Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scenes from the ER

My son, on the right, and his friend. My son commented, "Think I'm going to wear this bracelet thing to school tomorrow. Looks like I've been to the fair and bought a ride bracelet."

"Let me wrap the ice around your hurt hand while you text with your good one." Well, because we know how important it is to text.

Okay, okay, so I'm guilty, too. I sat there texting as well, but I had to hold onto some shred of sanity and not risk being whisked off for a psych evaluation and 72 hours of observation.
"Enough, Mom, put the cell phone away. Hey, why don't you go back to texting your friends and stop taking my pic?"

The Phone Call

When it was all said and done, my oldest son said to me, "Please don't write about this in your column, Mom."

Tuesday evening, the phone rang. It was right around the time my son would be calling letting me know he was leaving work. I'd told him before he left that I didn't think I needed anything from the store, so he didn't have to call before coming home.

Usually, though, he calls anyway and lets me know. He didn't that evening, though.

I heard background noise...wind, an animated discussion, and what sort of sounded like laughter.

"Hello?" I said into the receiver, a little miffed. It drives me just this side of insane at times when he calls and he's carrying on like a teenage boy in the background with his friends. Far be it for me to be bothered by things like that, but it does. If you're calling to speak to me, shut up the others in the background and talk to me. It's not that my time is oh so precious, but it's one of those pet peeves of mine.

"Mooommm, oh god, moooommm," he said. I couldn't tell if he were laughing or crying, but it's not unusual for him to be giggling. He's a spirited kid with a great sense of humor who loves to laugh. Conversations have started many times like those when he's calling to tell me something funny that he's seen or heard.

"My truck. I wrecked. It went on it's side and we rolled it."

"Are you okay? Is your friend okay?" I asked.

"We're okay. My hand, I think it's broken. My truck. I rolled it. I wrecked, Mom. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to. I started to slide. I hit a wet spot," he continued.

"Where are you?"

"I'm up the road by grandma's house. I'm sorry, Mom. My truck. Oh god, mom, don't be mad at me."

"You're by grandma's?" It was becoming all like a bad dream.

"Out by grandma's, just up from her house," he responded. "We're okay, my hand, it hurts. I think it's broken."

"I'll be right there," I said, and tried to hang up.

"I didn't mean to. It was wet, I hit a slick spot."

"Okay, I'll be right there. I love you, I'll be right there," I said in my ever-growing panic.

Grandma's is only about a mile and a half away. My husband, of course, was out of town for work because no kind of disaster ever strikes when he's home. I'm convinced if he didn't work out of town, life would be smooth sailing without turmoil.

My youngest son had taken off on his motorcycle a few minutes earlier. I ran out the door, bellowing his name at the top of my lungs. Likely, if he hadn't been several blocks away, he would have heard me even above the roar of his engine.

The neighbor, I thought. I should let him know that something has happened so he can tell my youngest son where I went.

I think it took three steps perhaps to make it across the street to his front door. I'm not sure I didn't levitate above the ground. His girlfriend answered, and invited me in. They were hosting a birthday party for her little girl, and above the commotion of excited toddlers, she got his attention.

I managed to ramble something about a wreck, not knowing where my youngest was, over by grandma's, probably a broken hand, rolled truck. Since I wasn't speaking fluent English, he told me he would go along. I started to run to my car. "Get in my truck," he instructed.

I was shaking so badly I don't know how I managed to call my husband on my cell phone. The scenery flew by the windshield due to our speed, and I thought I might throw up. My hands shook so badly I could barely hold the phone to let my husband know what was going on.

When we arrived, a guy I knew from my youth was waiting with my son and his friend. I made sure they were okay, and got the low down on what happened.

The road is chip and seal. It had just rained. The tar that comes to the surface, making it shiny and slick, caused him to fishtail. I could see marks on the road where he lost control and never regained it.

The truck set in the edge of the field. They'd flipped it upright after they crawled out. The tires on the driver's side were flattened as it is set on its rims.

A few minutes later, the other boy's parents showed up. We stood there deciding what to do once we had assessed that neither of the boys were seriously injured. My son's hand continued to swell as we waited for the sheriff to show up to file an accident report.

The truck was really the least of my worries, but my son continued to freak out. He was worried he was going to be grounded. He was worried about having nothing to drive to get to work. I really didn't care about this. All that mattered to me was that the kids hadn't been seriously injured or worse. I was also thankful they were both wearing their seatbelts.

I called my brother, who was luckily home just a mile away. He arrived to help us out. While waiting on the sheriff, I was sent home to get ice and warm clothing. The temp had dropped dramatically and the wind whipped. I hardly realized that I had goosebumps and was freezing.

After the second phone call to the sheriff's dept., someone arrived. "You sure you don't want the EMS?" he kept asking me. "You really should get him to the ER," he kept suggesting.

Well, yes, I really should have 40 minutes prior to this, but I couldn't necessarily take my child and flee the scene of an accident.

On my trip home for ice, I found my youngest son. My neighbor's sister also drove me back in my car because I was still shaking and rambling on incoherently. Even in those early moment, the "what ifs" played in my mind.

