Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adventures in Real Parenting: Would I lie to you?

The Spawn love Sunbeam bread. They claim it tastes superior to the White Wheat I prefer them to eat (please don't lecture me about whole wheat bread - been there, tried that. Ended up composting most of it. Time and time again.). While extolling the superior taste of Sunbeam, The Spawn claim that it has a far better consistency and texture.

For those of you who don't know, here's a mom thing. We lie. A lot. I'm not just talking about the Easter Bunny or Santa or why there isn't any more ice cream in the freezer - "Daddy must have eaten it....?"< MathMan loves when I sell him out. It's part of the parent code. Whoever gets to the lie first, wins. No. Parents lie about little things and big things. For example, I've learned a way to get The Spawn to eat White Wheat bread without knowing it. I wait for the first few slices of Sunbeam to be removed from the loaf's package then I take some slices of White Wheat and stick them between the smooshy Sunbeam. The crusts might have a variance in color, but that is hidden by the yellow on the packaging.

No one is the wiser.

This is a tradition passed on from mother to mother. Like my mother who sneaked liver into our hamburgers (that explains that) to prevent us from contracting the pernicious anemia that ran rampant through generations of her family, I force fiber onto The Spawn so that The Actor, Cupcake (aka Resident Evil) and The Dancer aren't completely bound up with biological poisons.

Without fibbing, obfuscation and outright lying, I wouldn't be able to complete a day of parenting.

From Webster's New Pocket Dictionary. To obfuscate - Confuse; obscure.
Spawn: "Where is my Juicy Fruit gum? I swear I left it on my dresser."

Me: "I don't know. Did you leave it in your pocket and take it to school? "(hee hee, I've developed a recent craving for Juicy Fruit gum...)

Spawn: Can I go to Florida with my friends over Spring Break?"
Me: "We'll see." (We'll see in momspeak means I'm not going to say "no" now because I don't feel like fighting about it now, but this is my way of buying time until you either forget or give up badgering me about this and go pester your father.)

Outright lie.
Spawn: "Mom, did you ever smoke pot?"

Me: "Of course not!"

When we first think of having babies, we make plans to be perfect parents. We make mental lists of all the things we'll never do to our kids. Back in my pre-parenting days, I had a long  list of judgmental and naive I will nevers.

I had not a clue.

Now a seasoned parenting professional, I  see the error of my earlier ideals. In fact, with parenting, there are no ideals. Not if you want to stay sane, that is.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
- Unknown

I frequently complain that The Spawn are stubborn. And lazy. And spoiled. And too smart for their own good. Geez, I just shouldn't have procreated. I'm a sucky mother.

Anyway, back to stubborn. Stubborn runs in the family. My mother would have you believe that the stubborn comes from my father's side, but that's just not so. The hot-headed - that comes from the paternal branch, but the stubborn? That's Mom.

Mom grew up poor as one of five children. Her mother held the family together and her father was often away working and drinking. The family lived in a rural area of the Southeastern Indiana hills. A big weekend was a trip to Granny and Grandad's. That was a real treat.

Granny and Grandad lived on a small farm. I remember going there as a child and playing with old Dairy Queen dishes and spoons on the front porch. We'd put hedgeapples on the country road in front of the house so that the cars going by would smash them. They looked like green brains dotting the tarred road. The thing I remember most is the outhouse. Even in the early 1970's Granny and Grandad didn't have an indoor toilet. Can you imagine? Not much had changed since my mom as a kid - my great-grandparents remained on that farm, frozen in time, until they died..

When my mom (let's call her L'il R) was about six years old, she and her brothers, sister and cousins were spending a weekend at Granny and Grandad's. They were just sitting down to supper at the big country kitchen table when they heard the crunch of tires as a car rolled into the dirt driveway. Now if you've ever lived in the country or watched The Waltons, you know what happened next.

