Friday, March 30, 2012

Still Jangly

The month of boo-hoo continues.

Pearl had a minor collision this morning in the parking lot of the high school. She is only slightly wounded (the piece of trim that ripped off is sitting on the front seat) but the other car doesn't look so good.

The irony does not escape me. During the 12 years I had Boys at the high school I constantly reminded them that with all the beginning drivers turned loose here, this parking lot is only slightly less collision-prone than a bumper car arena. None of them ever got so much as a scratch on the clunkers we kindly called school cars.

I was at the school to practice with soloists who will be competing in regional contest in a couple of weeks, but by the time the other driver and I had exchanged insurance information and phone numbers the class was half over.

"I'm sorry I'm late," I told the band director. "I was in a fender bender in the parking lot, and no one's hurt, but I'm a little...." And with this I burst into tears.

She kindly patted me on the shoulder and sent me home (I think she didn't want me scaring her students).

I am, as my sisters and I say, a mess. That's our euphemism for being irrationally sobby. I know there is no rational reason to be crying, and as I remind myself  of that fact, I mop away tears.

I'm ready for March to march away.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Maybe a Camera Isn't the Only Thing I'm Losing

I sometimes think my degree of angst about any particular event is in direct inverse proportion to the actual cosmic impact of the event.

Take, for example, the year that Boy#3 born on Jan. 2. He had a rocky start, with hospitalizations when he was 17 days old and seven weeks old. (I had never even heard of RSV before then.) I spent more nights than I can count sitting up with him and counting his breaths, watching his retractions and wondering if I should be bundling him up for a trip to the emergency room. In the midst of this, two-year-old Boy#2 decided breathing difficulties looked like a whole lot of fun and kicked into a full-blown asthma attack, resulting in a five-day hospital stay.

During these crises I was a rock. Those babies got round-the-clock care as I measured out medicines and waved nebulizer mist under their noses. The doctor's office was on speed dial (back when that was a big deal) and I knew exactly where all the publicly-accessible electrical outlets were on the 60-mile trip between home and the hospital--just in case I didn't think the gasping child would make it a whole hour between breathing treatments.

Finally both were on the mend. Two and Three had been dismissed by our fabulous pediatrician, and spring was in the air, so I decided to get out of the house by myself for the first time in months. I left the boys with our favorite babysitter and went out to buy a vacuum cleaner.

When I got home, dear E. was standing at the door, holding a wailing Boy#2. He had tripped on the carpet as he ran across the floor, falling face-first into our shoe-holding crock. He'd broken off his top two teeth. We took him to the dentist, who told us there was no permanent damage and we'd just need to wait for the stumps to fall out as part of the normal baby-to-permanent-teeth progression.

Friends, I came un. glued. I had been a calm and efficient nurse/mom during the multiple issues that could have KILLED my babies. And now, with the loss of these two baby teetn, I was a basket case. I cried. I sobbed. I could not even look at Two's beautiful face, all swollen and black-eyed and front-toothless.

This long story is to say that I was fully aware that yesterday's Ode to a Camera was all out of proportion to the anguish that should be felt about the loss of a thing, any thing, even the Velveteen Rabbit of cameras. (Thanks, Boy#1, for that exact description of how I felt about my camera. Also for the illustration he found, and which I include below.)

This spring has had some jangly emotions, though. Between some extended family stuff (not bad but jangly), some work stuff (also not bad but jangly), and Pepper's health scare, my surface has been coping but apparently my psyche has been...jangled. All of that angst burst out when the camera went missing.

And this morning, when I found it in the sewing room where I had been documenting the absolute disaster that had been my attempt to create something crafty, my joy was correspondingly out of proportion to the importance of the find. I wanted to call all my friends and kill the fatted calf.

The lost has been found.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Can't Picture It

A bee on a flower. I took this picture.
A few Several Many, many years ago I decided I wanted a camera I could carry around in my purse. It needed to be small and light, but it also needed to be idiot-proof and take acceptable pictures. The boys were getting into their late high school years, and I wanted to be able to document that I had raised them to adulthood without putting them out of my misery.

