Friday, December 23, 2011

Spider Season

We're having a particularly dry and cold winter here in Marin this year. It's cold enough that I expect to see snow flurries every now and then. But, as I said, it's also dry.

One of the best parts of a cold winter - and yes, I'm fully aware there are much colder places, but this is not one of them - is that the spiders hide away. I like being relaxed and knowing a spider is not going to jump out at me at anytime. I can let my guard down at this time of year.

Except that I've seen three spiders in the last two-days. My husband and I were in bed either about to sleep or having just woken up and I saw a spider dangling inches from his head. Inches! What was that critter thinking it was going to do? (Besides getting smashed as soon as I saw it and panicked.)

Then, I was wrapping presents on the floor of my bedroom and I saw another spider hanging out on the floorboard, trying to invisible, I'm sure. I almost let that one be, except I thought it might take advantage of me and grow large and startling.

Last night, I was printing some stuff and I was looking at the blank paper when I saw a spider crawl towards me. Just then, the printer sucked up another page and the spider got sucked in along with it. I didn't see it again.

Does this mean we've begun Spider Season? I hope not, but all signs point in that direction.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Cookies? Cereal? What's the Diff?

I got hungry this afternoon. As it turns out, I skipped lunch, unless you can call eating a yogurt cup lunch. And that second cup of coffee, that wasn't exactly filling either. Around 3:00 PM, in fact right before writing this, I finally had something to eat.

I'm kind of an idiot in the kitchen. It's not by place to be my Best Self, if you know what I mean. I was foraging around in the cupboards when I settled upon the one thing that I love and that never lets me down: a bowl of cereal. Does anyone else do this?

Next, I went to my computer to read something because I like to eat and read. I came across this on the NY Times site. It's an article about how corrupt our world is. My world. My cereal! Fortunately, I don't eat any of that crap, I eat different crap, but still...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My Massive Headache

Since I started getting these massive three-day headaches a few years back, I've been reluctant to call them migraines. It always seemed to me that migraines were just awful and debilitating to the friends who experienced them. Surely, if I could manage my day-to-day this couldn't be an actual migraine, right? They kept that name, however, for lack of a better more appropriate one.

Well, yesterday, my Day Two headache was massive. I couldn't even talk because it required too much brain work. I holed up in my bedroom and slept as much as I could considering I have two kids. I looked forward to my Day Three because I can usually medicate this one away to a certain extent and get back to living. Only it hurts still.

A lot.

I'm back in bed and waiting for the time to come when the pain will be gone. I'm thinking about all the things that need to get done and how I can't do them. And how this hurts so much I feel nauseated. I'm waiting...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Little Blurb About A Snake

I was going to write about how our family went to a Christmas tree lot and cut down our own tree on Sunday, only to have the wonderful event over-shadowed by my daughter getting stung by a bee (on the leg, through her pants) who was promptly out-done by her sister who got stung by a bee under her hair on her neck. These were crazy bees, too. I think they were yellow jackets. Ironically, these bees are also called "meat bees" and my kids are vegetarians. Go figure.

My oldest daughter, with the the sting on her leg, was so affected by the sting that she could talk of nothing else for the next 24-hours. I think she may be gearing up for the school play coming up. (High drama!) My youngest, who is usually the one who makes mountains out of mo-hills, took it well in stride.

After deciding not to write about that, I was going to write about how my dog has licked a hole in his tale. Not literally, but he does have a bald spot. I've gone to my Dr. Google, who told me what to expect, among other things. The first order of business was to give him a long, long walk. The second, a bath. Believe it or not, my water-loving Lab refused to get in the tub today. I was shocked.

I dragged him in there finally and got a look at his tail. Above the bald spot, there was a patch that looked crunchy. It looked like it was scabbed or had dried blood on it. It  didn't look nearly as bad as I was expecting and I'm going to give him lots of attention and keep him away from his "spot." I started this bit of extra attention by vigorously drying him off and then blow-drying him. My arms were spaghetti when I was done, but I managed to accomplish something I have never done before: I got him to leave me alone! I was free from his incessant barking and pestering for more play. I don't even know what to do with myself now!

No, I'm not going to write about that, either. I'm going to write about how I saw an itty bitty snake today while walking my dog. It was so small that if it was a ribbon, you would be hard pressed to tie a bow. It was already dead, which I discovered when I got a closer look and picked it up. That's it. Nothing exciting in today's post. Just a little blurb about a snake.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Climbing the Family Tree

I love puzzles. Most puzzles, that is. I am not especially fond of a 10,000 piece puzzle where most everything is blue: blue water and blue sky without much of anything else. I don't really even mind the complicated ones that have a bunch of detail because there is a place that they obviously have to go.

I'm climbing my family tree these days. I started looking because of my daughter and it became a near-obsession for me. (I only say near out of vanity. It really is an obsession!) I've found that certain parts of my family tree are like the blue water/blue sky puzzles. I can't find diddly squat. Other branches, however are like getting a nice picture and the voila! These two parts fit together. They just had to, after all!

Some of the clues come from things that I'm learned throughout my life - like the oddness that some members of my family ended up with the same last name as relatives a few generations back. That helped find some folks. And it's alway really lucky to find likeminded family members who have compiled the tree, too. I had a breakthrough from this luck today.

My daughter has long since lost interest in my quest. She was excited to find that Harry Houdini* was Hungarian like we are (as I am one-quarter.) But mostly, the search is interesting to me and she may find that it interests her too when she gets to be my age. We'll see.

*I am not related to Harry Houdini. Nor am I related to Sandy Koufax, as I told people for years after mistakenly remembering a conversation where I learned instead we may be related to Ernie Kovacs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

One Fish, None Fish

And so it had to happen... Fish number two, or rather what became fish number only, leapt to his death last night. I'm sad and glad at the same time. I felt less badly about the chicken in my chicken noodle soup at lunch, but I'm ready to move on from this so called pet.

Isn't the very nature of the pet to "pet" it? I'm not a fan of the fish, we can just leave it at that.

We still have a dwarf hamster and a dog and a cat to make our lives merry, but we still need to have a burial today for the dead fish. He is floating in his bowl right now because my daughter was too upset with me after I gave the other dead on a burial at sea (aka flushed him) and we didn't have time this morning before school started. Needing a place to put the guy, he ended up back in his bowl.

On a lighter note, I went on my other daughter's field trip today to the Guide Dogs for the Blind. We didn't get to pet any puppies, but they're darn cute! The trip made me appreciate my dog so much more. At least until he started to bug me when I got home.

Friday, November 04, 2011

One Fish Two Fish

The number of our household inhabitants has expanded. And contracted.

It all started with our annual October fundraiser for the school. We have a carnival, at which one of my girls won a free gold fish. I shake my head because nothing is free, is it? No.

I had to take her to the local store to pick it up and then spend a bunch of money to buy the bowl, water conditioner, food, gravel and duplicate all of it for her sister, who suddenly wanted one too. For the first day, these fish were all the rage. They wrote list upon list of name possibilities, arguing - of course - about who had rights on a name or not. They never did settle on a name for either of them.

After a couple of days, the fish were forgotten, the water murky and the transition into my domain complete. One of the fish was much spunkier than the other and I started to like it more than I would normally expect to like stupid little 25-cent feeder fish.

Then, as a reward for taking piano lessons and practicing the piano, my youngest daughter wanted a pet mouse. I know what you're thinking. Why would I voluntarily bring more mice into my house when I've spent so much of my time getting them OUT? The little white mice in the store are pretty cute and active and watching them run on their little wheel makes them look like circus performers. And besides, don't we do crazy stuff to please our children?

When we actually went to make the purchase, I got a bit freaked out by the clerk who made it sound like it was certainly going to escape the cage and go multiply in my house with some other mouse it would certainly find. Despite knowing that my cat, Killer, who just left a dead songbird on my porch yesterday would keep the mouse population in check, I decided to convince my daughter to go with a Dwarf Hamster instead. It worked.

This little guy is quite precious. My daughter has not lost interest and my other daughter is motivated to take piano lessons now too. Still no name though...

In the meantime, I cleaned out the two fish bowls and combined them into one. My daughter finally named them, Coke and Pepsi. The two fish together seemed so much happier and I felt better, too.

Until this morning.

One of the fish was dead and the other looked traumatized. I have no idea what killed the first one (the spunkier one that I had grown fond of) but through our morning routine, my kids didn't even notice. I removed it with a bit of sadness and have resolved that I will not buy a replacement. After all, I hate fish. Right?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

That Time Again...

Ah...November 1st.

I am always inspired to write on November 1st. I haven't written a thing in nearly two-months, but suddenly, the inspiration has arrived and I am ready to go. It's National Novel Writing Month, of course. (aka NaNoWriMo) I've attempted several times, but it was my very first attempt at which I succeeded in writing a novel. My first novel. My - so far - only novel.

My head is bursting with ideas and the gears are turning. And for some odd reason, I'm inclined to blog when I know it is a distraction. It's kind of like the sniffles with the cold. They go together.

