"Insanity doesn't run in my family.... It practically gallops!" - Cary Grant in "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944)
Venting an overflow of dsyfunctionality inspired by the Boy (aka my son) declaring "I really don't care... Blog it."

11/25/10

Giving Thanks...

T'is the season yet again... and I've been sorely neglecting my duties as a blogger.  Lately I've been receiving some gentle prodding to get back to writing... yes, you!  I really have missed sharing and venting with you all.  Not going to make any promises... but I'll attempt to keep you all updated and amused on a more regular basis from now on.

What I'm thankful for this year...

Becoming an Ex-Smoker... I'm still vaping away on my eCig (electronic cigarette) and loving it.  Finally I can smell / taste / breath again... without hacking up a lung daily.  I haven't felt this good since I was a teenager! 

New Friends and Unexpected Family...  While transitioning from smoking to vaping, I joined a couple of forums... for support and information.  There I found a new online home with some of the most wonderful, caring people I've had the pleasure to meet... I found family.  We all check in on each other... rejoicing in each other's victories, sharing in the sorrows and lightening the load of the daily grind.  A couple of my online friends are getting married next year... Guess who got asked by the groom to be the Best Person... big grin....  I'm going to look good in a tux!

One of my favorite authors, Richard Bach, said it best in his book Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah... "The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.  Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."  (More quotes from Richard Bach... If you've never read this one, you really should... it's fun and offers some wonderful insights!  He's best known for writing "Jonathan Livingston Seagull") 

Rediscovering Love... Not only did I find friends and family on the forums... I found a wonderfully, amazing woman to share my life with.  (Now you know why I've been neglecting you all... but I'm sure you understand... don't you...) While our's is still a long distance relationship at this point, we're making plans to change that.  Meanwhile... thank god for unlimited phone plans!  My fondest memory of the year... meeting her for the first time... losing myself in her smile... and realizing just how much I do love her.  (I know... I know... more another time...)

Family... Issues and all... About to undergo a 6 hour round trip to eat Thanksgiving dinner with G-Ma and the Brothers at Shoney's (G-Ma's choice what can I say)... They may be quirky and make you cringe at times, but I love them dearly just the same. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


10/13/10

Cha.. cha.. cha... Changes...

Life rarely stands still.. but this year has been full of change for Yours Truely.  For someone who is much more comfortable on solid land... wallowing in a well-worn rut... it's been a challenge to keep my equilibrium in the midst of the swirling seas.

3 years of spending all my free time working for The Boy's marching band as both a parent and member of the board.... starting and maintaining the website..... setting up a volunteer database.... running fundraisers.... playing band photographer.....  
           Done and over.  Website re-written... database tossed.... no more weekends devoted to band... no trace that I was there....

12 years of The Boy's schooling.... watching him take those first steps away from me into the wider world.... pulling my hair out over last minute projects.... helping him struggling with homework....  cringing at his sometimes embarrassing antics... proudly watching him grow....
           Done and over.  The Boy graduated.... not with honors... but with his dignity intact and a college acceptance in hand....

18 years of playing mother.... and father... the ultimate dicotomy... either kiss away hurts or tell him to suck it up.... showing him how to do his own laundry and how to throw the football in a tight spiral.... teaching him to hold the door open for others and to stand up for yourself.... advising him on work and on women...
           Done and over. The Boy's moved out... stretching out his wings... hesitantly poised on the verge of manhood....
33 years of smoking... sneaking dad's non-filtered Pall Malls cause mom counts hers.... slipping into the restroom of the middle school for a smoke break... loving the habit.... knowing it's killing me... coughing so much it scares me... never wanting to quit....
          Done and over.  Discovering electronic cigarettes.... finding that I've quit without trying.... breathing easily again...
So many changes.  I'll admit I became a bit depressed coping with it all.... my agoraphobia kicked in again as well... but life goes on.... and this too shall pass... is passing.  Friends have stepped in, dragging me out of my cacoon, fussing at me about being the lone Wolf for too long.  I am working on it... as best I can.  Getting used to the empty nest... getting out some.... discovering that I don't want to be alone.... and working on that too.

Change is as inevitable as the wind... blowing through our lives. Hopefully this year's winds of change sail me in a good direction.

9/29/10

Remember me?

Welcome back, Dear Reader... and my sincere apologies for keeping you waiting.  I've spent the last few days practicing my deep breathing... gathering my courage to jump back into the blogsphere once again.  It's been awhile... so let's catch up some, shall we....

The Boy has gone off to college... about 10 minutes down the road.  He's enjoying his freedom and seems to actually be attending class.  Once a week I get a call asking if I'd like to go to dinner and catch up.  (Translation for the childless:  Feed me and bring cash)  At least he holds up his end of the bargain by regaling me with tales of college life... like how they discovered neither one packed a can opener.  I understand his pool game is improving too.

Brother1 has finally moved out of G-Ma's house.  He was able to obtain a three bedroom goverment subsidized apartment once he convinced his ex to sign papers granting him half custody of his kids.  Since then his kids decided they'd rather not move in, he's lost yet another job, and G-Ma's starting to get concerned that he'll be moving back in before the holidays.  Don't know what he's going to do with the leopard skin couch and matching chair if he loses the place.  Such a shame.

Brother2 recieved a summons the other day naming him in a paternity suit.  He helpfully explained to the officer that maybe they had the wrong person.... after all he has a twin... and a cousin with the same name... and he didn't even recognise the gal's name.  He's since placed a face on the name and is now just keeping his fingers crossed. 

G-Ma has been staying busy between volunteering with the Red Cross, taking Brother1 and kids on vacation, and fumigating her place.  Seems Brother2 found a wonderful used couch for his apartment... infested with bed bugs.  Eventually he brought enough of them over to G-Ma's to start an outpost there.  *shudder*  We've kept visits with G-Ma limited to day-trips lately.  She's making headway against them though... hopefully.

And what of Yours Truely?... well as you'll recall I switched from cigarettes to an electronic cigarette back in Febuary.  Since then I've been quite active in the forum community and helped start an e-cig group in our state.  We get together once or twice a month to visit, share new flavors, and have fun.  Since The Boy has moved out, I've been battling a bit of depression and a slight resergance of agoraphobia.  Makes each of these get togethers it's own little victory.   Meanwhile, some friends have begun fussing at me for being such a "lone wolf".  One buddy of mine recently declared that he'd be my wing man... he's sure his wife won't mind.

That brings you up to speed a bit at least.  Promise we'll chat again real soon, Dear Reader....

