Friday, June 30, 2006

Did I tell you about my recent day in traffic court? I don’t know if I mentioned that I got a speeding ticket coming home from the beach last March. What a speed trap!

I was coming back from a fantastic couple nights on the coast playing with the construction boys and their heavy equipment. It was a sunny warm day and I had fun plans for the evening back home. I was singing loud to Natasha Bedingfield’s great anthem, “Single.” I don’t think I have ever returned from the beach without a traffic jam. What great time I was making. Along about Denton, the two-lane highway stretched out straight in front of me with only cornfields beside me and not a car in sight – until that State Trooper drove by.

I slowed and stopped singing. He passed me and made a u-turn. Don’t you hate that feeling when you see the lights turn on in the rear-view mirror? Maybe you’ve never had that experience. It sucks.

When the friendly trooper approached my window for my documents, he informed me that he had clocked me at 74 in a 55. I hadn’t seen a parked police vehicle and asked,

“Would you mind telling me how you determined my speed?”

“Radar,” he stated simply.

“I didn’t realize radar worked from an approaching vehicle,” I offered to explain my query.

“Technology’s improved,” he smiled.

“Damn.” I hoped he didn’t mind the honesty.

He then offered some friendly advice.

“The judge here is real fair. If you have a clean driving record, you’ll likely not get any points for this.”

“I get points for this?” I winced.

“Two. But if you have a clean record, the local judge usually knocks those off."

“Weellll,” how honest should I be here? “I did have a ticket about three years ago.”

His half smile met my raised eyebrows.

“Well, you can take your chances,” and he explained my pay it or go to court options. I decided not to mention the camera ticket notice I had on my kitchen table.

Well I did take my chances and it didn’t pay off. But what a collection of elaborate excuses! I’ll share some of those with you tomorrow.

So on the way home from the beach, either hope for traffic or use your cruise control – especially on MD Rte 404. It’s way underrated for it’s speed limit, not at all like North Carolina.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

On a cross country flight, you simply cannot avoid at least one trip to the lavatory. “Lavatory” must be a Latin derivation for “wash room.” The only place I ever hear the word is in planes and by old high school teachers. On a long flight, I think it is probably best to use the lavatory during the first half of the trek, primarily for olfactory reasons. I always plan on a bit of clean up first. I always wish that I had brought some handi-wipes for better disinfecting.

I don’t know how some of my fellow passengers manage the cramped quarters of the airplane lavatory. The target presented by the stainless steel bowl seems smaller and lower for most men than the standard bowl, which is why I always have to clean up. There are some big fellas on the plane who must be operating blind in that little facility. I am reminded of the scene from “Tommy Boy” with Chris Farley in an airplane bathroom.

I’ve heard that this is the place for the “Mile High Club” but do not find that adventure appealing in the least. I guess with two very skinny people it would be technically possible, but I can’t quite imagine the logistics of it. There are several places that I’d rather not let any of my skin come in direct contact with in this tiny room with little soundproofing. eeww. I suppose I could consider that venture in a private jet. Short of that, I am content to leave that item on the list unchecked. (Do you have a list like that or is it just me?)

The little sink is always a challenge too – I mean for hand washing. You do get about a 5 second spray of water to actually rinse both hands together. It is difficult to wash one hand at a time. By mid to late flight, the “trash can” is full. I hate to have to touch the flap door after I’ve already washed. I’m really not OCD, but I am aware of germs.

Then there is the exit from the closet washroom. You know on a fully booked flight that someone is watching the lights to see when the seat is available for them. Your exit will be noted by at least one person who will attribute whatever smells are left behind to you. At least people aren’t allowed to congregate by the doors anymore. I always smirk sarcastically when the attendant comes on the PA and says we are “free to move about the cabin.”

I’ve never flown first class. I wonder if the personal facilities are any better. I wonder if it is worth the extra expense. It just might be.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I wrote this on my way back from San Diego in early June, but wanted to share it with you before it gets lost in my laptop.

I am squished against a window in a Southwest plane with an aching butt, I’m sure swollen ankles, and a gas problem that I’m going to have to act on soon. I shouldn’t’ve had that burrito in the airport. I don’t mind disturbing Peggy who is sitting in the friendly seat next to me. She’s just reading “The DaVinci Code,” but the lady next to her has out her laptop and is working on some sort of presentation that looks like real work with outlines and pie charts.

At least the crying baby has recovered his composure. From where I sit, it looks like the young dad managing the child has no woman with him. I felt like going up to him and handing him my driver’s license and asking if I could walk with the child up and down the aisle. But the child looks a bit too old to go with a stranger. I just had to grin and bear it like everyone else. If I was right behind them, I could, as I have done before, have made a puppet out of the barf bag. That’s always fun. And if you put some chewed gum inside, squish it and pull it back open, it looks like stalactites and stalagmites. I have traveled with children before. This guy looks like a novice.

