These guys seem to think they can take up residence in my house.
These guys seem to think they can take up residence in my house.
It’s only my flowerbed, but it looks more like the surface of a planet in a galaxy far, far away. All I can say is, the little people who inhabit it better have little, teeny Hummers to transport them to Grandma’s house. Cuz she accepts no excuses.~Okay, that’s enough weirdness for this morning, but I never feel quite right until I share the weirdness with you. Think of me as a dog shaking off excess water after his bath. I just can’t stop myself.
The “grand-trio” arrived, conquered and departed. They are a whirlwind, a traveling circus, a force of nature. They fill the house with energy until it shakes and shivers, and when they leave, I’m always concerned the entire structure will collapse from the vacuum their leave-taking creates. But there’s a big difference now. They will return and not three or four months from now; only a few weeks will pass before we are all playing pic-up sticks or walking up to the playground or reading books together. It’s a mighty good thing.
We made our scarecrow man. We usually do it with my friend’s grandson. This was the grand-trio’s first time because they’ve never been here at this time of year.
Does he have a big head? This happens every year. H has this thing about stuffing the straw into the burlap. He can’t seem to stop. It may be the only thing he’s compulsive about. Mr. Scarecrow also looks like he’s enjoyed a few too many blackbird pies, but who am I to judge?
Richard McKann is the host of a home improvement show on WRVA that I listen to in the car. Don’t you love that kind of man? There’s nothing more appealing than a man who can fix your toilet when that S#!% starts overflowing. You know I speak the truth. Anyway, I’m crushing on Richard McKann. I’m sure he would tremble to know that he’s on the radar of a sixty something woman with melting chins and jiggly thighs.
I was listening to him while driving home from my father’s 95th birthday celebration the other day when a man calls in and says, “My wife is extremely rectal-phobic. Do you have any suggestions?” I nudge “H” and say, “Rectal-phobic? I’ve never heard that one before. What a strange way to say your wife is anal-retentive. What in the world does that have to do with home improvements?” Then I think… maybe it’s about the guy’s toilet. Richard receives a lot of plumbing questions.
“H” stirs from his nap, stretches in the passenger seat, sits up and begins listening along with me as Richard entertains the man’s inquiry – as if it’s any other normal, run-of-the-mill question. He begins by telling the man about the efficacy of scattering mothballs around. With raised eyebrows, “H” and I look at each other with a degree of skepticism. How could mothballs possibly ameliorate the downside of anal retention? Then the guy says, “We already do that inside. She’s scattered them all around the house.”
Well, color me clueless. “H” and I can hardly believe it. How could we have missed this bizarre treatment for anal retention? Cuz you know I could use me some of that. Mothballs, here I come.
Richard then tells the concerned fellow to scatter them outside the house as well. Registering a little surprise, the guys say, “Outside too?” Richard then explains how scattering the mothballs outside should reduce the number of lizards lurking around the house. “H” looks at me with condescension and slowly exaggerates his words as if speaking to a dull child or nursing home resident, “Reptile-phobic, NOT rectal-phobic.”
I still love Richard McKann cuz he kann fix anything! And even if he can’t cure herpetophobia, he can help with your out-of-control lizard population. That’s what I call a real man.
Then “H” went back to sleep.
My grandchildren lived in a condo the size of a postage stamp when my son worked in NYC. They decided not to sell it when they moved to the Midwest a couple of years ago; renters are now living in it. When they moved where housing was far less expensive than NYC, they rented a spacious (to them) three bedroom apartment. I’m sure it felt like a palace.
My grandchildren have always lived in relatively small spaces. When they visit this “average” house on the cul-de-sac, they feel like they’re on an estate in the country. My granddaughter has what we call the adventure gene; that’s a polite way of saying she’s nosier than an old woman at a family reunion. She loves to go through every crevice, corner, drawer, shelf, trunk and closet in this house. She sees the attic as her personal treasure trove. She finds things that have been lost for years, and she loses things that are needed daily. She’s an E ticket ride at the amusement park. Step aboard and strap yourself in.