What if they'd been going faster, flipped, and rolled repeatedly and had been really hurt. What if they hadn't been wearing their seatbelts. What if they'd been pinned and unconscious.

The "what ifs" can really mess with your mind.

By the time we finally left, half the town had been there at one point to make sure everything was okay and that we didn't need anything. There's a lot of negative things one can say about living in a small town, but in times like those, it makes it all worth while. My neighbor didn't leave until the truck had pumped up tires on it and they were able to drive it to my brother's house. He kept an eye on my youngest son until I got home. I thanked him repeatedly, and aplogized profusely for crashing the birthday party.

We got right into the ER. The x-rays revealed a broken hand, though they couldn't put a cast on it because of the swelling.

The accident happened around 7:30 that evening. It was after 11 when we finally got home. I tucked my son in, much like I had when he was a little guy, making sure his arm was elevated and he had what he needed. I returned to his bedroom a few times to check on him like I did when he was a babe to be sure he was still breathing. I peeped in on my 17 year old son, just as i had when he was a fragile, tiny newborn.

Sometime around 2 a.m. I finally drifted off to sleep, my head still full of those what ifs while I came down off that adrenaline high.

I had a similar call back in the winter, when he slid off a road and put his truck in the ditch due to icy conditions. Those phone calls are the ones that a parent dreads getting. Since Tuesday evening, I think I nearly jump out of my skin every time the phone rings.

I wonder if it's possible to direct both of the children back into the womb where I can watch over them, knowing where they're at, and protecting them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Big Race Was Cancelled

Back in the early spring, there was a knock on the door one Saturday morning. The rest of my family had headed out for a wrestling tournament, and I elected to stay home.

I answered the door, and this little girl, maybe 10ish stood there. Kids don't knock on the door unless they are selling something, looking for one of my kids, or telling on one of my kids. I get a lot of the latter where my youngest son is concerned.

I gave her my customary "Uhh, can I help you?" greeting when she stood there staring at me. What I didn't realize is that she was trying to reign in her brain and form a sentence.

"I've had it," she yelled. "That boy who lives here and that boy who lives there keep picking on my brother, and I've just had it."

"Umm, okay. Which boy are you talking about? Three boys live here. (I figured I'd include my husband in the count because he can be an ornery sort.) And who is your brother?"

"That boy with the blonde hair, and my brother is the little red headed boy, and they are picking on him, and they are picking on him, and I've had enough. I'm telling you that I've had enough."

There were a lot of grunts and various tics mixed in with her speech, and to be honest, she scared me a little. I was pretty sure my youngest son was involved as I continued to ask her questions. She answered me, and each response was peppered with, "I've had enough," and a move that I'm surprised didn't give her some self-inflicted whiplash. I'm guessing she's on medication for Tourette's or something.

Whatever went down, went down months before, according to my son who I later questioned. She went over to the neighbors' house as well to report her unhappiness with the situation before she talked to me.

I said I was sorry she was so upset, and mainly I was sorry because I thought she was going to blow a gasket on my front porch. Girls are unique creatures to me, even though I am one. I think sometimes when they get in that 'tween range you have to treat them like wild animals - as in sometimes not knowing if they'll attack.

She reminded me of the old woman in the "Wizard of Oz" when she peddled away on her bike with a basket and flag. She peddled with that kind of determination that no child that age should feel.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago when the weather began to warm. She was back out on her bike, this time riding by repeatedly. Sometimes, I'd catch a glimpse of her little red headed brother. My youngest was in the back yard working on his motorcycle when he came back to report that "that girl" freaked him out.

She kept riding by, and riding by. When he returned to the back yard, I heard a bit of a commotion as he had to chase both the kids away. The boy was sitting on his motorcycle and the girl kept asking him what he was doing. My son isn't a patient child, and he's prone to picking on others. I don't know where he gets it, honestly. No, not a clue.

"Mom, would you please tell her to go away?" my son pleaded with me. But what could I do? She was riding on the street. I couldn't stop her from doing that. I told him to simply ignore her, but no, that would be too easy.

Flash forward to the previous weekend. My husband and I came home to find both of our sons in the alley laughing their asses off. The oldest, who has a warped sense of humor like his mother, was laughing so hard that tears were flowing down his cheek.

The girl in question kept riding her bike down the alley, which really isn't an alley, but more like a grass path that separates our properties. The youngest yelled, "BOO," at the top of his lungs, which startled the girl, causing her to nearly wipe out.

This apparently didn't faze her because she yelled out, "Hey, you big jerks, I'm training for a big bike race on Sunday, so leave me alone."

I guess training for the bike race means stalking my sons. I think she's got a crush on them.

She continued to make her rounds this past weekend, this time, her little brother following behind her throwing rocks at my sons. He's a little guy, so this sort of surprised me that he would load up the basket on his bike with intentions of pelting my 15 and 17 year old children. This alone made me giggle. I didn't want any broken windows, but I had a good idea that my sons probably deserved it.

I was still outside when the boy pulled up on his bike. "I'm sorry guys," he said. "I know what I did was wrong, and I won't throw rocks at you anymore."

My oldest was biting his lower lip to keep from howling with laughter. The youngest didn't say anything beyond, "Uh huh," because he was trying to not laugh.