Do you have a novel in you? Write one.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Roller Coaster Ride

You know how when you go to an amusement park and you have to wait in line a long time for a ride that lasts mere moments?  Well, I just had a hell of a ride this last week. No waiting. And it lasted the entire week. Unfortunately, I think I just might puke.

I've been on a roller coaster of drama. Between my kids starting school and all that entailed - including being berated for not watching a soccer practice and talking to my friends instead, to buckets full of tears for making my kids abide by the compulsory education law and not letting them hang out with me at work instead. As if that loop-de-loop weren't enough, my job has been doing the same thing to me. I don't really want to blog about work, but they've pissed me off on a grand scale.

Today, Monday morning, with peace in the house and a great violin lesson under my belt (as well as a half of a sleeve of Lorna Dunes under same said belt) I'm feeling pretty good. I'm feeling good in a two-cups of coffee cheer but too lazy to exercise sort of way. All the drama from the past week has faded like my memory of this morning's breakfast. So what if I want to work more hours and I can't make that happen. At least now I can sit on my ass and type stuff!

I don't really know where I'm going with this. Did I have a point, after all? Who knows. The best thing about forgetting stuff all the time, is that I can forget to care about that which I don't remember.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In The Face!

A woman that I work with has the most wonderful dog. I don't know if I think he's the most wonderful dog because I don't have to take care of him, or if he is, in fact, just wonderful. His owner brings him into work sometimes and we all love him. His name is Whiskey.

On Tuesday, a couple of women that I work with, including the Whiskey's owner, were in her office and the other woman noticed that Whiskey's bowl of water had a spider in it. It was about the size of a quarter and it looked like it was doing the backstroke.

We all sort of looked at it and I picked the bowl up and carried it outside to pour out. I'm sure the spider was fine, too. They both looked at me like I was very brave - right before I got shivers up my arms and legs and did the little shiver dance. I'm not brave.

My house is full of spiders and so is my yard. I wrote a while back about how there was a large orb spider cleaning up on all the moths. This one was pretty big. They usually start out small and annoy the crap out of me before getting that large.

Well, it must have been all the rain we had last winter, because there are so many orb spiders driving me crazy that I'm about to be committed. Look at the path from my front door to the street:

My daughter asked if I could clear a spider that had set up on the trampoline (out of view to the right). I took the rake with me and held it in front of me so I wouldn't walk into an orb spider. I caught the rake on a web and had the spider dangling RIGHT IN MY FACE! I - of course - dropped the rake and screamed. I nearly broke my neck because I was a couple of steps up and wearing flip flops when I ran to the house. Stumbled, more like it.

The sad thing is that it was the second time today that it happened. There. Spider In Face. What do these little terrors need to do to learn not to do that? How many webs do they need to rebuild to get out of my way?

Magic 8 Ball

It seems that my life keeps coming to crossroads over and over again. I used to be able to intuitively feel my way into the right decision when I was younger. Perhaps I had less to lose back then. Perhaps my intuition is all fogged up with cobwebs these days. I might as well ask the Magic 8 Ball.

Ask again later.

The problem arises when the heart and the head conflict. The head knows the logical way. It makes sense to do certain things and the outcome appears practical. The heart, however, has a finger on the pulse of happiness. The heart weighs the intangibles and unquantifiable components in a decision. And, of course, no decision is made in a vacuum.

Better not tell you now.

I used to be able to flip a coin to make decisions, too. Strangely, it would clarify how I felt. If the coin landed on the wrong side, I would just know that I didn't want to go in that direction. Question answered. Problem solved.

Now, I find myself doing nothing and simply waiting for the right course to reveal itself. Inaction is my modus operandi. It's pathetic, really.

It is certain.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Big Day Yesterday

As I was driving home last night and pulled onto my street, I saw a skunk cross my path. I didn't want to scare the critter, so I stopped to let it meander to where it needed to go. Except that it suddenly lifted its tail at me! I don't think it sprayed, but boy was that tail-lift an attention getter!

My cat was acquitted yesterday, too. My neighbors discovered that my cat has a look-alike and that cat was the chicken killer. While Pearl was under House Arrest, the other cat tried to strike again. Life is back to normal again. Whatever that means.

Monday, August 15, 2011

No Rest...

I don't know where I heard the old phrase, "No rest for the wicked," for the first time, but it's been following me around ever since. My husband used to complain when I would try to talk to him while he was reading the sports page. (I don't anymore.) He also complains when he can't finish at least one page of the book he's reading between interruptions. I don't know who he thinks he is because I've been interrupted twice before finishing this very paragraph.

I'm sure I'm very wicked.

I get interrupted while doing everything. I can't even go to the bathroom in peace. (Moms know that is no news there.) But I draw the line when I shower. I absolutely will NOT take phone calls while I'm in the shower.

We put the kids in our family bed as soon as each of them were born. I was breastfeeding and when I learned that I didn't need to remove the baby from the bed and walk to the rocking chair in the middle of the night, the whole thing made much more sense. It was lovely, especially when you realize that they won't be little forever. I especially remember hearing something like, "They're not going to be sleeping with us when they're 10!" Except that my 10-year-old is still asleep in my bed right now and I'm up because my dog wouldn't let me sleep in, too.

We have a giant California King bed, which makes the co-sleeping much more comfortable for me. After losing sleep for so many years, I cherish it and protect it selfishly, as much as I can. My husband lets each of them take a turn sleeping with us on alternating nights, and nothing I have done has been successful in kicking them out entirely, so I just go with it now.

So since my kids have grown up sleeping with us, they don't really like to sleep alone. When it's their turn to sleep in their own bed, they ask me to sleep with them. I really don't want to and have a list of excuses, the most successful being that my alarm clock is in my own room so I can't. Saturday night, I caved and let my oldest daughter talk me into sleeping with her. It's still nice to sleep with her, but the fact of the matter is, I don't sleep.

She has a loft bed from IKEA because her room is so tiny that it gives her so much more floor space. Being up so high, in another room, proved difficult for my pets. My dog, confused as to where I was wondered from room to room trying to get comfortable. He ended up settling in my daughter's room, but woke me up a million times with his itching. Apparently the flea problem has not been solved.

My cat loves to sleep with me and since being on House Arrest can't go galavanting in the middle of the night so she wanted to snuggle up to me. The loft bed is too tall for her and she sat underneath meowing until I climbed down and lifted her up and climbed up myself again. I had to do this twice since she jumped down at one point to eat or something.

Then there was the elbow in the head. Being a twin bed, there was no escaping the pointy appendages.

Then there was the whiney dog to let me know he wanted to eat breakfast.

Then it was time to get up because we were going to the amusement park.

No rest for the wicked, indeed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Boner Juice

My kids watch too much TV. Only now, instead of sitting a foot away from the console TV watching black-and-white episodes of Andy Griffith or Superman, like I did, or color episodes of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island, they watch streaming Netflix versions of Good Luck, Charlie and Wizards of Waverly Place.

And I'll admit that sometimes I'd rather watch a good episode of one of their shows than to come up with something more age-appropriate for myself. And sometimes they don't watch age-appropriate stuff at all and I throw all my parenting fortitude to the wind and let them pick something else...that perhaps they shouldn't.

Today's enthralling show is the SNL Commercial Parodies. They are damn funny! I laugh and can't look away, but I don't think my kids should see some of it. I caught a glimpse of the words Boner Juice as I passed by and cringed. There is a part of me that thinks they will not get the stuff that is beyond them. It will not be a joke they understand because it is beyond their maturity level. I also think that if I were to make a Big Deal about it, their curiosity would draw them to it rather than ignoring something they don't find funny.

My friend and I talk about the movie Grease from when were kids. I was about 12-years-old when it came out and the jokes that I didn't get just whizzed right by me. I was shocked later to discover what some of it meant, but I'm a prude like that. She performed it and at that similarly young age, sang the lyrics without any changes. Yikes!

But we survived. This world is big and my kids are going to have to live in it. I don't want to shelter them from everything. I can't. I don't have the energy. And like I said, I hope they don't get it all. And I'm always available to answer questions and explain stuff to them. Sometimes, I even explain stuff so well that they ask me if we can please stop talking about it now, they're embarrassed. Which is fun, too.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Killer Among Us

This morning as I was letting my dog out into his new yard, my neighbor called out to me to tell me we had a problem. We've been talking about beekeeping lately so I thought that's what she was talking about. No, it was worse.

She said that my cute little kitty, Pearl, killed one of her chickens. I've been a bit deflated ever since.

Pearl is one of the greatest cats I've ever met. She's friendly, but not needy. She will sleep next to me, not demanding that she remain on top of me, as I'm a side-sleeper. She will come when called and she's super affectionate. And her nickname is Killer. She's killed mice, a rat, small birds and lizards. The rat was a fluke, as it was so big. She also ignored the rat that lived in my kitchen, so I suspected it was a size thing.

My neighbor has had chickens ever since we moved in five-years-ago. The first chickens all were killed by a neighbor dog. She then had a fence enclosure put around her yard and got several more. I know they are not just a means to an egg, but family pets for her. It made me sad to see her holding her dead chicken in her arms and knowing that either my cat killed it or even best case she didn't, but my neighbor thinks she did.