Booking a direct flight from San Diego to Baltimore sounded like a great idea. I was really looking forward to being forced to sit for 5 hours. I wouldn’t have to get up to change the laundry or help with homework or fix dinner or clean up something my cat killed. All I had to do was read my travel magazine, “Cosmopolitan,” sleep, and maybe write. Well, I read the Cosmo on the way out here. I’ve slept off all the weekend activities and I played a few rounds of Spider Solitaire until I finally won one. Now a layover in Detroit or Dallas sounds like the perfect chance to stretch my legs. I’m always worried that my luggage won’t make the connection though. I like my luggage to stay on one plane after the incident in the Cancun airport.

There has been some turbulence, so the Captain kept on the fasten seatbelt sign. But now we are “free to move about the cabin.” Right. I can barely wiggle my feet. We were reminded about the “no congregating around the lavatory” rule three times already. I guess I could climb over everyone and pace up and down the aisle as long as I don’t stop near the lavatory. I’m actually going to need to make a stop there soon. I am in the “hope you have a big bladder” seat. This has been a long flight. Enough is enough.

Computer lady has gotten up. Now’s my chance.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My daughter was appalled when she saw my notice of a trial for the speeding ticket. It said near the top of the page in bold, “State of Maryland vs. CG”
“Mom! That’s terrible.” She is still adjusting to the inevitable realization that her mother isn’t perfect. I wish I wasn’t giving her so many lessons in that though.

I arrived two hours early for my trial time. I checked out the little brick courthouse in the quaint Eastern Shore town. I found the posted docket to see if I might get an earlier hearing. There were 56 people listed on the docket ahead of me, all listed at the same court time. Looks like I had plenty of time for lunch. It was a good thing I had made a lunch date with the cutie-pie excavator/crane operator I met the day before I got the speeding ticket in the first place. I have a story to share from that lunch, but that will have to be in another post.

After lunch, I returned to the courthouse and sat on the benches in the hallway outside the chambers with the other violators. I counted twelve men and six women of various ages and races waiting in the hall. Most of us offenders were dressed in business casual. There was one guy in a work uniform with his name on a chest patch. One big young guy had on a billowing t-shirt with surfers on it that asked if anyone would like to wax his woody. I’m guessing that question had gone unanswered for a while. I wondered how strong the correlation would be between dress and trial outcome.

The first few moments we were all quiet and fidgeting with our papers and comparing them to the docket posted on the bulletin board. One guy hoped aloud that since he was the only one listed for that particular officer, maybe he would get lucky any the trooper wouldn’t show. I didn’t realize the officers’ names were listed, so I went back to the board, hopeful. There were at least a dozen for my officer. He must’ve had a busy day that Saturday. What a speed trap! I was pretty sure I recognized him in the courthouse anyway. Dern.

So we sat there on hard wooden benches amid the seatbelt safety posters exchanging excuses and strategies. Being guilty of the same crime is a bonding factor. We were quick confidantes. I was planning on observing earlier trials to see if I could find a factor that worked with the judge so I could repeat it.

When we entered the courtroom, I was seated in the front bench between two handsome men. When the bailiff instructed us to squish in closer to provide more seating, my initial optimism was dulled by the gold bands on their fingers. Figures. The bailiff gave us the run-down on where and when to stand and sit, how to speak, and what was contraband: gum, cell phones, talking, food & drink.

This is the first time in years I have been in court because of my own wrong doing. I had gone to traffic court once about 15 years earlier. Since then it was just for my divorce and as moral support for a friend – oh yeah, and as a character witness for one of my former students. So even with some experience under my belt, my armpits still felt a little sweaty.

On the wall was a portrait of a smiling, pin-headed judge with big glasses and big ears. That was not the guy who walked into the room. The only time this judge smiled was when listening to the excuses offered: late for school, sun in my eyes, speeding to merge, avoiding a road rager. What was my excuse: didn’t want to be late for a hot date? Just met a cutie-pie heavy equipment operator? Good song on the radio?

The only thing getting people off was a clean driving record. There was no cheating on this – I thought – since the judge was looking at a computer screen up there behind his imposing bench. The eye candy next to me leaned over and whispered that he had a previous ticket, but in a different state while he had a different driver’s license. He was wondering if he should gamble that it wouldn’t show up on the screen. Since I enjoyed the whisper, I engaged him in a brief conversation about that. Lucky for him it worked. The judge let him off easy since he had a clean record.

I was not so lucky. My PA Turnpike speeding ticket showed up. My “I forgot to use my cruise control” excuse was insufficient. He did reduce my fine, but left the points. I expect I’ll hear from my car insurance company soon. Dern.

Double Dern. I just noticed my posting from yesterday didn't go through even though I got the "successful" message upon submission. I'll try to create it again later.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

CG could be Cereal Grazer at my house. I have 12 different boxes of cereal in my pantry. That’s three varieties for each member of my house. Here they are in order of descending healthiness:

Optimum Power: my personal favorite – high fiber, reasonable sugar, and actual flavor

Organic Pumpkin Flaxplus Granola – good mixed in yogurt

Kashi GoLean – actually says twigs & puffs on the label. Tastes like cardboard. I should throw this one out, but I can stand it if I mix it with another one.

Raisin Bran – not very popular. A good back up if I run our of #1 or 2.

Cheerios – everyone eats these from time to time.

Frosted Bite-Sized Mini Wheats – a current favorite with my kids and not bad too.

