March 31, 2004
An Infamous Funeral

I doubt that my funeral will be “infamous” like this one, mostly because I don’t have an estranged wife. This is a true story, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. I actually know the family this happened to. And I say “happened to” because in a way they were victims. No one sets out to be the talk of the town about a FUNERAL, at least not people with pride and dignity. Its just not done. SO many things that “just aren’t done” happened that day. Its hard to know where to start. (It’s a little mean to laugh at other’s troubles, but they can laugh about it now so really we’re laughing with them, NOT at them :)

Mark killed himself, or was murdered. Depends on who you ask. Either one is an inauspicious way to go. The tongues were already wagging. Nothing to do but live it down. (Yes, it’s a small town that requires “living down” unseemly family behavior). If ONLY that were the end of it. Mark and his wife had been separated for months over her recreational drug use. His mother paid for the funeral, and all the arrangements to have him buried in the family plot. Susan (the kinda wife) was grateful to avoid the expense and aggravation. But, since they were still married and had children, his ever-so-naïve family tried to include her in the process.

March 29, 2004
Sneaky Houseguests

My houseguests left yesterday. I’ve never had sneakier houseguests. Those two raise it to an art-form. Absolutely shameless. I have to keep an eye on them continually. Every chance they get, they sneak off to Wal-mart and haul in tons of loot. As soon as my back is turned, they hide it around the house. I found my favorite cookies in the pantry, giant Tide in the laundry, two giant Cascades under the sink, two bathrooms packed with toilet paper and my favorite shampoo. An extra treat was my favorite conditioner, and some Red Poppy soap. My refrigerator is about to pop right open. Fruit everywhere (including in the new fruit bowl that just appeared). Diapers and wipes in the baby’s room. Foil and ziplocs in the kitchen drawers. Obviously, they had prepared in advance, since there were things from SamsClub (and there’s not one anywhere near here). Ten pounds of the “good” chocolate chips, plus pounds and pounds of cashews (which they know Lee loves). Fig-newtons everywhere. Paper-towels. Clothes. Cash.

I found cash on the washer (with a sweet note). I tell them firmly that we’re not in college anymore, that we’re doing “ok”. Very “ok” actually, certainly enough to enjoy having houseguests. They nod, and smile. They look around, clearly taking mental notes for their next visit. I would love my parents even if they weren’t the Sneakiest Houseguests on Earth.

March 24, 2004
No Orange Casket For Me

First, I am neither dead nor do I expect to be so anytime soon. But, it seems perfectly normal to me to plan your own funeral well in advance. Afterall, if you wait until the last minute someone else will have to do it for you. My husband is a wonderful man, but I just don’t think he’d plan a great funeral. For one thing, he’d be under a lot of stress and grief because he loves me. I’m sure it would be FUNCTIONAL, but shouldn’t we strive for more than that? If we were just interested in “functional” we would all get married down at the courthouse while wearing jeans. Another thing, he’s never had to plan a large social gathering without me. And, yes, funerals are social gatherings. At least in the South.

I’ve decided it will make my husband’s life easier if I work on the plans in advance. (Note to Husband: Quit snorting, it WILL make your life easier in the long run). I’ve given careful consideration to a great many things. Sometimes I ask his opinion, usually at the tail-end of a rather long monologue touching upon all sides of the issue. Imagine a quiet man, determinedly reading, finally forced to respond. He pauses. His eyes narrow slightly. He leans forward … He announces “I’m going to bury you in a bright orange casket and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

March 18, 2004

Cassie (age 2) has decided that poop is a good finger-paint, and that EVERYTHING should be painted. (Bed, walls, pillows, stuffed-dog, clothes, etc).

Lee (age 4) has decided that Mommy needs a better toothpaste system. Squeezing calmly from the bottom results in an “unbalanced” tube. His solution is to squeeze all the paste to the BOTTOM of the tube, thereby making it balance with the cap at the other end.

Ron (age 6) jumped up from behind the bed to “surprise” me tonight when I was looking for him at bedtime. I almost had a stroke, springing straight up in the air and making a shocked/outraged shrill “Aieeee” sound while flailing backwards. When asked what part of the day was his favorite, he replied “The part where Mommy went … (mimics me flailing/gasping) …” Asked what he’s looking forward to tomorrow, he said “Making Mommy do … (mimics me flailing/gasping) … again”.

