Category Archives: Humor

Working Girl, Guest Post

I spoke to my younger sister, Michele, about the chore girl days, trying to refresh and confirm my memories of our splendid training for the world of work, and she shared this story that I had completely forgotten. Sometimes the two of us did the chores together, sometimes we took turns, heartlessly sacrificing our sibling to the dark so we could enjoy the comfort of a peaceful and well-lit evening indoors. I told her to write the story herself and she did:

Dog and cat chores – the last duty of the day before bed. Sounds simple enough looking back — mosey on out to the clinic and shed behind the house, make sure the two dogs and multitude of cats have food and water, pull all the doors closed and make sure all the animals are locked in. Did I HAVE to wait until after dark to do these duties? No, probably not. I’m not sure that doing them earlier occurred to me often, if ever. Summer was extra treacherous, between unwitting toads waiting on the well-worn path and junebugs springing from the lights we flipped on to say goodnight to the animals. Winter time was easier, and I remember pulling on my dad’s snowboots by the back door if the snow was deep, or sometimes borrowing his slippers (with the mashed-down heels — he never put them on all the way) for chores if there wasn’t snow at all… How far was it from the back door of our house to the lean-to? Waaay too far… Especially after a scary movie…

Apparently, on Jan. 27, 1978 (if the horror movie blog I just found can be trusted), when I would have been all of 8 years old, it was my turn to do chores that night. I couldn’t yank myself away from the tv because we were watching a scary, made-for-tv movie called “Bermuda Depths.” I don’t remember anything about it other than what must have been close to the last scene, the body of a man being dragged into the ocean by a giant sea turtle… But our animals must be fed, movie or no movie. Duty-bound, that image still haunting me, I went out into the cold dark to lock up the animals.

Now, just so there is no confusion — there is no sea anywhere close to where we lived. The largest body of water nearby was the watering tank for the horses, and in a South Dakota January, there was definitely no danger of a giant sea turtle dragging me to my death… These arguments didn’t matter at all to my freaked-out eight-year-old brain. There was definitely something in the dark that was going to come out and get me — maybe the ghost of that drowned person in the movie. So, tip-toeing through the dark, bright light at my back, my own, elongated shadow leading the way across the gigantic back yard to the shed, I was telling myself “it was only a movie” while the rest of my brain was certain I was going to die.

I made it to the corrugated steel shed with a bit of relief — so close to a light switch. I flipped back the metal hook from the eye to unlock the big sliding door, grabbed the smooth, cold handle and heaved it back. As the wall of grey steel slid past and the shed yawned open, I leaned in to flip on the light and a large translucent blue hand floated out of the dark to meet me, reaching for my face.

“Gaah!!!!” a strangled gasp escaped my lips as the hand ballooned out of the darkness. I was a goner. The hand slowly wafted down again in the yellow light from the stark incandescent bulb I’d managed to turn on. Drenched in adrenaline-induced sweat, I realized that what I was looking at was an O.B. sleeve — basically an arm-length clear plastic glove that our veterinarian father would use when examining female cattle. This one, (apparently unused) had the open end tied around the top of a CO2 cylinder for welding, leaving the hand-shaped end floating in the dark, reaching out for a short, unsuspecting victim who would free it with the movement of the door.

Giddy with relief and the afterburn of terror, I finished up the chores and returned to the house in record time, just glad to be alive.

Yep. Terrifying in many ways. Image from http://www.vetprovisions.com.

Working Girl, Prologue

I have had the jobs. Some would curl your hair. Some might make you cry. You will be jealous, amazed and appalled.

This is a series which requires this prologue because my first  “job” was unpaid, working for my family. This is true of many kids, particularly kids in the farming community, though I was not, technically, a farmer’s daughter. My dad was one of three local veterinarians in our small town. He had what is referred to as a mixed practice, treating both large and small animals. Our house (the building on the left in the photo,) was about a mile outside of town. Dad converted one of our two garages into an office (on the left side of the house, above) where he did small animal examinations and surgeries, and kept the records and pharmacy. The office always smelled of disinfectant and yellow sulfa powder, and occasionally, catbox. Shrill barking or yeowling often accompanied the day if we had tenants in the two small animal cages.