6/10/10

The Milestone of Matriculation

Well, The Boy and The GF have finally matriculated.  They are currently in that starry-eyed limbo between high school and college... between PlayStation and summer jobs.  Yours Truely and G-Ma are just beginning to recover after having sat through two ceremonies... in a row.  Thankfully, The GF's mother surprised us all with a celebratory cake inbetween, which gave us enough of a sugar surge to deal with the next round of speeches.  You could tell how excited The Boy was.  All you had to do was watch him spring to his feet when they asked the graduating class to rise.  You'd of thought someone stuck him with a pin the way he popped out of that chair!

Today The Boy struggled through the obligatory Thank You cards that follow graduation giving.  Of course, family rules of etiquette had to be hammered out first...
"No, you don't have to send a card to Brother1 for the 'I took an IQ test... and it came back negative' ballcap that he sent along with G-Ma.  You should, however, mention it in your card to G-Ma. This will assist in keeping the level of negativity at G-Ma's house to a minimum. 
No, you don't have to send a card to Brother2 for the Graduation 'Smiley' he texted to you. A simple 'ty' should suffice. Please send the "ty" now, however, as he's already texted me several times to ensure you did indeed receive his "gift".
Please write legibly... in complete sentences.  Each card must include more then "Thank you for the money.  Sincerely..."  You must include at least one sentence about how this gift will help with college purchases.  Again, legibly... other people should be able to decipher the message... without requiring a translator."
After looking over the completed cards, The Boy and I had a discussion on the importance of handwriting in a technical society.  He insists that keyboarding skills are all that one needs in this day and age.  Meanwhile, I'm trying to resist the temptation to re-write a few of the (non-family) cards myself... especially those to co-workers.  The fact that each is identical should speed the job along, though. 

5/9/10

Happy Mother's Day!

This year will break a long standing Mother's Day tradition for Yours Truly and The Boy.  For the past ten years we've out for a movie and dinner for Mother's Day.  Today though I volunteered with his high school band to work the concession stands at the local minor league ballpark.  So we'll be spending the majority of our Mother's Day serving up hot dogs and drinks to the locals.  Thankfully it's supposed to be a beautiful day for a ballgame!

While I don't mind giving up my Mother's Day for the cause, I was feeling a little guilty until I found out that G-Ma wasn't going to be home on Mother's Day either.  She's off on her own volunteer adventure with the Red Cross helping out tornado victims.  I completely forgot the time difference there and accidentally woke her up to wish her a Happy Mother's Day this morning.  Felt even worse about the time when she told me they'd given them a half-day off today in celebration.  Sorry, Mom!

I had to send G-Ma a picture of The Boy and the GF all dressed up for their senior prom.  It's hard to believe how quickly time flys when you have a child!  Any mother can tell you to savor all these moments while you can.  The Boy and GF let it drop this weekend that they are considering moving away to a college out of state in a couple of years to support her choice in majors.  Ok... so marine biology is best studied near a body of water, but she could change her plans by then... right?  Guess I'll just have to take a few deep breaths and get ready for that inevitable point when all children develop an autonomous life.  He'll soon be waking me up with a long-distance call just to make sure I know he's thinking of me on Mother's Day.  Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy his company as long as I can.

Off to the park!  Have a glorious Mother's Day however you spend it!


4/27/10

For Your Viewing Pleasure...

The Boy trys to block my view... focus my attention elsewhere... physically steer me away, but I'm drawn to that huge bin of low priced videos at the store.  Yep... That's me pawing through multiple copies of "Twins", flipping past the "George of the Jungle", frantic to see what's under that copy of "Speed" always searching for that one gem that always hidden somewhere in there.  I know it's there... I have faith it's there.

For years now, Yours Truly has been on a video treasure hunt.  It all started back when I realized how many wonderful movies that The Boy would miss out on if I didn't take matters into hand and expand his viewing horizon.  He wasn't very appreciative at first... You should have heard the whinning..."It's black and white!  I can't believe you're making me watch this old thing!"  I finally got him to agree to watch the first 10 minutes of Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey"... and he was hooked.  Of course, who wouldn't fall for an invisible, 6 foot tall rabbit hanging out with a family almost as odd as our own.

Slowly we've crossed movies off the master list...  from the oldies to more modern fare.  We've run the gamut in a noble quest... for I truely believe that our youth should be exposed to more then just the latest fad.  Call it my version of a classic education, be it movies, books, or music.

I'll never forget dragging The Boy to see "Lord of the Rings" when it first came out.  "Just consider it my Mother's Day present... dinner and a movie."  The Boy watched wide-eyed as the tale unfolded... leaping onto his knees in the seat to loom over me when the credits began rolling... "It can't end there!!  What happens next!!"  That evening we dug out my old, dog-earred copy of the second book in the trilogy, "The Two Towers" and he took up the quest anew... struggling a bit over the vocabulary, but enjoying the tale all the more for the effort. 

To that end, I'd like to share a list of my top ten, must-see movies.  Yours Truly and The Boy agonized over which of our favorites to include.  I was shot down on "Breakfest at Tiffany's" and used my veto power for his suggestion of the movie version of "Rent".  Let us know how the following matches up to your top ten.
Movies: 
"To Kill a Mockingbird" 
"Cool Hand Luke"   
"The Godfather"                                               
"Arscenic and Old Lace"  
"Star Wars" (Originals only, please!)                    
"2001 - A Space Odessey"
"Schindler's List"
"What Dreams May Come"
"Lord of the Rings"
"It's a Wonderful Life"


4/18/10

Mullet Season Approaches!

Ahhh, Spring!  Time for flowers, baseball, and mullets!  Ah yes... As the Mullets start emerging to enjoy the Spring weather, it's almost time for our annual Spring Mullet Hunt!  This is a new tradition that started with a few friends at work and now includes a growing circle of enthusiasts in our area.  Last year I came in second place, beat by less then 10 points.  I'm a hunter on a mission this year!

Billy Ray Cyrus' well-known Mullet
Never heard of a Mullet Hunt!?!  Well, of course, you're familiar with the mullet itself aren't you?  That long-flowing mane so popular in the states back in the 80's.... "Business in the front... Party in the back!"  It's still to be found today sprouting up around beer taps, racetracks and Walmarts everywhere!  If you are quiet and approach stealthily, you can snap a photo of these oddities in their natural habitat.  Hence the Mullet Hunt was born!

Our hunters must follow some basic rules.  First and foremost, no hunting at your workplace.  I don't know about you, but we know where all the Mullets at work hang out making this very unsporting indeed.  Also, HR might frown upon it, so.... Mullets must be hunted in the wild.  Check your neighborhood Walmart, the line for lottery tickets or any party involving a keg... They seem to be drawn to them.

