Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This kid.

There was a guys' youth retreat at church last weekend. Among other things, they went paintballing. Unbeknownst to anyone, my Jonathan stowed away a bunch of paintballs.

He took said paintballs to school with him on Monday.

In social studies, somebody dared him to eat one, so, of course, he did. At least, he put it in his mouth and bit it and exploded the paint. His teacher saw and was certain that he had poisoned himself. She began to scream and cry. He spit the stuff out and told her (and I have my doubts about his honesty, but this is what he said), "Oh, don't worry. I ate, like, fourteen or fifteen of these last weekend when I was paintballing. I'll be fine." She nearly had a nervous breakdown and sent him to the nurse. And the principal.

Poison control was consulted, and it was found (as Jonathan had stated) that paintballs are made mostly of vegetable oil and are basically non-toxic. However, the principal called my husband at work and told him that Jonathan must have a Saturday detention on December 6.

Jonathan is indignant because his charge is "Reckless endangerment," and he says he didn't do anything reckless or dangerous; he should only be charged with "Class disruption," which he does admit he did. He says "Class disruption" would only be an after school detention, not a Saturday detention, and he wants justice.

We are trying hard to avoid giving Jonathan attention for this escapade, because I think attention is what he ultimately wants. So we are not letting the other kids in on it. The whole issue kind of cracks me up every time I think about it, though. I'm such a bad mom. Jonathan got in trouble in sixth grade once for making awful faces. His teacher said, "Jonathan! What would your mother do if she knew you were making those faces?" When he shared the story with me (with a twinkle in his eye), I queried, "You didn't tell her that I teach you all to make faces and that we practice together in a row in front of my bathroom mirror, did you?" He grinned and replied, "Of course not."

(For the record, David is far too cool to make faces with the rest of us. It would be important to him that this disclaimer be made.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Things you expect (kind of) and things you don't...

It is Friday, November 21.

Two weeks ago we raked a ton of leaves and did a really decent job on the yard. The problem? Only about half the leaves had fallen.

One week ago, on Friday November 14, all the leaves finished falling. It was 70 degrees and sunny. And we were fully booked. We were coordinating a major dinner at our church, our kids had All-County music auditions in Nedrow, and our dog had to go to the groomer, for starters. We did not get any yardwork done on Friday, November 14. As I frantically ran errands in preparation for the dinner, I watched the beautiful day fade into an early dusk, as days are apt to do this time of year, and I hoped in "tomorrow."

Well, Saturday came all right. It was a rainy day. It rained Saturday and Sunday. On Monday it snowed. Snow also fell on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and this morning.

Now my neighborhood looks like this...

And there are still leaves on the ground, nasty, wet, dirty, snow-covered leaves. You can see some of them poking up from under the snow as Schubert takes a mad frolic in the backyard...

Yup. Winter is here. On top of my poor rhododendron...

My weeping cherry looks weepier than ever...

Whether you like it or not, winter comes, with all the cold, the mess, and the short, dark days. It is part of the rhythm of life. I'm sure it serves a purpose.

I hope there won't be winter in Heaven

But, as I said, it is expected. You deal with it. You might complain, but you deal with it, because you knew that it was coming and, shucks, I forgot to move out of New York AGAIN.

What is not expected is the letter I got yesterday. I, I, received an invitation from the Biltmore Who's Who. The letter says, and I am not making this up, "You were currently chosen as a potential candidate to represent the professional and business community of Liverpool, New York..." It goes on to say, "The Publishing Committee selected you as a potential candidate, based on your current standing as well as criteria from executive and professional rosters."

Do you realize that I have not worked in nineteen years?!? And when I did work, I worked for only approximately nine months, as an advertising copywriter. I had Shannon, and I quit. Except for one very short stint of doing technical writitng for my husband's company (approximately three days' worth, and I hated it, so I got one of my friends to take the job... she still works there), I have never worked since.

It reminds me of the time when I was in college, and I was standing waiting for a bus, wearing Shawn's letter jacket, which had his name on it. Some dumb guy came up and tried to strike up a conversation with me by saying in his very nicest voice, "Hi Shawn! How have you been?" What.An.Idiot. Could he not see that I was a relatively small female, wearing a huge (read: MAN'S) letter jacket, and my name was not probably the name on the jacket?

Except, this time, I wasn't even wearing a jacket. Where did these people get my name? And why? I think I might be a bit angry, if it wasn't so funny.

They say, "Once finalized, your listing will share prominent space in the Biltmore Registry with thousands of fellow achievers across the nation, each representing individual accomplishment within their [sic] own geographical area."

At least they could try to get their pronoun agreement right.

Should I fill out the form? Should I tell them that I am a stay-at-home-mom with no job, no income, and I don't even homeschool? Gracious, I don't even rake my leaves.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I don't do well with transitions. In other words, I think change stinks.

