Friday, February 5, 2016

Truth in Advertising

A couple of weeks I got a phone call from a friend. She's a wonderful, wise woman who is in a women's group with me and she's also a Friend of the Library in Small Town. I don't mean she's a friend of the library (lower-cased) as I am, in that she loves the place and regularly takes advantage of its teeny-tiny late book fees to take a month to read an English mystery novel. I mean she's a Friend of the Library (upper-cased) and has an official card to prove that she has paid her dues to the library's fan club.

This fan club meets monthly and my friend was in charge of the program for February. I'm going by memory here, but here's how her call to me went:
"I loved the program Other Friend gave to our women's group, and I asked her to do something like it, but she's going to be out of town, so I asked Another Friend if she could do it but she teaches on Monday nights, so I was wondering if you could do it?"
Now wait--before you rush to the conclusion that I must have been highly incensed to have been chosen based on the stepping-down-the-rungs-of-the-ladder method of selection, rest assured that I could have not been more delighted. Being the first choice is a LOT of pressure. That means the inviter thinks you are the very best, the top notch-est, the cream the cat licks off its whiskers. Being the second choice means you are a heartbeat from that exalted state. But being third choice? That's being Alexander Haig and rushing in to the White House press room to say "I am in control here!" and people looking at each other and saying "Uh, no, you are not."

So it's absolutely no pressure at all, but is a lot of fun because the Friends of the Library are the bim-bam-bomb and many of them are also MY friends.

At least I thought it was no pressure until I saw the promotion for the meeting, which is being published in Small Town's newspaper, and in the Chamber of Commerce newsletter, and going out to all of the dear Friends.
"The program this month, 'Love and the Written Word,' will be presented by MomQueenBee, (what I do for a living) and author of the blog 'Empty Nest Feathers.' In honor of Valentine's Day she will be sharing aloud with us several of her written pieces on love and relationships, including a short story and a number of her poems."

It reminded me of the picture of Young Bride, which I've published in this space before. The girl clutching her stephanotis-studded bouquet and gazing dreamily out the window? Well, she's technically me but not in a way you would recognize. There is no truth in advertising here. Add 30 years, ermphityjangle pounds, some wrinkles around the eyes and sensible shoes, and it starts to look like me.

The meeting notice, while technically me, needs to be slightly rewritten since it appears to be someone who knows something about love and the written word, and has written a short story, and has completed a poem that does not include the word Nantucket.
Friends of the Library, please come to the meeting Monday night. MomQueenBee will be reading the most wonderful story about love (which she did not write) and her favorite love poem (which she also did not write) and then she will sneak in a few of her sensibly-shod-and-wrinkly-but-all-her blog posts. Also, she does love your group, and the library so please welcome her with a smile and a hug. 
 There. Completely true.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Happy Birthday, Boy#4!

As I write this, I know exactly where I was 24 years ago this moment.


That's because one does not forget the sensation of balancing on one of those no-sided medical gurneys with Husband on one side, the Best Nurse Ever on the other side, the Best Doctor Ever peering north at me over the lumps-of-flesh-formerly-known-as-my-feet, and the entire staff of a couple of floors of Wesley Medical Center gathered around.

I do not exaggerate. Ordinarily the slot where that gurney was parked would have been curtained off from the next gurney's slot, but there were so many people packed around my bed that all the curtains had been drawn back to give a better view. (That next door gurney, fortunately, was unoccupied.) There were nurses and interns and residents and a stray doctor or two and all were seeing me at my very best: Hugely, enormously, unbelievably pregnant, in one of those gowns that provide easy access for medical procedures and absolutely no privacy for the wearer.

But unlike the rest of my life, when I'm a pretty modest woman (Boy#1's high school civics teacher asked if I was Amish. No, I'm not kidding.), I was okay with all of those folks being around me in this state of exposure because I was beyond excited. I was about to give birth for what I knew would be the final time.

This baby, wanted and loved even before he was conceived, would be the caboose on our train of kids.

And while I had often said I would never stop wanting just one more baby, I was okay with that. I was in the oh-so-charmingly-named "Advanced Maternal Age" category with this baby, and that meant more testing and more worrying. The three Boys already in the House on the Corner were all under age five, so I had felt creaky and tired for much of the previous nine months.

