Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - The Year in Review

In case you were wondering, no, I didn’t write a post on future Christmases because I was to busy doing stuff. Important stuff that I can’t remember, but I know I did it and it was important.

The cats will agree.

2011 started out pretty much like most years, full of promise and hope, with a whole calendar of potential waiting to be used in the best manner possible. Tam and I spent quite a bit of it playing Diablo II expansion pack.

This year saw a lot of new and exciting things:
--Spawn turned 28.
--My job nearly killed me.
--Tam became temporary (but long-term temporary) kitchen manager.
--Middle Minion turned 21!
--Tam and I spent two weeks visiting my parents.
--Middle Minion moved out while we were gone!
--We discovered having extra space in the garage was rather nice, even if we did miss the former resident known as Middle Minion.
--I discovered that my phone likes to send texts that make me sound like an angry Goblin. “Gassy universalX!” is what my phone said instead of Happy Anniversary. It seems to really like being gassy more than it likes being happy.
--The Hair got a job and is moving up the ladder very quickly.
--Then she turned 25!
--We pondered and planned for the future and a purchase of a lovely little shop.
--We watched those plans shift and settle and potentially change, although I’m still not giving up all hope…yet…
--We discussed the possibility of moving in with my parents in order for me to take care of my father.
--Tam’s son, Beans, turned 21, but has not quite achieved employed status.
--There was the birth of the third book in my Fantasy series (as well as an open door for the next one!)
--Most Minor Minion turned 20!
--Li’l Red has fully embraced his obnoxious teenage years and his chances of surviving them grow slimmer each day.
--I tried and decided I hate facebook with a passion and deleted my account.
--We deleted our television.
--Spawn got a job.
--Most Minor Minion quit his job and started college.
--The former LOTM got engaged to a very nice lady. Here’s hoping she doesn’t give him nearly as much trouble as I did.
--I began “paper sculpting” greeting cards again.
--Tam began sculpting darling figurines in heat-cured modeling compound and I’m trying to convince her to start selling them. Goblin butts are darling. Really.
--We experienced new twists on old holidays and I spent them with Tam’s family.
--We attempted a Christmas bakeoff with the kids. Next Christmas’ bakeoff will be better, I promise.
--We did some cleaning, just not enough to even remotely call the place organized.
--I did some editing and planning out of future books in the series.
--Best of all, I figured out the direction I’m going to take in order to get published!

It wasn’t the best year I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t quite the worst either. There was a lot to appreciate in 2011, and I expect there will be a lot to appreciate in the coming year as well. New friends and old blessed my life and I am thankful for all of them.

In 2012, I will be thankful for the job I have and strive to keep it as long as possible (unless an office position that doesn’t involve being hit or requiring me to change diapers opens up, then I’m jumping for that one).
I will remain hopeful for the future.
I will do my best to keep writing and aiming for the goal of publication.
I will do my best to keep reading your blogs and commenting on them, not just reading them and wandering off with the intent to make a comment “when time permits.”
I will do my best to keep up with my Monday Love Texts.

Thanks for the good time, 2011!

Love to you all,

Karen, Tam, and family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Gift of Christmas Presence

How’d you like that play on words in the title? Yeah, gird your loins, you have a long ramble ahead of you.

December came in with gritted teeth and a bad attitude. It spent the first couple weeks picking at scabs and spitting in our food. It brought in lingering sickness that is still trying to ruin shit half way through the month. But despite all of that, things have settled down and the month is beginning to behave itself. School let out for the two-week winter break and we started it off with a bang. It was Tam’s idea to have all the children over on that first Saturday in order to get all of our holiday baking done. All six children in one house. All those bodies. All those recipes. All those dirty dishes.

It didn’t turn out quite the way we’d planned, which was fine, considering we’d somehow forgotten how tall some of our offspring have gotten now that they’ve moved out. Fudge was made, along with nut toffee (yay for candy maker Spawn! The girl is magic with a candy thermometer). Tam’s son, Beans, made snickerdoodles, and her daughter, The Hair, made strawberry marshmallows. My male offspring didn’t make anything, but they did contribute their brawn when it came to stirring, lifting, and tasting.

That night, we got to see the living room filled with grown male offspring sleeping in various places: Middle Minion on the couch, Most Minor Minion on the floor, and Beans in my recliner (which, by the way, is much shorter than he is).

It was an awesome time, one that I will not soon forget.

* * *

On another good note, the former Lord Of The Manor announced his engagement. He even came over and gave us all the details, including the part where he dropped to his knees to pop the question. After he left, I turned to Tam and said, “He never got to his knees when he asked me to marry him. Maybe he knew what he was in for and wanted to be sure he was ready to run for the hills.”

* * *

Humor played a part in the holidays as well. One day Tam stood up and I heard a strange “hiss.”
“What was that?” I asked.
“I farted.”
“Why is it when you fart, your ass imitates a cat hissing, but when I fart my ass imitates heavy machinery or agitated water fowl?”
“Not always. Sometimes your ass sounds like a perturbed pachyderm.”

My phone hogged most of the humor points, however, as it began altering my texts to the point of total ridiculousness. For instance, I have wished “many gassy years” to two people. I was thinking “happy,” but my phone had other ideas.

I told my ex he could come over on baking day and “nag a infidel or two” and he thought I wanted him to have a “chat” with our children. What I really meant was he could “snag a morsel or two” since we were making all those goodies. I tend to refrain from calling anyone, especially my children, infidels. I’m not even sure why the hell that word is in my phone in the first place!

Poor Middle Minion was offered a supper of “turd scrub” salad, when in reality it was “tuna pasta.”

It changed Spawns name twice, once to “Prawns,” and again to “Spaz.”

ASAP is Crap.

More is Nope.

From this: “Yes, it might make more sense to talk face to face,” to: “Yes, it MIGHT nclo Nope rose to talk dad to dad.”

And: “Orange on baker Annie’s” was “Orange no bake cookies.”

My phone. It hates me real bad.
* * *

I took Spawn to the mall. I did not go into the mall because I didn’t feel the need to be on the six o’clock news. I’m not a big fan of crowded malls and cranky shoppers and immersing myself in the midst of them rarely ends well. Besides, I needed to go elsewhere for my last gift, so we made arrangements on where to meet and off we went. I arrived first, so I sat in the car and watched stuff happen.

At first it was pretty dull, people getting of the bus, drivers looking for parking in the rapidly filling lot, and finally, the parking lot cop directing said traffic. This guy was awesome. He wouldn’t pay any attention to the pedestrians, so he’d wave cars around the corner just as the crosswalk was occupied. Fortunately, the drivers were paying better attention and there were no casualties.

But the best part happened when some dork stopped in the middle of the intersection, rolled down the passenger window and asked the cop for directions. The cop, being of such awesomeness, answered the question, using his hands to emphasize his point. The very same hands he had, only moments before, been using to direct traffic… you can see where this is going probably better than the cop did. Fortunately people were careful and again there were no casualties, but the intersection began to resemble something out of a cartoon or Keystone Cops movie.

* * *

For Tam’s most important gift, I placed an order with a bookstore a mere three-hour drive away. One of the options I had was free shipping. I like free shipping, so I selected it. I placed my order on the 12th of December. On December 20th, it still hadn’t arrived so I got online and attempted to track the package. According to the website, it had made its way to my fair city on the 15th, but after that, no one seemed to know what was happening. I figured they handed it over to the sloth division of parcel delivery, either that or they took it for a lovely tour of Seattle, going up to the Space Needle and showing it a nice time.

I was in a panic, attempting to find my package and the USPS was not much help at all. When I called them, I was treated to 35 minutes of “hold,” listening to the same irritating messages over and over. Finally someone deigned to pick up the phone and it took the woman seven minutes to make me feel like an idiot, infuriate the hell out of me, and verbally shrug her shoulders telling me it’s not their fault.

And they wonder why no one wants to use them any more?!?

The good news is the package finally arrived on the 22nd, nine days after it was shipped from Portland. I was all excited for Christmas until I realized I still had to wrap that stuff.

* * *

For the majority of gifts, we broke out the craft supplies and went to town. Tam has been staining and painting small pine boxes for people, making them unique to each person. When she’s not staining things, she’s creating the most marvelous sculptures from modeling compound. I’ll try to put up pictures later, but that requires breaking out the good camera and I no longer have a computer that accepts the memory card it uses.

I, on the other hand, have been working with my favorite medium, paper, making note cards and wall hangings for friends and family.

We’ll be hosting Christmas breakfast for my side of the family and Spawn has requested cream cheese frosted cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. Sounds pretty damn good to me, but I’d better get busy. Tam and I will be finishing up the baking Friday and Saturday (Christmas Eve! Ack!) and I will attempt a new recipe for peanut butter and bacon cookies.

Yes, peanut butter and bacon. Cookies. Happy Holidays! Have some cholesterol!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Ghosts of Christmas Past

Tam and I went out to find our tree Monday night. Unlike my own experiences of years past, we went to one place with pre-cut specimens, wandered around until we found one light enough to lift, and made our purchase. I have no idea what it’s going to look like once we have it in the house, mainly because it’s still outside waiting for someone to brave the attic long enough to find the goddamn tree stand and the decorations.

In my life, there have been many Christmas trees. More than my years, as there were a number of times in my childhood when I was allowed to have a tree of my very own in my bedroom. It. Was. AWESOME!

Getting the tree was never a particularly easy process, as I’m a picky person when it comes to dead foliage for the living room. I’ve always been a fan of the natural look, turning my nose up at the cropped and shaved cones harvested from local tree farms. Finding something that remotely looked like it came from a forest instead of a can is impossible unless you go to the forest and cut down a tree.

When I was a kid that was pretty much what we’d do, although we didn’t always get to the official forest. Sometimes we were lucky to get headed in the right direction before my father became so annoyed at the excitement exuded by his six-year-old offspring, that he would stop at the side of the first country road we found, climb through the barbed wire fence, and bag himself a tree.

When the forest service opened up their territories, we were able to go up there legally and fetch us a tree. We’d get about half way there, and my father would get annoyed with the 10 year old offspring, that he’d stop the car, wander a few feet off the road, and once again, bag himself a tree.