March 17, 2004
Horse Stories

The best tip I can give any new parent: “Don’t do anything you aren’t prepared to do ten thousand times”. My father found this out the hard way. Poor sweet man. He’s a good story teller, if your taste runs to long stories with little point and less plot, which is exactly the way my tastes run. I’m sure he didn’t mean to create his own sub-genre of children’s stories. Never-the-less, my brother and I pestered him endlessly for “horse stories”. Not just any horse story would do. It had to be about horses he had personally known, and their true adventures. If we were lucky or he was desperate for some quiet, he would settle in and start talking. There was a marvelous consistency in the stories. Each story had a happy ending, and the worst thing that ever happened was Jack and Huldy splitting the wagon fork around the pear tree between the garden and the barn. The words were always the same, just as if he were reading a printed page. And his voice was practically hypnotic. It was soft and slow and even. Not hurried or impatient. Looking back, I suppose that was one of the biggest draws about the Horse Stories, the way he told them. I would have been glad to listen to him read the phone book. We never even considered that he might rather be somewhere else (or that my mother would rather have a root-canal than listen to another horse story).

March 15, 2004
Election In A Small Town

Election in a Small Town

Once upon a time, in a small town there was a family with four boys. The oldest was 18, a ne’er-do-well alcoholic. Then, there was the 16 year old crippled by polio (we’ll call him Bob). There was a 12 yr old that happened to be severely retarded. Finally, there was a 4 yr old who was about to become an orphan when their parents died unexpectedly. Frankly, the community was surprised when the oldest boy took charge of the situation. He got a job working nights. That way, he could still be there during the day to take care of the younger boys while Bob had a chance to finish high-school (and watch the younger boys at night). It was tough, requiring sacrifices from those boys that full-grown men would have crumpled under. But, they did it because you do what you have to do for family.

Bob finished high-school a year early so he could find some kind of job to ease the financial burden. What he found was that there weren’t so many jobs available for young men like him. Sure, he could have gone to college. He was an exceptionally bright likable fella. People would have helped with scholarships and such. But, that would have left the other brothers in a bind. He got to thinking, and Bob was good at thinking. The county clerk (in charge of records) was running for re-election. It was a desk job with decent pay. That was the answer! Except for the fact that the popular incumbent had been the County Clerk for years, a big fish in a small pond. But Bob wasn’t afraid of up-hill battles. However, as campaigning went along, it became increasingly clear that things weren’t going well for Bob …


I had a good Saturday. We slept late, then traipsed off to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It was SO fun! Since we got there about 15 minutes after the start of the parade, we took up positions at the end of the route, didn’t want to miss anything! Although, in all honesty, in spite of being a good sport about going, I think my husband would have been all too happy to have missed everything. He doesn’t love parades with every fiber of his being, which is outside my comprehension. How can you not love parades? This one was rather good, with Clydesdales and race-cars and boy-scouts and cheerleaders and veterans and a mini-drumline from the local university.

Those guys were freakishly amazing. About eight guys performing on different drums, and I do mean PERFORMING. We were ½ block past the official end of the parade, and there were several people past us. The drummers got to the ending-intersection, performed a big finale, and almost collapsed in relief. Then, one of the drummers in the middle of the group looked down the next block full of people. He said something to the rest of the group. Big sigh. Heads up, shoulders back, on they marched! And not just half-hearted either. Sticks flying and twirling around in the air, bouncing along like they hadn’t just finished a full parade route. I looked down at Ron (age 6), watched his little head bobbing along, saw his hand twitching just a little bit, and that foot tapping. Finding a music teacher is now on my list of things to do this week. Well, maybe next week. But definitely soon. Very soon.

I’ve discovered that standing at the end of the parade route is a pretty good place to get goodies. Most people that are throwing out candy or trinkets pace themselves, trying not to run out before the end of the parade. This means that at the end, they dump the loot they’ve held in reserve. We finished the parade experience with a toddler covered in green beads and boys stuffed with candy. Then on to the outdoor events on campus! Students selling food and corporate sponsors with giant inflatable toys. That was the highlight of my day. “Well, what a sorry boring day if your highlight was watching boys jump around in an inflatable castle” you think to yourself. But, you don’t know the rest of the moment …

March 11, 2004
Resistance Is Futile

I was talking on the phone to a distant friend about how we spent the weekend. My husband and I had a great time taking the kids to the Kiwanas pancake breakfast fundraiser! They made pancakes in interesting shapes for the children. There were women walking around the tables distributing more pancakes and sausages and juice. There were raffles. There were live bands. We were fortunate to get there at the right time so that we saw a little bit of both the bluegrass group and the polka band (wearing leiderhosen!) The overlap was hysterical. In order to segue from one band to another, the groups tried to do one song in the style of the group that performed before them. Nothing is as side-splitting funny as old men in leiderhosen singing bluegrass! Even though it was the middle of the morning, we had to take the children home and plop them into bubblebaths. They were practically soaked with syrup. Then, everyone took a nap. Can you imagine the wild joy of having an afternoon nap? It was an extra-good day.

