Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallowe'en!!!

Ahhhh...'tis that time of year. Children running around, carrying on like the tiny freaks that they usually are...dressed as miniature Luke Skywalkers, Lightening McQueens, or Hannah Montanas. Leaves are just terrifical; all the colors starting to form, changing from bright summer green to even brighter fall oranges, yellows, reds, browns, and purples. Weather? Perfect! Cool (heck, downright chilly) at night, and sunny, breezy, and cool during the day. Excellent jeans and a sweatshirt weather. It's FALL, people!! Wake up and smell the leaf fires!

Soon, it will be Turkey second favorite time of year (clearly, I love to could that not be one of my favorite holidays???). My first favorite, winter, is right around the corner. Granted, we've had Christmas stuff up in my store for a good 1½ months already, but still...we're early risers! Hopefully, snow will soon be falling, trees glistening with ice, trucks driving down the streets with Christmas trees in tow. I've already made my first batch of "Let It Snocoa" for the year (yummy white hot chocolate). I really love winter and Christmas, but this year, for some reason, it's especially exciting for me. I don't know why.

This brings me to my next point. 2 easy words....Gingerbread House. Do you make them? It's a tradition in my family, and one of the few things that all three kids and their families get together for anymore. My mom bakes the gingerbread the night before, so it's cooled and cut into the forms before we arrive at her house. She's had the same paper patterns for the house for as long as I can remember, and they fit perfectly into one of her cookie sheets, with just enough gingerbread leftover to form the makeshift fence around the house. Candy galore, and the kids have an absolute blast. Some of my most vivid memories are of cookie house night. We have a special silver platter for it, and it stays at mom's house. We all pick little sneaks of candy off it every time we're there, until the candy is too hard to eat anymore. I don't even know how it gets tossed every year. It's probably something my mom does without our knowledge, so we don't have to see it go.

We're going to mom's house tonight to trick or treat for awhile, then off to a parade near her house with friends. The kids will be candy-stuffed and wiped out, but it will be a great night. A great fall night.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Children never cease to amaze me.

I didn't post about it, but a few days ago Bean Pole got hit in the face with an arrow. That's right, an from a bow and arrow. Now what on Earth made this kid think it would be okay to let someone aim an arrow at him is beyond me, but he did it.

Let me take that back...I don't know the details, as they were playing with friends in the park one field over. Maybe the other kids were playing bows and arrows and Bean Pole just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I know my son...chances are good that's not the way it happened.

So...Bean Pole and a couple neighbor kids walk up to our backdoor and a neighbor kid knocks on the door. I swing the door open, and there stands Bean Pole, with a bloodied bunch of paper towels holding his face. My first thought? His eye had been poked out (or poked in, as I used to say to my mother when she pulled the ol' It's-all-fun-and-games-til-someone-gets-their-eye-poked-out trick). I was outwardly a cool as a cucumber mom, but inside, I was almost hysterical. Keep in mind, I just had a friend almost lose sight in his eye by accidentally sling-shotting a chunk of tree stump back into his face with a Bobcat. Visions of this friend's swollen-shut eye and bloodied, bruised face were running through my head as I stared at my son, halfway listening to the older neighbor talk. He was studying to be a nurse, and although he wasn't there when the "attack" happened, he'd looked at the injury, and thought Bean Pole might need a trip to the ER.

ER? We don't need no stinking ER!

I thank them, bring Bean Pole inside, and peel away the paper towel that's now stuck to his face with blood. He's got a good puncture wound, just to the side of his nose, about an inch below his right eye. There is a flap of skin almost imbedded in the wound, which I had to almost dig out with a Q-tip. Lovely. I'm sure it was wonderful for him as well.

So a few band aids and applications of triple antibiotic ointment later, it's on it's way to healing, but I bet he'll get a mother of a scar. I told him it'll be that kind of scar that his girlfriend will ask him about someday...and he can tell her that he was in some kind of battle with the enemy or something heroic like that. He just looked at me like I was from Venus, then looked away. At this point, people keep asking him what happened, and he won't tell them..says he wants me to tell them. Embarrassed much?

That's probably a good thing...maybe it'll be awhile before he takes on another arrow. These boys will be the death of me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall Cleaning?

