formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Warm Fuzzies...

I've decided to do a Fhina-esque, picture-filled post today about stuff that gives me the warm fuzzies, prompted by a tag from Greenfingers, one of my favorite introspectives (introspective can be used as a noun, right?).

Anyway, the tag decrees that I list six unimportant things that make me happy. Hmmmm... how can anything that makes me happy be unimportant?!

So, because I'm all rebel-like (hear me yell!), I'm going to break the rules (as usual), and list ten important things that make me happy! Whoo hoo! With pictures! Whoo hoo hoo! (I don't know why I'm so excited, really. I think it might be the 4 cans of Diet Pepsi...). Anyway, without further ado, here are my warm fuzzies...

1. Rain... any kind of rain... torrential downpours, light spring drizzles, thunderstorms... I love being out in it, coming in from it, everything about it. 2. Tulips... big beautiful bouquets (or fields) of tulips... any color. 3. Tea... hot... Tetley British Blend... milk and one sugar. Warms you body and soul. 4. Swinging (no, not that kind! Get your minds out of the gutter, people!)... since I was little, swinging high makes me feel free... and carefree. I still do it, every chance I get. 5. Puppies... when I see a puppy, it's physically impossible for me not to stop and make a fuss. 6. The Farmer's Market... YUM! Nothing beats fresh, organic, local produce!7. Camping... with my girl and my dog. They are the best weekends of the year! 8. The Sea... any season... any weather... any day... any night... any coast... any country... 9. Swimming... it's how I meditate. The pool is the only place where it's quiet in my head. 10. Believe... it's my favorite word. Sometimes I need reminding... to believe... in myself, in the world, that everything will be OK. One day I'm going to have it tattooed on the inside of my left wrist.

Now, I'm supposed to tag six people to do this... but you know me (rebel, remember?)... so I tag anyone who wants to do it!

And can I just say, Fhina has my complete respect for taking the time to do this picture-posting stuff all the time. Lord, but this was hard work! The formatting never works properly for me when I post photos and I wind up pulling my hair out trying to get it right... and then pulling more out when I have to fix it once I've published. Yeah... don't expect another post with lots of piccies anytime soon! XO

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The (Weather)Man Upstairs...

Ryan never met my dad. He died a few months before she was born. It broke my heart that they would never know each other but I was still determined to foster a 'relationship' between them. As such, I've always told her stories about him to make him as tangible as I could for her. It worked, as her Grandpa has always been a part of her life... a part she has never questioned... a part she has always accepted... a part as real as her other flesh and blood family.

When she was nearly four, she developed quite an elaborate theory about the weather... and my dad... which, truth be told, made perfect sense to me. We were driving home from the sitter's one afternoon when this conversation took place...

Me: Whew, it's hot. I hope the weatherman is calling for rain tonight.

Ry: Mama, you know Grandpa's the weatherman, don't you?

Me: Grandpa?

Ry: Uh huh. Grandpa keeps all the weather in a special room in Heaven and he decides what kind to send us.

Me: He keeps it in a room?

Ry: Uh huh. In cans on a shelf. And when he wants to send us weather, he opens the can and sprinkles it down on us.

Me: Oh, I see. I didn't know that. (How did I not know that?)

Ry: Uh huh. That's why it doesn't snow here. (We were living in Charlotte at the time.) Grandpa didn't like snow. So he doesn't send us any.

Me: Well, that doesn't seem right, does it? Since we like snow and all.

Ry: I know. I need to talk to Grandpa about that.

Me: Well, why do you suppose he sends Uncle Iain and Aunt Tania winter in the summer and summer in the winter? (We have quite a bit of family in Australia and New Zealand.)

Ry: I think maybe Grandpa drinks too much wine in Heaven and he gets confused sometimes.

Me (snickering): Yup. That sounds like Grandpa!

Given the 90+ temps we've been experiencing these past few days, I'm thinking maybe my dad's on the sauce again. I'll have to get Ryan to have a little chat with her Grandpa.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Here's to the Road Ahead...

Thanks, bloggy buddies (and real-life buddies, too) for your words of wisdom yesterday. I got lots of really good stuff in the form of a figurative crowbar. And I got lots of invitations to come visit people, too, which is just so cool! Well, for me, anyway... you guys apparently have some issues as well, if you want a neurotic, down-in-the-dumps, self-proclaimed failure staying under your roof!


I'm not really neurotic.

OK, I'm not a failure either, I know. Well, at some things I am. But I'm getting it into perspective, I swear. And as for down-in-the-dumps, I'm not that far down, really. The whack on the ass with the crowbar yesterday helped move me back up, closer to the top of the garbage heap.

You guys had some terrific suggestions, several of which were things I already know I should be doing (like the 'appreciate the little things... focus on the positive... be grateful for what you've got' stuff). And I really do those things, though admittedly, not to the degree I should. I think lots of us are guilty of that (have you noticed that I refuse to be alone in this?!).

And while I appreciate the sentiment behind the 'just do nothing and let things happen' advice, I can't subscribe to that particular way of doing things. Why? Well, because that's what I've been doing forever... and it ain't working for me, people! I clearly need to do. And the thing is, I know what I need to do. Well, for the most part. I'm still trying to figure out a few things.

I think the best bit of wisdom I heard yesterday (for my situation anyway) was to simply 'stop thinking and just get on with it' (not sure if it was worded exactly that way, but that's how I took it). It was best for me because, truth be told, it's what I've been telling myself to do for a while. I don't listen to myself all that often, though, unless, of course, I'm telling myself something terrible about myself. Then I'm all ears! I am my own worst enemy... no doubt about it. But I'm working on it. I promise.

So, here's to the road ahead...

... to not thinking and just getting on with it...

... to looking ahead...

... to leaving the crap behind...

... to new views and outlooks...

... to just enjoying the journey...

PS... sorry it's taking me so long to get 'round to everyone the past couple of days. I'm struggling to keep up with all the words you people are spewing forth... slow down, will ya?! XOXO

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stuck But Good...

So, I changed my quote of the week early because my cousin Alyce emailed me, horrified that I'd quoted Alice in Wonderland or, in Alyce's words, "... the vilest piece of crap ever written." Truth be told, I agree with her about Alice... I just liked that quote (My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that), as it describes pretty well how I've been feeling lately. Anyway, the poor kid hasn't slept in three days (we share insomniac tendencies), so rather than cause her any further angst, I took the quote down and went in search of a replacement. I found the Einstein one that's up now...

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. It reminds me of something my friend Todd says a lot... his saying's not as eloquent as Einstein's, but the message is the same... If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got.

It's simple. It's logical. It's true.

So, what do we humans need to change our way of thinking? Some cataclysmic event? A massive terrorist attack? A life-threatening illness? A near-death experience? It seems so. On a global scale, anyway, we often do little to change until we're nearing the brink of disaster... or just after we've fallen into the precipice.

But what about as individuals? What do we need to change our thinking? Have you ever done it? I mean really changed the way you thought about something that had been ingrained...? Have you ever made an extreme life-change (for the positive) because something caused you to 'do different than you'd always done in order to get different than you'd always got'? I'd love to know about it if you have...