I asked what I can do and she told me to get a bell on Pearl's neck. I don't know what that would do, as I highly doubt that she snuck up on the chicken. I thought the chickens kicked ass, too. I recall that Pearl was afraid of them at one point. The strangeness of this incident is not lost on me, either. I can't believe how bold my little cat must have been to go up to a chicken larger than herself and kill it. And the look on her face as I got her in the house was full of wild-eyed fierceness. And, she had been seen hanging around before and running off afterwards.

As I came home this afternoon, my neighbor wouldn't roll her window down when we were side-by-side. I don't blame her for being mad at me, but I feel terrible. And, as if that's not all, I feel terrible for wondering if she's going to eat the bird.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


My kids have been in Houston all week and they come home tomorrow. My husband and mother-in-law came up with a plan for a visit and I went along. I agreed that seeing their grandmother was important, just so long as I didn't have to go with them.* It's been a mix of emotions all around.

Early on as a mother I had the realization that these kids of mine are not just my kids. I may have brought them into this world and love them more than anyone else ever will, but they are their own people. They need to forge their own relationships and find their own way in the world. I can't do it for them. Letting go so they can spend time with another part of the family comes with the territory.

At the airport, my oldest daughter was concerned that the plastic case they gave her to wear around her neck to hold her ticket clashed with her outfit. My youngest was worried that they weren't going to sit in the same seat, even though that didn't make any sense. I even gladly parted with my last cash to buy them a bunch of candy and gum at the newspaper stand.

The airline made me wait until the plane was in the air before departing, which made it feel even more final. As I left, I felt very sad. You may as well have taken my arm away from me.

It got easier. And harder. My mother-in-law called me to tell me they landed. And I didn't speak to them again for a few days. I had to work in between, so there were distractions, and I took on a big project to keep me busy (while they were out of my hair.) They were never far from my thoughts.

Yesterday at work I got a call from my oldest to ask if my youngest could have permission to watch Friday the 13th. I was trying to find a way to say no without being Mean Mommy by asking the rating of the movie. I said if it was rated G, knowing full well that it wasn't, that she could watch it. Shortly after that call ended, I got a call from my mother-in-law informing me that she had no intention of letting her watch the movie and I needn't worry about that.

And now they're coming back tomorrow. I have that urge to clean the house spotless as if they're company. As if I'm trying to impress them upon their return. I also know full well that when they're home, everything will return to normal and they'll drive me crazy again in no time.

I can't wait!

*I like Texas. It's the heat, humidity and traffic that I don't like. I've never been to Austin and it would have been fun to drop my bags and see that city with some of my favorite bloggers who live there. And Lyle, that's right, I'm not from Texas but Texas wants me anyway!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I would love to lose weight. I know it would be good for me and my life would be easier and more healthy. The thing is, I just love donuts. It's hard to give them up. Have you had one? They're just yummy!

And just so you know, Entenmann's Pop'ems just don't compare to Hostess Donettes. ;)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Farm Lust...Later

Being a genuine homemade doctor and all, I got some information off the internet to treat my eyes. I would do just about anything to make this nonsense go away and this came pretty close.

First, I went to the farm to pick up my girls and stopped to take this picture:

I call this picture "Beautiful."

Then I picked them up and drove home. On the way home, I stopped at Whole Earth to pick up some Herb Pharm Herbal Eye Wash because of the recommendation at this site. My daughter couldn't help but comment on the hippie smell in the store and to ask why there are so many hippies there. 

And what do you know? My eyes feel so much better! I don't know if they're still as red as the color of evil, but there is definitely something to this remedy. I also went around wiping down knobs and cleaning all over the place. This sucks and if there is anything that I can do to stop the pain and irritation, I'm going to try it. Did I mention that I threw all of the towels and my pillow case in the wash? I did. 

This keyboard probably needs it next...

Farm Lust

I'm feeling a bit Cranky Crankbutt right now. Yesterday I woke up - after nearly clearing the pink eye in my right eye - with both eyes just raging red. I look like some sort of demon. I'd post a picture, but I do not want to have such hideousness out there forever. This is making me miserable. Let me tell you!

This morning my daughters went to a farm camp. Basically, it's what I would like to do this week instead of my suburban camp-like life. They're going to hang out with goats, sheep, chickens, organic vegetables and a pond full of frogs. And it took me an hour to get there and an hour and a half to get home. I gathered from the conversation I had with the guy running it that I was supposed to get something like directions but I never did. I had to base it on the address on the camp documents (which were the guy's house and not the farm) and my memory from the field trip that brought us to the farm in the first place. It's going to be great, I'm sure, but I was not happy driving to and fro trying to find the place.

At some point while living in very cramped quarters in San Francisco before expanding our square footage in Marin, I became enamored with farm life. I wanted a nice big farm. I'm sure it was a response to our lack of space, but it has burrowed its way into my psyche and I am envious of all things farmer's do - or at least mostly what they do. I try to grow things all the time and have toyed with the idea here and there of having chickens like my neighbor does.

I must admit, however, that sometimes just caring for her chickens while she's away gives me enough of a fix to get me past that desire. Take yesterday, for instance. My other neighbor went next door to see if she could get an egg from their coop. Walking to the coop she saw tons of feathers forming a trail out of the yard then only counted four chickens inside the coop. They had five.

She called my house to see if I was caring for them and if I knew anything so I met her outside to take a look. Sure enough, there was a feather trail and four chickens ready to go out and peck. The coop looked secure and I know that my daughter and I put away five chickens the night before, so it appeared as though some animal was able to get into the coop after all. We scanned the coop for anything obvious and could not find anything. Then we saw the lifeless chicken inside. I went in to get a closer look when we discovered that it was alive! The chicken was brooding, and while I didn't know what that meant when given the instructions a few days ago, took it to mean that the feathered girl wanted to hang out in the coop all day. So she was.

All's well that ends well except my other neighbor never did get an egg. There weren't any. I must say that finding dead chickens is one unappealing aspect of chicken ownership, as is the rats that are attracted to their food. We'll see. The jury is still out, but I do have a fenced yard now.

I am planning on going to a seminar with these two women next week to learn about bee keeping. That might help that my Farmer Lust. That and planting the geraniums that I just bought to replace the previously mangy-woody ones I just tore out. And planting the basil and parsley that I picked up at the same time. I'm going to go chew some twigs now...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Eyes Have It

I thought I'd take a few moments to complain a little. I don't know how, but I've gotten pink-eye. Conjunctivitis. The stink-eye. Whatever it is or whatever you'd call it, it's miserable. My eyes are runny and tired. I don't really want to keep them open except that it's more convenient when you're awake to leave them open.

My daughter is home again for the second day from camp. I feel badly for her since it was supposed to include an over-night tonight. It's a Girl Scout Camp and it seems totally fun. I forgot from last year just how many lanyards come home from this place. It's like Lanyardville around here. Always unfinished, too.

The worst part about the eye-thing, besides all of it is that it would seem as though I've spread it to the other eye. That familiar itchy/granular feeling is in the other one now. I have medicine that I'm using in both eyes now and I'm hoping that it actually works. It's creepy how when you put goo in your eyes you can eventually taste it. I don't really consider that connection very often. Ick.

I just accidentally touched my eye (chasing an involuntary tear) and had to get up and wash my hands. Again. I think it may be time for a nap. Since I can. And my eyes want to close anyway.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

New Trouble

The rat is gone. The ants have been subdued. Because my life cannot possibly be simple or carefree, a new pest has come into my life to torment me.


My dog and cat have been itching like they're prepping for an Olympic event and I was a little slow to apply their Frontline. Next thing I know we've suddenly been plagued by "mosquito bites." This was not an inconceivable conclusion given the sighting of a few mosquitoes, but then...

I was in bed and my feet were under the covers when I felt a little nip. Then I felt it on my face. I went into the bathroom and saw a REAL LIVE FLEA on my foot. At that point I couldn't deny it any longer.

My battles always start with research into the psychology and habits of the critters then finding the eco-friendly solutions. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old Wives Tale: Eating Spiders Revisited

I have a friend at work who said he's gotten bitten up by a spider recently. For some reason, I keep trying to suggest alternative sources for these bites. Could they be fleas? Dust mites? Bed bugs? Spiders, for some reason hold this mythical place for me as non-biters. Maybe it's that I grew up with cellar spiders (aka Daddy Longlegs) and they are rumored to have mouths too small to bite humans.

How would I know if he had some sort of biting spider living at his house? Why couldn't a spider bite him?

I've had quite a complicated relationship with spiders, especially in the last few years. I fear them and respect them. If they come into my house, they are no longer sacred and I will kill them. If they are outside, I will not. If they scare the bejeezus out of me, any spider within a room's range will be sucked up, too. If they are found to be eating other insect pests, they will get an automatic stay of execution. At least a temporary one.

If there is a mosquito within a hundred miles, it will find its way to me and give me a bite. It has never occurred to me that some of my night-time mosquito bites may have actually been spiders. I've never thought of them as being guilty of biting humans. My fear of them has always seemed irrational, though clearly physiological. I never thought my fear was of being bitten, just fear for fear's sake.

