It’s Over

Ever been in a relationship that was somewhat comfortable, minimally fulfilling, but extremely convenient .. and going no where? I’m in one right now. Let me tell you about it.

This guy is like Mr. Know It All and Johnny-On-The-Spot rolled up into one. Today I wanted to know when the fall colors would peak in MN.  I asked him. He knew – and told me, like, immediately, even though it was the middle of the work day. A couple nights ago I needed to get some pictures printed last minute for a project. He got it done for me. Last night I attended a Webinar and this morning I couldn’t remember some of the details that were presented. He did. Why does my dryer make noise? He knew. AND showed me how to fix it. This guy is all over it. He’s super attentive. Super helpful.

On the flip side, he’s very standoffish – like he’s emotionally unavailable or something. He knows SO many of my deepest secrets. I know, well, pretty much none of his. He listens well. He has great advice. He’s available all the time. But it’s VERY lopsided sharing. I’m feeling really exposed and vulnerable right now in this relationship. I’m starting to think maybe he’s just not into me.  I’ve been open and honest for YEARS now. It’s to the point that I wonder why I keep sharing with him. You know, like maybe I need to get a clue and back off.  He’s super nosy, too. He keeps a copy of EVERYTHING I write to my other friends, my work stuff, all my blog posts- even the ones I don’t publish. SUPER nosy.

The problem is he’s so dang convenient it just keeps pulling me back in. He’s always right there, you know. But I think this going-no-where relationship is probably crowding space in my life that other potentially more fulfilling relationships could be. I think it’s time to say it’s over. Or at least friend-zone him. I think I’ll do it right here and now!

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Ug, I just can’t pull the plug.

Darn it, anyway, Google!

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It Ain’t no 4WD

Subtitle: The Adventures of a Wild West Woman stuck in a Mid-West Life

Since their birth, my children have gone camping and exploring in the Rocky Mountains. After being displaced to the Midwest due to the terminal illness of their father, we gradually parted ways with our “toys” and found ourselves with a mere tent. While I love camping, sitting by the camp fire, eating camping food, and snuggling into bed beside my family members in a small space where we can all say good night to each other while our heads are on our pillows, I’m not a big fan of tents. I know, if I call myself a “Wild West Woman” I should like a tent. But the truth is – I just don’t – especially not where I currently live. The sand in the beds, the rain soaking everything, the sultry summer heat, the unending trains with their obnoxious whistles blasting by nearly every campground in the state all night long…. it takes some of the joy out of the experience. All of these annoyances could be improved with a camper, but I no longer owned a camper nor did I have anything with which to pull one.  Until “that day”…

The vehicle was packed with our clothing, snacks and plenty of electronics for the trip. The car, a 2005 VW Passat TDI wagon, was not overly aged but was fairly worn as a result of the many miles between towns in Wyoming and frequent trips to see family. It had been well-serviced throughout its many miles. The tires had about 10,000 miles on them – not bad for a trip. And so the kids and I headed out on our 8 hour journey to visit a long-time friend of mine.

All was well, until somewhere in the middle of no where my son, who is blessed with a strong sense of smell, said, “What’s that smell?!”

“Oh, probably that semi in front of us,” I responded nonchalantly. Shortly thereafter I realized the road sounded different.  Strange, it didn’t look different. I pulled into the right hand lane thinking maybe the pavement would be smoother and the sound would go away, but it only worsened.  I immediately headed for the shoulder, stopped and waited for a safe time to hop out of the car. Yep – the tread on the front right tire was separated from the tire and about ready to fly off. I was happy I had stopped when I did – but sad I had no road side service agreement. So, after backing the car a short distance to the end of the on-ramp that was behind us, we began unpacking our nicely packed car to get to the spare tire. That was the easy part. Then I got out the German designed compact “jack” that came with the car and is supposed to lift my car and make this chore possible. And I looked at it some more. I am mostly of German descent so understanding the design should come natural for me, right? Wrong. So I handed it to my son who likes gadgets. No luck. And I looked at it some more. No can do. My decision was that even if I could figure it out, it looked nothing like “safe” to me.  About a half hour later our paid angel waved goodbye from the window of his big truck with lights on the top, and we carried on our journey now with the spare on the front right tire and traveling at a slightly lower speed.  All was well.

