musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

best laid plans…

Mr. Cynic is sleeping at his friend MD’s house and I need to pick him up at 11. Then his friend TB  is coming over to form a new band. Grandma is taking Toots to Busch Gardens with her sister’s family. So Captain Comic and I are on our own for a smidge here. I was hoping to have a little writing time, and talked to him about not interrupting, but it doesn’t look that way, since his latest inquiry is:

Captain Comic: Mom, I’m taking a few of these poppits outside to pop on the deck (last box of those white throw down spark things from our bbq)
Mom: Okay.
Capt. Comic: (pop pop pop, reenters the office): Mom, can these be flammable?
Mom: Yes, they are made of gunpowder and spark.
Capt. Comic: So, like, if I tossed one in gasoline…..
Grandma & Mom: YES! of course if you throw them in GASOLINE!

So I guess I will not be writing today after all.


basenji central

My friend CW loves Basenji dogs so much that she fosters puppies regularly. She has a houseful right now and wanted us to come by and socialize them. Originally I gave a pretty hard no, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be around puppies and walk away without one.

Of course, I came around and we visited. The one in the upper left corner is one of CW’s adult Basenjis. The rest are the foster puppies. I fell in love with the brindle, named Amber (upper right corner), but I was good and did not bring her home. Just so you know, as I write this, my heart is totally breaking about having left her there instead of coming home with us. Another friend of mine has already adopted one of the tawnies. She’s a big Basenji lover, too.

Someone else has claimed another one of the puppies, but wanted to be sure she was gentle with little ones, and that’s where we come in. Toots and this shyer of the pups were wonderful together. In fact all the puppies really gravitated to Toots because she is just about their size. Captain Comic noticed and commented about it.

Captain Comic loves dogs and researching about different breeds. He was really looking forward to going today. He was especially interested in hearing the barkless dog’s yodel.

Mr. Cynic didn’t say much, but I just know he was totally squeee-ing on the inside.

Here’s a bit of our adventures in Basenji Central:

Here’s Captain Comic waiting for a puppy attack. He wanted it so badly. But Toots got it instead. Sorry, I was fending off puppies from her and couldn’t take a photo.

This is Amber, with whom I fell in love. 
She was pretty keen on all the kids, too.

Circling pups and Toots, squealing in delight.

Puppy kisses galore.

Captain Comic was so excited to make the puppies come running.
Just look at that giggle face. He’s holding it in so hard.

Puppy love! And CW’s adults, too. 
The big one is a Basenji mix, all the others are Basenji through and through.

Apologies for the dog butt. Toots and Captain Comic were in seventh heaven here.

See how Amber just seems to belong to us already? NO, wait, stop that! 
Breathe, Cath, leave the puppy be. 
If you love something set it free….
Meanwhile, at home, not long before we went visiting the pups, a certain troublesome terrier raised a bit of hell. I heard the dog door through the garage, and immediately, half a house away, was blasted with a stink so bad… I never smelled anything quite so odiferous in my life. It was the stink of a thousand rotting corpses. It was hideous beyond belief. Captain Comic wrapped his shirt around his face as we tried to chase her out of the house. Lucy was clearly very proud, happy and excited about whatever she had just rolled in and apparently ate. We chased her out, we locked all pet door access to the house. She managed to get back in as we tried to get shampoo and green dog treats galore out to her. We chased her out again, grabbed her and hosed and shampooed her down. The treats didn’t help her lethal breath. I went into the fridge for some cilantro, anything full of chlorophyll to fight the stink of rotting zombie off of her breath.
The stinker after we tortured her with bath and breath fresheners.
She is clearly still stoked about whatever she attacked and possibly devoured. 

back in the saddle

Last week was a bust for editing. The boys were home all week for the first time since April break, it rained or threatened to do so quite a bit, and I had too many doctor appointments. So I just left my edit bag leaning against the bookcase, and didn’t grouse about losing writing time.