Second, no photos where the Mullet is covered by hat or scarf.  You may have witnessed the full glory of the Mullet, but the judges have to be fair here.  It's hard to determine whether it's truely a mullet or just a bad hair day going on under there.

Third, all photo must be taken on your cell phone's camera.  Use of telephoto lens would be unsporting as well.  You must get up close and personal with your prey.  This may be checked upon request by producing the cell phone with photos in situ should anyone doubt the varacity of the Hunter.

Fourth, all photos are judged by a point system based on angle of view with extra points given according to a list provided.  By our agreed upon point system, the Holy Grail of Mullet Hunters would be a group-shot of Mullets, all facing the camera with an old pickup, beer can(s) and the Mullet Hunter themself clearly visible in the photo touching one of the Mullets.

I'm at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to getting shots with myself in the photo as The Boy refuses to assist in the hunt.  I have been known to hand friends my cell though to get that perfect plumage pic.  One friend had a great idea that I may try out during the upcoming hunting season.  She suggested carrying around a fake scavenger hunt list with one item listed being "Photo of yourself with a man with long hair".  Might have to change the wording a bit, but it could work.  I'm thinking of making it a birthday scavenger hunt and adding "holding a Happy Birthday sign" to the item.  Then I can see how many pics I can get with Mullets holding a sign saying Happy Birthday to one of the judges.  Bet I can garner a few extra style points for that one!

Happy Hunting!

4/11/10

DC in the Springtime

Even though we've been back home from vacation for over a week, I can still close my eyes and smell cherry blossoms!  The Boy and The GF were anxious to see the National Zoo, so I ventured out solo for a contemplative stroll amongest the trees along the tidal basin.  It was still early in the day and, while many were out, most were observing this Springtime rite with a kind of quiet reverence and consideration for others, as evidenced by those that paused to allow photographers to complete their shots before passing.

A group of monks clad in brilliant orange were capturing closeups of blossoms and a few shots of each other against the soft pink of the blooms to show those back home.  Further along, an artist has set up her easel to capture Jefferson's profile with a floral foreground.  Several people stop to watch her deftly stroke the painting to life.  One young man rotates through three different cameras trying to capture the view from a precarious slope for everyone in his group.  A young couple capture an angelic photo of their baby girl against a cloud of petals.  Ducks and paddleboats float lazily through it all. 

After strolling around all morning, stretching out on the grass in the shadow cast by the Washington Memorial for a few minutes was heavenly.  A few kids were flying colorfull kites nearby providing some entertainment while I caught my breath before visiting the Reflecting Pool and the War Memorials. 

I've always found the Vietnam Memorial a very powerful, emotional tribute... but I was impressed by my first visit to the Korean War Memorial this trip as well.  Statues of a patrolling troop make their way through the grass reflecting against a dark wall etched with images of their breathern.  The artist captures the determination and fear on the faces of the soldiers in a way that will move you.

Yours Truely has always been a sucker for photography... and I happily snapped pic after pic from all angles searching to capture that perfect iconic image.  I was able to cull it down to slightly over 200 of the best pics to share with you.  You'll find images from the Smithsonian's exhibits, Memorials, Monuments.... and Cherry Blossoms galore!  Just wish I'd snapped a pic of the fellow practicing Tai Chi on the moving Metro car while holding a couple of donut boxes... Definately a novel exercise program, but I don't think it will catch on.  Enjoy the show and let me know what you think!

4/4/10

Hanging at the Hilltop Hostel

The Boy, his girlfriend (aka The GF), and Yours Truly fled the state this past week for some long overdue downtime. We hit the road to Washington DC… home of monuments, museums, memorials, and the Cherry Blossom Festival. I considered seeing if The Boy would like to try his hand at interstate driving, but was dissuaded from the idea by the three car wreck in my rearview at just that moment. Nothing like hearing a “whoompf” and seeing bumpers flying in the air to wake you up in the morning! We were stopped for another wreck at the time, but luckily had just enough room to pull up and avoid being the fourth car in the stack. At least we got our close call for the week over early!


After a long (9 hr) drive, we arrived at the Hilltop Hostel in Tacoma just outside DC. Our first hostel experience was definitely a fun one! The hostel is in an older, three-story house with tons of character. We were given a brief tour of the facilities, sheets for our beds and shown to our rooms. When I first made our reservations they were for just The Boy and myself, so I’d booked us into a private 2-person room. Since The GF was joining us, we’d kicked The Boy out into one of the co-ed dorm rooms.  If you can handle walking up stairs to your room, bunk beds, and a relaxed college dorm like atmosphere complete with classic rock playing from the speakers, you'll love this place!  The Boy and The GF especially enjoyed the game room downstairs where it's a tradition for guests to write or draw on the walls. 

Menus, souvenirs and thank yous
from guests festoon the wall
Over the course of the week, we hung out with fellow travellers from all over the globe... kinda a surreal extended family feel to it in a way.  There was the Japanese historian in town to explore documents at the National Archives for his next book in a spirited conversation with the out-of-work mason from the midwest about role of oil resources on World War II.  Over here we have two groups from the UK, both traveling around the US but in different directions, comparing notes on various cities' hostels and social scenes.  The young man from Germany here for an internship shared his bottle of wine with myself and a couple of the staff. The au pair who was going back to Sweden in a couple of weeks talked about how she'd miss the family she'd been with the last two years, but was looking forward to going to university on her return. 

One visitor was there from my hometown looking at apartments as she had accepted a job in DC and another was in town for an interview.  There was the young man from Korea that watched "Gran Torino" with me one evening, laughing at the interplay between Clint Eastwood and the Hmong grandma.  A couple of girls from China laughing with a staff member in the dining room and the mother of one of the staff shared memories of her life with me on the back porch one sunny evening. 

The last morning at the hostel I was debating on getting up, listening to the early risers moving around when I heard the shower in the bathroom next door to us turn on.  Suddenly the air was filled with exuberant, full-throated song!  I'm still not sure what language it was in, though it sounded slightly middle-Eastern.  The GF and I both started giggling as we gave up on sleeping in. 

Easter decorations were starting to spring up all over the hostel by the time we left.  "Leaving so soon?  Awww, you're going to miss the Easter Egg Hunt!"  Next time I'll have to stay longer obviously... and there will be a next time. 

Next Post:  DC in Springtime


3/28/10

BRB

How hectic has your life been lately?  Mine's been non-stop!  Never would have guessed from my recent lack of posts would ya.  Never fear, dear reader, more tales are forthcoming... starting next weekend.  Now that we've survived a recent round of school play practice and performance, work projects, regular car repair, emergency car repair, The Boy being sick, and then being sick myself.... we're off on a much needed vacation.