"That's nice of you to apologize," I told the boy.

"Do you boys forgive me?" he asked.

"Yes," my oldest said, and this time, he did chuckle.

I asked them what that was all about, and apparently, my oldest spawn said something like this to the poor kid, "Throw another rock at me, you little snot, and I'll call the cops on you if I so much as see you near our property again."

Then the girl comes riding up.

"Hey, lady," she said to me. "I've got a problem with your boys. They are telling me that this isn't my bicycle, and they won't let me train for my race. They are being mean to me, and I want you to make them stop."

"Is it your bike?" I asked her.

"Yes, it is MY bike," she yelled back at me.

"Well, if it's your bike, and you know it's your bike, why worry? How did the big race go?" I asked her, full well knowing there was no big race. I couldn't resist.

"It got cancelled because my dad had to do his race and there wasn't time for me to do my race, but there's going to be another one next weekend, and I'll take pictures for you because you just won't believe it. You just won't believe it."

"Well, okay then. How about you ignore my boys? They'll ignore you. Everybody will ignore everyone else, and life will be grand. How about you stop riding by taunting them, and then you won't have to worry?" I suggested.

"Well okay, how about it boys? Do we have a deal? If I ignore you, will you ignore me?" she asked my kids.

"I'm sorry, I don't know what you just said because I'm currently ignoring you," my youngest said doing his best Billy Madison impression.

Of course, these neighbor kids are home schooled, and I don't think they watch much TV. It went right over her head. Actually, they are home schooled because two years ago, when they were in kindergarten and second grade, they both were kicked off the bus because the boy tried to bite the bus driver and the girl called the bus driver a bitch.

"Is it a deal or not?" she asked, very loudly, and she threw her head to the side, and I thought she was about to have some sort of fit.

"Just go home," I told her.

A few minutes later, I glanced out the window to see her riding by with her father.

I get the feeling it's going to be a long summer.

Holiday Weekend, Part III

Last year for my husband's birthday, I got him a GPS unit. Shortly thereafter, we started geocaching. I can't say I get the same rush finding the cache tucked in somewhere, but it's worked well for us. He'll map out caches in rural cemeteries, and while he tracks down the treasure, I'll walk around looking at gravestones.

Sometimes, I take my camera with me. This used to bother him. If someone else was in the cemetery, he said it was disrespectful of me to be snapping photos of dead people who I don't know. I guess he's gotten over it because it doesn't seem to bother him as much.

We headed out Sunday afternoon to a few places. I forgot my camera, and being the dumbass that I am, I forgot that my new cell phone has a camera.

I remembered my digital camera on Monday, obviously.

I've no idea what this symbol is. Weeping Willow tree?

I'm always amazed when we stumble upon a well-kept, old cemetery. This wasn't the case, however. I didn't dare step too close to this for fear the ground would swallow me up.
There were several small headstones buried in this mass of raspberry vines and Tiger lilies.
I loved this tree. The geocache that my husband was searching for was tucked into the knothole.

I'd never seen anything like this tree, and there were two of them covered in these viney, root thingies.
I imagine the conversation went something like this.
"Hey Carl, what do I do with these pieces of field tile so I don't mess up my mower?"
"Just put 'em over yonder between those two headstones, Vern."
I would love to go back in the fall and see this Virginia Creeper in all its red glory.
I hope Sam doesn't mind being "creeped."
I wonder what happened to the fence that once attached to this great gate.

A lonely old-fashioned Columbine and some wild strawberries.
Wild mustard? I'm not sure what this yellow flower is that has been dominate in all the fields the last couple years. What remains of a fence row.
That stuff that grows on gravestones, except I was boggled by the color of it. This was a huge, newer cemetery. You could almost make hay, and apparently, weedwhacking wasn't a high priority for the holiday weekend. The smaller stones were almost hidden by the tall grass. It was disgraceful to see something like this in a cemetery that is still open for new arrivals.

Indiana this time of the year. I was snapping pics as we drove. Fields and woods, fields and woods. There's more than corn in IN - there's also John Deere tractors.

Holiday Weekend, Part II

I suppose it had to happen eventually. After 18 years of marriage, my husband and I have become one of those old, bickering couples who will argue about anything. I may have to start pummeling him with something when he starts getting senile and I get nothing done but reminding, correcting, and refreshing his memory.

I dragged him off to Walmart with me on Saturday. He sees it as a means of punishment, and I honestly think he thinks if he acts like it's his first day out in civilization, I'll stop making him go with me on the weekend. But that's not going to happen. I've pretty much grown immune to his antics.

He'll whip out his cell phone and make a documentary of our shopping adventures - complete with commentary about the other shoppers. He'll take pics of my butt as he follows behind me. Sometimes, I'll send him off to get something I've forgotten and I'll end up losing him. I'll spend as much time looking for him as I do shopping. Thank goodness, we got rid of the Nextel phones with the direct connect capabilities. He found it quite funny to say things like "nice butt" or "what a stud" so someone standing near me thought I was saying it.

He forgot his phone on Saturday, though. I guess since he didn't have his phone to distract his attention, he was going to ponder the shopping carts.

