Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Skinny Dipping

An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for several years. He had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he fixed it up nice picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some apple and peach trees.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't been there for a while, to look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his pond. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave!"

The old man frowned, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond naked." Holding up the bucket he said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."

Some old men can still think fast.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dreading Christmas

QVC, on the 25th of every month, afflicts us with their "Countdown to Christmas." Today's programming is all things Christmas, like decorations, toys, gifts, and entertaining. They've been doing this since June or July. I nearly break out in hives when I absently check QVC and I'm greeted with Christmas stuff while the cicadas are still singing outside. I will not look at QVC today.

It makes me angry when Christmas gets rammed down my throat so early in the year. What about Labor Day and Halloween? Election Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving? Things are supposed to happen in some sort of order, y'know? The hype is absolutely crazy, and starting it early means my nerves are thoroughly frazzled by early December. By the 20th I'll be burned out and hating the whole thing.

Every year, The Oracle gets a bit cheated on his November birthday because going to the mall after Halloween means the crews are setting up the holiday decorations, and I refuse to look at them or start thinking about Christmas until the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

While my children are small, I dread Christmas for another reason: Toy shopping.

I love buying things for my children. I love spoiling them rotten. The thing I do not enjoy is that I am just about forced to place their materialistic Christmas glee in the hands of a nation who has no regard for human rights or the materials they use in the production of millions of items they export around the world. Yep, I'm talking about China.

There's a new guy in my "site seeing" list (thanks to vee) who blogs as East Coast Squarehead. (Do pay him a visit; you won't be disappointed.) He touched on the subject this morning and fanned the flames of my holiday worries. His fourth paragraph perfectly expressed my feelings about China and how deeply I loathe sending any money there.

What do you do, though, when the thing, that thing that a kid wants more than anything else in the world, the thing that may just "make or break" Christmas, is only available through the likes of Mattel or Hasbro or Disney, places who contract China's sweatshop factories to produce their goods?

For eleven months of the year, it is so easy for me to say, "Sorry, kid, it's made in a country I do not want to support." Aaaah, but while my children's faith in Santa is only exceeded by their faith in God (a hard balance to maintain in December!), saying "no" is next to impossible.

Dagnabbit, it taints my joy in the season. It's hard to stick to my convictions and give them what they want. Which is more important? Is their temporary joy over a piece of flimsy (and possibly lead-tainted) plastic going to outweigh the importance of supporting countries (especially mine) who follow proper business and labor practices? You can't exactly tell a kid that Santa boycotted China's toys this year when the kid next door is nearly buried alive beneath them.

It's times like these where I wish I could hide the world from my kids, even though I know it would do them no favor.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Car Might Be Cursed

Late on Wednesday night, I fell asleep on the couch instead of dragging my sorry butt to the supermarket to buy the much-needed milk for breakfast and bread for The Oracle's lunch. I awoke around 1:00-ish.

Drat. The supermarket closed at midnight, which means I get to pay double for bread and milk at the convenience store.

Once I get my blood moving, I shuffle out to the Pacifica and get in. When I shut the door, I hear stuff pattering around in the back. Yikes! I look in the rearview and see nothing. I turn around and see black stuff all over the carpeting in the back. Whuzzat?

I walk around to the rear of the car, and I see that my rear windshield is shattered. It's mostly intact, but crackled to the four poles. F***. The pattering noise turned out to be the first pieces of glass popped out by the pressure of the closing car door.

I awaken The Oracle and learn that nothing unusual happened when he drove the car earlier in the evening. I call our local police department to file a report. The officer says it's most likely vandalism. We've lived here 16 years and the most heinous crimes visited upon us were soaped car windows on michief night our first year here, and the theft of nearly a dozen pumpkins when Precious Daughter was two. (And I was so angry over that I considered locking my doors on Halloween with nothing but a big note telling the kids to thank the pumpkin thieves for no candy.)

Well, anyway, I had to go for milk and bread, but I couldn't drive the Pacifica, and it was blocking in the Explorer. There I was, busting the glass out of the frame, sweeping my driveway in the dark, and jockeying cars around to go to the stupid store. When I got back, I taped plastic bags over the hole and crawled into bed at 3:00 a.m.

Much to my dismay, my deposition the following day ran for well over three hours, which I hadn't anticipated. I barely made it home in time to file the insurance claim, but they set me up with an early appointment this morning for their glass replacement service to come and replace my rear glass. That was very nice. I was driving my Pacifica by lunch time.

At least one good thing: Despite my belief to the contrary, my deductible was only $250.00. At least a year ago I distinctly remember a conversation with Nationwide on increasing that to $500 per vehicle to save a few bucks, but they never did it. (No wonder my premiums were so outrageous!) I didn't know about this when I was rear-ended in June because everything went directly through State Farm.

Oh. My point on the title? We've only had this car a few months, and I've already had two incidents requiring insurance claims. Well, it's technically three, but I haven't taken action on the dent I put in the bumper a couple weeks ago.

To quote SD's favorite I-Hop customer, "This is making me nervous."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Contagious Disease??

