Saturday, July 26, 2008

How Hot Is It?

Channel 7 News Weather Advisory:
"This heat wave should continue through the middle of the week with actual highs reaching 100 to 101 degrees. A heat advisory is in effect for much of the state as the heat index could reach 110 degrees."

Oh joy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dead Brain Poop: Dog Days of Summer

It is HOT outside. We're in the dog days of summer and my brain is fried. No synapses firing at the moment. All I want to do is lay around under the air conditioning. The cats even look dead.

I have some snippets of junk hanging around in my head that I'll share just to have something to post.

The Best Blog Post Opening Line Ever

This is from Chickiebean in Florida who writes Skittering Thoughts. She's a most irreverent broad (I say that with a great deal of respect and admiration) who lets it all hang out. This line sounds like the opening of a stellar piece of Southern fiction.

"I ditched a pair of panties in the bathroom of the Red Lobster in Fort Smith, Arkansas a couple of days ago."

There's something magical about that combination of words that made me pee my pants with laughter. It should be followed by a story about somebody gittin' run over by a train, going to prison in Oklahoma, or a dead mule.

Cheezburger the Porch Cat

Another stray cat has taken up residence on the front porch. This morning he deposited the gift of a dead squirrel on the doormat. Good Boy! He can hang out as long as he rids the yard of vermin, and I consider squirrels vermin.

I just wish he wouldn't lay right outside the door where I step on him a lot. I nearly broke myself in two the other night when I squished his belly with my foot. He wasn't all that happy either. You would think he would learn by now.

Gratuitous Triplet Picture

One joy of having babies is dressing them in goofy costumes and taking pictures.

Art Project

I was looking for some nice art paper to doodle on, but decided I'm too cheap to pay big bucks for 20 sheets in a sketchbook. I've seen other illustrators drawing on what appear to be pages from a book, so I had a truly tightwad idea.

I went to Goodwill and looked through all the hardbound books until I found one I figured no one would ever buy. It was a book of bad poetry, but the paper was nice and it had lots of whitespace in the margins. I thought it would be good for doodling practice. That's where I draw down-n-dirty with a pen. No pencil sketches, no erasures, no do-overs.

I like drawing this way. I get to experience the sheer joy of putting pen to paper without much thought. The mistakes are sometimes glorious.

Message From a Stranger

I got a message from a faraway stranger yesterday. It was given to me by a stranger, along with my dinner, and I will be compelled to pass it on to a stranger.

I wonder how many times this message has been handed from person to person, unknown to each other, their lives touching for just a brief instant in time, both reading the message and wondering about it?

I wonder how many more strangers will read it and send it on?

There are some weird people out there. I wonder if I'm one of them???

That's about all I have on my mind at the moment. Slim pickings for sure. I ain'ta dead yet, but my brain is.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Slice of Life at the DMV

Yesterday afternoon at the DMV Hubby and I waited, and waited, and waited. Take a number: 72. Now serving: 65. Our DMV office folks are really very efficient. It's the ill-prepared public that makes the wait so long. Anyway, we're sitting there people watching and Hubby nudges me and points.

The old man was a grandpa type; a shock of white hair, overalls, work shirt and work boots. He was slouched against the counter looking extremely bored. He had been to the DMV office a thousand or so times in his life. Next to him was a young kid taking the eye exam for a driver's license.

The kid was reading off alphabet letters and answering the examiner with very polite "Yes ma'ams" and "No ma'ams." He stood up straight and tall, his body language reflecting the magnitude of this very special day. The pair looked like they had just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

The kid was wearing his best Sunday-go-to-Meetin' clothes: a long-sleeved shirt and tie, dark suit pants, and stiff shiny shoes. It was an important day calling for important clothes even though it was 90 degrees outside.

He sat down to have his photo taken, adjusted his tie, and ran his fingers nervously through his hair. His smile was a bit unsure. He was anxious, excited and a little overwhelmed. This was his first time at the DMV and it was all new and wondrous.

The waiting crowd realized what was going on with the kid. They remembered their first driver's license and what a big day that was for them. Even though they didn't know the players they knew the story. They understood grandpa's role, they sensed the kid's apprehension, they felt the uncomfortable dress clothes. Twenty pairs of eyes watched the kid's every move and absorbed every expression. This was interesting stuff in an otherwise boring afternoon at the DMV.