As soon as we walked in, he looked at the shopping carts and said, "Hmm, new carts."

"I don't think so. The last time I was here, they were in various stages of refurbishing. Some had those new brackets on them," I told him.

"Hmm, maybe they just reinforced them and spray painted them," he said.

We did our shopping, and he mentioned the cart a few more times. "I think these are new," he told me.

I don't know why it was important to me to repeat what I said. "I think they are just redoing them. I don't think they are new."

Obviously, he was not going to accept my theory that they were rebuilding the carts, fixing what was wrong with them, and slapping on a coat of gray, speckled paint. We got out to the parking lot, and I was handing him bags as he put them in the back of his truck.

"Maybe they just slapped on a new coat of paint on them," he said. "I don't know. They might be new."

"I told you that the brackets were on some carts the last time I was here. They are rebuilding them. Why don't you listen to what I tell you?"

"You might be right. Hey, the wheels are new," he said as he inspected the cart.

I stood there shaking my head, and I took over unloading the remaining grocery bags.

"Hey, your boyfriend is staring at you," he said.

"Uh, my boyfriend?" I asked. In my husband's estimation, anyone I know who I am not married to and male is my "boyfriend."

"Jody, whatever his name is. He's over there with his son."

I glanced across the parking lot, and sure enough I was being stared at and the guy did have his son with him. I returned his wave, because I'm always waving at my "boyfriends."

"See? Told you that your boyfriend was checking you out."

"Uh, you dork. That's my step-brother Jeff. Good god. My boyfriend? Yes, my step-brother is my boyfriend," I said, a little bit on the sarcastic side.

We got in the truck, and as we passed the cart return, he said, "I wonder if they are getting all new carts or replacing the broken ones."

Holiday Weekend, Part I

I must admit that I dreaded this holiday weekend going into it.

The previous weekend, our youngest son noted water standing in the alley and yard beside the utility room. It wasn't a lake by any means, but water was standing where water hadn't ought to be standing, and since it hadn't rained, I put on my ole thinking cap and arrived at the idea that it was probably the washing machine drain.

It helped to tip me off that I could smell laundry detergent and there were worms floating all over the place. (Soapy water drives worms to the surface. It's a neat little trick to use when you need some worms to go fishing. Soak an area of your yard in soapy water, and voila! You will have bait.) Another clue was when I grabbed the Y shaped PVC drain behind the washer, it fell through with a thump to the ground beneath the house.

I became quite an expert crawling under the house over this past winter. Something was always freezing up. The one thing about when it is cold is the fact that there are no spiders, snakes, and other creepy crawlies. So not only are we fully into spider season, but there was also the small fact this plumbing is under a different section of the house - a section of the house designed for anorexic plumbers.

I knew my husband couldn't fit under there. My dad told us to cut a hole in the utility room floor. (He grew up in this house, and as a child, he'd been sent under there a time or two and knew there was little wiggle room for an average size guy.) Really, I'm not kidding. Anyone over about 180 lbs wasn't going to fit. I started making a mental list of all the skinny people I know and put them on speed dial.

It was up to our 15 year old son. I crossed my fingers when we sent him under there. Thankfully, he doesn't have any claustrophobic tendencies like his mother. A piece of rubber drain had dry rotted over the years, and that was the problem. A new coupling was all it took. I reassembled the drain behind the washer while our son took care of the plumbing underneath.

I was so relieved that I didn't have to get under there and it was a rather simple fix.

You see, any time my husband has to get involved in something like that he does one of two things, and sometimes both - he will threaten to burn the house down or divorce me. I don't know how either really solves the problem at hand, but either way, I usually end up wondering if I'm going to end up homeless before the problem is remedied.

Also, our luck usually goes something like this - attempt to fix the problem at hand, and lo and behold, find something else that is wrong. I'm happy to say that wasn't the case. (Knock on wood.)

Anyway, I was so relieved and happy when it was taken care of, I could have danced on the coffee table. But, I didn't because I reserve dancing on the coffee table for the first day of school and the return to school after Christmas break.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Dangers of Frozen Vegetables

I was doing the good wife/mom thing yesterday afternoon and cooking up some dinner. Supper, if you're from IN, I suppose, which I am...and I do call it supper sometimes, but it confuses my husband who is not originally from IN. Regardless, I was whipping up a meatloaf and decided I better get a package of frozen corn out of the freezer.

We freeze corn from the garden each year, so when that quart ziploc bag is full, it's full. And it's heavy. And when it falls several feet, it can be deadly.

Two bags were fused together, so I held them just below my chin and attempted to pry them apart. Okay, so probably the smartest move wasn't drying my hands well after washing them. When the bags broke free, they slipped out of my hands, and one of them hit my left shin. Boy, howdy, did that smart. But that wasn't the worst of it.

The other bag landed on the top of my right foot. So yes, not only did I try to mangle, multilate and spindle one leg, but I managed to do damage to both. It's a talent, I say. It hit hard enough I actually bled.

I didn't realize I was bleeding until after I finished seeing stars. I finally understood what that kind of pain was.