It reminds me again of that Old Wives Tale about how many spiders you eat in your sleep. I heard someone retell it recently and I wanted to argue at its unlikely truth. This biting thing has me wondering though. Is my arachnophobia missing a few layers? Does getting bitten in my sleep and eating them belong beside just their multiple creepy legs and scary persona?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's Gone!

The rat is gone. I saw it go, too. Flying.

Yesterday my folks came up for a neighborhood garage sale that was supposed to be epic. I'm sure it was for someone, but not for us. We barely had any traffic and only sold enough to clear the parking deck of the big clutter. After that, we loaded the remainder into my parents' car to go to the donation center. 

I couldn't pass up an opportunity to get some handyman help from my step-dad. He's marvelously helpful with things that I just can't do myself. As you may have noticed, I have not been able to deal with the rat by myself. 

We started by moving the refrigerator out of the nook. As crazy as it sounds to me now, he got me to position myself in the front of the fridge with my leaf blower, while he positioned himself behind it with the vacuum. When I turned that thing on, the room filled with dust. It was insane. (I ended up cleaning my entire kitchen top to bottom as a result of those shenanigans. What were we thinking?)

I don't know if it was the massive amount of noise that we made or if the sucking or blowing disturbed the rat, but we saw the critter. From where I was, I could see its tail sticking out from under the refrigerator. My step-dad tried to suck at it with the vacuum, but it wasn't working. Finally, he reached his hand in there and grabbed it. 

The rat bit at him, though it didn't break the skin. Once in hand we were left with what to do with it. I don't know if I would have done something different if it were in my hand, but my step-dad proceeded to fling it over my balcony. I have no idea whether it could survive something like that. From the place the rat was launched, it's about four stories high. If it survived, it cannot get back into my house because I've sealed it up. If if did not, I'm sure he fed a hungry (larger) critter. Either way, I was immediately sickened by the whole thing. And yet...I felt so much relief that the rodent was no longer living in my house that I nearly cried. I got choked up and gave him the biggest hug ever. 

I'm so very happy right now about this. It was no small feat and my gratitude is enormous.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

It's Alive!

After calling the second exterminator, the only pest activity in my house has been seven-billion ants. Even my husband got involved and bought some ant traps because they've been that bad. Before I get ahead of myself, I will tell you about the second exterminator.

The second company was a recommendation of a guy who came highly recommended. This time, two guys show up and do a thorough inspection of my house. I watched the whole thing, very curious about the problem and wanting to learn as much as I can. The two of them crawled in places I would never go and definitely looked around.

What they determined is that I don't have an infestation. All of the evidence they found was of previous inhabitants and that there were no current rats in my house. There was no logical explanation of what I was seeing in the way of the eaten avocado without any droppings. They were perplexed and didn't even try to sell me their services because they didn't think they would be successful in helping me any more than the previous company.

In the course of the inspection, they pulled out my refrigerator, behind which we found a bunch of droppings. Rather than put it away, I asked them to leave it out and that small service was worth the $50 they charged to come out. I cleaned behind it, on top of it and around it. That thing sparkled.

While it was out, I noticed a little something on the back side:

It was a ribbon coming out of the back of my fridge. I tugged it. And tugged it. And that damned thing didn't budge. I finally got out the screw driver and took part of the back of my fridge off to find this:

Look at how long that thing is! Some rat had made a nest in my fridge motor with that thing! Even still, I saw nothing.

Fast forward to tonight. It's late. I stayed up to watch the end of the Manchurian Candidate when it occurred to me that the critter might be out and about at this time of night. I snuck back into the kitchen and flipped on the light to find a giant rat on my kitchen counter. I just cleaned it!

I started to get freaked out, having finally confirmed my worst suspicion that a rat was living again/still in my kitchen and stunned at the thought of now what? The rat surely had the same idea and I don't know if it was more afraid of me than I of it. I screamed, just like in the movies, and it ran behind my refrigerator.

Now what?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Yesterday Sucked - Uncensored (must be over 18 to read)

My youngest daughter often says that she's having the "worst day ever." She used to use the phrase so often you'd think I was hiring her out to sweat shops for slave labor. Yesterday, however, I totally had to use her phrase as my own and I meant it as well as I could ever recollect necessary.

I was out walking my dog on a very dog-friendly trail - that we've been on quite a bit lately. It's the trail that I take him out on off-leash, which has made my life my with dog here worth living. He's thrilled to meet and greet the other pooches and all was going well.

Right near the trailhead we encountered a huge pack of people and dogs. There must have been ten of each. My dog sniffed at most of them as happy as can be and kept moving along. Without any warning he was about to have an altercation with another dog but I called him off the dog before he had a chance to eat him. (Key words to remember: called off, before.)

The owner of the dog had two dogs. One of which was in the pack and had a friendly encounter with my pooch. The second, for some reason, triggered some sort of response in my dog. If you know me and my relationship with my dog, you know that he's very protective of me and has had some issues with other dogs in the past. He has not eaten any other dogs or cats and to my knowledge is all bark and no bite.

In any case, it's an issue with me that I'm extremely self-conscience about. I'm super-sensitive about this and concientious about keeping my dog on good behavior. I have found, though, that there are two types of dog owners. There are owners who think that dogs are people and those who think that dogs are dogs. The people-dog camp is full of owners with high expectations that the dogs will always be submissive and have tea with you. The dog-dog camp knows that these are animals and act on instincts and will sometimes not get along with other animals but given the chance to work it out amongst themselves, will. Usually, the dogs will figure out who is higher on the ladder and go about their business.

I am straddling the fence as an owner. I expect my dog to behave perfectly, but there have been times where my dog is accused of poor behavior because he looks the part of the aggressor, when it is rare for him to actually start anything. He's a Lab, for crying out loud. He loves to socialize and meet any animal of any kind.

So here we are, on the trail and my friend thinks the other dog must have told my dog that he slept with my dog's mother or something as equally insulting and my dog got ticked off. I stopped my dog from doing anything and the owner - a big man who looks like Kenny Rogers started yelling at me. He said I had to have my dog under voice control and insisted that I walk my dog on a leash. I put my pooch on the leash and was not in the mood to deal with this guy. Only in retrospect, did it occur to me that my dog was in voice control if he did not, in fact, eat the other dog. I was able to stop my dog from doing anything. But this big guy, we'll call him Asshole, just kept taunting me. I told him he needed to put his dog on leash and he let me have it again. Not wanting to get into it further, I started walking back to my car. Asshole was following me and kept saying stuff as we walked in the same direction.

After enough of the taunting, I turned around and told him I was going to put my dog to sleep and he could shut up now. He did. I started crying soon after that. It was like someone put a needle in a water balloon and there was no plugging it up until it was empty.

When I got to the street, my happy-go-lucky dog, tongue and tail wagging looked fine so I took him off leash again. Stupid dog, though, starts walking in the middle of the street and I called him to the side of the road so he would get out of the way for the approaching gold-ish colored Suburban-looking truck. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I look up to see Asshole shaking his head that he has to wait for my dog to get out of his way. The passenger window is rolled down and I think they (yes, THEY, his wimpy wife was with him the whole time) were about to say something to me and must have thought twice after seeing my tears. I called him a Fucking Bastard as they passed though.

When I got home, I was hysterical. If I was going to be bullied off the only trail that was working for me in my dog-walking-misadventures, what was I supposed to do? I couldn't give him up knowing that he has this unpredictable side (you know, where he acts like a dog). I actually considered that putting him to sleep might be the solution. That thought lasted just long enough for me to look at him with his innocent brown eyes and the look of devotion he gives me back.

I called a guy I know who loves him and asked if he wanted my dog. He told me I needed to cool down and not to make any decisions in haste. I would surely regret them. Then, after having heard the whole story, went off about what an asshole Asshole was. Dogs will be dogs.

My best friend then imbued me with her crystal clear insight by telling me that Asshole's dog had to have said something to my dog to start the fight. Then, as only a best friend could, she told me how to act psycho on the guy next time and that he had no right to harass me and I should tell him that I will call the police next time.

Perhaps it's the special spin that I put on my telling of the story, but everyone sides with me. As it should be, of course. And if you don't agree with me or think I'm wrong, just kiss my ass. We'll agree to disagree for now. In any case, since I am the responsible pet owner that I am, I investigated classes for my dog and even looked into muzzles. I was talked out of that by a person at the pet store, however, as being a worse option. More training is the way to go.

My dog really is a good dog. He just wants to protect me and I need to teach him that I'm supposed to protect him, not the other way around. I didn't go on that trail today and I'm not sure I will for a while. Yes, the bully, Asshole, wins this round. I ran my dog today, instead, and that was good for both of us. Sure, he didn't get to sniff stuff and eat grass, but I didn't have to deal with bullies or spend my day crying. Yesterday sucked.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama is Dead, Long Live Obama

I haven't been writing. I know. I haven't been sleeping, either. I'm very tired. And quite over-caffeinated most of the time to make up for it. Hurray for coffee!

Since I last wrote, my ant problem has not gotten any better. I bought some borax today to try another ant control idea. Let's see if this works.

