Monthly Archives: February 2011

“I’m not perfect but pretty darn close”

I was coming out of the store cult of all store cults [Wal-Mart] a few days ago and got to witness an explosive argument between a man and woman.  This particular day I was in a “I have time to stop and get high on the flowers” frame of mind.  Most of my days are the mission impossible types where you could be spontaneously combusting beside me and I wouldn’t stop.

I slowed my rapid pace to a crawl and tuned into parking lot brawl fest 101.1  From what I could gather from the lung rage, the woman was at fault.  Apparently she made an irresponsible budget error that was going to cost the couple dearly.  She attempted to “sneak” objects into the cart without her partner finding out.  

Hello, woman?  Unless you are planning a ‘Thomas Crown Affair’ you’re supposed to do this when he isn’t around or NOT at all! 

Once busted she became very belligerent and defensive.  At one point she bellowed “I’m not perfect but pretty darn close!!!”  I believe it was this comment that sent the slippers sailing to Kansas.

I thought about suggesting a rapid return of merchandise but then decided against it once I saw the emotional escalation and astral projection of goods.  The words “wrong place, wrong time” rang in my head as I visualized both spaziods transferring their anger upon me….and it didn’t seem like a party I wanted to attend.  So, I did the self-preservation thing and continued with the auditory stalking.

Conveniently I parked close to the kill zone and they were screaming so I didn’t have to listen too intently.  I got to witness pretty much the entire event play out and not only managed to maintain a heart beat, but also gathered an important piece of data. 

Two words and only two words should have been spoken by the woman when her husband caught her in an intentional act of irresponsibility.  These words are difficult to speak and often involve a huge digestion of pride.  However, like an entire bomb squad these two little words have the ability to diffuse a verbal nuclear Holocaust. 

They are…….

I’M SORRY. 

Note:  I also find “yes, I was wrong” moves mountains as well and when combined  with behavior modification produces miraculous effects.  

I guess they could be considered three words without the contraction form.  These little words are powerful and produce dramatic results.  When spoken in sincerity, they make us own our actions.  They cause us to accept responsibility.  And rather than hours of heated warfare, a disagreement is often reduced to minutes if one party is willing to utter “I’m sorry.”  Yes, the other party may continue to rant and may attempt to get on a little rage but they can only fuel the fire solo for a limited time before the sincere  “I’m sorry” kills the action.

What a novel idea huh?  I’m sorry, I’m not perfect but pretty darn close!

Connect the dots: What your parents didn’t want you to know!

 

I grew up in the seventies and eighties.  The seventies were the era of my childhood and the eighties took me through the teen years.  Have you ever experienced something as a child that you always wondered about….something that didn’t really make sense even though the adults tried to give a feeble explanation?  And it wasn’t until much later when you were much older that connecting the dots became possible.

Yes?   No?  Not sure?  Let me give you an example.

I remember the seventies as a fun era.  The air was cleaner, the sun brighter, and the outdoors was our playground.  My family and I lived beside other family members.  This area has since been labeled as “the compound” and consisted of grandparents, an uncle, an aunt and two cousins.  We spent hours upon hours outside.  We made mud-pies, played hide-n-go-seek, walked in the woods, caught lightning bugs, ran through the sprinkler, and generally did not come inside unless forced against our will.  Those were the days of the seventies, the days of my youth.

During one of these days my cousin and brother discovered a rare find.   Along the side of the road they discovered a box of individually wrapped balloons.  These balloons were like no other.  Each packet was flat.  The latex inside was  rolled up but when unwrapped, it magically became elongated and contained a white powder substance.

The boys excitedly began to unwrap their treasure and blow up these cool new finds.  These unique balloons proved difficult to blow-up and tie off.  Thus, the boys asked for help from my Mom and Aunt.  When the adults saw these balloons they giggled nervously, immediately confiscated the box and remarked that they were special balloons for adults and not for kids to play with.  My brother and cousin stood confused and dejected with a still visible white powered ring imprinted around  their mouths.