Is there such a thing? Why on Earth put a seasonal label on something as mundane as cleaning?!? Everyone does some kind of spring cleaning, whether they like to admit it or not. The opening of windows, deep cleaning carpets, pulling everything out of closets and basements, going through the old junk...only to close the windows when it gets too muggy and hot, stomp around on the carpet with muddy boots from the spring rains, pile the closets with summer playthings, and shove "new" junk into the basement. It's a cycle, when really all we need to do is get rid of stuff and stop getting new stuff.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I've had an epiphany recently (like, in the past 24-48 hours). This house is much as the bank likes to think they own it (ahem), it's not their's our home. We're the ones living in it every single day, and I truly believe "Cluttered home, cluttered mind". I see evidence of it every single day. I simply cannot think or function normally when there is no order around me. True, some of this would be considered "organized chaos" by true obsessive-compulsive people, and although I'm anal about some things, others I'm fairly lenient on.

How much easier would life be if I stayed up an extra 15 minutes every evening to do the dishes? FlyLady preaches this practice...shine your sink every evening, because mornings are so much brighter with s shiny sink facing you than one full of dishes and stink.

How much easier would life be if Big Boss Man went through the mail while standing over the trash can? Does he realize how much junk mail we get in a single week? It's enough to pile up and overflow from our kitchen table, that's for damn sure! If he went through it over that big blue plastic thing in our kitchen (yes honey, that is the trash can), throwing junk mail out as he went, we'd get maybe 2 pieces of mail a day that need attention.

How much easier would life be if laundry were done on a daily basis? At least one load a day. I used to think saving it all for the weekend would make things easier...just do laundry while I'm cleaning house or in between running errands. But that is time that would be much better spent going exploring with Bean Pole and Little Linebacker. Or better spent driving to the nearby lake to feed the ducks or go fishing. If I picture a scale with cleaning on one side and family time on the other, I know which one would be weighed down to the ground. But I know which one I'd rather weighed more.

Seasonal cleaning makes sense. Change of weather/time/colors/foods makes even the most pre-occupied mind notice something different. It's a time for cleansing...a time for change...a time for renewal. But I also want a time to play in the leaves. Time to have movie night with my kids without getting up halfway through to switch laundry from washer to dryer. This time will only come from saving time in other areas of life...simplifying other areas of life. De-junking other areas of life. I see this revelation as an opportunity not only to re-learn how to manage things, but to teach my children that things go so much smoother when you keep what you need and toss what you don't.

It's takes time to learn the difference between what we need and what we don't. But it is time that's well spent, and will save us from ourselves in the long run. I mat restart this learning process every seasonal change when I get the gumption, but each season it will last a little longer than before, and one spring/summer/fall/winter, it'll stick. It'll keep hangin' on without me thinking about it every day, or having to put effort into it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

I readily admit it...we are a fanatic football family. Big Boss Man, a die hard Redskins fan; our older son, Bean Pole, a Chicago Bears fan; me, an Indianapolis Colts fan, and our other son, Little Linebacker...a completely undeniable fair-weather, all-team fan. Picture this:

It was a cool Sunday in October. Big Boss Man had gone to bed early for once because he wasn't feeling well. My sons and I were sitting in the living room watching the Cowboys play the Pats. For once in his life, Little Linebacker had actually decided on a team and stuck with it for much of the game; I was hoping his fickle football "fantics" were over. Further into the game, however, I was proven very wrong.

4th quarter, 3:59 left to play. 1st and 10 at the Dallas 19. Romo tosses a short pass up the middle, and Seau intercepts it at the 25 and runs it to the 20. My Little Linebacker...the completely undeniable fair-weather, all-team fan, bursts into tears! I looked over in astonishment at the sudden emotion explosion he exhibited, and see alligator tears streaming already. Big Boss Man came out of the bedroom, thinking Bean Pole had punched Little Linebacker (or some other kind of brotherly physical assault had taken place).

Forget Brady's 16 incomplete passes before this point. Forget his fumble which Dallas recovered. Forget 3 sacks. Forget that halfway through the 2nd quarter, the score was only 21-17 Pats. Forget also that in the 3rd quarter, the Boys were actually winning 24-21 for a time, and that at the beginning of the 4th, the score was a mere 38-27 Pats...Billy himself said in his press conference following the game, "Look, we've all seen games, I mean [like] the Tampa Bay-Indianapolis game a couple of years ago - 21 points in about four minutes, or whatever it was. So don't tell me about leads in this league. Until the final gun goes off, it's not a win." What it all came down to for my little 6 year old's then pure-Cowboy heart was that interception.