The camera didn't have to be fancy--I didn't really care about soft focus and f-stops and all the fancy-schmancies that drive up the cost and weight of picture taking. Also, I am a dreadful photographer. (Did you know my only grade of C in my ENTIRE LIFE was in a college photography course? It's true.)

Anyway, after due diligence (read: countless hours of compulsively reading C-Net and dithering) I landed on the Canon SD 850 and counted out the egg money to buy it.

It turned out to be the perfect camera. Small and light? Check. Pretty much idiot proof? Check. Can be used in low light? Check.

I documented the birthdays and school programs, the graduations and proms, the celebrations and my Mom's funeral flowers. The camera lived in my purse and when I saw a bumblebee on a flower I would grab it for an artsy shot. Some of them, astonishingly enough, even turned out okay. When I dropped the camera and cracked the screen, I paid almost as much as the original purchase price to have it repaired; I liked the camera that much.

Last Thursday I took a picture of Pepper and downloaded it for this blog. On Saturday I went shopping and was in a half dozen stores. Monday I grabbed for the camera to take a picture of a roadrunner, and the usual spot in my purse was empty. Apparently it dropped out of my purse sometime between Thursday and Monday.

I've looked all over the house, under the seats of the car, in the lining of the purse. I've called all the stores I visited Saturday. My camera and the three memory cards filled with almost 1,500 photos are nowhere to be found.

Cameras and memory cards are things, they are not people. They are not even Pepper. The pictures are mostly backed up on my computer. But I'm surprisingly sad about the loss, and not (only) because I'll now have to dig into the egg money again and buy another camera.

I really, really liked that camera and now it's gone.


Monday, March 26, 2012


This is reason number 579 that I love working at Small College.

What? You don't see it? Right there on the sidewalk, about 20 feet from my feet (not shown) is a roadrunner!

I know the picture isn't very good, but when I came back from lunch at 1:30 and parked in the spot immediately next to the door of my office building, I got out of the car and practically stepped on it. So I fumbled in my purse for my camera, which as it turns out I had left at home, and the roadrunner moved a few feet east to the decorative rock retaining wall.

Then I got out my phone, cleared off the texts of gloom and doom concerning college basketball coaching changes, and figured out where the button was for the camera. By this time the roadrunner had decided he'd had enough of paparazzi for the day and started down the sidewalk toward the football stadium. That's when I snapped this picture.

Then I turned around and narrowly missed being hit by a falling anvil.

I love working here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Look Who's Home!

I have written this post in my head a dozen times, and it never came out this way.

I was going to talk about how this dog hadn't drawn the cushy lot in life, how we weren't the type of pet people who let their dog sleep on their beds, or even in their house. I grew up on a farm where animals worked and lived outside, and I just couldn't get past that bias.

I was going to talk about how she hadn't exactly drawn the short straw, either, since she has always had people who loved her and the run of the back yard and a perch on the deck to watch the world go by.

There was going to be a  little section about how she delighted in running away in her younger years, and the not-so-merry chases she led us on until we discovered that she would come running back if we threw a Kleenex on the ground to be pounced upon.

All of those posts ended the same way: Pepper didn't come back. She had been clearly unwell last week when we took her to the vet; something was desperately wrong.

Pepper's been our family's only pet, though, and we didn't know how to deal with this stage of her life. A friend had the best advice: "We always promise our pets that they will not suffer. Ever. Luckily, doctors can treat our four-legged family much more humanely than those with two legs," she wrote. "Your pet is a family member and he or she will 'tell you' how far to go and when it's time. You will know."

Yesterday the vet decided he had done all he could for our dog, and suggested we take her home and see how she fares. She nearly wiggled herself out of her collar when she saw Husband, and greeted us with unbridled delight. Husband was afraid she wouldn't be able to climb up to the deck any more; he turned to refill her water dish and when he turned back around she was looking down from the top step, holding out her paw to shake.

Pepper is not the same dog she was just a week ago. She now looks at us with her head tilted, giving her a quizzical appearance. If she tries to run this head tilt makes her fall over, so she walks carefully, like the old person she is.

But today she's curled up in a spot of sun, right outside the back door, where she can watch us and be ready for us to open the door and scratch her head. The time may be coming soon, but she wasn't ready to go yet.

