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I just noticed on my blogger dashboard a notice about outages between 9pm and 11pm, November 14. Has it been there since November 13 and I’m just now noticing it? Probably. It’s not like I haven’t been some distracted these past 8 months.
(listening to Queen right now, Bohemian Rhapsody is on the radio. I tell you what, Freddy Mercury could SING, and those men could Harmonize wicked good.)
I’m going on a trip tomorrow, flying to Amarillo, Texas, then making a short drive to the cute town of Canyon, where my grandparents live. I go with some fear and trepidation, as I don’t really know what to expect when I get there. My father and aunt have given me many and varied instructions, how to Deal With Grandad, what to observe concerning the new housekeeper, CNA, and visiting nurse, who’s going to “drop in”, and who to call on if needed.
My grandparents were supposed to move into a retirement community, but Grandad (who, incidentally, has nearly as much money as God)had an attack of cheapness and decided it would be more economical to have everyone come to the house rather than pay the “exhorbitant” fees required by the Home. Grandmother was deeply disappointed, as she is a very social creature and was eagerly anticipating the regular contact with bridge partners and fellow crossword puzzle fiends. (She does the NY Times crossword daily, and owns a massive unabridged dictionary). When it was suggested that she move into the home alone, her Old School sense of obligation toward Grandad kicked in and she was unable to bring herself to do it.
Don’t go thinking it was a sense of abiding affection that stayed her. Grandad is a controlling, mean old man, and (according to his younger brother)has been so since he was 5. Grandmother has stayed married to such a man for over 70 years, kept his house, given him 4 children, and managed it all by making semi-annual trips to her mothers, and by turning off her hearing aid. She has been deaf since she was 3, and admits that the ability to turn her hearing off has made her life bearable.
I look forward to seeing her. My father calls her several times a week, and reports that she is in very good spirits, now that Grandad is on regular doses of oxycontin. Maybe she should have started spiking his grapefruit juice years ago. She has a housekeeper who comes daily from 7 to 4, so is able to go to the store or the hairdressers when she wants to, instead of waiting until Grandad thinks she needs to. There is also a CNA (certified nurses aid) who comes 3 days a week to help Grandad bathe and exercise. The incredibly generous woman across the street has been helping daily until now, and I plan to visit her, and thank her profusely.
The source of my anxiety is Grandad. I don’t know what to expect with him, or how I’ll react to his physical limitations. Up until 2 years ago he still ran the ranch, setting fence posts and repairing wells and windmills. He’s 92, and it’s my estimation that he isn’t handling the idleness with much grace. He’s never been a patient man, and the boredom of endless Lawrence Welk reruns may have turned his mind to mush.
He may also be contemplating his mortality. He is terrified of death. One of his greatest sources of consolation is the genetic longevity in his family. They all live past 100, unless something falls on their head. He talks with pride about that every time I see him. It’s sad for me to see, this man who is a stalwart Presbyterian, yet seems to have no concept of immortality. To him, Heaven is a fantasy concocted by airheads and mama’s boys. In contrast, my grandmother knows she is nearing the end of her life on earth, and is eagerly anticipating the hereafter. She is content that she’s done her best, and looks forward to some peace.
So we’ll see how it goes. I hope to get a few hours to ride out to the canyon and take some photos. It’s a beautiful place, huge and impassive. I imagine God made it for fun, like a fabulous sunset or the crashing waves of the Pacific ocean. It doen’t serve much purpose (other than providing a place for Coronado to get lost, or Charles Goodnight to make peace with Quanah Parker). It’s a grand place for photographs, and I am excited about taking my 8 megapixel camera to make big-arse photos I can blow up to poster size and hang somewhere. I am on a continuing quest for That Perfect Photograph, the kind that could grace the cover of a magazine or be made into a poster sold in gift shops all over the Southwest. NOt that I would do that, but it’s always nice to know I could, if I knew how.
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There are fledgelings everywhere. Behind the plywood and ductape is our fireplace, damperless and home to a nest of chimney swifts. They are noisy and generous poopers, but I am a softy for birds so instead of running them off (everyone deserves a home, after all), I cover the fireplace with whatever I can find, and hope for the best.
Upon getting up this morning, the bird racket had increased exponentially, and I discovered a partially feathered noise machine, ferociously gripping the back of the fireplace and creating a commotion that caused much excitement and licking of chops amongst the canine element. Thus the application of plywood and ductape. I realize it isn’t a particularly elegant arrangement, but since we have no intentions of entertaining bank presidents or people named George from Chicago, and cutting plywood to size is not my department, we have this silly yet effective get-up.
