Friday, April 25, 2008

Here's your sign

I've been consumed by spring cleaning. I've carried more dirt out of this house than I can fathom. When I cleared the walls for washing, I noticed a peculiar thing. I've got a bazillion signs all over my house. When did this happen? How did it happen? I know I must've purchased and hung these signs and plaques, but, really, how did so many accumulate? And why didn't someone point this out and stop me? Believe me, nobody hesitates to point out any other flaws I have. Here are a few of the messages I felt it necessary, at some point, to display in my home.

I included bird man just because he rocks.

The next five are outside of the kitchen door:

This says "If you can read this you are overeducated"

These two are in the kitchen:

See my funky tie-dyed glitter hippy fabric on the nook ceiling?

The great room:
(otherwise known as the living room when I'm not being pretentious)

This one's actually in the hall outside of the loo. (Thank you, captain obvious)

Piglets room
Our bedroom:
Now, poppets. What conclusions would you come to about a person if the only thing you knew about them was displayed on signs around their house? I just wonder what these say about me. Are they reminders to myself? or declarations of my beliefs to those who visit?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why I asked for a divorce on my honeymoon

When my husband proposed to me, he did absolutely everything right. He took me to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. He rented the most luxurious suite at the Biltmore Inn for the weekend. He arranged a picnic lunch by the bass pond with the most wonderful view of the conservatory and gardens. And he was so nervous I thought he'd pass out.
He proposed on my birthday, a Saturday. We decided to marry one year later, again on my birthday, but a Sunday. It took every day of that entire year to plan our wedding and honeymoon. We had a gorgeous wedding at a local historical mansion, complete with horse drawn carriage and a flutist and harpist playing Pachebel's Canon.
Our honeymoon was to be the trip of a lifetime. We were to fly out of Dulles Airport into Heathrow. The plan was to spend one week in England, one week in Scotland, and one week as a cushion in case we wanted to stay longer or go to France. I was looking more forward to the trip than the wedding. The wedding was really more for our families. Don't misunderstand, it was beautiful and flawless, but the trip, that was for us, and only us.
Two weeks in Europe! A dream come true. I had been before, but I was fresh out of high school and didn't make it out of London because that's where the parties were. My shiny new husband had never been farther than Florida. He chickened out on me two days before the wedding. Not the getting married part, the flying to Europe part. To say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the century. To say I handled my disappointment with grace and humor would be an outright lie. I ranted. I raved. I said horrible things that I was later sorry for. Frankly, after the way I went on, I'm surprised he didn't back out of the wedding, too. But I still, ten years later, feel that I was justified. I put a lot of time and effort into planning the trip. I was very much looking forward to going. And he took it away from me because of his fear to fly. I was angry and resentful, but in the interest of our wedding, I put it aside for later inspection.
Our honeymoon actually turned out to be quite wonderful. It wasn't the trip I had planned but there was something freeing about not having an itinerary or a schedule. We hopped into a rental car on Monday afternoon and headed north. We ended up in Niagara Falls, of all places. How trite, but thoroughly enjoyable. From there, we went through Canada to Bar Harbor, Maine. Then we took the catamaran to Nova Scotia, and eventually made our way home. We had no plans, no reservations, no destination. And we had a great time.
Upon our return home, still feeling a bit stung that I didn't get my way, and feeling just a wee bit entitled, I took the money we had left over and bought myself a little bling.

I've worn this ring on my right hand everyday since our honeymoon. It reminds me that it doesn't always have to be about me, that if I give other ideas a chance, they just might be as good as, or (gasp!) better, than mine. It also reminds me that it's ok to be nice to myself. I think that a lot of us put ourselves last most of the time. And I'm glad I put myself first long enough to buy a beautiful reminder of a lovely time.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A River Runs Through It

How high's the water, mama?
Two feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Two feet high and risin'
We can make it to the road in a homemade boat
That's the only thing we got left that'll float
It's already over all the wheat and the oats,
Two feet high and risin'

Johnny Cash
Five Feet High and Risin'

Happy Monday. Can you guess what I awoke to from the title? Yep. A flooded basement. We've had torrential rains since Saturday night. While the rain would ease up a bit to a steady downpour, it's mostly been extremely heavy, can't see through it, raining sideways kind of rain. Because the water came into the house from outside, homeowners insurance will not cover the damages. If a pipe had burst in the house and flooded the basement, it would have been covered. If I had flood insurance it would have been covered. But I don't have flood insurance because? That's right, I live on a MOUNTAIN!! NOT in a flood plain. Grrrrrr

See the debris about one foot up the wall? That's how high the water was. No, I don't know where that curtain rod floated in from.

