Monday, August 29, 2005

Hard On The Little Things

So. Last bit o' August. Trees starting to turn. Small fuzzy creatures starting to have a bit of the desperation air about them. Deer starting to wantonly dash across the road a bit more frequently, again.

Damn that last bit.

Driving home Saturday, just before lunch, we saw a fawn mosey across the road. Yes, he was trying to act all tough and grown up, pausing to look at us partway across, but still had his spots on the back half of his person and clearly needed some parental supervision. Right before the fawn, we had passed some sort of road kill that had 3 very large turkey vultures perched on it, right in the middle of the road. That was actually a first. You see lots of vultures around here, but never in the road, for some reason. They are always circling around in the air with their wide black wings and tiny red heads. Apparently, the off-road kill is the domain of the vultures and middle-of-the-road kill belongs to the crows. Bleh. I hope this is not the start of some sort of carrion turf war.

On his dawn run on Saturday, Charles was chagrined to find himself charged by no less than 4 ground squirrels and 2 bunnies along the trail. Guess the little things were looking to take back the path. I can't help but wonder if they had some sort of ambush set up a bit farther down the way and were thwarted in their attempt to drive him into a pit trap.

Probably as fodder for the vultures, at least until deer season starts in earnest.

Maybe he should stick to the treadmill until spring.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005


As I really, REALLY dislike being the center of attention, it can't shock you to know that I hate birthday parties. My own birthday parties, that is. I am happy to go to the parties of others and eat lots of cake and drink to their health and laugh at the gifts, all comfortably from the corner of the couch. I will even wear a hat if everyone else does. I have not celebrated my own birthday with a gala since I was 13 or so. That one was at some pizza parlor and I remember I got a poster of Donny Osmond (hated him) and a 45 of David Soul singing the wretched "Don't Give Up On Us, Baby". Yes, yes, each year I had a family birthday party with the grandparents and cake and presents and all, I am not without avarice, my loves, but not a formal, planning-required, streamers, party favors and games huzzah.

OK, of course I went out on my 21st birthday with a fistfull of close friends, including Charles, and this guy who none of us liked but who had lots of money and this enormous 1970s faded red convertible that sat, like, 53 people. He drove and bought most of the drinks. I figure he was the actual present, so the rest of us broke college students could order really expensive shit and drink heavily and not have to drive. This was before designated drivers and MADD and way before any of us realized we were not immortal. You know: Back when if you were caught drinking and driving and were underage with open beverage containers in the front seat, the cops would just make you "dump 'em" and tell you to drive straight home, because, hell, kids will be kids. Or so I've been told.

So anyway, I have been blissfully not celebrating my birthdays, except to maybe go to dinner with Charles and open some nice presents that I really did want, for ever-so-many years.

Until last year.

Last year, on my birthday, while driving home from work, Charles and I simultaneously turned to each other and said, "We probably should stop and get a cake, because, you know, Colin."

And so we did. We got a cake and had candles and sang and I opened presents in front of more than Charles. Because when you are a mom, sacrifices are required and, dammit, any 6-year-old knows what has to happen on a birthday.

And tonight, as it is, well, my birthday, we will do the same.

And how old are you, Diana?

Well, I would be 40, thank you very much. I am middle-aged. There is no denying it. I am actually a bit proud of it. Given what I do, it is a liability to be young. Looking young is another matter, though, and actually lends credence to your professional mystique. But being too young, no-no. (She must be good, look how young she looks!) I used to not exactly lie about my age, but would imply that I had a few more years under my belt, when in my late 20s/early 30s and starting to do all this for pay, rather than just the marvelous experience and stimulating pay of learning it. Hell, everyone expects a resident to look young. They are just out of school.

So I am 40. The new 30, according to Cosmo, unless it was Glamour. I dunno. One of those waiting room magazines.

40: I embrace you.

So, a happy stinkin' birthday toooooooo meeeeeeeeee!

(And now for the cake! No, no, make it bigger....bigger....a bit more.... so it includes that big dab of chocolate frosting. There you go. Fork, please.)


Friday, August 19, 2005


"Ah, yes," I say, with resignation.

"This is a normal stage," I reassure myself.

"It will pass, probably, just like the phase with the doll, the one who made the creepy wailing and opened its possessed-appearing eyes at odd intervals. Well, I thought that doll was scary, too, so it is only natural that she should. She likes the doll fine now; now that the batteries are not (ahem) part of its anatomy," I recall.

Sara has a phobia. An eye-popping, limb-flailing, butt-scooting, mom-climbing, sheer-terror inducing phobia.

The problem, actually, is the nature of the fear.

It is not spiders, snakes, or Barney.

It is not peas.