Pepper's home.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good Thing I Had Boys

I decided I wasn't going to let this "spring break" (insert air quote finger motions) pass without accomplishing at least a little something, so since any gardening except perhaps rice planting is out of the question, today found me visiting WalMart. For some time I've wanted a tiny knitting project bag to carry in my purse and this pattern  for a bracelet bag looks like just what the doctor ordered.

It's been a long time since I've bought bangles in WalMart--I do have some minimal standards when it comes to my jewelry, and if I'm going to buy it in WalMart it has to be on sale--so I wandered around for quite a while looking for costume jewelry and wound up in the toy department.


Did all of you know that there are this many Barbie dolls in the universe, let alone in a single Small Town box store?

Conversely, there is only this much Play-Doh.

Really. That is all the Play-Doh in the ENTIRE STORE. When the Boys were growing up, I could have scraped that much out from under the play table at any given time. They loooooved Play-Doh, and we had multiple buckets of the little canisters, plus shapers and extruders and accessories.

I can only come to two possible conclusions:
  1. I have no clue what children are playing with these days. 
  2. Based on the involuntary shudder that went through me as I surveyed all that pink, I would have been the worst mother-of-girls ever.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break Daze

Spring break started Sunday. Do you know how I know this? Because it's been chilly, rainy, and damp for the past four days. Perfect weather for cozy quilts and naps. Imperfect weather for the gardening and grass planting I had intended to do with Boy#3 while he's home.

For all of you who are envying my spring break, though, I have this to say: HAHAHA! What break?

College administrators do not take this time off with the students and faculty. Instead, we are here at our offices, hard at work compulsively checking March Madness on our iPhones.

Today I did take an extra-long noon hour. A friend who pastors a local church had asked me to play the piano for the mid-week Lenten service and it was nothing difficult--the Gloria Patria and a hymn, music I first played in public practically before my feet could reach the pedals, so I agreed.

The service was lovely, in a wood-paneled sanctuary and I was relaxed and meditative as I listened to the gospel reading when suddenly I heard the liturgist say, "Everyone please rise for the Gloria Patria."

I heard this from where I was sitting, in the third pew. Did you know that a highly-motivated person can make it from the third pew to the piano bench in two steps? It's true.

Later my pastor friend teased me. She had been watching me intently all through the scripture, trying telepathically to wake me up and motivate me toward the piano. She saw the horror on my face as I realized I had missed my cue.

"I saw your face," B said, "and I said to myself, 'She just said oooooh....GLORY!"

That's close.

Monday, March 19, 2012

More Orts

Sweeping up leftovers:
  • Our Dog Pepper is still at the vet, but we at least can see the edge of the woods she's not quite out of. Her doctor says she has less involuntary eye movement but still has head tilt, to which I say "Whaaa?". He also says she's eating again, and not vomiting, to which I say "YAAAAAAY!". Those are improvements every mom can get behind.
  • And speaking of pets, remember when I said I was emphatically not a cat person? Finally, I have scientific evidence for my choice. (Thank you, Auntie K, for the link.)
  •  And while we're on the subject of animals, I might as well end up with this link. Boy#1 couldn't decide if that made him want to cry or laugh. I'm guessing the laughing won out, but with an undercurrent of "awwwww."
  • After my post that complained about Daylight Stupid Times and its effect on my non-adjustable atomic clock, a friend let me know that within a couple of weeks the clock would readjust itself. Huh! Who knew? Also, the point became moot because I found the instructions. Remind me next fall that I need to HOLD DOWN the mode button for at least two seconds. 
  • We're forcing the spring-breaking Boys to rewind March Madness games when there's a chance one of their brothers might be in the pep band that was just shown oh-so-briefly. They love this as much as you think they might.
  • My goal for this week? One day of reseeding our terrible-looking front yard while I have slave labor around to do the manual labor. The weather forecast? Rain every day.  I'd sigh if we didn't need the rain, but we do, so I don't.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cautiously Optimistic

Pepper a couple of years ago
After yesterday's post I was quite sure I'd be updating with sad news. Instead, my friend's wish that the vet would have a good ladder seems to be coming true.

