Archive for April, 2008

Down with Adulthood

Just when you might have thought I’ve abandoned my goofy nature with all these posts on recycling and traumatized children…I can’t resist a new dog picture: Exhausted dog after spending a warm spring day with all five of my grandchildren.    Back in a few days…currently in a writing frenzy…

April 29, 2008 at 6:34 am 18 comments

Repercussions

When Pap and I took custody of the oldest two grandgirls over a year ago, removing them from the nightmare our oldest daughter had created through alcohol, drugs and men who treat her like a punching bag…I commented to him that I was concerned that the girls were not exhibiting the anger, fear, frustration, or angst I thought they should considering what they’d been through.  They settled into my house with very little problem.  They laughed and giggled all the time, had good grades at school and really enjoyed their visits with their mother as she got her life back on track.  When Children’s Services cleared my daughter’s case and the girls moved back in with her, they were excited to reunite their family.  Happy to be back with Mom.   Most of the family thought we’d dodged a bullet…call me pessimistic, but I knew the gavel would eventually fall.  Nobody goes through what they did without getting totally and royally pissed.

My daughter is finding out that nobody exists in a vacuum.  Everything we do or say affects somebody else and results in repercussions.  If you’re sending out good – that’s what bounces back.  If not – you get the ten year old daughter from Hell.  Now that the pressure is off and life at her house looks like it did at my house, Jazz is thoroughly and completely furious at her mother.  From screaming tantrums to name calling to open rebellion on chores and curfews…she’s giving it back.  But the worst part of this ugly scenario, is Jazz doesn’t know why she’s angry, she’s just mad all the time and usually out of proportion to the situation at hand.  What’s saddest to me is seeing the light seeping out of this child that occupies such a piece of my heart.  Counseling is forthcoming, and my hope is that the psychiatrist is successful, because too many of these pictures keep showing up on my camera. 

April 26, 2008 at 10:43 pm 17 comments

Introducing….

Of all the things we relocated or gave away in order to scale down our lives, Pap and I miss the dogs and cats the most.  Well, we miss the kids too, but they haven’t tossed a ball or snuggled in for a hug with us in many years.  This little guy needed a new home so when the call came in, how could we say no?  His name is Wimper (I just adopt ’em, I don’t name ’em) and he looks so much like our last Shih-Tzu, after just one day I feel like I’ve known him forever.  He’s one, the same age as my youngest two grandgirls, likes vanilla ice cream and believes his new chew bear belongs on my bed.  Ought to be an interesting ride with this guy.

April 24, 2008 at 8:22 am 13 comments

The Earth…If You Think About It

Have you seen that commercial that says something like, once you’ve made one change to help the planet, it changes your thinking forever? That ad got me thinking about my own journey into noticing that there were steps my family needed to take that would be better for us and better for the planet we inhabit.

It started in the garden, of course. I love working in the garden and it’s always been important to me to provide pesticide and hormone free fruits and vegetables to my kids. Around here, the only sure way to do that is grow it yourself. But, the expense and work of turning clay into plantable earth was beating me down. Then I found this book: Lasagna Gardening.   My battle with the weed infested flower beds here at my new house reminded me that this is THE ONLY way to garden. 

The process is really simple, rather than digging into the ground, you build on top, using all the waste materials from your yard that you once sent to the landfill. It starts with several inches of newspaper, add your grass clippings, dump the leaves, add more grass clippings and the weird lettuce leafs, peelings and misc. shells from your kitchen, add more tree leafs. Once you have several layers – brown, green, brown, green…you can plant right in it. No weeds, no bugs and the most beautiful flowers and vegetables you’ve ever seen. All my gardens at the old house were lasagna gardens and that got me thinking….

With five kids we could haul out ten or twelve bags of trash every week. Do you have any idea how many sheets of paper five kids throw into the trash? How many aluminum cans? It was costing us a fortune. So we set up a simple system to collect these kinds of things along with the plastic milk jugs for recycling. That got me thinking….

