Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A CAT-astrophy

We picked peaches yesterday.  When I went to weigh out, I found I'd spent 100 bucks! OUCH!!  On bruised and smashed, 1/2 rotten, 1/2 unripe  peaches the kids tore off the trees.  My guess is that peaches have never had child-labor problems.

And so I finished off the jamming process already begun by my progeny.  I pumped up the jam last night until I collapsed.  But it never set.  So for Christmas this year, you get lot's of peach ice-cream topping! 

Blue had it on her sandwich today and whined that it was too sweet and sloppy and so I sent her
to her room.  I told her not to come down until I was over it.  Twenty minutes later I let her out, hoping I was past the impulse to whip her ass. Pride is a terrible thing to wound in a mom.  Blue's toast was on the table for four hours, but damn-it! She was going to eat it and LIKE IT!  So... when she was helping in the garden she ate probably 2 pounds of green beans, having turned her nose up at her lunch.  She finally ate it so she could go play with the neighbors.  That's how much work and money went in to that jam.  And, on top of all that, I threatened that if she says one more negative thing about my $100 peach jam, she's going to eat nothing but peach "jam" until it's all gone.  Peach damn.  (Dear CPS: joking! I mean, I did say that, but I didn't mean it.)

Meanwhile, Coyote is still waiting for a clean pair of unders. He's been sitting around naked all day staring at the ceiling.  I told him he better find something creative to do and he told me he WAS doing creative things, just in his head.  I hope the laundry fairy comes soon so he can go outside.

I think I'm over summer vacation.  Listen to me brag about my creative parenting skills.  I may not qualify as a great mom, but I think I might be pretty memorable.  Which is important.  It would be terrible if my children forgot me.

It's not all been "another hot day and school doesn't start for a week still... still..."

For instance, we had a fabulous time toting King Louis le cat to the vet this week.  He's a great mouser.  Large.  But he seems thinner lately and I've been worried about worms.  So I hauled out the plastic carrier he destroyed last time we took him anywhere.  He's destroyed it at least five times, which is every time, except the one where we tried to drug him.  And instead of getting a new, steel cage,  cheapskate that I am, I fix it up real good.  And with each new experience I prolong his escape by minutes more.  And this time, that cat was NOT going to get out.  No WAY!

I took the carrier out to our pile of fencing left-overs and I cut a piece to wrap around the previously shattered door.  But that door had been plastic.  This would be one-inch-by-one-inch galvanized steel.  And after shredding my arms and hands with sharp wire edges, I finally had it locked in to place.  And the coup de grace? A metal shish-ka-bob skewer as the latch. 

It was a little difficult to sieve the King through the narrow opening I'd left.  But once he was in, I wrapped fencing wire around and around.

It began innocuously enough, with a paw reaching out to pull in a plastic garbage bag.  But with in minutes, he deftly reached through those inch wide holes, which now seemed gaping and large, and easily tore the upholstery off the passenger side door.  Swearing profusely, I pulled over and tossed that kitty into the back.  The kids loved this, as they churned around in their seats to get a good look at the beast.  They screamed and shrieked and I could not really comprehend what they were saying. I mean, I heard the words, they just didn't register as coming from the realm of possibility.   Until I pulled over again to see for myself.  Using his one claw, Louis had hoisted himself and his carrier across the back of our CRV and had embedded his claws in my best pair of fancy shoes and was tearing them apart... leaving a few claws behind. 

Then the kids watched as I drove and Louis (ne'e King Effing Kong) busted through that steel mesh.  Later, I would find the skewer bent silly.  Blue's automatic stress response, which was also mine as a child, was to laugh histerically.  And Coyote's is, of course, to cry hysterically.  As our lion of cat leapt to the backs of their car seat bench and roared, both kids were beside themselves with noise and freaking-out-ness.  It was insane.

"PULL OVER!"  They cried, in the choreographed unity only pure chaos can create.

"I can't pull over."  I, actually calmly, declared.  "If I pull over, Louis will escape and he won't be able to find his way home."  I catastrophized.  Instead of doing something useful, I blared relaxing meditation flute music.