I've been feeling the need for a long time to change my thinking about a lot of things in my life. But it's easier said than done (as most things are). I've been through some pretty serious life-altering events in the past few years. In some ways, they've made me stronger. But in lots of ways, I feel beaten down by them... worn out... like a failure. That's not the way I want to feel, obviously. I'd like to, as Nike orders, just do it. I'd like to just stop sabotaging myself at every turn. I'd like to just look in the mirror and see the person I want to see; the person I see in my head; the person I have the potential to be. But I don't know how to do it. I've wondered if maybe I just need to do what I need to do and the change in thinking will follow... but finding the gumption to just do what needs doing isn't always easy either, especially when your thinking needs adjustment...

And hey, I'm not looking for affirmations here... honest! I know my good qualities... I even believe some of them ;). You don't have to spell them out in the comments section, as I'm not fishing. It's just that there are things I need to change to live my life the way I want to live it. And I'm stuck. Stuck but good. I think everyone can probably understand that. I think most people have things in their lives they want to change but don't know how... I'm guessing everyone feels stuck in some way or another (God, I hope it's not just me!). I guess I'm just hoping someone out there has a crowbar... a big, friggin' crowbar...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...

You know how I've been mentioning for weeks now how I'll be so happy when spring finally arrives and it warms up around here? We've had a few nice days but it's been downright chilly of late. Frustrating, really, when April in Pigsknuckle is usually pretty nice (manure funk aside)... balmy, breezy days in the high 60's to the low 70's are usually the norm. Well, except maybe for April 25th, waaaaaay back in 1960, when it got to 90 degrees. Hot, huh? Yup... it was a record. A crazy, white-hot, sweaty record. Yeah.

Yesterday, on April 25th, 2009, it got to 91.

Zero to summer in 3.2 seconds.

It felt even hotter today.

The lesson here?


Be careful what you wish for.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

WHAT Breed Is He?

You guys remember my post about the cute little pooch who moved in behind us? No worries... he's fine. I talked directly to his owners... and I fixed their fence so he couldn't get out (and now he doesn't have to be tied up on such a short leash)... and I secured permission for Ryan (or me) to go into their yard anytime we want to play with him (or bring him water or treats, as necessary). So all's good (no thievery required... yet). But that's really not what this post is about...

Remember I said I thought he was a Bichon or Poodle mix? Well, it turns out he is indeed a Bichon Frise. Here's what he looks like...

Cute, huh? His name's Papi. And he's a serious little bundle of energy. Anyway, as I said, he's a Bichon Frise, which, as you probably know, is pronounced BEE-shon Free-Zay.

So, I took Ryan and a friend (not Crazy Girl... this one is Sweet Girl) out to lunch and the movies this afternoon. On our way from the restaurant to the theater, they were in the backseat, chatting (incessantly). I heard Ryan telling SG about Papi. She said...

"Oh, you should see him! He's the cutest little Bitchin' Fries!"

Yeah, I'm still cleaning Diet Pepsi off my steering wheel.

PS... I didn't mean to mislead you guys... that's not actually a photo of Papi (I got it off the Internet), but it is EXACTLY what he looks like.

Friday, April 24, 2009

No Gumption...

This is me today...

I'm pretty much just hangin' here... with no gumption to even think about getting down. Or do anything else. Anything at all. I'll probably just stay here for a while... it's not as uncomfortable as it looks, really. I can stay 'til I have to pee, anyway. Or 'til I have to pick Ryan up from school. Maybe I'll stop at the store on the way home and see if Food Lion has a special this week on gumption. I wonder what aisle it's in. I hope it's near the candy aisle. I want some licorice. I can't believe they don't sell the chocolate Twizzlers anymore. That sucks. Gumption is a weird word. That just dawned on me. I think it might be because all the blood's rushing to my head. Hey, stop staring at my butt. That's rude. Hmmm... I need to shave my legs. Maybe tomorrow. After I get some gumption. You know what's another weird word? Rump. Actually, most words are weird if you say them over and over to yourself. Like turtle... turtle turtle turtle turtle... see what I mean? Weird. I'm getting dizzy. Crap. I have to pee. I shouldn't have mentioned it earlier. Maybe if I think about something else. What else? SpongeBob Squarepants. He's so stupid. He nearly drowned at the beach this morning because he couldn't swim. But he lives in the ocean. How stupid is that? Pretty damned stupid. I really shouldn't let Ryan watch that show. I also shouldn't have thought of the ocean. Now I really have to pee. Crap. Guess I should get down. Sigh.

Later 'gators. Have a good weekend...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do You...?

Do you ever get crushes on other bloggers? You know, the kind where you check your reader every day to see if they've written something new... something that will make you snort with laughter or make your heart hurt from the sheer honesty in their words? The kind where you check your stats every day to see if they've visited? And where you get all tickled to see they've popped in, even if they didn't leave a comment? The kind where you just know you'd get on like a house on fire if you met?

Do you?

Yeah. Me, too.

Told Ya...

I stand by my assertion that not all babies are cute...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Crazy Girl and the Marriage Game...

This afternoon, I took Ryan and one of her friends for ice cream. I'll call this friend 'Crazy Girl' because, well, that's what I call her. She's the kid who always seems hyped up on sugar (even when she's sleeping)... she blurts out whatever's on her mind (no internal censor whatsoever)... she doesn't care if anyone thinks she's weird or off the wall. She's a wild child. I like her.

Crazy Girl likes to make up hypothetical situations and ask me what I'd do in them. Once she asked me if she and Ryan were drowning and I could only save one of them, who would I save? Then she told me if I let her drown, her dad would kick my butt. I'm assuming she does this to everyone...

Today, marriage and money were on her mind... and because I don't ever like to make things easy for her, this is the conversation we had over X-treme Chocolate cones...

CG: If you could pick between marrying a rich man and marrying a poor man, which would it be?
Me: Easy. I’d pick the one I loved.
CG: You love them both the same.
Me: Hmmm… then I’d pick the one who loved me the most.
CG: They both love you exactly the same.
Me: Seriously?! Man, I want to live in Crazy Girl World!
CG (tapping finger on table impatiently): …
Me: OK, well then, I’d pick the kindest.
CG: They’re both kind, OK?
Me: The funniest, then.
CG: They’re both hilarious.
Me: Wow! Where did you find two guys like that in Pigsknuckle?!
CG (rolling eyes) …
Me: OK, then, the smartest.
CG: Both brilliant.
Me: The most creative.
CG: The most creative?! You’re weird.
Me: Am not. Pffffttt.
CG: Grrrrr… they’re both super-duper, incredibly creative.
Me: OK. The cutest?
CG: Identical twins! They’re exactly the same except one is rich is one is poor.
Me: Then I’d pick the one who’s nicest to his mother.
CG (rolling eyes again): Oh, come on! They both love their mother the same.
Me: Hmmm… then I’d lock them both in a room with Ryan for a couple of hours and choose the one whose ears didn’t bleed.
Ry: Heeeeeey!
CG (exasperated now): Let me repeat… they are exactly the same except one is rich and one is poor!
Me: You know that’s impossible, right?
CG: It’s my game. My rules. Duh. Now pick!
Me: OK. Neither.
CG: No, you have to pick one.
Me: Nope. I wouldn’t pick either.
CG: You’d just leave both of them out in the cold?!
Me: Yup.
CG: Why?
Me: Well, I love them exactly the same, right?
CG: Yeah…
Me: Then I’d rather hurt both of them and leave them knowing I did it because I loved each of them too much to choose.
CG (staring at me blankly): …
Me: Make sense?
CG (shaking her head): Man, you really suck at this marriage game.
Me (sighing): Yeah. Tell me about it.

