April 28, 2004
The Fly Lived

Yesterday was an active day. Lee tried to kill a fly with his tennis shoe. The window behind the fly exploded. Ron screamed "nooooooo"! I ran down the hall toward the mayhem. Lee hid behind the door. Cassie chased after Lee. Ron ran out of the room and immediately started praying loudly. (I think he was thrilled to finally have something exciting to talk to God about, OR he was trying to tell his story before Lee got a chance to pray). Everyone watched me out of the corner of their eyes. I was speechless. I sat down abruptly on the bed and stared at the wild outdoors, which was no longer distanced from my bedroom by glass. (Yeah, I know there's a joke about the "wild indoors" somewhere ... ) I think the speechlessness disturbed the kids more than anything. This may be the first time they've seen me truly speechless. Its rather rare. (Note to my husband: QUIT LAUGHING :)

We didn't punish him (or them) because it really was an accident. We just called the local glass company. They came out today. I KNEW they were coming out today. I didn't know they were coming out at the crack of dawn without calling first. The first I heard of it was Lee (age 4) running into our bedroom and announcing "there's a man I don't know at the door". He repeats this sentence often for the drama. My husband and I look at each other. He vaults to his feet and mutters "get dressed, its got to be the glass guy" (or something very similiar). I couldn't hear him because I was looking for clothes. Then the phone rings. Its the glass guy. From our driveway. I'm not kidding.

April 24, 2004
The Considerate Neighbor

(Yes, this is the dog-poop fertilizer post promised earlier :)

(For Sheilah, who lives in Oregon now)

Once upon a time, I lived in Oregon. Its one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Especially the Columbia River Gorge, and the drive up around Mt.Hood, and the drive along the coast from Tillamook to Cannon Beach.

The people there are "different", but mostly friendly. Except for the woman that lived next door to me on the left. Someone had definitely licked the stripe off her candycane. Perhaps a bit harsh, but vital to the story, is the point that she demonstrated at every point that she felt she was more sophisticated that everyone else. Afterall, SHE didn't drive a mini-van and eat at restaurents with playlands. How very common!

The house had been under-construction for several months when we bought it. We were the very first homeowners. The lots were ridiculously narrow, but had "greenspace" access across the back, which was rare there. The backyard faded off into wilderness. (One day we were eating dinner on the second-story deck and a group of boyscouts exploring the "wilderness" marched through my newly sprouted gladiolias below us. Guess that they hadn't learned how to identify "flowers" yet. They even had trouble identifying "cranky people who own trampled flowers". We helped them with that deficiency.) Since the lots were so narrow, the houses were VERY close together. The distance between my front door and That Woman's front door was about 60ft. Her walkway turned sharply at her door and aimed at her driveway, which rode the property line between us.

Get a GOOD visual. If you stepped out my door, and she stepped out her door, her walkway almost connected us.

Almost, but not quite. Between my door and her driveway/walkway, my yard was grass. With one very VERY green spot that we didn't understand. It was just odd. Then I saw it with my own eyes.

Early one morning, I stepped out the door at the exact moment she let her little yippy dog out to do his "business". She stayed tucked inside the doorway because she was wearing her robe and smoking and it was drizzling. (Its always drizzling in Oregon). Then she saw me seeing her. Then she saw me seeing the little dog. Doing what I now suspect he did every morning. Marching firmly down the walk, across the driveway, across the mulch-marked property line, and pooping in my yard!

Oh, yes, she tried to stop him after she saw me. She desperately called for him is stage-whispers, frantically making obvious hand-gestures (like I was deaf and blind). Once, the little dog even stopped and looked back at her like she was crazy, before he went straight to our VERY green polka-dot of grass. I thought she would die of embarassment as she tried to slink back into the house clutching her robe! Caught in the act! Obviously having TRAINED her dog to poop just inches over the property line.

It would have been the kind thing to go on to the car and pretend I hadn't seen anything. I wasn't feeling particularly kind. I waved and laughed loudly.

April 23, 2004
How MUCH poop?

We've been dog shopping. With no limiting considerations, my husband would want a mastiff. Actually, with SEVERAL limiting considerations, he still wants a mastiff. Its his turn to pick the breed (with me having veto power).

But I doubt I'll have to veto it, because my husband isn't deranged beyond the reach of practical thought. For example, it occurred to him to suggest that they do eat a lot. That would be a cost to consider, but we're at the point in life where we can afford to feed a dog.