Just Me's note: The following arrived in my email inbox. My friend, E, has become the next in a long string of hapless victims to fall prey to blogging addiction. I should be sorry for passing this weird infection on to her. I am (a little bit) but misery loves company.

"It's All Your Fault!! :-)

"I was not into blogs at all. Didn't even know what they were to tell you the truth. Didn't understand the point. But you just couldn't leave me alone in my ignorance could you? Couldn't let me just go through my life unaware. First you sent me the link to something from Pioneer Woman a long time ago. I read it but didn't really get it (I'm slow sometimes you know). Then you told me something about Weiner's or something. I just blew it off. And of course you let me know about your blog somewhere along the line, got a kick out of the name, yummy!!!! But still I didn't go there often. Just didn't think of it.


"My beloved Rusty passed away and you sent me a link and said it wasn't much, but oh it was. I read that over and over. I kept going back (I still read it now and then) and it brought me comfort and put a smile on my face. And while that happened I kept reading your new postings and found I liked it. I got a quick chance to see how your doing when we couldn't seem to get in touch with each other. And it let me reminisce about earlier days.


"I took a quick look at "site seeing"...... Why oh why did you have to do that. Now every day, EVERY DAY I go to your blog to see if anything is new. Then I check out the weiners, the buzz, and now am totally obsessing over Pioneer Woman. I spent the entire day yesterday reading the entire "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" story. I don't need this right now. I need to focus. The school year is starting soon. My house is for sale, we have a showing tonight and I'm reading blog entries. How will I get any work done? How do these people get any work done? I have had to use extreme will power not to sign up for a blog name so I'm not anonymous anymore.

"And to top things off..... While perusing PW today (see I'm over the edge I used the abbreviation) I saw a recipe for Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Well as you may or may not know I LOVE mashed potatoes and garlic so I had to check it out. It's made with half and half (or heavy cream), cheese and butter.... OH MY GOD.... now what do I do. Last week my Dr. almost killed me because my cholesterol is so high and now this.

"At this rate I'm gonna need a 12 step program.

"Talk with you soon,"

Now, I'm going to do something that's unthinkably cruel and selfish. E has a bit of a knack for storytelling, and I know this because I get to hear her stories in person. Why don't you cheer me on as I shout, Hey E, maybe you should write a blog!!!!

Of course, if she started blogging, she'd be on the computer all the time and then I'd have even less time to see her and that would really suck. I'd much rather keep in touch in person than through a blog page.

But... It's a great way to share photos and stories with those far-away relatives, which is one reason why I started this thing in the first place.

Whew! What a Difference a Letter Makes!

I'm editing a transcript, and I come to this question: "Did you note any allogynia?" Huh?

Immediately afterward, I asked him to repeat the term, and he graciously did so, giving me the spelling along with it. A-L-L-O-G-Y-N-I-A.

Since I'm a fusspot, I Googled it anyway. I know that Google isn't the be-all-end-all resource for answers, but it's often a good starting point for things I'm not familiar with. I'm glad I used it in this case. Allogynia is defined as the need to fantasize about someone more desirable than your partner in order to... um... get the party started, if you know what I mean.

Well, hello. This case has nothing to do with that. It's about an amputee. I Googled it again as "neurogenic pain allogynia" and got one of those wonderful "Did you mean _____" responses. I love Google for this reason.

Allodynia: painful response to a usually non-painful stimulus.

Ahhh, that's better!

Now, I swear my audio says G and not D. At the time I wrote G and not D. G and D do sound alike. I was tempted to use allogynia with [sic]* afterward, but I'm thinking I heard it wrong (twice!!) since the doctor wasn't snickering at the question.

*For those who are unfamiliar, [sic] is used to follow a term or phrase that's inappropriately or erroneously used. It shows the reader that this is what the speaker said, and it is not an error in editing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gearing Up for School

In June I was whining and wondering when September would get here. Now it's around the corner, and I am fizzling with anticipation and quivering with dread. A return to school means my days are once again my own. I am free to work work work during school hours without relying upon my in-laws' baby-sitting services.

The pre-school (not preschool) battles have already begun.

With Precious Daughter, the current battles surround school supplies and bedtime.

I am trying desperately to reset their late-night summer clocks back to school hours. The shortening days help somewhat, but Precious Daughter refuses to go to sleep without a fight. She sits up in her bed (as she is right now) refusing to lay down and sleep. She says she's not tired, but, golly, her eyes are falling out of her head and she has dark circles under her lower lids. These stubborn late nights create a helluva morning battle to get the heck out of bed. Most mornings she won't willingly rise (subject to much poking and prodding by me) until after 9:30.

Last week we spent over thirty minutes selecting a backpack from Target. I'm really not pleased with buying this made-in-China crap, but economics and a heinous shortage of American-made options forced my hand. Thankfully, I was able to steer her toward something that wasn't so painfully trendy like Hannah Montana or High School Musical. She finally selected a pink one with multicolored polka-dots and a monkey on the outer pocket.

