Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Baby Spaces

I've just returned from an eight-day stay with my sissy Nana. We worked like dogs getting the nursery ready for the triplets, a.k.a Tres Butterbean. That included lots and lots and lots of heavy furniture moving, box packing, storage unit rearranging and painting. I hurt in places I didn't know I had. I don't normally have knee problems, but after climbing her insanely steep stairs about a hundred gazillion times carrying heavy loads, both knees are screaming. I heard (and felt) a sickeningly loud pop from the right one on Sunday, left one on Monday. Right shoulder and lower back are screaming as well. The lower back thing may be from sleeping on a rock hard trundle bed though. A visit to the chiropractor may be imminent.

Since I was the younger and presumably more nimble sissy (ha!) I got the privilege of climbing the extension ladder 14 feet in the air and painting the vaulted ceiling wall. Oh joy. I HATE climbing extension ladders. They are too wobbly for my comfort level. I have a fear of tumping over backwards on the damned things no matter how far out the legs are planted. Climbing up on them is no circus either. I looked like some kind of mutilated frog trying to get up the rungs because I kept my body as close to the ladder as possible and splayed out my knees. Humm...that may be why the ol' knees are screaming. I took one step, then reminded myself to breathe. Another slow step; breathe, breathe, breathe. I found I held my breath due to fear and it's never a good thing to turn blue at the top of an extension ladder. I managed to get the vaulted part painted, not once, but twice. I was never so happy as when we plopped the extension ladder back on its pegs in the garage. Good riddance.

The new pale yellow paint job in the nursery looks mighty fine, if I do say so myself. Nana and I are meticulously picky about our painting efforts and I think we are better than a lot of professional painters. Yeah, (pats self on back) we do good work. Nana and I are the two mentally deranged people in this universe for whom painting is a joy. At the moment the paint can is opened all becomes right with the world and serenity reigns. We get that wide, glassy-eyed look as we dip and stroke, dip and stroke; Zen meditation with a paintbrush. Of course it may be the paint fumes talkin' but we are two very happy happy paintheads.

After painting came crib assembly. We were both dreading this thinking it would take over an hour for each crib. The last time either one of us assembled a crib there were hundreds of little screws, nuts, washers, and odd metal pieces requiring many different tools and such. There are always the few leftover bits that don't seem to fit anywhere and that's always worrisome. The new, improved 21st century cribs have exactly seven parts: four sides, two bottom rails and a bottom. No tools required for assembly. They snapped together in four minutes. We know because we timed it. All three cribs were finished and in place in under thirty minutes. Awesome.

Looking down the list of googahs for the nursery it occurred to me that 21st century babies require a lot of stuff. I understand the truckload of diapers, jammies, bibs and blankies, that's not what I'm talking about here. Whooda thunk it that a wipey warmer was a critical accessory? There is also a big horseshoe pillow thingy and a couple of other gizmos I never did figure out. Did ya know that there are now contoured changing table pads? What, the kid can't lay flat for the minute and a half it takes to wipe and re-diaper a hiney? Oh, talcum powder is now a no-no. Maybe all that talcum I inhaled as an infant warped my brain. I guess it's possible.

Anyway, with just a load or two of laundry to fluff up all the sheets and blankies, the nursery is ready for the babies. Butterbean Mom is now at exactly six months to the day. She looks about six months pregnant even though she is carrying triplets. No problems so far. Doctors are thrilled and amazed. Babies are estimated to be about two pounds each and are perking along wonderfully. The last ultrasound confirmed they are all little girls. Names have not been decided, but current thoughts are to go with an A, B, C naming scheme. We jokingly refer to them now as Almondine, Butterbean, and Collard Greens.

Collard Greens is gonna be my special object of attentive spoilage. We have already decided she will be the free spirit of the bunch. While A and B are wearing pink ruffley stuff and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider, C.G. will be decked out in tie-dye and playing Led Zeppelin on guitar. Yep, it's already been decided.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Do Christmas Tree Worms Sleep?

A few bits of flotsam and jetsam rattling about in my brain:

Uncle Buck and his FABulous Shoes

Buck - These are a set of magnets on my fridge door. I think about you and your FABulous shoes whenever I go digging for a cold Pepsi. I often ponder on how we are probably more alike than different and what a mind-blowing concept that is.

The Refugees Can Be Seen on Google Earth

Google Earth can peer right into my backyard from somewhere on the other side of the planet. That is so awesome and so scary. It makes me realize how very, very small this little blue marble is getting. More people need to think about that more often.

The Chess Game T-Shirt

This Sharpie artwork is by Cowbell's awesome artist daughter The Bohemian. I so need a T-shirt with this on it I can hardly stand it. If the Bohemian would sell these babies I would be first in cyber line to buy one. White Hanes Beefy-T, 50/50, XL please. Do you take PayPal?

#1 on Google

I'm the #1 search hit on Google for toilet water turbines, John Deere caskets, and the eternal question, "Do Christmas Tree Worms Sleep?" I don't make this stuff up people.