We were sitting at dinner, just chatting and randomly drifting around different dog thoughts. He mentioned the "lot of food" out-loud. Lee (age 4) gave it some thought and agreed it was a lot of food. Then he continued in his free-form monologue that went something along the lines "lots of food, lots of sleep, lots of food, lots of POOP. TONS OF POOP. Bigger than the house. Like Clifford. Does Clifford poop? I wonder how much Clifford eats?" mumble, mumble, drifts off into bites of breadstick.

Now THAT wasn't a thought I had before. I generally object to the mastiff because they aren't cute. I much prefer Newfoundlands because they have pretty curly fur and will pull children out of the pond/lake/creek/pool and eat burglers. It never dawned on me that a mastiff (the largest dog on Earth) poops about TEN POUNDS per day. My mind boggles.

April 22, 2004
Sheilah's Question

I was over at Sheilah's World, and saw the post about her favorite childhood memories. She wanted to know what her readers loved from their childhoods. You just KNOW that I can talk (or ramble) practically forever, so I thought it might be better if I posted my reply over here. Plus, this way I get to make a post. I'm really trying to post at least five times a week. I've got to work on having posts in reserve for those days things are extra-crazy around here. Kinda like having casseroles in the freezer. Wait, I'm losing the point ...

We lived on my grandparents farm when I was a little girl. Dad worked in town, but helped out my grandfather when it was needed (which seemed to be a lot, frankly). One Spring day, Dad came back to the house shortly after he went out to the equipment shed. (If you're a city-dweller, imagine an extra-tall four-car garage with two doors missing). It was a building for sheltering tractors and wagons, and assorted big equipment on wheels. Equipment wasn't all it was sheltering that day.

When Dad had gone to the shed first thing in the morning, he started to remove the tarp from one of the wagons. He heard a lot of rustling, and a few little "yip, yips". Dad thought there were some puppies under the wagon. He leaned down and out rushed the puppies. Quick as a wink, he hustled back to the house to get us.

Dad announced that everyone needed to get their shoes on super-quick, including Mother. He told us there was a surprise in the shed. I thought maybe it was a calf. Sometimes, with a very small newborn calf, Dad would hold it and let us pet it as long as we wanted. That was wonderful. But, we couldn't figure out why something fun would be in the shed. All the good stuff was in the barn.

April 21, 2004
Sam The Dog

Our parents got Sam because my mother worried about the children loose in the yard and around the farm. Dad worked in town in one of the labs, but we lived out in the county on my grandparent's farm. Their house was at one end, and ours was at the other. So, the children were all over the place all the time. A dog would be a good companion and alert my mother if something was really wrong. Plus, they're fun and furry.

Sam was a solid black English Shepherd. Its a relatively rare breed, gaining popularity now as agility-competition dogs (ie frisbee dogs). There seems to be more than one breeding line. One line is "smart" and the other is "scary-smart". Imagine a really pretty Golden Retriever. Now imagine him solid blue-black. Now imagine him smarter that you ever thought possible, and with that intelligence an inherent desire to protect what he loves. Plus, I swear that dog had a sense of humor!

Sam was the first dog I remember when I was young. There are myriad "Sam" stories, because he was without doubt the smartest loyalest quickest prettiest bravest dog in the world. This was not just our thinking, but the thinking of every one of the "meter readers" from the Utilities. They maced him once when he young. It did not deter him from "protecting" us. In fact, it seemed to confirm his suspicion that they were evil and needed to die. After that, we were the only people in the county who had an appointment with the utilities-guy.

The only time he actually bit anyone was the Shriner. We were always late for everything. It only complicated things if you stopped to buy a paper from the Shriners on their fund-raising-newspaper-sale Sunday morning. They'd stand at the intersection by the Courthouse and for any donation they'd give you a newspaper about Shriner-news. My father just KNEW that my mother would be running late that Sunday, because she was running late EVERY Sunday. He had a plan. He just donated to the Shriner he worked with on Friday. Then, he could zip through the intersection with only a slight wave and nod. Of course, it being a small town, everyone knew my mother and understood. This went on for a few years. Then, the Shriners felt guilty. Robert was giving money but NOT getting the paper-brochure. One of them who lived further out than we did volunteered to drop one off at our house on his way home. He drove up to the house. He hopped out in spite of the barking dog. He ignored the increasing frenzy of the dog as he neared the house. He put his hand on the doorknob. The dog bit him, and then gently but firmly escorted him back to the car. It wasn't a mauling. More of a corrective measure. Training the Shriner NOT to touch the doorknob. I think the "gentle" part freaked out the Shriner as much as the "firm" part.

Protection was the name of the game. If my father went to the window and tapped it twice, Sam would start perimeter checks. He was never trained to do it. He just knew. First he checked the immediate edge of the house, then the yard, then the edge of the yard, then the wooded area, then the house again. Ever growing concentric circles.