So I'll be back next weekend to describe the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC and what it was like to stay in our first hostel.  I'll try to get a couple of good pictures to share as well! 

Whew!  Time really does fly by!  Before you know it the Spring Mullet Hunt will be upon us.... but that's a whole other story.


3/3/10

Black Plasma

They say the the human body is made up of over 55% water. My chemistry is a little more high-test then most, being composed mainly of thick, unadulterated java. My father worked for the railroad, a job which demanded that a pot of black coffee be brewing 24/7. I sure it was in the Transportation Union's rule book somewhere. And we’re talking railroad coffee here… Strong enough to remove any stray rust from the tracks. That’s what I was raised on and still require on a daily basis to lubricate what brain cells I have left.

At work the rule is that everything must be labeled on your desk. Ergo… I have a prominent spot on my desk marked off for my coffee cup. Being a bit of a wisenheimer, I thought long and hard over how to label my lifeline before narrowing it down to three choices. So I carefully folded some cardstock into a flip-able tri-folded sign bearing the labels “Java Chalice”, “Elixir of Life” and “Black Plasma”. Then because my favorite cup has become a permanent appendage, when removed from it’s place of honor you'll find a small label that reads… “Twolf is out of the office”. (I debated on placing a similar label on the seat of my chair, but thought better of it.)

Recently a new food service vendor took over the cafeterias at work. I strolled in one morning to refill my cup, took a sip and shuddered. Someone in their management had the audacity to replace the brewed coffee machine with one that serves instant! We’re talking terrible instant coffee. Their brewed coffee was barely strong enough to begin with, but this swill is more akin to mop water then to coffee. Why the vending machines serve better! I couldn’t drink it… which lead to a sharp drop in my productivity that day.

Coffee for me is honestly medicinal. My blood pressure runs so low that without a good dose of caffeine my entire system threatens to shut down. If I accidentally run out of coffee at home, a ultra-sonic signal proceeds my vehicle down the interstate to work forcing the other drivers to give wide berth for their own safety. Well… it would probably be a valuable safety option when you think about it.

This leaves me in a quandary. Unfortunately the rules don’t allow me to bring in a coffee pot. I tried to bring a thermos, but it was obviously too early in the morning (4:30) for my brain to remember a new step in its usual auto-piloted routine. The thermos sat on my counter several mornings. A couple of times I did remember to fill it, but it never made it out the door. Finally I broke down and brought in a (slightly) more palatable instant coffee to use… leaving it in the car so that it would actually make it to work. (I’m not mentioning the two days that it took for me to remember to take it to my desk.)

Remember my new toy… the personal vaporizer (or electronic cigarette) that I recently took up instead of smoking that I mentioned in a previous post? Thankfully the cafe mocha flavored nicotine juice that I’ve been puffing away on is full-bodied and flavorful. If I close my eyes, take a puff and then quickly slurp down some of what passes for coffee, maybe I can fool myself long enough to make it through a few more days. If you see a story on the news about some loony holding hostages in a factory lunchroom demanding a keg of Starbucks and a straw… remember me fondly.


2/25/10

"I see!" Said the Blind Man

Back in the stone age when Yours Truly was fitted for her first pair of glasses, the style choices were fairly simple.... black cat eyeglasses.  Think I had the choice of red or tortoise shell later on, but black was the only option for the first pair.  G-Ma had never realized just how bad my eyesight was until that ride home on a fine Tennessee day with my first glasses.  I had never known that we lived near mountains or, for that matter, what billboards were.  Talk about an eye-opener!

When you're truly blind though, I don't think style is as much of concern.  Function over form is my rule of thumb on such matters.  I've worn glasses held together by duct tape and superglue.  I've "repaired" glasses with paperclips in place of lost screws.  Necessity isn't just the mother of invention... She's the embodiment of pure creative force.  It's amazing how creative you can get when your toddler proudly holds up something resembling a pretzel, proclaiming "I get your glasses, Mommy!" and you've got to be at work shortly.

Eventually I progressed into the wonderful world of bifocals. If you've never worn these gems, let me tell you the first few days will have your head spinning. Just walking from the parking lot at work to my desk made me a wee bit seasick that first morning. As mentioned before, I work in an automotive plant. Cars are moving on carriers overhead, tow motors loaded with parts are passing by, the assembly line is in constant movement... in short, not much stands still there and you have to keep an eye on your surroundings to navigate safely throughout. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that any movement of my head resulted in the wavering of my vision. This is what I imagine that "drunk glasses" must be like. By the time I reached my desk, I was ready to hang on to something solid and see if I could just ride out this storm for the day. Of course, this would be the day that I was asked if I'd like to go for a ride along at the test track. That's the first and only time so far that I've been given the opportunity. If I'd only thought to bring along my old glasses, I'd of been on the track in a heartbeat!

I told my boss at the time that I blamed her for my failing eyesight. She scrawled itsy-bitsy notes in pencil as she reviewed material. I actually purchased a large magnifying glass with a light that attached to my desk to be able to read her writing. Once I had a question about a notation she'd made and asked her about it. The note in question consisted of two minuscule scrawls, almost short wavy lines really, that were totally illegible.  She glanced at it and said "That says 'bumper at headlamp levelness'".  Incredulous, I blurted out "Oh... Now you're just making something up!  Even you can't read that mess.  Either make an effort or you're buying my first seeing eye dog!"  She laughed, but at least all future notes bore a closer relationship to the English language.

2/21/10

Miracle of the Olympic Spirit

"The important thing is not to win, but to take part" - Pierre de Coubertin, IOC Founder

The Olympic spirit is alive and well in our household.  We've delighted in the opening ceremony, held our breath through close calls and falls, exclaimed aloud at amazing feats, cheered on our favorites, and reminisced on past Olympics. 

Since ancient times, the Olympics were a time of truce amongst nations.  This year's Olympic experience has brought it's own renewed sense of peace and sharing into our lives.... Just in time to spare The Boy from himself.

Beginning just a week or so before his 18th birthday, The Boy literally lost his mind.  Everything became an argument... any remark a point of contention... any question met with a curt "that's not your problem any more."  In short, I was beginning to debate the pros and cons of retroactive abortion. 

The real breaking point came when I received a call at work from an irate parent about a derogatory comment that The Boy had posted online.  While The Boy insisted that he couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, he did remove the comment and apologize to the person in question.  As a result, he was grounded on his 18th birthday with his cell phone, computer, and iPod confiscated.  This, of course, lead to our small apartment becoming a veritable battleground with heated debate over whether I had the right to impose such penalties now that he'd come of age.  Much to my anguish, the words "there's the door" came up more then once.  Over the next several weeks, we progressed into a stony silence broken only if absolutely required.  I'd begun to despair that our relationship would ever be quite the same again.

