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.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Car Trips and Cranberries

We arrived at the cabin much later than we had originally planned. Mainly because we left about four hours later than we expected, but it wasn’t all our fault, Tam’s ex wasn’t going to be home until late and we needed to drop Li’l Red at his place.

But the ride was decent, despite the usual number of idiot drivers making it their business to annoy the hell out of me.

Cell phone coverage at the cabin is spotty at best, and the neighbor’s unsecured wi-fi signal is only good at certain times of day, so if I want to browse the great wide web, we’d have to head into town.


Actually, we love the little city and make an effort to tour it every time we’re here. This time, there is a festival celebrating the lovely, lowly cranberry, so we have lots to do. Plus visit the shop owner…

The drive over here is three hours long, but it’s usually a pleasant drive, no matter what time of day or night. I’ve made the trip in late afternoon, when the setting sun makes it difficult to navigate the wild, twisting road, as well as in the wee hours of the morning, after the bars have closed and the roads are clear. That’s the best time, but it sure makes for a sleepy morning.

It’s a trip that we’ll both be taking a lot once we purchase the shop. I’m thinking in positive terms here, it’s just got to happen.

Car trips are a favorite of mine, but they kill Tam’s hip. She fusses and complains, and because I won’t let her smoke in my car, she has even more to fuss and complain about. Plus, she’s a captive audience and must listen to me prattle on about whatever is on my mind at the time. A tossed salad of brain drivel, with a side of scattered thoughts seasoned with anecdotes and contemplations. Don’t worry, she has ample opportunity to toss a few things into the pot as we go along.

We rolled through town at 10:30 last night and the place was closed. They don’t have any 24 hour stores, except for one gas station that might be open past 11 p.m. The first thing we have to do is purge the hot water tank, as the water here is rather pungent, reminiscent of sulfur and some nasty bog water. If you don’t purge the tank before turning it on, that smell gets REALLY strong and will stain your body and your nostrils with the stench for a long, long time.

Morning came early, especially since the bed is atrociously uncomfortable. I watched the sun come up and sipped my coffee. Tam rolled out of bed about an hour later and we lazed about for a while before we headed into town. Looking at the clock, I realized that when we own the shop, it would be about that same time that one of us would be leaving to open up for the day. The thought left me feeling a little giddy, to be honest with you.

The cranberry festival is spread out over the entire area, so we started at one end, and wore ourselves out. Old knees and hips just weren’t going to cooperate for long periods of wandering. We headed to one of our favorite restaurants where Tam had her beloved oyster burger. While I had to admit, it sounded good, I went for a burger with bacon, cheese, mushrooms, onions, tomato and lettuce on it. Served with a side of batter-dipped onion rings, it is a meal perfect for the “big splurge.” Hey, even if you’re scrimping and saving to achieve your dream, there are times you just gotta get something extraordinary, you know?

After that, we headed over to the shop and talked to the proprietor. He let us know that we’re the only ones who have been serious enough about buying to keep coming in and talking to him about it. I told him that we’ve made our decision and we’ll be doing our best to come up with enough capital to convince a bank to lend us the rest. “This is our dream,” I said, and I meant it.

Back at the cabin, Tam took some time measuring the length of the couch and compared it to the length of her body (she took a snooze). I attempted to scoot in on the neighbors’ wi-fi, but they left early this morning and turned the damn thing off. Fortunately, there are enough places with free connectivity that we’ll just pack up and head for the nearest one. Another outing, and I’m pleased as punch about it.

There is a deep peace here, and we both feel it. While my heart and soul are connected to the mountains, this place feels like home to me.

Note: the library has free wi-fi! Wheeeeee! Yay for public libraries. Do everyone a favor, support your local library and go check out a book or three.


We're at the beach and coverage is spotty. If the neighbors find out I'm freeloading their wi-fi, they'll make me mow their lawn. They have big dogs and mowing their lawn usually includes lots of crap bombs.

I'll try to post more later.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Mr. Cheek and the Holy Grail

Two of my co-workers, Mrs. J and Mrs. A, are brave women. They are the ones who take our students through the lunch line so they can get their food. It is not an easy task, and one must remember to place oneself behind some students and before others in order to best facilitate their food needs.

Mrs. A is of the mind that Mr. Cheek should have the opportunity to experience the lunch line like his classmates. Usually, Mr. Cheek stays back at the table with me, while I wrestle with a recalcitrant wheelchair tray. Today, he got to go through the line for the second time.