Now, though, in an appropriately dramatic exclamation point to the gestational stage of my life, Child#4 had, sometime between my final prenatal exam on Friday and my induction on Monday, flipped 180 degrees. The baby's head was cradled next to my heart, which is a lovely metaphor for motherhood but a lousy position for birthing.

We discovered this when the Best Nurse Ever couldn't find the heartbeat. I wasn't worried; I knew the baby was alive because I was being kicked in the bladder with great regularity, which, come to think of it, should have tipped me off that the head was not leading the way toward the exit. So BNE began prepping me for a C-section and let the Best Doctor Ever (who was performing a surgery while he waited for me to get a move on) know that he would be going into another surgery.

"Hold up on that C-section prep," the word came back. Best Doctor Ever was going to try to an external cephalic version, a movement also known as "turning the baby."

This prompted a whirlwind of excitement on the labor-and-delivery floor. Even though this was a major medical center, Best Doctor Ever apparently was the only obstetrician in Big City who had been trained in this procedure and I was the perfect candidate (multiple pregnancies, not in active labor, etc.), so everyone wanted to watch. Woohoo!

We had to a bit as Best Doctor Ever cleaned up from the previous surgery and everyone else jockeyed for front row seats, but when he arrived BDE was most reassuring.

"You know I'm not going to do anything that will put the baby or you in danger, right?" he asked me. "We're going to give this one shot, and if it doesn't work, we'll go for the C-section."

And with that he stepped up to the side of the table, put one hand on the baby's head and one on its butt, and pushed them counterclockwise. It didn't take long, maybe 10 seconds, and suddenly his hands slid off the baby's butt--the tiny body was back where it should be for a non-surgical birth. The residents standing on chairs cheered.

A couple of moments later I was on my feet walking down to the delivery room (the medical pros weren't taking any chances that the 180 rotation would turn into a round trip back to breech) and six hours later, Boy#4 was born.

I've wondered from time to time if it was this dramatic entrance into the world (with such a great cloud of witnesses) that prompted Four's aversion to the spotlight, but I'm pretty sure it's just his nature to love his friends and family more than being the center of attention. Still, he will play a piano on the street just because his mother wants to take a picture of him doing it.

Happy birthday, Boy#4. You were worth all the dramatics.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I've Figured It Out!

How I plan to spend my retirement. Image Credit

You guys! Pay attention! I've figured it out!

You all are Downton Abbey fans, right? Because of course you are. On Sunday nights you're plopped in front of PBS to see what is going to happen with the so-rich-they're-miserable-but-occasionally-happy Crawley family and their cadre of so-poor-they're-happy-but-occasionally-miserable staff.

You have wanted to shake the exasperating Lady Mary, who is the master of the eyeroll, whether she is irritated,
Image Credit.
or being coy.
Image Credit.
You also have wanted to shake sad-sack Lady Edith although she has moments of perception that are spot on.
Image Credit.
And now that it is the final season of this series and it needs to bestir itself to start tying up loose ends, you have to admit that you DO NOT GET IT. Why in the world is so much time being spent on the most boring plot line in the history of plots, which is to say, the take-over of the village hospital by the government, or something like that.

This plot line is the worst. The. Worst. It's even worse than Anna being accused of murder, or Bates actually being imprisoned because of murder, or SHUT UP, DAISY!

Sunday night, though, I figured it out, and actually did a ladylike fist pump and yelled "Tallyho!" That's because I saw this guy wince, not once but twice...
Image Credit.
...and a light bulb went on in my self-indulgent little aristocratic brain. (I felt just like Edith did when she found realized that she should fire that editor, which is to say, "Huh. Why didn't I realize this earlier?)

See, the hospital plot line is going to intersect with those two winces. Mark my words now, because either the hospital will be really good and save Lord Grantham's life when it turns out he has a debunkerizing carpatangle  (or whatever) that must be removed IMMEDIATELY, or the hospital will be really bad and Lord Grantham will die.

That is why the hospital plot line exists, and you read it here first.

We undoubtedly are going to have to wait several more weeks before this situation resolves itself because Downton Abbey moves with the stately pace of plow horse, to give us plenty of time to stare at the dresses and the food and at Lady Mary's eyebrows, which, by the way, have their own Twitter account.

Don't believe it? Here. Enjoy. And try not to feel too demoralized when you realize that Lady Mary's clothes are better than your clothes, Lady Mary's bedroom is more beautiful than your bedroom, and Lady Mary's eyebrows are better tweeters than you are.

