Monday, August 29, 2005

Honey, I Think There's a Cat...

My mother, God love her, is a wondeful source of love and compassion and hugs. She is also a wonderful source of amusement and entertainment, even when she doesn't want to be. She lives in Central Florida and I do not. I live where the air isn't full of moisture droplets and people of normal height and weight can breathe without feeling like a fish in drydock.

My Mom comes to visit about once a year, and I love it when I get to spend some time with just her and I. Even if we are doing nothing at all, it is perfect. Always perfect. She makes me smile, and likes my spaghetti sauce, and keeps me in constant stitches, with absolutely no effort.

This was one of those occasions. Mom asked if it would be alright to take a shower. No problem, but I wanted to pick up the bath toys first. My then eight year old still likes to take baths and plays in there until her feet prune up and she resembles a 90 yro grape. Mom didn't see a problem with picking up the toys herself, and frankly..the couch felt I let her have at it. "Clean towels and washclothes under the sink, Mom, and lots of shower gel choices on the windowsill."

About twenty minutes later, a very bewildered Mother presents herself to me in the living room. "Honey, I think there's a sick cat in the tree outside the bathroom! I heard it moaning and wailing the entire time I was taking a shower." Okay... I've never seen a cat around here, as neither I nor the closeby neighbors have animals. I go outside to take a look anyway. Perhaps a stray got lost and found my tree a source of refuge. No cat. "Honey, I KNOW I heard it. Repeatedly! It almost sounded..well, not sick, there was more than one and they were busy!"

"Okay Mom, but I'm not going outside to find out if they are done!" We settle down to eat spaghetti and the cat caterwalling conversation is dropped. For now.

I'm preparing to retire for the evening (getting fancy here, lmbo) and prepare for my shower. I turn on the water to test the temperatures, and then hit the shower spray button.



"MUUU-WAAAAH" Dang if that cat wasn't back in the tree! I get in the shower and I'm trying to peer out the window but it is one of those real tiny way-up-high-thingies and I just can't manage to stretch my 5 ft 2 in body tall enough. I reach to catch the shampoo bottle that starts to topple and instead catch one of Liz's plastic toys the kids get in those smileyface meals from the land of 50 million served. 'MUUU-WAAAAH." A bright orange with black stripes fish looks back up at me and again proudly calls out "MUUU-WAAAAH." Nemo, From Finding Nemo, lays there in the palm of my hand. It's one of those floating toys that make noise when you use it in the tub, and the spray from the shower apparently was setting it off!

I am dying laughing here. I get dried off, dressed and go out to my mother, who is still worrying over this poor sick (or possibly very lucky) cat wandering somewhere outside the vicinity of my bathroom window.

"Mom, is this your cat???" and I make that orange toy produce it's gawd-awful noise. "Yes!," my Mother hollers... and then realizes I am holding a fish. A FISH. A plastic fish. This is her caterwalling cat. This is her "gee, couldn't they pick a better place for THAT feline pair." A plastic fish that makes a noise similar to a sick foghorn. My Mother, champion of plastic fish, cats in motion, and even the occasional paper bag by the side of the road ("But honey, I thought it was a puppy!"). I think I'll keep her. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

You know You're Getting Old When....

I am not a fast driver. I don't LIKE to drive fast. I like a nice leisurely pace. You know, the kind where the cyclists on the Parkway pass you with their wonderful hand gestures? I don't do a LOT under the speed limit! I mean, I can hit 44 in a 45 mph zone, for Polly's sake... I just choose to not do that, lol. I do 43 1/2. I stay on the right unless there is no right, and I don't hug the bumper of the ones in front of me (mainly because I can't catch them). I thought I was a safe driver! A good driver! A cautious driver!

My mother came to visit last year. She rented this beautiful little furnished apartment for an entire month, and I was thrilled to have her close enough to give an actual hug. Cyberhugging and ecards are great, but they just cannot replace a Mommy hug!