Then came the Olympics.  The Boy decided, rather then holing up in his room, he'd venture out to watch with me.  Before you knew it, we were holding civil conversations again.  We were able to find a common ground over competition. 

We watched Shaun White take the gold in snowboarding and talked about how star-struck The Boy had been when he gotten Shaun's autograph on his skateboard a few years back during the Dew Tour.  He couldn't even stammer a response when Shaun had commented that he used to have the same Tony Hawk Birdhouse design. 

We laughed remembering how his friend who'd joined us at that Dew Tour had laid down right in front of the Mad Magazine stand like he was taking a nap while waiting on The Boy to get a caricature drawn.  The guy manning the stand had lined his body with Mad Magazines in a strange crime scene parody.  I've got a picture somewhere of a midget little person leaning over to see if this was some publicity stunt dummy.  Strange child, but a hilarious moment!

Then it happened... The Boy apologized for being so hard-headed and asked if we could put it all behind us.  Take about relief!  Since then The Boy has regained his common sense and settled back down into his usual, easy-going self... always ready with a grin and a funny quip to brighten the day.

So, Dear Reader, forgive me for updating sporadically of late... I've been too busy enjoying having The Boy back.  Who knew the healing power of the Olympic spirit could effect such a miracle!

2/14/10

Bad Hair Days

What's the worst haircut or style that you've ever been subjected to?  Did it really seem like a good idea at the time?  Yours Truly has had her share, believe me!  G-Ma loves to pull out a few old pics of me just for a laugh that display some regrettable choices over the years.  I'll admit a 'fro was not the best look for a geeky, teenaged white gal.  Not all of the bad styles were of my choosing though.

I was always a wee too butch for G-Ma's liking. She spent the better part of my early childhood trying to force this tomboy into her feminine ideal of a daughter.  For example, for my first grade photo she insisted on teasing my hair up into an authentic 50's beehive hairdo complete with a little bow.  Remember that style?  If you can tear your eyes away from that billowing mass of hair to look at my face, you can easily tell how thrilled I was.  Jeez!  It was a pink bow too!  The Boy finds this photo particularly hilarious.

A few years later, G-Ma owned a hair salon and wig shop located in an A-framed building that she named "The Wig-Wam".  It was about this time that she decided, after having watched the stylists that worked for her, that it couldn't be that hard.  Why not save some money and cut our hair herself.  I was the lucky guinea pig for this little experiment. 

She happily clipped away, but then noticed that one side was a wee bit shorter then the other.  Oh well, just shorten the other side to match.  Hummm... now that side is too short.  Let's just shorten it up a bit more.... Get the picture?  She finally admitted defeat and called one of the stylists out of desperation.  By that time, my hair was fairly chopped up.  I ended up with the first pixie hairstyle ever seen in that neck of the woods.  Think that Twiggy made the style popular in the sixties.  Now the style is fairly popular with everyone from Ellen to Pink sporting it.  At that time, not so much.  G-Ma has a pic of Yours Truly in full Brownie uniform with that pixie cut barely poking out from under the beanie.  I loved it myself and was sporting a silly grin in the photo.  G-Ma was, of course, suitably embarrassed for us both.

I've been sporting a short, almost pixish style for most of my adult life as well.  Often it's hiden under ballcap.  A great strategy for bad hair days.  The Boy, of course, gets suitably embarrassed for us both when anyone addresses me as "Sir".  Doesn't usually bother me though... unless it's followed by "That's the Women's restroom!"

2/12/10

Miracle of Miracles!

Yours Truly has experienced an absolute miracle this week!  First let me share that I've been a smoker for over 30 years now.  I know.... nasty habit, terribly unhealthy, and I was totally addicted.  Today for the first time, I've seen a light at the end of that tobacco tunnel... and it's not emanating from a Zippo!

Yesterday, after weeks of researching, I received my first personal vaperizer (PV), a Janty eGo, and have only smoked 3... count 'em!... 3 cigarettes since then!  This is a pure miracle for someone who usually puffs through almost two packs (roughly 36-37) cigs a day.  I'm excited and The Boy is tickled pink that I may quit stinking up the place.  G-Ma, who quit several years ago, is thrilled too... Though she's going to miss pilfering the occasional cig from me to hide for those stressful times. Who'd of thought it!  I can still get my nicotine fix, but without the tar, the 4,000+ cancer causing chemicals, or spreading second-hard smoke in a cloud around me!
Once my taste buds come back, I'm going to have to try some of the flavors that the e-juice (nicotine liquid) comes in.  Wonder how good that Banana Split juice is?  Don't think I could handle the Bacon flavor though!  Anyway, just had to share my joy with you all.

Note:  If you or someone you know is interested in getting off the cancer sticks, I'd advise doing your own research first.  The E-Cigarette Forum is a great place to start with a lot of information.

2/6/10

Happy Award!


Thanks to Aion at I Blog Your Profile for presenting me with the Happy Award!  I feel so honored considering that I've barely begun my journey into this great, wide world of Blogging.  I was actually having a fairly stressful week, so his announcement came as a wonderful surprise to bright my outlook.

Visit Aion and Nicole for great reviews of the myriad blogs and bloggers out there.  You may find a few gems that you'd overlooked!

Here's how it works:  List 10 things that make you happy and then pass this award along to 10 bloggers that make you happy.  So.... Here goes!

10 Things that make me happy are...
  1. A steaming, unadulterated mug of strong coffee
  2. Relaxing beside a creek in the mountains listening to the water play over the rocks
  3. Curling up with a good book... preferably sci-fi
  4. When The Boy breaks out of teenage stoicism into in a full-blown, ear-to-ear grin
  5. Rediscovering my artistic streak through photography
  6. Feeling useful to others... whether it's holding the door for a neighbor or building an application to make life a little easier for a co-worker
  7. Winning our daily Scrabble game at work... especially since I'm by far the worst speller
  8. Watching The Boy's marching band perform... or any marching band for that matter!
  9. Indulging my sweet tooth with some of G-Ma's homemade pumpkin rolls
  10. Introducing The Boy to any of the great old(er) movies that are on my "must see" list 

And the Bloggers who make me happy, in no particular order, are.....
 I hope that the Happy Award adds some joy to your day, too!