It’s temporary. Soon the little birds will be able to fly, and will leave the relative comfort and safety of our chimney for the freedom and perils of the outside world.
It’s happening in more ways than one, in the Rootietoot household. Yesterday I went with #1 to put a deposit on an apartment. He is accumulating necessary
household items (a coffee maker, a table) and deciding what’s important (electricity, water) and what’s not (cable tv, internet). He sat down with Sweet Daddio and figured out a budget, how much he’ll have to make to stay on his own, and whether it’s better to eat cereal or scrambled eggs. He’s quite serious about this, even to the point of deciding if he really needs the expense of a car. His apartment is 1 block from his work, and 1/2 mile from a good grocery store. The owner of the apartment seems to be a reasonable sort of woman, grandmotherly but not one to be taken adantage of.
It feels strange to be having a child leave home. I’m not old enough for this. But then I wasn’t old enough to be having children when I had him. In 2 short years another one will be leaving, then another 2 years after that. Boom, all gone. Except for #4. He’ll be lonely when they leave. So will I.
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Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a young family in a tin box. The box sat near some woods and next to a large peanut field, and the family knew that living in a tin box was a temporary situation, and so it was.
The tin box was not only near some woods and next to a peanut field, but it was located in a region most rural. No neighbors except the mean old man and his ditzy old wife, no traffic except the tractor used to work the peanut field.
Boy. That was forever ago. #1 was a chunky little toddler, and #2 was but a bead of sweat on Sweet Daddio’s brow. It was 17 years and 65 pounds ago. 4 cars and 1 truck ago. Buncha dogs, too.
I hated it, living in a tin box in South Georgia, especially in the summertime. The town we lived near was small and backward. It looked like something out of a Cohen Bros. movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? perhaps, or maybe Raising Arizona. Only it was Georgia instead of Arizona. Same kind of people, tho, without the vocabulary. I am prone to marveling that such a place could produce a man as erudite as Sweet Daddio. It’s almost as if he became what he is in spite of his enviroment.
Alot of good came out of that life 17 years ago. I learned a bit of humility, living in a tin box and having people say “oh. Well. Next time you’re in town come by and see me.”, that will humble an arrogant young white girl. I also learned about Watermelon Busses. Ever heard of such? This town bills itself The Watermelon Capitol Of The World, and rightly so. Watermelon busses are one of the great Redneck Wonders of the World, right up there with bottle trees.
I don’t know that we’ll ever go back to that town. SD’s parents have moved elsewhere, and we’ve been to the requisite High School Class Reunion and learned that everyone married everyone else, divorced, and married their best friend, except for Sweet Daddio, who, in a surprise move, actually DIDN’T marry his sweetheart since 7th grade and instead, married me, a ferrinner from Up North (near Athens, almost to the state line).
Heat and peanuts made me think of it.
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I woke up this morning, at the perilous hour of 2am, to the distinctive odor of Something Burning, Food Related. I knew that #1 son was still up, so I assumed he’d made eggs and forgotten about them, or something. I did not, however, do the responsible thing and go downstairs to see if it was just food or something more sinister. It was 2am, and I wasn’t thinking clearly. I was also irritated at Sweet Daddio’s utter lack of awareness on the matter. Since I heard no panic noises, I went back to sleep. This morning I came down to the burned smell, but was unable to find the source. One would think one would find charred debris, but one did not. However, the interior of our microwave oven was Brown. Not melted, which is a good sign, but a definite smokey brown. Smelly as well. After a rude awakening, #1 admitted to burning some chicken. He must have eaten it. I gifted him with the old microwave, and said he was going to buy us a new one. Sweet Daddio said he’d stop at Lowe’s this evening and get us some smoke detectors.
Just a few minutes ago, #2 came bouncing in with a smile. He said “I have mastered the art of driving a stick shift whilst eating a burrito and talking on the cell phone.” Um… “Really,” said he. “I put the phone on speaker mode and set it in my lap, then held the burrito in my mouth when I needed to shift.” Um…
I gave #3 instructions to dip the dogs, for flea issues. We keep a big 20 gallon tub with dip mixed in it, and just give the dogs a dunk once a week or so. they hate it. It’s easy to get the first 2 or 3 done, before the others catch a whiff and evaporate. #3 came out of it soaked. You’d think dunking a 10 pound dog with rudimentary legs would be a snap. No. It’s not. For starters, dachshunds are NOT water dogs. They corkscrew. It’s like trying to dip a cat, only smarter. #3 will have no flea issues for the next week.