Several uneventful hours later we neared our city of destination. As we were cresting a small hill in the road, I felt the slightest hesitation in the engine. “Oh shoot!” I thought to myself. “Changing that fuel filter didn’t fix that problem after all. I’ll have to take this thing back to the mechanic (for the fourth time) when I get back and tell him we’ve still got a problem.”  My GPS told me it was time to exit the interstate and head towards my friend’s house just a few miles away in a suburb of this very large city, at rush hour – obviously hadn’t considered that during my trip planning. So amidst all the traffic, I took the off-ramp, pulled to a stop, watched for a break in the traffic to complete my right hand turn, and BOOM! NO WAY!  ANOTHER blown tire!?  I pulled onto the measly excuse of a shoulder and waited for another break in traffic to exit my vehicle – only to find all tires intact. Bizarre. We had heard it and felt it. How could all the tires be fine? I had no idea, but decided to forge ahead. However, my fine vehicle had other ideas.

After a “You-can’t-help-me-but-I-needed-to-tell-someone” call to my parents, I called my friend whom I was heading to see. “No problem.  I’ll have my husband see if he can go that route on his way home and get you guys.” Great, but what about the car?  In my newly created spare time, I looked on my smart phone for the nearest car repair shop. Super, there was one just a couple miles down the next road. They closed at 7:00pm. My clock read 6:59pm. I frantically called the number hoping beyond hope they would still be there. About the time I hit “send”, I saw my friend’s husband pull in behind me. I’d never met him before and with phone in my left hand,  extended my right hand through my open window to greet him. “Hey there- hang on a second. I’m calling the repair shop down the road to see about the car.” He smiled wide, straightened the corner of his jacket for me to clearly see the logo embossed on it, and suggested I could hang up the phone. He’s the manager of a car repair shop. Jack pot!

The plan for the next morning was to go to the zoo. Well, plans changed. The news on my “fine” car was that the transmission had blown, there was fluid leaking from the turbo, and the engine fan could be stopped with the brute force of a single finger. What might have been sold for several thousand the week before was now worth scrap metal. All personal affects were removed from the heap and my friend and I went car shopping at the nearest dealer. I hadn’t been dreaming of, evaluating various options of, nor doing any price comparisons on any vehicles prior to this. I had no intentions of purchasing a new-to-me vehicle. I had nothing I especially wanted. But I suddenly had an urgent need. My goal – find something that gets decent gas mileage, isn’t obnoxious to park in town, and can pull a toy. My dad raves about his RAV-4, so I made my way to the back of the lot where some CUV’s were parked. Hmmm.. only a 4 cylinder. That wouldn’t pull squat. Then I came upon a Ford Edge with a V6.  That should be good for pulling something.  By afternoon we were back on track to go to the zoo with a newly acquired car loan awaiting too many payments.  But such is life.

The Ford has served me well. Until “that day”….

The vehicle was packed with our clothing, snacks and plenty of electronics for the trip. The Ford had recently been serviced and wired for pulling our small but adequate new-to-us camper. We left a day early for our family camp adventure in Colorado in order to spend a night camping in our favorite state, Wyoming. We wouldn’t make the drive all the way back to our old stomping grounds, but instead would be camping in unexplored territory of Curt Gowdy State Park. The drive out was slow but uneventful. This was our first outing with our new camper and I was getting the feel for pulling it down the interstate and while climbing into higher elevations. All was well.