So, 180 wet vacced gallons later, I'm wondering how to dry out a floor when it's still raining out.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My first whupping

Yvonne, at joyunexpected wrote a post about the last time she got a whipping from her dad. I had a cute little linky all ready to go, but the post is gone! I haven't quite figured out why because I thought it was well written and interesting AND I was inspired to share the story of my first and only experience with corporal punishment.
My family all lived on the same road within one mile of each other. I had paternal grandparents down the hill to the east, our house in the middle, and maternal grandparents three houses to the west. I had the type of childhood where we were set out of the house in the morning and told to be home by dinner. Where we were and what we did in between only came into question if criminal acts were witnessed or blood was shed.
My aunt is only eighteen months older than I am, so we grew up more like sisters. We spent a good deal of time exploring the woods around our houses, hanging out in the store where sometimes your bottle of chocolate pop had a dime in the cap! and generally just being kids. Now my father had a very precise version of how children were to be raised. I don't think he did this consciously, but its just the way it turned out. He has never raised his hand or even his voice to either of his children and he didn't expect anyone else to either.
My aunt and I, being around 6 and 8, couldn't find anything to get into one hot summer day. We had run through the sprinkler, had a squirt bottle fight, and watched the Flintstone's. We were at a loss. While aimlessly roaming through the house, we happened upon my grandfather's shaving cream. Two cans! One for each of us. At least we went outside to the front yard before having our shaving cream fight (we seemed to have a lot of fights, real and pretend). To this day, I still don't know what it was about that simple act of childhood that angered my grandfather so. We were scampering around the yard, covered in shaving cream and quite delighted with ourselves when he came home. He came thundering across the yard and snatched us up by the arms. He drug us into the house and put us on the sofa. Then he took off his belt. He hadn't spoken yet.
He whipped my aunt first, then me. With a belt. Two inches wide, black leather, well worn, silver buckle. I will never forget that belt. I can honestly say that I have forgotten the pain. I'm sure it hurt because we sobbed for hours, huddled on the sofa, legs and hineys stinging. But I think perhaps our hearts were in more pain than our asses. We still didn't know what we had done wrong.
My grandmother came home from work and found us like that. She gathered herself up to her full height of 4'8" and she took her 90 lb. self into the kitchen where she proceeded to administer said belt to the back of her husband. She got in two good licks before he took it, all the while laughing at her (which just made her madder) and telling her that a good whupping never hurt no children. Now, my grandfather was a gentle man who never raised a hand to his wife during their entire 40 year marriage. Her fury amused him. He just didn't see what the big deal was. We did something wrong (in his opinion) and he punished us.
Needless to say, my father did see what the big deal was. As kids are wont to do, we got over it and moved on to other activities for the rest of the afternoon. Then it was time to go home. I wandered home for dinner. When I climbed into my chair at the table, my father saw me wince. He asked what was wrong. I told him that Popo had whipped us with his belt because we used up all of his shaving cream. He checked my backside and legs and the welts he saw there put clouds in his eyes that I had never seen before. He very quietly told Mother that he would be back shortly. I wasn't witness to the rest of this story, but it has been told many times.
My father is not a large man. 5'9", 180. My grandfather was a very large man, topping out at 6'4", 280. My father did not hesitate nor waver. Someone had harmed his child and that simply could not be tolerated. To my grandfathers' credit, he didn't try to defend himself. He took his punch like a man and then apologized for whipping me. He apologized to my father, but not to me, or his daughter. But he never physically punished either of us again.
It wasn't the end of the world, getting whipped. I'm sure I would have a different opinion if it had happened frequently. As it was, it happened, and I didn't die from it. But I still don't like the smell of certain shaving creams.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

C'mon baby, light my fire

It seems that my life has been shaped by fire. Forged from the flames, you might say. My first house fire was when I was nine months old. Mother could only save herself and me. Everything else was lost. Of course, it was a trailer, (yeah, my house burned down to its axles!) so it wasn't too much, but it was all my parents had. Daddy brought another trailer and set it in the same spot. At 18 years old, with a 17 year old wife and new baby, the fact that he had two acres to set a trailer on is impressive to me.