Outside, we had a front pasture, a back pasture, an alfalfa field and several outbuildings.  We kept, at various times, peacocks, steers, lambs, a burro, and pigs. We always had horses, dogs and cats. We had so many cats we gave up naming them. We usually had other people’s animals around for treatment or kenneling. We also had people. We were a family of five including three daughters, of which I am “the middlest.” We usually had a secretary helping out at least part-time during office hours, and sometimes we had a trained vet assistant or new vet intern living with us in our guest room. When he didn’t have someone like that to help during busy times, Dad would hire a “hand,” usually a local high school boy, to work with him on the place and go out on calls. Dad had a fiberglass box that fit into the back of the pickup truck, with doors that opened to reveal drawers, bins for instruments and meds, and refrigerated storage for antibiotics. It smelled of gravel roads, disinfectant and dog hair. We had a two-way radio in those pre-cellphone days that helped us keep Dad rolling day and night. Dad’s appointed rounds kicked the postal service’s ass.

Mom did the books and managed the office. We girls helped, marginally, with housecleaning, and with other chores. It was always us younger girls’ job to take the dogs out to the clinic in the evening, and feed and water them and the cats, and any visiting animals. Except during the longest days of summer, this meant traversing the big, dark empty space between house and outbuilding. The light from the front door didn’t reach all the way to the clinic so we got pretty speedy, once the dogs were penned up, racing back to the house. In case there were, you know, monsters or something stalking us out there in the dark. My little sister had a fear of stepping on a toad, so she not only had to be fast, she had to step lightly. She got pretty close to high speed levitation. We’d arrive back at the front step, huffing and wild-eyed, just before getting ready for bed. Other jobs included horse chores, pig chores, yard and garden (same as anywhere,) and office and clinic help, our topic for today.

As I said, we had a secretary part-time, and Mom covered the office most of the rest of the time. Dad was often around, working on animals or projects in the clinic. But there were gaps; Mom needed to get something in town, Dad was on a call, the secretary was at lunch or getting supplies from an outbuilding, or  it was her day off. From the time my older sister went off to college, when I was ten years old, we younger girls had to cover the office from time to time, dealing with the public, answering the phone calls, relaying client questions to Dad over the tw0-way radio.

This is how that worked. The office phone rang (spoken rule: answer the phone with the words “Val-Vet Clinic” no later than the third ring; implied addendum: kill yourself if you have to to get there in time.) We got the pertinent information, and then, keeping the client on the line, called Dad on the two-way.

Me: “KNGY-976, Base One to Unit One” (Note: For a long time, there was only Base One and Unit One. Then my dad opened a second office twenty miles away and hired a vet who also had a truck so then there was also Base Two and Unit Two. Not confusing at all.)

Dad: “Unit One.”

Me: “Yeah, I’ve got John Smith on the phone? He says he has a cow with a prolapsed uterus? Over.”

Dad: “Ask him how long it’s been that way. Over.” (I do.)

Me: “He says she calved last night, but was still straining when they turned in, so he guesses sometime this morning. Over.” (It’s now 5:00 pm.)

Dad: (Pause while he swears.) “Tell him I’ll be there when I finish up at the Halvorsen’s. Probably be an hour or so. (Another pause for swearing. He won’t be home until well after dinner.) Over.”

Me: “10-4. Over and out.”

YES, I got to speak radio code for REAL! It was cool, even if it made me very nervous. I remember being informed the FCC monitored our little conversations and could prosecute us if we did it wrong. I am sure now that my parents meant we shouldn’t be silly using the radio but I developed a Big Brother complex at an early age. Oh, and “prolapsed uterus?”  I was proficient at saying it long before I knew what it meant.  I always prayed someone would turn up to answer the phone before the dreaded third ring, but phone duty was not the biggie.

