Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sweet Boy

This morning, apparently forgetting that he is part mule, the Evil Genius clambered into my bed, cuddled up close and...farted.

Gee, thanks.

We have a game we play in the morning sometimes, hand wrestling. I prop my elbow on the bed, and wave my hand like a cobra, and he runs from the foot of the bed and pounces on it. Then he wrestles it around while it tickles him. Repeat with endless variations of pounce/wrestle/tickle. Sometimes we have a dead hand, and it just flops on my wrist while he tries to get it to wake up. Eventually it rears up and tickles him soundly, and we begin again.

He finds this immensely amusing, and I get a kick out of his laughter. It's better than coffee for a wake-up charge.

We have a lot to do today. I forgot to get the trailer registered in February. I don't know how I forgot...it's not like I don't look at it every day, parked on my driveway, waiting to be my home at one festival or another. I just...forgot. We also need to go get some archival pens for writing on the note cards I'm making...by hand...without benefit of paper cutter or other useful tools. Maybe I'll get a cutter today, too. And more paper. And a second pair of hands - two don't seem to be enough! We have bills to pay and groceries to buy, and things to be doing all over town that I hope to get done today so I don't have to waste gas driving hither, thither, and yon all week. Sigh.

I feel boring, right now. Maybe we'll have an interesting (in a good way) day that I can write about later.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


In one way or another, I have been contrary all my life.

I was supposed to be a big healthy baby, but I decided that for the only time in my life I would be underweight, and came out small, wrinkled, ugly, and unhappy about everything the world had to offer. That was the last time I was skinny.

I should have been laid up by asthma, in need of constant nebulizer treatments and completely flattened by my entire family including the dogs, the mice in the attic, and the spiders in the corners smoking like industrial chimneys before scrubbers were invented - and they knew it made my asthma worse, so what does that say about a) addiction and b) how valued I felt as a child??...but instead, I spent a few days here and there breathing through a damp paper towel (it helped, really...I still do that when I can't breathe, and it helps. Don't ask me why, I have no idea.)(And when I later discovered that a certain smokey comestible not currently available (lawfully) on the open market helped, too, well...ahem...)looking like death on the sofa, but otherwise I got on with life. I was used to having less oxygen than everyone else, so when the asthma mostly cleared up...wow.

I am allergic to everything, so I should keep a clean home with no pets and have a restricted diet. Ha, ha, and double ha!!!

I was told no man wants the fat girl, so when I didn't want to have anything to do with the male half (I had my reasons), I got "Holy crap, she's coming this way" fat. And then got married anyway, because someone was daft enough to want me. The only man I've ever dated, because he's the only man who was fool enough sweet enough to ask.

I was told I probably wouldn't be able to have kids, or that it would at the very least be extremely difficult to have them, because I was too fat and for other reasons I won't get into here. Umm...someone forgot to tell my girl parts about that, because two weeks after we decided to roll the dice and take what (ahem) came, I got preggers with the Evil Genius (sometimes known as Bird).

The medical staff at the hospital where I consented to have labor induced (dear blessed Gods above, if you're ever offered this option, DON'T DO IT!!!! Unless you are seriously overdue...like fifteen years or so...or are at Death's door...just don't do it. Whatever reason they gave you for trying this...they're lying) tried to convince me that my baby would suffer horrible birth defects if I didn't have an immediate c-section. I called bullshit and went through thirty hours of labor without medication before I let them do the section - and I only let them because they promised me a cheeseburger, the lying bastards. My son didn't have any of the defects predicted by the nurses, doctors, and janitors who felt the need to shove their arms up to their elbows in my hoo-hah to feel around for the watch the last fellow lost (or maybe they were looking for the lost passage to Atlantis, I don't know...all I know is, it seemed like everyone and their cousin was having a feel while I was a touch uncomfortable and too busy to tell them to piss off) and I didn't need any pain meds until they announced that they were gutting me like a fish and telling my future with whatever they found (congratulations, ma'am, we see spit-up, sleepless nights, a double helping of severe depression, along with your husband's sudden unemployment in your near future) so they were all kinds of wrong. If I were to have another child, I'd do it at home, in a lovely tub full of warm water with the iPod playing and maybe some cocktails (kidding!!) to keep me company.

The first pediatrician who saw my baby in my presence (they wouldn't let me see my own son for more than twelve hours, until I threatened to haul my carcass out of bed and wander the halls weeping and wailing until I found him and took him home...ass hanging out of that accursed hospital gown or not) told me I couldn't have him circumsised because he had a hypospadias (look it up, I had to) and would need corrective surgery. Well, I wasn't having him sliced 'n' diced anyway (don't get me started on how I feel about this ritualized maiming of baby penises), asshole with the cold hands who woke my sleeping little fellow by grabbing his junk and giving it a good feel, but thanks for your input. I also decided to opt out of surgery for my wee lad, despite their dire predictions...contrary critter, me.

Given my own monumental refusal to do things the easy way or the way people think I should, is it any surprise that my spawn is such a mule, sometimes?? That he refuses to do what we ask, in the way we ask him to? That I sometimes have to threaten him with maiming, death, or taking away his dinosaurs (worse than death to a five-year-old future paleontologist) in order to garner his cooperation?

Thanks, fate, for giving me a kid just like me. I'll be sure to repay the favor.

What Say You?

Monday, April 28, 2008


I'll start with a zinger - literally. Last night, the Evil Genius snuck out of his room and into his bathroom, quietly closed the door, and proceeded to try and burn down the house.

OK, not really...but almost.

He had a cup dispenser in there for those tiny Dixie Cups, so when he brushes his teeth, he can rinse with a little paper Cars (tm) cup. Note the past tense. He took the thing apart and was playing with the spring, apparently compressing it and letting it fly. Oh, boy, a pointy metal spring to play with!! Eye patch and monocle for my sixth birthday? Check!

At some point, he'd also been playing with some water. I have no idea how he did that without one of us hearing him, but he managed. Cue dramatic, "something's about to happen" music.

Boing!!! goes the spring. Bounce, bounce, oops, it's stuck. On the exposed prongs of the half-pulled-out lava-lamp night light.

Right. Small child standing in puddle near partly-filled sink? Check. Small metal wire object suitable for poking out eyes and sticking into electrical outlets? Check. Exposed prongs partly in live, non-GFI outlet? Check.

We heard him crying in the bathroom and both wandered over to see what the matter could be. He has a particular sort of weeping he does when he's broken something he loves and he knows it was his fault, that he shouldn't have been playing with it that way. But what could that be in the bathroom?

Cue two confused parents looking in on the scene. Hmm. Blackened, scorched outlet? Yep. Small wire dangling from the half-plugged light, only evident when Dad pulls it from the socket? Yep. Confused Dad? Yep. Confused mum? Not so much. Believe it or not, I had it figured out as soon as I saw the wire. I found the rest of the scorched spring on the counter, and from Bird's confused babble figured out the rest.

It seems that the spring sprang, looped onto the plug, and an electrical show like no other commenced until the circuit downstairs tripped. Mind you, our lights never flickered, there was no sound, no smell of smoke. Electric sparks flared out of the socket and into the sink (wet) and onto the floor (wet) and chased our beloved boy over to the tub ("It tried to get me but I ran away and it went down the sink instead"), melting through the spring wire so it dropped onto the counter (except for the tenacious bit that hung on for the duration). When it stopped, he saw his spring on the counter, scorched and shortened, and was heartbroken - that's why the crying.

He wasn't scared by his very near electrocution, no. Nor was he concerned that he could well have cause a house fire, uh-uh. No, he was sad because the spring was ruined and he couldn't play with it any more.

I was quite calm when I explained what could have happened (without terrifying the five-year-old child before he went to sleep). I was quite calm as I told Bird he wasn't to play in the bathroom any more, that it just wasn't safe and he would have to be punished if he did it again. I was quite calm as I asked T to check the wires behind the socket to see if the insulation had melted or been damaged (to his credit, he was feeling the wall, wiping the scorch-soot off the socket, and generally being horrified by the idea of combined electricity, water, and son in the closed-up bathroom, and would likely have thought of taking the thing off the wall eventually - I just wanted to know NOW!). I was quite calm as I went about printing some things for a friend, making up some photo note-cards that I hope to market soon, watching a bit of television. I was quite calm as I sat up until one-thirty this morning feeling both quietly horrified and immensely blessed by the Gods and Fairies who must be hovering around my son in a thick protective cloud and keeping him from death or dismemberment on a regular basis.

There is a reason I bless every home I live in from the foundation up. There's a reason I ask the spirits of a place to recieve us kindly and watch over us. And there is a reason I will be taking a crash-course in wiring so I can put in a GFI socket in his bathroom (near the ceiling!). One can't leave everything to guardian spirits or chance.
I had disturbed, anxious, angry dreams last night. I wonder why??
I scared the hell out of T this morning. I was walking down the hall to remind him to leave me the booster seat (or no rehearsal for me, today), and he was coming out of the kitchen. He turned just as I was about to touch his arm, and he must have jumped a foot. Heh. I bet he was wondering how someone so big can move so quietly. Skillz of a Ninja, yo.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Denny's Chronicles - Tlaes From the Other Side of the Tray

The homeless man often came by our store. We were near two highway overpasses where he liked to spend his nights, and when it rained or was bitter cold, he knew he could sit in a corner and nurse a cup of coffee for hours without being troubled by any of us. He was quiet, a little ragged, but clean, and sometimes his eyes seemed focused on places and times far removed from us.