Energy efficient light bulbs are not that much more expensive than regular ones, and it is proven fact that they’re better for the planet. We had a small windfall a couple of years ago and decided to spend it replacing all the light bulbs in our house. Yesterday I replaced the light bulb in my favorite reading light. I can’t remember having to do that since we put the new, environmentally friendly bulbs in. That got me thinking…

Plastic bags and bottles will lay in the landfill for 100 years or more. There are chemicals in plastic I don’t want to think much about. I know what kinds of chemicals they treat my tap water with and it’s scary. There are ingredients listed on my cleaning supplies that I can’t even pronounce… I think this will be my new set of problems to resolve in an environmentally friendly way.


April 23, 2008 at 8:12 am 8 comments

Life and A Rogue Character

Now that we’re settled into our new little jewel box of a home, a few truths have emerged:

  • It grows larger any time you have to mop the floor.
  • One thing out of place makes the entire house look trashed.
  • Spiders that invade a small house are just as big as spiders that invade a large house.

After two days of breaking my back trying to get the garden in shape at this new house, I was very happy to see rain on Saturday.  This town was built on clay, you might think you have top soil, but it’s no more substantial than foundation and blush on a ladies face.  I had forgotten this fact after working on the gardens of my old house for 15 years.  Luckily, we had this early great weather, I’m nowhere near planting anything. 

Progress on my new book continues with the exception of my main character’s sidekick who has gone totally rogue.  I keep telling him I’m going to write him out and replace him with a girl if he doesn’t knock it off, but he’s not listening.  Lest you think I’ve gone totally insane, remember the story acts itself out in my head and I just record the action.  Despite this technique, I do have a plan and a rough outline for where I want the story to go…then something like this happens.  Punkin’ headed supporting character keeps pushing his way to the forefront. 

 

April 22, 2008 at 6:55 pm 8 comments

Spring Fever

The sun is shining and I have a new flower bed filled with dandelions.  Back on Monday!

April 18, 2008 at 7:03 pm 8 comments

Writer’s Groups

Last night was the monthly meeting of my writing group.  Of all the committees and groups I’ve ever belonged to, this is my favorite.  There’s much debate in the writing world about the benefits of a writing group.  By its very nature, writing is a solitary pursuit.  But not all writers can continue to be productive without the stimulus of time spent with other writers.  I’m one of those writers.

Our writing group was formed in 2004 with the following purpose:  To provide a safe and inspirational place for local writers to assemble for motivation, inspiration, instruction, guidance and the resources needed to complete their work. We’ve stayed true to that purpose and while we have yet seen a member get something published traditionally, our group is as fresh and vibrant as it was the first day we met.  To a member, everyone is writing.   What started as a hand full of townies, has grown to a full page of names and e-mail addresses and includes members from towns as much as forty miles away.  Our membership includes fiction writers, journalists, playwrites, poets and historians.  We range in age from 17-73.

As I looked around the room last night I couldn’t help thinking we’re onto something.  We’re doing something right.  Some of our people have come from other groups that failed, but nobody has ever been able to clearly tell me what led to that failure.  I’d like to know, so that those mistakes don’t creep into our program.

Do you belong to a writers group?  Have you in the past?  Tell me about it.

April 17, 2008 at 4:03 pm 11 comments

What’s Your Sign?

American Sign Language is the third most used language in the world according to my research.  Research necessitated by my need to keep up with this little bundle of a grandgirl.  Her parents are both teachers and they weren’t satisfied with taking care of her needs the old fashioned way.  You remember: the baby is crying so you change her diaper. Still crying, rock and jiggle.  Still crying, try a bottle.  Still crying, fetch the favorite blanket, doll, or pacifier.  This inability to communicate was as frustrating for the kids as it was for us parents.  Pap and I saw some legendary melt downs by our kids when they wanted the blue teddy bear not the purple frog and we just could not understand them.

Some of today’s parents, like my daughter, are getting past this communication block by teaching their babies ASL.  When I first heard about this, I thought she was nuts.  But now that I’ve seen it in action, all I can say is:  how totally cool.  Better, how pleasant to spend time with your kid without all the fussing, sobbing and tantrums (not to mention whatever the kids chosen melt down action is).