Our Dog Pepper is still in the canine care ward of the good doctor, but he is more and more convinced that her issues are ear-related rather than heart- or brain-related, and that is so much less ominous. Early this evening he said she may be able to come home tomorrow.

I'm more than aware that if she comes home this is a temporary reprieve and not a long-term cure. There is no escaping passing years and the body's wearing out. But I'm so, so much less sad than I was yesterday.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On the Roof

Boy#1 asked about Our Dog Pepper when I talked to him a couple of days ago.

"She's doing fine," I told him, "but you need to remember that she's a really old dog. One of these days we're going to be calling you to let you know she's died."

We talked for a few minutes about how a 14-year-old dog is really 98 in human terms, and how she's been slowing down. Once she could jump high enough to peer over the 8-foot fence in the back yard; now she mostly sits on the deck and watches the world go by.

Then I told One that we'd break any bad news slowly. We would do it like that old joke where the guy was taking care of his brother's cat, and when the cat's owner called home to check on his pet, the brother informed him the cat had died.

"What? That's a terrible way to let someone know about a beloved pet!" the owner shrieked. "You need to let me know more gently--one day you tell me the cat's on the roof, then the next day you let me know she's not eating, then you finally say you did all you could but the cat had died."

"I can do that," the brother agreed. And with this compassionate lesson learned, they moved on. 

"How's Mom?" the first brother asked.

"She's on the roof."

Last night Boy#4 took Pepper out for a walk. She was spry for the first few blocks, but then she walked more and more erratically and finally vomited. This morning she was trembling and we took her to the vet, resigned to the possibility she might have suffered a stroke or some other catastrophic event. The vet assured us that he's looking first at an inner ear problem which would be treatable, but cautioned that at her age, Pepper might not recover. He'll be calling with the test results later this morning, after he's had a chance to do a thorough exam.

The picture I took just before we left for the doctor's office shows just how grey our dog has gotten in the past few years. Her eyes look old and tired. Husband, holding her collar, looks unutterably sad.

She has been a faithful, energetic friend for 14 years, and now she's on the roof.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Say This Pretty Much Every Day

Before 7 a.m. today in my sleep-deprived fog (curse you, Daylight Savings Time) I had already dropped my Nook and my (somewhat expensive, Christmas present) watch, so my frequent observation on our current life stage was even more appropriate:

It's a good thing we don't have a baby.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pardon Me, Do You Have the Time?

I love clocks. In fact, I would venture to say there is not a single spot in the House on the Corner that does not have direct sight-line to the correct time. We have big clocks, little clocks, and wind-up chicken clocks, and I love 'em all.

Except for two weekends out of the year. Then I'm not so crazy about my clocks. You know the days I'm talking about--curse you Daylight Savings Time and your pseudo-chronology.

Fortunately, I married the right man. Even though we are in the throes of tax season Husband spent a nice chunk of Saturday night springing forward the clocks in the kitchen (three of them), bathroom (four), living room and dining room (one each), television room (one each for TV and DVD plus a wall clock), vehicles (times two), and bedrooms (let's see, maybe eight? Nine?). Then he went to his mother's house and repeated the process with her clocks. Both of them.

The only timekeeper he missed was in my office, where I have a radio-controlled nuclear clock that is accurate to the nth degree of second-hood. See it in the picture? It's accurate all right, except that I took the picture at 10:03.32 a.m. Whoops. And the buttons are of no help whatsoever in figuring out how to change the hour, and I threw away the manual in the Great Clean-up of 2012.

You'll excuse me if I'm an hour late to all my meetings this year. I have no idea what time it is.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Kids Are Grown; Now I Can Judge

Photo from Today show website
Well, here's a conundrum.

The beautiful family in the picture above consists of a set of beautiful parents (both medical doctors) and a set of beautiful daughters (one two-year-old, one three-year-old). You can see their whole story here, but if you don't have six minutes or fast download I'll summarize it:

The family was boarding a plane on its way back from vacation in the Turks and Caicos when the two-year-old threw a tantrum. She refused to be buckled into her seatbelt for "three to five minutes," and eventually the pilot wheeled the plane back to the gate and the family was booted off. The parents, understandably, were not happy with this decision, but almost three-fourths of the Today show viewers who voted in a poll agreed with the airline. The mom in this kerfuffle claims that no one on the plane was complaining--I don't want to burst her bubble, but that only means her fellow passengers were polite, not necessarily that they didn't mind the din.