I had always wondered about that incident and those “special adult balloons.”  The adults gave no further information and the balloons were never seen again.  It was not until much later when I came across one of those “special adult balloons” that I realized the treasure box my brother and cousin had discovered in the days of our youth was  a box of condoms!

And that’s how you connect the dots!

You may call me Pavlov: Meet my dogs

The dogs

Kids, kids, kids.   I have three.  I did not know what the heck I was doing when my first beauty came into the world and whether or not I currently do remains open for debate.  But one thing is for sure…it’s an experimental process! 

With my first, I was mid-twenties and in a totally different state of mind than when number tres rolled around.  In my second decade of life I reacted to things that now fail to trigger so much as a raised eyebrow. 

What kinda things?   Oh, cleaning, house-hold chores, tasks, sleep, and public opinion were a few.  Public opinion was a biggie.  It is common knowledge that my daughter inherited some spicy DNA and delights in her ability to fire things up.  In our home we were and are very real.  We tell it like it is.  However, as a newbie mom I was afraid that she may offend strangers with her outspoken ways.  

When she would remark that she felt the cashier lady was scary-witch looking, inquire if she was going for THAT look or ask a random stranger why their nose was so large,  I would immediately and publically shut her down with “don’t say that” or another similar reprimand and then later follow it up with the infamous “what will they think?!?”  Or I would attempt to “explain” her remarks away with a “what she meant was….” as she stood there, brows furrowed in confusion.  She would even interject an occasional “no, that is NOT what I meant!”

I would correct her before her behavior actually warranted it if I believed that a stranger would not approve of what she was doing.   When my second bambino came along two years later, it was more of the same.  As a result I began to notice that they were developing my immature ‘fear of man.’  Sorry kids for the state of confusion I caused and the counseling you’ll likely require later!

Enter number tres when I was in my mid-thirties and my maturity sky rocketed…at least that is what I like to tell myself.  I became enlightened and did a complete 180.  Also I believe that I plugged into my inner scientist and embarked on an experimental journey. 

The experiment was one of total abandonment concerning public opinion.  I did not and do not police his (or his now older siblings – better late than never!) public behavior.  I teach sensitivity and how to avoid mean-spirited comments, instill consideration regarding the feelings of others, instruct proper manners and social norms and above all I demonstrate love.  But once we are out and about….it’s hands off!  Ok, ok, within reason.  If he’s foaming at the mouth and acting like an animal then he will most definitely feel some interventional hands.

Number tres favorite ride at local park...Hang on!

Wow, has it been a ride!!  Number tres is totally free and unbridled.  There is not a mean bone in his skeletal frame-work yet some of his remarks are, well, truthfully blunt.  He informed a woman she looked much older and had more wrinkles than the last time he saw her (she did)….asked another why her home was a junkie-mess when we stopped by to visit (it was)….told another she had terrible body odor (she did)….inquired of the hair stylist whether or not she did her hair like that on purpose or if she just had a rough sleep…was intrigued when a man’s butt kept “sucking up” his pants and asked how he got his butt to do that cool trick…….

What did you say?!?

I must admit that sometimes I want to hide!  But I simply smile the most forced smile I can muster, give a little shrug and move on!

Clenched teeth, forced smile....wonder what he said?

Now….if only I could master behavior manipulation with the ring a bell…..

But the ground is frozen!

We’ve had a break in the weather recently and it has been almost tropical!  By break I mean that it is hovering around 30 degrees.  It’s amazing how 30 degrees can feel like a heat wave after surviving the brutality of below zero temps.

My youngest is still at the age where he enjoys the outdoors.  He remains undefiled by Xbox or other indoor electronic crack.  He is a fresh air loving, peace dealing, one with nature kinda dude. This weather “break” has been a slice of heaven for him and he spends most of his time outside.

Yesterday wasn’t any different as he frolicked  and slid across the remaining ice. I smiled as I watched him perfect his tuck and roll maneuver…a  necessary skill to master in our home.  He eventually approached the back door and said with deep concern,

“Mom, Winston (cat) won’t get up…even when I knock on him he won’t move…he just keeps sleeping!”