#4 will be home for a couple of days! The plan is that he’ll return to North Alabama with his grandparents and #3, but I’m giving it a 50% chance that he’ll decide to stay home. I’ve missed him. It has been abnormally quiet and I haven’t played a single board game since he’s been gone.
My in-laws are coming tonight, for the weekend. They hold to the happy philosophy that Guests Are Like Fish: They’re not any good after 3 days. I spent yesterday and today getting the guest rooms cleaned up. Currently #1 is using it, but he understands it’s a temporary situation and he has to sleep elsewhere when we have company. The very comfortable and squashy recliner in the game room is an adequate auxillary post. They will be leaving Sunday, taking #3 and (possibly) #4 with them. I don’t know how long they’ll keep the boys, at least a couple of weeks as it is an 8 hour drive and one must make it worth the effort. #3 has been outlining his plans for the trip: swimming in the spring-fed creek, shooting small woodland animals, eating Grandmother’s fried chicken, harassing Grandaddy.
What on Earth am I going to do with only 2 children, and them driving and working and generally not being here?
I need a project. Aprons. I’ll make some aprons. yeah.
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Apologies to Tito Fuente.
It’s not even July yet, and we’re seeing August-like heat and humidity. I am thankful every day for Air conditioning. The heat invites all sorts of indecencies like 300 pound women in tank tops, or skinny little girls in really really short skirts. Note to mothers: Why is it so hard to make your girl-children wear shorts instead of micro-mini skirts? Why is it so apparently challenging to teach children basic modesty? Do I have to see London and France? Do you have to send these messages to my sons, that it’s acceptable and expected for a girl to flash her twot when she sits down?
Thank You, Lord, for giving me all sons.
I asked #1 why it was necessary, for girls to dress so. He said ” Video games, advertising, and popular culture have conspired to reduce the attention span of the average male to a degree that it is now necessary for girls to do something blatant and obvious to garner the attention of the 18 to 25 year old male.” I guess he’d know. Then he asked me why I had a problem with it.
Come to think of it, when I was 19, I was working it pretty hard, too, trying to get the attention of various and sundry males. I just didn’t wear a 6 inch skirt. It was, after all, 1984. What was I wearing? hm….I had a white cotton grecian style dress, it laced right under my perky little boobs and criss-crossed to my (willowy, pre-childbirth 24 inch)waist and was not quite knee length. I remember pissing off Sweet Daddio’s then-fiance’ wearing that dress.
I never, ever wore anything short enough to show my assets. I preferred to be more subtle than that. But then, if I had the kind of legs that looked grand in a mini, I’d probably have worn one.
I forget what it was like to be a teenager, how nothing is more important than the attention of one’s peers, and how one’s parents are the standard of bad taste.
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My childhood as a smorgasbord.
Cream of Wheat
“homemade”maple syrup, watery and bland
poached eggs on toast
but never, ever, the highly coveted HoneyComb or FrootLoops
Campbells Alphabet soup and a peanut butter sandwich
Tomato soup with a cube of cream cheese in the bottom of the bowl
pimento cheese, day after day after day after day after endless day. (When on trips, Mom made a vat of pimento cheese, and that’s what we ate the entire trip)
Pringles on a trip (only these made the pimento cheese bearable)
roman meal bread
5 interminable days of Leftover Soup (the entire contents of the refrigerator went into a pot. A can of tomatoes and of kidney beans were added. NOthing was spared. Not the custard cup of fruit cocktail, nor the 3 chicken livers, nor the egg pie.You think I’m kidding, don’t you.)
Goop (it is exactly as it sounds.)
liver and onions
leathery, overcooked beef (Dad was once a meat inspector, and would not allow us any meat that wasn’t cooked beyond recognition)
Jack’s venison cockafooey, delectable
Fresca on Sunday night with popcorn and The Wonderful World of Disney
Iced tea with mint, always, but never with sugar
Maneschewitz blackberry syru…um…wine
blueberry frozen yogurt from the university dairy lab, sugarless because it was made by young women with hairy armpits and names like Nasturtium and Moonbeam
blackberry cobbler, sans sugar because Sugar Was Poison
innumerable green vegetables, briefly waved in the general direction of a steaming pot and called ‘cooked’
It wasn’t all bad, or peculiar.
homemade potato chips…oh yes…these were very, very good. Potatoes from the garden, washed and sliced paper thin, fried crispy and sprinkled with kosher salt and cracked pepper.
yogurt cheese (really, really tasty. Strain plain yogurt through a coffee filter for 24 hours, then mix the stiff stuff left with lemon zest and chopped herbs. Fit for a fine cocktail party)
popcorn with parmesan cheese and garlic
brouchette of lamb- little cubes of lamb tossed in peppers and cumin, skewered and grilled with baby squash and tiny potatoes
crescent cookies, only at Christmas. Crescent rolls filled with finely chopped pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter, rolled tight and brushed with more butter.
