Tuesday, April 30, 2013

For sale.

For sale:

One house. Three bedrooms, one updated bath, one updated kitchen. Many memories.

Former home of Appalachian migrants who moved north to seek better employment opportunities and a more prosperous life for their two girls.

Also the home, at two different stages of its history, of two beloved cats. (And one that was merely tolerated.)

Newer windows; older view.

Recently remodelled carport, driveway, and concrete back porch provide a shady, safe location for cherished granddaughters to blow bubbles, draw with sidewalk chalk, sip Icees, and snuggle with their Mamaw on the porch swing.

Extra-large side and back yard for outdoor entertaining or for simply letting the kids run relay races, play Whiffle ball, or sit and do nothing at all.

Fresh paint, new lighting fixtures, clean carpet, closet doors that finally open and close as smooth as butter.

The feel of a new house in an old neighborhood where everyone looks out for each other.

Enquire within.

Friday, April 26, 2013

In the event of zombies, please just hold it in.

So, I was in the bathroom, and I started thinking of The Walking Dead. As one is wont to do.

And I had a serious thought. When you are in the throes of the zombie apocalypse, and you really have to go...how, exactly, does that work?

I mean, I know how it works. But it seems awfully dangerous. Like, everyone in that world is just one bowel movement away from death.

Do the toilets still work in an apocalyptic situation? The sanitation workers are long dead and/or munching on the intestines of others. And there's no electricity. But would the mechanics of a toilet still work?

They were in the prison all season long, and for once, toilets were plentiful. But were they able to use them? Or were they all having to go out to the prison yard for their morning constitutionals? Because the prison yard was not terribly private. And also not real secure. The walkers had an awfully easy time getting through that big, gaping hole in the fence. Would you have to take a bathroom buddy to stand lookout?

I really do not think I could, um...perform...in front of Daryl Dixon. I'm a private type of gal who prefers to keep a little mystery, you know?

In a world that's low on fiber but high on flesh-chomping undead, I'd hate to survive the melee at Hershel's farm only to be undone by occasional irregularity whilst hiking through the Georgia backwoods.

"Wait, wait, stop you guys! Just a minute! I'm doing to duck behind this tree, and..."

Raaaaawr chomp munch munch

And then Rick would have to shoot me in the head, and I would die just about the most senseless death possible in the zombie apocalypse.


Ugh. I am so glad we do not live in that world. For a lot of reasons. But primarily for the personal hygiene.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thank You.

While watching the live coverage of the manhunt/discovery/arrest of the surviving Boston Marathon suspect, the kid confessed that she was a little freaked out.

We could have changed the channel, but we used it as a teachable moment for our daughter instead. She talked about why she was scared and we listened and told her some truths that we feel she's old enough to hear.

One thing we told her is that the world is sometimes a scary place. Innocent people get hurt, and it doesn't make sense.

I told her this is why it's important to live each day to the fullest; there are no guarantees. And I also told her it's important to make sure the people in our lives know we love them; you just never know what each day might bring.

Jason told her that the week's events show one reason why we worry about her, fuss over her (and sometimes at her), want to know where she is and who she's with at all times, and get angry when she doesn't follow the rules that keep her safe. Not everyone she will encounter in life will have good intentions.

And then later, when she was going through her nighttime routine and we were alone, I shared with her what I felt was the most important thing to take away from this terrible week.

Throughout the bombing itself and in the chase and standoff that followed, we saw images of police officers, federal agents, firefighters, EMTs, and military personnel putting themselves in harm's way to protect others. They did it without hesitation. They do it every day without hesitation. Because that's their job.

"The next time you see a police officer, or a firefighter, or a soldier," I told Ainsley, "thank him or her. They risk their lives every day to keep us safe."

As soon as I said it, I realized I need to practice what I preach.

So, to those impossibly brave men and women who put their lives on the line when duty calls just so that ordinary people like me feel safe enough to sleep at night...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And now I need to get even more serious. One of my regular readers and dear friends experienced a loss this weekend. I will protect this person's privacy, but if you're reading...my thoughts are with you and your family.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Add to the long list of unpleasant but necessary things I have done in my life, somewhere between "Cleaned up my husband's bourbon-and-green-bean-containing vomit from a friend's bathroom floor while 6 months pregnant" and "Gave myself 4 injections into my upper thigh to raise my white-cell count during chemo", the fact that I am now a willing killer of chipmunks.

I did not want it to come to this. At first I thought the chipmunks we saw frolicking in our front yard and scurrying onto our back deck were cute. Outdoor pets that require no vet visits and feeding! Hurrah! But then they started to dig under our front porch and under the front walk, in large enough numbers to dislocate much of the topsoil that supports these structures and keeps them from cracking and breaking. No longer cute.

So I tried sprinkling various types of deterrents into the holes and around our landscaping. But the large ringleader of this particular chipmunk band, not as talented as Alvin but twice as annoying, was undeterred. He barely ran away when I appeared on the front porch, and I am fairly certain I heard him laughing at me once. Though that could have just been the Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka beverage I was consuming. Either way, it was unsettling.

I had all but given up and adopted "live and let live" as my official chipmunk motto until the little frickers chewed through the wires that power our landscape lights.