I got a little sniffley-eyed watching the mini drama unfold. Here was a young man on the cusp of life, the gateway to independence, the first step towards manhood. It was life-altering for him, yet it was just another random Monday for everyone else in the room.

The kid carefully placed the newly minted license in his wallet and put the wallet back in his pants pocket. He paused just a nanosecond to adjust to the new feel.

As he made his way across the room he had a look on his face like a guy who's just been told he was about to become a father for the first time...a realization of the burden of responsibility, of having crossed an invisible line, that things weren't going to be the same anymore. It took him by surprise, he didn't think he would feel any different, but he did. He was changed somehow. He was no longer a kid but a man. A man with responsibilities. They were weighing heavily on his mind.

I was proud of him. As I wiped away a tear I thought, "Congratulations kid. Be careful and Happy Birthday."

Twenty pairs of eyes silently sent out the same message. Twenty pairs of eyes understood they had just witnessed the solemn rite of passage of a kid to a responsible adult. Twenty pairs of eyes watched as he stretched out to open the heavy door for his grandfather. When he did, the bottom of his pants leg hitched up just a little bit. Twenty pairs of eyes saw it and erupted in laughter.

He had dressed the part, stood up straight, and minded his manners. He had tried to show the world he was an adult worthy of his newfound privilege and responsibility. But in the end twenty pairs of eyes saw he was still just a kid who wore white socks with suit pants.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Disorganization Station

Normally I'm an organized person. There is a place for everything and everything in its place. I'm not Sleeping-with-the-Enemy obsessive about it, but I do have to be organized living in a tiny house or else I would go crazy.

Since Hubby has been home all day, every day, for months, my organization has gone to pot trying to keep him busy and entertained. I try to keep a list of honey-dos on the fridge at all times so he can occupy himself without bothering me. He washes the dishes every morning before I get up. Good boy.

He also likes to clean things. For today he was supposed to scrub the microwave, stove, vent hood, and toaster oven. Then he was supposed to crawl in the attic and fix the hot water tank exhaust pipe. He got all that accomplished before noon. Crap. He scrubbed all the paint off the underside of the vent hood. On tomorrow's list: replace vent hood.

Anyway, when he can find nothing else to do, he tidies up and organizes things. Not that I'm complaining, but he has rearranged the office closet three times in the last six weeks. The house is looking great. The problem is when he doesn't know immediately what to do with something he puts it on my desk. That would include:

1) This isn't mine, it must be hers;
2) I don't know what this is and if I throw it away she will yell at me;
3) I don't know where this is supposed to go and if I put it in the wrong place she will yell at me;
4) Any piece of paper.

So, today I sat down in my computer nest to draw. I couldn't even see my desktop there was so much junk on it. I didn't know where to start making it better. It stressed me out just thinking about the task, so I played a few games of spider solitaire, paced outside, drank a Pepsi, paced a little more, a few more games of solitaire, and more pacing. I finally decided I would go back inside, face the monster, and put one thing in its rightful place. Just one. Ya gotta start with one.

It gets more complicated if you understand I actually have two desks, a file cabinet, and four open shelves in my computer nest. I started picking out three-dimensional objects and leaving the paper to sift to the bottom to be dealt with last. I pulled everything out of the shelves that didn't belong. I was amazed at the crap that had accumulated that really lived somewhere else.

Some of the junk:

- old Rx sunglasses
- empty glasses case
- 5 bottles of fingernail polish
- fingernail polish remover
- container of cotton balls and Q-tips
- tube of hand lotion
- 2 tubes of hydrocortisone cream (one dead, one good)
- hairbrush
- pliers
- 2 screwdrivers (one flat, one Phillips)
- 2 half rolls of toilet paper
- bottle of 409
- 2 gardening magazines
- 2 big manila envelopes that came in the mail at least three weeks ago (unopened)
- 3 old car tag forms
- a glow-in-the-dark keychain fob with my name on it
- a ream of cardstock
- about 50 drawings in various stages of completion
- a bucketload of art supplies (this took up 1/4th of the surface space)
- 3 piles of paperwork for research projects
- 4 old hometown newspapers
- Sunday comics section from about a month ago
- the cats' flea comb
- a string of Christmas lights
- an acrylic serving tray
- an American history book
- a book of poetry
- my recipe book and a pile of loose recipes
- 3 small spiral notebooks all marked "blog fodder"
- a stack of freebie notecards received in the mail
- 3 freebie newspapers from over a month ago
- paperwork on the new hot water heater
- paperwork on the printer purchased two months ago
- warranty information on his truck
- 25 bits of paper that have phone numbers, addresses or passwords I need to record in the Rolodex
- my dead iPod, and
- 4 karaoke CDs (where the hell did *those* come from???)