You should have been born a Crawley. (Just not Edith.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

So You Hated Uncle Katt? and Other Orts

Boy#3, who was 9 years old; Boy#1, 15; Boy#4, 9; Boy#2, 13.
The picture that starts out today's collection of snippets has nothing whatsoever to do with the snippets. It's just one of my favorite pictures, and if we all are going to be inundated with snow*, this should warm us up. Here the Boys are pausing between free-falls that year we went ziplining in Costa Rica.

Does that sound snooty? Did you get the impression we do things like this all the time? It wasn't meant to be, and we do not. It was The Vacation of our years as a nuclear family, when Husband and I took our sons back to where I had lived in Costa Rica and introduced them to my family there. I had not thought it would be 20 years between when I finished my Peace Corps service and when I was back in country, and this was a dream come true. I smile every time I look at this picture.

Also, if you ever have the chance to zipline, DO IT.

Thank you all, so much, for the concern after my last post in which I mentioned I had fallen off my chair. I am fine. The fall was fairly spectacular in its flailing-around-ness, but only a few inches to the floor. Kind of like this:

But without the pushups. Also, without going viral on YouTube, so I consider that a win.

You guys! After I wrote about the horrifying Uncle Katt a few days ago, Boy#2 sent me this link.

The whole story is here
I feel as if I accidentally opened the door to the underworld.

But let's end on a happy note. That note would be cinnamon, with hints of clove and orange peel, and it's my new favorite thing.

Here's the website
One of my siblings put a can of Caribou Hot Cinnamon Spice tea in our family Christmas exchange, and you cannot believe how delicious this nectar is, or how comforting when you've been sitting in a really, really, really cold office all day. Or, I guess, if you are on the east coast and facing the prospect of 36 inches of snow.

Stay warm out there, East Coast people.

*We aren't actually being inundated with snow here. It's just that the media never pays any attention to our storms, so I'm crashing the party of the one in the East.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Learning From an Egg

Free coloring pages!

Here are the questions I have about Humpty Dumpty:
  • What was his mother thinking when she named him? Was she never in junior high, where odd names are snicker-fodder?  
  • What was he doing sitting on the wall? Was there a parade passing by? Was his self-esteem so low that he didn't realize that as an egg with shoes and a bow tie he was more of an attraction than clowns on motorcycles?  
  • When HD called for first aid, wouldn't it have been better to bypass all the king's horses and go straight for all the king's men, given the no-thumbs issue that is inherent with equines, not to mention lack of pockets for Band-Aids? Didn't the stomping around of all those hooves make him nervous?

Anyway, I started my morning by with a great fall, albeit it out of my office chair rather than off a wall. This is because my office at Small College is REALLY, REALLY COLD today and I was trying to plug a space heater into the one available outlet, which is located behind my desk (historic buildings are charming but not always convenient), and in doing so leaned so far forward that my rolling chair exited west while the rest of me exited east. 

Unlike Humpty Dumpty, I did not need to be put together again. When I assessed the damage (after looking around to make sure no one had noticed and being thankful that the guy in the next office had his earphones on because it really was a fairly great fall) the only damage was an impressive tear in the back of my tights, way above the hemline of my skirt. 

I plan to be especially careful when I drive home for lunch. This is the accident my mother warned me about, the one in which your underpinnings do not reflect your true meticulous nature.

So female EMT friends in Small Town, if I should happen to need ambulance transport for any reason today, could you do me a solid? Get me out of those tights before we reach the hospital. Otherwise all the king's men couldn't put my ladylike reputation again. 

The king's horses, needless to say, would be useless. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Some Nightmares Never End

Have you ever had one of those nightmares that won't end? You wake up and reassure yourself with a shiver that "Whshew! It was only a dream! The algebra test isn't today and I'm not sitting in class in my nightgown!"

That's kind of the way I felt in the week after Christmas when the picture above showed up in my Facebook feed.

"Remember what you were doing three years ago?" Facebook asked me cheerily, obviously not hearing my startled scream.

This is a picture of perhaps the most monstrous creature in my family's history. This aberration belonged to my mother-in-law in her declining years, the years when she wanted to have a real cat but was frail and terribly unsteady so we talked her out of getting a foot-twining feline. Instead, she bought an animatronic model that was wired to sporadically burst out with the most horrendously hoarse "MWORRRRR!" and creak its creaky neck and wave its scritchy tail and blink its evil eyes until you shrieked and threw holy water at it.