Finally, I became old enough to get my own damn tree. Sort of. It had snowed heavily, so my father drove me all the way up to the forest service area. The snow was deep and the whole world looked like Christmas. I was decked out in my winter finest of snow boots, nylon ski overalls, and matching jacket. I shushed with every move. We drove for miles and miles up and down narrow snow-covered forest service roads, his knuckles turning whiter and whiter with each passing mile as I looked for the One Tree.

“Stop the truck!” I yelled, “I see it!” I leaped from the cab of the truck, bow saw in hand, and headed to the side of the road. Looking over the edge, I could see it was a little steep, but The Tree was there, waiting patiently for me to kill it and bring it home. When I took my first step I realized the snow was camouflaging a LOT of uneven ground and deadfalls from clearcutting. I lost my footing and, according to my father, disappeared in a cloud of white. He said he tracked my descent by watching the small trees shudder as I pinballed off them.

What he didn’t see was the deep ravine I was heading for like an out of control juggernaut. At the last moment, I struck out with the saw, which bit into the trunk of The Tree, halting my descent. Once I had secured myself, I thanked The Tree by cutting it down and hauling it up the steep slope. My dad said all was quiet at the top, when a tree suddenly came hurling over the embankment onto the road, followed by a saw and finally me.

Tam and I did the forest service trip a couple times, and once it was pretty fun. The other time, it was ok, and the last time was ridiculous because my fiancé made a mess of the hood of his car because he was getting frustrated with his inability to tie down the trees well enough so they wouldn’t fly off. We stepped away to give him plenty of space to swing his macho while standing on the hood of his 82 Honda Civic.

When the former LOTM (Lord Of The Manor, a.k.a., my ex) and I went tree shopping, it was an event that was limited to one tree farm near our house. We’d wander for an hour or so in usually nasty weather, toting small children on hips and in back packs. Sometimes we’d go opposite directions, find a good tree, then lose track of it while attempting to hunt each other down.

One year, we tried to eliminate that problem, by playing the Christmas version of “Marco!” “Polo!” Instead of hollering for a Mongolian explorer, we’d shout, “Merry!” and the other party would yell, “Christmas!” This game only works when there is no cranky woman there by the name of Mary who was NOT amused. “Mary!” “Now what the hell do you want?” is not a fun game.

Then came the advent of cell phones and we tried using those, but… “Where are you?” “I’m over here” is also not much fun at a tree farm. Texting was worse, because then we had the kids with us and they were no help at all. No one could agree on where to look, so they’d all head different directions, leaving their father and I to wander aimlessly around hoping someone would give us a hint they were actually looking at trees and not sulking in the car, texting a friend to complain at how lame parents are, or getting lost on a 100 acre tree farm an hour before closing and realizing your phone battery has died.

Once the tree was purchased, it had to be secured to the top of the vehicle, a feat that, if left to my ex, would require no less than 1,000 yards of twine, two spools of duct tape, and thirty bungee cords. Even with all of that, we usually ended up driving home with the sunroof and/or windows open and someone hanging on to the damn tree so it wouldn’t fly off. One year we figured it would make more sense to tie LOTM into the car seat while I secured the tree to the roof rack.

Back at home, the quest for ornaments and other decorations would begin. Offspring would be distracted with the task of keeping the cats out of the attic. This always involved catnip and laser pointers, and someone would find the lamest Christmas CD’s and stack them on the player where they would stay for the duration of the holidays, filling home with the repetitive obnoxious sounds we heard at every store we visited. Despite my dire warnings and pleadings of caution, my extra fragile antique ornaments always ended up in the box at the bottom of the pile.

Decorations changed over the years, going from fragile glass antiques, to unbreakable plastic, fabric, and other sturdier materials that could withstand small children and large dogs. Then there was the year of the fake tree, which was a lot of fun… for the kitten. Many times I would be sitting back, enjoying the decorations only to realize one of them was looking at me. He would sleep in one spot until the wire arms were bent and there was no recovering the original shape from that. We discovered that Spawn was allergic to the fake tree because the damn thing collected dust. Thing is allergic to the real trees, but not quite as bad.

There was the year of the “TIMBER!” tree; it got knocked over several times when our 100 lb dog got over-excited and crashed into it. There were the under decorated years, where we began with a lovely tree, but ended up moving the ornaments out of the reach of cats, kids, and dogs, leaving the bottom half of the tree devoid of decorations. The year the dog wagged her tail and yanked out the lights; the year we anchored the tree to the curtain rod and ended up with the rod and the curtains hanging in the tree, much to the delight of two small boys. The playpen tree (it was easier to put the tree in the playpen than the kids because the tree did not sit there and scream bloody murder at being cooped up).

Each tree has held a special place in my heart, and every year I do my best to reconnect with those marvelous beauties of my childhood; those trees that somehow got more beautiful each passing year. I will take a little time by myself and marvel at the colors, the sparkles, and that faint echo of Christmases past that allow the child within a few moments to shove adult worries off to the side and revel in the magic.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Well, I Did It

Despite all the crap that’s been flushed our way, I managed to get to 50k words on my NaNoWriMo project. I’m still not done, and I didn’t win by much, but I got it there, and I’m pleased that I managed it.

All things considered. Personally, I’m seriously thinking about taking a gun to November. I might even go after December, as it’s looking like it will start out with a mighty “fuck off and die” kind of weekend.


Anyway, the big crunch is over and now I can take my time finishing the damn story, although right now my heart just isn’t in it.

Tam’s new place of work isn’t going well. Someone told the department manager a bald faced lie about her, which got her in trouble before her second day of work even started. She’s being railroaded and she’s only on her first week.

Fortunately, she has a lot of people watching her back for her, so I doubt the trouble maker will find much success in the defamatory statements department, but it has done personal damage to my partner, and that damage is spreading. I fear our dream may come to an abrupt and ugly halt, and the little shop we long to own will have to find someone else to tend it. It hurts my heart to think about it right now.

Words. While I would like to make a living writing them, when I think of the power they wield, it makes me think twice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Well, That Was… Fun

This week sucked like a brand new vacuum cleaner. A brand new, high-powered, deluxe-o-matic, high-falutin’, no-nonsense, death-to-dust-bunnies kind of vacuum cleaner.

Gods, I hated this week. The worst part of it? THE DAMN THING IS A SHORT WORK WEEK, YET IT STILL SUCKED. It sucked like someone trying really hard to get that last drop of soda from the bottom of the glass.


Oh, the suckage; it knows no bounds, it refuses no misery. This week was a sucking spectacular black hole of a week, and man, those things really suck.

Ok, technically, black holes DON’T suck, because with no air in space, there’s no suckage, there’s just gravity going around ACTING like suckage, and that kind of sucks, so I guess they do suck in a non-sucking kind of way.

It’s Wednesday and my week has sucked.

It started on Sunday when I called my folks and my mother was in a mood. Let me tell you, that woman can share a foul mood better than a toddler shares stickiness. Nothing was sacred from her annoyance. Nothing. Our usual calls last around an hour. This one? 20 minutes. One minute of “Hi, Mom! How are you?” followed by 19 minutes of pure sucking hell.

Monday wandered in with some awesome gifts: migraines for everyone, stormy weather (hence the migraines), difficulties with a student at school (for me), and notification that Tam will no longer be acting manager of her kitchen because the REAL manager has been released from L&I and is returning to work. This comes after almost a year, and the director hinting that she may be getting the kitchen.

She was heartbroken, because now she has to go to a different school, take a pay cut, and go back to being an assistant. She’s been at her old school for five years and has watched a lot of those kids go from tender little kindergartners to boisterous 5th graders. The shock and heartache have been very difficult for both of us, and there have been some long, heart wrenching discussions. It was not a fun time. In fact, it sucked.

One of my students wasn’t feeling well and instead of being allowed to stay home, he was sent to school where he beat the living hell out of everyone (namely me because I get to work with him the most). It got so bad, I just had to walk away from him and let someone else do my job. Suck, suck, and more suck.

Then, because there wasn’t quite enough suckage, enter the County. Door-to-door making sure all the pets in the household are licensed. We have indoor-only cats, but that doesn’t matter. They must be licensed or we face a huge fine. Goodbye $35 dollars (and that was a savings of $25, too!). Suck. (We suspect it was the bitch behind us giving us crap, but we can’t prove it, which, you know, sucks).

Don’t get me started on the internet/phone thing, because it’s still not working and I’m to the point where I don’t give a shit. Suckiness squared.

Then, after another evening of difficult discussions, we cuddled under the covers, her cold feet attempting to find a warm spot on my body, and I realized right after I got comfortable, that I’d forgotten my nighttime meds. Not wanting to disturb our cozy nest, I asked if she minded that I skip the doses that night, and the good woman said she did not mind. I said, “So, I’ll snore like a mule and kick like one too.” “And spit like a llama,” she replied. “Did I just spit on you?” “Yes,” she said, and the giggles commenced. We laughed for several minutes, which eased a lot of tension. Not so sucky, actually.

The NaNoWriMo project is coming along; I’m ahead of schedule, although not for long. I’ve missed a couple nights, thanks to all the massive sucking that’s been going on, but I plan on making up for it over the long weekend. We’re planning a little trip to the beach to winterize the cabin and check in with the shop owner, so there will be time. That shouldn’t suck much at all.

I do hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and can spend it with people whose company you enjoy. And I really hope nothing sucks… unless you want it to.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I got an email Monday morning notifying me that my school had been broken into over the weekend. They had entered the hall where my classroom is located, and went through every room.

Every. Single. Room.

Even mine.

When I received notice of this, I hurried through my morning routine, slammed down a couple more aspirins (I was working on a nasty migraine already) and got there early. I was worried that there would be an horrific mess to deal with and I didn’t want the kids to see it.

Fortunately, the mess had been taken care of, mostly by the police as they had collected everything for evidence. This left the custodian and maintenance folks to clean up the broken glass (every door has a window in it, and they broke those to unlock the classroom doors). But, there were things that had been rifled through (including our personal drawer space where we keep our stuff, snacks, lunches, sweaters, etc) and we all felt violated. Thoroughly violated.