That was all in addition to what should be there like the computer, printer, lamp, phone, file organizer, and office supplies organizer; bills, address books, phone books, dictionary, and thesaurus.

Yep, I was up to my eyeballs in the flotsam and jetsam of life. It took the better part of eight hours to get the computer nest and surrounds tidy and livable. I still have a stack of paperwork that needs to be dealt with but my brain was too tired to care. That's on the list for tomorrow.

Then I starting cleaning. It's been too long since Pledge was swiped across my desk for there was a wad of furry dust behind my computer monitor that looked suspiciously like a dead cat. I dusted up about two more by the time all was said and done. Sheesh!

So finally I had a clean space to draw. My brain wasn't up to pithy comic generation, so I decided to just sketch whatever. I tried drawing my normally comatose cat, but she figured out I was looking at her too intently and kept warily shifting positions. I switched my gaze over to Hubby's office nest, very tidy of course, and drew that instead. Here's the daily view from my computer chair:

I probably should say something interesting about this drawing, but my brain is dead.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Merit Badge Awards Ceremony

Booda was feelin' no pain when she commented:

"Are you giving badges for Woods Peeing? I'm pretty good at it. I'm really, really good, though, at Pub Speed Peeing. That's definitely for the advanced. Although, there are always those times when it would be easier to just slap on a pair of diapers and regress with abandon."

OK then.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly award the following badges to Yahoo Scout Booda Baby:

1) PEEING - Beginner

Requirements: Successfully pee in the woods without wetting shoes, being bitten by a snake, or getting chiggers.

2) PEEING - Intermediate

Requirements: Successfully pee in an urban setting in under 30 seconds without dropping beer, getting rushed by a homeless bum for money, being hit on by a golden showers fetishist, or being arrested by law enforcement.

3) PEEING - Expert

Requirements: Successfully don adult diaper, drive across country, mace foe, and return home in less than 24 hours without being caught on closed-circuit camera or arrested by law enforcement. Wet car seats, diaper rash, or urinary tract infections void successful completion of any other requirements.

Y'all give her a big round of applause....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Girl Scouts Now and Then

I've had Girl Scouts on the brain lately. When a topic pops up randomly three times in a row, it must be something I need to talk about.

First, Kimberly Ann was working towards earning Farmgirl Sisterhood Merit Badges. Think Girl Scout badges for big girls. I thought it was an excellent program, but sadly, there were no actual badges for the effort. So I designed some just for fun for the projects KA was working on. (Designs here.) The white border is beginner level, yellow border is intermediate level, and green border is expert level. I tried to match the graphic to the requirements for each level.

I think earning adult merit badges is a fun and fabulous idea. I could come up with a whole bunch of others like Car Maintenance and Repair, Budgeting and Money Management, Plumbing, Lawn Care, Top-Shelf Margarita Making and other basic stuff adults need to learn to be grown-ups. Plus, we could go camping some too.

Second, Hat and I had a long conversation about Girl Scouts when we were growing up. Mainly I ranted a lot and Hat listened, but still, there it was.

Then the next evening CBS News had a story "Girl Scouts Get Makeover." They are now getting into things like robotics, environmental issues, techno-recycling and other more urbanized pursuits. Sigh. The whole point of Girl Scouts was to get girls into the great outdoors. The new techie-ness doesn't sound very outdoorsy.

I once overheard a scout's mom lament that Girl Scouts weren't allowed to go camping anymore because it was too dangerous. So her daughter's troop "camped out" in the school gymnasium with their hair dryers and iPods. Sheesh. A Girl Scout should to learn to pee in the woods like God intended without getting snake bitten or picking up chiggers. A girl needs to know these things.

The reporter in the news program asked the girls why they weren't in uniforms. They replied that they didn't like uniforms; freedom of expression and all. The reporter told the girl she was a radical girl scout and the girl said, "Thank you." I don't think the reporter meant that as a compliment.