We pulled up to the attendant’s booth at the state park.  “Are there any spots open?” I hadn’t planned far enough in advance to reserve a spot so was left with the hope that on a holiday weekend some of the first-come first-served slots would be open. There were a few spots still available, but she suggested I drive around and make sure there was one we liked before paying.  She handed me a map and sent us on our way. We went to the first area she suggested.  She said they rarely filled up there. And I saw why. No trees. No access to the lake. Just a flat spot with places to pull in. It looked too much like the “camping” areas in the Midwest.  We pulled back out onto the main camp in search of something better. After winding around a couple different sections with camper still in tow, the children began asking that I please just go back to the other one so we could get on with supper. It was only for one night… I decided we’d go through just one more area. If there was nothing there, we’d go back to that forsaken flat spot of a campsite. Full. Full. And, full. Everything was full.  But wait, there was an open one!  I pulled in.  Yes, it was open all right, and the lake was nearby, and it had trees. But it was also situated on a very steep incline. After looking it over I decided it would probably challenge my camper-leveling skills beyond capacity. Not the best choice. So I decided to head out. Approximately 30 seconds later as the front tires were skidding sideways, I realized the significance of the fact that I had purchased a city vehicle and I was definitely not in the city. It was front wheel drive, not all wheel drive, and I was on a very steep hill with very soft dirt under my tires and was accomplishing nothing but frightening my children and digging two holes with the front tires. In an effort to get a head start up the hill, I began slowly backing down the narrow trail. This act frightened my children even more given my lack of experience at backing a very short trailer. About then I saw a vehicle approaching in my rear view mirror. And the thought struck me… “Where am I?  Wyoming.  What do you do in Wyoming when you need help?  You ask the nearest person for a hand.”  So I secured the vehicle and hopped out. I had a short chat with the gentleman in the Jeep, who obliged my request and climbed in my driver’s seat to give it a try.  It was no easy task, but he managed to get the city vehicle pulling the small camper to the top of the mountain incline.

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We went back to the flat spot with no trees. And all was well. But it ain’t no 4WD.

(For my long-time readers – yes, we are a family of three. Such is life. God is good. All is well.)

The Unpublished Post (Non) Award

During these past two weeks of silence on my blog, I have been working feverishly toward earning the Unpublished Post (Non) Award. It is a little- known award of unparalleled importance granted to the person who was full of good ideas but for one reason or another never followed through with anything completely enough to actually push the “publish” button. The award, like the writers and writings deserving of this award, is lost in obscurity because it is also incomplete and unpublished. It is the highest honor (never) to be bestowed upon those who did(not) try. Based upon the high level of (non-)clicks on my blog and the overloaded (empty) email syndrome I have been experiencing, it is my belief I have won the award. Hurray! I feel totally (in)validated in my writing abilities with the great accomplishment (not) signified by this award.

Here are a few of the blog posts I (never) submitted and you (never) read that won me the great honor of receiving this highly (not) esteemed Unpublished Post (Non) Award:

1. Of Parables and Poppycock – A twisty, turvy rambling describing the brain game I go through trying to decide what constitutes a writing worthy of being placed in front of the public’s eyes. It didn’t cut the mustard.

2. The Things Lurking There– My amusement over the way my son cleans his room. Evidently he believes since no one ever looks under his bed, it is an entirely acceptable trash receptacle, over-flow closet space, and possibly even food storage area. It’s scary really.

3. Meetup Non-Date- The title seems absolutely fitting for publication with my (Non) Award. This post is an introduction to the world of Meetup and my non-date. A non-date is not the same as not having a date, but is actually a date who is willing to go out with me but has agreed not to date me. So, he is entirely a non-date. Quite an interesting concept.

4. Sticks and Stones– This post is not so funny. This is a story-form discussion of the long-term effects of verbal bashing and the endless path of forgiveness it requires. I would call it verbal abuse, but that seems too harsh. This will likely remain unpublished. But let me just say, if you, for whatever reason, any reason or no reason at all, have a habit of being verbally demeaning to someone- stop! You are hitting them in the face with your words. Don’t do it. If you are the one who has absorbed such blows, know you are not alone, protect yourself, and learn to forgive.

5. Don’t Sweat It– Written in the midst of utter frustration over the way Teenage Daughter handles the Wii remote. She seems to think she has a Y chromosome hidden in her genes somewhere and treats the Wii remote as a man with a TV controller. Groovin’ Mom wants to get in a good work out. Teenage Daughter comes along more interested in finding her favorite song on Just Dance than in breaking a sweat. After getting irritated and leaving the room because of the lack of sweat going on while Teenage Daughter flips through the songs, Groovin’ Mom finally accepts that the real reason for the activity is not to break a sweat. The real reason is to BE there, in the room, when Teenage Daughter has something she’d like to say.

6. Mama Can’t Dance– This is entirely related to the activity mentioned in the prior (non) published post. I don’t think I need to say more.

7. My Chill Pill– This has nothing to do with a consumable product, prescribed or otherwise, going in my mouth, nose or other orifice and has nothing to do with recreation. It’s something that is on my finger. And it has everything to do with men, marriage, and trust in God.