More screams as the cat leaped down and made his way to the front of the car.  Back in the passenger seat, he had his nose right in the AC and actually seemed to be recovering from car sickness.  And here is where our big game of cat-astrophizing was launched. 

"Mom!  He's stepping on the window controls!  He'll roll it down and jump out!"  And they went on and on, hilariously spotting every single contingency no matter how remote and turning it into the most likely disaster ever.  We had ourselves in stitches.  He finally settled down on my lap.

As we left the office, cat in hand, I instructed my team.  "Okay kids.  We've got to be together now.  Blue, you open the door.  Coyote, you hold the paperwork and run and open the door to the car.  Everyone's going to have to jump into the car and shut their doors really quick.  Are we ready?  Okay.  On three.  One. Two.  Three.  GOOO!!!"  No one opened the door.  Coyote dumped all the papers. And Blue had a lot of questions before she was going to get in the car.

King Louis spent the ride home cuddled up in one kid's lap or the other.  And we've all decided he will never ride in a carrier again.  Unless I get resurrect this one.  I haven't tried duct tape yet.

PS: my camera broke, no photos!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A secret worth keeping

Hey, Ma, how are things down on Lucky Farm?
Well... let me tell you!

You know that big old fence project that corralled all my time this spring?  Well, there was this big cow leaning on part of it.  So I went over to that diva Hendrika and I pushed on her head.  Tried to push her back in to the pasture... like trying to push a baby back up the birth canal!  She stepped forward, out through the fence as if she were a ghost or the fence was a ghost and I was a ghost.  And Sukey came later.  In the process, they pulled down the chicken fence so the cows and chickens were all out at once.  And Coyote was on the front porch yelling for a drink of water 'cuz he still can't reach the faucet. 

I think the cows love this game of tag.  I run around.  They run around.  We all run around.  It turns out that you can read this and that tome and magazine and still, everything you know about herding cattle goes out the window when you see them tearing through your irises.  There's this zig zaggy thing you're supposed to do, all the while cooing softly and signing lullabies.  And now I think perhaps the lullabies are for yourself and not necessarily the cows because good herding (and I've done it once!) requires that you completely stifle your rage.  And they know, much like my kids always do, when you're trying to herd them away from something special.  They break off at a trot in the small space you're arms can't reach.  In order to make myself bigger and span the entire space I want them to move away from, I picked up a kids snow shovel and a Montessori broom one day.  And now these are my tools.  They are bright red and I hold them out like a snow man's arms.  And if they still don't move in the right direction, I swat them with the broom.  AND IF THEY STILL don't move, I hit them with the shovel.  Don't worry.  Their hides are tough, the shovel is plastic, and I'm swatting like a dainty Victorian.  Usually.

But on this particular day... the cows entered my garden.  It's ironic that I call it a garden, which implies an area under guard, a walled off paradise.  Hardly the case.  I have yet to put a fence around my garden.  And when the cows strolled through, tasting this and that as if they were trotting through the Nordstroms perfume aisles, hoity-toitily sampling the spritzed offerings of fashion-plate-victim spritzy ladies.   As if it was offered!  Freely.  As if it was all just misty molecules hanging in the air for anyone to absorb.  My corn!  My kale!  My onions!  At this point, I didn't give a pattootie about the grazers infinite memory, about harming my relationship with my cows, about permanent fear.  I WANTED permanent fear! 

Warcry.  That is now my name.

And I ran after them with sticks, beating their hides, baring my teeth, pounding my hooves, thrashing, rising up on my hind legs and snarling and gnashing and spewing flames and smoke and lighting and screaming out falcons and wasps from my nose and mouth and ears.  I was a roiling fury.

And that is when I decided that the next "herding" game we play will involved a .22.  I don't know how or where to get one, or how to use it, much less use it safely.  But the next time those girls get out, they won't be going back in.

And then I had to track chickens.  And catch chickens.  And throw them in to their new pen.  After all the repairs were done.  Which is exactly what everyone wants to do on the day they get back from vacation.