Nope. Sorry, Chip and Dale. That was the wrong damn answer.

Clearly, the peace treaty we had enjoyed, after many generous concessions on my part, was broken. After talking with a local farmer about my problem, I came to a grim conclusion:

The chippies must die.

If it were a mouse or rat inside my home, I would not have hesitated to set a trap to kill the invading rodent. But chipmunks have less of a pest stigma and have starred in movies and television cartoons, and the girl ones also sing a delightful cover of "Single Ladies."

Something in me grew cold, though, as I watched my husband spend an entire day fixing the damage they had done to the lights, a project he had already spent considerable energy on when we moved into the house 2 years ago. I no longer saw the creatures who had burrowed under my porch as anything other than the vermin they are. And vermin must be destroyed. Preferably, humanely. But as a friend of mine with mouse issues assured me, "humane" takes on a broader definition when dealing with rodents that carry disease and destroy property.

I shall not go into specifics here as to how I killed my first 'munk. Let's just say...chipmunks will go just about anywhere to get a few sunflower seeds. And they are not very good swimmers.

We have had some success, but have been encouraged to try several different types of traps, both live and not, to fully control what we believe is a large population. This war is really just beginning. I will continue to smear on my grease paint, in a distinct stripey pattern, and lie in wait for the enemy. Like Rambo, just more easily startled. And more skittish about corpse disposal.

For I have killed. And I did not enjoy it. But as I learned from Mufasa, it's all part of the Circle of Life.

Nature happens.

Friday, April 5, 2013

How I Feel (The Musical)

I was in a very calm, Zen-like mood of acceptance and love and understanding Tuesday.

Today? Not so much.

I need spring break. Like, really, really need it. I love the people in my life. Dearly. But I currently want to throttle upwards of 75% of them. Because I have one nerve left, and they're using it as a springy little diving board from which to jump head-first into the numbing waters of Lack of Personal Responsibility Lake.

So the following ditty came to me today after about the 100th time someone started rifling through the cup of writing utensils on my desk before looking up to ask, "Hey, do you have a pen I can borrow?"

And my outer response was, "Certainly!" But my inner response was, "Certainly...But if I grab it before you do, you're sooo getting stabbed with it."

Sing to the tune of "I'm So Pretty" from West Side Story, won't you?

I feel stabby!
Oh, so stabby!
I feel stabby
And crabby
And I pity
Every douche clown who gets in my way.

La la la la la la, la la!

Second verse, same as the first.

So I will be on hiatus next week, from work but also from anything that feels like responsibility. This responsibility champion desperately needs a break. I shall be talking with you when I get back from my vacation to Lazyville, where the beer flows free and the naps are plentiful.

I'll be slothing if you need me, so...try not to need me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Day Like Any Other

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

This is my mantra today, and what I sincerely hope will get me through a day I am trying to pretend is like any other but couldn't be any further from.

One year ago today I lost my mother.

Last week I received condolence cards from the hospice center and from the funeral home, complete with numbers I can call should I need help with the sudden grief attack most next-of-kin experience on the first anniversary of a loved one's death. I know it was meant to give comfort, but instead it scared me--just how bad does this day get for people that the onslaught of "Hey, maybe try not to cry yourself into a coma" warnings arrive via mail from complete strangers a week before the date?

Guess I'm going to find out.

I thought of calling in sick to work and spending the day mourning in my room with chocolate and wine, but I have learned by this point that staying busy is best. My worst days this year have been those rare uncluttered days where I have way too much time to feel sorry for myself. So I will work, and I will take the kid to swim, and I will cook and clean and try not to dwell on where I was this time one year ago.

As if I don't already live those moments every time I hear one of my mother's favorite songs, which I played for her the day she died, when I spent the morning and afternoon holding lone vigil at her side. Or see a beautiful sunset like the one I was watching from my kitchen window when I got the call that she had breathed her last.

I've been through all possible emotions this year. Sadness, of course, but also a fierce and sometimes all-consuming anger. And guilt. And regret. And self-pity. And, on good days, serenity. Peace. It never lasts long, but when I feel it, it's like a long drink of cool water after a desert mile.

Barely a day goes by that I don't think of her or miss her. And though everything I've learned through grief counseling tells me that the first year is the worst and is when most of the heavy healing takes place, I know my grief will always be there. It's not going to go away today as though someone flipped a switch.

If only it were that easy.

In my darkest hours, I come back to the realization she had just days before she died about how she herself had been a victim of grief and depression. How she had spent days talking herself out of leaving home to see friends or run errands because she didn't feel up to it, or the weather wasn't great, or any myriad of little excuses that masked the battle she had with debilitating sadness through most of her adult life. She wanted those days back to drive with the windows down, visit friends, hug her granddaughter, laugh. In the end, all she wanted was to live. Really live. Not just survive.

I do not honor her memory today if I allow the pain of this anniversary to consume me.

So I will work. And I will find some time to play. And I will live this day the way she would have wanted me to: less grief, more joy.

I will open the car windows. I will say "yes" to the offered glass of wine. I will not just look, but see. I will not just hear, but listen.

I will feel her love still, even if she is no longer here with me.

I miss her every day. Today, perhaps, more than most. But it's just one day.

The journey goes on.