Strawberry Delight Frosted Bite-Sized Mini Wheats – sounded like a good idea, but no one likes these. I keep hoping to pawn them off on a guest child.

Rice Chex – low sugar, but not much anything else to say for them. Rice Krispies in different shape.

Lucky Charms – There’s not many marshmallows left in the box, so the remaining portion isn’t that bad for you, no more yellow moons or pink hearts.

Golden Grahams – I could eat the whole box of these.

Fruit Loops – great for craft projects. These have been in there a while.

Pops – I believe these were called Sugar Pops when I was a kid. They remind me of Calvin & Hobbes’ Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.

I’m wondering if 12 boxes show a bit of indecision on my family’s part or if we just like variety. Cereal is often a bedtime snack which I figure has to be better than several other snack options. Our individual preferences descend in healthiness with age, although sometimes we opt for a different extreme. How many boxes in your household? What’s your favorite? Is there anyone who doesn’t eat cereal? Have you heard that there are whole cereal restaurants now?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Doing laundry with children is always an adventure. By "adventure" I don't mean to imply that it is necessarily fun or adventurous. Certainly it is endless. There is, however, always that element of the unexpected. Tonight's lesson was that while chocolate can survive in a cold load, it doesn't do so well in the dryer. Figures it is clothes I wanted for the morning. So I'm still up doing laundry on Saturday night at 11. Not as fun as some Saturday nights.

I thought about creating a sort of mural based on the things I pull out of the washer and dryer that aren't clothes. The occasional coin would help date the growing collection. It would have plenty of color from the Legos and Barbie shoes. My jeans are often authentically stone washed, as my kids like to pick up smooth or unusual rocks. When I saw feathers in there I crossed my fingers that it wasn't the whole bird. You never know in my house. We've had plenty of lip glosses go through, but some of those I confess were mine. We also launder plenty of money. I consider that a way-too-small tip. I suppose having children who are careless about emptying their pockets might be a good source of information as they become teenagers, but here we go back to that "ignorance is bliss" conversation.

What does your laundry debris say about you? Did you ever get caught by something you sent through the laundry?

Friday, June 23, 2006

BIG storm last night. I really need to go check to see if my basement has flooded again. I’ll do that next. The thunder and lightening were booming simultaneously, bright and loud. I started the night with one child in my bed. It wasn’t long ‘til we were joined by another and one wet, frazzled cat. My youngest never stirred. So it was a crowded bed for an hour in the early hours. I felt like breaking out into “Raindrops on Roses.”

I already have two baby replacement trees in my front yard from previous storms: one last year, and Isabelle the year before. The one last year we saw blow over. We love to sit on the front porch in the storm. The kids, mine and some neighborhood kids, had a fun time sawing on it before the chain saws arrived. No one even lost a finger.

My trees are Bradford Pears. They are an experimental hybrid, bred to be beautiful but not to produce fruit. They are beautiful, especially in the spring when our neighborhood is lined with their white blossoms. They don’t bear fruit, so there’s no messy clean-up or fertilizing necessary. One flaw in their manipulated creation is that they are brittle. They can’t support their own weight in a storm. They don’t bend well in the wind.

Beautiful things are not meant to last. They are fleeting moments. You have to enjoy them while they are in bloom before the winds blow too hard. What lasts longer are the natural, fruit-bearing, messy trees. They still have their moments of beauty, but they come with a mess and lots of work.

True for you?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I was overwhelmed with an amazing thank you from one of my coolest friends today.

My walking buddy, Anne, is so much smarter than I am. She knows that I appreciate the conveniences of technology, but she also knows that I have a low aptitude for manuals and instruction booklets. Maybe it's not a low aptitude as much as a bad attitude. I just hate reading through those boring things. For example, my relatively new microwave supposedly will brown a chicken to a crispy perfection in 20 minutes. All I have to do is read the manual to figure out how (and feel like cooking real food.) My palm pilot is the original graphite version: 3x5 card and a pencil. I do buy colored 3x5 cards. Sometimes I even date them because I'll find various lists lying around and not know if it is today's list or yesterday's, hence the colored cards.

Well, Anne is a big iPod fan. She has a great iPod story that you may have read about in the paper or seen when she was interviewed on the Wolf Blitzer portion of CNN last year. Maybe I can convince her to tell that story on her blog. (There's a link on my page to hers. She helped me figure out how to do that too.)

Anyway, as a thank you for watching Fern after school this year, she bought me an iPod! Wow, huh?! AND, she has offered to load it up for me. She will probably even show me how to use it so I don't have to read through all the instructions. Isn't she the coolest? I need my technology to come with a person, not a manual.

So she was trying to figure out something clever to have engraved on the back without me knowing what she was up to. On one morning walk we were discussing mantras. I had one when I was going through the divorce, but that one I have kind of set aside. I told her that my mantra these days matched my 3x5 cards. I often find myself repeating something like, "turn on the sprinkler, start the coffee, vac the pool." I keep repeating it until I either get it done or find a 3x5 card.

I'm glad she didn't engrave that on the iPod. She kept it to a simple "thanks."

Do you have a mantra or saying that you would engrave on your iPod?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Alright girls. We've been accused of male bashing. I know they give us plenty of fodder. They just hand over reasons for griping. Even so, we still love 'em - either in general or specifically.