I may not know where or how to get a big, enormous, shoulder mounted cannon with which to obliterate my pets, but I did figure out how to line our acreage with concertina wire and industrial strength voltage.  It involved a lot of heavy labor from me and a little electrical wiring know-how from Huck.  One little whiff of those ions and the cows have not come near my fence.  I've had the crapola shocked out of me twice, however.  My hair is getting very frizzy. 

I'm not sure these guys qualify as pets anymore.  Prisoners of War, perhaps. 

They only nibbled and tasted a few of my goods.  I'm having corn on the cob for every meal... sometimes the only thing I have!  The escaped chickens ate all of my ripe tomatoes.  The kale and squash are seriously prolific.  And the onions are so fine, I eat them raw... like apples.  Hence, the Really bad gut cramps tonight! Yummy. 

I placed the garden along the little dead-end road of ours.  This road has 8 houses on it... three with huge vegetable gardens.  When one of the gardeners saw where I was putting it, she questioned whether or not I really wanted the whole neighborhood to drive by my weeds everyday.  Weeds!  Yes!  Most of them are edible anyway!  The other gardeners have their vegetable plots tucked away behind their houses.  No one can see them. 

And out here, in front, on stage, exposed, is where this interesting thing happens.  The neighbors drive by and wave and I wave.  I don't know which houses most of these people live in, but they seem to feel that they know me... out there every morning and evening weeding, watering, picking.  And then they start stopping by to chat.  I've met more and more of them, both from our lane and all around Paradise Prairie.  Ladies on mopeds and bicycles and in cars, wanting to discuss a shared passion for gardening.  Vegetable gardeners, all of them.  They've loved the progress over the past year.  They want to confer about methods and harvests. 

You don't get this when your garden is properly tucked behind your house. 

I truly need a wind hedge.  The wind is strong out here and took out more corn than my cows did.  But such a break would hide my garden from "the public".  I'm really liking the public.  They see my weeds and everything else.  They want to buy my cow poop.  They told me when my corn was ready and how to harvest onions.  They encourage me.  I may feel a little over-exposed out there in my mini-gardening skirt, knee pads, and flip-flops, with the whirlwinds pulling up stakes and tossing chairs, but there are upsides... and so far, if there's gossip about my over-growth and wild green tango of weeds and squash... I haven't been affected.  Maybe vegetable growing isn't really a secret worth keeping.

Except from the cows.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mowing the fields

I was all ready for something exciting to happen today.  Good exciting, of course.  There was some wind and the kids and I danced around the kitchen, and I thought about cutting my hair, but nothing came about to match my sensations.  So now that the day is done, I've got anticipation burning a hole in my sleep hygiene.

I've been thinking about the grass on the other side of the fence.  And how it always does appear so much greener than our own.  Except around here, of course.  There ain't no green grass, just taller and less tall. And all of it pokey.  The cows envy the stalks on the other side of my feeble fences, of course, until they get to them.  And they they realize it's all just crappy this time of year, no matter where you stand. And they think, "Perhaps South this time?  Let's go further and see where the green grass starts again."

I know I've got it good.  I've conferenced with others in my situation and we all know it's good.  And we all agree that even when it's good, this life is absurdly hard. 

You hear the envy of the "other"side all over the place.  Brain, Child, once my favorite mom magazine, pushed me over the edge with too many articles about poor poor moms of the disabled, the inter-racially adopted, etc.  These articles always involve some poor schmuck held up as an example of insensitivity.  And I'm sitting there thinking... so maybe the lady in the grocery store line was asking because she too adopted a child from China.  Or maybe this one is new to town and just clumsily trying to make friends on the play ground.  Or maybe... everyone's just human with their own little traumas and dramas going on and you can cut everyone some slack because we all suck; that's just part of the human experience!  When I complained, the editors told me that the articles were to expose us all to the vast variety of experiences within motherhood... which is the part I enjoy.  But the way the articles go about it leaves me with the impression that I should never ever try to befriend someone with a "different" child because it will likely just be taken as offense... anything I say will be clumsy and imperfect... and it's true.  I am clumsy and imperfect and now afraid to be friendly to anyone who might "subtext" whatever I say as an insult to their child who is "disabled" err... "differently abled".... um.... "brilliantly oddball"  or was it "meeting special challenges the rest of us could never even face, much less rise to"? 

