Friday, November 30, 2007

Dinner Conversation

I had been feeling like I hadn't been out anywhere fun lately. Then today I got an email from Alisa, let's go out to dinner! Yes! Lynn could come too! So we went to Sagebrush Cantina, a very good Mexican restaurant that everyone else thinks is a good place to go for dinner on a Friday night too. We had to wait around for an hour before getting a table, but it wasn't too bad, they make excellent Margaritas there.

Do you ever look around when you are in a restaurant and wonder what the people at the other tables are talking about? Well I had the unusual sensation of feeling like I was listening in on the conversation that I was already in on. Maybe the tequila caused that. But now I will share it with you:

Alisa: Nolan swallowed a marble and thought he was going to die.

Mindy: Why was a marble in his mouth?

Lynn: I hope it wasn't magnetic. They had that on Grey's Anatomy, it was serious.

Alisa: It wasn't Magnetic, but it was from the Magnetix toys but the ball is made of metal, I checked.

Mindy: I am suprised that he put a marble in his mouth.

Lynn: Our dog swallowed a marble, but it was a real marble. I called the vet and he said if the dog didn't choke on it then it would probably poop it out.

Alisa: Nolan was scared because it hurt his throat going down. Remember when he put the corn kernel up his nose?

Mindy: That's why I'm surprised he would be putting that in his mouth. I remember the corn kernel incident was awful, he had to go to the hospital to get it out.

Lynn: And then you put the corn kernel in your scrapbook.

Alisa: Well he hasn't pooped it out yet.

Mindy: How could you possibly know that?

Lynn: I had to check the dog's poops for the marble. Since they're small I could tell.

Alisa: Nolan's poops are big and soft.

Mindy: Refried beans anyone?

Lynn: The other day Emily had a little skateboard in her mouth, and I got mad.

Alisa: I looked up "swallowed objects" on the internet, there's not much out there.

Mindy: Poison control center is very helpful. At least they were the time that Timmy bit into that glowing necklace...

And then we moved on to other subjects. It was a great night out as it always is with these good friends. And in case anyone were to look over at us and wonder what we were talking about, well, now you know.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A White November

Seasons are out of whack this fall. Some trees still have leaves when they should be down already, and now it's snowing. Pretty, though.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Ah, Thanksgiving. A National Holiday rich with tradition going all the way back to when the first pilgrims traced their hands on construction paper and made a turkey out of it. No? Oh, right, it's when we fill our hearts with gratitude for all the wonderful things in our lives such as our health, and our loved ones all around us, good food and shelter...but then what about those who aren't in such good health, or are missing someone dear to them, or lost their job and maybe their homes this year. It starts to seem like what we're really being grateful about is good thing it's them not us, and that seems uncomfortable so we donate some canned goods to the local food bank to try to even things up a bit.

I wonder if there are some billionaires sitting around the table on their own tropical island giving thanks for the private jets that got them all there, and for the skill of their personal chefs, and for how nicely the renovations to the waterfall in the pool came out. And what they're really doing is being thankful that they're not like us, and they donate an old Porsche to Mother Wattles to make themselves feel ok about that.

And then there is the vision of people who have almost nothing, but are happy and grateful anyways, like Bob Cratchit's family in A Christmas Carol. There they were all cheering around that weird figgy pudding, and cute little Tiny Tim..oh it's so confusing.

So I was going to try to come up with a list of things to be thankful about that weren't so much about having or not having, such as "the love of my family and friends" or "freedom" or "Jesus for saving our souls" or "sunsets and sunrises" but I risk making you want to hurl your sweet potato casserole all over the freshly pressed tablecloth, so I won't do that. I considered listing the irrelevant but nice things like: cranes in the lake, my close parking spot at work, blog comments, warm weather in November, a cat that curls up in my lap and purrs. Stuff that just happens, whether I deserve it or not, that makes me feel fortunate. But you know that somewhere within me is another possibly longer corollary list of irrelevant undeserved things that really TICK ME OFF and the thankfulness out there is that I'm finally learning that it's best not to go on about all of it quite so much.

So here's what Thanksgiving really means to me: Going to my Aunt Judy's house and eating the most incredible meal I will have all year. She is a phenomenal cook and goes all out to put forth this amazing spread of food for our family and hers, over 20 of us counting the kids. Of course we bring along our own pathetic little food offerings, a pie or a side dish, but it never seems like enough in comparison to what she has provided for us on that day every year. I do know that she enjoys doing this and that it's important to her to keep a connection to her brother's family and see all us kids and our kids interacting together. That's when I feel gratitude. Thankful to her for giving of her talents in a way that has come to mean so much. It makes me want to be like that. Except for the cooking part, you know how that's going for me.

This summer I got a chance. My niece and nephew were already here for a sleepover, and we worked it out that my mother and Aunt Judy would come over to visit with her two grandaughters. I served deli sandwiches so it wasn't about the food. It was about these 6 cousins, so close in age, having a ball of a time swimming in our backyard pool, going around the path in the park, and playing "tiki bar." So there we were on the patio in the perfect sunshine and the kids were serving us lemonade and cut-up hotdogs that they made themselves, and Aunt Judy was sitting there remarking about how very wonderful this day was for her. She was feeling grateful to me. How good that felt.