I kept his coffee warmed and occasionally slipped him a plate of food that, oops, hadn't been made right so would he eat it and save me from binning it? He wouldn't take charity, wouldn't take food for pity, but if I could convince him that it was a mistake, that the eggs were supposed to be over-easy and not scrambled or the bread on the sandwich should have been white and not wheat...well, then he'd eat it to save us having to toss it. I got very inventive with our mistakes. I mean, how many ways can you think of to convince an intelligent man that you cut the wrong freakin' pie? In the end, my fairly tragic waitressing abilities made it easier - he often watched me botch the job, and I think he must have strained something a time or two, trying not to laugh. It wasn't much of a stretch to believe I'd made a mistake that was mutually beneficial.

What seemed to bother him most about hanging about our store was that he often didn't have enough money to leave much (if any) of a tip. He really hated that. He would apologize, hang his head, and shuffle on out before the morning crush (he always came in around midnight or so, maybe a bit later, when we were quietest), and he'd be gone until the next bit of bad weather. Once in a while, the manager would think of a job that the homeless man could help out with - moving boxes, hauling some trash, mopping a bit of floor - and then he'd get a little cash and smile so sweetly because he could order his own meal, pay for it, and leave a tip.

I never asked him why he was homeless. It seemed rude. Sometimes I'd see him under one of the bridges or shuffling down the side of the road looking for cans and other recyclables, and every now and then he'd be sweeping or doing some kind of work at a shop along the road where I lived. He had a backpack full of his life. He had all his teeth, didn't smoke, and didn't behave like someone who did drugs on a regular basis. He spoke clearly enough, most of the time...but every now and then, he'd be a little disconnected, a little distant. I think he might have been mentally ill, someone who'd been turned out of treatment when the funds ran out, someone who'd lost himself along the way.

I called him sugar, or sweetie, or honey, or darlin' - that's the beauty of living in the South, if you don't know someone's name you call them sugarhoneysweetiedarling and you're covered. I didn't know his name...I never asked and he never offered. Maybe he didn't remember, or maybe he didn't want to be himself, or maybe he was just that private. He didn't mind me calling him one of those substitutes, though. I guess it's nice to have someone call you an endearment when you're used to the harder words flung at you like chunks of verbal stone while you trudge alongside the road...even if that someone is overweight, insecure, and caught up in her own internal struggles. Maybe that's why he always sat in my section...he recognized a kindred spirit behind the cartoon necktie.

One cold, sleety night, he came in a little later than usual. He was wearing clean clothes, his hair and beard were trimmed, and he was smiling. He sat in my section and I poured the coffee without asking - he always liked it black with sugar (on days he hadn't eaten well, he'd put in more sugar). This time, he actually ordered his meal, complete with desert. While he ate, he told me about the job he'd found, one that didn't mean he had to stay inside (bound, suffocating, straight-jacketed by corporate employment rules and regulations), one that let him have the freedom he seemed to need to maintain his equilibrium. He was pleased, and so was I - someone else had seen the human being beneath the "homeless" label and offered him a position with their landscaping company. He liked working with plants, getting his hands into the earth, bringing life and color to empty spaces. He spent a long time at his table, enjoying his dinner and a slice of French Silk pie (my personal favorite, too) before asking for the check. I placed it on his table and we chatted a little more about nothing of consequence, until a group of young folks jostled their way in for a post-clubbing snack to steady their drug-frazzled nerves.

While I was getting their drinks, the homeless man left, leaving his check and payment on the table. I took the kids' orders and bussed the now empty table, collecting the ticket and the cash he'd left without really looking at it. It went into my apron pocket until I could get to the register. When I finally got to it, maybe half an hour later, I was stunned. For an eight-dollar (or so) tab, he'd left me a twenty. Just left it. He didn't want change - he'd written a note on the check thanking me for being so nice to him, and telling me how bad he'd felt all the times he couldn't leave me a tip. He hoped this made up for that. Holy crap! I could have cried - new job or not, he needed that money more than I did, and he knew I wouldn't take it if he'd stayed, so he waited until I was too busy to argue with him.

I never did see him again. Once in a while, when I am in a dark mood, I wonder if he really had a job or if he just decided to have done with the messiness of life. Most of the time, though, I like to think of my nameless, homeless man digging in the dirt, putting in flowers and greenery, keeping grass trim, giving trees a friendly pat "hello" as he walks past them, earning his keep and finding his peace.

That was the best tip I ever got, in more ways than one.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

You...and meme...we're the kind of people...other people...wish they...could be...

Ten points if you recognize the song. Twenty if you know where it came from. Fifty if you know the rest of the words. For a bit of weekend fun, and because I am supposed to be going up to mum's today to help install a floor (which mostly means keeping myself, Bird, and mum's cat out of T's way while he does it), I'm sharing another long meme that someone shared with me. No, no, you don't have to thank me...well...OK...nothing says "Thanks" like a stack of Franklins...

On with the meme...

Who was your FIRST Homecoming date?
I never went to one, nor a prom.

What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?
I was drinking wine with dinner as a child, and champagne at celebrations. If the question refers to one's first drink stronger than that, I believe it was a Slow Comfortable Screw. Either that or a Daiquiri.

What was your FIRST job?
Baby sitter. If the question refers to a job where one fills out forms and has a payroll check, then berry picker (the one time in my life I wished I was short).

What was your FIRST car?
1979 Chevy Malibu Classic with a 305 V8...my Clementine...I loved that car.

Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
I don't text.

Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?

Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
I had two who co-taught - Mrs. Bib and Mrs. Beaver.

Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
Hmm...probably Italy when I was six months old or so.

Who was your FIRST best friend and are you still friends with them?
Dana Mullen and Sean O'Dell were tied for that distinction, and we lost touch when I moved to Florida at age 9 or so.

Who was your FIRST kiss?
Hmm...D.L, and it curled my toes. My Goddess, that man could kiss!

Where was your FIRST sleep over?
I have no idea. I used to sleep over at my grandparent's house all the time, as a kid. Does that count?

Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?

Whose wedding were you in FIRST?
Actually IN? I've never been IN one, although I've officiated a couple.

What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
Cuddled Bird. Played "What dinosaur am I?" with him.

What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
Either Carly Simon or Bonnie Raitt...I can't recall who was first.

FIRST tattoo and/or piercing?
First and only piercing - ears. First tattoo, left back-shoulder, triple moon symbol, filled in with art.

FIRST foreign country you went to?
Again, I'd have to say Italy at six months of age.

FIRST movie you remember seeing in the theater?
Bambi...I think...

When was your FIRST detention?
I never had one.

What was the FIRST state you lived in?

Have you ever called a person useless?

What object in your room is really important to you?
Umm...my books? That is, if the question refers to bedroom. If it refers to the room I'm currently in, then Bob the Wonder Computer.

Are you good at hiding your feelings?
Oh, yes. I learned young.

Would you kiss an ugly person for $1,000?
No, but I would kiss them for free if they needed it - I don't see beauty in a normal way, anyway.

What kind of sense of humor do you have?
Dry and dark with a touch of sarcasm.

Do you usually tell people when they hurt your feelings?
If they mean anything to me, yes.

Do your initials spell out a word?

When is the last time you talked to an ex?
I haven't got any.

How often do you give high fives?
Daily - Bird is very into that right now.

What does the 10th text in your inbox say?
I don't text.

Is your shirt new?

Where is the last place you went to go eat?
Shayne's Rib Shack, I think...or Carabba's on the way home from the performance last weekend...

Have you bought any clothing items in the past week?

Do you live near your ex boyfriend/girlfriend?
I don't have any.

If you had to sleep with a teacher from high school, who would it be?
From high school? Hmm...I have no idea. I had some cuties, but they weren't my cuppa. Now, in eighth grade...

Has your house ever been TPd?

Do you sing in the shower?
Often - I have written and put the finish on many songs in there.

Where is the last place you went shopping?

Do you have the same name as one of your relatives?

What kind of car does your sibling drive?
Umm...I have no idea...a great big gas chugging, pollution spewing SUV, I think (I loves you, big brudder).

What kind of car do you drive?
Chevy Astro van. I have much love for it.

Are you looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Oh, hells no!!

How old will you be in 8 months?
Same age I am now.

Do you prefer a call or a text?
A call. I don't text.

Did you enjoy your last kiss?
Yeah - Bird gave me an Eskimo kiss.

Have you ever been on television?
Yes, although I tried not to be.

How many cities/towns have you lived in?
Who counts these things? Umm...as many as the houses I've lived in?

Do your parents drink coffee every morning?
I haven't a clue. Maybe.

Have you ever donated blood?

One song that's meaningful to you?
I can't pick just one. How about an album? 1 Giant Leap.

Friday, April 25, 2008

About Two Boys

My friend Michelle brought her son Noodle up for a few hours this evening - it has been beautiful in the evening here, and we are taking advantage of the nice weather even as we hope for rain. T managed to weed-whack around the swing set, at least, so the boys could run and play around that...but the rest of the yard could hide a giraffe with ease. They didn't seem to mind, though - they chased each other through the long grass with glee.