Everyone, young and old, leaped up from the table and raced out the kitchen door to see who was there. L'il R grabbed her hot dog and carried it with her.

Granny ordered L'il R to take her hot dog back to the table because there was only one for each person and Granny didn't want the dog to steal the wiener from her. L'il R refused and before she could bat her long, black lashes, the pooch was running down the wooden porch steps, the hot dog hanging from his mouth. She began to wail.

The visitor was ushered inside and everyone returned to their supper. L'il R continued to cry and demand another hot  dog. Granny told her that there weren't any more hot dogs. L'il R cried harder. Granny told her to sit down and be quiet. Eat what's on your plate

Shedding more tears, L'il R ran to the screen door and announced that until she got another hot dog, she'd just hold the screen door open and "let the flies in."

That was enough for Grandad.

My mom. The only kid in that whole mess of brothers and sisters and cousins to ever get a spanking from Grandad.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lessons from My Drive

Okay, so you know that I've been wearing a groove in the road from here (NW Georgia) to NYC. Well, in all that driving I've burned a lot of cash and a lot of fuel. Neither of those ideas much please me, I can tell you. But aside from that, I want to tell you something that I noticed.

There are a lot of people living close to the edge. Let me explain.

Th apartment in Brooklyn turned out to be a three floor walk up in a working class neighborhood. The reason I'm telling you this is for purposes of numbers. Population. See, for every three floor walk up, it's probably safe to say that there are approximately three people or three families living in what may be, to the middle class eye, defined as rather sparse conditions. (I wouldn't even begin to describe how the upper class or uber-rich person might define such living conditions. Come to think of it, those conditions simply do not exist to the uber-rich. They simply can't see it.)

On my drive, I passed plenty of small old houses, manufactured housing, starter homes, apartment buildings, and rundown abodes. There were plenty of once beautiful, sprawling farms in Pennsylvania dotting Interstate 81. At one time, those farms were tidy, painted and proud. Now many of them have fallen into disrepair and neglect.

Everywhere I looked as I drove through the Shenandoah Valley, I could see farms and old homes. I was struck by the size of some of the farm houses that likely housed large families at one time. Now they are dwarfed by the size of a typical McMansion in a gated community. And these new palaces likely house families no larger than four people.

As I surveyed this slice of the American landscape, I was struck by the notion that there are more of us living close to the edge than there are those who are comfortably in the middle or sitting on top.

As gas prices rise and all the associated costs go with them, I can't help but wonder how this economy is going to sustain itself. The price of petroleum touches so much, how can we not reach the breaking point sooner rather than later? How will people who are already on the edge keep from going over?

I know that we're in that often-discussed category of being one paycheck away from disaster. Now that I'm unemployed, we're spurred on to cut costs, but we'll also be making some choices between what gets paid and what doesn't. The two essentials - fuel and food - can be cut back some, but not completely. Those ever-expanding bills shrink what we can pay toward our mortgage, healthcare, and other expenses.

In the meantime, every time The Dancer tells me that she needs gas in her car (calm down, it's a 95 Celica that was a gift from her aunt), I cringe. That edge moves ever closer. Even if I do find work, the edge is going to continue to inch toward us as daily living costs go higher and higher. We are not alone in this. I'm afraid we'll have plenty of company in that economic tumble down. The old adage "safety in numbers" will have a bitter ring to it when counting the number of people at the bottom.

Originally posted May 22, 2008

Friday, July 22, 2011

The High Way to Hell

How does hell want me? Let me count the ways.....