He spent the remainder of his time in the living room bawling like a youngin' with every Cowboy incomplete pass or point scored by the Patriots. I finally realized he was just crying out of exhaustion and couldn't even make the tears come anymore, so I took him to bed. His head hit the pillow and he was out like a light. He made no mention of that game, or the NFL in general until the beginning of this weekend, when he commented, "I can't wait for Sunday and Monday night football!".

He couldn't even tell me which teams were playing which game.

Tonight's game started with a Little Linebacker desire to see the Broncos win. After asking Big Boss Man which team he wanted to win, and Boss Man replying with the Steelers, our flesh and blood flat out changed his mind! "Okay, Steelers!" he said, with a pouty face and even poutier body language. And that only lasted until the 2nd quarter when Roethlisberger was stripped of the ball and Crowder ran it back for a Broncos TD. All hell breaketh loose.

Our children are now in bed, same as last Sunday night. One of these weeks, they may actually get to stay up for a whole game. But only if The Little Linebacker can pick a team and stick with it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Crazy Chicken!!

A wise young chicken once said not to be left out in the cold. And this is what Crunchy Chicken suggests:

Take the challenge, people. Keep the thermostats lowered starting November 1st, 2007, and see how much energy (not to mention money in your pockets) you can save! to find a sweater for Dexter (I must be looking in all the wrong spots, because all I find are dog sweaters...cats need warm apparel too!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness, research, treatment, and survival. This affliction has touched many people dear to me...many of the women on my mother's side of my family have been diagnosed and are survivors, and it took my mother-in-law (God rest her soul) before I got a chance to meet her...before she got to see the sweet smiles of her grandsons. But to bring more attention to this disease and the need to wipe it and it's devestation completely from our lives, I'm going to post a few links to organizations dedicated to the eradication of this deadly malady. Some are huge, well-known organizations, others are small groups localized to certain areas. Anyone, anyone donating money or time to fight this disease is worthy of many thanks. (thank you E!)

After visiting these sights, if you feel the desire to contribute in some way, join a walk in your area. Visit the cancer wing of a local hospital, and share the joy that cancer patients carry with them, even in the midst of the toughest fight they'll ever face. Getting your hair cut in the near future? Wait a little longer to make it to that 10 inch mark, then donate it to Locks Of Love. It's simple, and many companies offer free or discounted haircuts if you give your hair to them to send in (I know for a fact that Great Clips gives a free haircut if you let them send in your hair). As one site above suggests, get pledges for $1 an inch, and donate along with the hair.

If you do nothing else, at least the link on the right side of this blog to help fund mammograms for people who can't afford to get them on their own (many insurance companies put up a tremendous fight before they'll cover this preventative measure, and there are millions of people who have no medical insurance). Anything you can do will help.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I'm feeling very...disheartened.

There is a song in the aforementioned L'il Abner called Progress is the Root of All Evil. I'm going to use my poetic license to change that title to Money is the Root of All Evil. Truly. I know for fact that there are people in the world who have riches beyond counting and are desperately unhappy. I also know some very poor people whose cup runneth over. I, myself, just don't get it...I haven't reached that spot in my life.

I don't want to be rich. Far from it, in fact. I don't want a big house, because that's just more for me to clean. I don't want a nicer car (I really love my van...although I would like an ol' beater truck, but that's more for convenience, and would be in addition to the van). I don't want the newest cell phone that's the size of the 'enter' key on my keyboard and as thin as a playing card. I'm happy with my Samsung SGH-X497. No boats, no vacation home in Tuscany, no private jet.

I am, however, a worry wart by nature. I don't know which parent I inherited that gene from (thankyouverymuch Mom & Dad), but I've definitely got it. They'd probably claim that it skips a generation, and that they're not at fault (probably a valid point). I worry from day to day about making ends meet. I don't remember being poor as a kid, so I guess my parents were pretty good about hiding money troubles. I, on the other hand, am not so good at that task. I make sure that my children know that we can't go to the movies (or McDonalds, or the go cart track) every single night because we don't have the money to spend frivilously like that. I also make sure to teach them that finishing school (meaning high school and college) is detrimental to making anything above minimum wage, and even that's no guarantee.