When I was pregnant with our oldest son in AZ, I saw a dr. named Duck Kwan Oh. I kid you not. I couldn't even make it up that my baby dr. was named Duck. Actually, he went by the name Richard Oh. That's not quite as interesting in the telling, however. He did give us a bib for the baby that said, "I was delivered by Dr. Duck Kwan Oh."

Back to seeing stars. I asked Dr. Duck one day, "When do I go to the hospital?"

I'd read plenty about contractions, timing them, and that different drs. had different ideas of when you should arrive at the hospital. I think my pregnancy bible, What to Expect When You're Expecting, recommended arriving when the contractions were five minutes apart.

"When you see stars," he told me.

I think maybe he was trying to be funny. I was not amused, however. I was pregnant. I was 1800 miles away from home. It was my first baby, and did I forget to mention that Operation Desert Storm was in full swing? My husband told me that he could be deployed at any time. He could get up one morning, go to work, and not show up back home. If I were lucky, the Army might give me a call to let me know that my husband had been sent off to Saudi.

Needless to say, what should have been one of the happiest times of my life was peppered with a lot of mixed feelings and emotions. I wasn't in the mood for Dr. Duck and his stand-up routine.

"Pardon me?" I asked. I asked him that a lot, as he spoke with a really heavy Korean accent. I didn't pick him as a dr. He was assigned to me by the Army. I couldn't understand half of what the man told me.

"Come to hospital when you see stars," he told me.

I asked him once about the RH factor and why I needed a Rhogam shot. I'd read everything I could get my hands on. Every book in the library. I owned every book the bookstore carried about birthing babies. I wanted it explained to me, in plain English, because my pregnancy bible only had a paragraph about the RH factor.

"You must get the shot or baby die."

Well, that was a helpful answer. I went home and bawled my freakin' eyes out. When my husband got home and saw the tears, he got on the phone and asked Dr. Duck what the hell was going on because I was crying so hard I couldn't explain.

I never did see stars, and I played it safe going when my contractions were five minutes apart. After our boy was born, Dr. Duck held up the placenta and asked, "Anyone want hamburger?"

I looked at him and said, "I don't eat red meat." My husband laughed. My husband thought he was hilarious.

But yesterday, I did see those stars. Wow, that hurt like a son of a gun. I really thought I'd broken my foot. It hurt so bad that I didn't even cry.

My husband came home and took a look at my foot and reported that it was very bruised, but not swollen enough to be broken. He put some ice on it, gave me a percocet, and I have to say at that point, I didn't really care that it hurt.

Today, it's quite tender and my toes look like vienna sausages. (How's that for a visual?) And the best part is that my husband told me I should probably try to stay off of it, keep it elevated, and iced for a few days.

Did I just hear an excuse to sit around on my ass? Why yes, I do believe I did.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oooh, Eerie, I Must Say

When it comes to the things that go bump in the night, I'm really not too easily bothered. If I can't find a good explanation, I typically think "hmm" and go on with my business. Strangely enough, I'm slightly bothered by the afternoon's events.

The kids came home from school today. The oldest got ready for work. I was getting ready to run to CVS. The youngest decided that he wanted to go along so that he could drive.

Have I mentioned how scary it can be to ride with someone who's just learning to drive? Well, that wasn't the freaky part, but it's enough to make one want to drink heavily.

He has his permit, though he's only in the book part of driver's training. I've let him drive on gravel roads and around our little town, but not in traffic. He was trying to talk me into letting him drive to the store, and well, since I didn't have a sucking chest wound or need some other medical treatment, I thought ah, don't think I'm quite ready for him and traffic.

But, I told him he could take back roads part way there, and then we'd switch.

I could not find my car keys with the house key on it. I knew I had them this morning when I took him to driver's training at the school. I looked in all the usual places - purse, stand by the door, etc. I even looked in the pocket of the sweatshirt I wore this morning. I looked in the kitchen, and they weren't on either of the three built-in shelves at the corner of the cabinets.

I know they weren't there because I picked up a 5 and a 1 dollar bill and moved them to the second shelf, and thought okay, good there's lunch money for the kids tomorrow. The only keys there were some hanging on the nail, no clue what it goes to, and the old truck keys on a bright green key fob.

My car keys were not there. I know they weren't. I moved that money and looked under it. In fact, I'd moved the money to the second shelf.

I walked around looking for my keys and nothing. I went back to the shelf again, and the money was back on the first shelf and there were my keys tucked under the cash. I told the youngest and he kept saying, "Nu uh, that didn't really happen. No way. You're nuts. Nu uh. You're lying." Then he finally says, "That really happened?"

I was like, "Uh, yeah, weird huh?"

So, we get in the car and he does alright except I have to keep telling him not to take off like he needs to be going 50 before he's gone a block. We turned on my brother's road, which is gravel, and went by the old cemetery.

I noticed it looked like someone had been planted recently, so I told him to pull in. It's a big U- shaped drive and the bushes, mainly an evergreen variety which are huge, are dangerously close to the drive unless you ride a bike into the cemetery. I cautioned him to be careful because I didn't want the car scratched.

We looked at the gravestones from the car. I explained the old woman had died recently, and that big rock marking her and her husband's site had been there for many years now, even before he died. I noticed there was some straw down over another fresh grave, and I attempted to read the headstone.