It is houseflies.

And it is August.

There is no getting away from this until November, when the little buzzing pests have snuggled down where ever they snuggle down to.

There is also no reasoning with her, as she scrambles away, completely terrified, poor kiddo. Guess it could be worse. It could be the color green or dog hair or bathwater.

I have the trusty vacuum at the ready. I think I will just keep it handy in the kitchen, wand extended, so I can step in with minimal fuss and dispatch the poor creature to the bowels of the machine. 3 have met their demise this way during today's breakfast.

I think that is the lot of them, for now. Until I open a door. Which has to happen, even if none of us stir from the house. Emma has needs, the leavings of which, of course, breed more flies.

Circle of life.

God, it's going to be a long 3 months.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005


Sorry for the dearth of posts, I have come down with a huge case of the "lethies". Such is what a high school friend used to call being over come by lethargy. A frequent occurrence, deserving of its own name. She and I, owing to our bit o' German heritage, also had pet names for each other: She was Kraut Butt and I was Thunder Thighs. Skinny everywhere else, no amount of running ever managed to alter this. Being tagged by the marvelous Mojavi for a flurry of childhood memories got me musing on such. While I have nothing to remotely rival her experiences, which only leave me to wonder how the hell she is still drawing breath, with all her limbs and digits intact, I submit the following:

1) You know me. I love to read. In fact, I was so reading obsessed that, as my dad has told me more than once, I am partly to blame for my sister's aversion to that whole reading thing. She apparently was horrified enough by my nerdly and isolating hobby that she basically forswore the whole reading thing as much as possible. Well, one day, as I lay on my stomach on the floor of my bedroom, around the age of 8 or 9, I became irrationally irritated by a bit of bangs that were growing out and kept hanging in my eyes. Thinking to teach the intrusive hair a lesson, I grabbed a handy pair of scissors and lopped the hair off, about a 1/2 inch from the scalp. Unfortunately, not only was this hair in the front (being former bangs and all) but also occupied the spot of honor, right over the cowlick, just over my right eye. The remaining stub of hair now stuck straight up, much to my mother's horror and my father's glee, earning me the nickname of Dagwood. My advice? Think the use of the scissors through very carefully. Thankfully, hair grows.

2) This next one is fairly obligatory in many kids' memories, probably with suprisingly few variations: For mine, it was at the wedding of my aunt and uncle. It was a small affair, thrown in their home, maybe 30-40 guests, just enough to make the place crowded and distract everyone's attention from my sister and me, the only 2 kids. I was about 8 and she, 5. It was summer, hot, the two of us in our fancy dresses. We were each given one cup of sweet, red punch, which we downed quickly. Being polite kids, we waited for someone to ask us if we wanted more. And waited. And ate cake and finger food, which made us thirstier. And then noticed the large punch bowl on the corner table, the one with all the cups around it. Deciding that we had been patient enough, and knowing our parents valued self-sufficiency, I led the way over and filled cups for us, which we gulped down, and had more. Lots more. Tasted like red punch. Then we got sleepy. And giggly. Don't really remember much more but was told that I was found to be slumped in an arm chair and Gail was on her back, spinning in circles on the floor. For some reason, our parents watched us like hawks at any and all further parties after that, and our cups were kept full of child-acceptable beverages.

3) The next, I still shake my head over. A life lesson, if you will. Sort of a poor After School Special sort of thing. I am 11, it is spring and I am in 6th grade track. Basically, this means we run a bit after school and have 1 meet at the end of the month with like 2 other grade schools, or maybe it was just one other school. Anyway. Me, running the vast distance of the 440 (pre-metric track events). Before hand, Dad, the running expert, pulled me aside and recommended that I walk the track and make sure there were no suprises. I blew this suggestion off. I mean, what surprises? Land mines? Gopher holes in the surface of the rubber high school track? Clowns lurking with cream pies? So, we line up, get the standard instructions for this event, which are to stay in our lanes until half way down the back stretch and to be at least 2 strides in front of any other runners we cut in front of. I am also chanting the advice to cut to the inside as soon as possible, to minimize the distance run as the outside lanes are longer around the curves. The starting gun goes off and I jump to the lead! Pulling away in front! And there it is. In the middle of my lane, and only my lane, a massive hurdle. Literally. A hurdle. And it is before we are allowed to leave our lanes. I slam to a stop. I wait. Everyone else passes me. I decide to break the rule and go around the hurdle, briefly going into the other lane. I race off again. I cut to the inside lane. I am catching up! I am reeling in and passing everyone! There is just one runner left, she is in the inside lane but I am gaining!! I pass her just a bit before the finish line and, JUST AS TOLD, but without thinking a whit, I cut in to the inside lane, cutting her off and cross the finish line, in first place. I am, of course disqualified. There is a bit of hope when the judges find about the hurdle, but they rightly find that that does not excuse the cutting off of the other girl. I never EVER fail to walk the course again, both in running and in a lot of other metaphorically similar life situations. It also takes me a while to do things, not wanting to make that mistake again.