Drunkard - maybe, though cyclical
Liar - Uh, I've been known to tell a few whoppers, yeah
Thief - If office supplies count
Sports fan - Not so much, unless you count politics as sport
Blasphemer - Jesus Christ on a Whole Wheat Cracker yes
Money Lover - If I had it, I promise I would love it
Pagan - Only on my college applications. See Liar.
Homosexual - Part time
Prostitute - If only I'd had the foresight to get paid for it
Witch - Not exactly, but I'm often caled something that rhymes with it
Atheist - Check
Gambler - Hello, MegaMillions! Let me love you.
Porn Lover - Tasteful lesbian porn only
Whoremonger - Let's leave my friends out of this.
Child Molester - No. I hope there's a special corner in Hell for this category.
Evolutionist - Well, it's a theory that I think is pretty cool.....
Pot Smoker - Not anymore, not for a long time
Lesbian - I say half. MathMan thinks two thirds.
Fornicator - Oh, once or twice, I suppose
Masturbator - Only my vibrators know for sure
Hypocrite - Most definitely
Psychic - There was that time that I told Darling Sis if she went out something bad would happen and it did.
And you?

H/T Pharyngula

Originally posted June 2, 2008

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bloggers Talking about Bloggers Talking

Setting: (Now that the kicking and hair pulling has stopped) MathMan and I are once again sitting across from each other at the big oak desk behind our respective laptops. I'm reading blog RSS feeds. MathMan is probably doing something very important like checking out his fantasy baseball stats.

Me: Uh oh. (under my breath) That sounds familiar.
MathMan: Huh? What?
Me: Oh, nothing.
MathMan: No really, what?
Me: Well, dooce and her husband had a disagreement about how she pronounces Cray-on.
MathMan: It's cran.
Me: Says you.

Originally posted June 3, 2008

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adventures in Real Parenting: Why She Was Once Called Resident Evil

Yesterday, as I drove The Actor home from school, my cell phone rang. It was Resident Evil calling. I pushed my Blue Tooth earpiece button.

"Hello?" Nothing. "Hello? Hello? Resident Evil, hello?" I pushed the button again. Maybe she'd accidentally dialed my number.

Again came the defiant voice of Amy Winehouse singing Rehab. Yeah, I know, that's a delightful ringtone. I pushed the Blue Tooth button again.

"Hello?" Nothing. Shit. She was home alone for just a few minutes while I raced out to pick up The Actor. What was I thinking to leave her home alone? What if someone had gotten into the house and she was hiding in her closet trying to call me for help, but afraid to speak for fear of discovery. Shit! Shit! Shit! I am the worst mother ever! Panic button almost pressed.

"HELLO! HELLO! RESIDENT EVIL, ARE YOU THERE? ARE YOU OKAY?" My heart raced and The Actor looked at me like I was insane.

Finally, she answered me. "Mommy....."

Oh. Shit. "Are you okay?" I asked, the fear making my voice crack. Why was I whispering? Oh yeah, the possible home invader terrorizing my child....

This time she spoke clearly in a normal voice. "Mommy?"

I was about to lose my shit. "Resident Evil, are you okay?"


Panic shifted to annoyance. "Why didn't you answer me?"

She paused.

"I was giving you the silent treatment," she announced.
Originally posted on January 23, 2008

Monday, July 18, 2011

Will Cuddle for Gas Money

I just received an important memo from the Pussies for Peace. Facing grant cutbacks and skyrocketing expenses, they have elected to step up their fund raising activities. In addition to the biannual bake sales, four scheduled car washes (don't believe what you hear about cats and water) and one gigantic yard sale later this month, the PfP are looking for new ways to raise money to keep the PoofMobile running so they can take their message of peace from across the nation.

Their new scheme is more akin to the good old fashioned kissing booth. I don't know, though, it just appears a little........unseemly.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Times are tough all over, but you wouldn't know that from listening to our idiot president or his Siamese co-joined twin Johnny Mac. They're doing okay. We're just out here livin' it. What could we possibly know?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Terrorist Training Activities in the Front Seat of My Car

Here are the youthful terrorists plotting their next caper

Newsflash: I Am Raising the Next Crop of Domestic Terrorists

About that fist bump.....The Actor and I did the fist bump nearly every morning as I dropped him off for school. It was a very brief moment we shared before I sent him into his middle school to blow up toilets. Now our secret is out. (Will someone please make sure I have 600 thread count sheets on my bed in Gitmo? Thanks.)