So let's tell them what we love about them. Why do we want them? How do they comfort us or make us feel loved. How did you meet your guy - if you have one currently. What were the best traits in the last one you loved?

You go first.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Knowledge can be distracting. The things that distract you depend on your knowledge. For example, my friend who is a nurse gets distracted in groups by people's health issues. She will notice if someone seems ill and she starts determining if her action might be necessary. Should she speak to them? Might she have to do CPR? It can be a distraction.

My friend in law enforcement can't help but notice the potential criminals in a crowd. He notices suspicious behavior and makes note of exits and hidden spots in rooms. He notes positions that would provide cover in a shoot out. In some situations he carries a weapon - situations where I am oblivious to potential dangers.

I don't know that much to be distracted by, but sometimes my imagination will distract me. I will notice unique people and start formulating possible scenarios that they might be dealing with. How did that man injure his foot? Why does that woman look sad? What was he doing before he came here? Where is she going after this?

At my son's baseball playoff game tonight (which he won 12 to 11 - he had 2 runs) I was distracted by my knowedge of the hazard that can be created by boys with baseball bats and their general lack of awareness of their surroundings. I am the alarmed, alert mother always telling the next batter up to scoot over so they don't smash their teammate in the face. That happened to my nephew. I don't want to witness that. I may get on their nerves, but I can't ignore their risks.

Is ignorance bliss? I think I'd rather be aware, although it can be a problem sometimes. What knowledge distracts you? Are you glad you know anyway?

Monday, June 19, 2006

I don't suppose I'm a typical church lady. Last night began my congregation's Vacation Bible School. I have a tendency to overcommit my schedule, which this VBS thing has done for me. I agreed to help with the opening singing in the auditorium. It's just kids, so I didn't stress out like I did for my sermon. I don't even think I went to one planning meeting. I just showed up where I was told to by the real church ladies.

The theme was "Fiesta!" I didn't know if we were to dress in a certain way, so I chose a red t-shirt that had some stitching that was slightly South American looking. But when I got to church, I was handed a cheap white t-shirt with the VBS theme logo ironed on it. I don't usually go in for the "let's dress in matching clothes" thing, but I was willing to be a good sport. Unfortunately, I didn't get the memo about which underwear to wear to VBS.

I had on a dark fushcia bra that showed way through the white t-shirt. Would Jesus mind? I suppose it was a good thing I was wearing a bra. Do people assume that church ladies where white underwear? Did they think I had on granny panties too?

My sister bailed me out as only a sister can do. We went into the restroom and traded bras for the evening. It was like a modern day variation on the Good Samaritan parable. She is a better church lady than I am - but she's still cool too.

So am I atypical, or are church ladies changing since we were kids? I don't know if I fit a clear category. Are you a church lady? Can church ladies wear fushcia bras?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

It has been a great, but busy weekend visiting with old and new friends. For Father's Day, my father is celebrating his 45th wedding anniversary with my mother in Niagra. So it is a bit of an unusual Father's Day for me. I was going to post an excerpt from an article that I actually got published in a magazine a few years ago about my Dad. But I haven’t had time to dig through my document files and find it. So I promise that is coming, because my dad is cool and you would like to know more about him.

Instead, I am visiting today with two others moms & their kids – with no fathers around. They are too cool of people to not hang out with them. So I am not looking for the lost article.

Peggy was skimming the bugs out of the pool and noticed that in the remaining participants of the Barbie orgy, the male doll was missing. What does that mean?

I'm glad my son got to spend the morning with his dad because he will be surrounded by girls and women this afternoon.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Today I installed two window unit air conditioners upstairs. Ok, I did have a little help since I was afraid of dropping them out the widow, but it was much easier than I had anticipated. I tell you, it is easy for fear to impede you, isn’t it? I bought those two window units a month ago during a heat wave. I figured if I waited until the end of summer they’d be all sold out. I know I have central AC, but our upstairs is always so hot. There’s probably a better long range solution, but this seemed expedient and cheaper. I just followed the directions and it was easy. I even got to use my (OK, my son’s) power drill. It was a pleasant reminder of my Construction Girl days.

Now all I have to tackle is the leaking faucet in my bathroom. (By “all” I mean not including the windows, siding, deck, my closet & carpet & the basement carpet.) I went ahead and bought a whole new faucet since I’ve been thwarted by the stem replacement before. I picked a familiar brand. But I haven’t installed it. It sits on the floor of my bathroom mocking me. It’s just that I know this could easily turn into a three hour job – and, worst case scenario, I won’t have a sink in my bathroom until I can call a plumber to fix it. So I have been reluctant to start.

It’s kinda like my writing career. I’m afraid I won’t be able to pull it off. I don’t know how long it will take. I’ve decided to find a writing conference to attend this fall and maybe schmooze with some agents. Maybe I could pay someone to do the tough parts. I need to establish some connections. But for now I just blog every day. I do better at daily blogging than daily flossing. It’s good exercise and hopefully it will give me the confidence to take the next step.
P.S. Blogger's not cooperating. I got a picture of the Barbie orgy, but the picture posting function is disabled - supposedly temporarily. So are the other tools, like italics and font size. I did open an e-mail account for this blog that you can reach through my profile just in case you have a comment that you'd like to make out of the public forum. I'll post a real entry later today. I have some houshold Construction Girl things to do today.

