Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Packing My Shit and Heading Out

I'm moving here. Jennyquarx recommended I make this move, and I figure, New Year, New Start.

The site is still under construction, so be patient. Thank you, one and all, for making my stay here so awesome. My love for you is larger than the biggest stars. Or something.

Post to follow tonight. I would love to see you there.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Everybody Lies

I'm just not good at it.

I've attempted a couple of lies in my past, as a child and as an adult, such as: "Julie, what are you doing in there?" "Nothing!" *bathroom door slams open, and my father enters to find me with a sink full of water, stirring baby powder into it with the toilet brush*

My parents pounded into my head that lying is absolutely unacceptable. You get in far less trouble if you simply tell the truth from the get go. That, my friends, is a fact.

I've attempted to live by the axiom that Honesty is the Best Policy, but I do know the merit of lies of omission. I once ran into someone I used to work with and he looked like sixteen locomotives had run over him over the past few years. I simply avoided making any comment on his appearance. No, "You look great!" or any such tripe. An ex-boyfriend was an absolutely lousy kisser, and I merely avoided ever bringing up the topic.

I got my first tattoo at the age of 20 knowing that it would upset my mother hugely. I never told her I was going to get one, but after it was done I felt I had to show her immediately rather than spend years hiding it from her. She reacted, well, horribly. Hysterics. Spoke with her monsignor about it. I felt better not hiding it though.

Yesterday I looked at Livvie's fish, Hungry Arthur, and I knew he wasn't long for this world. He was hanging out at the bottom of his tank, and he didn't look like himself. Please don't ask how a fish can manage to not look like himself, but after almost two years of living with him and caring for him daily I could tell something was wrong. I told Rich last night that I didn't expect him to make it through the night, and I was right. Livvie woke up crying at about 4am, and when I went in to care for her I checked on him. He was still around. By 830 this morning he was gone and beginning to turn gray.

Rich and I discussed the matter, and he felt we should switch him out for a new fish without her finding out. I was weighing the options in my head, and I originally agreed with him. Livvie isn't at a place cognitively where she can understand the finality of death. Her only knowledge of the word "dead" in general is in relation to AA and C batteries. So I agreed with him without liking it one bit. I did know, though, that I didn't want her to catch a glimpse of her already decaying little buddy who has watched over her every night while she sleeps. While she wasn't looking I managed to scoop him out and remove him from the premises. I turned off the light on the tank, and went about my business, albeit with my stomach starting to knot.

Rich left to do some work at the other house, and my mother left for Mass. Livvie was playing in her room. My chest kept tightening and my stomach kept roiling until I simply couldn't take it another second. Was it for my benefit or hers? I don't know. I simply felt she deserved to hear the truth, regardless of whether or not she would truly understand it. So I led her to the fish tank, turned the light back on, and pointed and said, "Honey, I have to tell you something. Your fish is gone." She said, "Fish is gone?" and I told her yes he was. Then I said, "Honey, your fish got old and sick, and he died. He passed away. He won't be here anymore." She was puzzling it out in her head. I could see the wheels turning. She knows what sick means. Not so much the dead part. So I said again, "He passed away honey. He died. He couldn't stay with us anymore. If you want one, we can get you a new fish." She looked up and said, "A new fish to put in the water?" I told her yes. I told her she could pick one out. She said, "New fish!" and moseyed off.

Nope. Doesn't really get it.

I have no issue with lying about Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, and even the Tooth Fairy. I don't know why those things are different to me, but they are. I simply couldn't mislead my kid in this instance. I decided to take a chance and see how it went. It could have blown up in my face. I know I should have called Rich and told him my intentions. I simply couldn't hold it in another second.

Yeah, I probably did it for me.

Lies weigh heavily on my heart. They always have. They crush me with their weight into millions of pieces until I start crying on a regular basis. The biggest lie my mother ever told me was on the day my father died. She came home that night, told me Daddy was gone, and that they had done all they could to save him. Several months later I heard her sobbing and went into the bedroom. She looked at me and said, "I lied to you. Daddy was already dead when we got to the house. There was nothing anyone could do."

And then over the years she managed to file that little tidbit away into the recesses of her mind so that when I brought it up years later she had no idea what I was talking about. It had upset her THAT much.

Yeah. No. Sorry, folks. I won't ever do that to myself.

I carry enough guilt for things I've said and done out in the open.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm Not Going to Lie to You

Christmas really is more fun when there are kids involved.

However, my entire life I have refused to actually become apathetic about Christmas. Granted, Halloween is my favorite holiday, followed by Thanksgiving. Terrible things have happened in my life on and around Christmas, but I will not let them ruin it for me.

I worked in one form of retail or another for a total of 17 years in my life, and every year I would grumble about how much I hated Christmas. I didn't. I hated the shoppers, and the nastiness, and the lady that threw an ornament right at the head of one of the cashiers when I worked at Shoddy, Overpriced Decor for Your Home. I hated that it took me 30 minutes to walk from the only parking spot I could find at the mall to We Suck Records where I worked. I hated the woman who was shopping at Very Large, Now Defunct Record Store who walked up to me at 11pm and asked me if we were going to have extended holiday hours. I hated the woman who threatened my mom in the parking lot at the mall because Mom had taken "her" parking spot, and when she called my mom a bitch I launched myself at her and her two overdressed, overmadeup, overhairsprayed friends and my mom had to physically hold me back.

But I didn't hate Christmas.

In January of 1983, January 15th to be exact, my father died suddenly. Our tree was still up. His presents were still under the tree, as he had not taken them home yet. Our usual tradition was to put the tree up on December 11th, Mom's birthday, and take it down after January 5th, Dad's birthday. For some reason we had not taken it down yet. When my mother came home that night and told me he was gone I flipped right the fuck out and started throwing every gift he had given me, and I even kicked some of them for good measure. I did actually ask my mom if we were taking the gifts for him back to the store, and she said some of them.

I didn't hate Christmas.

When I was 19 years old my grandmother had been lying in a nursing home bed for 5 years. Christmas Day 1990 I went in to visit her with my mother. I hadn't been in for quite some time, as the whole situation depressed me utterly. She hadn't spoken a word in 5 years, and she spent her days sleeping or staring into space. We walked into her room and I walked around her bed to her right. Christmas cards were all over the bulletin board above her head, not that she ever saw them. As she cast her eyes in my direction her entire body stiffened and she went into arrest. A nurse ran in and shooed us out and called a code. A few moments later my grandmother was gone. I was directed by my mother to call some family members to help us out, and I spent my day deflecting family holiday greetings with, "Grandmom just died."

I didn't hate Christmas.