My family saw the cat catch - and then lose - a mouse in my kitchen. (To her credit, they distracted her and it got away. She's usually quite a killer.)  I caught it with a trap that night. Proving that mice are so much easier to manage than rats. I took photos and went on the Internet so that I could figure out it it was a mouse or a baby rat.

Based on the size of the ears and the fact that the tail was more on the long than thick side I'm inclined to believe it was a mouse. I mentioned that I caught it, too, which would imply they're dumber than rats. The puzzling part, however, is that supposedly mice are afraid of rats and will not go near them. The smell of them causes high anxiety in lab tests, too. Does that mean that the rats aren't there anymore? I can't really tell what's going on with them.

And then I found an avocado with a hole eaten out of it.


What do you think? Mice or rats?

I have called another pest control company and the guy is coming out on Thursday. I'm ready to set my house on fire. I won't, but I'm at wit's end, let me tell you. And as if that is not enough, my dog has eaten the avocado evidence. Is there nothing he won't eat?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Ribs of An Old Cat

My family went to Tahoe for a week with a whirlwind side-trip to Disneyland, which is why I haven't been writing. It was very fun, but it made me quite tired. Skiing was perfect on two days and not as nice on a third. I got to see my kids have a ton of fun and that is the best kind of fun that I ever have.

Today has been the Catch Up Day, full of finding all the lost things and putting them on the calendar, cleaning like I haven't done a thing in two weeks, and there have been Oreos going into my tummy. Yummy Oreos.  Double Stuff. Stuff I need to resist but can't. I don't buy it, mind you, but I help make it go away. To my middle. (Heavy sigh.)

I think I broke a rib, too. For real, this time, and not just pulling a muscle. There is an actual spot where the pain is the most intense, not just a general area of pain like before. I was on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland and I was being bounced around like I was going to get whiplash for sure and when I got off the ride, I had pain in my back and side. I like to complain about pain more than the next guy, I'm sure, but I tried to be a stoic and ignore it as best I could. When I got in the car, however, for the long ride home, I poked my fingers around my rib cage to figure out what exactly was hurting.

When my finger hit the Spot of Pain, it was so intensely sharp that the gruesome scene in Inglorious Basterds came to mind when Brad Pitt's character stuck his finger in the bullet wound of that woman's leg. Ouch!

All I can wonder is how long it's going to take to stop hurting. (10-days, Mr. Anonymous?) I like to remember back to my Army days when I was in the best shape of my life. I would love to have the boundless energy and pain-free feeling again. I had the body of a kitten and once did 83 push ups for a PT test. I felt like I could do anything and I would give almost anything to feel like that again. To have that body again. To be able to eat all the Oreos I want without them hanging around like an unwanted party guest who just won't leave. That's life, I guess. There are quite a few things I wouldn't trade to stay exactly where I am, right at this moment, flaws and all. With age comes wisdom, even if it comes with a certain amount of physical deterioration.

I'll take it. I'm happy. Rib pain and all.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Greasy, Grimy, Gopher Guts

I wish I would write more. I hate pulling up my blog to check my favorite links for things to read and seeing how lazy I am. Sometimes I'm even too lazy to read, like today. It's funny, though, on an episode of The Office, which I watch less and less and I'm quite behind, and I don't like nearly as much in the later seasons as is always the case, BJ Novak's character says that blogs are "out."

Is that true? I know that skirt lengths are getting longer, but that's about as current as I get. I know that I like reading blogs more than I like watching TV.

I'm sick, though, and even for a current post, I'm really too out of it to write much. But isn't that the way it goes? I tell you what, though. Please help me out by posting your ideas or knowledge of what should go in the following poem:

Great green globs of greasy, grimy, gopher guts,
mutilated monkey feet,
chopped up baby parakeet,
blah blah blah blah
rolling down my dirty street,
and I forgot my spoon!

Fill in the answer or what you think the answer to the blahs are and you will solve the mystery of the song that I have running through my head since I saw all the worms on my dog-walk-hike that I never wrote about.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Step Right Up! Welcome to the Carnival!

Another carnival! We have rides that don't appear safe to the ordinary mom, pickpockets lurking in the crowd and carnies with more tattoos than LA Ink. Watch your wallet and meet me at the food tents later.

Step right up and I will try to guess your weight before you eat. And if you're eating a hamburger, well, let me know when you're, um... done. PB Lecron has The Last Bite at A French Education. 

At My Marriage To God, we get the highlights and lowlights of a day in the life of...a dedicated runner! After watching Run Fatboy Run last night, I can really appreciate that sort of dedication. It's not like I'm going to run a marathon or anything, but still - you can really admire people who run before 6:30 in the morning, let alone just get up that early.

I wonder if Randy Howard at ChinMusik likes Billy Joel as much as I do. I was just thinking that The Stranger is Desert Island album* and I should probably get a copy. And I can't believe I don't already have it. In Not Cool: Chuck Klosterman, he calls out a critic who can't appreciate The Piano Man.

MadKane is back with the trials of owning a motorboat. Her husband really shows his pluck and stick-to-it-ness. And good luck with the sailboat! Perhaps y'all can man the Tunnel of Love cruise for me.

I had a few different entries from ChinMusik and MadKane. I was originally going to plug them all, but I got my foot caught in the cotton candy machine and I had fuzzy sugar all over my leg. I just had to eat it off and the by the time I was done, it was my shift at the hot dog cart. I just got finished with that one and I couldn't pass up a couple of funnel cakes. You understand if my laziness busy-ness kept me from doing more - right?

Thanks for joining me. A carnival just wouldn't be the same if y'all weren't here. And don't forget to stop off at the dime toss before heading home. It's a real money maker for me. ;)

* Do I really have to tell you that it's an album you'd like to have on a desert island because you'll never grow tired of it?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Call For Submissions - Blog Carnival

Hello Folks!

I'm going to be hosting another Blog Carnival here. I was looking for a reminder email to tell me that it was coming up, but realized that I never set the deadline. This will be the third one here and by now, you know how much I love carnival food!

Submissions due by 3/25/11
Carnival Post by 3/28/11

Submit Here

When I first started blogging years (and years) ago, I used to submit to carnivals as a way to get my readership up. As I've changed my site a few times and to some degree my subject material, I thought I'd try it again, but this time as a host. The thing is, though, that I'm very busy these days, which would explain  my intermittent blogging. Perhaps consistent posts and topics that weren't so random would be attractive, too. But anyway...

I'm going to lay some ground rules for this Carnival - think of me as the Carnival Commission and I'm doing an inspection.

1. The subject is Non Sequitur, which means "does not follow." It could be about anything, but I'm going to throw in the added assignment of being humorous. Make me chuckle, please.

2. One entry per person. I've gotten several from a few posters and while they are enjoyable to read, don't be greedy. Make a decision and submit just one. Multiple posts this month will be "grandmothered" in, however I reserve the right to pick my favorite and only link to one of them. We'll see how adventurous I'm feeling.

3. It would be lovely if your blog is featured on my site if you could link back to it from your own. It's all about developing a readership, right? (For both of us.)

That's enough. I'm going to save my rule-making for my kids. I think they could use more of them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It Must Be Monday

It's Monday. Just back from a ski trip at Lake Tahoe where we drove seven-hours there and five-hours back for a whopping four-hours of skiing. My husband claims they were the best powder conditions he's ever experienced. Me - what do I know? That's a lot of time in the car. 

I didn't want to be the grouch and put the kibosh on the trip, knowing full well that it would be crappy to get there, so I went along and didn't complain one bit. We stayed at the Hyatt, which was lovely, as usual, and they even started us (me) off with complimentary champagne at check in. (I got two glasses ostensibly for my husband and myself, but drank both of them.) What's not to love about that?

We swam in the heated outdoor pool in the snow then roasted marshmallows and made s'mores at the fire pit next to the snowman after that. (Fully dressed, not in wet bathing suits!) Everyone except me went to the arcade, while I watched TV shows about the dangers of tides and box jellyfish. 

In all, it was a nice trip. After working every weekend for over a year, it was nice to feel like a normal human being and spending good quality time with my family. Nice. Definitely nice. 

We were supposed to come back in time to get my dog last night and didn't. My youngest daughter is still in bed and it's nearly noon. I wonder if my dog sitter is wondering where I am. 

And so now that we're home and I'm working on my second cup of coffee, I have an entire house full of chores and my work is cut out for me. My oldest daughter decided she wants to go race go-carts* and I had to say no. This is not what she wanted to hear and suddenly, I've plunged into Meanie Status. If this isn't proof that life continues to move forward, I don't know what is. We cannot rest upon our laurels and past deeds, we must constantly work to stay Top Dog. Me - I'm at the bottom right now. What can I bribe her with to move up the ladder? (Besides go-carts, that is!)

*Did I forget to mention that the kids had a day-off for a "teacher workday" that I only found out about during the seven-hour drive up to Tahoe? (Note to self: put teacher workdays on calendar.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The New Violin

I got a new violin today! I'm so SO excited!