2/3/10

G-Ma's Journeys

After five years as caregiver to my bed-ridden grandmother, surviving cancer, raising four children, and spending numerous years explaining the concept of self-sufficency to the Brothers; G-Ma has been fullfilling a life-long dream the past couple of years.... as a disaster relief volunteer with the Red Cross.  Everytime she's called the last few weeks, I've had a moment's panic that I'd find out she'd volunteered to go to Haiti.  I'd be a nervous wreck worrying about her if she did considering the conditions in the aftermath of the earthquakes.  Keep in mind that she's almost 70 years old and long past her "roughing it in a tent city" days. 

I mentioned my irrational fear to her the other day only to be told that 1) the Red Cross hadn't sent out a call for volunteers in her area and 2) she was already tentatively scheduled for a mission trip to Haiti in May.... By the way, when's The Boy's graduation date as she may be out of the country if she still plans on joining the group.  After all, conditions should be better there by then, shouldn't they?  *deep, calming breaths.... breath in.... breath out.....*   I swear she's intent on giving me gray hair now too!

Her volunteer trips have been relatively uneventful, other then the occassional traipse through flooded houses to evaluate damages.   There was that time in Texas though.... It was her first trip for the Red Cross as well as her first time flying.  G-Ma had been working with flood victims a few hours south of Houston and was heading back home.  To catch her flight out of Houston, she had to leave before dawn.  She hadn't seen another car for quite awhile when she sees what she takes to be a toll booth up ahead.  Nope, G-Ma discovers it a checkpoint as she pulls to a stop for the Officer.  As he walks around her car, she rolled the window down.... "Morning!  I wonder if you could tell me where I am and how much futher it is to Houston.  I have to catch a flight there this morning."  The Officer replied in a thick accent, "Senorita, you are going the wrong way.  You are in Mexico."  G-Ma was definately awake now!  She must have taken a wrong turn in the dark... she'd never make the flight.... didn't own a passport... What was she going to do!

G-Ma's panic must have been written all over her face as the Officer laughingly waved her fears away... "No, no!  I'm sorry, Ma'am!  You're heading in the right direction.  Houston's about an hour away.  I was just kidding."  I guess checkpoints can get a wee bit boring. 

Since then she's traveled to several other states with the Red Cross and embarked on a short mission trip to Guatamala.  Hopefully she'll listen to reason and not trek off to anywhere too dangerous though.  Don't think I could take the stress.  Sometimes I feel like I'm the parent... waiting up to hear that she's home safe.  Strange how the lines blur over the years.




1/31/10

Atta Boy!

Though Yours Truly is pet-less at this time due to the rules of my current abode, I've owned both dogs and cats over the years, usually raising them together.  Today I thought I'd share with you some tales of my favorite furry friends from years past...

Once while G-Ma was cat-sitting for Yours Truly, she was startled awake during the middle of the night by the sound of her doorbell. Peeking out the small window in the door, as well as through the front curtains, she didn’t see a soul. G-Ma figured that some teenagers were having fun at her expense and went back to bed. About 10 minutes later, the doorbell rang again. This time G-Ma thought she could catch them if she was quick about it, so she rushed to the door and flung it open. Imagine her surprise when there sat my cat on the ledge beside the door. She said that the cat “jumped down to the stoop, and, when I opened the screen door, gave me a piece of his mind as he walked past me…. fussing at me for not letting him in the first time he rang! I didn’t even know the cat was outside!”

G-Ma used to freak out when Midnight and King would start play fighting.  She never got used to watching the huge dog take the entire cat's head in his mouth, shake him around and then toss him aside.  Of course, Midnight loved it!  He'd roll to a stop and be ready to pounce back in a heartbeat.  G-Ma was just sure his neck was going to get broken eventually.  I think it was all part of their plan to entice G-Ma to once again fly out of the house with a broom to stop the fight.  They'd dodge around her with huge grins everytime.

I heard a bunch of dogs barking and growling in the backyard one day.  Reaching the back of the house, I opened the door to find myself face to face with my cat, clinging to the screen door with all his might.  Just behind him on the back porch paced my dog, ferociously daring a large pack of neighborhood canines to step any closer.  It's always good to know that family has your back!

King was a very patient fellow.  He was a mix with the coloration of his German Shepard side and the long-haired size of the Sheepdog side, which gave him the look of a Collie.  G-Ma used to lay a large quilt in the backyard for the Brothers to crawl around on while she was doing yardwork.  She'd lay the twins in the middle of the quilt and call King over.  "Watch the babies", she'd instruct him and off she'd go.  King took this task very seriously.  He'd lay down on the quilt with them, allowing them to crawl over and around him while he watched.... Eventually one of the twins would start crawling toward the edge of the quilt.  King would gently grab hold of the adventurer's diaper and slowly pull him back to the center of the quilt.  The twins loved this and would giggle their delight each time. 

I'd had Cuddles for a few years when The Boy was born.  Needless to say, it took awhile for Cuddles to come to gripes with this annoying, little being I'd brought home.  Cuddles would loudly meow his displeasure at first, but slowly began to be won over.  Cuddle always slept burrowed under the covers with his head resting right beneath my chin.  One night, The Boy was restless and I laid him in bed beside me.  As I lay there on my side with a hand resting over the baby, Cuddles jumped up to lay down.  He promptly burrowed in between us to his usual spot without disturbing The Boy, then gently rested his paw on the baby's side as well.  Being a single parent can have its drawbacks.  I really wish someone else had been present with a camera to capture the serenity of that moment.




1/25/10

Nip it in the bud!

The Brothers have run through several jobs over the years. The list includes numerous fast food positions. I don’t think there’s a fast food joint within 10 miles of G-Ma that hasn’t been graced with the presence of one of the Brothers over the years.

Brother2’s love of uniforms has lead to a rash of security jobs. Even his email address begins with “Officer”. Thankfully, he’s not qualified for jobs that require a firearm. Recently he’s not been scheduled for more than three nights a week though, putting him in financial straits. Yours Truly asked if he was looking for additional work over the holidays only to be told that he couldn’t risk a second job as he’s on call 24/7. Translation: They might call me in if the stars are aligned just right.

G-Ma tells me that Brother2 has finally realized that he has to find an additional source of income. Of course, this comes after a few weeks after she finally admitted to having bailed out his over-drawn bank account and having bought him a used car when his died. “He was talking about how he was going to lose his job and apartment! I couldn’t handle the thought that he might need to move back in too!!”

Brother2’s master plan has Yours Truly a bit concerned though. According to G-Ma, he’s found out that he can sell plasma four times a week at $25 a visit. Now there’s a brilliant idea. First, I don’t think they allow you to sell plasma more than twice a week, not to mention potential health issues. It could also affect his main source of income. I mean, imagine Barney Fife sporting a ghastly pallor, listlessly wondering around your place of work at night. Not a pleasant thought.