Lucy | | Travel Agents: 0
Category: Friends
March 08, 2004
But I Don't WANT To Go To Nevada!

It seems like I’ve been posting a lot about my husband lately. Truth be told, its because he’s easy to write about and I’ve had a freakishly busy few days. Plus, I find him completely fascinating.

I was watching one of those trendy home-remodeling shows recently. It involved a quiz about your spouse. One question that grabbed my attention was: “If your spouse had a choice among these states for a long weekend-getaway, which would she choose. Florida, Nevada, or California?” I immediately decided I’d like to go to California. My dear sweet always-right husband wandered through the room, so I sprung the question on him. He looked at me, smiled, and left me completely speechless by saying … (yeah, I’m gonna make you click for it) …

March 05, 2004
Once Upon A Time I Was Smart

I remember it clearly. It was before I had children, before my ruthless cunning was dulled by sleep-deprivation and happiness. Professor and student alike hesitated a moment to debate me, and in that moment my ego soared and roared. Some might have thought me academically arrogant, although I make the distinction between arrogance and self-confidence as being that the arrogant lack the skills that make the self-confident a threat. At any rate, I was definitely “not stupid”. Now that I think about it, I also was “not compassionate”, and “not forgiving”, and “not relaxed”, and “not happy”. Those things are not necessarily related, only offering further insight into my psyche.

However, life happens. I haven’t had a reliable nights sleep straight through from dusk ‘til dawn in six years. That’s a long time. It takes a toll on a person. I find myself struggling with mental tasks that used to be easy. I find myself having sympathy for people that will always be “not smart”. At least I can look forward to regaining intelligence. Eventually, all the children will sleep through the night which means I’ll be getting some sleep and the next thing you know I’ll be coherent on a regular basis. It may be years away, but at least there’s hope.

You might be wondering why all of this is occupying my thoughts today. Well, last night I did the stupidest thing EVER. I was running late to Awana’s (basically vacation-bible-school, spread out over the school-year one night a week). I dropped the boys off at the door because it was raining cats and dogs. I parked in the first available spot and made a dash to the door so the boys wouldn’t be scared, although they were safe because a guard was standing by the door. I don’t just randomly leave my boys loose in public. We went in, got them checked into their groups and I went to volunteer in the nursery (volunteers are ALWAYS welcome in the nursery after they pass a rigorous background check, indicating that I’m not a convicted felon). A few hours later, I collected the boys and headed to the van. I started backing out of the “spot”. …….

March 03, 2004
My Husband Is Not Perfect

Well, he’s practically perfect. But there are moments … We have issues about chocolate chips. I buy the giant bag of Ghiradelli chips at SamsClub. I bring them home and put them in gallon size ziplocs, enjoying the feeling of having enough chocolate chips to do whatever I want without a trip to the store. I can make cookies at the drop of a hat. I can make chocolate-chip-pancakes on the spur of the moment, if Lee is in the mood. I can add them to trail-mix in a heart-beat. I like being organized, knowing that all the ingredients are right at hand. I’m short and he is tall (that’s an important plot point).

My husband likes chocolate chips. Actually, he just finds them an acceptable substitute for very dark chocolate. No milk chocolate for him. That’s for sissies. Sometimes, if he’s desperate for a snack, he’ll munch them straight from the ziploc while watching Tivo. He’s not a bit overweight. I’d be the size of a very X-large barge if I settled in with a gallon of chocolate chips. I don’t really begrudge him the chips. That’s one reason I buy in bulk at Sams. BUT … then he hides the bag.

March 02, 2004
Jumping To Conclusions

Have you ever jumped to a negative conclusion? Of course you have. We all do. Sometimes it gets to be a habit. Like many habits, it can get you in a strangle hold. Choking the joy right out of your life. I found myself like that once-upon-a-time. But, you don’t find many self-help books for curmudgeons.

I was taking a grad-level education course about ChildrensLit. This involved reading tons of “children’s” books. One of them was Pollyanna, in which an obnoxious child converts an entire community of grouches to the side of righteousness and light. She does it by playing the “what if” game. I had a lot of time on my hands that semester, bitterly sitting in parking lots staking out available spaces. (The university didn’t sell parking permits, they sold “hunting licenses”) I started to wonder if the simple psychology in the book actually worked. I thought I’d give it a try (although I decided not to tell anyone because they’d think I was nuts).