8. Field of Daisies– One girlfriend in particular seems to think my approach to life is entirely too serious. She has advised me to imagine dancing through a field of daisies, wild and free, and to carry on with that image forever in front of my mind’s eye. I have considered her suggestion, contemplated it in great detail, analyzed the points she has made and have determined that her assumptions are completely unfounded. I’m sorry, Holly of June Cleaver Nirvana, I just don’t see your point. But, know that I dissected the topic to the Nth degree and edited this post 100 times before reaching my conclusion that you must be wrong. I don’t take life overly serious.

9. Don’t Slip Up– A probably controversial discussion among some groups of people concerning the traditions of wearing or not wearing jewelry.

AND….. Number TEN….. Bah-humbug!– A compilation of my thoughts regarding Valentine’s Day this year.

A big “thank you” goes out to my vast crowd of (non) readers and the (non) award committee for their (not) selecting me and bestowing this great (non) honor upon me! Thank You! And to encourage my fellow writers and citizens, you too can have this (non) accomplishment if you choose to (never) risk …. anything at all.

Remember, “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” Now don’t just stand there- DO SOMETHING!

That Shouldn’t Hurt aka Round Two

Along with pregnancy number two came a few other changes in life.  We had moved to Riverton, Wyoming.  I was self-employed, which can also be translated as “I had really bad health insurance”.  And despite having Dr. in front of my name, I have yet to find the money tree everyone seems to think exists in doctor’s back yards.  I’ve evidently had poor soil, incorrect sunlight, too much rain, not enough rain… I really don’t know.  But the tree has never sprouted.  So I was pregnant and looking for ways to save money.  I discovered in my searching that the Worland hospital, one and a half hours from our home, charged considerably less than our home town hospital for a delivery.  Well, I drove to Worland for clinic every week.  Young Doc who delivered the babies in Worland was a block down the road from my clinic location.  I just had to mesh my schedule with his and it was no problem.  I’d just pop over there, they generally got me right in, and then I’d pop back to work.  That was slick – except for the delivery part.  The doc was afraid given my history (see blog My Braxton Hicks Baby) that I might end up delivering my child in the back seat of our car in the middle of the Wind River Canyon if left to my own devices.  Wisely he decided I should be induced in an attempt to make my delivery process more controlled.

But what to do about that epidural?  I didn’t want to spend the money.  I figured I’d pretty much delivered without one the first time, might as well skip it the second time and save a few more bucks.  Jeff, on the other hand, disagreed strongly.  Maybe I could do it without one, but he couldn’t.  He wanted to have no part in such a thing.  So I talked it over with the anesthetist, telling him my sorry tale of woe.  “Oh, no problem,” he assured me with soothing tones.  “I can make sure your delivery is pain-free this time.”  And so we made a verbal pact that I would take his epidural and he would make sure I felt no pain.  We had an agreement.

The day arrived.  We drove by the reservoir, through the canyon, past the hot springs, to the hospital.  I waddled in.  The medicine was started.  Nothing. We sat around and waited.  Nothing. I started creating and trying out custom gymnastics moves.  Nothing.  That evening family called wondering how things were going.  “Nothing.”

Come night fall, Young Doc decided it was a good time to break my water.  We talked over the details.  “When do I get my epidural?”  I questioned.  “Well, you’re at 2cm now.  I’ll break your water and check you again in about an hour.  If you’re at 4cm you can have the epidural.  If you get it too soon it will make it hard for you to dilate.”  That all sounded reasonable enough.

I assumed position and Young Doc proceeded to break my water.  Immediately I felt a sharp searing pain.  I told him about it.  “Hmm… that shouldn’t hurt,” he informed me.  Interesting concept.  But totally false.  IT HURT.  This time I decided I should be a whiner since I had a spoken pact with the anesthetist in which he assured me that I would not hurt.  He was violating his pact and no one had even informed him of this violation.  He at least needed to know.  So when the searing pain never stopped, I called the nurse in every ten minutes to remind her that I would like my epidural.  I was in pain.  I had been promised no pain.  I was not getting what I had been promised.  After multiple such discussions, she returned to the room to tell me approval had been granted and the anesthetist had been summoned from his place of residence.