I have no memory of any Christmas Eve that didn't take place at the Neale residence. Mr. Neale had passed away the year I was born, but he had been my mom's boss at Giant Soup Company with Amazing Stock Returns for 20 odd years. My parents were very close with his family, and every Christmas Eve my mother would haul me to 5 o'clock Mass, we would grab something small to eat, and then we would head over to the Neale house. Every year Mrs. Neale would have the TV set tuned to the burning fireplace thingy with the carols playing in the background. At the Neale house I was introduced to caviar for the first time. My verdict was that it tasted like wharf. Easy Cheese in a can every single year. I think she kept it on hand for me. I loved pushing the little sprayer and making designs on my crackers. The adults sat around and had adult conversation that went over my head, but everyone always made sure I had a good time since I was the only child there. When Mrs. Neale's son was 44 he finally met a fantastic woman and got married. We loved her, and seeing him so happy was just an amazing thing. Her son, Roy, was one of the quiet types who only opened his mouth if he had something worth saying, and in my memory most of what came out of his mouth was laugh out loud funny.

Monday morning my mother called me to say she was getting on the road to head down here, and she choked up. She said she had checked the obituaries, as everyone over the age of 50 is required to do daily, and Roy was dead. I was utterly devastated. I sobbed off and on for hours. Christmas week? Seriously?? That man is in every memory I have of Christmas until I was almost 20. I called his older sister to let her know I was thinking of her and to let her know I love her. She told me she thinks about the Christmas Eves of the past every single year. We cried together.

I still don't hate Christmas.

I have had a tree every single year that I've been an adult, even when I had no one around and no plans. No matter what has been going on, no matter how shitty my life is at the time, I decorate. The first year I was divorced and spent the day by myself eating cream cheese frosting from the can and every other crap thing I could find, I still had gone to a local tree stand and found a very small, live tree and decorated it. I can't believe how quickly the holiday comes and goes each year now. It seems to blow past in a hurry and there hasn't been much time to savor it. I told Rich last night that Livvie is going to be very surprised to discover that it actually ends. I'm pretty sure that the day the tree goes out there will be tears. This year I have started the new family traditions. Cookies again after years of not going near the oven. Making crafts with my mom to decorate the house.

Someday I would like to have the house where small children try new things to eat and are warmly embraced by the adults who don't find them annoying. Someday I would like to be the destination spot for many families to gather every Christmas Eve while I put on the ridiculous burning fireplace on the TV. I want to walk people to their cars after midnight and tell them I'll see them next year; hopefully sooner, while gleefully yelling, "Merry Christmas!!" to the small ones.

This year, though, I am content to make a new batch of chocolate chip cookies, make sure the turkey is thawed, start the stuffing for tomorrow, get my kids to bed, and put the absurd amount of presents provided by the grandparents under the tree.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Stay warm. Stay safe.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cheese (being the post in which I actually discuss cheese)

Part Skim Mozzarella, well, sucks.

I'm a cheese snob. I really am. I love cheese almost as much as I love beer. Cheese and beer is actually a favorite meal. Forget the wine. Although I do love wine. Mmmmmm. Shiraz.

My absolute favorite cheese is white extra sharp. It has to be white. I'm a cheese racist. The yellow just doesn't have the same texture. It's a bit softer. A little bit greasy. Cheap extra sharp cheese for those who know no better. Why does anything need annato anyway? The white extra sharp crumbles when you slice it, which can piss a person off sometimes. However, the more aged it is the more likely it is to crumble. Really good extra sharp has a salty tang that isn't found in any other cheese. It is the perfect heavy cheese for a Triscuit. It's also very good to pack for hikes along with a bag of small, chewy rolls and a penknife.

Mustard is good on extra sharp, but it isn't necessary.

My cheese experiences as a child were limited to the sharps, the Hickory Farms boxes, and a little tub of something called Wispride Port Wine Cheese Spread. There was always Wispride in the fridge at my grandmom's house. It was the perfect cheese to spread on water crackers or Sociables. Grandmom even had an actual cheese spreading knife. I was allowed to use it because it was dull. I remember being thrilled that I was eating something with wine in it. I don't know why this mattered, as if my parents were drinking something they always gave me a sip if I requested one. This would be why I had a taste for good scotch at the age of 6. Mmmmmmm. Dewar's.

Pepper Jack made it into my life sometime around my adolescence. My mom brought some sliced home from the local deli, and we were all over it. I remember us slathering brown mustard on seeded rye bread, slapping some Pepper Jack on it, and calling it lunch. Lunch was also occasionally a little trick my mom walked in on one day. I was taking slices of German Bologna, spreading mustard on them, and tearing slices of Cooper Sharp into tiny pieces and scattering them on top. She said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Making pizzas." Then I would roll them into tight little tubes and enjoy. Along those lines, my friend Ann introduced me to the concept of smearing cream cheese on thin Genoa Salami and rolling those up into tubes.

Tube food is good. Screw the nitrates.

I tried blue cheese as an adult. Prior to my Food Epiphany blue cheese scared the ever living shit out of me. There's mold in it for chrissakes. One day someone offered me some sliced French bread and had some blue cheese to spread. I was hooked. MAN, was I hooked. As a matter of fact, when my daughter was born Coyote did as requested and provided a wedge of blue and a bottle of wine after I got home from the hospital since I had been allowed neither during pregnancy. I had asked that it come to the hospital, but this was fine. Blue cheese is just- musty, rank goodness. I will eat any of the blues and be a happy chick. Stilton is frigging amazing on sourdough bread, and a few years back I discovered the joy of Gorgonzola on pizza and lost my mind. I'm still working my way through them. The blues seem to go best with crusty, chewy bread for me, but I am all over the blue cheese dressing on Buffalo Wings. Mmmmm. Tangy AND musty.

Back to Mozzarella. My husband, whose preferred cheese is processed singles in cellophane wrappers, also knows very well that the only good Mozz is whole milk Mozz. He's an ex-pizza man though. Ricotta should really be whole milk as well. It is incredibly hard to find whole milk Mozz these days, so when Rich makes stromboli or Long Island Rolls he usually stops at the Italian restaurant we discovered (that's owned and operated by several old and young men who barely or don't speak English) and purchases a container of cheese and some dough balls. This costs a fortune, which is why we don't often have stromboli. I've considered learning how to make mozzarella on my own. It doesn't look difficult; simply time consuming. I know I can do it. The only way I really like part skim mozzarella is as string cheese. String cheese is a fabulous idea, and it's fun to play with when drunk on margaritas and bourbon. Trying to peel down the thinnest strands of cheese can become a fabulous challenge when one's motor skills are impaired.