I suppose our room received less damage because when they got in there they looked around and realized this wasn’t an ordinary classroom. There wouldn’t be any fancy computers or gadgets sitting around. There are beginning reader books, pre-school type toys, art supplies more suited for a kindergarten classroom, and a pile of chocolate in one of the cupboards.

The chocolate is there because they frown on us keeping vodka on the premises.

Out of all of this there was some good news. They caught the little bastards red-handed. Minors, all of them, their parents will be forced to pay damages while their little darlings wile away the days in juvenile detention.

Meanwhile, we’re cleaning the room. I’ve thrown out my jar of peanuts because I do not want to eat something that might have been touched by those filthy buggars. We will scrub down all scrubable surfaces, vacuum the floor again, and do what we can to erase the evil that sent us reeling.

And we’ll keep on going because that’s what we do. Our students do not know what happened, and we want to keep it that way. It’s important to us that they feel safe at school. It’s important that they feel they can count on us to keep them that way.

Tuesday will be better.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Certifiably Me!

Someone said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

I don’t know who said it first. If you ask Snopes, you’ll get Ben Franklin, Rita Mae Brown, or Albert Einstein. No matter who said it, I've pretty much done the same thing over and over and hoped for different results, but no such luck.

That means, I must be certifiably insane. I know this to be true, because every day for the past four or five days, I’ve been on the phone attempting to sort out my internet issues with Not-Qwest-Anymore, a.k.a. Century Link, a.k.a. those fucking idiots.

They hate me. Even their pre-recorded guy who gets to answer the call first and make me jump through all those hoops of “If you are calling about your internet, say ‘internet fo’ shizzle, my bizzle of the jabberwocky underwear head.’ or press 1940938509w8493xb3.”

Then comes the long wait on hold, or as I’ve renamed it, the incessant droning about their wonderfulness while he calls me ass cow over and over. “Do you want great internet and excellent phone service? Ass cow, you can have it all!” Yes, I know he’s really saying “ask how” but after the 50 billionth time of hearing it, it has become Ass Cow, which is what I want to dress up for next Halloween.

But I digress.

After the endurance test of being on hold, they get serious. The recording guy has “run a test” on my line to see if everything is working. It takes him mere seconds to do what the live technicians take 3 – 5 minutes to do. Personally, I think they’re taking the time to trundle down the hall to take a piss or get some coffee, or whatever it is they drink in Jakarta or whichever country the customer service people live in.

Which is why they get so frustrated when YOU STOP FOLLOWING THE GODDAMN SCRIPT. See, they all say the EXACT same thing every stinking time I call them.

Every. Time.

Every time I call, I get to jump through the EXACT same hoops. Yesterday I started yelling. The tech on the other end yelled back, but had to back down because I really didn’t care for that. I’M not the one fucking with her life, her company has pretty much bent me over and screwed me instead, but I can cancel my service and still pay my bills. She cannot. HA! Take that, Bitch!


Ok, so they say “try unplugging the modem, count to fifteen, then plug it back in.” My favorite part of that is while I’m doing what they want and counting to fifteen, they get impatient and say, “I’m still here, have you unplugged the modem and plugged it back in?” Jeebuz, dude, gimme a minute, ok?

They have me unplug this or that, “can you plug the phone into a different jack?”
“No,” I tell them for the fifth time, “this is the only one that is currently working.”
The online tech said, “We show that you have other phone jacks in your home.”
I said, “They don’t work, and even if they did, I don’t want the phone plugged into them, because I want the phone in the living room. The modem must also be in the living room because that’s where the outlet is and it’s a central location in the house.”
“But,” she insisted, “you have other jacks--”
She got quiet after that. She finally said, “We can send out another technician –”
“Oh no you don’t,” I said, “I will not have any more technicians come out to my house.” “But ma’am, the technician can repair-”
“No! No technicians. The last one who came out here busted my computer when he dropped it. I will not allow any more of your bumble-footed nincompoops to cross my threshold, got it?”

She finally got it. She promised a technician would come out and they wouldn’t even have to come into the house. They would just fix the phone box on the outside of the house, but they just ask that there not be any dogs.
“No problem,” I said.

I called them again tonight, because when I called my parents, I was suddenly no longer online. I jumped through the same hoops, yelled at the same people, and got the same results.

Although I may have come up with a solution. I will buy a line splitter, attach a fucking filter to it, and hope for the best. Perhaps I’m not quite so crazy after all.

Naw, just kidding. I’m still crazy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When Monday Strikes Twice

I had a bit of a Monday today, which is not the best way to survive a Tuesday. The whole day wasn’t exactly shot to hell, at least not until I got home.

Even though part of it started on the actual Monday.

We’re trying to cut costs, which means we need to look at everything in the budget and decide what has to go, what can stay, and what needs to change. After careful study, I found out I could save money by bundling phone and internet with one company. While it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, it was definitely for the best so we could pare down the expenses to save for the shop.

Last month, I called, set everything up, and waited for the arrival of our new modem. I said I wanted everything to start on the first of November. I was told that would be fine. Then the guy asked if I wanted someone to come out and install it for me and I asked if it was complicated. He said it wasn’t difficult at all, but if I wasn’t confident in my abilities, I could have one of their tech guys come out for a fee.

I told him I’d do it myself.

And it would have worked, but we were having issues with the router and things weren’t going well, and I couldn’t get a signal, and oh, the pain and misery. So on Sunday, I scheduled an appointment to have a technician come out and take a look. The gal on the phone said they could have one out first thing Monday morning. I said that wouldn’t work, was there anything for the afternoon? “Sure,” she said, and set up the appointment for 2:30. I did my best to impress upon her that I REALLY needed them to show up AFTER 2:30.

Imagine my chagrin when I found the note on my door saying he’d arrived around 1:55 and left at 2:05. I got on the phone with the ISP folks and ranted for a while, getting the appointment rescheduled for the next afternoon. I was on the phone for a long time again. It sucked. There were long periods of being on hold. The hold portion of that company is not lovely. Everything was rescheduled and we were ready to rock.

This time, the guy showed up at 2:35 and got right to work. He fiddled here, swore there, babbled about this and that and even went so far as to insinuate that I didn’t know how to purchase computer equipment and peripherals. Really.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. No, the worst of it happened when he stood up and with the power cord to my laptop wrapped around his foot, stepped away from the desk and literally crashed my computer, right onto the hardwood floor. Face down. Open and face down.

Imagine my chagrin.

I kept my cool as he “checked it” to make sure it still worked (parts of it do, I will freely admit that much). Then he wandered outside to do something and I had to follow him because he left the damn back door open and our indoor cats can be a pain in the ass to catch when they get out.

When all was said and done, he came back into the house and proceeded to tell Tam that “HP’s are practically indestructible” and that he had knocked his laptop off a counter and the whole thing just “blew into a thousand pieces!” But he just “snapped them all back together and it worked beautifully.”

That’s all kind of groovy and everything, but my Baby Beast (my netbook) ISN’T an HP and I’m sure it really didn’t need to be dropped. I take gentle care of my computers. I don’t set them down hard, and I sure as hell don’t drop the damn things. I sweat bullets when I am not sure I’ve padded the padded carrying case when I take it along on trips.

He dropped my netbook, did not apologize, insulted me, and acted for all the world like a dimwitted bull in a china shop filled with matador figurines.

The other icing on the cake: We were finally online when I decided to make a phone call to the ISP in question. Suddenly, we were no longer online. Not only that, but I could barely hear the almost-English-speaking operator asking me if I needed to include my cell phone in the bundle. After a long chat with another ELL person, it turns out that the modem they supplied me with is faulty and will need to be replaced.

Did I mention the ass cow? No? Well, whenever you’re put on hold for this company, you are treated to a series of advertisements for services offered by said company. These advertisements, if you listen to them long enough, begin to take on new meanings. Every time he said, “Ask how you can save more” I heard “ass cow, you can save more.”

I hate being called an ass cow. Ass cow, you can go fug yourself, m’kay?

So, that sums up my day. NaNo has been going well, but the bump to the floor has done some damage to the Baby Beast so it looks like I’ll be without it for a while. Did I mention that I’m doing all my writing on said Beast? It is more comfortable writing on it than the Big Beast, plus the portability is nice, which is one of the reasons I bought it in the first place.

I’m rambling. I’m upset, but I’m NOT an ass cow.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sweetie

Today is Tam’s birthday and we spent it just messing around. Funds being what they are, we didn’t do much in the way of celebrating, but we did do some shopping.

Our first stop was a not-so-local mall where we were bombarded with too damn much noise and waaaaay too much perfume. We had a quest, but it was beginning to look like we would need to reconsider. However, we pressed on, and enjoyed a few distractions as well.

The object of this particular quest was a stone (“the treasure is a rock!”). But not just any stone, it had to be a double-sided whet stone. In a box. Because my love has knives and they need to be sharpened, I guess.

After that, we sauntered back the way we came in and stopped at a See’s Candy store. I headed to the bathroom while Tam went to check out the chocolates. The woman behind the counter gave her a dirty look, and then offered everyone else in the store a free sample, pointedly ignoring my girlfriend.

Oh, yes she did!

Tam tracked me down in the ladies room and told me of the transgression and I said, “Nu-uh! We’re going back there.” We were both ignored, so as we were leaving I said, “We don’t get greeted, we don’t buy candy… especially from that BITCH.”

Oh, yes I did! (and I felt much better, too.)

We went to a local organic grocery store for lunch and after that, we hit the nearest Goodwill. We were on another quest, this time for whatever we could find that we couldn’t live without. Turns out, they had several items that just had to come home with us: a new coat for Tam, curtains for the living room, a popcorn kettle, some fabric, a book, and a new sweater.

We were on the way home when I managed to take a different exit from the freeway and we found ourselves near a book store that I’ve only been to once, but never forgot it. While it’s nowhere as big as Powell’s, it is not a shirker in the amount of books and places to store them. The place is a maze of tall book shelves and narrow passages. Tacoma Book Center is a hard to find treasure and definitely worth the effort.