Originally posted June 10, 2008

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Middle Class Illusions

I've got to hand it to Bob Herbert. Today he was on in more ways than one. He wrote this piece for the NY Times and then he was on MSNBC's Morning Joe where he noted that it's harder and harder for Americans to 1) Be in the middle class; 2) Hang on to their place in the middle class; 3) Move into the middle class from the working class. Now, I don't know about you, but I find the topic of class divisions refreshing. I don't think it's discussed enough.

I was especially interested when Herbert brought up the fact that at one time, a middle class lifestyle could be obtained and maintained with one salary earned by a man with a college education or a good manufacturing job. (Credit where credit is due - Pat Buchanan was sitting there, too, agreeing with Herbert and reinforcing his position. His feminine alter ego Bay was nowhere to be seen. Thank goodness.)

The main point that Herbert was making was that the American middle class has been losing ground for quite a while and most of us haven't recognized it or let ourselves be aware of it. Where my dad, a forklift driver for (please forgive me) Monsanto who worked a lot of overtime - thank you, dad - was able to afford a nice home, nice cars, vacations, a swimming pool, etc. and my father-in-law, a Chicago public school teacher, supported six kids in a three bedroom ranch on the NW side, imagine now trying to pull that off. First of all, those jobs like my dad's just don't exist so much anymore. And I can tell you, a teacher's salary cannot support a family of five, never mind six.

One of the things Herbert pointed out was that the struggle to maintain middle classdom has been masked by a growing use of credit. Lord, yes. The other point he made was that when women went to work outside the home, in large numbers, their income helped mask the ground being lost by men in their buying power. That was true in my family, as well as in MathMan's. My mom went back to work when I was in the third grade (1974ish). MathMan's mom got a job outside the home in the early '80s. I suspect that one of the reasons our moms went to work was to stretch their husband's paychecks. I know for a fact that my mom went to work to help pay her McAlpin's and Shillito's bills. Those were the ones she trained us to retrieve from the mailbox before Dad got home. We dutifully hid them in her underwear drawer.

Identifying the problem doesn't fix the problem, but for about three minutes today, viewers of MSNBC were reminded that what they think is a comfy middle class life is fleeting and getting harder to hold on to all the time. With the increasing impact of rising fuel costs and all the associated things that will increase in cost, too, most of us who thought we were middle class will find our grip loosening even more to the point that many of us will slip into the vast pool of poor without ever being able to put the words to what is happening to us.

Originally posted June 10, 2008

Friday, July 15, 2011

This is why she's always been in gifted classes

Always thinking, The Dancer has come up with a great way out of our financial difficulties.

Scooters to replace our cars? Nope.
Pantyhose on our heads and robbing banks? Nope.
Agreeing to finally work the pole? Nope.
Getting a job? Well, she did that, but it will only help pay her dance studio fees.

Her solution?

Watching wrestling. Except here we pronounce it rasslin'.

My brother, Uncle Chief of Police, would be so proud. He was a "Rowdy" Roddy Piper fan back in the day.

Because I spent a large chunk of my teens trying to get out of the Full Nelson, that's why.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adventures in Real Parenting: More from the School of Benign Neglect