We have such awful luck with lawn mowers...I really need to just sell a kidney and hire a landscaper...or make a really big Zen rock garden out there.

The boys had a blast - first they chalked up my moderately long driveway and raced up and down the lines they'd drawn, and then they ranged out to the sides of the house and into the back yard with the swing set.

Michelle and I opted to set up at the garage entrance, where I'd put the iPod and some speakers that have swirly lights in them (pretty) on a table along with plates of cheese and veggies. Fun outdoor dining tip - if you want to keep cheese and veggies chilled, fill a pie plate (I use nine inch glass ones) with ice and put the dinner plate holding your goodies on top. It chills the plate beautifully, and these lasted over three hours and still had plenty of ice in them. Who needs gadgets and gizmos, eh? We munched and chatted and listened to a mocking bird in the tree nearby, and the boys shrieked and laughed, and had a nice evening.

One of the best moments? Michelle called me over to the corner of the house, where I could just see the sing set. The boys were climbing into the fort, where one would sit at the top of the slide, and the other would sit behind him and wrap arms and legs around, then down they'd go. It was so funny and sweet!! They were taking turns, too.

Boy boys got satisfyingly filthy, and Bird is now undergoing pruning in the tub - wherein he turns into a prune while playing with his submarine (one of those cool baking-powder powered ones) and some foam letters and tries to get as much bathwater on the floor as is in the tub.

On Monday, Kit will be bringing Sweet Cheeks and Little Man up, and Michelle's coming back, so we'll have four little boys ranging from about two to a bit over five having adventures out there. I'm thinking of filling the little wading pool for them, if it isn't raining.

Summer is i'cummin' in....

About a Boy

Today's post is an amalgam of thoughts about Bird and a few things he's said in the last few days. I had a late night, last night, and I'm too tired right now to do much more...also, the cats haven't got any food and they're giving me reproachful looks (what, I'm the only one who ever notices and goes to the grocery store??), so I need to amend that situation.
(Written Tuesday)

I love to hear Bird laugh - just now, he's watching Phineas and Ferb (the mummy episode) and it started with a chuckle, then a chortle, then a giggle, then a full-on laugh. Kids laugh with such heartfelt honesty, and you just never know what'll tickle them. It's an auditory gift, that from-the-belly sound, and it invariably brings a smile to my face. Seeing him laugh until he's limp, sprawled on the horrible chair, unable even to hold up his head, is a treat. I know that there will come a time when he reins himself in, become self-conscious about it, but for now...for now, he's free with his joy, and thank goodness for that!
(Things Bird has said in the last few days)

I want to be a paleoncologist. (I asked him if he meant he wanted to study old cancer, and he just gave me a disgusted look and replied "No, mommy, I want to learn about dinosaur bones!" Well, duh!)

The confidents are drifting. (Sometimes my confidence drifts, too...but he meant "continents".)

I love you so much - even if you break your heart, I will fix it. (Dear Lady, thank you for this child...)

Thirty million years ago an asteroid crashed to earth, ending the dinosaurs and making room for humans and race cars. (Hmm...why don't we ever find old race car bones??)

A Little (ahem) Joke

I meant to include this in the last post, but forgot...all that rambling confused me, and it got left out. Rather than edit it in, I thought I'd give it its own post.

So...a little (ahem) joke:
Q: Who's the most popular man at the nudist colony?
A: The one who can carry thirteen doughnuts and two cups of coffee.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

With or Without (A Random, Rambling Rant)

*Language warning - if you're embarrassed by a frank discussion of human anatomy, move along, there's nothing to see here, go find another post. The one about Cinnamon rolls is a good one...
I was recently reminded of this quote: "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."

What? No. A woman without a man is a...wo.

No. A woman without a man is...a woman without a man. Hello? Why do we need to get cutesie or snide about a single woman and her lack of male companionship? Why does it matter?

Some women are miserable without a man in their life. They are lonely, cold inside, constantly seeking that missing "something". Some women are quite happy to be on their own - no man, no woman, needed to "complete" them, to make them fully themselves.

A number of women I know are experiencing fluctuations in their relationships. Some of them are dating, some are single, some are married, all are questioning their places, their priorities, their value to the pairing (or lack thereof).

Some of them aren't seeing anyone, and wondering if they ever want to again. These aren't children who haven't experienced much of life - these are grown women who are seriously considering a life of celibacy or battery operated toys over a "paired" life, because pairing up just isn't worth the bother.

Besides their own thoughts and conflicts on the subject there is the world around them, full of people willing to advise, to judge, to try and make them fit a preconception of what a woman's life should be.

The radical feminists think no woman should marry or choose to stay home with the children rather than work outside the home. The traditionalists think a woman should be married and have kids and be the happy homemaker who never complains because, after all, her husband is supporting her and isn't that enough?? Umm...no, it isn't. Work outside the home 9 hours a day isn't equal to work inside the home 24 hours a day, no matter how you slice it. Anyone who says "Raising children and keeping house aren't work" should look at how much daycare centers and cleaning services charge to do it. It wouldn't cost that much if it was fun, fun, fun!!

Why does it matter? Why does anyone think they have the right to judge the choices a woman makes for herself? Why is there such pressure to date, marry, reproduce? Am I really less of a woman because I value independence over marriage? Am I less of a woman if I realize that I really don't want to have children? Am I nothing more that my reproductive organs? Is that all there is to me...a vagina, breasts, some ovaries and a womb? Why are we defined by these things? It seems like we have to choose one side or the other, that there's no middle ground...nowhere for someone who is content to be herself, to live her own life in her own way.

I don't hate men, and I am sick of hearing them denigrated as a group simply because they have a penis, testicles, and more testosterone and are therefore stupid, evil, and useless. I like penises. They're fun. They're funny. They're useful when you want to have kids or somewhere to hang your hat when your hands are full. Some men are the personification of a human sphincter, yes. Most are not. Most are struggling to figure out what the hell they are supposed to be doing and are as lost and confused as everyone else. The same can be said of women.

Perhaps the difficulty lies in the fact that we identify gender first, rather than our shared humanity. Perhaps we get so hung up on whether someone has a penis or a vagina that we forget they have a brain, a heart, two kidneys, and a host of other things in common with us.

If we could learn to speak our minds, to be fearlessly honest, to recognize the commonalities first, we might all be better off...with or without our "bicycles".

Nephew Mine

Before I get to the post I was planning for today, a quick update on my nephew, the Wonder Preemie - he's up to four pounds, five ounces and has been relocated to a hospital near Big Brother's house (boy, I really need to come up with a better nickname than that)(although, considering what he can do with computers and such, I wouldn't be surprised if he is watching me)(mental image of me poking my tongue out). WP's eyes and brain seem to be fine, and he's feeding fine too (obviously!!). Big Brother thinks Wonder Preemie may come home fairly soon...he even let mum know she might not be able to visit when she planned, because when Wonder Preemie does come home, there will be a two week quarantine.

I can't wait to meet the little guy!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

About a Book (or two...or a hundred...)

I saw this little meme over at Foolery's and decided to borrow it because I am crazy about books - reading has been peaceful, healing, educating, enlightening, and an escape throughout my life. With only a few exceptions, I have read every book on my shelves - the few I haven't read were put there by others, and I'm sure I'll get to them eventually...I don't read, I gobble up words, devour entire series (None of the Harry Potter books took more than a day to read...yes, I'm bragging), lay waste to genres. Mmm...books...

Head on over to Foolery if you want to see her answers, which aren't nearly as long-winded as mine.

1. List three books you've always meant to read, but haven't gotten around to reading.

Oh, dear...there are so many books I haven't read that I've meant to...how do I narrow it to three?? Ah, well, here's three that sprang to mind right off...

Moby Dick - I admit, I've never read it. It always looked really boring to me, and if it doesn't engage my interest right away, it gets shelved.

War and Peace - if only because it's considered such a classic, and it's a monster...and I love reading monster books and having that sense of accomplishment and new sets of biceps, triceps, and pectorals when I've finished.

Travels With Charlie - I've had my copy for decades but never managed to crack it open...and that seems a shame...

2. Share the two books that changed your life.

Again, only two?? There are so many...but I guess I an try to narrow it down to two...

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk - this book has made me cry many times, and I keep reading it again and loving it just as much. I love the idea that one cannot own the elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water), the four basic, sacred things that are the building blocks for everything else...and that the fifth sacred thing cannot be contained, owned, chained, or controlled...it will always find its freedom. Stirring stuff for a freedom junkie like me.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. If you read this book and didn't have pause for thought...well...I just don't know what to say. It is a handful, a long, thick, dark chocolate, bittersweet truffle read of a book. My own mum couldn't get past one part for years, always getting hung up in one bit ("A is A"). I read it in two days, put it down, and walked around shell-shocked for another few days before picking it up and reading it again. It is frightening, enervating, frustrating, and deeply satisfying in many ways. I'll likely read it again sometime this year (heh, what better reading material for an election year? Right along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution...)

3. Recommend the one book you've been talking about since the very first day you've read it.

You know, it's not fair to ask an Aquarius to choose only one of something - we so often see the good, the use, the virtues of all of the options presented us, we can't be single-minded. Still...once more, I shall endeavor...