There are thing we have that we don't need. We don't need cable tv. We don't need our cell phones (although that is becoming more and more a valid arguement these days, for safety reasons). We do need internet, but that's for school purposes only (blogging and surfing are just perks). We don't need two vehicles, but it makes two adults with differing schedules a whole lot easier to bear. If we got rid of these things, making ends meet would be easier. We're probably be a closer family too, I suppose, as we'd be forced by necessity to do more things together. We are not to that point. We are close, but no quite there. All I want is to live without worry...without the worry of making those ends meet...those ends that sometimes seem on opposite sides of the Earth.

I guess I'm writing because it seems so hopeless. It seems an impossible mountain to unrelenting battle not of sword and shield, but dollars and cents. It's demoralizing, watching your coworkers order lunch every day, yet you have to refrain because you have a certain amount of money to last until Friday, and lunch out just ain't in the budget. It's horrifying when your children want holiday decorations on your house, but goodness if the prices don't go up, up, up every year! It's a string of lights and a ghost, for crying out loud!

I know there are lessons to be learned here. And I'm writing more to rant, rave, and vent than any other reason. We've made our beds, and now we're learning to get comfortable in them. Hopefully, someone will read this who is full of dispair, and they'll realize that they're not the only one. Someone else acted foolishly and is now paying the price, trying desperately to dig out of the hole they'd quite easily dug for themselves, all the while keeping the standard of living that they've grown accustomed to.

Rejoice, my friends, for you are not alone.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'm passionate! I'm a passionate woman.

You know, I'm passionate about my children and family...they're #1 to me, and I'd die before I let anything happen to them. But I can't think of anything else that I'm truly passionate about.

I have many things in my life that I really like. I really like my job...working in the pharmacy is fulfilling; it has it's trying days when patients are upset over something or other, but for every one patient who yells at me, there are literally a hundred that don't. I like fitness, although I'm tormented every single day by the chips in the cupboard, or the ice cream in the freezer; most of the time, unfortunately, the goodies win over my iron will (or my lack thereof). I like fact, I'd almost stretch to say I'm passionate about food. Except that I'm passionate about eating, not food. I'm not a foodie, I'm an "eatie" (HA!). And as aforementioned, I tend to be passionate about eating the "wrong" things instead of the "right" things.

Having such a passionate indecision leads one through a quagmire of "where-is-my-life-going-itis". I'm now 29 years old (almost [gasp] 30), and I've got no clue where my life is headed. When I was little, I was always the one that would grow to drive a station wagon, groceries in the trunk, a dog and 16 kids hanging out the windows (let's leave the lack of a plan for carseats out of this, please...I was 8 fortheloveofPete!). That has not, and will not, happened. In high school, I was a music freak...choir, band, head drum major, musical theatre, if it held a tune, I was involved. But I was never good at music, if that makes sense. I loved the performance part of it, but the technical stuff got to me...I didn't read music well; it was always a stuggle. I used to get my hands on tapes of the piece I was learning, and play it by ear. Right? Nope. Did it get me A's in my class? Absolutely. I was also sure that I would become an English teacher. I had always done well in English, and it seemed fitting since my father was (and still is) a teacher. I don't know what made me stray from that idea, but I did.

Since then, life has truly been a whirlwind. Children, marriage, and a couple jobs later, I've got very little direction. When I started working in the pharmacy, I thought I'd found it. I love what I do, and I think I do it well (and my boss agrees). That is my tentative plan right now, to go to pharmacy school and become a pharmacist. I do remember, however, that I was never good at science. Biology sort of interested me, but chemistry? Nada. I'd like to think it was all the teacher's fault (and none of it mine, of course), but I doubt that's the case. If I were to go to pharmacy school, it would be a would be a definite struggle. So is it worth it? I know what pharmacists make (at least a roundabout figure). I also know how long they go to school for and how hard it is when you're a fast learner, let alone a slower one like me. And would it be fair to my patients if I was doing something I didn't feel passionate about? Or would I find that passion during or after going through school?

My mind has been wandering back to English. What would happen if I went back to college and majored in English? What would that get me? I could teach, but that is truly God's work, with all the horrifying things going on in schools these days. I could be an editor or a writer, but are those really constant, secure, money-making jobs? I have a family to worry about helping support. And again, is it fair (to students, readers, or myself) to do something for the rest of my life that I hold no passion for? No intense fire burning deep inside me that says "This is what I was meant to do!"? Or does that come with time for most people, and the ones who feel it from their first memories are the exception, not the rule?