Yesterday, Lisa at Lemon Gloria wrote about some slight anxiety she's having about parenting. She and her fiance Nick spent the weekend with some friends who have one little boy and the experience gave Lisa some new perspective of parenting. In her post, Lisa wondered:
...You need to be vigilant: You hear the most surprising things. It never occurs to you that you might hear, from the living room, "No, sweetie, don't put a strawberry in Lisa's book. She doesn't like that." Which leaves you to wonder if at some point, when it's your own kid, you get really tired and are just like, oh, go ahead, put the strawberry in the book..
To which I left two comments. In the first, I repeated what MathMan had asked me to convey.
Your fears are well founded.
In the second, I was a little more full frontal me - as in Yeah! Parenting by benign neglect! Woot!
Oh, yes, yes, and yes. Go ahead with the strawberry, go ahead with the paint on the white sofa, go ahead with the Barbie hot tub in the toilet. It all happens because at some point, the 100% vigilance is boiled down to:
1) No blood
2) No fire
3) No sharp objects
4) Not near mommy's laptop
5) Just don't tell daddy
I thought of this this morning when I had the following conversation with Cupcake:

Cupcake: I'm hungry.
Me (not taking my eyes off the monitor): Uh huh.
Cupcake: Can I have a smore?
Me: Absolutely not. Not for breakfast!
Cupcake: Well then, what? There's nothing to eat! (in a really whiny tone that made me grind my teeth)
Me: There's cereal.
Cupcake: No.
Me: I could make you some scrambled eggs, toast? Peanut butter and brown stuff? Yogurt? Fruit?

All was met with snorting derision. I had a blog post to finish and some pictures to edit.

 Originally posted June 12, 2008

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Rascist in Me

Ah, my racist roots. Where shall I begin?

I grew up in a white working/middle class family in Southeastern Indiana. Need I say more?

My dad, a forklift driver for Monsanto (again, please forgive me) for over thirty-five years was a hereditary racist. Not outwardly hateful, but basic, a black person is different and therefore less racist. He, a man with high school education and a solid hold smack dab in the middle class via his factory job, considered himself better than anyone of color. Or at least that's the impression he gave us through his words.

I later understood that part of what we heard was fear. He feared that his place in the middle class was threatened by the encroachment of minorities which were, in his world, African Americans. That fear mirrors the fear and racism now being displayed towards Latinos, especially in places like where we live here in Georgia. Factory jobs have all but disappeared and the sames kinds of jobs at in that pay range are scarce. Blame the Mexicans. It's easier to do that to rail at the powers that be who made the financial decisions to close the factories and outsource the jobs.

What uneducated people understand better maybe than educated people do is the law of resources. They understand that if there are people on top, they are supported by lots of people down below. They also understand that when things are limited, it's a fight for survival to hold on to what you've got and it's an even greater struggle to obtain more. That was my dad. He understand in a very basic way that there were only so many jobs to go around in that factory on the Ohio River bend in Addiston. And if all the sudden a lot of "them" were getting those jobs, then a lot of "him" would be losing theirs. The jobs were not limitless. Quotas became a buzzword. Reverse discrimination was murmured. Rumors were rampant about how "things were shifting" in that factory and many others.

To be honest, I never saw my father be disrespectful to anyone of color. In my mind's eye, I can see him, like most white people I knew (and even now, know), treating people of color with a "certain kind" of respect, a careful respect, a subtle arm's length approach that said "let's just get through this with these fake smiles as quickly as possible because, dammit, my cheeks are starting to hurt." That kind of respect. Not exactly grudging. Not exactly sincere.

But the words. Oh my. My own cheeks burn a little when I think of the string of epithets we kids used to hear coming from our dad's straight-toothed grin. Holy cats, some of those phrases would peel your skin off, leaving you there a strung together diagram of sinewy flesh and moist bones like a picture in an anatomy text book.

I won't list those words and phrases here. But there were plenty of them and they were quite colorful. To my child's ear, some of them were funny and lyrical, comical really. Some referred to continent of origin, I suppose. Others were based, naturally, on darkness of skin. My father didn't make up those words, of course. He learned them from his parents and the other superior, but poor, whites he grew up around in that small Ohio River town.

I remember once riding my bike down to see if Dad was at my grandparents' house. He wasn't there, but Grandma was. She was sitting on the back porch snapping green beans from her garden.

"Do you know where Daddy is?" I asked, leaning my bike into the grass and hopping up the cement step onto the porch.