About an hour after the “that shouldn’t hurt” event, the anesthetist arrived.  He got right to work and in short order the entire lower half of my body went completely numb.  AMAZING!  Before leaving the room he suggested I put my legs in the stir-ups and he would get the doc.  He glanced back before walking out the door, his jaw dropped open and he yelled out the door for Young Doc to come quick.  As the doc arrived at the door, the anesthetist said the words Jeff most liked repeating from this tall tale, “I don’t know what she was last time you looked, but she’s (he held his hands apart like a fisherman telling a story and made a gunshot sound) now!”

The searing pain was identified. I think I had one contraction during that whole labor process. It just happened to last about an hour.

We only had two children on purpose.

My Braxton Hicks Baby

“I think we need to be going now,” I interrupted the men-folk who were chatting about Husker football.

“Why should we go now?  You’re either going to have to wait here or at the hospital.  Might as well wait here where you’re comfortable.”

I didn’t feel comfortable.  Did I look comfortable?  I had been leaning against the wall breathing deeply for an hour trying to calm the contractions that were getting ever more frequent.

“My water broke two hours ago.  I think I was supposed to go in then.  We better go now unless you want to deliver this baby yourself.”

Those were evidently the persuading words he had been waiting for.  He grabbed the bag that had been packed for a week, we said goodbye to our guests and headed out the door.

Upon arrival at the rural hospital nestled near the mountains in Cody, Wyoming, Hippie Doc came in the room.  He was our only option of an OB doc in the area.  He was “down to earth”.  He wore his hair pulled back in a pony tail, rode a bike to work year round, and objected to everything anyone tried to propose at medical staff meeting.  He rebelled against anything organized.

Hippie Doc checked me over.  “You’re just at 2 1/2 cm.  You’ve been at 2 cm for a week.  I now you’re tired of being pregnant.  I’ll give you some morphine to help you be more comfortable and we’ll induce you in the morning.”  WHAT?  “You’re just having some Braxton Hicks contractions.”

The shock had subsided by the time the nurse came in to give me the morphine.  “What does he mean he’s going to ‘induce’ me in the morning?? I’m in labor!  My water broke two hours ago.”

“Oh, Honey, the baby must have kicked your bladder and you wet yourself.  Relax.  It’s OK.  It happens easily.  This will help you feel better.”

Twenty minutes went by.  Nothing was feeling better.  I didn’t want to be a whiner, but these “not” contractions hurt.  Jeff went out to ask what else they could do for me. I was escorted down the hall to the hot-tub room.  Out of sight, out of mind.

My mind drifted off to la-la land – a place flowing of milk and honey with rainbows, waterfalls and ice-cream.  Every one was smiling and laughing in la-la land.  I preferred to stay there.  But occasionally an exceptionally sharp “not” contraction would pull me back to my surroundings and I would groan softly.  Feeling absolutely helpless in the situation, Jeff wandered down the hall to bug the nurses every half hour.  “Nope, can’t have an epidural yet.  The nurse anesthetist is in surgery.”

At approximately 12:30a.m. the much awaited news arrived. The anesthetist was done in surgery and I could have an epidural.  I just had to get back to my room.  It wasn’t that far down the hall.  Shouldn’t be a big deal.  I stood up.  OH MY GOODNESS!  I realized delivery of this baby was imminent.  But there was NO WAY I was going to tell anybody that.  I had come to covet the idea of an epidural.  I was NOT giving that up. In my delirium I instituted the “Don’t look, Don’t tell” policy.  If they weren’t going to look, I wasn’t going to tell.  Waddling carefully down the hall trying to hold my baby in, I made my way back to the room.  It was the first time I’d seen any nursing staff since my trip to the hot tub four hours earlier.  They were a little perturbed at my breathing. Evidently I wasn’t “relaxed” enough.

The anesthetist completed her job and all staff exited the room.  I laid in my cozy hospital bed realizing my shoulders were going numb while my lower body remained entirely functional.  In fact, I could still feel my “not” contractions but had to admit the edge was taken off.  I buzzed the nurse to come back in the room.  “I feel like I have to use the bathroom,” I stated matter-of-factly, knowing full well I had just made the announcement that I was about to have this baby.  Her face turned ashen.  “I’ll be right back,” she stammered.