I had gone to meet her at her rental apartment and she was going to follow me back to my little place. She wanted to come see my garden, my tons of tomatoes I complain about (see other story) and just chill on the couch with us at MY place for an evening. NO problem, Mom! I'm a slow safe driver, so following me won't be any problem at all.

We are cruising along, me doing my usual 43 or 44 (okay it was 42 but I didn't want to lose her!). My cell phone rings. I hate using a cell phone while driving. If I were that coordinated, God would have given me three arms and an ear extension from birth. I glance down quickly (one eye on road and one eye on the phone..I'm talented!) It's my Mom calling me. She must want to stop somewhere, or she has a question about dinner, or I am going too fast. Me? No way! It must be dinner.

Me: Hi Mom - I'm waving at you! What's up?
Mom: Honey? Can you do me a small favor? Please?
Me: Sure! Anything... (slowing down because I just can't talk and drive at the same time)
Mom: Well... could you kind of pick it up just a LITTLE bit? There was this little old lady on a three wheeler that just passed us on the right, and she didn't look too happy!
Me: Huh? Fine!

The cell phone quit working or she turned it off. She wouldn't admit it later when I asked, but I could SEE her laughing when I glanced back to her car. I swear she wiped away tears.

You know you're getting old when your MOTHER calls you on the cell phone from the car behind you begging that you go just a LITTLE faster than the speed of snails.

I'm getting a moped.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Going Up!

It has been one heck of a day. Not a happy blog, but I feel the need to put this all down, and this seems like as good a place as any, lol.

Dear Lord, I just ask that you take care of my Mom while she is in the hospital. Chest pains hurt, and please, if it be your will, let her be okay and come to us instead of going home to you. You already have my Dad and I know it's selfish, but I want my Mom just a little longer. I know that we here on your Earth don't always understand why things occur as they do, and I know it is not my place to question your wisdom, but I could use a little guidance right now. Please keep her safe, and take away her pain.

While I'm on it, can you also watch out for my Grandpa please. He's without power right now due to Hurricane Katrina and, while he is a very tough one, I can tell he was a little worried. The winds won't be too bad (mild hurricane) but lots of rain, and he lives in an area that is easily flooded. Just wrap your love around him and keep him safe please.

I know I'm asking a lot, but there is nothing you can not do. Liz, my youngest, has a small hairline fracture in her right foot and toe..and it can be pretty painful. A little touch from your hand to ease the pain would go a long way, along with lots of Mommy hugs from me. Hold your child that you loaned to me to raise, and help her to feel better please.

Heavenly father, I was angry at you for so long after Dad died. While I never wavered in the fact that you existed, I did waiver in my faith and devotion to you. Instead of seeing that you took Dad so that he would not be in pain or seeing that you spared him not being *all there, you took him home to be with you. I almost hated you for that, but you were patient. You never stopped loving me, even when I denied you. You kept nagging at me, and showing me your love, even when I didn't want to see it. Thank you for not giving up on me. I have found such joy and peace in the past few weeks. You tell us to lay down our burdens to the Lord and let Him take care of things, even if we don't understand. I did that. I will continue to do that. I will no longer question, but be thankful for all that you have given me.

Thank you for dying for me, and for loving me, and for showing me that you are always there, even when life seems at its darkest. I give my life over to you, Lord.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Guess WhoDunit

This story occurred about three years ago, and still cracks ME up!

I am at the school, picking up my youngest daughter Liz, after school lets out. Oldie Goldies blasting away on the radio, as usual. Liz hops in and at that very moment, one of my favorite songs comes on. No Sugar Tonight In My Coffee, by... you guessed it. The Guess Who. The following conversation nearly had us both killed.