I'm at a point where if it's a cheese I'll try it. I have discovered that I find goat cheese to be meh on my palate, and I am not a fan of most soft cheeses. Most of them remind me of sinus infections to start, and I find them somewhat bland. I am, though, all over feta. The day I first tried feta with cracked black peppercorns in it I was floored. I also adore the milky, white cheese used by our favorite Mexican place and would love to make my own chicky nachos with it.

Two things-

Although I am essentially a Philly girl, do NOT come anywhere near my cheese steak with Cheese Whiz or I will slap you upside the frigging head. It's Provolone or nothing.


I find it highly disturbing that my daughter will pull the melted cheddar cheese off of her broccoli, eat the broccoli, and leave the cheese.

Does anyone else peel the crispy, greasy, brown melted cheese off of a cookie sheet and snarf it down like manna? Or is that just me?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Character Assessment

On November 27, 2006 I posted this on a message board:

I'm inventing a new game.

Currently I am

Level 2

I am

-2 for Endurance
+4 for Patience
+5 for Comedy
-2 for Hygeine

Detect Hunger
Detect Soiled Diaper
Summon Binky
Summon Bottle
Create Giggles

Alignment- Lawful Good

Level 2
Working Dad


-4 for Endurance
-1 for Patience
+2 for Comedy
+5 for Hygeine

Detect Fussing
Summon Beer

Alignment- Neutral Good

Things have changed in 3 years due to time spent in the game and the addition of another kid. I've leveled up, and so has Rich. We've increased the number of things we can do as we've gained experience.

Level 7

I am +12 for Endurance
+5 for Patience
+8 for Comedy
-1 for Hygeine

Detect Hunger
Detect Soiled Diaper
Detect Mood Swings
Summon Binky
Summon Bottle
Summon Bourbon
Summon Electronic Entertainment
Create Giggles
Create Meals with Limited Resources
Create Activities
Heal Booboos
Dispel Evil
Hand of Protection

Bag of Holding
Finger Paint of Hilarity
Cookie Recipe of Delight
Perpetual Crockpot
Grocery List of Doom

Alignment- Lawful Good

Level 7
Working Dad


-2 for Endurance
+10 for Patience
+12 for Comedy
+8 for Hygeine

Detect Fussing
Detect Mood Swings
Summon Beer
Summon Pizza
Create Giggles
Create Resources from Nothing
Heal Booboos
Dispel Evil
Hand of Protection

Pen of Perpetual Bill Paying
Power Drill of Major Repairs
Allen Wrench of Cheap Furniture
Igloo Cooler of Adult Beverages

Alignment- Neutral Good

Does this count as coming out of the closet?

Saturday, December 12, 2009


For the length of this song, every time I hear this I am a Christian again.

I offer you the Bing Crosby rendition because Bing was the frigging bomb. If you don't think so, well, bugger off.

It really doesn't matter who is singing this though. We were running errands today, and I would lay money on Celine Dion being the vocalist. I was sobbing my eyes out while driving. I listen to these lyrics, and I simply want to throw myself at Christ's feet and repent for everything. Including simply being an asshole. Holy Mary, I DO want to fall on my knees and beg.

When the song is over I resume my bound for hell, heathen philosophies.

NO other religious carol affects me the way this one does. Not Silent Night. Not O Little Town of Bethlehem. None of them. Just O Holy Night. Is it the music? Is it the lyrics? I have no idea. This goes all the way back to childhood. Being a former Catholic raised in a fairly old parish I am used to the old hymns and prefer them. Throw some "Christian Rock" at me and I want to barf into my shoes. Churches have their ways, but I've noticed a whoooole lot of guitar etc. in the music of Catholic churches down here. No. A thousand times no. Hymns are meant for organs or orchestras. End of story.

Almost immediately after O Holy Night ended today they went into It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas. I used to DESPISE this song. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, and the Thanksgiving parade each year was hosted by a department store called Gimbels. On Thanksgiving Day the commercials would start, "It's beginning to look a lot like GIMBELS!"

I was like, 7. I wanted to shoot myself. This continued all season.

Turns out that none of those commercials exist on Youtube. Consider yourselves lucky. Oh, I was gonna include it. You know I was.

After the radio folks played that little ditty I was hoping for a trifecta, but I didn't get it. My favorite secular Christmas song:

I grin like a complete fucking idiot every time I hear this song. And I'm dating myself. So what. Screw you. For all I know, you think episodes 1-3 are where Star Wars actually begins.

This song ROCKS. It's cheerful. It's fun. It's absofuckinglutely happy.

I love happy.

As far as I'm concerned it's Billy Squire's best work. Kind of sad, kind of awesome.

An ex-boyfriend of mine went to the ends of the earth to find me an 80s Christmas compilation CD that included this song. It's the only reason I don't hate his guts after he dumped me three times. Three.

My most hated secular songs are Santa Baby and All I Want for Christmas. Flames shoot out of my head when I hear them. So far I haven't seen that godawful Victoria's Secret commercial yet this year. I'm waiting though. Remote in hand.

So. Carols. What are yours? Discuss please. Links to videos would be nice.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Honey...

Since I couldn't afford a gift this year, here, take my identity instead.

Kidding. Partially.

When I married my Ex I was 24, and I took his last name because I loved his family, and the idea didn't really bother me at first. Turns out there was only ONE person in the area with my first and maiden name, me, and in one physician's practice alone with my married name I was one of ten.

That was a bit annoying. I put it aside.

One thing that did bother me a bit more as time passed was that I had been the last member of my family with my maiden name. There were no boys to pass it down. I don't know why this matters to anyone, let alone to me, but it did. When we finally divorced one of the very first things I did was to take my paperwork down to the county courthouse and get my name back. I swore with God as my witness I would never go hungry again give up my name again.

This apparently bothered Coyote, as my previous married name went well with Julie (The Weasel). Eventually though, Summerell gave her the chance to create the moniker, Summerkins, which is much more fun anyway.

It was a bit of a pain in the ass to get my name back and have to contact everyone under the sun and provide proof of the action so they would change my name on accounts etc. As a matter of fact, my bank has Summerell on all of my accounts, even on my online banking page, but every email I receive from them is addressed to Julie (Former Married Name). THAT pisses me off. No one there has any idea why.

So when Rich and I decided to get hitched I told him flat out I was keeping my name. I could tell he was a bit hurt, but I informed him that I had done too much work to get it back and I wouldn't be giving it up again. I refused to hyphenate because my name already has nine freaking letters in it and barely fits on signature lines. My mother, who works in a school system, strongly urged me to take his name since we planned on having a kid. She said it's a total pain in the ass dealing with multiple names in a household. I didn't care. MY name. Mine.

