Friday, October 28, 2005

You rock, Einstein

This is the coolest.
Thanks, Leesa, you're the coolest, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Which Peanuts Character Are You?

You are Snoopy!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by

My husband is the devil

Of course, I'm kidding. He's really not. It's just... I figured out something this weekend while we went grocery shopping. That skinny little bastard has gained maybe 10 lbs since I met him thirty years ago. I know there are women who have only gained 10 lbs in 30 years. I said I know them, but I don't necessarily like them. We were a bit hungry when we went grocery shopping which is not a good thing, but this man is insatiable, and I ain't talking about "in the bedroom." There's not much left in the "deli's section" (where you don't have to cook) after 10 o'clock which is when we were at Schnucks so he pounced (and I do mean POUNCED) on a container of fried chicken that he said we could heat up and add mashed potatoes. I have been trying to eat on the South Beach Diet (which he refers to as the South Park Diet), and I don't think fried chicken and mashed potatoes are on that, do you?

He wanted some muffins for breakfast and chose a box set of 4 that were each bigger than my head. You know the ones. While standing at the bakery section, he eyes some half cakes and grumbles that if you double the price (and subsequently) the size of the cake, the price is astronomical so you might as well buy a whole cake. And plop, he throws an entire carrot cake into the basket. Now he knows my weakness (and again, I'm not talking about "in the bedroom"), and carrot cake is my favorite. It is the perfect food because it could be considered a vegetable (carrots), protein (nuts), a fruit (raisins, optional), and a dairy (nice thick cream cheese frosting). I was incredulous.

And as we strolled through the aisles, I was convinced I was shopping with the devil, as I threw various temptations out of the basket after he would throw them in. I forgot what it was like having him home. He was killing me. Finally, we're in the dairy section where I pick up some light cream cheese and 1/2% milk, and the man starts to eyeball the cookie dough (with pumpkin decor) and picks up a "tofer" - 2 tubes of chocolates cookie dough for ... who knows how much... he thought it was a bargain. He leaves tomorrow morning. What am I going to do with two tubes of chocolate chip cookie dough (and no one better add "in the bedroom")? I haven't had pasta in 5 weeks and tonight this man serves me chicken, noodles draped in cheese and CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES for dinner. (I only had 1.) Now can you agree... He's the devil.

Things I don't miss while the DH lives out of town during the week:
food temptations in the kitchen
Diet Coke without caffeine (WHY bother?)
Cleaning up after him (Can the man rinse a dish in the sink?)
Buying fattening food when grocery shopping
Being ignored while talking
Waking him up when he falls asleep in various positions in front of the tv
Pissing and moaning about the Cardinals NOT being in the World Series (get over it.)

Things I miss while the DH works out of town:
Keeping me warm now that winter is creeping into St. Louis
Having dinner appear in front of me
Doing yard work, raking leaves, checking roof shingles for damage.
Taking the dog out and feeding her after I wake him up
Filling the car up with gas (without being asked)
Doing all the driving

Did I mention keeping me warm in the bedroom? (And I do mean "keeping me warm." It's getting cold in Missouri.)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Richer than I thought

I have been bemoaning lately that my sound doesn't work on my computer. A brand new Dell, and I can't get the friggin' speakers to work. I have called and been routed to India and that doesn't work. I have gotten into Dell's website and posted my problem. That hasn't helped. I deleted all e-mails that come with a wave file. Can't hear it. I continue to bitch and moan.