We lived happily here, our little family. One of my most vivid memories is of coming up the driveway from school, the daffodils in bloom, and Mother in the doorway waiting. This was when you could still walk home from the bus stop alone. This changed in the second grade when I came home from school and found a smoldering heap of ash where home had been. Thankfully, Mother had been at the store with my baby brother when the propane tanks exploded. So once again, all pictures, clothes, toys, mementos were gone.

Daddy built a beautiful home in its place. A huge, rambling, six bedroom home with large rooms and a rec room we could run laps in. Being a builder by trade, he designed and built it himself. Here is where I grew up. Where I had pool parties, learned to love to garden (somebody had to take care of that huge yard) and was happy. Until my junior year.

My best friend was staying the weekend. The parents had gone to bed. When we tidied up the living room before going downstairs, we tossed the pizza boxes into the fireplace. The embers were still hot. When Mother woke us to tell us to get out, the house was filled with smoke, we chose to disregard her warning. We didn't smell any smoke. And we were sleepy. When she came back the second time and she smelled like smoke from carrying things out of the upstairs, we listened. Guess what I saved? Out of everything in my room I could have grabbed? My leather pants. This was 1983, people. We rebuilt and I lived there until I didn't.

Once I moved away from home, I had a series of apartments. I found a house that I absolutely loved! It looked a bit like Bates Manor, looming up on a hillside. I rented the house (rent to own, holla!) and moved my little family in. The Dude was 7, Apples 5 and SweetieDarling was 2. They had their own rooms and a yard. My favorite part? Laundry room, upstairs, where it should be. We lived there not quite a year before the fire. The dryer malfunctioned and ignited the clothes. While not a total loss, it was enough. We were all safe, but it was hard explaining to the children that their toys were gone. I knew I could replace my things, but to them, gone is gone forever.

When I went to college, I lived on campus and the children stayed with Mother. You're thinking, dorms, pretty safe, mostly fireproof, right? Well, right you are, but I still managed to burn my truck up. Just driving down the road and poof! Caught on fire. You'd think someone with my history would have a fire extinguisher. You'd be wrong. Total loss.

After Him and I married and bought our home, we remodeled it. Gutted it and started over, bones out. Every precaution was taken. No expense was spared to make this one safe. Nothing's fireproof, but it's close. I was here seven years before it burned. When the pool was installed, the pump timer was located on the exterior wall of the master bedroom. The timer malfunctioned and caught fire. Only a small one this time. Minimal exterior damage. But still, it found me again. No matter what I do, it seems I can't escape the clutches of the flames. We have a smoke alarm in every room. An extinguisher in every room. Piglet knew the escape routes from the house and the meeting point at 3 years old. I don't know if it will be enough. It's probably appropriate that I've opted for cremation. It seems I'm destined for the flames no matter what.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The obligatory cutest puppy ever post

Apparently, there's an unwritten rule in the blogosphere that we must all do a cute puppy post. OK, I just made that up because I want to show you my cutest puppy. May I present Miss Katharine Hepburn:

In the manner of a true star, she will only answer to Katharine Hepburn. Not Katharine, not puppy, not damn you stupid dog. Only Katharine Hepburn. She is a very dainty 9 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who (whom?) I rescued from a puppy mill. Oprah's got nothing on me! I got her when she was four months old and I believe she had been marked to be kept as a breeder. I won't go into gruesome detail here because I don't want to cry and you don't either. Suffice it to say that she is one lucky pup and the horrors of what I saw there will haunt my mind forever.