Yesterday, I sent Toots along with Grandma for her morning workout. Toots likes the play room at the YMCA. I think she needs more peer time than she gets around here. I left the boys to their own devices and told Mr. Cynic to keep Captain Comic out of trouble by playing cards or something and then taking him to the neighborhood pool. It’s a really rather nice possibility now that Mr. Cynic is a pretty responsible teen.

I went to the library and, admittedly, it was hard for me to get started on the manuscript, as it had been about two weeks since I last worked on it. I was also at quite an emotional chapter for my main character, one in which he reacts uncharacteristically angry over something unrelated to the bullying that is pressuring him. I still feel like protecting him like he’s one of my actual children. The difficult parts of the book for him are particularly difficult for me to watch him go through for the umpteenth time, as I write it, hopefully a little better with each edit. But when I got down to business, it seemed to flow really well and the minor changes moved quickly. I added a little more internal feelings without being too expository. That is one of my main issues with the last draft. I missed the mark on conveying what he was going through via the context of the scene itself, or my writing of his emotions was overwrought for a twelve year old boy – one extreme or the other.

July is around the corner, and so is the boys’ summer travels to their father for a month. I am hoping to work more consistently, once again, on the the manuscript and finish it before they come home. I hope to get it to my writing group for a last hurrah critique, then out to children’s agents and publishers.

What’s that old adage about best laid plans?   I really hope that July is a quiet month. I really want to finish and send it out. I’ve been working on this far too long already. I practically could have grown the main character from birth in the time I’ve worked on this ten days of his life.

snack selection brought to you by dayglo pink

I swear, even with all the baking I do, that I try my darnedest to feed my family healthy snacks, made from scratch, with whole ingredients.

But Honey and I went shopping in a specialty store together yesterday and came home with bags of sugar crap, including this:

It’s exactly the color of my bedroom until age seven, which permanently put me off to the color pink. It’s Pepto Bismol. It’s darker than cotton candy, but cotton candy flavored, in a cute box, marked half off.

I think that was what did us in. Half Off.

 I feel sick to my stomach looking at the batter. I think this was the moment that Mr. Cynic said, “Brought to you by Barbie.”

Of course, he was riffing from my, “Today’s snack selection brought to you by the color dayglo pink!” in my best announcer voice.

 And then the frosting.

But they smelled really good coming out of the oven.

Sorry, used cellphone camera again, this is cupcakes after pink sprinkle sugar. Note how the frosting is kind of melty? Someone couldn’t wait for them to cool before frosting. I’m not telling who. I plead the fifth.
Someone else couldn’t wait to eat them. Even if they are pink.

Neither could he:

The one to enjoy the pinkitude the most had just awakened from nap, and was a little slow to eat them.

I am not telling you how quickly mine disappeared. Nope, I just won’t.

balance points

This week, between the kids’ first week home from school and a gazillion doctor appointments – no worries, just getting updates on old stuff – I have not written or edited, seen only a couple of friends for thirty minutes, and the continuing hovering forecast of rain and wearing a boot have prevented trips to the neighborhood pool. We’re all a bit stir crazy, one week into summer. And Grandma caught a bad cold and has been off of her usual exercise routine, too.

I think this week was an exercise in finding a routine amidst overall changes.

I have not watered the garden consistently, because it seems the rain will really pour, then not much happens. Then I think the rain will come overnight, and it really doesn’t. And it’s tougher to drag the hose around the yard with this dang boot.

Captain Comic wants to learn poker, badly, and I want to teach him. Poker was a big influence in my family life when I was a kid, I love playing cards, especially with my dad.We sure had some good Gin tournaments, mano a daughtero. But I know I need a good visual aid for Captain Comic to see all the levels of win, etc. Somehow I need the time and focus to teach him the multi-step processes of poker, when he is compromised in multi-step processing. It will take more than one session, that is for certain. Much frustration will have to be abated, on both parts.

Honey and I had a late night date at a combo pub cinema place last night for our fifth anniversary. We arrived a bit early for the showing of Bridesmaids, and sat at the bar. While we waited, I learned the difference between us and how that difference is a good thing. We were quiet for a moment, so I asked, “What would you like to see in the next five years?