Mind you, the first time she took him through, she swore it would be the last. He got very excited and wanted EVERYTHING. EVERY. THING.


Having taken leave of her senses (it is, after all, Friday), she took him through again. After I prepared the table, I went back to putting the tray back on the wheelchair. Hearing an familiar noise, I looked up from my temperamental tray to see Mr. Cheek running toward me, crowing his happy song, his face beaming, holding out a paper boat (a small tray) containing a chicken patty sandwich. At first, I wasn’t positive it was a chicken sandwich, because by the beatific look on his face, I thought it had to be the holy-fucking-grail. He dropped it on the table.

No, it was a chicken sandwich.

Ok, to me, it was a chicken sandwich, but to him, it was indeed the holy grail. Mr. Cheek loves his food. A lot.

I took the tray from him, but cutting up his lunch would have to wait a couple minutes. The wheelchair tray had fallen off for the third time, so I ushered Mr. Cheek to his seat and went back to my trials and travails of public-school mechanics and McGyver-ism fasteners. No, I can’t insult McGyver like that. At least HIS fasteners would have worked properly.

Anyway, Mr. Cheek was annoyed that his holy grail was getting cold while I ignored it and he voiced that annoyance with wild abandon and a scattering of utensils, napkins, and wet wipes. He struggled to stand, but found it difficult with my feet planted squarely against his chest while I leaned across the table toward the wheelchair. The tray was finally almost secure enough for me to let go with two hands, while I used my third hand to keep things from flying off the table and my third foot to re-set the wheelchair brake. At that point, another co-worker, Mrs. J, came up carrying two food trays and set one down.

“Who’s is that?” I asked, pointing to a familiar set of food items. Pizza, fresh tomatoes, watermelon, and oranges.
“This is for Mr. Cheek. It’s his usual.”
“Then who’s is this?” I asked, pointing to the tepid grail.
“I don’t know. Where did it come from?”
“Mr. Cheek brought it.”
“Maybe it’s for Mrs. A,” she said, referring to the other co-worker.
“She doesn’t eat that stuff, but I don’t hear any screaming, so I don’t think he took it off anyone’s tray. Maybe Mrs. A got it for someone else.”

We cut up the food and had things ready by the time Mrs. A showed up with her charges and their food.
“There you are!” she said to Mr. Cheek. “He kind of took off, and I couldn’t do anything because I had these guys to take care of.”
“Is this your sandwich?” I asked, pointing to the cold patty.
“Uh, yuck. Where did you get it?”
“Mr. Cheek,” the other co-worker and I said together. The three of us looked at each other, then at the purloined entrée.
“Well, we can’t take it back, he’s already thoroughly fondled it,” I said, hastily burying it under extra napkins.
“Maybe we should tell someone in the kitchen.” We three looked over at the cranky women working the hot food line. One of them glared at a sassy-mouthed 8th grader and the kid almost burst into flames.
“Ok, or let’s not say anything right now,” I said, handing the bundle of napkins and camouflaged sandwich to Mrs. J, “just take it back to the classroom and stick it in the freezer. We’ll let him have it next week.”
“Yeah, that sounds a lot safer.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writing Club

I suppose I should say something about the writing club. Something other than “I’m in waaaay over my head.”

For my first meeting, I had eight students show up and we had a pretty good time. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fill an hour with stuff to do, but I forgot, it’s all about writing, so we spent 15 minutes doing just that, and then we shared our words. Well, they shared their words, because I decided to opt out of the short story prompt.

I didn’t want them to feel like I was trying to show off or something. My mistake. They really wanted to hear what I would have written.

Figuring eight was a pretty good number, imagine my surprise when four more showed up for this week’s meeting! Holy moly, Maynard! They’re an odd group (writers… sheesh) but there’s not a dummy to be found there. I think out of all of them, there are three or four on the honor roll, but each one of them is smarter than a lot of their peers. They think, they read, they write, they create. That puts them miles ahead of their classmates who don’t like to read and think writing is drudgery.

Twelve middle schoolers. They’re a wild bunch, and trying to talk to them was a challenge, especially when they were being silly nitwits and going all “writer/geek” on each other. It was lovely, even if it was a bit irritating. I only have an hour here, kids, and there is a lot of ground to cover.