The WORST was when we heard a vehicle pull up, and some farmer, usually one we didn’t know, rang the buzzer. I remember looking at my little sister. “You go,” I told her. “No, it’s your turn,” she’d say. “Please?” I begged. She’d either roll her eyes and go or refuse and I’d descend to the office, thinking dark thoughts. I just wanted to watch Gilligan’s Island. Typically, the grizzled farmer would be standing in the reception area, in his shit-spattered working best, looking as askance at me as I was at him. “I need some penicillin,” he’d say. “How much?” I’d ask. “Better give me two bottles. Oh, and some boluses. Give me three of those.” If the client needed something more exotic than ear tags, cat or dog worm pills, syringes and needles (you heard me,) or the above mentioned goodies, I’d have to give Dad a call on the two-way to clarify. If Dad was away from the truck, say with his arm inside a cow trying to restore a prolapsed uterus, Farmer Smith and I would be on our own. “It isn’t the penicillin I want, but I don’t remember the right name.” “Tetracycline?” I’d guess. “No, that isn’t it. I think Doc keeps it in the second refrigerator.” I’d rummage and pull out a couple of bottles for him to check out. “That’s the one!”  Then I’d look up the prices and write up a ticket, praying I remembered how to do it correctly, how to figure tax on the monstrous adding machine, which copy to give the client, and generally trying not to look like an imbecile. At least once I even filled in the check blank for a client who “forgot his glasses” so he could sign it. Please consider this, an eleven or twelve year old girl alone in an office full of drugs, some of which could be recreational, with a cash box, dealing with total strangers who drove in off the highway. It was a more innocent place and time. I did it all the time, and the biggest thing I worried about was screwing up. If a client didn’t get what he needed from our office, he’d go to another vet. This was unthinkable. On the other hand, there were lots of ten- and eleven-year-olds driving pickups and tractors around on their family’s farm fields, literally farming. I didn’t learn to drive until I was fourteen at the earliest, so in some ways, I was a late bloomer.

Sometimes Dad would call one of us down to give him a hand during small animal surgeries, like spays.  We’d help hold the animal until it was anesthetized, then stand by while he laid it out on its back and tied its paws with gauze to rings on the sides of the stainless steel operating table, and shaved the incision area. Dad scrubbed up and we would help him into his surgical cap, mask, gown, and gloves. Dad looked just like the surgeons on TV as he made the incision, splitting open the iodine-swabbed abdomen. The inside of a living creature has a distinctive aroma that is hard to describe. It isn’t quite like meat, and if the gut is intact, there isn’t a fecal odor, either. It is a solemn, unsettling smell. There is an inescapable feeling of voyeurism, viewing the tender, pulsing organs in various shades of pink and gray. Our job was to let Dad (who was intently focused on the job at hand,) know if the animal stopped breathing. Dad worked, and I watched closely praying the whole time, afraid I’d miss the moment the short, spread out gasps stopped completely. Afraid I wouldn’t alert my dad to trouble in time. Life and death. My first job.

Reading II

It is textbook season again at State Services for the Blind. Today, I got to finish the college history text, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves & the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia, by Woody Holton. I got the last chapter and a half, and the Epilogue. Reading history silently tends to make me sleepy, but reading a good text out loud is, weirdly, one of my favorite things. I learn so much! Also I love reading about things from the Revolutionary War that have value today: for instance, be wary of fighting a war on unfamiliar terrain against a foe defending their homeland, and watch out for those grassroots movements during a recession. This was a very good book. Holton gives us a  bit of a cynical take on our founding fathers and how things shook down back in the pre-Revolutionary day, which was just what I was in the mood for. Except for the footnotes, which were a pain in the breeches, I enjoyed reading it for three and a half hours today. I had to make a lot of corrections to my work, because I found in this text, as in many academic works, the author will zig when I was expecting a zag, tripping me up. I’ll be reading along and then a sentence or two later there I will be in my little recording booth, saying out loud, “Oh. Ohhhh! That’s what you meant.” Erase. Re-record. There are a lot of ways to err, as a reader. You can mispronounce a word, stumble or stutter within a word, change the meaning with intonation, leave too long a pause as you try to figure out if the footnote is explanatory or a citation, determining whether it needs to be read…and the list goes on. Even when I am (totally not sarcastically) having a ball reading, I’ll hit a sentence now and then that will get me swearing and threatening physical harm to the author because although lovely, it was not written with audiotext in mind. For instance, consider the following footnote from page 203:

“Lee, in fact, lost two elections in April 1776. After his defeat in Richmond County, his supporters ran him in neighboring Lancaster, where he lost again. The April 1776 voting was something of an electoral massacre for the Carter family. In addition to Rober Wormely Carter and his cousin Carter Braxton, both of whom actively opposed Independence, two other Carters–Charles of Corotoman and Charles of Ludlow were also defeated. The Carters were among the wealthiest families in Virginia, and their unprecedented repudiation at the polls seemed to reflect the ascendancy of antielitism.” (emphasis mine)

That particular finishing sentence caught me on tape in the middle saying, “You have GOT to be kidding.” Erase. Re-record. There were several easier sentences that gave me even MORE trouble, because once I screw something up, I find chances are at least 50% of the time I will screw it up multiple times in the same or different ways. Holton made it all up to me with this next little passage from page 219:

“Between 1782 and 1806, Virginia allowed slaveowners to emancipate their slaves without legislative approval, and some did so. Between 1790 and 1810, the state’s free black population more than doubled, largely as a result of emancipation. George Washington provided in his will that his slaves be freed upon the death of his widow (after he died, Martha Washington, prudently deciding not to make the slaves’ freedom contingent upon her death, freed them immediately).”

So here, I am picturing the reading of the will, and a house slave in the corner thinking, “Upon her death, huh?” and Martha thinking, “That’s terrific, George. Thank you so much…” and out loud saying, “No worries, folks! Freedom for everyone! No waiting!” I had to re-record that one because I got the giggles. Makes you wonder how often Martha had to help George out with practical thinking during the presidency. We’ll never know.

So while it isn’t parasailing, or a night at the comedy club, this volunteer gig has its moments. Besides, where else would I get to use words like “sobriquet” AND hang out with the nicest state employees in Minnesota?

Related Post: Reading, or How This All Started.

The Matter of a Severed Finger

When I was a girl, about nine or ten years old, one of my favorite indoor activities was to rifle through the stash of books and other treasures tucked into a dresser and closet in our rec room. My younger sister and I spent hours sitting on the hard linoleum sifting through mom’s shelves of piano music, Reader’s Digest Condensed books, and tins, boxes and tubs of inherited and collected memorabilia. It was kind of like a cross between our own private flea market and an archaeological dig to a time before our memory. My older sister is eight years older than I, so all her outgrown stuff was fascinating to me, even if she was a little bit more into the horse stories than I was.

One afternoon I found an old paperback book of hers: “Clever Tricks to Play on Your Friends!” We lived in the country, about a mile from any friends I might have had, but my mom was upstairs and my little sister was around somewhere, probably out playing with the cats or talking to the horses. Following the book’s instructions, I found a small cardboard box with a lid and carved a hole the size of my finger in the bottom with a dull penknife. I poked my middle finger up through the hole, tucked some cotton balls around it and flexed it flat so the box nested in my palm. It really looked like a severed finger laying in the box, without the blood. Nice! I thought about finding a red magic marker to add to the illusion, but I had already been working on it five whole minutes already and had to show my mom this cool effect RIGHT AWAY. I covered the box, hustled up the stairs and found her in her bedroom.  I was bursting with excitement that my trick would really work, but at the same time that I was terrified she’d see through it. My face cramped with energetic smiling, I said “Mom! Look!” and she walked over to me, probably thinking, “What now?” Watching for her reaction, I lifted the lid off the box, and was honestly surprised to see her stare blankly at my lifeless finger, then look at me with an expression I’d never seen before. I would describe it as horror-struck. She looked like a crazy person. She grabbed me by the shoulders and screamed, “WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR SISTER!?!?”