Tuesday Tosh...

'Cause I've got nothin' else...

1. I got rear-ended this morning (again). And not in that enjoyable way, either. That makes four times in the last year! Four, people... F.O.U.R. And each and every time was at a stop light, when I was sitting perfectly still, just minding my own business. I've decided to just stop stopping when the light's red. I figure I have a better chance at avoiding being T-boned than I do getting hit from behind, given my track record of late. Luckily, only one of the bumps required any repairs to my car... and get this... that time I was hit by a cop. Yup. It made me laugh, too... well, a day or two later, as it wasn't all that funny at the time. I've never been a nervous driver but I tell you, when I'm at a light and I see someone coming up behind me, my whole body goes all tense and I have to force myself not to scoot up a bit more. There have been times lately when I've been tempted to get out of my car at lights and tell people to get off my damned bumper. But I don't. 'Cause this is Pigsknuckle. And people carry guns 'round here.

2. I've just gotten off the phone with the local news station... I asked them to do a public service announcement about a renegade flock of ostriches roaming Pigsknuckle. I haven't actually seen them, but one (or more) of them shat on my (newly washed... and newly rained-upon... natch) car last night. I figure it had to be an ostrich, as no normal sized bird could produce a poo that big. And I'm thinking it's very possible he was snacking on those yummy Sunsweet Orange Essence Dried Plums.

3. Ryan's music teacher is a horrible woman... a sadist, really. Remember how she sent home that instrument from Hell... the recorder...? Well, in an effort to get the kids to practice and move forward, and with (clearly) no regard whatsoever for their parents' mental health, she instituted this 'belt' system... each song the child learns (to her satisfaction, mind you), earns said child a belt (like in karate), from white all the way to black (it's actually just a piece of colored thread tied around the end of the torture device). You know how many there are? Nine. So, Ryan earned her black belt the other day. And with great joy and relief, I threw away my earplugs. Then, on the way to school this morning, I noticed her studying her music book. "What's that you're looking at?" I asked in interested-mother fashion. "Oh, it's a new song I have to learn for the recorder," she replied off-handedly. "Ummm... what? I thought you were finished with that when you got your black belt," I stammered, my heart sinking into my Nikes. "Oh," she began, her little face all lit up with happiness, "I finished with the first part of the program. Now I get to earn my extra-credit pink belt and a bead for each of the 10 belts, too!" Gulp. "Does that mean you have to learn 11 new songs?" I asked, dread oozing from every pore. "Yup! Isn't that cool?!" I nearly crashed the car. I hate that music teacher. And I'll find a way to get her back, if it's the last thing I do. Before I go deaf. Or insane.

4. I've been writing resumes for IT people for about 5 years now. In all that time, I've written the word 'Linux' (it's an operating system... I think) about 53,584 times. And each time I've written it, I've pronounced it (in my head, as I don't think I've ever spoken the word out loud), the way you say 'Linus' (you know, the little kid with the blanket in the Peanuts comic strip), except with an 'x' on the end and not an 's'. Well, on the radio today, I heard an ad for a computer repair company and the announcer pronounced it with a short 'i', like 'linen'. "I'll be damned," I said (out loud that time). It was sort of like when I saw that Jim Varney (of, 'You know what I mean, Vern?' fame) commercial years ago... it was the first time I realized that epi-tome and ep-it-Oh-me were the same word. Yeah, not my brightest moment.

And that's all I've got. Happy Tuesday, lovely bloggy people!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Heaven Help Us...

We live in a college town. This is, for the most part, a good thing. Were it not for Pigsknuckle University, our fair locale would be but a cow patty on the road to DC... or Richmond... or Charlottesville. As it stands, while we are woefully lacking in some of the cultural events/venues other university towns seem to offer, we have a significant number of restaurants and stores we wouldn't have if P.U. didn't exist... 20,000 extra people living here 9 months out of the year creates a need for places to eat and buy stuff. Additionally, there are two other smaller universities within a stone's throw and a community college just outside of town. So we are overrun with students aged 18 to 22. This creates certain challenges...

For example, in addition to finding it impossible to get anywhere in town during move-in, move-out, parents', or homecoming weekends, it's sometimes necessary to explain things to my young child I'd rather not. Like last fall...

We were driving down Main Street the day after Halloween. We passed two girls walking home from, I hope, a Halloween party they'd attended the night before. I say 'I hope', as they were dressed pretty much in their underwear, along with thigh-high stockings and 5-inch stilettos. Before I could catch myself, I blurted out, "My God, they look like hookers!" Ryan quickly asked, "What's a hooker?" Crap. So I did something that was not on my agenda for that day, people... I explained... to my 9-year-old... what a hooker is. Lovely. Sometimes, though, my 9-year-old doesn't need explanations...

This weekend we went out for breakfast and seated at a table near us were 4 college-guys...

Ry: Did you see that guy's shirt?

Me: The one that said, "I like boobies"? Yeah. Silly, eh?

Ry: Oh, yeah, I saw that one, too. But no, I mean the other one...

Me: No... I didn't notice another one. What did it say?

Ry (leaning forward, whispering...): It said, "My pen is big". But it didn't mean his pen. It meant his penis.

Me (shaking my head and rolling my eyes...): Sorry to say I missed that one.

Ry (thoughtfully...): You know, I'm thinking if he has to advertise it on his shirt, it's probably not that big.

Me: Choke, sputter, guffaw...

Every day I realize just how like me my kid is. I totally would have said that... had I been sitting with a friend and not my 9-year-old daughter. She is me in so very many ways. Heaven help us both...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Once Upon a Visitor...

Sunday salutations, bloggy people! Hope your weekend's been good! Mine was nice... full of sunshine (up 'til now, that is), lawn mowing, and car washing. Last night I headed over the mountain to hang out with the Republican, as he's shipping out to Iraq soon. We went out for Italian (his with no veg at all, mine with nothing but) and later watched a fantastic movie, which is the reason for this post, really...

If you like Indie films, which I do, and you like music, which I do, and you like Irish accents, which I do, you have to check out Once. I loved it (obviously, or I wouldn't be telling you about it, would I?). It's about a guy and a girl (and since their names are never mentioned in the film, that's actually how they're credited at the end)... he's a songwriter (played by Glen Hansard, lead singer for the Irish band, The Frames) who's nursing a broken heart ... she's a feisty young Czech pianist and single mom (played by Marketa Irglova) who's starting over in Ireland after leaving her husband. They meet on the street, where he sings for money, and begin a week-long relationship that centers around music. Their connection is immediate and strong, apparent in the songs they write, perform, and produce, and although the movie is about their relationship, it's also the story of how sometimes it takes a random meeting, and one special person, to kick your butt into gear and do what you need to do to follow your dreams. The music in the film is the sort of stuff I love (and it reminded me of one of my favorite singers - Martyn Joseph, a Welsh guy with a gravelly, soulful voice). Here's a link for the song which won an Oscar, called Falling Slowly. Check it out... and check out the movie if you can find it... it's well worth a look!