I can’t help thinking that this second language will serve these children well throughout their lives.  I can think of dozens of situations in which one of my kids needed something and speaking out loud just wasn’t an option.

April 16, 2008 at 4:24 pm 12 comments

Alien Children

Blogging wasn’t the only thing I neglected while I was moving. Since Pap managed to come down with the flu right after we settled the boxes into the house and I ended up with a cold a few days after that, I haven’t seen much of the grandgirls until this weekend. I should know better than to leave their mothers unsupervised for more than a day or two. The minute my back was turned, they replaced my grandchildren with some kind of alien version. I suspect high technology is involved because this one’s voice track keeps getting stuck: “up-up-up! mine-mine-mine! no-no-no!”. She used to be so sweet and cuddly.  In her human form, she sleeps.  This new version?  Let’s just put it this way…at 10:00 p.m. it was kind of cute that she was still running around yelling “Nana, me ook!”  By midnight it was getting annoying.  At 1:00 I started worrying about how I was going to function on Sunday with no sleep.   She finally fell asleep at 3:30 and my internal alarm demanded I get up at 5:30…I admit, it was a struggle not shake this little false child awake so she would at least be as tired as I was.  But that would have been silly.  Much more effective to demand that her mother reset her kid’s sleep program when she comes to my house.  Insert that memory card that shuts kid down by 10:30 tops…. I know its Monday, but I’m still tired.

April 14, 2008 at 3:08 pm 15 comments

Saying Goodbye to The House

To the New Owner of My Old House:

I apologize for the leaking ceiling in the kitchen. I’m sure the real estate agent didn’t show you the house on a rainy day. If it’s any comfort, it only leaks when it rains really hard, and that only happens, what? Six, seven months a year? You’ll need to buy a bucket, pots and pans fill way to quick.

That hole in the ceiling on the back stairway is really more of a cautionary tale than an undone home improvement project. A friendly reminder that there’s nothing between the studs in the attic except a very thin sheet of drywall. Just ask my second oldest daughter who discovered that fact the hard way. I’d apologize for the really ugly, mangy, orange carpet in the den…but what’s under it is even scarier.

Hopefully you didn’t spend your kid’s college money to buy this house for the “tin” ceilings and “stained glass” window. Fake. I know, they look real, but if you poke a pin in the ceiling it will stay there and if you look very closely on the bottom right edge of the window…go on, take a look…see that wavy spot in the opaque section? Pap did that, therapy after his by-pass surgery.

I imagine you’ll paint over the marks on the wall in the laundry room. They measured my five kids growth while we lived in that house. You say there’s eight sets? Oh yeah, those other three kids are the ones that lived there before us.

I’ll completely understand if you feel the need to cover the grapes and magnolias I painted on the dining room floor and the red walls in the library. But trust me when I tell you that any color besides powder blue on the front stairs will make you feel like you’re ascending a coal shoot every time you head for bed. The glitter in the paint was a nice touch, don’t you think?

Unless you’re willing to have most of the neighbors stopping by to check out your fish, you better just fill the pond in. You might want to trim that random branch off the weeping cherry tree or it will grow through the garage roof. I know keeping the grass pulled from the bricks on the patio is a pain, but those are historical pavers, pulled from Main Street sixty years ago. They wanted to live there, the patio practically built itself.

Make sure you check the sump pump in the basement regularly, it has a tendency to shut itself off and the toilet at the back of the house has a habit of flushing itself. Woo, those two little things have a way of running up a water bill.

Its best if you leave the doors to the two stairways open at all times. Some people call them drafts, some people say it’s a peculiar tilt to the house, but if you close them they’ll just open themselves up again and slam a hole in the wall while they’re doing it.

I’m sorry you have to take all those shelves down in the fifth bedroom so you can fit the crib in, I have a lot of clothes! You really shouldn’t put a baby in there anyhow…it’s, uh, drafty….

Enjoy your new, old, home. If you love it like I did, it will love you right back.

April 11, 2008 at 8:32 am 14 comments

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