??? I was disappointed and confused. What did my sister have to do with anything?  I looked at the box and then I realized, ohhh. If there was a part of a finger in a box, it had to have come from SOMEWHERE, thus the sister… I was exasperated; Mom was completely missing the point. I demonstrated that the finger was mine, and Mom turned an odd color and literally sagged. I guess when the crazy drains from your body that is what happens.

This is the kind of story that gets re-told at family gatherings, and I always thought it was pretty amusing, until about a year ago when, for some reason, I was able to imagine the scenario from my mom’s point of view for the first time and realized what a horrible, horrible thing I had done to her. I imagined looking from a dismembered body part to my own child’s maniacally grinning face. If one of my boys had pranked me with a severed finger, I am pretty sure my head would have exploded. There she was, out on the farm, with one daughter mutilated at best and the other a complete psychopath.  So sorry, Mom! Being absolutely unable to empathize with my mother’s experience then, or for the next thirty+ years could, I guess, define me as a minor-league psychopath. Is it bad to say that this makes it even funnier to me?

My Naughty New Tweeps

One of my new things in 2011, that didn’t quite make my list of Best New Things, was Twitter. I know I’ve said this on more than one occasion, but I am not a dunce when it comes to technology; I do the facebook thing, and text, obviously I blog and am all over my smartphone. I can figure out how to get most things done on my laptop and the computer at BRX and even on my mom’s computer which I can’t even see. So even though you still seem to be skeptical, let me assure you, I can function with the technology. I was slow in finding my way to Twitter, though. First, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted say that was worthwhile and could be expressed in 140 characters. Loquacious me. Then, I was intimidated by all the @ and # going on. It seemed important though, so I begged Kelly to help me out and she took my by the metaphorical/virtual hand and led me through the setup. Then I ignored it for a few months, because I was still intimidated. One more tutorial with Kelly and I was hooked. I was tweeting like a little bird hopped up on espresso. But no one was listening. Because it takes time (unless you are famous or super popular, alas, not me) to build a following. So following me I had only Kelly, and some people I knew through freelancing, a couple of friends and my cousin (YAY!) I was following all of them plus some famous and/or super popular people who don’t know or care who I am, but they say entertaining/interesting things once in awhile and make my world seem bigger.

I tweeted out into twitterspace, and tweeted @ people, and used the #, mostly for laughs, and to my surprise and pleasure, people started following me! It was so nice! Obviously my wit and brevity were appreciated and I was aglow. And then I started checking up on my new “tweeps.” And, ummm, most of them seem to be adult internet porn folk? Nearly ALL of them?! Their names look normal, but their websites, my WORD! Not that I went there–as I said I am not a dunce, but when a person’s website is named…let me find one that I can use without going to hell…topwhores, you can kind of infer the content. And these people don’t tweet, except for one who actually had me thinking she was for real. This particular girl/woman/businessperson had five tweets; four inspirational quotes and one funny one. Clever, clever, I expect she will get LOTS more hits on her oral sex pictorial website than the others who just randomly follow naive mom bloggers but don’t actually have any words on their twitterfeeds. So, I have had to come to the conclusion that these people do NOT think I am interesting, or want to be my friend, but are only hoping that somehow I will be persuaded to buy access to naughty pictures of them. What floors me is that this must work to some extent, or why would they bother? Not that this has been a total waste of my time. Once my delicate sensibilities shattered around me, some of the website names were kind of amusing. Still gross, but sometimes you just have to laugh.

I am not thrilled that my first post of the year is about twitterporn, but I haven’t been able to get past this topic as I sit here at the computer. And it’s been a GREAT day! Church and big dinner, and photo organizing and I am reading a new book…and this is what I bring here to share with you. I think we are both disappointed in me, and yet, in order to move on, I needed to work through this. In apology, at least let me offer you the first thing I did today; a picture I took of the first sunrise of the new year. Older, wiser, and more ready to handle the strange new world we live in, I wish you the best in the remaining days of 2012.