The Rising of the Moon by Flynn Connolly. It's a brilliant bit of fiction, a pastiche of sci-fi, feminism, spirituality versus religion, and the human spirit's desire (and constant struggle) to be free with a smattering of Irish Gaelic for flavor. There are wonderful historical references and some brilliant, rabble-rousing speeches, and some excellent examples of how a community can be stronger that the society around it.

*Edit - I had to add another one. Green Mansions. This is French Silk Pie reading - smooth, rich, and deeply satisfying with bittersweet overtones and a density that sneaks up on you...good stuff...

Meanwhile, if you've ever been in my home you know I have dedicated an entire room to the books I won't part with. There's a shelf load of Dick Francis, a number of Shakespeare's collections, everything ever written by Richard White (which isn't anywhere near enough...Dick?? Hellooo? Get busy!!), and a fair collection of children's books that my child will never get his hands on because they are from my own childhood or signed or just too precious - he has his own copies to love to tatters. I have classic literature, sci-fi, fantasy (The Last Herald Mage Trilogy wrecked me entirely, thanks Mercedes Lackey)(and don't get me started on Anne McCaffrey's Pern books, especially the Harper Hall trilogy), non-fiction, romance (mostly romantic comedy - if you want a good laugh, pick up some Janet Evanovich), and more. SO many books, they're now overflowing onto my poor library floor and into other rooms. I need shelves...lots and lots of shelves. Books on physics, on religion, dictionaries, the PDR, Beatrix Potter, the Trixie Belden books and the Little House on the Prairie books...and on, and on, and on...

So tag! You're it...if you want to be...

What Say You?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Denny's Chronicles - Tales From the Other Side of the Tray

Tipping is part of service. The standard tip changes as the economy does - I remember when a regular tip for average service was five percent. Now, it's fifteen percent. That's for average, run-of-the-mill, not awful but not spectacular service from your waitron. Poor service should garner no less than five percent (even if the waitron dump scalding coffee in your lap), stellar service should be rewarded as much as you think the waitron deserves - after all, you want to encourage that amazing behavior every time, right?? Heck, I've been known to double a tab with the tip, just because the server was spectacular and deserved it (I'm not wealthy, either, but I never forgot the generosity some folks showed me when I was a 'tron, and I want to pass it along when I can).

Some folks don't understand about tipping. They seem to think that tips are a reward for extraordinary behavior. They aren't. A tip is calculated as part of that waitron's labor. Often, they have to share a percentage of the sale (not the tip, the sale) with the bartender, the busboys, the maitre 'd. Did you know they pay taxes on tips? And those taxes are calculated by the waitron's sales and not what you actually give them? A really rancid tip can actually cost your server more money than they made from your table. If the service was that bad, speak to a manager, but don't take money from the server's pocket!! They have to pay rent, make car payments, pay the power and phone bills. Like you, they are trying to make ends meet. No one waits tables because that's what they wanted to do when they grew up, or it's their hobby - they do it because they are in school, they are struggling, they have kids or odd hours elsewhere, and waiting tables is the only job with the flexibility they need.

I don't know what the base pay for a server is today, but when I was at the job, it was about $2.12 an hour, which just about covered taxes and benefits - if I'd had benefits, which I didn't. My pay check would be a few dollars every two weeks, so everything I actually made came from tips. I had to claim a minimum percentage of my sales for taxes - at the time, it was seven percent of sales, so if I sold a hundred dollars in food/beverages in a night, I had to claim seven dollars in tips whether I made that or not. I was supposed to claim all my tips, but I was a rogue and I didn't. I would have to pay an exorbitant tax rate on them (* edit - thirty percent on whatever I claimed, so three out of every ten dollars I claimed in tips went to taxes - and I never got it back), and I needed that money for trifling things like rent, groceries, and fuel. I was listed as a part time employee (despite working in excess of forty hours a week) so I didn't get insurance or other benefits. I needed to try and stockpile a bit of money for medical emergencies, and regular check-ups, dental work, and exams were out of the question unless my mum was paying for them. I wasn't the odd one out, either - most of the people I worked with were in the same boat, only some of them also had children to worry about.

On the other side of tipping is service. Some servers just don't get it - they actually need to do a decent job to get decent tips. Some servers think they should get twenty percent just for getting food or drinks to the table, and they get angry or flustered when you ask for things like separate checks (at the beginning of the meal, before you order, this isn't unreasonable) or expect the occasional refill of your water. I've had servers roll their eyes when I ask them for dressing on the side of my salad, or send back a dish that wasn't prepared correctly. I am not high-maintenance, but I am precise in ordering. I find that most places over-dress a salad, which makes it unpalatable. They also over-sauce many dishes, or put sauces on things when you ordered them plain. It is not unreasonable to return the dish and ask that it be made as you ordered it, and a server shouldn't have an issue with that if you are in the right.

Ordering a dish one way, then continually complaining and sending it back because you decide you don't like it that way after all, that is worthy of an eye roll (out of your sight line, of course). Constantly asking for one condiment or another, extra napkins, another straw, lemon slices, and the like, one thing at a time...that is justification for a server smacking you upside the head, but they won't. Nope. They'll want to, but they'll grin and bear it, and you should recognize your bad behavior and tip them like the sun shines out their ass for their service.

If a server hasn't done a good job, I'll let them know. Not by stiffing them on the tip, but by telling them (gently, with compassion) where they went awry. A server should never use a bad day as an excuse for poor service - a waitress tried that with a group I was in, and we weren't having it. She never brought us silverware (we went and got our own), never refilled our water in a two-hour period (again, we got our own), didn't bring the couple of drinks from the bar that were ordered (the people who ordered them had to fetch them), either didn't write down or didn't check our orders (most of them were wrong when they eventually got to us - after over an hour waiting), brought us another table's order, largely ignored our table for the time we were there (over two hours from seating to finally getting our check), and didn't separate the check when we'd clearly asked her to at the beginning of the meal. She also added another table's tab to our check and added in the gratuity herself, even though we were below the number that usually prompts that action (in this particular establishment, eight people or more means an automatic gratuity of fifteen percent). When we pointed out the tab that wasn't ours, and that we were only seven people, she claimed she couldn't change the check and we should sort it out ourselves.

We sorted it out, all right. We spoke to the manager, explained what had gone wrong (almost everything) and what had gone right (because another server stepped in) and that we were very disappointed with our watress' service. Also, when one of our number spoke her mind to the waitress about the service, the waitress told us we were a difficult table, demanding and unreasonable, and that we had made her job impossible - and she was having a bad night because someone stole a hundred-dollar tab/tip off the bar because she had left it there too long, so her poor service wasn't her fault.

I might have felt sorry for her if she hadn't given the same level of non-service to three other tables near us, all two-tops. We were fetching their silverware along with our own, filling their water glasses, and even passing the improperly delivered food on to their table when it turned out it's what they ordered. Perhaps we should have asked for tips!

Her bad day wasn't our fault, and we shouldn't have suffered for it. If she couldn't manage to do the job, if she was so shaken, broken up, devastated by the earlier event, she should have gone somewhere to collect herself instead of taking it out on her customers. This holds true in any service industry job, by the way. Oh, and? We still tipped her ten percent.

The manager was horrified by her behavior - we were regular customers, there every week, and we always ordered carefully and tipped well, so he didn't for a moment believe that the confusion was on our part. I should be sorry that the woman was fired the next morning, but I'm not really. It turns out, we weren't the first or only table to complain about her. Not everyone's cut out to do that job - I was stunned that I lasted as long as I did without stabbing someone with a bent fork.

People have left tips in some fascinating places. I guess they find it funny, entertaining themselves by watching the server look for the tip. Interesting places people leave tips - I found them in water, iced tea, and soft drink glasses, at the bottom of a milkshake cup, thrown into a puddle of catsup and scrambled eggs, in the dregs of a coffee cup, and even in an ash tray that had been filled with creamer (as well as ashes and cigarette buts). They were placed in the leftovers of sandwiches, crammed into pie leavings, covered in syrup, and left as pennies scattered across the table and booth seats. And this was in a "nice" neighborhood where people lived in million dollar homes and drove big expensive cars. Just goes to show, money doesn't equal class. Shoot, the best tip I ever got was from a homeless guy! But that's another story...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thoughts on Home Schooling

I was catching up on my blog reading and found this post over at Wat Da Wat (Go read him, he's neat!), which prompted me to write an obscenely (and rather rudely) long comment. I then decided that I wanted to turn that comment into a post. Go read his post - he makes a good argument for sticking with the sinking ship and rebuilding from the inside out before it goes entirely under - and this one might make more sense. Or not.