- Back in business! You can tell by the italics!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

There’s an orgy in my backyard of perfect hard bodies. Why is it that the Barbies can’t keep their clothes on? The orgy of Barbies in my shower looks like the United Nations. Since they started the “Princess of Many Lands” series we have the palest, Princess Ireland, to the darkest, Princess Nigeria and every shade in between, from Japan, India, the Netherlands, and of course, Malibu.

But these Barbies are really slutty. Just today I was driving with my 8 year old and her friend in the back seat. The girls were giggling and I did a quick check to see the mischief. The topless Barbie was flashing the passing drivers. Can you imagine?!

I’m not sure of the sexual orientation of these chicks. There was only one naked man among them – and it wasn’t Ken. I hear he and Barbie split up. But this new guy has a couple or three missing parts. He’s apparently a eunuch. You know those guys make great girlfriends. Barbie has had a few things waxed and airbrushed anyway, so they make a good pair. So I’m not sure about the naked thing. But those pale skins must have a great built-in sun protection factor. The sluttiest is Barbie’s cousin, Bratz who keeps her go-go boots on during the orgy.

Once a few years ago I got an e-mail about the Barbies that didn’t make it to market, like Burka Barbie. I’d like to see a Barbie with stretch marks or slightly saggy breasts. How about Cellulite Barbie? Or a Barbie with a tattoo? I’d be content with a size 12 Barbie with flat feet. What Barbie would you like to see?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Do I want to ever get married again?
Lots of people have asked me that: men and women, married and single, hopeful and discouraged.
I don’t know. That was the original plan, the happily-ever-after beginning. Reality, however, doesn’t much compare with the fairy tale. In reality – mine and my friends’, Prince Charming can be a workaholic, an alcoholic, disinterested, a selfish or lazy lover, boring, irritating, compulsive, abusive, unfaithful, or just plain psycho.

Lately the people who have discouraged me the most from the idea of another marriage are my married friends. I have become a reference source of therapist and lawyer phone numbers. I have encouraged friends to call their doctor for a prescription. I have poured many glasses of wine for women weary of working so hard on their marriage. Shouldn't it be easier?

I suppose I was ahead of the curve in my generation as far as getting divorced is concerned. Perhaps that’s why I have never dated a guy in his forties – only 50’s and 30’s mostly. Guys my age are all still married. My ex-husband was a visionary in that regard. He saw what was coming and cut to the chase. I recently thanked him for that. It took courage to leave, but we neither one were happy. I don’t know if that would have changed. We’re even friends now, much better than we ever were married. Yesterday would have been our 19 year wedding anniversary. We agreed it was a fine occasion to exchange gift bottles of wine. I find that wine improves many situations – provided you don't drink the whole thing yourself.

So I guess I would consider marriage if I met Prince Charming, but I haven’t met him yet. I'm not waiting to be saved from anything. A wise friend of mine who has one of the best marriages I know said to me long ago, “If you are looking for Mr. Right, you will find him. But if you are looking for Mr. Perfectly Right, you will end up lonely.” I don’t mean to be picky, but I’m not going to settle.

I don’t think that marriage in and of itself will bring anyone happiness. If I really wanted to be married again, I could have already done that. I have had a couple of serious offers. But I believe marriage should improve my life, not make it harder. Maybe that is idealistic thinking. Maybe that is why I am single. Everyone, especially once you get midway through life, comes with baggage. Some baggage is heavy and doesn’t even have wheels on the bottom. My baggage I think is at least a matched set. I have my own shit to wrestle with. I don’t want to carry too much of someone else’s. There are a helluva lot of advantages to being single. I’m not sure I want to give any of them up.

Bottom line is that I don’t know what lies in store for me. I thought I did, but really no one does. The future is wide open. That’s a bit of a thrill, isn’t it?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The total combined ages of the women in my pool is currently about 96. That would be a fascinating conversation with one 96 year old woman. It would be a relaxing day poolside for me if it were two 48 year old women – or three 32 year old women. Four 24 year old women would probably be fun, except we probably wouldn’t enjoy the same music and I would most likely be deficient in the tattoo and piercing department.

Today, however, I have eight 12 year old girls in my pool. They are great girls and I’m proud of my daughter’s taste in friends. For some reason these girls communicate in shrieks and shouts that make me reluctant to sit poolside with my book. I have mostly been watching from the kitchen window. It did get considerably quieter once the pizza arrived, but that was temporary. We are ignoring the no swimming after eating rule.

I wouldn't have 16 six year olds in my backyard at the same time. Absolutely never 24 four year olds - or 48 two year olds. Eight 12 year olds is my lowest ratio. Solo that is. I'd need more support supervision backup.

I love the racial diversity of our community. My children have made friends with children of various races. Sometimes I can’t easily communicate with their parents because of language barriers. I wish I had taken Spanish in high school instead of French. I’ve never encountered someone who only spoke French. If I did encounter a Frenchman, I could recite my 7th grade dialogue about the eminent arrival of the Duponts for dinner.