When we had Livvie, however, her name was hyphenated up until the moment I filled out the birth certificate in the hospital. Rich wasn't there, and when I got to the box for last name I simply used his. My mother's plea had sunk in, and I was imagining a school system dealing with three last names. Yeah. No. I also pictured HER having to sign all of that in the future if they hadn't yet gotten around to microchipping and scanning us all. When the horrid woman who deals with those matters brought the certificate copy to me Rich told me I had forgotten to hyphenate her. I told him I had done it on purpose.

Jonas, naturally, was given Rich's last name alone from the get go after that.

So for the past 4 years of marriage I've been puttering around with MY name. Everyone was informed I was keeping it. All of my correspondence includes it. Am I addressed this way? Most of the time. However, every older member of my family, and ALL of Rich's family, sends me mail and checks written to Julie (His Last Name).

Holy Shitballs did that piss me off. Every check I had to endorse pissed me off. I eventually just resigned myself to the whole deal until one day I was depositing one, and the teller helpfully said, "We have name change forms in here if you need to fill one out," and I said, "No. I did not change my name. They're ignoring that."

She (helpfully) shut up.

Many doctor visits since Livvie and Jonas were born have resulted in many phone calls, and every single time I pick up the phone I hear, "Mrs. _____?" In the beginning I would say, "This is Ms. Summerell, _____'s mother," and they would apologize and continue the call. After Captain Reflux was born, however, I was dealing with doctor calls constantly. I got to the point where I stopped correcting them and simply sighed and said, "Yes." Utility companies too. It was just easier.

The other day a package for the kids arrived from Rich's dad's girlfriend, and it was addressed to Julie _____. I picked it up and yelled, "FINE!!!!" I'm sure our new neighbors were delighted.

So today I sent a check for certified copies of our marriage certificate to take to Social Security. When I get my new card I can then go to the DMV and get my new license. Then I get to again contact everyone under the sun to inform them of the change.

And it doesn't bother me in the least. It will be nice having the same name as my kids. I'll have a signature that fits on charge slips. I'll also have a somewhat silly last name. That bit sort of doesn't matter, though, as I am using mine for writing purposes and on Facebook and the like. Rich's company used to check potential employees out, and if they had social networking pages they didn't hire them. I don't know if that's still the case, but I don't think they need to find his last name on my pages. I am also leaving my email address the same.


He came home today and said, "Hello Mrs. _____."

I told him to shut up.

I'm still not comfortable with the whole "Mrs." thing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mah Bukkit

The other day Coyote posted something of a Bucket List on f445. She finished by asking what everyone else wants out of life.

It's taken me a few days to really decide.

Naturally I had flashes of irrationality. "A pony." Well, we have no place to put a pony. So that would have to be followed by, "a barn," which would then be followed by, "enough money to build a barn and feed a pony and get it regular vet checkups," which was then followed by, "a winning Powerball ticket." Reality always injects itself into my pipe dreams.

Turns out a whole lot of the things I want out of life could be managed by the purchase of one decent, winning Powerball ticket.

So my Bucket List is going to begin with the things I would do with a winning ticket and end with the things I want from life that are attainable without large sums of cash.

I want to pay off the mortgages of all of my friends. Most of my friends would have ample funds to get through daily life if they didn't have that nasty, monthly payment to make. If certain friends wanted out of their Hell Homes, I would buy their homes from them and purchase another for them instead. I want to buy a tremendous amount of land and build a commune of sorts for any friends and relatives who would like to pitch their suckass jobs and work the land with me. I would study modern agriculture at NC State to make that easier. I would build homes for my mother and Rich's mother wherever they wanted them. I would make sure they were handicap accessible just in case. I would send my mother to Germany to find her long lost cousins. I want to take flying lessons for small planes and purchase one. I want to build a free standing stone pub with loads of parking and two fireplaces and WiFi. Every October I would hold an "Atrocious Poetry Slam," and the writer of the most obnoxious piece of crap would receive a free bar tab for a year. I would build a house for myself on the coast of Maine or Nova Scotia. I would fly us there at least three times a year. I want to donate five hundred thousand dollars to my local animal shelter, wherever that might be, in order for them to better serve the community. Every year I would put aside one hundred thousand dollars to help people pay their heat and power bills, because I've been there. Three million would be divided between Alzheimer's, Breast Cancer, and Diabetes. I would buy a really, really, honking big telescope and live somewhere it gets dark enough to really use it.

Now I offer my list of attainables.

Someday I would like to be able to cook any food that I was craving, and do it well. A pony could actually be an attainable someday as Rich can build anything, and a barn wouldn't be that difficult. Once I go back to work we could afford vet care and food. I want to learn how to use a lathe properly and work with large blocks of wood to make dough bowls. I want to keep writing and keep learning how to do it better. I want to learn how to grow basil successfully. I want to get to the beach more often. I really want to raise my children to not be brats. I want to try star fruit. I want to try a persimmon. I want to visit Iceland and New Zealand. Someday a trip on Amtrak is in order. With a sleeping car. I want to drink a glass of Johnny Walker Blue. I don't need a whole bottle. I want to be able to buy potted, live Christmas trees and plant them in the spring. Imperative is the purchase of a better camera and learning to use Photoshop. My creative attempts with my current camera are always thwarted by its limited technology. I need to learn to ride a horse well. I'd also like to learn to joust. And fencing. I once dated a guy who took fencing classes, and I was terribly jealous. I need to get over my fear of electricity. I want to take shag dancing lessons and have Beach Music parties on the deck every summer. I want to learn to cook the perfect medium-rare steak on the grill. I want to learn how to operate a Bobcat. I want to start a monthly poker or rummy game and have at least 2 card tables to accommodate everyone. I want to get a pair of glasses decent enough to allow me to hit a baseball with a bat. I want to teach my kids how to actually play baseball. And basketball. And football (Rich's job). I want to grow a really big pumpkin patch and hope it's the most sincere. I want a really awesome iPod so I can read books at night in the dark. I want Rich to teach me to play the drums. I want a third, and final, tattoo. I want to learn how to make my own pizza dough and hoagie rolls. I want to make my own panzarottis and cheese steaks (so I need to buy a fryer and a griddle). I want to learn to make really good biscuits, Brunswick Stew, and hush puppies.

Think I have enough time?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Who Needs Flexible Flyers When You Have Cardboard?

Everyone these days talks about the fact that it just doesn't snow anymore the way it used to when we were kids. My mother, when I was a child, used to say the same thing. I know some people who despise snow, and I happen to think they're crabby, crotchety young men who need Gro-Lites in their homes and to take more Vitamin D.