Some, but not all, of the reasons I am home schooling: Bullying. Drugs. Revisionist history. Teaching with a political bent. Theft. Sex. Cliques. Gangs. A lack of mores. "Dumbing down" classes to fit the lowest common denominator. Forcing children to learn a give topic at a given time rather than harnessing their natural tendency to learn. Forcing children to speed up or slow down their process so that no one feels left out. A lack or squandering of resources. Lack of discipline. Rewarding students who cheat while punishing teachers who frown upon and act on that cheating. A focus on sports rather than education. The banning of all things spiritual. The loss of arts programs. Teachers sleeping with students. Over crowded classrooms. A focus on learning by rote, without actually learning what anything means. Putting greater emphasis on social issues than on educational issues. Forcing children to fit into a single mold without respecting their individuality, their creativity, their strengths. School lunches. Threats of violence. Teacher's unions that are more focused on protecting teachers than in supporting the actual education of the students (or in protecting students from abusive teachers). The lack of basic respect for an individual and the mandate that children be homogenized, even as they form exclusive social groups. Cutting classic novels like "The Old Man and the Sea" from reading lists because they are too hard. Taking school supplies from one child and giving them to another because "...it's not fair that one child has crayons when another doesn't..."(since when is life fair, and why should a child be the one forced to remedy this??). Being told by a teacher in a public school that she would home school her own children if she could, because the whole system is breaking down at an alarming rate and she hates it with a purple passion but can't get out.

No, not all schools have all or any of these problems. I have friends who are teachers, and I adore them and find their strength and integrity to be unimpeachable. I would give my son's education over to them in a heartbeat, if I could afford to send him to private school or hire them on as tutors. I certainly don't relish the inevitable questioning of my ability as a parent to teach my son, although I was a teacher myself for a short while. I don't relish the constant scrutiny, the ascribing of home schooling to every one of his little peccadilloes, or answering the seemingly endless (and often rude) questions about my religious or social reasoning for the decision. I don't actually enjoy the presumption that I am crazy, a zealot, a conspiracy nut, or any of the other negative stereotypes of home schooling families. I don't enjoy answering the constant accusations that I am depriving my son of something that only a government institution can provide (although no one can answer what that "something" is when I ask about it) or that I'm making him a social misfit because he doesn't get to socialize with other kids.

In public school he would be considered of kindergarten age and taught on that level with no regard to his actual ability. At home, he's doing grade one level work in reading, grade two in mathematics, he understands a smattering of Spanish (I'm learning that as we go) and Sign Language (also learning as we go) and he views everyone as a potential friend. He can use the computer with confidence, although I won't let him near the Internet for fear he'll reprogram the whole bloody thing. He's not afraid to wear what he wants, doesn't worry what anyone else thinks of his clothing, his hair, his favorite games, foods, or toys. He plays as easily with the two-year-old child as he does with the fourteen-year-old, with no distinction or ageism on his part. A friend is a friend. He isn't shy of his elders, and he is careful and inclusive of those junior to him.

No, he's not perfect - he has a temper that is astonishing, and he's prone to flying off the handle when he's stymied. He's five, and he acts his age, which means lots of hugs, kisses, cuddles, and learning.

It wasn't an easy decision, to home school him. It means I don't have any time that is "mine". I write late at night, because days are his. I have to factor him into all of my plans, including doctor's appointments and social events. Cleaning house, doing laundry, and running errands are done around him and his education.

On the other hand, I can take him with me when I travel with my band, showing him the countryside and using it as an opportunity to teach. He will know the USA in a way many children won't - by experiencing it first hand. We aren't tethered by a timetable, forced to keep up when something's difficult or slow down when it's easy. We can spend an entire day at the nature center or the museum, exploring them fully, without worrying about a schedule.

I've been in the public school system, and I won't put him through it. Honestly, there are so many things going wrong that I don't know if they can be fixed. Certainly, nothing's been done to patch the gaping holes in the system. I've seen parents get involved and get ground down by bureaucracy and apathy. I don't have the strength to take on that system and attempt to foment change, so I will do what I can to teach my child at home - teach him not only what's in the books, but also to think for himself, to form opinions based on something more than "Think this way because I said so!", to create, to look at the world around him and see the richness, the diversity, the wonder of it.

I got long winded, and I could go on...but I think I ought to stop. I agree that we have a responsibility to more than our own "house", in the end. I would say, though, that when someone sets their own home alight, I have less duty to help douse it than I do to keep it from spreading. We're not all insular, either - many of us pool resources, have play groups for our kids, plan field trips with each other, and try to help each other out when help is wanted or needed. I have no fear that, should the need arise, I would be left on my own to put out the fire.

And now (yes, I started a sentence with "and". So shoot me.) I need to work on the Evil Genius' writing - in that, he is on par with his age group...which means he has the hand writing of a deranged lunatic with palsy and no sense of perspective. Thanks for the thought provoking, and I hope that I haven't offended!


I'm back!

Didja miss me, huh, huh, didja? I missed you.

Well, I missed you for about ten minutes on Saturday night when one of the even organizers told me that the decrepit old 4H camp actually did have wireless Internet. You can't blame me for nearly falling out of my chair at that proclamation - the cabins had more leaf litter and pine straw in them than the mattresses had stuffing, the spiders and flying, stinging things were more than abundant, and the toilets were older than most of the people there...but they had wireless? Holy crap. It was damp enough, though, that I was just as happy to have left Bob the Wonder Computer at home after all.

The performance went well. Not without a hitch - I'd be as surprised by that as I would by a clean cabin at a summer camp - but it was fun anyway. The new songs were well received, we had about two-thirds of the attendees as our audience ( a good percentage, I think), and the old equipment we brought to mic the vocals worked beautifully, despite our decided lack of knowledge in working the stuff. A fair number of the crowd even danced. I think we'd go back again if they asked us...and they may, since they seemed to like us. We sold twenty CDs or so, not bad at an event that only expected sixty people (some of whom didn't show up).

It was nice to be able to sleep, wander about, and mingle with a new crowd without worrying about the Evil Genius, but I missed him anyway. There were other children at the event, some of whom reminded me of Bird. Still, I'm glad I had the time away. He was delighted when I came home, plastering me with hugs and kisses and demanding a bedtime story.

I have to say, T didn't seem as glad to have me home, barely speaking to me at all, and then in grunts, monotones, and perhaps one or two word answers to my questions about his weekend, his trip last week, and the like. I had to unload my things and bring them into the house by myself...I guess he was still eating dinner when I popped my head in the door and called out "Hello!" to let him know I was home. When he did help unload the cooler, he was irritated that one of K's creamer bottles had popped open and spilled on things...but that's why I always put everything in baggies in the cooler, in case something spills. We had to rinse off the baggies, and he rinsed the cooler out ( I hope...maybe he just set it in the garage for me to clean...hmm...better check that before today so I don't have a gross surprise waiting for me next time I want to use that cooler), but there wasn't a whole lot of interacting. So, fine. At least he seemed a tiny bit interested about how the weekend went, asking about the concert...but he didn't really seem to be listening. When I asked him if anything was wrong three different times, three different times he just said "Nothing." Fine.

Maybe he was just tired from two days of Daddy duty - he decided not to work this weekend but rather to stay home with Bird and let my mum go home. I think he had a couple of days of my regular life and it wore him slap out, because about fifteen minutes after I got home, he went to bed. I wasn't long behind him - I was tired!! It's a touch over five hours from here to the event site, and that's if one doesn't stop for anything. Add that drive to nights of little sleep (even though I stacked two mattresses into the bunk) and long days, and you have a recipe for going to bed early and sleeping until next Wednesday!

So now I'm home again until Memorial Day, and I will spend a goodly part of the next couple of days catching up on my reading. Whew. How was your weekend??

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Preemptive Withdrawal

So I'm going away for three days, sans Evil Genius and sans Bob the Wonder Computer. Three days without child = a restful time. Three days without electronic extension of my ego = what am I going to do???

I was going to bring the computer and maybe get some writing done, but decided I wouldn't worry about it - I'll be staying at a 4H camp, and I doubt they have wireless! Meanwhile, I have some beadwork that wants doing, some books that want reading, and also some crochet I can work on if no one's game for having their fortune told (when I'm not performing), so I'll be fine.

I'm allegedly leaving around five in the morning - one of my bandmates (and the sister of my heart) asked if I wanted to share the ride instead of driving up alone. Sure, as long as all my stuff and the band equipment fits in her van - who wouldn't rather share the ride and have someone to gossip with?? She will happily be without her child (my future daughter-in-law), too, as her family has agreed to split childcare and give my girl a weekend off!! Hurrah for a weekend as adults again!

We used to travel together all the time - she has a business that she takes to conventions and festivals selling..well...a bit of everything. Since we both married and had kids, we haven't had any time together as friends, and this'll be a lovely couple of days to reconnect without worrying about who's crying or why, who's hungry, who should be asleep and isn't, who is making all the noise in the cabin and waking our kids up...you know, mommy stuff.

I'll see y'all Monday.

Oh...a quick update on my nephew, the Wonder Preemie - he's up to three pounds, eleven ounces and they are working on getting him on room air. His mum held him for almost an hour, my brother held him for a while, and even his sister, Eldest Niece, had a go. Youngest Niece wanted a turn, but Wonder Preemie had to get back to the important task of resting. He'll be home, soon...

What's Left (or Right) of My Brain

You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Now, why isn't the rest of my life this balanced??

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another Meme (Meeeeem)

What was the last hot thing you touched?
A mug of tea.

Do you have an eating disorder?
Probably, but not in the skinny direction.

As a child, did you ever take swimming lessons?
Not that I recall...I may well be part fish, since I've been swimming for as long as I could remember.