I have those cheap glasses all over the house. They’re everywhere: by the phone, the computer, on the nightstand and in the kitchen. She found a pair that I particularly like. The frames are plastic and they have black and white zebra stripes. They look ridiculous, but they’re just the right strength for my eyes. At a dollar, they were a steal. I keep them on the nightstand. I’ve searched high and low for them for days. I know she got those inquisitive, little hands on them. Who knows what she could have done with them?
Defeated, I finally gave up the search and exploration routine.
Yesterday, I spent the day getting my house back in order – reclaiming it. Because of my granddaughter’s penchant for rearranging every single thing in the entire place, things are a little discombobulated in the house after they’ve been here a few days. The shower curtain is on the inside of the tub, photos have been moved around on tabletops, pencils and paper tablets are found in odd places (she’s very official and must always have a pencil and small notebook to keep track of life), and toys are in strange places.
Once she lost my sister’s ashes. I have a few of her ashes sealed in a beautiful butterfly-shaped box – just the sort of thing a little girl would love. It went missing for days after one of her visits. A few days after she left, I finally found it in a small purse she’d been carrying all over the place for days. Aunt Bobbie had gone along with us to the market, the science museum and God only knows where else.
Yesterday was my day to reclaim my house. I did laundry all day – about five or six loads. I know this is normal fare for those with children, but the two of us don’t usually generate that much. I had three loads of our clothes and two or three loads of sheets from the guest room and the kids’ room, and let us not forget towels and bathmats. After the first couple of loads of sheets, I set about making beds and straightening the kids’ room.
As I was putting books back on bookcases and gathering up teddy bears and my ancient Raggedy Ann doll, I stumbled across Mr. Mouse. Mr. Mouse has lived here for many years. My sister gave him and his lovely but “gone missing” wife to me back in the 90s. His wife went missing many years ago. I think I sent her to Good Will or maybe she’s still in the attic. He lives in the kids’ room. I saw him jumbled in with other toys and bears and dolls, and I picked him up to move him to the place he stays when the kids aren’t here. As I placed him in the corner, can you see what I noticed?
Have you heard about the Beaverton, Oregon woman who found a text message that revealed her husband’s affair with a 22-year-old? Elle Zober is an artist and photographer, so when she decided to sell the house, she opted to save a little cash by creating her own “house for sale” sign.
The fine print reads “by scorned, slightly bitter, newly single owner.”
What does Ms. Zober have to say?
“I’m not sure how this all happened… but, all I can say is that as soon as your husband/wife starts using new texts languages like :/, or starts talking to you like a college kid…. check your phone bill – you’re probably going to be in for a surprise. For me that surprise came in the form of a 22 year old college student who likes yoga… and, other people’s husbands.”
This reminds me of a bizarre story in my family. My sister called one day to tell me that her husband’s sister was finally getting a divorce. The family had long wondered why she had married the fellow. He seemed more than odd at times. She finally decided to call it quits when she came home from work one day to find a huge banner tied between two trees in her front yard. It read:
It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman. – Proverbs 25:24
“H” was like, “What’s wrong with that? The guy was just stating the obvious.” I told him he could become an attic dweller anytime he wished.
When I go to yoga, I leave my cell phone in the car. I could take it inside and turn the sound off, but I don’t trust myself to remember every time. I don’t trust myself to remember to put my shoes on.
On the first day of each new session, the instructor reminds everyone to turn their phones off when they come to class… to always turn their phones off. She also gives us a list of *dos and don’ts: no perfume (I bet someone complained about that one), turn cell phones off, etc. Common courtesy sort of things.
There’s nothing worse (okay, there are worse things) than drifting down into that peaceful place only to be jarred into full consciousness by a locomotive choo, choo, chooing its way through the room. Not once, not twice, but three times, cell phones rang during yoga last week. The phones belonged to two different women.
My favorite was the steaming locomotive ringtone that went off early in the practice, and made a second appearance toward the end of meditation. It went on and on until our usually unflappable instructor said, “I guess we’re done.”
I do love the sound of a distant train filled with dreams of far away places and all that, but a whoo, whoo, chugga, chugga, chugga blasting through the middle of yoga practice? I’m sure the owner of the phone was embarrassed, apparently too embarrassed to reach for it and turn it off.
Our nonconfrontational instructor said not a word about the incident last week, however, yesterday, at the beginning of class, holding her cell phone in her hand, she said, “I’m turning my cell phone off now.”