It reminded me a lot of another Indie film I saw last year... I didn't expect it at all, but The Visitor quickly became one of my favorite movies. It was about a college professor whose life, after the death of his wife, had become about just going through the motions. When he went to NYC to attend a conference, he found a young couple (she from Senegal, he from Syria) living in the apartment he kept in the city. They'd been duped by a rental scam but because the professor was a generous man, he allowed them to stay. The movie was about the wonderful relationship that developed between the professor and the young Syrian man and, as in Once, about how a chance meeting can change your life and wake you up to what you want and need, even if you had no clue what that was prior. I won't tell you too much about it, as I don't want to spoil it if you decide to check it out. It was an amazing film, though, and again, well worth a look!

OK, that's it for me for now. Off to the grocery store... whoo hoo!! Have a great rest-of-the-day! xo

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Farrago... (and an Award!)...

Happy Friday, dear bloggy friends! The sun is finally shining in my little corner of Pigsknuckle... the redolence of spring is in the air (and by 'redolence of spring' I mean 'stink of manure')... and the ever-looked-forward-to weekend is just about here. Whoo hoo!

Before I move on to other farrago-ish topics ('farrago' is my word of the day), let me get back to that manure thing for a sec. You know I lived in 'the city' for most of my adult life, right? I like 'the city'. I do. But when my marriage ended, I felt it best to leave 'the city' and return to Pigsknuckle, mostly to be near family, as familial support (dysfunctional though it may be) is important to single parents... but also because I remembered 'the country' as being rather a pleasant place. It was quiet... bucolic... serene, even. You know what I didn't remember, though? Well, besides gun-totin'-camouflage-wearin'-dead-deer-hangin'-out-the-back-of-the-truck season, that is... The smell. I didn't remember the smell. The country stinks, people. And you know what it smells like? Shit... that's what it smells like. Now that I'm back, I completely remember how the stench affected me when I was younger (and by 'affected' I mean 'gagged'). My dad used to say, "Take deep breaths... it goes away faster." I'd always reply, "No it doesn't... you just die quicker." I was always kidding but last year in Pigsknuckle, an entire family was killed when they succumbed to the build-up of methane gas from the manure tank on their farm. You know where methane gas comes from? Yup. Shit. And cow farts. The incident was really tragic but I have to (ashamedly) admit, the idea of being killed by cow farts... well... I'm gonna stop there 'cause I don't want you to hate me when you find out I laughed. At first. Then I was really upset because it was awful. I'm not heartless, honest. I just have the mentality of an 11-year-old boy when it comes to the topic of farts. And poop. And intestinal gas. Pathetic, I know. But have you ever heard a cow fart? I have. It's funny, people. Disgusting but seriously funny.

Anyway, 'the country' smells. That's really all I wanted to say.

Moving on...

I got an award!! It came from the ever-so-lovely Michelle over at The Truth As I Know It. Thank you, Michelle! It made me happy, as awards are wont to do, and it cracked me up, too...

The blogger who receives The Zombie Chicken Award believes in the Tao of the Zombie Chicken... excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least five other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by not choosing wisely or not choosing at all.

Now, while I'm loathe to risk the wrath of the zombie anythings, I implemented a personal rule about passing on awards a while ago and I only pass them on to one person at a time. It usually requires me to break the award rules but hey, I'm a rebel (and lazy). So, zombie chickens, come get me if you must (please don't), but this award goes to the one and only...


I know she'll disagree but I think she's excellence, grace, and persistence personified and I'd brave a million zombie chickens to read her blog. OK, I'm totally lying. You guys know I have a death-fear of fowl, right? Zombie fowl would put me over the edge. But that doesn't take away from how fabulous she is. I've met some pretty amazing people here in Blogland but Blognut's extra-special. She's my other half (not in a spousal sort of way... she has one of those those already and I prefer to marry boys). We have a creepy amount of stuff in common, right down the 'rambing' part of our blog titles and the Blogger templates we chose (and we're both clearly too technically challenged to customize them like you bright people out there who have pretty, adorable, and classy blog backgrounds). We've even betrothed our talky 9-year-olds, so someday we'll be related! Whoo hoo! So, if you're not reading her stuff, do it. You'll love her like I do. But you can't have her, 'cause she's mine.

Moving on again... I got my swim team coaching assignment for the summer... I get to work with my little sinkers again. When Ryan started swimming last year (on the same team I swam on when I was in high school), I decided I wanted to help out, as I had to sit through practices and meets anyway. Because I'm not certified and because I have that whole 'mom' vibe going on, I got assigned to the littlest swimmers. They don't compete but the plan is to get them in the water and comfortable with team procedures, so when they're a little older, they're ready to go. My kids are between 4 and 6 years old and to-die-for cute (I did a post last summer that'll tell you just how cute... and pervy!) and I'm so excited to get them again this year. They call me 'Coach' but I mostly just keep them from drowning and give them loads of hugs and cheers... it's a pretty cool job, really (except for the part where my 44-year-old self has to be seen in my bathing suit every evening by, like, 100 people, along with the other coaches... who are all 20-something and have perfect 20-something bodies... sigh) and I feel privileged to be able to do it. You'll be hearing about my little guppies in the days to come...

Well, that's about it, I guess. And quite enough, eh? I hope you all have a great weekend! Mine will be relatively quiet, I think. I do have what will likely be my last non-date with the Republican tomorrow. He's being deployed to Iraq a couple of months early (which he's actually pretty excited about... go figure). I'll miss him but I guess I should spend some time thinking about why I've chosen to spend scarce social hours with someone (albeit a kind and generous someone) whose ideology is so far from mine it isn't funny (it's quite animus at times, actually, and not in that exciting, 'opposites attract' sort of way), rather than put myself out there (again) and meet someone with whom I might actually be able to develop a long-term real-dating relationship. I'm not sure I really want to get into that sort of analysis, though. Not without my therapist on retainer.

Anyway, have a good one!! Later, 'gators! xo

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Writer's Workshop: The Playground

For this week’s Writer’s Workshop (go see Kathy at Mama’s Losin’ It for the details), I chose the prompt:

Tell us about that time at the playground when that thing happened

It was summer. I was 8-years-old. My world was filled with jacks and jump ropes, Mr. Softee chocolate cones (with chocolate sprinkles), and Bye-bye Miss American Pie sung at the top of my lungs while swinging so high, the swing chains buckled. Puff the Magic Dragon was simply little Jackie Paper’s imaginary friend and the worst thing that had ever happened to me was the chicken pox. Life was good. I was innocent… safe... invincible. And part of every summer day was spent at the Tappan Street playground with my friends.

The day the thing happened was, for the most part, the same as every other summer day. After a long, hard play in the sun, my friend Joette and I were heading home. We’d stopped at the playground gate to read our Bazooka wrappers, each of us chewing a big wad of pink, sticky goodness fast and furiously, to see who could blow the biggest bubble first.