So that's what I think thankfulness is to me. It's being able to share the good things you do have, be it a talent for cooking or a sunny backyard, and someone appreciating it. It's such a great feeling, they should make a holiday out of it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Go out and shoot a Feral Swine

This weekend we got an extra day off for what I call Hunting Day but is officially associated with Veterans Day, which falls earlier in the week. I have mixed feelings about hunting. I can see the attraction of hanging out in the woods, feeling close to nature, and looking for something. It's just the shooting it dead part that makes me uncomfortable. Largely because deer are so pretty, with those big eyes, and the way they run, I just love looking at them. Except when they are staring at me blank-faced from the top of a truck on I-75.

But then on the radio I found out that this year they are allowing a new kind of hunting: Feral Pigs. I never knew they existed around here, but according to the DNR they are a problem that must be stopped, and hunters are invited to take a go at it. I must say I have never seen a furry tusked pig trotting past my backyard but they are even here in this county. There's something about the mental image of those big bad hunters in their camouflage suits driving home with a pig strapped to the truck strikes me as funny and not as disturbing as the deer.

Maybe that's because I don't find pigs as pretty as deer. Or because pigs are already considered food, and deer seem more like lovely forest decorations. And I believe that pigs are supposed to be smart. Perhaps that is how they got to be feral pigs in the first place, they escaped their captivity. If they're smarter than the hunters then it could get interesting.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mystery from the Mud

Jeffrey and his friend Jerrod were walking around out in the lake, exploring. It is still very low and mostly just mud on our side, due to the low precipitation and a broken dam. (Don't even get me started on that...) I was in the kitchen, where I could look out and see them poking around in the muck, turning over logs to see what hid beneath. Looks like I'm going to have to launder his winter jacket already, the second time he's worn it this season.

The next thing I knew, there was a cacophony of stomping up the deck stairs, shouting and shrieking and muddy hands pounding on the doorwall. Breathless, they were both talking at once: "We found something!" "There's a driver's licence!" "It's a purse!" Jerrod produces a smeary card. "I used my pocket knife to rip it open and I got this out!" (File for later consideration: a 9 year old who carries a knife) I asked where the purse was now. "It's still in the mud! We'll get it out! We need help! TIM! TIM! Get your boots on!" Of course, when nine year olds need assistance, an authority, someone with skills beyond their own, it has to be...a twelve year old!

So they managed to ply the thing out of the muck and lay out the contents on our patio for inspection. Everything was soaked in mud and badly decomposed, but you could make out the contents: A case with some glasses, 2 sets of keys, a checkbook, a 10 dollar bill, loose change, a calculator, a velvet ring box (with a folded paper in it, no ring) a matchbook, makeup.

How very interesting, to be looking at someones possessions like this, uninvited and unexpected. It reminds me of the "Artifacts of the Titanic" exhibit we went to see downtown a couple of years ago. All of those personal objects, retrieved from the bottom of the ocean after so many years, from an event so haunting and dramatic. They seemed to speak the story of the people who once owned them, crossing time and distance to that moment, right there, when you are looking at them and thinking about it. Make me wonder what someone would think if they contemplated the preserved contents of my purse: Hey look a single gold hoop earring...

So here we have an actual mystery: What in the world was the purse doing there? The location of the find is actually in a place that is difficult to get to and unlikely for anyone other than migrating deer and exploring little boys to access. Ramona was over and joined in the speculation, wide-eyed. Here are the theories they considered:

A pick pocket absconded with it from the library to our lake

An animal got ahold of it and dragged it there

The woman was going to change her identity and pitched the purse to erase all evidence of her former self

A murder case...maybe she was buried in the muck along with her purse! (They went to check, no bones found)

Eventually, they agreed upon the one most plausible solution, to their childhood minds, which was, of course:

It must have been dropped from a hot air balloon flying over the lake, as they often do. Yes, that has to be it, they concluded.

Back in the house, the obvious first thing to do was go to the internet and check the National Registry of Missing Persons for the name from the license. Nothing. Next, I googled the name, looking for clues. Not much came up, but there were some videos posted under that name, mostly scenes from a drag race. I couldn't identify the location of the track. There was one video with people in it, a woman doing a silly dance...hey she just mooned the camera! I was trying to match her face with the tiny picture on the driver's liscence when Larry walked in holding the local phone book and dialing the cordless telephone. "I'm calling her." No answer.

Jerrod's father came to the door looking for his muddy son who enthusiatically related the whole exciting story. He asked if we had called the police. Um, no, but we could do that too, sure!

Well, eventually we did reach her on the phone and arranged for her to stop by the next day to pick up her purse. She explained that it had been stolen from her car when it was parked at the house two doors down from ours. Her son had borrowed her car and was over there visiting late at night. She was incredibly nice and certainly not the woman from the internet videos. She said it felt a little weird that strangers had looked in her purse (if only she knew!) So we handed her the plastic bags full of muddy purse contents and she handed each of the boys a gift card to ColdStone Creamery as a reward.