Me: Oh, favorite song! Be-bopping my head and looking like an idiot.
Liz: Who is it?
Me: The Guess Who
Liz: I don't know. Who is it?
Me: Guess Who! It hasn't dawned on me that she is really trying to guess, lol.
Liz: I don't know... the Beatles?
Me: No hon, it's The Guess Who. I can barely contain myself by now.
Liz: The BeeGees?
Me: No, Liz..the name of the band IS The Guess Who! Hysterical laughter hurts!
Liz: Mom, it's not the Beach Boys! Who is it?
Me: Honey, listen...the name of the band IS THE GUESS WHO. That IS their
name. That's it! I have tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. Laugher causes tears. Tears causes temporary blindness. Temporary blindness, while driving, causes car accidents! Who put that guardrail there?? We JUST missed it!
Liz: Oh. It hits her. The Brain Train has pulled in to the station. OH! Well, THAT'S confusing!

I think I'll mess with her head next week and put on the old Abbot and Costello routine Who's On First.

How To Grow A Tomato

I swear, I didn't set out to be a Martha Stewart wannabe. I only wanted to try my hand at a few vegetables and maybe an herb or three. I had received moderate success last year when I grew tomatoes. First time I had ever grown a thing, other than children, and I didn't even water THEM on time! They turned out okay anyway. It all started in West Palm...

I am known as the Botanical Butcher of South Florida. I made short work of a spider plant and a cactus. I even took the life of a gorgeous philodendron that ticked me off, and it was SILK! Plants and I don't do well together. If I wanted all that greenery, I'd go buy some Benjamin Moore and airbrush something.

That all changed when I moved to Asheville. Maybe it was all that fresh air clogging my lungs, or the high altitude (nose bleed jumping off the porch) at which my little trailer sits. Perhaps it was the fact that there is so much color here. Green, brown, gold, yellow, orange, red, pink... it's enough to make one take leave of their senses. So I did.

I searched on the internet and at the library, and bugged the helpers at Home Depot so much they used their walkie talkies to warn each other when they saw me coming. Unfair advantage. I don't walk fast, and sometimes I can't walk very well at all, and it is not a pretty sight to see an overweight and overbearing lady hanging on to a shopping cart, chasing an orange vest around the light fixtures and down through the plumbing aisle. Chickens.

I am given some wonderful advice. Buy really good potting soil, and don't overwater whatever you put in it. Hey, I can do that! I purchase two healthy looking tomato plants. An Early Girl, guaranteed to give you wonderful sweet ripe fruit within sixty days, and a Better Boy. I wanted a Best Boy but they were all out. Better Boy seemed to be ahead of Okay Boy and Doing Fairly Boy, so Better Boy it was. I get them home, only to be informed by my neighbor that I cannot plant yet. It is late April and the ground may still experience a hard freeze. So? Get it a coat, for Polly's sake. I bring my two plants in to my home. I offer up food and shelter, and the occasional use of the CD player. They reward me with drooping leaves and bugs. I told you plants and I don't do well.

Act One, Scene 2. Got more plants. Waited until the proper time, rechecked the soil and planted those little suckers. Watered only when they screamed of thirst, and gave them the occasional sprinkle of coffee grounds and crushed egg shells. I don't know why. I think I heard someone once say they were good for plants, and it beat having them leak to the bottom of the garbage bag!

Within approximately 60-75 days, I had tomatoes! Lots of tomatoes. Beautiful tomatoes all turning red at the same time. I made sauce. I made chili. I made chopped tomatoes. I made crochet balls by freezing tomatoes (man, that hurts if dropped). I gave away tomatoes. I took tomatoes to the local food bank. I threatened total strangers that they HAD to take my tomatoes.

Finally, tomato season was over and I could safely throw away those pesky plants whose fruit of their loins took up all my time and space. I was so out of the tomato growing business.

Until this year. :) This year I added herbs, sweet peppers, cucumbers and zucchini. I was supposed to get small compact zucchini. Great for everyday use (as if everyday usage included zucchini). Again, I followed all the instructions. I swear I didn't ignore a one. I really tried! What I got were monsters. The zucchini above (yep, that IS a zucchini)is not the smallest, nor the biggest, but it was the first ripe one so I had a friend take a picture for posterity.

