Aside

I’m obscure on the internet but I am quite aware that everything seems to last forever in this medium.

We had guests this weekend, one a person we knew from college, decades ago.

I am tired.   Very.  But I am going to wait, just a bit, on writing about The Lost Weekend.

With the exception of family members and a very few friends, I would say we are not the entertaining sort that throw big bashes with themes.   I’m more of a “come over and have a cup of coffee with me” sort of gal.  One on one, long conversations, here, have another piece of shortbread.

However, in honor of this weekend,  I want to share with you an entertaining tale of entertaining.

About ten years  ago, we were contacted by friends, a couple we had met at church, in another state.  They moved, we moved and the friendship morphed into the yearly Christmas newsletter sort of contact where we read of houses bought, careers launched, babies born.  Then, one day, I got a letter with exciting news.

We’d love to see you in your Colorado home! she wrote, adding that they would be in our  hometown for a convention.   Come over for dinner, I offered.

The couple hadn’t seemed to have changed a bit since we saw them last and they brought with them their two school aged boys, both quiet, polite children.   I had pot roast and mashed potatoes, rolls and butter, salads-all sorts of good things  to eat served on the good china in the dining room.   Two pies, one cherry, one chocolate, sat on the kitchen counter waiting for their starring roles in the dessert course.  Lovely conversations continued as I refilled iced tea glasses and urged second helpings.

Silently, their eldest child got up from the table and headed into the kitchen as I was gathering up the dirty dishes.

Aghhurrrrrrrrrrp.

I heard the sound of liquid hitting the wood floor with a splat.  Did the boy spill something?

His mother jumped up and ran into the kitchen.  “Oh dear.  I think he may have picked up something on the airplane.”

Uh oh.  I hurried into the next room.

What came next was baffling.

The boy had vomited and his dinner was a runny puddle of chunks.  He had then thrown himself on the ground and was on his back, waving his arms and legs madly.  

You know how to make a snow angel?  This child was making a puke angel.

With every wave of his arms, yellow droplets were flung, spattering the walls, the white cabinets, the tile counter tops and even a bit of the ceiling.

“He tends to be a bit dramatic,” his mother explained.

You think?

She pulled him up and led him into the bathroom to clean up while I dealt with the mess in the kitchen.

My husband decided to keep his seat in the dining room.  Out of sight, out of mind, was his line of thinking.

I found spare clothes, gathered up the ruined ones into a plastic bag.  A bucket, rubber gloves, disinfectant and 20 minutes later, dessert was served.

But the story is not over yet. Not quite.  The family returned to their five star hotel for the evening. The following day, the mother called and said she had something for me.

She didn’t have to do that, I insisted.

She said she needed to do so.

When I opened the door, she greeted me with the bag of clothes she had borrowed and, in gratitude, she gifted me with…

the coffee packet from their hotel coffee maker.  


I Better Watch My Language, Then

A friend from college is visiting us.  Both he and his wife are ministers and also the parents of an almost- four year old boy.  

He’s a lively, cheerful, polite child.  As his parents ran errands, he sat with me on the floor playing with the toys my now-adult children enjoyed.  A wooden train.  Books.  Tiny cars.  Lego.

He wanted me to join in the pretending and as I sailed a Lego ship through the air I called out,

“Holy cow!”

The little fellow, obviously surrounded by everything religious and sacred, stopped me and said in all seriousness, “You can’t say that.”

“Okay.  I won’t say that any more.  What should I say instead?” I asked.

“It’s not ‘holy cow’.  You are supposed to say ‘holy CRAP.”

“Okay.  I won’t say that.  

PMS Cannot Be Blamed

Perhaps it is the dry, relentless heat that saps energy and tests one’s patience before nine o’clock in the morning, but today I feel at odds with myself and with others.   Do  women get crabbier as we age? Is menopause one long PMS session?

I’ve always been rather reticent.   Pardon my Catholic upbringing but it was drilled into me that drawing attention to oneself was shameful.  Behave. Be polite.  Don’t, under any circumstances, warned my mother, make trouble that would make her ashamed.

I get older and I’ve become more honest, more outspoken.   Time’s short and I’m tired of playing nice, pretending to be the suburban someone that I am not.