What was the last movie you watched in theaters?
I don't recall...I think it was in February, though.

Do you have siblings?
Yep, a big brother.

Ever had braces?
Yes...and oh, the stories I could tell...

When was the last time you kissed the last person you kissed?
Erm...wha...?...hmm...my son, a few minutes ago.

What are two things you get made fun of a lot for?
Hmm...in a loving way, probably my OCD and my tremendous wealth of useless trivia. In an ugly way, my weight and my appearance in general.

How old are your brothers and sisters?

What was your favorite movie as a child?
I didn't have one, I don't think. Maybe Bambi when I was a wee lass...

Do you know any one with the same name as you?
In fact, I do, and what's more, she's a she. Our name is usually given to boys, so finding a female one of us is rare.

What do you smell like?
Myself mixed with Ancient Evenings soap and lotion, and when I've just washed my hair you can add Rosemary/Mint shampoo to the mix. Sometimes I also smell of banana bread or cinnamon rolls or whatever else I've been baking.

What's your favorite month?
Hmm...this is an odd one....probably October...

Do people ever misspell your name?
Misspell, mispronounce, misconstrue...

Are you a mean person?
I am a bitchy person, a moody person, a grumpy person, but not a mean person.

What was the last sporting event you watched?
I think I had a golf game inflicted upon me on Sunday, but I honestly don't know...I don't watch sports. Maybe wrestling, last month? I do watch that with the guys, sometimes. Yes, yes, I watch wrestling. And yes, yes, I know it's fake. It's a pageant, and it makes me giggle, so what??

When you're home alone, do you still close the door when you shower?
I don't close the bathroom door even if there's a house full of people. I have to close the shower door - it's magnetic 'round the edges and won't stay open. Also, because I like to give a thorough answer - I usually don't turn the lights on, because I like natural light better. Yes, I shower in the dark, sometimes. You should try it.

Has a friendship ended recently that you wish hadn't?

You win the $100 million power-ball lottery....what do you do?
Pay my mum's debts, and then mine, and then put money into trusts (without telling them about it) for my son and my nieces and nephews, pay off the debts of a select few friends, then buy an obscene amount of land and build a great big earth-friendly house that I won't live in half the time because I will be riding about in my new RV with my family through Canada and the US with maybe a jaunt southwards for a good look at Mayan ruins...no, I don't dream small. Mostly, I would pay off debts and build a home for my family...all of my family...the ones I was born to and the ones I've made mine along the way...and I would try to help make some dreams come true, because life is too short to be left feeling empty...

Are you a beach person or a snowy mountain person?
I can't have both??

Can you watch scary movies alone?
If I wanted too..but I so rarely find things scary that Hollywood thinks I should. I won't watch political ads along, though...

Would you rather stay home all day, or be out and about?
Both. Neither. I don't know. Some days one, some days the other, some days a bit of both.

Do you like to keep the peace or be confrontational?
Peace, for the most part...unless someone is threatening my freedom or my family, and then I could get riled a bit.

Are you more likely to be with a large group of people or a few close friends?
Close friends.

Where would you like to live?
Anywhere that's still alive...where nature still sings loud and strong...a place that is MINE, and I am ITS.

What is your ideal profession?
Author/Singer with a side of Gypsy.

What is one fear that you have?
That I am never going to be good enough.

Are you good in math?
On occasion, when pressed, as long as it's not beyond simple algebra. I still count on my fingers, though...

What's stashed under your bed?
Cats and dust critters, mostly, although T may have shoved more stuff under there since the last time I checked.

Is there anyone you regret ever meeting?
No...although I regret NOT meeting some people...

Would you rather have roommates or live alone?
Alone with a good friend for a neighbor. Actually, I live with my family, a roommate, and three cats right now, and it's OK...but I could very happily live alone, too.

What is your favorite thing to wear?
Comfortable blue clothing. Cotton.

Do you give money to homeless people when they ask?
Sometimes, if I have any. Sometimes I buy them dinner. Depends.

Missing someone?
Often, but my aim's improving. Heh. Yes, I miss certain people.

You're having a bad day, what's one thing that can make your day better?
Sleep, or music, or a large body of water...

Do you keep secrets well?
I can't answer that, it's a secret...

Can you sing?
If you can speak, you can sing. The question is, can I sing well? Passing fair, I think.

Any plans for today?
Many...laundry, packing, cleaning, making lists, changing the lists, cleaning the van, getting the oil changed, putting air in the tires, grocery shopping...napping copiously...

Favorite color:

How old will you be in 10 months?
A year older than I am today, thank you SO much for reminding me...

What did you do today?
So far: Got up, fed son, ate breakfast, did dishes, did laundry, talked to people on the phone, blogged...

Who was the last person who texted you?
I don't text.

What is your current status?
Quo.What are you listening to?
The dryer, the narrator from Walking With Dinosaurs, and the clicking of the keys.

Who can you tell anything to?
Michelle, Sam, Kerri, Kit, the cats, and the Goddess.

What were you doing at 12 am last night?
Giving Bird a breathing treatment.

When is the last time you saw your mom?
Last week. I'll see her again tomorrow. We speak almost daily.

Have you kissed someone in the last 2 weeks?
I kiss my son constantly.

How many houses have you lived in?
Lived in? Hmm...nine or ten.

Do you live in the house you grew up in?

What are you doing for your next birthday?
Weeping copiously? I don't know...probably nothing, which is par for the course.

Are you a social person?
When pressed, I know how to behave among company.

Do you like someone right now?
I am fond of many people.

What color is your shirt?Blue and black.

Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed?
The top side.

Do you know how to play poker?

What are you thinking about right now? Honestly?
Why am I doing another meme? Also, is it odd that I am eating Chinese food for breakfast?

Any plans for this weekend? next weekend?
This coming weekend I will be performing at an event in NC and possibly telling fortunes. Next weekend, probably going to mum's to help install a floor, or weeding, or whatever the weather permits. I really don't plan that far ahead.

Do you have anything bothering you?

Do you smile often?
I try to...especially when I'm not thinking about anything in particular...I'm trying to make a smile my default setting.

When was the last time you cried?
Sunday night, thinking about Skidmarks the cat.

Have you ever had a life-threatening injury?
Hmm...I don't think so, unless you count the amazing exploding appendix incident...

Have you ever been in an ambulance?
Yes, twice in my life.

Do you prefer an ocean or pool?
Ocean, but pools are lovely too.

Why is your relationship status the way it is?
Because I am an ill-tempered wench.

What is something you collect?
Dust, if you look around my house. Books, music, more books...and I love loose gemstones...

Do you wear any jewelry 24/7?
My silver pentacle.

Do you think OJ killed his wife?
Why does it matter what I think?? I wasn't on the jury, and there's nothing I can do about it (within the law) anyway.

Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
And then some.

How often do you remember your dreams?
Most of the time, if I want to.

What is the main ring tone on your phone?
Umm....do, do, do, doooo, do, do......I can't type a ring tone! My cell phone, before it died, had an excerpt from Sting's "Desert Rose".

What is something that you do too much?

Do you shut off the water while you brush your teeth?

Do you wish someone was with you right now?
Yep...but I don't know who.

Are you mad about anything?

How late did you stay up Saturday night and why?
Three-ish, I think...writing...

What was the first thing you thought when you got up?
Today is Wednesday and I have THIS to do today...and isn't it nice to wake up slowly and hear my Evil Genius singing to himself in his room?

Who were you with Saturday night?
Mostly the cats, but also my family.

Do you think you will be in a relationship 3 months from now?
Unless I am the last one on the planet, it can't be helped...we are always relating to someone.

Do you think it will be snowing three months from now?
Not here, but probably somewhere. If it snows here, we'll really have to reassess the whole global warming thing.

When's the next time you'll see your best friend?
Tomorrow? Friday? I don't know...I have several dear friends and we talk and mingle often.

What high school did/do/will you attend?
Dunwoody, but don't hold that against me.

Who was the last person you talked to last night before bed?

Is there anything that you are craving right now?
I almost always have a low-grade jones for a certain sushi place, or Thai Restaurant of Norcross, or Mexican, or Chinese food.

Have you ever started a sentence with "No offense but...."?
Not that I recall...because if I KNOW it's going to offend, why bother with that time waster??

Do you drink tea?
Often. I'm drinking some right now.

Are you happy with your life right now?
I am not unhappy...perhaps I am content...but not happy, per se. Happy, for me, is illusive.

Who do you hate?
I don't.

What do you wear to bed? (*edit - why on earth does anyone care about this sort of thing?)
Nothing, unless I have a squeamish houseguest, and then I wear slate blue cotton/linen blend PJs.

Has anyone got on your nerves lately?

Do you think you'll be married in 10 years?
Unless T or I throw in the towel and call it off as a bad job, yes.

What were you doing at 6pm Friday night?
Cooking, maybe, or writing, or playing with Bird...I have no idea.

Next Friday I will be drumming and singing with fellow pagans at an event in NC, having a lovely time (I hope).

Consider yourself tagged if you like, or not - I'm not pressed either way. If you do decide to fill out this monster list of inane questions, let me know so I can peruse your answers and see how strange you are (because I'm not).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mum!!!