After that, we headed to her mom’s place where she visited with family and my youngest showed up so I got to see him. He’s in a bit of a state right now, but things will be fine. He’ll probably be coming over for made-from-scratch banana cream pie tomorrow.

That’s the other thing that has been going on over here. While I’ve been busy writing and working on my NaNoWriMo project, she’s been in the kitchen, baking, cooking, and doing her best to keep busy and make me gain more weight. Cookies, baked macaroni and cheese, pie… This better be a best seller, or we’re going to go broke just buying ingredients.

But I’m not complaining.

Happy birthday, my love. Here’s hoping we win the lottery and can take early retirement to enjoy ourselves for a long time to come.

I love you.


Monday, October 31, 2011


That up there ^^^^^? That is the sound I make every October 31st when I have a plot all ready for NaNoWriMo and there is NOTHING (much) I can do about it until November 1st. I can make more notes and do some idea bouncing off of Tam's brain, but other than that, it all has to wait until November.

There was a time when I would stay up until midnight just to get a few words in before going to bed, but now? Not likely.

Originally, I was going to end NaBloWriMo with some kind of sage Samhain piece about how this really doesn't feel like new years to me, because I get that feeling around Solstice with the return of the sun. Instead, I put up a story about my son and his idiot cats. Because it was funny. Because I thought it was funny even though I had to get out of my house, drive up to my ex's apartment and rip down part of a door jamb. I especially like the part where I left the mess for someone else to clean up.

Because I am evil and it's almost NaNoWriMo!

Yeah, focusing isn't my strong suit when it gets this close to NaNo, I mean, November, and the plot is crowning and all I want to do is PUSH!

I vote we make a rule that November 1st should ALWAYS start on a Saturday (or Sunday) just to make my life easier (and the lives of those who live with me...and work with me...and in any way interact with me for any length of time, because, hello! NANOWRIMO!). All in favor?

Ok, my beloved is distracting me with kitchen noises, so I should go out there and make a pest of myself be helpful. And I promise, no more posts today.

Cat Situation

This is not how I’d planned on ending my month of blog posts, but the event proved to be one that simply needed to be documented…and shared!

Late Sunday afternoon, I got a very strange phone call from Most Minor Minion. “Mom? Um, I have a cat situation and I’m not sure what to do about it.”
“Cat situation? Could you be a little more specific? Is one of them sick?”
“No, no one is sick, but they seem to have locked themselves in dad’s bathroom and I can’t get them out.”
“Locked themselves in the bathroom? How? Those locks are pretty easy to pick.”
“They didn’t lock-lock themselves in, somehow they got the door closed and the drawer got opened. I can’t open the door because the drawer is in the way. I’ve tried everything, but it won’t budge.”
“Maybe if you get them to play with something on the front of the drawer, they’ll push it closed for you.”

There was a long break while I listened to my son first try to entice the kitties to play with whatever toy he’d found to fit through a half-inch space, then admonish them for being stupid for not falling for the ruse. “I smell shit,” he said, picking up the phone.
“Dad doesn’t have a cat box in there, does he?”
“No, dad uses the toilet.”
“You behave or I’m gonna come up there and lock your ass in the bathroom.”

I tried explaining that the best way would be to take part of the door jamb off, but he didn’t understand what I meant. No amount of pointing or waving on my end of the phone line helped one little bit.

Darn kid.

Anyway, I finally decided it would be a good idea for me to come up there, since his dad wouldn’t be home for a few more hours and the man is not known for his handy-man skills (lordy, the poor dolt once removed the entire sink just to replace the faucet washer). I feared he’d just crash down the door, totally freaking the cats out and kissing his damage deposit good-bye.

The jamb was easily removed and I was appalled to see they didn’t use nails, they used glue to put it up there in the first place. Well, at least it would be easy enough to replace. Sheesh. Unfortunately, there is something wrong with the drawer glides and they don’t glide at all. If it had been working, it would have been a piece of cake to just stick a knife blade through the crack and inch the drawer closed.

But no. It is a sticky beast that no amount of knifework or swear words would budge. Figuring I had little to lose (after all, it’s not my apartment) I jammed the screwdriver in as far as it would go and finally made some progress. Moments later, the kitties were free to roam the apartment at their leisure. Of course, Most Minor Minion had attempted to entice the kitties to play with catnip, so they got as far as the spilled bag on the floor before they stopped and had a little “release” party.

Most Minor Minion went in and checked around for the source of the stink and found a lovely offering in the bathtub. Good boy cleaned it up. Bad mom wasn’t about to do that. I may like my ex husband, but not that much.

Before I left, I put the laundry hamper in the doorway so there would be no way for those two miscreants to re-enact their little bathroom debacle. Most Minor said he’d be down to visit later, so I waved good-bye and headed home.

When my youngest didn’t show up, I began to wonder if the cats had locked themselves in the laundry room and I’d have to go back up there and move heavy appliances through the closed door, using only a screwdriver. But you know, I could probably do it, because I am a mom, and moms tend to be kind of awesome in that way.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nearing the End

It’s been an interesting month. I’ve blogged more this month on this blog than I have since I started it. To be honest, it hasn’t been easy. There was a point when Tam and I were at the beach that I didn’t think I’d get to do a real post because my free ride had been turned off for the weekend. Then I found the library and all was well.

By that point in the month, it was important for me to make the effort to post every day, which forced me to look at my life and see exactly what the hell was going on. If nothing was happening, I knew I had to look harder, or just look at things with a different perspective.

Sometimes it worked, other times I’d have to dig deep into my brain and find some lint-covered tidbit upon which I could wax poetic or just bullshit the hell out of it. Lately, my mind has been occupied with things that probably don’t make for good blog posting: my desire to buy the damn shop and get the hell out of where I am for good; my NaNoWriMo project; figuring out how to come up with the purchase price for the shop sooner rather than later; the third installment of the series which is my NaNoWriMo project; dreading Mondays because it means the start of another long week of being hit, scratched, head-butted, and yelled at and knowing that I need to put up with it for a few more years before we can BUY THE DAMN SHOP; NaNo-Need I Say More?

I’ve noticed that the farther we get into the school year, the more my thoughts turn to early retirement. Tam and I are hoping she gets her own kitchen soon, which means a substantial pay raise, so we can put my entire paycheck into the bank and start building that account for the shop. I’m also going to attempt to sell some of my writing toward that end. Also? Buying lottery tickets.

Seriously, I’m getting desperate. I’m even considering standing on a street corner with a sign that says, “School district employee wants out for better life. Please help.”

Tam informed me that I’ve been officially invited to her mother’s for Thanksgiving this year. I can’t remember what the hell happened last year, but I know I didn’t go anywhere. My kids are going to their paternal grandparents for one of the huge family gatherings (which I must confess, I do miss… there are people in the family I still adore and would love to visit, but I’m deathly allergic to drama and would rather not cause any). It should be an interesting holiday.

As for Yule and Christmas, we’ll celebrate Solstice with the kids, then we’ll have Christmas Eve with just the two of us, Christmas morning with kids, then Tam will go to her mother’s and I’ll have a blissfully quiet day to myself. Unless someone I know and love insists I join in the familial escapades and make an appearance at her mother’s house again.

She’d do that, you know.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fool Proof!

Tam had to do some stuff for her sister today, so she gathered Li’l Red, stuffed his reluctant carcass into her truck and said, “Oh, could you either make pie dough or wash dishes while I’m gone?”
“You’re kidding, right? Pie dough? I don’t make pie dough, I make technically-edible shoe leather. I’ll wash dishes, but I was going to work on my notes for the NaNo project.”
“I have a very easy recipe for dough. In fact, it’s so easy, not even you can fuck it up.”
I gave her a look that clearly said she was wrong, but she ignored me.
“This is the one Most Minor Minion used and it turned out really good. If he can do it, so can you.”
“Wrong. He inherited the ‘flour handling’ gene from my mother. He made awesome crust from whole grain flour. I don’t think my mother could do that. He’s got the touch. Me? I’m just touched in the head and can’t do pie crust dough.”
“You made lovely cinnamon rolls and that meat thingy was very good, so it’s obvious you CAN work dough.”
“Yes, but you’re SUPPOSED to work that dough. Pie dough is different. If you even look at it wrong it becomes tough and nasty, useful only for resoling your shoes. Besides, we’re out of animal bone sugar.”
“Use the raw stuff.”
“It’s so coarse.”
She shrugged. “It’ll be fine,” she said.

Her resolve was firm. She left the “fool proof” recipe on the table and walked out the door, fully expecting there to be a lump of perfect dough in the fridge upon her return.

I did the dishes.

Then guilt started calling me names, so I checked the recipe and decided it would be worth a try. Either she was right and it would turn out fine, or it would prove my inability to create pastry of the delicate type once and for all. I dumped the flour into the bowl, measured in the 2 teaspoons of salt and the 4 tablespoons of sug- oh, wait, that’s 4 TEASPOONS of sugar, not tablespoons…well…shit.

There was no going back since I’d used the last egg, so I just finished adding the remaining ingredients, mixed it up and stuck it in the fridge.

Fool proof? Ha! I am Fool Proof proof!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday, Sweet Friday

It was a long week. Truth be told, it’s been a long few weeks since one of our paras left for greener pastures (greener and quieter, less hitty/pinchy/scratchy pastures). We’ve had to deal with subs from hell, who believe they know everything or if they don’t, they just sit there and talk you to death to make you think they know something.

We finally got our replacement para and the jury is still out on her. Mind you, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt because she’s new, but she’s making us all a little crazy. She will NOT shut up. I know she’s nervous, but really… REALLY? Stop talking, listen, and observe.

I’ve spent a great deal of time out of the class room with Mr. Cheek. We wander around the campus as I attempt to get him interested in some kind of little jobs he can do for a grade. He has been quite resistant to the idea of doing anything except “stimming” on leaves and sticks.

One thing we’ve learned is that he has a thing for light colored clothing. If a woman wears a top that is light, he is drawn to it and will make friends with her bewbs. Mr. Cheek lurves him some bewbs.