We’re prepping our NaNo stuff, but I think I’ll let them work it on their own. I’ll send off for the packet of things that might help, but other than that, I’ll support them, challenge them, but since not all of them want to do it, we won’t make it a group project.

However, we do have one group project and that is a book we’ll get to take home at the end of the year. Every month, we’ll write a story or a bunch of poems, or whatever, and we’ll clean them up, and put them in a “chapter” (which is actually a category, i.e. Humor, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Scary stories, etc.).

Today we did a short story and all I said was, make it scary and make it something from your childhood. This time I joined in and I’m glad I did. Mine was more flash fiction than short story, but it was complete. They asked for more, and that’s when I realized they don’t know where to end a story. They’ll just keep on writing until the whole thing is deader than dead.

Our next prompt will be something different; instead of a beginning sentence, I’ll give them the last sentence, and they need to write a story that comes to a close.

I wonder how many will show up next week…

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tasting Dreams

I’ve said something about what Tam and I want to do in our golden years (which are a ways off, mind you). We’ve tossed around the possibility of opening a restaurant in some tourist town, which would be fun, provided we were already independently wealthy and didn’t mind going back to being nearly penniless. Restaurants are hard, and unless you have something no one else does (besides location, location, location, money, money, money) you can kiss it goodbye in about three years.

Not my dream, ok?

So, we like going to the beach where her mom has a cabin, and near that place is a shop for sale. This shop has been there for almost 20 years. It has been profitable for that long, and the guy who owns it is awesome.

And…he’s selling the shop. Not right away, mind you, because he wants the “right” people to buy it. People who love what he sells and will keep running it the way he does, fair and square. Nothing fancy. It’s tiny and cramped and crammed with inventory, and we love it.

And…we’re going to try to buy it. Not right away, mind you, because we don’t have that kind of capital right now. He has shown me the books, we’ve talked about rent, we’ve promised to run it the right way, fair and square. Nothing fancy. We may change a few things, and add some special items, but for the most part, he’ll recognize the place when he comes to visit.

We’ve said “yes, but…” But, if someone comes in and he’s ready to sell and they have the money, go for it. It almost killed me to say that, but it’s what is fair to him. He agreed, but that’s just sound business. Fair and square.

In the mean time, we’re going to do our best to cut all costs to bare minimum and live off of one school district employee’s salary for a few years, while we put the other one in the bank. I figure if we can save up a sizeable chunk of the asking price, the bank may be more willing to plunk down a sizeable chunk of money to help us.

It’s a dream. We talked about what it would mean, and one of those things is that she would end up moving over there (it’s a three hour drive) and I would stay here and work for a year (or two) saving up more money to get the debt paid off as quickly as possible. I’d head over every summer and work with her during the busy season, and we’d do a lot of going back-and-forth on weekdays and weekends during the off times. Once the loan is paid, I’d move to the beach with my love and we’d run our store together. See, the shop owner takes home more money from the store than the two of us combined working for the district, so it’s a win-win.

Summers would be spent working our asses off 7 days a week, 8-10 hours a day, then when October comes around, we’d work weekends only, leaving Monday through Friday to visit friends and family. It sounds perfect. Better yet, when we “retire” we can hire college kids to help run the place during the busy season and it would give us something to do during the off season. Working two days a week at a little shop would be peanuts compared to what we do now. Plus, we wouldn’t have to worry about social security, because by the time we’re ready to collect it, there won’t be anything for us TO collect.

It took me a while to get the courage up to tell my mother about it. She is not always the most enthusiastic person when it comes to such ventures. But I had answers for her. Not all of them, but enough to let her know that we’d been giving it a lot of thought. I gritted my teeth and held my breath, waiting for her final response. She was cautiously supportive. I shit you not!

We’re going to the beach to talk to the guy this weekend. I’ll look at the books again, get things written down so I can take them to a bank and find out just what we need to do in order to turn this dream into reality.

And the sooner the better.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Be Careful of Your Words, Dear.

My darling said that very thing to me as I pondered an issue we’re having at work. In case I hadn’t made myself too clear, I’m a Pagan. I’m pretty tolerant of other folks’ beliefs, and can ignore most comments. Faith isn’t talked about much at work, but I’m open enough that they know where I stand on the issue. I listen to them, they listen to me, it is a fair deal for all, and we DO NOT DO THIS IN FRONT OF THE STUDENTS. Just so you know.