Winston

Our cat is the most tempered Tabby that I know of.  He is the definition of patience and has often been dragged, choke hold style across the yard by nature boy. He was also hurled off of our upper landing, by our then 5yr old daughter, when she wanted to test the claim Animal Planet made that cats will always land upright! HOWEVER, nature boy’s description of the tempered tabby was pushing the patience threshold.

“Knock?” I asked. 

“Yea, he’s hard. And his eyes are open – they are a whitish blue!”

Nature boy has had very little exposure to death.  He will not even kill a bug because it is “a living creature.”  See, I told you we had hippy (click to read) in our gene pool somewhere. The only dead creatures he sees are road kills or the maimed and mutilated rodents that the cat delivers to the sacrificial altar.  They are usually bloody and often decapitated with their entrails hanging out.  

A stiff cat that you can knock on like a door screams death but it was clear that nature boy wasn’t thinking rigor mortis.

I walked out on the porch and sure enough…beloved Winston was rock solid.  Our tempered tabby of 9 years was dead.  My youngest looked at me with the “my mommy can fix anything look” and I felt so helpless.  Winston could not be fixed, he could only be buried.  

But how do you bury something when the ground is frozen????  I can’t dump him in the woods.  He deserves better.  I discussed it with the hubs and he quickly black bagged Winston until first thaw, I guess.  But now that I think about it, I better check to see where he put that black bag because the last time he blacked bagged anything it was a racoon and it ended up in my freezer! 

Don’t ask.

The letter that started it all

First of all let me begin by stating that Hot and Stupid was created as my solo post in recognition of Valentine’s Day.

I do not get amped over the Holiday.  It’s one of those non-essential days and besides, Cupid is stupid.  I guess I’m atypical of most females.  Chalk it up to my parents.  My dad drilled two main themes into my head:

  1. Education, Education, Education
  2. Be self-sufficient depending upon no man

And my mom?  I believe you know her well. 

My mom, the poster child

So I’m not really genetically programmed for Valentine’s Day.  Don’t get me wrong.  If my hubby brings home flowers or fattening chocolate I will receive the goodies with appreciation but I don’t NEED them.  I certainly would not string the boy up or super glue certain body parts if he didn’t get me anything.  I’m secure enough in myself and our relationship that I don’t require a day on the calendar to let me know that I am divine.

That being said, I decided to post something in the spirit of love.  This is dedicated to my kids, who never tire of hearing the story…our story…the story of how two people, worlds apart came to be.  Stay with me as I set it up.  I guarantee it will be worth the read and totally unique.

I was in college and had trudged through my share of swamps and met every croaking man frog.  They were slimy and disappointing.  However, my family believed I was just “too picky.”  This belief changed after Rosie, my poster mom, had an encounter with one of the better frogs while moving me back into the college dorm.

It was a hot day with 150% humidity.  We were oozing sweat as we heaved my luggage out of the vehicle.  The frog spotted my car and cruised over in his sporty red convertible.  Sitting side-saddle with his shades sliding down the bridge of his nose, he smiled a crooked smile and watched us suffer.

I looked up and with winded breath replied “Hi, what’cha doing?”

He intentionally paused, smiled then s l o w l y  said,  while bobbing his head in a circular motion,

“I’ m   j u s t   c h e c k i n g    y o o o u    o u t!!”

My mom, who was created with jalapeno seeds, not sperm, whipped around and hissed “How about checking these bags out!”

I was no longer too picky.

That night in frustration I asked:   “Ahem,  God? Is this the best’ya  got?   In the entire creation of men?”

Silence.

The next morning in my mailbox was a letter from an unknown person bearing the name Donnie.

A few months before the letter:

Desert Storm/Shield was in full swing.  A local newspaper published an article encouraging civilians to write letters of support to the soldiers.  A group of us in the dorm got together, picked out a random, unknown address and wrote generic letters of support.  I casually chucked my letter in the mail the next day and never gave it a second thought.  