So how does one decide? I've spent 10 years trying things on now, and nothing seems to fit quite right. I always thought life is like a good either fits, or it doesn't fit. But maybe, just maybe, it's truly like a great pair of shoes or takes time to work your way into them and to get that "made just for me" fit.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just your typical Ax Lady day.

Today started as any normal day would. Kids up way too early; first quiet, then running around, screaming and laughing like hyenas over some video game they were playing. My first thought? Coffee, and lots of it. Come to think of it, I didn't even get a cup. I remember making it, but I do not remember opening my new bottle of creamer. I decided to go to Home Depot as soon as my husband woke up. We had a drawer in the kitchen mysteriously break on us a few weeks ago, and it's just not gotten fixed. It's been laying on the kitchen floor next to the wall. It was still laying there last night when Big Boss Man slammed his little toe into the corner of it (that's actually when the Home Depot trip was planned). So I bought the sliders I needed and returned home, delighted that something else in the house would be fixed. I had installed the sliders on the drawer itself when Big Boss Man called me from the basement (not a good sign recently). I joined him downstairs where he wanted me to take a whack at getting a broken light bulb out of the socket. No biggie, I thought, as a potato had always worked for me. This time, however, there were no glass shards coming from the socket...only the metal light bulb base. Great.

So we grabbed a pair of needle-nose pliers and start twisting and turning (yes, they had rubber grips). Nothing. Well, not nothing...we bent both the bulb base and the socket quite well, if I do say so myself. Since we were in the basement, and no one really spends time down there at all, we agreed to switch out this fixture with one exactly like it about 8 feet away that never got used. Easy solution. All was going well...we'd switched fixtures and all that was left was to tighten the "new" fixture back into place and flip the breakers (by this time we had actually turned them off).

Did you know that a power screwdriver has enough torque to not only turn a screw, but to turn it so hard that it will crack a ceramic light fixture? I knew that. I truly think Big Boss Man knew that too, but it certainly didn't dawn on him as he tightened the last screw. I thought I might pee my pants, I was laughing so hard ("I'm not laughing at you honey, I'm laughing with you!"). However, as I stated before, no one really hangs out in the basement, so who gives a flying leap about the fixture being broken? We don't, so we flipped the circuit breakers back on, and voilĂ !! Let there be light! Catastrophe numero uno, averted.

I climbed the stairs to continue with my kitchen drawer, but I started hearing this horrible knocking, clicking sound, and it grew louder with each stair. Apparently, turning the circuit breakers off is enough to kill a fish tank filter (that was probably on it's last legs anyway). The noise was incredible, so I dialed my aquarium (who I believe know me by name now, as I call or come in with so many questions...but hey, I buy lots of fish from them too!). My friendly neighborhood aquarium man advises me, but says if this doesn't work, then I need a new filter. Clearly, it didn't work. This is me we're talking about, and that would've been too easy. So I ran out to buy the new filter; $40 and about ½ hour later, catastrophe numero dos, averted.

Back I go, again, to fix my kitchen drawer...I WILL fix this drawer. I started removing the old cabinet slider parts, and I realized that they were completely Mickey Moused. Well since I have them taken apart already, I'll show them who's boss in this house, and I'll fix that too! I finished one side, then finished the other, slide the drawer in, and it falls. Completely fell out of one side of sliders. Huh? The drawer did work before it broke, and I bought the same exact sliders, installed in the same exact holes. So I put the drawer back in, thinking that magically it would work the second time...obviously I should've had my morning coffee. Slam! Yeah, fell again. It's time to take a break.

When I finally got the nerve to really go show this drawer who's boss (I guess I was just kidding the first time), I realized why it had been Mickey Moused in the first place. So I stood there, staring at the drawer (laying in the cabinet below where it was really supposed to be), and I put the Mickey Mouse fix right back where it was. Drawer works perfectly...good as new. Catastrophe numero tres, toast.

I figure if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

A milestone has been reached.