But this morning at work, a mother came completely unhinged at the mention of pumpkins and celebrating the harvest.


She yelled at the teacher, saying Halloween is evil and she will not have her child involved in any such thing. The teacher repeated several times that it wasn’t Halloween anything, it was harvest and we’re going to be learning about it with art projects (no pumpkins will be carved during said lessons, but we might cook one).

The mother continued her tirade saying (more than once) that she doesn’t want anyone else’s religion stuffed down her throat or her child’s throat. When it was all over, she left the room saying, “god bless you.”

I rolled my dexterity for both hands and sent my magic daggers of +2 damage… Oh, hush. I can dream, can’t I?

Anyway, thanks, but no thanks on the blessing thing. The last thing I want is the blessing of her intolerant, exclusionary, jackass of a deity hanging over my head like a dung-filled balloon.

Tomorrow I’m going to wear my Pentacle earrings. If she says “god bless you” to me, I will politely refuse, telling her I find her blessing to be offensive. While she may mean it with sincerity, I don’t need anything from her closed, hard heart.

“Mind your words, dear,” my darling said softly, “they do come back to you three fold.” So…ok; I’ll skip the “I find your blessing to be offensive” part and just say, “No thanks.”

I wonder if she’ll get it…

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Smart(ass) Phone

So, it is a fact that my phone hates me. In my family, it is not uncommon for people to receive messages that sound as though an angry goblin has gotten its mitts on my phone and is promptly giving everyone on my contacts list the verbal dressing down of their lives.

Instead of “My word, today has been hard, thank heavens I’m done” goes out something like this: “Oy work, today gas Ben hase, thank heavens I’m food.” It has even started making up words. “Hase,” really?

It does not like double letters and will do just about anything to avoid them, which is why Ben keeps popping up in many of my texts.

I also ask strange questions like, “When will you be good?” But what I really want to know is when someone will be home.

Love is loud. “Loud you!” Lovely. One of my favorites is “Pee you later!” Oh, please don’t…

As for “oy,” well, to be honest, I have absolutely no idea where the hell that came from. It will also shout it, “OY!” or make it proper, “Oy,” and if I hit the “next” button, it will STILL refuse to give me “my” instead it says “ow.” It used to say “my” on the second hit, but it keeps moving the word down the list.

I’ve only recently figured out how to add words to my dictionary, but what I’d REALLY like is to figure out how to delete words (or non words) from said phone. By the way, it isn’t really one of those smart phones, because that was way out of my price range, plus you need to have internet access with the phone and that was even MORE out of my budget.

So I got the one thing that does fit my money situation, and that’s how I ended up with an angry goblin who shouts at people and garbles my messages.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Then It Clicked

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by two representatives from my union. They want me to do some stuff like email my representatives and other political people about the state of the union or whatever. I said I’d do it, and then we talked about work. I mentioned the D.I.Y. Book club and they wanted to know more. Being only “slightly” enthusiastic about the club, I told them EVERYTHING! Then they left.

Two weeks later, I have my first meeting of the D.I.Y. Book club and my nerves were on fire all day. When the final bell had rung and I entered the library, I was a jittery mess. Would anyone show up? I noticed a couple of girls had also wandered in with me and just stood there, but I figured they were going to head over to the computers. That’s the other group meeting after school, computer game people.

But they weren’t. They were there for my club! Three more girls showed up, and three boys!

Three boys in my club! Holy moly, Maynard! Just the fact that I had eight students show up was pretty awesome in my book, but have guys in there as well?

The meeting went well, although the moment I mentioned poetry, the guys were curling their lips and leaning backward. “We’re going to explore different facets of writing, and that will include poetry.”
“You mean like flowers and love and stuff?”
“Only if you want it. Of course, you could write about dead flowers, ghosts, and bloody things, too if you’d rather.”
Yeah, that was all it took. They’re totally on board with the gory poems.

I challenged them to a short story and we were able to share before the meeting had to end. I will admit to being quite impressed with a couple of them, one in particular, and I can see real talent that could turn into something spectacular if they keep up with it.

The next day, I was still riding that high note, telling everyone how great it was and how the kids seemed to really enjoy it (ok, direct quote, “if I could take this class all day, I would.”) But as usual, after work, I was wiped and just sat at home on the computer, wiping out my facebook account, when the phone rang.