This is my mum. Today is her birthday. I shan't tell you how old she is, as it would be impertinent. To most folks, today is tax day, but to me...it's mum's birthday. Wooo-hoo!!!! I have other pictures of her, but I just love this one. I call it "Strange Fish".


Hippo, Birdie, two ewe
Hippo, Birdie, two ewe
Hippo, Birdie, deer ewe
Hippo, Birdie, two ewe!!

Regarding Djembe

Thanks for the inspiration for a new post, Bob! Y'all, Bob wanted to know how I thwack my drum. Heh.

First, let me tell you about my drum. I named her Azuli. She's the biggest, heaviest, knees thwackingest, back achingest djembe ever. Really. Wait, what's a djembe, you ask? Hmm...here's a picture for you...not of my Azuli, but of a grouping of djembes that run the gamut in size and style:

Photo totally stolen from these folks, entirely without permission and hopefully without upset on their part.

Azuli is carved from some sort of extra-heavy tree...perhaps a lead tree, or a high-gravity tree. She has carvings in the bell (the lower, skinnier bit). She has a traditional drum head - that'd be goat skin (they're food animals, don't panic...we're not leaving naked, shivering goats wandering around Africa wondering what they did to piss us off). The head, like some of those above, is shaved. Some folks leave the hair on, but I am leery of strange African goat diseases. There have been tales of odd infections from hairs driven up into the hand while playing...and I really don't need Funky Goat's Revenge to add to my list of physical weirdness. I could us a synthetic Remo head (some of the drums in the picture have this kind of head), but I don't like the sound as well. A Remo is better for drumming in the rain or in high humidity when skin tends to soften and give, making the drum sound dull and listless. The Evil Genius' drum has a Remo head on it because they're far easier to replace than a skin head...and kids can beat the hell out of a drum, so who wants to work that hard? A skin head has to be replaced more often, and if it gets damp needs to be tightened either with heat (usually the fire we're drumming around) or by "pulling diamonds", using the rope uprights to stretch the skin a bit more. One can only tighten so much before the head splits, thought. Still, I prefer the sound of a skin versus a Remo, but in the end I'll play whatever's there if I want badly enough to drum.

To play Azuli, I have a few choices.

I can sit upright on the edge of a chair or stool, clutch the drum between my knees and play it that way - and if I had thighs of iron, I would do that more often, but I don't.

I can use the neat drum stand I purchased a couple of years ago, something (exactly) like this:

Photo purloined from this site, where I ordered the thing from

With the drum stand, I can stand up and drum to my heart's content. I like my drum stand, but...it squeaks a bit when I play. It's a great stand, but I don't think it was prepared for a drum of Azuli's weight and girth - I have it set as large as it can go, and I don't even need to strap or clamp her in, it's that tight a fit. Still, it's a useful item to have when your drum has it's own gravitational field. Unfortunately, the stand is inconvenient to carry from place to place, what with having the four-hundred pound drum and all, so it doesn't get used as often as it could be.

I could use a drum strap and stand to drum, but I'm awfully fond of walking upright and remaining hunch-free in my back area. Also, when one has a drum strapped on to play, one can't walk very well, and one moves like one has done something in one's pants that one regrets (because the drum hangs down between one's legs) - so a strap is fine for standing in one place, but not as nice for moving about.

And finally, I can lay my drum on her side and kneel over/sit on her. This is what I usually do at home, alternating with sitting in a chair and holding her between my knees. I sit on the upper part of the drum, where it's widest, and I can easily reach the head for thwacking purposes. It's a bit hard on the knees, though (by now, anyone with a dirt mind has about laughed themselves into asphyxia. I'm sorry. There's just no way to write about this without sounding like I'm made entirely of double entendres.), so I try to have a pillow or something to pad my knees...and sometimes I even put a pillow on the drum so my bottom doesn't feel unloved. That's at home, though.

On the road, the rare occasions I bring Azuli with me, I either sit and drum or use the stand (I bring my wagon when I bring my drum, so I don't have to juggle one thing or another). So now you know more than you ever cared to know about my drum and drumming. Aren't you glad Bob asked??

Good & Plenty

I've been busy for the last couple days - too busy to write anything worth reading. I could have managed a diatribe or two, and a plethora of grumpy shit, but nothing worth looking at, so I foisted some of my old photos off on you and called it an entry. Sigh.

Both of the photos, and several hundred more, were taken at Jekyll Island two years ago when I ran away from my family for a whole weekend to write, shoot endless photographs of trees, shrubs, buildings, and any other oddities that caught my eye. I needed to collect the tattered edges of my sanity and try to stitch them into something resembling a human being again, and I've always loved that island and the nature there. The history's cool, too. I'm hoping to get back there in the next year or two and spend some time in the salt marshes and delving deeper into the historic district and some of the architecture there.

Sunday and Monday, I had band rehearsals for our gig this coming weekend. One of our band members quit a week ago, and another one discovered a scheduling error too lat to change it and now can't come, so we had two days to adjust our song list and our arrangements to make up for the sudden absence of male voices. Yep, this coming weekend, we're a girl band. Woo-hoo! Luckily, we are singers and drummers...if someone can't come to a gig, it's not like we suddenly don't have bass or keyboard or something. The six of us will do our best not to disappoint the nice folks who invited us to sing for them, and maybe they won't notice that we don't sound anything like our CDs. Heh.

I am excited about the coming weekend for several reasons: first, it's a new event with new folks and a new audience, which means we can trot out some duty oldies and make 'em shiny again without boring anyone but ourselves; second, I will be Evil Genius free for three days - OK, so I have a five-plus hour drive to get there, I don't care - the kid will be blissfully at home, happy to be missing out on five hours of containment in the Booster-Seat-of-Doom; third, we are introducing three new songs I wrote this for this season, and I'm really happy with them, so I'm hoping the audience likes them, too. One of them even has guitar with it, our first ever song with instrumentation. I'm hoping that we can manage some more pieces with guitar, if only because it does a fine job of keeping us in tune. One of the toughest part of being an a-capella group is keeping in tune - it's so easy to go flat!!

So this coming Thursday we may be playing at Zoo Atlanta for the opening of the new Naked Mole Rat exhibit. One of our members did the background mural for the exhibit (cool, huh?) and they might be interested in having us come drum, give it an African feel. Never mind that we're all so freakin' white, we could have been carved out of cream cheese...we have African drums and we know how to use them. Mostly. Sometimes. Well, anyway, I play a mean shaker, and I can keep a basic beat on my very large, exceedingly heavy, loud as all get out, drum that's either Ivory Coast or Senegalese. There seems to be some difference of opinion on that. If you ask me about it...it's wooden and goes boom when I thwack it. It's big enough for me to sit on it while I play, although I really do want knee pads or something if I do that, because kneeling/sitting on a drum for any length of time isn't comfy at all. The band members who can make it to this are all fine drummers and percussionists, so we can make it work.

The whole band can't do the Zoo thing, because it's the night before we all leave for the other weekend thing. Yep. The night before I am supposed to get up at oh-god-thirty and drive for five-plus hours, I am doing another gig. Well, why not? It's feast or famine, and how could I resist being a part of Zoo history? A tiny, really very insignificant part, but a part nonetheless.

I am siting here slowly munching on Good & Plenty candies and hoping I can think of something more engaging to write about soon - otherwise, it'll be all those bazillion pictures I took of Jekyll that I hope to make into note cards and sell some day.

Y'all ever run dry like this??

Saturday, April 12, 2008

So Sleepy

It's a rainy day today, and I am tired. I can't seem to get moving. I slept until nine this morning, got up, went back to bed at eleven-thirty (although I think it was as much a strategic retreat as anything - the Evil Genius, T, and J were playing with paper airplanes, and I seemed to be the number one crash zone), got back up at one-thirty and could have lain right back down again and slept more. Today I have started a load of laundry and am running the dishwasher, and so far...that's it.

I don't know if it's getting up early all last week to pack lunch for T each day, or if the grey, rainy day is just making me want to burrow into the covers and enjoy the sound of thunder rolling through my dreams, but I really want to go back to bed - again!

I did wake up a bit when I got pissed off for a few minutes. How does anyone go through half a pound of American cheese in an hour? How can that be good for you? And what the hell am I supposed to use for Bird's and T's lunches until Wednesday, which will be my first opportunity to go to the store and get more (because I'm both broke and busy until then)? So that was good for a few minutes of non-sleepiness.

Also, I was a tad irked to note that. once again, the dishwasher sat empty while the sink was full of dirty dishes. Really, is it that hard to pout them in there, maybe run the thing? I'd switch to paper, but then I'd just be irritated about the trash never going out and being left to sit for a week or more unless I get off my grumpy butt and do it myself.

So that was a fe more minutes of awake time. Now, I'm back to tired, all worn and empty feeling. I really need to be doing laundry, and then actually putting it away. I think we're out of towels. I had dozens of them, but they've all gone the way of the Dodo. Also, I need to start packing for next weekend. I need to do it throughout the week, because T is out of town after tomorrow and I will be a single parent until mum comes down on Thursday - which means everything takes longer and more effort, because the Evil Genius wants to "help". Heh.

Oh, well. I am looking forward to having a couple of days to have only myself to look after. Which reminds me. I'd better get busy figuring out where this place I'm going is...I have no Earthly idea...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Well, it's not a weekend at the spa...