As with most letters mailed, this one contained my return address.  What I did not realize was that the Military instructed the soldiers to “sterilize” or dispose of any identifying information.   The reason was simple.  If the enemy should obtain the information a mail bomb or act of terror could be performed.  The soldier I wrote to tore off my return address and buried it in the sand to sterilize my address (um, thanks?)

My husband  was in the 82nd Airborne during the time.  His company was on the front lines progressing through the desert.  After a long day of marching, his commanding officer gave the orders to stop and “dig in” for the night.  They slept in man-made fox holes.  He dumped his gear and began the physical task of digging as he had done many times before.  However, during this dig he noticed something peculiar.  There in the sand, was a small piece of neon pink paper.  Curiosity outweighed the fatigue that was attacking his body.  He bent down and picked up the piece of paper.  What he found was a return address…my return address that the other soldier had buried in the exact spot where my husband chose for his fox hole!!  It is unknown how many days or weeks it had been there.  He immediately knew what it was and why it was there.  He paused briefly before stuffing my address into his pocket.  He would decide later what to do with it.

Later came when he was coming off of 24 hour guard duty.  Feeling wired from an adrenaline rush occurring due to a perimeter breech he (yes, he is Donnie) decided to write me a letter.  He was a fantastic writer.  His letter was entertaining and explained how he came to obtain my address.  I smiled as he wrote “If you’re married or have a boyfriend then fold this letter lengthwise and burn it…”   We began writing and continued to do so for the next 9 months.  The letters were rather platonic but there was a bond developing between us. 

Upon his return to the states we met face to face.  The meeting was awkward in the sense that I had to take the personality of the person in the letter and apply it to the physical form standing before me.  The awkwardness lasted for all of a few minutes and after several meetings, we began a long distance relationship because of his location in Fort Bragg NC.

In 1993, three years after meeting “in the sand,” we said I DO and 17 years and three kids later, we are still doing.  So yes, a thank-you is in order to the unknown soldier for burying my identity in the desert sand!

Our local news covered the wedding and an artist drew the following picture for us.

A local artist drew a banner...see what is in the sand?

 

The letter – only it was just the return address, not the entire envelope

 From the Philippines to America to the sands of Saudia Arabia….the journey that one man had to make and I am very thankful he did!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hot and Stupid

A video tribute to Valentine’s Day

Sorry to disappoint but this post is not about a blonde, bombshell Barbie who fails to score above 500 on her SATs.

True, she does have a full body of lustrous locks.  And yes, she isn’t exactly the reincarnation of Einstein but that’s where the similarities between bombshell Barbie and ignoramus Angel end.

Angel?

Angel is our faithful, dim-witted, family canine who seeks out human companionship like Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” preys upon female flesh.

She is intense.  Her pursuit of love and affection is never-ending even if it means placing herself in less than ideal situations.  Angel will wait.  Patiently.  And then wait a little more for that brief moment of bliss when a random human finally acknowledges her panting, smelly presence and offers her an obligatory scratch.

Why do we have her?

Because seven years ago our daughter, at the ripe age of 7, demanded her and we caved pretended it was our idea.  Chalk it up to hormones, sleep deprivation and insanity on my part…I had a newborn attached to my body 24/7 sucking my life source.  Clearly, I was not in a stable frame of mind.

And many times I question Angel’s mental stability.  I think she got the short end of the cranial material.  Either that or she is truly LOVE starved.  Although, I consider dental checks, brushing, ear cleaning, toe nail clipping and hog-tying-bath-time the apex of sacrificial LOVE.  BUUT  She must desire more agape as evidenced today when she attempted to cook herself just to be by my side.

We were alone.  I was cold so I pulled up a comfy chair and cranked on the gas fireplace.  The kids were in school and she was in her chronic emotional state of neediness.  She refused to part from my presence even though the creature was obviously tormented by the heat.  Because of video size limits, you will only see a clip of her torment below….but it is more than enough.

What you do not get to visually appreciate is the constant discomfort and position changes, the Semi Truck panting, the moistening of the parched lips and the pathetic looks in my direction begging me to move away from the inferno flames.  I did not move.  I chose to remain tush planted and film my intellectually challenged subject.