We were sharing our comics when we heard screams from up the street. Looking left, we saw a car coming down the hill, two girls running behind, waving frantically and screaming, “STOP! STOP!” I recognized both of them, as they lived at the top of our hill. They were sisters, one much older than the other. The younger one, half of a set of twins, was a year behind me in school. I didn’t know their names, as we didn’t run in the same circles and the twins didn’t go to my school, attending, instead, one of the Catholic schools in our neighborhood. They and their friends at the top of the hill were not especially nice and Joette and I didn’t like them much. But we were curious about what was going on and why one of the twins and her older sister were chasing after the car.

The car came to a stop at the light in front of the playground and the older sister ran to the driver’s window, still screaming. She reached in and started pummelling and pulling at the driver, as if to yank him through the open window. We were stunned by her behavior, as was the crowd of kids that had formed around us, watching the spectacle.

Then I realized why she was so upset. At the back of the car, the younger sister had flung herself to the ground. She was on her belly, reaching for something under the car. Beside her, I could see an arm, clad in a plaster cast, protruding from behind the rear tire. I remembered one of the twins had broken her arm and had been wearing a cast the last time I’d seen her.

We all stood, watching in horror as the police and ambulance quickly arrived, sirens blaring. Parents ran out of nearby houses and stood with us, watching anxiously as the girls were pulled away from the car, sobbing inconsolably, and the driver was put in the back of a police cruiser. The grown-ups were talking around us and snippets of the story floated down…

Hit and run…
Caught under the car…
Dragged down the hill…

It eventually became clear that the twin with the broken arm had run into the street while chasing a ball, and had been hit by the car. The driver claimed he didn’t realize he’d hit her and, as such, didn’t stop. He’d actually driven over her as she lay in the street and, caught on the car’s under-carriage, she was dragged down the hill.

Then she died.

That little girl – one half of a set of twins, a cast on her arm – died. Right there on the street in front of us… right in front of the playground; the place where we spent long, sunny summer days; the place where life was good; the place where we were innocent, safe, and invincible… she died.

She was 7-years-old and one of us, even though we didn’t play together or even like her very much. She was one of the children who ran in our neighborhood; who played the same games we did; who bought ice cream from the same truck and read the same Bazooka Joe comics; who sang the same songs... one of us.

The summer went on, as summers do, but life changed that day at the playground… for all of us. We still played jacks and jumped rope. We still ate ice cream and blew big, pink Bazooka bubbles. We still sang while flying high on the swings. But it was different. Just a little bit. It was in the air. It was in us. Because, whether we realized it or not, a little bit of our innocence, our safety, and our invincibility died with that little girl that day…

… the day that thing happened at the playground.

She Dreamed a Little Dream...

I know it's floating all over the Internet today but if you haven't yet seen the video of Susan Boyle's audition for Britain's Got Talent, you have to go visit Michelle over at Raw Cool. I'd post it myself, but, well, I'm a wee bit technologically challenged and I can't get it to work. Anyway, it's really fantastic. Susan Boyle is a 47-year-old, never-been-kissed, unassuming-cum-odd-looking woman from Scotland... with a voice that will blow you out of your socks. The way she affects the audience is amazing and she teaches us all a few good lessons... first, that we should never judge anyone by the way they look, and second, if you have a dream and can muster some courage to go after it, you simply don't know what can happen...

Go see it. You won't be sorry. I promise.


I know it's not a word. Sue me. I've got an idea for tomorrow's Writer's Workshop floating around in my head but I need to clear out some random crap before I can get to it. Oh, yeah, and I need to do some work, too. Anyway, randomosity first...

1. You know how I say that 90% of the time, Ryan's a joy and 10% of the time, I want to kick her butt into tomorrow? Yeah. Well, this morning fell under the 10% banner. Rotten little turd.

2. I don't put gas in my car until I'm lurching forward on fumes. And yes, I know it's bad for my engine. My dad gave me that lecture. A lot. In fact, one of the last things he said before he died was, "For God's sake, fill your damned car up when it's at a quarter of a tank!" I've actually run out of gas. Twice. Both times in my own driveway. But it's been 20 years since the last time. Knock wood.

3. I don't like to talk on the phone, which is weird, given how much I like to talk. I think it's because when you talk to someone in person, you can have little pauses and they don't seem awkward. But when you're on the phone, you have to fill up every second. I don't need that kind of pressure. When I'm under pressure, I say stupid stuff. Stupider than normal. And yes, I know 'stupider' isn't a word either. Sue me. I also don't like voice-mail. Because it obligates me to call people back. So I disabled it on my phone. I can see your number on my caller ID. That's all I need. And if I see your number but I don't recognize it? Don't even expect me to pick up. 'Cause I won't. Ever.

4. I have 8 pillows on my bed. And I use them all. Seriously. I make a nest and sleep in the middle of it. It's comfortable. And comforting. And I sleep alone (most of the time), so it's not an issue for anyone else. Except Sundance. And he has his own pillow. Number 9. At the bottom of the bed. I also have to have a cover over me at all times... though I always have to have one leg sticking out (unless it's really, really cold). But no part of me can hang over the edge of the bed. Ever. EVER. The monster who lives under my bed might get me. You know (you know you do). And I have to have a fan going, summer and winter, for white noise. Or else I simply cannot sleep. And now you know all my bed habits. Well, the sleep-related ones, anyway.

5. One of my favorite shows ever is The Office. But I was an Office snob at first. See, I got hooked on the UK version with Ricky Gervais before NBC did its usual copycat thing. The UK version was good... soooooo good. And because BBCAmerica broadcast it right up until the NBC version started, I refused to watch the new one. I knew it couldn't be as good because 1) our copycat shows are never as good, and 2) British humor doesn't always translate well in the US and I figured the show wouldn't last. I was wrong, of course (as I often am). It was my friend Mel, who was one of the few people I know here who really 'got' the UK version, and who is also a huge fan of Steve Carell, who told me to watch it... that I wouldn't be disappointed. It took me more than a year (I had to distance myself from Ricky Gervais... you know... like how I took 2 years after my split to start dating again) but I finally gave in and reluctantly watched a couple of episodes. It took about 4 and I was hooked. It's not the same... but it's good. Sooooo good.

That's all the random crap I have for today. Now, on to work crap. Later, 'gators.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Wish I Could Speak 'Dog'...

This is a 'conversation' I had with Sundance this morning after our walk at the park...

Me (opening the car door): OK, Bubby... up!

Sundance (sitting down): ...

Me: Come on, then. Up!

Sundance (still sitting, looking up at me): ...

Me: Sundance! Up!

Sundance: ...

Me (pulling on his collar): Damn it, Sunny, get in the car!

Sundance: ...

Me: NOW!

Sundance (putting his front feet on the seat): ...

Me (pretending to close the door on his butt): Get.All.The.Way.In.

Sundance (looking back at me with big, soulful eyes): ...

Me: I am NOT lifting your lazy ass into the car. Get in. NOW!

Sundance: ...