Answer: No, Christmas Tree Worms are awake and watching you all the time. Your only protection is to wrap your Christmas tree entirely in tinfoil as shown here:
For further protection, apply a generous coating of petroleum jelly and store several hours in a dark, warm place. You should begin to feel the full satisfaction of the Christmas spirit free from any annoying worms.

That is all. You may now return to your regularly scheduled lives.

Friday, January 11, 2008

High School Class Reunions

For the last four days I've had my head down working like a dawg doing some serious Interweb stalking. My sister is the head of her high school class reunion committee and I'm trying to find about 50 lost members for her. Since I'm the little sister I got conscripted into service. That happens with a lot of her projects. Next week I've been conscripted to paint, furnish and decorate the Tres Butterbean nursery. Sigh. It's always something.

That's some kind of unwritten Big Sister - Little Sister law by the way. Little Sister must do what Big Sister says. Always. Forever. Punishment for disobeying is getting pinched under the supper table by a set of prehensile toes. Sissy's got some monkey toes, lemme tell ya what. She can take a plug outta me with those things.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about high school class reunions. Both sisters are the chairmadams for their respective class reunion committees. They love all the planning and organizing and hob-knobbing. They plan some kind of get-together about every five years and have a grand ol' time.

I, on the other hand, am not the head of my reunion committee. I'm not even on the committee. I have not attended a single reunion. Never even responded to the requests for information. High school, while not terribly unpleasant, was no great joy either. I just endured those years thinking maybe next year will be better. It never was. There were a few bright spot classes I enjoyed, but mainly I thought it a big waste of time, just state-funded babysitting.

Most of the people in my social group are either dead or doing 25-to-life so the folks I knew well wouldn't be at a reunion anyway. I have kept up with only three people: Patti, my bestest girlfriend; Jeff, my bestest guy friend; and Jill, whom I didn't associate with in school but who starting keeping up with me once we got to college. Jill keeps me up-to-date on everybody else so I don't have to. She will start in on a litany of events and scandals and I'm thinking to myself, "Who is this she's talking about? I don't remember anybody by that name." It's not like we had a really huge class either. Maybe 250 people and I went through at least six years with them. You would think I would have a clue what the names were.

I do remember all the teachers though, even some of the ones I didn't have for class. They were the people who were important to me, not my classmates. You bet your ass I'll run through traffic to accost them and find out how they are doing. Sadly most of my favorites have passed away. Those were some tough old broads and I loved them for it. They didn't take any crap from a bunch of kids and we all knew it. I like tough old broads. I hope to be one some day.

I guess I just don't "get" the appeal of a class reunion. I don't understand why a bunch of random people who were forced together by chance or circumstance for a very short time in their lives would want to get together to reminisce. It seems as odd to me as a reunion of everyone who was shopping in the local Wal-Mart store on Tuesday, August 15, 1986. What's the point?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Learning to Fly

She used the blank pages
of her journal as a dustcloth,
collecting the cerebral lint
torturing her thoughts and soul.

A funeral pyre of pages
exorcised the demons forever.
Gone, never to be remembered
except that they once existed.

Now she can fly.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

It's Good to be The King

Mr. Pibb, our tomcat, has declared himself to be Alpha Male of the household, much to the chagrin of Hubby.

Pibb is the only male critter to ever live with us. All our doggies and kitties have been female. Hubby loves living with a bunch of females, his "girls" as he calls us. Yes, I'm included in that. He spoils us all rotten and we love all over him. He eats that up with a fork and spoon. Purrs all around. Hubby likes being king of his harem.

Well, Pibb has thrown down the gauntlet. He has decided he wants to be king and has challenged Hubby's sovereignty over the household.

The first show of dominance was Friday evening. Hubby was laying in bed reading when suddenly he bolted from the bedroom with Pibb at arm's length and a mortified look on his face. He unceremoniously dumped Pibb on the front porch.

"What's going on? What's wrong?" I asked.

"He was humping my leg!!!!" Hubby exclaimed, obviously all meshuganah.

"So what??? Why did you put him outside?"

"I didn't want cat spooge on my ankle."

(gales of laughter)

"Honey, I think Pibb just made you his bitch."

Hubby hung his head dejectedly, and I laughed and pointed. Hubby pouted for the remainder of the evening and Pibb was banished to the great outdoors.

Saturday Hubby was working at his computer. Pibb chirped at him then jumped in his lap. Pibb crawled on his shoulders, walked along the back of the chair, then started biting Hubby on the ear. Hubby interpreted this behavior as "Pet me NOW dammit!" so he got Pibb into his lap and started petting him. Pibb wriggled free down on the floor. Then Pibb repeated the same lap, shoulders, back, ear biting sequence. Hubby stood up and Pibb jumped into the chair and curled up for a nap. He didn't want pets, he wanted the chair.

Hubby looked down at Pibb just speechless. He couldn't believe he had just been reamed by a cat. He had that same mortified, pouting look. I once again laughed and pointed. Hubby hung his head and sulked off to retrieve a wooden dining table chair.

Hubby worked in that hard chair for the remainder of the afternoon while Pibb slept in the plush, ergonomically-designed computer chair. Much teasing and laughing ensued with Hubby looking gloomier and gloomier.

