Monday, December 22, 2014

Moving Forward

I have reached that stage of life where I must become the parent to my parents. I consider myself extremely lucky to still have them in my life and I wish I could spend more time with them.

Of course, that wish is about to come true in a way that I never quite expected. Tam and I are doing our best to get my parents moved up to Long Beach where Tam is currently residing and I hope to be moving there soon as well. This is not going to be some cut-and-dried pack ‘em up and move ‘em kind of undertaking, these are my parents we’re talking about and there is nothing cut-and-dried about them.

My mother is a packrat. Not exactly a hoarder, because from what I’ve been able to discern, hoarders buy many of the same things when they’re on sale and keep them stashed in closets, cupboards, cabinets, etc. My mother simply does not throw things away. Being raised in the depression by parents who knew how to repair things in creative ways could do that to a person. Nothing was wasted. Nothing was thrown away until there wasn’t much left of it TO throw away. Of course, that's when you just tucked it in a corner “just in case it might come in handy.”

Or, in my mother’s case, might become a collector’s item. She’s big into “collecting.” She did that all her life, and now she has amassed a large collection of everything. Had she just collected dishes, we could deal with that. Or dolls. Or jewelry. A single type of collected item would be a lot easier to deal with because chances are good you would have some idea of the value.

My mother collected bits of everything and we have no idea how much any of it is worth. The treadle sewing machine (one of which I’m keeping because I love it), or the antique baskets from Japan, or the array of strange kitchen gadgets (that make my darling Tam drool), or the painting supplies (not antique, but holy crap that’s a lot of watercolor), or… or… smatterings of stuff that doesn't actually constitute an official collection, it's just a collection of stuff.


I have the same problem, although I’m starting to let go of a few things that have sentimental value, but is no longer of any use. The little toy car that my son loved, literally to pieces, will have to go. Eventually. But I understand my mother’s mindset on this. When you’re not always happy, or when life has been particularly difficult and mean, it’s easy to glom onto things that remind you of wonderful times, or at least better times. You want to keep them close because it is almost like bringing those good times back and keeping them close as well. I get it, I really do.

I have things from my offsprings’ youth that I hold very dear. It got really bad as they moved out, because I wasn’t ready to let go. I wanted to keep them close to me, to keep those tender moments alive. But, time can be cruel and children must move on, so I kept things that held memories in the hopes it would ease the pain of moving forward.

In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t really, but it took me a long time to get to that point. I’m closer to it, anyway. I can see it from where I’m standing, as long as I’m on tiptoes. But my mother is having memory problems and that makes it even harder for her to let go. These things are keys to her past, good and bad, and she holds them in a grip of steel as they sit covered in dust on shelves, countertops, an in the back of closets.

This move is not going to be easy for another reason: I am very attached to the land on which they live. It once belonged to my beloved grandfather, a man who was equal parts scamp, god, scoundrel, and McGyver. I worshiped the man and so many fond memories are tied to that place he built. The oak trees that shade and the pines that scent the air are all parts of him. And me as well, for I was there every summer, and when he passed away and my parents moved down there, I brought my children down every summer to continue the tradition.

But times have changed. It is a long seven and a half hour drive from where I live, and while I’ve always enjoyed long car rides, with everything that’s going on in my life right now, that carries too much weight in certain decisions.

Like selling the property.

I have resisted even thinking about it because it was the last place where I got to spend time with my grandpa. It was the last place where I felt comfortable allowing my children to roam unfettered to play in the dirt, ride their bikes, fish in the pond, and get chased by the geese.

I am tied to the land and the thought of letting go kills me.

But I must be a big girl and move forward. I must think with my head and not my heart in this matter. I must let go of the feeling, but not the memories. I must remember that it is about the safety and security of my parents and that is way more important than fond memories or bygone days.

We will move forward. We will create new memories with grown children and aging parents. And they will be just as good as the ones from before. Memories may fade, but new ones are just as dear and just as important, I just need to give them a chance to take root, while I grow to love them as much as I do the old ones.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Fart In A Poncho

I was asked if I’d like to work an extra 15 minutes every morning (paid! Woo-hoo!) and do crossing guard duty. That means, I get to wear a day-glow vest, carry a radio, AND hold up a stop sign. I also get to push the button that stops traffic.

It is a position of great power, and I humbly accepted the heavy mantle of responsibility that comes with it. Dude! I get paid! Woo-hoo!

After a couple of days, I renamed it from Crossing Guard Duty to Dodge Car, because there are some folks out there who do not quite grasp the concept of red lights, stop flags, cross walks, and school zones. They DO, however, understand the wrath of a short, fat woman with a crazed look in her eye and a big voice.