And it made Sam nuts if we tried to play on opposite sides of the house! He couldn't see both groups at the same time. He prefered it if we'd play on adjoining sides so he could sit at the corner and watch everyone at once. It was eery to watch him try to "herd" us. He was rather determined about it.

He was the most ferocious dog I've ever seen. When he was agitated, a full-overweight adult couldn't effectively body-pin him. My mother tried occassionally when he got a little cranky about visitors he didn't previously know. But, he never ever went after children. Even stranger-children were ok. (Once Connie age-8 bonked him on the head with a rake because she was scared. He only barked at her, but it was serious barking. )

And, he was the gentlest dog I've ever seen. Children could pet and pull and wallow and he just wagged his tail. That was his glory. He didn't even kill the cats at my grandmothers because we liked to play with them. He lived to sneak up and catch them. He'd start crawling toward the cats about 100 yards away, trying to slip up unnoticed. He was so intent! After he caught them, he'd let them go. He wanted to "win", but he didn't want us to be upset.

He was so full of energy and life. He wrestled and jumped and ran full tilt. But when my grandfather was in the early stages of Alzheimers, Sam would shadow him every time he left the house with his cane. No running and jumping. He'd walk quietly beside my grandfather the whole time. Keeping his head near my grandfathers free hand, but never bumping or jostling the fragile balance. When my grandfather stopped to rest frequently, Sam did too. Just sitting there like a statue. It was SO obvious he was taking care of my grandfather. We would never have believed it, but my grandmother would watch from the windows.

You could tell when he was in warning-mode versus seriously-meaning-business-mode. He only barked warnings, he made no sound at all when he was stalking a threat to our safety. He thought lots of things were threats to our safety. Squirrels. Snakes. Groundhogs especially. I don't know WHAT he thought the groundhogs were going to do to us! Maybe the silence was why we didn't hear the fight.

April 20, 2004
Lonely Little Petunia

I bought petunias today. Just a few to go in the flower pot that blocks the "other" door that lures UPS packages to their abandoned doom. We never use that door and that UPS man insists on leaving packages over there behind a bush. The kids get a thrill out of checking every few days to see if that "crazy man" has hidden anything in the flower-bed! Such is the drama of their sheltered lives.

I started thinking about flowers.

April 19, 2004
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

When we remodeled the bathroom off our bedroom, each of us insisted on something. What we insisted on is a clue to why we're happily married, by the way. I was adament that the cabinets/counter-top be extra tall. My husband is tall and I know its hard on him to continually slump over the sink. We settled for an extra four inches. This also raised the mirror, and raised the wall-light-fixtures above the mirror. I also went for the "tall" shower-head (which only cost pennies for the extra 12 inches of pipe, and some grief because the contractor thought I was nuts). My husband found a way to make the bubbly-tub a reality! He even found a place on the internet that offered an extra-deep and extra-thin-walled tub that would work in a retro-fitted bathroom, there-by maximizing my joy. Not to mention the tile!

I was planning on solid white tile, because its the least expensive and most versatile. The whole bathroom is white, except for the floor. I found a nifty black-and-white checkerboard design that goes great with an older house. Very vintage. During the big "gutting" I took the kids to my parents for a visit. When I got back, after a twelve hour drive with sick kids and rain, it was the middle of the night. This did NOT stop me from calling people and waking them up to tell them about what he did ... My husband, in a fit of passion and creativity, thought that the white tile scheme could be improved. He told the contractors that the plans had changed. Instead of solid white, he wanted black-and-white checkerboard to match the floors. They were a little hesitant, but went ahead (I'm sure because they already thought I was nuts and to them this sounded like something I would do). About half-way through the job, they chatted with my husband and admitted that it was going to not look all that bad. He said something close to "Yeah, I hope she likes it". I suspect the look on their faces when they realized I HAD NO CLUE ABOUT THE NEW TILE IDEA was a sight to behold. In fact, they tried to convince him that this was DEFINTELY NOT the kind of thing women liked to be surprised about and that black tile would be hard to keep clean and that I would kill them. (That last part may have been in their heads). What can I say? My husband lives life on the edge.

April 17, 2004

The King Of Fools is the best website designer in the world! Not to mention, he's just the nicest man on earth. I can say that with a straight face (not even excepting my husband) because he just did something and made my web-site come back to life. YAYYYYYYY!!!