CHECK THE CRAWL SPACE

Tap, tap, tap, tap. Tap-tap, pause, shuffle, tap, tap. What the hell was making that sound above the bathroom ceiling? Way bigger than a mouse. Mutant raccoon? How would something that sounded that big get UP there? I stared at the ceiling, as though I would suddenly develop x-ray vision. Why would a varmint be tapping? What if it wasn’t a varmint? What if it was Tooms, from the X-files? That episode, while not the first one I saw, was definitely the one that sold me on the series. And now, thanks to my stupid vivid memory and imagination, I was afraid I was going to be his next victim. Except I wasn’t–of course not, FICTION, woman, you know the difference. Ha-ha. Right. Well, I couldn’t drive to St. Paul in my bathrobe. I was going to have to get dressed and ready for the day. Which was difficult while keeping my eyes glued to the ceiling exhaust fan. If I had seen a pair of eyes peek out at me, or a mutant paw reach through the grate, whatever it was wasn’t going to get a chance to kill me. I’d drop dead from terror first.

This wasn’t the first time fear has kicked me across the “over-reacting” threshold. The first time, decades ago, I was standing by the door in a preschool room I was working in and a little vole scampered across the floor by my feet, looking for a way out. The next thing we all knew, I was across the room, standing on a Little Tykes slide. None of us, the other teachers, the kids, even I, knew how I’d gotten there so fast. Either I was a blur, or I somehow opened a little wormhole in time/space. Neat trick, if I could figure out how to do it on purpose, but I was a little surprised that I had had such an extreme reaction. I used to work with mice and rats in a laboratory, and they weren’t my faves but I hadn’t been frightened of them. Of course, they hadn’t been zipping around by the cuff of my pant leg, either. The next episode from my diary of terror, I was in the basement and I heard very clearly the floor above me creak from the weight of footsteps. I froze, and the footsteps stopped. Husband and kids being at work and school, I had been alone in the house, I’d thought. After holding my breath and listening for a few minutes, hearing nothing more, I couldn’t bring myself to go up the steps. I dashed out the back and went to my friend’s house down the street. She was sitting with two of our neighbors and another woman I knew a little. After I tried to laugh off my situation, they all insisted on coming and searching my house to make sure no one was there. At that point I remembered the state of my house, and tried to stop them, figuring death by stranger would be preferable to them seeing the shocking mess in every dang room, but they would have none of it. Mortifying. I can’t even put words to it.  The most recent episode before today was another wormhole incident, when Mr. W and I were having a conversation in his workshop. The walls down there were unfinished, just plastic sheeting stretched over fiberglass insulation and studs. To my horror, I saw the plastic over the patio door BULGE out as a fist-sized black something scurried along the top of the door. Mr. W was all, “Hey, look at tha…” but I was twenty feet away, covering my mouth so the scream couldn’t get out of it and jumping up and down.

I don’t know when I got all squirrelly, but it is undeniable. I am a lunatic. But I had things to do. I couldn’t just sit around and wait for whatever was living in the crawl space to finish me off, so I rapped on the ceiling with one of the kid’s broken air soft rifles and the tapping subsided with only the hint of a shuffle. Then I rinsed the bedhead out of my hair as fast as I could, dressed and got the hell out of there. I notified my tweeps, and am telling you now, that if our bodies are found with our livers removed or with oddly large rodent toothmarks on our tibias, CHECK THE CRAWL SPACE. Well, not you personally, I love you and wouldn’t want anything to gnaw your head off, but get a professional. I wonder if Mulder and Scully still make house calls?

Hey Moms! Let’s Put On a Show!

After completing two trips to the high school and two trips to Target today, all before 9:30 a.m., I found myself in the car, singing, “This is just how I’d hoped my life would go!” I was being ironic. This kind of morning is not at all what I thought my life would be like, back when I was young and life was ripe with possibility. However, the experience did open my eyes a little. I have realized that what we need in this country right now is a musical devoted to the humorous and painful life of the at-home mom. I don’t have a title yet, but here are some titles for songs that I think would work:

Tears in the Dishwater

Morning Chardonnay

(When You Say Bland) You’d Better Mean Delicious

A Letter From the Teacher

A Small Dose of Prozac

There’s Poop Where?