(aside: I was never one to be fooled by politicians who run on platforms for "change." Change is not generally a pleasant or agreeable thing. Actually, I hate change. If anyone wants my vote, and I don't suppose anyone cares about one quirky woman's single offbeat vote, but if anyone wants it next time around, he should run on a platform that says, "I will keep your life exactly the same as it is, only I will gently and slowly add enhancements by taxing people other than you and giving you things that you will like, such as classical music concerts in in your neighborhood park and free fresh fruit and a personal physician who makes house calls and cares about you." I am jesting. I think.)

It seems as though so many things are changing.

We bought land. We traded a car for a different car. We are in the process of getting a car for Shannon.

The US economy is tanking.

We have a new and very different president. He will step into office in approximately two months.

David needs to figure out where to apply to college and get his paperwork finished in less than a month.

Jonathan is in the throes of puberty.

Putting these factors together, I feel pretty insecure.

I am not dealing with a death in the family, or cancer in the family, or a job change, or a cross-country move or anything like that. I should be thankful.

I don't know if I have ever felt this tired in my life. Sometimes I can't even force my eyelids all the way open in the middle of the day.

Maybe... maybe... maybe along with all these changes, I am undergoing the Change at the same time.

(aside: Steven Curtis Chapman has a song that has a line that repeats over and over, "What about The Change?" I always think he is singing about menopause, which I suppose is blasphemous, because he is really singing about spiritual sanctification, but there you have it... my warped, middle-aged, sheltered, Christian woman mind.)

Do you know, my hair is falling out too? It will solve my problem of what to do about the gray, I guess. There won't be any gray hair, because I will be bald. I knew I could feel my scalp prickling and releasing hairs, but the concrete proof came when our shower stopped draining. This is the shower that only Shawn and I use, and Shawn doesn't shed. We took the drain apart and pulled out my hair with needle nosed pliers. While eschewing gory, slimy details, I will say that it was alarming to see how much hair is no longer on my head.

Speaking of transitions, how long do you think it takes to get used to wearing a wig? Maybe a wig would be a nice thing to wear on a cold winter day in our neck of the woods.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out with the old

I really liked this car. It was fun to drive up the swervy driveway of our elementary school... it made me feel wild and brave and coordinated, it handled so well. Well, I don't have any kids in elementary school anymore, anyway.

We drove this car to Boston a couple of times.

It was a good car. It looked so sad, sitting at the dealer, stripped of its plates, the day we drove away.

It had a V6 engine. We traded for a 4 cylinder. I hope we get good mileage.

Here is the new car. As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on this one.

It has heated seats. That is a plus.

Forgive me for not being more excited. I had a really crummy week; lots of headaches, lots of issues at school with teachers, lots of dropped balls, lots of people frustrated with me but too polite to actually confront me on what a bad job I was doing at life. It is now 10:37 on Saturday night. The week is very nearly over. I will go to bed and hope for a better day tomorrow and a better week to come.

Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No car

There will be no new car today. It is Veterans Day. The banks are closed. Nobody thought of this in advance.

I have a reprieve. It is nice. After sobbing this morning while Shawn drove away "for the very last time" in the Mitsubishi, I feel comforted to know that I get to do it again tomorrow. No, really, I really do feel better. Maybe tomorrow I will be ready for the transition and I won't cry. Maybe Dr. Seuss was a Republican.

Does this look like a little girl who would grow up to be a basket case about an old car? What has happened to me in the last forty years?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trusting in times of complicated stress

Well, we closed on our land on Halloween. I wouldn't have chosen that date, but the taxes were overdue, and there was going to be an additional late fee if they continued unpaid into November. This was not our problem; it would have come out of the seller's profits. But we decided to be nice and hurry things along, and so now we are the owners of twenty New York acres. A big step for someone whose goal for the past 20 years has been to move out of New York.

Word travels fast. A friend from church called two days after we had closed to ask if he could hunt on our land. He offered to give us some venison steaks. I'm not sure I want any venison, but I don't mind him hunting. Maybe he would like to take Jonno out and teach him to hunt. Shawn was brought up hunting, but he doesn't much like it. I guess he's more a Jacob than an Esau. I think Jon would probably like hunting pretty well, though.

I might need to learn to like venison.

This past Friday I was taking Shannon to college and our car started to rattle and shake like crazy. We were on highway 481, and traffic was fairly heavy. I didn't know what to do! Shannon said, "You better pull over!" I thought about trying to make it to an exit, but there are not very many exits on that stretch of 481. I wondered why the check engine light was not coming on. Then it came on, and Shannon said, "Mom! Pull over before the car blows up!" Judging by the way things sounded, that was not an irrational statement.

We called AAA and a guy with a tow truck came... after I had sat on the shoulder for 30 minutes watching death approach time after time in my rearview mirror. People do not swing around you OR slow down when you are pulled over on the shoulder. It is really scary.