When I rented my violin, I thought that one possibility was to actually buy it at some point. I didn't know what to look for and it sounded fine to me. Since I've been playing, I've come to dislike the sound quite a bit. That horrible reputation that new violinists have for screeching really is true. Sometimes I didn't even want to practice because I didn't like the way it sounded. At the beginning, of course, you don't know if it's you or the violin - perhaps both.

At some point very recently, it got to be too much to bear. I spoke with my teacher about this and she said that it meant it was time to upgrade. My options were to purchase a violin and the more I could spend would get me a better violin, obviously, and the other option was to rent a higher quality. I decided I was going to rent the next tier up until I was ready to buy.

Somewhere in the middle of the conversation with my teacher, she mentioned that she had already vetted out a couple of violins (from a field of at least 15!) with another student. She found two that sounded great and her other student bought one of them. She made notes on this one in case she could recommend it to someone else.

For me, that was good enough. I didn't really know how to make this decision and while she offered to come with me, I was looking at doing the same thing she did with her other student. I decided to buy the "other" violin. Ready to just purchase, sight unseen, based completely on trust, I went to the violin store today. This place was amazing. And beautiful. And the service was fantastic.

The woman who helped me at first brought me the violin that was reserved for me ahead of time, and five bows to try out. My rental bow was uncomfortable to use. It felt heavy and I had a hard time keeping my grip in the proper way. I felt that finding a bow was probably more up my alley than finding the right instrument. I closed the door to a private room and played the violin with each bow. This is probably really stupid, but I didn't want to play any tunes because I was embarrassed at my skills. I really just wanted to pick out three of the five and take them home to try. Two of the bows were clearly "no's" and I couldn't tell the difference between the other three.

Rather than let me buy the violin right then and there, they suggested I check it out for a week with the bows. They even let me check out a brand new case, that I will buy when I go back. The thing is, that if I buy the whole outfit together I get a discount so she didn't want me to buy any parts separately. Is that cool or what? After such a lovely experience, I drove away with the biggest smile on my face.

At the first opportunity, I got out the violin and played. It's beautiful. It sounds beautiful - not squeaky or harsh - but mellow and powerful at the same time. The three bows that I couldn't tell apart in the store were very different at home and one of them clearly stands out as superior. It didn't take long to figure that out.

It feels like I was driving a 15-year-old beater car and upgraded to a luxury model. The thing about being a beginner is that you don't have the experience to know the difference when you're driving the beater, but you certainly know the difference when you drive the luxury model!

I'm just thrilled. I'm on cloud-9 and I want to play and keep playing. I'm so happy!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jumping Into Spring/Into My Sink

I finally set about to do our taxes for this year. I dread doing it. It's just so complicated. It seems wrong to me that doing taxes should be so complicated. I know we have lawmakers to make laws, but maybe they shouldn't be making so many of them. And we get a refund - I can only imagine how I would dread it if we had to pay.

So I usually do the taxes on the PC in my office - that I've mentioned before is actually crawl space. Since getting this laptop, I spend MUCH less time in there, which is nice. Though, it used to be my sort of "woman cave." I should just give it up and convert it back to storage. My sewing machine is beginning to live on the kitchen table anyway.

To make a short story long, my whole point was to say that when I was getting my taxes going, my cat was snuggled up on my lap. When I shut it all down, I went into my room and then in to my bathroom for some water. My cat followed me in and jumped onto the counter where I keep her water bowl. (It gives me shivers just typing this next part.)

There was a spider ON HER BACK. It was a medium-sized, light brown bugger and I think they're pretty harmless (in other words, the scary factor is low.) But ON HER BACK? Yikes! Before I could really do anything, it JUMPED into the sink and I turned on the tap. Down it went into the drain.

I think that the jumping part is one of the scariest parts of spiders. It freaks me out that they're so mobile. And active. And unpredictable. (More shivers!) If I could jump as far as they do in relation to my size, I'd be able to jump the kids to school without having to get into my car.

When I said that spring had sprung the spiders, well, let's just say the amount I've vacuumed up/exterminated in the last two-days makes that statement wrong. NOW spring has sprung.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happiness is...

Feeling overwhelmed? Stop doing so much!

That's my "lesson learned" this week. I had plenty of opportunities to take on yet more obligations but resisted the urge. And in the meantime, I've calmed down quite a bit. Which really is great. I highly recommend it.

Today I even had one of those glorious days when you get a million things done that you've had on your to-do list forever. I spent the day with my step-dad sealing up the house from those damned rats. I pulled out my dishwasher and garbage can from under my sink and sanitized everything with bleach. Then I even anchored the dishwasher back, which I failed to do last time making the cabinet next to it virtually impossible to open.

I've also made a special hot-pepper concoction that I put into a spray bottle and sprayed at all the openings in my under-sink-area where the rats are coming in - and in the garbage can - to make it very unattractive to forage for food in there. At least for now I'm clean and protected. The theory goes that now they'll get stressed and go for the traps. We'll see.

Besides that, my step-dad and I put together a couple of loft beds for my girls. We live in a pretty small house and the bedrooms are tiny. Getting them up in the air makes the rooms look so much bigger! And you just gotta love IKEA for the puzzle-like quality of putting together furniture. It gives me joy. When I'm not swearing, that is.

Wine. Girl Scout Cookies. The only thing missing is the man I love, who doesn't happen to be here right now. I'll settle for a good book and the knowledge that I'm getting a new violin on Monday. You do not know a happier woman right now. I guarantee.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


I feel like I'm going to hyperventilate. My dog is digging in my planter to bury a stolen bone and it's only a minor distraction in the chaos I'm feeling. Jokes on him, though, because that's where the cat has been doing her business.

The whole thing reminds me of when I went to see a performance with one of my kids on a field trip. One of their classes went to the Civic Center to watch a couple of men juggle. They juggled all kinds of things, including the most memorable to me - ping pong balls - with their mouths. It really made me uncomfortable because it seemed so incredibly unsafe. But imagine the reality of being able to juggle multiple ping pong balls with your mouth. Amazing.

I have quite a few balls in the air right now and I keep panicking about missing balls. Where did it go? Oh there it is, get it in the air! And my girls keep throwing new ones out there: How come you haven't ordered a hot lunch for me yet, Mom? Can I have a play date with G? Can you do this for me right now? Can you do that for me right this very second? Can you...?

Today is a challenging day because I've got my schedule so tightly crammed that I guarantee it's impossible for me to make it on time to a couple of things. If I don't miss them entirely, that is. One appointment I have is my violin lesson. I have missed for a few weeks because of scheduling conflicts and haven't practiced because my violin is a bit out of tune. I can't stand when it sounds bad. My teacher will whip me back into shape as she usually does, but we always go over-time and I can't today because I'm going to miss my next appointment: driving a bunch of kids from school to the Playhouse for dress rehearsals for this weekend's play.

It's all good, right? After this weekend passes, the dust will settle and all will be fine. Probably. I just need a bit of focus and concentration and perhaps a little more loft to keep the balls from hitting the ground.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Carnival Time!

Do you have your cotton candy? Buckle up and keep your arms inside the car at all times. You know, I can hold that cotton candy for you. I promise I won't eat (all of) it.

Welcome back Mad Kane. We have a post about romance using one of my favorite words in the English Language, "stoic." We also have a brand new holiday coming up, so mark your calendars for March 2nd!

We have the Saddest Weekend Known to Man, in which I'm probably the only one who will wonder how a carmel popcorn puff ended up under the couch, as I personally would have chased any errant kernels, myself. I'm craving chicken wings now, however, but will resist the urge to head over to the concession stand.

While tardy for the holiday, 14 Ways to Enjoy Your Solo Valentine's Day is a great list for any occasion. If you need to enjoy some kids for Number 4, give me a call. I have a couple.

I cannot think of the Trojan Horse without thinking of the Trojan Bunny from Monty Python. And you know you're a mom when a post about school projects does not conjure up any recollections from any projects YOU have done, but instead remind you of the time you made a hat out of recycled objects for your child to take to school.

I just adore Hugh Jackman's Roddy in Flushed Away, not mentioned in this list of Most Surprising Voiceover Cartoon Performances. I can't think of any voiceovers that I've been surprised to hear, but then again, I watch a lot of animated movies. (My favorite: The Incredibles. Although, now that I mention it, Holly Hunter is a bit of a surprise.)

Our family had one of those strange conversations while up at Tahoe where one kid asked if there were any pilgrims left. My husband, thinking of the turkey-eating-corn-sharing pilgrims said no, but I thought about all the pilgrims who make their religious treks to Lourdes and Graceland. And now to see the potato at Craftwhack. Holy Jebus!

Blood really does make the memory over at Chin Musik. I'll bet you didn't know this carnival had a Memory Lane ride. Now you do. Bent fish. Read Randy's bio and that craving for chicken wings gets stronger than ever!

I'd like to thank all of the ride operators for this carnival. I'm going to take my now-hungry chicken-wing-craving self down to sleep now with my lapful of cat and wannabe lap-dog Lab to catch some more z's until the sun rises.

Weathering Storms

I am happy to report that I have not had any itching lately. Perhaps the cure to lice paranoia is a blog post! I have, on the other hand, been living some High Drama at work. I believe I have emerged on the other side a lot wiser and, let me just tell you, grateful that I have a lot of wonderful people around me.