However, Mr. Cheek is just as fond of light colored pants, and if a man is wearing them, he will be gifted with a special greeting we now call a “Boy Howdy” because, boy howdy, that’s quite a surprise! Groin grabs are only funny… well, almost all the time. For us, anyway.

The other day, Mr. Cheek and I were heading back to class after lunch, when I noticed the dear lad was having a good game of “free Willy” in his pants. Since no one else was around, I wasn’t too concerned with this activity, especially since every time I tried to dissuade him from doing it, he’d smack me pretty damn hard. Then he stopped walking and when I turned to see what he was doing, he had dropped trou and was about to take a pee against the wall.

That’s when things got exciting.

I yanked up his drawers, which made him cranky, and away we went. He was swinging at me (which was difficult for both of us, because I was behind him. Every time he tried to hit me, his pants would twist, which annoyed him so he’d stop to adjust them and I’d get him moving again. It was a long, noisy walk, believe me.

Thursday was pretty good, considering we didn’t have a full compliment of students. It would have been nice if that had fallen on Friday instead, but of course, that day, we were only missing one student.

And the teacher.

So we had the teaching sub from hell, because we’re so damn lucky. I’d worked with her before and it got to the point that I told a former supervisor that if she was the sub for her class again, I would have to go home with a migraine, because there was no way I’d work with her.

That was when I worked in Kindergarten. She’s followed me to the middle school. The good news is, she’s changed a little bit, finally coming to grips with the fact that those who work in the classroom (even those of us without teaching credentials) actually know a few things, including what the hell we’re doing. That little piece of information was missing from her brain when I worked with her back in the grade school. We had one incident of “oh, no you don’t!” early on today, but we managed to get it quashed before it got too ugly. After that, she was more than happy to listen to what we had to say.

We are a very efficient group of women in a complicated classroom. We handle difficult situations on a daily basis and it takes a lot to make us nervous. We are resilient, caustic, intelligent, patient, kind, forgiving, able to find humor in just about everything, and VERY stubborn. We make an amazing team and I’m proud to work with them.

Despite all that, by the time Friday rolls around, we’re all ready for it and embrace it with open arms and strong coffee.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


...and thinking of friendships past...

Several years ago I had the opportunity to take a writing class where I met up with a couple of gals who became two of my dearest friends. We stuck with each other through thick and thin, hell and high water, rough drafts and publication.

Then something happened. One of us started to change and the change was not good. Things were said that hurt deeply and after a final, dismal, heartbreaking “writer’s retreat” the group split.

For a while I didn’t care and could honestly say I was glad she was no longer a part of “us” but lately I’ve been thinking how nice it would be to revisit those times, maybe find out what happened and see if bridges could be mended.

Doubtful, for I said things on the old blog that weren’t very nice (heartfelt at the time, but still not nice) and if she read them, I’m sure she has no intention of inviting me back into her life.

I suppose what I miss is the regular gathering of writers, sharing our words, supporting, and on more than one occasion, laughing so hard strangers walked up to our table and said they wanted to join in our fun.

Those are the times I miss. Especially when I’m going through pictures on my computer and come across ones I took while we were hanging out together.

Every so often I check her website, but there’s been no activity for over a year. It makes me sad, because her talent is great and I would love to know if she’s still writing.

I also know that by writing this, I’m breaking the biggest taboo she ever put on me, the one that probably destroyed our friendship. She forbade me to ever mention me on her blog, no matter how deeply I disguised her or how vague or indirect the mention. The problem was, she saw herself on my blog even when she wasn’t mentioned, even indirectly.

In that case, I’ve pretty much guaranteed that there will never be a chance at reconciling the friendship. It’s too bad, because it was a good one while it lasted.

I’m over my hurt and my anger, but not my curiosity.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Late Post With a Good Excuse

Tonight was pretty awesome. I got to visit with friends I haven’t seen in a while. We got caught up on lots of news and family life that we’d missed over the months that our busy lives kept us from getting together.

These are women I’ve known since our children were babies. We met at church and started a bible study group. It’s been over 17 years and we’re still managing to get together socially at least six times a year.

I am thankful for their friendship and support, their prayers and advice, their laughter and their tears. I am blessed to have friends who accept me for who I am, how I am, and the way I worship, and all of that is done without judgment. They are true Christians in my book, and I’m so glad to count them as my friends.

And they get to count an honest-to-Goddess lesbian Pagan as one of theirs!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pop

If Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam had a love child, it would be my Pop… minus the red hair and feathers, that is.

For the longest time, he seemed normal enough, but as he aged, things started showing up that I’d never noticed before. Things like a higher pitched voice with an odd slur that sounds suspiciously like a cranky black duck, and an attitude that sounds a lot like a certain red-headed hot-head who hates rabbits.

Also, the man is not picky about some things, which is why I get the .99 lecture almost every time we visit. “I won’t go to those fancy places like Sonic when I can get a Carl’s Jr for ninety-nine cents!”

Ok, that’s what he means, but what it sounds like is, “I ‘on’t go no fncy plcs,” pause to adjust teeth again, “ol’ Sonic ‘en I cn get a Caaal’s Jr. for nine-e-nine schenss.” Add your own saliva and adjust your teeth as necessary.

“But Pop, the onion rings at Sonic are awfully good.”
“Gibs me gazz.”
“Everything gives you gas, Pop.”
“Yer ma’s cookin’”
“Yeah, me too.”

His mother was a hypochondriac of the highest order, and her doctor was happy to oblige her with whatever pills she felt she needed. Actually, her doctors (there were several) were happy, since she was of the belief that when one wouldn’t give you “that med-sin what got Miss Clara all better” she’d go find Miss Clara’s doctor and get it from him.

That woman loved her “med-sin.” “Med-sin” is spoken with a prim and proper, tight-lipped mouth and slightly clattery dentures. There’s a soft “click” in the middle of the word. When I was young and really, REALLY stupid, I said something to the effect of, “Gosh, with all your med-sin, I guess you must be too full for breakfast.” That statement was followed by, “OW! Leggo my ear!”

Pop has taken on the mantle of family hypochondriac by doing his best to take as many pills and have more ills than anybody. A few years ago my mother found a lump behind her knee and had to have a biopsy. My father took the opportunity to throw himself down the front steps and get to the hospital first.

When the results of the biopsy came back as cancer, she was slated for surgery. My father tripped over a dust bunny and found blood clots in his leg. The man is a champion of one-upmanship and being completely pathetic.

When my mother had to go in for a hysterectomy I warned her to not tell Pop or he’d want one too. She thought that was pretty funny.

But Pop taught me a lot of important things, because I was an only child and therefore the only one he could pass his skills on to, he taught me about car repair (although now I can’t find the dipstick on my new-fangled car), how to change a light switch, a light socket, a door knob, and various other handy-man tricks. Of course, he was not the one who taught me the importance of flipping the damn circuit breaker before dinking around with wiring; I learned that one on my own.

Boy, did I learn that one… I have a feeling my father is one very lucky dude, after all, he’s smoked for a thousand and one years and it hasn’t killed him yet (although my mother just might if he tosses another butt into the burn barrel and doesn’t tell her), he tinkered with electrical things and never got seriously zapped, and he worked on cars that were parked on a slight slope and never had one roll over him.

He never quite figured out what he was supposed to do with a daughter, after all, he had counted on getting a son. Maybe that’s why I like girls…

He tells inappropriate jokes at the worst possible moment, says the same damn things to every female food-server he’s met (even those he’s met a thousand times), and tells the old tall tales every chance he gets, even though I probably remember them better than he does now.

He’s an awesome dude and I’m really glad he’s my Pop.

I love you, Old Man.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe Rush

For some reason, I really got into the baking mood over the weekend. After my cinnamon rolls were such a success, I decided to try something savory for Sunday dinner. So I made that sweet roll dough and filled it with a mixture of ground beef, onions, corn, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and spices. Then I folded the whole gigantic mess over, sealed the edges and baked it.

Even though I think it needs some fine tuning, to say it was good would be an understatement. Middle Minion tried it with ketchup and mustard, but we both agreed that it would be better with barbeque sauce. It’s a lot like a cheese burger, but different. Like I said, it will require more fine-tuning before I’m ready to call it done.

Tam and I want to start making our own bread. I used to do that every day when Spawn was a baby. I was a stay-at-home mom, so each morning I’d get the daily batch started, and work on it throughout the day. Every. Day.

I did that for about two months before I said, “fuck it. I’m tired.” I may not have given up so easily if I’d had some help with the kneading. Or, you know, a nice stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.

But I had started experimenting with different types of bread, ending on a wonderful concoction containing whole grains, seeds, raisins, and chopped walnuts. It was glorious, but the menfolk were blasé about it and shrugged off my hard work, which is where the “fuck it” finally surfaced.

Tam, on the other hand, will not be blasé about amazing bread. We’re also going to try our hands at gluten free, and/or reduced gluten bread. Most Minor Minion has already said he’ll help, so this could be a really fun winter in the kitchen at Chez Chaos.

I’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Most Minor Minion came over on Saturday to get some lessons on making pies. He brought his cookbook and supplies (he insisted on bringing his own ingredients), then he and Tam began putting it all together. I tried getting pictures, but he’s at that age where he avoids the camera at all costs, thereby ruining every damn shot.

Anyway, they began with a comparison of recipes and discovered that they were using the same one, with the exception of a salt omission in the one he was using. We had him notate his book to add salt and all was well. Once the pie dough was mixed and stuck in the fridge, they began prepping apples. And by “they,” I mean he, because Tam wanted the kid to learn how to do it all himself. Yay, Tam!

Once that little job was underway and I realized there would be no photographs, I wanted to do something. Craving cinnamon rolls, I searched all our cookbooks and found one that seemed fairly straightforward. Tam agreed, yoinked the yeast out of the fridge and put me to work.

That’s about the time we both realized we had no idea exactly what the hell a “sponge” should look like when it comes to baking. She’s never baked anything that started that way, and neither had I. But we fiddled and fussed and decided that it needed to look like thin pancake batter.