As a mom, I certainly know the horrified helplessness that comes from being the adult component in a two-year-old's meltdown. There is nothing more mortifying than knowing that your child is out of control and that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

As a traveler, though, I know that being cooped up in a cigar-shaped container with a screaming child and no way of escape is probably the worst way to say good-bye to the Turks and Caicos, and I probably would have given the captain an extra-hearty "Thank you!" as I left that flight.

This would never have happened in the MomQueenBee house, largely because vacationing in the Turks and Caicos was not such an option for us. (Seriously? People take their two children with a cumulative age of five on vacation in the Caribbean?)

More than that, though, was our complete aversion to having the young Boys create disturbances in public. I can't count the number of meals Husband and I ate "together" at restaurants with one of us shoveling down a meal while the other walked a wailing baby outside.

So here's a suggestion for the parents in this case: Next time, drive. Oh, don't drive to the Caribbean (it isn't good for your car's fuel system), but choose a vacation spot where you can arrive in your own transportation, transportation that can pull over when everyone needs a break and doesn't lock your toddlers in with judgmental strangers. When you want to go to the Turks and Caicos, leave the kiddos with Grandma. Everyone, including the kiddos and Grandma, will be happier.

If they absolutely positively have to be there overnight, send the kids FedEx.

What do you think?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Just Say 'Yes'

Those of us who live in Kansas don't normally get much attention during national election years. We are an adamantly red state with a primary system that doesn't mean much by the time it rolls around, so candidates pretty much leave us alone.

I hadn't realized what a blessing that was until the past few days, when national candidates suddenly woke up to the fact that Kansans vote, too. And because Husband and I are registered Republicans even though one of us tends to vote along non-party lines, our phone line (we still have a land line because we're Luddites) has been kept hot by the wide range of identically disappointing Republican candidates.

Do we want to keep the right to bear arms? (Only if we can arm bears. It's an old joke in our family, with its four Baylor alumni.) Are we sickened by the waste in Washington? (Yes! When will those people learn to curb their dogs?)

After the forty-eleventh time I answered the phone when I would rather have been doing something else, I discovered the perfect way to shorten these conversations. Because I am a humanitarian, I am sharing it with you today. The name of the calling organization has been changed to protect the irritating, but feel free to copy and paste this script into your own unwanted calls.

(Cheerful Caller): Hi! I'm calling from Republicans for Progress, and I'd like to ask you a question. Do you think Obama is doing a good job as president of the United States?

(MomQueenBee): Yes! Yes, I do. He's doing a fine job. I could not be more pleased.

(CC): .........

(CC): Okay, then, well, thank you very much, and good-bye.

Works like a charm. You're welcome.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Beg Your Pardon...

I just got back from lunch to find this on my keyboard, and I know what you're all thinking.

"Awww, that Husband! Is he the sweetest thing or what?"

Except that Husband and I spent the lunch hour together watching the basketball game that pitted the teams that play for two of the Boys' universities, and repeatedly saying "Hey, was that the band? Rewind it! Was that a mellophone? I think I hear the trombones!" (We are more fun than a barrel of monkeys when it comes to watching March Madness.)

So what's the deal? Who/what left me a rose, and why/when? Is it Cranky Middle-Aged Women Who Need Naps Day?

Also, I apologize in advance for the earworm you will suffer for the rest of the day after clicking on this video.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What I Found On the Porch

It's been a while since we've had a What I Found On the Porch post, and just in time to remedy that deficiency, I arrived home yesterday to find our front door mat strangely levitated on the south end.

Hoping desperately that the levitation wasn't caused by some kind of living animal (hello, no-longer-hibernating skunk!) I flipped over the end of the mat and found this:

Well, hey, UPS deliveryperson! Nice job of hiding this delivery!