Hippie Doc returned.  It was the first time he’d graced me with his presence since my arrival.  I was somewhat surprised to see he’d stuck around.  “Oh,” he chuckled.  “What do you know?  You’re at 9 1/2 cm.  You could have this baby now if you want or you could rest a while since you just got your epidural.  What would you like?”

“Well, you know, I worked pretty hard for that epidural.  I think I’m going to enjoy it for a while.”  So a couple of hours and a few pushes later, out came this screaming bundle of slimy joy with ten fingers and toes and thick, black hair standing on end.  “She’s beautiful,” Hippie Doc said.  “Really?” I asked.  Don’t ask me.  I know.  Mothers are supposed to think their babies are the most precious looking thing they’ve ever seen.  I guess I had listened to Bill Cosby’s comedy routine one too many times.  I thought she looked like a lizard with a pointy head from all that time she waited around while I enjoyed the epidural.  “Oh yeah.  She’s beautiful.  Trust me,” he said.  It’s surprising he felt the need to tell me to “trust” him after such a stellar performance that evening on his part.

The beautiful baby cried – for just a minute.  She rested on my abdomen after the umbilical cord was cut and progressively got very quiet and her color didn’t look quite as pink as it had.  “Why is she so quiet? And why is she looking … blue??” I wondered aloud. A nurse swooped down from the sky, or so it seemed.  Thank God for nurses.  She snatched my little slimy lizard away from me and put an oxygen mask over her little face.  “Doctor! Narcan!”  I wasn’t sure if it was a demand or a question, but Hippie Doc nodded his approval and the injection was given.  Turns out the Morphine he’d ordered to lessen the severity of my “Braxton Hicks” contractions also suppressed breathing in newborns.  I bet he should have known that.  But who would have thought a baby was going to be born that night since I was never in labor?

The day progressed very well and by mid afternoon we were ready to be on our way.  “You first-time moms are crazy!” Hippie Doc informed me. “You haven’t even had your free steak dinner yet.  By the time your third baby comes along we’ll have to push you out the door to get you out of here.  OK.  You can go if you really want to.”  Great.  I wanted to.  We were ready.  Our baby was in the room with us and we were ready.  We waited… I don’t know… a while.  Nobody came.  We had everything we needed.  So we left.  We just walked ourselves out to the car and went on our way.

Upon arrival home we were greeted at the door by our guests.  “You weren’t supposed to leave!  They need you at the hospital!  You better go back!  They’ve been calling for you.”  So I made a call.  Sure enough.  We weren’t done.  They had to verify that I indeed took my daughter and not the one other infant in the hospital.  I figured if the one other infant was still there, obviously I’d taken the correct child.  They agreed that if I kept the armbands on I could come back in the morning.  So less than 24 hours after the start of my “not” contractions, I settled back in to my own room where I was “comfortable”, my baby girl sleeping in the bassinet beside me.

Happy birthday, my little slimy lizard.  Hippie Doc was right after all.  You are beautiful!

The Perfect Fido

If only it was that simple.  If only we were searching for the perfect species of dog.  But no, our search is much more general than that.  My son and I can’t agree on what phylum of pet he should have.  This means we have at least come to an agreement that it can be something in the Animalia kingdom (an animal life form) and not restricted to the Plantae kingdom (which is – you guessed it- a plant).  Beyond that, it’s been open for discussion.

My son says he’s just not a “dog person”.  That’s too bad since we have a dog. I think he could be a “cat person” if given the option.  However, since the dog we have is a certified cat-killer, having a cat is not a good idea.  The combination would likely prove to be deadly for the cat.

We have had our share of pet trauma over the years.  The most recent episode was with a few frogs.  Since I graduated with a biology degree, I will call the frogs by their respective scientific names: one pond frog and two tree frogs.  Their names are derived from the natural habitat from whence they were removed. The unsuspecting amphibians were transplanted to a “Backyard Safari Habitat” that my son got for his 8th birthday hours after capturing the aforementioned, highly scientifically named, “tree” frogs.  The “pond” frog was added to the collection after a successful excursion to Uncle B’s… (are you ready for this??)… pond. (It had to be a pond or the scientific name could not have been “pond” frog.)