"Pull up a little," I told him. He started driving forward and the doors in the car start locking and unlocking. He freaks and he's asking me did I see that. I saw it, and I had no rational explanation.

He locked the doors with the button that locks all four, and damned if they didn't unlock on their own again. The car does have electronic locks, and they will lock on their own if the car reaches 15 mph. He wasn't going 15 mph, we were creeping forward, and the doors unlocked instead of locking, regardless.

This really freaked the child out, and he's all panicky, and damned if he didn't sideswipe the bushes going out. It didn't scratch the car, but my mirror got some decorative greenery.

I was like holy shit, I told you to watch those bushes. And he said he was too worried about the doors locking and unlocking and such, and my keys missing and appearing, so that's why he hit the bushes.

As I was sitting here after getting back home, I thought I saw a white figure to my left out of the corner of my eye. It's overcast and dark, and no lights were on in the dining room where I saw it, and it gave off a "lighter than light" sort of appearance. Sort of like when I've seen something that was blacker than night, but just the opposite.

Cue the "Twilight Zone" music because it's been a weird a day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

VH-1 Junkie

I have to admit that I'm a VH-1 junkie. It doesn't seem like all that many years ago, if given a choice between MTV and VH-1, I'd be watching MTV. VH-1 seemed to cater to the "old people" in my estimation back in my 20s.

Last night, I was lucky enough to be flipping through the channels and caught the first episode of "Sex: The Revolution." It's a four-part documentary. Even a nicer treat was that part II followed.

I did fall asleep before it was over. I had a sneaking suspicion I'd matured when I started cleaning out the lint trap of the dryer and actually throwing the lint away instead of letting it pile up on the dryer's top. I'm fairly confident I've matured when I actually turn off the TV because I can't keep my eyes open any longer. (That doesn't happen too often, however. If I can make it past 10 pm, I'm usually wired for sound. Even when I have to get up early the next day, I can adjust to getting little sleep. But I suppose that's another blog topic.)

Part I started out with the sexually repressed days of the 50s. Alfred Kinsey and his "Kinsey Report" about the sexual habits of people, Hugh Hefner and Playboy, back alley abortions, and THE PILL.

I'd heard the stories about the early days of "the pill." My grandma told me the story about how the neighbor lady started taking "the pill" (grandma would almost whisper it like she'd said a bad word), and later died due to complications. I was young enough that I didn't question it, but I did realize they had to work out a few bugs with the high dosages of hormones that seemed to wreck havoc on one's system.

There's a slight sadness I feel that I didn't get the opportunity to discuss things of that nature with my grandma. But it's understandable. She was raised during a time where sex was for men, and women most certainly weren't supposed to enjoy it. As the old Virginia Slim ads stated, "We've come a long way, baby."

Remember there was a time when a couple couldn't be shown in the same bed on TV? Think Lucy and Ricky on "I Love Lucy." Then wham bam, the sexual revolution hits, and there are commercials for hair dye that question, "Does she do it? Or doesn't she?" Of course, they were talking about whether the chick colored her hair, but boy howdy, sex starting selling, and it hasn't stopped yet.

Part II started introducing the sexual revolution that I was more familiar with - the hippies, flower children, free love, naked party time in general. It was fascinating, despite the fact I started dozing during the commercials. It's okay, though, being the VH-1 junkie that I am, I'll undoubtedly watch each of the four parts no less than 3 times each.

It's definitely worth a watch, although they seem to jam pack as much information as possible into the hour-long show. It's only slight bizarre that Cybil Shepherd spoke of getting her first prescription to the pill, and how she and her boyfriend marvelled over the notion that they could be doing it like rabbits.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Who Will Save My Soul?

I find a lot of my stories that I tell, the more or less unbelievable or bizarre ones, start out with the phrase, "I was minding my own business when..."

But that's exactly what I was doing. I was minding my own business, tranferring groceries from the cart into my trunk, when I notice this little ole white hair mumbling to herself. She walked towards me, headed back to her car, and sort of hesitated. I watched her from the corner of my eye.

She was obviously of the church lady variety. She had her white hair done up in a tight bun, and she was wearing a skirt. There are several churches around here that dictate their women dress this way.

I thought maybe she was lingering for a moment to take my cart since she was heading into the store.

"Hello," she said, in an eerie tone. It wasn't in a pleasant, friendly old lady sort of tone.

I replied hi, but if translated, it might have sounded like, "What exactly are you doing because you're making me slightly nervous."

"I have something for you. I thought you might like reading about this lovely young girl," she said and handed me a pamphlet of some sort.

At first glance, it didn't appear as though it was religious paraphanelia. I thought it might be some sort of hand-out for an ailing child. I thanked her as she scurried away. I looked at the back, and sure enough, it was religious "save your soul" sort of stuff.

I opened it up, and obviously, I was supposed to read this young girl's story, and by young, I'm talking 3ish or so. Then I saw the scripture, and the instructions on how to ask Jesus to come into my heart.

Risking sounding totally irreverent, crap like this pisses me off.