We were talking to Mom in the living room of her retirement apartment the first time this demon spawn went through its routine in the bedroom. I almost wet my pants.

"What the heck was that?" I gasped at the first MWORRRRR, trying to decide whether I should try to help Husband get his mother to safety or if it was every man for himself.

"Oh, you haven't met the newest member of the family, have you?" she smiled happily. "Isn't he wonderful?"

Thus were we introduced to Uncle Katt, and Mom loved him to exactly the same degree that I thought he was HORRIBLE. Horrible, I tell you. So horrible that when we were cleaning out her belongings a few months later, he still made me shudder. I put him into the pile of belongings that were going back to Iowa where Mom's great-grandchildren lived.

"I'm sure one of them would love to have Uncle Katt," I told my brother- and sister-in-law.

We laughed reminiscing about Uncle Katt when that brother- and sister-in-law passed through on their way to their winter home in Texas the day after Christmas. Hahaha! So heartily we laughed. Until the next morning, when their trailer had pulled out of town and Husband found this stray on the back porch:

Aaaargh! He's back!
Surely I'll wake up soon.

Also, this game is ON.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Just One More Christmas Post. I Promise.

Really, this is the last Christmas post. Seriously. Unless I decide it isn't, but even I am getting a little embarrassed about the excessive dragging-on-ness of the season and this is my blog so I can't imagine the eyerolls that are happening on your end of the internet.

I couldn't draw this to a merciful close, though, without appreciating a few of the gifts that were gifted on Christmas morning. We had utterly amazing gifts, which can be described thusly:

1. Loving Hands at Home. Usually I use this phrase as a term of derision, and it refers to graphic design work that is performed by someone who has a computer and all those hundreds of fonts so they USE ALL THE FONTS! on their flyer. In this case, though, the loving hands belonged to Husband and he actually did make Boy#3's clarinet lamp (shown above).The old (non-functioning) clarinet is one we found in an antique shop during our charmed Michigan vacation, the base Husband fashioned of 100-year-old oak milled from a tree felled by a storm on the farm where I grew up. (No, I am not kidding.) Husband even bought new pads for the clarinet so that it would look authentic. Is this lovely or what?

2. How Old Do You Think I Am? Adele's new CD was on my wish list, and I was delighted to find it under the tree. At least I was delighted until one of the Boys said "Mom, do you even know who Adele is?" Hrmph. She was Mozart's nanny, right? 

3, Our PseudoSon Is a Storm Trooper! The Boy we borrowed for Christmas Day shares many traits with our own offspring, not the least of which is his intense love for all things Star Wars. (I won't mention that one of my sons flew halfway across the country for a meet-up with PseudoSon and another brother, just so they could be in line for opening night.) Anyway, I'm assuming when he wears his new apron no one will be to tell him from an actual storm trooper.

4. Oops--Santa Put This in the Wrong Stocking. Santa brought fancy, candy-filled cars for the stockings of the Boys and Lovely Girl, but the reindeer must have been double-parked because in Mr. Claus's rush to fill stockings the Cuddle Bug car went into Boy#4's stocking instead of into Lovely Girl's and Lovely Girl got a muscle car. Fortunately Four also received a highly masculine wrench in his stocking so his man card was not revoked.

5. You Don't Even Notice the Receding Hairline. Santa also brought Steak-and-Shake hats for all the Boys, which merited a selfie with Boy#2 and his mother. My favorite part of this shot is the photobombing Lovely Girl in the background. If we ever need to prove that we have teeth, this is the shot we'll use. 

6. Someone Needs a Proofreader. Another of my gifts, a switch that lets me toggle between Netflix and the football game without leaving my recliner. But a "digtail" (digital) switch was easily translated compared to the instructions for Two's do-it-yourself theremin:

Russian? Chinese? Who knows?
Yes, should be interesting to see what kind of good vibrations emanate from the result of that instruction book. (It's a theremin, see? Like the Beach Boys used for the woo-oo-ooooo-ooooo-ooo  in "Good Vibrations"? Never mind.)

I'm not going to go into the rest of the gifts because there were too many to describe, but suffice it to say that one of them elicited an "It may be the best present I've ever gotten!" and when we were done the living room looked like this:

God bless the recycling guys, too.