All went well with the frogs for several months.  Son enjoyed watching them and occasionally caught grasshoppers and other bugs for them to consume.  Mother (that’s me) bought crickets to provide a stable diet and reliable source of tummy-fill.  And Mother (me again) cleaned the tank and changed the water.  After some time, the primary care giver (ummm…. me) grew tired of the toil, forgetful of the infrequently seen or discussed pets, and got lax in providing food.  One day my son mentioned how the pond frog hadn’t moved in some time.  Oh no! The frogs!

After an appropriate lapse of time following the somber burial ceremony for the pond frog in the front flower garden, I suggested we let the tree frogs go.  It didn’t take a scientist or veterinarian to see the writing on the wall.  The frogs needed to go before the ceremony had to be repeated. The very idea of their release brought on a flow of emotion.  He loved those tree frogs.  He cared for them.  (Well, he loved them anyway.)  In an attempt to convince him that it would be best for the frogs if they went back to the wild, I reminded him that frogs hibernate in the winter and it was getting cooler outside.  I reasoned that probably the pond frog had died because we didn’t have what he needed to hibernate.  I believe my attempts to free the frogs deserved a C for creativity and an I for ingenuity, but likely not an A for accurate, and unfortunately not an E for effective.  Following the second ceremony in the front flower garden, the third captive was released to its homeland.  The frog habitat has sat unoccupied since that time.

So now we are in search of the perfect pet for a young man with a high level of curiosity for unique and intriguing things.  We did our research on the lizards – considering the leopard gecko, crested gecko, and bearded dragon.  The answers for various reasons were ultimately no, no and no.  Our search then turned toward turtles.  The PetCo employee quickly informed me “low maintenance” was not true of any reptiles or amphibians.  She suggested a spider.  I smiled, looked her square in the eyes and said, “Yeah.  Right.”  Then after a pause long enough to make my next statement unmistakably and undeniably emphatically important, I gave my final answer on the subject.  “NO!”  For added effect I chose not to employ my typical level of courtesy and the “thank you” part was notably absent.

Unusually Unusual

Our search has now turned from the usually unusual pets such as lizards, snakes, birds, turtles and spiders, to the unusually unusual options such as Aquasaurs and Sea Monkeys.  People actually pay to keep brine shrimp in their house as a pet?  Realizing his dreams are not matching mine, my son now includes as part of his bedtime prayer, “Please help me find the perfect pet.” Heaven help me!  Why can’t we just get another dog?

Making Peace with the Peace Lily

“What kind of plant do you have there?” the produce stocker asked as I was choosing my bananas.

“I’m not sure what it’s actually called,” I replied.  “But I call it an ‘easy keeper’.  It says it can be moderately dry.”

“Oh, the best kind.  You can forget to water it now and then and it doesn’t matter.”

“Exactly!” I said.  “It’s replacing one that has been nothing but trouble.”

Jeff used to tell me I couldn’t keep anything alive.  I took offense.  That was exaggeration on his part.  Yes, most of my plants died.  But not ALL.  I’ve had a Ficus tree for over 10 years now.  Sure, it’s gone through periods of significant bareness, but I haven’t killed it. 

At Jeff’s funeral what do you suppose I got?  You guessed it – a whole bunch of plants.  I gave many of them away, paring it down to what seemed like a manageable crop.  None of them have died – yet.  But there is one in particular that has been highly needy.  It’s a peace lily.  Complete misnomer there.  There is nothing “peaceful” about caring for a peace lily.  I don’t have enough bad words in my vocabulary to tell you how I really feel about that plant. 

Jeff’s aunt came by one time and commented on my plant.  It happened to be during one of the brief episodes where it was looking exceptionally healthy.  “Oh, how do you keep that plant looking so good?  I have one of those from Jeff’s funeral and I have such trouble with it.  I water it and it gets droopy.  I don’t water it and it gets droopy.  It seems I just can’t give it what it needs.  How do you take care of it?”  I used my customary answer when I have no clue.  It drives my children crazy.  “Yes,”  I said.  She looked at me a little bewildered.  “But how do you keep yours healthy?” she repeated.  And so I repeated my answer, “Yes.”  I really don’t have a clue.  All the moons of Saturn were evidently lined up just right that day and the plant looked good.  I have no other explanation.