Stollen- also at Christmas, a sweet yeasty bread filled with chopped dried fruits.
My childhood is my culinary motivation. I fear no sugar, nor fat, nor meat.
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Summer is all about what’s cold. For me, anyway. I guess some people think it’s about beaches and heat and grilling food and such. Not for me. No. Cold is where it’s at.
It can be the extravagant chill of movie theater air conditioning, or the simple pleasure of a popsicle. Summer invites me to take cold showers twice a day, with peppermint soap. It begs for chilled meals, spicy chicken salad, Thai style, wrapped in a crisp cabbage leaf, or maybe gazpacho, carefully crafted from vegetables just picked from the garden.
The pinacle of summer experience for me is not any of those things, wonderful as they are. It is…The Slushy. A perfectly blended frozen concoction, kept carefully at 20 degrees and served with the violently colored and artificially flavored syrups in a wide range of improbable flavors. Whether it’s the Artic Rush (formerly known as Mr. Misty)at Dairy Queen or the Slush at Sonic, it’s all the same. Freezy perfection.
The trick with a slush is to drink it fast enough that you cool off, but not so fast that your left eyeball threatens to implode and you suffer brain freeze. For me, the brain freeze occurs one block down the road from Sonic, as I turn left on West Smith Street, and subsides by the time I cross South University Road. Love them. The chill lasts for a good 45 minutes.
In my opinion, Sonic’s Slushs are the Superior Form. The freezy stuff is unflavored, but sweetened. When you order you can ask for a single flavor, or a combination (orange coconut, anyone?). Some of the flavors are actually Real and Natural, and you can ask for more or less flavor (Lime slush, please, extra lime). Very refreshing,and a bit tart.
When Sweet Daddio was working in Chicago, one of the radio stations would have Mr. Misty drinking contests, free Mr. Misty’s to all contestants. The object was to get there in time to see the contestants heads implode, and watch them writhing on the ground.
My father explained to me once why one suffered such pain when speeding slurping a slush. Your carotid arteries pass alongside your esophagus, and the stuff going down your throat gives the blood going to your brain a bit of a chill.
I am, at this moment, wallowing in the internal chill afforded me by a medium lime Slush. Cold air is blowing down from a vent, and I am observing the sweaty theatrics of #3 blowing the driveway clean. I think I’ll watch him as I finish my slush, then fix him a glass of nice, cold water.
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So, one of my kids was whining about dissatisfaction on some nebulous bit of his life. It made me break out in song. remember this?:
Gloom, Despair, and agony on me (OOOOH)
Deep dark depression, excessive misery (WOOOOAH)
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all…
Gloom, Depair, and agony on me (OOOH!)
I was accused of being unsympathetic. Imagine that.
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I hate doing laundry. If I had my way we’d all run around wrapped in paper towels. Think about it. A roll of paper towels costs about $2, and you could probably get 2 wearings out of a roll, depending on your size and degree of modesty. You could decorate it however you wanted, with markers or crayons or watercolors. Cool, right?
I guess my beef with laundry is it’s relentless march through my days. I spend Monday and Tuesday washing, folding and (VERY reluctantly) ironing, only to have 4 more loads on Wednesday or Thursday. How come everyone has to keep putting on new clothes every day? I mean, I change my unmentionables daily, twice if it’s hot outside, but I can frequently wear the same pants a couple of days. My kids seem to think if the item has touched the floor, it is somehow sullied and must be kicked under the bed to fester like some sort of textile cyst. Every now and then they will discover, 30 minutes before they have to leave for work, that they have NO clean socks or t-shirts, and will put 3 socks and 1 shirt in our (brand new, Extra Large Capacity Front Loading) washer (That Will Wash 40 Pounds Of Clothes In 1 Load).
I have, today, given #2 (who somehow manages to have 3 times the clothes of everyone else)instructions to pare his wardrobe down to 5 pr shorts, 3 pr long pants (not including his work pants), 7 white t-shirts, 7 other t-shirts, and 2 sets of church clothes. I think that’s plenty, since all he ever wears are t-shirts and shorts anyway. He is ok with it, commenting that he has no idea how he got so many clothes.