You say tuh-mey-toh; I say tuh-mah-toh…
dos and don’ts or do’s and don’t's?
There is no answer that will not raise a storm of protest from some quarter. Some say that apostrophes should NEVER be used for plurals, hence: “dos and don’ts”. I personally do not like that ‘dos’, which looks like computer software, and would be happy to settle for the mongrel solution, “do’s and don’ts”. Purists from both sides would decry that, however, and some would opt for the more consistent “do’s and don’t's”– which I don’t like because of the plethora of apostrophes in the latter word.
Now you know how uncool we are. We must be the only people on the planet who own a television and haven’t watched Mad Men. I’ve heard all the chatter about it over the past four years, but we never watched it. After listening to someone rave about it for the umpteenth time, I finally set the DVR to catch it. The first season is running back-to-back episodes now. Since H can’t do anything but lay around, we decided to see what all the fuss is about.
Of course, you already know that Mad Men are high-powered advertising executives. The rest of the cast is fleshed out with fetching secretaries and repressed wives. They recreate a fairly believable version of the sixties and all its social woes and inequities.
I must mention the smoking first. Holy cow! Everyone smokes. All the time. Even the women. I find this interesting because my mother NEVER smoked in public, and she wasn’t what I’d call a “real” smoker. In fact, I’ve seen very few people who smoked the way she did. My father hated smoking (probably because it was her vice and not his) so she didn’t smoke until he went to work. Isn’t that so mid-century? He worked the night shift and she smoked one cigarette after he left the house. That was it. He knew she smoked. She just didn’t do it around him because he didn’t like it.
She also smoked around friends who smoked, but only when they were actually smoking. It was clearly a social thing for her, and there was no addiction, or – and this is the first time I’ve ever thought of this – maybe it was a passive aggressive way of pricking Dad. Why does that make me smile? I guess because, like many men in the fifties and sixties, he was “The Man” of the house. Golly, this is a revelation as I’m writing it.
Mad Men smoke all the time and talk about cancer as they’re doing it. Of course, “the studies” are new and inconclusive and they choose to whistle past the graveyard. After all, Lucky Strike is one of their biggest clients. They drink, too. At work. Don Draper has a fully stocked bar in his office. I’d have to take a nap.
A child of the fifties and teen of the sixties, I’m intrigued by the sets and wardrobe and hair styles. Even the ring tones of the phones sound exactly as they did back then. I haven’t heard that exact sound since the sixties. Divorce is a rare animal and a pretty divorcée who moves in down the block is looked at with curiosity and wariness. And the way the kids are treated? One guy slapped a child who didn’t belong to him. Oh, my. The wives are repressed and the men are sleeping with the “girls” at the office who hope to snag a catch and are devastated when plans go awry. Pass the Valium, please.
Apparently they didn’t know about suffocation by plastic bags yet. My favorite scene in the first season is when little Sally and her friend are playing spaceman.
We can’t get this thing straight. Throughout our adult lives, we’ve had no problem falling back and springing forward. How many times have we done this? Let’s see. We’ve been married 42 years… 43 in November. That means we’ve either sprung forward or fallen back 84 times. Today marks our 85th time resetting the clocks. Is that right? And we’ve never had a problem until the fall of 2010 when, in honor of all Europeans, H set the clocks back a week early.
This was my year to botch the operation.
C wanted to do something special with her sister on Friday night. H and I stayed with Dad until she returned at 2 am. H slept as I drove home. With only a couple of other cars on the road (half of them drunk), it was an eerie drive home. Let me tell you.
I listened to the radio for company. I have no idea how, but I landed on a channel out of Ashland -102.9 FM. I needed something to focus on as I sliced through the night at stupid o’clock. Two guys were chatting about a cave in Missouri. It was discovered on 9/11. A construction crew was planting twelve dynamite charges as they began the process of lengthening a rural road. Two charges were in place when the planes hit the towers in NYC. All explosions across the country were immediately halted. The crew asked permission for an exception because leaving two dynamite charges in place could be very dangerous. They were given permission to detonate the two charges. When the dynamite exploded, a cave was uncovered.