So this afternoon Hubby declared we were going shopping.

"Shopping??? For what???"

"A new office chair."

Now there are three chairs in our office: Mine, Hubby's and Pibb's.

Tonight Hubby looked down at Pibb napping in his old chair and said, "I hope you're happy now you damned cat."

Pibb just chirped and stretched, turned belly up, and poked his little pink tomcatness out at Hubby.

Yep, it's good to be the king.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Expectations for Life

"My life has been pretty blessed. Not a lot of drama in it," I commented one day.

My sister-in-law did a 180° swiveling head snap to lay a glaring look on me. The reaction was worthy of a FABulous gay guy who had just been told his shoes were tacky. One of THOSE looks.

"HOW can you say that?" she fumed with indignation. "You've been unemployed, divorced, and held at gunpoint; your father and grandmother just died; and your mother has cancer."

Oh, yeah, that stuff. She had a point.

"Most people would consider those events to be dramatic. Why don't you?"

Hummm...this from a woman who can find drama in making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But still she had a point. So I pondered on that a while.

The only conclusion I could find is that my expectations for life are different than most people's. I always expect the worst and when it doesn't happen I rejoice. When the worst happens, my expectations have not been violated, so I don't get all meshuganah. My life stays on a fairly even keel.

I was going to rant on ad nauseum about plans, decision trees, toxic drama, changes in perspective and such, but author Robert Fulghum summed up things nicely in his book Uh-Oh, Some Observations from Both Sides of the Refrigerator Door. I call this the Lump Theory.

"You don't know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire - then you got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in a breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference."

Today my neck is functioning as designed. Today I have Cheetos in the pantry. Today my house isn't smoking, it's not even warm (kicks furnace). Today my life is blessed.

Tomorrow things may change. But I expect that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Day 1,852 of My Captivity

Smudge doesn't understand why she isn't allowed outside. That nasty old interloping tomcat, Mr. Pibb, goes in and out this door at will. Why oh why can't she???

Smudge was the neighbor's cat actually. When they had a baby in the summer of 2002, Smudge was shooed outside permanently. She hung around on our porch through the summer and fall, all the while being abused by the other neighbor's cat Red Tom. She was very sweet and we lavished pets on her and protected her from Red Tom.

One freezing cold, wet, miserable night, Smudge decided indoors was where she wanted to be and our indoors was the only option available. She darted through our legs and past the dog and two behemoth indoor kitties. She went two laps around the house with the three resident critters hot on her heels. With one superkitty leap she went from the floor to the top of the laundry room cabinet, a distance of at least seven feet. How she managed that will forever remain a mystery since she was declawed and had nothing to grab with.

She remained on top of the laundry room cabinet for about two weeks. In the wee hours of the morning I would hear her thunk down onto the washing machine and to the floor. Eating rattles in the dogfood bowl, scratching noises in the litter box, another thunk up onto the washing machine, rustling noises as she rearranged things on the top of the cabinet, then silence. Thus was her daily existence.

I would climb on top of the washing machine and check on her from time to time. Satanic hisses would be the only greeting. Sheesh! What a grouch. What happened to the sweet kitty who hung around on the front porch???

The other critters knew she was up there but after a while they didn't pay her much notice. She eventually got lonely and wanted to be around us I guess, so she moved from the laundry room to a tall armoire in our bedroom. She would come down in the wee small hours of midnight to take care of necessities, but stayed up there throughout the day for about three weeks.

She mustered her courage one night and came down and slept next to Hubby's head. It took courage because the dog was curled up at Hubby's feet. After that she was Hubby's kitty, this little puff of a marshmallow with four feet and a tail.

We had gotten to know her as the sweet little kitty on the front porch. That was just an act. What we didn't realize was that she was almost feral and couldn't be handled. She was a biter. A BIG biter. If we tried to pick her up she became a yowling, spitting, biting, whirling dervish furball. I blame the biting defense on the de-clawing, but that's a rant for another day.

At her one and only trip to the vet they had to bind her in a fishing catch net to immobilize her for shots. The vet, me, and Smudge decided that's all the vetting she would ever need in her lifetime. She needs brushing but that ain't a-gonna happen. She gets all matted and lumpy during shedding season. To dose her with flea goop requires sneaking up on her while she is asleep then applying said goop with lightning speed. I still end up with bloody scratches and bite marks.

It took about three years before we could pick her up without her biting a big plug out of us. She is still a grouch, but can show a few milliseconds of sweetness. She will lay on Hubby's chest while he's watching TV, but three strokes on the head and a skritch under the chin is all she will tolerate. After that we have learned to LEAVE HER BE. Any touching below the neck will be rewarded with a fang-sinking bite.

I don't know what Smudge's life was like before she came to live with us but it must have been pretty bad. All the animals I've ever had in my life were strays, throw-aways, or abused train wrecks. A little love, food and patience will usually turn the worst attitude into a sweet, loving, snugly pet. Not so with Smudge. She may be permanently damaged goods, but she is ours, for better or worse, and we love our little grouch dearly. And we aren't letting her out the door.