I know some people who find amusement in the Southern reaction to snow. Snow is to the Upper Midwest as rain is to the Pacific Northwest. I know that they are sick of it by spring. Their Parking Lot Monsters can grasp on with their talons until May at times. Granted, I am not Southern, although I have been here for almost 15 years. I can tell you, though, that the South does not have the market cornered on bread and milk runs when snow is in the forecast. It happened all of my life in the Northeast too. In the South we have no fleets of snow removal equipment, and because the events happen so rarely many people don't know how to drive in it (which is ironic given that the area is swarming with Northerners). Every time we get a dusting I giggle over the folks who think that having a Canyonaro will render them immune from driving difficulty. I see most of them flipped or in ditches. Everything closes. EVERYTHING. Except convenience stores. They know that folks like my husband will be willing to trudge over a mile through 22 inches of snow in order to get beer and cigarettes. Deep in my heart I suspect that everything closes down here because people want to revel in the day. Even when we get several inches, chances are that the next day the temp will shoot up into the 50s and the snow will disappear.

As a child growing up in the Delaware Valley each school district was assigned a School Closing Number, and parents would tune into KYW early in the morning to see if their child's number was read off and they would have to make other arrangements for the day. Our number in Oaklyn is 592. Every time we got measurable snow my mother would lie awake in the dark and listen to the numbers droned out. She would hear, "590. 591. 593. 594..." and she would call up the stairs, "Get up. You're going in."

Bill Thompson wouldn't shut down school unless it was The Day After Tomorrow. And even then he'd be more inclined to cancel bus service and tell the rest of us to snowshoe it in.

The night of the Super Bowl in 1996, my first winter down here, I received hourly phone updates from my mother as to how many inches were on the ground at home. If I recall correctly, their final tally was 26. I was seething with envy. I was thisclose to telling her to put a sock in it and slamming the phone down. I heard glee in her voice. I heard the silent reprimand about moving over 400 miles away.

I still get snow envy, although it's balanced by the fact that we can put tomatoes in the ground in late April and have fruit ripe in June.

In the winter of 2000 we had 22 inches of snow dumped on us, and that was absolutely delightful. For awhile. I was living in a small town that was neglected by the plows, and I was stuck at home for almost a week because I couldn't get out of the driveway, and my tires sucked. At one point I tried to back out of the driveway and slid into the lawn. My rear tire got stuck. If they had forecast that correctly and not called for a "dusting" I would have backed into the driveway beforehand.

It snowed one time while I was working for Very Large Bookstore with Very Small Inventory, and several of us took some gigantic merchandising banner signs, attached cords to them, and used them to sled in the parking lot. There weren't many customers anyway.

Livvie has no memory of this day, Inauguration Day, 2009. I'd say that's sad and a blessing in some ways. On the one hand, it was a spectacular day. We all had an absolute blast. I really wish she could think back to that day and relive her joy over it all. On the other hand, the kid is obsessed with snow, and she asks me to make it snow nearly every single day. If she had a memory of this it would be hourly I'm sure. I think we got about 4 or 5 inches around our neighborhood. By the next morning it had melted to about an inch and a half, and the next day it was gone.

In the South, at least, snow forces everything that isn't life or death to come to a halt. Neighbors wake up in the morning and walk outside and grin at each other. People who normally run themselves ragged are required to stop for a day and relax (at least once the shoveling is done). Folks go outside all freaking night overnight and snap photos to send to the local news station. I did it. I got all artsy with our floodlight and the falling flakes. If you aren't in emergency services or medicine or driving a plow or salt truck you stay home and watch bad TV between trips outside. There's usually a run on sleds and shovels at Ace Hardware the day before, and these purchases might be used once in 5 years. No one cares.

In our house these events will be treated with all of the kidtastic joy we can muster. Several inches? Snow forts. Snow men. Snowballs saved in the freezer in a Ziploc bag. A dusting? Catching flakes on our tongues. Dancing in it. Many, many photos.

It's not often one gets the chance to just stop everything and chill out. Although snow more often would be nice, at least it stays special and never becomes de rigueur.

I really, really hope we get a good snow this year.

Crap. I don't have boots.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

An Object in Motion...

You know how if most sharks stop moving they stop breathing and die?

I seem to operate under that restriction as well.

When both of my kids were born my mom came down to help out and got Very Angry that I, "wouldn't let her do anything." I told her she was doing exactly what I needed her to do: hold the baby while I do my job.

She gets aggravated over the fact that I apparently can't stop moving for even a moment. She would tell me to sit down and relax, and I would sit on the sofa for maybe 3 minutes before hopping up again to take care of what needed doing.

You know how many people go off and sulk when they're mad or upset? I clean. Rich always knows when something is really bothering me because he'll find me scrubbing the baseboards. I usually don't even remember the baseboards are there.

I am my grandmother. In this respect at least, I channel all of her German-ness and never rest.

I get up in the morning when the kids wake up, and I do not usually stop for more than a moment or two until after they have both gone to sleep for the night. Not that Jonas (or Livvie sometimes) sleeps through the entire night. Jonas has had a habit lately of waking up every 10-20 minutes overnight for some reason I can't fathom. He doesn't want food. He doesn't want his binky. It takes me upwards of 30 minutes at times to get him settled enough so that he'll sleep again, only to start the whole thing over 20 minutes later.

On top of not really being able to stop and relax, I have a tendency to multitask. If I can accomplish three things in the time it takes to do one thing I'm all over it. Yesterday, for instance, I was baking cookies, talking on the phone, brewing tea, and loading the dishwasher.

I envy people who can actually take relaxing baths. I am completely incapable of it. I will waste a metric ton of water by drawing a bath, getting in, lying still for 22.8 seconds, and then fidgeting. If I make it ten minutes I consider it a successful bath. I worked in a day spa for a time, and one of the free treatments I was offered was a bath full of all sorts of seaweedy cleansing goodness in a tub with jets. The treatment was scheduled to last 25 minutes. At the 15 minute mark one of the estheticians came in to check on me and found me sitting up and cleaning the water spots off the sides of the tub with a rag.

I have tried to do yoga many, many times. Several times I have been bent into a stretch only to discover that my eyes are open, and I am thinking, "Holy shit, this rug needs vacuuming."

Which I then get up and do.

I have no sedentary hobbies. I cannot do jigsaw puzzles. Knitting makes me want to crawl out of my skin. Anything crafty that I do is something that can be accomplished quickly. I used to do a sort of decoupage thingy on large brandy snifters where I would take a holiday, decorative cocktail napkin, cut around the design, peel the top layer free, and use watered down glue to affix it to the snifter. Then I would paint the whole thing with more watered down glue and cover it with clear glitter and allow it to dry. Voila. Instant holiday candle holder. It took about 15 minutes, tops.

Works great on plain, glass ball ornaments too.