Meanwhile, G-Ma’s busy looking up horror stories of blood donors to confront him with. I’m betting after he passes out the first time from low blood he’ll start working on Plan B.




1/21/10

Roll'n Down the Highway!

Would you want a speed demon with a history of traffic tickets to teach your child to drive? Of course not! It’s not that I’m a bad driver, but I’ll be the first to say it… I’m not the best example for The Boy behind the wheel.

I’m actually quite proud that I’ve gone two years now without a ticket, which means I’m overdue. I’ll admit the last one was my own fault as I was running through a piece of code in my mind and not paying attention. I did notice the cruiser before I passed it, but by then he’d seen me as well. Didn’t help that he was also speeding.

Friends still tease me about blowing the head gasket on my ’86 Mercury Capri many moons ago. No small feat that! Based on the time and distance covered, I was averaging 160 at the time. It’s hard to tell really considering the speedometer only went to 120. Let’s just say I was running late for work when I left the house and subsequently arrived early enough to fully appreciate the steam rolling out from under my hood in the parking garage. I’ll never forget the sight of that Officer’s head whipping around as he watched me fly past his speed trap. He never even bothered pulling into traffic. (Thankfully!)  I still miss that car.

I did think Karma had finally caught up with me the other day though. I glimpsed a cruiser behind me as I drove down the entrance ramp to the bypass around town. As I started to merge into traffic, I glanced into my side mirror and saw him, lights blazing, whip out from behind me to block both lanes of traffic. I didn’t know what to think, but a look in my rearview sent me into a panic! There behind me were 20 cruisers, lights blinding me… as I began to slowly pull to the side of the road in a panic. I don’t know about you, but flashing red and blue lights make me take inventory…. Speeding? Nope…. Tags? Ok.

As I pulled onto the shoulder, I had the experience of being addressed over a PA system. “Please proceed into the flow of traffic… Proceed into the flow of traffic.” Ok, maybe it wasn’t me they were after… Whew!

Let me tell you, it’s nerve-wracking leading a procession of cruisers! I felt like O.J. on the slow bus creeping along in front of them. Once they had all entered the bypass, the first cruiser joined the end of the line and they passed me by. I found out later that they were on their way to the airport to escort some important person or other. Guess they didn’t want to get separated and were playing “Follow the Leader”. Lucky me!

Maybe I’ll see if that driving school has a spot open for The Boy. Keep your fingers crossed that he hasn’t inherited my right foot!






1/18/10

Buzzed!

Unfortunately, I had to be stuck babysitting when Brother2 decided to get buzzed for the first time. I heard a strange "ffzzzzztttttt" sound and suddenly a smoky, hair-raising, ozone smell filled the air. Running into the dining room, I discovered Brother2 frozen in place in the middle of a slowly dying ring of fire still clutching the now deformed butter knife with which he'd decided to play electrician. Fire was also sputtering along the length of the clock plugged into the wall outlet. I frantically snatched him up, stomped out the remaining cinders in the carpet and ran for the phone.

1/16/10

Lessons Learned

Have I mentioned that my degree is in Special Ed?  Here one of the lessons learned from my days spent attempting to mold young minds... Do NOT turn your back on your class!

The wisdom of this became apparent to me one day while watching a group of cheerleaders from a local college try to teach a few routines to some of the older girls at the special ed school.  The girls tried to follow

1/13/10

Oh, Brother!

You've finally found a free moment to relax, the Brothers are peacefully napping in their cribs... when suddenly there's a crash from the nursury!  You barrel down the hallway, leap over the baby gate, and discover.... one of the cribs on it's side in the middle of the floor and the Brothers blissfully crawling around.  WTF?  No use asking them, they can't even walk yet much less talk.  How in the world did they get out of their cribs?  How did Brother1's crib get tipped over?  I mean, thank goodness they're fine, but what a mystery!

This is exactly the situation that my parents were faced with.  No one could figure out what had happened.  Finally they had to just shake their heads and shrug.... but it kept happening.  We tried to figure it out, we really did.  G-Ma even posted me outside the twins' door for a time to watch what happened.  Nothing.  This strange phenomenon only occurred when no one was watching, but occur it did!  Not only were we stumped, but we were genuinely worried that they might get hurt doing... whatever they were doing.

In desperation, G-Ma came up with a stroke of genius.  She had me set a ladder outside the nursury's window.  Then she lay the boys down for a nap and went her merry way.  I stood patiently on the ladder, peering over the edge of the window.  You wouldn't believe what I saw that day!

The boy's were always too hyper to nap much.  It wasn't long before Brother2 was pulling himself up by the rails to stand.  Brother1 was awake, but just lay there quietly watching.  Brother2 stood there for a minute, listening... looking.  He must have decided the coast was clear.  I had to stifle a gasp as I watched him pulled his torso up to flip over the side of the crib and execute a well-practiced landing on the floor.  He paused there, listening... looking... before crawling over to Brother1's crib. 

Brother1 was grinning from ear to ear with anticipation.  Brother2 crawled over to his crib and kept going straight under it.  He rolled over onto his back under the crib and proceed to kick up against the bottom of the crib.  The springs under the mattress hooked into a couple of large eyehooks on the head and foot of the crib.  Brother2 had figured out how to kick those springs right out of the eyehooks!  Down came springs and mattress with Brother2 sliding right to the floor.
Once down, the Brothers proceeded to detach the mattress and springs completely and begin pushing the crib away from the wall.  When there was enough space, they both crawled behind it and pulled into a standing position with the wall at their backs.  This is the only time they made a sound.  They looked at each other, leaned back against the wall, said their equivilent of "Go!", and plunged forward against the side of the crib.  Their weight was enough to topple the frame into the floor with a crash.  Mystery solved!

Did you know that chicken wire makes a right proper lid for a crib?





1/9/10

Work Habits

Work for Yours Truely consist mainly of plugging away on computers in a small office with the three other members of my team.  We're all slightly geeky and, after working closely together for a number of years, have formed our own warped, dysfunctional family atmosphere.  We not only live with each other's habits and fobiles... we proudly point them out to visitors as part of the charm of our daily landscape.