I had been looking for a tri-colored female CKCS for three years. The tri-colored are very hard to find. When I was lucky enough to find a reputable breeder who had one, they inevitably wanted between $1300 and $1850 depending on the lineage. Yeah, that's what I said! I have a friend who does search and rescue with her Shepherds who knew I was looking. She asked if I wanted to go with her group on a raid. While I am forever grateful that she thought of me, and for this happy little dog, I wish with all my heart I had never gone to that place. We saved 283 dogs that night. Twenty six were too far gone to help. The others are either placed in forever homes or being fostered. And that's all I have to say about that.

Katharine Hepburn is still a little timid. She is not aggressive at all. Actually, she's too submissive, but we're working on that. Given the abuse she has no doubt suffered, I think she's coming along magnificently and we're lucky to have her.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What happened after I got pregnant or Part II: The Birth

First, let me point out my fantastic new header. Thanks to Ree who was kind enough to offer her design services as a contest prize and to Moo who graciously awarded me her prize when I was the first to sulk and pout express my dismay at not winning. Thank you ladies for dressing me up.
I do believe I'll tell the story of Piglet's birth today. And I've decided that I need a new internet name for Piglet. Because? If he's a piglet, guess what I am. Yep, a sow. So, his name will be changing quite soon.
You can read Part I, How I got pregnant here.
Piglet was my fourth birth. So this wasn't my first time at the rodeo. I had my previous three naturally, with no medical interference except for pitocin because I'm always in a rush, can you hurry this up? I need to get to Target. Don't mistake my lack of pharmaceuticals for bravery. I chose natural because I've seen those epidural needles, and NOthankyouverymuch. With each of my previous three, my water broke at the hospital, so I had not had the pleasure of that surprise. Piglet's due date was September 13, which is my birthday (I'll wait while you mark your calendars) and also our wedding anniversary. How cosmic would it have been for him to be born on that day? So, of course, my water broke on the 3rd.

I'm not embarrassed to admit that when I felt that initial "POP", I was a smidge alarmed. But when I went to change and saw the bright red blood, I was skeered. Not merely scared. Skeered. Thankfully, it was a Wednesday evening and the husband (who in the interest of decency and blog ratings hasn't been given a name yet) was home. Out of the bathroom I came, and out the door I went, with a "Let's go, NOW!" tossed over my shoulder. The entire forty minute drive to the hospital, I'm convinced my baby is suffocating, that the blood means placental abruption.

We arrive at the hospital and proceed directly to L&D. Where we are greeted with a surly, "why didn't you come in through emergency?" So I'm taken into the room you go in before you're given a room and a very nice nurse gets me situated. I beg her to find his heartbeat. Just make sure he's ok. Have I mentioned that I have an intense dislike for being scared (or skeered)? It makes me grumpy. So she ushers us off into our room, where she can hook up a fetal monitor. Why don't medical personnel listen to the person who knows the most about the patient ie: themselves? I have the utmost respect for the medical profession, but, much like it has in law, it appears common sense and logic have gone out the window. I told the nurse I was carrying high. I told her the baby was under my right ribcage. I showed her where his tiny hiney was poking out. She checks everywhere on my torso for his heartbeat. No dear, I don't think you're going to find it in my KIDNEYS! She gets two other nurses. By this time I'm near hysteria. I'm convinced he's in distress and they're playing with their stethoscopes. Finally, one of them checks, wait for it...right! Under my ribcage. What a blessed relief it was to know he was ok.

Finally, a doctor stops by. Out of eight doctors in the practice, I pulled the only one I don't like. And by don't like, I mean despise with every fiber of my being. He shall be referred to as Dr. Toadyhead for obvious reasons. Since my water broke, they don't want me to walk (risk of infection). Because I'm only two centimeters, they can't use the internal monitor so I'm tethered to the bed. Out comes the pitocin.

I tell my new labor nurse, who I love with all of my heart and will be my BFF forever, that I tend to go quick and she may want to get the baby stuff ready. Oh, pshaw! she says. You're only three centimeters. Trust me, I says. And break the bed down, while you're at it. She pooh-poohed me again and went about her business. Twenty minutes later, I told her, very kindly, that this baby would be here in twenty more minutes, tops, and she better get hoppin'. So she agreed to get the nursery to ready the bassinet and she broke the bed into the stirrups, but only to indulge me, you know. Because obviously, I'm insane. She is NOT my bff anymore.