Then, dear God, we moved on to the junk that goes inside. Holy moly. The biggest battle surrounded pencils. Yep, pencils. Last year, Precious Daughter spent much of the year not sharpening her pencils. Why? She didn't want them to get stumpy, even though that's the whole "point." We ended up with mechanical pencils with refillable leads and erasers.

Then we battled over crayons, markers, rulers, highlighters, and red pens. It's a stinkin' pen for Pete's sake, but in her mind there's still plenty to argue about. I spent the better part of two hours kicking myself for letting her come along to pick the stupid backpack.

Thank God she wears uniforms. I'd never have the stamina to bicker over school clothes.

A whole 'nother chapter is Precious Daughter's general upset at leaving me to go to school. There is lots of wailing and protest. It will begin on her first day of school, and it will continue daily through October. We'll have recurrences on at least a weekly basis through Christmas break, and it will return daily after the New Year until February or so, with weekly occurrences until the end of the year. It's just too much for a mom to take.

Oh, and that's just one kid. Mighty B. isn't making this easy at all.

Mighty B.'s problem is that he refuses to wipe his butt. The boy just turned five and he will not -- no way, no how, nosiree -- wipe his butt. He sits on the toilet and bellows:

"Mommmmmyyyyyyy, I'm doooooone!" (Can you just hear the melody?)

I ignore him and he bellows some more, so I tell him to get started and I'll check his paperwork in a bit. He continues to bellow and I ask him, "what will you do when you're in school all day?" I remind him that his teachers aren't permitted to help him.

Several minutes later, he comes shuffling out of the bathroom, springing his underwear between his ankles, "Mommy..." By now I have to intervene, or things are gonna get ugly.

It's gonna be a long year.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Day at the Beach

We spent a day at the beach last Tuesday, something we haven't done all summer long. To say that Precious Daughter was in her element is an understatement. This child adores the ocean.

They didn't care how big the waves were. The bigger the better. We found all sorts of neat bits of shells and pebbles and now the kids have jars of beach on their dressers. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they're scattered all over the house, but they look really nice at the moment.

Mighty B. looks like he just washed up after a shipwreck. Either that or he's sacrificing himself to a hungry sea monster.

I didn't expect this one to turn out so well. She was running so fast I thought I missed her completely by the time I hit the shutter. And -- oh, yeah -- I bought that Lands' End suit on Monday for a whopping $14. I love clearance racks!!!

This one clearly is my favorite. I need to actually print this one and hang it up somewhere.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Kids Took These

The Oracle and Mighty B. are huge railroading fans. We took a neat little day trip to a popular historic railroading attraction, and while waiting for the train ride to begin, the kids were hounding me for permission to play with the camera. Their efforts were quite good, don'tcha think? Mighty B. took this one of The Oracle and Precious Daughter.

Precious Daughter took this one of Mighty B. and me. I wouldn't post it at all because I think I photograph horribly, but I'm proud of Precious Daughter's efforts. (Otherwise I'd happily crop out my crooked teeth and gray hair and my too-thick pasty-white arm. My haircut usually looks much nicer than this, too. Ahh, vanity!!)

On a side note, Mighty B. was angry with me because I held his other monster hand down and out of the picture. I had to let Precious Daughter do a retake with both of us snarling at the camera. For obvious reasons, I am not sharing that photo.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My Son Wakes Up Laughing

I've never known of a kid that did this, but Mighty B has done this ever since he was small. He wakes up this way frequently too. I'll poke my head into his room and sometimes he's still asleep or he's just starting to stretch.

I wonder what amazing, silly dreams he's having that he laughs out loud like that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

This is "What Else"

I am seething mad.

Bad enough that we have to shuck out $800 for new tires, but in my flurry to pick The Oracle up from the train, I backed the Pacifica into our dead-but-still-here Bonneville. Please don't ask me to explain how I managed to do this, just take my word for it that I did.

We've had our car back less than two weeks, and I punched a nice, 7" diamater dent into the bumper it took three weeks to get, taking out a backup sensor in the process.


Edited at 8:42 p.m. to add:

Adding Injury to Insult

So as the Oracle is leaving for his walk/run, Mighty B slams the front door, crushing the Oracle's finger. Fortunately, the worst of this bloody injury is the loss of a long flap of surface skin running from alongside his fingernail to the first knuckle joint. The nail will probably turn Technicolor and fall off. Yummy.

Oh. And this is also partly my fault, because if I hadn't left my keys in the lock, his hand woudln't have been removing them as Mighty B slammed the door.

I can't do anything right today.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Else?

As I've griped before, I've been trying to climb out from under a backlog of work. No sooner do I get to where I feel like I can breathe, and I had two very long and difficult jobs today. Naturally, the more difficult of the two is required in two days, so I'm buring the midnight oil on this job and shoving everything else to the back burner.

I was really looking forward to a day with E tomorrow, and I felt that I might be able to pull it off if I make some really good progress on that expedited transcript.

The Oracle shattered that notion with the report of a bolt stuck in a truck tire, so now we're dropping it off for service tomorrow morning. It's due for tires anyway.

I guess all this transcript money will come in handy to pay for that, huh?