And I'm certainly glad the box had been hidden, because I would have hated for the neighborhood ne'er-do-wells to have taken off with this:

My AARP card. Which Husband got for me as joke for my 55th birthday present because he's 16 months younger than I. (Oh, yes, he's hilarious that way. Ha. Ha. Ha.)

Apparently the card had fallen into the box that contained shoes I bought online and returned because they were too small. Excellent customer service by the folks at, but really, they could have kept the card. The alarm clock every morning is enough to remind me of my non-retired-person status.

Some things found on the porch are more fun than other things found on the porch.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Things I Love: eMeals

(This is the second in a somewhat sporadic series, a series so sporadic that the first of the series was back in October 2010 and I didn't even call it Things I Love. Back then the series was called What's On My Porch, and definitely did not include all things that I loved. But it occurs to me that as I watch others make huge fortunes out of their blogs and I reap only the satisfaction of gradually filling up the internet, that I should not be deterred from telling you about things that make my life easier. Back in the day, was one of those. Now that we no longer buy toilet paper at the rate of a six-person family [and if we did, I certainly would not be telling you about it] my appreciation of has diminished from WOW!-It's-The-Greatest-Thing-Ever! to Meh. Today's product has survived the Great Child Exodus and continues to be one of my favorite things.)

I have never been a particularly good cook, but I have cooked a lot over the past 26 years. A. Lot. I discovered during the course of putting out three meals a day, plus snacks, plus the unlimited grazing fare that kept four Boys from completely wasting away, that the worst part about cooking was deciding what to cook. The second worst thing about cooking was shopping. The least worst thing about cooking was, well, cooking.

So a couple of years ago, when Husband heard an ad for eMealz (sic) and suggested I check it out, I fired up the computer. Almost immediately I heard shimmery angel music playing in my imagination, as I discovered that for a fairly minimal amount of money (and for me to say it's minimal, it's really, really minimal), the good folks at eMealz would plan my main meals, and provide a shopping list. All I had to do was go to the store and buy the ingredients, then slap them together and call it food. At that point the shimmery angel music crescendoed and the heavens opened and I may have seen paradise.

(Disclaimer: I almost didn't subscribe to the service because of the pretentiously oh-so-cool "z" in the original name. It's a measure of my dislike of planning and shopping that I plunked down my credit card number anyway. But the eMealz people finally saw the magnitude of their naming misstep earlier this year, and now they're a perfectly respectable eMeals.)

Folks, I love this thing. All of the meals are either make-able during the hour between when I get home from work and when supper needs to be on the table, or they go in the slow cooker before I leave for work. The menus include fresh vegetables, and I'm much more likely to use produce before it turns slimy and grey if the menu is right there on the refrigerator telling me to serve that spinach TODAY, please.

Is it gourmet cooking? It is not. Very few of the recipes have more than half a dozen ingredients, and back when the Boys were still at home the recipes intended to serve six were sometimes a little skimpy for teenage appetites. The main dishes usually are pretty good, though, and the very few that have been disastrous have been disastrous on an epic level (ask us about Cheesy Shrimp Grits, which now have the place of honor as the worst thing I've ever asked my family to eat).

Do I use eMealz/s recipes every day? I do not. In fact, a one-week menu lasts about two weeks because we either have evening activities, or I have an itch to cook something else, or we go out.

But does it make my life easier? Oh, holy cow, does it ever. Our meals together don't automatically rotate spaghetti-tacos-meat loaf-rinse-lather-repeat. I don't start dreading the dinner preps every day at 3 p.m., or at all. I go home, check the menu, and cook. The dinner-time stress level has lowered from red alert to a nice cheery green. And when I've had questions about my account (switching menus from the meals-for-six to the meals-for-two or to the low-fat options, for example) the customer service folks were nice and helpful.

Two thumbs and eight wiggling fingers up for eMeals.  I love this thing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's a Rap

This illustration was so much better when it was the one in which I actually used a picture of Husband and made him into a rapper. Unfortunately, I am a total idiot when it comes to PhotoShop and was unable to save the finished product.

"I think I need a rap name."

I looked up from the Sudoku section of Saturday's morning paper to see if Husband was serious or not. He was.