Ten minutes later I asked her if she was going to get the doctor, or did she want to deliver him? I think because I have been very quiet, because I have gone to my inner sanctuary to escape these brutal contractions that are tearing me apart, she doesn't realize that I am indeed laboring to bring this child through. I ask her to turn the pitocin off, the contractions are too much, too hard, too brutal. She does. I turn from my side, and I tell my husband to catch the baby. To his credit, he does. She should have listened to me. From water break to delivery: 5 hours, 10 minutes.

It was after his birth that all hell broke loose. That's a whole nother post.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mrs. Incredible(ly stupid)!

I did something incredibly stupid today and just now, at 8 pm, did I realize it. First, I'll give you a bit of background leading up to my temporary loss of cerebral function.
Piglet is tall for his age. He is no longer able to stretch out in his firetruck toddler bed. So I've been looking for a big boy bed. Piglet's friendfromschool has a loft bed, which is basically a bunk bed without the bottom bunk, and he's asked for one no less than 87,000,000,000,000,000 times. I've been to furniture stores (what is UP with all the furniture posts?) and online and refuse to pay upwards of $700 for a child's bed. So, hellooo, Craigs List. Gotta love Craig. I found the perfect loft bed for sale for $120! Here in my town!! I emailed, he still had it, I called, said can I come look at it, he said sure, gave me the address. So without telling anyone where I'm going (which I never do), I pop Piglet into the truck and we're off.
We show up at the house right on time and ring the bell. A pleasant looking man in his late thirties opens the door and in we go. He says his younger son still has his bed set up, did I want to see it? Of course! So we go upstairs and see the bed. It's fantastic, I must have it right NOW. Sure, perfectly-harmless-in-no-way-threatening man says. The unassembled one is in the basement.
At this point, shouldn't some form of common sense have kicked in? I have my child with me. The one who counts on me to protect him. Did any maternal warning signs activate? Suggest that since it wasn't a good idea to come into the house in the first place, that perhaps it is a worse idea to go into the basement with this man? Why no, not a one. The basement? Sounds fun! Let's go.
Obviously, it all turned out fine, or I wouldn't be posting this. But it very easily could've been different. That man was alone in his house. No one knew where we were. I had no means to defend myself, plus I was in a strange house. Remember Jodie Foster's basement scene in "Silence of the Lambs"? Ok, it's a stretch, but it still could've happened. I had no appointments scheduled, I only answer my phone if I feel like it, and the husband wasn't due home for five more hours. He wouldn't have started worrying until around 8ish. Lots of time for a bad man to hurt a woman who was dumb enough to come to his house alone in the middle of the day. And her little kid.
Sometimes I wonder how I've made it to forty years old. Seriously, there are probably hundreds of situations I've been in that I should have been harmed. I've been lucky, but I must stop relying on luck and be smarter. Piglet doesn't know any better, but I certainly should.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Current mood: Foul, filthy, and fetid