Honey: What do you mean? I can’t see into the future.
Me: What would you like to see. What do you want in life?
Honey: I don’t know, I’m pretty good. A hot meal, a warm bed, a chance to relaxed a little more.
Me: Really? That’s kind of nice.

See, I am always looking around the bend, aiming for something, having big dreams, wanting something, looking for the next adventure. In his way, Honey is content to just be.

At times, this can be a source of frustration for both of us, but I think, at other times, it works to both of our advantages that we come at the world and each other from different angles. I get him off of his butt for an adventure. While it may take a little initial effort, he always seems to appreciate it after the first push. Conversely, he gets me to stay in the moment and just chill and realize that not everything needs to be done right now, not everything needs to be planned or in constant motion. A little stillness is a good thing.

So we find our balance.

I need to find a way to fit writing into the week while the boys are home. I think I will manage that a little better next week, when I don’t have so many appointments. Also, Grandma seems to be feeling a little better today and will likely get back to her morning exercises routine, away from the mayhem of home. I know how important her exercise routine is for her. She’s better about keeping one than I am.

I have written a summer daily schedule and hung it up for Captain Comic to have a reference as to what this hour of the day is for. Poor guy kept floating around not knowing what to do with himself, leaving a wake of difficult relationships, snack scraps and random detritus until I did.

Toots needs a little more interaction than I’ve been giving her this week, while I’ve focused on my medical stuff and whatnot. There’s been a bit too much PBS and Netflix children’s program selections going on.  I think if the forecast perks up to the sunny side, we’ll get to the pool more next week. This will be good for the Capt., too.

Mr. Cynic has been a big help this week, and found ways to hang with his friends and girlfriend. He’s getting more and more independent, even if he is still hesitant on the learning to drive sessions.

And, even after all these years, Honey and I continue to learn each other, and how to negotiate what it is that simultaneously drew us to each other, and what drives us most crazy on a daily basis.

Ain’t love grand?

It’s summer. I think by now, all schools across the country are out for the season, the days are long on light and open hours. Don’t forget to enjoy them for what they are, a chance to relax a little more…and maybe have a good adventure,or two.

five

photo: j. gallo

That’s my guy, Honey and me, five years ago today. I think this was taken right before our first married kiss.

Everyone should be so in love and able to do this. Sure, marriage isn’t all happiness and light, contrary to what fairytales would have us believe, but it is worth the work it takes when you love your partner and can be recognized fully in that, no matter how that love is packaged.

anatomy of ankleland

Some of you may recall this story from about a year ago:

You can click the picture for a link if you haven’t heard the tale, but about a year ago, I hurt my ankle pretty badly. I haven’t really recovered. In fact, from favoring the initial ligature/tendon injury which was never properly diagnosed, I developed tarsal tunnel syndrome.
TarsalTunnel
Click pic to read about it.

Then from not dealing with the tarsal tunnel syndrome, I developed tendonitis on the posterior blah blah, a tendon sheathe along a muscle that runs from the knee down behind the calf muscle, close to the tibia. I lost track when the doctor was talking yesterday as he gave me a cortisone injection for tarsal tunnel syndrome. I left the doctor’s office and drove in circles (yes folks, it is my driving ankle) to find the place where I was supposed to pick up a boot to wear for the next month, and found it just time for it to be closed, thanks to it’s lack of signage. By the time I got home, my foot was on fire up to my knee, and felt dead and asleep, like it was trying to wake up, but never did except partially sometime around five o’clock this morning. Needless to say, it was a sleepless night.  Before I went to bed, I asked a medical friend if my foot/ankle/leg should still feel like this several hours after injection, and she replied that it sounds like I had a classic steroid flare. Yay me and my weird anatomy.

So this morning, I got to drive all the way back across Newport News to find this boot place again and now my fashion statement is this:

May I pass this lesson onto you?

Listen to your body when it is giving you clear signals to see a doctor and take care of yourself, for goodness sake, because if you don’t put yourself high ‘on the list’, this is the sort of thing that can happen to you.