Everyone knows that a pregnancy is nine months long, right? Or in my case, 4 days longer and 9 days longer than the "normal" nine months (my children started out late, and have been continuing that throughout life). Well. I'd smoked since I was 15 years old. The only times I was able to quit for any length of time was when I was pregnant. Both times, cold turkey, as soon as I found out. Then, obviously, I would give birth, go back to work, stress would completely take over my mental state (the physical cravings were long gone by that time), and I would light up like nothing had changed. I tried to quit here and there a couple of times, and it would last a good month, then I'd cave.

I am quite happy to report that as of today, I have been completely smoke-free for ONE YEAR. No social smoking, no "just this one" on a break, nada. This is a huge accomplishment for me, and I felt it deserved it's place in writing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Anniversay, Honey

I would rather spend one lifetime with you than face all the Ages of this world alone. - Arwen, LOTR

4 years ago today at 4pm, the best thing happened to me. It was a beautiful fall day, made especially so by the fact that it had rained for about 2 weeks straight before that day. The setting? An old German restaurant in the historic part of St. Charles. Cool and breezy (but not too much so, just enough to be comfortable outside, a blessing here in St. Louis), sun shining, just the picture of a perfect day. There were people everywhere, mostly family, but friends as well, some of which had travelled from as far as Alaska to be a part of the day. Big Boss Man and his crew were dressed in tuxedos, all standing around with sunglasses on, looking like secret service agents (minus the earpieces, of course). I was dressing in a room off the main restaurant with my mother, sister,and best friend at my side.

When the time arrived, I walked outside to meet my father, and we waited and watched as my best friend, sister, then my two sons walked up the stairs to the gazebo sitting atop a hill. I grabbed my father's arm and started off. Stopping halfway up to laugh and hike my gown up with my hand (I kept tripping as we trodded up the stairs) gave peek into the humor and "such is life" attitude we've kept throughout our entire relationship. As I reached the gazebo, Big Boss Man looked at me and said "Honey, you look beautiful", and I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. Any butterflies I'd had were lost in his eyes. My father walked back down the steps and rangled the children, who were at the age where sitting is much better than standing at a scene like this. We gave ourselves to each other, in front of God, our family and closest friends.

After vows were vowed, kisses were kissed, and we became husband and wife, the celebration began. We ate some really delicious food, drank sparkling juice, champagne, and wine, and we shared time with the people who'd travelled so far to share their time with us. The party has obviously ended, but the fun and love we have still runs as deep as the cold Alaska rivers my husband introduced me to.

We've taken trips, changed shifts at work, watched our babies "grow up" into the delightful little people they are now. Everything has changed, yet things are comfortably still the same. We are the embodiment of "opposites attract", which means we fit together like a good jigsaw puzzle, each complimenting the other. He gives me wings; I keep him grounded. He holds my heart; he supports me like no other can; he lifts me up when I fall, more than he'll ever know, and more than I could ever find words to explain.

I love you. Happy anniversary.

Monday, October 08, 2007

As Every Cat Owner Knows, Nobody Owns A Cat - Ellen Perry Berkeley

We recently "inherited" a pet...a short-haired gray tabby named Dexter. Dexter belonged to my father's roommate for his whole cat life. Then one day, the roommate moved out, and my father, the cat-lover, said, "Dexter, party's over Pal" and made Dexter move outside. Dexter enjoyed his 3 months living in the outdoors...he chased birds (and caught a few), he rolled in the dry New Mexico sand, he came and went as he pleased. Then my father had a change of plans.

Dad got a new that took him from the dry heat of New Mexico to the frigid winters of Minnesota. And again, cat-lover that he is, he decided not to take Dexter along for the ride. There was a no-kill shelter in Albuquerque, so that was his plan. Until the boys and I flew out for a visit about 2 weeks before his move. How could we let this lovable, kid-friendly cat just walk out of our lives? My husband had always wanted a cat. We had fish, but there's just something about having a pet you can actually, well, pet. So the decision was made. Dexter would come home with us.

Now keep in mind, when we fly, my entire family flies standby. This means that you go the to gate, wait for every single person and their brother to board the plane, and then if there are leftover seats, you get to fly. If there aren't seats, then you go to the next gate and try again. It's a perk of working for an airline, and usually works out for the best. That is, until you try getting four people and a cat on a flight from Denver to St. Louis. It just doesn't happen, or at least doesn't happen easily. We'd ended up driving the rental car from New Mexico to Denver, enjoying the scenery and some mighty tasty Beau Jo's pizza. Once we got there, however, the fun really began.