Here in Marin County we have a week off from school that we call Ski Week. I just got back from a very necessary trip with my family up at Lake Tahoe. It's pouring rain here, so it's probably snowing like crazy up there right now. I would love to have been able to play in the fresh powder, but am glad that I drove home before the storm hit.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's The Little Things

I'm sorry to say that I've been writing some pretty funny blogs in my head. Too bad you're not in there.

I've worked a lot this week so I never wrote about the hike with my dog, on which I saw lots of earthworms and a banana slug, four wild tom turkeys then seven more wild jane turkeys.

You haven't heard about how I've been itching my head like I'm practicing for an olympic event. Just mention the word "lice" with the words "spotted" and "in your daughter's class" in the same sentence and I'm going just nuts here. I'm certain I've written about lice before, but in case that was in my head, too, I'll say that I had it twice - way back when - and it's quite icky. I don't see it on my girls and I'm calculating the odds that I have it and they don't. I think the odds are in my favor, but I'm pretty sure that you can't place bets in Vegas for that.

I showed my youngest daughter a website about lice just the other day. They had this video of a person carefully combing a little girl's hair with a lice comb. Metal. The comb just slid through the hair because it had conditioner or something (and the little girl didn't complain or cry once! Which just tells you she's a really good actress!) That, and the advice that I got here, I decided to get me one of them there combs. I've already looked in three stores. Where on earth do you get a metal lice comb? Do you have to buy the lice shampoo to get it. I'm only trying to indulge my hypochondriac-ly tendencies and don't actually think I need the shampoo just yet.

What I really need to do is stop using this stuff that I spray in my hair to make my curls really pretty. It's the only thing different that I've been doing to my hair and I think my scalp is sensitive to it. My scalp is sensitive to a lot of stuff, which is also why I can't use conditioner anymore. I'm just getting used to how cute these curls are and when I'm faced with blah-hair in the morning or cute curls with itchy scalp, I can't help myself and throw caution to the wind.

I have GOT to go to bed. But one last little thing. My husband is immortal. His biopsy was melanoma. Fortunately, the depth was about half what mine was, which means he's in pretty good shape and they got it early. I want to bring cookies to my Dermatologist when I see him in a couple of weeks. I'm so grateful to him for studying in med school, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nothing To Worry About

The pest guy came and checked my traps today. Nothing. While he admired my picture, he wondered if I had actually kept the critter. (Right!) He did tell me what to do should I catch another one. Fold the tail up to see if it is longer than the body and I've got a roof rat. Apparently, the other kind of rat has a shorter tail. This one's tail looked doggone long!

I'm having attention issues these days. I sit at my computer and/or my to-do list and while I know there are a million things that I will wish that I would have done in my spare time, I do nothing. Why is that? I'm busy. Why can't I get busy?

If you didn't catch the comment in the last post, I got an all-clear for my second set of x-rays. (I almost typed x-rat!) Joy!

You know what this means, right? It means I don't have anything to worry about for a while. What will I do with myself? My husband just had a biopsy done for a funky-looking mole, but I can't worry about him. I'm convinced he's immortal anyway. He's got an immune system of steel and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. My next follow-up dermatology appointment isn't until early March, so I'm not going to worry about that for a while - and then not until the biopsies he's sure to take - are sitting in the lab somewhere around day number seven or so.

Where's that list?

Monday, February 07, 2011

More Surprises!

I was going to write about the surprise my cat left for me on our front step. I even have a picture!

It's definitely not a mouse. Look at how long that tail is! We were all very excited to see my cat had gotten one of these rats, as previously we worried they were too big for her.

Of course, the pest control company can't come by until Thursday, so I'm hoping that a picture will be okay for identification. With this weather we're having, who wants to store a dead animal for several days? (Not me.)

The other surprise today came when I (finally!) checked the messages on my phone. Mostly it was to see if the pest guy had left a message to schedule an appointment. What I got was a message on my phone from my oncologist.

Let me back up a bit. Ever since my surgery, the doctors have been satisfied about the cancer being completely gone. Since there was no evidence of the cancer in my lymph nodes, I was given an "all clear" from them and all follow-up is routine. When I found the two new spots right next to my scar, these were assumed to be nothing. Fortunately, after being tested, they actually were nothing.

I was supposed to see my oncologist after three-months and was expecting a call in December or January. I never heard from the doctor's office, so I called at the end of January and got in last week. Included in my follow-up appointment were a blood test and chest x-ray. The blood tests (already!) came back within the normal ranges.

I've been trying to figure out how to get the chest x-ray ever since. I'm so incredibly curious to see if I broke a rib or two from the Dragging Incident. I wasn't worried about not getting an x-ray at the emergency room because I knew this one was coming up.

The message on my phone from my oncologist was to tell me I broke a rib. No, I'm lying. The message was that I needed to get a new set of x-rays because they see some shadows in my lungs and think it might be a technical error but want to be sure.

My x-rays were not clear.

On one hand, I get new x-rays and they are clear and I see him again in another three-months. On the other hand, I have tumors in my lungs. Being a worrier, I would normally obsess over the latter, but I think I'm going to just go with the former this time. I'm going to work under the assumption that I exhaled at the wrong time or moved during the procedure or the earth shook at the precise moment that the rays were flowing through my bones. I don't really know what good this will do me not to worry, but I have things I'd rather be doing today. Then I'll run up to get x-rays when the oven is fixed and we'll all know for certain.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Spring Spider Surprise

We went from having frigid weather to summer weather in just a couple of days. I went from wearing a jacket while inside at work to turning my AC on. With spring comes spiders. I haven't noticed too many new spiders around but I have spotted the first few baby cellar spiders in my upstairs bathroom. 

It's also time to start walking with my arm outstretched because the orb spiders will make webs to cross open spaces - like the walkway to my car - and there isn't a whole lot I hate more than walking into spider webs.

We've also had an explosion in the population of moths. It's very creepy! They are out in horror-movie-quantities. They are especially noticeable at my front door. They gravitate near the porch light and flutter when the door opens. 

Tonight I was taking my reusable shopping bags back to my car when I approached my front door. I spotted one of those orb spiders that I'm always on-guard for and stopped in my tracks. Now these orb spiders are usually about the size of a dime* at the beginning of spring. And it's only February 6th, mind you! This thing was the size of a half-dollar! Clearly, he had been cleaning up on the moths.

Fresh Catch of the Day!
The web had a few holes in it like this guy had been eating non-stop with the bounty flying around the light. And it was very active. I don't know if you've ever had a spider jump at you, but I have and I can get a little twitchy. While it was doubtful that this guy was going to leave the all-you-can-eat buffet, I wasn't going to take my chances. And despite the mid-70-degree temperatures, I got a shiver and went inside. When I went back out to get a picture, he had just caught another moth. 

*When I talk about the size of a spider, I always refer to the size with the legs outstretched. These orb spiders get this big around late summer, early fall, if they've had good hunting.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Follow The Leader

I have been thinking a lot today about leadership. And the opposite - followership? The reason I keep thinking about it is that I recently read something about my star sign - I'm a Virgo - and it said that I'm a good follower. That's actually quite true. I can follow very well.

For some reason, though, I keep ending up in leadership roles. Being the leader feels like you've just painted a giant target on your chin.

When I walked my dog today, I never put him on his leash at all. We went on a pretty long and rigorous hike and he did very well. So well, in fact, that I think this leash-less-ness is going to continue. When he's on a leash, I think I'm the leader and he thinks he is and there is constant tension on the leash. One of us is always pulling the other. Without the leash, it's not that I'm a follower, in fact, more often he is behind me, but I'm not trying to be the leader and there is no tension.

Why is it that I keep putting myself Out There if it means adding extra tension to my life? As usual, I can blame my children. If I didn't want to take care of them in a way that I know they need me to, we'd all be just fine and I wouldn't have as many grey hairs. I just keep stepping up for them, which means I'm putting myself on the line.

I must say, though, at my age I've come to accept myself - especially the fact that I have flaws. I do what I do because that's who I am. I'm okay having a target on my chin if that's what it takes. I just don't want to be strapped to the top of someone's hood.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blog Carnival: Strawberries AND Marshmallows!

Welcome to the Carnival!

You know when you throw a party and not everyone RSVPs so you don't know how many goodie bags to make and start to brace yourself for when you have to break it to your poor sweet child that no one is coming to celebrate their birthday with them? And then people start coming and you're just happy they came? That's kind of like this. When you throw out the opportunity for people to share just about anything, you just might get that. Anything.

Mad Kane was the first to step up to the plate to share her funny story about wine snobs and how they don't really know all they pretend to. Check out her more current posts, too. Who doesn't love a good limerick?

Imagine my surprise then, when I got PhD Program's submission Top 96 Blogs for Recovering Alcoholics. It's a pretty exhaustive list about where to go when your wine snobbery has gotten a little out-of-hand and you need help. I don't find addiction to be funny. It is funny, however, that when given the non sequitur topic - translated to it does not follow - it kind of does.