The other vegetables in the garden, not to be outdone by the zucchini, grew just as big. Some bigger. There's a cucumber I've threatened my neighbors with that would make a baseball bat look puny. I'm going to bring it to the next lawn game we have here in the park. I think I've still got some crochet balls in the freezer. :)

In Memory of Garfield

It was a dark and stormy night. LOL, typical introduction, except that it really was! I had just dropped my youngest off at my sisters, stayed a while for dinner, and was trying to get home before all hail broke loose. Pun intended.

I pull up to my little teensy tiny trailer and I trying to hurry. Not only is it going to pour, but I am in desperate need of the ladies facilities. Even chocolate could not have deterred me from my mad dash to the intended room. I throw my keys and purse on the kitchen table, traverse around the corner (dangerous by day, deadly by way of the night light!) and down the short hall. Panic sets in. Those last few feet seem to take forever (gotta build suspense here). I'm there! I made it! Thanks be to the piddle Gods.

I am just breathing a big sigh of relief when I feel this something run across my feeties. This something is furry and has lots of feeties of its own.

Have you ever wondered how much weight a shower curtain rod can hold? I know that this question has been burning in the minds of many for years. Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it is a LOT. I extricate myself from this rod (I am wrapped around it like one of those clingy toys), rearrange my clothing and go in hunt of my furry friend. I'm thinking Mouse in the House. I am creeping down the hall...and off in the distance (lol, distance being maybe 3 feet?) I see a shadow dart across in to the kitchen. Still creeping here. I don't want to take unfair advantage of my ability to move faster, and frankly, I'm not too interested in getting up close and personal with my new friend.

The kitchen, bathed in nightlight glow, looks even smaller than it is, and it IS small. I am gaining on my furry visitor, when it decides to TURN AROUND AND COME STRAIGHT AT ME! I am now on top of the stove. A fat woman can move and jump very quickly if she needs to, and I am grateful that my appliances like me. The stove is my friend. The stove is my refuge. The stove is not big enough to crouch on, lol. I grab a tupperware container from the dish drainer, conveniently located close to the stove (I TOLD you my kitchen was small!) I drop it on top of the thing that has me trapped. It takes a while, but I slowly back my butt (and the rest of me) off this Harvest Gold monstrosity, and lean down to take a peek at my captive.

Garfield, my daughters gerbil, peeks back up at me! Apparently, someone didn't close his cage tight enough, or he learned how to push it open. Who knows how long he had free reign of the house, but there he was. He couldn't get back UP to his cage, and he heard "Grandma" come in, so he came to visit. Visit me in a place no one else is supposed to BE while you're in there. I get him back in to his cage, move it to the living room where I can guard over it. Not wanting to take any chances, I put a big ole' bag of sunflower seeds on top, giving him chewing time and free access to his favorite treat, but it will take a long time to eat through it, so I figure I've got a few weeks or so.

Here we were. I'm at the computer, glaring at him, and he's in his cage, munching on a sunflower seed, and glaring right back. Impasse. We made a deal. I won't try and chase and squish him anymore, and he won't scare the c**p out of me!

White German Shepherds Must Be Angels

I have a twentyone year old daughter. She was conceived in the usual fashion. There it ended. While I would love to say that her father and I stayed together, life deals us strange twists and we handle it. I wanted a husband and a family and the white (okay, I wanted green) picket fence. He wanted a bottle of beer and a party. So. I find myself in the not so unusual role of pregnancy without my husband. I move in with a coworker. I am normally a very quiet person, but I am polite to a fault, so I asked her if the radio in my room would bother her much. She laughed, and told me she sleeps like the dead and NOTHING short of a nuclear blast could awaken her.

She wasn't kidding.

At 4:37am in the morning, on the wonderful day of March 24th, 1984, I was blissfully asleep on my side and snuggling with about fifteen pillows. Anyone who has ever been pregnant will immediately understand the fifteen pillows. I was dreaming of skiing. Strange, since I don't ski, and I hadn't been in water deeper than a wading pool since Jaws I came out. WTH?? My dream lake was really something else. Yep, my water broke. Okay. I'm cool. I'll go wake up Nona and she'll take me to the hospital. Right. I must have left my nuclear warhead in my other maternity pants because nothing was budging that drooling picture of loveliness. She wasn't getting up. She wasn't coherent. I'm not even sure if she was alive.