And I hate this "subtext" bull crap.  What is that?  I ask how old your child is and you "subtext" me as saying "My GOD! What a scrawny little screwball?  Did you even notice when you gave birth, or did he just pop out like a tiny, inappropriate queef and someone said, 'Gosh, there's a peanut on the floor!  Is it yours?'"  No...actually, I'm just asking because that is a common form of this thing we moms do some times and it is called inane chit chat and it sort of, barely, passes the time as we push our kids in their swings.

But in my final Brain, Fart issue, there was one really good article where a mom realizes that although her own daughter has problems, everyone does.  And she lists a long line of seemingly perfect people who's tragedies and flaws were well hidden. It redeemed the other articles, but not enough for a renewal.

I've gotten a lot of envy from single moms.  They all love my husband.  Even married friends with crappy husbands think Huck's the bees knees.  But he's a person.  He doesn't come home, fix everything including the kids and dinner and the door knob and then just shut up about it all (although tonight he came pretty close to meeting this ideal!).  Not usually. He wants a say in money, vacations, parenting.  And he needs a break from his day about the same time I need one from mine: nice conversations, those one's are!  And he's not about to do anything just cuz I tell him too...which is what attracted me to him I think.  Doh!

Anyhoo...it seems that everyone thinks everyone else is walking around perfect and whole. 

And here comes my daughter. Smart, beautiful, tanned and blond and hiding under a portable all recess.  Blue reminds me of myself in swimming lessons now.  Struggling to tread water.  Demoralized half way across the pool.  Weeping uncontrollably at the mention of the high dive (this from the girl who just gleefully rode the AFTERSHOCK at Silverwood!).

I worry over shades of myself in her that resonate back into a hum I can't easily ignore.  She hasn't found her nitch in life.  I like to think it's because for those of us whose only nitch will be navel gazing, she has yet to get to the developmental stage in life where her gifts will become manifest and worthwhile.  But, hell.  I have yet to get to that stage too.  And I'm afraid for her.  What if she's more like me than I want?  What if she too is a lost ghost haunting this earth with no apparent point at all.  No place.  No nitch.  A creature without a natural habitat.  And in a world that seems over-populated with people with a sense of purpose, conviction, surety, direction, and either a career and/or a stay-at-home-school mission.  What if pointlessness is an inheritable trait?  And what if Blue got it?  Might there some day be a genetic test for this?  Could I ever forgive myself for passing on such a fatal flaw?

Maybe I'm just imagining the world is populated by self-possessed and well-directed people.  Perhaps they're all just fronting.  Or I'm projecting my wildest fantasies onto the rest of the world.  And with all this moving, could I really expect to have a cozy little nitch all warm and ready for me to plop in to?  Perhaps nitches are made, not discovered.  And maybe all these seemingly "placed" people aren't all that happy with their places.  One professor friend confessed to me that he has recurring nightmares about being buried alive.  Sounds like he's found his place all right!  So... maybe I'm just like everyone else after all, envying the neighbors fields which may be just as sparse as mine, or maybe they are full and lush ...with problems I can't even imagine.

Since I don't really like this idea about "being like everyone else"  (no, I'm too American to like that idea!), instead of envying others, I'll have to be content with the fact that I have no idea why I'm here at all, and my children might also lack purpose as well. Yippee!  

Okay.  I think this little chat used up all my thrills and I'm ready to hit the hay.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Super-bly glued

My glasses are only two years old, and yet they need to be treated like late-Triassic fossils.  All dainty brushed and pieces labeled to be reassembled at the museum.  I'll be reading the paper and PLOP! an ear piece interrupts the latest political scandal.  This combined with all these trips we've taken had worn me out. I'd spent too much time packing and unpacking, hunting down edible meals, public parenting (especially taxing work), map reading, and tracking tiny screws and vanishing glasses parts (very difficult to track!).

So... at my father-in-law's house I finally asked for some super glue.  Of all the annoying little pains-in-the-ass buzzing around my bonnet, this one could be solved once and for all!  Instead of heading down to the glue-ten Bakery, I would stay home. Huck tossed the tube at me and trotted after the Bakery mission.