I'll put it this way...we planned on leaving on a flight from Denver to St. Louis on Saturday. We ended up not getting home until late Tuesday night, and the only way we did that was to fly from Denver to Chicago, then take yet another rental and drive home to St. Louis. It was an ordeal, and not one that I'll soon repeat. That's about the most polite thing I can say about that. Four days stuck in an airport, wandering from gate to gate like lost puppies (or kitties, as the case may be), will make anyone lose their mind.

So...we've had Dexter for awhile now. He's a wondrous cat...lazy as hell, friendly as all get out, doesn't play unless you want to play, etc. He's my dream cat. He sleeps in between my knees every single night, and he loves to have his belly rubbed. My favorite thing about Dexter? He has taken to climbing onto the very top of my high-backed office chair and lounging there while I sit at my computer. It's the perfect place for him, like it was made specifically for him, as he lays his head over the edge and his front legs fall on either side. Of course, I had to learn not to lean back with him there, so not to throw him off balance. But this was easily done.

Dexter has fast become a part of our family. The few beginning times that he'd gotten outside (or that I thought he'd gotten out, as he was sleeping on some coats in the living room closet), I was heartbroken. I was bawling as though one of my children were missing. Now he takes regular romps outside, with either Big Boss Man or me watching closely to make sure he stays near (at least for the present). I would have never thought that I could become so closely attached to an animal, but it's happened. He is a true blue family member. He's completely taken over the house, and has earned his rightful place. We don't own a cat...quite the opposite rings true.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Getting my feet wet, or just cold feet?

Well, after spending days formatting the decor at the electronic version of Whirlwind Lodge, I've decided to put something, anything, into words. I am a member of a few online communities, but nothing like this...nothing where I am soley, 100% responsible for the entertainment of my readers. In other forums, I have support...some days I am leading actress, others I am supporting actress, I am stage crew, or I am pit orchestra. Here, it's a solo performance, and it takes some getting used to. It's given me a sense of cold feet that I haven't had since I appeared as a one-liner in a high school rendition of L'il one and only line, "We wants to broaden our horizons!", said in my best 'hillbilly' accent. Aahhh, the memories. inagural act won't be some deep thought. It won't be glittering with insight, nor will it be useful, beneficial information to all whose eyes stumble through. It will be a story...a story of a commode.

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That's right, a commode...the can...a porcelain throne...the crapper. Mine, in fact. We've lived in Whirlwind Lodge for going on 6 years now, and somewhere along the line, our toilet began to leak. Life happens though, and even though I'm down in the basement practically right underneath the crapper at least once a day grabbing laundry, it goes unnoticed. Unnoticed for about 5 years. Then, almost suddenly, I notice the toilet now rocks when you sit on it. Let me say, it's a frightening feeling knowing that if the can falls through the floor, your butt will be stuck on the top of a big cast iron pipe full of sewage. But still, we sit. The leak isn't obviously coming from the toilet, so we choose, consciously or not, to ignore it. Until today.

Today, I'm switching wet clothes over to the dryer, and I hear water splashing. Thudding, actually, as it hits a windbreaker jacket I've laid on the floor in order to wash next. I look up, and fortheloveofPete, the actual toilet is leaking (remember, I've ignored all previous signs of the toilet leakage). So I have Big Boss Man come down and watch while I go upstairs to flush...the whole "yell-if-it's-leaking" bit. Sure enough, he yells. So I decide that today is the day. Today is the day I stop being a wuss about DIYing the bathroom. I can at least handle the tear down, right? I have a couple friends I can call for small inquiries, and we have another working bathroom, so if I totally jack this one up, it's no biggie.

So I grunt. And I moan. I jam my fingers into more porcelain than I knew existed in my bathroom. I use a lot of WD-40, and I break a couple very rusty bolts. I lay in GOD KNOWS WHAT in order to detach the tank from the bowl. Then, with the help of Big Boss Man, the tank is lifted off and the bowl is removed. Years of wood rot is visible, laying from the sink on one side of the commode to the bathtub on the other side, and we realize what a big undertaking this bathroom thing is really going to be in the long run. But man! I feel like a woman!

So let it be known, girls, that if something needs fixed, or at least taken apart, in your home, you don't need to wait on your husband to get it done! Grab that wrench and some WD-40 and go at it! Look at it this way...if you let it go as long as we did, nothing you do will make it any worse...things can only look up from here.