Of my children’s three end-of-school year pool parties, only my youngest invited both girls and boys. I did require them to limit the number of attendees, so I know that was a factor. The middle years of childhood are where the sexes separate. They haven’t merged again yet. That must be part of the natural process of things.

I took pictures and videos. It will be fun to look back on them when these girls are seniors. I can’t help wondering how their lives will turn out. My childhood friend swore she’d never marry or have children. She’s been married 18 years and has seven beautiful children. I was the likely candidate for the Betty Crocker route, and I turned out opposite to predictions too. Maybe one of these girls will be the first woman president, more likely the second. They will one day be our caretakers. I hope they still have all this energy.

Monday, June 12, 2006

One topic I have steered pretty clear of on this blog is men and their role in my life. Part of that is because I am aware of my readership: a few exes and almost relationships. Today I'm feeling irked by a few of them in particular and a lot of them in general.

So far in my life I haven't been able to align the willing volunteers with the ones actually available and attractive to me. It's like hunting a unicorn.

Do I have to know exactly what I want? I thought I did, but since that didn't work out, I haven't reformulated. I suppose I do have to figure that out. Does it have to be all or nothing? Maybe everyone else knows just what they want except me. Will I know it when I see it? Did you? Were you right?

I have so many blessings in my life, so much to be grateful for. My kids are so easy to love, bright and healthy. I am supported by the best friends anyone could ask for. There's just this one area that is... fuzzy. Some days I like it this way. Some days I wish for something else. Mostly I try not to worry too much and enjoy the ride. I just don't know which direction I'm heading. I have seen some spectacular scenery though. I am learning a whole lot. I didn't realize how much I didn't know.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

It's good to have sore muscles. It means you did something - played hard, worked hard. Hopefully the ache, that quiver or burn is a reminder of something you are glad you did. But even if sore muscles are an unpleasant reminder, at least you did something.

It would be safer to not play. It would be safer not to risk. But then you wouldn't have done anything.

Different parts of the body ache differently too: knees, glutes, arms, heart. I know the heart is a muscle because I've felt that afterburn. What about the brain? I think I've strained that before too.

Some injuries are more painful than others. Sometimes I even feel regret. Doesn't everyone? But I'd rather regret the chances I took than the chances I didn't take. I'd rather regret what I said than my silence.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Pain is temporary. Pride is forever."
That's my son's lacrosse team's slogan. The only actual injury I sustained was when I was playing catch with my son before the game and caught one ball with my right eyebrow. ooww. If there's a bruise tomorrow, it won't be as bad as the one I got in the biker bar brawl.

Before the game I went over to my son to talk a little trash to get the competetive juices flowing. Everyone who knows me knows how cutthroat I can be. I leaned in by Kyle's ear and said, "I just wanted you to know I'm taking you down!" He laughed.

Only three moms got on the field today. When I was on, the dads told me to hang out down by the crease and they'd give me to ball so I could score. I had to ask exactly where the crease was. No one mentioned that I wasn't supposed to cross a certain line. Suddenly everyone was shouting "Mom in the crease! Mom in the crease!" At first I thought that was a good thing, but apparently it wasn't.

They really tried to keep their word, but I just couldn't keep that ball in the net. It would have been easier if I didn't have a dozen boys trying to knock it away from me. But there was only one goal in all four 10 minute quarters, so I wasn't the only novice parent. Those little guys are good too - and quick!

My son told me he was hoping "Pass to my mom. Pass to my mom." I was thinking, "Don't pass it to me. Don't pass it to me." I did scoop it up several times and pass it to some of my teammates, but I could never catch it in the mayhem of the game. As we left the field my son told me, "You're an inspriation to moms everywhere." It doesn't get much better than that.

It was a beautiful day though. My knee brace did its job and I walked off the field with no limp. I may feel it in my muscles tomorrow. That's OK because pain is temorary. Pride is forever.

Friday, June 09, 2006

This weekend my children have helped bump me into different social circles. We had discussed having an end of the school year party, but the guest list quickly spiraled out of control. Rather than limit the party because of the size, we decided to have three. Each child got to pick friends from school to celebrate with this weekend, but at three separate party times. Here at almost midnight on Friday I have two down and one to go.

This was the first time my children had more knowledge of the families on the guest list than I did. My oldest's party is beginning later this weekend.
My oldest has friends whose families I have known longer than the others. Our families are comfortable together and have known each other for years now.

My middle child's guest list was of names I had heard and faces I had seen in assemblies or back to school nights. I was delighted to find some kindred spirits in their mothers. Maybe that is why our sons enjoy each other's company. I also appreciated having two other mothers who could hang out with me so I wasn't the only adult at the party. We have discussed hanging out together again.

My youngest had the freshest guest list. I really only knew one family and had made the previous acquaintance of another. But there were five other families. Only one man came, although all invitations invited the whole family. So again, it was a chance for us mothers to bond. We just kind of naturally relieved each other of watching the children and all enjoyed a pleasant time to get to know one another. It was cool.