"All the cool rap guys have cool names--Dr. Dre. CeeLo Green."

"Honey, are you saying you think you need a rap name because you're one of the cool rap guys? Okay. You're an accountant. We'll call you NmBrz."

"I think the really cool guys have two names, though."

"Fine! Use your first initial--you can be NmBrz L."

"That doesn't seem"

"FINE! The L is in Latin! It means 50!"


I'm married to the first CPA in the state with a rapper name.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Working at Cross Purposes

Temperatures were in the 70s yesterday, which means it felt like spring, which is the time when a young man's fancy turns to love and a middle-aged woman's fancy turns to gardening. Also, since we're bringing in the Bartlett's, it is appropriate to mention that hope springs eternal. As in, I hope I don't kill everything I plant this spring.

One thing that will not be killed is the newest arrival to my collection of garden adornments. (I do plan to move it from the stair landing to the yard at some point, as soon as I stop admiring it.)

Folks, how cute is that birdbath? Cute, really cute, or perhaps the cutest thing you've ever seen? The just-landing bird is getting ready to take a dip in the (unfilled) bowl, which you may not be able to tell is shaped like a SUNFLOWER. Seriously, this thing makes me smile just to look at it. Also, it's cast iron so it's heavy as the dickens.

The best part? It cost $8, delivered. EIGHT DOLLARS! DELIVERED! (Thank you, local buy-sell-trade Facebook page.)

I was gloating about my incredible shopping prowess when Husband pointed to the chair in the sun room. This is where he sits to do his reading and to watch the world go by, and the packing materials there may look like misplaced trash but actually are strategically located weapons.

Turns out the birds are making a feast out of Our Dog Pepper's food, so when he notices a flock has gathered Husband stealthily opens the door to the deck and (BOOM!) pops the air-filled bags to scare them away.

"What are the birds going to think? I'm telling them to get out of Dodge and you bring in a hot tub for them."

I think the birds are going to think it's spring in the House on the Corner. This doesn't need to make sense.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Good-bye, Daydream Believer

I didn't buy this issue of Tiger Beat but I'm sure I stared at it in the grocery store.
One of my co-workers Skyped me this morning to tell me she was sick and wouldn't be coming in to the office.

"It may be a bug or it may have just been too much Davy Jones," she said of her queasy digestive tract.

It does seem as if a disproportionate amount of media attention has been focused on the (albeit somewhat premature) death of a '70s pop star. I'll admit it, though: At the moment I heard of my favorite Monkee's death it was suddenly 1967 and I was celebrating my 13th birthday with a slumber party at The Farm. Just that week the finishing touches had been put on an addition to the old farmhouse, and Much Older Sister and I had moved into a bedroom that seemed roomy beyond belief after so many years with a family of seven squeezed into a two-bedroom house. I had opened my presents--a Ouija board, an autograph puppy, and a copy of the Monkees' newest hit, released just two weeks before.

The 45 rpm record went onto the turntable, and for the next several hours we heard "Daydream Believer" over and over as we giggled, squealed, and pushed the platen around the Ouija board.

"Cheer up, Sleepy Jean! Oh, what can it mean..."

To a 13-year-old girl, Davy Jones was the perfect guy. He was the funny, sweet Monkee, hip but unthreatening. He was a safe version of the Beatles, a less dark Rolling Stone. We weren't the kind of girls who got mushy over teen stars but, oh, he was so cute. So British. Never mind that most of us came from tall Midwestern stock, and that at almost 5'8", I already was four inches taller than his 5'4".

As the years went by, of course, the appeal of Davy Jones waned. My friends and I moved on to follow edgier music and grittier stars. Kris Kristofferson. Carlos Santana. Crosy, Stills, Nash, and Young. The Monkees singles were packed away with the autograph puppy and Ouija board, too childish for our new sophisticated selves.

But yesterday's news coverage was all about 66-year-old Davy Jones and his sudden death after a heart attack. If the stories and interviews are any indication, he managed to keep his sense of humor and good spirits, in spite of the rough days he must have experienced as someone whose fame had peaked four decades earlier.

Well done, Davy Jones. I can only hope the 13-year-old me is aging as gracefully.