Whatever we did, it was right, because the yeast went to town! Most Minor Minion was impressed! So were we.

I gathered the rest of the ingredients and when it was time, began putting everything in the mixer. The cookbook is one of the old ones, written when every girl left home knowing how to cook, and butter was an acceptable ingredient. This dough has half a cup of melted butter in it. And two cups of milk, lots of sugar and salt, and of course, flour. The filling has butter in it as well, because, well, damn! Butter!

The dough was extremely soft and almost difficult to work because it kept floating off the table where I was trying to roll it out. But, I persevered and the dough became A SHIT TON OF ROLLS! I was not expecting there to be so many. The recipe said it would make about 18. “About.” They seem to like that word, “about,” but I do not think it means what THEY think it means.

One 13x9 inch pan STUFFED with rolls (note: don’t do that again) and another, smaller pan three quarters full.

Of course, Most Minor Minion still needed to finish baking his pumpkin pie, so my rolls had to sit out and rise again. Mountains of rolls. Mountains of delicious, light rolls…(sigh).

We didn’t get to sample the pies since he’s taking them to class this week, but we did get to nosh on the fresh cinnamon rolls and yes, they are amazing. Soft, not too sweet, and very rich. Unfortunately, because I overcrowded the pan, the center ones will need to be baked again, but that’s ok. I know what to do next time, and I’m thinking next time will be next weekend… because I’m that awesome!

But someone better bring me some pie.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dear 16 Year-Old Karen,

You are stepping into what could very well be the most charmed years of your life. You have a driver’s license and a car, and a very long leash. I cannot imagine what our parents were thinking, or what they must have gone through those long nights you were out, but I’m sure they lost more sleep then than they ever did when we were just born. At least when you were an infant they knew where the hell you were while you were keeping them from sleep. How we survived our own stupidity, I will never know. There must be some big assed plans for us lurking somewhere.

At 16, you seek love and adventure, and you’re not too picky about where you find either one. But I have a secret… that girl, you know the one you hang out with the most, the cute blond who always sits near you during drama club, she’s the one. The One. Those strange feelings you have for her? Yeah, they’re real, and they won’t go away even after 35 years. She’s still sexy as hell at 51, by the way.

There will come a night in your 18th year, when you both give into your passions, a night when you end up leaving, promising to never speak of it again…Please, speak of it again, and again. Turn back before climbing into your car, go back and kiss her again. And again.

Accept those feelings. You love her, she loves you. Don’t waste those precious years on fear and respectability. You tossed respectability out the window by giving up, but you can always go back and build it again.

Do not, under any circumstance, listen to that bastard “guidance counselor.” Go into that son of a bitch’s office and get those college forms. Do not put them back after he tells you you’re not college material. You are. You are smart, smarter than he’ll ever be. Take that narrow road, that scary one that leads away from societal norms and become that woman in the shadows.

The woman I wish we’d become sooner. I’m still working on getting there, but it would have made a world of difference to at least one other person if I’d started earlier, if I’d listened to my heart instead of my head.

The marriages will fail and the guilt you’ll carry will be heavy, but not just from the failings; from the realization that one more life would have been different, better, had you listened to your heart in the first place.

I accept where I am now, and my regrets are few; those I have are salved by the love of, and for, my children, and the love of my live and soul, Tam…the cute blond…

Love always,

Karen at 51

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pie Update

Color me surprised. No. Really, REALLY surprised.

Most Minor Minion came over today and brought his pies. You remember me mentioning said pies, right?

Well, with the exception of some missing salt in the crust, both pies turned out… kind of good! Even the pumpkin one! He added enough sugar to make it palatable, so it tasted a lot like sweet potatoes. With a crust.

I’m still in shock, and he’s still coming over after work on Saturday for baking lessons.

The crust is surprisingly good, even made from whole wheat flour (he thought it would be the same as regular flour). He didn’t see any salt called for, and it was definitely missing, but it was still good.

Despite not peeling the apples, he chose a good kind that doesn’t have a thick peel on it, so it wasn’t too noticeable. There wasn’t enough sugar in it, and again the salt was missing, but for a first try at pie, it was awesome.

I’m really proud of him for doing that. Perhaps we have a budding pastry chef in our midst.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sub From Hell

Things at work are kind of chaotic these days. One of our paras had to quit so she could attend college full time. While we’re all thrilled for her, we’re having a difficult time getting through the day without the extra help. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many subs available to work in our room. There are district subs around, but not that many of them are willing to work with these students.

Their loss…

Of course, that means the ones we do get are a bit… well, they’re either very naïve when they walk in and shell shocked when they leave (and never come back), or they love the class because they think they know more than anyone there.

Like Wednesday…

We are a tight-knit group of extremely capable women who have been running the classroom together for a few years now, so we’re pretty sure we know what we’re doing. Wednesday morning, a fellow walked into our room and made himself right at home, plopping his butt down on the counter and fiddling with his keyring. He asked me how things were going and I said something like, “Oh, just grand.” Come on, it was morning and I had JUST put away my stuff.

He said, and I quote, “Lying is as big a sin as stealing.”




“Then stop stealing my good mood,” I snapped. But that wasn't the worst of his transgressions. I'll get to that later.

He proceeded to spend the rest of the day attempting to prove to us what a wonder he is at all things. He bragged about having multiple degrees (including one in law) but the “only” reason he’s a para is because he couldn’t afford to get his teaching certificate, otherwise he’d be there as a teacher instead of a para.

Oh. Really?

You’d think with all those degrees, he’d be rolling in good jobs and therefore money and that certificate would be in his hands (or on his wall).

He told a VERY long story about some kid who couldn’t walk, talk, feed himself, etc, but was actually a genius who became a computer programmer for Microsoft. It was a loooong story, and during an appropriate moment, I said something about how each of our kids shines at something, hoping he would stop talking. He responded with, “Ok” before going back to his story (repeating anything he thought we may have forgotten in the few seconds it took me to say my bit).

Later that morning, he even went so far as to ask the teacher about her faith! I’m just sorry he didn’t ask me, because I would have been happy to enlighten him. Really, REALLY happy.

Then came that moment when my co-worker said she was very glad I was out of the room with a student. That total ass hat really got on a roll telling a roomful of women that he believes "women are property of their husbands." Oh, yes he did! Evidently every para in there did a quick check to make sure I hadn't overheard that little statement of brain-busting idiocy.

Either that, or they were wishing I had been in there at the time. As it was, later that afternoon when my teacher mentioned she had a witch hat I could borrow, I said (in a rather loud voice) that “Any hat I wear is a witch’s hat, darling.”

The ass-clown didn’t have a whole lot to say to me after that. Too bad it was close to the end of the day, I was kind of itching for a rumble by that time.

There is more! Evidently he's earned quite a reputation around the district for being a talker, braggart, and an insufferable ass.

But, because of his inappropriate comments and behavior (he kept trying to have social conversations with the teacher while she was teaching), he won’t be coming back. We may be desperate for subs in our classroom, but baby, we’re not THAT desperate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Epic Pies

Most Minor Minion decided to bake pies. His intent was to bake an apple pie, a cherry pie, and a pumpkin pie.

He has never made pie before. Ever. He loves the stuff, eats it whenever it's offered, but that’s as far as it has ever gone. So for whatever reason, he decided to make pies all by himself.

Using a cookbook designed for the novice cook, he set about his task. First he shopped. I don’t know what kind of apples he bought, but I hope they are the kind that hold up to baking. There's nothing quite as disappointing than taking a bite of applesauce pie.

Of course, it doesn't really matter since he didn’t peel them first. Oh, and this was also the pie that he had in the oven when he went visiting, so it got a little done on the crust. Ahem…

While I was busy writing a blog post about the visit of my three darlings, I got a text from him asking if it’s ok that he put a top crust on a pumpkin pie. After several texts, I decided to just make life easier and call him. Besides, Tam was curious to know a few things about this adventure as well, so I put my son on speaker phone.

It turns out, he opened the can of pumpkin, dumped in a quarter cup of flour, some sugar, and put it in the pie shell. That’s what the cook book said to do for fruit pies.

“Pumpkin isn’t that kind of pie, honey. Pumpkin is a custard-style filling. No top crust necessary, but eggs and milk are. There is a recipe on the can…”
“Yeah, but I just figured I would use the one in the cookbook for fruit.”
“Ok. You may want to taste these pies before sharing with your college classmates.”
“Good idea. If they’re bad, I guess I’ll try again.”
“Why don’t you bring yourself down here and let Tam teach you how to make pie. She’s very good at it. When is your next day off?”
“How about Saturday?”
Tam said that would be fine.

Looks like we’re gonna be baking some pies this weekend, and all I can say about that is, YUM!

...I hope...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


We were invaded today, but it was one of the better types. All three of my offspring returned to the nest for short visits of various reasons. Spawn wanted help with a story, Middle Minion needed to vent about his car, and Most Minor Minion was driving his brother around (and listening to him bitch about not having his car, I’m sure).

As we chatted, a really cute girl rode by on a bicycle and three of us stopped talking to kind of, um, stare. Spawn was the only one who didn’t find the young woman all that interesting (except she liked her hair). Ah, bonding with my boys over attractive women. What more could a mother want…?

When the conversation resumed, we discussed cook books, then Most Minor looked at his watch and said something about needing to get home before the timer goes off.

“What timer?”
“On the oven. I’m baking pies as we speak.”
“You’re kidding me, right? You didn’t really leave the oven on and go away.”
“Well… yes, actually, I did. Am I not supposed to do that?”
“No. The pie could overflow, make smoke, set off the alarms and annoy the hell out of the cats.” I refrained from reminding him of the grease fire he had in the kitchen a few months ago. This is my honors student offspring. He is also a nincompoop.

When he got home, he texted me to tell me that the oven was backing up (the timer was beeping). Don’t know for how long, but there was no mention of smoke. I guess the crust looked a little “funky” but other than that it seemed ok. That boy worries the hell out of me.

Spawn will be coming over on Thursday to get a ride home, Middle Minion will also be coming over either Wednesday or Thursday to get his car when it’s ready, and Most Minor will probably bring his mommies a piece of pie (if he knows what’s good for him, anyway).