"Well, I think he went out to help the ni**ers with something," she answered in her crackly grandma voice.

I did not bat an eye at this. I was probably ten years old or so. It was nothing for my grandma to point out my summer color. "You're getting brown as a berry," she'd say, adjusting her whistling hearing aid. "Better watch it or people will mistake you for a picaninny."

Let me just tell you right here and now if anyone spoke that way in front of me now, I would make such a nuisance of myself explaining why that is unacceptable.

When I hear racist language from unrelated adults, I don't call them out. I hate to admit it, but if an adult uses that kind of language in front of me, I leave, I don't school them. I figure they know that they are doing something wrong and choose to behave that way anyway. If they say something racist in front of my kids, I leave, taking my kids with me and I explain why that language is unacceptable.

Believe me when I tell you that this is not a defense of my father's racism, but back when he used those words, it was more common, even in "polite" society. How horrifying. My mother, once distressed that I used the N word, instructed Dad to talk to me and make sure that I never said that word again. I'll never forget the day he told me that if I even thought that word, the nearest ni**, he stopped himself, the nearest black person would come and cut my ears off. Thanks, Dad. That was brilliant. Make me afraid of black people.

But that is how racism is. It's part of who we are. Some of us are raised with it. It comes in different varieties - mild to scorching, but it's there. It's what we do with it that defines us. See, it would have been very easy for me to simply absorb my father's attitude about African Americans and to go through my life assuming superiority to people of color simply because I'm white and of European descent.

Never mind that most of my ancestors were extraordinarily poor, one was brought to Virginia as a criminal/slave for fighting against the British in Scotland. When the lady on the rock invited other countries to send their poor, my ancestors were pushed onto the damn boats - steerage, of course. Even so, we were taught that we were superior somehow.

Instead I chose to reject my family's racism. When Mathman and I started our family, I informed my father that racial slurs would not be tolerated in front of our kids. He has complied. I once got into an ugly shouting match with my paternal grandfather in our front yard because upon learning that I was dating a Moroccan while in France, he had the nerve to ask me why I just couldn't date nice American guys?

Nice American guys is code for white, of course.

There's my proof that I will call my family out on their racism. I may share the DNA, but I do not share their views. I wish I had the spine to be just as forceful with unrelated racists, but I don't. I'm quite convinced that nothing I could say would change their behavior if they're an adult in 2008 and still using racial slurs.

Now that we're about to see racism of all varieties on the most public display since the Civil Rights Era, I'm curious to see just what kind of character America has.

Let's just say, I'm not terribly optimistic.

Originally posted June 13, 2008

Monday, July 11, 2011

Closer to It

Like the last couple of Springs here in Georgia, this one got hot fast. By early June, it seemed like we were as hot as we'd be in July. When you opened your car door, waves of canned heat smacked you in the face. The pavement shimmered in the glaring sunlight. The only thing saving us from being all brown and dusty by now were some well scattered showers and a better than usual accumulation of rain in March and April.

It wasn't like June 2004, our first full summer in the Deep South, when it rained so much we pretended we were living in England as we spent mornings indoors, having tea and watching The Secret Garden and Hope and Glory over and over until we had the dialog and accents down pat. That was a glorious year for the garden and the mosquitoes. What we didn't realize was that those June rains portended a new phenomena for us. Hurricanes.

Coming from the Midwest, we'd endured blizzards, deep freezes and withering heat waves. We'd even run through hail in our bare feet as tornado sirens blasted in our ears, but hurricanes were new to us. We rode out Hurricane Ivan with a mix of excited curiosity as it swept up from the Gulf Coast and rain-soaked and wind-blasted even us, tucked up into the Northwest Georgia pine forest.