...but it's better than nothing. I've had some difficult days in the last two weeks, and I could really use some time off. Time with a masseuse, tall fruity drinks, maybe a hammock under some palm trees. Gourmet meals brought to me by handsome cabana boys.


Well, back to reality. Mums don't get time off, as a rule. Once a mum, always a mum...even when your kids are grown. My own mum could probably use an escape like the above...but instead, she's going to let me have a little time off. Three days next week - Friday through Sunday - I am going to be at an event where my band (what's left of us, and we're shrinking fast right now. Really, you'd think we were hand spun wool and someone washed us in hot water...) is performing. Mum offered to watch the Evil Genius so I wouldn't have to bring him with me.

I love the little guy. Bringing him to new places, camping out, watching him sing and dance along to our concerts, and using our time somewhere new to teach him are all terrific. But...he's exhausting, ,sometimes. When I have him with me, it's hard to relax, to sleep, to take a shower - even when my bandmates or folks at the event are wonderfully nice and take him away for a while. I just can't do it. So mum decided to take away some of the stress and difficulty by keeping the Evil Genius at him for me.

Three whole days. If I leave early on Friday morning, I will have more time when I get there to do...umm...as little as possible.

Well, I'll have to make up my bed, set up to do readings, and eventually perform, but other than that? Nothing. Sweet.

It's not that I don't love and absolutely trust my bandmates/dear friends, or the wonderful people at these events...it's that I just can't let go of being his mum when he's there with me. When he's home with T or my mum, I can relax. I may not know what he's eating, drinking, or doing each day, but he's in our home environment and "safe". If you're not a mum or dad (but mostly a mum), you won't get it.

If you are a mum, you're probably thinking how much I suck right now, getting a whole weekend off. I understand.

I won't mention the nine days in June, then...

Can anyone explain to me...

...just what the hell Einstein was thinking, with the Cosmological Constant? In layman's terms? Because it's pissing me off.

I always liked Planck better, anyway - I find the idea of reality being uncertain of its own existence (at its most basic levels) to be rather delightful. No wonder we're all insecure; we're reflecting Planck's uncertainty field (OK, so he really came up with Planck's Constant, but it defined uncertainty, too, didn't it?? Or am I getting him mixed up with someone else? Eh, it happens.) on a macro level! Whee! Also, some day...maybe I can figure out how to use that to my advantage and convince my lawn clippings that they're really hundred-dolllar bills. If I manage that, you'll be the first to know.

This is the result of chatting about Quantum Physics with a bunch of Pagan hobbyists. Real scientists (if they read this blog) will undoubtedly choke on their combined laughter and outrage at my abuse of the science, but they'll get over it.

Whatever - I say cheers to the reality wobble!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Denny's Chronicles - Tales From the Other Side of the Tray

One night, I had some local kids do a dine and dash in my station.

It was after midnight, and they'd been taking up a six top for several hours, ordering more and more food and picking at it, drinking gallons of coffee and soft drinks. I had other tables to work, but they were, by far the highest maintenance. Eventually, after picking at a pile of food, running me ragged, and making a monumental mess that I'd have to clean up (we bussed our own tables), they ordered desert. Thank goodness!!

I wasn't expecting much of a tip from these twits, because I knew the area too well. Kids from Dunwoody High School were often guilty of classist assery, and in their eyes, a waitress was bottom off the social strata - we were servants and we should feel privileged to serve them. They didn't know I'd graduated from Dunwoody myself, a couple of years earlier, and probably knew their older siblings. All they saw was someone to treat like shit so they could feel better about their vacuous existence.

I was expecting them to pay their tab, however. It seems they had different ideas. While I was putting together the deserts they'd all ordered, they were giggling and sneaking out the door. The door in full view of the galley where I was working. Sneaking out to climb into their BMW and zoom off into the night. Without covering the enormous amount of food they'd wasted, or my time fetching it to them.

Oh, not, not on my shift. I chased their sorry asses down in the parking lot (I guess they figured the fat chick couldn't run. Shows what they know - I was a sprinter in my youth, and was still outrunning out-of-control race cars every weekend), hauled the ringleader inside and called his daddy - right after I called the cops. He tried to pay the tab, but it was too late for him. I wasn't impressed with the Gold Card (or whatever he was waving at me, honestly I don't remember) or the promise of a really nice tip. Nope. I was pissed. The others were stuck without a ride, because ringleader-boy had the car keys, and goddess forbid they walk anywhere, so they milled about the entry calling me names and declaring me "uncool". Whatever - I had never been guilty of being "cool" in the first place and I really didn't care what they thought of me at that point. Damn punks with their nouveau-riche attitude..."My dad's making a million a year so I'm better than you and can treat you like shit, even though I've never done a damn thing to help improve humanity and am a complete waste of oxygen"...Hah!

I refused to let it slide, even when daddy tried to buy me off, tried to talk me out of police involvement. That was par for the Dunwoody course at the time, though - buy your kid's way out of trouble, give them more money to spend and make sure they never suffer the consequences of their actions because they might be uncomfortable for a little while and blame you for their idiocy. Please, be a parent!! Grow a nut, for heaven's sake!! I wasn't being bought, though. Nope. I was just sick of the jack-assery, and I could always sell a kidney to make rent.

Daddy paid the tab with his credit card, in view of the nice officers. Of course, he didn't tip me. Ass. He should have tipped me double and taken it out of the kid's hide, but gods forbid a child should learn to be respectful of others, develop a sense of empathy, and realize that the job does not define the person.

At least the manager backed me - he was just as sick of the punks as I was. The things they did to our bathrooms should have warranted a psychological evaluation at the very least. People scorn truckers and the like, but none of them ever tried to walk out on a tab, stiff a waitress on the tip, or did something unspeakable to the restroom or spouted obscenities at the top of their lungs just to annoy other diners. Nope. That would be the wealthy, privileged kids.

They never came back, any of that group, and we never missed them for a minute.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Who doesn't want to be...


Full Circle

Can you see what's missing here?

If you can, you're a better mum than I, who didn't notice for almost a whole day.

Yes, that's right. An entire day.

It would help if the kid got excited over these things, but he's so laid back about his body, he's so knowledgeable about how it grows and changes (all those anatomy lessons he demanded - I won't have anything left to teach him, come puberty), that he just takes it all in stride. I bet if his arm fell off, he'd shrug his remaining shoulder and assume a new one will grow in eventually.
Yes, my little Evil Genius lost a tooth. He lost it last night while we were at our regular Black Hat Society meeting, which is really more of a play group for our motley collection of boys at the moment. Apparently, he saw it fall out, but didn't feel the need to share that with me. I never knew the dang thing was even loose!

M has promised to look for it and save it if she or R (her husband) happens to find it. I'd kind of like it, but I'm not holding my breath. Look how tiny those teeth are!!

I didn't notice last night as we packed up to come home, or in the car, or as he yelled at me for making him go to bed at the obscenely early hour of one-o'clock, when a really good mum would let him stay up until at least dawn.

I didn't notice it this morning when he was downing homemade blueberry pancakes like he hadn't eaten in a month (Six? Six blueberry pancakes? I ask you, where does he put them??) - no, I thought a blueberry skin had gotten caught on his tooth...and I didn't even tell him to go brush, so double boo on me!

I didn't notice while he serenaded me with "I loooove youuuuuu...I'll love you until the end, which will never come...it's all about youuuu....I love youuuuuuu......"

I didn't notice it this afternoon while we sat together and read his new dinosaur book and shared some 'Nilla Wafers, or when we were playing Nintendo together (I play, he helps, and I already know why I'm a bad mum for this so don't press yourself to point it all out to me, thanks). Nope, not until late afternoon did I notice that what I'd thought was a blueberry skin was still there and decidedly not blueberry looking. He obligingly opened his mouth for my inspection, and explained when and where he'd lost his tooth.

And I missed it.

I'm bummed - I would have liked to have the tooth for a keepsake...and maybe the second one to make a pair of earrings...kidding! Or maybe not...

I'm a sentimental critter, I admit it, and I would have likely kept the tooth in with the lock from his first haircut (I waited until he was over a year old and it was almost Mother's day, got his first haircut and put the locks into silver, heart-shaped lockets for his grandmother's and me. Yep, schmaltz 'r' me). Now I'll have to hope to snag the second one and pretend until I am old and addled and actually believe it's his first. Sigh.

I shouldn't be surprised, really. When his teeth first came in (the one he lost was one of those), I had no idea. He didn't tell me about it, never let on he was ready to gnaw through tree branches on his own. No, it was an acquaintance who was dandling his five-month self on her knee who let me know he had teeth in. Not "coming in", in. Cut through the gums and rising up apace. And I'd had no idea. He would have been gnawing beef jerky before I noticed, I guess. In my defense, he never cried and he drooled fairly copiously from birth, so it's not like I had a clue.

So it makes sense that I wouldn't realize he was losing one. We've just come full circle.

Oh, and he's not worried about the tooth fairy or anything - we never really went over that, but he knows to let me know when the next one is loose, and to bring it to me when it falls out and I'll give him a prize. I bet I give him something way cooler than the tooth fairy would, anyway.