The "we don't like uniforms" comment set my teeth on edge. Part of being a scout is belonging to the group and doing things as a group. A uniform shows membership in the group and reinforces the sense of belonging to something larger than yourself you little spoiled, self-centered, egotistical brat. Grrrrrr.

An interesting factoid in the news story was that only one in ten girls was a Girl Scout, but 70% of American congresswomen and 80% of American businesswomen were Girl Scouts. See what learning to pee in the woods will lead to?

(Warning: long rambling walk down memory lane coming.)

I was, of course, a Girl Scout and remained in scouting for as long as possible. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED being a Girl Scout and everything about scouting (except selling cookies). Meetings were the highlight of my week during the school year, and the summer campouts and jamborees were heaven on earth.

I was fortunate to have an energetic, creative troop leader who stayed with our troop throughout our scouting career. She was *the* Girl Scout lady for our county and stayed in scouting long after all her daughters were grown and gone. I still call her every now and then and keep in touch.

I started as a Brownie in second grade (they didn't have Daisy Scouts back then) and kept at it until ninth grade. After that, nobody wanted to be a Senior Scout but me. All the other girls got interested in boys and makeup and stuff and dropped out.

And for the record, I LOVED wearing the uniform with all the pins and badges and googahs on it. I was PROUD to wear it. Here I am as a Brownie. Woo Hoo! Front page news, lead story! Look at those white gloves!

We wore our uniforms to school on meeting days. It's hard to see in this picture, but the Brownie uniform had a long orange tie. Daddy taught me to tie a Half-Windsor knot for neckties when I was in second grade and I had to tie all my boyfriend's ties all my life. I still tie Hubby's to this day.

If it happened to be soup day at school when we were wearing our uniforms, the lunch lady who handed out the greasy homemade yeast rolls (Yum!) and milk would lean over and carefully tuck our ties into the front placket of the uniform so they wouldn't drag in the soup. I would just beam when she did that. I thought it was sooooo cool.

Here I am at an awards ceremony as a Junior Scout. See all my badges? Yes, I loved earning badges. I loved the uniform beret too. I thought that was a cool hat.

And here I am as a Cadette at a campout.

The Cadettes were the workhorses at campouts. We had to set up all the tents, dig the la-las, and raise the flagpole. We also helped the troop leaders who had the little Brownies. Those tents were a mother to set up too. They were huge heavy canvas things that required at least four people to get them up. I still remember how to set one up, but that knowledge is archaic now with the new-fangled lightweight springpole numbers.

We lashed together tables, made sit-upons, pressed wildflowers, and cooked bacon and eggs on top of a tin can. We sang songs around the campfire. One I still hum to myself called "Barges." It was a round. Do Girl Scouts still sing rounds??

We whittled stuff too. Every Girl Scout was required to carry a pocket knife at all times. Would you let your second-grader carry a pocketknife? No? I didn't think so. We swatted skeeters and squealed at snakes and learned to pee in the woods. It was a magical time in my life.

I still want to be a Girl Scout. Do they have Brownies for big girls? I'll wear the beanie and everything...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Magical Stuff in the Woods

When we were visiting Camp Tickville last week, I saw this bright little red and yellow thing sticking up out of the dead leaves. At first I thought it was a part from a child's toy. When I got closer I saw it was a strange little mushroom.

It was about four inches tall and looked for all the world like a Roma tomato stuck on top of a #2 yellow pencil.

This is brother-in-law trying to take a picture of it. This bright little thing looked kinda odd in the dullness of the woods. I mean the mushroom, not brother-in-law.

We have the buff white toadstools everywhere but this little critter was new to me. When I looked closer I could see they were all out in the woods.

They were kinda magical. I half expected some elfin creature to pop out from beneath them.

In one of the photos I can see the elfin Mushroom Guard with his quiver of feather arrows, his bow made of a pine needle, and his strange Chinese helmet.

No, we did not made mushroom tea. Thank you for asking.

The other magical thing out in the woods was this enormous petrified land tortoise rock.

I can imagine this guy lumbering along eons ago in the forests of Tarabithia, Arkansas, imparting his centuries-old wisdom on the young children who play there.

And no, you may not have some of my mushroom tea.