane and I, Spanky has:

My cowlick, my chin, lips, knees, whacked baby toenail, and passion for music and words.

Blane’s eyes, brows, shoulders, competitiveness, sense of responsibility, keen perception.

She has her own sense of humor and an immaculate memory.

This weekend she goes to her first school dance with her first boyfriend. I sent an email out to a few of the girls with some photos of Spanky comparing different dresses. Her first grown-up looking dress. I got so many different responses. Some people focused on my perspective, some on hers. It was fascinating (and although Spanky always says she doesn’t care what people think about how she dresses, she wanted to know what everyone thought about the dress she chose).

She doesn’t want anything for her birthday. She never wants anything. She gets that from her dad.

Two famous Spanky quotes: “The world is a pop-up book (age 4)” and “Queue the fangirls (age 13).” 

Oh, and, “This is the Wife (age 3).” She was kicked back in her Mickey Mouse swimming pool, wearing sunglasses, with her arms propped upon the sides of the pool. She couldn’t pronounce an “L.”

When she started walking she ditched the traditional method and walked on her knees instead for months. I think she was afraid of falling. She hardly ever fell. Clumsy is the last word I’d use to describe her. 

She loves to listen to the Beatles, so I have the perfect YouTube for her, Strawberry Fields. I’ve read Lennon wrote this song about himself, how he thinks on a different level than most people. She’s like that.

Happy Birthday, Spank.

 

 

 

 

Honda Civic Tour 2008 (Concert-Dallas)

One of Sweetpea’s friends came over last week saying she had to offload two Honda Civic Tour (Dallas concert) tickets due to a scheduling conflict.

Spanky and I just looked at each other, quite surprised at our good fortune. Headlining that tour was Panic At The Disco, one of her favorite bands. I never liked them until a few weeks ago, with the release of their “Pretty. Odd.” CD. 

Spank and I dropped everything and went, of course.  She says she feels she must to do a review of the show so people will open their minds to this band. I don’t know if she’ll get to it though, she has a pretty bad cold right now.

I’ll give you a run down of what it was like for me.

First, the cool factor. There is nothing about being at a concert that makes me feel cool or hip, especially one such as this where most of the fans are teenaged girls and I am one of the oldest persons in the place. I keep in mind that all the teenagers at these concerts probably don’t feel cool, either (it comes with being that age), AND I don’t think a single person notices me, anyway.

Is it horrifying? Maybe for a hip music reviewer who can’t stop thinking about how out of place he/she is for being there at the age of over 25. I find it taints their work and the reviews are not usually well thought out but a hit job on the talent because of who their audience is. They should actually pay attention to these acts because they grow with their audiences and change styles as these kids get older.

Panic At The Disco (PATD) is a perfect example of this. Spanky started listening to them when she was about twelve. I wasn’t too crazy about their music then, it was a bit on the whiney side. Three years later, this band has a new CD, “Pretty. Odd.” and it is exceptional. I’d think if one likes the Beatles, they’d like some of these songs. Maybe. Beatles fans can be a bit possessive about a music style and shout, “That’s a rip-off!” I don’t feel this way since I’m not happy with a finite set of tunes.

Now, about the show.

Starter bands usually suck because they’re new and trying to make a name for themselves. We were downright shocked with the first band, Phantom Planet (here’s their MySpace page). They’re not new, but I think they’ve recently become “quite good.” I don’t even know how to categorize them, it’s like classic and new rock rolled into one package. Their live performance was spectacular and missing their set because they are the first band would be a big mistake for anyone with a Honda Civic Tour ticket. Trust me on that. It’s forty-five minutes of pure music bliss.

The second band, The Hush Sound was excellent, if you like breeezy California rock. The front-woman, Greta Salpeter’s voice is pristine, but sounds a bit too much like other popular front women vocalists such as  Hayley Williams of Paramore, Avril Lavigne, and Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf. After about three songs, Spank and I were hoping they’d hush their sound as it got into Brady Bunch territory.

Third in the lineup, Motion City Soundtrack, another of Spanky’s favorite pop-rock bands. I don’t like their music, but they performed well. I was fixated on Jesse Johnson’s (synthesizer) dramatic emo bang. One of the things I like to do at these concerts is get at least one great photo of something unusual. That was my challenge of the night, to capture this thing. The guy has this chunk of hair in the front that is about a foot long while the rest of his hair is buzz cut length. The entire time he plays, he rocks his head back and forth really fast and this hair thing is an act of its own.

     

Come on, emo bang, cooperate.

 

Yes, you.

 

It’s hard enough fighting the lights and fog.
 Don’t get all smug. you haven’t won, yet.

 

 Ha ha, Gotcha!

Now for the headliner, Panic At The Disco, which started at about 10 PM. Their lead vocalist, Brendon Urie pulled off his part with perfection. I usually find that about half the time at any given show of any given band the vocals are not en forme. All four bands on this tour did surprisingly well as far as vocals go. It could be that this is the first week of the tour and voices are still fresh.

Okay, Spanky just passed by and said to save her some space for her forthcoming review. Yay, Spank saved the day. It won’t be in this post as she hasn’t started it yet.

In the meantime, I’ve uploaded a few photos here, if you’re interested.

Here’s a YouTube I uploaded of one of my favorite songs from their current CD. What’s funny about this video is what’s happening at the beginning, left of screen. A security guard struggles to heave a kid out of the pit. Reminds me of birthing. From my perspective, a mom bringing her kid to a concert… well you get the metaphor.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can hear Spanky’s voice singing in there. Funny thing.

Oh, and about the venue. What’s odd is how the name of the venue changes with the type of music… They call it the Palladium Ballroom for rock concerts, but Gilley’s the rest of the time.

Gilley’s as in Urban Cowboy. Mechanical bulls. Country music. Small place. Small crowd.

This was a great show. Go see it if it comes to your city.

 

Invisible Internet Ink

Last night, Spanky and I were reading some fanfic and movie parodies on the internet.

While reading this parody of the movie 300, I accidentally highlighted the text and noticed what I called “invisible internet ink.” Spanky laughed and said something like, “That’s Whytex.”

Me: How do you do that Spank?

Spanky: It’s Whytex.

Me: It’s cool, Spank, it’s invisible. I want you to show me how to do that.

Spanky: It’s just WHITE text! This is where she rolls her condescending teenage eyes.

Me: Oh. This is where i get evil ideas.

Spanky: Haven’t you ever been to an internet forum… and looked to see the hidden messages?

Me: Yeah, but I never saw any hidden messages. Never thought to look for it, what kind of people leave hidden messages?
Spanky: That’s where all the snarky comments are. I don’t think my Whytex is going to show up in the rss feeds.

She claims she is going to have a lot of fun telling all her friends at school about this. I claim I am going to blog about it. She tells me I will look like a fool.