I lie. I do have one single, sedentary hobby. I have not been able to enjoy it since Jonas was born in May. Reading. I would kill about 6200 dehydrated koalas right now with my bare hands if it meant I could read a book for several, uninterrupted hours...

I cannot tell you how many times in my life I've been offered a seat and replied, "No thanks. I'd rather stand."

Things are so bad recently that on Saturday and Sunday nights I got Jonas to sleep between 745 and 800, and I literally dropped. Saturday night I woke up at about midnight on the sofa having no memory of lying down. Sunday night I laid down on our bed, took Rich's hand, and woke up face down, drooling, sometime after 11. Rich was gone. Bet I was snoring, too.

Even as I type these words one of my legs is bouncing.

And folks wonder why I can't keep weight on.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I have a confession to make.

Chocolate is okay. Don't get me wrong, there are certain times of the month when I absolutely have to have some chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup and chocolate chips or I will die. In our house that would be referred to as The Deanna Troi. On a day to day basis, however, I don't even give chocolate a thought.

I happily refer to myself as a "chick," and not a woman. This used to bug the daylights out of an ex-boyfriend who thought he was being progressive when he told me that it's a degrading term. I, for one, think chick sums it all up perfectly. I don't really understand modern womanhood. Or even womanhood of the past. To put it bluntly, I don't enjoy being a "girl." I don't think I ever really did.

Granted, it's better than the alternative to me. I certainly don't want to be a dude. First of all there's that whole business of having your personal parts hanging loose and being all vulnerable. Does anyone understand WHY a boy's bicycle has a cross bar and a girl's doesn't? That doesn't make a damn bit of sense to me. The other reason being a dude would suck is because of the expectations. Oh hell no. There's just too much they're expected to do and be, by simple dint of having a Y chromosome.

Every year I get closer to simply handing in my Girl Card and calling it a day. I realized this when we were packing up our closet, and I noticed that Rich's clothing occupied 3/4 of the damn thing. The other day when I finally busted through 3 weeks worth of laundry, when I got it all folded and placed on the bed I had a small pile consisting of two sweat suits, a thermal shirt, and one pair of jeans. Oh, I also had 6 pair of underpants. Everything else belonged to Rich and the kids. I own, basically, two pair of shoes that I actually wear. My Doc Martens and my flip flops. I do own a couple pair of dress shoes and heels, but I couldn't even tell you the last time they were applied to my feet.

I really, often feel like a fish out of water. The thing is, the older I get, the less I care.

Confession #2- My mother's wedding gown wouldn't button closed because my torso is larger than hers was. I was secretly delighted, even though it's a beautiful dress.

I have a friend, Nina, who occasionally manages to guilt me into proper skin care. We were conversing one day, and when she discovered I was using Dove bath soap on my face I heard the shriek all the way from Manhattan. She told me she could hear my face cracking all the way from Raleigh. So based on her recommendations I got on eBay and purchased some items to more properly take care of my skin. I used them. For a few weeks. Then I discovered that Livvie's Burts Bees baby shampoo makes a delightful face wash in the shower. I was packing the bathroom closet to move, and I discovered bottles and tubes and small tubs of things I didn't even remember I had. There was stuff to help clarify. There were exfoliants. There was cream to provide light moisture.

I chucked most of it into a trash bag and reapplied Neosporin to my split bottom lip (baby skulls can do some serious damage).

I wear makeup only when I am going to be seen in public with Coyote. When we go out together she always looks nice. It's embarrassing. The problem is, when I wear makeup I feel like I'm in drag. I always feel like I'm drawing way too much attention to myself. And forget lipstick. I own some. It doesn't get worn. I usually slap on some lip balm and call it good.

Confession #3- I watch Legally Blonde every time they show it on TV simply so I can feel inadequate. Every time I watch it I am overcome with the desire to purchase anything I can in pink, up to and including kitchen utensils. I never do though.

Ok, that's not true. When Rich bought my iPod Shuffle for Mother's Day a few years back I asked for the hot pink one.

I know nothing from handbags. My friend Jennyquarx rattles off brand names in conversation and my eyes glaze over. I have no idea what she's talking about. The only reason I know as much as I do about shoes is because it took me months to find the pair I wore on my wedding day. I like jewelry okay if it's simple and unobtrusive. I haven't painted my fingernails in years. Lingerie? Nope. Try sweats in the summer and fleece footie pajamas in the winter. I have known women who lived on ramen so they could afford the $100+ to get their hair cut and colored every 6 weeks. I color my own hair for the simple reason that when it's too dark people ask me if I'm not feeling well. I think I manage to get it cut 4 times a year.

Confession #4- I do not usually use shopping as therapy. Not in the way most women do. I have bought things as therapy. I cannot, however, abide shopping for hours at a time in stores or malls the way some people do.

My "retail therapy" has involved only single, big ticket purchases. While down in the dumps I have bought: a trip to Mexico, a trip to Ireland, a Sony Vaio laptop, a surround sound system, a DVD player, an Xbox, and a Nissan Frontier pickup truck. As a teen in NJ we did the requisite hanging out in the mall thing, but more often than not I'd park myself in B. Dalton or Waldenbooks while the other folks I was with roamed the rest of the mall. I know it drove them crazy. It even drives my mom crazy. She can wander outlet malls for hours. Every Saturday morning she feels the need to read the sale circulars to me. I make appropriate "mmhmm" and "oh cool" noises, but I barely listen.

Confession #5- Anniversary gifts and birthday gifts mean nothing to me. Having enough money to pay the cable bill does.

I have known many, many women who compare the sheer spectacularity of gifts received from their men as if it's some type of contest. I've known women who only consider men who make X amount of dollars a year, and I even know women who use blow jobs on their husbands in order to get permission to spend money. Then again, I seem to have met a lot of women who don't actually enjoy sex in the first place. At all. Not only with a particular partner.


And forget about bringing me flowers for any other reason than you simply saw them in the yard or in the woods and thought of me. Coyote has a fabulous post about apology flowers. I can't even count how many women I've known who believe them to be their right and downright expect them after a perceived affront.

One would think that it might bother me that Livvie is completely into the idea of princesses, to the point where for about a week recently we were directed to address her as Princess Livvie. It doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, it makes me happy that what I have is apparently not contagious. Knocking around on this planet at this time uncomfortable in my own skin is for the birds. Not that I want to do a complete 180 and turn into a superficial twat, but at least caring about my appearance might be nice. Occasionally buying myself new clothing that actually fits me would be a good idea. Spending money on myself before putting money into something the kids don't actually need would be nice every now and then.

I could start small. Move from only owning one pair of jeans that is a size too big into owning two pair of jeans that fit. Wear actual shoes every so often. Wash my face twice a day instead of only when I shower.