Run, my poppets, run. Run for the hills lest the miasma of my vitriol envelope you within its' inescapable funk. Good jeebus but I'm in a bad mood. I was in a fine mood. Piglet and I spent a very pleasant day planting pansies and ridding the fence line of accumulated leaves. (Yeah, we know how to rock the house round herr). But then my husband comes home. Why is it that my mood depends on his mood? Why can't my perfectly fine mood just continue along it's merry way without getting diverted by his ick? Why isn't it ever the other way? It seems that my good mood should overcome his bad mood, but nooooo.
I truly despise that I let his state of mind dictate mine. I consider that a weakness within myself. I'm trying very hard to maintain my identity in this marriage, my sense of myself. I've never been one to chameleon-ize (new word!) myself. We've all had those friends. The ones who instantly transform their entire personality to suit whoever they're dating. They start to like the crushes music, books, way of dress etc. But I've tried to be true to myself. Not rigid, to where I won't even try new things, but I don't dismiss my own likes and dislikes either because they don't suit him.
But for whatever reason, my mood will mimic his. We've been married ten years this September. Sometimes it feels like such a battle to have to constantly consider someone elses' opinion and desires in every decision that needs to be made. We need new living room furniture. Since Maximus is no longer here to loll his stinky 200lb self all over it, and Piglet is housebroken, we can get some good stuff. I have done all of the research, found the furniture that will serve our purposes and fill our needs and have laid all of this before him in an orderly and simple manner. If I wait for him to get his ass up off of our really-broken-in-well-because- he-never-gets-his-ass-up-off-it couch and go try out some furniture, you know when I'll get some furniture? When frickin Ethan Allen himself shows up with a tree and a hacksaw to make me some is when. What'll happen is I'll get fed up and pissed off (better than pissed on!) and go buy the damn furniture myself and he'll whine and piss and moan "But I didn't get any say so". Boo Hoo. And just how did I get off on a tangent about furniture? I believe I was lamenting the sad state of my wedded bliss.
Ten years and it's still this hard. Still takes this much energy and life force just to get through the day without saying something that shouldn't be said. I firmly believe that you can't unring a bell. We say things to the ones we love that we wouldn't say to a stranger. So I try to be mindful and only say things that I would want to hear, but that are also true. I usually end up not saying much at all.
I will note that it's easier since he's medicated. I sedate him when he gets home and don't have to deal with him, so yeah, it's better. I kid. A few months ago, it got so bad between us that Piglet was starting to notice. I gave him an ultimatum. He either got a script for an anti-depressant or I would have to ask him to leave until he could learn to control his moods. So the prozac is helping, actually quite a bit. So while it's better than it was, it could still be better than it is. For you ladies who've been at this longer, does it get any easier?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Perched on the Precipice

SweetieDarling didn't come home last night. Didn't call, wouldn't answer her phone. The last thing she said when she left is that she was going to her friends' and would call me.

During those long, lonely hours between curfew and return, a lot of things go through a mothers' mind. The foremost of those things being that I really hoped she'd live through the night so I could kill her. The most trivial thing that I thought of, but that actually upset me the most was that I couldn't say what she was wearing. If I had to give the police a description of my daughter, I wouldn't be able to tell them what clothes she had on only a few longest of my life short hours ago. How can I look at my child, hug her goodbye, watch her leave, and not know what she was wearing? Why does this upset me so much?

She has never done this before, but upon reflection whilst delirious with lack of sleep and worry, I can see where she's been ever so slightly pushing the boundaries of her rules. She's always home on time, but doesn't want to have to be. If I know where she is, I'll extend curfew. All it takes is a simple telephonic request. She has a cell phone for a reason. But she wants to stay out if the situation calls for it and not have to check in. It's not that I don't trust her, I just want to know that she's ok. I truly don't think this is too much to ask.

I've never had to deal with this before. The oldest two had to be forced out of the house by threat. I remember being invincible and immortal, and sometimes am truly surprised that I survived my teens and early twenties. It is by pure dumb luck. What if she isn't that lucky?

She's perched on the precipice of adulthood. Ready and eager to take that leap. How do I help her without pushing her off too soon, or holding her back too long?

I just want her to land softly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dollah Dollah Bills, ya'all

Guess what I've done this week? Well, mostly nothing. But when I wasn't doing nothing, I was spending money. LOTS of money. And not on anything good like an Iphone or Prada bag. No, I dropped may-jah dollahs on an engine. For a dump truck. I usually don't talk about work stuff here (you know, I have been blogging for all of month now, so I can say usually, right?) because it's, well, boring. But I just have to get some opinions. If someone you hired to do a job neglected certain aspects of that job and the result of that neglect cost you upwards of $30,000, what would you do? OK, good answers. Now, let's say that the person is a family member that you have to interact with every day of your everlasting life (because he totally is). Now, what would you do? Little harder, huh?

As an aside, I don't mean to sound like I'm rolling around in the money over here. Trust me, after this little debacle, the only thing I'm rolling in is dirt. I guess it could've been worse.