That is until yesterday's Oprah. As many of you know, I am such a fan of that woman and think she could and should run for president. So don't comment that you don't like her. I will have to hurt you. Yesterday's episode was on the forgotten poor as she traveled to Pembrooke, Illinois, a mere 70 miles from where she tapes her show in Chicago. Most people have no running water or electricity. The town doesn't even have a zip code so they can't get tax dollars. I kept thinking that I always thought I was poor growing up in a small town with a single mother, but I was rich compared to these people. Doing dishes, taking baths, flushing toilets were all luxuries to them that they had to plan with water that was schlepped from God knows where. It was disheartening to watch the faces of these children, innocent in the downfall, to be in homeless shelters wearing the same clothes to school day after day. Our family barely got by back in the 60s, but my mother made our clothes, and we were always well kempt, hair washed on Sunday for church, clothes cleaned and pressed, a pair of shoes for church and one for school. We didn't own a car until I was a senior in high school when my mother got her driver's license and had to beg for rides wherever we went that was out of walking distance. We never wore jeans because of school rules and because my mother didn't sew denim, but we never wore anything that we weren't proud to wear and proud to call our own. Every Easter and Christmas produced new dresses that my mother had made for all 4 of her daughters. She was a zombie at that sewing machine, but she sewed almost every night to clothe us. (My first bought dress was for my grandmother's funeral when I was 21.) At times, my mother even sewed my "granny panties" when I was a child. But we were never hungry and we never wore clothes from Goodwill. Our family had set a precedence of survival from generations, and bad times came and went like the economy. My mother's family ran a newspaper and never went hungry during the Depression because people bartered with food. Then never thought they were poor.

My mother was not the best cook. Ok, she was lousy. She was often comotose most afternoons, resulting in any one of us girls cooking dinner which was never luxurious, rarely nutritious (canned vegetables in light hues), but we never went hungry. One time in college my roommates were fascinated with my dinner of macaroni & cheese and hot dogs. WTH? That was a staple at my house. And my mother's concoction of scrambled egg noodles was greeted with oohs and aahs and remains one of my daughters' favorite "poor" dishes. Every Sunday growing up brought the pound of bacon with the leftover grease that sat on the stove to be cooked with the remainder of the week. There were some pot roasts, some salisbury steaks that were tougher than leather, and some baked chicken that would bore the crap outta you, but we never starved. One story on Oprah had a woman not being able to feed her 3 children one night because she needed to save her money for her car payment so she could get to one of her 2 jobs that allowed her to make the rent. She lives in Detroit. In 2005.

42% of single mothers live below the poverty level. One segment showed a mother of 3 sleeping in her van with her kids after the husband couldn't take the agony of poverty and abandoned them. In Appalachia, 65% of the people live below poverty level. Another family had nothing (NOTHING) after watching their house burn to the ground, and without home owners' insurance, they could not replace anything and lived in a "shed out back." All these families had ONE bad break that knocked the bottom out from underneath them with no help and no hope of getting back on their feet. Each and every scene from Oprah's show reinforced how rich I was from birth to today.

The Oprah story that just broke my heart was seeing the man who was taking care of his sick mother. Although he had a degree in law enforcement, he refuse to leave her side and they are living in horrible circumstances, no doctor nearby, no water, no phone. The son saves toilet paper rolls, and the camera zoomed on him as he was rolling toilet paper off their rolls so he could REROLL them 1 ply at a time onto an empty roll. Tears streamed down my face watching this humble, loving son perform this loving act to stretch a dollar. How rich was I to "enjoy" 2-ply toilet paper?

As depressing as the show was (and it was meant to shock us out of complacency), it also brought a sense of such joy that I was far richer than I ever knew. We were so poor that my sisters and I practically went to college with very little debt in the end. How lucky was it to be poor at just the right time in life? Years ago we learned to omit the word "starving" when describing how hungry we are in this house. Clearly, that word needs to be saved for people who are actually going to bed hungry, covering up their ears so the hollow grumblings in their stomach do not keep them awake at night. Watching this episode on Oprah taught me that we were not poor when I grew up with a single mother, and even though we have job problems and insurance problems in this house today, we are definitely not poor. We have riches beyond words.

I have stopped complaining that I can't get my speakers to work on my computer.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

But for the Grace of God

Isn't she a doll? Ok, I'm fine if you don't think so. I wasn't much of a dog person until Gracie came into our lives. I "found" her on a bulletin board at work. It stated she was a 6-month stray who had been found walking along the highway. He brought her home (named her Babe - gag me!) and she drank and drank water and fell asleep for 3 days. Oddly enough, her life is about the same today. We have guessed she is 1/2 lab, 1/2 German shepherd. (My older daughter swears she is a Carolina. I'm not so sure she is pure anything.) Unfortunately, the lab in her wants you to come visit and be her friend, and the German shepherd in her wants you to go away as she protects her family. She's a little bi-polar.