Knowing what he knows...  Experiencing what he's experienced...  How could he so blythely flick this tube of super glue at me?  As if he were some innocent.  As if he'd never witnessed all that can and does go wrong with me and super glue.  As if he never conferenced with me on the one binding Sarajoy-rule of the house.  As if he himself has never heroically plunged between me and a tube of glue.  How could he?  I'm not sure he himself knows how he committed this crime.  But he did.  He chucked a tube of super glue at me.  And left me.  Alone.

I still thought, however utterly pointless a rendezvous of me and a bakery may be, I might be able to catch up and at least enjoy watching my children eat glue-ten.  After all, what did the package say? Sets in 10 seconds!  I plopped right down to my father-in-law's and his girlfriend's-of-umpteen-years perfect, new, missions-style dining-room table. I whipped off the lid of that glue and plunged the poker through the the top of the tube.  Out sprayed a massive projectile fiasco all over that perty perty table.  I knew then how foolish this all was.  How stupid Huck had been.  How inappropriately cavalier I'd acted with that bottle.

Don't worry, I experienced these hindsights while panicking.  I wasted no time sitting and thinking and regretting. No, I did all of that while leaping into immediate, inept action.  On the off chance water might work, I grabbed a wash clothe and scrubbed at the table thereby smearing the bubbles of glue so that what permanently formed were little blown Mt. St. Helenses of superness.  And the rag stuck to my hands.  Everything got stuck to my hands.  The faucet nozzles.  My fingers.  The bottle of glue itself.  Everything!  With the limited dexterity and sense I had left, I managed to glue my glasses back together... in a permanently open position of course. (Given the options for permanence, I suppose "open" really was a god-send).

I scoured their house for finger nail polish remover.  Normally, I always know where their fingernail polish remover is.  At their house and yours too.  And this is why:  my high school drivers-ed teacher told me to "always leave yourself an out."  In my youth I took this metaphor to a whole new level, always making sure I'd know the closest and fastest way to commit suicide at any location I might be at... should whoever was in my company bore or humiliate me to the point of insufferability, even if I was alone.  And in my adulthood, I have taken it to mean that, should your husband cast a tube of super-glue at you, where might you find the only thing you've ever known to remove super-glue?  And so the closest location of acetone is always being scanned in to my memory bank.  Right now?  Small closet in the basement, top shelf.   But that day, at my in-laws, I couldn't find it in any of the places I'd filed it.  After checking the places I knew, I checked the places of possibility followed quickly by the places of improbability.  Nothing.

But I found my keys easily enough, dangled them from my one free pinky and took to the CRV.  The bottle still firmly glued to my hand (though the dishrag was gone... mostly) and my fingers all superbly glued together.  I eventually turned the key and then drove to the store with my forearms on the wheel.  While shopping at a near run, I kept my hands discretely tucked in together and grasped the blue acetone in my elbow.  Luckily, the store offered self check out.  Ah! I skipped!  No explanations required!  Just me and ... and... and... a wallet with a card in the back and a machine to slide this thin slippery card through.  So simple.  So effing simple. So simple it took about five minutes and a lot of perspiration and swearing, followed by snooping security officers.

I found my way back, driving again with my elbows and forearms.  After a good and odorific 10 minute acetone soak, my fingers pried apart (it took a while longer to get ALL the dried glue off) and I was free to now cope with the archipelago of busted spots over their glossy table top.  Did you know that acetone isn't good for table top finish?  Let me illuminate: a little isn't good and is also ineffective for removing super-glue.  A lot is equally as ineffective for the glue and worse for the finish. 

When they all returned skipping and trotting, full of the best kind of glue, I was a mess of tears.  Of course, my in-law and step-in-law-ish lady assured me that they loved me more than their table and that my construction-stud-muffin-in-law could fix ANYTHING!  And all I could say to Huck, through my hiccupping tears was: I might have glued my glasses to my face! How could you leave me like that?  Alone.  With a super glue bottle?  Everyone knows.  EVERYONE KNOWS!  Sarajoy and a bottle of super glue is the worst kind of news.

It might take years to rebuild my trust in him again.

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