Not all that unusual really. You can’t throw a fossil without hitting a cave in Missouri, but this one turned out to be at least 660,000 years old. Two hundred feet from the entrance, claw marks from the extinct giant short-faced bear were discovered. A time machine back to the Ice Age, this cave was a very special find, and it never would have been discovered if the construction crew hadn’t been interrupted after placing only two charges. Twelve charges would have destroyed it.
Anyway, “the guy” in Missouri who checks out such things was called to the scene. He was quoted as saying, “When I was within 200 feet of the opening, I could smell the Ice Age.” Powerful quote, huh? You can read about it here – The Oldest Ice Age Cave. Very interesting.
The point is, I was snagged. I couldn’t stop listening to these two guys whose conversational tones filled the car as I made my way home in the crazy hours of predawn darkness. Next, they talked about some guy who traveled the world on a 10-dollar-an-hour job. Still interesting enough to keep me awake. But then they moved on to UFOs and crop art and eventually mutilated cows entered the conversation. Okay. The next thing I knew, I’d gone down the rabbit hole.
They started talking about “little people.” At first I thought they really meant “little” people, but I finally realized they were talking about leprechauns. Now I knew Sasquatch wasn’t far behind, and he wasn’t. Then… the highpoint…. they started asking for call-ins. People were calling in and claiming they had seen little people and UFOs and big hairy creatures. One guy saw a naked “little person” at work. So this is what kept me company as I sliced through the night with H snoozing at my side. It’s good that he slept. He wouldn’t have let me enjoy my little trip into the mad and marvelous. Some people just can’t suspend reality long enough to walk that road.
Okay, back to springing forward. We got home about 3:30 am. It was now Saturday morning, but I thought it was Sunday morning. Don’t judge me. I’d been up since 4 am Friday morning, and I had been walking through the Ice Age and contemplating leprechauns for over an hour. I figured I’d change the clocks before going to bed. It seemed like a good idea at the time. When I realized what I had done, I didn’t see any point in resetting the clocks. So we were on daylight saving time all day yesterday.
You know, some things were easier during the Ice Age. Cave dwellers didn’t have to worry about this stuff. Harriet wasn’t out there changing the sundial before going to bed.
You know I have crazy sleep habits, but this isn’t about me. It’s about my son. A number of my family members are plagued with these issues. Many of us wake very early in the morning (3:30 for me this morning). Some of us have terrifying nightmares, and now my son is experiencing some specific problems.
He recently told me about a recurring dream that’s been haunting him. (Forcing you to read about my dreams isn’t enough. Now you must read about his.) When the nightmare (for lack of a better word) begins, he believes he is awake. He’s aware of his breathing, and he can see what’s happening in the room, but he’s paralyzed. He lies there helplessly, peering out of half-lidded eyes, as a giant spider inches his way slowly and malevolently toward him. The spider toys with him, prolonging his agony, as he relishes my son’s fate. This “event” culminates with him in the middle of the bedroom, flailing his arms and legs around in a wild panic and screaming like a madman. Can you blame him?
I literally stumbled across this article about sleep paralysis - Psychologists Chase Down Demons. It’s about a study by psychologists at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania. I couldn’t resist sending it to my son. What are mothers for?
The general idea is …
Sleep paralysis is defined as “a discrete period of time during which voluntary muscle movement is inhibited, yet ocular and respiratory movements are intact. Hallucinations may also be present in these transitions to or from sleep.”
“Less than 8 percent of the general population experiences sleep paralysis, but it is more frequent in two groups — students and psychiatric patients…” Don’t you know my son loved that? He’s neither a student (any longer) or a psychiatric patient… so far.
Alien abductions and incubi and succubi and other demons attack while people are asleep, or I should say these are sometimes the… um… victim’s… hallucinations during sleep paralysis. Understandably, some people dislike this experience, but others, remarkably, like it.
Anyway, I sent the link to my son, suggesting (only in jest… honestly) that sleep paralysis COULD be the culprit. I don’t think he liked my suggestion, and he offered his own suggestion that if he had another nightmare that night it would be my fault. What’s new? Isn’t that always the case. Mothers are responsible for whatever woes may beset their children. But Alien abductions and incubi and succubi?
Okay. I’ll own it.