A couple of days later, we named a litter of kittens after the Hurricanes. Frances, Ivan, Charlie and the non-hurricane inspired Morris. They were born on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and we thought those fitting name for those babies of a stray we'd taken in. Their mama kitty McGuffy, had squeezed her thick, pregnant body into the crack between the wall and our youngest daughter's bed when it was time to have her babies.

Morris, the last to be born, is a yellow, long haired tabby who turned out to be a very large cat with a penchant for peeing where he shouldn't. We still have Morris and, though he'd never earn an academic scholarship to Kitty University, he's likable enough and the children love him. I'd like to ring his maned neck for his bad habits, but mostly, I love him, too. The ill-mannered oaf.

But I was telling you about the weather. It was really, really hot here. And then, a couple of days ago, we got a break from the searing heat and dripping humidity. No longer was driving in my un-air-conditioned car a draining chore.

Now I could ride with all the windows down and the sunroof open and not feel like I'd just run a marathon. Where before I'd felt all hot and sticky and crabby from the open air drive, now I felt a sense of openness and closeness with the outer world. When the air-conditioning worked, I would ride with my windows sealed tight, the outside world banished as I tooled along in my hermetically-sealed existence.

When people ask Southerners and Southwesterners "How do you stand the heat?" and we answer "I go from air-conditioned house, to air-conditioned car, to air-conditioned workplace," we are not kidding.

Spring and Summer and a good block of Fall in warmer climes means never really breathing in the fresh air if you can help it. If you're even slightly asthmatic, it could trigger an attack. Even if you're not afflicted, you may find the boiled afternoon air to be hard to breathe.

So the last couple of days, we've flung open the windows and enjoyed the fresh air. Driving on the freeway, I'm inundated with the smells and sounds of traffic. The large trucks make a terrible racket as I glide past them. Sometimes there are cars, with the music so loud and obnoxious, that I wish for a semi to come and drown out the throbbing noise. Even the morning traffic jam is nicer as I sit in the far left lane and listen to the tall, dry grasses rustle and whisper alongside the idling vehicles.

But when I get out into the country, closer to home, I'm treated to the sounds of birds carried on the wind and the smell of flowers lining the roadsides and dotting the fields. And, of course because it is the country, the occasional whiff of death emanating from some unseen animal corpse hidden in tall weeds or silage or worse, the smell from the factory chicken farm.

At home, we've shut off the central air and opened the windows, as well. Now as I sit writing, I can listen to the clicking of birds on the large, swing-arm feeder. I can hear the bluejay and tufted titmouse knocking the sunflower seed against the wooden feeder's edge to get at the meat inside. I hear the flapping of wings as the female cardinal takes flight, startled by the arrival of a male, and I eavesdrop on the quiet conversation between the male and female house finch as they take turns keeping watch as the other pecks about in the feeder.

The other day I noticed that when a male cardinal is eating, he doesn't mind if other bird species come along and join him. But if a female or another male cardinal lands, there is a bit of a scuffle before only one is left to eat. The mockingbirds, for their part, engage in rowdy chases, making a pinched noise as they fly at each other. The male redwinged blackbird, solitary and friendless, screeches loudly just as he lands to eat. No one, but no one, is allowed to join him on the feeder.

The swing arm feeder is positioned right outside the window to my left. Around it grows an unruly Chinese wisteria that loops and dangles. The birds have developed a queuing system of landing on the drooping vines to await their turn in the flat, wooden feeder. This works well for the sparrows and finches who blithely alight and hang on as the wisteria bounces to a stop, mid-air. Sometimes, though, a larger bird like a cardinal will try to land on the vines and they and the vine will dip down, down, down closer to the ground. Quickly, I hear wings beating as the surprised bird jumps to the safety of the air, leaving the wisteria boing-boinging up and down like snapped elastic.

Last evening, drowning out the sounds of the birds as they settled down for the night, were the noises of our neighbors' barky dogs. In front of us, the German Shepard dogs were having a growly conversation about something exciting. Next door, the Australian Shepard and his companion were debating something in loud woofs and an occasional bay. Beyond them, the little dogs, a rag-tag band of chihuahuas and rat terriers, were carrying on in their squeaky yips and yaps.