I get dressed and get my old car (can you say Plymouth Fury III? I knew ya could!) going. I skip it down to the payphone about 2 blocks away (I don't remember why we didn't have a phone, but we didn't). I call my Drs office, knowing I'll get the answering service. That's okay. I used to work for them so I'll get faster service. Linda (answering service operator) picks up the Doctors line and I tell her who is on the phone. She starts laughing. See how friends can be at 5 something in the morning? Mean. I give her the phone number and I'm waiting patiently for the Doc to call back. The phone rings. It is my MOM. This answering service does wakeup calls. Most do. My sister, Claire, has a wakeup service through them (small town) and Linda called HER FIRST then the doctor. So....Claire calls our Mom, who calls me, and now the phone is busy and the doctor cannot get through. I tell ya, I'll sell my family real cheap. Nah. Well, I finally get the Doc, who says to come on in to the office. I am not having any contractions. I feel fine. All I want is a shower (can't have it) and a nap. I get in my old Fury and drive the 30 minutes to my Mom and Dad's house. Hey, they are the halfway point to the Drs office and I was hungry and my Dad makes the best scrambled eggs ever.

It gets wacky from here, but I swear every word is true. Y'all can call my Mom and check, lol. After filling my belly with pancakes and bacon, I am in the back room taking a wonderful nap. No contractions. No pain. Nothing. My Mom wakes me up. Apparently, Dr. ***** called her, after calling the service, who called Claire again, who called the Dr and gave him my Mom's number. Got that? He was looking for me. Oh, yeah. I was supposed to go to his office. Nothing is like they show in the movies or on television. I am not having pain, I am not seizing up and screaming "the baby's coming," and frankly, I thought I'd just wait a while.

My Mom, being the older and wiser person that she is, says we will certainly NOT be taking my old Fury to the Doctors office. We will be taking her brand new Pinto. Okay, I can see you laughing. Get up off the floor and keep reading. Use your imagination as to what happens next... can you guess? Can ya? Can ya? (I love Dory).

We are on an old road driving my Mom's new car, with me in the front passenger seat, still trying to finish my nap. Yeah, right. That brand new "ever so reliable" car breaks down. In the middle of no where. On a back road few use. Okay. THAT is when the contractions decided to start. Not hard, but I knew it when I felt it. My Mother calmly steps to the side of the street and looks up and down for oncoming vehicles. My MOTHER IS GOING TO HITCHHIKE??? A truck passes, going the right direction, but she doesn't even try and flag it down. HUH? Mom, I'm going to have a baby, and I don't want it to be born in the back of a Pinto that is smaller than I am. Ah, but wait... it gets better.

A white station wagon, heading the WRONG direction, is seen approaching closer. Suddenly, as if a sign, a head pops out.. a white German Shepherd. Now, that wouldn't even register with some, but Mom and Dad have a white shepherd. My sister Claire has a white shepherd (which is where my Mom and Dad got theirs, lol). So... certainly the person driving must be normal and reliable and responsible and safe. MOM! She stands in the middle of Old Dixie and stops this poor woman. After explaining the situation, the lady takes me to the Doctors office, perhaps 15 minutes away from where we broke down. We bid adieu, with information being exchanged so the total stranger and my Mom can get together and play pinochle.

More drama. I get in to the Doctors office, and after being examined, I am informed that I am more than halfway there and should have gone immediately to the hospital instead. SOMEONE got their info wrong, lol. Okay. One problem. We have no car Doc. People can give you some crazy looks but when your own OB/GYN tells you that you and your family are nuts, it's time to pay attention. After explaining that we had to hitchhike here because of a vehicle breakdown, my Mom calls Claire. Not home, but Jim (my BIL) is home watching my new nephew (3 months old and very handsome). Great. Come get me and get me to the hospital please.