It was so nice to see all three of them, and now I wish like hell I’d gotten pictures. Maybe I should look for the camera and be prepared for the next invasion.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dinner Recap

Most Minor Minion turned 20 with a celebration dinner in his honor. Fifteen people were in attendance, including Tam and her three offspring: The Hair, Beans, and Li’l Red; his siblings: Spawn, Spawn-in-Law, and Middle Minion; me, his sire, his sire’s girlfriend, and girlfriend’s daughter, and a small handful of his friends.

Despite repeated inquiries, Most Minor Minion insisted he did not want any gifts, and when I handed him a card, he asked, “Did you buy me anything?” “No,” I said, “you told me you didn’t want anything and I can’t afford it anyway, so we both win.” “Good,” he said, “That’s exactly what I wanted. By the way, Dad got me something even though I said not to.” He looked annoyed. “Of course he did,” I said, rolling my eyes, “he is of the mindset that birthdays require gifts. Enjoy it. I did when I was married to him.”

We all traveled to the restaurant where we were seated at a long table. Once everyone was settled, Tam brought out her surprise. Glow-stick necklaces for everyone! They were a big hit, even with the ex! We all wore them proudly, fashioning them into all kinds of wearables. The ex’s girlfriend wore hers like a halo.

I wore mine like horns. I told her it was very apropos and she laughed. So did the ex, although he had an odd look when he did.

But it was fun. I got to tease the ex about his eating habits (the man hates cheese, but loves pizza and lasagna), chat with the girlfriend about this and that, sneak leg caresses with my sweetie who was chatting with her offspring, and give my own offspring a hard time for being silly, loveable dorks.

The food was grand, and the company was excellent. Two hours of fun and giggles, odd looks from an ex love (perhaps he hasn’t told his girlfriend that I’m gay and he was concerned that we’d make some kind of scene that he’d have to explain), and glow-sticks all make for an awesome evening.

One that I will remember for a very long time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Birthday Dinner

Tam and I are going to dinner with my ex, his girlfriend, our children and son-in-law, as well as a couple of friends that belong to Most Minor Minion.

This should be an interesting evening.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

…and then it dawned on me…

This is the last day that I will ever be the parent of a teenager. My very own (baby) minion turns twenty tomorrow. Somehow I thought I’d always have teenage offspring of my very own, but after all these years, it’s over.

My baby will turn twenty tomorrow, and there will be no more to follow him. Tam has Li'l Red, so it’s not like we’re totally bereft of the joys of adolescence and the nonsensical chaos it brings, but it’s not the same.

Tam and I were talking this morning about life and time and how they seem to slip away when you’re not looking. There’s a picture of our four boys, back when they were all little more than monkeys, and we both agree that we miss those days. We miss the mud-covered baboons, the toy cars, the swords-out-of-sticks and cardboard shields and the adventures that came with them. We miss the silliness, the braggadocio of who had the better fort and why.

We miss cuddling with freshly scrubbed minions, still warm and sweet from the bath, wrapped in towels and kept warm in our embrace. We miss little voices laughing, we miss the simple times.

Not that it was all great, grand, and glorious back then, but in hindsight, it was pretty awesome and we loved it.

Now my youngest is showing me that his sire and I did ok in the way he was raised. He’s not perfect, but like his siblings, he’s pretty damned awesome. Like his father, he’s generous, although my son is generous to a fault. Also like his father, he’s a kind soul who doesn’t like to make waves. He’s also got that indecision thing going on, too. Just like his father.

He has a great sense of humor, he’s impatient, and he can be very reckless at times. Care to guess where those traits came from…?

He’s very smart, but not terribly wise, which can be a difficult combination to handle, especially when you’re male and young. He has regrets of past hurts he’s done to people and tends to carry them strapped to his heart, even when it’s ok to let them go. I’d carry them for him if I could, but I have my own to tend.

Yes, I’m crying as I write this. No surprise to those who know me.

Good night, young son. Tomorrow I’ll say happy birthday to a fine young man while my heart holds on a little longer to your childhood.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Writing Club Update

Recently it dawned on me that I’d not said much about the writing club at work. It isn’t because nothing is happening with the kids there; quite the contrary in fact. No, it’s just been one of those days weeks months of crazy busy-ness that just keeps me tipping the scales toward insanity.

Thank goodness. I’d hate to think what would happen if I toppled into the sane side of things: Colliding galaxies, super novae, and that goddamned green bean casserole showing up at yet another family gathering. Oh, wait…

This last week was a bit of a bust for me, simply because I was feeling like shit for a major part of it. I had to force myself to return to work on Thursday just so I wouldn’t miss a meeting. Plus the photographer was showing up that day and I hadn’t had the chance to change those plans.

Anyway, the kids are great, for the most part, although we need to have a nice little sit down and allow me to go over my expectations for the group in as far as behavior is concerned. Their behavior. There seems to be a slight problem of everyone talking at once and no one saying much of anything. When I’m suffering from a killer headache and can barely put two words together, having 10 sweet little darlings share their brain drivel with me and each other all at the same time, I tend to forget what I was trying to say to them and things just kind of get off track.

And by off track, I mean a complete and total derailing with cars flying everywhere, galaxies colliding with super novae in a flood of green bean casserole. And? And? Snacks! Holy crap! That was the first thing those little monsters wanted when they got there! Snacks! Jeeze…There was almost a revolt when I told them it would be another week before we got them.

So, let me kind of go back to the beginning because I can tell things are getting a little confusing. First week I had eight show up. Five girls and three boys! Boys! I was amazed and alarmed. And by alarmed… yeah, green bean casserole and all.

One of the boys has some amazing writing skills and I found out later that he has already won awards for said skills. Um… perhaps he should be leading the group…?

That first meeting went pretty well, of course, it was a bit rough around the edges, but we muddled through. Then came the next week and TWELVE MIDDLE SCHOOL CHILDREN APPEARED AT MY MEETING!!! Oh, and there were now six girls and six boys. Six. Boys. Oh, and most of the boys are in 6th grade, which means HOLY SHIT!

And by HOLY SHIT, I mean just kill me now in a vat of green bean casserole while I tumble through space colliding with galaxies and causing super novae. Sixth grade boys DO. NOT. SHUT. UP. Ever. No, really… They may never talk to their parents, but they’ll talk to each other until things bleed. Then there was the other eighth grade boy who nearly died… had he but met my gaze. The only reasons he’s still alive right now are because I need my job and I hate the thought of blood on all those books. And because he wouldn’t look me in the eye. What a turd. He’s smart as hell, but obnoxious as a Hellmart shopper.

This last group, when the photographer showed up, was considerably smaller, with only eight showing up again, but there was a conflict with another school group and, well, when you weigh the options and one of them is a grade, you go with the grade. Thank goodness. Ok, one kid was in afterschool detention FOR TALKING IN CLASS AGAIN. surprise.

Last week we did a short writing exercise and this time I joined in the fun. It was a flash fiction piece of suspense/horror and when I finished reading it, they all wanted to know what happened next.
“Whatever you want, but the story is over.”
“No, it’s more like a beginning,” they said.
“It could be, but it is complete as it is.”

That’s when I realized we needed to work on endings, so this week I gave them an ending prompt instead of a beginning one and wow… One girl blew us all out of the water with her writing. Best of all, when I refused to read he work (if you want it shared, you have to share it yourself) she decided to “pull ‘em up” and read it to the group.

It was awesome. Her descriptions were marvelous and because I had given her an ending, it clicked off. Nice and snappy. She used the words I’d given her and made them shine. I take no credit for that, it was all her work.

Next week, there may be snacks, and there may be more kids, and I’d better be prepared for both.

I think we’ll try the exquisite corpse poem. Of course, if those little darlings keep talking when they shouldn’t, there just might be a few extra corpses stashed among the shelves in the library. If anyone wants to find them, just look for the green bean casserole…

Thursday, October 13, 2011

CT Fun and Games

So… After two horrific nights of excruciating pain, I went to the doctor and a scan was ordered. I’m not a big fan of stuff like that, mainly because it’s usually so damned expensive even after insurance has had their say. But I’m even less of a fan of unknown and dreadfully uncomfortable ailments that could, or could not be, something ugly and serious.

The doctor threw around words like diverticulitis, cysts, and a few others that I cannot remember or spell even if I could remember them. Unpleasant words that had to be eliminated by me going for a scan.

I’ve driven over this cliff before, and I hated it. Barium drink is some of the nastiest stuff. Oh, they flavor it with something that makes it taste similar to a tropical drink, but there’s not a whole lot they can do about the thick, chalkiness.

Even better, I have a sensitivity to the contrast dye they inject into the veins, so that was a lovely experience as well. Actually, the loveliest part of that experience was sitting around until the tech was satisfied that I wasn’t going to drop dead on her watch. I would have preferred to just leave.

However, thanks to today’s technology, I was able to get the results back this afternoon. I have an 8mm kidney stone that is attempting to kill me as it leaves. Also, there are cysts on both kidneys, but I’m not sure what that means, so I guess I’ll have to wait for the good doctor to explain it all to me.

But, it’s not serious, and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Home Again

Ended up staying home from work again today. Another night of excruciating pain that kept me awake from midnight on just doesn’t make for a productive or safe day at work. I’m scheduled for a CT scan in the morning.

Here’s hoping they find answers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Stayed home sick today. My head is killing me now, so it hurts like hell to read. But I managed to find something funny to share, so it's not a total loss. I have a lot of reading to do to catch up with you all, it'll just have to wait until I can focus.

In the mean time, enjoy this little treasure.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Time and Temp

I honestly don’t remember when I first saw the sign, but when I did, it was night time and it gave me a bit of a creepy feeling. Tam and I were heading to the beach (this was when we were just friends), and we were kind of in the middle of what felt like nowhere. Seriously, I had no idea what that stretch of road looked like in the daytime and I was kind of thinking maybe it was lost in a permanent spell of darkness or something.