Christopher Benek had me laughing out loud while Rethinking Air Travel. I got an especially big kick imagining the super hero on the plane using his special talents. My laughing prompted my kids to ask, "What?" over and over.

The Big Cajun Man sent over a post on an innovative tool to curb spending with the Financial Shock Collar post. Having just watched Confessions of a Shopaholic the other night and being completely mortified at the thought of donating those clothes to the thrift store as punishment for her shopping (even a bridesmaid dress!) I thought this was a less painful torture. I'm a tightwad myself, so I wouldn't need to wear one, but might if someone gave me one for free.

And then there is EGB. I think this is sort of what I had in mind in the first place. You know how if every Cesar Salad you order comes without anchovies, you get to where you forget to ask for no anchovies and the next salad comes with some anchovies on top? I've been a mom blogger reading mom blogs for so long that I forget that other people write them too. When I got the SAHMnambulist posts Learning To Share and Single Parent Redux, I felt like I got the no anchovie salad. Or as my Lab would do when he sees other Labs, wag his tail. Wag wag.

I'm grateful for all the people who came to my party and all of you standing around the punch bowl looking at the hors d'oeuvres. Go ahead, sample the treats. Or, if we're really talking about parties at my house, you'll be standing around the chocolate fountain trying to decide whether to dip the strawberries or the marshmallows.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Confession

I haven't had a drop of alcohol in a while now. At least a few weeks. I think there is a direct relationship between wine and the circumference of my belly. A correlation, if you will. I stopped drinking so that I would stop getting the munchies and throwing all good judgement to eat sensibly out the window.

And tonight, I have had a few glasses of wine and it's lovely. Watching Jason Bourne give a better haircut than my hairdresser and getting jealous. Isn't that chase scene in Bourne Identity the best car chase ever? Stop. If I hear about Steve McQueen (swoon) one more time, I'm going to stop this car!

Anyway, this post has nothing at all to do with cars, or haircuts, or wine. It has everything to do with the love affair that I've been having. I have this need to confess. I've been keeping it a secret - as best I could for a blabber-mouth, that is. I am In Love. Capital "I" in capital "L" love.

I love playing violin. I am In Love with playing the violin.

You have to ask yourselves how often you do something that gives you absolute joy. How often do you engage in something that you connect with completely? For me, I find that I look at life pretty positively. I find joy in the everyday and mundane quite frequently. I believe whole-heartedly that I have the capacity for feeling happiness to the fullest extent. And I feel it with the violin.

This might sound completely ridiculous, I have, after all been drinking a most delicious Pinot Noir, and loosened my typer-fingers. I would shout from the roof-top, but it's cold out and I'm not wearing shoes. But I must say that after spending the last 43-years un-musically, this is bliss. The hour that I'm at my lesson, working towards perfecting my skills is one of the best parts of my week. You see, I think I've figured out the Arran Boat Song tonight and it thrills me. I'm happy.

I wish this joy for you.

Blog Carnival!

I'm hosting a Blog Carnival at my place this week. Submission deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday the 26th, and it will be posted on Friday, the 28th.

The topic is non sequitur, which to me was a way of putting random, hopefully humorous slices of life out there to share. Feel free to send me a link to your funny blog post at or in the content of a comment. If you've never done a carnival, I've found it to be a great way to find new blogs and other interesting writers. Tickets are free and all the cotton candy I can eat.

So far, it's going to be interesting. With the submissions I've already received - non sequitur indeed!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Mustache

There is a new book out about a Chinese Tiger Mom. I haven't read it, but I've read reviews. And interviews. And an open letter to the author in the Wall Street Journal. I get the gist of what it's about and I'm withholding my opinion about the mother because I didn't read it.

Everyone has their own parenting style and it's so polarizing. I believe I'm a good mom, but I have my shortcomings, as much as the next. I have my own ideas about what I want to instill in my children and the limits of what I'll let them do and what I'll do, as well.

The most important thing to me as a mom is to accept them for who they are. Both of my children are so different and wonderful in their own ways and I try very hard to treat them as individuals, even though I threatened to treat them as twins if they didn't watch it - for what offense I have no recollection. I'm certain if I actually had twins, I would see them individually, as well. (And yes, I think I can be a good mom and threaten them occasionally.)

As much as I think I'm doing a good job in the Big Picture of parenting, I have my faults and flaws in the Little Picture. Today I made my youngest daughter cry and for that I'm truly sorry. She got a new outfit yesterday and was wearing it today. It was a pair of jeans (old) and a new blouse with blue baby roses. She had on her new shoes and pulled her hair back into a pony-tail. I told her she looked beautiful. Then I told her she would look even more beautiful if she didn't have a blue mustache. That hurt her feelings. I'm not even sure why, but it made me think of the book. I don't criticize my children very much in that way. Sure, if they haven't brushed their hair in a week and it starts to look like a rat's nest, I'll tell them and force the brush or threaten a haircut, but I never tell them they look like Pepto-vomit when they mix seven different colors of pink. I simply appreciate the effort they put into their choices and admire their personality.

I feel so badly about the mustache remark. But I think I made up for it with chocolate milk. I don't really know why I thought of that book, except that I'm sympathetic to parenting criticisms. This is a hard-damn job. The hardest I've ever had.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I love the advertising on my site. I don't put it up as a money-maker, it's strictly for entertainment purposes. Since Google places them based on the context of my posts, they are topical and thought-provoking. After my last post, I saw one for The ad said they have Cat Grooming. Big deal, right? Then they said, Organic Shampoo.

That's right, what is not entertaining about picturing someone giving your cat a bath?

I don't actually know if they bathe cats, but that is how the ad turned out. And I'm not saying they wouldn't be a good company to use, I especially like the attention to going green. And I might just LOVE to have someone else bathe my dog and clip his toenails.

What I am saying is that as I slowly (too slowly) perk myself up with a cup-o-joe, about to head off to work on a Saturday no less, that a picture of a wet cat, nails out, held down by two people in body-length aprons comes to mind. And it's funny.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Have you ever been bugged by things that don't really matter? I live on a hill. It's quite a hill, at that. Every time I drive up and down this hill, depending on the time of day, I notice different things about it. On my way home from work, and it's always dark, I pass by a gutter at the hair-pin turn and think about the pair of raccoons I saw one night. I pass that point and see the two square planters that the newest residents on our street put at their walkway. Sure, it's a nice touch, but they bug me.

The two planters are not squared up. There is something askew about them and I'm rankled every time I see them. It makes me feel very Monk-ish. Totally OCD. I don't care. I want to go up to them in the middle of the night and make them straight. Or level. Or whatever it is that would fix the problem. Whatever the problem is. I think they are probably both squared up the the curb but since it's on a curve, on a hill, they're never going to align properly the way a flat, straight surface would work.

And then I kick myself for caring about something so completely insignificant. In fact, that's the reason I haven't snuck out to do it yet. Yet.

My five-inch pinking shears came today. Yep. They're small all right. I think the person listing them on eBay should have put a penny in the picture to give bidders a comparative size. But I knew what I was getting. I know what five inches are. They're cute, hard to open and they're mine. Mine all mine. I'm sure if I came home during the day to find they've been delivered I wouldn't have been bugged by the planters and therefore, the five-inch shears would be just darling. Or at least more darling than they are right now when I'm just hoping they're not useless.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Dog Day

Feeling bold and adventurous, not to mention the huge line of traffic leaving the school drop-off circle, I parked my car and took my dog on a hike. As we got to the open space, I let him off leash and started walking. It was great! He followed me and we went at a much quicker clip than when he's constantly stopping me on his leash. It doesn't hurt that a small part of me was hoping to lose him in the process. (Damn ID chip!) But he kept up nicely.

We met up with a few other dogs and two of them went just swell. They were Labs, too, of course and those dogs just love their own kind. I don't know what other kind of dog the third one was, but they growled at each other. Fortunately, my own stepped away when I called him and it turned out uneventful. It makes me like him so much more when that happens. I'm tired of the anxiety his unpredictability causes me. Maybe he's not so unpredictable after all. 

I've trained my dog the command, "Ignore." When we walk by dogs behind fences cat-calling him, I say "Ignore" and he keeps going. You'll click your tongues at me, I'm sure, thinking back to the Incident In Which I Was Dragged. I'll then remind you that it caught me unaware and I did not give the command - at all. That incident did inspire me to let him off leash today. This might be a trend. For my own good, of course. 

After our hike, I felt great. There is nothing like a brisk bit of exercise to get the blood pumping. I decided to do a little yoga when I got home and took my mat out on the back deck since the weather is so fantastic today. Prompted by a little barking, I let Mooch out with me and practiced Defensive Yoga after that. During the warrior pose, I imagined myself with a bow and arrow taking aim at the side of this annoying animal. Alas, I do not own a bow and arrow. He's a good dog. He just does bad things.

Feeling absolutely inspired, I decided to meditate in my new meditation spot. Have I mentioned this perfectly peaceful place? No defense or distractions? No? My roof. You see, I have a flat roof that is very easy to get onto and it has the best views on my property. And no dog. I did discover, however, that  the birds are very annoying - what with all their chirping and so on. But I had a very clear mind when I was done. 

And now I'm going to take on the world!