The AAA guy said it was a flat tire. I did not know how that explained the check engine light being on, but nevertheless, he changed the tire--put the donut on for us. After a harrowing experience getting back on the highway (during which I thought the AAA man would surely lose his life trying to help us), I drove to the next exit and went home by back roads.

Upon ariving home, we borrowed my DEAR neighbor's van to go to the high school to get our van, because DJ and Lu had driven to school. THEN I could finally take Shannon to college (she missed her first class).

Upon arriving home again, I went to take the car to Sam's Club to get the tire fixed. Shawn had arrived home from California at something like 12:15 a.m. the previous night, and was trying to sleep off jet lag, but it was an unsuccessful attempt. He had to pump up the donut, which was also flat, before we could take the car to Sam's together. In the end, they had to replace that tire and the one on the other end of the axle, for balance.

I told Shawn, "I think we'd better get a new car. I don't want that to ever happen again." He knew of a way to get a great deal on a three year old Mercedes, but his source, while reliable and utterly honest, is... um... slow. I did not want to wait two months for a great deal on a three year old Mercedes. I was still shaking with the memory of gargantuan tractor-trailer trucks barreling down on me at 75 miles per hour and passing within inches while my car shuddered as though in a turbine. I said, "I want a new car today."

I was hoping for a Honda Civic. We got an Accord. You have to let your man be a man, you know.

Actually, we don't quite have the new car yet, but the deal is settled and they are just detailing it and such while we get all the paperwork through. The waiting is a terrible thing. I would like to change my mind, but it is too late. Our old car drives nicely now that it has two new tires. The check engine light is off. I feel kind of sick. Shawn will pick up the Honda tomorrow at 1 p.m. and I will never see his silver Mitzubishi again. Did I mention that I feel kind of sick?

The car we got for Shannon will also be ready to go by the end of this week. Augh. I feel like I'm going to puke. Twenty acres and two cars in less than a month. Life will get easier. I HOPE life will get easier. Because if it doesn't, we will have made ourselves poor for nothing.

It is times like this when I have the most trouble trusting God. I prayed and prayed about the land. I prayed and prayed about Shannon's car. While going through the (admittedly very short) process of buying the Accord, I prayed that God would protect us from ourselves and stop it from happening if it was not according to His will. God doesn't need lots of time to answer a prayer. The length of time we pray means more to us that it does to God, I'm quite sure. But in major life changes (or investments, as the case may be), I always, always, always have the feeling I am being disobedient. I am SO GLAD I am not the man, and the ultimate responsibility doesn't rest on me. Just saying.

I need to trust, to trust and be thankful. It is a scary thing to impoverish one's family in an economic time like this. On the other hand, we are trading weak American dollars for stuff with a sort of real value (or at least a real use), so maybe it isn't so bad?

I think I should be shopping for a cow to raise on our land next. Oh, wait. That will require getting a barn first. And before we put a cow on the property, we should probably live there ourselves, but I can't even find a floor plan for a house that is both appealing and affordable. Why is life so complicated?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another day

Well, the sun came up this morning, even though there was a political massacre last night.

The electricity is still on, my computer still works, there is still milk in the refrigerator, the school bus came on schedule, the dogs want their Alpo.

If Obama wasn't a baby-killer, I guess I would be OK with the idea of changing some things.

Health care is undeniably broken, and has been for a long time. Maybe changes will help. Maybe not. Who knows?

I'm thinking we ought to buy a gun, while we can, if only to get our name on the registry as folks with a gun. I don't really want to have a gun, but I sure do not want crooks to be able to look up a registry and see that I don't have one, so they can target me. Maybe we could get one and just bury it in the basement somewhere. Mostly, I want my name on the list as a registered gun owner. Because when the only people with guns are the criminals who got them illegally, a safe society it does not make.

Taxes? Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's. I wish less was Caesar's and more was God's. I also wish that Caesar would promise never to use any of my tax money to provide federally funded abortions.

I do think it is kind of cool that we have a black man as a president, even though he is not really a black man, but I'm sure he would be a real black man if he could. I just wish he wasn't so very liberal. I wish he wasn't a baby-killer. I wish he was Clarence Thomas.

Can we hope? Is it OK to hope that some good might come from this? Is it OK to hope that new laws will help us pay for college? Is it OK to hope that perhaps this presidency will make strides in healing race-relations in our country?

Is it OK to try to look on the bright side?

Well, I don't know much. In fact, I only really know two things.

I know that God is still God, and nothing can ever change that.

I know that I will have to wait and see what happens next.