Me: Damn it, Bubby. You are the laziest dog I have ever met. If I threw a cookie in there you'd get in, wouldn't you? What is your problem? Why won't you get in?

Sundance: ...

Me: Grrrrr... (lifting his back legs onto the seat)

Sundance (looking back at me with an 'I knew you'd do it eventually' expression): ...

Me (slamming the back door and getting in the car): God-bleep, bleeping, bleepity-bleep dog!

Sundance (standing between the seats, licking the side of my face as I put my seatbelt on): ...

Me: Next time I'm leaving your sorry butt at the park!

Sundance: Lick, lick, lick...

Me: Sigh. Yes, I love you, too.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Wish...

Man, I should be so lucky...

It'd be much better than falling into a sugar coma and then croaking from eating too much of Ryan's Easter candy... which is a very real possibility tonight... Ugh.

What Do You Think?

I have a question for you, dear bloggy friends:

How old do you think a child should be before she's allowed to venture forth into the world (and by the 'world' I mean '2 blocks away to the playground') by herself?

Here's the deal... I believe we are, as a society, over-protective of our children. I also believe we are doing them significant damage by being over-protective. We're taking away their ability to problem-solve and to take age-appropriate risks. We're wrapping them up tight in bubble-wrap because we're afraid of what might happen to them when they're out of our sight. And I'm very concerned about it.

When I was a kid, from about age 7 or so, Saturdays and summers were spent gone, from morning 'til lunch, from lunch 'til dinner, and from dinner 'til bedtime... on my bike or hoofin' it, at the playground or the park, wandering our town with my friends. I walked to school, walked to the movie theater, walked to the library and the store and to my aunt's house. By myself. I lived right across the river from New York City, so it's not like I was in a sleepy little town where nothing ever happened. But, overall, I felt safe. My parents did, too... overall. They worried, naturally, but they understood that we needed freedom to grow and explore and figure out our world, and they let us have it.

I realize that many things are different now, some 35 years later. There are more people on the planet and we seem to know fewer of them, even the people in our own neighborhoods. The Internet has opened up the world to our kids... and brought them danger. Thanks to the sex offender registry, we can see at a glance now how many convicted felons live near us. There seem to be guns everywhere... last week, I think there was a mass shooting in the US nearly every stinkin' day. There is far more violence on television and movies and video games than there has ever been. It can be a scary world.

All that being said, I'm not scared. I never have been. Not really. I've lived and traveled in big cities and never once worried that anything bad would happen to me. I've driven the whole east coast alone and I take my daughter camping regularly, just the two of us. I exercise common sense and am generally aware of my surroundings. I listen to my gut and if a situation doesn't feel right, I get out of it. I'm trying to teach Ryan to live the same way. She went through a phase a while ago, after hearing my brother spout his 'nowhere is safe and everyone needs a gun' crap, when she was afraid bad people were going to come into our house, take our things, and hurt us. After reminding her we have nothing worth stealing, I told her that things seem scarier than they are (or than they have to be) because we live in such a global society. I explained that when I was a kid, we only got the news from our town. Now we hear everything that happens all over the world, as soon as it happens, and because the good news isn't interesting enough, all we hear is the bad stuff. It makes our world seem like a much darker place than it is. And some people, like my brother, choose to focus on and live in that darkness, whereas I prefer to believe there is far more good in the world than bad. I also reminded her that Pigsknuckle is a very safe place, which is part of the reason we live here. All of that calmed her nerves and made her feel better... and she was back to her nearly-fearless self.

Ryan is nearly 10. She's smart. She knows the rules. She abides by most of them. If I have to run out for a quick errand during the day and she doesn't want to come, I let her stay at home by herself. She locks the door, knows not to answer it, and wouldn't even think of going near the stove (neither of us are entirely sure why we even have a stove, truth be told). We have good neighbors and she knows them all and wouldn't hesitate to ask for help if she needed it. I feel safe. She feels safe. She also feels I trust her and she's gaining some independence. It's all good.

So, on to the reason for my question... I let Ryan go to the playground at the park 2 blocks from our house with her friend who lives next door (she just turned 12). They ride their bikes or scooters down there and hang out, sometimes for several hours. The area is very open, surrounded by houses, and usually quite busy with kids (and sometimes their parents). Again, I feel safe. Ryan feels safe... trusted... independent. It's all good.

Yesterday my niece wanted to go with Ryan and their friend to the playground. My sister-in-law said no. My brother wasn't here but she said he would have a fit if my niece went (yes, this is the brother who bought the same little girl a gun when she was 8-years-old; the same brother who keeps loaded weapons in his house and his car...). She said it's not safe. I asked how so? She brought up the sex offender registry and how there are many in our town. I reminded her that she can't tell what their specific offenses actually are... some are for peeing in public (yes, it's true); some are for consensual sex with a (15 or 16-year-old) minor. I said I'm sure some are serious and legitimate and I reminded her that they've always been there... we just didn't know it before. I said I think she has to look at the overall crime statistics for Pigsknuckle and the surrounding area... and to my knowledge, since my family moved to this area 30 years ago, there hasn't been a violent crime against a child (that wasn't committed by a family member) reported by the media... and you know those crimes make the news. Still, my niece wasn't allowed to go until my mother agreed to accompany the girls.

What's funny, really, is that my brother was the most unruly kid on the block. He broke all the rules and was constantly in trouble. But he likes how he turned out. He's raising his daughter, however, to be afraid of her own shadow. She won't make a move unless it's been pre-approved by her parents. She takes no risks whatsoever. When she was 7, she told me she was afraid of dying, either from cancer or being shot by an intruder in her house. I won't take her camping with us because she's afraid of bugs and snakes and water and the dark and... you get the picture. She misses out on a lot because of her fear. I'm sad for her. And I'm worried for her. I wonder how she will handle independence when it's finally allowed... I wonder how she'll be able to make decisions for herself when they've always been made for her. I wonder if she'll ever risk anything and reap the benefits.

So, anyway, what about you? Do you think 10 is old enough to go to the park unescorted?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ms. Cranky-Pants Has Left the Building...

Well, she's on the porch, anyway, with my foot on her ample behind, ready to give her the heave-ho...

It was a rather icky week, I have to tell you. Lots of stuff went on, none of which I'll blah blah blah about, as it will bore you silly (and probably make me cranky again). But it was definitely a crap week. I saw this quote the other day (I've no idea who said/wrote it, so if anyone knows, please tell me)...

"If you looked inside a girl…you would see how much she really cries; you would find so many secrets and lots of lies, but what you’ll see the most is how hard it is to stay strong when nothing is right and everything is wrong."

Melodramatic, I know. Have I mentioned that I'm not generally a drama queen? I'm not... really. But when I read it, I started to cry because it described exactly the way I was feeling. Pitiful, eh? I know everything's not wrong, but sometimes it feels that way, doesn't it?

But I can only be cranky for so long. Then I get on my own damned nerves. And that's where I spent a good part of the weekend. But... tomorrow starts a new week... and a new mood (damn it). Hopefully I'll be able to think of something clever, funny, or interesting to write about... or at least to keep you all from snoring before the end of the post.

Thanks again for checking up on me... you guys are the best. I'll catch up with you all soon... XOXO

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Note From Ms. Cranky-Pants...