4) This next is just a sort of general childhood smile, nothing specific, no particular day, just something that I think of when remembering the few years I spent living in central Illinois aged 5-7. Dad was stationed on the now defunct base of Chanute, outside that thriving metropolis of Rantoul, population 17 or something like that. Lots of dust, cornfields, and horizon. The base was like any other. Duplexes and yards and no fences. Sidewalks and quiet streets for riding your bike. Flat streets with storm drains that no one seemed to clean out, because, clearly, if they were cleaned and therefore able to do their job of draining the rain water away, then STREET FLOODS would never happen. First, the summer thunderstorm and deluge would occur, with the ususal prayers for no tornados, and then we would all burst from our houses, the kids to splash in the warm, oily, water that was 6" deep in the street, laughing in the waves that were made by slowly driving cars or quickly ridden bikes. Our parents to gather, watching, laughing and talking, beers in hand. Impromptu dinner parties no doubt being scheduled. I hated the constant moving, I hated being the new kid at school; but the community that existed in the military, the instant acceptance, will live in my soul forever. And you wonder why I love storms?

5) Lastly, a sappy one: We are living on McCord Airforce Base, just outside of Tacoma, WA. I am in 3rd grade. We all have to make posters for the energy conservation contest. Someone from each grade will win the amazing prize of a tour of some planes (hey, what else do you do on an air force base), lunch at the Officer's Club, and our picture in the base's weekly newspaper. I really don't want to win as winning will call attention to me. I am nothing if not shy. I come up with a picture that I am sure will lose, as I am not sure if anyone will get the joke. It is a lamp in sunglasses on an end table saying, "Hey, man, keep me cool!" (Hey, man, it is the mid '70s.) I arrive at school the day they announce the winners, a bunch of my classmates drag me over to the window. (It is before school is open for the day and everyone coming early hangs out, playing on the playground, unsupervised, of course.) There, written on the board in large letters is "Congratulations, Diana!". Yup. Best laid plans and all that. So I win, get the grand prize ( I still have the clipping of the picture in the newspaper somewhere), including seeing inside a cargo plane, and a club sandwich at the Officer's Club. In the picture, I am grinning fit to bust. Guess it was not so bad to be the center of attention that one time, after all.

So there. A few of the things that shaped me. Nothing life threatening, unlike my poor sister who ate some sort of red berry that might have been yew and had to go to the ER to vomit it all out. Just wholesome. Makes you wonder where I get the sarcasm.

Probably from my German thighs.

I will not formally tag anyone but will, again, love to read anyone else's. Well, I lie. I will plead for Stacy to share some of her childhood antics, like the one involving the rocks and vehicles, and the arson one, and the lunch box one, and there was the time she and her poor sisters played missionary. She really needs to blog about those. She also needs not to feel she must limit herself to 5.

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Monday, August 08, 2005


Some things I would like to know:

1) Why did the giant super economy sized "jug-o-value" of liquid laundry detergent decide to leak about a pint of slippery blue detergent all over the bottom of the drawer of the plastic rolling cart in which it resides? A place it has happily sat for over a year, being used sporadically, say every several months. A place where it has rested, on its side, (admittedly not the best of arrangements but the only one that would allow it to both be in the drawer and allow the drawer to be shut) undisturbed for several months. I only use the messy stuff if there is something large and biohazardy that needs getting out, like one of Colin's patented giant economy-sized nose bleeds. Not being happy merely with mucking up the drawer and coating its neighboring laundry treating agents with blue goo, it then trickled out the little opening that was in the bottom of the drawer and all over the floor of the laundry room. Why was the drawer manufactured with a hole in the bottom, in the first place? Oddly, when I examined the cap, it was still tightly in place. The last time I was in that drawer? Why 12 hours ago, and all was quiet on the Western Front, let me tell you. So. Which is it? Pixies, elves or poltergeists?

2) Why in this age of genetic engineering and designer crops has no one done the obvious? Why are zucchini and cucumbers the same shape and color as their foliage? These things were meant to be picked and consumed, not eventually stumbled across when they are the size and succulence of a medium-sized American car. At that point, they are only good for consignment to the compost pile. Actually, come to think of it, I'm now not so sure it is wise to put these vehicle-sized and obviously cloaking-device endowed vegetables out in the midst of the primordial soup that is my compost pile. Besides, they might get ideas from the thistles that lurk there. What to do? What to do?