I'm used to people coming to the door occasionally trying to peddle their beliefs door-to-door. I understand it's the way Jehovah's Witnesses do their thing. I've read about their period of time spent going door-to-door to make everyone their special Jesus offer. (Salesman! Argh! - courtesy of Pee-Wee's Playhouse). While I don't subscribe to their beliefs, I give them credit for having so much faith because it can't be a grand time to go out and bother people at home. Most of which see the Jehovah's coming, and they slam the door just like Pee-Wee.

What really pisses me off is that I must have looked like I needed saving. She made a concerted effort to go back to her car and get me the hand-out. Was it my short shorts with studding? Was it my black T-shirt with a gothic cross and silver sparklies on it? Was it my sandals with grommets? Hmm, maybe it was my eyeliner and make-up. Could it have been my wide ankle bracelet?

At any rate, I decided I'd stay a sinner, and I wasn't going to read it. Briefly, I enterained the notion to go put it under the wiperblade on her car. But I thought nah, that really wouldn't be nice. Effective conveying how I felt about having it pushed on me, but not real nice.

I left it under the fold down flap on the seat of my cart as I returned it to the corral.

What was that thing about not judging? For some reason, I felt incredibly judged. I watched her walk into the store, passing several other customers. She didn't have a fistful of papers to hand out to others with her. So what was the deal?

It was the same church that drove around several weeks ago on a Sat. morning. I received a text from my friend who lives down the road that said, "Burgundy van, full of church ladies, do not answer the door."

And you know what? I didn't answer the door because I feel it's my choice to not listen to their witnessing. Somehow, I felt not only judged, but slightly deceived as well. "Read about this young girl's story," she said. It was a ploy. I certainly wouldn't have said, "no thanks," after looking at the photo of the adorable girl.

Maybe the next person who found the pamphlet in the cart needing some saving.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wine and Weedwhacking

I'm running around this morning, wait, that's not true.

I'm moving at a snail's pace this morning getting ready to go to my sister's house to watch some old camcorder-made movies from the late 90s that she happened upon.

The TV has been on all morning, and at some point, infommercials take over one hour of GMA. Or something. I really don't know.

The point is, I'd been drying my hair, came back to sit down to drink some more coffee, and I'm not particularly watching TV. What I did gather, though, is that they were advertising a piece of gardening equipment. It's the only one you'll ever need to buy. I don't know really what it does, but knowing only that should be enough. Call now! You don't need to spend money on any fancy edgers because this WorkGTXOZ (something like that, anyway) will edge your yard, too.

The infommercial continued, "But wait, order now and we'll throw in a liftetime supply of wine!"

Okay, here's my problem. Perhaps, I'm too involved with wine or I need to have my hearing checked.

Wine and gardening equipment? Isn't that slightly dangerous? I mean, I do love a good glass of wine, and I've been known to partake in drunken activities where one could lose life or limb. But, I haven't gone on national TV to suggest that someone work in their yard and imbibe at the same time.

I looked up, because my interest was piqued, and it wasn't wine, but line. The WorkGT3342OX15 (or something like that) must be a weedwhacker.

Yeah, maybe I should get my ears checked and find a new hobby besides wine.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wild Ideas and a Level

I occasionally get these wild ideas to do some intensive house cleaning. The problem is that I don't get get those wild ideas nearly often enough. I mean I used to when the kids were much younger. They'd be crawling around on the floor, eating anything they could put in their mouths. It used to drive me insane to see anything on the floor that didn't belong there. I think it might have been those nesting hormones. I had a huge carry-over of those until my youngest was probably 5. Once they stopped eating lint and crawling around, I got a little more lax.

Then after that, well, it must have gone downhill.

I realized a long time ago that no one really cares what I do. It's what I don't do that gets their attention. And by "no one," I'm referring to my ever-lovin' family. They don't notice if I scrubbed the floor on my hands and knees. Well, not unless they come home and I can no longer stand upright because of the time and elbow grease required. I'm not as young as I used to be, you know.

Food must magically appear in the cupboards and fridge. Dirty underwear somehow make it from the hamper to the dresser drawers smelling April fresh. I certainly don't get any credit. But boy, oh boy, if there's no Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch, the world as we know it comes close to ending.

I'm not saying they're particularly ungrateful creatures. What I'm saying is that their fluckin' spoiled, and about the time I come down with the plague or something, then and only then, do they notice that I do a whole lot to make their lives run smoothly. It's unfair, and a rather thankless job, but it's the way it is. I've accepted it.

Anyway, I decided on Tuesday that the dining room needed a good cleaning. I asked my friend, "Do you notice after the heating season that you get almost a film on stuff from running gas heat?"

"Well, I guess I might notice if I actually cleaned," she told me.

I crawled up on the dining room table. It's sturdy, one of those old antique deals that isn't going to bow under my weight. I was knocking down some cobwebs when I took a step back. What happened next left me slightly stunned. I was smacked in the side of the head.

"What the hell was that?" I thought as I stepped back. I was nearly decapitated by the ceiling fan. Thankfully, it's a cheap ceiling fan and far from sturdy. Though I'm probably damn lucky I didn't step back off the table and plummet to the floor.