Dog’s Haircut “What should I think, when the bill makes me blink, and I see the dog’s haircut cost more than mine?”

If God’s a Woman, She’s Got a Quirky Sense of Humor

I envision all music genres used here. “Tears” could be a ballad, “Chardonnay” kind of a boozy waltz. “Bland” I see as a  powerful rock anthem. I keep hearing “A Spoonful of Sugar” when I think “A Small Dose of Prozac,” so it is good that I won’t be writing these songs myself; I’d only get into trouble.  Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and their Hollywood-cast pals would put on a show to raise money to save something or get something…I don’t know the details; that was before my time. My point is our musical could raise money, maybe for therapy! Or a retreat that moms on the edge could take turns in. I’m flexible. I’ll help with the writing and the set design, and I don’t think we’ll have to worry about refreshments; someone will bring cookies or muffins. Are you in? What job do you want?

A Cat-Tabulous Christmas

Cat-tabulous is out of control. This is the conversation we’ve been having.

Cat: I LOVE this Christmas tree! Attacking the tree skirt is the greatest!

Me: What are you doing in there? Stop that!

Cat: heeheehee You can’t see me, but as soon as you leave the room I am going to ram that base so hard the whole tree will jingle! Merry Christmas!

Me: Bad kitty! What is wrong with you?

Later,

Me: *walking into the room* Hey! That’s my tea!

Cat: What? You were still drinking this? It’s getting pretty cold you know. Would it kill you to make me a cup, too? Have you thought about going herbal? You seem stressed.

Later,

Cat: You are throwing something into the recycling bin? I want to go out into the garage.

Me: Stay back, cat. You walk all over the vehicles, and you don’t like the garage anyway.

Cat: No, I really, really do! I LOVE the garage! I want to go out.

Me: Forget it.

Cat: You are going out to the garage? I want to go out to the garage.

Me: I’m just getting towels out of the dryer. Stop trying to trip me!

Cat: I want to go out to the garage.

Cat: You are going out to the garage? I want to go out to the garage!!

Me: *Throws garbage bag into can* FINE! Go out to the garage.

Cat: Yay! I am in the garage and very happy, you should have let me out here hours ago. I could spend my life out here.

Three minutes later,

Cat: *picking at the weather stripping with his claws* It’s booooring out here! Let me in!

Me: Stop that! Get in here, you turkey.

Later,

Cat: I don’t know why you get upset when all I am doing is enjoying these beautiful cat toys you hung at my eye level. BTW, this felt snowman? Tastes like chicken.

Me: No! I love the snowman!

Cat: I wonder what the felt mitten with the photo of your son in first grade tastes like?

Me: Gah! *moves all the felt ornaments to higher branches*

Still later,

Cat: Why are you still wurrrrking? It is time for everyone to go to bed. Here, I am going to walk across you and nudge you with my slimy nose (don’t ask) and stomp on you with extra pointy feet until you give up and come to bed. It is in everyone’s best interest.

Me: Ow! Stop that! *Sigh* You are right, it’s late and I’m tired. Sleep will do us good. Let’s go cuddle.

Cat: Yay! You’re in bed! Listen, it’s dark and you can’t see me so well, so I am going to announce every move I make with that charming purr/meow noise you like. Prrow! I am standing next to you. Prrow! I am laying down by your side. Prrow! I don’t like this spot, maybe down by your ankles. Prrow! This is pretty good. Prrow! OMG, I forgot to bathe! I shall do so now, noisily. Prrow? Why are you so cranky? I’ll just move then. Prrow! See, I moved over here! *Silence* Prrow! Now I’m walking casually across the bed. I thought I’d find a spot to lay down, but I didn’t. Weird. I think I’ll just jump onto the floor instead. Listen to how loudly I can land! *Silence* Prrow!!HaulingAssAllTheWayAcrossTheBedNow-BetYouDidn’tSeeThatComing! Prrow? Sheeesh! What is your problem? I was just getting ready to get some shut-eye and you are all grabby and tense. Where are we going? The basement? You are so unreasonable. Hey, you know what the basement needs? A Christmas tree.