3) As long as we are on the subject of vegetables that obviously do not want to do their duty and be picked for my consumption, why are zucchini and such endowed with razor wire for leaves? This is not helpful. This does not make the eater of the fruiting body and, in the days of pooping (hah! use of the word "poop") in the woods, the spreader of the seeds, WANT to go foraging amongst the leaves. If they can breed thornless blackberries, surely they can remove the needles from these crops as well.

4) How can someone whose stomach is literally the size of an apricot manage to eat a pile of chicken, a large piece of bread and butter, a bowl of salad, 3 cartons of yoghurt, a whole graham cracker and 2 cups of milk in one sitting? The real question: Should I even bother to buy her clothes in the next size up or just skip to the size after that? Actually, the question is rhetoric as I pretty much just buy every-other-size until they hit kindergarten, anyway.

OK, that's about it. I don't need correct answers people, just answers.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dog Days

Well, here we are. A Tuesday afternoon. I really have nothing to write about but am here out of boredom and have decided to inflict that boredom on those who innocently wander in here. It is once again 90s and 90s in the fabulous Midwest, after a lovely week of mid 80's and slight, dry breeze.

This week, I am at home. Usually, I work 3 days a week and am home 4, something that works quite wonderfully. I get out and talking with people who do not use the word "bottom" in every sentence and whom I do not have to be constantly encouraging to, " finish eating so we can go play!" Well, some do use the word "bottom" in many a sentence, but purely in a medical manner, not solely for its humorous connotations.

Yes, my son is 6, why do you ask? He can also fart with his hand under his armpit. He is very proud of this. I am plotting revenge on the one who taught him. Don't believe me? Go talk to the guy who taught him to blow raspberries. He will never teach a 2-year-old to do this again. I consider it a service to society.

My mother-in-law is kind enough to be with the kiddos when we are not, but even the most grandmotherly of people needs a break and she is off for 3 weeks to commune with those over 4' tall, sleep in a friend's guest room and show her multitude of friends, former neighbors and any slow moving pedestrian a large stack of pictures of her grandchildren. If you see her, run. Do not worry about hurting her feelings. Even I am not wanting to see these pictures.

Every now and then, as I get my sorry ass up and at 'em to go to work, I wonder how it would be to be a full-time at-home mom. It sounds so nice. Planning play dates and swimming lessons. But then I get a taste of things and realize that, as I am terribly introverted and live out in the bumfucks, the likelihood is that I would have not arranged such play dates and lessons and we would all end up staring at each other with utter boredom after the first week. I then point out to myself, that I could very well have set up such things for the 2 days each week I am not at work and have completely failed to do so for the past 5 years that I have been 1) a mom and 2) working less than full time.

A new pest has invaded my yard, actually 2 new pests. (Hah! See how I lured you in to that one? 4 paragraphs of my home life and then, WHAM!, I launch into gardening drivel. Ooooooh, I am good, just like the guy with his left turn signal on for miles who suddenly turns right.) Anyway, Striped Cucumber Beetles are now infesting my, yes, cucumbers as well as the other squashes. Fortunately, they really didn't show up until a couple of weeks ago and I have lots of lovely squash full grown and just maturing, so the damage is not as bad as it could have been. But still....

The second is cute and furry and hard to be too upset with. Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrels have tunneled under the veggie patch. Sadly, they have discovered a liking for the ripe tomatoes. Well, factually, a liking for 1/2 of the ripe tomato, as eating the whole tomato would apparently be rude. So now I pick them orange, before they are toothsome. The link says they also eat bugs, so I am telling myself, perhaps rightly, that they are also dining on the Cucumber Beetles and that is why the damage is not as bad as it might be. I also envision the beeltes being preyed upon by creatures from the deep. Yeah. Liking that imagery a lot. Plus, they really are cute sitting bolt upright at the 3" openings of their tunnels, that dot our yard by the hundreds. Truthfully, they are not quite so cute when a plant suddenly keels over from having all the soil excavated from its tender little roots, but aside from that, very cute they are.

I go back to work next Tuesday. Won't you be happy? Perhaps I will meet a yak in a cow field on the way in and regale you all with my musings on its situation in life. Has to be better than this conversation from this morning:

Sara: "I need THAT one."

Diana: "Which one?"

Sara: "THAT one." (waves her hand vaguely at the toys strewn all over the room)

Diana: "Which one? You gotta give me more than just a pronoun to work with, honey."

Sara: (becoming increasingly frustrated with me) "THAT! ONE!"

Diana: "Which one?"

Sara: (apoplectic) "THAT!!!! ONE!!!!" ........ (fades)

I never figured that one out.

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