I wondered if Sasquatch was strolling through the neighborhood again. Then there was a crescendo of yelps and yaps and barks and then nothing except the occasional soft note from the wind chimes.

This morning, I've been treated to the good morning sounds of the wild birds and the er-e-er-e-eeeerrrrr of the penned roosters down the road. The occasional red-winged blackbird screams out as it prepares to dine at the feeder and there are crickets adding a low background noise. Large bees hover and glance at me through the screen. I'm relieved that they are out there and I am in here.

The male cats, Tiger and Pyewacket, exchange a territorial hissing and yowling through the glass of the back door. A sleeping child, who apparently stayed up late watching a movie last night, stretches on the sofa, breathes deeply and turns over for more sleep. The curtains framing the large front window shimmy on the breeze, as the sun and clouds try to agree on how hot it's going to be today.

I like being closer to it.

Originally posted June 21, 2008

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Adventures in Real Parenting; Maybe They Should Issue Licenses to Parent

The children are very inappropriate. The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of their parents, MathMan and me. Our crime is being ourselves in front of them.

Oh, and laughing. Just like Mrs. Brown admonished us when we laughed at Howard W. when he did the Donald Duck voice in first grade.......if we laugh, we'll only encourage them.

Cases in point.

The Actor.
The Actor has been using his timing, improvisational and mimicking skills to do a very inappropriate imitation of someone with special needs. Even as he launches into this character, he's aware that it's wrong. "Don't say retarded around me! It's special needs!"

Yesterday evening at supper I told him that karma was going to catch up with him and he'd end up with a brain injury of some sort and then we wouldn't be laughing, would we? He only seized on the phrase "karma is going to catch up with you," and started running around the great room asking if karma was behind him.

My very politically aware self was horribly offended by this and insisted that he stop.

When I'm laughing so hard that I have to hold my sides and gasp for breath, my demands are hardly effective.

The Actor had another baseball game yesterday and couldn't find his cup. No wonder. When I'd finally had enough of the cloud of dust that rose up anytime you walked across his carpet, I started cleaning. His cup was exactly where he left it: under his dresser.

When he got home, he noticed his cup where I'd left it on top of his dresser and asked where I found it. I answered from the kitchen where I was doing something with Cupcake.

She recoiled in disgust. "Did you pick up his cup?

"Yes, with my teeth."

"Ewwwww. Mom," she paused and then ventured into another venue of gross. "I bet you would if it was Daddy's."

"Ewwwww. No way."

She wasn't going to let me off that easily. "Come on, admit it. You know you would have....."

The Dancer.
She has been home more than usual. It's been quite lovely to have her around except she's on a total health kick and I have to sneak around if I want to eat confectioner's sugar straight from the canister. What a nag.

Now that she's around, the bickering has escalated, though most of it is put on for show. It hasn't been that long since my siblings and I engaged in witty banter that made our mother develop a fondness for gin.

Yesterday I was clucking about the nonsense that went on at the supper table when The Dancer looked at me steadily and uttered a four word solution.

"Duct tape and a sock."

Originally posted June 23, 2008

Friday, July 08, 2011

What a long, strange trip it's been

Welcome back to PoliTits.

Thanks to Bob Mutch who was kind enough to turn over administration of my old blog to me. I realize it's mostly writer's vanity, but I am thrilled to have this old blog back.While I'll continue to write at That's Why, my plan is to use this space for two purposes.

1. Repopulate it with the best of the old material.
2. Write new content about politics and, yes, sex. It's been suggested that I try my hand (again) at some erotica. I think yes. Here's the place for that.

In the meantime, pardon me while I rebuild.

Special note about Bob. He's left us some links in exchange for the blog. You'll find them under Valuable Resources.