That was (Can you believe it?) 10 years ago. She has not grown one inch or gained 1 pound since we brought her home. We did have a vet (veterinarian, not war veteran) friend check her out, kick her tires, take her for a spin, you know, what you would do if you were buying a used (pre-owned) car. As a dog lover, he was able to say she was in excellent health and was trained and well behaved. Fooled him, didn't ya Gracie? Seriously, in 10 years she has only had 2 "big" accidents, and they were both our fault. Her pee accident was marking her territory when she got downstairs, and we can't really blame her for that one either. Not bad. She came to us knowing "sit," "paw," "other paw," "down," and "heel." Who abandons a dog who is that well trained? Ok, her former family (she had a chip) might have taken her when they moved, and she might have run away and gotten lost.

As a former person who was lukewarm about dogs (and hated how their noses are always crotch high), I have learned many things since we adopted Gracie. (Oh, come on, I couldn't have a dog named after a pig.) She is not the "model" dog for a family with little kids or for a family who is unsure of dogs. I have learned that if you put off an air that you like dogs and understand dogs, she will be put in her place and lie down and sit down or whatever it is she needs to do to get your attention but not hurt you. But if you give off any aura that you are scared or unsure of the situation, she will have you backed into a corner with her teeth bared. The worst thing about her is she is unpredictable. I have seen her be the sweetest dog one minute and then get the freaky feeling that you are afraid and she will growl. I have stuck my arm in her mouth to avoid a bad scene more than once. When little kids come up and say, "Lady, can I pet your dog?" I have to say, "No, she's afraid of little children." Sometimes (and I am no pet psychologist) I think that faces in her face scare her. Can't blame her, but I can't explain to her that they are harmless. We do not need a law suit on our hands. The little girl that my daughters have babysat for has a command in her voice when she says "Sit Gracie," making her the only child Gracie will tolerate.

Her other quirk is she is a water dog afraid of water. The week we got her we also went to pick up Mabel from camp and ended up by the Meramec River. Gracie jumped in and had a ball. So we know she loves water. But turn on the faucet to water the grass, and she freaks. We think her other family disciplined her with the hose. She hates the sound of water which means we have to take her to PetsMart for her baths. She also has abandonment issues. I can appreciate that, since I, too, have them, but I don't sob when people leave. One time we took her on a mini-vacation to a farm so she could run around and enjoy the wind in her face and the freedom. She loves getting into the car, and this experience was no different. Halfway down the road, she realized there were only 2 reasons she would be in the car: bath or vaccinations. She started to whimper. When we turned on the highway, she was quite relieved that she was going to neither. As we passed 6 Flags, she just knew we were dumping her along the side of the road and cried, no, SOBBED, for the entire trip. Cried so loud that our ears were bleeding by the time we got to the farm. (We didn't bring Dramamine because never get car sick, but we should have!) We opened the van door and told her "Run Gracie Run," and she just stood by our side. For FOUR days, sobbing. When we put our packed bags on the porch while the Hub took the trash to the dumpster down the road, she panicked and raced after the van at 30 mph. I'm not making this up. We never took her on a vacation again.

And finally, if you have never seen a dog jump a fence with all the beauty of a racehorse, come to our house and watch Gracie. There isn't a fence that can keep her. She can fly. I've seen the look on people's faces as they face our backyard while we talk in the front. I can see by the wonder in their eyes that Gracie has just flown over the fence. In her defense, she doesn't dig under the fence although there are some holes back there in search of rabbits. She sees things in the night that we cannot see and would gladly sacrifice her life as she ran in front of an 18-wheeler to catch a squirrel or a rabbit. (She has caught only 2 since she had lived here, but both times I think I saw a look of pride on her face that I have never seen on my kids when they got a "A.") I can't walk her at night because if she sees what I cannot see, she will rip my arm out of its socket. I have talked to neighbors on their walks who say, "Oh, she's the one who can jump fences," and I say, "How do you know?" and they say, "Because I have watched her jump over and then back again." Yikes So I guess we're not always sure where she has been when we call her back inside. Odd for a dog with abandonment issues, huh?