It started with a conversation at the stables today, in a dirt aisle.  Don’t imagine this is a place similar to where Mrs. Romney keeps her dressage horses.  Some corrals are held up with plastic twine, tied twice for safety.   Instead of jodhpurs, jeans and our shirts are covered in a fine layer of the dust in which Valley Fever lurks.   We have a motley collection of discarded patio furniture  where we sit in the shade beside the horses and chat when it is too hot to ride.

The topic turned to books and film.   Ah, intellectual discourse.   A friend turned to me and asked,

“Have you ever watched the movie, Jackass?”

I paused.  It is my guilty pleasure and should I share this fact with the retired teacher sitting next to me? I look like the last person on earth who would enjoy that movie but put a margarita in one hand and the remote in the other and I will watch the shit out of that DVD.   And laugh and laugh and laugh.   Do I do those things? Do I approve of those stunts? Would I be friends with the crew?

No, no and no.   But really,  does low brow entertainment get any better than watching someone ride strapped into a quite-full port a potty dangling from a bungee cord?  Just knowing what is about to take place before the bungee cord is released from the crane has me slapping the sofa.

My husband joins me, tears trickling out of the creases about his eyes.    A Jackass DVD is a guaranteed good time to even Doctah D.

Just thinking about the stunts makes me start to giggle and what I hear next wipes the smile off my face quicker than a slap to the cheek.

“That film is dangerous. Teen boys copy those people and then they get hurt or even killed. ”

She added, “You know, I think less of you for liking that film.  I’m disappointed in you.”

Plans were made for lunch, in front of me.  And I was not included.

It took me aback.  That  all my passion for discussing science, culture, plays, writing and writing with my friends suddenly mattered not.

It was as if I had been asked if I had been convicted of a crime and when I truthfully answered yes, I was fired as a friend.

Over a movie.  And I hadn’t even starred in it naked.

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milagro and me 004

milagro and me 004

How To Feel Like An Idiot In Three Easy Steps

1.  Buy a truck and a horse trailer with the full intention of driving horses to postcard pretty places and riding them into the sunset while Happy Trails To You plays in the background.

2.  Realize every parking space in surburbia suddenly seems impossibly tight when driving the truck and that attaching the trailer makes driving and parking even more unwieldy.   Never find time to hook up the trailer ever again.

3.  Sell trailer at a loss.  Horses breathe great sighs of relief.

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Garden buddy

Garden buddy

I came home and found this fellow in the garage. Endangered, poisonous and so mellow that I was able to gently push him outside where he belonged. For such a slow mover, the gila monster disappeared within minutes of being outside.

From the Mouth of a Not-Babe

“Being nice will not change the world. Being nice can help to get you what you want and make people like you, but that is different than making a change. Getting what you want and changing the world are two different things. In one case you can end with what you want and still leave everyone happy, but in the other case you will always find resistance. If there were no opposition, there would be no need to make a change because it would have already happened.”

My daughter means business.  Takes no crap in a male-dominated field.  She had to dress conservatively, without makeup.  Even an oxford shirt with one button undone gives them the wrong idea, she said.   

Even as a baby, she was intense, quiet and serious, an infant who would give you a look of disdain if we tried to lighten the mood with a quick game of peek-a-boo.  As if, her little face seemed to say.

We are so very different, mother and daughter.  One of us is constantly laughing, riding horses and playing with words.   The other is fond of rocks- collecting them, climbing them, analyzing their chemical properties.  Rocks and math and music.

And women’s rights.   Her university put up posters. “Need extra help in math? Tutoring available!” was the caption under a photo of sexy, blonde, dumbfounded young woman.  Seriously? How offensive, she thought.  And she ran off copies of a picture of a shirtless male model and taped him up over the stereotypical not-good-at-math-girl.   Take that, university.  

I was raised in a different time and a different faith.  Be good.  Behave.  Mind your manners.  Don’t make waves. Don’t make trouble.

It’s a lousy way to raise a confident woman, I learned.   If there’s a magic ingredient to success, it’s confidence.   Confidence that if you butt heads with the world, you keep going because you need to do what has to be done to change things for the better.