It was some gal from the union and she mentioned the visit I had a couple weeks ago and my mind immediately said, “She’s gonna ask you to do those emails now, you know, so I’m outta here,” and it went mostly offline. It’s not that I don’t believe in helping, I just don’t want to listen to all their reasons, AGAIN.

She said that one of the gals that had come to my house said I have quite a story and she would like to know more.
“What story?”
“You’ve started a writing club at your school?”
“Oh, yeah, I did.”
“Well, I think this is a wonderful idea and I’d like to put it on the union website, so if you have the time, I’d like to interview you now.”
Then it clicked. She was interviewing… ME! My brain? It ‘sploded. My mouth? It kind of flapped and for the next fifteen minutes, she asked questions and I answered them, but I really don’t think I did a lot of breathing.

When I mentioned that I was hoping to get community involvement by inviting guest writers to come in and talk about what they do, she said that she had been a reporter for 20 years and an editor for 10 (or five, I don’t remember now) and she would be happy to come talk to us. Oh, and while she’s there, could she take some pictures of our meeting to go on the website.

I told her I’d need to discuss it with my principal to make sure it was in compliance with district policy (although I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be, since it’s regarding the school and nothing bad).

But, what she and I are hoping to see is this program getting picked up by other schools. The fact that I’m a para and not a teacher is one of the “hooks” because for the most part, after school activities usually fall on teacher’s shoulders, and those shoulders are already pretty full. Showing that paras CAN take on an afterschool program may give way to more opportunities for students to explore new venues of creativity.

Now, I must go draft a lesson plan for the next meeting and prepare myself for another round of gory stories and take a poke at some poetry.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why I Blog…

My first NaBloWriMo post! Ever!

I blog because mass emails are a pain in the ass and the audience is quite limited.

I blog because I’ve learned to look at life, pick the sleep out of its eyes, wipe its nose, pat it on the head and send it on its way. Then I write about the experience and poke fun at it.

I blog because I love to share. I love to make people laugh, cry, think, or roll their eyes.

I blog because my ego insists I do it.

I blog because if I don’t, I get cranky, whiney, and hard to live with.

I blog because I love it, and I love the friends I’ve made while blogging.

If I could, I would gather you all up and we’d have a month long slumber party… wait, I already used that line on another blog. Damn it.

Ok, if I could, I’d blog about my brothers and my sisters, aaaaalllll over this laaaaand… oooh, oooh, oooh!

For the longest time, my favorite writer was Erma Bombeck. I loved the way she spun humor into her stories, and while a little voice in the back of my head kept saying, “you know, her life isn’t always that funny,” the louder voice said, “SHUT THE FUCK UP, I’M HAVING FUN HERE!”

Then I found Lauri Notaro and thought, “yeah, this is more like my life. I’m not the innocent Erma type; I’m the earthy, oops-my-boob-is-in-my-guacamole kind of gal." Note: my boobs have NEVER been in guacamole. Never. Not saying they never will, however, just not up to this point.

So, I figured I could join the fun and write about my life. After all, it was pretty damn funny at times, but getting published? Not likely, but I kept writing letters to fill that sharing need. Then someone (I think it was my ‘not-ex-at-that-time’) suggested blogging.

It took a long time to convince me that I wasn’t going to crash the entire internet all by myself, no matter how hard I tried, and believe me I tried REALLY hard. Mind you, I’d cut my teeth on AO-Hell and the forums contained therein. I had no idea what the REAL internet was all about until we went to a different ISP. It was a Wile E. Coyote moment of running full blast – right over a cliff.

Long story short, I ended up on Blogger because, like A-Oh-Well it was easy and held my hand, whispering soothing words of encouragement while I fiddled with stuff. Then I changed the look of my blog and it lost all my links and refused to give them back, so I was pissed. But it was still whispering and caressing my hands, even when I went over to Wordpress and got REALLY confused…

I blog because I’m a writer, not a computer genius.

I blog because I’d had to keep that writer trussed up in duct tape and foil for years in order to be a “good Christian wife and mother” and give up what some people in our church called “foolish things” like writing. Not-ex-at-the-time did buy me a computer so I could write children's books or young adult Christian books. Writing fantasy or humor was not productive.

I blog because I love it and I can write what I want.

I blog because I love blogging, being a writer, and sharing, and I love my friends, and this is cheaper than long-distance phone calls (especially the ones to the other side of the globe).

Tomorrow: My BIG news! The Interview!