And finally, she is the only dog I know who can tip toe. Do you see what's in her picture? A lamb's fur rug (from New Zealand) and a dog pillow. She also has a chair with a sheet for her comfort, and 95% of the time she uses one of those for her naps. But every once in a while, when we're not looking and when our guard is down (and when we haven't barracaded the couch), she can lift the pillows off the couch with her teeth, throw them on the floor, and deposit her weary (my ass) body there for a nap, head on the armrest. And when she senses that we are near, I have watched her TIP TOE off the coach so her clicky toenails (the ones she won't let us clip) do not touch the hardwood floors. Because, in her mind, if we don't hear her, then she wasn't up there.

I have been home for 2 1/2 years freelancing, and she sleeps 23 hours a day. I've watched her. When will she start doing her share of the housework? Please bring Prozac!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

When a Stabbing is a Blessing

Things in our small town were disrupted and devastated last week when a young (at least to me) 36-year-old mother of 4 was stabbed, robbed, and sexually molested while delivery pizzas to a part of town that is, well, sometimes dangerous because of just a few people. Drugs, dark streets, abandonment buildings. Earlier in the summer, someone called the police to investigate fire crackers exploding, and when the cop got there, he was shot and killed while still in his car by a 19-year-old who had cut off his ankle bracelet while on parole. So there is bad blood going on, questions and fears. Last Thursday while waiting tables this young woman volunteered to deliver pizzas to Meacham Park and is ambushed when she steps out to an abandoned building. The knife plunged in 8 inches and lacerated her liver. For some unknown, unrelated reason, her appendix was so enlarged and swollen that the knife nicked it and not her colon or kidney or some other vital organ. She was in critical condition, but, luckily, some car's headlights scared away the 3 teens before more damage could be done.

On Sunday an old friend and her granddaughter were visiting us at church, and it was then that we discovered that the victim was her daughter. The friend has since remarried and retired to a big house in a tiny town outside St. Louis. We had watched her children, particularly this young woman, grow up at church. I had been her Sunday school teacher while she was in high school. Our congregation was devastated. The town and the pizza parlor started collecting money for the survivor and her family. We soon learned that she and her husband and 4 children had just moved back to St. Louis earlier in the month and both parents were working at a pizza parlor to make ends meet. Before long, thousands of dollars were raised, furniture donated for her house, and toys given to the children (ages 9, 5, 3, 1).

After a week in the hospital with an armed guard at her door, she was released and is now home. Her liver was sewn up and her appendix removed to stop any further complications. I took flowers to her today and was amazed to see her up and about. There were flowers and balloons and "welcome home Mom" signs throughout the house. She stood there, a victim of some horrible crime, and said how blessed she was. She said that she wouldn't wish this horror on anyone, but that she is so blessed because it happened. They are still barely getting by, but there were people in the house helping her with the children. Her husband went back to work at the pizza parlor once he was no longer by her bed 24/7. She dragged herself to the county jail for the line up since they have arrested 2 of the 3 suspects. This was no scene out of "Law & Order." She had every right not to answer to door, to be hysterical when someone came into the house, to be angry at what happened to her. And she said, "Maybe God put me there because another driver's appendix would have been the right size and would have suffered much more damage." And this was coming from a young woman who always did and always has fought the power of God. She is so happy to be alive and feels so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends.

Even though she could not identify the perps, I praised her for having the courage and strength to get down there and try. She is so incredibly brave and has so many wonderful things to say about the people who have been there to help her and her family. Once her physical scars heal, she will have emotional scars beyond words, but for right now, she makes me realize how truly blessed we all are. If someone who has been stabbed can see her tragedy as a blessing, maybe we can all realize how blessed we are without going through that pain. She is so amazed and humbled by the thousands of prayers out there across the country for her. Please keep her in your prayers and continue to amaze her.