I have to wonder if this is one of those situations that the kids will recall someday when they are older and more tuned in to the realities of the world. When they'll look back at the situations that seemed so incredible and thrilling from a childish perspective, and sit around and recall them with a "hey, remember the time" and for a moment the magic is back. When everything was perceived with the possibility of adventure and excitement. For now we don't know, but the ice cream was really good.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Unpack Your Adjectives

I drove the boys over to the high school to sign them up for wrestling. There is always wrestling going on in our house and it drives me crazy, so I figured this was a way to get them to do it in a place where there aren't any table lamps and maybe release some energy. I can get my money back if they don't like it after the first two practices so I agreed to the sign up even though Sharon told me that I will hate it. I suspect that she is right but we'll see what the boys say.

Anyways, we were driving home and Jeffrey was poking Tim in the back of the head and I had to holler at them to be quiet and don't make me have to stop the car! So it was quiet for a few moments as we drove along and then I heard a little lilting voice singsonging: Un-pack... your first I wasn't sure if it was coming from the deep recesses of my inner brain, like a leak or something. I asked "What was that?" Timmy hesitated, and then said, "we're learning about adjectives in school, and the teacher played a video." So the rest of the way home the three of us sang the chorus loudly and repeatedly, and when we got there we looked it up.

It is, of course, from the Schoolhouse Rock series of mini-cartoons that played in between Saturday morning TV shows as a sort of mental experiment on the young Generation Xers to see if they could sneak some education into our brains sideways in between episodes of Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo. I don't know if it made anyone smarter but those SONGS will be forever burned into my memory. I just wasn't expecting one of them to come out of my own kid's mouth like that.

It turns out that this one was first shown in 1975. I was ten, about the same as Jeffrey is now. And try not to think about this: Tim's 7th grade teacher that showed this video was born in 1981. He probably thinks of it as some quaint retro curiosity. I suppose it is.

So you too can have this tune playing uncontrollably across your consciousness, here it is. This is my first time posting a video on this blog, let me know if it causes you any problems.

Grammar Rock Adjective

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Contempt of Court

Maybe you remember the time I stopped to help after witnessing the Rollover accident, and then later got subpoenaed to court as a witness. I like to think of my self as a good citizen, which is why I stopped at the accident scene in the first place, and why I planned to attend the trial. That and the fact that the subpoena was an official document with a Seal of the Supreme Court on it and had this sentence in bold black print:


This wouldn't have been too difficult except that the court date was for October 31. I happen to have other things to do that day, #1 being be at work, and I'm out of vacation days. But I asked and found out that there is a policy for this and I would be excused similar to jury duty. #2 is that it is a half-day at the elementary school. So I signed Jeffrey up for a field trip with the extended day program. It's expensive but I wanted to make sure he would be cared for. #3 is that I have always attended (and often organized) the class party and school parade, usually I use vacation time for this important day. This time I donated chips ahead of time and hoped that if my obligation at the court ended early there might be time for me to at least stop in. #4 is that Halloween is always a day with a huge traffic jam because all of the working husbands have been instructed to get home early enough for trick or treating. #5 is that at work they were having a week long international business meeting in my department, and the highlight was to be a department-wide luncheon that day with everyone in costume. On my very first day when I met the executive director he encouraged me to participate in this. Since I knew I couldn't be there, I offered to help organize my work group's costumes, there was a circus theme. I put together a spreadsheet of costume ideas, and my boss liked the "Lion Tamer" idea. He would say he needed to talk to me and I'd get the status of my project together only to find out it was about the costumes. I had to repeatedly explain why I would be absent that day, and did not pay for the lunch.

The subpoena came with a letter from the attorney that contained the line:

"It is always wise to call the court the day before, or the day of the scheduled hearing to verify that the case has not been rescheduled."

So I did that, and after finally getting through the recorded-menu maze I got a clerk on the line and asked about this case, by number. She looked it up and said: " looks like that was rescheduled for October 23...but the defendant didn't show up." Incredulous, I asked: "So I shouldn't go anywhere? Why wasn't I informed of the change?" She assured me that there was nothing for me to attend, but suggested I call the lawyer's office for an explanation.

So I did, and got an assistant on the phone. I asked her if I would be in contempt of court for not showing up anywhere. She said no. But why wasn't I told of anything? She said: "Oh, well that's why we put that disclaimer on there, because we really don't keep track of who we sent subpoenas to."

I am flabbergasted.
I ended up working from home that day and taking an hour to go over to the school, and of course having a good Halloween. But still...just who was in contempt of whom in this case?

contempt (kən-těmpt') –noun
1.the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, or worthless; disdain; scorn.
2.the state of being despised; dishonor; disgrace.
a.willful disobedience to or open disrespect for the rules or orders of a court (contempt of court) or legislative body. act showing such disrespect.