New relationships are always fun.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

When is the last time you had to pee in a jr. high bathroom? I guess it has been a while for me. But tonight I was at my son's baseball game where he played first & third bases fantastically and hit impressively too. My 8 year old daughter, of course, forgot to plan and was in a knee clenching paroxysm just after my son made a beautiful infield catch. So we had to hike around to the front of the school, rattling doors as we went, hoping to find one left open.

whew! We did.

So I decided to make the most of my time in there and use the other stall. I forgot about this, but for some reason schools don't use rolled tp. They have that stiff tissue that fan-folds like kleenex - only less soft. The dispenser in my stall was empty. I had to ask my daughter if she could "spare a square," a ritual that all women eventually experience that I bet few men ever have. I got the last three 5"x5" squares. Thank God it was only #1. (Sorry. Is that too gross?)

What is it about rolled tp? Too expensive? Too easy to overuse? Too much potential for mischief? No wonder some days my eldest waits all day.

By the way, any athletic ability my son may have does not pass down from my side of the family. I'm a great cheerleader - in an informal sense, not an athletic one. But here's something to amuse you. This coming Saturday I agreed to play in the parent-son end of season lacrosse game. Maybe I should practice. Hopefully I won't wreck my middle aged knees.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Here comes summer! Today was my last day with all my kids in for a full day of school. I felt a bit of a panic about not having time for myself starting tomorrow. Part of me wanted to race around and part of me wanted to lie down on the couch for the last bit of quiet.

I still didn't even get the full day. I had to take my youngest in to see the doc for an ear problem. Fortunately for me, we have the coolest doctor's office in town. We hang out and visit like old friends. I guess we've know each other for years now. It's nice not to go to one of those big impersonal medical groups. I like that we all know each other.

Today I began distributing my new "Tell Me Your Story" business cards. My new job title is "personal essayist." What do you think? I don't need to sweat thinking of a plot because everyone has a great story to tell - they just need me to write it down for them. Tomorrow I will post some ads on community bulletin boards. I think I'll hold off on heavier advertising until later in the summer. I already have my first job lined up just by word of mouth. You know I will eventually see if I can combine some finished essays into a book. But one step at a time right now.

So what does everyone have planned for the summer? I know two of you are coming to my house for a week or two. I'm looking forward to time for extended visits with old friends - late nights after the kids are in bed, drinking wine on the front porch.

My oldest & I are joining forces with a Habitat for Humanity team in West Virginia. I'm afraid she's expecting Ty Pennington and and Extreme budget, but it should still be fun. At least it will be good bonding time for us. I'm looking forward to a revival of Construction Girl.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Was everyone aware that today was the day of the beast 6-6-6? I saw a bumper sticker recently that read "667: Neighbor of the Beast"

I have a good friend in the Midwest who is a labor & delivery nurse. She told me this tale of what happened on the midnight shift in her hospital. Two teenage Goth-types were in for the induced delivery of their baby. Their son was delivered in the early hours of 6-6-06 and they named him Damien.

Without even trying, I know I have done some things that will likely require therapy for my children. I've already started saving up for it. So how can you go and do something so deliberately that will make life hard for your child like that? I hope that their son will grow up and do everything he can to rebel against his parents. Can you imagine what would make parents like that disappointed in their kid?

I'd say their story is a good argument for not having a baby when you are still a teenager, although there are plenty of older screw-ups having kids too. (like me for instance.) Is it scarier to have parents who think they know what they're doing or parents who are aware that they are just guessing?

I suppose I don't want to regulate too many parental choices because it could quickly become a Stepford baby kind of situation - especially if we let Dr. Dobson in on it. I guess if Dr. D could regulate babies, we could just sic Damien on them and maybe balance would be restored. It would probably cause the same kind of mayhem as Anakin caused though.

So do you think little Damien should go to public schools when he grows up? Can you imagine the parent teacher conference?

Monday, June 05, 2006

I just got back from a weekend in San Diego. I went out there with family and friends to visit family and friends and to cheer my brother-in-law on for the Rock-n-Roll Marathon. It was his 7th full marathon.

It was beautiful out there. Almost everywhere we went we smelled the native star jasmine. The 5-day weather report I saw in the local paper had to be specific about the degree of sunshine each day would provide: patchy morning fog then sunny, a few clouds in the evening, abundant sun. It made me think of that song, "It Never Rains in California."

We stayed in the Gaslamp Quarter and enjoyed some local night life: Dick's Last Resort, Croce's, The Field, The Blarney Stone. We danced in the street to a sidewalk musician and took a ride in a pedicab. We took a water taxi across the bay to Coronado and the trolley to Old Town. We shopped at the Seaside Village and saw the aircraft carrier Midway that is now a museum. I bought my new sneakers at the runner's expo in the pretty convention center. My brother-in-law did well in the race among fellow racers several of whom ran in Elvis costumes.

The one feature of this town that really impressed me, aside from the fine law enforcement officers, was the MLKJr. Promenade. This sidewalk ran between our hotel and the convention center. On either side of the walkway there were several MLK quotes in stone plaques. I strolled slowly reading each one, sometimes twice to comprehend the big ideas this man was trying to convey. What a wise man he was. At first I wondered about the connection San Diego might have with Dr. King. After pondering his quotes I realized that no connection was necessary other than the city's desire to align themselves with his philosophies. The Promenade was also enhanced by a sculpture inspired by one of the quotations and fountains.