Eventually compassion moved me.  Well, NO actually I feared she would succumb to hyperthermia induced brain damage and she requires as many actively firing brain cells as possible! 

So Angel, as we come upon the holiday of LOOOOVE…this post is for you…our Hot and Stupid one!

White-Out to Tears in under 30 seconds!

I was sitting at my desk when a young girl said “Please pass the Opti Fluid.”  Opti who? Was most likely the look I wore.  I’m sure my face dramatically contorted to a “HUH?!?” expression because she repeated “Opti Fluid” and motioned in the direction toward my right.  I followed her gaze and spotted a bottle of WHITE-OUT….WHITE-OUT was Opti Fluid!  Plus it helped that the words ‘ Opti Fluid’ were right on the bottle.  I quickly grabbed the bottle and chuckled somewhat relieved, “Oh, you mean WHITE-OUT!”  

Granted, I know that White-Out is a brand but since when did people begin to refer to the stuff by other names?  Opti Fluid?  Seriously?  It’s WHITE-OUT!  Am I so old that White-Out is no longer the verbage of the youth? 

This got me thinking…about a lot of things…but mostly about my Pap.  I think of him almost daily.  Sometimes I smile, sometimes I tear up a little, sometimes I feel a huge lump forming in my throat as I choke back the tears and sometimes I spew fountains of saline and snot from the orifices of my head uncontrollably.  However, the latter is happening less and my head and those around my head (in spewing distance) are thankful.

He was born in 1928.  He recently went onto GLORY in Oct 2010.  That’s a lot of life experiences.  That’s a lot of White-Out now being called Opti fluid.  I can only imagine the changes he experienced during his life time and I would love to ask him about them but….I can’t.  I would love to sit and listen to him talk about his life and the magnitude of wisdom he gained by living it.  I would love to hear how it was “back in the day” just one more time.  I would love to hear him talk about his tools and all of the many jobs he performed with them.  I would love for him to show me what he was building and excitedly explain the project to me step by step as he often did.  I would love to ask him the many questions that my mind automatically generates as a “Oh, I’ll have to ask Pap that…” but then suddenly remembers that, I can’t.

I wish I would’ve taken notes when he told me of his life memories because some of it is difficult to recall now.  He knew so much.  He did so much.  He experienced things that our current culture could never understand nor fathom.  Yet, he was always willing to try the newest fad or activity of our day.  Take dancing for example.  I’m sure in the 1920-30’s dancing was entirely different from 2000’s right?  But that didn’t stop him.

Shaking a tail feather!  Not only was he dancing with the youth of the day but doing it in style with a glass of vino!

And what about fashion?  I can only imagine how they dressed in the 1920-30’s.  But he didn’t let fashion stop him.  He was always sport for whatever came his way.

In Israel he met an Arab and dressed accordingly!

At the airport he sported a straw hat.  Yes, it was much different and slightly more feminine (I don’t think farm boys wore straw hats with pink bows and lived back then) than the hats he wore in his day on the farm but it was a straw hat no doubt.

And being a farmer he knew A LOT about land.  All land and any land, if it had dirt, he knew it.  Because of his connection to the land you could often find him out and about on the land….looking, thinking, observing…even in other countries…

Exploring the aqueduct in Israel with the trusty walking stick.
 

I didn’t realize what I had in my grandfather.  I did, but not fully.  Isn’t that the way it is though?  Doesn’t the saying “We don’t realize what we have until it’s gone” capture it perfectly?

I urge you to appreciate what you have before it’s gone.  Value those who are older in your family.  Take time out of the craziness we call life to visit them and really listen to what they have to say.  They are full of wisdom and sadly, this wisdom often dies with them.  An entire way of life perishes when they do.  I wish I had my Pap back for just one more day….one more hug…one more goodbye.  But this wish cannot be granted.  I have to cherish the pictures, the memories and the beautiful person that he was until we meet again someday.  

Looking over the Sea of Galilee during a boat ride in Israel


In the meantime, I can look forward to becoming a creature of wisdom myself where White-Out will always be White-Out!!!