Ironically, in the waiting room, my reading was Hot (Sweaty) Mamas, by Kara Douglas Thom and Laurie Lethert Kocanda, an enthusiastic book about making personal fitness a priority in your hectic life as a mother.

I neglected to mention previously that this book was a win from Kate Hopper’s blog, Mother Words:Mothers Who Write. I am incredibly grateful, Kate, thank you. Once I can get back on both feet, I am so on this!

In fact, even before I am back on both feet, I am starting a belly dancing class next Monday. 🙂

stuff

I did it again. I overloaded a weekend and its lead up, and paid the price physically. And then I woke up with a cold this morning. I did more yard work last week than one somewhat broken down (back, shoulder, ankle) middle-aged person should ever attempt on one’s own. I think I amassed fourteen hours on Wednesday and Thursday alone, of serious manual labor. 

But Captain Comic slept in for the first time in his life well past six o’clock this morning. He made a premeditated decision to do so, and it worked. This makes me extraordinarily happy.  Ask me another day if he kept up his plan to sleep in this summer for more that one morning. It’s been a long childhood of pre-dawn waking. 
Friday night we had a big cookout with a bunch of families with young kids. Mr. Cynic invited Goldilocks. I totally forgot to break out a camera. Must have been having too much fun. It rained briefly and Honey saw a rainbow while he was grilling.  The kids were all over the trampoline, swings, house, dog…and poppers and snaps: 
I think most of the adult males had more fun with these than their kids. 
Father’s Day, the boys thanked Honey for providing and Toots woke up a very sleepy Daddy with hugs and kisses and a card. And then we left him the house to himself for several hours. I had a very busy Sunday at our fellowship. Poor kids had to stick around for a choir rehearsal and two services. There was a cookout scheduled, too, but I had church burnout. Captain Comic had it much worse than I did, so we came home to spend the afternoon with our resident Dad. Honey grilled again and Toots was excited about “Wayermelyen!” 
Or did I take this shot on Saturday evening? I can’t remember anymore. 
At some point this weekend, I looked out our front window and discovered I had grown a sea horse in my driveway:
I am sort of collapsing this week, and have a gazillion doctor appointments lined up. No new worries, just back on the specialists wheel I hopped off of about a year ago re: old stuff.  It is exhausting and expensive, even with insurance going to one after another only to have them tell me to go see yet another. But hopefully I will start to get some real answers. However, I just found out a new bellydancing class is starting tonight and I really want to join it. I need to do something about my belly, and why not have fun getting it into shape?
The weather is kicking into high gear as I type this up. I hope it doesn’t get too bad, coming in from the Midwest….but we sure can use the rain.

new fave thing & convo with the captain

Captain Comic: How’d they DO that?
Mom: I don’t know, but it’s really creative and innovative, don’t you think?
Capt. Comic: But how did they do it? Did they like draw it with a stick burning into the toast?
Mom: The images are so consistent from one piece of toast to the other, I wonder if they have some kind of a stamp thing they add lines of something to, and heat up to burn into the toast…
Captain Comic: That wastes a huge amount of toast!
Mom (falls over laughing)

breakfast

A little while ago, I brought the corn husk materials from last night’s dinner out to my compost pile. I perused the pickings around the peas. I popped one pod in  my mouth. I’ll let the others linger and grow another day or so. I strolled by my little swiss chard piece of a plot in front of the okra,  and was struck with an idea for breakfast. I picked a few leaves thinking of combining them with eggs, and considered what else to add as I reentered the house.

Last week’s storms broke Grandma’s hanging tomato plant. The remaining tomatoes are ripening on our kitchen counter.

I chopped some garlic as I started to scramble the eggs. I gave the swiss chard a few licks with the knife and tossed those in. I took a small tomato from the opposite counter did the same. A little salt and pepper later, and voila!

Garden fresh swiss chard and tomato scramble, from garden to plate.

This is why I love to garden. Everything you grow yourself inspires and tastes better, from plant to table in ten minutes.

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