What got to me wasn’t actually the sign, it was the house not far from it. No, wait… it was the combination of the two because I thought, “shit, can you imagine sitting at your living room window and seeing that damn sign flash the time and temp…forever?”

No, that doesn’t sound scary or creepy at all, in fact, it just sounds really annoying, right? Well, leave it to MY brain to snap it up, give it a good yank and a twist before handing it back with a sneer and an “oh, yeah?”

So, for your reading pleasure, here’s a little bit of fiction brought to you by my twisted mind and a late night drive…

The Sign

Mr. Fielding signed the closing papers and shook the hand of the broker handling the sale. “I’m glad this is done. When do I get my money?”
“The bank will issue you a check, or we can have the full amount deposited directly into your account.”
Mr. Fielding turned to his son, “I don’t know, why don’t you handle this part, Jacob? I’m going to go sit in the car.”
Jacob watched his father slowly make his way past the row of cubicles and out the front door. “He’s not doing well, but this will help,” he said, tapping the papers. “He couldn’t handle the upkeep and I have my hands full with my own place.”
“They’ve offered to let him live in the house as long as he wants,” the broker said, “but they will be moving forward on the property.”
“He knows, and I really can’t thank you enough for helping out with that. I’m not sure he understands this was everything and not just the parcel by the road.”
The broker nodded and extended a hand to Jacob. “My father was very ill for a long time and it took a lot of people caring for him near the end. I’m glad this worked out well for everyone.”

Building began shortly after the check was deposited and Mr. Fielding watched from his living room window. It hurt to do much of anything else, and there was nothing on that damn television, but it was fine to watch the construction. They even came over and did some work on his lawn. At first he was upset, but when he learned it wasn’t going to cost him anything, he was thrilled.
“I’ve been wanting to clear that area out for years,” he said, “now look at this place. Just like when it was new.”

The only thing that bothered him was the sign. All day and all night it flashed the time, then the temperature. “Look at that, as if I don’t know it’s hotter than Hades outside right now, or that time keeps on marching along.”
“You could always watch some television, Pop,” Jacob said one evening after they finished their Sunday night dinner. Margie was in the kitchen with the kids, packing up the leftovers into containers for her father-in-law to have throughout the week. “Or you could move in with us, you know we have room and the kids would love it. So would Margie,” Jacob added with a grin. “She wouldn’t have to clean two houses.”
Mr. Fielding shook his head. “Naw, this is my home, and yours too. I expect you know I’m leaving it to you when I die.”
Jacob blushed and ducked his head. “Aw, hell, Pop, don’t go talking like that.” He looked up when his father didn’t respond. “Margie!” he yelled, “call for an ambulance, I think he’s having another attack.”

When Mr. Fielding was released to his home, he sat in the wheelchair and stared out the window. It was 72 degrees at 10:00 in the morning. Jacob and his family had finally left, and the house was quiet. The cars on the freeway rushed past and he looked at the clock again. 72 degrees and 10:00 – no, it was 10:01. He saw it change. Thinking about it, he couldn’t recall ever seeing the time change on a clock like that. He always figured it happened when the sign was busy telling people they were either too hot or too cold, then it would pop up with the new minute showing.

It gave him a strange thrill to see it, as though he’d witnessed some electronic secret. He waited, blinking only when the temperature was showing, just to be sure he wouldn’t miss anything important. It remained 72 degrees for the next 30 minutes, but he never saw the number change on the hour during that time. With a sigh of disappointment, he reached for the television remote when the damn sign changed, only now it was 73 degrees, and he got to see it.

He put down the remote and began watching the sign. All hours of the day and for as long as he could stay awake at night, he’d watch it. Every time he caught it changing a number in the time or the temperature, he would chortle and write it down in the steno pad he dug out of the desk just for the occasion. Long columns of numbers with the dates next to them, proof of what he’d witnessed.

All his meals were taken at the window and he’d call out to whoever may have been visiting at the moment that he’d seen “another one.”

Jacob and Margie put the finishing touches on the apartment they’d built for Mr. Fielding one month after their last visit. The old man had barely spoken to them, just hooting that he’d seen something, then he’d write something on the pad and go back to staring out the window.

“Pop, let’s go for a ride. I don’t think you’ve been out of the house since you came back from the hospital.”
“I don’t want to go for any ride, Jacob. I’m staying right here. I don’t want to miss anything.”
“What are you looking at out there? All I see is the freeway and that sign.”
“Watch the sign, boy, you might see it too.”
The two of them watched for five minutes before the digit changed and Mr. Fielding chortled. “See?” he said, “What did I tell you? Now you’ve seen it too.”
“Ok…” Jacob was at a loss for words. “Maybe it’s time for you to come live with us. We’ve built this nice little place just for you. You’ll have all the privacy you want, but we’ll be right there if you need us.”
“I can’t leave, Jacob,” Mr. Fielding said, not taking his eyes from the sign, “I have to watch the numbers. I have to watch them change. Once,” he whispered, “I saw both the time and the temp change in one round. It was amazing. I can’t leave. I have to keep watch.”
Jacob swallowed the lump in his throat and went into the kitchen where Margie and the kids waited. “I don’t know what to do. He’s obsessed.”
Margie put her hand on her husband’s arm. “Maybe it’s time to stop giving him a choice, Jacob. I’m worried about him living here all alone.”
Jacob nodded. “I know. I’ll talk to him again, give him one more week, then we’ll start moving him out. It will take a little while, so maybe that will give him enough time to warm up to the idea.”

Mr. Fielding didn’t really notice the people coming into his house and taking his things. He did notice when that crazy old lady from up the road came over and offered to buy the damn rug right out from under him and the curtains from the very window where he sat. He ignored her, but Jacob took care of things. He made another entry in his journal and flipped the page. It was the last one in this book, but he had a new one at the ready. He settled in for another eventful afternoon.

Maybe it was the quiet creeping up on him that made him look away from the sign, but when he turned around, the house was all but empty. A few boxes were stacked here and there, messages written on the side saying what they held and where they were to go. He got up and looked through an open box. It contained things from his bathroom. His bathroom! These were his things and they were in a box instead of his bathroom! He began picking up a few things to put them back when a sharp pain stopped him. Gasping for breath, he got back to his chair and sat down just in time to see the minute change.

The pain stopped, just like that. He watched and the temperature dropped a degree. Another double! A rare entry to start his new journal. The box was forgotten as the day faded into night.

Jacob waited until his father was asleep, then gently wheeled him out to the car. “Come on, Pop, it’s time to go home with us.”
Mr. Fielding was too groggy to resist, but climbed into the front seat and fastened the seat belt. It wasn’t until they pulled away from the house that he realized he wasn’t coming back. “No, Jacob, I can’t go! The time! The numbers! I have to watch them. I know their secret, I have to keep watching them!”
“I’m sorry, Pop, but it’s time to leave the house. The business owner wants to move into his office…”
“I’m not stopping him.”
“Well, you are, because his office is the house.”
“But the sign, Jacob, the sign. Who will watch the numbers? Who will record their secret?”
Jacob had no answer.

The clock stopped working a year later and the business owner was furious. He called the manufacturer, who sent out a technician, who said there was nothing wrong and maybe someone cut a wire somewhere and that would void the warranty. The business owner threatened to cut a few wires if something didn’t get fixed right away. Three days of tinkering produced no results, until that evening when it just came back on as if nothing had happened.

The technician scratched his head, the business owner didn’t care how it was fixed, only that it was working and this better not go on any invoice because no one did a damn thing and it’s still under warranty. There was about to be an argument, when the technician looked up and frowned.
“Who’s that in your office?” he asked, pointing.
“It’s Saturday night. No one better be in my office,” the business owner said. He turned and went pale. An old man sat in a wheelchair staring at the clock, a steno pad in his hand. “But,” he said softly, “he can’t be there. They buried him this afternoon.”

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend Report

I’m writing this on Sunday morning, because I’m not sure when we’ll be returning home or if I’ll even feel like turning on the computer to make a post. This weekend has been beyond splendid and somewhat restful. But I am looking forward to getting back to reading all the blogs!

At least it was restful for Tam. She took an 11 ½ hour nap yesterday. I managed to squeeze in six good hours of sleep, but it was my own damn fault. I picked up a book at the library yesterday and wanted to finish it before we left. They’re very nice when it comes to paperbacks, and all they ask is that it comes back to them at some point in time.

When I read, I like to finish a book quickly, having a tantalizing plot hanging over my head makes me crazy, as it’s all I can think about. Polishing off a J.A. Jance novel in a day is my idea of vacation. I don’t get anything else done, but at least my brain is happy. I have been known to allow a book to be read over a period of a couple days, but it’s not my idea of awesome.

Hey, I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear in one day, but it took me a day and a half to get through Valley of Horses because I had to clean my grandfather’s house. Dang housework.

So, I read “Trial by Fire” on Saturday evening and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Tam was annoyed that I allowed her to sleep for so long, but I kind of figured that she needed the rest as much as I needed to sit and read for five or six hours.

After we were done wandering around yesterday, I called my mother to fill her in on the weekend activities and tell her a little more about the shop. She’s still pleased, and in fact seemed even more so now that the initial shock has worn off and she got more answers. I think it also helps her to know we’re not rushing into this, but we’re setting a plan in motion and following it as best we can. I expect life to toss in a few monkey wrenches along the way, but that’s not going to stop us.

It won’t be easy, but what in life IS easy? Love? Oh, hardly. Even people you adore aren’t always easy to love. Children drive their parents nuts, and vice versa. Lovers, being the individuals that we are, do things that make our significant others go ape-shit, and the list goes on. Love isn’t easy, but it’s fun.

Life isn’t easy, but you know, its fun for the most part. There’s always something going on, and if it’s quiet enough, you can grab yourself a good read and ta-dah! There’s your fun!

I also managed to bang out a decent outline of the next book in my series, ironing out issues and shedding light on some things that needed to be dragged out of their dark corners; explanation of why things happened the way they did… it was awesome and I’m so pleased to have a really good direction for the series. I’m pleased that it isn’t quite willing to end now, either.

It involves a library, too. How awesome is that?

Yeah, it’s been a good weekend.