Let's cut a very long twisted story short: My husband did bad things to my computer. It did not involve replacing the computer in the end, although there in the middle of the chaos it seemed a distinct possibility. Still, we managed to kill my website during the reformatting. I say the "we" glibbly because I really had nothing to do with it, in the moment full of joy now that the KING OF FOOLS (aka Best Web Designer on Earth) has fixed things. I don't even know how, and I don't care.

Not to mention he did it on a Friday night, which is family time at his house. And, he did it quick without raising his eyebrows and asking things like "hmmmm, how did you even get it to do this?" (which a car mechanic asked me once in shock, although it wasn't my fault because my brother was driving the car on the interstate and ran over a log that jumped off the truck in front of him).

I feel all kinds of guilty that I've put off writing him a paragraph of recomendation. But, I suppose that I knew I'd never be able to find the clever witty words that he deserves. Heartfelt adoration will have to do. Here goes:

(1) He's nice. He didn't tell me I was crazy about disliking a color because it was "too mustardy" and I wanted "more lemony" and "cleaner" and "I hate sand and palm-trees and parrots, which have sharp pointy beaks". (Yes, I KNOW its an island).

(2) He can solve inter-personal issues. When the estrogen obviously took over my replies, he didn't ignore me. He found an estrogen-interpreter (the Queen) who looked at my emails and then pointed saying "she means this and this".

(3) When I decided after hours and hours of work that I hated the initial design afterall, he didn't refund my money and add a sign to his site that said "no women, ever again" although thats what my husband laughingly said he should do. He just smiled, and brought out a fantastic new design... which leads to #4 and #5.

(4) He can smile in his email conversations without using those "fake" smiles made up of colons and paranthesis. Just the right turn of a phrase and you know he has a nice sense of humor and a charming disposition.

(5) He gave me a fantastic design! Even if he were hideous to work with (and he's a dream) anything would be worth the way he gets the design just exactly right. I don't know how he managed to make it perfectly what I would have done for myself, if I had lots of visual talent and/or lots of technical skill. He even knew that when I said I disliked "sand" that I really meant I disliked desert sand instead of beach sand. Its spooky how he designed what I wanted in spite of what I said I thought I wanted. Every time I click to my site, I smile. Its just pretty and comfortable and elegantly simple, in the way that only comes from spectacularly well-done design. If only he did interior decorating!

(6) He's very smart, too. Don't you just love that my trackbacks are called "travel agents"? How great is that! And the little beachballs. I adore the little beach balls!

Its dawns on me that I'm rambling. I can't really be blamed. I feel like Scrooge in ChristmasCarol during the happy ending, at the moment that he realizes he's escaped the horror and he can do what he wants and he's giddy and bounding from one thing to the next and back again. Oh, there were a thousand things I wanted to post as soon as things were righted! Now, all I can think is that I must get some sleep. All this joy is exhausting! But, I'll be posting a lot, and soon! Have a great weekend!

Update: I gave him the highest compliment when I gave his services as a gift to a friend. Yep, thats right. I believe his talent is SO extrordinary that I wrote another check. He wasn't even on sale!

April 03, 2004
Surprise, y'al

I don't know why I'm continually surprised to find that my children have Southern accents. (And I don't want to hear from people who insist that because Florida is "south" of Georgia that its part of the South. Florida accents aren't really "southern"). I'm talking about an accent that is so thick you could cut it with a knife, extra syllables and all. Slow and round, just right. I noticed that my son pronounces "hi" as "haiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii". I suppose they get it from me because I'm the one they see 24/7. It could be worse. I could have been from New Jersey.

In college I had one Northern friend that had a strong Southern accent, just like one from the Carolinas. I was shocked to find that he had never lived there. It turns out that his mother worked from home. To keep him busy, she'd put him in front of the television for hours at a time. No one else was talking to him, so he talked to the TV. Since it kept him happy, she'd record several hours of his favorite show and just let it run and run and run. He ended up sitting in the floor watching hours of AndyGriffith (Mayberry). It took them awhile to realize he had an unusual accent. Now, THAT'S an example of bad-parenting :)

April 02, 2004
I Own Orange Nailpolish

I saw a new post from Tony Woodlief this morning. In a heartbeat, I was flashed back to the orange nailpolish. I rarely wear orange nailpolish, almost never. But I have some for emergency wear. What would constitute an emergency?

April 01, 2004
What Was He Thinking?

Lee (age 4) told me that when he grows up and becomes a policeman hes looking forward to baking cookies every morning for breakfast. I responded that I didnt think policemen make cookies every single day for breakfast. His answer? Of course they do! I have no idea why he thinks that, and I must admit that I lacked the nerve to ask, considering that his tone implied I was already slow for questioning the reality of breakfast-cookies in the first place.