But I actually enjoy the job. Then it rained. It didn’t just rain… it RAINED. A LOT. It rained so hard, my hat was soggy, my coats were dripping, and my shoes squished. When I went inside to return the flag to the work room, I stopped by the office manager’s desk. She began making squeaking noises as she grabbed handfuls of important documents that were mysteriously getting soggy. Then she pulled up an online catalog and ordered a poncho for me. Bright yellow. With a hood!

I was hoping for black, then I could play the music from the Empire Strikes Back. She said it was better if cars could actually see me. Besides, if I’m wearing yellow, I look less like the grim reaper, which would probably give parents nightmares. “Oh my gawd! They Grim Reaper is the crossing guard? Why? Why? Is he down on his quota or something?”

Ponchos, yellow or otherwise, are lovely in the rain. It keeps me dry, except for my lower legs and my feet, but whatever, and surprisingly warm. Those buggers really help hold in heat.

And other things.


And I don’t know what the hell I’d eaten, but when my butt whispered something about it the next morning, the smell was intense, almost as though it was condensed or something. Refined to its purest form of stench. Sticky, nasty, concentrated fart. And I let one of those go in my poncho.

We were both trapped. Worse, there was no breeze to help move it along. Worse yet, someone was coming and would need to be crossed to the other side. I knew if I didn’t do something quick, it wouldn’t be the other side of the road… these farts were lethal!

I paced quickly back and forth, “adjusting” the poncho to cover up the flapping motions. But with all the moisture in the air, the fart just couldn’t leave the area. And the kid was getting closer. Kids are not ones to let something like a mega-stink fart go unnoticed or unannounced. This fart was going to by my waterloo if I didn’t think of something quick. The kid was about fifteen feet from me and closing fast. Quickly, I began looking around on the ground, frowning and shaking my head. Then, in a stroke of sheer brilliance, I checked the bottoms of my shoes!

The kid approached as I was doing this, wrinkled his nose, and checked his shoes as well. I muttered something about darn dogs and people who don’t clean up after them, and he nodded. “Yeah, it’s rude,” he said.

Good boy. I crossed him safely to the school and we both lived to tell the tale.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Things That Go Crunch

The infrequency of postings on this blog have me uncertain what you may or may not know regarding the state of my life. To label it “chaotic” would be wasting a perfectly good word on something that is more akin to someone spilling a barrel of mischief and telling a bunch of insane monkeys to go clean it up.

Not quite chaos, because I think chaos would be, if not more organized, at least make some sense. Maybe I’m just making a big deal over little things, but when you’re up to your eyeballs in mischief and crazy monkeys, you are allowed to make something of it, and a big deal is the easiest thing to make.

Last night, as I sat alone in my house, I could hear something crunching around the leaves scattered across my yard. Front and back, I’m ankle deep in the golden crunchy goodness of autumn.

I’m also knee deep in critters. The feral cats are still around, although their numbers are constantly shifting. More on that in another post. Plus there are raccoons and possums (ick, and double ick) that prowl the neighborhood. I do not feed the ferals at night, because I don’t want to attract the unsavory nocturnal elements. Not that the lack of food deters them at all, but I do my part.

Anyway, there was crunching in my yard last night. Scuffling through the leaves, breaking small twigs, and otherwise making a substantial ruckus. In my yard. Late at night. In the dark. While I’m alone. At night.

Are we getting the picture? I had gooseflesh and my handy-dandy ax was within my reach.

So, what’s the big deal? Critters crunch through leaves all the time, right? Right. Except…

Over the past two and a half months, my house has been broken into four times. Ok, three times, because one of those was an attempt AT NIGHT, WHILE I WAS HOME. ALONE. You can, I’m sure, understand my unease at this point.

Now, I’ve taken steps to prevent this from happening again, but if someone really wanted in that badly, a broken window would do the trick. It would be noisy and messy, but effective. And I’d rather not think about that, thank you.

I’ve installed a dead bolt on a solid wood door (ok, that was more fun than a root canal, but just barely so), installed door reinforcing hardware on another door, and jammed my garage door so tight, I’ll never get the damn thing open. Ever. And, I’ve purchased a home security system, complete with monitoring and the luxury of having them call the police in the event of a break in. It hasn’t arrived just yet, but it is on its way.

Doing all this makes me angry, because no one should have to live in a fortress just to feel safe, or just to keep their belongings in their own home. No one should have to come home and wonder what else has been taken from them while they were at work. Taken by someone who won’t get a job because they won’t debase themselves working at a fast-food place, or sweeping floors somewhere.

Excuse me for a moment, I must go collect myself.

Ok, I’m back.

Crunch, snap, noise, noise, noise. Something was moving around in the yard, something big enough to snap twigs. Since nocturnal critters have excellent low-light vision, I wondered if they really would be out there snapping twigs. I peered out the window, but I couldn’t see a thing.