I look forward to the day when laundry is limited to just the 2 of us. As much as I love having a house full of children, that is one thing I truly, deeply anticipate about being empty nesters. Man. 2 loads a week. Maybe 3. I am at my peak right now at 8 loads, and that’s after buy the Extra Large Capacity system. Prior to this recent aquisition, I was doing 12-14 loads a week.
The decision I have to make every week is this: Do I do all the laundry in 1 day, and just really ruin that one day, leaving all the rest of the days to sweet freedom and the unbridled pleasure of toilet bowl scrubbery? Or do I dribble it out over the week, and causing minor ruination for an hour or two each morning?
Most of the time I try to do it all in one day, or maybe I’ll do all the clothes on Monday and the towels and bed linens on Tuesday. It’s cathartic to get it all done, and not have to think about it for 6 more days.
When each boy was tall enough to reach the knobs, I taught them how to do their own laundry. It didn’t take very well, but I believe I did my part. They were all enthusiatic about it, for about 6 months, until they realized what I was teaching them was a chore, not a privilege. I guess they were all around 10 when I did this. Then, we got the Front Loading System, with it’s front console and now #4, at the tender age of 7, can wash his own clothes with the same sense of pride that his brothers had. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Wih boys, I find things in laundry that really, no reasonable person ought to have to endure. They range from dessicated lizards to cigarettes (washers do terrible things to cigs, terrible, messy things happen when one washes contraband cigarettes). There are the requisite stones, coins (all money found is mine by default, call it Clothes Tax)an occasional chunk of cheese or wad of paper Formerly Known as Progress Report. I have not, thankfully, found condom wrappers or baggies of mysterious herbal product.
On washing cigarettes, which do not hold together in the least, when washed. I was bawled out for washing an entire pack, and it was demanded of me that I reimburse the owner of the destroyed pack for their cost. Never mind that he was 17, underage, and should not have been in possession of them in the first place. I don’t remeber my reaction to the demands, but I do remember never paying him for them. That would be silly.
When the boys were babies, I, in a strange fit of practicality and down-hominess, decided to use Cloth Diapers. Seriously, for the cost of 4 packs of pampers, I bought 3 dozen diapers, a pail, and jumbo jug of bleach. Sure it was nasty, and I had to wash a fat load of diapers every single day, but you know what? My kids never had diaper rash. People thought I was weird, and once someone even told me in the grocery store I was setting my kid up for all sorts of psychological issues. I told them if that were true then everyone born before 1960 had them.
I think any psychological damage that happened, happened to me. I mean, I get a twitch everytime I have to pick up a sock THAT I DIDN’T WEAR! I get tense. Squirrely.
an ache between my shoulders and an intense desire for icy cold adult beverages. Infact, having done 6 loads today, I think tonight will involve vodka, Rose’s Lime juice, and large quantities of ice. Yes indeed.
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Well. It turns out #1′s episode with food poisoning was more likely a HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS stomach virus. Guess who caught it. Guess who wound up cooking his own ribs and corn because SOMEONE was alternating between laying on the couch, or laying on the blessedly cool floor of the bathroom. Gaaaahhhhh.
We’ll do a reprise in July, when #4 is home.
#2 has the Virus From Hell as well. Between the 3 of us we’ve gone through endless bottles of Gatorade and Pepto (grand stuff, that).
I won’t go into the gory details, because that would NOT be ladylike, but let me say that 4am retching on an empty stomach is painful. So is the suffering caused by a caffiene-withdrawal headache when the very concept of drinking a cup of coffee causes intense intestinal complaints. I am finding Coke Zero to be an adequate substitute. It’s a little harsh on a tender stomach, but nothing that can’t be dealt with. Viva la Pepto.
SD is squirrely about coming inside. I don’t blame him one bit. The atmosphere is obviously polluted most vilely. So, even though it’s 90 outside, he’s built a comfortable nest of shade umbrellas, side tables, and a comfortable chair, and is watching the US Open on last year’s Fathers Day present: a TV and enough cable to hook up and watch all 100 channels. He has a platter full of ribs to gnaw(that he had to cook himself), and a cooler full of beer.
Tomorrow I intend to open all the windows and turn on the fans, and blow through a couple of cans of lysol. Bedding and towels will be washed with bleach, and bathrooms sanitized. Depending, of course, that I’m feeling up to it.
I feel like I should post a quarantine sign on the front door.
I am immensely grateful that #4 is 8 hours away. 6 yr old’s don’t generally have sense enough to get to the bathroom before they explode.
Ah well..doncha just love it when the course of your entire life (at least for a couple of days) is determined by a 6 sequence chain of DNA. Gaaaaahhhhh.