My wonderful brother-in-law arrives to pick us up. He arrives in my sisters truck. The one they jacked up and put monster tires on. The one I can't get in to when I'm NOT CARRYING THE WEIGHT OF A BASKETBALL TEAM!!! A few push and shoves later, and I am up in the passenger seat, my mother is in the driver seat, my nephew is still in his car seat in the middle, and Jim is in the back.

Still not done. We get to the hospital and I get in to my labor room. Yep folks, they actually had rooms back then where you got to labor. I was laboring away (and hating everyone by that time) when my coach arrives. Mom had the smarts to call her when we arrived. So, I am in my labor room, hating labor, and trying to concentrate on my puffing and hissing and all that other baloney. In between death pains, I am tell my friend Sam that I already know I am having a girl and I've filled out the certificate in advance. I want to name my baby after my loving friend, Sam. I'm being real serious and intense here, and I thought loving friends were not supposed to laugh at you while you are being emotional and sappy and trying to labor a watermelon out of you. I thought wrong.

See, Sam's name isn't. Isn't Sam, that is. Nope. Sam, whom I have known for many of my then 26 years, informs me that Sam is a nickname her Dad gave her when she was little. Sam stands for Smart *** Mouth. She is really Donna. ALL THESE FREAKING YEARS AND I DID NOT KNOW THIS???? Man, having a kid is complicated!

The Doc arrives and advises me that I'm done laboring. I've been done for hours but nobody listens to the laborer. We get to take a fun trip to the delivery room now! The wonderful thing about teaching hospitals is that interns get such a great education there. They also get a birds eye view of things sometimes. I've gone from laboring to screaming by now. Interns walking through look a bit green, and frankly I hope one of them falls flat on their face. Serves them right for interrupting my big moment.

So, my beautiful baby girl was born about 5 minutes after all of this. She was perfect in every way. She had a thick thatch of dark hair, and all the right number of fingers and toes, and was perfect. My beautiful baby girl heard her name for the first time. Her name of Sam. Named Sam after my best friend...Donna. :) Life is funny sometimes. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I had a life before I had children. I swear I did. My old old friends would even argue that I was actually fun to be around way back then. I was the shy, quiet one in high school, with the exception of my music. I played guitar, you see.. and back when I was in school, it was cool to be a hippy chick with long hair (mine was short), straight hair (mine was curly), and a stick thin body (mine wasn't even CLOSE lol). Think Twiggy. Think Peggy from Mod Squad or Laurie from The Partridge Family. I was as opposite to cool as Burritos are to Lobster Bisque. Not even close. You get the picture. Only problem with all this is I didn't KNOW I wasn't cool. My parents had always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, so in my eyes, I was already cool, since cool is what EVERYONE wanted to be. :)

I had my music. I had a guitar teacher whose name was Micky. His hair was longer than Peggy Liptons, lol. His pants were a cool tan corduroy and his shirts had sleeves that were all puffy. I swear, the only thing he was missing were the hippy beads. He would interject words like "Cool, Man" and "Groovy" and we basically did whatever we wanted to, since all of us could play anyway and this was just one of those classes you took because you had to take an elective but you didn't want to WORK too hard. We'd sit around in groups in the classroom or in the hallways, playing our guitars and thinking deep thoughts about the world.

We started a lunchbreak thing called "The CoffeeHouse" and every lunch time we'd set up our microphones and our little baby amps and get out there and sing sing sing. We were pretty good too, or my ears were just not in tune back then. It was a blast, and we had quite a following. I also did a lot with the Drama department. I know, I know... I can hear your thoughts loud and clear. Boring. Except it wasn't! Our biggest production was Godspell and we brought the house down. Our drama supervisor (she didn't like the word teacher) was an old Broadway backup dancer/actor/waitress who had the most amazing stories. She made it fun, and many of us visited her long after we left school. We even got some of the cast of Godspell (they were performing at Coconut Grove Playhouse at the time) to come see US, and then we were invited to go see their performance. It is funny how you get so enveloped in a role you don't remember where the character left off and you began. Aw, to be 17 again! Not. Well.. there's my opening 'story.' Hope you enjoyed it.