Thanks to everyone who's emailed to check up on me... you guys are too sweet. I'm alive... not sick... just cranky and down with little to say at the moment. I'll be back when my mood improves or someone does this to me...
Speak soon... XO

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I'm feeling much like this today...

Not sick... just ick. So I'm taking a break from life today. I'll be back later...

PS... thanks for all your input regarding my little neighbor pooch. I will call Animal Control and find out what their policy is. If it comes down to them taking him away, I'll let them know I have a home lined up for him. And I've decided that if he gets loose or is left out in the dark and cold again, I'm totally stealing him and giving him to my friend who's willing to take care of him. And thanks to everyone who supported my dog-napping idea. I feel a lot better knowing that I wouldn't be alone in my delinquent endeavors (well, in spirit, anyway). Oh, but if I do it and get caught, you guys can be 100% sure I'll be hitting you up for the funds to pay the fine with which I'll be slapped!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Advice, Please...

Have you ever been stuck in a 'Should I do something or should I just mind my own business?' situation? I'm in one now and I need some feedback, bloggy friends.

A few weeks ago, during one of our mini-snowstorms, new people moved in behind us. The house had been empty for a while and the only way we knew anyone was moving in was because a little white dog was in the fenced-in yard. He's a tiny thing... a Bichon, I think (or a Toy Poodle mix). It was freezing that day and there were several inches of snow on the ground... the little guy was shivering and crying. There were no cars in the driveway for a long time, so after a couple of hours of keeping watch, I opened their back door and put him inside, with bowls of water and Sundance's food and an old towel to lie on. The house was empty (of people and furniture) and I figured the new people would be back eventually... I kept an eye out, though, and decided that if no one came back by dark, I'd go let him out to pee and then put him back in 'til morning. Someone did come home, however, so I breathed a sigh of relief... until a few days later....

He was left out for hours again and, though there was no snow on the ground, it was so cold. Little dogs like that aren't meant to be out in the cold for long, at least without sweaters (and even though I loathe clothes on dogs, I realize that sometimes it's necessary). I went to the door and asked the woman who answered to let him in. I said I was concerned because it was bitter cold and he was crying. She didn't look happy that I'd stuck my nose in, but she brought him in and I didn't see him for a while.

A few days later, I found him in my driveway when I got home. I took him back to his house and gave him to the girl who answered the door. She seemed very appreciative. The next day, he was stuck between his fence and his neighbor's. I went to the door again and, though there were people inside and someone yelled something in Spanish (I couldn't understand it, but I'm pretty sure, based on her tone, it wasn't anything nice like, 'Hold on, I'll be right there!'), no one came to the door. It wasn't until I hollered up the yard to Ryan that they were ignoring me that the same girl from the day before came out and got him. A couple of days after that, I saw another neighbor taking him home, as he'd gotten out again and had traveled up through our yard and across the street.

Now they've got him tied in the yard. On a very short leash. A little while ago, I heard him crying like something was wrong. I went out to see and he was caught on something, stuck completely and unable to move. I was going to go to the door again but instead, I went in the yard and got him loose. He's been out there for hours again, and it's really cold today. He has no protection from the wind and chill and he's shivering and crying. It's going to be dark soon. I haven't been able to sit down all afternoon, worrying about him.

I hate worrying about other peoples' animals. But I can't help it. So, bloggy friends, what do I do? Do I say something to them again and earn the reputation of the nosy, buttinski neighbor? I don't want to call animal control... but I'm getting close. I've actually considered taking him and giving him to a friend who would take care of him properly. I know, I know, that's stealing and all wrong... I said I've considered it... I'm not quite there yet.

What would you do?


Hello...? Hello...?

No. No, I really don't.

Monday, April 6, 2009

HGTV... the New Sesame Street

When Ryan was little, I didn't let her watch much TV. We stuck to PBS for the most part and eventually moved on to a few shows on the Disney Channel. I looked for educational programs that showed diversity, as I wanted her little world to be filled with a wide variety of people from the start. Sesame Street, I found, was one of the best shows, with a cast of all ethnicities (and Muppeticities, too).

Television is still limited and I monitor what she watches pretty closely. When she wants to watch a 'grown-up' show, I determine whether or not it's appropriate and if I let her watch, I do so with her so I can answer any questions she might have or clarify any situations she might not understand. My goal is still (and will always be) to show her diversity and help her to understand that while everyone might not look or live the way we do, it's all good.

And I'm happy to say, I've found the absolute best network on television for diversity... HGTV!

Ryan and I watch it All.The.Time. She shares my interest in architecture and interior/landscape design and HGTV is a 24/7 visual flood of programs about just those things. We have spent entire rainy Saturdays in our pajamas, overdosing on House Hunters, Curb Appeal, and various kitchen, bath, and backyard design shows. But even better than seeing how professional organizers and designers fix other peoples' home issues is seeing the huge variety of people showcased on the network.

HGTV shows people - real people - from all walks of life... all professions... all incomes... all ages... all ethnicities... all sexual-orientations... all family situations. The focus is, of course, not on the people... it's on their living situations... but, of course, you can't help but notice the homeowners/seekers, as they are the ones who want/need/hope for the home of their dreams. And I love it when Ryan sees a multi-racial family and remarks how beautiful their children are; or when she sees 2 men looking for a house together and asks, very matter-of-factly, if they're brothers or a couple, and how the answer, no matter what it is, is met with "Oh, cool." I love that blended families, or families who have adopted children outside of their own race, or families with 2 dads or 2 moms seem completely normal to my daughter. And I love that HGTV doesn't shy away from showing everyone, regardless of whether or not their lifestyle meets the ideals of the 'majority'.

It makes me very happy that Ryan can turn on the television at any time and (safely and honestly) see how our world is made up of a huge variety of people and how we all want, basically, the same thing... home... a place where we feel safe and comfortable and loved... no matter who we are or what we look like. And I love HGTV... my new Sesame Street.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday, Sunny Sunday...

So, how is the weather out there in Blogland? 'Cause I gotta tell you, my weather's perfect! I'm talking P.E.R.F.E.C.T. Sunny, cloudless skies, light breezes, warm-but-not-hot temps. Perfect! I've spent the entire weekend outside in the dirt. Wait... in the soil. My ever-willing-to-share-her-knowledge 9-year-old informed me that 'soil' is what the ground's made up of... 'dirt' is what's under my bed. What.Ever.

Anyway, I don't know if I've mentioned this but I decided a while ago I wanted to have a little garden this year. I've actually wanted to have one for a while now but I've always been too busy to get around to it (and by 'busy' I mean 'lazy'). This year, however, I decided things would be different. Since it's been rainy the past couple of weeks, I figured it would be a good time to start digging, as I had to start from scratch and needed the ground to be soft-ish. Given the muck I've been tracking through the house every time I venture in from outside lately, I figured 'soft-ish' was the word of the day. So I picked a flat place at the bottom of the yard, in the sun, and marked off a patch about 7x10 feet. I know that doesn't sound big, but when you have to clear it completely, without the benefit of any sort of mechanical device, it's big enough. I did have this nifty garden tool called a 'Claw'... picture a tiny sort of tiller without an engine. It requires an awful lot of oomph and twisting to dig up a 7x10 plot of earth with a Claw, let me tell you. I used muscles that haven't been used... well, ever. Then the good dirt... errr, soil... had to be removed from the clumps of grass twisted loose by the Claw. That was fun (and by 'fun' I mean 'never-ending') and it enabled me to completely get over my squeamishness about worms. Then I had to go to the garden center and pick up some big (and by 'big' I mean 'heavy as hell') bags of topsoil, which I mixed in with the stuff I had left over from my Claw-ing experience.