Here are just a few of the quotes I remember:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. "

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. "

"Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. "

I know that citing deep philosophies of educated men is much easier than figuring out how to implement them on a personal level, let alone a municipal or national level. Even so, in a city so close to Mexico, in a time when our border policies are in turmoil, it seems we could all use a little more of Dr. King's philosophies surrounding us.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I have finally replaced my walking sneakers. I got a snazzy new red and white pair that I wore home from the store like a kid. Suddenly the gray and yellow ones that have cushioned my feet for hundreds of miles seemed hideous. I'll save them for yard work now.

I remember in Jr. High that new white sneakers were embarrassing. I would scuff them up intentionally. I think the whole world's attitude toward athletic footwear has changed in the last 25 years.

I bought my old sneakers over a year ago in Texas with my friend Julie because we were training together for the Avon Marathon Walk. We bought matching shoes. What an event that was. Besides the weekend with my dear friend and hours of uninterrupted time to visit, what made the Avon Walk memorable was the rain.

It was raining at dawn when we were gathering at the starting point, listening to the poignant speeches of people walking in honor of breast cancer survivors and victims. It was raining as we slogged through so many puddles that we quit trying to walk around them. It was pouring as we ate our boxed lunches like hobos hunched under plastic rain ponchos. The rain let up for a few hours in the afternoon when we hobbled into the medic tent, Julie with a stress fracture to her foot and me with my throbbing knee. We limped into the tent city at Catholic University with ice packs taped to our injuries and were assigned a puddle as our tent site. After showers in a truck and dinner in the mess tent, we turned in for an early evening just as the rain returned. The wind rattled our tent and the rain soon began dripping in. Our injuries stiffened and we made a pathetic, limping dash to the latrines in the night in the downpour. The latrines were dry and warm. I started to fall asleep in there. Julie opened my door to check on me. How bad is it when the latrine in more comfortable than the tent? Thank goodness we had air mattresses because we woke with standing water in our tent and spongy sleeping bags.

So those are the sneakers I've replaced. The salesgirl scolded me for having used them so hard. She told me to never go that long without replacing again. Even though they were completely used, I hate to get rid of them entirely. Those shoes have walked through some great stories.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Do you guys get e-mail badgering enough? You know the ones that I mean. They have been triple forwarded or worse. And then they tell you that if you love them you will send it back to them and forward it to at least ten friends or else bad luck will befall you.

I do send these back to my daughter because she feels underfed with e-mails. Sometimes they contain lovely sentiments or thought provoking information. Even so, I risk the bad luck and do not mass forward them. I risk the friendship of the person who sent them to me and do not send it back to them. So far, they are all still my friends. I don't think they are the ones adding those menacing forward lines.

I don’t understand why someone wants the e-mail to cruise through the internet exponentially. There is no financial gain that I can figure out. I don’t see how it would make anyone famous.

Then there are the jokes that have been circulating for years. Some of them I get repeatedly because all my friends think I’ll enjoy it. Like the Andy Rooney one about why women over 40 are better than younger women. Some of them are really raunchy, but funny. Those are usually the ones with the sentence tacked on the end requesting prayers for their son in Iraq.

Or how about when they drag Jesus into it? I got one recently that said if I loved Jesus I would forward it to everyone on my list. If I didn’t love Jesus I would just delete it. I don’t know. Do you think Jesus would forward emotional blackmailing e-mails? WWJF? What Would Jesus Forward?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Doesn't it seem that the more of a rush you are in, the slower all the people around you go?

Yesterday, I realized when I got my son to his baseball game that the first aid tape holding the gauze on his newly injured elbow was not going to stay put for the game. I needed to get better tape and try to get back before the game started. The drug store was closer than my house, so I decided to just buy new, stickier tape.

The cars in the parking lot were cruising around slow, waiting for parking spaces. The lanes were narrow so passing wasn't always possible. I finally parked far, hurried in and found my supplies. Then I proceeded to the check out.

Although one register had a line four people long, the other line had only one guy in it. Rather than question the people in the long line, I happily took my place in the short one. Then I realized why no one was in this line.

The older gentleman in the line in front of me was at the stage in life where rushing is no longer an option. He had a little chauffeur-style cap covering his gray hair and suspenders holding up his plaid pants. I'm sure he thought he was being modern by not using cash, but he wrote a check. Of course, he did not start writing the check until all the ringing up was completed. When his granddaughter wanted to discuss candy options, he had to stop writing. No multi-tasking at that age. The teenage cashier was obviously inexperienced with checks that are now rarely used - expect by people in front of me. So he had to call over support to help him figure out how to force the computerized register to accept the darn thing.

So I finally got in the other line. No I don't have a store card. No I don't want to fill out an application. I dared to get cash back off my debit card and didn't realize I had to hit the zeroes. So I got back 35 cents, which the cashier dropped.

Don't those moments make you want to yell at everyone? I thought I could do it in under 15 minutes. With the trafficy parking lot & intersection plus the crackerjack service, it was almost 30. I know the whole world is not obligated to rush around for me, but I would sure appreciate it if they did.