In my cleaning fury, I found a box of little nails. I had this set of decorative plates that I probably bought in 96 at the antique store. They went from drawer to drawer in the past ten plus years. I'd get them out, hope that someone (read the husband) would help me hang them. Then I'd give up and move them to another location.

They'd set on the kitchen counter for a few months, and I thought, a some nails...go some a clean dining room wall...I'm hanging those bitches. The one thing that had stopped me from doing it alone is that the native timber behind the walls is like hammering into concrete. Unless I've got a drill, which I do but someone heisted my bits, it's really a futile process.

The hammer I found, though, was like a mini-sledge hammer. Those nails were going in if it were the last thing that I did.

I'll admit, I'm a short little thing. I'm only a few inches taller than those who were hanging out in Munchkinland. I have spent a lifetime standing on chairs, crawling onto counters, and using wooden spoons to knock things down from top shelves. I had to stretch a bit to position the nails where I wanted these four plates to hang.

I thought I did a good job. They weren't quite straight, but I didn't imagine the Level Fairies were going to stop by and advise me on my transgressions.

My husband came home later that night. Did he notice that things sparkled, dust was gone, and you could actually see the dining room table? Of course not.

"If you're going to hang stuff," he said. "Why don't you wait until I'm home and use my level? These two are okay. This one is hung a little high. This one is lower than this one. Sure you don't want my level?"

Uh, yeah, I thought, but you sure don't want to know what I'd like to do with it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

We, He, I Survived

Thankfully, prom is over. We only have to do it three more times since there won't be any overlapping years with both kids attending. Have any idea how much it cost to rent a tux these days? $134.

Why, just 20 years ago, tuxes were only about $50. Yeah, only 20 years ago.

The days leading up to prom were tense for me.

It might have been that I was concerned about turning over my car, the one with the $500 insurance deductible, to my teen driver for prom night. I might have been slightly worried about him out driving around all hours of the night. When I was 17, 17 seemed so old, worldly, and mature. Now that my son is 17, 17 seems so young and inexperienced.

He went with a friend of his. A nice girl with a great sense of humor, and cute, too.

He sent me a text from the formal portion of prom to let me know he was having a great time. Then more texts followed - did I pack him shoes for the after party at the school? Did I remember to put in some "pit juice" because he was sweating?

Mom had everything under control. Because that's what moms do, of course.

Then about 15 minutes into the after prom party at the school, I get another text from him. It went something like this, "I think I might have a broken nose. I got kicked by a friend playing a game. It bled a lot, but Jake's mom's a doctor and she thinks I'll be okay because I can breathe."

When he got home around 2:15, he was bruised and swollen, and looked like he was a totally different nationality besides "white boy." I tried not to get too worked up about it. But man, there was a lot of blood on the shirt he'd been wearing. I also felt bad because he'd been having a good time up until getting kicked in the snoot. After that, he was bleeding and his face was throbbing. Poor guy.

This morning, I had to return his tux by noon. I stood waiting for confirmation that everything was there when an old guy walked in behind me carrying a tux. He was likely someone's grandpa, if not great-grandpa. One of the other employees greeted him and said to the older gentleman, "I can tell by the smile on your face that you had a wonderful time at the prom."

I don't know why this amused me so, but I giggled. Every time I've thought of it since then, I've giggled. It truly made my morning.

I'm not used to getting up and being out and about by 9 a.m. Granted, I'm getting up and taking my son to school at 6:30 every day, but I come home and don't deal with the public much before 11 if I have to run errands.

I had to stop by the bank first. Something got flucked up when my son made his deposit on Sat. It turned out that another guy with the same name ended up $196 richer for a few days. (In the meantime, I was franctically transferring funds from our checking to our son's to cover his prom expenses.)

The doors were still locked when I arrived at the bank. An older gentleman waiting to get in bid me a "good morning." By 9:01, the bank was bustling with customers. And the thing is, everyone seemed cheerful, happy, and friendly. Instead of grumping and bitching at the teller, I was patient and understanding. She thanked me for being nice about the mistake. And I do have to wonder...if I'd gone later on in the day, would my disposition and hers as well be as congenial?

I stopped by CVS to drop off my son's disposable camera to get developed. Everyone there seemed fresh, alert, and ready to face the day. Then it was off to the grocery. Same goes for everyone I saw there. They were eager to assist, chitchat, and wait on me.

They, whoever they are, say that if you smile at someone, you never know what sort of impact you'll have. Maybe you'll make their day, they'll smile at someone else, and before you know it, there's a whole string of events with a bunch of happy people who have had their spirits lifted.

I believe it. Because when I came home, I got to thinking about how great my son's and his date's corsages looked. I was concerned because I didn't know what color of blue her dress was exactly when I ordered the flowers. As luck would have it, they looked wonderful and the ribbon and rhinestones matched her dress wonderfully.

I picked up the phone, called the florist, and let her know how pleased I was. I sent off a couple emails letting a few friends know I was thinking about them since it had been a while since I'd heard from them.

I can be a grumpy, bitchy shrew as much as the next, but I'm telling you, this whole paying it forward with a smile or kind words really can make all the difference in a Monday morning. Try it.