Well, this last trip out-of-town played a number on that silly “peace” lily.  It’s not rebounding.  I might be able to save it if I worked at it.  But instead I think I’ll find peace with my peace lily.  The replacement looks easy enough to care for.  The peace lily is going out with the garbage.

Jeff- you win, man.  I killed the *(%^$%!#  plant.

Where East Meets West

There’s a war going on in my closet.  My clothes are duking it out.  Where I’ve been is clashing with where I am.  Function and fashion are struggling to see who comes out ahead.  The jeans I bought at the farm store are feeling chastised by the boots I snatched up at Nordstrom’s Rack.  And all those points I’ve got stashed away on my Cabela’s card are wandering aimlessly without a purpose.  Unfortunately most of my old clothes from my old life are now my old size so they are being weeded out for practical reasons.  I’m not sure I like it.  

East Meets West

When in Rome, do as the Romans do…  But, how did I end up in Rome?

Things that Jump in the Night

I threw back the covers ready to hop into bed for the night.  It had been a long day.  It was good to have it draw to a close.  I was ready for rest.  I was just starting to slide between the sheets when…

*Gasp*  WHAT was THAT???

Say it isn’t so!  It was brown, small, oval….. looked like…. a BUG.   A BED BUG.  I had heard the reports.  There is a problem with infestations in our city.  And, I’ve seen them “live” and in person.  NO!!!  Not in MY house!  I moved slowly.  I was in my camo pajamas so maybe it hadn’t seen me yet.  I could sneak up on it and grab it.  But, should I grab it with my hand or with a kleenex?  I’d be extremely brave…  brave beyond measure… my hand.  I’d pinch it fast between my fingers.

I slid my fingers across the sheet getting closer.  It moved!  Ewwwww!!!!  Give me the willies!  It really was a bug!

Or… was it?  Hmmm… something didn’t look quite right.  Only one way to find out – GRAB it.  I snatched it up lickity split before it could scurry away.  NOPE!  Just the scab that I had noticed was missing from my knee earlier.  It had fallen off the night before.  And, thanks to static electricity, it had “jumped”.  And so had I.

Sure Signs You Live in Mountainous Hicks

  1.  If you happen to lock the house and don’t have your key, there’s that window that’s never locked you can put one of the kids through.
  2. There is a school bus always visible from your front window.  One of your neighbors uses it for storage.
  3. You live in a suburb and own 18 acres.
  4. Patients shop at the farm store for their foot care supplies instead of the pharmacy. 
  5. Dressing up means a button- up shirt with your jeans and boots.
  6. Before doing any kind of office procedure, always ask, “Are you going camping or fishing this weekend?  Because you are going to have to take care of this with clean running water.”
  7. There is only one public building in town with an elevator- and it goes up one story.
  8. Your kids don’t know what an escalator is.
  9. It is normal to drive 2 hours to get to a national chain lumber store.
  10. It is acceptable Saturday night entertainment to drive 2 hours to the lumber store.
  11. If you break down, someone will stop- if you are actually in a place where people drive by.
  12. It is impossible to go to town without someone recognizing you.
  13. You are expected to go to town in your painting clothes if that’s what you are doing that day.
  14. Patients enjoy seeing the doctor’s kids in the office and hearing stories about them.
  15. “Gone fishing” is an acceptable reason to close the office.
  16. Everyone’s goal is to be healed before hunting season- even if they first arrive in the office the day before it starts. 
  17. They are going to go hunting whether they are healed or not.
  18. Having 3 satellite dishes mounted to the side of your house is not unusual.
  19. You put a cow bell on your dog’s collar and take a gun when going for a walk.
  20. Of course you don’t have cell phone coverage everywhere!  What do you expect?
  21. Picking off cactus with the pistol is entertainment at its best.
  22. Seeing someone else on the trail is something worth talking about.
  23. The GPS is used to get you back to shelter- not to find the nearest restaurant.
  24. What is a “mall”?
  25. People are more concerend with function rather than fashion.
  26. There is no Starbuck’s- and most people don’t care or even know how to pronounce their menu items.
  27. Driving your tractor 9 miles to town isn’t weird or unusual.
  28. Getting a chain saw for your birthday from your spouse is a complement.
  29. Parking spots in town are big enough for a pickup.
  30. When you go camping, you don’t pay and your nearest camping neighbor is more than 100 yards away from you.