Anyhow, a repairman fixed my stove yesterday. So that is good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


(1) I am really tired. Well now, that's original. It qualifies as an ingredient in a "potpourri"? Like I know potpourri. I would probably think it was exfolliant and try to scrub my back with it in the bathtub if I ever came in contact with any. Or grind it up and use it to season a loaf of bread. Who knows? I'm tired, and I am not a crafty girl.

(2) There are crafty girls and crafty girls. As in, there are girls with designs on things who use wit and cleverness to achieve their goals. I am not one of these. I do have control issues, but they are ALL (I am not lying) beyond me. As in, I have given up. I used to control things. I got anorexia nervosa when I was 15-16-17, and dropped from 125 to 95 pounds. It was kinda fun. My dad told me I was starving my BRAIN cells, so I started eating again. I controlled my anorexia, for goodness sake. I could controal anything. Until I got married and had kids. Now I can't control anything. I tried to alphabetize my spices. I put the sweet ones (cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, cardamom...) on the upper shelf and the rest on the lower shelf. But the lower shelf only fit up to about P, so the tarragon is next to the cinnamon and the cake sprinkles. Anyway, the oregano and the ground mustard and the cumin are all mixed up on their shelf now anyway. And I can't even blame it on anyone else, becasue I am the only one who uses spices.

If I don't fit the controlling definition of a crafty girl, then I certainly do not fit the literal image--a sweet faced thing who likes to knit and stencil. Oh, I have knitted and I have stenciled. I can do these things. I just don't. Not sure why. I guess I have enough mess without a bunch of craft projects around. My favorite part of a craft project is when you clean it up and throw the extra stuff all away. Which I never do. I still have craft stuff from projects I started eleven years ago. In drawers. This is why I don't craft anymore. There are no more drawers left.

(3) Sorry about the birth certificate stuff concerning Obama in my post a week ago. There really was a lawsuit by a real-live person from, I believe, Pennsylvania (but I am probably wrong about the state). Anyway, it was old news and debunked by the time I wrote about it, but I will leave the post up anyway so I can be properly shamed and punished for writing it in the first place. I was feeling sensitive because we had some crummy birth certificate experiences when we tried to get Laura's driver's permit. Actually, it was more a problem of social security cards than birth certificates, but it's all government document nonsense, and I was ticked to think that Obama might have an easier time of it than we did.

(4) Pet peeve. I hate it when, after dinner, I am at the sink scrubbing the cooking pans and packing away the leftovers in plastic containers, and the rest of the family CLEARS THEIR OWN DISHES from the table and GOES TO WATCH TV, while conspicuously leaving MY dishes at my place as if to say, "Ha ha Mom. You didn't even clear your dishes!" Never mind the fact that I made the food. Never mind the fact that I am washing all the really bad cooking utensils. By. my. self. Never mind that I have been clearing dishes for them ever since 1990, and probably cleared their snack dishes earlier that very day, just so I could set the table for supper. No. There sit my dishes, and the rest of them have the audacity to feel jusitified in judging me for it. I have a problem with this. I wonder if I have PMS or something. My blood pressure is rising right now, and it hasn't even happened yet today.

(5) Argh. I have to vote today. Can I say that I am sick to death of this election? We have a moderate Republican and a radical left-wing extremist Democrat, and somehow the radical extremist is predicted to win. This makes no sense. There isn't even a conservative candidate to choose from. I have a choice of voting for John McCain or voting for someone who will make this country communist, chase the rich out with a broom and tax the middle class into oblivion while bankrupting companies and destroying jobs, advancing abortion rights and redefining marriage to mean any perverse thing a person wants it to mean. He will strip us of our religious liberties, and probably advance pornography in the process (although the feminists used to be against pornography... is there any hope that while he is curtailing freedom of speech, Obama would also go after the the pornographic realm?). Anyhow, I will probably vote for McCain. Because it seems the most responsible thing to do. I toy with writing in a true conservative, but I don't know any that I like. Huckabee? In New York, the vote virtually always goes to the Democrats, no matter what, so it might not hurt anything to write in Huckabee. On the other hand, if I really want to see God act, I ought to take the whole thing more seriously than I want to. I am so sick of it all. Blech. If politics didn't affect my life, I would be very happy to entirely ignore them.

(6) Our stove is supposed to get fixed today. Really, it was supposed to be fixed tomorrow, but they called and said they were coming today, so here I am waiting for them, even though I had errands to do. And they are not here. It is a gas stove and one of the burner controls is out of control. It sparks and sounds like it is trying to light even when you don't touch it, and always if you brush or bump it lightly. Then you can't make it stop snapping. It is rather alarming, and we thought it would be a good thing to fix before the whole thing blows up. I am not upset--at all--that they are coming a day early. I just wish they would come.

(7) Lastly, here is a picture to brighten your day. I was trying to take an action shot of Schubert running through our kitchen. As you can see, I missed him. I have a number of pictures that look just like this, because I miss him every time. He is a fast moving dog.