If you read Round 'n Round..., you may have figured out that I work in the automotive industry.  Our office used to be located so that headlights would occasionally shine in the windows from one of the off-line areas.  Quite a dramatic lighting effect since we leave off all but one overhead light.  (Easier on the computer-weary eyes)  Each time the light would shine in, my co-worker would rise from her desk, hands and eyes raised to the heavens, intoning "Ahhhhhhhhh!"  It didn't matter what was going on or who she was meeting with... she would pause to celebrate the glory of the light.  This became such a tradition that unless a new visitor was present, it was given no notice... as though time was suspended for that brief moment, conversations resuming without even an eyebrow being raised. Unfortunately, expansion lead to the relocation of our office and the demise of this beloved tradition.  Now it's become a popular myth passed along from cubicle to cubicle in the main office... along with other whispered speculation on our little alcove of geekdom.

Our office has always been something of a myth in and of itself.  As mentioned, we leave off the majority (or all) the overhead lighting with ambient light from the windows and the computer monitors providing a dim atmosphere perfect for programming.  So perfect that most of the employees around us think it's an empty room, until they get curious and try the door.  Ours is a secured, badge-access area so it is not unusual for us to startle visitors and the occasional curious sort rattling our door handle... peering through the one-way glass trying to determine if anyone is home.  The one-way glass has provided an endless source of fun for us watching unsuspecting passers-by stopping to comb their hair or pick their teeth. 

We love our office oddities too... like our Flying Pig.  Perfect for those occasions when the I/S department is giving it their "best effort" or as a subtle answer to a visitor's uninformed inquery or a co-workers frustrated rhetorical rant.  We also proudly display our team's name over the office door decorated in that well-known Matrix code style.  Of course, being uber-geeks, we used some SQL code of our own to create the effect.  Makes it more personal, you know.  Of course there's a Dilbert desk calendar in the room, select pages of which festoon our desks as personal motivation... complete with the names of fellow workers of whom the characters remind us.

Perhaps the best known of our habits is the daily game of Speed Scrabble.  For the longest time we each played computer games during lunch, sometimes challenging each other's score but essentially playing alone.  Because we realized that we needed to take some time off from continually starring at a monitor, this friendly competition was born.  With few exceptions, nothing is allowed to interupt our need for this daily fix.  One of our team actually seems to do better when she's following a conference call while playing!  There's been serious discussion of handicapping her during those occasional lunch time calls... maybe she should have to juggle one-handed too.  Then we might be able to keep up!  The "speed" component of the game is a rule we agreed upon so we could finish a game during our lunchtime.  Each play must be completed in 90 seconds or the player must pass.  If you want to try this at home, start at three minutes and gradually decrease the time allowed to get used to thinking fast.  As geeks, we had to take it a few steps further by creating our own custom Java app to track the time allowed, complete with a 10 second warning buzzer.  We also developed our own web-based dictionary tool using the SOWPOD's word list derived for Scrabble tournament play.  If it's not in SOWPODs, it's not allowed.  I'm often ribbed for trying to sneak in the occasional phonetically spelled word when I'm too close on time to look it up.  I've tried claiming that that's how it's spelled in my home state of Tennessee, but I don't think they're buying it.

Any quirky habits or curiousities where you work?  Feel free to leave a comment and share.





1/8/10

Coming of Age

January 8th... It's the anniversary of Elvis's birthday.  On this day in 1992, while every television channel replayed George Bush (the first one) becoming violently ill in Japan... fainting into the Prime Minister's lap over and over, The Boy descended upon the world and life was never the same again in my household.

Today The Boy is 18 and I'm feeling like reminiscing a bit.  Come along with me as I share just a few of my favorite stories on The Boy in honor of his special day...

3 yrs old - An ex of mine was trying to get The Boy's attention... and trying... and trying.  The Boy finally looks up and says "Shhhhhh!  I'm contemplating!"  After picking up our jaws, we died laughing!

4 yrs old - First day of preschool and what parent wouldn't be proud as The Boy proclaims that he can pee the furthest of all the boys in his class.  I still feel I should have tipped the school janitor as I'm sure he probably earned it that day!

5 yrs old - Still in preschool, The Boy announces on the way home that he and a girl in his class played in the "Tunnel of Love" during recess.  While asking what the "Tunnel of Love" was I found out that they were kissing in the little tunnel under the playground slide... and there was tongue involved.  The school said they never thought they'd have to monitor the preschoolers for public displays of affection!

9 yrs old - The Boy and my roommate decided after watching a magic show on TV to play "Escape Artist".  Just a word to the wise... There's a reason for the "DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME" warnings!  I get a call at work from The Boy who trys to stammer through his version of "Houston, We have a problem." while my roommate is frantically yelling in the background... "Hold the phone over here!  Don't hang up!  Honey, can you here me?  Help!".  Seems she, in a moment of absolute brilliance, decided to let him tie her up and show him how to do a proper escape.  Unfortunately for her, he's good with knots.  So good, he couldn't get it untied either after she'd pulled the knots tighter trying to wiggle out.  The definition of embarrassment... Having to explain to your boss that you need to leave early because your roommate is tied up at home and you have to go cut her loose.

I'm almost through embarrassing him for the day, but I just have to jump to high school and share a couple from marching band....

During band practice, you'll often find the director perched high up in the band tower scrutinizing the drill with an eagle eye.  (I've actually heard him on many occasion ask a student to move "an inch" in one direction or another!)  One day The Boy was obviously not marching well for I kept hearing his name called out over the speaker.  Finally in exasperation, the director yells "Boy!... Why are you always either a step too close or a step too far away from James?!?".  The Boy immediately yelled back to the heights.... "We have an on-again, off-again relationship, Sir!"  Amidst muffled snickers on the field, a click could be heard as the director turned off his microphone for a personal moment of silence.

Amazingly, The Boy is part rubber-band, springing right back into his original form, as we learned during a band contest his Sophomore year.  During the band's show, what should happen to catch my eye but a sousaphone (marching tuba) biting the dust.  "Tuba down!" I gasped in a whisper to G-Ma. "Where?", she asked.  Amazingly, no one else actually saw the incident!  The Boy had bounced back up, literally, while wearing a 70 lb instrument.  Several people did see the infamous "Shoe Dance" that followed however, and it is captured for eternity in video as a colorguard gracefully sweeps the offending footwear off the astroturf... passing it from hand to hand as though she had practiced the routine many times with this prop... to finally place it on the sidelines as she spun by.  A few days later, a friend sent me the following photo that she just happened to snap at the exact moment he fell.  She calls it "Face Plant at the 43".  I've blown up the point of interest for you as it's hard to locate otherwise.  FYI.. They won the contest hands-down... trippin' tuba and all.


     (Click on photo to enlarge)
 Happy Birthday, Boy!  Even though we butt heads occasionally, I can't imagine my life without you in it.  Wouldn't have traded the past 18 years for anything in the world.  Love you... proud of you...






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