Technical Difficulties…Please Stand By

I have been working on an important post but it’s not done and I have to go pick up a kid, there’s shopping to do and dinner to cook (do we seriously have to eat every dang day?) and I just picked up a post from Word Press about how to enhance my blog with extra special tweet functionality! So I am setting the real post aside to vent a little about how I AM TRYING to keep up, but am STILL NEW to this tweeting business, not to mention that I still don’t KNOW what a blog pingback is or if it is a problem that I do it to myself once in awhile I think by accident but I’M NOT SURE? Here is how the super tweet post starts:

“As an update to our ever-popular Tweet embedding functionality we’re supporting Twitter’s new embed API to enable richer, better looking, and more functional Tweets inside your blog posts. To embed a Tweet just put a permalink to it on its own line or use our new shortcode that allows for extra formatting.”

To hell with that–what does that even MEAN? Are they MAKING FUN OF ME?  I think they are.

I helped my mom fix the volume on her laptop yesterday. At least she still thinks I am a techno rock star. Pbbbbthh.

Fitness Mama

Exercise is my anti-depressant. This has been true my whole life, but I spent years undervaluing and even avoiding exercise until I became an at-home mom when my kids were one and a half and four years old. People, I am not proud of this, but I was TERRIFIED of falling apart when I gave up my responsible and mentally stimulating job to face a completely different set of demands at home. I pictured myself weeping in the closet or drinking at all hours, or becoming a snappy, angry monster. To avoid this, I joined a fitness center that offered two hours of child care a day for people working out. I got into a very good groove of two-three workouts per week and stopped freaking out about becoming Joan Crawford. The time to myself gave me a little peace and the workout endorphins lifted my spirits. I fell in love with indoor cycling and became an instructor there, and also ran the outdoor group for the short cycling season we enjoy here in Minnesota. I built my confidence, even trying some competitive events, seriously toned up when I started Pilates, and made a lot of friends. After the kids went to school, and I started working part-time, my workouts fell off until the only class I went to was my own, and I gave that up, too.

Now I work out at BRX fitness, a small studio nearby. I have been friends with the owners for years, and they are fun, challenging, supportive and innovative. I have been introduced to Kettlebell,  Zumba, TRX and many objects of torture crazy fun fitness there. If you are ever in a class with me, I am probably the one complaining and making jokes to help get through the tough spots. They use a twisted sort of vocabulary, for instance saying, “Doesn’t that stretch feel wonderful?” when it is clearly excruciating. Despite the groans, I am never sorry I went. I can always tell when I have slacked off my preferred two to four intense workouts per week. I get morose and want to simultaneously punish and comfort myself with sugary fats. Or fatty sugars. Mmmmm. Moving on. Today I went to Kettlebell. Kettlebell makes me feel like a rock star, even if I occasionally overdo it and end up walking strangely for a couple of days (my hamstrings and quads lock up like like a sack of fists.) My odd waddling gait is accentuated by the squeaking sounds I involuntarily make with each step. Usually I know my limits well enough to stop before it gets to that point.

I pretty much need all the tools available to keep my sanity intact. My faith is very important, as are my relationships, but most women don’t find many barriers to developing faith practices or relationships. Society supports and expects that. On the other hand, I know a LOT of women who say they would like to exercise but can’t take time from their families, jobs or other commitments for themselves. Now that I have years of proof that exercise is key, I  want to preach a gospel of self-care that includes exercise, not just for weight maintenance or muscle toning, but for stress relief. The saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy.” I really, really want you to take care of yourself for your own sake, but if you can’t do it for you, do it for the people around you. Go ahead, pop an endorphin anti-depressant. Be a rock star.