And my little patch looks lovely, if I do say so myself! Well, it looks like a 7x10 patch of empty soil but given that it was a 7x10 patch of grass yesterday, I'm quite pleased. I actually had Herself out there with me, for about 4 hours yesterday and 3 today, willingly helping! After a while, though, I had to ask her (and by 'ask' I mean 'order under threat of death') to just stop talking and enjoy the peace and quiet of a perfect spring day. Yeah. It didn't work. It never does. So I let her go, where she 'supervised' me from her favorite perch - high up in 'best climbing tree in the world' (if you can't find Ryan, look in a tree... 9 times out of 10, it's where she'll be). Even Sundance wanted in on the gardening action... and though I could have really used his digging skills (for once), mostly he just plopped himself down in the freshly turned soil and fell asleep in the sun.

Tomorrow we're planting seeds... cucumbers, peas, squash, green beans, and spinach. Tomatoes and pepper plants go in next week. My mouth's already watering...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Funnies...

As I head out the door to meet a friend... a skinny friend... for Mexican food, I leave you with this...

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Somewhere is a pretty little cottage
with a door the color of sunshine

Inside lives love
The little cottage ~
home to warmth and joy…
to forgiveness and grace
The yellow door ~
closed tight to regret…
to fear…
to everything that ‘should have been

Somewhere is a pretty little cottage
with a door the color of sunshine
Inside lives hope
The little cottage ~
home to laughter and hugs…
to compassion and possibility
The yellow door ~
closed tight to doubt…
to criticism…
to ‘not good enough

Somewhere is a pretty little cottage
with a door the color of sunshine
Inside live open minds
The little cottage ~
home to passion and purpose…
to generosity and gratitude
The yellow door ~
closed tight to judgment…
to hate…
to ‘it can’t be done

Somewhere is a pretty little cottage
with a door the color of sunshine

And someday…
I’ll find it

Rules, Rules, Rules...

Dear Little Old Lady Who Is This Close to Having Her License Revoked,

Let me begin by saying that it is not my intention to hurt your feelings. I think you’re cute as a button and I’m sure you’re the sweetest grandma to ever walk the planet. I am. I just wish you’d walk more and drive less. But since I see you nearly every day in that roller skate with seatbelts you’re trying to pass off as a car, I’m guessing that’s not going to be the case. As such, I wanted to give you a little refresher course on Virginia driving rules. I'm guessing it’s been a while since you perused the manual, eh?

Rule #1: When you are making a turn and the person on the cross-street has the stop sign, it is up to you to go. The person who stopped at that sign did so because she (and by ‘she’ I mean ‘me’) was required by law to do so. Sitting in the middle of the road, waiting for her to go is pointless, as she will not (because she knows as soon as she gives up on you and pulls into the intersection, you will choose that moment to make your turn). Bottom line: if you don’t see a stop sign, a red traffic light, another car mere inches in front of you, blue lights flashing behind you, or a person or large farm animal in the road, do not stop.

Rule #2: As alluded to in Rule #1, you are only required to stop at red lights. Green lights mean you can go. This is an important rule. The person behind you is trusting that you know this rule and, as such, you will not simply stop in the middle of the road for no good reason, causing her to slam on her brakes, spill her Diet Pepsi, and swear (loudly) in front of her 9-year-old. And so you know, stopping in the middle of the road for no good reason is not a good idea. Ever.

Rule #3: When changing lanes, it is generally a good idea (and by ‘good idea’ I mean ‘imperative’) to look first, in order to be certain no one else is occupying the lane you wish to enter. When you don’t look first and simply change lanes, the person who is already in the lane you are entering is forced to slam on her brakes, spill her Diet Pepsi, and swear in front of her 9-year-old (again).

Rule #4: You should not leave your blinkers on for indefinite periods of time. It makes it difficult for the drivers behind you to know exactly when you plan to turn or change lanes (see Rule #3 for why this is important). If your blinker is stuck, please get it fixed. The Aamco station on Reservoir Street has good rates and friendly service.

Rule #5: You must be able to see over your steering wheel in order to drive effectively. If you can no longer do so, a booster seat is in order. Since the Pigsknuckle phone book is not thick enough to function as such, you’ll need to take a trip to Target. Booster seats are in the toddler aisle.

Rule #6: Speed limits are set for a reason. Everyone knows it’s not good to go over them, of course, but what you might not realize is that driving significantly under them isn’t safe either. For example: when you are driving 10mph in a 35mph zone, the person behind you gets aggravated and tends to ride your bumper (I’m sure you’ve noticed this on numerous occasions… or you would, if you ever looked in your rearview mirror). So when you stop at that green light (again), she is forced (again) to slam on her brakes to avoid rear-ending you, (again) spilling her Diet Pepsi and swearing. See? Frustrating, unnecessary, and quite unsafe.

Rule #7: Pedestrians pretty much always have the right-of-way. This is especially true when they are in a cross-walk and you have a red light (remember, red means stop). And even when they don't have the right of way, it's still best to stop when they walk in front of your car (see Rule #1). Not doing so causes a mess... true, sometimes it's just in the pedestrian's pants (like that man from the other day on Main Street... remember?) but it's always a mess.

OK, I think that’s about it. For now. I'll review rules again as necessary. That, or I'll slash all your tires, steal your distributor cap, and put sugar in your gas tank. Right, thanks so much for your time and attention! Take care and drive safely!



PS… I hope you enjoy your 99th birthday party!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Time Has Come...

On the way to school this morning, we were stopped at a light. The lights in both directions on the cross-street (both of which we could see), were also red. Ryan is very impatient and gets annoyed when we get held up by traffic lights (and in her defense, we go through about 25 between our house and school... it is annoying when we hit the 'red wave').

Ry: Ugh. Why are all the lights red?! They shouldn't all be red!!

Me: They're not all red. The one across from us is green, as indicated by the very large truck coming directly at us. Duh.

Ry (sheepishly): Oh.

Me (putting my hand on her head): Have a little common sense, Grasshopper.

Ry (quietly): Yeah. Have a little butt cheek, Mama.

Me (looking at her rather incredulously): ...

Ry (looking straight ahead, grinning): ...

Me: Ummm... did you just tell me, in a round-about way, to kiss your butt?

Ry (grinning bigger): Huh? What? Me?

I knew the time would come when I would regret being such a smart-ass to my kid all the time. Yeah. That time arrived today.

PS... thanks for all your comments on yesterday's post. They were very sweet and some of them actually made me cry. As you can see from today's post, Ryan is fine. Which may not continue, should she offer up any more butt cheeks.