Baby steps, man. All suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Show, Don't Tell...

Being the post in which I brag. Some.

If the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, then I can identify at least 15 people over the past year who are riding that hand basket.

I mentioned last year that Livvie didn't really start speaking until she was 27 months old. Given that her grandfather didn't speak at all until age 3, I wasn't especially worried... at first. I figured it would come in time. Once she got frustrated enough about her lack of ability to communicate her needs she'd give in and speak. However, once enough people, with "your best interests at heart," begin pestering you about anything, a person will start to worry. So I took the advice of everyone and their pet duck, and I called the state in for an evaluation. I was concerned with nothing but her speech at that point, because she was quite good at many things. My kid is an absolute genius in some areas and not all that bright in others. It's called being human.

When the state came out to see her she wasn't willing to perform like a ball balancing sea lion, so they scored her low, VERY low, in several areas. According to the woman who became her developmental therapist, they essentially indicated that she was autistic. I had had a gut feeling that this would happen. I really despise labeling, and I abhor trying to pigeonhole children into little boxes based on brief interactions. The state began to push me, and push me, to get her services to deal with her perceived needs. They flat out told me that she had Sensory Processing Disorder, even though they were not qualified to make such a diagnosis. The reason they gave me was that back then she preferred to eat Cool Ranch Doritos and garlic dill pickles, and she wasn't a cry baby when she hurt herself (oh for those days). Also, she liked to rough-house. So for a brief period of time I considered their point of view, and then after doing heavy reading on my own determined that their heads were up their asses and she was again, simply human. I am not a person who will live in denial when it comes to her kids. Livvie was, and is, behind in many areas. Here's where the title of this entry comes in.

Kids aren't going to learn anything they aren't taught.

When the state evaluated Livvie they seemed to place great stock in the fact that she couldn't kick a ball. Well, it hadn't occurred to us to even show her how to do that yet. She wouldn't stick coins in a bank. Again, it never dawned on us that this was something she needed to know how to do right then. Anything that I told them she could do, like the fact that I had caught her under the kitchen table unscrewing all of the legs, was taken with a grain of salt. According to them, she had the fine motor skills of someone about a year old. After they left I showed her how to kick a ball. I only had to show her twice.

Maybe I'm wrong, I've certainly been wrong before in my actions, but I follow her lead and her interests. Last winter she discovered the alphabet and colors and shapes thanks to a website that has games for toddlers. She became an addict. She's very much like me in that if she develops an interest in something she will consume as much of it as possible. So last winter I spent about 3 months writing the alphabet for her. Over. And over. I wanted to jump off a bridge. She watched carefully. Again and again she directed me as to which letter I should write next, which color marker to use, how many to do.

This meant that by the age of 33 months she began spelling a few words on her own, could identify some words spelled to her aloud, and by 36 months started writing her name. Roughly, but it was her name.

I have had so many people, attempting to be "helpful," try to gently nudge me into getting her even more services than we ended up using. I'm sorry, but I was looking over age based developmental milestones today, and she's meeting or exceeding most of those for her age. The milestones she has not met are things she has not been taught and some speech issues. How is that a problem?

Why is there a race here?

And it is a race. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently. When I was a child parents let babies be babies, and they let us develop naturally and simply taught us things as they came along. Now, suddenly, being a strong, healthy baby isn't good enough. Now everyone is required to be exceptional. My mother had never even heard of many of the milestones that doctors are now expecting their patients to meet on time or early. She laughed out loud at many of them. She said, "Gosh, babies were boring back in the day. It was kind of nice." In looking over the list today I found milestones Livvie has been doing for ages that I didn't even KNOW were milestones. Shit is getting out of hand. Totally.

I recently left a forum for mommies that I had been on for years due not only to some drama that pushed me over the edge, but also to the fact that everything had become either a brag or a panic. Sitting up at night wondering why Livvie isn't doing such and such when so and so already has does NO ONE any favors. Explaining to someone that she is doing certain things when their kid is not simply because she was taught repeatedly, and it was something she took an interest in, no your kid is not mentally retarded, oh hey, I'm talking to a wall here... that shit gets old.

We learn what we are taught. We learn what we are given the opportunity to practice. We learn what we enjoy.

As parents we do best to step back and see how our child learns best. We've discovered that since Livvie is still obsessed with the alphabet her pronunciation improves dramatically if we say, for instance, "No, use your B. Use your P," when she mispronounces something. More often than not she immediately gets it right on her second try.

I see a whole lot of laziness going on around me. I see a lot of expectations that haven't been met with no effort made to see that they are. I also see children, even babies, pushed ridiculously hard by their parents to become tiny Einsteins instead of letting them really enjoy each day of babyhood.

They seem to forget that Einstein didn't speak until he was four, and his father referred to him as, "the retard."

So tomorrow Livvie and I will once again work on developing her hand strength by squeezing tubes of glitter glue so that the next time we try scissors she won't get upset because she didn't do it perfectly on the first try.

Because it's not that big of a deal. I'm fairly certain she'll be able to use scissors by the time she gets to college.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

To Each Their Own

I might offend here. It is not my intention.

I do not understand theme Christmas trees. I know people, people I love, who change their tree every year.

I don't get it.

I see trees like this in the stores and they just flabbergast me. Seriously folks, what. The fuck.

First of all, looking at this particular one, I can't even detect the presence of a tree. There might be one lone needle showing. There. To the right. See it?

Me neither.

The first thing I'm going to mention is that having been a buried pagan my entire life, and a not so buried one now, the tree is important. It's life. In your house. Even a plastic one is a perfectly acceptable representation of the green goodness that the planet provides for us.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, bless all yer hearts, but what on earth compels people to change their tree every year? Aside from the expense, where does it leave your heritage?

I was standing in front of the tree today, and as I looked at the ornaments I could remember the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of each one. Nothing really matches. It's a giant hodge-podge (this is the first time I've ever typed that phrase. Basking in it) of my last 38 years here.

If some moron assigned a theme to it they would probably call it, "eclectic," or some other such nonsense. I hang candy canes every year, because really, the idea of plucking candy randomly from a giant tree in my home makes me happy. To be honest, this is the first year in about forever that the tree has been taller than myself. I do have enough ornaments for the frigging thing if I were to pull out the fragile ones packed away in plastic bins, but they aren't toddler friendly. I have not used really fragile ones in years. Clancy used to climb the tree too. Brought it down more than once.