I texted my nephew, asking if he would be coming home, or if he had other plans. Imagine my immense relief when he said he was on his way at that very moment. But, because he rides public transportation, it was a 90 minute moment before he got home. When he walked in the front door, I asked him if  he’d noticed any activity and he said yes. I told him about the crunching and he looked uncomfortable.

“Well,” he said, “thought you meant police activity, because there are about eight police vehicles and the K-9 unit at the grocery store a few blocks away.”

I may need to upgrade my security with some ramparts and a portcullis. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breathing New Life

It started with a facebook post from a dear friend who had been absent for a while. Selma, of Selma and the City fame, came back to say "howdy" then Heather from the now defunct but still memorably groovy I'm Not Hannah, said, "we should get back to blogging."

Because I am a fan of both these gals, I jumped on the bandwagon and said, "Me too! Me too! Can I play too?"

Lucky for me, they said yes.

After doing a lot of thinking, I decided to keep two of my three blogs. My author blog will probably go away because it's easier to tackle that type of updating on Facebook. I'm not 100% on board with that idea yet, so it is still there, waiting for something to happen.

But the other blog, A Novel Place (and if I could remember how to insert the address as a link in here, I would, so I'll try that on editing. Plus, I've forgotten the URL, so... yeah...) Anyway, that blog will be my fiction link and if we're REALLY lucky, Selma will start posting her fiction there as well. I'd really REALLY like to start the weekly writing prompts again because those made for some amazing stories from all over the place.

This blog, Life in the Dyke Lane, will remain as my daily life, ponderings, and brain drivel blog. I like brain drivel, it keeps me sane.

I miss blogging. Facebook has destroyed that medium (at least in my humble opinion) but, while you can post long "notes" on facebook, it's just not the same as a blog. A blog is a room in a very large house. It's a quiet room, dedicated to one person and they get to say what they want. Others can chime in via the comments, but it's pretty orderly and calm.


I will admit, Facebook can be fun. It takes up a great deal of time, because there are so many people there, but it is rarely dull. Occasionally inflammatory and emotionally painful, but not dull.

So, in the coming weeks (especially after NaNoWriMo is done in December), I'll be bringing you some posts about my life. I'll tell you about my burglar, the hat shop, my parents, the nephew, and even bring you up to speed on my offspring (holy lard, there's a lot going on with those three).

I miss you all. I miss the blog. I miss the blogosphere and I really hope we can bring it back, because it was so awesome. Maybe it's still out there, but commercialized so they don't really look like blogs as much as ads for department stores or what-have-you. I'd love to earn my living blogging, but there is a divine purity in the "old way" and right now, that's what I miss. Maybe, if I become a famous author, I'll have a commercialized blog, but... I'll still sneak something in of the old school style.

So I'm going to limit my time on facebook, and start prowling around for something more worthy of my time. Like your blogs. :)


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Priorities and a Lesson in Professionalism

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, but I can explain. In fact, I can explain it in one word: facebook.

Facebook ate my time. Only because I handed all my “free” time to it on a silver platter, but it still ate every morsel I offered and left nothing for laundry, dishes, housecleaning, writing…

Greedy, greedy facebook.

But then, something happened. Something bad, which turned out to be something good. I shared a “photo” (which wasn’t actually a photograph, it was a statement that had been shared as a photo and facebook doesn’t really know the difference). It was a statement close to my heart as someone who works in the field of public education.

While I didn’t expect everyone to jump on board and give lauds and praise over the statement I’d shared, I wasn’t expecting quite the response I got. Someone took something out of context and began rubbing my face in it. It was so out of context, it took me quite some time to figure out what the hell they were talking about. True to the nature of most zealots, it didn’t matter that the item being pulled apart had nothing to do with the statement I shared, that which they found offensive needed to be trounced and stomped into oblivion, while the statement which meant something to me was ignored.

It was lovely, in a heart-crushing kind of way.

However, it showed me something important. I had taken my professional facebook account, my author account, and turned it personal. My original thought had been to share who I am with my readers so they could “get to know me.” After visiting the pages of a few other authors on facebook, I realized my error and I have since changed my tactics. I am now focusing more on writing and less on public education, puppies, kittens, space exploration, etc. I do miss acknowledging my friends funny posts, and I may do that a little more, but not much. If I see something I really like, I’ll send a pm to the poster and let them know privately. I’m reigning in my public profile, and keeping it as professional as I know how.

And I sure as hell won’t be sharing anything that might be misconstrued to the point of making me cry.

The other good thing about what happened is it has freed up quite a bit of time that I can use for the greater good, ie: laundry, dishes, housework, WRITING…