So the front and sides are adorned, and the back against the wall is not. This year the tree is so tall that our colored lights, while they did manage to stretch from the top to the bottom, were skimpy looking when I plugged them in. So I wrapped our white lights in between the colored. Good to go. Because Livvie begged for every pink foil and silver foil tree she saw, I bought silver garland at Family Dollar and wound that around the tree as well. We used silver garland instead of tinsel every year when I was a kid, and each year it would be carefully packed away for reuse the next year. When I removed the garland from the packages this year I saved the cardboard flats they were wrapped around. Mom taught me right.

My grandmother had three of these sheet music ornaments on her tree. This is the last surviving one. It has tiny seed beads glued to it that keep falling off over the years. If they ever all come off I'll redo the whole thing. I think this ornament is about 50-60 years old. I place it up high on the tree despite its size in order to keep it safe. This particular one is Silent Night, and I'll tell you what... when we were only having one kid the idea of passing it on was a lot easier to imagine. Now I'll have to figure out where it goes.

I was up in NJ visiting with my mom one year and we happened to go into Strawbridge's. You know, back when it existed. They had several of these little brass ornaments, and my mother bought me The Philadelphia Museum of Art (pictured), Independence Hall, and Barnegat Light House.

One year I couldn't find Independence Hall, and I nearly lost it. Each of them gets packed carefully each year now so I don't come unglued again.

Each of those three places is incredibly special in my life, and seeing them every winter makes me all kinds of warm and fuzzy.

"Cross stitch" on plastic canvas was The Thing for crafty people back in the mid-80s, and one year my mom went berserk and made about a billion ornaments. When I moved out I snagged the Hickory Dickory Dock clock. Check it, she glued a tiny plastic mouse to it. When Livvie saw it the other day she went wild, so it too is up near the top of the tree. No way, kid. This one is mine. I also managed to grab some smaller plastic canvas ornaments she made to hang at the very top of the tree. And seeing this is inspiring me to grab a can of gold spray paint and a bunch of sweet gum balls. Don't ask.

Santa here on the ladder placing the star hung on my grandmom's tree forever. As a kid I always placed him on the tree near the top so that he actually was placing the star on the tree. He's made of wood, and somehow he's managed to make it through several moves without a bit of damage.

To his right is a tiny bell and glass police officer my mom bought me a couple of years back. She meant it, she said, as an homage to my dad. Sometimes it mocks me because I'm not allowed into the force, being all crazy and whatnot.

The glass heart was etched in 2004 in the mall when my very romantical husband took his butt there and had them make this for me. "Our First Christmas 2004." The gold bow came untied the other day, and I nearly had a coronary. I managed to tie it again with no ill effects. It's up near the top of the tree too.

You know, there hasn't been much in the way of romantical lately. Unless you count him asking the folks at McDonald's to make my Quarter Pounder with Cheese onion-free with no prompting from me. Seriously, those onion chunks are vile.

Emma had a small stocking that hung on the tree that had her name on it, and when Ginny came along, naturally, there were no tiny stockings with her name on them.

So I bought her this.

It doesn't look a thing like her.

She's way cuter.

But it stays.

Our first Christmas together Rich and I were poor. Even more poor than now, which is crazy considering we now have two kids. He owned the bait shop, and one day I went in on my day off from work and bought some bobbers from him, actually paid for them, and took them home and threaded them onto paper clips. It didn't occur to me to go to the mall and have something made. I hung them on our first tree. They have been on every tree for the past 5 years. If anything ever happens to those bobbers I'll be crushed. I could buy a pack of ornament hooks, but I really don't want to. The paperclips will remain forever.

A very good friend of mine, knowing my absolute lust for popcorn and beer, sent me a set of 3 ornaments several years back. A box of popcorn, a bottle of beer, and a TV set.


Livvie is also in lust with popcorn, and informed me the other day that the popcorn ornament belongs to her.

That's fine. I'm keeping the beer and the TV.

This is a hedgehog. I bought him one day on a whim because he was cute. Then I noticed he had a small loop attached to the top of him. Voila. Instant ornament.

The cats used to snag him every year and bat him around the house. Every January I would have to search under appliances and furniture to find him again.

I miss that.

In the meantime, his name is Gerald. Livvie hasn't spotted him yet.

Livvie has been begging for "rainbow stars" for over a month. She saw Mickey Mouse and friends walk a path of rainbow stars and demanded that I provide some. I had to tell her they were pretend. We went 'round and 'round.

The other day at Family Dollar she gasped and said, "Rainbow stars!!!" I looked to my right and saw a pack of 4 ornaments for $1.50. They're plastic. They were probably made in China. I forgot to look. All I know is that for $1.50 I could finally give my kid rainbow stars. They will be carefully put away each year. She has about a billion and one ornaments already, but these were the first she chose herself.

My life is on this tree. My life is on every tree. My aunt and uncle have 2 trees each year since their home is large enough to do so. One tree holds their lives. The other tree is beach themed since they have a home down the shore.

That idea might be doable someday.

I will always, though, decorate with the full chaos of my past.

I just don't see the fun in any other way.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Can You Dig It?

The people who lived here before us apparently used the yard as a dump. For a loooong time. When we walk the perimeter of the yard, and even some of the interior, we find all kinds of interesting and potentially dangerous items.

Dirt has covered a great deal of things out there, allowing grass to grow on top of the detritus. When you walk around you never know what kind of sound will come from under your feet. The crinkle of leaves? Or the hollow sound of a vinyl rain gutter?

We are going to need to do some major excavating to make the yard safe for kid and dog. Right now I am entirely uncomfortable with the idea of Ginny running the yard loose in the dark. I'm not even comfortable out there when I can't see where my feet are stepping.

This morning I performed a small photographic archaeological survey of the yard while I smoked.

There are bags of topsoil buried everywhere, but many of them appear to be at the base of small, ornamental trees. Whether they were tossed there out of laziness or to weigh down the roots, we have no idea. 

This is a fiberglass bathtub that is now, either intentionally or not, a planter.

I have no idea what the hell this rusted out hulk is.

If you look in the center of the leaf fall you'll notice some metal pipes and whatnot.

Many, many plastic bags everywhere.

Again, what this is? Dunno. Big and metal.

That would be the vinyl rain gutter.

Apparently a dog was chained here at some point. Really can't figure out why there are scraps of the flag scattered there, though.

Plastic chicken wire.

Rusted old paint can. There are several.

Apparently the dog tethered here didn't require an actual chain, so they wove fabric scraps into a rope. More flag scraps.

Random piece of PVC. You'll find all of your plumbing needs in this yard.

Metal straps from a pallet or appliance carton. Those are always nice.

A faucet. Looks like it's for a garden hose. Or a washing machine.

All of this was found this morning during a 3 minute walk of the yard. I imagine we'll have to pick a nice weekend and walk the yard and toss everything onto a pile, and then we'll have to call someone to come get it all.

In the meantime, we're simply being careful.